Thursday 27 November 2008

Happy Turkeygorging Day...

... to all non-vegetarian American readers.

I'm a breast man, in case you were wondering. (And you can all stop sniggering right now...)

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Mamma bleedin' mia

Day one sales of Mamma Mia! have beaten Titanic's record to become the fastest selling DVD of all time in the UK, according to screendaily. Sales reached 1.669 million copies, following its launch on November 24. The previous record for day one DVD sales was held by James Cameron's nautical blockbuster which sold 1.1 million copies on its first day of release in 1998 in the UK. Mamma Mia! also holds the record for the highest-grossing British movie of all time in the UK, having so far taken a whopping £66,995,244 at the UK box office.

I haven't seen it. Nor do I want to. It's not that I've got anything against Abba per se. I have been known to dance, occasionally, to Abba at weddings and birthday parties and the like. But I do this occasionally. Refuse to see the movie everybody has seen. A case it point, it took me an absolute age to see The Full Monty. In fact, I only relented when I had to interview one of its stars for the video release. (Wow, video. Showing my age now...) Otherwise I would have held out for even longer.

Just because...

Gotta love it...

This is cool.

Monday 24 November 2008

Jeff Bridges' snaps

In addition to being a terrific actor, Jeff Bridges is a damn fine photographer, shooting mainly in black and white, on film, with a camera known as a Widelux. Bridges takes it wherever he goes, always shooting while he's working and presenting the crew of whatever film he's starring in with a book of behind-the-scenes photos as an end of shoot gift.

Back in the day, Premiere used to run a selection of his work for every film. And because of his amazing pictures, I desperately wanted a Widelux of my own, finally buying one about six years ago for a small fortune. I've never taken a single photo with it as good as his, although I did ask for tips when I interviewed him for Premiere once.

Now that Premiere's gone, the best way to see Bridges' photos is in his superb book Pictures By Jeff Bridges or on his website, which features his Iron Man pictures here.

Back in Blighty

Firstly, apologies for so many days of non-posting. I flew back from Los Angeles at the end of last week but it's taken more than a few days to get my head in gear although the jetlag was much easier to cope with at this end than the other. Certainly, coming from record temperatures of 91F in Downtown LA last Monday to snow in London yesterday is enough to send one's body in a spin.

I barely had more than a few hours' of consecutive sleep the whole time I was there despite the ridiculously comfy nature of my huge hotel bed. One night, for instance, I was kept awake by the, ahem, activities of the guests next door and, in particularly, the woman's obviously enthusiastic responses, although, to be honest, it was when, at 2.30am, as part of their post-coital endeavours, they decided to watch TV, loudly, that I actually banged on the wall and asked them to turn it down...

I've purposely kept reason for my LA trip a secret thus far and it has to remain so, certainly for the immediate future, although I'm sure some of you might have already guessed. When I'm at liberty to spill, I will.

For now, however, a few reminiscences of my recent time there. I have, in my time as a journalist, meet many famous people. It's part of the job. You chat. You ask them questions. You remain professional at all times. Which means no photos. Even if they're heroes of yours. Occasionally, though, you'll encounter a "celebrity" or a "famous person" outside of the professional environment. In LA, it's almost a given you'll bump into one. Or two. Like seeing Kirstie Alley at the mall or Pedro Almodovar by the pool or Kylie Minogue in the lift.

This trip was no different. Except this time I saw Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford, up close and personal. And Donald Sutherland waiting for his car outside my hotel. (And yes, I did stop and chat, about Nic Roeg.) Matt Groening was in my cabin on the plane home. (Along with Mickey Rooney, no less, although they weren't traveling together.) I even saw Wall-Edirector Andrew Staunton.

As for the weather, LA's air pollution is crap at the best of times but the black and orange gash across the sky as I walked along the beach from Santa Monica to Venice on Sunday morning as a result of the wildfires was both beautiful and frightening. Then there was the ash that rained down steadily from the cloudless sky, coating everything in a grey layer throughout the early part of last week.

And finally, I didn't see Twilight while I was there. (I left before it opened.) Although its $70million opening weekend tally means many, many others did.

It's back to the real world for now. This afternoon I'm going to a 3D presentation of Monsters V Aliens presented by Jeffrey Katzenberg who I was once introduced to in a LA restaurant. But that's another story...

Tuesday 18 November 2008

LA fires

The fires are still raging here and the effect is being felt all over, even miles away from the actual flames. Driving today, I could see smoke on the horizon while ash rained down constantly from a bright blue and cloudless sky, coating everything and everyone in a fine, grey layer. The air pollution in LA isn't good at the best of times and this certainly isn't helping matters, burning the back of one's throat and making breathing a tad more difficult. That said — and I mean this without any disrespect to those who have lost their homes in the fires — the sunset last night in Santa Monica sure was colourful and pretty.

Twilight premiere

Twilight is premiering in LA tonight and fans have been camping out since last night to catch a glimpse of the stars. Variety has a live feed of proceedings. If you're interested in that kind of thing.

Star Trek trailer

Alas, I missed JJ Abrams when he rocked up in London last week and unveiled four scenes from his Star Trek as well as this trailer which is certainly action-packed and more or less smells right, although I'm not sure about the opening bit with Kid Kirk.

Monday 17 November 2008

A tangled web

Wondered what was the latest with that Fox Watchmen lawsuit? The Los Angeles Times' John Horn does a great job at explaining the complex legal situation that Watchmen finds itself in. And it ain't pretty.

Now that's what I call a teaser

You've got to hand it to Roland Emmerich, he gives good trailer. (As for the movies themselves, well...)

I have no idea what his latest, 2012, is about, but having just seen the teaser I'm suddenly interested in finding out.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Greetings from LA!

Arrived in Los Angeles last night, stepping off my Virgin Atlantic flight into a higher than seasonal temperature of 28C at 7pm and an atmosphere heavy with acrid smoke, courtesy of the wild fires that are currently burning out of control in various parts of the state.

I'm here for a few days' work, and while my schedule is, I suspect, going to be rather hectic, I hope to be able to find the time to post some stuff.

And yes, I did watch some movies on the plane — X Files: I Want To Believe, Tropic Thunder, Street Kings — plus the pilot episode of Fringe which had me gripped.

Friday 14 November 2008

That Friday feeling

The Watchmen roadshow hit London this morning and I had the lucky task of chairing a Q&A with Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons following the screening. The footage shown was the same as unveiled in LA and NY last month — it's fab by the way — plus the new trailer. Today was the second time I'd seen the footage — take my word for it, this is a going to be a BIG title on DVD, so dense and detailed is each frame. You can read Empire's report here.

Wednesday 12 November 2008


Michael Winterbottom, Britain's most prolific filmmaker, will direct a $13 million adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel The Killer Inside Me starring Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba.

A relentless psychological thriller, the film follows West Texas sheriff Lou Ford’s descent into violent psychosis. As murder victims begin to pile up in his town, suspicion falls on Lou. He will do anything to escape but he cannot escape what he is.

Tuesday 11 November 2008


First the good news: Joe Johnston is directing Captain America.

Now the disappointing: Brett Ratner is apparently directing Conan.

I wasn't too keen on those colour Star Trek shots that appeared recently, but these I like. Spock, in particular, looks great in moody black and white.

Monday 10 November 2008

And another thing...

I know this is not film related but it needs to be said: Laura White should never have been voted off this week's X Factor. Simon Cowell clearly thinks with his *&%$ while Louis Walsh is... well, let's not go there.

Laura from Bolton was the always the one to beat in my book (with Alexandra a close second) and now the show's not worth watching. Shame, cos Cheryl has been fab...

Monday musing

Am sitting at home without a working boiler or central heating, waiting for the boiler repair man to call back, and about to start re-reading Watchmen for the umpteenth time in preparation for something later this week.

Friday 7 November 2008

Never saw that coming

The pairing of Steven Spielberg and Will Smith is, of course, a no-brainer. Massive star. Massive director. I'm only surprised it hasn't happened sooner. But I never would have guessed that the project they'd connect on would be the remake of Oldboy. I love the original. I remember seeing it in Cannes and it blowing my mind. I later interviewed Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook for an extra on the UK DVD release. They've been talking about remaking it for a while now although I never really saw the point. Suddenly I'm cautiously intrigued, even though I'd rather Spielberg direct his long-mooted Lincoln project.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Dollhouse trailer

Joss Whedon's pretty awesome in my book. Buffy, Angel, Firefly. I mean, I love his shows (and Serenity) but I'm not one of those brown coat groupies or anything. I am, however, looking forward to his latest, Dollhouse, starring the lovely Faith herself, Eliza Dushku, although when we'll get it in the UK I have no idea. I haven't even seen a single episode of Fringe yet, but that's only cos it's on Sky One and I don't have it.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Michael Crichton RIP

Michael Crichton, the bestselling author of Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Sphere, and The Andromeda Strain, and creator of TV's ER, has died of cancer. He was 66.

Crichton wasn't what one would call a literary giant, although at six foot nine he was some kind of literal giant. His gift as an writer was his BIG ideas and insanely readable page-turning style that made him the ultimate airport blockbuster author, his books selling in the tens of millions.

“Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand,” his family said in a statement.

Crichton was, of course, also a prolific screenwriter, producer and director, with Westworld and Coma among his directorial credits.

“Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park," said Steven Spielberg. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth."

He did it!

Well done America. You did the right thing. Now he's got a job to do. And so have I.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Miller time

While we keep our fingers crossed that American voters do the right thing (and that the electorial process is abided by — ie the one with the most votes wins), here's a Frank Miller interview for you to read. It's a good one too.

Sunday 2 November 2008

He did it!

What a race. What a race. And boy did he leave it late. The last corner of the last lap of the last race of the championship. I'm only just getting my breathe back. Congratulations Lewis! The youngest Formula One world champion. Well deserved.

Flippin' heck

I know so many people who were planning to go and see Bond this weekend. But even so, this was still a surprise. That works out at around $8 million.


Quantum Of Solace, the 22nd James Bond adventure, has made Box Office history on its opening day in the UK, taking a staggering £4.94m and making it the biggest Friday opening of all time. This shatters the previous record held by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which took £4.025m.

Quantum Of Solace, the latest installment from the longest running franchise in film history, has also beaten the opening day figure for the last Bond movie, Casino Royale, which took £2.9m on its opening day.

Quantum Of Solace opened in 542 cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Friday 31st October and will release in the US on November 14th.

Produced for EON Productions by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, Quantum Of Solace is directed by Marc Forster and stars Daniel Craig as the legendary secret agent, James Bond. With a screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis, the film picks up the storyline just one hour after the end of Casino Royale, marking the first direct sequel produced by EON Productions.