Thursday 29 January 2009

Not long now

The final countdown has begun. Press screenings will be starting soon. The wait is almost over. 

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Tintin Tuesday

I love Herge's Tintin and have been eagerly awaiting more news regarding the Spielberg/Jackson-directed trilogy of movies. A while ago it was revealed that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had joined the cast as the Thompson Twins and now we have official confirmation that  Jamie Bell has replaced Thomas Sangster as the intrepid reporter and Daniel Craig will play the nefarious Red Rackham. Coooool! Additional cast members include Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook. 

Filming has apparently already started in LA on the first movie, The Secret Of The Unicorn, from a script by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. I'd heard that Cornish was rewriting the script, but Wright's involvement is news to me. Then again, they have written together before. 

Can't bleedin' wait.

Monday 26 January 2009

Monday musing

Season 5 of Lost began here in the UK last night and continued the high standard of season 4. You can tell they're pleased to have an end date now, as there's less tease and more WTF revelations. 

With its flashforwards, "three years earlier/later" time frames, confirmed time travel, time skipping, Jack's rehabilitation of sorts, Ben Linus' murky machinations, Ana-Lucia's ghostly cop, the hint that maybe Locke might not necessarily be dead dead, it was a masterful opening two episodes. Once again,'s Jeff Jensen provides a fine commentary

All of which meant I recorded but have yet to see Wire creator David Simon's latest Generation Kill, although that's going to have to wait until another day since I'm at the BFI Southbank tonight watching Encounters At The End Of The World followed by a Q&A with Werner Herzog. 

Should be interesting... 

Friday 23 January 2009

Torso trouble

Last Sunday, interviewing David Fincher, I asked him what he was planning on doing next, since his name was attached to a host of cool sounding projects, among them Ness aka Torso, Heavy Metal, Black Hole and a cooking movie said to star Keanu Reeves. Fincher said his most immediate concern was a rest — since he'd made Zodiac and Benjamin Button one after the other. 

Of all the projects Fincher's been linked to, Ness is arguably the most interesting, based on a terrific true life crime comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko, and was the closest to going; although there was a pressing, time sensitive issue with the rights lapsing and Paramount having to re-up on them in order to greenlight the movie which had Matt Damon and Casey Affleck attached. 

Well, according to this Hollywood Reporter article, Paramount didn't renew its option, plunging the project into limbo. 
Last month, Paramount's ability to extend the rights option as part of the original deal expired, which would have then required the studio to purchase the rights outright to retain them -- a price the studio apparently was unwilling to shell out. While the studio still owns Kruger's screenplay, it is in discussions potentially to strike a new option agreement with the comic's writers, to whom the rights reverted. (Fincher and the producers remain attached.)

Given the Ness story line's basis in reality, one could argue that a public-domain version of it could be developed using similar material. But in the age of the industry-shaking legal tussle between Warner Bros. and Fox over "Watchmen," it's unlikely that Paramount would take that type of risk.

One source indicated that Fincher has been keen on making the project and expressed confusion as to why Paramount would dither. But given the projects and personnel that the belt-tightening Brad Grey-run studio shed last year, it's not surprising that it would balk at committing to another big-budget production at year's end.
"It's a weird and odd situation," Bendis said. "We heard it was greenlit one day, then the next we heard it wasn't. Hopefully, it'll have a happy ending."

Thursday 22 January 2009

Button love

So, 13 nominations for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button was an impressive if perhaps expected haul, and included one for Best Visual Effects which considering the balls up that had been perpetrated on Zodiac was very welcome indeed. 

But today's Oscar nominations threw up a few surprises, not least The Reader picking up five noms, including Film, Director and Actress for Kate Winslet who had widely been tipped to be nominated for her role in Revolutionary Road, a film which managed only two in total, for Costume Design and Art Direction. And no nomination for Kristin Scott Thomas? What's that all about then...

Slumdog Millionaire was the other big winner, scoring 10 nominations, followed by Milk with eight, The Dark Knight with seven, and Frost/Nixon and The Reader on five apiece. 

It was great to see both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei nominated for The Wrestler even if the film didn't get anything else, not even for Bruce Springsteen for Best Song, Melissa Leo being recognised in the Best Actress category for Frozen River which also scored an Original Screenplay nomination for Courtney Hunt, Man On Wire up for Documentary Feature, Martin McDonagh recognised for his script for In Bruges and kudos to the Doubt mob who nabbed four acting nominations as well as an Adapted Screenplay one for John Patrick Shanley.

And it was another good year for the Brits, with Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry picking up Directing noms, Working Title nabbing a Best Film for Frost/Nixon, The Duchess nabbing a handful of technicals, Simon Beaufoy getting an Adapted Screenplay nob for Slumdog, and Mike Leigh getting an Original Screenplay one for Happy-Go-Lucky.

Strange, though, that Waltz With Bashir gets nominated for Best Foreign Language Film but didn't warrant a Best Animated Feature nod. 

As for that early favourite, The Dark Knight picked up a host of technical nominations but, apart from Heath Ledger who was deservedly nominated for Best Supporting Actor and who died a year ago today, didn't feature in any of the major categories. 

Here are the nominations in full.

And how did I do? Well, I managed 19 1/2 from a possible 30 points which is about average for me for this kind of thing. No Eastwood. No Michael Sheen. No Sally Hawkins.

Nomination day

This year's Oscar nominations are announced today at 1.30pm UK time, 5.30am LA time. I'm not normally 100% accurate in my predictions, since I tend to go by my heart rather than my head on occasions such as these, but I'm prepared to give it a go and choose on what I think the Academy will plump for. At least in the top six categories: Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Best Film
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director
Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Gus Van Sant (Milk)
David Fincher (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button)

Best Actor
Sean Penn (Milk)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)

Best Actress
Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)
Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Kristin Scott Thomas (I've Loved You So Long)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)

Best Supporting Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
Eddie Marsen (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Josh Brolin (Milk)

Best Supporting Actress
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Lena Olin (The Reader)

Oscar predicting isn't an exact science and these are not necessarily my favourites, but we'll see how well (or how badly) I did later.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Ton up

Quietly and with, it seems, the minimum of fuss, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cracked $100 million at the US box office this past weekend* which for a two hour 40 mins film isn't bad going and might just be a sign of good things to come at tomorrow's Oscar nominations.

* Only just noticed, in case you were wondering why I posted this today.

Today is...

... mostly transcribing an interview I did yesterday and then writing it up.

Although I was amused to see that one of my old Premiere muckers, Glenn Kenny, has a role as a "sleazy erotic website guy" in Steven Soderbergh's latest lo-fi effort, The Girlfriend Experience, which stars porn queen Sasha Grey, and has been drawing favourable notices for it. Well done, Glenn.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Tuesday thoughts

I've been remiss, again, in terms of posting, but in case you were wondering the Fincher thing went well.

He was typically smart, engaging, very funny and wonderfully candid and we managed to rattle through topics ranging from Benjamin Button, his early filmmaking influences, his time making promos, the nightmare that was Alien 3 and the lessons learned from that particular experience, Seven, Fight Club, through to the importance of sound in his movies in under an hour. As soon as the transcript is posted on The Guardian's website, I will, of course, link to it.

Onto other matters...

It's now President Obama, thank you very much.

And here's a snappy, new Watchmen TV spot

Saturday 17 January 2009

Interviewing David Fincher

Tomorrow night I will be hosting The Guardian Interview with David Fincher at London's BFI Southbank, following a preview screening of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

I am, I must confess, excited at the prospect and have spent the past week rewatching all of Fincher's movies, listening again to his erudite and educational commentary tracks, reading every article on him I can find, choosing clips to show. He's always been one of my favourite contemporary filmmakers but steeping myself in Fincher's oeuvre this last week has given me an even greater appreciation of him and his work.

If you're coming along, I hope you enjoy it. If not, it will be online soon enough and I'll post a link as and when it is.

Friday 16 January 2009

The deal is done

Warners Bros. and Fox have settled their legal dispute regarding Watchmen and the movie will be released on March 6 in the US.

It was always going to get resolved, it was just a question of how much would it take.

Variety has the details.

Thursday 15 January 2009

BAFTA Nominations

This year's BAFTA nominations have been announced and by and large it's a good list with Benjamin Button tying with Slumdog Millionaire for top spot with eleven apiece, although I was disappointed to see perennial bridesmaid Michael Sheen miss out yet again for Frost/Nixon and that Man On Wire didn't get as much love as it deserves. Kudos, however, to all round nice guy Tony Grisoni for his nomination for Best Short Film for Kingsland.

Here are the nominations in full. Winners will be announced on February 8.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Number Six has left the village

Patrick McGoohan has passed away in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 80. McGoohan appeared in a host of movies — Scanners, Braveheart, Ice Station Zebra, among them — and TV shows — notably Danger Man — but for so many he will always be...

Tuesday 13 January 2009

"Doing a Winslet"

This morning, on Radio Four's Today Programme, Evan, I think it was, used the above term. Surely the first of many references to this particular speech...

Monday 12 January 2009

Monday musing

I've been trying to drum up the energy to write something about last night's Golden Globes, but they were what they were.

Of course it was a good night for the UK, and Slumdog in particular, but if I have to hear that Kate Winslet blubber speech one more time I think I'll scream.

I was thrilled for Danny Boyle, who I've known for a long time, even if it's not his best movie. I was thrilled that Mickey Rourke beat Sean Penn for Best Actor, and that Colin Farrell's In Bruges performance got recognised. I was delighted too that the Boss picked up Best Song and thought Chris Nolan's acceptance speech on behalf of Heath Ledger's award was heartfelt and fitting.

It wasn't a good night for Benjamin Button, which deserved far more than nothing. I think it will do better come Oscar time, although methinks the BAFTAs won't be that different to the Globes in being a Slumdog landslide.

Saturday 10 January 2009

From Batman to Broadbent

The Top 250 movies at the US/Canadian box office in 2008 according to Variety.

Reading it, two quick thoughts occurred to me.

One, that somebody should do a list of how much they each cost to run along side it.

And two, how the hell did The Happening make so much money?

The end is nigh?

"Lawyers for 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. told a judge Friday that they were trying to settle the copyright lawsuit over Watchmen, a signal that the nearly year-old court fight over the superhero movie may be nearing a conclusion," writes the LA Times' John Horn in today's paper.

"The attorneys were to appear before US District Judge Gary A. Feess to schedule a trial later this month over the film’s distribution rights when they told the judge that settlement talks were underway."

All of which can only be a good thing. March 6 isn't that far away, after all.

Read the rest here.

Directed by...

Guess who?

Monday 5 January 2009

The Spirit: Worst Film Of The Year?

I've not yet seen The Spirit but judging by the reviews I'm not in any rush, particularly if I have to pay for it. Regular readers will know that I had been looking forward to it, although from the teaser onwards I began to have my doubts, a feeling not helped by all subsequent trailers. Then the reviews started to come in and, well, the general consensus is that it sucks, big time. Total Film (a magazine of which I'm a contributing editor) put it on the cover (presumably sight unseen) and devoted eight interior pages (plus many more before) of the Christmas 2008 issue to it. They were not the only ones burned. But the Total Film website has struck back, with this spot-on spoof For Your Consideration ad...

Book Soup

I was sad to read of the death of Glenn Goldman, owner of the fabulous Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard. Situated just opposite the now defunct Sunset Strip branch of Tower Records, Book Soup was always a must-visit for me whenever I was in LA, particularly when I used to stay nearby at the Sunset Marquis and would often walk there. More than just a book shop, Book Soup had a wonderful atmosphere, was a lovely place to hang out in, browsing its well-stocked shelves. It was a little oasis of calm in a city that's constantly on the go. The question now, though, is for how much longer. Goldman put the shop on the market the day before he died, and in the age of Amazon and Borders, independent bookstores are a dying breed.

Quote whores

I've had my name on a few movie posters in my time — Seven, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford to name just three. By that I mean a quote from one of my reviews has adorned a poster to trumpet a film's genius, performances, direction, or sometimes its sheer "masterpieceness" (I made that last one up, by the way).

I've made it on to posters on the London Underground and onto DVD and video sleeves. I was one of a handful of reviewers whose Polaroid photo adorned the adverts for Memento along with a glowing quote. I've even made it onto cinema marquees. I once had a quote for Edward Scissorhands above the entrance of the Odeon Leicester Square and sent the family along to check it out.

Every film I've "appeared" on, I've been happy to be associated with. There are, I believe, no real dogs that bear my endorsement. (I say believe because I can't remember for sure.) But because I don't have a steady reviewing gig, "being quoted" happens less and less to me these days, although a quote from my Arena review of Body Of Lies made the bus stop ads and I loved being seeing my name on the huge posters for Jesse James that were all over the underground. That I think I did call a masterpiece, and I stand by it.

But there are reviewers who are quoted endlessly. They're often the ones who work for the tabloid newspapers and/or radio stations who often give breathlessly enthusiastic and highly praising reviews to just about everything (or so it seems). There are some, it seems, who clearly love having their name on a poster or an ad because they're happy to praise just about any piece of shit.

It happens both in the UK and US, but it's much, much worse in America where there are some folk who have elevated this "quote whoring" to something approaching an "art" and every year devote a list to the worst offenders — 2008's can be found here. It's hilarious.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Doctor Who?

Matt Smith, that's who. The 26-year-old actor is the youngest to pilot the Tardis and takes over from David Tennant next year.

Thursday 1 January 2009

Feliz ano nuevo!

Let's hope it's a good one.