Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Losers trailer

The Losers, the Andy Diggle-penned, Jock-drawn, Vertigo series was always a lot of fun and Sylvain White's movie version looks to be following the same action-packed tune. 
“When I first read the screenplay, what struck me, the initial spark, was the opportunity for a really interesting mix of tones," White told the LA Times. "It struck me almost as a comedy disguised in an action film. I felt recently there had been a lot of action movies that embrace grittiness and realness but also fall into a very straight and dark tone, generally. I thought here there was a really interesting balance drawn from the 2004 and 2005 [comics] reinventions of ‘The Losers’ that had hard, gritty action with a fun, light tone.”

Friday, 29 January 2010

Yesterday's viewing

With my job, one doesn't always know what the day holds. This was yesterday, for instance. Three films: the first a fine, expertly crafted, well-acted human drama/sports movie; the second an extreme, sickening and very bloody horror thriller; the third a dated but fascinating biopic directed by Bob Fosse. 



Star 80

Thursday, 28 January 2010

JD Salinger, 1919-2010

Famous as much for his decision to turn his back on fame as for his seminal novel about teen angst and alienation Catcher In The Rye, reclusive author JD Salinger has died aged 91. His output was slender but his reach was long.

Not convinced

I am, and always have been, a Mac man, and, like countless others around the world, I was anxiously awaiting the launch of what turned out to be the iPad yesterday. Alas, nothing I've seen so far has convinced me that I WANT ONE. And that's desperately disappointing. What's it for? I asked myself last night. What does it do? Well, it kinda does everything. And in our niche demographic world that's too vague. Granted it looks very nice and the email and photo functions look cool, but I have yet to be convinced that it's for me.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Alice In Wonderland sketches

Various sketches and photos from Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland have popped up on the web today and more will be released soon. Aint It Cool News has the exclusive on Burton's sketch for the Red Queen, while Cinematical has one of Stayne, the Knave of Hearts, both of which will also appear in the forthcoming Alice In Wonderland: A Visual Companion, together with many, many more photos and illustrations. IGN also has a nice little precis of how the White Rabbit was created.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Empire: Kick-Ass cover

Biggest. Film. Ever.

It's official then, Avatar has sunk Titanic in just six weeks, giving Jim Cameron the top two highest-grossing films of all time. Kinda wish it had been a tad more exciting than it turned out. The one remaining question: can it break the $2 billion mark?

Tim Burton to preside over Cannes jury

Tim Burton will be president of the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival which runs from May 12-23. "After spending my early life watching triple features and 48-hour horror movie marathons, I’m finally ready for this," said Burton. "It’s a great honour and I look forward, with my fellow jurors, to watching some great films from around the world. When you think of Cannes you think of world cinema. And as films have always been like dreams to me, this is a dream come true.”

Cannes festival president Gilles Jacob added, “It’s the first time an artist whose origins are in animation will preside over the jury of the Festival de Cannes. A filmmaker with a heart of gold and silver hands, Tim Burton is first and foremost a poet. He’s a magician of visual delights who turns the screen into a fairy wonder. We hope his sweet madness and gothic humour will pervade the Croisette, bringing Christmas to all. Christmas and Halloween…”

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Killer Inside Me: "Staggeringly violent"

"Michael Winterbottom’s staggeringly violent adaptation of Jim Thompson’s 1952 novel The Killer Inside Me reaches a new extreme in the cinematic depiction of a psychopathic murderer. It is hard to watch — and for some will be impossible — regardless of any psychological logic behind its many killings. Distributors everywhere will be shy of this film, despite Winterbottom’s established reputation. Anyone releasing it will be dogged by its violence, especially towards women.  Theatrical response should be similar to Antichrist, another film whose violence is at the extreme of what is watchable. Audiences up to their ears in cinematic serial killers may enter this film, thinking blithely that they already know them all. Like it or not, Winterbottom will prove them wrong."

From David D'Arcy's screendaily review.

Robot love

I am not in Sundance and so I didn't get to see the world premiere of Spike Jonze's short I'm Here which apparently went down a storm. And so, all I can offer is this taster...

The film will screen at next month's Berlin Film Festival and will available here in March.

Tick tick... boom!

So The Hurt Locker picked up the PGA Award for Best Picture yesterday, beating out the mighty Avatar and making this year's Best Picture Oscar something of a race after all.

The SAG Awards on Saturday all but made the the destination of the acting Oscars a cast-iron certainty — Bullock over Mulligan? What's wrong with you people? — and for me ruined whatever suspense remained about who was going to win come March. And again, I have the same feeling about Jeff Bridges winning for Crazy Heart (cos he will, have no doubt) that I had when Scorsese won for The Departed. He's long overdue an Oscar but this isn't really the film.

Still, Hurt Locker's victory has definitely thrown a spanner in the Avatar works. Not saying that movie doesn't deserve its success, but it most definitely isn't the best film of the year. Don't care what anyone says.

Great, too, to see that Up won for Best Animated Picture. Go Doug...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Movie maths: The Book Of Eli

The Road + Children Of Men = The Book Of Eli

A Western in all but period, The Book Of Eli is both a welcome return for filmmaking twins Albert and Allen Hughes after the intriguing disappointment that was From Hell and further proof that when it comes to acting badass Denzel Washington is head and shoulders above the rest. This isn't a great film — we'd be talking three out of five if we were talking stars — but it has much to admire, not least Don Burgess' bleached/ash-coloured digital cinematography, Denzel's samurai-esque man-on-a-mission, Michael Gambon and Frances De La Tour as an eccentric elderly cannibal couple, and the Hughes' classical approach to filming action, favouring widescreen composition and long takes rather than cutting like crazy. It's a film that wears its influences — Mad Max, Sergio Leone, Kurosawa, Fahrenheit 451 — without shame — witness, too, a poster for A Boy And His Dog  plastered to a wall — although I wish someone would cast Gary Oldman as something other than a scene-chewing baddie, as entertainingly malevolent as he is. Ultimately, though, The Book Of Eli doesn't add that much new to the post-apocalyptic movie landscape — other than an exhilarating "one" take action sequence straight out of Children of Men — and arguably suffers in comparison to John Hillcoat's recent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road which it somewhat resembles. Less depressing, though.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Jean Simmons, 1929-2010

British actress Jean Simmons dies aged 80
Another one gone. The Observer's Phillip French pays tribute to the English beauty who starred in Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus, David Lean's Great Expectations and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet among many others.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Film review: A Prophet (*****)

French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s latest is the first truly essential film of 2010. Audiard, director of Read My Lips and The Beat That My Heart Skipped, turns his attentions to the prison movie and, in particular, French-Arab prisoner Malik (Tahar Rahim) just starting a six-year stretch for, well, the film never tells us. If incarceration wasn’t bad enough, things are about to get a whole lot worse for Malik when he’s presented with a stark choice by the prison’s Mr Big, a vicious Corsican gangster named César (Niels Arestrup): kill another inmate or be killed. C’est simple. The result is, without a doubt, one of the most shocking onscreen killings you’ll ever see and will haunt you for days. Later, as Malik begins to work for César, he receives regular visits by the ghost of the man he killed. Perhaps it’s his ghost. Maybe it’s meant to be Mailk’s conscience. The movie lets that one hang, unanswered. As it does with the scene that gives the film its title. Soon Malik is given more responsibility beyond making tea for César and his Corsican cronies, using his days off for good behaviour to settle scores and do deals for him on the outside. But Malik’s a smart one, and as he grows in stature and confidence inside, he exploits his ethnicity and position close to César to highly profitable effect and uses his friendship with both a dealer on the inside and a former inmate to lay the foundations for his own crime empire come his release. It’s an exceptional performance from Rahim, and another sensational film from the masterful Audiard. Do yourself a favour and go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

BAFTA nominations 2010

This year's BAFTA nominations were announced this morning. Avatar, The Hurt Locker and An Education lead the way with eight, District 9 nabbed seven and Up In The Air and Inglourious Basterds six apiece. But nothing for Where The Wild Things Are and only one for A Prophet — and that in Best Foreign Language Film.

The full list is after the jump.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Total Film: Alice In Wonderland

The new issue of Total Film features an article on Alice In Wonderland by yours truly. Check it out.

Webb winner

Webb Of Spider-ManI caught Marc Webb's (500) Days Of Summer on the plane going to New York last November and it immediately forced its way into my favourite films of the year. Webb was always the front runner to take over the helm of the Spider-man franchise and that has indeed come to pass. I wish him well. Does this mean Summer star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a shoe-in for Peter Parker?

The Sony press release follows.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monday musing

Okay, so only four of my Globe picks came up trumps, but at least James Cameron had the good grace to reflect that his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow should have won Best Director for The Hurt Locker.

The Globes always make my blood boil and this year was no exception: Streep over Mulligan, and The Hangover over (500) Days Of Summer. Arrgghh!!

Anyway, too much work today to dwell on the idiotic nature of those who vote.

Here's the full list of winners.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Gainsbourg (vie heroique) trailer

I saw this trailer the other day and my interest was well and truly piqued. And this review on screendaily has only added to my excitement.

Friday, 15 January 2010

If I picked the Golden Globes...

This Sunday the Golden Globes, the first big event of 2010's awards season which culminates with the Oscars on March 7, take place. As with past years, I have a friend who's been nominated, and I wish her the best of luck and sincerely hope she wins (she deserves it), even though I actually prefer another film in her particular category. Anyway, if I could pick the winners, the ones in bold capitals would come away victorious. Check back on Sunday to see how wrong I was.

Best Motion Picture -- Drama
Inglorious Basterds
Up in the Air

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -- Drama
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Gabourey Sadibe, Precious

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Drama
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Tobey Maguire, Brothers

Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy
The Hangover
It's Complicated
Julie & Julia

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Meryl Streep, It's Complicated
Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia
Julia Roberts, Duplicity

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy
Daniel Day Lewis, Nine
Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Joseph Gordon Levitt, (500) Days of Summer
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mo-Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Penelope Cruz, Nine

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Matt Damon, Invictus
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Best Animated Feature Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The Princess and the Frog

Best Foreign Language Film
Broken Embraces 
The White Ribbon
The Maid

Best Director -- Motion Picture
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds 

Best Screenplay -- Motion Picture
It's Complicated
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds

Best Original Score -- Motion Picture
Michael Giacchino, Up
Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant
James Horner, Avatar
Abel Krozeniowski, A Single Man

Best Original Song -- Motion Picture
"I Will See You," Avatar
"Winter," Brothers
"Cinema Italiano," Nine
"I Want to Come Home," Everybody's Fine

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Great telly

Yesterday, I read with great interest Top 50 TV Dramas Of All Time and then watched the final two episodes of Breaking Bad season 2 which had been on my Virgin planner since the end of last year. I found The Guardian's list fascinating if flawed. The Wire at number 14? Oh pur-lezz. Plus there was no mention of Breaking Bad which is, quite simply, brilliant. I was going to put down my thoughts about the Vince Gilligan-created drama which stars Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque who's diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and in order to provide for his family teams up with a former student to make crystal meth, then I read Andrew Collins' appreciation which says all I wanted to say, and probably says it better, too. Season 1 is available on region 2 DVD — I watched it on FX back in 2008 when it first aired here — and both are available on region 1 DVD. Season 3 starts in the US later this year. Considering how badly this show has been treated by British TV — Five USA showed it daily at midnight(!) — who knows if we'll even get it in the UK.

For Your Consideration

UpBest Supporting Animal — Doug the dog (Up)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

BAFTA Rising Star Nominees 2010

Today at BAFTA HQ in London, this year's nominees for the BAFTA Rising Star Award 2010 were announced by last year's winner Noel Clarke. They are as follows:

Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland)

Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man)

Carey Mulligan (An Education)

Tahar Rahim (A Prophet)

Kristen Stewart (Twilight: New Moon)

If I had my way, it would be between Mulligan and Rahim, who is extraordinary in Jacques Audiard's latest. Of course, since the award is voted for by the public, Stewart (who's hardly rising; she's been on the scene for a good while now. Panic Room, anyone?) will win, since those Twilighters, or whatever they're called, will be texting in like crazy.

This has always been an odd award, generally won by the best know individual, rather than necessarily the most deserving.

Still, if you fancy having your say, all the details regarding how to vote can be found here.

BFI Johnny Depp season

London's BFI Southbank is running a season of Johnny Depp films next month, a season I wrote the programme notes for. It runs February 1-28. Full details and the list of titles can be found on the BFI website here.

The next Peter Parker

So Sony has finally pulled the plug on Spider-man 4 after the studio parted company with director Sam Raimi over various issues pertaining to script and schedule, and star Tobey Maguire followed him out the door.

The studio has already moved on and are planning to reboot the series with a new director and new cast, and with Peter Parker back at high school. The script for Spider-man 2.0 has already been written by Zodiac scribe James Vanderbilt who had been hired back in the day to pen Spidey parts 5 and 6 which were, apparently, a kind of contingency plan should this day ever arrive.

Moving on, the big question, other than who will replace Raimi, is who should play Peter Parker this time around? I read somewhere that Anton Yelchin, who co-starred in both Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation in the summer, would be a good fit, and I have to say, I think that's a great idea. He's got the acting chops, and certainly looks the part.

Incidentally, I remember interviewing Tobey Maguire for Ride With The Devil at the London Film Festival many years ago and saying to him that if they ever make a Spider-man movie, he should play Peter Parker. And Maguire looking at me like I was mad... Funny how things change.

The Sony press release follows:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Eric Rohmer, 1920-2010

Eric Rohmer, one of the last remaining bastions of the French New Wave and a key figure alongside Godard and Truffaut, has left us. His films included Tales Of Four Seasons, My Night At Maud's (pictured) and Autumn Tale. He was 89. The New York Times' Dave Kehr offers this fine appreciation.

I'm Here photo

Continuing the Spike Jonze theme, here is a look at his new short, I'm Here, which stars the very talented Andrew Garfield. Described a "robot love story", the film premieres later this month at Sundance.

Photo: We Love You So.

Must read

A.O. Scott on Where The Wild Things Are

Meet the Avartards

James Cameron must have a very big smile on his face right now, what with Avatar officially the second biggest film of all time behind his very own Titanic and continuing to rake in the cash at an astonishing rate. And it's also many people's favorite to pick up the Best Picture Oscar. Here's Andrew Pulver in The Guardian on those obsessive fans who are driving Avatar's repeat business. Are you one of them?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

New Kick-Ass trailer

Are you excited yet? Cos you should be. 2010: The year Kick-Ass makes contact.

A-Team trailer

I have to say, I love the look of this. It's got guilty pleasure written all over it.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Lost supper

The sixth and final season of Lost begins next month and I for one can't wait. But as much as I want to know the answer to the eternal question "What is the island?", part of me will be sad to know. Over at the Hollywood Reporter, Lost showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof chat about the upcoming season. Here's a taster of what they talk about.

THRYou obviously can't talk about the content of the ending. But how do you think fans will feel about it?
Lindelof: That's a very cagey way of asking it. It's tough to prognosticate. But the one area we're in agreement is there will be a short-term reaction to the ending and then a legacy reaction that comes six months, a year down the road, looking at the show as a whole. Carlton and I were trying yesterday to remember what the final season of "The Sopranos" even was about -- we couldn't remember much about the finale itself except Anthony Jr. was going to go into the Army and crashed his car and changed his mind. But we remember every frame of the diner scene. What people take away from our finale is going to be based purely on that two-hour episode, but our hope is they'll be able to connect that experience to the six years that preceded it.

THRHow would you describe this season in terms of its, say, tone? What is it like compared to past seasons?
Cuse: We feel tonally it's most similar to the first season of the show. We're employing a different narrative device, which we feel is creating some emotional and heartfelt stories, and we want the audience to have a chance in the final season to remember the entire history of the show. So we have actors coming back like Dominic [Monaghan] and Ian [Sommerhalder]. We're hoping to achieve a circularity of the entire journey so the ending is reminiscent of the beginning.