Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Just because...

Today's news that Warner Bros. has once again kick-started development on a new version of Logan's Run seemed reason enough to post this particular photo of Jenny Agutter who starred opposite Michael York in the 1976 original.

For men of a certain age, the delectable Ms Agutter, via a variety of roles, made an impact that cannot be overstated.

A few years ago, I went to her London home to interview her for a documentary about working with Nic Roeg on Walkabout. She was, needless to say, extremely delightful and made us all tea.

Coming soon

It wasn't good but boy was it fun. I think I might have to buy this.

Trailer: The Last Exorcism

I have to say, this looks mighty creepy.

Trailer: Morning Glory

Bad Robot's first comedy, I believe. And it feels like it's a good one. Particularly love the way Harrison Ford says "fluffy".

Trailer: Inception (Japanese)

Featuring hitherto unseen footage, including that of Ken Wantanbe (it being Japanese, after all) aka "The Tourist". If anyone knows what the heck the voiceover means towards the end, please do get in touch...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Inception banners

I love this series of Inception character banners that have just been revealed by Empire. To see the rest, click here.

Lost, 2004-2010

Lost season one
Early on, during yesterday's two-and-a-half-hour Lost finale, I realised I didn't want the answers to the show's many mysteries to be revealed because knowing would mean that the show would, after six years, finally be over. And I didn't want it to be over because I loved the intrigue, the mystery, the cast, the game of tease that the show's makers had been so expert at would be at an end.

Yet, by the end of The End, I was so drained, emotionally speaking, having been put through the emotional ringer, that I wasn't sure how I felt come the closing credits. Sad? Elated? Distraught? Relieved? More than that, it took me a while to process what I had just seen meant in relation to the previous six years of Lost watching and theorizing.

Certainly, the series finale was emotionally satisfying — Sawyer and Juliet! Hooray! Daniel and Charlotte! Hooray! Hurley and Libby! Hooray! — and had me gasping with joy and awe and crying more times than I care to recall, mainly due to the wonderful relationship resolutions thrown up by the flash-sideways world and the sheer I-don't-have-any-idea-what-the-hell's-going-to-happen-next nature of the finale.

But how about intellectually satisfying? And narratively satisfying?

[Spoiler alert... read no further if you didn't see the finale.]

Did any one else feel slightly letdown that the flash-sideways world was some kind of limbo/purgatory/way station on the way to heaven for the passengers of flight Oceanic 815? Which presumably meant that everyone died when their plane crashed on the island way back in the pilot. So everything we watched on and off the island over the last six seasons — including the time travel, the polar bear, the smoke monster, Widmore's obsession with the island, the Dharma Initiative — was what, exactly? A dream? Their imaginings? Jacob's Ladder Part 2?

And therefore, by that reckoning, the island was just an island after all. (The writers hadn't been lying when they said it wasn't purgatory.)

I am, I must admit, still wrestling with the enormity of it all as I write this... It may take me a while.

Trust Lost to not be over when it's finally over.

[Deep breath... Long beat.]

Thanks guys, for six wonderful seasons. Can't wait to see what you'll cook up for us next...

Friday, 21 May 2010

World Cup glory

With this summer looking a trifle thin moviewise — Inception, notwithstanding — the forthcoming World Cup Finals have taken on even greater significance in my household. And I say this as someone who normally watches every single match during such tournaments.

If football's not your thing, then maybe this incredible new Nike ad will change your mind. It's directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, incidentally.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thirty years ago today...

... The Empire Strikes Back received its Royal Premiere in London.

I saw it the first weekend, which must have been a few days after the premiere. I was at school at the time and, being a massive Star Wars fan, I had been anticipating its release for months, reading about the film in the pages of Starburst and Starlog. It was long before the internet and advance information on films was thin on the ground, so I knew very little going in, although I had already found out that Darth Vadar was Luke's dad because the parents of two kids in my class worked on the film and had spilled the beans months before. (I have to admit, I didn't believe them at the time.)

Empire remains my favourite of the series, and despite George Lucas' best efforts the films have never again reached the same heights of creativity, emotion and storytelling. (Having said that, there are some amazing moments in Return Of The Jedi. Just not enough.)

From the Wampa scene to the titanic battle for Hoth, from Luke's trip to Dagobah and the introduction of Yoda to that scene in the cave, from Han and Leia's burgeoning romance to Han's heartfelt utterance of "I know" just before being deep frozen, from Luke's confrontation with Vadar in the cloud city of Bespin to the downbeat ending, Empire doesn't put a foot wrong, mainly due to the terrific script by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett.

Of all the Star Wars films, this is the one I still watch repeatedly. I have it on VHS, laserdisc and DVD, and will buy the Blu-ray when it's finally released, just as long as Lucas puts out the original cut as well as the tinkered with version.

It was amusing to me to read Lucas' recent comment about the fact that he made Star Wars up as he went along, and didn't actually have it all plotted out in advance (which kind of explains why Luke and Leia snog in Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars novel Splinter Of The Mind's Eye which was published after Star Wars and before Empire). I never thought he did, but when the result was as a great as The Empire Strikes Back, what did it matter.

Last night in LA, Harrison Ford took part in an onstage interview following a screening of Empire. When the first reports of the event come in, I'll be sure to link to them.

UPDATE: Here's the always excellent Hero Complex blog's coverage of the event. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Oh yeah!

Seven is coming to Blu-ray on September 14. And despite already owning the film on laserdisc and DVD, I can't see myself not buying the Blu-ray as well.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

He's back

After a break of five years, since 2005's Elizabethtown, Cameron Crowe will soon be back behind the camera, writing and directing an adaptation of Benjamin Mee's memoir We Bought A Zoo.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Crowe will rewrite Aline Brosh McKenna's script, while Fox has the film down to open on December 23, 2011.

Can. Not. Wait.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Battling Nemos

I was, I have to say, psyched at the idea of David Fincher directing a version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea for Disney.

But today's news that Fox is preparing its own version of Jules Verne's classic tale could conceivably scupper Fincher's film before it even gets going, as his chosen screenwriter, Scott Burns, has yet put finger to keyboard on the script yet. Whereas Fox already has the Scott brothers on board to produce, Timur Bekmambetov in mind to direct, and, perhaps more importantly, a finished script by Clash Of The Titans co-writer Travis Beacham (whose unproduced Killing On Carnival Row screenplay I just love).

There have been a few instances of rival Hollywood studios racing to complete two similar and competing projects in order to be the first to reach the big screen — Armageddon and Deep Impact being one such case — but with Fincher apparently already scouting locations for his English-language remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, his Verne adaptation might, potentially, dead in the water without even leaving port.

Psycho trailer

I've always loved this particular trailer. Can't imagine it happening today...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Monsters clip

The word from Cannes regarding Gareth Edwards' Monsters has been overwhelmingly positive. (The film also played at SXSW to glowing reviews.) And it's encouraging, too, to note that Edwards is a Brit. I couldn't find a trailer for the film online (if you know of one, please let me know) but I did find this clip which is seriously odd and unbelievably creepy.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Saul Maoz's powerhouse of a war movie, Lebanon, which I was bowled over by when I saw it at Venice, where it won the Golden Lion, is finally released in UK cinemas tomorrow. So, if you don't fancy seeing Robin Hood but fancy a trip to the pictures this weekend, might I suggest you see this instead.


Here's one I really want to see. Andrew Dominik, writer-director of The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford aka my favourite film of 2007 alongside Zodiac, is set to write and direct an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ imaginary Marilyn Monroe memoir Blonde, with Naomi Watts set to star as the legendary icon. The $20 million film will, according to screendaily, shoot in January 2011.

“Why is Marilyn Monroe the great female icon of the 20th Century?" said Dominik. "For men she is an object of sexual desire that is desperately in need of rescue. For women, she embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes. I want to tell the story of Norma Jean as a central figure in a fairytale; an orphan child lost in the woods of Hollywood, being consumed by that great icon of the twentieth century.”

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Trailer: The Adjustment Bureau

It's based on a short story by Philip K Dick. What more do you need to know?

"A spirit of openness and compassion"

Photo detail
"We don't want to have a certain kind of thing we're looking for," said Cannes jury president Tim Burton at today's jury press conference. "The point is to just feel the films and then discuss them and just be open. We've all been judged, so I think we're going into it with a certain kind of spirit of openness and hopefully compassion for any filmmaker."

Photo: AP (Matt Sayles)

And so it begins...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

Legendary artist Frank Frazetta has died, aged 82. I first became familiar with Frazetta's wonderful work when it graced the cover of numerous books I read as a kid, but the Brooklyn-born artist also drew comic books and album covers and provided Hollywood with many great painted posters over the years, including this one:


Here's a Frazetta illustration for Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series.


Judge Dredd news

judge-dreddWe've known for some time that Alex Garland has been writing a new version of Judge Dredd for DNA Films that will forever erase the memory of Stallone's misguided take on the 2000AD icon. Now comes the news that Omagh director Pete Travis will helm the $45 million 3D film in South Africa later this year. Financing comes from Reliance Big Entertainment and IM Global who are selling the movie at Cannes. After years of living with the stink of Dredd's previous cinematic incarnation, fans of the Mega-City lawman can rest assured that he's in very good hands.

Ridley Scott interview

ridley scottWith Ridley Scott's Robin Hood opening Cannes tomorrow night (as well as opening in cinemas across the UK earlier in the day), the British filmmaker, who will miss the Croisette celebrations as he continues to recuperate from knee surgery in LA, talks to The Guardian.

"I didn't really go for the fella in the green tights and the funny little feather in his cap," he tells John Patterson. "I was so engrossed in finding a convincing story for where he came from, how he came about, how I could justify the Sheriff of Nottingham, how King John inherited a terrible position – by the time we got through all that, we were already doing a making-of kind of film, the making of this person who later will be called a legend."

Early reviews have, thus far, been mixed.

Tamara Drewe clips

Back in November, I mentioned popping down the road for a pint of milk, only to find the crew of Tamara Drewe filming in my local bookshop. Flash forward six months and director Stephen Frears will be premiering the film, starring Gemma Arterton, at Cannes next week. Here are a couple of clips.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Biutiful poster

One film I am sad not to be able to see in Cannes is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest, Biutiful, which stars the splendid Javier Bardem. I know some have given up on the Mexican filmmaker after Babel, but I remain convinced of his talents. Let's hope I'm not proved wrong. Biutiful, Iñárritu’s first Spanish-language film since Amores Perros, screens on May 17, I believe.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Report card: A Nightmare Elm Street remake — must try harder

I witnessed Freddy Krueger's arrival in cinemas and watched every subsequent sequel, as the character got progressively sillier and sillier, up to and including Wes Craven's underrated post-modern frightfest New Nightmare which, for me, gave the character some of his edge back. (I skipped Freddy Vs Jason.) And so, I decided to give the new A Nightmare On Elm Street a go, figuring it couldn't be as bad the same team's Friday 13th remake. It wasn't. However, the film plays out like a karaoke version of Craven's seminal horror, pitched somewhere between prequel and reboot, hitting more or less the same notes and set pieces as the original — although I missed the bloody bedroom geyser that should have befallen the "Johnny Depp character" — without anywhere near the same ferocity, tension or conviction. Jackie Earle Haley's Freddy may look the part in his stripy sweater, but his silly "scary" voice isn't. (He played a far scarier pedophile in Todd Field's film Little Children.) First-time feature director Samuel Bayer makes an okay stab at the dream visuals (as well he should, given his background in promos and commercials), but pretty much everything else is woefully underdeveloped. Irony of ironies, I nearly fell asleep watching it.  

Second look: Let Me In

ca-vegas25The LA Times has an interview with Matt Reeves, director of Let Me In, who says this about his Let The Right One In remake:

"I think because of Cloverfield, people have an assumption, which is, 'Oh, crazy handicam, he's going to jazz it up'. And I think that's probably what a lot of people were afraid of when they thought of the most cynical version. And that's the last thing we tried to do. We tried to create the approaching, foreboding dread of movies like The Shining, where you feel like something wicked is unraveling and it's not going to end well. That's what I responded to about the original, the juxtaposition of those tones, this very disturbing story but at the center of it there are these very tender emotions. That's a very unusual mix, and that's what drew me in and dug into me."

Read the full article here. Pictured above: Abby (Chloe Moretz) and Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Trailer: Inception (number 3)

Watch it and weep. With joy. And amazement.

Friday, 7 May 2010

First look: Let Me In

I have yet to be convinced that remaking Let The Right One In is a good idea, but I'm trying hard to remain open-minded on the matter.

Here's the first official look at Kick-Ass' Chloe Moretz as the ageless "child" vampire in Matt Reeves' remake.

Trailer: Splice

UK Splice Trailer RevealedA month or so ago I ran the US trailer for Splice. Today Empire has the exclusive on the UK trailer which shows way more in terms of both creature and plot. Can't tell you how creepy it looks. Might I suggest you see it for yourself.

Planet of the CGI apes

Planet of the Apes 40 anniver AP Mary Altaffer
Fox has released more details regarding the Planet Of The Apes prequel/reboot, which was originally called Caesar when Scott Frank was attached to write and direct, but which they're now tentatively calling Rise Of The Apes.

Here's the press release:

"Twentieth Century Fox has set a June 24, 2011 release for RISE OF THE APES, a completely new take on one of the Studio’s most beloved and successful franchises. Oscar®-winning visual effects house WETA Digital – employing certain of the groundbreaking technologies developed for AVATAR – will render, for the first time ever in the film series, photo-realistic apes rather than costumed actors.

Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark will produce for Chernin Entertainment under its new pact with Fox. Acclaimed filmmaker Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) is directing from a screenplay by Amanda Silver & Rick Jaffa, who also are producing.

RISE OF THE APES (tentative title) is an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy."

Now, I thought Wyatt's debut feature The Escapist was pretty damn good, and I wish him luck with this, but I'm not sure about CGI apes. The series has always relied on actors in makeup, and whatever you think of Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes, it features terrific work from Rick Baker and his team.

This move signifies a major departure for the Apes films. Is it the right one? Only time will tell...

Super 8 details revealed

So, Super 8 is not the sequel to Cloverfield.

However, it clearly is another monster movie. Featuring aliens.

It does look very much like the kind of film Spielberg would have made if he'd opted to make Night Skies instead of ET, and seems to be set in the same milieu as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

More importantly, unlike Cloverfield, JJ Abrams is directing this one.

It's out summer 2011, which, I have to say, is starting to look very tasty for movie lovers.

Incidentally, currently has a link up for the trailer that someone shot directly from the screen at a US cinema. I don't suppose it will be around for too much longer. Watch it while you can...

New Inception poster

Time was when the July release date for Chris Nolan's latest seemed impossibly far away. Now, not so much. Apparently a third trailer will air soon. In the meantime, there's this.

Inception Poster

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I don't care what anyone says, I love David Lynch's Dune — it maybe messy and sprawling and flawed but it's also full of haunting imagery, striking set design and sublime creativity. I saw it twice at the cinema when it was released, and own it on DVD. I told Lynch how much I liked the film when I met him in London in the mid-90s, although his reaction was one more of puzzlement and dismay, rather than gratitude for my singular critical judgment.

Ed Naha wrote what I remember as being an incisive making of book at the time of release, and this is a wonderful accompaniment to that now out-of-print tome, a fascinating peak behind-the-scenes from one of the film's stars, Sean Young. I do hope there's more to come...

No Cannes do

Once again I will be heading straight past the Croisette and proceeding directly to Venice where Quentin Tarantino has just been announced as head of the jury for the 67th Venice Film Festival which runs September 1-11.

Considering Sofia Coppola's Somewhere and Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life are both rumoured to be premiering there, it looks like the Lido is the place to be.

Although no Tarantino film has unspooled in Venice, he has godfathered two Venice sidebars in recent years, the Italian King of the Bs retrospective in 2004 and one on Spaghetti Westerns in 2007.

Some thoughts about Iron Man 2

Ironman6duo_l1cftyncI have been trying to muster the energy to write about Iron Man 2 which I finally saw at the weekend. It's not that I didn't enjoy the film while watching it, rather that it all but disappeared from my brain as soon as I left the cinema. Although, from what I remember:

It's not as good as the first one.

The first half's fun. The second is muddled, unfocussed and fussy.

The Monaco sequence was nicely staged but nothing in the rest of the movie comes close to topping it.

The ending was substantially the same as the original's. Only with more metal machines for Iron Man (and Warmachine) to pummel.

Scarlett made a killer Black Widow. More please.

Mickey Rourke was a terrific Whiplash.

Sam Rockwell oozed slime brilliantly as Justin Hammer.

Downey Jr can play this character with his eyes closed. And occasionally does.

If I were to give it a star rating, I would give it three out of five. At a push.

Decision time

If you live in the UK, you can't have failed to notice that there's an election going on. Today is polling day and, for once, your vote could make all the difference. Don't waste it.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Trailer: The Killer Inside Me

CLiNT magazine

With magazines seemingly closing every day, it's great to hear about a new title set to hit newsstands later in the year.

CLiNT is the brainchild of comic creator Mark Millar and will feature strips from UK comedian Frankie Boyle and TV presenter Jonathan Ross, as well as Millar’s sequel to Kick-Ass.

Millar calls the magazine, published in association with Titan Magazines, as "The Eagle for the 21st Century". 

“There are absolutely no comic-books aimed at 16-30 year old guys and I think CLiNT has potential to make an enormous impact, bringing a new type of magazine to a new generation," says Millar.

“I want this to be edgy and irreverent, the kind of thing guys will be passing around lunch-halls and common rooms, and there’s nobody I’d rather have creating new characters for CLiNT than Jonathan and Frankie. They’re both brilliant writers and will surprise a lot of people with this stuff.”

Alongside four serialised comic-strips, each issue will carry interviews and features covering movies, games and TV. It looks set to be packed full of exciting writers, with Millar adding, “We have the most insane line-up of creators ready to come in and join us. You’d be amazed how many people who work in film and television want to be comic-book writers. It’s very exciting and we think we’re creating something potentially enormous here.”

The first issue of the 100-page magazine will be on sale on September 2, and will then be published on a four-weekly basis.

Vaughn signs on for X-Men: First Class

After having bailed on X-Men: The Last Stand — for reasons apparently to do with not having the time he felt he needed to make the movie he wanted to make — Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn has finally got his hands on an X-Men movie, signing on to make X-Men: First Class for Fox, who have already earmarked a June 2011 release date.

Back in early March, when I interviewed Vaughn for Time Out, I asked him whether he would ever consider directing a studio film again after the experience of making Kick-Ass independently. His answer was very interesting.

"I’m not saying I wouldn’t do a studio movie," he told me. "I’d do the right one. When I say the right one, if there was a story I was itching to tell and it was offered to me and I loved the script, yeah, I’d do a studio movie, but I’ve really had a good time making Kick-Ass and for me it’s important. I think I have the best job in the world in the sense that it’s exhausting but it doesn't feel like work, and most of the time it’s a very healthy stress — the stress that makes you feel alive and keeps you on your toes, it’s a positive stress.

"When I did Stardust there was a lot of negative stress, in the sense that I was fighting the studio for things that I so believed were right and [were] so obviously right. That was a weird thing, when you’re just trying to protect yourself from bad decisions that you’re going to get the blame for. That happened a lot on Stardust and I found that more exhausting than anything else.

"With Kick-Ass I didn’t have any of that madness to deal with, because we could all sit in a room and go what’s best for the movie, let’s go off and do it. I used to be very dismissive of a lot of directors thinking they were talentless and then I suddenly saw how the system works and there’s a reason why Spielberg and Lucas and Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson consistently make pretty good films — it’s because they’re allowed to do what they think is right. But you go down the next level of director and they’re movies made by committee and decisions being forced on them which everyone assumes the director made the decision but, boy, half the time they didn’t. It happened to me on Stardust, I had to cast someone I didn’t think was right for a role, still don’t when I watch the film, makes me feel sick. I keep going that person’s not bloody right for the role, wasn’t what I imagined it to be, but I got forced into casting that person."

Of course I asked Vaughn who that person was. And he told me. Off the record.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

More evidence of JJ's genius?

I don't know whether this story about the trailer for a secret new JJ Abrams-produced film that's supposedly a sequel to Cloverfield and is apparently called Super 8 and will play before Iron Man 2 in the US is true, but I sure hope so. I guess only time will tell...

Trailer: The American

During his earlier career as a music photographer and video director, Anton Corbijn showed he had impeccable visual taste. When he moved into filmmaking, his debut feature as director, Control, revealed he could align that crisp, elegant visual style with an innate understanding of storytelling and performance. His second feature, The American, scripted by Rowan Joffe, is high on my must-see-for-2010 list and stars George Clooney as a hitman in Italy taking on one last assignment.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Trailer: Piranha 3D

If it wasn't bad enough that this is the third film to bear this title (not including James Cameron's Piranha 2: Flying Killers), there's even a guy dressed up like Richard Dreyfuss' character in Jaws.

I'm not saying this doesn't look like fun, but I have a real soft spot for the Joe Dante-directed, John Sayles-scripted original and this second remake doesn't seem to offer a whole lot more, apart from the added dimension. And more breasts.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

First look: London Boulevard

William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Ken Bruen's novel, centring on a man (Colin Farrell), just out of jail, who falls for a young movie star (Keira Knightley) and finds himself at loggerheads with a vicious gangster. Very much looking forward to this one.

Not for the claustrophobic

I love contained thrillers and Buried looks right up my street, even if the premise is suspiciously similar to a short story I read once.

Great poster, too.