Saturday 24 July 2010


* The headline I stole, but I couldn't think of anything more fitting.

Friday 23 July 2010

Monsters trailer

Sucker Punch ladies

I don't know much about Zack Synder's Sucker Punch other than it's a variation on Alice In Wonderland set in an asylum that features robots and big guns and young women and seems to have a steampunk/WWI feel to it judging by the official website. Empire has posted a set of character banners for the Sucker Punch ladies. Click here to see them all. The film's out next March in Synder's usual release slot.

New Red trailer

Thursday 22 July 2010

New Tron Legacy trailer

Venice opener: Black Swan

Venice has been good to Darren Aronofsky. The Fountain premiered there in 2006, while The Wrestler picked up the Golden Lion two years later. And now it's been announced that Aronofsky's latest, Black Swan, will open the 67th Venice Film Festival on September 1.

USA Today has debuted a series of photos from the film which it describes thus: "The dark tale with psychological twists stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a technically brilliant ballerina whose life takes some strange turns after being picked as the lead in a [NYC] production of Swan Lake. Pressures mount as her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey) pushes her to succeed and her manipulative dance master commands her to be more seductive and loose in her performance. Complicating that is the arrival of Lily (Mila Kunis), a sultry dancer who exhibits all the innate ease and sexuality that Nina lacks. Nina begins to fixate on the newcomer as the two forge an unusual relationship."

Some have described it as a supernatural thriller; others have, I seem to recall, pegged it as a horror film. Either way, I can't wait. Although I'm going to have to, since I won't be in Venice in time to see it.

Dredd rumour

Growing up, 2000AD was one of my favourite comics. I bought it religiously from issue one (or rather my dad bought it for me) and, inevitably, Judge Dredd has remained up there with my favourite comic characters.

As such, I can't begin to tell you how wrong and lumpen-headed I felt the Danny Cannon-directed, Stallone-starring Judge Dredd movie was. I remember being on set, interviewing those making it, and yet, all the while, a voice in my head was screaming at me: "No. No. No. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong."

The movie was released and died the death it deserved, although it also put pay to the idea of any other 2000AD characters being adapted for the cinema for a long, long time.

I am very optimistic for the Judge Dredd reboot that Alex Garland for many, many reasons. Garland loves and respects the material and the movie is being put together from that place.

The Stallone movie cocked up Dredd in so many ways, not least by showing Dredd (ie Stallone's) face. The new film won't be making that mistake, and so I was always intrigued by who would they get to play the title character bearing that in mind. If the casting rumours are to be believed, and Karl Urban is in negotiations to play Dredd, that's a great choice.

Urban can definitely act and has done good work in films as diverse as The Bourne Supremacy, Lord Of The Rings and as Bones in JJ Abrams' Star Trek. And he's certainly got the jaw.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Poster: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Poster First spied at Chud. Along with a Del Toro and Troy Nixey interview.

More food for thought

Inception DiCaprio NolanI told you this Inception debate would run and run. Here's a very measured and reasonable explanation from Dileep Rao, Inception's concoctor of sedatives and potions. According to Dileep, it's not all a dream...

Five levels of Inception

From CinemaBlend.

The 5 Levels of Inception

Trailer: The Debt

Tuesday 20 July 2010

More Fincher

 Photo by Mark Romanek

Teaser: The Goon

I always thought David Fincher was directing as well as producing Blur Studios' adaptation of Eric Powell's comic book series. Either way, this pre-Comic-Con teaser is our first look at what they're up to.

Friday 16 July 2010

Inception thoughts

Christopher Nolan's Inception
Readers of this blog are clearly discerning moviegoing types and, as such, will no doubt be heading to see Inception this weekend if they haven't already seen it. I've seen it twice, and plan on going again soon enough. However, you know what I thought — a dazzling tour de force of imagination and ingenuity. Now I'd like to know your take on Christopher Nolan's latest. Please don't be shy. The more the merrier...


If you haven't read Lee Child's Jack Reacher series you're missing out. The Reacher books are hopelessly addictive and would make for a brilliant movie franchise. They've picked the right book, One Shot, to begin with, and the news that Chris McQuarrie has signed on to write the script and possibly direct the movie should thrill anyone who, like, me was a massive fan of McQuarrie's much underrated but utterly brilliant debut feature, The Way Of The Gun. If you've not seen it, then might I suggest you stop reading right now, and rectify that situation immediately. Then, head to your local bookstore, pick up any Reacher novel and prepare to partake of the next day or two of your life...

Trailer: The Town

I was a big fan of Ben Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone which made number 11 on my top films of 2008, and this looks very promising indeed. Love the cast, too.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Very cool

Coming in September. 

Trailer 3: The Social Network

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Stocking filler

If I didn't already own numerous versions of these films on assorted home viewing formats I might be more excited about the release of this Alien Anthology. That said, the Blu-rays are due out on October 25 in the UK and a day later in the US, so it might make a rather nice Christmas present. Apparently they include around 60 hours of extras which makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

A full list of the extras can be found after the jump.

Tributes to Ray

Back on June 26, BAFTA/BFI hosted a 90th birthday tribute to Ray Harryhausen. The event, along with a host of video tributes, is now online. You can check it out by clicking here.

Comic cons

Comic-Con 2010 is almost upon us and the drip-drip feed of photos and footage has begun in earnest. The LA Times has a peak at Thor, while EW has Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern as its latest cover star.

Trailer: Due Date

I have to hold my hand up and say I didn't get The Hangover. What I mean by that is, I didn't get what all the fuss was about. I laughed at the trailer, but the whole film didn't do it for me the way I'd hoped. Still, I'm willing to give this a go, not least because of the presence of RDJ who I will watch in anything...

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Bad bad bad bad bad

It's very rare that I walk out of a film. And when it comes to watching a DVD or Blu-ray at home, I'm equally rigid in my viewing; it takes something extraordinarily awful for me to hit eject. That something was Pandorum which I rented last night, in spite of the mostly bad reviews, simply because I'm a sucker for space movies. BIG effing mistake. It's a terrible, terrible film and not what SFX claim on the cover to be "the finest intersellar horror in years".

Harvey Pekar, 1929-2010

Harvey Pekar
I only met Harvey Pekar once, at the Cannes Film Festival, where he was helping promote the film based on his autobiographical comic-book series, American Splendor which starred Paul Giamatti as Pekar. He was as dry and dour and grumpy as I expected him to be, which made for a very interesting interview. (He was there with his wife Joyce.)

Here's Pekar on the David Letterman show.

Monday 12 July 2010

Nolan Fest: Inception

Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his billion-dollar grossing The Dark Knight has long been the film on which we’ve all pinned our movie-going hopes this summer. Does it disappoint? Not. One. Bit. To reveal too much in writing about it would be to spoil what is not just the film of the summer but perhaps the film of the year, especially given the outstanding job Nolan and his marketing team have done in shrouding Inception in a veil of mystery from day one, teasing at its secrets via a series of stunning if reasonably oblique trailers. 

Nevertheless, there are a few things you can know. Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, dream thief and expert in the art of extraction, capable of entering the sleeping minds of others and pulling from them their most valuable corporate secrets via shared dreams. On the run from the US authorities, unable to return home to his two young children, Cobb is offered the opportunity to clear his name by Ken Watanabe’s shady businessman Saito. His task, not to extract information from someone’s subconscious, rather to plant an idea — “the most resilient and powerful parasite” — into the mind of rival industrialist Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). But interception, as it’s called, requires going far deeper, in order to imbed an idea into the subconscious so the dreamer actually believes it’s his own.

To aid him in this, Cobb assembles his very own dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his regular Point Man and the ying to his yang; Tom Hardy’s dandyish Forger Eames who excels at malleable personas within the dream state; and Dileep Rao’s Chemist whose powerful sedatives help prise open the realms of the subconscious, allowing access to dreams within dreams. To create the Escher-like dreamscapes into which Murphy’s mark will be pulled, Cobb hires Ellen Page’s architecture student Ariadne, whose namesake in Greek mythology helped Theses find his way out of the labyrinth. But Ariadne’s no fool and quickly discovers Cobb’s dirty little secret: that he’s unable to prevent his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), from rising out of his subconscious to sabotage his work. In fact, Cobb and Mal’s hostile and fractured relationship is at the very heart Inception, which, despite its globe-spanning plot, intricate narrative, awe-inspiring action set pieces, and fantastical central conceit, is a story of love and of one man’s obsession, with DiCaprio playing another of Nolan’s troubled leading men who, much like Bruce Wayne or Memento’s Leonard, remains haunted by his past to the detriment of his present.

The film lays out the rules of the dream state upfront and with minimum fuss and scientific babble. If you die in a dream, you wake up. If you die in a dream within a dream, you wind up in limbo, neither dead nor alive. Nolan, too, eschews the surrealism of other dream-related movies for something more real and lucid, and, for the most part, solid, and even edits his story to adhere to the rules themselves. In Memento, there were no establishing shots because Guy Pearce’s character never knew where he was. Here, characters bounce around without seeming to travel. Scenes begin and end without warning, just like in a dream.

As Cobb sets his elaborate plan in motion, the film’s second half interweaves a series of sensational dream sequences into one seamless whole, filling the frame with never-seen-before images and moments of dazzling originality, Nolan’s preference for practical effects over CG bringing a degree of believability to the action that no amount of digital wizardry can rival or replicate. There are gunfights, a snow-covered-mountain-top battle, fisticuffs in zero-G, a freight train barrelling down a rain-lashed LA street, and much more besides. But Inception isn’t your typical brainless summer entertainment in spite of its release date. Yes, there are thrills. And chases. Both foot and vehicular. Things explode. Buildings collapse. Whole city blocks flip over on themselves. Yet Inception isn’t determined by spectacle. Every set piece, each moment of jaw-dropping action adds to the story Nolan’s telling, as seemingly random events ripple and coincide and connect in unimaginable ways. DiCaprio, too, is superb, his fraught, emotionally-charged performance anchoring the film through shifting states of reality, ably assisted by a pitch-perfect supporting cast whose characters subtly change depending on whether they’re in the dream world or not.

Part heist movie, part Matrix, part Bond, Inception is, nevertheless, very much its own beast, a dazzling tour de force of imagination and ingenuity that has, justifiably, earned him comparisons to Kubrick. But Nolan’s his own man. And Inception is his masterpiece. Cerebral, complex, and challenging, it’s a film that asks much of its audience, and for some that might be asking too much; at times it makes Memento’s narrative structure look as simple as C-B-A. And as with any Nolan film you really must pay close attention to absolutely everything from the get-go, because while there’s no obvious M Night Shyamalan-style twist ending, there’s more here than meets the eye. What is certain, though, is that the debate will rage and run. And you will need to see this at least twice.

As Hardy’s character remarks to Gordon-Levitt’s, “Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” It’s a throwaway line, in the midst of a large-scale action sequence, but it’s one that could easily be read as a challenge to his fellow filmmakers, both in Hollywood and around the globe, to step up to the plate and try harder. With Inception, Christopher Nolan’s not only raised the bar, he’s changed the entire game.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Campeones del mundo

David Villa kisses the trophyIt wasn't a great game but the best team won. Plus the Dutch were really dirty. Nigel De Jong, you should be ashamed of yourself. And as for you Arjen Robben...

Spain's captain Iker Casillas lifts the World Cup trophy.
Altogether now: "Ole. Ole. Ole. Ole..."

Saturday 10 July 2010

UPDATED: Inception press conference

Total Film has an edited version of the Inception press conference here. When I work out how to embed it, I'll update with the video.

Obsessed With Film has a rundown of the highlights from the press conference, together with a photo of said event. And yes, that's half of me you can see on the far left...

Friday 9 July 2010


For the lack of this week's edition of the Nolan Fest. Me culpa. I had wanted to delve into his Batman movies but time just got away from me as various work commitments — including hosting Wednesday's press conference for, yes, Inception with Nolan, producer Emma Thomas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and the wonderfully dry Ken Watanabe — piled up, and something had to give. But I will have my (more expansive) thoughts on Inception up early next week.

For now, on this sweltering Friday afternoon, all that remains is for me to wish you all a lovely and pleasant weekend. The weather's going to be good and hot. Make the most of it.

And, come Sunday night, I trust you'll all be cheering for Spain...

Hasta luego.

Trailer 2: The Social Network

I love how they're marketing this thing, although it might be nice to see some footage with the next one.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Take that

Spain celebrate

Yep, it's a masterpiece

That's all I can say for now. Well, that and it's everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Monsters promo

Alongside Chris Nolan's Inception, the other film must-see film for me this year is Gareth Edwards' Monsters which I've already written briefly about and which is playing at Frightfest. Here's a lovely little promo in which the next Robert Rodriguez explains how it was done.







  video platform

  video management

  video solutions

  video player

Back in time

Twenty five years ago this weekend Back To The Future was released. It's the kind of smart, entertaining, commercial filmmaking that Hollywood seems incapable of making these days. How I wish Robert Zemeckis would give up on the mo-cap and get back to writing and directing movies like this again.

The Back To The Future trilogy will be released on Blu-ray later this year.

Friday 2 July 2010

Frightfest 2010 line-up

item1FrightFest, Britain's — no, make that the world's — premier horror film festival, has just announced this year's line up. You can find the complete list by clicking here and it's a cracker, including Gareth Edwards' much lauded Monsters, Tobe Hooper's little seen debut Eggshells, A Serbian Film (pictured), Paul Andrew Williams' Cherry Tree Lane (which was shot down the road from me), the I Spit On Your Grave remake, Hatchet II and The Last Exorcism. Frightfest 2010 runs from August 26-30.

Nolan Fest, Week Four: The Prestige

I know, I know, I should be writing about Batman Begins this week, but various circumstances prevented me from revisiting the film in time, and so, instead, I offer my thoughts on The Prestige. I actually wrote this review back in 2006 when I first saw The Prestige, and re-reading it again today, I realise I don't feel any different about the film now...

“Are you watching closely?” intones Christian Bale’s East End magician Alfred Borden at the start of Christopher Nolan’s magnificent follow-up to Batman Begins. It’s as much sage advice as it is a rhetorical question, because, as befitting a movie about magicians and their secretive, elusive, and mysterious craft, this is all about the business of illusion and the magic of misdirection. You really do need to pay attention. Having already a proved himself a master manipulator with the narrative constructs of Following and Memento, Nolan, who co-wrote the script with younger brother Jonathan from a Christopher Priest novel, has here crafted a richly evocative, devilishly intricate mystery play, a cinematic sleight of hand that’s as intriguing as it is dazzling.

Once friends, now bitter rivals following a water tank trick that went tragically wrong, Victorian-era stage magicians Robert Angier aka The Great Danton (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) are constantly trying to one-up the other, even to the point of sabotage. After stealing Borden’s big trick, the Transported Man gag, Angier embarks on an obsessive journey to discover its true secret — whatever the cost.

Unfolding in flashback [and with flashbacks within those flashbacks], the film begins with Borden on trial for the murder of Angier, before deftly filling in their past, the tragic reasons behind their rivalry — Angier blames Borden for the death of his wife (Piper Perabo) — their respective romantic/familial interests and their subsequent ascent to the top of their profession.

Like all the best magicians, Nolan’s a master of showing much but telling very little. Appearances, after all, can be deceiving. His work here is simply astounding, incorporating the three basic elements of the magic trick — namely, the Pledge (ie. the set up); the Turn (the trick itself); and the Prestige (the reveal) — into the fiendishly clever, twisty plot, using each to drive the narrative. He’s not so much interested in the visual side of magic, rather the psychological. The film looks stylish, but it’s never flashy nor tricksy in the way it’s shot. Everything and everyone serves the film, so much so that even the sight of Scarlett Johansson prancing around in corset and stockings is merely another layer of icing on an already rich and satisfying cake rather than a distraction. [Although English newcomer Rebecca Hall, as Borden’s wife, reveals herself to be a talent to watch.] 

The rivalry between the two illusionists never feels forced, never less than truthful. Borden’s the better magician, Algier the better showman (a reflection, too, perhaps of the actors’ real-life personas, with Jackman the star of many a stage musical). So when the mechanics of Algier’s latest trick — ripped off from Borden’s big finale — force him to take his standing ovation whilst secreted beneath the stage — as, up above, a drunken doppelganger basks in the applause — it kills him, further fuelling his obsession with discovering Borden’s secret, and the enmity.

Inevitably, there are some minor quibbles. The grimy London streets that Bale and Jackman traipse are clearly a Hollywood backlot, although it’s hard to pinpoint an exact location to which to ascribe David Bowie’s odd accent (to be fair, he’s not bad as Nikola Tesla, the electrical genius). But that’s just nitpicking. Nolan was never going to let us down. And once he’s revealed the secret to his trickery, you’ll be left shaking your head in delightful appreciation. Savor it. Just don’t give it away... 

Here's Spidey

Andrew Garfield Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield has been announced as the new Spider-man. It's a good choice, I have to say. He's certainly talented — just check out his performances in Boy A and Red Riding for proof of that.

I've interviewed him a couple of times, on the sets of Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, when he was wearing a wig, false breasts and a dress, as well as Never Let Me Go. The 26-year-old British actor also stars in David Fincher's upcoming The Social Network.

"From the first time we saw him in The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures, in a statement.


"The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented," writes Roger Ebert. "The laws of chance suggest thatsomething should have gone right. Not here It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that. Let's start with the 3D, which was added as an afterthought to a 2D movie. Not only is it unexploited, unnecessary and hardly noticeable, but it's a disaster even if you like 3D. M Night Shyamalan's retrofit produces the drabbest, darkest, dingiest movie of any sort I've seen in years. You know something is wrong when the screen is filled with flames that have the vibrancy of faded Polaroids. It's a known fact that 3D causes a measurable decrease in perceived brightness, but Airbender looks like it was filmed with a dirty sheet over the lens."