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January 27, 2009
I always found Tintin a bit creepy. He just looked odd in the cartoons, and there was something… French about him.
But my interest in a film version has been twinged by reading who’s involved.
Directing: Steven Spielberg, and then Peter Jackson in a sequel.
Starring: Jamie Bell (a.k.a. Billy Elliott, albeit that’s unfair as he’s been in loads of things now)
And: Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Andy Serkis, Mackenzie Crook
Written by: Steven Moffat (the new man behind Doctor Who), Joe Cornish (of Adam and Joe) and Edgar Wright (of Hot Fuzz).
Now, that sounds like a film!
The first installment’s not out until 2011 though.
P.S. Bonus points if you can translate the title (or what Google Translate tells me the translation is, anyway)
January 16, 2009
This piece might come in handy if you’re thinking of placing a sneaky fiver on the winner of the Academy Awards this year.
Slumdog Millionaire looks like it’s going to sweep all the big awards. BAFTA will almost certainly go for it (Frost/Nixon a likely second-place). The Golden Globes have already bestowed their stardust on the film.
Now it’s down to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. And according to the New York Times’ film blog, it’s running away with it.
January 14, 2009
I love award ceremonies. They bring us moments of superb over-acting from the likes of Kate Winslet and Halle Berry and give us the chance to have a good argument about the mistakes and the well-earned victories.
But I’m starting to hate the Oscars.
Hate with a seething passion.
The film industry – by which I mean the good film industry is so geared up to this schmaltzy nonsense that you can’t see a decent film between March and November any more.
For half the year you get There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire. And for the other half you get Transformers, Harry Potter and Mamma Bleedin’ Mia.
In order to see all the films I actually want to see at the moment, I’m having to go to the cinema at least once a week. This week it’s a choice between Defiance, The Reader and Che.
It’s lucky I’ve already seen Slumdog and Australia or else I’d be doing nothing else this week.
Annoyingly, awards season also coincides with the return of 24 and Lost on TV. I’m likely to come out of January talking like a Yank, and saying nothing but ‘Dammit!’
Can they not spread them around the year a bit better? Valkyrie, for instance, doesn’t look likely to greatly challenge the other films at the Academy Awards. Couldn’t that have come out in the sleepy months of March and April?
January 07, 2009
Last night I was one of the lucky few to see new film Slumdog Millionaire a few days before its main release.
And I mean few.
Sat in a Midlands cinema, in an area with a fairly large Asian population, I was surprised to find myself surrounded by only around ten people. This was a public preview, advertised in all the places a big cinema chain usually advertises which films it’s showing.
Millionaire is released on the same day as Defiance, a film starring James Bond and Billy Elliot. That film has received far more press coverage.
It has me worried for Slumdog Millionaire’s chances of commercial success.
Its critical success, however, seems assured. It is, already, the favourite to pick up the Academy Award for Best Film.
So I went along thinking this would be the best British film I’d seen in years. I left thinking that it probably was, but that it had also been a little overhyped.
Slumdog Millionaire is a great film. But it left me a little cold at times. The main character, Jamel (played by Dev Patel and others), is using a world-renowned game show to make contact with the love of his life. He’s not in it for the money, but leaves 20,000,000 rupees richer. The jackpot.
Jamel’s is a great story, brilliantly told on the streets of Mumbai by director Danny Boyle. Yet I felt like there were gaps in his emotional journey. How does he end up in the low-paying call centre job he finds himself in? What drives him to steal from tourists? Why does he try to save the girl of his dreams, but not others who he knows were tortured?
The setting for much of the film – the studio of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – also left me uneasy. Sometimes it felt like too much of a plug. Celador, who own the game show, also made the film.
But there are scenes of brilliance. The first will bring accusations that Danny Boyle has a fetish for disgusting toilet scenes. The last will bring accusations of pastiche, although I thought it was the most memorable credits sequence I’ve ever seen.
Mumbai, the city, is the true star of the film. Boyle shows it change dramatically over the course of Jamel’s life, although underlying that is the message that ‘some things never change’.
American reviewers have been completely swept away by the film. The LA Times calls it: “the best old-fashioned audience picture of the year”. The Wall Street Journal calls it “the film world’s first globalized masterpiece”.
The best review I read began:
Cancel whatever you’re doing tonight and go see “Slumdog Millionaire” instead.
That reviewer was spot on. Slumdog Millionaire is the best British film in a decade. A masterpiece, though? Maybe I need a second viewing once the hype – even if it is only stateside – has subsided.
January 05, 2009
Some time last year I promised to give you a list of the ten films I’m most looking forward to in 2009. It took a little longer than I’d planned, but here it is.
10. Star Trek
I’m not even remotely a ‘trekkie’ – you’d have to pay me to watch the old films or the TV series. But one thing’s different about the 2009 reboot: J.J. Abrams. He’s a fantastic director and writer, and he might just make this weird old thing watchable. The trailer looks a little Transformers but I think it’ll be pretty good nonetheless.
9. The International
Filling the void left by Jason Bourne and James Bond this year, Clive Owen brings down the world financial system (oops… he’s too late!) with help from Naomi Watts. It’s in danger of being a rip-off, with rooftop chases, European city settings and overhead shots of spiral staircases (a la Greengrass) but the trailer leaves me optimistic it’ll be an entertaining film.
Forget about Tom Cruise. Erase him from your mind, if that’s not too Minority Report for you. This film has a brilliant cast, including Eddie Izzard, Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy. Just don’t mention the guy in the lead role who will grab all the headlines. It’s too early to tell whether the film’s any good, but the early reviews have been mixed. The trio of British stars should at least make it superbly acted.
7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Brad Pitt’s first decent shout at an Oscar in many years, this film sees him age in reverse. He begins as an old man and ends the film as a baby. Budget constraints apparently mean we won’t literally see his face on a CGI baby, but it’ll come pretty close. Hopefully there’s a good enough plot to match the interesting premise.
6. Angels and Demons
If J.K. Rowling is the McDonalds of book publishing (as I believe she is), then Dan Brown must be Burger King. I doubt I’ll ever read one of his books, but The Da Vinci Code was an entertaining film, with Ian McKellen and Tom Hanks pulling together all the silliness into something pretty entertaining. This prequel, set in the Vatican (which they rebuilt in Hollywood), will be just as silly, but hopefully just as entertaining.
5. State of Play
John Simm, David Morrissey and Bill Nighy starred in this TV miniseries a few years ago. It was simply brilliant, and was widely appreciated as being one of the best pieces of British television in years. This film could go either way. It’s been through several casts and writers, but now sits in the more-than-capable hands of Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren. It won’t be as good as the TV show, and the trailer suggests it might have lost something in translation to Washington, but I still think it’ll be good. Same director as The Last King of Scotland, too.
Almost no-one has any idea what this film is about, but let me put it like this. James Cameron, who made the biggest film ever – Titanic – has spent the best part of a decade making this, using purpose-built cameras and shooting in 3D. The plot might be a nonsense, but it might just change cinema as we know it.
3. Revolutionary Road
I said, after watching Body of Lies, that Leonardo DiCaprio has quietly become one of my favourite actors. Sam Mendes is one of my five favourite directors. And Kate Winslet isn’t exactly dragging them down in terms of quality. So while this might be a ‘quiet’ film (i.e. not much happens) it’ll still be beautifully acted and shot, which is enough for me.
2. Frost v Nixon
Films about journalism rarely go wrong – given the right treatment it’s a pretty thrilling topic (eg All The President’s Men). The theatre production of this was superb – the film, in familiar hands, should be just as good.
1. Slumdog Millionaire
In 2008, the best film of the year (imho) was also one of the first, There Will Be Blood. I don’t see 2009 being any different. All of the buzz suggests British film Slumdog Millionaire is going to be sublime. Director Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Trainspotting) hasn’t really done a bad film, but the reviews suggest this is his first with a realistic shot at picking up an Oscar or six. The trailer (below) makes my spine tingle and I can’t wait until this weekend to see it.
EDIT: Dammit! I missed Defiance and The Boat That Rocked. Go see them too!
December 12, 2008
Just about every newspaper in the land seems to be compiling a Top 10 Films of the Year list, so here’s mine, just in time to beat the Long Eaton Topper.
999. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Lost Skull
Truly appalling. I wanted my money back and compensation for hurt feelings.
998. Sex and the City
Must admit, I didn’t watch it.
10. Body of Lies
Funny when it shouldn’t be, scary when it should. I do think DiCaprio’s just about the best actor out there at the moment, despite his annoying good looks. Russell Crowe’s not much far behind, and put the two of them in a Ridey Scott film and you’re guaranteed a winner.
9. No Country For Old Men
Good, but not as good as everyone made out. The Coens seemed to go off on a violence trip, which while appealing to the mostly male film critics of this world, only sometimes made for brilliant cinema.
8. How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
Simon Pegg – makes you proud to be British. My only concern is that he’s kind of the John Cleese of our generation, meaning he’ll a miserable old git in about 30 years time.
Different from any film on the list (or any film released this year). Beautifully shot and eerily quiet.
6. Quantum of Solace
Well, I’m never sure about James Bond films after just one viewing. So I went back a couple of weeks later and it was just as good. Not Casino Royale, but a great lead-in to what will definately be a superb Bond 23.
Cute. Not Toy Story, but close. Please, no sequels though.
Warm, funny, not afraid of being a ‘small’ movie,
3. Batman: The Dark Knight
Simply the best, biggest and boldest action film in years.
2. In Bruges
The funniest film of the year, under-rated, and under-seen. Once I get hold of the DVD I’ll be inflicting it on anyone who can take the foul language.
1. There Will Be Blood
Far superior to No Country for Old Men, which thrashed it in the awards ceremonies that matter. Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano were nothing short of brilliant, and from the film’s opening seconds you know you’re watching something timeless.
I’ve missed a few I’m sure. Waltz with Bashir might have made it in had I seen it yet. Australia has an outside chance, but the reviews haven’t been brilliant.
EDIT: I’ve seen Australia now. It’s good, but parts of it annoyed me enough to keep it out of last year’s top 10. Too much comedy, too many shots straight out of the Moulin Rouge playbook (every time I saw the Aborigine grandfather, I thought of Kylie Minogue) and an act too long.
Later/next week I’ll do the ten films I’m most looking forward to in 2009.
November 19, 2008
Reviews started leaking out yesterday of Baz Luhrmann’s long-awaited new film, Australia.
And the first ones were all very positive.
So what links the publications who published early, and who all found the film to be “perfect”, “beautiful” and a “love letter to Australia”?
They’re all owned by Australian Rupert Murdoch.
Who, coincidentally, also owns the film’s production company and distributor.
Naturally, being the first available reviews, websites that publish reviews of reviews all used the Rupert Murdoch-owned ones.
Funnily enough, the reviewers who waited for the embargo to be lifted found the film to be ‘not the masterpiece that we were hoping for’, ‘not a bad film… But far from a great one’ and a word that crops up in most of them is “cliched”.
The bias is so obvious, even Homer Simpson would notice it.
EDIT: Even members of the Murdoch stable seem to realise the film might not be the masterpiece they first thought.
November 06, 2008
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7713781.stm
Vue Cinemas are to start running adult-only film screenings at their cinemas. Initially I thought they were going to start showing pornography, but further reading revealed this to be an even better idea.
From tomorrow, certain screenings of PG, 12A, 15 and 18 films will be for over-18s only.
Mark de Quervain (I kid ye not) from Vue said: “These screenings have been launched in direct response to overwhelming positive customer feedback obtained from extensive research studies and trials carried out over the past year.”
This rivals the election of some black guy as the best news I’ve heard all week.
The curse of the yob/chav/townie seems to be geographically-biased to the shittiest parts of Britain (I’ve lived in some of them, you see), but nevertheless I think this nationwide ban on yoof is generally a good thing.
All we need now is aptitude tests on entry so that adults-who-behave-like-children receive similar treatment.
August 25, 2007
Ian McEwan has – since about the mid-nineties at least – had a knack of writing books that are better than 99.9% of everything else that gets published.
The Child in Time gets a rough ride from critics, but I think it’s fantastic. Saturday was below his usual standard but still a scintillating read. On Chesil Beach took a simple plot and strung it out without making it prolonged. Amsterdam won the Booker prize, and you can’t do much better than that. And while Atonement didn’t win the Booker Prize, the majority seem to think it’s better than his book that did. And they’d be right.
Atonement is a three-part novel (plus epilogue) stretching from the 1930s to 1999. Each era depicts a very different time. The first section, set in 1937, is a lavish, dark setting where crimes take place underneath people’s noses. But it is the wrong crime which is reported. The second section is fought on the beaches of Northern France and the hospitals of London in the early 1940s. And the final section is set in the present day.
What makes the novel so powerful is that each section is better than the previous one, even though all are brilliant. McEwan gives you no preparation for where the story will lead next, and delivers a painful sting-in-the-tail at the end of the final act.
Asked what the story is about, you’d have to think for 30 seconds and then probably settle on “atonement”. It’s an apt title, you see.
Sadly the producers of the film version (out next month) have only read up to the third section and only included the important epilogue as an afterthought.
The film’s tagline, “Joined by love. Separated by fear. Redeemed by hope.” rather gives it away.
This is probably to be expected from Working Title, who have brought us Four Weddings…, Notting Hill, Wimbledon and Joe Wright’s directorial debut, Pride and Prejudice. But it’s wrong. The film is lavish, looks great, and has some good set pieces lifted straight from the page. But it completely confuses who the main character is.
The film is Cecilia and Robbie’s story told through Briony’s eyes. The book is Briony’s story told through Briony’s eyes.
Keira Knightley is very good as Cecilia. She’s the least annoying she’s ever been on film – although the trailer had me worried. But she steals the show from Briony’s character, who while played brilliantly by three different actresses, isn’t on screen enough.
And if they were going to insist on focusing on Cecilia and Robbie, they should at least have made Robbie (James McAvoy) less understated. Compared with his brilliant performance in The Last King of Scotland, McAvoy seemed half-asleep during the film. I imagined Robbie as younger, angrier and more naïve.
The scene on the beach is brilliant, and the three minute-long sweeping shot is just what the story deserved. And to be fair, it’s not a bad film at all. But I wonder if, with the same director, lead actress and a romantic theme with the atonement left as an after-thought, this film is more Pride and Prejudice 2 rather Atonement.
Atonement is released in cinemas on September 7th