Tagged: films

London Film Festival

It’s London Film Festival time! This year I have the money to attend, but not quite with as many films as I usually try to get in. As always, I went for the postal option as past experience as shown me that the BFI website crashes almost instantly the day priority booking opens and people get quite irate if they can’t get their film picks – as with every postal booking I don’t actually know if I’ve been successful with any of my bookings. Fingers crossed.

I went for:

Mystery Road
Gravity (out on the 9th November so not long to wait if I don’t get it)
The Armstrong Lie (quite keen to see this documentary)
Saving Mr Banks (closing night gala, not holding my breath but you never know!)
Kill Your Darlings (I do know I’ve got this one as I booked it online about an hour ago).

Will report back.


BAFTA time! :)

They announced the BAFTA nominations this morning, and I think it’s going to prove to be an exciting year.

Best Film
Black Swan
The Social Network
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Verdict: I know ‘Never Let Me Go’ wasn’t nominated and it’s a shame, but as it wasn’t longlisted I’m going to assume that while it was eligible for this years awards they’ve decided to put it up next year. ‘True Grit’ is released on the 11th Feb, so it should be interesting to see how it does – I saw the trailer the other day and my first thought was “oooh”, my second thought was “wait, you seem to be telling me the whole film in the trailer…” which worries me a bit (and no I haven’t seen the original). Of these films, I think Black Swan or The King’s Speech deserve to win – ‘The Social Network’ seems like an ordinary pedestrian drama, albeit a very well made one and I think the award should go to the film that is not only technically brilliant, but creative/original and visually compelling.

Outstanding British Film
127 Hours
Another Year
Four Lions
The King’s Speech
Made in Dagenham

Verdict: This year has been a really strong year for British films and the only one on this list that I wasn’t blown away by was ‘Made in Dagenham’. It was a good film, very competent but it felt very much like a channel 4 weekend drama (of which there is nothing wrong with). I haven’t seen ‘127 Hours’ but I think that Another Year or The King’s Speech will walk away with the award.

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
The Abor
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Four Lions

Verdict: I’ve only seen ‘Four Lions’, but considering the applaud Banksy gets for his graffiti (not a fan) I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Exit Through the Gift Shop comes away with this award, but I would very much like it to be Monsters. I think ‘Monsters’ was an ambitious project that required a lot of skill and commitment in order to get it out of the water, especially as it risks being compared to something like ‘District 9’ which had much more money behind it.

Danny Boyle for 127 Hours
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Christopher Nolan for Inception
Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech
David Fincher for The Social Network

Verdict: I feel the same way about the award for direction as I do about the best film, it should go to the film that was technically brilliant, creative/original, cleverly designed and paced and produced some brilliant performances. Christopher Nolan made a visually brilliant film with some very clever elements but I think Darren Aronofsky just beats him to the post. I think also Tom Hooper could be in with a big chance here as well.

Original Screenplay
Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz and John McLaughlin for Black Swan
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson for The Fighter
Christopher Nolan for Inception
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for The Kids are All Right
David Seidler for The King’s Speech

Verdict: I guess the term ‘original screenplay’ is a tricky one as two of them are based on true stories (‘The Fighter’ and ‘The King’s Speech’), one is inspired by a ballet (‘Black Swan’) and the other owes a nod to many science fiction authors (I actually have money on Harlan Ellison suing, I don’t think he did ever write anything like ‘Inception’ but you never know!) I don’t obviously hold that against any film because I firmly believe there is no such as an original idea, in this case I think Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg wrote a script that was funny, moving and, I thought, realistic – I believed in Nic and Jules, and their life together. I also wouldn’t be surprised if David Seidler wins, for mostly the same reasons.

Adapted Screenplay
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for 127 Hours
Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
Michael Arndt for Toy Story 3
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for True Grit

Verdict: This is actually pretty interesting, I knew that ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ had been longlisted but I really wasn’t expecting to see it on the shortlist! I think the adaption was very well done, there’s so much material in that book and yet they managed to turn it into a very good thriller without loosing too many elements. That saying, I don’t think it’ll win, I think Aaron Sorkin will win for ‘The Social Network’ because to turn the Facebook story into anything close to an interesting and compelling story is worth an award.

Film not in the English Language
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I am Love
Of Gods and Men
The Secret in their Eyes

Verdict: I’ve only seen two of these but based on reviews and various reactions, I would say Of Gods and Men will be picking up the prize. I really enjoyed ‘The Secret in their Eyes’ and fully understand why it beat ‘A Prophet’. ‘A Prophet’ was good but it didn’t really have a story, it became a character exploration and to be honest I found it hard to be interested in what he was going through, I loved ‘The Secret in their Eyes’ though. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a thriller with a clever twist.

Animated Film
Despicable Me
How to Train your Dragon
Toy Story 3

Verdict: Toy Story 3. No competition really. It’s unfortunate they didn’t put it in for best picture because as much as I loved ‘Despicable Me’ (don’t judge me, it made me giggle) I don’t think it’s any competition for ‘Toy Story 3’. I wasn’t so enthralled with ‘How to Train your Dragon’, it was cute and I very much liked the story but I went away praising the sheep.

Leading Actress
Annette Bening for The Kids are All Right
Julianne Moore for The Kids are All Right
Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Noomi Rapace for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit

Verdict: I’m very happy they’ve chosen to nominate Julianne Moore and Annette Bening together, and I think it’s an interesting nomination for Noomi Rapace. Rapace was oustanding as Lisbeth but I don’t think she’ll be picking up the BAFTA, why? Because of the upcoming English language adaptation. Natalie Portman gave an utterly convincing performance as Nina and so did Annette Bening as Nic.

Leading Actor
Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Jeff Bridges for True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
James Franco for 127 Hours

Verdict: Colin Firth, no question asked. Last year I think he should have won the Oscar for ‘A Single Man’, Jeff Bridges gave a brilliant performance in ‘Crazy Heart’ but it was a Jeff Bridges performance, he plays the grumpy guy with a heart who has fallen on bad times very well. Javier Bardem is picking up a lot of compliments for his performance in ‘Biutiful’ but I really do believe that Colin Firth gave the performance of the year.

Supporting Actor
Christian Bale for The Fighter
Andrew Garfield for The Social Network
Pete Postlethwaite for The Town
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids are All Right
Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech

Verdict: I haven’t seen ‘The Town’, but the film itself didn’t receive great reviews, saying that given that Pete Postlethwaite sadly passed away this year I think BAFTA will honour him. If they aren’t going to be sentimental, I think Geoffrey Rush or Mark Ruffalo for the win.

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams for The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech
Barbara Hershey for Black Swan
Lesley Manville for Another Year
Miranda Richardson for Made in Dagenham

Verdict: This one is quite tricky, I thought Helena Bonham Carter was brilliantly understated in ‘The King’s Speech’ and Barbara Hershey was creepy, conflicted and menacing as the mother in ‘Black Swan’ but really, I think Lesley Manville gave the best performance in ‘Another Year’.

What do you think?

Les Thoughts Miserables

I watched the 25th Anniversary ‘Les Miserables’ concert the other night, it wasn’t even close to the 10th Anniversary concert but I did enjoy most of it.

It was fantastic seeing Lea Salonga playing Fantine, I thought Matt Lucas gave a good Thenardier and I did like Alfie Boe (no denying he has a great voice) but there were two quibbles – I didn’t really like the Javert (it all hinged on his suicide, I was a little underwhelmed) and Marius was dreadful.

I’m sure in an average cast (second cover understudy run), the Jonas Brother* is passable but against people who can sing? Not even close to okay. Very nasally, had one facial expression (slightly pained) and I don’t think he got near the notes in ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ (not even close… and I’ve spent the last five years on a musical learning about people who can’t reach the notes).

Normally, I wouldn’t mind because I find Marius a bit of a weedy character but when you bring on Michael Ball (and the original company) at the end it really does make you think. It’s a West End trend at the moment, cast adequate pop stars in musicals and hope they can cope – some can, I thought Gareth Gates was very good in the ‘Les Miserables’ tour and I think the guy from Blue is doing very well in ‘Legally Blonde’ – but I think it’s a huge gamble just to get bums on seats.

Anyway, at the end of the concert there was a message on the screen announcing that Universal are making the film of the musical, to be released in 2011 (I think it said 2011); I have a feeling that’s why the cast of the 25th Anniversary concert wasn’t very Les Mis.

It’s fairly rare (I think) to have musical performers doing the on-screen version of the musical, I imagine the casting for the feature film will be somewhat similar to the concert version – most likely including the Jonas Brother because they’ll want a “star”.

Thinking about how the musical film is likely to be cast I started thinking about the Les Mis films I’ve seen (the French epic series set in the 1940s, the Anthony Perkins one and the one with Geoffrey Rush) and kinda came to the conclusion that Les Miserables might be one of those truly filmable books – you have to loose so much and I think all the films concentrate on the storyline between Valjean and Javert (which is key, but it’d be interesting to get more of the Thenardier/Valjean storyline). I would love a mini-series to be made, ideally by someone like HBO or Showtime – I think they’d have the balls and the talent to carry it off.

I have got a copy of the BBC radio 4 drama series, it stars Roger Allam (I think as Valjean, but wikipedia seem to think he’s playing Javert) and I am very much looking forward to listening to it.

(*I don’t actually know who the Jonas Brothers are, I didn’t actually know the guy playing Marius was a Jonas Brother – someone at work told me but didn’t know which one and I am a little scared of getting hunted down by rabid Jonas Brothers fans if I single one out in particular… you know what Google Alerts are like.)

Films I'm Itching to See

In my day to day existence as a console operator I find myself reading a lot of film magazines, usually I ignore the interviews with actors and directors (unless I’m interested in them) – what I love to read at the “Coming Soon” sections and the “Rumour Mill” sections about possible film ideas that are being kicked around. What then tends to happen is that I end up with a long list of films that sound really interesting or so bizarre I have to know more… as the year goes on things get eliminated or added depending on how interesting/amazing/weird a trailer looks. Often I don’t get to see the film at the cinema, but I know that I will see the new Harry Potter and Star Trek films at the cinema… others, I want to see but may not get round to it (it costs £9 – £11 to see a film in the centre of London, and even then you might have missed a film because it wasn’t a big release…).

As it stands, this is my current list of the top ten films I’m dying to see. In order.

10. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (UK Release Date – 1st July 2009)

What? I really enjoyed the first two films, that little saber tooth squirrel thing is worth the price of admission alone! Plus it features mammoths and you know how I feel about mammoths. There was a bit in the second film that really made me jump, you know the bit with the sudden appearance of the horrifying sea monster? Try living that one down…

9. Quid Pro Quo (UK Release Date – I have no idea…)

It sounds very, very strange.

8. Up (UK Release Date – Not sure… between May – August 2009)

I’m a huge fan of Pixar, I will quite happily go and see anything they’ve made. I’ve seen all their recent films at the cinema (with the exception of ‘Cars’ as the trailer didn’t look all that good). This looks like a quirky little film and the trailer looks like fun!

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (UK Release Date – 6th February 2009)

Another film that sounds weird and really interesting. I’m starting to detect a theme in my choice of films here…

6. Coraline (UK Release Date – 15th May 2009)

I have to admit that I’m not a huge Neil Gaiman fan, but some of his recent work (‘The Graveyard Book’) has made me reconsider this. After seeing this trailer for the film directed by the guy who did ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and based on Gaiman’s book of the same name… I think I might check out the book now…

5. Planet 51 (UK Release Date – 20th November 2009)

This is actually the film that’s being released one the same day as the Sherlock Holmes film I’m dreading. If it ties in with time off work I might see the Holmes film in the afternoon then wash away the memory with this film. I can’t seem to find a trailer anywhere (I guess it’s too early, what with it being released in November 2009!) but there’s some awesome still pictures up.

4. Watchmen (UK Release Date – 6th March 2009… providing Fox don’t get it pushed back any further!)

I enjoyed the graphic novel, didn’t love it as much as some people but I think it’s got a great story and wonderful visuals. The trailer gives us a visually impressive film and the story is strong enough to withstand most things… I actually think I’m looking forward to the DVD more as one of my favourite things about the graphic novel was the pirate story, and I’m being led to believe they’re creating this for the DVD.

3. 9 (UK Release Date – none announced yet)

Just watch the trailer and tell me you aren’t salivating at the thought of watching this?

2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (UK Release Date – 17th July 2009)

The films have got increasingly better, the acting has improved from the core cast and the adult casting just keeps getting better. This one looks and feels just as dark as the book and there are certain things I can’t wait to see on the screen. One thing that worries me though is that I haven’t enjoyed Steve Kloves’s adaptations but the last film (which I thought was brilliantly written) was written by someone else… Kloves is back for this film.

1. Star Trek (UK Release Date – 8th May 2009)

I don’t think I need to explain why I can’t wait to see this film!

Honourable mentions go to:
Monsters vs. Aliens
The Surrogates
The Lovely Bones
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Dorian Gray

Radio, Films and Le Tour

In just under 8hrs I’m heading off for my first holiday in 5yrs, I’m spending a few nights in Penzance (Cornwall) before coming back to London to catch a few films.

Despite all the hype about ‘The Dark Knight’ I have absolutely no desire to see it, sorry I preferred Batman when he was at the camp end of dark. I didn’t like ‘Batman Begins’ (watched it with my brother, both of us were bored) and I find Heath Ledger mediocre at best… he’s hamming it up something rotten in that trailer. Of course due to his tragic and untimely death we aren’t allowed to say anything other than he was the next incarnation of Lawrence Olivier, fortunately no one reads my blog so I can get away with the minimal flaming.

Of the films on release at the moment I really, really, really want to see ‘Wall-E’ and of the DVD releases I shall be buying ‘The Orphanage’ as I was too scared to go to the cinema on my own to see it (and taking a teddy bear would have looked stupid).

Been listening to the radio a lot lately, failing to understand why the BBC have never released their Terry Pratchett plays – ‘Guards! Guards!’ was pretty poor really but ‘Night Watch’ was brilliantly done and expertly cast – the Patrician looks nothing like Tom Baker in my mind but his voice is perfect. Downloaded both seasons of their Bletchley Park sitcom ‘Hut 33‘, hopefully it’ll be perfect and keep me entertained on my 5hr train journey west. I wouldn’t normally suggest this but Radio Archive has a lot of radio plays/documentaries/what-not that aren’t available comerically so if you are looking for a lost gem of a radio play you want to hear again then I suggest you take a look there.

Feeling much more optomistic about the tour, they’re catching the cheats and I’m fairly positive about the clean status of the top riders. Mark Cavendish has lost some of my gushing admiration, he abadoned today after his four stage wins to concentrate on the Olympics… I wish he could have stuck it out to the end so not only would he have 4 stage wins to his name but he would have finished. Maybe he’s not designed to race the longer races, he’s the fastest man over something like 150km but he has to get there first. Sad news when Oscar Pereiro crashed out 😦 but good news in that Frank Schleck is the current yellow jeresy holder – Cadel Evans’s inability to attack lost him his jersey, maybe he’ll start attacking now.

Film: ‘The Back Hole’ (2006)

“No force from this world can stop it.

It’s 2 AM in St Louis when a routine scientific experiment goes terribly wrong and an explosion shakes the city. A scientific team investigates, clashing with an intergalactic, voltage-devouring creature that vaporises them.

By 7 AM a chain of earthquakes is tearing the city apart while a massive swirling black hole is consuming the remains. The alien is devouring every source of electricity it finds and destroying every human who blocks its way. Mass chaos rules at St. Louis is being evacuated. Only a few people, scientist Eric Bryce, his assistant Shannon and General Ryker comprehend the mortal danger.

By midnight, the Pentagon initiates a nuclear attack against the black hole. Bryce has only one hour to finda solution to obliterate the alien and the colossal black hole before mankind is annihilated.”

Directed by Tibor Takács and written by David Goodin.

Staring: Kristy Swanson, Judd Nelson and David Selby.


Film: ‘Flood’ (2007)

“Timely yet terrifying, FLOOD predicts the unthinkable. Could this be the capital’s last 24 hours?

When a raging storm coincides with high tide, it unleashes a colossal tidal surge which travels mercilessly down England’s East Coast and into the River Thames. Overwhelming the Barrier, torrents of water pour into London. The lives of millions of people are at stake. Top marine engineer, Rob Morrison and his feather Leonard rush to the aid of his ex-wife and Barrier expert, Sam to try to save a city on the brink of annihilation.”

Directed by Tony Mitchell, written by Justin Bodle and Matthew Cope.
Staring Robert Carlyle, Tom Courtenay, Jessalyn Gilsig and David Suchet.