Friday, 25 April 2008

"The Hobbit"

Yes yes yes, we are all happy that finally it is set in stone that Guillermo del Torro will be in the directors seat for "The Hobbit". The only disappointment is that Jackson himself will not be directing it, but Guillermo is a worthy successor!

What I am most curious about is who in the hell is going to be cast as Bilbo? Who out there is a great actor, who can do funny as well as serious, and is not afraid to get hidden behind make up and get into the action?

Robert Downey Jr. of course!

No one is going to argue he is not a great actor are they.
If you are looking for the funny look no further that "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is which he was a riot.
For the serious well look at his Oscar nominated work in "Chaplin" and last years "Zodiac", still with the funny, but with gravitas.
How about the make up. Well this year he dons black face for "Tropic Thunder" and he did get all furry in "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" so we know he doesn't have a latex allergy.
Finally with Action, look no further than this years "Iron Man"....he can worries.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Chronicles of the Link

There is a new and VASTLY improved trailer for "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" over at myspace.

This looks a lot more exciting due to some atmospheric music and savvy editing.

However the CGI work on Aslan seems a little poor, and is it me, or there something less threatening about a giant battle during the intense daylight? It all looks to colourful and pretty to be scary!

Anywho I am sure this will be vastly better than the recent outings into the epic fantasy genre that we have seen. Director Andrew Anderson may not have the technical scope of Peter Jackson, but he is also not afraid to go dark within his 'family film' confines (The shearing of Alsan scene had me quaking).

Those of you who still hunger for that giant box set of "Kill Bill", well Empire has this exclusive which should have you all jumping for joy!! (Is the rumored anime scene about Vernita Green going to show?)

Fergie has released the "Sex and the City: The Movie" theme song and in my honest opinion it is horrible. She needs to go to elocution lessons pronto!

has the listing of the Cannes Film Festival line up. Exciting new, but ashame there will not be an early preview of "Blindness" which I know alot of people were hoping for.

Happy for the early showing of "The Changeling", "Che" and "Synecdoche, New York" as if they are as good as expected, the early buzz will surely make Oscar success easier.

Just wish there were a few more films showing...I like to rule things out early, but I am guessing due to writers strikes and such, there is a scrambling to get films finished and many couldn't make Cannes in time.

John Adams get another rave behind it from Movies Kick Ass. God I wish I got this over here! I hear from so many sources that Laura Linney is superb!

Yet another myspace Madonna remix. This time it is for 'The Beat Goes On'

The Film Experience has taken a look at "Savage Grace"! Will this appear in his year and Film Bitch Awards? Who knows, but it seems Julianne has delivered another powerful and unique performance.

"Yes, I did it, I killed Yvette. I hated her, so much... That... it... it... flam - flames. Flames, on the side of my face, heaving... breath - , heaving breaths. Heaving breath... ".
Stinky Lu Lu is going to celebrate the genius that is Madeline Khan

And a nice lead in as The Rural Juror is celebrating the funny ladies. What would we do without the ladies who make us laugh?

"Towelhead" trailer

On initial viewing this film got such a slate of mixed reviews. It got completely panned and it also got RAVES!
Judging from the trailer it looks like it could be a good film. The central performance has gotten praise (Summer Bishil) and I will see anything with my Toni in it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Where are they now? - The Cast of LOTR - part 2

Who would have thunk it. Out of all of the Hobbits, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck would have a biggest career? Funnily enough it is true. After the Lord of the Rings films finished Dominic Monaghan was cast as Charlie Pace in a little TV show you may have heard of called “Lost”.
This show is huge, and although Dominic is no longer in it, he has been able to keep the luck a going with a blossoming film career.
Not only is “I Sell the Dead” in post-production, a film about a grave robber, but then in 2009 he has a supporting role in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. There he plays Barnell Bohusk aka ‘Beak’.
After that he has a psychological thriller called "Pet" about a man who bumps into an old flame and subsequently becomes obsessed with her, leading him to hold her captive underneath the animal shelter where he works. Getting lead roles now eh?
Of course no one can tell if these films will be any good, but he has parlayed his hobbit fame into a fairly high profile career.

If it really fair to see what Ian McKellen has been up to. He is after all one of the greatest actors ever. After LOTR he went the pay check route and landed high profile gigs in blockbusters. Even though the films failed, he was able to be a beacon of light. “The Da Vinci Code” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” were all vastly improved by his presence.
After lending his voice to films (“Doogal”, “Flushed Away”, “Stardust”, “The Golden Compass”) he will next be seen as King Lear on TV in the UK. Following that he acts alongside Colin Firth, Susan Sarandon and Rachel Weisz in “The Colossus”.
Finally he is still talking about reprising his role as Gandalf in “The Hobbit” Heeeeeeeeeeee!

Although near the end of the trilogy his character looked like an old gay eccentric, Ian Holm still made his presence known. Since then he has kept quiet, deciding on smaller fare and supporting roles in films like “The Aviator” , “Garden State” and “The Day After Tomorrow”.
He has also made strange choices in films such as “Stranger With Candy” that only ups his cool factor.
Although there was speculation as to whether he would reprise his role as Bilbo Baggins, it was quickly deemed that he was too old to play the youthful hobbit.
His last big performance was as the hysterically paranoid and evil Skinner in “Ratatouille”. He does do a wonderful French accent does he not?

Bernard Hill was far more Kingly in LOTR that Viggo was.
Hill actually was one of the most emotive actors of the bunch, and I thought it would give his career a push. The man who threw his chips and egg in “Shirley Valentine”, steered the Titanic in…well..’Titanic” and then commanded the rider of Rohan should not be making a movies called “Lesbian Vampire Killers”.

The premise is:
Thier women having been enslaved by the local pack of lesbian vampires thanks to an ancient curse, the remaining menfolk of a rural Welsh town send two hapless young lads out onto the moors as a sacrifice.

I know it is a comedy/horror, but still. I wanted more Theoden King!

Billy Boyd was wonderful as a comedic due of Merry and Pippin in LOTR. He even held his own with Ian McKellen in some heavy scenes. I guess being an actor in a fantasy film, even an amazing one like LOTR, is going to make it hard to break into other roles.

He has a nice supporting role in “On a Clear Day” but then nothing of particular note.
His future could be a little brighter though. This year he has the piano drama “Glenn”, a supporting role in the bio-pic of Ian Hamilton “Stone of Destiny” and Irish crime drama “The Best Years”. I am sure this will not be leading to awards, but if luck is on his side it could act as a reminder to casting agents everywhere.

Orlando Bloom lucked out big time.
What with LOTR and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy the man must be raking it in.

Sure he didn’t get the critical kudos he wanted out of films like “Troy”, “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Elizabeth Town” but he must have made a fortune. The was the face millions of teenage girls across the world touched themselves to.

Next up are two rumoured roles in “The Red Circle” with Liam Neeson and Yun-Fat Chow and “Prince of Persia” which is based on the video game.
I am sure he will not starve.

Since wrapping filming on the trilogy with her over the top performance as Galadriel, Cate Blanchett has gone to be nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one. PHEW!
She has made ten films since then and her future for roles is not looking to ease off any time soon (for some of us we wish it would).
This year alone she has the sure fire blockbuster “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and the Oscar bait “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.
I think if you had a competition for the LOTR cast as to who has had the most successful career ole Cate ‘I-never-stop-working’ Blanchett would win hands down.

Sean Bean is a sexy man. As the weak and flawed Boromir he only got juicy parts in the first instalment, but made cameo’s in parts 2 and 3.
Since then he has been busy busy making 13 films and getting his name out there.
He has landed parts in many high profile films such as: “Troy”, “National Treasure”, The Island”, “North Country”, “Flightplan” and “The Hitcher”.

Next up he tackles Oscar Wilde in “A Woman of no Importance”, “Black Death” a film about the bubonic plague, but more importantly he will be acting next to Tilda Swinton as Macbeth in “Come Like Shadows”

Was I the only one who really felt Sean Astin was slightly twee as Sam?
Although I have to give him props for keeping the accent going…..kind of tough to do that accent for a long time.
However his post “Rings” career has not been impressive at all. Sure his IMDB page has 29 listings since those films, I can only pick out one movie (“50 First Dates”) and a few TV guest parts (“24”, “Monk”, “My Name is Earl”) that I have heard of.
Coming up, well he has a lot of voice work and some supporting part in a Rugby drama.
Where is “Goonies 2”?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Happy Earth Day

Take a little time and do something for the planet. Recycle something you see on the street, buy some ecological household cleaners or plant a tree.

Also seek out the wonderful BBC series "Planet Earth". You won't regret it!

Review - Madonna "Hard Candy"

So after much trepidation I have finally listened to and absorbed the new Madonna confection “Hard Candy”, her last album with Warner Music.

I have been vocal about my fears with this new album.
Ever since it was announced that she would be working with Timberland and Timberlake I was frightened, not because they are not talented, but because they are so over saturated on the radio that their sound merges into one big noise.

This is not the first time Madonna has r-n-b'ed herself. 1992's album 'Bedtime Stories' attempted to mix soul, r-n-b with electronica to mixed success. In fact when she first started, the music industry thought she was a black singer, for at the time no white female artists were making that type of music. So those who say she is jumping on a band wagon, do your history...she basically drives the band wagon.

However this is the first time she has teamed up with known, commercially big, hit makers. These boys are sure-fire hits makers whose sound, shall I say, is getting tiresome. So yes, I was scared.

This fear came close to being realized once the lead single “4 Minutes” was revealed. My initial reaction was “eh?” but it has grown on me….finding new life in the Junkie XL Remix.

Reviewing this is slightly bittersweet as it is uneven and only glimpses of Madonna shine through.

As I said this is her last record with the label she has been signed to for 25 years plus, and I see why she made the decisions on this album that she has. It may not hit the creative heights of “Music”, “Ray of Light” or even “Confessions on a Dancefloor” but it has radio air-play written all over it.

The opening track is the Neptunes produced “Candy Shop”. Many ageist people out there will gag at the thought of a nearly 50 year old singing about her ‘Turkish delight’ but I say, all the more power to you. It is a shame the track is not all that inspired. The minimalistic funk beats, the bleeps and back ground rapping all come off as just a little bit boring, as though you are listening to dance music while coming off your sleeping pill.

“4 Minutes” is the track that has given Madonna her 13th UK number 1.
A lot of the success has to be given to Justin Timberlake as he almost has more vocal time that Madge. The beat is pure apocalyptic marching band and lyrics are sing-a-long catchy “If you want it, you’ve already got it” (what ever that means….I want to be a millionaire….however I just checked my bank statement and I am poor poor poor!) however, for all its over production and energy, the track seems weak, especially for a lead of single from a Madonna album. Then again this single was made to simply right US chart wrongs…and it has succeeded so fair play M!
Things improve completely with “Give It 2 Me”. Wow!!! This is the Madonna I love! She has gone all the way back to Holiday with this but revved it up to 400 mph. This is some of the best work Pharrell has done with another artist and this will be huge over in Europe…may be too dance orientated for the U.S.. This is the song you will remember from the album, and the producers she hires for remix duties are going to have a ball zooping this one up!

Some pre-reviews have said “Heartbeat” is the albums big ole dance number. I disgree. This is a total album track, and not a strong one. The song reminds me of her “Forbidden Love” off ‘Confessions’ with added urban beats, but the vocal work is uninspired and phoned in. It seems almost like a yawn and the song just does not go anywhere. It seems to be designed so you can push your fast forward button.
Miles Away” introduces us to marriage counselling a la Madonna. Things are not good when your relationship only works while you are miles away from each other. “I guess we’re at our best when we’re miles away” she sings over a slowed down guitar driven urban groove. This over all effect is a feeling of melancholy and sadness. The biggest flaw has to be the opening line of “I just woke up from a fuzzy dream” …..Oh come back Patrick Leonard!!!!!!

She's Not Me” sounds like “Thief of Hearts” reworked by Nile Rogers. It features bitchy lyrics directed at her man who has taken up with a new woman, and features a pure funk 70’s disco beat complete with hand claps and whistles.
Toot Toot, Beep Beep.
Not a standout track, but a fun catchy Madonna pop moment that strangely turns into a ‘Confessions’ track at the four in a half minute mark.

A stuttering beat, hand claps, electric guitar, key boards, and the sunniest vocals Madonna as produced since “Cherish” make up the craziness that is “Incredible”. This is the song that people have already hated. It actually ends up being one of the albums standouts. It is sweet in a skipping-down-the-street sort of way until it suddenly breaks into an electric guitar riff and ole M begins to shout “I need to go back there before it’s too late”, then it goes back to the skippy happy mode then it goes all dance floor with lots of “ooohs”, strings, hyperactive synths and the lady singing about “missing my best friend”. It is the musical equivalent of a relationship with a manic depressive, and oddly it works.

“The Beat Goes On” is the next track, and boy does it. It is a vast improvement of the leaked demo, and turns out to be one of the albums higher point. However the disco base line does not go anywhere and Kanye West offers nothing. The same could be said for “Dance 2night” which features one of the most funky soul beats Madonna has ever dared to put her name to. The vocals are sexy yet oddly cold. Justin duets on this as well but doesn’t add much. This is the only track that sounds like it should have been included on “Bedtime Stories” and possibly sounded all the better for it. Although the production is top notch, this just seems totally un-Madonna.
The less said about “Spanish Lessons” the better. It sounds like filler album music for Shakira. The woman is actually teaching us Spanish over a stuttering Spanish guitar driven beat. “Entiendo means I get it”. Thank you Madonna…..I will stick to Linguaphone. It sounds like having a migraine while riding a bull. This is not even b-side fodder.

Things improve with the end two tracks of the album. “The Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You” sounds musically like Timberlakes own “Cry Me a River” complete with thunder and rain. This is as close to a ballad as the album will allow.
“Over and over you’re pushing me onto the floor and I keep coming back for more” she sings over sad synths and hypnotizing bleeps and tweeks.

The album closer is how I like Madonna. Slightly deep and experimental. “Voices” features great orchestration, with philosophical musings over a driving beat that sounds like Massive Attack meets Twin Peaks. “Are you walking the dog cause the dog isn’t you? Are out of control? Is the dog walking you?” she muses before the track ends with dramatic orchestration and a repeated clanging bell of doom.

Overall the album is highly more successful that I was expecting. She throws some risks into the project, but it majority of the album is radio friendly with a glossy urban sheen.
I was hoping for something with depth and fresh sounding, but that would not allow Madonna to do what she wanted to. She wants to give her record company one last hit. She wants her 25 years with Warner to go out with a bang.
This is her thank you to a company that have stood by her and supported her through her ups and downs.
One could say this is her most selfless album.
Before the Live Earth deal the album was going to be over produced by Stuart Price, and would be marketed as “Confessions 2”, but that gave way to the opportunity to present Warner with a bonafide US hit. An album whose singles would actually be played on the radio and branch out to a bigger audience.
According to pre sales and the results of the first single, she has done just that.

In a nut shell this is not Madonna at her creative best, but ironically, by going with the flow and playing it safe she may have one of her biggest commercial hits. Coming 25 years into an amazing career, you can cut her some slack.

Over all grade: B-

Stand out tracks: "Give it 2 Me", "Incredible", "Voices"

"Hamlet 2" trailer

I love an out there comedy. Sure I could use a few less students getting sh*t kicked/thrown at their heads, but this tickled my funny bone.
Plus it has Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Shue talking about casting couch hand jobs.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Where are they now? - The Cast of LOTR - part 1

I have recently watched the trilogy for the 15th time, and I am still blown away by the accomplishment. I also noticed a few things that I hadn't before, especially in the performances. Of course everyone loved Ian McKellen and Viggo, but this time I noticed Liv, Bernard and especially Dominic as Merry.

It got me thinking about actors, and how they continue on. Being in these films would be the pinnacle of any career. These films are trophied and lauded and have a massive fan base. They will be considered one of the best films of all time by many many people. How do you follow that?
Out of this amazing cast who has been typecast, who has faltered, and who has used this opportunity to branch out?

Christopher Lee became more of a geek obsession by playing Count Dooku in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (try saying that 3 times in a row).
However aside from some more voice work, and a blink and you'll miss it role in "The Golden Compass" he has been absent of late.

He does have some other roles coming up, but the most curious of these is Robin Hardy's re-imagining of his 1973 classic "The Wicker Man" with Joan Collins called "Cowboys for Christ". Joan Collins for f*cks sake. This I really gotta see!!!

Elijah Wood began a series of quirky roles after LOTR. He especially like creepy. He played creepy stalker Patrick in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and creepy killer Kevin in "Sin City".
The cute little indie called "Everything is Illuminated" further cemented him as the guy to go to for quirky/strange man/child roles.
However since then he has been mainly doing voice work ("Happy Feet") and failing to impress critics ("The Oxford Murders") but nothing seems to have stuck. Next up....more voice work....
Elijah is blessed/cursed with eternally youthful face. Forever boyish and cute, and this could seriously hamper him from making casting directors final lists. It seems he could always be cast as man/boys.

To prove how vastly hotter a haircut and an eye patch can make you I give you David Wenham. As Faramir he didn't impress all that much. He spent the entire film in serious need of a wash, a shave, and a deep conditioner. But strip him bare and give him CGI abs and hello gorgeous!
Aside from "300" he has worked on the critically acclaimed "The Proposition" and next up he has a little film called "Australia" with two up and coming actors called Hugh and Nicole.

I really did not like Hugo Weaving's acting in the films. It was very very panto. I kept expecting Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders to pop out and do a skit when he spoke. He certainly over pronounced Ev-Ery Syl-Lable. The Council of Elrond scene still makes me cringe. I mean is it really pronounced "Morrrrrrrrrrr Dorrrrrrrrrrr"?

However he has proven his worth in movies like "Little Fish" with Cate Blanchette, and become fanboy lore by playing V in "V for Vendetta". Next up he has "The Wolf Man" with Benicio del Torro and the interesting looking "The Tender Hook"

Oh Liv...why have you not done so much?
She impressed me so much in the trilogy that I though the world would be her oyster.
Since completing the films she has worked steadily in some well received films like "Lonesome Jim" and "Reign Over Me" but she has failed to grab that spotlight she so deserves.

Next up she has "The Incredible Hulk" but that is hardly going to be her show (although I expect her to be so much better than the vapid Jennifer Connelly), and "The Strangers" which is a horror, but appears like it may really good (although it looks like a copy of "Ils").

I wish she would get cast in another light drama. I for one really enjoyed her in "Cookies Fortune"

Andy Serkis followed the film with another brilliant motion capture performance in "King Kong" (the man is genius....just watch the extras...his Kong scream is terrifying).
He followed this up with roles in "The Prestige", a Golden Globe nominated performance in "Longford" and the black comedy "The Cottage".

Next up more motion capture in "Tintin" as Captain Haddock and he is then directing himself in "Dark Blue Rising".
Go Andy.

Oh dear, oh dear.
Gimli will be your career beacon.

Since that role Jonathan Rhys-Davies has been in such productions as "The Legend of Sasquatch", "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale", as well as "Anaconda 3: The Offspring" and "Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood".
Perhaps he should have gotten that fellowship tattoo with the others instead of getting his stunt man to get one.
He needs another "Shogun", and quick!!

Miranda Otto - Sure she is in the apparently terrible "Cashmere Mafia" and had a few bit parts in a few films, but on a whole she has not lived up to her role as Eowyn, but that was an iconic role, and she never really delivered in the film. Even in the few films she has done she never really left much of an impact.
Perhaps TV is where she is best suited for the time being.
She seems like the type who would shine in gritty indie drama, she just needs to be cast. Maybe she will have more luck with the Australian film "How to Change in 9 Days"

Do I really need to talk about Viggo.
The man has had one of the most successful post LOTR careers of the bunch.
Since the film he turned in two critically acclaimed performances in two films directed by David Cronenberg, the latter gaining him his first Oscar nomination as well as a full on nude fight scene (yum)
Next up he has baity, baity, baity roles, so expect to see his name as a nominee called in the near future.

Next up what has happened to Merry, Gandalf, Bilbo, Theoden, Pippin, Legolas, Galadriel, Boromir and Sam.

"Henry Poole is Here" Trailer

Yeah yeah it looks a little flaky. I am always very very wary of any trailer that not only gives the entire film away (she talks!!) but also advertises the soundtrack as though the studio is saying "The film may be awful, but the OST is kick ass!".

I just think it is nice to Adrianna Barraza in another movie.