Thursday, 29 October 2009

London Film Festival Roundup

As the 53rd London Film Festival winds up today, it announced the winner of it's inaugural Best Film award to be french prison flick Un Prophete (starring Tahar Rahim, pictured), which follows the story of a young Arab man who ends up spending six years behind bars. The forthcoming adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post apocalypic novel The Road, which stars Viggo Mortsensen and Charlize Theron was also shown at the festival, was also singled out, recieving praise from a jury which included Angelica Huston and Jarvis Cocker.

Best British Newcomer went to Jack Thorne (formerly a writer on Channel 4 program Skins), the screenwriter responsible for coming of age story The Scouting Book For Boys.

Tonight, the closing night, includes a showing of Nowhere Boy, a biopic about John Lennon's childhood, and his difficult relationship with his aunt aunt and mother, as well as his friendship with a certain Paul McCartney. The movie stars David Morrisey and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

This year's Festival has been bigger than ever, screening over 200 films, with appearances by the likes of George Clooney, the Coen Brothers, John Hurt (who was awarded a BFI fellowship), and Bill Nighy, as well as a host of newcomers. On receipt of the award, Hurt told journalists, "For me, the BFI is the heart of British cinema," Hurt said. "I consider it the highest honour possible to be awarded a Fellowship."

Monday, 26 October 2009

The All New A-Team

However unlikely it may be that the remake lives up to the original, the first press images of next years' A Team movie have been released (click the piccie to get up close and personal). Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper (from the Hangover, reviewed below), Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley (District 9), shooting for the movie got underway last month, and the team, who, as you may remember, escaped from a maximum security stockade while under arrest for a crime they didn't commit, will be joined by Jessica Biel. It remains to be seen if B A Baracus will forced to get in a plane, but chances are, he probably will, though writer Michael Brandt has suggested a less camp, more serious, character driven movie, referencing The Bourne Identity, Die Hard, and Casino Royale. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


Ahhh, autumn, autumn. The leaves are going brown and falling from the trees, the days are shorter and colder, it's back to school and college for many of us, and the festive hat trick of Bonfire night, Halloween and Xmas awaits. Oh, and everyone is indoors, huddled around their TVs to enjoy a packed autumn schedule, which , aside from the X-Factor and Strictly, this year once more bring us another raft of big US TV dramas. This time it's Generation Kill (C4) from the makers of The Wire, ultra-cool vampire series True Blood (C4), Stargate Universe (Sky 1), with the return of much loved series Heroes and Lost to follow next year.

Then there's FlashForward, a new series premièring on Monday nights on Channel , which is based on a 1999 novel by Canadian writer Robert J Sawyer who devised the show along with co-creator David Goyer (writer of The Dark Knight, and Blade: The Series, amongst other things), and and Brannon Braga (24). The major league pedigree is complete with a cast which includes top notch British actors, as usual, this time in the form of Joseph Fiennes who plays FBI agent and recovering alcoholic Mark Benford, his wife Olivia (Sonya Walger, an escapee from Lost), somewhat bizarrely, Jack Davenport, best known to older viewers as posh toff Miles from ground breaking nineties drama This Life, and more recently the Pirates of The Caribbean movies. With American John Cho (last seen rolling an enormous joint as Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies), and, somewhere in the first season, an appearance by former Hobbit and hairy-faced Mancunian Dominic Monaghan also in the cast, the list of vaguely familiar faces is complete.

The show is clearly a contender hoping to follow in the footsteps of the televisual behemoth that is the ratings and critical success of Lost, and as such, it is centred around a “high-concept” premise ; everyone in the world has blacked out for precisely 2 minutes and 17 seconds, with many experiencing a dream like vision, which turns out to be a “Flash Forward” to where they will individually find themselves 6 months from now, at 10pm on 29th April 2010. Such an inscrutable mystery poses countless questions, which will no doubt be strung out over countless episodes with not much resolution and more questions than answers. Thankfully, frustrated fans of Lost will be glad to know that the makers promise it will be nowhere near as convoluted as the show it hopes to replace in their affections.

In the early shows, we have already found that the central character of Mark Benford has envisioned his descent back into alcoholism, the collapse of his marriage, and his future role as an investigator of the mystery posed by these visions. As the FBI officers struggle to make sense of the ensuing global crisis, they have set up a website, Mosaic, for people to describe and compile their visions, to see if they correspond. Meanwhile, Marks' surgeon wife Olivia is disturbed to find the man with which she has had visions of having an affair walk into the hospital where she works, and Benfords' partner Dimitri (Cho) is troubled that he has no visions at all : in this future, is he alive? Are these visions of the future “real”? And who is the mysterious man clad in black, caught on CCTV walking through a baseball stadium in Detroit, while all around him, and the world over, everyone else has blacked out?

Flash Forward continues on Mondays, 9pm on Five.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

'The Hangover' Review

Another bromance movie following in the Hollywood tradition of recent years, The Hangover stands at the crossroads between 2 hollywood genres - the "what stays in Vegas" movie, and the road trip movie, as 4 male friends go away for a weekend of pre-wedding debauchery, but end up losing the groom and the plot. Indeed director and co-writer Todd Phillips' first feature was in fact 2000's Road Trip, and his second was the hilarious 'Old School', and it particularly shares the latters theme of misbehaving buddies old enough to know better.
The girls are an afterthought, either villains, super bitches, or sweet caring and perfect like Heather Graham's hot stripper/mom. But the accusations of mysogyny are missing the point. This movie's not about the girls, but the friendships between the dudes.

If the territory is familar, the execution is not without its' charms. In particular, the charming weirdness of Alan, Tracy's brother, with his fat Jesus appearance and his sweet, innocent yet insane personality (Zach Galifianakis) a counterpoint to the worldly cool of Bradly Cooper's Phil, and geeky dentist Stu (played by Ed Helms). These 3 musketeers spend most of the movie trying to piece together what happens the night before (when Zach's character accidently slipped them all a date rape drug instead of Ecstasy), which somehow involves a real life tiger, an actual baby, a missing family heirloom/wedding ring belonging to Stu, and the mysterious disappearance of their friend and husband-to-be Doug (Justin Bartha).

As road movies go, The Hangover is a fun ride, hitting all the right notes with such fun ingredients, including a cameo from an air-drumming Mike Tyson, but the film never quite lives up to its' potential, and is likely to provoke laughter among the more literal-minded American viewers at which it is aimed, as the US reviews of this movie largely confirm. For the more discerning British viewer, however, some goofy ingredients like a tiger, a hooker with a wedding ring and date rape drugs will not compensate for the hit and miss humour of the movie, and a slight shortage of wittier banter or richer characterisation. For me, Phil isn't enough of a bastard, Stu isn't enough of a dork, and Alan could be just a touch weirder - in the directors' similar former movie Old School, the characters played by likes of Owen Wilsion, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn are just bigger and brasher, making for more fun.

The Hangover, then ; like a great breakfast with some awesome ingredients after a great, messy night out, only slightly undercooked.

Hack Rating 3/5