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Archive for the ‘Other Ramblings’ Category

The Overthrow of 3D

I have never made any secret of my dislike of 3D movies. I don’t have any particular problem with them, I don’t get headaches from watching them as many viewers have reported, 3D movies are often so bright and colourful that the 35% loss of light caused by the Real D glasses has never been an issue, I just don’t see the point. Filmmakers who have been enchanted by the medium will argue that it is “more immersive” than 2D, what they don’t seem to realise that a good story is more immersive than a visual gimmick. To exacerbate the problem in a sort of 3D snobbery they refuse to use the horror gimmicks of things flying towards the audience, the one thing 3D does well. The real issue of 3D is the extra cost, charging extra for the 3D glasses is fine but actually charging more for just watching the movie makes no sense to me. The expensive infrastructure needed to show 3D was paid for by the success of Avatar. My local cinema (who charge between £4.50 and £6.85 to see a film depending on when you go) charge an extra £2.10 (£1.50 for Children) for a 3D movie and £0.80 for the 3D glasses. That makes it nearly £10 for a 3D movie at peek times. It would cost a family of four (two adults and two kids) £33.10 (about $55 at current exchange rate) to see a 3D movie.

Despite my feelings for 3D I have actually seen four 3D movies so far this year: Sanctum, Drive Angry, Thor and Priest. But I have also seen three movies in 2D that were available in 3D: Green Lantern, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The next big release (excluding Harry Potter that I haven’t seen) will be Captain America: The First Avenger. As it was shot in 2D and retrofitted with 3D it will hopefully be screened in both formats. I know which I will be watching.

Working on the assumption that cinemas and studios keep track of 2D/3D split of the box-office take I have a theory that the best way to halt the unnecessary spread of 3D is to choose to watch the 2D version of 3D movies. If a movie is available in both formats but makes more money in 2D it will say far more to the moneymen who run Hollywood than the ramblings of film critics and movie bloggers. So if you feel the same as me about the gimmick that is 3D go and see Harry Potter and Captain America in 2D and send a message to Hollywood. If you are a fan of 3D, go and see them in 3D and thwart my plans.

Update:

Since publishing earlier today Brittani Burnham from Rambling Film tweeted: “Deathly Hallows is on track to break The Dark Knight’s record of biggest opening weekend” and “Only about 43% of Deathy Hallow’s gross was in 3D. This proves more Potter fans perfer 2D. let’s hope this 3D fad dies” these tweets echoed my thoughts so closely I decide to add them to the post. Lets hope this is the start of the revolution.  If you still aren’t put off 3D you can even get a pair of Harry Potter Style 3D glasses, a snip at double the price of a regular pair!

You can find Brittani Burnham HERE and on twitter @ramblingfilm

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My Thoughts, for what they are worth:

Best Motion Picture – Drama: The Social Network took the award, I’m not surprised or unhappy at this as it is a great movie, personally I would have given it to Inception.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Not the strongest category (okay so it contained some utter crap to be honest) but the best of the nominated film won: The Kids Are All Right.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech was a great choice, hopefully he will walk away with the Oscar and BAFTA too.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama: I really wanted Jennifer Lawrence to win for Winter’s Bone but can’t complain about Natalie Portman for Black Swan as I haven’t seen the movie yet. What I can complain about is UK distribution and the fact I haven’t been able to see Black Swan yet!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Paul Giamatti won for Barney’s Version, again this one isn’t out over here yet so don’t know how good he is in it. I am just glad Johnny Depp didn’t win for the two mediocre movie he was nominated for (sorry Johnny, nothing personal, they just weren’t much good)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Annette Bening won for The Kids Are All Right, she was great in the movie (as was co star Julianne Moore) but I would have given it to Emma Stone for Easy A with Anne Hathaway for Love and Other Drugs a close second.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: The winner was Christian Bale for The Fighter, no surprise, it isn’t out here yet, so I will have to reserve judgment, I will say both Andrew Garfield in The Social Network and Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech were brilliant.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Melissa Leo won for The Fighter that as I mentioned above I haven’t seen yet, in fact the only nominated movie in this category I have seen is The King’s Speech and really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance.

Best Director – Motion Picture: David Fincher won for The Social Network, I would have been happy with him or Christopher Nolan for Inception. In some ways I think Fincher deserved it more than Nolan as he made such a great movie out of so little.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network was absolutely the right winner.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture: No decent songs in this category but the winner is Diane WarrenYou Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” from Burlesque. Her first win after four nominations.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture: Trent (Nine Inch Nails) Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network were deserved winners, A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours is also worthy of note.

Best Animated Film: I can’t complain at Toy Story 3, it was the only animated movie I saw all year.

Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World from Denmark won, unfortunately I haven’t seen this or any of the other nominations.

I will skip over most of the TV awards as I don’t watch most of the winning shows but will mention Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama that went to Katey Sagal for the hugely underrated Sons of Anarchy.

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Modesty Blaise started life as a British comic strip in the London Evening Standard in 1963, written by Peter O’Donnell with art by Jim Holdaway. Featuring the character Modesty Blaise, a young woman with extraordinary talents and a shady criminal past, think of a female cross between James Bond and Simon Templar. As well as the comic strip her story has been adapted into a series of thirteen novels/short story collections and various comic books/graphic novels. With all this in mind it would be amazing if it hadn’t been made into a movie, what is truly amazing is that it has actually been filmed three times, they just aren’t that memorable.

Modesty Blaise (1966) was a comedy thriller (light on the thriller part and not very funny) directed by Joseph Losey and staring Monica Vitti as Modesty. Terence Stamp played her sidekick Willie Garvin, and Dirk Bogarde as the arch villain Gabriel. Hamstrung by script rewrites and a lack of cohesive vision the movie looks more like an Austin Powers movie than a James Bond one (and not as funny as either). Imagine looking back at Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels if Casino Royale (1966) was the only James Bond film to be made! Unsurprisingly the film was financially unsuccessful and a suggested film series never happened.

Modesty Blaise (1982): the next incarnation of the story was a one-hour pilot for a TV show that never got picked up. Set in America the characters and the actors who played them were American not British with TV regular Ann Turkel playing Modesty Blaise and Lewis Van Bergen as Willie Garvin. Slightly more serious and less camp than the 60’s version, I saw it many years ago and remember enjoying it but looking back now at clips online it looks typically cheep and cheesy like other 80’s TV.

My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure (2004) Miramax owned the rights to Modesty Blaise but they were about to expire. In order to retain them they decided to throw together a direct to video movie. Shot in just two and half weeks on a modest budget the movie acts as a sort of prequel to other Modesty stories; set before she ran the criminal organisation “The Network” and before her time with British Intelligence and before she met Willie Garvin. Typical B movie action, the movie is worth a look when it comes on TV but I wouldn’t bother buying/renting the DVD. With British actress Alexandra Staden taking the title role the cast is virtually unknown, the DVD box does feature a famous name, above the movie title it reads “Quentin Tarantino presents”. From what I understand Tarantino did no more than lend his name to the movie, he has however suggested on many occasions that he would like to direct a Modest Blaise movie. For those who haven’t spotted it, the book Vincent Vega is seen reading a copy of Modesty Blaise (the novel based on the first movie).

Has Quentin Tarantino got Modesty Blaise out of his system by making Kill Bill (2003-04) or is it still there in the background? When you consider he has been talking about Inglourious Basterds (2009) since around the time of Pulp Fiction (1994) I would suggest Tarantino isn’t one to let things go. The big question, who do you cast in a movie like this? As Uma Thurman proved in The Avengers (1998) and Charlize Theron in Æon Flux (2005) looking good (and they did look really good) isn’t enough, the movies were terrible.

 

Interestingly both these actresses have been suggested as a potential Modesty along with Kate Beckinsale and Jennifer Connely. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez also expressed an interest around the time of the Miramax movie that never materialised after My Name is Modesty. If I can throw a few more names into the hat; Modesty should be in her late twenties or early thirties, tall, slender, drop dead gorgeous, very tenacious and slightly aloof; two actresses that fit the bill and have been brilliant in everything they have done recently: Anna Hathaway and Eva Green.

And if QT doesn’t make the movie someone else will sooner or later, who else can direct an intelligent action movie but retain a deeply cutting sense of humour? The one man who springs to mind: Joss Whedon! I would like to see the movie made as a period piece set in the mid sixties but accept the fact it will probably be undated to the modern day. The setting should include England (particularly swinging London of the mid to late 60’s) as well as more exotic locations around the world. Whatever happens Modesty Blaise is a character who deserves a big screen outing to rival Bond and Bourne.

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I grew up watching Ealing Comedies, Hammer Horrors and James Bond movies completely oblivious to the lack of a film industry here in Britain. Then in 1982 the Chariots of Fire screenwriter Colin Welland declared “the British are coming” during his Oscar speech forecasting a rebirth of British cinema. His promise failed to materialise but in recent years British directors seem to have snuck under the wire and following in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin are making movies from within Hollywood.

Christopher Nolan was born in London forty years ago. His first film Following (1998) may have grossed less than $50,000 but when you put it into prospective it is pretty impressive; the film was shot at weekends over the course of a year and cost around $6,000 to make. After great word of mouth following its premier at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival it was picked up by various distributors around the world including Zeitgeist Films in America. Off the back of this and in some ways more importantly this resulted in a script being optioned by Newmarket Films, the resultant film was Memento (2000). The rest as they say is history: Next came a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film Insomnia (2002); Batman Begins, the movie that reinvented, rebooted and resurrected the Batman franchise killed by Joel Schumacher in 1997; Based on a novel by Christopher Priest and set in the 19th century The Prestige (2006) was a change in direction for Nolan; Then came film that no one expected, The Dark Knight (2008), an intelligent action thriller that just happened to be a comic book movie, oh and it grossed a billion dollars; His most recent movie Inception (2010) is still going strong in Cinemas so may also hit the billion dollar mark when it makes its way onto DVD. Amongst other future projects a third Batman film has been announced.

Sam Mendes: In 1990 at just twenty-five years old Sam Mendes was directing stage productions for the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), just two years later he became artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London. His most famous production there came in 1998 with David Hare’s The Blue Room starring Nicole Kidman. He made his directorial debut with American Beauty (1999), the film was a critical and financial success grossing over $350million and won the Oscar for best picture and best director. Based on a comic book Road to Perdition (2002) was nominated for six Oscars. Although it failed to live up to the critical and financial success of his debut Jarhead (2005) was a cutting and irreverent satire based on a true story and well worth seeing if you haven‘t allready. Revolutionary Road (2008) was notable for great acting without being a great movie, Away We Go 2009 failed to find an audience but didn’t stop Mendes from getting the dream job of directing the next James Bond movie. Now in abeyance it remains to be seen if the Sam Mendes 007 movie ever happens but he does have other projects on the way including movie based on the graphic novel series Preacher and a movie remake of the ITV mini series Lost in Austen.

Ridley And Tony Scott: Born in the north east of England seventy-two year old Ridley Scott has been making movies for over thirty years following a successful career making television commercials. With nearly twenty directing credits to his name I will just give you the highlights: Alien (1979); Blade Runner (1982); Thelma & Louise (1991); Gladiator (2000); Black Hawk Down (2001); Kingdom of Heaven (2005). With two Alien prequels announced it looks like there is still more to come from Scott. Although commercially successful younger brother Tony has failed to receive the critical acclaim of his elder brother (sometimes unfairly), his movies include: The Hunger (1983); Top Gun (1986); Revenge (1990); Days of Thunder (1990); True Romance (1993); Crimson Tide (1995); Spy Game (2001). Keeping it in the family Ridley’s daughter Jordan Scott directed her feature debut last year Cracks (2009).

Danny Boyle: Now joining the infiltration: Born in Lancashire in the ‘50’s to parents of Irish decent Boyle worked in theatre and television before making his feature with Shallow Grave (1994), he quickly followed it up with Trainspotting (1996) based on a novel by Irvine Welsh. His first move to Hollywood to make A Life Less Ordinary (1997) is probably his only misstep. The Beach (2000) was unfairly panned by critics and was a commercial success, it was also the first collaboration with British novelist turned screenwriter Alex Garland. Going back to basics 28 Days Later (2002) was shot on digital video with a budget of just $5million. A commercial and critical success it has allread spawned a sequel 28 Weeks Later with a possible second sequel 28 Months Later on the way. Family friendly Millions (2004) represented change of direction but retained Boyles flair. Sunshine (2007) was popular with the critics but wasn’t a hit with cinema goers, I think a lot of people just didn’t get it. Then out of nowhere came Slumdog Millionaire (2008), eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director and a box-office approaching $400million has promoted Danny Boyle to the big-time and sent him back to Hollywood. His next movie 127 Hours (2010) is based on the true story of Aron Ralston an American mountain climber who has to make an impossible decision following and accident.

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Kai from The List was kind enough to invite me to be his guest for episode three of his suggestively titled podcast. Click HERE for Kai’s site and details on how you can listen.

  • We cast Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman 3
  • Kai has a little movie news
  • Keeping with the Batman theme the celebrity spotlight shines on Christian Bale
  • You can also find out how I got on in THE GAME

I just want to say thanks to Kai for inviting, it was fun and for those of you who haven’t already it’s a great time to check out his excellent blog and podcast.

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A few months ago I speculated on who will be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the American version of Stieg Larsson’s hugely successful Novel. Whist Ellen Page would still be my choice for the part of Lisbeth Salander, Carey Mulligan appears to be the frontrunner, Kristen Stewart’s name still keeps coming up as well. The latest rumour for the part of Mikael Blomkvist is current James Bond, Daniel Craig. The other names that keep cropping up are Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Viggo Mortensen.

Daniel Craig: I hadn’t considered him for the part but the more I think about it I think he would do a pretty good job.

Johnny Depp: I would give anything with him in it a chance but I really don’t think he would be right for this movie.

George Clooney: A great actor and possibly the closest thing we have to an old fashioned movie star at the moment. I’m not convinced by him as Blomkvist.

Brad Pitt: I think he has ruled himself out now. Probably for the best, again he is the wrong man for this movie.

Viggo Mortensen: Probably my first choice. A great actor who can bring the necessary depth to the part.

Whoever is cast we will have to wait two years for the movie, in the meantime the second in original Swedish adaptation of the “Millennium Trilogy” The Girl Who Played With Fire will be released in the UK on August 27th 2010 and here is the new UK poster.

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England v USA

I may be a little less prolific over the next few weeks as my other obsession takes over, Football. For those who don’t know the World Cup starts today. England’s opening game is against USA tomorrow. Whist England will be the clear favourites in this game they won’t be taking anything for granted.

The two sides have only met in a competitive game once before, it was in the 1950 world cup in Brazil. England where the clear favourites having won 23 and drawn 3 of the previous 30 games. The Americans on the other hand were on a seven game losing streak during which time they had only scored 2 goals conceding 45. Bookies gave odds of 500–1 for a U.S win. You may have guessed from the build up we lost 1-0 to a goal late in the first half. Both teams failed to get out of the group stages of the competition and the US didn’t qualify for the world cup finals for another forty years (they lost all three games next time out in Italy ’90). Since returning to the finals in 1990 the U.S. team have qualified every world cup and England have been in all except 1994 (held in America) so it was only a matter of time before the two teams met again. Tomorrow’s game will be played just 17 days short of the 60th anniversary of the 1950 encounter. Although England are the favourites the odds are a lot narrower than they were in 1950 with UK bookmakers offering around 7/1.

This post does have a tenuous movie link, the 1950 game was made into a movie: The Game of Their Lives aka The Miracle Match (2005). I haven’t seen the movie but am told it’s not very good and not very historically accurate but like so many true stories based on a sporting events it only got made because of the dramatic and surprising result as the underdogs triumphed against supposedly superior opposition. Let’s hope there is nothing dramatic or surprising enough to warrent a movie about tomorrow’s game. All it leaves me to say is Come on England.

I know there are a few people from America who stop by here once in a while, are any of you actually interested in football (or Soccer as you tend to call it)? And how about those people whose teams didn’t make the finals, will you be watching the world cup?

 

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You know that old saying about busses, you know about how you wait for ages for one and they all come together. Well the same can be true of movies, as soon as something is successful the screens are awash with imitators. Sword and sandals flicks died a death years ago, then along comes Gladiator, we are still seeing imitators ten years later. After Scream it was more important for a horror movie to be cleaver and ironic than scary. Every gangster flick for the last twenty years has wanted to be the next Goodfellas and suddenly comic book movies have to be shot on greenscreen to look like Sin City.  Mike from “You Talking to Me?” has enlisted a few fellow bloggers to explore and expose this phenomenon of unoriginality in a great blog-a-thon. In his own words:

“It’s both a celebration of great films and a condemnation of Hollywood’s tendency to repeat trends until they are utterly and hopelessly dead”

It has been running all month so you should already be aware of it. We are getting to the business end of the event with the top five starting today. My own contribution was published earlier this morning. You can see it below and check out the entire event HERE.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – Dir: Guy Ritchie

Cinema was built on genres and one of the most enduring genres is the gangster/crime movie. Often overlapping with other genres like film noir, thrillers and even comedy gangster movies have been a mainstay of Hollywood since the golden age of cinema. But here in the United Kingdom they have never had the same relevance and reverence, true there have been some great British gangster movies like The Long Good Friday, Get Carter and Brighton Rock but they have all been a bit few and far between with no collective. Then in 1998 with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels all this changed but was it for better or worse?

If you don’t know the movie, here is a brief synopsis: Eddie (Nick Moran), Soap (Dexter Fletcher). Tom (Jason Flemyng) and Bacon (Jason Statham) have been friends since childhood, seeing an opportunity to make a fast buck they scrape together £100,000 as a stake for an illegal card game hosted by local “porn king” Harry “The Hatchet” Lonsdale (P. H. Moriarty). The Game three card brag (far more British than poker). Eddie the cardsharp of the group sits down to play not realising the game is fixed. Not only does he loser the money but he also has to pay £500,000 within a week to save his fingers and his father’s pub. With time ticking away fast they overhear a plot to rob a group of local dope growers. Then throw into the mix a pair of hapless Scouse thieves, a brace of valuable antique shotguns and mob enforce Big Chris (Vinnie Jones).

The movie is well written funny and original. There are some compelling characters and a great battling underdog theme. It is also unashamedly British, it doesn’t pretend to be a Hollywood movie, set in London with a British cast, British humour. The movie didn’t exactly save the British film industry but it really kick-started it and put it on a new path. It was the first sign in a decade and a half that Colin Welland declaration at the Oscars “the British are coming” may be true, it wasn’t. The problem with the movie is twofold; as well as the countless imitators it also launched the Hollywood career of British thespians Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham, neither are good actors but both are big stars. Jason Statham: As crap as The Transporter (2002) was, it did have few fun moments and was relatively harmless, did it really need two sequels? What was Crank (2006) all about? In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) was directed by Uwe Boll, need I say more! He has become the Seagal/Van Damme of the past decade, as their movies go direct to DVD Jason Statham movies still get theatrical releases. On top of all this he has had leading or prominent roles in remakes Death Race, The Italian Job and Mean Machine three movies that all have one thing in common, they aren’t as good as the movie they are based on. Vinnie Jones: Although not the most talented footballer in the world, Vinnie Jones was a skilled defender who played on his hard-man reputation to defect attention from his abilities. In 1988 at 23 years old he won the FA Cup with Wimbledon, the so called “Crazy Gang”. Since his retirement from football he has begun to come across as a really nice guy, with this said, he isn’t a good actor. Two directors have known what to do with him, Dominic Sena in Gone in 60 Seconds and Midnight Meat Train in Ryûhei Kitamura gave him minimal dialogue. Other directors: Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand), Barry Skolnick (Mean Machine) chose not to do this!

As for the offending imitators there are many but the worst offender is the only feature directed by Edward Thomas Rancid Aluminium came out just two years after Lock Stock. What is supposed to be a cleaver weaving plot is actually chaos at best. The acting is abysmal the script laughable, the best thing I can say about the movie as a whole is that it is forgettable. Then we have the collective works of Nick Love, the writer director of four nasty little movies in five years: The Football Factory (2004), The Business (2005), Outlaw (2007) and The Firm (2009). These films glorify thugery and violence amongst everyday people with little artistic merit but they are still riding the Lock Stock bandwagon. Even Guy Ritchie is guilty after the failure of Swept Away he returned to the genre with Revolver, an utter mess of a movie. When this didn’t work he tried again with RocknRolla, whist not a bad movie it is still a pale echo of his earlier movies. But there is a glimmer of hope, Lock Stock produce Matthew Vaughn had a new movie he wanted to make but Guy Ritchie wasn’t interested so Vaughn directed it himself, that film was Layer Cake and it moved the British Gangster movie to add to this with Sherlock Holmes Guy Ritchie proved he could be a director for hire and he could operate in other genres, well sort of!

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Click here for all the 2010 LAMMY Nominations

 

 Thanks to everyone who nominated Desert island DVD’s. Don’t forget to vote for it. 

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