Wednesday, 31 May 2017

These film scenes alongside the paintings that inspired them will change how you see movies

We often talk about movies paying homage to other movies. If you have ever seen a Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) movie, you have basically seen a collage of Kung Fu, Grindhouse, and classic film scenes repurposed into his chopped and screwed narratives. But we don't often talk about movies lifting scenes from classic paintings. Images jumping from the canvas to the screen is not an easy association to make, yet directors often do so all the time.





These calming compilations created by UK based photographer and director Vugar Efendi shows some beautiful shots from movies lifted from classic works of art. Some of these you may have known, like William Friedkin's use of L'Empire des Lumieres in The Exorcist (1973), but others – like Jutta by John Kacere and Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation (2003) or Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer in There Will Be Blood (2007) – might be new revelations.

Now you have something new to look for every time you watch a good movie.







Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sir Roger Moore: James Bond legend dies aged 89

Veteran British actor Sir Roger Moore, best known for playing charismatic MI6 spy James Bond, has died aged 89. Known for his mellifluous voice, charismatic charm and arched eyebrow, he played the iconic character seven times, starting with Live And Let Die (1973).

Sir Roger's family confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he had died after "a short but brave battle with cancer".

The statement, from his children, read: "Thank you Pops for being you, and being so very special to so many people."

"With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated."





Born in London in 1927, Moore started his career in the 1950s as a knitwear model, before moving into acting with a series of small film roles. His initial breakthrough, though, came on the small screen in shows like Ivanhoe, Maverick, and The Alaskans. Moore became a household name with The Saint from 1962 to 1969, in which he played the suave, sophisticated, sharply dressed hero Simon Templar. Many of the Saint's characteristics, the easygoing manner, mocking eyebrow and ability to successfully charm every passing female, would later be incorporated into his role as James Bond.

In fact, Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli had approached Moore twice to take the part, but his television commitments had got in the way. When Sean Connery officially retired from the role after Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the coast was clear and Moore accepted the role.

Moore played 007 seven times: Live And Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View To A Kill (1985). Throughout his tenure, he established a playful and debonair take on the character, injecting a sense of fun into Ian Fleming's creation.

Following his retirement from the role, he took a short break from acting, taking on smaller bit parts. His later years were largely devoted to charity and humanitarian efforts. In a statement, his family said he considered his work with UNICEF to be "his greatest achievement".

On his approach to his most famous role, he once said "I'm have a good time doing this, and I hope you're having a good time watching me have a good time."

Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys) led the tributes to the actor on Twitter, writing simply: "Roger Moore, loved him."

Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) said: "I am truly sad and think I will be in tears if I talk about him.
"Roger was the perfect gentlemen, adored by all his friends."

Singer Michael Ball said: "My dearest uncle Roger has passed on. What a sad, sad day this is.
"Loved the bones of him. Generous, funny, beautiful and kind."

Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby) wrote: "Few are as kind & giving as was Roger Moore. Loving thoughts with his family & friends."

Despite his many achievements, Moore never managed to shrug off the mantle of 007.

"Of course I do not regret the Bond days," he once remarked. "I regret that sadly heroes in general are depicted with guns in their hands, and to tell the truth I have always hated guns and what they represent."

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

imdb.com

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tim Minchin set to play Friar Tuck in Robin Hood: Origins

While he may be better known as the musical genius behind stage shows based on Matilda and Groundhog Day, Tim Minchin has plenty of acting credits on his CV. He is about to add another, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that he is set to play Friar Tuck in Robin Hood: Origins.





Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) is preparing to play the lead role of the legendary outlaw who returns from the Crusades and battles the corrupt likes of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) while helping the locals survive.

Origins has been building an eclectic cast so far, including Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) on as Little John, Eve Hewson (Enough Said) as Maid Marian and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades Of Grey) playing Will Scarlet. Scarlet is traditionally more known for his musical abilities than Tuck, but perhaps they are going in a different direction with everyone.

Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) will direct the film in Budapest later this year, aiming at a 23 March 2018 release in the US with no confirmed date for the UK just yet.

Robert Downey Jr set for Man Of The People adaption

News arrives via Deadline that Robert Downey Jr, closing in on his tenth anniversary playing Tony Stark, will likely follow up production of the next two Avengers films with a biopic of non-doctor John Brinkley, whose use of goat glands for medicinal purposes was his ticket to infamy in the early part of the 20th Century.





The untitled film, based on the Man Of The People episode of the Reply All podcast, focuses on Brinkley, and his rise in America with his procedure to transplant goat testicles into humans, initially to cure impotency but then for a wide variety of maladies. Using the social media of the day, radio, Brinkley spread the word of what he was doing and grew so popular that he eventually ended up managing clinics and hospitals in a number of states, and even twice ran for public office in Kansas. And all of this without ever having received a genuine medical licence. And yet despite success that turned him into a multimillionaire – spoilers alert – Brinkley died penniless due to a wide variety of lawsuits (including malpractice, wrongful death and fraud) that he became the subject of.

The film will be produced by Downey Jr and his wife's Team Downey production company, with Richard Linklater (Boyhood) directing. Downey Jr will next be seen as Iron Man in this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming, and is currently involved in back-to-back shooting on Avengers: Infinity War and a fourth untitled Avengers film, which he says "promises to be a year of fun-filled lensing." While the actor has appeared in recent years in The Judge (2014) and Chef (2014), there are persistent rumblings of a fourth Iron Man film, hardly surprising considering that the last entry in that series, Iron Man 3 (2013), pulled in $1.2 billion at the global box office.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Taikia Waititi set to direct Bubbles

He last brought us the wonderful Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016) and has been having fun in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Ragnarok, but Taika Waititi appears ready to head to an even stranger place. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he has signed on to co-direct Bubbles, a stop motion movie about the life of Michael Jackson's pet chimp.





Mark Gustafson, who has worked on movies such as Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and is developing a new Pinocchio with Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim), is on to co-direct the new film, which is coming from the team behind Anomalisa (2015).

Isaac Adamson's screenplay chronicles the ape's friendship with the King Of Pop after Jackson adopted him from a Texas research facility and gave him a home at his Neverland ranch in 1983. He lived with the megastar until he became too aggressive (Bubbles, not Jacko) and was moved to a primate sanctuary in Florida, where he still lives.

"It's an idea that fascinates me and one I want to develop further," says Waititi, who previously channeled obsession with Jackson through 2010 comedy Boy. "Most people know I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan, so the main thing for me is to make sure it's respectful of him and his legacy. I'm not interested in making a biopic; I want to focus on telling a story that blends fact and fantasy, about an animal trying to make sense of the world. This film is not about Michael Jackson because that's not a story for me to tell – or a story I'd be comfortable telling – it's about a chimpanzee's fascinating journey through the complex jungle of human life. I think animation is the only way to approach a story like this."

There is no date for this one to arrive yet, but it will certainly take time given the painstaking nature of stop motion. Thor: Ragnarok, meanwhile, will arrive in cinemas on 27 October in the UK and 3 November in the US.

Joel and Ethan Coen re-Writing Scarface reboot script

Though it lost its most recent director candidate (Antoine Fuqua) but there is good news for the latest version of Scarface. News arrives via Variety that Universal Pictures have Joel and Ethan Coen (Hail, Caesar!) providing their scriptwriting services to do a polish on the new movie's screenplay.




And the producers – which includes Martin Bregman who helped bring Brian De Palma's 1983 version starring Al Pacino to screens – appear to be close to finding a replacement director to call the shots, with Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) still attached to star as a Mexican gangster who is looking to carve out his own slice of the American dream.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Mackenzie (Hell Or High Water) is in the mix alongside the man who coincidentally originally hired him for what would become that film, Peter Berg (Lone Survivor). Mackenzie's story is the more intriguing one – unable to secure most studio jobs he has since become a toast of the town and is being offered scripts all over the place. And Berg, of course, has a history with Universal Pictures via Battleship (2012) and Lone Survivor (2013).

The new version still faces an uphill battle with some who don't really want to see another remake, even given that the 1983 film is itself exactly that. Still, Universal remains confident and has handed out a 10 August 2018 release for the film in the US.

Kevin Smith planning Jay And Silent Bob reboot satire

Despite seemingly closing the book on the View Askewniverse way back at the end of Dogma (1999), Kevin Smith just can't escape its gravitational pull. He has revisited the slackers of Clerks (1994) and has a series based on Mallrats (1995) currently in development limbo. But with other projects seemingly stalled, he is turning his attention back to his two most iconic creations – Jay And Silent Bob.


This is not a drill! This is an actual image from my laptop! Yes, Kids - @jayandsilentbob are coming back! Here's the story: Sadly, Clerks III can't happen (one of our four leads opted out of the flick). So I worked on a #Mallrats movie instead... which also didn't happen because it turned into a #Mallrats series. I've pitched said sequel series to 6 different networks only to find no takers thus far. Mind you, I'm not complaining: nobody gets to make EVERYTHING they wanna make in this business (do they?). And I've been lucky to make anything at all, there's so much competition out there, so many much cooler ideas from fresh folks. And besides: I had #comicbookmen and then @tuskthemovie and @yogahosers (which all came together so crazy quickly), and the podcasts and #fatmanonbatman. With all of that, how could I bitch about no Clerks III or Mallrats 2? Then when I started directing @thecw shows, it was such a slice of Heaven on Earth, I happily put my Askewniverse sequels to the side. Since I sold #Clerks and #Mallrats years ago, they're owned by others, which limits my moves with my own material. I don't mind: back in the day, all I ever wanted to do was sell my stuff so I could be in the movie biz in the first place. So I don't own Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy or #Dogma... But I DO own #jayandsilentbob. So while I love playing with someone else's new toys on @cwtheflash and @Supergirl, I'm getting eager to play with my old toys again in the inter-connected View Askewniverse I spent the first half of my career creating. And so all last month, I had the time of my life laughing while writing "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" - a fun flick in which the Jersey boys have to go back to Hollywood to stop a brand new reboot of the old "Bluntman & Chronic Movie" they hated so much. It's a tongue-in-cheek, silly-ass satire that pokes fun at the movie business's recent re-do obsession, featuring an all-star cast of cameos and familiar faces! And I already met with the good folks at Miramax and they're into it, so I'm hoping we'll be shooting in the summer! Never give up, kids. You CAN do anything you want in life, so long as you're patient and malleable. #KevinSmith
A post shared by Kevin Smith (@thatkevinsmith) on


Though he has more recently been known for the genre-stretching likes of Tusk (2014) and Yoga Hosers (2016), or for directing episodes of DC's TV series, Smith has decided to take a swipe at reboot culture with a new Jay and Bob film that he will star in alongside regular partner in crime (and actual bestie) Jay Mewes.

Posting the above image to Instagram, Smith wrote a long post about his plans. "This is not a drill! This is an actual image from my laptop! Yes, Kids – Jay And Silent Bob are coming back! Here's the story: Sadly, Clerks III can't happen (one of our four leads opted out of the flick). So I worked on a Mallrats movie instead... which also didn't happen because it turned into a Mallrats series. I've pitched said sequel series to 6 different networks only to find no takers thus far.

"Then when I started directing The CW shows, it was such a slice of Heaven on Earth, I happily put my Askewniverse sequels to the side. Since I sold Clerks and Mallrats years ago, they're owned by others, which limits my moves with my own material. I don't mind: back in the day, all I ever wanted to do was sell my stuff so I could be in the movie biz in the first place. So I don't own Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy or Dogma... But I DO own Jay and Bob. So while I love playing with someone else's new toys, I'm getting eager to play with my old toys again in the interconnected View Askewniverse I spent the first half of my career creating.

"And so all last month, I had the time of my life laughing while writing Jay and Silent Bob Reboot – a fun flick in which the Jersey boys have to go back to Hollywood to stop a brand new reboot of the old Bluntman & Chronic movie they hated so much. It's a tongue-in-cheek, silly-ass satire that pokes fun at the movie business's recent re-do obsession, featuring an all-star cast of cameos and familiar faces! And I already met with the good folks at Miramax and they're into it, so I'm hoping we'll be shooting in the summer!"

So there we are... Jay and Bob are coming back. Again. And probably sooner than you think.

Joe Manganiello and Marley Shelton set to join Rampage

News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) and Marley Shelton (Planet Terror) are set to join Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas) in the video game adaption Rampage.





Those of a certain age will remember feeding coins into the arcade cabinet (and later playing at home) to control three giant monsters – George (a giant gorilla), Lizzie (a huge lizard) and Ralph (a raging werewolf), who were normal humans until they were the subject of experiments by the nefarious Scumlabs and turned into their monstrous forms. Johnson is playing an animal loving hero who may be the only hope for saving the world, while Naomie Harris (SPECTRE) is on as a geneticist with a moral streak who decides to help.

Now we can add Manganiello as the leader of a private military group and Shelton – wife of producer Beau Flynn, who is reuniting with Johnson after San Andreas (2015) – playing an astronaut.

With San Andreas director Brad Peyton overseeing the madness, Rampage will be stomping into cinemas April next year.

Henry Cavill and Ben Kingsley set for new thriller Nomis

News arrive via The Hollywood Reporter that Henry Cavill (Man Of Steel) and Ben Kingsley (Hugo) are leading the cast of new psychological thriller Nomis.





Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas) has also signed on to the film, which writer and director David Raymond is currently shooting in Canada. The Hollywood Reporter's story doesn't specify what they will be doing in the film, but we do know that the story finds an American police force trapping an online predator, only to discover that the depth of his crimes goes beyond anything they had thought.

"I'm overjoyed by our cast," says Raymond. "Henry's got such a strong presence onscreen, but he's also incredibly smart and has a wicked sense of humor. I think people are going to be blown away by what he's going to do with this role. Sir Ben is always incredible. I wrote the character for him, so I was quite relieved when he signed on. Alexandra is a raw talent and has an undeniable electricity, which is exactly why I wanted her in this role."

Cavill has war film Sand Castle arriving later this year and will be back in the cape for Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) follow-up Justice League, out 17 November. Kingsley will be seen in Collide and Per Fly's (The Inheritance) Backstabbing For Beginners, while Daddario can be seen the Baywatch reboot, which arrives on our screens 2 June.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

New banners for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales arrive online

Walt Disney Pictures have just released a new set of banners for Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning's (Kon-Tiki) Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

















The fifth and latest Pirates Of The Caribbean film has undergone something of a subtitle change for UK audiences – what is called Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales elsewhere is now known as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge here.

We suppose the new title makes sense, focusing as it does on Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a ghostly former cohort of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. Freshly escaped from the Devil's Triangle, Salazar and his spectral crew are killing all the living pirates, and Jack is their primary target.

Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong sailor in the Royal Navy. The teaser features no Jack, but instead finds Bardem's ghostly, but surprisingly polite sort demanding that Henry finds Jack for him.

Kon-Tiki's (2012) Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning are at the helm for this one, which Walt Disney Pictures will be hoping can keep the successful money tsunami going and generate some better reviews than the last outing.

We will find out if that is the case when Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge docks into UK cinemas on 26 May.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig set for Toni Erdmann remake

Jack Nicholson turned 80 last month, and having not made a film since How Do You Know (2010), many in Hollywood had assumed he had retired. Indeed, as recently as last month, The Sun newspaper ran an article with the headline 'Jack Nicholson To Retire'. Almost as if in response to such headlines, word arrives via Variety that Nicholson will be starring in the English language remake of German comedy Toni Erdmann (2016), opposite Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids).





The original Toni Erdmann, written and directed by Maren Ade, was first released in Europe in 2016, and only saw a UK release in February. It starred Peter Simonischek as a fake teeth wearing prankster father, and Sandra Hüller as his highly strung daughter who finds herself on the receiving end of her father's practical jokes.

The film has received universal critical acclaim and swept the board at the European Film Awards back in December.

Adam McKay (The Big Short) will be shepherding the project as producer, with longtime partner Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy), and Wiig also producing. Original director Maren Ade will executive produce, but there is no word on who will helm the remake.

According to Variety, an English remake had been floated since May last year, but Nicholson was such a fan of the original film himself that he approached Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey, and the wheels quickly started to set in motion.

A People's History Of The Vampire Uprising set for big screen adaption

Anyone disappointed that Paramount Pictures have put a hold on the sequel to World War Z (2013) might take some undead solace in the news that producer and director Shawn Levy (Real Steel) and 20th Century Fox have acquired the rights to the forthcoming novel, A People's History Of The Vampire Uprising.




Written by Raymond A. Villareal, and intended to be the first of four volumes, the book will take its cue from World War Z as its to be told in an oral history format. As reported by Deadline, it deals with the "appearance, assimilation and ultimately epic and violent confrontation of vampires with the human race." The story will be told from a number of perspectives, most notably the CDC investigator who is the first person to realise that there is a new virus starting to spread, the first FBI agent assigned to the Gloaming (the name for the vampires) Crimes Unit, a librarian working in the Vatican, gossip website TMZ (!) and a civil rights attorney.

A People's History Of The Vampire Uprising is one of a variety of vampire projects that are on the horizon on both the big screen and the small, among them TV pilots for The Passage and Let The Right One In, and Anne Rice's intention of turning her Vampire Chronicles into a television series.

As far as World War Z is concerned, Paramount Pictures and star Brad Pitt have put the sequel on hold as they wait for the schedule of director David Fincher (Gone Girl) to free up. The pair certainly have form together, with Fincher directing Pitt in Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999) and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008). The first World War Z grossed $540 million worldwide.

Richard Armitage added to Julie Delpy's My Zoe

Busy old time for Richard Armitage (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). He was recently recruited for heist caper and spin-off Ocean's Eight. Now word arrives via Deadline that he will be part of the cast for Julie Delpy's (2 Days In Paris) sixth film as a director, My Zoe.





The indie drama already boasts Daniel Brühl (Rush), Lior Ashkenazy (Big Bad Wolves) and Sophia Ally (A Modest Defeat) in the cast, with Delpy on writing, directing and co-starring duty. The film follows the fallout of Isabelle (Delpy) and James's (Armitage) marriage. Their relationship is well and truly over, but they stay in touch to share parenting time for their daughter, Zoe. Until, that is, tragedy strikes, and Isabelle decides to take matters into her own hands.

In addition to Ocean's Eight (due to arrive in cinemas next year), Armitage has thriller Sleepwalker and historical drama Pilgrimage headed our way, though neither film has a UK release date as yet.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Jennifer Connelly joins Alita: Battle Angel

The cameras have been cranking on Robert Rodriguez' (Sin City) manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel for a while now, and yet still the casting announcements come. News now arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond) has joined the film.





With Rodriguez directing and James Cameron (Avatar) producing – after years developing the project, he has chosen to focus on more Avatar movies – the film adapts Yukito Kishiro's original manga. Battle Angel Alita, as it was called in print and anime form, is the story of an amnesiac female cyborg in the 26th century who becomes a bounty hunter, after being rescued from the rubbish dump and rebuilt by a professor of cybernetics. Rosa Salazar (The Maze Runner) is playing Alita, while Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) will be the professor.

They will be facing the villainy of Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) and Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight). As for Connelly, there is nothing official regarding her character yet, but she likely won't be aiding our heroes.

Alita: Battle Angel will be out on 20 July 2018. Before that, Connelly has true firefighting tale Granite Mountain, out in UK cinemas on 22 September.

New Friday The 13th's reboot shuts down

After several false starts, all looked to be finally getting back on track for the latest reboot of the Friday The 13th concept as director Breck Eisner (The Crazies) stepped aboard the project last year. But now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Paramount Pictures have shut down the film just weeks before it was due to start shooting.





Whispers of fresh trouble for the reboot surfaced when the studio removed the film – alongside the World War Z (2013) sequel – from their planned release slot. While Jason Voorhees was to have been stalking screens in October, the movie is now back in development limbo. No official reason was given for the brakes being put on pre-production, though one source told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie was simply not ready to go. It probably didn't help that the studio's attempt to breathe new life into the Rings franchise didn't pay off quite as well as they had hoped.

We will have to wait and see what happens next, but for now, it appears that Friday The 13th, at least in its modern incarnation, is perennially unlucky.

Matthew McConaughey set to star in Harmony Korine's Beach Bum

Given his history of shirtless bongo drumming and laid back behaviour in his personal life, you can certainly imagine Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) has been preparing to star in a movie called The Beach Bum most of his adult life. And so it has come to pass, with news arriving via Screen International that his set to join Harmony Korine's (Spring Breakers) latest.





The Spring Breakers (2012) director is cooking up the new movie, but mostly keeping the plot to himself, besides acknowledging that McConaughey will be playing a rebellious, lovable rogue. "The Beach Bum will be a wild, audacious ride!" says Korine in a statement carried by Screen International. "And I can't think of anyone better than Matthew McConaughey to play our hero Moondog, a rebellious charmer in this fast-paced, uplifting and irreverent comedy."

Korine aims to have the cameras and the waves rolling in July.

As for McConaughey, he is currently on our screens in Gold and will next be seen in Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower, which arrives on 28 July.

Andrea Riseborough joins psychological drama Nancy

Following her brief appearance in Nocturnal Animals (2016), news now arrives via Variety that Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) is set for a more substantial role in a new psychological drama called Nancy.





Director Christina Choe, who has often worked as an editor, but has been winning awards for her short films, will make her feature debut for this one, which has Riseborough as a woman who has spent her life impersonating others, but comes close to losing her entire personality, along with the one person who has ever loved her for who she really is when her web of lies begins to fall apart.

The cameras are already rolling, with J. Smith-Cameron (Man On A Ledge), Ann Dowd (Compliance), John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge!) and Steve Buscemi (Fargo) filling out the cast and Choe recruiting a crew that has all-female department heads, for a refreshing change. She also has the backing of Eon Productions' Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, which has our minds whirring with the conspiracy theory that this is secretly the next Bond film and Riseborough will be taking over the mantle from Daniel Craig.

More concretely, the actress will be seen in Armando Iannucci's (Veep) The Death Of Stalin, comedy outing Mindhorn and true-life tennis drama Battle Of The Sexes.

Michael Sheen and Michelle Monaghan set for The Price Of Admission

They have both been spending time on the small screen for acting jobs, but now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) and Michelle Monaghan (Source Code) are headed back to the cinema for director Peter Glanz' (The Longest Week) latest The Price Of Admission.





Pitched as a Charlie Kaufman-esque story of creativity warring with reality and a man at the end of his tether, the film will see Sheen as playwright Harold Sugar, who is dealing with a mid-life crisis. His work is suffering – not that it was ever amazing to begin with – and the strain is also taking its toll on his wife, Eliza (Monaghan). She is sick of taking a back seat to his work and wants to start a family, but he dives headfirst into an autobiographical play. As the lines between fiction and fact start to blur, he begins to lose his grip on sanity.

Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea), who is actually attached to star in another project Glanz has been developing, will produce this one.

Sheen will be seen in new drama Home Again and School Of Rock (2003) writer Mike White's comedy Brad's Status. Monaghan, in addition to her work on Hulu drama The Path, will appear in romantic drama Sidney Hall.

Hera Hilmar set for Mortal Engines

Producer Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring) and longtime collaborator Christian Rivers are really gearing up Mortal Engines. They recently cast Robert Sheehan (Cherrybomb) and Ronan Raftery (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) and now news arrives via Variety that Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar (Life in a Fishbowl) has been added to the ensemble.





Philip Reeve's series of children's novels takes place in a steampunk post-apocalyptic future where cities are mobile and perambulate the planet devouring each other for fuel – a system amusingly called Municipal Darwinism. The St Paul's Cathedral topped London is the strongest of these Traction Cities, in a world where 'old tech' is extremely sought after.

On one of these massive mobile structures, Tom Natsworthy has an unexpected encounter with a mysterious young woman from the Outlands, who will change the course of his life forever. Character details have yet to be announced, but it is possible that Sheehan could be playing Tom, with Hilmar as the woman he encounters.

Long in development by Jackson – who wrote the script alongside regular collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens – this one is finally gaining traction and is set to begin shooting in New Zealand this spring, with a 14 December 2018 release date in its sights.

Hilmar has been seen in films such as Karenina (2012) and The Fifth Estate (2013) and had a role on Da Vinci's Demons. She will next show up in The Ottoman Lieutenant and Brad Silberling's (A Series Of Unfortunate Events) An Ordinary Man.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Brenton Thwaites set to star in Ghosts Of War

He will next be seen in Joachim Rønning in Espen Sandberg's (Kon-Tiki) Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge – known as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US – and now Australian actor Brenton Thwaites (Oculus) is lining up another role that has him meeting paranormal activity. News arrives via Deadline that he is set to star in supernatural thriller Ghosts Of War.





Eric Bress (The Butterfly Effect) wrote the script and will direct the movie, which is about a group of war-weary World War II soldiers who are assigned to defend a French château as the conflict winds down. Once held by the Nazis, it is already a forbidding place – a feeling intensified by a supernatural presence that haunts the chambers, one that could be more terrible than any enemy soldier. Thwaites' character will be a leader and strategist dealing with battle fatigue who is called into action to help his troops.

As a director, Bress is no stranger to supernatural themes, as he is the man behind movies such as Final Destination 2 (2003) and The Butterfly Effect (2004), which he himself is rebooting later this year.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge, meanwhile, is due to arrive here on 26 May.

Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks and Aaron Paul set for The Burning Woman

Ridley Scott's (Prometheus) portfolio of projects he is producing includes a thriller called The Burning Woman. Written by Brad Ingelsby (Out Of The Furnace), the film has had Scott's son Jake attached to direct for a while, and now finally appears to have tracked down a cast. News arrives via Variety that Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher), Christina Hendricks (Drive), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) are all stepping aboard.





Set in the blue-collar milieu of US industrial towns, The Burning Woman focuses on a 32-year-old Pennsylvania woman whose teenage daughter goes missing, leaving behind an infant grandson to raise. The story then takes place across 11 years as the woman searches for some closure on the case while caring for the boy, finding her way ever closer to the truth of what happened.

Ingelsby developed the idea with Michael Pruss (Equals) and wrote the main character with Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) in mind. But while she showed some initial interest, she has since left the film, but it is finally back on track after a few more months in development limbo. There is no word yet on when it might start shooting. A far better question is arguably Ingelsby's obsession with fire?

Temuera Morrison set to play Aquaman's father

We recently learned that Aquaman director James Wan (The Conjuring) had offered Nicole Kidman (Stoker) the role of the main hero's mother. Now we have an idea of who may end up as his father, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones) is currently making a deal to sign on.





With Jason Momoa (Conan The Barbarian) as Aquaman, Wan has been busy building the rest of the cast as he prepares to start shooting in Australia this April. Already aboard are Amber Heard (The Danish Girl), Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring), with Kidman and Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down) in the middle of talks for the movie.

Morrison will be playing the human that our hero's mother Atlanna falls for after she leaves her royal responsibilities in Atlanta for the world above the surface.

It would represent the latest father figure for the actor, who may still be best known outside New Zealand for his role as Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith (2005). He was most recently heard as title character's father in Walt Disney Feature Animation outing Moana.

Aquaman is scheduled for release on 5 October next year.

Mike Mitchell set to direct The Lego Movie sequel

The Lego Batman Movie arrived on our screens earlier this year, bringing the pint sized Caped Crusader back to our screens and re-introducing the Lego universe to the world. But there has been a change in the direct sequel to the first Lego Movie, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Rob Schrab (Monster House) has left the film and Trolls (2016) director Mike Mitchell has stepped into his place.





The follow-up to the 2014 hit has been development for a while by the Warner Animation Group brain trust and was originally handed to Chris McKay, animation director and editor on the original, who then moved to do Lego Batman. TV veteran Schrab came next, but he has since departed the project over creative differences.

Nothing has been said about the plot for the sequel, but Phil Lord and Chris Miller wrote the first draft of the script, which has since seen work from BoJack Horseman's Raphael Bob-Waksberg and, more recently, Matt Fogel (Bob: The Musical).

The Lego Movie Sequel will be with us on 8 February 2019, while the Lego Ninjago Movie will arrive in cinemas on 13 October this year.

The reason you don't enjoy blockbusters as much as you used to or (the truth that cynical Hollywood studios won't tell you)

On the face of it, blockbusters continue to be in rude health. Box office grosses can rival the GDP of small countries, the likes of Marvel and Warner Bros continue to create genuinely exciting franchises chock full of limitless possibilities, and again and again we find ourselves drawn back to the multiplex, spending large sums of cash for premier seating and gawky plastic 3D glasses.





Deep down though, the way we enjoy these big cinematic events has changed. Even if you do successfully evade the minefield of trailers and teasers in the run-up to a film’s release, each one more spoiler filled than the last, you may emerge from the cinema with the nagging feeling that it just didn't have the same impact on you as blockbusters once did.

Gently nodding along? Wondering why you didn't realise this earlier? There is more than one reason, and they are not as obvious as you may think...

The science of getting it wrong

"Audiences are getting more discerning," says Tim Smith, a cognitive psychologist specialising in audiovisual cognition at Birkbeck University. "We're no longer won over by the spectacle of CG imagery. But so long as our attention isn't drawn to the act of the construction of the image, we can let most imperfections go by."

And that is the trouble. While our gaze has remained the same – limited to 5% of the screen, occasionally shifting to view people's faces and points of high interest such as explosions – digital effects have not. No longer on the periphery, over time it has gradually moved front and centre, where we are faced to confront it for longer periods.

Stephen Prince, professor of cinema studies at Virginia Tech, notes that "cinematic representation operated significantly in terms of structured correspondences between the audiovisual display and the viewer's visual and social filmic experience." Translation: what we process on screen will always come back to logic.





So, if King Kong or a Transformer happens to be on the screen – fine, we can deal with that. If Avatar (2009) is mostly digital effects, no problem. Issues arise when we process objects we wouldn't assume need digitalising.

Like, say, a human being – which prompts a dilemma within our moviegoer mind.





A case in point is the recent digital resurrection of the late Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). Aside from the ethical question over bringing the dead actor back to life, the character polarised opinion, largely due to the 'uncanny valley' effect, whereby watching ultra-real – but not quite real – humanoid forms can elicit feelings of unease.

The recreated Peter Cushing was labelled a "constant distraction" by Collider and accused of "quietly undermining every scene he's in by somehow seeming less real than the various inhuman aliens in the movie" by The Hollywood Reporter.

And don't expect the digital regeneration of actors to stop there – Ridley Scott (Prometheus) has already hinted that he may employ similar technology to rejuvenate Sigourney Weaver for future Alien outings, while it makes perfect commercial sense for studios to safeguard their franchises.

Yet Hollywood's quest for digital perfection is also arguably its weakness. For these dizzying spectacles to operate with the same jaw-dropping impact as they did a few decades ago, it would seem what is needed is a better balance between digital and practical effects.





Take Jurassic World (2015). A great story, no doubt. A box office behemoth, for sure – but did the film really make you "hold on to your butt" in quite the same way Spielberg's forbearer did? The answer is probably no.

While the digital effects employed in Jurassic Park (1993) were certainly pioneering, much of the claustrophobic terror and joy was down to the incredible special effects work of Stan Winston, whose practical animatronics provided everything from those raptors running amok in the kitchen (eyes and arms were radio controlled), to the sick triceratops. Pure cinematic gold. Had these moments been purely CGI, they would likely have a considerably different feel.


A misunderstanding in the brain

The film's apparent over-reliance on digital effects prompted YouTube science channel StoryBrain to release a video arguing why CGI peaked in the 1990s. "Where CGI outweighs the physical in a film," they explain, "a misunderstanding occurs in the way the brain processes the visuals, leaving you unconcerned about the events on screen".

And make no mistake, we are getting much more than we used to.

A few decades ago, directors would superimpose digital effects into a real scene – a trick that lasted up until around 2004, when software passed the point where production teams could render fully computer generated backgrounds and foregrounds.

Dubbed the WETA effect (after the studio that pioneered it), it now meant entire worlds could be created without a director needing to pick up a camera, making the real action secondary and, subconsciously for the filmgoer, leading to a distinct lack of peril. You can see it in The Lord Of The Rings films, and even more noticeably, in The Hobbit prequels.





Another major problem of this WETA effect, argues Tim Smith, is that the ease of creating digital worlds means filmmakers tend to show too much, in effect "taking away the mystery, and actively stop the viewer from actively, cognitively engaging with the construction of the film in their own mind".

One man who gets it right more times than not is director Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book). Invited by the Academy of Motion Pictures to speak in a series of talks about CGI in LA last year, Smith sat down with Favreau to conduct a live audience experiment.

Tracking the eyes of how people watched the Monaco Formula One sequence in Iron Man 2 (2010), the aim was to see if viewers were looking at the areas Favreau had expected them to.





"He was quite surprised at how reduced the gaze was, how focused it was to a particular point on the screen, which was exactly the point he had composed his shots for," says Smith.

Meaning the background stayed in the background. "The majority of the CGI was in the periphery, exactly where the audiences weren't looking. Jon told us that they never even went to Monaco, that they shot on a backlot in LA. The crowd was basically a composite of multiple people, the cars are mostly CG. There's very limited real content in that scene, yet Jon made sure what real elements they did have were central, because he knew what things are going to attract the human eye."

So it is not just how much CGI is on screen that threatens our enjoyment of blockbusters, but rather where and how it is deployed.


Colour, rather than shape, is more closely related to emotion

You may have noticed that many movies look quite similar these days. Not in the sense of formulaic cliched tropes, but in a far more subliminal way. The advent of digital colour grading (whereby you can tint every frame of the film after shooting, adjust its brightness and colour balance) has allowed filmmakers to seek out the optimum palette for their films.

One of the earliest, most distinctive uses of the technology was the Coen brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), in which they changed all the greenery on show into a mellow, golden sepia, evoking the hot, Southern summers seen in old photographs. The Wachowskis turned everyone in The Matrix (1999) green – they take on a much more naturally bluish daylight tint in the real world scenes.






But by far the most far-reaching consequence is known as the 'orange and teal effect'. In a nutshell, human skin looks at its best in a warm, orange light. It is why old school cinematographers always shot their romantic scenes during the 'magic hour' of dawn or dusk. And as any colour theorist knows, orange's complementary colour is teal (or subdued turquoise). Orange never looks as orange as when it is on a background of teal.

Which is why every Hollywood movie with the budget to fix the colour palette in post-production turns everyone and everything orange and teal.






In short, films are literally all beginning to look the same.


The culture clash

There is also another factor at play in our declining excitement at tentpole pictures – quite a major one. "By their very definition, blockbusters are money-makers, and so have to fight for attention," says Smith. "So as films target international markets such as China and India, where language and characterisation can confuse, there will tend to be this simplification of those stories".

Simply put, as blockbusters shift towards lucrative new shores, so too do the storylines. Action becomes the universal language, reducing the threat of culture clash and narrative confusion, and the story – or at least what is left of it – becomes geographically ambiguous. Hence the humans versus sea creatures spectacle of Pacific Rim (2013), and Kong: Skull Island's cynical casting of a Chinese actress, Jing Tian, in a role nobody quite remembers.

If nothing else, at least these marketing ploys shed much needed light on the soulless feel of the recent Transformers films – their human element now all but lost to a digital orgy of shapeshifting robots, exploding oil drums and wanton product placement.

Age of Extinction? Perhaps Michael Bay meant his prop team...

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Two new one sheets for Alien: Covenant arrive online

20th Century Fox have just released two new one sheets for Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) follow-up Alien: Covenant.







Alien: Covenant finds director Ridley Scott heading back to the Alien universe after Prometheus, and following a colony ship called the Covenant headed for a remote planet, a place that the crew initially thinks is an uncharted paradise but turns out to be dark and full of terrors. And the only inhabitant is synthetic life form David (Michael Fassbender), who claims to be the lone survivor of the Prometheus mission.

Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Amy Seimetz (You're Next), Carmen Ejogo (Selma), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills), Billy Crudup (Watchmen) and Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down) make up the ship's crew, and it appears we will catch up with Noomi Rapace's Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Plus we will be getting a double dose of Fassbender, as he is also playing another synthetic, this one named Walter.

Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled for 4 August, now seems scheduled for 19 May, which should be day and date both here and in the US.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Zoe Saldana set for action thriller Hummingbird

Zoe Saldana has clearly developed a taste for the action life. She is currently back on our screens as the tough Gamora in James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and now news arrives via Variety that she is set to play an assassin in a new movie called Hummingbird.





While we are fairly certain that title will change when it makes it over here, so as not to conflict with the 2013 Jason Statham film that was known as Redemption in the States, this one is moving full speed ahead.

Swedish duo Markus Kryler and Fredrik Åkerström are set to make their feature debut on this one, and John McClain's script has Saldana as a black-ops killer whose latest target makes her question her true identity.

This one will have to squeeze into her busy schedule – she is currently working on Avengers: Infinity War now and will of course have a lot of time set aside for the multiple new Avatar films that James Cameron has planned. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, meanwhile, is out in cinemas now.

Corin Hardy set to direct The Nun

While he waits for all the pieces to come together on the long-gestating reboot of The Crow, director Corin Hardy (The Hallow) is keeping himself busy with other projects. News arrives via Deadline that he has accepted a new job, taking on the latest spin-off to emerge from James Wan's Conjuring films, The Nun.





Much like Annabelle (2014), which grew from the demonic doll we first met at the start of The Conjuring (2013), this one is spawned from the sequel and will tell the story of the terrifying nun who haunts Vera Farmiga's Lorraine Warren.

The most interesting element here is that the creature (played by actress Bonnie Aarons) wasn't in the film until three months before release. Wan's follow-up originally featured a more traditional horned beast, but the director came up with the idea and asked the studio if he could make the change. Some digital tinkering with an image and a reshoot in March brought the nun to life.

Now she will be the focus of her own film, with a script by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle) and Wan, and with Hardy in charge, we are certainly expecting good things. It is just the latest expansion of the Conjuring films – Annabelle already has its own sequel, directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), which will be out on 11 August. Can we expect a further expansion of the universe? As always, watch this space.

Robert Sheehan and Ronan Raftery join Mortal Engines

After bubbling away in development for years, the Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring) produced Mortal Engines adaptation took a big step forward when longtime collaborator Christian Rivers was announced as the director last year. Now we know two of the people who will be in front of the camera, with news arriving via Variety that Robert Sheehan (Cherrybomb) and Ronan Raftery (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them).




Philip Reeve's series of children's novels takes place in a steampunk post-apocalyptic future where cities are mobile and perambulate the planet devouring each other for fuel – a system amusingly called Municipal Darwinism. The St Paul's Cathedral topped London is the strongest of these Traction Cities, in a world where 'old tech' is extremely sought after.

The first novel, Mortal Engines itself, in a very small nutshell, involves an assassination attempt within the Historians Guild, the challenging of apprentice Historian Tom Natsworthy's value system, when he gets stranded overboard his beloved London with the revenge-bent Hester Shaw, and a 'stalker' called Shrike (known as Grike in American, where the book series goes by the awkward title The Hungry City Chronicles) who is on their trail. Mortal Engines is followed by Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices, A Darkling Plain and the prequel Fever Crumb.

The script is by the The Lord Of The Rings team of Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, with Rivers set to start shooting in New Zealand this spring, ready for a 14 December 2018 release. And, if it is successful, more movies are set to follow.

Penélope Cruz and Édgar Ramírez set for Love Child

If you sign on for a Todd Solondz (Happiness) film, you know you are not necessarily in for a knockabout farce. More dark and slightly twisted laughs. News arrives via Deadline Penélope Cruz (Volver) and Édgar Ramírez (The Bourne Ultimatum) are the director's latest recruits, joining his new film Love Child.





The Happiness (1998) and Wiener-Dog (2016) director's latest focuses on an 11-yer-old boy called Junior who is obsessively jealous of anyone else in his mother Immaculada's life. At first the delusional youngster (and Broadway wannabe) decides he is going to kill his abusive father and set his mother up with a lodger.

But he doesn't account for his mother falling wildly in love with the new man, and in a freshly jealous rage has to rethink his strategy, aiming instead to pin the potential patricide on the lodger instead.

Cruz is part of the cast for Kenneth Branagh's (Thor) Murder On The Orient Express and has worked on Escobar with real life other half Javier Bardem (Skyfall). Ramirez, meanwhile, is back on our screens in Gold and will also be seen in David Ayer's (Fury) Netflix fantasy thriller Bright.

New IMAX one sheet for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures have just released their IMAX one sheet for Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning's (Kon-Tiki) Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.





The fifth and latest Pirates Of The Caribbean film has undergone something of a subtitle change for UK audiences – what is called Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales elsewhere is now known as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge here.

We suppose the new title makes sense, focusing as it does on Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a ghostly former cohort of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. Freshly escaped from the Devil's Triangle, Salazar and his spectral crew are killing all the living pirates, and Jack is their primary target.

Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong sailor in the Royal Navy. The teaser features no Jack, but instead finds Bardem's ghostly, but surprisingly polite sort demanding that Henry finds Jack for him.

Kon-Tiki's (2012) Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning are at the helm for this one, which Walt Disney Pictures will be hoping can keep the successful money tsunami going and generate some better reviews than the last outing.

We will find out if that is the case when Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge docks into UK cinemas on 26 May.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Keanu Reeves set for romantic thriller Siberia

Last seen on our screens kicking ass in John Wick: Chapter 2, Keanu Reeves is planning for something with a little more romance and presumably fewer villains to shoot at for his next project. News arrives via Deadline that he is close to a deal to star in jewel smuggling thriller Siberia.




Matthew Ross (Frank & Lola) is directing the film, with Scott B. Smith (The Ruins) at work on the script. Reeves will be playing an American diamond trader who heads to Russia to offload a shipment of blue diamonds that have dodgy origins. But when the jewels are stolen, he must venture deep into Siberia to find them, only to be distracted by a passionate affair with a local cafe owner. And while he thinks he has found happiness, the consequences of corrupt trading soon come round to bite him. 

The movie should be shooting later this year. In addition to John Wick's return, Reeves has worked on To The Bone, Replicas and is attached to Olivier Megaton's (Taken 2) Chinese road movie Rally Car.

Monday, 1 May 2017

New one sheet for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives online

Marvel Studios have just released their latest one sheet for James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.





Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 finds the Guardians gelling a little more as a unit after their rough early days, but still more ramshackle than, say, the Avengers. They are also not exactly top notch when it comes to helping others, and an early screw up means they face the wrath of Elizabeth Debicki's (The Man From U.N.C.L.E) alien Ayesha. Plus they have to somehow team up with Michael Rooker's Yondu after his Ravagers betray him.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 will see the return of Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Karen Gillan, alongside new faces Kurt Russell (Death Proof), Nathan Fillion (Slither) and Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables).

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is out in the UK now and will arrive in the US on 5 May.