Monday, 31 May 2010

Judging Books by their Covers

Movie development departments are an integral part of the production process. There's a saying that a film comes about in the editing stage, but it actually has to come together in the development phase. If you get the development of a story in place then it will serve as the nutritious cream that rises to the top. Development departments are also essential because they scour the earth for potential books, comics, video games and theatre productions: basically anything that has a potential narrative and character arcs hence may provide the vital ingredients for good cinematic storytelling.

It comes as a surprise that FOX 2000- the boutique arm of 20th Century Fox- has hit the brakes on their long gestating adaptation of Yann Martel's bestselling Booker Prize winning novel THE LIFE OF PI. Ang Lee was on board to direct the moderately $70 million priced film version of LIFE OF PI and was even up for making the movie in 3D. Despite everything seeming to be in full swing, Lee and producer Gill Netter came back to Fox 2000 with a budget that was either too high or unrealistic. Fox 2000 is headed by a woman called Rachel Gabler who has delivered a number of hits for antipodean cocksucker Rupert Murdoch; among them The Devil Wears Prada, Walk the Line and seminal modern classic FIGHT CLUB. Gabler has a lot of clout, but even despite her evident commitment to THE LIFE OF PI she knows that mid-budget prestige pictures of book adaptations are a high risk investment in a volatile film market. THE LIFE OF PI is about an Indian boy named Pi who finds himself trapped on a boat with a tiger after a shipwreck that sees many other animals meet their end. The very concept of this story means it could be hard to market and because it is almost entirely set at sea means it will difficult to film and rampantly expensive. It seems like the kind of story that'll feature high-level CGI creature effects without drawing attention to its high-level nature meaning you can't show off the way you can when it's giant robots smashing each other around their metal heads. Ang Lee is one of several top-tier filmmakers whose been attached to THE LIFE OF PI as it was previously to be directed by heavy hitters including M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron and French auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but all of them jumped ship when Fox 2000 couldn't really figure what they wanted from the adaptation.

It's a shame to see Hollywood studios growing increasingly averse to literary adaptations despite their bestselling status. I always thought the studios made 'tits and explosion' movies for the summer period in order to fund the serious award contender films that come out in the autumn and winter periods. Last year THE LOVELY BONES, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and THE ROAD were much promoted book adaptations that cost too much and delivered very little for the companies that made them. In my post about Working Title Films last night I mentioned how Universal Pictures halted production on Joe Wright's INDIAN SUMMER primarily because of the same worrisome reasons associated with the other films. The UK film industry is renowned for creating successful film adaptations of reputable books such as last year's adaptation of Lynn Barber's AN EDUCATION, but it is equally annoying that our indigenous cottage industry struggles to create worthy original film stories that aren't necessarily coffee table bullshit. I guess the notion of good books attracting good screenwriters that in turn attract great directors who attract even greater actors works well for the British film industry: for now at least.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Working on the Title

Roger Michell's trailer for MORNING GLORY hit the internet this week. The trailer strikes me as a fairly run-of-the-mill comedy about broadcasting that will most likely skew towards a white middle-class female demographic. Michell is best known for directing another white female skewing middle-class comedy called NOTTING HILL. NOTTING HILL firmly reinforced WORKING TITLE FILMS as the UK's powerhouse production company. Working Title's success initially came in 1994 when they released FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL to serious international acclaim and monstrous box-office coin. FOUR WEDDINGS was directed by Mike Newell, who like Michell, is an Oxbridge educated director who started in theatre and television before being elevated to the next level by Working Title Films.

Working Title Films is the closest you'll get to a US-type film production outfit existing in Britain. It has plush offices in the heart of London, attractive receptionists manning the phones and a development slate that is geared to finding a balance between commerciality and exportability. Yet, for its entire success one cannot help but feel their post-1994 films reflect an exclusive feeling about Britain and its people. Their movies by default seem effeminate, twee and horrendously posh. There isn't a Working Title film that echoes the lives of middle-England, or even the middle-class experience of living in middle-England. Working Title Films' recent output is unashamedly white in its casting choices and notably bereft of cross-social characterisations. They've channelled an almost unreal image of British life that may have proved exportable but further manifests a reluctance to produce progressive movies that depict an ever-changing image of Britain. Working Title Films have suffered a hammering over the last 12 months with some high-profile pictures like STATE OF PLAY and GREEN ZONE proving to be amazingly costly failures; so much so parent company Universal Picture pulled the plug on Joe Wright's (a regular Working Title Films director who surprisingly didn't even go to university, let alone an Oxbridge one) adaptation of Alex von Tunzelmann's INDIAN SUMMER- which concerned the alleged affair between Jawaharlal Nehru and the wife of the last viceroy of the British Indian Empire Lord Mountbatten set against the backdrop of the Indian Partition- because of a lack in confidence in the film's rumored $40 million budget recouping its costs in a fragile box-office that is largely shunning lavish prestige pictures... the very pictures Working Title Films are known for. Working Title seem to be reigning in their risk taking ambitions further by announcing they're looking to produce another BRIDGET JONES film and some other lightweight pedestrian projects. Nevertheless, credit should be given to the company for having produced the majority of Coen Bros. movies and co-producing 1990s African American genre movies like POSSE and PANTHER (films that were the antithesis of white and middle-class). They also brought Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur to the international forefront by letting him direct ELIZABETH and its follow up THE GOLDEN AGE. It seems a shame their home-grown British produce no longer transmits the edgy and atypical choices their earlier films conveyed before they realised a banal formula for what seemed to be, for a time, guaranteed international commercial success. I think a regime change is essential to help Working Title Films get back to being the breath of fresh it once was before boredom and greed took over.

Friday, 28 May 2010


We got our first look at the promotional poster and publicity still for what's hoped to be Lindsay Lohan's comeback starring role in Matthew Wilder's INFERNO. Lohan will play legendary American porn star Linda Lovelace and the film will focus on Lovelace's relationship with her first husband Chuck Traynor who forced Lovelace to move to New York and became her manager, pimp and pornographer. Traynor sounds like a charming motherfucker who forced Lovelace at gunpoint to appear in a number of classic bestiality flicks like Dog Fucker and Dogarama. Lovelace came to major fame because of her turn in DEEP THROAT, which was one of those 70s pornos that came close to mainstream acceptability.


Lohan is a good actress whose private life has outshone her creative persona. Although there's no guarantee INFERNO will be any good, I hope Lohan actually gets to show off her dramatic range and not just her tits (although I think most folk will focus on the latter). Dramatic depictions of the pornography business have been patchy at best. While BOOGIE NIGHTS and DEEP FOCUS were really good, things like GIRL NEXT DOOR and I WANT CANDY were considerably poor. Here's hoping for the best.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Skinned Alive

It has been announced in the news today that Channel 4's flagship 'yooof' drama SKINS will be made into a film. Company Pictures, Stormdog Films, CinenamNX and Film4 are developing the feature and hope to have it in cinemas by next year. Jack Thorne will write the script with assistance from show creator Bryan Elsley. Filming will begin in Bristol and the Isle of Man later this year and characters from the past four series are expected to return. Both Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel made names for themselves in the show and went on to star in some pretty successful films, that latter going on to star in his BAFTA nominated role in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and will be seen this summer in THE LAST AIRBENDER (Ha ha! "Bender").

SKINS never seemed to be anything more than a devised teen show designed to trick people into thinking it was 'cool'. The problem is anything that tries to be cool eventually comes across as pretty uncool and SKINS is no exception. It was watched by hordes of young wankers who desperately want to see quirky young characters do hip things most young kids aren't doing. It was wish fulfilment, much like the way SEX AND THE SHITTY 2 works for insipid bitches. The show started as a way to boost the ratings of E4 (Channel 4's cable sister station) and paid off really well. A producer's assistant told me in 2008 more than 60% of under 25 year old audiences were at one time tuning into the show, although I find that pretty hard to believe because less than a million viewers tuned into the last episode in March. The show's core audience is teenagers, but methinks a growing number of 30-plus tossers also tune into the show hoping to elongate their own perception of personal credibility. The idea is British youngsters are evidently supporting home-grown youth films like STREETDANCE 3D and any number of shit films Noel Clarke produces, therefore Film4 may get lucky with SKINS: THE MOTION PICTURE. I do wonder though if a movie version of SKINS will manage to entice its usual audiences to the cinema to watch the same shit they can easily watch on television. When Americans do movie treatments of TV fodder they increase the stakes and scope. The UK is absolutely inept at doing that. Just look at RISING DAMP: THE FILM or HOLIDAY ON THE BUSSES: THE MOVIE for validation.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rock Solid

If you're a slavish movie geek who trawls the internet for trade breaks regarding the latest film deals and attachments then news about Andrea Berloff, who wrote World Trade Center for Oliver Stone, being brought in to script New Line Cinema's N.W.A bio-pic STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON will seem outdated. The proposed movie will follow N.W.A from their early days in the mid-1980s through the success of their initial albums and on to their eventual breakup, which was by no means a friendly parting. Berloff is an interesting choice for the project, most notably because she's a middle-class American white woman who looks far too genteel to undertake a movie about the self-declared world's most dangerous group. Yet, it's her 'otherness' that makes her seem an attractive fit for the project. I'm hoping Berloff will add a much appreciated dose of humanity to what can easily end up a balls-out generic romp about stereotypical black dudes acting like thugs. N.W.A changed the face of what was perceived as acceptable music to the masses. They were on FBI lists and had Reagan's administration in a real palaver. It was the first time suburban America felt under attack by black icons who were educating their cute Caucasian kids in the art of 'Killing Hookers' and 'Fucking the Police'. They changed the face of music and in turn introduced some of the most electrifying music production engineered by Dr. Dre and Easy-E, with incendiary lyrics usually handled by Ice Cube and MC Ren.

As much as I'm looking forward to STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, I feel less confident in the actuality Ice Cube, his business partner Matt Alvarez, and Eazy-E's widow Tomika Woods are on board as co-producers. Music bio-pics are invariably compromised by powerful musicians being able to heavily influence their own representations on screen or else they will not grant permission for their songs to feature in the movie. George Tillman's bio-pic of Biggie Smalls in NOTORIOUS seemed dented by the interference of his mother Voletta Wallace and P-Diddy, who both served as producers on the movie. The film failed to convince me that what was depicted was a true assessment of a flawed hip-hop star that had flawed familial figures and a flawed business partner. I was a big fan of Oliver Stone's THE DOORS and revelled in its enigmatic depiction of a rock god; albeit I was none the wiser about who Jim Morrison really was after seeing the movie. Rock/ Music bio-pics are tricky motherfuckers that are hard to pull off commendably. I'm reading the Mötley Crüe autobiography The Dirt that was optioned by MTV Films many years ago. Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno) is on board to direct the movie version of The Dirt, but even though the book is great fun to read, it hardly has any notion of plot or character development.

I'd love to see Andrea Berloff crack STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and present a story in which our perceived expectations of "The World's most Dangerous Band" are challenged and defied: kind of like the way Martin Scorsese did with Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ: only this time doing it with jheri curl rap gangsters.

An Indian Summer

I'm very happy to see Anurag Basu's Hindi film KITES fly so high in the charts. KITES is the first Bollywood (I hate that term as I find it belittles Indian cinema) movie to crack the US Top 10 with a cume of nearly $1 million. Over here in the UK, KITES came in at #5 with a staggering £273,958 on just 70 screens. It's big news and with the coming release of Brett Ratner's 'REMIX: KITES', which will be a more accessible though pretty pointless version of the movie for Western palates, KITES may finally be the Hindi movie to crossover into the mainstream. This year 3 IDIOTS and MY NAME IS KHAN have proved that commercial Indian cinema has an eye to coax dour white people into shaking off their repressed personas and embracing the cinematic fun Hindi cinema offers. The worry is Indian producers are going to have their eye on an international hit and will eschew the very elements that have made Indian cinema distinctly Indian. Modern commercial Hindi cinema is by no means great, but it is special in its own way and especially to the sub-continental diaspora who really value what it has to offer. It would be a shame to whitewash it.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Everybody’s All American

In a true illustration of just how derivative UK films have become, STREET DANCE 3D made £1.8m on opening weekend, with a tally of £2.4m including preview screenings. The film also opened at number two in France and number four in The Netherlands. In one way you can admire the 'David vs. Goliath' strength of this little British film made for £5.6 million totally smashing the shit out of higher profile Hollywood fare like ROBIN HOOD and PRINCE OF PERSIA, but the strength of STREET DANCE 3D's appeal is very much based on the American movies like HONEY, HOW SHE MOVE, FAME and STEP UP (parts 1-3D). I'm pretty sure Allan Niblo and his team at Vertigo Films justified the commercial potential of STREET DANCE 3D by highlighting the penchant British kids currently have for all things seemingly gay and American. I can only blame the maladroit British school system that has looked to America for inspiration and introduced pathetic gimmicks like proms and glee clubs into the humdrum existence of the indigenous comprehensive school routine. The brightsparks at the now slimmed down UK Film Council, who part funded STREET DANCE 3D, are breathing a massive sigh of relief in the hope the box-office victory of STREET DANCE 3D will illustrate their working brilliance and may convince the current coalition-Government to overlook them when it comes to impending fiscal cuts. Commenting on the film's lucky success, John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council said: "The UK Film Council can take credit for co-financing and championing STREETDANCE 3D. [It] signals to the rest of the world that the British film industry is well placed right at the heart of the 3D film revolution. It's another shining example of how Lottery funding can make all the difference in discovering and nurturing new creative talent in the UK."

Hmmm, I guess Woodward has a point, but that still doesn't mean we should celebrate the reactionary nature of the British film industry. They've taken a staple American youth entity, blended it with equal doses of kitchen-sink banality and low-grade cameos of UK talent contest winners, added a dash of 3D novelty and mixed it all together to create an insignificant British mess.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Daniel Craig is a Wanker

The image above is Daniel Craig, but for some reason only known to him, he doesn't want you to know that. John Favreau will soon direct COWBOYS AND ALIENS (which has been in development at Dreamworks for decades) for release next summer and cast Daniel Craig after his first choice Robert Downey left to film another SHERLOCK HOLMES instalment.

Favreau says, "That's him [Daniel Craig]. We couldn't really show too much because he didn't want to reveal any images on Twitter." Like, who the fuck is this prick? Surely it should be up to the director to post an image or not. It's the director's film. Daniel Craig allegedly acted like a total bastard when filming THE GOLDEN COMPASS, utilising bodyguards to inspect New Line Cinema's offices for bugs just in case any newspapers had planted shit. So silly.

Tobey, Who?

James Franco has been cast as the lead in 20th Century Fox's tentpole feature RISE OF THE APES which will be directed by British filmmaker Rupert Wyatt who made 2008's acclaimed film THE ESCAPIST, and will follow APES with Working Title's prestige adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' BIRDSONG. Despite receiving numerous invites to press screenings of THE ESCAPIST, I never partook in watching it therefore cannot comment on its quality. I did however see Wyatt's 2004 short film GET THE PICTURE, which was well shot but not as compelling as it thought it was. However, he's now destined for very big things and for the studios to give him the honour of directing RISE OF THE APES validates their conviction in his talents as a filmmaker. RISE OF THE APES is a movie idea that is at once beguiling yet seems somewhat naff. The original screenplay is by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver who've written some decent scripts in the 90s but have been out of action for some time, was previously titled Cesar. It seems to be more of a reboot of Battle of the Planet of the Apes than a continuation of Tim Burton's vile remake; instead showcasing how the monkeys got all smart through genetic tinkering. The movie will start shooting within weeks as it has to make its allocated 24th June 2011 release date. Furthermore, unlike previous incarnations, this Apes movie will feature entirely CGI primates designed by New Zealand's WETA studios who'll go about constructing the monkeys with the same technology they used to create the Na'vi species in James Cameron's AVATAR. There's still no word from Fox as to whether the movie will be in 3D, but methinks that's probably a given considering the financial dividends to be reaped from the use of such technology.

Interestingly, James Franco was the studios second choice for the lead role as Tobey Maguire was eager to meet with Wyatt and the studio in order to see if this could be another franchise he could jump on board now that his SPIDERMAN commitments are over. Despite Tobey Maguire having starred in the SPIDERMAN movies, that series never seemed to have been successful solely because of Maguire's involvement. Tobey Maguire had been Sam Rami's favourite choice rather than Columbia Pictures', but when the movies struck platinum they just seemed to go along with whatever Sami Rami wanted, and in doing that allowed him to have too much creative control which resulted in the shitness of SPIDERMAN 3. Now Columbia Pictures will reboot the Spiderman series without the involvement of former key cast and crew. As a result, Tobey Maguire entered into talks with 20th Century Fox to star in RISE OF THE APES. The studio baulked when Maguire came back to the table with script notes. The conversations abruptly stopped and Fox moved quickly to close a deal with Franco. Had Tobey Maguire potent cinematic currency then I don't reckon that would have happened. Movie stars have real weight when it comes to getting script changes made.  The less pull you have, the less of a movie star you are.  When the mere mention of script notes gets a studio to flip a switch on you then they're looking at you as a replaceable part of the equation. I can't imagine the same thing happening to Will Smith, Brad Pitt or even Maguire's best mate Leonardo DiCaprio.

Are we too quick to judge the Taliban?

The summer season always struck me as being a favourable time for releasing wank American blockbusters, which bovine brained bastard blokes with the mental age of a 14-year old, will flock to. It now seems women are also lowering their intellectual standards and positioning themselves as receivers of standardised generic bollocks. SEX AND THE SHITTY 2 will hit UK cinemas this Friday 28th May 2010 and will no doubt garner the attention of every breathing woman living in Britain. I intentionally avoided the premiere of the first movie back in 2008, but did walk past Leicester Square to get the Underground station whilst the premiere was taking place and witnessed hordes of screaming girls climbing on top of trash cans and even tramps to get a better view of Horceface Jessica Parker's pathetic hat. Also coming in the following weeks is TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE (which at least has kick-ass British genre director David Slade helming) and Julia Robert's in EAT PRAY LOVE (I'm embarrassed to say I like the look of the trailer). There's also some other thing called LETTERS TO JULIET, and if you're a black woman who has to rely on America to make romantic comedies featuring female characters ethnically similar to you (because the British film industry can't really give a fuck) then you can catch Queen Latifah in JUST WRIGHT (unfortunately, you're so insignificant that there's no distribution deal in place to release the movie in Britain yet).

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Mike Newell is the new Michael Bay

This weekend saw the UK release of Mike Newell's new summer blockbuster THE PRINCE OF PERSIA. The movie will get its US release next Friday as North American distributors don't have to worry about the impending World Cup Soccer Tournament that'll have every red-blooded European glued to their television sets, meaning there'll be little time for movies.

In a way movie fans should feel privileged having US tentpole features like IRON MAN 2, ROBIN HOOD and PRINCE OF PERSIA released ahead of schedule, but then again PRINCE OF PERSIA goes under the guise of a "British" film that happens to be entirely funded and produced with American money. The real winners will always be the Yanks when it comes to shit like this. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly directed by Britain's own Mike Newell, who seems to have generated a celluloid heap of crap over the last 10 years. This guy went from making the breakout hit FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, to the seminal gangster classic DONNIE BRASCO. The 90s seem to have been good to Mike Newell because the Noughties brought about a series of misfires like MONA LISA SMILE, and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. He helmed a HARRY TOSSER movie for good measure that seems to have attracted the snivelling snout of Jerry Bruckheimer to mount his vacuous summer extravaganza. The problem is Mike Newell seems a tad rusty in terms of delivering the quick-fire energy and wit a videogame adaptation like PRINCE OF PERSIA would usually require. Add to this casting decisions that seem almost racist in terms of being ethnically correct (putting make up Gemma Arterton in order to appear Middle Eastern is kind of wrong when they could have easily hired a talented pan-Asian actress for what is meant to be an international story), seems to indicate this movie has more in common with IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM than a vibrant videogame adaptation for modern sensibilities.

I could be wrong, but I guess we'll soon find out if Newell can manage to deliver what's expected of him. Saying that, the Hollywood Reporter claims PRINCE OF PERSIA opened at No. 3 in the UK with an estimated £1,451,369.03 from 585 spots. For a movie that reportedly cost upwards of $200 million, that ain't good news. PRINCE OF PERSIA was beaten by British film STREET DANCE 3D... don't know whether to think of that as good news or bad.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Terrifying Times Ahead

For horror aficionados, the release of THE LAST EXORCISM (formally titled more imaginatively as COTTON) on August 27th 2010 (no confirmed UK date as yet) marks a much needed shot in the arm for the horror genre. THE LAST EXORCISM doesn't seem like anything special as far as horror movies go, but it provides one of the few theatrical genre releases of the year outside of the usual Halloween period. The movie is described as THE EXORCIST meets CLOVERFIELD, with much of the exorcism action being shot via ostensible hand-held devices as means of boosting notions of verisimilitude, thus in turn cultivating greater scares. The plot concerns a troubled evangelical minister called Cotton Marcus (hence the former eponymous title) who agrees to let his last exorcism be filmed by a documentary crew. Cue lots of creepy possession related set-pieces borrowed from other exorcism movies of yesteryears made culturally/ economically viable because of a new technique that involves shaky mobile-framing. I guess even Romero's zombie film DIARY OF THE DEAD tried to cash in on the hand-held horror craze, therefore why not Eli Roth who is one of the producers behind THE LAST EXORCISM. To be honest, I am a sucker for possession movies as I do find them spooky. Even the minor possession sub-plot in last year's PARANORMAL ACTIVITY gave me the creeps. I thought Scott Derrickson's THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE was one of the better horror movies of the Noughties and made something refreshingly new out of thinking pretty traditionally. Therefore, THE LAST EXORCISM at least deserves a chance. For a start, the poster looks really cool; but then again I said the same thing about the poster for HOSTEL II.

The American film studios have turned their backs on horror movies a little and that's exemplified by dearth of notable scary movies in this year's release schedules. 5 years ago every studio was releasing a cornucopia of horror movies in order to satiate the demand for gruesome torture pornos young audiences couldn't seem to get enough of. Typically, the studios went crazy and were releasing one wank piece of shit after another and we all got a little tired of it. Even the British production companies wanted to get in on the lucrative horror bandwagon and released movies like THE DESCENT, DONKEY PUNCH, THE CHILDREN and EDEN LAKE to disappointing box-office: albeit those were actually pretty good UK horror films. The horror cycle got rinsed and resulted in seriously diminished returns. By 2008 development on a whole bunch of horror titles slowed down and the genre sort of lost its way. Sure, bonafide horror brands like SAW and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY still have a place but no one seems to have hit on where the genre is gonna strike gold next and revive its grisly ass.

This brings us back to THE LAST EXORCISM. Its success may ignite a new trend of progressive possession pictures that go down well with mainstream audiences and guarantee revenue. New Line Cinema has its high profile possession movie THE RITE due next year which is helmed by Mikael Håfström and stars Britain's favourite thesp Anthony Hopkins. If these movies prove successful then we can expect loads more projectile vomiting and head-spinning until we're utterly exhausted and insipid development executives have to go back to the drawing-board to see what else they can milk.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Who is Noel Clarke, and why does he get work?

I've met Noel Clarke. In fact, I think I've met him twice. He seems like an alright bloke. In some ways I admire him greatly because he seems a lone voice in Britain's incestuous cottage film industry. Unlike many ethnic minority folk working in the British film industry, Noel doesn't seem to whitewash his image, nor does he seem to be a phoney urbanite artificially heightening his street credentials. Unlike the vast majority of young filmmakers working in Britain, Noel actually makes movies audiences want to watch.

So, why am I berating the geezer if I think so highly of him? Well, that's because I don't think highly of him. Granted, he is a working British filmmaker who actually clawed his way up from northing. He was a gym instructor who became an actor, ventured into scriptwriting, which eventually translated into directing gigs. Yet, his films don't have anything profound to say about seemingly profound subject-matters. It's obvious that Noel is inspired by the American 'Hood Movies' of the early 90s, but unlike those films neither KIDULTHOOD nor ADULTHOOD convinced me that Noel had something serious to say about the plight of Broken Britain. Seriously, when Mathieu Kassovitz released LA HAINE 15 years ago it shook France to the core; enough to encourage the French National Assembly to actually hold a screening of the movie as means to better understand the plight of Paris' urban angry youth. When BOYZ N THE HOOD and MENACE II SOCIETY were released it got news journals to take notice of a decayed interpretation of the American Dream. Unfortunately, none of Noel Clarke's efforts have hit both the commercial bullseye as well as provoking serious discussion about how bad life for Britain's inner-city youth has become. It seems Mr. Clarke is a one-trick-pony, lacking the intelligence to adequately present stories that can be elevated from base sensationalism. Sure, they're movies that certainly connect with a considerably wide audience, but can they get people to actually take them seriously as credible stories?

2nd June 2010 marks the release of Noel's new film called, which is co-directed by some guy called Mark Davis (Yup, never heard of him either). It stars Julia Robert's niece and some talentless middle-class slags from the Italia Conti Stage School trying to act street. It also stars our mate Noel giving the same performance he gives in all his films. From the look of the trailer this comes across as a movie version of HOLLYOAKES LATE NIGHT SPECIAL. Distributor Universal Pictures are releasing in the same slot as 2008's ADULTHOOD; hoping the slot may prove lucky again the way it did when the former went up against Universal's THE INCREDIBLE HULK that year. (Note: ADULTHOOD never usurped HULK, but did give it a good run for its money.) It'll be interesting to see how well plays considering it's removed from the KIDUL/ADULHOOD brand, although the posters make great effort to remind us it's made by the same powers that be.

I don't totally dislike Noel: I just wish he was a better filmmaker with more to say.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Kill Pattison

I can almost buy the notion of Robert Pattison playing Steven Stelfox in an adaptation of John Niven’s KILL YOUR FRIENDS merely because he’s got probably the most interesting face in movies right now. The novel is about an overworked, under-talented music exec circa 1997 that sets about fucking up his closest colleagues while providing wry commentary on the state of the British music industry before the advent of Napster and proliferation of p2p illegal downloading which became the norm for widespread music acquisitions. The novel is a pretty fun book and has the ingredients for an incendiary satire on the music industry; an industry that almost seems as shitty as the movie industry. Now, I’m no authority on Mr. Pattison’s acting ability as I have avoided all literary properties aimed at tossers who haven’t yet mastered the art of reading quality grown-up books, which pretty much rules out any of the movie adaptations Pattison’s been part of.

Nevertheless, I am willing to take a punt on Pattison in this movie. The character of Steven Stelfox is a rampant racist and misogynistic prick, which means I’m surprised any actor relying on their likability for movie roles would dare tackle. I hope they don’t water-down the source material as means of not tarnishing Pattison’s image. Likewise, I hope they don’t make Pattison carry out a performance he’s not capable of executing and what we’re left with is a Fisher-Price adaptation of a book that needed to be translated to film by talent with balls.

Cameron Crowe to make a Gaye Movie

Britain's legendary music journal of distinction (term used loosely) NME reports Cameron Crowe could be set to make his first film in five years, a biopic on soul legend Marvin Gaye. No offence but a Marvin Gaye film directed by some prick who has made some of the most inane features of the last 20 years taking on board a subject matter about a soul legend whose darker personal undertones led to his tragic death seems somewhat chalk/ cheese. Marvin Gaye was marred by a life time of hardcore drug abuse which culminated in his preacher father icing him in his own house.
I'd personally lurrve to see a movie about Marvin Gaye helmed by a filmmaker with edge, not some guy who has up until now evaded anything less than 100% saccharine storytelling. Granted, Crowe did once interview Marvin Gaye for ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE but that hardly qualifies him as the ideal director for this project as I can think of many other directors, some even African American, who seem a better fit for this movie. Crowe's last 7 movies have been utter shite.
Luckily, it seems he may not get to direct the Marvin Gaye flick anytime soon as "Nothing's been signed on paper yet". Also, VARITY reported last night Cameron Crowe has been signed up to direct an adaptation of Benjamin Mee's memoir "We Bought a Zoo". The latter is about how columnist Benjamin Mee and his family decided to refurbish a dilapidated wildlife preserve that was the home to 200+ exotic animals. While the Mees' poured money and hard work into re-opening the zoo, the family suffered a devastating loss... and some other shit happened. Sound exactly like the soft-as-shit stories Crowe revels in.