Includes cinema reviews and trailers for upcoming films. A digest of the best and worst interviews on movies and cinema.
Hitchcock’s 1972 Frenzy Is One Of The Least Festive Films Ever Made…
The BBC2’s decision to screen Alfred Hichcock’s Frenzy at 12.05am on the second of January, five minutes after the end of the holiday season is brutally appropriate, as it is without doubt one of the least festive films ever made.
Frenzy tells the story of a London serial killer dubbed the ‘Necktie Strangler’, and from the start there are references to Jack the Ripper and John Christie. The part was intended for Michael Caine, who thought it was disgusting and turned it down.
Obama and the FBI blame the hacking attacks against Sony Pictures on North Korea. Who knew the DPRK regime was capable? The hacks were triggered by the The Interview, in which two American journalists played by James Franco and Seth Rogen set out to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Amid threats of movie theater terrorism, Sony pulled the film from its Christmas Day release.
Reactions have been many:
The whole Sony story has a certain twisted dark comedy flavor with CEO Michael Lynton bickering with Obama over the release of what is said to be an unwatchable movie. It sure looks that way from the trailers. If the NORKS had any brains, they should just have let the film be released and it would have sunk like a stone. But perhaps they had other intentions — or someone did — beyond making fun of inane Hollywood studio executives or even silencing a movie.
The cyber attack on the studio has a serious side and it’s not really about North Korea. It’s about who helped North Korea, the assumption being that the NORKS don’t quite have the technical expertise to pull this off by themselves. Russia, China and Iran are the three candidates whose names have been thrown into the hopper as possible co-perps — maybe more than one of them.
Hollywood came to the Rev. Al Thursday as embattled Sony exec Amy Pascal met privately with the black leader for 90 minutes in a bid to fix the fallout from the cyberhacking leak of embarrassing, racially charged emails.
Pascal agreed to let Sharpton have a say in how Sony makes motion pictures, in an effort to combat what he called “inflexible and immovable racial exclusion in Hollywood.”
“We have agreed to having a working group deal with the racial bias and lack of diversity in Hollywood,” said Sharpton.
One important point in the President’s remarks today: a potentially ominous nod to the need for more regulation and control over the internet. The internet now is like “the Wild West,” he said, “We need more rules about how the internet should operate.” Cybersecurity is an urgent issue, and the Sony hacks underscore that, said the president. But when heads of state talk about more state control over the internet, rarely does greater freedom of speech result.
The only problem: At least one cable company preemptively surrendered to North Korean intimidation, too, reportedly saying it would not air the film. Now, even if Sony had a backbone transplant, it couldn’t release the movie.
Sony could still dump it on the Internet and let it spread virally. It would lose ticket sales, but the company would strike a defiant blow nonetheless.
Don’t hold your breath. Sony would rather go the way of appeasement. And so would everyone else, it seems.
For Pascal, 56, and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, 54, the damage has gotten far worse as the flood of stolen material — including both of their email inboxes — keeps coming, and on Dec. 16, the hackers, dubbed Guardians of Peace, threatened a 9/11-style attack on theaters that show Seth Rogen’s North Korea assassination comedy The Interview. Pascal, the lead creative executive on Interview, tells THR she believes she has the backing of her Tokyo-based employers. But by now, high-level insiders have moved from speculating about whether she will be replaced to asking when and by whom.
The James Flacco Name Generator
At a press conference on Friday, President Obama said Sony made “a mistake” by canceling the release of The Interview. He also praised the film’s stars Seth Rogen and James … Flacco? If, like actor James Franco, you want a new last name—one you can share with an NFL quarterback—then use our name generator below.
What I wonder is why people aren’t a little more put off by a form of censorship that is more insidious, and will likely affect far more movies in the long run: the soft censorship of appealing to the Chinese government in order to reap the Chinese box office. There have been widespread claims that recent blockbuster movies like the latest Transformers have been written so as to appease Chinese censors. There’s nothing wrong with writing movies to reach out to a particularly huge foreign box office– why wouldn’t you want your movie to play to Chinese moviegoers?– but appealing to the Chinese government is a whole other ball of wax. That’s where you can see genuine self-censorship coming in. And while I imagine that this whole thing will blow over before long, without a great deal of long-term damage, I think the urge to play in China -and for the Chinese government — will only grow over time.
The problem of willingly selling out to the Chinese reminded me of Ayn Rand, whose bracing moral lessons I’m sure Freddie had in the back of his mind. Rand’s finest novel,The Fountainhead, is an anti-capitalist screed about the spiritual and cultural evil of catering to market demand. Forget the problem of giving the commie censors what they want. It’s wrong to give the free market what it wants, when what it wants is aesthetically debased, which it always is. The architect hero of The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, is the ultimate in spine, the patron saint of never selling out. When one of his perfect, austere modernist buildings is bowdlerized the better to suit the public taste, he blows it up. That’s right, Howard Roark is a terrorist, a jihadi for artistic integrity. Maybe Howard Roark is the answer. Maybe can show us the way. Maybe Sony needs to feel that it is unsafe not to release The Interview. Maybe Seth Rogen needs to blow something up! Or maybe Brian Beutler is on to something, and the best we can do is call on Anonymous to steal the movie and make sure that, in this case at least, market-based American spinelessness can’t put a gag on our precious stoner auteurs.
Sony is a for-profit entity, and not even an American one, that effectively has important influence over American culture. We don’t entrust for-profit entities with the common defense. And recognizing that the threat to a Sony picture is actually a threat to the freedom of American culture ought to lead us to a public rather than a private solution.
The federal government should take financial responsibility. Either Washington should guarantee Sony’s financial liability in the event of an attack, or it should directly reimburse the studio’s projected losses so it can release the movie online for free. The latter solution has the attractive benefit of ensuring a far wider audience for the film than it would otherwise have attracted.
After Sony Pictures announced yesterday that it was pulling the release of The Interview, a film about two American journalists sent to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, from its scheduled Christmas Day release after threats of movie theater terrorism, several theaters across the U.S. said that they would show Team America: World Police instead.
The basic idea was to replace one movie mocking the North Korean regime with another. Team America, an all-puppet comedy from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, pits its heroes against a sad-sack version of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. At the end of the movie, he’s impaled on a giant spike, and it’s revealed that he’s actually an alien cockroach. Fitting!..
The Daily Beastreports that theaters in Cleveland and Atlanta that had planned to make the switch say that Paramount, the studio behind Team America, has ordered them to stop. The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, which also planned to show the puppet comedy, announced on Twitter this afternoon that due to “circumstances beyond our control” its Team America screening has been cancelled…. blocking replacement screenings of Team America can really only be described as next-level cowardly bullshit.
Sony was just the latest – Janice Turner:
Not only has Paramount pulled Team America, a decade-old puppet comedy parodying Kim Jong Un’s father, but a Steve Carell movie based upon the graphic novel Pyongyang. This is no comic, but an account by Guy Delisle of his time as an animator in a North Korean studio, constantly monitored by minders yet getting glimpses of the regime in all its absurdity and horror. This is a film that needed to be made.
And when the Sony cave-in was announced, Carell tweeted a still from The Great Dictator. It is an apt comparison: Charlie Chaplin’s devastating and humane 1940 parody did not bring down Hitler but it gave succour to those who were trying. Such was its propaganda value that while it was in production and Britain was still pursuing appeasement, the government planned to ban it for fear of riling the Führer. It was inspired by Chaplin watching Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will: while other anti-Nazis were awed and dismayed by its grandiosity, Chaplin fell about laughing…
…too often, the response to any threat has been cowardice and complicity. Hollywood just behaved like the entire British establishment which dropped Salman Rushdie after The Satanic Verses rather than turning on his illiberal persecutors. And even now Newsnight refuses to show an affectionate Jesus and Mo cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, siding with Salafist extremists rather than moderate Muslims who argued the image was inoffensive.
What if one of America’s violent anti-choice groups threatens cinemas showing a film in which a woman has abortion? Will we capitulate every time the lawyers get nervous? Because Sony Pictures just put artistic freedom in turnaround. And this is no joke.
Free speech has been under attack for an age. North Korea was just picking up the vibe…
Organisors of Mr Gay UK turn on a man for being not the ideal weight. Stavros Louca was robbed:
When Stavros decides to enter the Mr Gay UK beauty pageant nothing goes quite to plan. This is the story of one man’s unbreakable spirit – a tale of triumph, heartbreak and how to wear your underpants.
We love this. Patrick Smith has used BBC Five Live’s film critic Mark Kermode’s bon mots as film poster reviews.
THE Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything features a face familiar to fans of Chelsea FC.
The doctor is played by none other than Frank Leboeuf, star of such hits as Taking Sides (2001) and Le foot fait son cinéma (2003).
He tells the Radio Times:
In France I can’t audition because they still think I’m a footballer and don’t take me seriously. But in England they’ve given me the opportunity. I shot two movies here last year, Allies and The Theory of Everything. They give me a chance to show my new skill, and I’m thankful for that. People said very stupid things: they say, “Oh, every football player wants to act.” But there are only three really: Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantona and myself.
And the nominations for the worst London accent are…
Dick van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
The mother lode. To quote his song, ‘even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious’, there is something supercalifragilisticexpialidocious about Dick’s seminal cockney performance…
READY for Christmas? Ready for your seasonal sweater?
Mondo have greated designs based on the 1984 film Gremlins and the 1996’s Fargo.
AS you may have heard, Ghostbusters 3 is definitely happening.
However, there’s a twist – writer and director Paul Feig says the new film will be an all-female Ghostbusters cast and he will be writing it alongside Kate Dippold (from Parks and Recreation).
Of course, some fanboiz are spitting feathers over this, as an all-female Ghostbusters isn’t what they had in mind at all. However, if the casting is right, this could be a brilliant addition to the franchise.
Feig said on Twitter: “It’s official. I’m making a new Ghostbusters & writing it with @katiedippold & yes, it will star hilarious women. That’s who I’m gonna call.”
So who could Feig cast? There’s a wealth of brilliant and funny actresses out there and everyone will have a shortlist of their own. Here are some of our favourites.
Tina Fey is one of the funniest humans on the planet. Whether she’d take the Ghostbusters role is another matter, but producers should be throwing money at her.
THE film Idiocracy features perverted corporate logos created by Ellen Lampl. She tells TriviaHappy:
“A visual vernacular fusion of Nascar, candy packaging, Mexico handpainted signs and Japanese pop culture…
“Sometimes in comedy, graphics are the straight man. But, in Idiocracy, we let it be absurd, as part of the experience. We realized that life in its present state already had tendencies towards the ridiculous—branding seeps in everywhere—so we let it be over the top.”
EVER filmed a Hollyood sex scene?
Joe Carnahan filmed one for his new film Stretch. To help us understand the process, he’s released this behind-the-scenes video of the film’s fast-forward-to scene. You will see Brooklyn Decker and Patrick Wilson getting into the loving zoone and then engaging in the full 10 seconds dry-humping coitus.
UNCLE Monty’s 1953 Silver Wraith by Hooper & Co.is for sale. Last seen in the wonderful film Withnail and I, this is your chance to live the dream.
Mr Gulbenkian is profiled:
“I’ve been retired all my life,” explains Nubar Gulbenkian, now 69. “but I’ve also been working hard all my life. A fortune does not look after itself, after all.” The fortune Gulbenkian refers to is one of the largest in the world. He inherited it from his legendary father, Calouste; who was nicknamed “Mr. Five Percent” because that was his usual cut on Middle Eastern oil and who owned possibly the world’s greatest art collection. Nubar, an Armenian, was exported in a Gladstone bag from his birthplace in Turkey, a land then inhospitable to Armenians, when he was only a few weeks old. Educated in England and France, he has been married three times and would be an impressive figure, even if he lacked his father’s business acumen (which he doesn’t), for his stupendous eyebrows, well trimmed beard, monocle and a habit of inserting into his lapel every morning a fresh orchid, the color chosen to suit the occasion. He has just written an autobiography, Portrait In Oil (Simon & Schuster), in which he discusses not only his finances but his voracious appetite for preferred pleasures like foxhunting, riding, food, drink, the odes of Horace, and driving, which he took up shortly after his 65th birthday. “If something is too much of a bore to do thoroughly and with zest,” says Gulbenkian, “then don’t bother to do it at all.”
When asked whether he most enjoys city life or country life, horses or Rolls-Royces, old brandy or young women, Nubar Gulbenkian reflectively strokes his luxuriant beard, puffs deeply on his cigar and makes a simple affirmation of love for the business of good living: “I prefer everything.”
For £250000 o.n.o, you get a long wheelbase, coach built, 4.5litre vehicle one off with snakeskin trim, electic windows, Sedanca de Ville style roof, air con. and a speedometer in the back, so allowing Gulbenkian to keep tabs on his chauffeur and ensure he drove quickly.
Bid at Frank Dale & Stepsons.
DEATH is a terrible inevitability. You could pop your considerable clogs at any given moment. You might be half way through a banana. You could be mid-poo, like Elvis. You could be *this close* to finishing that computer game that proved so difficult all those years. You might suddenly die just before someone finishes a joke.
Worse than all these things put together, is when great actors die before they’ve had the chance to do one last film that is any good.
There’s a whole host of brilliant actors who have been in absolute crap – Robert De Niro in ‘The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle’, Michael Caine in ‘Jaws: The Revenge’, Kevin Spacey in ‘Fred Claus’, Faye Dunaway in ‘Dunston Checks In’ and Al Pacino in Adam Sandler’s beyond woeful ‘Jack & Jill’.
However, they all got another shot at correcting the blips on their showreels.
YOU’LL have seen the sweary letter signed ‘Stanley Kubrick’ written to the head of AGM about the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
DRUGS and sport is a familiar story. One school of thought says all drugs cheats should be banned. Another says that since cheating is rife, why not make the drugs legal.
Dock Ellis took drugs and played pro sports. He’s the subject of the film No No: A Dockumentary.
GRANT Meyers makes sound effects for porn films:
IN 1896, French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière‘s cameramen filmed life in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. All 500,000 inhabitants were subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople.
…this year, we have something very special to show. In an antique shop, we have discovered 93 wonderful little camera negatives from c. 1897, all shot in the Middle East (Jerusalem, Palestine, Egypt.[…] etc), that would form an ideal 80 [minute] program of what could be among the earliest films shot in the region still in existence. … They are in wonderful condition … Not a scratch, no decomposition, and those little sprocket holes typical of the films of that year.
This clip is from documentary Palestine: histoire d’une terre 1880-1950.
Spotter: Sabotage Times
WAY back in 1973 Woody Allen did a movie called Sleeper, from which comes this little scene above. The idea was that he went to sleep for 200 years and thus has to learn how to deal with his new world that he wakes up in. Sorta a Woody Allen take on Rip Van Winkle.
ROCK biopics are always fun, even if they’re not always good. There’s been mixed movies, from The Runaways to The Doors, from Ray to What We Do Is Secret. Even the crappy ones are still worth a look because, even if the storytelling and acting is lousy, at least the music will be great.
And so, we’re looking down the barrel of a Jimi Hendrix biopic and there’s a lot riding on it.
Why? Well, Hendrix was a smooth, fascinating character with a preposterous talent and a gentle soul – that’s not easy to capture. Moreover, Outkast’s brilliant Andre 3000/Benjamin is playing the title role. There’s no-one on Earth who wants this to fail.
IF the Seventies proved a fertile time for imaginative horror filmmakers, the 1980s very much represented a new age of plenty, a span wherein every idea that had worked in a movie once before was hauled out a second, third and sometimes fourth time.
And because of the home video revolution and VHS technology, new filmmakers had the opportunity to get their movies seen by more eyes than ever before.
In terms of the decade’s horror then, there was more of everything to enjoy: more slasher films, more Jaws films, and more holiday-themed horrors too.
IT’S not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
In the seventies, science fiction and horror filmmakers were certain that mankind was going to soon face his comeuppance for polluting and over-populating Mother Earth. And more so, that this comeuppance was going to be delivered at the paws, claws, talons, webbed fingers, and teeth of our former friends: the animals.
Call it the Circle of Death.
Between 1970 and 1979, more than a dozen genre films involved Mother Nature striking back against man for his mis-use of pesticides, his damage of the ozone layer, and for polluting previously unspoiled terrain.
FLASHBAK to August 4 1967:
Actor Eli Wallach takes advantage of the studio lights on the set of “MacKenna’s Gold,” Aug. 4, 1967, to make some stills of tone of his co-stars in the film, Edward G. Robinson. Robinson plays the role of an almost blind prospector. Wallach adjusts the lights on his subject and takes pictures with his own Nikon F camera. (AP Photo/David F. Smith)
HIP HOP royalty, Dr. Dre, has shared details of the forthcoming NWA film ‘Straight Outta Compton’, stating that the biopic will see release on August 14, 2015.
The film will tell the tale of how NWA – Dr Dre, Ice Cube and the late Eazy E – came to be.
Dre and Eazy E will be played by newcomers while Ice Cube’s own son will play his father. You have to hope there’s no sex scenes with an actress playing his mother, because that would be weird.
Yesterday, Dre tweeted an image of the cast, and they really look the part, if better looking than the original members.
Ice Cube will be played by O’Shea Jackson Jr, while Dre will be played by Marcus Callender who has had some roles in Criminal Justice, Blue Bloods and Elementary. It is thought that Dre wanted Michael B Jordan, but he’s signed up for the The Fantastic Four franchise.