Thursday, 28 April 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer Makes Me Sad

The worst thing about the Harry Potter series coming to an end is that there won't be any more of these trailers. Whoever's been putting them together over the years should be knighted for services to fanboys. They're amazing little works of art, perfectly structured, with excellent use of John Williams' theme and an uncanny insight into what causes a good shiver down the spinal column.

Pity the films never quite come up to the same standard.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


All you need to know:
Good luck, Captain America. I've seen the trailer and you're going to need it.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I Saw The Devil

In a world where trailers constantly lie to us about the contents of the film they're trailing, I should first point out that of the six exciting things I saw in I Saw The Devil's trailer, three of them (the phone posterisation feature, the excitingly-positioned subtitles and the breaky-uppy jumpy bit) don't feature in the film. It's Predators all over again I tell you.
I suppose I should also point out that I Saw The Devil isn't nearly as good as I'd hoped. As South Korean revenge thrillers go, it's definitely South Korean and it's very revengey, but sadly it's not all that thrilling. In the admittedly lazy but inevitable comparison to Park Chan-wook's Vengeance trilogy, Kim Ji-woon's film comes off worst, substituting sympathetic characters and layered plotting with intense violence and wincingly visceral torture scenes.

The film is constructed around such a latticework of plot holes that it's a wonder it doesn't collapse in on itself. A rogue detective keeps track of a killer thanks to a combined homing device / microphone that the latter has swallowed, which inexplicably allows the detective to hear all the killer's conversations despite the microphone sitting somewhere in the depths of an intestinal tract; the police are staggeringly useless, preferring to stand around in turtle necks and puffa jackets rather than catch a dangerous madman who's astonishingly easy to catch for an off-duty detective; and the repetitive nature of the protagonist's plan soon becomes tiresome.
There's also a controversy-baiting rape scene that's led to I Saw The Devil remaining unrated by the BBFC for theatrical release and thereby receiving extremely limited distribution, meaning almost nobody will get to see the film at the cinema. Whether the film should be exhibited cut, uncut or at all will no doubt be a matter of some debate, but fans of controversy-baiting rape scenes can find out when the uncut, 18-rated DVD is released on May 9th. They should also probably seek some kind of help.

I Saw The Devil does boast some pitch-black LOLs, an impressively horrifying performance from Choi Min-sik and some bravura camerawork, but once you get past that all that's left is literally nerve-shredding body horror, arguable misogyny and graphic beatings, and frankly I'd rather watch a man eating a live octopus.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Eggs Weekend

What are you doing on the internet? It's glorious outside. Go on, put your shorts on and get out there.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Festival Of Festivals

If you're stuck for something to do over the next couple of gloriously sunny, warm weeks, why not spend them stuck in a little room with a bunch of strangers at one of two quite excellent film festivals taking place in London? Apparently sunshine has been proven to make you fat so you're much better off in the cinema eating questionably-sourced hot dogs and drinking pop.

The Sci-Fi-London Film Festival and The East End Film Festival both celebrate ten years of festivility this year, and between them there's something for everyone, provided everyone likes science fiction and/or the east end.

The Sci-Fi-London Film Festival
(April 23rd - May 2nd)

The cumbersomely-subtitled London International Festival Of Science Fiction And Fantastic Film (glorious acronym: LIFOSFAFF) skulks about between the BFI Southbank and the Piccadilly Circus Apollo, showing off some of the world's mentalest independent films about cloning, robots, spaceships and that. It's definitely not full of geeks and you will definitely not bump into anyone dressed as a Klingon. Maybe.

Here are just some of the literally some things you might like to pop along and see:

Your Days Are Numbered
Not actually a film - or science fiction for that matter (GOOD START, "Sci Fi Film Festival") - but a comedy show, Your Days Are Numbered is a stand-up routine that uses maths LOLs to explore how likely you are to die in any given circumstances. It promises to explode every Daily Mail front page ever written about how sunshine makes you fat.

Three people on a camping trip find themselves pitted against their evil clones in a BATTLE TO THE DEATH OR SOMETHING. Like the Red Dwarf episode 'Demons And Angels' but with sexy American teens instead of a Scouser and a robot with a Lancastrian spare head.

A faux-documentary about the uncovering of a ludicrous moon-based conspiracy, Lunopolis promises to be the perfect film for everyone who believes there are whole cities of people up there controlling our every move. Warning: a proliferation of rustling foil hat-wearing punters may make it difficult to hear the film.

You Are Here
With a trailer that makes the absolute bare minimum of sense and a concept that would make Charlie Kaufman scratch his head very hard indeed, You Are Here is a surreal collection of vaguely interrelated stories about notions of identity, the nature of cognition and a crowd of people all called Alan. I've read loads about it and still have no idea what to expect, but I haven't been disappointed by any movie with a crowd full of Alans yet.

SFLFF:LIFOSFAFF's closing film, about an idiot who decides to become a masked vigilante in order to get his missus back, stars Rainn Wilson (hooray!), Ellen Page (oh) and Kevin Bacon as an asshole called Jacques (SOLD). Total Film will be calling it "Kick-Ass meets Inception" before long so go and see it and tell them what numpties they are sometimes.

The East End Film Festival
(April 27th - May 2nd)

Taking place in various locations around East London, the EEFF is a charmingly rugged affair. It focuses in the main on British talent, but there are also small Romanian and World cinema strands, a varied programme of shorts and something called Movie Mayday, a day-long free event across 88 venues with more stuff than there's possibly room or time for. Get on it.

Films you might want to have a good think about seeing include:

The Libertines - There Are No Innocent Bystanders
Roger Sargent's rockumentary about the rise and fall of the inexplicably popular noiseniks is the EEFF's opening gala screening, and a world premiere to boot. If that's the kind of thing that gets you excited, then brace yourself: apparently the band will be there on the night. *joke about likelihood of Pete Doherty's attendance*

Outside The Court
Filmmaker Marc Isaacs spent months standing outside Highbury & Islington Magistrates' Court interviewing various misfits, petty crooks and troubled souls on their way in and out. Amazingly Isaacs doesn't get beaten up at any point; in fact many of his subjects are surprisingly candid. This hour-long documentary doesn't just put them on display but turns out to be a cathartic experience for those of them who just need someone to listen.


The second film from Lars Von Trier's Advance Party experiment (in which three different first-time directors each make a film about the same characters; the first was Andrea Arnold's Red Road, also showing at the EEFF) is a bittersweet comedy drama about an old codger trying to put his tattered family back together before he reaches the end of his puff. It's an easier watch than Red Road, and I hate to use the phrase "funny and touching", but, well... you know.

Manasse + Minima
The free outdoor screening of 1925 Romanian silent film Manasse, with live accompaniment by Minima, follows in the footsteps of last year's amazing showing of Hitchcock's The Lodger. I have no idea what Manasse is about - its IMDb page is practically blank - but with Minima providing the tuneage it'll be an atmospheric and memorable night for anyone with ears. And eyes.

The Devils
The as-yet unreleased Director's Cut of Ken Russell's 1971 debauched blasphemathon will be a popular choice for hysterical moral guardians everywhere, and if nuns masturbating with charred leg bones is your thing, you're in for a treat. Also, have a word with yourself.

If any of that's got your juices flowing (you weirdo), both festivals have tons more exciting gubbins cracking off, and The Incredible Suit recommends you check the programmes because that's what they're there for, innit?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Warrior But Were Afraid To Ask Because It Looks A Bit Rubbs

September sees the uneagerly awaited release of Warrior, a film about something or other starring some people. Nobody knows anything about it yet, but fortunately there's already a trailer "doing the rounds" that tells us everything we need to know about it. And as luck would have it, here it comes now:

So what can we glean from that? Let's take a closer look, shall we? Yes, we shall.

Warrior is about men who do manly things, like performing violent but acrobatic acts of fellatio on each other in a cage while a fat man in a bow tie watches.

Not really, it's about men who beat the shit out of each other. That sepia photo in the background is of a warrior who, in a particularly brutal fight, almost had his moustache punched right off his face.

Let's just pause for a moment to remember the director's last great movie. What do you mean, "never heard of it"? But its tagline was:

What America needed was a miracle.
What it got was a hockey game.

No? Honestly, you philistines.

This shot is from either a Rocky-esque training montage set to the rousing power chords of an inspirational rock anthem, or a scene where the hero is chased down the road by a king size bed. I so hope it's the latter.

Speaking of threatening inanimate objects, Warrior features a cameo from Robert, the tyre from Rubber, as "tyre". He bulked up quite a bit for this part.

Tom Hardy's got a stupid haircut and I would absolutely say that to his face.

Actually I probably wouldn't.

If I were a lesser man (or ShortList magazine) I'd put something here like "Dave got as far as track 2 of the new Justin Bieber album". But I'm not going to do that. No way. I'm better than that.

Dave and Dave suddenly realised their true feelings for each other.

"You boys may've been in Animal Kingdom and Inception, but where's your 'Academy Award® Nominee' prefix, huh? I'M NICK NOLTE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES, BITCHES!"

So now you know. Glad to be of service.

Monday, 18 April 2011

BlogalongaBond / Thunderball:
Fourth Film Founders,
Fortunately Features Fabulous Fiona

It had to happen. After three films of increasing amazitude, even the invincible James Bond can't dodge the Curse of the Fourth Film. Thunderball, though not without its merits, is a flabby, overlong mess, sinking under the weight of its own desperation to be bigger and better than its predecessors. When even the casting of a Ringo Starr lookalike as 006 can't keep your film afloat, what hope is there?
The biggest problem with Thunderball is that 20.8% of it (yeah, I checked) is spent under the sea, turning nearly half an hour of running time into plodding time. But it's not the sheer volume of water that sinks this film: everyone who did such great work on Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger suddenly finds themselves out of their depth, ultimately drowning under the rising tide of pointless gadgets, needlessly complex plots and unsatisfiable hype.

Richard Maibaum's script over-complicates Ian Fleming's simple, effective story, allowing Bond to stumble fortuitously across bad guys and repeatedly get rescued from certain death by other characters. Director Terence Young lets the film get away from him, dumping a four-and-a-half hour cut into editor Peter Hunt's lap, leading him to employ two more editors to get the film to a manageable length before its already-delayed release date. Even the usually-faultless John Barry submits a score which, while effective in the quieter scenes, goes apeshit during the set-pieces, shrieking hysterically and repetitively to make up for all the tedious sploshing about and silly high-speed fights.
Fortunately it's not a total disaster. Thunderball has one spectacular redeeming feature, which itself has several redeeming features. Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the series' Best Bond Girl Ever: Fiona Volpe.
Is it any coincidence that "volpe" is Italian for "vixen"? NO IT IS NOT. Foxy bitch Fiona, played by 28-year-old Italian Luciana Paluzzi, is devious, deadly and incredibly sexy, and puts every other simpering Bond girl into the shadow cast by her ample bosom.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I do have a thing for redheads. So from the very first frame we see of Fiona, the deal is pretty much sealed, and in glorious Technicolor:
Less than a minute later she's displaying further attributes that I admire in a lady:
But enough about her well-manicured fingernails. In her first scene she watches coldly as her colleagues murder a man she's just been making sexytime with, then orders them about like they're imbeciles. She even calls rubbish villain Count Lippe by his surname only, contemptuously disregarding his honorific title. She may take orders from SPECTRE, but what she absolutely will not take is any shit from the likes of you.

As if it wasn't obvious from her introduction that she takes pleasure in using her sexuality for her own ends (not unlike a certain British agent), the next time we see her she's literally dealing death from between her legs, blowing up Lippe's car with missiles fired from her motorbike. Obviously being a safety-conscious henchbitch, this necessitates her being dressed entirely in leather, and let's be honest: Brando never looked this good in The Wild One.
Thunderball could have ended there and certain sections of the audience would have left happy, but Fiona's best scenes are still to come. Splashing about in Bond's bath (the best underwater scene in the film by far), she lures him into her vagina to pass the time while waiting for her hired hands to arrive and beat him up. After literally softening him up for them, the last thing she wants to do is mess her hair up any more.

And then she really hits Bond where it hurts, launching a withering verbal attack on his vanity and ego, taunting him with his failure to turn her to the side of right and virtue. It's the film's sharpest dialogue, although it appears she's got all her intel on 007 from watching the first three films. Meta.

Thankfully Fiona sticks to her guns and spends her final mortal moments trying to turn Bond permanently stiff. Her death scene, while reminiscent of Goldfinger's pre-title sequence, is one of Thunderball's rare technical successes, with the score and editing building to a violent climax: just the way she would have wanted it.

It's wide!
Thunderball was the first Bond film to be shot in lovely 2.35:1, and by God Maurice Binder was going to make the most of it in his title sequence by placing the Panavision and Technicolor credits as far apart as possible.

The poster campaign
While Thunderball may be the least great of the four Bond films so far, its posters were by far the best. Shit-hot designers Frank McCarthy and Robert McGinnis were hired to create lifelike but fantastical interpretations of the film's signature moments, and between them they came up with some of the most iconic poster art in cinema history. Take that, "photograph of Daniel Craig's shadow".

Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

It comes to something when one of the best things about a film wasn't actually in it. John Barry and Leslie Bricusse wrote this sublime theme song, beautifully sung by Dionne Warwick and tragically jettisoned in favour of Tom Jones thunderbawling Don Black's inane lyrics which, by order of United Artists, had to include the film's title. Good job this wasn't On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

BlogalongaBond will return with You Only Live Twice

What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
Further BlogalongaBondareading here

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday Playlist #24: Henry Mancini

This week's playlist celebrates the sexy jazz-funk of Henry Mancini, the man responsible for one of the greatest, most famous pieces of music in the world: the score of Bill Cosby's Ghost Dad.

OK, fine. This week's playlist celebrates the sexy jazz-funk of Henry Mancini, the man who will forever be known as the Pink Panther guy.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Review Corner: The James Bond Omnibus Volume 002

I don't know if anyone's noticed, but Titan Books appear to have the monopoly on amazing film and TV books these days. In the last six months this very corner of the internet has been graced with The Art Of Drew Struzan and The Avengers: A Celebration, and upcoming titles include the autobiography of James Bond stunt legend Vic Armstrong and, um, the official Transformers 3 novelisation. I'll let you know how that goes.

For now, though, I'm enormously happy with The James Bond Omnibus Volume 2 (although they've called it Volume 002 - can you tell where this is going?), the second collection of the Daily Express newspaper strip adaptations from ye olde 1960s.
I rattled on about Volume 1 - sorry, 001 - ages ago when nobody read The Incredible Suit, so feel free to revise for this post by reading that one, because I'm not about to repeat myself.

Done that? Good. Volume 002 finishes off the Ian Fleming stories that made it to comic strip form - a format that takes some getting used to but which successfully condenses the books into easily digestible chunks of pulp ideal for episodic reading. The 274-strip On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a suitably mammoth exercise (though not quite the nine months it took to publish in the Daily Express), but short story The Living Daylights, at just 54 strips, is a perfect gap-filler if you find yourself with a gap of about fifteen minutes one day.

The stories were adapted by Henry Gammidge and Jim Lawrence, who boiled down Fleming's prose into bite-size speech bubbles with varying success. However, it's the artists who take centre stage in this format. John McLusky's detailed but unexceptional illustrations, in which Bond looks more like a 50-something bank manager than a 30-something secret agent, gave way in 1966 to Russian illustrator Yaroslav Horak, whose borderline insane obsession with drawing as many lines on characters' faces as possible lends his stories an almost avant-garde appeal.
In his defence, Horak had a much better eye for action than McLusky. This panel from The Man With The Golden Gun, in which a brainwashed Bond attempts to assassinate M, is one of the best in the book:
Titan score extra points for the title pages, which feature blown up images from each story. Often these are works of pop art genius, although occasionally they border on hideous grotesquery. See if you can tell which is which:
As much as I love these books, I can't wait for Volume 003, because that's when Fleming's stories run out and Jim Lawrence makes up his own stuff. They might be brilliant, they might be rubbish, I don't know. Come back next year and find out.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

BlogalongaBond: Mission Update

It's nearly three months since I had the future-award-winning idea of bringing the whole blogging world together under a poisonously-spiked umbrella of Bond-love to blog about every James Bond film once a month until the release of the new one next November. I speak, of course, of BlogalongaBond, a title for which I take no responsibility despite the fact that it fell out of my own head.
*Temporary logo
In a rare moment of feeling pleased with myself, the thing I like most about the whole project is that some people are watching - and finding new things in - Bond films they haven't seen before, or at least not for yonks, and that brings a manly tear of butch pride to my macho eye.

Around 30 similarly-inclined bloggers have sat themselves down in front of Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, then taken to the internets and spilled their brains all over the shop in the name of BlogalongaBond. There've been articles, videos, songs, podcasts and even some kind of half-assed but brilliant powerpoint presentation. Every entry gets pimped on Facebook and Twitter and is archived on this page, so if you fancy perusing a broad range of opinions on the world's greatest cinema franchise, then you know where to go.

If for some reason you haven't checked out any BlogalongaBondings yet, then a) you're dead to me, but b) this is your chance to atone for your sins. Here's a mere smattering of what you've been missing: writes proper good reviews that make like well good points about stuff in you know an intelligent and considered kind of wotsit. If you see yourself as any kind of writer and enjoy feeling inadequate, check out the Goldfinger review.

The Intermittent Sprocket's monthly Bond song has thrown up three classics already, my favourite of which is "Rogues' Gallery". Start placing your bets on the Christmas 2012 Number One album now.

Follow The Lemur's science-based posts are entertaining and educational. This one tells you exactly why Goldfinger's death-by-skin-suffocation is such a load of old tommywaddle.

After It Happens' From Russia With Love slide presentation is like sitting in the world's best middle-management meeting, like, ever. Watch on an overhead projector for the full effect.

Nobody knows clothes on film like Clothes On Film, which is lucky when you think about it. If you wondered why Sean Connery still looks like a sex puma in a blue towelling playsuit, here's the answer.

And last but by no means least, here's Douche On Film's Dr. No review which for some reason hasn't yet been sold to Sight & Sound.

It's April now, which means we're wading through the underwater tedium of Thunderball, but hey! In a couple of months it'll be time for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and THAT is a film.

BlogalongaBond's doors are wide open to newbies so if you want to crash the party, you're more than welcome to do so. It's black tie, bring a bottle. Dom Perignon, preferably (the '53; none of that '55 shit thank you very much).