Friday, 30 March 2012

Bérénice Marlohe To Use Escalator In Skyfall

This still is taken from the latest videblogothing at, home of all the most amazing Skyfall-related excitement you could hope for. Further investigation of the videblogothing reveals that she travels down the escalator, but is not seen travelling up it. In what appears to be publicity for the film's publicity, we also see the actress having her photograph taken.

And on that bombshell, I'm going on holiday. See you in a week or so.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Empire Awards Looked Vaguely Like This

Sunday night saw me dressed up like James Fucking Bond to attend the 2012 Empire awards, or "Jameson Empire Awards" as we are legally instructed to call them in case you thought they were anything to do with films when they are clearly all about whiskey.

I had a smashing time and saw lots of people off of the films and that, but professionalism and very strict rules prevented me from photographing any of them. Therefore, in an attempt to convey the excitement of the evening in blogular format, I'm just going to have to resort to a few images I've scraped off the bottom of the internet and a bit of lacklustre photoshopping.

Here, then, are just some of the sights I witnessed at the Jameson Empire Jameson Awards Jameson 2012 sponsored by Jameson, almost exactly as they happened:

Dexter Fletcher and Tim Burton at the same event
create an animated gif
...but never in the same room at the same time.

A well-known TV personality having a serious-looking conversation with a well-known actress
I'd better not name names because they might have been working on a top secret project and I don't want to be sued by either of them for breach of privacy. It was a bonkers pairing though, believe me.

Danny DeVito making a big job out of putting his glasses on to get a better look at me
The look of disappointment in this photograph is a fairly accurate representation of Danny's actual expression.

The back of Alex Zane as I wandered into the background of one of his Sky Movies reports
I have chosen Nemo from Finding Nemo to represent me in this photo in order to render my bumbling shall-I-carry-on-and-look-stupid-or-shall-I-turn-round-and-look-stupid episode more adorable.

A lady with enormous breasts
It wasn't Christina Hendricks though.

The same well-known TV personality having another serious-looking conversation, this time with a well-known film director
For all I know they were talking about the lady with enormous breasts, but maybe - just maybe - they were "in talks" to collaborate on the world's most amazing film or TV show ever. Because believe me it would be off the flipping chain. 

Chris Hemsworth looking nowhere near as buff as I expected
He was actually wearing a shirt and jacket, otherwise this is uncanny.

An old lady who looked exactly like Danny DeVito looking confusedly at Danny DeVito
I don't know who she was or where she came from but she had literally never in all her years seen anything as crackers as what was going on in her hotel.

Olivia Colman being unspeakably delightful
No photoshopping required.

Mad dancing at the aftershow party at Café de Paris

Fifteen megatons of thanks to the Empire team, all at Romley Davies and of course Jameson Irish Whiskey for a lovely day. Next year I would like to meet Daniel Craig plskthks.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Pirates! In An Annoyingly Punctuated And Grammatically Questionable Adventure With Scientists

The latest futile attempt by animation boffins Aardman to come up with anything nearly as amazing as the Wallace & Gromit shorts predictably fails to do so, but if you enjoy the non-murdery, non-kidnappy, non-rapey side of piracy then this is certainly a better way to spend a couple of hours than watching Johnny Depp twatting about with knitted pubes dangling from his chin.
Technically, the animation on display here is as nipple-tinglingly great as you'd expect: The subtlest of emotions and expressions that would be beyond, say, Roger Moore, are conveyed with astonishing skill by the precision squidging of lumps of Plasticene. Still, technical brilliance does not a perfect film make, right Avatar?

Fortunately The Pirates! gets by with some pleasingly British humour, a lead character with a massive hairy scrotum hanging off his face, the inspired casting of certain historical figures as villains and an abundance of background detail and visual gags packed into every frame that means a Blu-ray viewing with pause button at the ready is inevitable. Of course some of us already enjoy the heavy pausing of DVDs featuring facefuls of massive hairy scrota, but that's...uh... oh never mind.

Sadly the film never quite gets going, despite a couple of impressive set pieces (which are rendered virtually unwatchable by Superblurrovision, or "3D" as it's commonly known). Hugh Grant does well not to be distractingly Hugh Granty as the voice of the Pirate Captain, but he doesn't get the chance to go as crackers as the film's tone demands, and the obvious attempts to create the new Gromit - a silent monkey whose single joke wears thin very fast and a dodo who dodoesn't dodo much - fail to make much of an impression.
As long-anticipated kidult movies go though, it's still better than The Muppets and at least features Flight Of The Conchords' own version of 'I'm Not Crying' rather than a shameful rip-off. Screw you, Muppologists!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Hunger Gamezzz

The Hunger Games editors Stephen Mirrione and Juliette Welfling are in trouble. I'd be amazed if they ever work again. Assigned the task of cutting together the first in a potential trilogy of films based on best-selling novels, they've gone and made the classic, schoolboy editing error: they've left in all the stuff they meant to take out and taken out all the stuff they meant to leave in. As a result, one hundred and forty-four minutes of tedious cabbage have found their way into cinemas, while the important, exciting and explanatory bits of a potentially interesting film are headed for landfill.

At least I assume that's what's happened. How else to explain a film which spends seventy dull minutes preparing us, and its protagonists, for a thrilling second half set inside a game where 24 teenagers must fight each other to the death, only to deliver an even more boring seventy minutes in which almost nothing set up in the first half is paid off? How will Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) change throughout this journey? She won't. What lessons will the other, one-dimensional teens learn from their trials? None. How will Peter - sorry, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) - utilise his special skill (the uncanny ability to, uh, throw heavy objects)? He won't, despite making a big deal of it in the never-ending training sequence. Although he will, improbably and pointlessly, paint his face to look like a tree, which he learned to do WHILE HE WAS A CAKE DECORATOR.
The film's fatal problem is that none of its characters have anything approaching any kind of moral complexity. Some are good, some are bad, some are odd, but at no point do any of them appear to change or learn anything. They don't even have any kind of interesting relationships with each other, apart from Peeta's attempts to get Katniss to fancy him, and that results in some potentially dramatic awkwardness that's never addressed. It's hard to invest in any of them emotionally, and considering they've been thrust into an incredibly highly morally and ethically charged situation, that's unforgivable.

Katniss is at least a refreshingly Strong Female CharacterTM, and the script does well not to make a big deal about her being a girl and kicking a lot of boy ass, but she's surrounded by cardboard cut-outs. Her mother gazes around gormlessly without explanation, her mentor (Woody Harrelson) is a drunk without explanation but not enough to make it a plot-worthy character trait, and her rivals in the Games are lunkheaded asshats without explanation (why do they believe Peeta's claims to be leading them to Katniss in order to kill her when they know he's in love with her? Why do they give up trying to skewer her with arrows so easily when they've got her surrounded up a tree?). Even Toby Jones turns up in a daft wig but doesn't do anything - again, without explanation.
This man has no idea why he is here

The standard response to much of this seems to be that "it's explained in the book". Well, that pissed me off with Harry Potter and it pisses me off now. It's unacceptable to assume that your filmgoing audience is either a) painstakingly familiar with the source material or b) happy to pop to Waterstone's straight after the film to buy the book in order to fill in the blanks. That's a fail right there: back to Adaptation School you go!

Lesson One:
There are exciting moments threatened throughout the film, but when they come they're either over in a flash or shot by a cameraman who seems to be inside a washing machine, such is the clarity of the action scenes. And once they're over, it's back to the tramping-through-the-woods that worked so well in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Alternatively some utterly bonkers deus ex machina will be conjured up - I won't spoil things too much but I was forced to scrawl this in my notebook during the screening:
Still, none of this matters. The Hunger Games will find its audience in the huge amount of people who've enjoyed the books, and all power to them. Perhaps they can explain why it's called The Hunger Games, because the only hunger I experienced was the desire to gnaw my own arm off out of sheer boredom.

Friday, 16 March 2012

BlogalongaBond / The Living Daylights:
I ♥ Timothy Dalton

Maybe it's because it was my first ever Bond film in a cinema. Maybe it's because I was exactly the right age to start appreciating Bond films for what they were and could be. Or maybe it's just because it's absolutely brilliant. Whatever the reasons, and there are several, The Living Daylights is my clear favourite James Bond film up to this point in BlogalongaBond's history.

There's almost too much to love about it, but what never ceases to amaze me is that it was made by the very same writing, directing and producing team that only two years before had squatted over the franchise and curled out A View To A Kill. Anybody would think there had been some single, vital change to the series, perhaps in the regular cast, that would turn it from laughing stock to cinematic force to be reckoned with.
But more about that later. Let's just take a moment to thank screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G Wilson for writing a spy thriller that's both a) thrilling and b) about spies. No certifiable loons trying to wipe out humanity with a bomb on the moon strapped to a double-taking pigeon here, just realistic (albeit power-crazy) opportunists reacting to real-life political turmoil, but causing just enough bother to warrant investigation from Her Majesty's Secret Service.

It's an intelligent, audience-respecting script that drip-feeds details at exactly the right pace, and it's to be even further congratulated for not being built around a series of set-pieces. They're there, to be sure, but for the first time since On Her Majesty's Secret Service they feel like they're a logical progression of the story. Even the escape-by-cello-case makes sense, and it's a mercy that the case isn't equipped with whoopee cushions or rear-mounted stink bomb launchers as it might have done if Roger Moore had been driving.

But yes, when all is said and done, by far the best thing about The Living Daylights is Mr Timothy Peter Dalton, also known as The Best James Bond, Like, Ever. At long last we've got an actor playing Bond, rather than a film star. Just look at a selected filmography - the names of the characters he's played over the years practically scream RADA:
Maybe that last one is pushing it a bit

Dalton owns Bond from the moment he realises shenanigans are afoot at the Rock Of Gibraltar. Immediately making two other Double-0 agents look like bumbling amateurs, he launches into one of the series' best chases for yonks, doing most of his own stunts along the way. But the action is a fraction of what makes Dalton special: he knows Fleming's Bond inside out. He smokes almost constantly (and did so in interviews and press conferences at the time), has absolutely no time for incompetent colleagues and pretty much hates his job. "Stuff my orders," he barks at foppish fuckwit Saunders. "Tell M what you want. If he fires me I'll thank him for it." This may just be the greatest line in any Bond film, ever.

MI6 flunky Saunders might be an officious prick, but that's all the better for bringing out the best from both the cracking script and Dalton's unfaltering work in the film. In their first meeting, Saunders immediately rubs Bond up the wrong way by commenting on his lateness, criticising his appreciation of a fine laydee, treating him like a subordinate and failing to operate a pair of night vision goggles.
Bond visibly bristles at Saunders' remarks, and when it comes to carrying out the mission Dalton gives subtle hints as to the discomfort and doubt coursing through Bond's icy veins. It's already literally impossible to imagine Roger Moore in the role. When they meet again in Vienna, it's Bond's turn to treat Saunders like a child, and Saunders actually relaxes as Bond's unorthodox methods beginning to make sense to him. At this point their relationship improves, and they part on good terms - Bond even gives Saunders a "well done" and "thanks", and with the slightest of glances that would have been beyond his predecessors, Dalton conveys his growing admiration for his colleague. Although he does look a bit like he wants to kiss him on the willy.
In just a few short scenes there's a real sense of warmth developing between two otherwise clinical agents here, and it's a welcome rarity in the series. All of which makes Saunders' brutal murder more devastating, and Bond's reaction to it so convincing. He's furious that it happened, that he couldn't prevent it and that he's lost someone who might have turned out to be a friend, and Dalton uses everything in his arsenal - his stance, his eyes, his jaw, even his hands - to get all that across effortlessly. It sounds a bit ridiculous to congratulate an actor so much for acting, but lest we forget, this is the same film series in which the hero's most emotionally resonant gesture used to be the animation of one or both eyebrows.
I could go on for days about what a great Bond film The Living Daylights is, but that would be intolerable for everyone so imagine a slow-motion montage of the following highlights, perhaps set to soft music: Bond headbutting a bad guy for the first time; the none-more-'80s silhouette of Dalton's suit; Bond pulling his Velcro collar over before he shoots Kara; Q taking tablets after climbing stairs; the return of the Aston Martin; the gag with the cello case in the phone box; Bond killing Necros with a shoelace rather than a watch that turns into a laser-guided cannon. I love all these things and more, but most of all I love Timothy Dalton, and in 1987 I wanted nothing more than for him to play Bond for the rest of my life. That's not too much to ask, right?

John Barry's score
Barry's twelfth and final Bond score is sublime. Melding his typically terrific swooning and sinister orchestral work with '80s synths to create a Bond sound completely of its time, he bowed out in true style, even cameoing as the Carnegie Hall conductor in the film's epilogue. Just one of the brilliant moments in this score comes as Bond gives Necros the boot: the same cue is used as when Necros murdered Saunders, lending the scene a sense of satisfying revenge. Other composers will come and go, bringing their own styles to the series, but each of their Bond scores will be a collaboration with John Barry whether they like it or not.

The safe house sequence
One of the greatest sequences in The Living Daylights doesn't even feature James Bond: he's off in his Aston Martin listening to some serious jazz while a milkman who looks suspiciously like Die Hard's tiny-footed terrorist lays waste to the safe house containing fake defector Koskov. Necros' fight with the remarkably handy-with-his-fists butler is a triumph of stuntmanship and editing, and Andreas Wisniewski is so effectively chilling that I have never been able to fully trust a Walkman-wearing milkman since.

"Where are you going?" "To drop an F-Bomb"

In the course of researching this post I spent several years training to be a lip-reader just so that I could confirm that yes, Timothy Dalton definitely says "fucking hell". If only swearing had been in week one, I would have saved a lot of time and money.

The hanging-out-of-the-back-of-a-plane bit
Somebody obviously knew that the shoddy stunt doubling work of A View To A Kill would one day be ripped apart by a mentally unhinged blogger, because in The Living Daylights it's faultless, particularly in this heart-halting scene where Bond and Necros hang thousands of feet above the Afghanistan desert with only a piddly carabina clip keeping them from splattering on the mountains below. Stunt gods BJ Worth and Jake Lombard are the ones actually and literally hanging on by their fingernails, and I salute them for it.

The correctly deleted scene
Wilson & Maibaum just couldn't help squeezing in the kind of insultingly stoopid visual gag that Roger Moore would probably have considered genius. Fleeing from the Tangier rozzers, Bond escapes on a carpet thrown over some cables, which looks like a flying carpet to the simple, shisha-smoking locals HAHAHA. The scene was shot and cut together, but at the last moment director John Glen came to his senses and put it out of its misery. It's a fascinating aside on the DVD but by crikey it does not belong within a trillion miles of this film.

BlogalongaBond will return with Licence To Kill

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

21 Jump Street

Lovingly ripped off from the late '80s / early '90s Johnny Depp-starring TV series of the same name, 21 Jump Street is the story of two rookie cops who, according to the script, look young enough to go undercover in a high school to investigate a new deadly drug that's killing teenagers. It threatens to be quite clever with some early post-modern metawaffle about the dearth of new ideas in Hollywood and knowing winks about stereotypes in high school movies, but then it forgets all that and goes on to be just another sweary comedy that's undeniably funny but a bit too long and is largely dependent on ye olde "characters behaving oddly while on drugs" LOLs that were popular in Shakespeare's day.

The film's single insurmountable problem is that the two stars don't look like high school students at all, they look like potatoes. One of them is even played by a man called Channing Potatum. Allow me to make my point with a hastily-photoshopped game of Spot The Difference:
Literally impossible to tell which are the actors and which are the potatoes, right? Hopefully what I've demonstrated here is that it would have made more sense to send them undercover in a greengrocer's or a supermarket or a field or somewhere else where potatoes are generally to be found. Because that would have made everything OK.

Monday, 12 March 2012

I Want You To Shiznit Me As Hard As You Can

Friends, rivals and occasional lovers of The Incredible Suit The Shiznit are holding their first screening of an actual film in an actual cinema this week, and at the risk of pissing off everyone who doesn't live in London (again), it's in London.
The film in question is 1999's second-best film, Fight Club, and seeing as how most of you were probably getting wedgied in the school toilets when it was released there's a fair chance you haven't seen it on the big screen. Well take it from me you should, even if only for Digital Domain's brain-rattling title sequence, accompanied by The Dust Brothers' eardrum-punching music at massive volumage.

Of course if you do only go for the titles you're an idiot, because chief Shizneteer Ali Gray and his team of Shiznettes will be stripping to the waist and beating the shit out of each other in the foyer beforehand, and trust me: that is a lot of man-slapping going on right there. In the event that the topless bro-bashing doesn't happen I'm assured that less violent activities are planned.

So book your tickets here and get your rippling six-packs down to the Stratford Picturehouse (home of The Incredible Suit's Cumbersomely Titled Very Good Film And Quiz Night, as if you could forget) well before 8pm this Thursday for an evening of fun, frolics and fights. Bitch tits optional.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Given that Ryan Gosling managed to sneak up on 2011 while nobody was looking and scrawl his name all over it in bright pink Mistral, it's a miracle he hasn't been the victim of a huge critical backlash yet. I tried to start one myself once by suggesting that he'd ignored an old lady who wanted help crossing the road, but nobody believed me. In actual fact he made sweet love to her like she'd never experienced and now she'll die happy.

So for those of us who still haven't taken the poster from The Notebook off our bedroom ceilings, what's Gozbox up to next? Quite a few things apparently, and not one of them doesn't look absolutely, cock-twangingly amazing.

The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)
The Gozmatronic 5000 reteams with his Blue Valentine director and doppelgänger Derek Cianfrance (have you ever seen them in the same room at the same time?) and nicks a bit of the Drive plot to star as a stuntman who commits a crime to provide for his family. The film promises to be the most trouser-burstingly, knicker-dampeningly sexiful of all time, starring as it does Bradley Cooper (hopefully with his Oscar moustache) and Eva Mendes alongside Gosling, with Chronicle's Dane DeHaan and Animal Kingdom's terrifying Ben Mendelsohn providing the ugly balance. Shot by Shame cinematographer Sean Bobbit, which can only mean little Ryan's coming out to play.

The Gangster Squad (2012)

Zombieland and 30 Minutes Or Less director Ruben Fleischer ditches Jesse Eisenberg and casts R-Gos alongside the almost-as-amazing Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Josh Brolin and Animal Kingdom's Sullivan Stapleton for this '40s-set Mafia-off. Gosling plays Sgt. Jerry Wooters and his big fat hooters, and the film also stars Josh Pence, the poor bastard who had to wear Armie Hammer's face for the whole of The Social Network.

Only God Forgives (2012)

If you're not excited about this, you're a stupid dead idiot. Nicolas Winding Refn directs Gozzle Rozzle in this Bangkok-set film about a Muay Thai fighter avenging the death of his brother. Gosling's been in training for months, so expect the violence in this to make Drive look like that time you sat down on a nice bean bag.
Anecdote: I went to a Muay Thai match in Bangkok once and a massive cockroach fell on my head. It was terrifying.

Lawless (2013)
Continuing his refusal to ever work with anyone shit, The 'Sling has recently been fannying about in Texas under the guidance of Terrence Malick, for one of the many projects the bearded slowcoach seems to be cramming into his once-langorous schedule. Lawless' plot is naturally locked in Malick's brain-vault but it's something to do with the Austin music scene, and we do know that it currently boasts Mara, Portman, Bale and Blanchett in its cast. I bet you a pound that it will bring Rygs his first Oscar.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Hollywood Babble-On

Here's a thing you should do if you're in London on Wednesday 21st March and enjoy gossip about long-dead film stars: Little Joe, the new kid on the movie magazine block, is hosting an evening dedicated to Kenneth Anger's 1959 book Hollywood Babylon, and you're invited! Which is to say that everyone's invited, providing they buy a ticket.

Hollywood Babylon is, of course, the collection of hilariously salacious and largely invented tales of sordid goings-on amongst the Brangelinas of the first half of the twentieth century. If you want to know who was nobbing who, when they nobbed them, how often the nobbing took place and in which orifices the nobbing was received, Hollywood Babylon is the book of half-truths for you. It might be responsible for all the celebrity gossip shit we have to put up with these days but don't hold that against it: it's a cracking read, thanks to Anger's purple prose and his obsession with the filthy, sweaty undercarriage of Tinseltown.

Little Joe's evening - part of their 'A Little Film Club' series of events - includes a screening of the 1991 BBC Arena documentary on Kenneth Anger and his sensibility-troubling books, as well as a discussion about the seedy side of Hollywood, which will hopefully finally solve the problem of whose [censored] it was that was found stuck in [censored]'s [censored] that time. My eyes still water just thinking about it.

So here are those all-important deets:

A Little Film Club presents
A Tribute to Kenneth Anger’s
Hollywood Babylon
Wednesday 21 March 7:30pm
The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way, London SE11 4TH

Tickets are £7.50 and are available right flipping here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Slashfilm Retweet Experiment:
A Brief Note On Twitter Etiquette

The following post assumes a working knowledge of the vagaries of Twitter. If you're baffled by words like "retweet", "hashtag" and "@mention" you should probably go and read something else.

You may or may not be aware of my love/hate relationship with movie news website (I don't think they can honestly call themselves a blog any more) Slashfilm: I visit the site most days for their near-constant stream of movie news nuggets, but by crikey they make me pay for it. Day in, day out, they bombard me with anti-news about films that aren't being made still not being made, test the very limits of my sanity with unfathomable spelling, grammar and punctuation and force me to "read more after the jump", possibly the least welcome phrase on the internet (and lampooned to perfection here).

Recently, however, another crime of internet awfulness has begun to raise its ugly head, this time from Slashfilm's Twitter feed. By way of squeezing in a graph, here's a rough idea of the make-up of 24 hours' worth of tweets from the site's editor Peter Sciretta:
Now obviously I don't object to using your Twitter feed to drive traffic to your site (I'd be a massive hypocrite if I did), and given that 99.997% of what's on Twitter is pointless waffle I don't have a problem with that either. However, it's that final category that I feel needs addressing: the retweeting to Slashfilm's 63,500 Twitter followers of compliments from site users, a couple of which snuck out yesterday:
Let's just clear up a point of etiquette: there is NO EXCUSE for parping on your own trumpet by retweeting nice things somebody said about you on Twitter unless BOTH of the following criteria are met:
1. You have a tiny, insignificant web presence
2. The person making the compliment is a well-known public figure (note: this does not make the compliment more valid, just more interesting for other people to read).
If you're one of the world's biggest movie websites you don't need to tell everyone how great someone else thinks you are. It's a little bit unsavoury.

And so it was with a little mischief and a little alcohol coursing through my veins that, after seeing those retweets, I made my own contribution to the Slashfilm Ego Expansion Fund:
And sure enough, after a few minutes, the magic words were added to the tweet:
along with this disclaimer:
I don't quite know what to make of this. On the one hand I proved to myself that Slashfilm would literally retweet anything nice said about them, even if it's clearly complete bollocks, but at the same time Peter Sciretta claims to have retweeted my compliment because he "found it funny". So is he in on the joke or not?

The only way to find out is with a call to arms. So here's the thing: if you find yourself with a spare moment during the next few days, tweet @slashfilm with the most obsequious, over-the-top compliment you can muster, along with the hashtag #SRE (Slashfilm Retweet Experiment), and let's see just how far we can go before they get bored. I strongly suspect we've already reached that point, but what else are you going to do on Twitter today, talk about your disappointing sandwich?

Oh. OK. Fine.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ralph McQuarrie 1929-2012

It doesn't really matter whether or not you know who Ralph McQuarrie was, but you should know that more or less every science fiction film since Star Wars looks like it does because of him. That doesn't mean you can blame him for Moonraker though.