Dreamworks today released a still of their upcoming film The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks founder and extradition-avoider Julian Assange. Focusing on the early days of the site, the film will the Sherlock star with platinum blond hair and sporting an indolent facial expression. Daniel Bruhl (Goodbye, Lenin!) co-stars as Assange’s confidante Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book ‘WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange’ provides the basis of the story. Filling out the rest of the cast are familiar British faces like David Thewlis and The Thick of It‘s Peter Capaldi, who is presumably playing an ornery Scottish man.
However, this isn’t the first time Cumberbatch has tackled a living figure: in 2004, he was Stephen Hawking in a BBC television film and in 2010 he played Vincent Van Gogh. Could he be challenging Michael Sheen’s status as the go-to guy for playing famous personalities? After all, the Academy do love giving awards to actors playing real historical figures (The Queen, Idi Amin, Thatcher, Ray Charles, etc…)
The Fifth Estate is still in production, so it will be a while before it hits the cinema. In the meantime, fans of Mr Cumberbatch will have to settle for seeing him in this summer’s blockbuster sequel Star Trek into Darkness or perhaps the second Hobbit film, which promises to feature a lot more of him.
For a reclusive film maker with a reputation for working slowly, Terence Malick sure has been busy. His Tree of Life delighted and confounded audiences in 2011 earning an Oscar nom for best picture. He has four films in post-production, according to IMDb – that’s four entire movies allegedly in the can. If this is to be believed, those four films would constitute exactly half his entire body of work stretching back to 1973.
In the newest trailer for the cryptically named To the Wonder, Ben Affleck plays a man who rekindles his passion for a woman from his hometown (Rachel McAdams) while his wife (Olga Kurylenko) strikes up a connection to a Spanish priest (Javier Bardem). As with next to every other Malick joint, the story will probably take a back seat to gorgeous photography and voice-overs delivered in hushed tones. The trailer suggests that Malick hasn’t strayed too far from the reservation: there are plenty of shots of characters frolicking through field and beautiful landscapes filmed during ‘magic hour‘.
Malick’s pictures have a certain way of frustrating viewers who demand narrative cohesion from tfilms, but his ability to marry image with ambient sound and meaningless dialogue means that his films are always uniquely cinematic works. If you’re going to see To the Wonder, we’d recommend you check it out at a theatre when it drops on February 22nd.
Just five days after Lance Armstrong shocked the world by confessing to things that the world knew months ago, J.J. Abrams is already said to be in the saddle to direct a film about his cheating ass. Based on the book ‘Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong’ by New York Times journalist Juliet Macur, Abrams’ movie will probably not be an favourable look at the most flagrant drugs cheat in the history of professional sport.
The first question that springs to mind is a matter of casting: who is going to play Lance Armstrong? Of course the obvious answer would be Matthew McConaughey who –like that cheating sack of crap, Lance Armstrong– is a fair-haired, athletic Texan. But he has also been good pals with Lance in the past, which means it’s unlikely he’ll work on a project to demolish what’s left of the man’s reputation.
But then you have Bradley Cooper, who has already publicly expressed an interest in the role, telling the BBC: “I would be interested in that …I think he’s fascinating. What a fascinating character.”
Even if this was just a simple comment made in response to a baited question and blown out of all proportions by the entertainment media, there is a good chance that Cooper will be near the top of the producers’ wish list. Having spent the past year becoming a serious actor through sheer force of will, the Academy Award nominee for Silver Linings Playbook could easily find himself at the front of the pack, ahead of the usual suspects like Michael Fassbender and Christian Bale.
This is that assuming Abrams doesn’t get Lance to play himself. After all, he’s going to have a lot of free time now that he’s persona non grata in both professional sport and polite society.
Earlier reports suggested that Sony Pictures were on the verge of pedaling their own Armstrong biopic, with either Matt Damon of Jake Gyllenhaal playing a professional athlete who overcomes a potentially fatal disease to become the greatest cycling champion and cancer philanthropist of all time. But I guess they’re not making that movie anymore.
Warning: this article will feature spoilers up to the first episode of Boardwalk Empire’s third season. Do not read any further if you haven’t caught up to the end of Season 2.
As the third season of Boardwalk Empire opens, Atlantic City boss and bootlegger Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is holding one of his famous New Year’s Eve bashes. This being December 1922, the entire western world is wrapped up in Archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb and Nucky’s parties are nothing if not at the cutting edge of fashion. Nucky’s mansion is decked out with golden sphinxes and mounds of fake treasures; the great and good (and the not-so-good) of New Jersey are in attendance, decked out in clothes and jewels inspired by all thing ancient Egyptian. A man dressed as Carter distributes expensive gifts to the guests: the booze trade, after all, has been very good to Nucky Thompson. But as with Pharaohs of old, Nucky’s about to discover that his whisky empire is as vulnerable as a pyramid built on the shifting sands of the Jersey Shore.
At the party, Nucky makes a big announcement to his ‘business associates’ that he will now only be making a single delivery to Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) and everyone else will have to deal with Rothstein. This would seem like a sensible move for everyone but unfortunately for Nucky, not everyone at the table is a sensible man. We’re introduced to Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), hot-headed Sicilian gangster from New York. Actually, to call him ‘hot-headed’ would be somewhat of an understatement: just a few scenes earlier, his ability to take insult from the most innocuous of comments led him to kill a man who stopped on the road to help him with a flat tire. Naturally, he takes Nucky’s reluctance to sell to him directly as an egregious slight, setting off a chain of events that will lead to Gyp become the season’s big villain.
Boardwalk’s creators, led by former Sopranos writer Terence Winter, had a big task ahead of them coming into the third season. After the exciting events of the Season 2 finale, fans were wondering many things: what year would Season 3 take place in? How were they going to fill the void left by the death of a major character? How were they going to accommodate the ever-expanding cast of characters while staying true to history?
The number of regular locations has expanded and we see many series regulars in new circumstances. Nucky’s ex-mentor The Commodore has passed, leaving his home to be turned into a pretentious cathouse run by Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol). She has apparently taken disfigured war veteran -and fan favourite- Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) on as a nanny to her orphaned grandson. Chalky White (Michael K Williams) remains on the radar, though distinctly off in the periphery. Having killed his own partner, super-intense former prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden has fled to Chicago and is living under an assumed name with his delightful Norwegian wife. Al Capone is also back in Chicago and itching for a turf way – what do you reckon the chances are that the two of them will cross paths?
The Van Alden, Chalky White and Richard Harrow stories are all kind of extraneous to the main story; one could argue that the writers have kept these characters on without knowing how to incorporate them into the rest of the show. But thankfully they did, as their scenes are some of the best of the season, providing some much needed relief from the backstabbing and chicanery taking place in Jersey.Margaret Thompson (Kelly Macdonald) also features in a plotline that’s somewhat divorced from the bootlegging part of the narrative. Her plan to build a women’s clinic is met with resistance by the hospital’s deeply catholic administrators. As we are to learn, even rich women get the short end of the stick in a world full with powerful men. This is a story arc we wouldn’t see in any other crime show and it brings a lot of nuance and shade to Boardwalk’s awfully patriarchal world.
As always, we see our fair share of historical figures wade on screen this season. From members of the notoriously corrupt Harding presidential administration to nefarious gangsters like Joe Masseria and Dean O’Banion, the writers have managed to seamlessly weave actual gangster mythology into their own wider story arcs. For maximum enjoyment, you should really avoid looking up the characters on Wikipedia – that is, unless you want to be supplied with all sorts of spoilers.
If there’s one thing that distinguishes season three from the previous two, it’s this greater sense of momentum that they’re able to build up over the twelve episodes. There’s no longer this anxiety that we’re waiting for something awesome to happen; that history is hamstringing the show’s potential. While the quality of the episodes has always been at an incredibly high level, there’s now an added sense of urgency that has positioned Boardwalk as a rival to Breaking Bad in the ‘ohmygod what just happened?!’ stakes. And now that the writers and actors have had two years to fully understand the characters, minor players like Nucky’s lieutenant Mickey Doyle have started taking on new dimensions – he might seem like a complete buffoon to the outside world but he’s a crafty guy with a great survival instinct.
In a time when American cable channels like HBO and AMC are producing some of the finest television shows ever made, Boardwalk Empire has carved itself a niche as an exciting period drama with an unmatched level of detail. From the gorgeous sets and costumes to their choice selection of period music, everything about the show drips with style. Even Downton Abbey cannot hope to keep up with the standard of production that goes into creating the glamour and grime of 1920s Atlantic City. The show won’t be back on our screens until later this year, so savour this amazing season if you haven’t watched it yet: you’re going to want more when it ends and the wait is almost unbearable.
LONDON – Film director, producer, food critic, insurance pitchman and general bon vivantMichael Winner has passed away at the age of 77, his wife has confirmed. While to many younger generations, he was the man from the car insurance ad who condescendingly told women to ‘calm down’, to film fans he will always be the director of classic B-Movies like Scorpio with Burt Lancaster and the Death Wish films starring Charles Bronson.
Despite their uber-right wing approach to crime, his films were incredibly influential to modern cinema and the entire revenge genre. One could argue that without Death Wish, there would be no Taken or Django Unchained. In later life, he became known for his ‘Winner’s Dinners’ column in The Sunday Times, which were often defined by his “challenging” restaurant reviews.
In respectful tribute to this left-field renaissance man, please enjoy this ancient internet meme based on a scene from Death Wish 2 in which Charles Bronson shoots Laurence Fishburne right through the boombox.
In the first historical example of a middle-aged man purchasing an expensive car that will prevent him from ever having sex again, a 56 year-old logistics company owner from Arizona has recently paid US$4.2 million (£2.6 million) for the original Batmobile from the 1960s television series, Batman. Having outbid numerous competitors for the exclusive right to give women ‘the creeps’ just by driving past them, new owner Rick Champagne told reporters: “I really liked Batman growing up and I came here with the intention of buying the car… [this is] a dream come true.”
A modified Lincoln Futura concept car, the real-life Batmobile does not boast many of the features as seen on the TV show starring Adam West. It does not come complete with Bat-tering Ram, Bat Smoke Screen, Emergency Bat-turn Lever, Bat Beam nor Batphone (although one could argue that mobile phones have rendered that last point moot).
On top of being a total turn-off for women aged 16-55, this motorised chastity belt is also incredibly dangerous to drive. With a curb weight of 4500 pounds, a 6.4 litre V8 engine, barbaric 1960s seat belts and rudimentary brakes, this car is lethal not only to mother Earth but also any driver foolish enough to buy it. On the bright side, road safety experts have suggested that Mr Champagne will die of embarrassment before he has any chance to accidentally plow into a bollard.
This isn’t the first time an iconic television car has gone up for sale: in 2007, one of the KITTs from Knight Rider was allegedly hawked for $150,000 by a man who spent ten years restoring it, presumably to the detriment of his personal life.
The CampaignHollywood’s High Sultans of Hilarity hit the campaign trail with this comedy set around a congressional race. Originally released in time for the 2012 Presidential Election, The Campaign sees Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as political opponents who are launched into a ridiculous game of one-upmanship. For anyone interested in a little nugget of trivia: director Jay Roach –best known for the Austin Powers series– also helmed the HBO movie Game Change about Sarah Palin and the ’08 election. So there’s a real political pedigree to all this comic japery!
Looper Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a point of appearing in a number of 2012’s most acclaimed films including this superlative sci-fi thriller. As a hit man charged with dispatching victims sent back from the future, JGL’s simple existence is wrecked when he’s faced with tracking down and killing his toughest target yet: himself (as played by Bruce Willis)! From writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick, Breaking Bad), Looper is possibly one of the smartest, most inventive genre films we’ve seen in years.
The Sweeney Uncle Ray takes on the part made famous by John Thaw in this modern re-invention of the iconic 70s cop show. London may have changed since the good ol’ days, but the city’s toughest cop hasn’t: with the help of his protégée (rapper Ben Drew) and a prehistoric moral compass, he’s out to stop a deadly gang of tea leaves [thieves]. Saucy crumpet du jourHayley Atwell also stars as a member of Winstone’s team while Homeland’sDamian Lewis pops his head in every now and again as the Flying Squad’s desk-bound Detective Chief Inspector. There’s a lot of top British talent on display in this supercharged action vehicle. Are you man enough to put your foot to the floor?
That’s My BoyThere are Adam Sandler films that are kind of suitable for family viewing but lord knows this is not one of them. Full of frat-boy humour of the highest (or lowest) calibre, this could be the bawdiest film Sandler’s ever made. As with many of his other self-written features, he plays an irresponsible man-child who has to do something to accrue a certain amount of money before an arbitrary deadline. In this film, he’s a burnt-out D-list celebrity who needs to patch things up with his estranged son (Andy Samberg) or else go to jail for some reason. There are plenty of gross-out gags and a gaggle of celebrity cameos, including a scene-stealing turn from Vanilla Ice!
Resident Evil: Retribution
The sixth film in the popular post-apocalyptic zombie series, Retribution sees the return of Resident Evil alumni Michelle Rodriguez and Sienna Guillory. Picking up where the previous entry left off, Eve (Milla Jovovich) is once again pitted against the Umbrella Corporation, an evil conglomerate responsible for the zombie-making t-Virus. But when an explosion knocks her out and she wakes up in a suburban home with a husband and a daughter, things start getting weird! By now, you should know not to expect an awful lot of wit or sophistication with a Resident Evil movie. But what you will get are sexy ladies, awesome fights and a lot of fast-moving zombies! Are you sold yet?
A brand new paranormal horror film from producer Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell), this suburban creeper sees divorcé Jeffrey Dean Morgan come into a whole world of fear when his daughter becomes possessed by a haunted box. It comes on the back of a whole load of demonic possession films, but Raimi’s pedigree in the genre should assure horror fans that this won’t be just your average Exorcist knock-off.
1. Breakfast Diner – Reservoir Dogs Quentin Tarantino must be riding on a high right now. After a week in which he’s seen Django Unchained become his most lucrative film, won a Golden Globe for writing the screenplay and laid the smack down on Krishnan Guru-Murthy, you would suspect that he’s pretty pleased with himself as a film-maker and an object of controversy. But it’s not like he’s ever had any trouble on those fronts.
From the release his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs, he’s always been recognised as one of America’s most importantcinematic voice. In fact, the very first scene opens up with Tarantino’s actual voice telling a group of men in a diner why Madonna’s Like a Virgin is all about penises. As his camera continually swoops around table, the conversation between these be-suited tough guys switches to tipping etiquette (Mr Pink is not a fan).
This seemingly trivial banter became the first of Tarantino’s trademarks, effortlessly establishing character in a way rarely seen on film. This style of dialogue has often been imitated by others, but rarely bettered.
2. “I shot Marvin in the face” – Pulp FictionPulp Fiction was only Tarantino’s second film, but it was the one that cemented his status as the coolest cat in Hollywood. It’s so positively full of memorable lines and characters that we had to limit ourselves to just picking three scenes. First of all is this unexpected shocker: after surviving a shootout on a routine pick-up, Jules and Vincent (Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta) get into a bit of a theological debate in the car. In the back seat, their informant is still pretty shaken up at having witnessed a bunch of murders. In fact, you could say that he was losing his head over it. [raises eyebrow and smirks]
3. Butch vs. Vincent Vega – Pulp FictionThe stars of the Look Who’s Talking movies unite on the screen for the first time in this brief scene. When boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) wins a match he was meant to throw, he incurs the wrath of Marcellus Wallace, a big-time mobster who had a lot of money riding on the fight. Against his better instincts, Butch heads back to his apartment to pick up his father’s watch, only to find something unexpected in the toilet.
4. How It Went Down – Jackie BrownConsidered by most to be Tarantino’s most mature film, Jackie Brown is also the only movie in his canon to be an adaptation of an existing story. Loosely based on Elmore Leonard’s crime novel Rum Punch, it sees Pam Grier’s titular air hostess running a scam that requires her to outsmart both the Feds and a pair of hardened criminals (Samuel L Jackson and Robert De Niro). In a virtuoso piece of scripting, Tarantino depicts the final hustle from multiple angles by replaying the con from the perspective of various characters.
5. Lend Me Your Ear – Reservoir Dogs After a jewel heist goes wrong, the gang reconvene at an abandoned warehouse where they arrive at the conclusion that there’s a police mole within their group. Luckily, Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) has brought a uniformed cop to the party: a poor family man who’s about to learn a thing or two about ‘advanced interrogation’.
Whenever Tarantino is accused of glorifying violence in his films (as he was in the Channel 4 interview), his critics usually zero-in on this particular scene as an example. When a group of teenagers in Liverpool tortured and killed another boy in 2009, reports suggested that they re-enacted this sequence at one point. Although it’s logically flawed to suggest that Reservoir Dogs drove these kids to commit murder, the incident does highlight how things that are cool in movies would often be horrifying if thought about in real life terms.
6. The Watch – Pulp Fiction As the Vietnam veteran Captain Koons, Christopher Walken turns up at the house of a young Butch Coolidge. He’s brought a watch that belonged to Butch’s father, a GI who died a POW camp. Returning the watch to the young boy, Cap. Koons tells him of the great pains taken to keep it safe from their captors. It’s a scene that only lasts a few minutes, but Walken’s unique delivery has turned it into a classic.
7. The Jew Hunter – Inglourious BasterdsIn his long-gestated WWII revenge fantasy, Tarantino created perhaps one his most intriguing characters in Col. Hans Landa of the SS (Christoph Waltz). A cultured man of many charms, he is multi-lingual and endlessly fascinated with American turns of phrase. In the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, he casually interrogates a French dairy farmer and puts to work his skills as the notorious ‘Jew Hunter’.
Waltz went on to win an Academy Award for this performance, leading on to a new career in Hollywood and his latest role in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
8. House of the Blue Leaves – Kill Bill: Vol. 1In an explicit homage to Shaw Brothers martial arts films and American exploitation cinema, Tarantino abandoned the intimate world of the Los Angeles criminal fraternity that played home to his early movies. Kill Bill Vol 1 was in many ways QT doing a big action picture — full of meticulously choreographed fights scenes and utilising entire oceans of fake blood. Ask people what the most memorable scene in Kill Bill is and 8 out of 10 cats will tell you that it’s this one: The Bride’s big massacre at The House of the Blue Leaves.
9. Across 110th Street – Jackie BrownAs a writer and director, Tarantino is many things: a film historian capable of finding influence from decades of movies, a man with a golden ear for great soundtracks and a writer of cool and unique dialogue. But the one thing he has never been accused of is being sentimental in any way. Most of his protagonists tend to tough guys or in the case of Kill Bill, a ruthless woman who might as well be one of the boys. But in the character of Jackie Brown, he managed to find a different dimension to his writing by tapping into a middle-aged air hostess caught in the middle of a dangerous game played by powerful men.
In the film’s final movement, Jackie has beaten Ordell and the Feds and she’s escaped with all the money. At this point, all that’s left for her is to go and get her man (Robert Forster’s hangdog bail bondsman, Max Cherry). But after the briefest of kisses, she disappears into the sunset with Bobby Womack playing the car stereo.
This shot directly riffs on the ending of 1967’s The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross escape from her wedding and run on to the back of a bus only find their elation slowly erode into uncertainly. (In fact, Jackie Brown’s title sequence is also an homage to the Graduate’s first scene) In the last shot of Tarantino’s film, we focus on Pam Greer’s face as she starts to fight back the tears. For QT, it’s a rare emotional moment and the perfect ending to an incredible movie.
10. Parlour Games – Inglourious Basterds In perhaps the best standalone scene of the film, we see Michael Fassbender’s British spy Archie Hicox and German ‘Basterd’ Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) attend a rendezvous with fellow spy Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), a famous German film actress. What was intended as a simple meet-up in a French tavern turns into a right saga when the drinking hole turns out to be packed German soldiers. It’s an incredibly tense sequence that ranks as one of the best spy scenes of all time.
Four Rooms: Back when Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino were riding a high as the kings of independent cinema, they devised this 4-part anthology film starring Tim Roth as an overwhelmed bell hop in a hotel full of weirdos. Tarantino’s segment is perhaps the strongest of the four segments but it suffers from a grating performance by the director himself. Also, the entire premise of the scene is an open rip-off/homage to an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, so it can’t really claim any points on originality.
Death Proof: The only comprehensively bad film in Tarantino’s canon. Some people disagree but they are wrong: it is utter rubbish.
With the cinematic release of Django Unchained (out in cinemas now), Tarantino has been receiving some of his career’s best critical notices. Were we to re-write this feature next week, we wouldn’t bet against there being a few big changes. He’s mentioned in interviews that he intends to retire from directing before he ages into irrelevancy but for the sake of cinephiles across the world, let’s hope he has at least another decade in him.
Nobody expected 2009′s RED to have been such a big hit. After all, conventional Hollywood wisdom suggests that nothing drives audiences away from cinemas more than films about old people: they bum people out because they are a constant reminder or death. For example, did you know that Bruce Willis will actually die one day? That’s right: it is inevitable that John McClane will end up in a pine box being pushed into an incinerator — and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So why don’t we appreciate our aging film stars while we may by watching this trailer to RED 2, a sequel that sees Bruce Willis‘ retired CIA operative on the wrong side of an assassination order.
But you’re probably thinking “Hey! This is a sequel: there better be some new Welsh characters to fill the void left by Morgan Freeman‘s death in the last movie.” You will not be disappointed! Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sir Anthony Hopkins are jumping headfirst into the fray, with one or both of them probably playing villains! After seeing this trailer, we are cautiously optimistic about this OAP actioner.
Film fans everywhere should prepare themselves for this treat. In this newly released clip from her upcoming contemporary noir film The Canyons, Lindsay Lohan spends about two minutes fruitlessly searching for her mobile phone. But just as you think nothing is going to happen in this sub-Lynchian nightmare of domestic mundanity… something happens!
First of all, why is she holding the telephone to her ear when she should be listening out for the ringtone? And secondly, why does this movie look so cheap?
We know that movies are made on tiny budgets these days, but even consumer cameras can get better image quality than this! The production looks like it belongs to a medium-to-high budget porno flick — which is an interesting segue in to this fact: her co-lead is an actual porn actor by the name of James Deen, who is making his mainstream debut in this film.
In fact, every piece of key talent in this film seems ill suited for a latter-day Lindsay Lohan vehicle. Behind the camera is director Paul Schrader, perhaps best known for writing Taxi Driver and Raging Bull for Martin Scorsese. On script duties is Bret Easton Ellis, the American novelist of the late 80s, whose books include American Psycho, Rules of Attraction and Next to Zero. Ellis is quite a vocal fan of the Fifty Shades books, so the fact that the aggressive male character in his script is named Christian only lends an extra dimension of intrigue. Respected director Gus van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting) appears as a psychiatrist in a rare on-screen performance, perhaps doing Schrader a solid favour.
The New York Times recently published a pretty lengthy set report detailing an troubled shoot: the old-before-her-time starlet seemed to turn up late almost every day and any filming had to be accommodated around power struggles between Lohan and Schrader. On one occasion, Lohan refused to come on set for a key sex scene that she had been aware of for weeks:
Another hour passed, and Lohan eventually moved to the bed but wouldn’t remove her robe. Schrader worried that the early-morning sunlight would begin streaming through the house. He thought of sending everyone home. But then he realized that there was one thing he hadn’t yet tried. He stripped off all of his clothes. Naked, he walked toward Lohan.
“Lins, I want you to be comfortable. C’mon, let’s do this.”
But then a funny thing happened. Lohan dropped her robe. Schrader shouted action, and they filmed the scene in one 14-minute take. About halfway through, Lohan looked directly into the camera and flashed a dirty, demented smile at Schrader. He smiled back.