When you’re dealing with a character that’s bigger than life, who do you get to play him? In the case of HBO’s biopic of legendary music producer Phil Spector, they were always going to need to a big presence to play the lead character. And when you think of Hollywood stars, there’s no-one who can act larger than Al Pacino.
In this first trailer, we lawyer Helen Mirren summoned into Spector’s mansion in a short sequence that’s supposed to mirror Dracula, with Pacino playing a charming, eccentric monster of sorts. There are shots of Pacino exploding in rage, bits where he’s whispering loudly into Mirren’s ear. There’s even a moment in the middle where he almost literally thinks out loud. Despite being in his 70s, he’s still ready and willing to pull out some Scarface-sized performances.
Remember when Pacino was known as the quiet, introspective star of the Godfather and Serpico?
But this grandiosity could very well be what the project needs. Writer/director David Mamet is best known for muscular and eminently quotable works like Glengarry Glen Ross and The Untouchables and HBO isn’t in the business of commissioning crappy shows based on juicy celebrity gossip stories. Assuming that they all know what they’re doing, perhaps the story is best served by having all the Pacino levels turned up to 10 and pushed through a reverb filter.
With only a few weeks to go before the Academy Awards kicks off in Hollywood, this year’s nominees gathered this Monday at the Beverley Hilton Hotel for their annual luncheon. A traditional event in which actors and directors are intentionally mixed in with make-up artists and cameramen, it’s usually a genial affair that caps off with a ‘class photo’, in which we get the rare opportunity to take in all of the nominees in a single picture.
In fact, according to reports, Tommy Lee Jones was quite the social butterfly, spending at least ten minutes talking to each person at the event. “He was really nice, asking me about my family and such,” commented Costume Design nominee Jacqueline Durran. “But then, twenty minutes later, he came up and introduced himself again. But this time, he was wearing a different suit and had grown a moustache.”
She added: “It was really strange but he was awfully nice to ask about my family again.”
After the event, Jones was cornered by journalists who demanded answers to the rumours that he had been participating in an illegal government cloning programme. He declined to comment and was quickly ushered into the back of a black SUV by his publicist, Tommy Lee Jones.
The 85th Academy Awards will take place on
Sunday February 24th in Hollywood California
The week, Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl releases his first film as director and naturally, he’s make a film about rock n roll. More specifically, he’s crafted an impeccable and humorous portrait of a recording studio.
As studios go, the titular Sound City doesn’t have the immediate cultural cache as Abbey Road or Sun Studios but as we soon discover, there’s a lot of history in these walls. This dusty facility in the insalubrious San Fernando valley was the birthplace of records made by artists the likes of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana and Tom Petty. But instead of focusing exclusively on the history and the music, Grohl focuses on the dying art of analogue recording.
In particular, this could very well mark the first time that a mixing board has been a main character in a film: the reverence in which everyone speaks of this console makes it sound like a beloved uncle or the Dalai Lama. Everyone seems to long for the old days when making music wasn’t anywhere near as convenient or computer-driven.
Hearing these rock stars in their 40s and 50s complain about auto-tune and digital recordings can make them seem like bitter old rockers at times, but it’s impossible to resist the passion they all show for their craft — a passion you’d be hard-pressed to find from a band like… One Direction, say.
With contributions from luminaries like Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, The Pixies’ Frank Black and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, this is the ultimate insiders’ guide to the recording process. If you grew up listening to music in the 80s or 90s, you’ll almost certainly want to check out Sound City (now available at blinkbox).
Last night in New Orleans, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Fransisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl in not only the most watched sporting event in America, but also the biggest single television broadcast of the year. This has been the case for years. Even households that wouldn’t count themselves as aficionados of gridiron action tune in religiously, if only for one reason: the ads.
This might seem unfathomable to folks on this side of the pond who actually pay the government to not have to watch commercials but I guess American’s really love to be told what to buy. Reaching an audience of over 100 million, the ad spots are very pricey: if you wanted to get your 30 second promo shown once during the game this year, you’d have shelled out £2 million.
So naturally, all advertisers put a lot of cash into those 30 seconds spaces, creating incredibly expensive ads featuring celebrities, silly gags, tear-jerking horses and outdated memes. In America, the water cooler chat after Super Bowl Sunday is more likely to involve the ads than the game itself (which, in case you’re wondering, was an absolute thriller).
Among all the adverts shilling Hyundais and beers and whatnot, film studios also take the opportunity to tease their big summer releases and this year was no exception. Let’s take a look at the biggest trailers from last night’s game:
Iron Man 3
In an unexpected play, Marvel dispensed with the usual strategy of cramming in as many quick cuts as they can into 30 seconds. Instead, they previewed a sequence that sees Iron Man struggling to save a bunch of people falling from the sky. Robert Downey Jr? Check. Cool special effects? Check. Exploding plane? Check.
This long-awaiting zombie epic sees average family man Brad Pitt (yeah, right) have to save his family from the oncoming zom-pocalypse. It seems a bit weird that Glasgow’s George Square is doubling for New York City but I guess it’s not uncommon to see hoards of violent, malnourished bodies shambling through a Scottish city on a Saturday night. Or a Friday night. Or a Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday etc… Boom! Take that, Scotland!
Also, you may have spotted an exploding plane in the trailer. That’s 3 for 3 now.
Given an opportunity to sell this Star Trek sequel to the average Joe Six-Pack in America, Paramount has released their most Cumberbatchy trailer to date. Along with his voice-over, we get to see him punching, running, glowering and crashing a spaceship (read: plane) into an city! Another exploding plane!
To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: what’s the deal with all the exploding airplanes? It would seem that every film this year has a scene in which people are sucked out of fuselage or engulfed in a fireball. Could it be a conspiracy led by studio bosses to devalue United Airline stock? When they buy up controlling interest for a fraction of the actual price, they’ll release that movie they’ve been secretly making about a talking A380 who loves democracy, reinvigorating the peoples’ trust in airplanes.
Anyway, what did you make of the trailers? Is the summer season going to be gangbusters or simply full of bluster?
Hey film fans! It’s Monday again, which means it’s new release day! We’ve got a strong mix this week of action blockbuster, acclaimed indie comic-dramas and a couple of flat-out comedies. Right at the top of the list, it’s the world’s most justifiable overprotective father in…
Taken 2 Liam Neeson returns as the man with ‘a particular set of skills’ in the sequel to 2008’s unexpected hit Taken. Set largely in Istanbul, Neeson quickly finds himself in trouble when Albanian gangsters decide to take revenge on him for all that killing he did in the first movie. This time, both he and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) get taken and it’s up to their daughter to find a way to help them! Needless to say, Neeson ends up killing a lot of bad guys again. At this rate, by the time Taken 8 comes out, Albania will be nothing but a nation of widows.
Anna KareninaDirector Joe Wright has gone back and done another one of his literary adaptations. This time, he’s tackling nothing less than Leo Tolstoy’s Russian epic. Keira Knightley takes on the title role as an aristocratic socialite who embarks on a torrid affair with a wealthy count (Aaron Johnson), much to the consternation of her husband (Jude Law, sporting a baldy-man haircut). It’s a lustrous production that’s packed with theatrical flourishes and some of Britain’s finest performers, including Olivia Williams and Emily Watson.
Hotel Transylvania Adam Sandler leads this animated family flick from director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory) and co-written by Peter Baynham (Borat, TV’s BrassEye). In this world, Dracula runs a hotel where monsters and ghouls can check in and kick back, safe from human civilisation. But when his guesthouse is discovered by a lost tourist (Andy Samberg), the good natured vampire has to bend over backwards just to keep him a secret. It’s the second film this year with That’s My Boy co-stars Sandler and Samberg, though we suspect that Hotel Transylvania won’t have as many references to incest and statutory rape.
The Three Stooges
Conventional wisdom would suggest that The Farrelly Brothers (Dumb and Dumber) aren’t doing themselves any favours by taking on the most beloved comedy acts of all time. Bringing the Stooges’ slapstick style into a modern setting would seem like a dunderheaded mistake, but there’s a strange charm to this shambling, episodic comedy. Will & Grace’sSean Hayes seems like a strange pick for Larry [the red-haired one] but relative unknown actor Will Sasso steals the show with his solid take on Curly [the fat one]. This film will go down as more of an oddity than a classic, but it’s definitely worth a punt if you’re curious.
And speaking of kooky girls with a knack for reinvigorating introspective men… this week also sees the release of Ruby Sparks! The long-awaited follow up from the husband-wife duo that directed Little Miss Sunshine, this independent comedy-drama features Paul Dano as a young novelist who falls in love with one of his fictional creations. When that character comes to life in the form of Manic Pixie Dream Girl Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the script), Dano thinks he’s going mad. And he’s probably right. Fictional characters cannot come to life: it is impossible… unless you are insane.
The Noel Clarke media empire stretches its tendrils out into romantic comedy territory with this wedding movie he co-wrote about a couple who have to endure plenty of hilarious mishaps on the eve of their wedding. Pitched as Adulthood meets Bridesmaids, it will probably feature a scene in which Clarke ponders the futility of street violence before voiding his bowels into a sink.
This is a talking animal movie in which adorable mutt Gabe plays cupid when he goes to all lengths to hook his owner up with a beautiful neighbour. It’s a pretty harmless family film that will appeal to children who love puppies, by which we mean all children. The only worrisome element of the films is that Gabe refers to his owner as ‘master’, which isn’t really a term anyone uses anymore. It’s as though the dog were some sort of matchmaking slave.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost
In this feature length animated prequel to the hit game Mass Effect 3, Freddie Prinze Jr reprises his role as James Vega, an elite space marine who leads his Special Forces squad into battle against a mysterious alien threat called The Collectors. We only wish there were more movies based on supporting characters from video games. We would love to see a 90 minute spin-off starring Polari the Luma from Super Mario Galaxy. Or perhaps one of the pesky mallards from Duck Hunt.
Anyway, this time round, he plays a prominent supporting role as a man recently released from prison, whose wife (Rooney Mara) starts to take an experimental course of drugs. When she wakes from a bout of sleepwalking to find a dead body in her flat, the question is raised whether her doctor (Jude Law) is responsible for the death or if she had committed the murder intentionally.
Soderbergh has occasionally directed duds but those films tend to be his more experimental projects, not ones where he’s working with a cast of this calibre. He’s threatened retirement on numerous occasions but with his recent track record, we reckon he’s got at least a few more years left in him.
In the run up to this year’s academy awards, Hollywood studios and PR agencies have quickly realised that social media has become a vital apart of any campaign, be it for president or for the Oscars. The ability to engage directly with Academy voters can now turn the tide in a year where there is no clear front-runner for Best Picture. While certain film makers and stars have ignored the sign o’ the times and refused to host even a facebook page, Austrian auteur and two-time Palm d’Or winner Michael Haneke has developed somewhat of a following on Twitter*.
For someone who’s 70 years old he’s remarkably savvy with technology, often tweeting up to ten times a day. Naturally, there are the obligatory tweets plugging his latest film Amour but by and large, Haneke’s uses the micro-blogging service to air out his personal thoughts. For a man who’s been notoriously cryptic during interviews in the past, it’s amazing to see how he’s now so willing to express his opinions. He loves Sex and the City, he adores his farting cats and he rarely misses an opportunity to stick it to Ben Affleck or his pal Terrence Malick.
In just a few short months, he’s acquired over 20,000 followers, including celebrities like Brett Ratner, Ellen Page and Russell Crowe. That’s not bad for an arthouse director!