Apr 01 2014

A ‘Girls’ Guide to New York TV Locations

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 6:00 am

Girls-title
It’s a bit of an understatement to say that New York’s one of the world’s great cities. Home to over 8 million people, it’s a cultural melting pot that’s home to some of the world’s most glamorous celebrities as well as some of the America’s most disadvantaged.

It’s a city of crime and culture; high art and mass marketing. It’s such a fascinating landscape that it’s no wonder so many shows are set in New York, even when production costs force most of them to be shot in cheaper cities.

With this week’s launch of Girls Season 3, we’re touring the New York locations that our favourite TV characters call home.

2 Broke Girls - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
two-broke-girls
Known as one of America’s hipster Meccas, Williamsburg has long been a hub for the arts thanks to its large, former industrial spaces and low rent costs. However, that has long since been the case. Since the 90s, rapid gentrification has forced the living costs up, resulting in the stereotype of young, affluent residents in tight jeans and affected eyeglasses who like the idea of ‘slumming it’.

Struggling waitresses Max and Caroline live in a suitably dilapidated ground-floor apartment somewhere in Williamsburg. When they’re not working for tips in a nearby diner with their stereotype immigrant colleagues, they can be found in this squalid hole. It’s from this very flat that they build their dream of running a cupcake shop (in a neighbourhood that already has at least three dedicated cupcake shops).

Girls: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Girls
Set and shot in this neighbourhood overlooking the East River, Girls has done a lot to shine a light on Greenpoint. Seen by some as a slightly more affordable version of Williamsburg, the area was re-zoned by the Mayor’s office in 2005. Where a hundred years ago there were pencil factories and shipyards, there’s now a wealth of boutiques, bakeries and indie record labels.

If you want to walk a day in Hannah’s shoes (or neon yellow string vest), you could do a lot worse than heading over to Brooklyn and cracking open a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Friends: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Friends
Much has already been made about the fact that Monica would never have been able to afford her palatial apartment in Greenwich Village with her chef’s salary. Throughout the seasons, it was eventually revealed that the building benefitted from New York’s famously vague ‘rent control’ scheme. As she’s admitted, her low rent also relies on the landlord believing she’s an 80 year-old woman.

30 Rock: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown
30-Rock
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and the show-within-a-show TGS with Tracy Jordan are based out of the GE building, home to the real-life National Broadcasting Corporation. Fey based the show on her experiences as the head writer of Saturday Night Live, which itself is broadcast live from the 8th floor of this 70-story skyscraper.

If you ever find yourself in New York, take a pass on going up the Empire State Building. Instead, go to the Top of the Rock at the GE Building for perhaps the most stunning views of Manhattan (including a direct line of sight to the Empire State). NBC also run regular tours of their facilities during the day, led by Kenneth’s real-life counterparts.

Person of Interest: East 30th and Lexington, Midtown
Person-of-Interest2
Secretive billionaire Harold Finch once built a machine that watches everybody in America. Using some sophisticated techno-magic, it can predict murders before they even happen. Assumed dead by the government, Finch now runs a modern A-Team with the help of former special ops bad-ass Jim Caviezel. Using details fed to them by the machine, they run around New York saving lives.

Because Finch exists off the grid, he must base his operations out of a secret location. Somewhere really discreet like in an ostentatious former design school off Park Avenue in Midtown (see map below)

Mad Men: Time-Life Building, Midtown
Mad-Men
When the advertising firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce set up shop, the senior partners knew that they had to make an impact with their offices. So what better choice of location than the Time-Life Building in New York’s iconic Rockefeller Centre? By basing themselves a block away from Madison Avenue (and the rest of their competition), the folks at SCDP established themselves as a firm that was willing to think outside the box.

As the building’s name suggests, it’s also home to the offices of the prestigious magazines Time and Life.

Flight of the Conchords: Two Bridges, Lower Manhattan
Flight-of-the-Conchords
New Zealand’s 4th most popular guitar-based novelty duo and recent transplants found themselves living in this Manhattan neighbourhood. Named for the fact that it’s enclosed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, it has traditionally been populated by immigrant communities (hence the number of shop signs in Chinese).

As portrayed in the show, the New Zealand consulate (where Murray works) is just located a few blocks away in the same neighbourhood. In reality, the actual Kiwi consulate is located in Midtown, near Grand Central Station.

Seinfeld: Upper Manhattan
Seinfeld
Struggling stand-up Jerry seems to be doing pretty well for himself, considering the size of the apartment he’s scored in a rather expensive part of town. Over Seinfeld’s 9 year run, the characters would often find themselves in Monk’s Diner. In fact, the exterior shot used in almost every episode is of Tom’s Restaurant, a Greek deli located near Columbia University’s campus in Upper Manhattan.

Sex and the City: East Village
Sex-and-the-City
Newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw can be occasionally found in a one bedroom flat at 66 Perry Street. It’s a nice one-bedroom deal in the West Village where a gal-about-town can comfortably punch her personal exploits into an Apple Powerbook. Like Monica’s flat from Friends, it’s also rent controlled so she’s getting it for a song. Which is all well and good, seeing as how she dumps her entire disposable income at Bergdorff’s department store.

The current owners of this brownstone property are somewhat protective of it. A chain and sign discourages tourists from sitting on the stoop while Google StreetView has blurred-out the entire house to stop online rubberneckers from looking at it.

Louie: Greenwich Village
Louie
Few TV shows manage to showcase a city in the way that Louis CK’s self-titled programme does. In many ways based on his own life, Louie makes the most of its New York setting, filming some of the most evocative and romantic scenes of New York since Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Whether it’s a romantic interlude show on the High Line Park or a diner where Louie’s having pancakes with his young daughters, each scene is packed with enough loving detail of the city to make you homesick for a place you’ve never been.

Perhaps the show’s most iconic location is the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, which even turns up in the title sequence every week. An intimate club where you can watch genuine comedy stars working through new material every night, it plays host to most of the stand-up scenes in Louie.

Here is a map, plotting out all of those locations.

Girls Season 3 is now available on blinkbox


Mar 31 2014

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Sylvester Stallone

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 1:00 pm

Stallone
This week’s new release Homefront (starring Jason Statham) was made from a script by the actor Sylvester Stallone. You might not remember that Sly’s first big break came when he wrote Rocky, the film that shot him to stardom. In fact, he was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 1977. He eventually lost out to Network‘s Paddy Chayefsky, a man considered one of the greatest screenwriters of all time.

To celebrate the release of Homefront and the diversity of his talents, here are 9 things you might not have known about Sylvester Stallone:

1. One of Stallone’s first film roles was as ‘Subway Thug #1′ in Woody Allen’s Bananas.


2. Stallone directed the sequel to Saturday Night Fever in 1983. After calling the shots on Rocky II and Rocky III, he was given the chance to helm the semi-forgotten Staying Alive.
staying-alive-tour-01-g

3. He has also dabbled in the fine arts since the 70s.
Stallone-Art-3
Stallone was recently invited to show his works at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg.

Stallone Art 2
In interviews he’s stated that his artistic influences include the late Francis Bacon.

Sylvester Stallone's art
While Degas had his ballerinas and Monet had his water lilies, the subject of Sylvester Stallone’s art seems to be ‘the actor Sylvester Stallone’.

4. In 2011, Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Stallone-Boxing-Hall-of-Fame

5. Before his big break, he starred in a soft-core adult film called Party at Kitty and Stud’s. He, of course, played the protagonist, Stud.
Stallone-Stud
After the success of Rocky, Playboy retitled the film ‘The Italian Stallion’ and released this (rather SFW) trailer. It even features some eerily familiar music.


6. For a period of three years in the 80s, he was married to his Rocky IV co-star Brigitte Nielsen. This union provided Celebrity Big Brother with its greatest ever moment in 2005, when Stallone’s mother Jackie was reunited with her former daughter-in-law.

7. Speaking of Big Brother, Sly’s younger sibling Frank is a professional musician.
Frank Stallone
Last December, he auctioned off the privilege of having him gate-crash your New Year’s Eve party (see above). Frank’s only Top 100 hit was 1983′s Far From Over. It featured on the soundtrack of Staying Alive, a film that was coincidentally directed by his big brother!

8. He briefly dipped his toe into the world of monthly periodicals as the publisher of Sly magazine.
sly-magazine
Its purview was to provide health tips and celebrity interviews to his core demographic of men over 40.

9. Stallone is  a prolific screenwriter.
Pens
On top of every single Rocky picture, he’s had screenplay credits on such eternal classics as Cliffhanger, Over the Top and Driven. As we may have mentioned already, he wrote the new Jason Statham action-thriller Homefront, which is out on blinkbox this very week!

Homefront is now available at blinkbox


Mar 31 2014

Hugh Jackman sings from ‘Wolverine the Musical’ on BBC Radio

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:55 am

Wolverine
We all know that Hugh Jackman is man of many talents. While he’s still best known for playing Wolverine in over five X-Men films, he’s probably just as notable as a performer of musical theatre. Not only did he join an all-star cast in the film of Les Misérables last year, he’s also won a Tony for Best Leading Performer in a Musical for The Boy from Oz.

So it should probably come as little surprise (but with much delight) that Jackman gamely performed a track from ‘Wolverine the Musical’ on BBC Radio 1. Well, it wasn’t so much an original work as it was a reworked version of ‘Who am I?’ from Les Miz. But here it is, captured on the Beeb’s webcam for everyone’s enjoyment:


(via BBC Radio 1)

Hugh Jackman’s latest (non-singing) role is in Prisoners

 


Mar 31 2014

Frozen, Carrie, Oldboy & Nebraska: New Releases Monday 31 March 2014

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 6:00 am

Frozen
Frozen
If you have a child under 13, you’ve already seen Frozen – perhaps more than once. But for the rest of you, let us fill you in.

Disney’s latest animated feature is a throwback to the good ol’ days of the early 90s. It’s a movie musical based on a fairy tale (the Snow Queen in this case) that has everything: princesses, cute animal sidekicks and impossibly catchy songs.

Bucking the current trend, Disney have wisely decided not to fill the voice cast with celebrities, instead choosing performers with Broadway pedigree: Idina Menzel (of Wicked and Rent), Josh Gad (from Book of Mormon) and Jonathan Groff (the New York production of Spring Awakening) are just the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re a grown-up without kids, rent Frozen and see what all the fuss is about.

If you do have small children, be sure to buy it: the little ones will want to play it on loop until you lose your damn mind.

Oldboy (Early Digital Release)
Oldboy
Josh Brolin is a just a regular guy like you and me, with a normal job and a kid. So when he’s suddenly kidnapped and held in a secret prison, he has no idea who’s behind it and why. Twenty years later, he’s released as suddenly as he was abducted. Back on the street, he’s only got one thing in mind: revenge.

Based on a revered Korean film of the same name, Oldboy is a hard-hitting thriller from director Spike Lee, who’s assembled one of the coolest supporting casts, with performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson and District 9’s Sharlto Copley.

It’s similar in a lot of ways to the original 2003 film, but there are enough new elements in Lee’s version to delight and shock even the most devoted Oldboy fan.

Homefront
Homefront
Jason Statham is a former drug cop and single father who moves to a sleepy town in Louisiana to better raise his daughter. But when you’re Jason Statham, keeping a low profile is rarely an option. Somehow, he gets tangled up with some local meth traffickers led by a skeezy James Franco and it soon looks like Statham’s going to have to lay down the law.

Apart from Franco, this standard plot is boosted by a more famous cast than you’d expect. If you ever wondered what Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth were up to, you’ll find the answer here!

Like in all of his films, it’s never explained why Statham’s character (a DEA agent) has an English accent but who cares? He never fails to be anything short of entertaining.

Carrie (New to Rent)
Carrie
Brian DePalma’s 1976 film of Stephen King’s debut novel is somewhat of a classic. Carrie White is a high school student who finds herself mercilessly bullied by the other kids at school. Her home life is hardly much better, as her puritanical mother convinces Carrie that her menses are a punishment from God.

But what the kids at school don’t know is that they really shouldn’t be messing with Carrie; not when she has the power to truly wreck stuff with her mind.

This new Carrie is a pretty close retread of the original, with the exception that new star Chloë Moretz doesn’t look like the dorky outcast in any school we’ve ever seen. Also, the climactic sequence in which Carrie exacts revenge on her town is a lot more gruesome and protracted, which is arguably an improvement.

Julianne Moore plays her mad mother in this new version and as always, she delivers on the goods.

Nebraska (Early Digital Release)
Nebraska
When 77 year-old Woody (Bruce Dern) gets a letter from a magazine company telling him that he’s won a million dollars, he seemingly accepts it at face value, despite the fact that we know those things are a scam. In the face of his exasperated family, he becomes determined to get to Nebraska and pick up his winnings, even if it means he has to walk all the way.

Eventually, his youngest son David (Will Forte) relents and offers to drive him there, though the pair of them make a long detour to the town they left decades ago. Through increasingly tense encounters with long-abandoned cousins and neighbours, David begins to learn more about the quiet father, as well as a thing or two about small town existence.

Director Alexander Payne (The Descendents) continues his unbroken run of Oscar-nominated films with this beautifully-shot and gently funny drama.

 Parkland (New to Rent)
Parkland
Set during that one fateful day in Dallas in 1963, Parkland takes a look at the Kennedy Assassination through the eyes of the people around him. From witnesses on the street and the medics on the scene to Vice-President Johnson and the head of Kennedy’s security detail, the events of that day are recreated with stunning detail. The ensemble cast includes Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton. This is a must-see for history enthusiasts and budding conspiracy theorists.

Dom Hemingway (New to Rent)
Dom-Hemingway
Jude Law plays the title character, a hard-living safecracker back on the streets after a 12 year stretch in prison. He kept his mouth shut to protect his old boss and now that he’s out, Dom is keen for compensation. With the help of his old mucker (Richard E Grant), he heads to the South of France to pick up his reward from their murderous old boss (Demián Bichir). Somewhere along the way, he discovers a need to seek out his estranged daughter (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke). This raucous film will easily appeal to anyone who’s a fan of British crime comedies like In Bruges and Snatch.

The Family (New to Rent)
The-Family
Robert De Niro is known for two things: starring in crime films like Goodfellas and appearing in comedies as an old grouch. This new film from writer/director Luc Besson (Leon) combines those two things into one neat package!

De Niro plays a Mafia boss whose family has been relocated to rural France as a part of the FBI’s witness protection program. His supervising agent (Tommy Lee Jones) has instructed him to keep a low profile, but as the old man said: you can take the man out of the mob, but you can’t take the mob out of the man.

Playing De Niro’s family is Michelle Pfeiffer and Glee’s Diana Agron.

Klown
Klown
Denmark has recently built itself a reputation for making dark adult dramas on television: shows like The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. Now with Klown, a film based on a TV programme of the same name, it’s obvious that the Danes have also got quite a perverse sense of humour. Alternative comedians Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen play fictionalised versions of themselves who seemingly spend their days pursuing adolescent pleasure in and around Copenhagen. Frank’s girlfriend thinks (correctly) that he’s irresponsible and not ready for a family. To prove her wrong, he abducts his 12-year old nephew and takes him along on his filthy lads’ holiday.

Heavily influenced by Curb Your Enthusiasm, Klown is close to being the dirtiest, most wrong-headed comedy ever. But it also happens to be the most hilariously laugh-out-loud films we’ve seen in years. No joke.

Television

Girls Season 3
Girls-Season-3
Wunderkind writer/director Lena Dunham returns with the acclaimed third series of Girls. At the end of last season, Adam and Hannah got back together while a lot of her other pals split from their boyfriends. Jessa’s dealing with some secret addiction issues; and Adam’s still a bit on the weird and unsociable side.

If you’ve never seen an episode of Girls, everything in the last paragraph will make no sense. But if you’re a fan of smart writing and you enjoy slightly cringey comedy, you should really go back and start from Season 1. You’re unlikely to find a better show about affluent young women in modern society.

Louis Theroux’s LA Stories (New Episodes)
Louis-Theroux
As Britain’s greatest observer of Americana since Alistair Cooke, Louis Theroux has spent the best part of his career diving into weird subcultures. And as it would happen, most of these weird people have tended to live in Southern California. In this new series, Louis has relocated to Los Angeles to examine local obsessions.

Over the course of these episodes, his subjects will range from dog-owners and sex-offenders to the comings and goings of LA’s most famous hospitals. These promise to be an entertaining, if sometimes uncomfortable look at the dark side of the City of Angels.

WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs
WWE-TLC
Is everybody ready for some wrasslin’?

WWE action is rarely more hardcore than in this collection of epic matches that feature folding tables, folding chairs and folding ladders. If it folds, it can be used as a weapon! These main events throw the spotlight on some of the biggest names in sports entertainment. Titans like John Cena, Randy Orton and CRM Punk.

This collection of hard-hitting matches will have you cowering in fear at the very sight of foldable furniture!

Also out on blinkbox:

Action: Getaway

Comedies: Better Living Through Chemistry and Powder Room

Horror: Outpost 3

Documentaries: The Green Planet, The Invisible War, and Teenage

Drama: A Long Way from Home

Drama-Thrillers: Wake in Fright (Warning, contains actual graphic footage of a kangaroo hunt)

Family Films: Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games, Daisy: A Hen into the Wild, and The Dog Who Saved Easter

 

For more of the latest Films and TV Shows, head over to blinkbox


Mar 28 2014

Gather ’round and watch the new trailer for The Purge: Anarchy

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:39 am


The Purge was one of last year’s biggest disappointments for us. It was set in a future dystopian America where all crime -including murder- is legalised for 12 hours each year. Citizen would lock themselves in, while the deviant members of society went and got all that looting and killing out of their systemrs

We felt so let down because it squandered such a great idea by turning itself into a basic home invasion movie with Ethan Hawke. The upcoming sequel, however, looks like the movie the original should have been.

From what we can gather, it’s about a grieving family man (Frank Grillo) who heads out to the purge with an eye on avenging his daughter’s death. But before he can get his Punisher act on, he reluctantly saves two young women from a paramilitary goon squad. This now puts them all in unfathomable danger.

The cast also includes Zach Gilford (from TV’s Friday Night Lights) and Michael K Williams, who will forever be Omar from The Wire.

The Purge: Anarchy is in cinemas 25 July 2014

 


Mar 28 2014

Win a £100 Tesco Voucher with our ‘Looking’ Competition

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 6:00 am

Looking-Competition
Looking is the acclaimed new show from HBO, who previously brought you the smash hits Sex and the City and Girls. Set in San Francisco, it focuses on three gay friends in their 30s as they explore the exciting, sometimes overwhelming, options available to a new generation of gay men.

The celebrate the launch of Season 1 on blinkbox, we want to give one of you the opportunity to host the perfect Looking viewing party in the comfort of your own home. For that to happen, you’re going to need some quality provisions. Armed with a £100 Tesco voucher, we’ll think you’ll be able to rustle up a decent spread.

Dom, one of the characters in Looking, is a wine waiter at fancy restaurant. So perhaps you should take this opportunity to treat your friends to a really nice bottle of wine. Something like this Bollinger Grande Année Vintage Champagne (retailing for £74.99 at Tesco.com).

You could alternatively spend it on a week’s worth of groceries for your family, but where’s the fun in that?

To stand a chance to win the £100 voucher, just answer this question about Looking:

The competition closes at 23:59 on Monday 31 March 2014.

Looking Season 1 is now available on blinkbox


Mar 27 2014

Cowabunga! It’s the First Trailer for the Michael Bay-ified Ninja Turtles Movie

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 4:29 pm

The long-gestating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles re-boot from producer Michael Bay has now got itself a trailer. And while you won’t be surprised to see some all-CGI turtle assassins, you’ll probably be shocked to see how much it looks like a Michael Bay joint.

After all, it has Transformers star Megan Fox as journalist April O’Neil as well as Bay regular Michael Fichtner playing some sort of shady corporate baddy (who may or may not be The Shredder). Plus, its total Bayification wouldn’t be complete without some collapsing skyscrapers!

Due to drop at the end of Summer, we can only hope that this Ninja Turtles movie will feature a timeless musical cameo from a certain beloved rapper

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in UK cinemas 17 October


Mar 26 2014

10 Great Debut Films from Actors-Turned-Directors

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:30 am

1. Robert Redford – Ordinary People (1980)
Ordinary-People
Robert Redford’s directorial career has largely been defined by a number of successful, though decidedly ‘safe’ pictures. Quiz Show, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Horse Whisperer are fine films, though hardly ones that would put him in the upper-echelons of directors. However, his greatest distinction came with his 1980 debut.

A domestic drama starring Donald Sutherland, Ordinary People provided one of the greatest Oscar upsets of all time, when Redford beat out Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull in both the Best Director and Best Picture Category.

2. Robert De Niro – A Bronx Tale (1993)
Bronx-Tale
De Niro is no stranger to New York crime stories, so it perhaps came as no surprise that his first film as a director would involve a couple of wise guys. Young Calogera (Lillo Brancato) is a kid growing up in the 1960s. Like Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas, he’s obsessed with the low level mobsters he sees on the streets every day.

When a local hood (Chazz Palmentieri) takes a shine to him, the boy finds himself pulled between his decent, straight-laced dad (De Niro) and this new potential father figure.

Despite his experience with Martin Scorsese, this first film by De Niro actually looks more like a Spike Lee film; the stylised POV shots and atmosphere of warm summery nostalgia evoke Do the Right Thing more than Taxi Driver.

De Niro has since only directed one other film: his 2006 history of the CIA, The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon.

3. Sarah Polley – Away from Her (2006)
Away-From-Her
As the least recognisable name on this list, Sarah Polley’s achievements are nonetheless pretty impressive. As an actress, you may remember her as the young girl from Terry Gilliam’s Baron Munchausen or as the lead in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. Although IMDb cites a 2002 film called All I Want for Christmas as her feature debut, her first significant work was this 2006 drama.

Based on a story by Alice Munro, it concerned a woman (Bridget Christie) suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and the affect her deteriorating condition has on her husband. For such a young director, Polley had an extraordinary control on the rather sensitive subject matter. She coaxed an Oscar-nominated performance from Christie and her film ended up on the year’s Top Ten list of many major critics.

Polley has since made the Michelle Williams/Seth Rogen drama Take This Waltz and an excellent documentary portrait of her own family, Stories We Tell.

4. Joseph Gordon Levitt – Don Jon (2013)
Don-Jon
Despite being just 33, Gordon-Levitt has already had over two decades experience in film and television (we all remember him as long-haired Tommy from Third Rock from the Sun). And having worked with such respected directors as Christopher Nolan, Gregg Araki and Rian Johnson, it was perhaps only a matter of time before he stepped behind the camera himself.

For his first outing as a writer-director, Gordon-Levitt plays a porn-addicted narcissist, which is just about the furthest you could get from a vanity project. It’s a funny and surprisingly touching film that shows a lot of potential from its blossoming auteur.

5. Orson Welles – Citizen Kane (1941)
Welles
Having revolutionised the New York theatre scene in his early twenties, Orson Welles would go on to have a similar effect on the world of cinema with his first film, Citizen Kane.

The grand story of a millionaire newspaper tycoon (Welles), the film employs a number of experimental techniques that were ahead of its time. The story was told through a fractured narrative that jumped between time periods: a structure that’s now commonplace in film. On the technical side, he and cinematographer Gregg Toland pioneered camera effects like deep focus, which allowed for a number of the film’s trademark shots that played with perspective.

Another detail you might not appreciate is that before Kane, you never saw any ceilings in movies. Because all films were shot on a set, you would have a load of lighting equipment and microphones hovering just above shot; Toland developed a way of building cloth ceilings that looked real, allowing the director to shoot Kane’s many low angle shots.

ceiling

Orson Welles would go on to direct a number of excellent films throughout his tumultuous career. But with his debut film hailed in lots of circles as ‘the greatest film ever made’, almost everything that followed was looked on as a disappointment in some respect.

Also consider this: Orson Welles was just 26 years old when he co-wrote, directed and starred in this movie. As debuts go, this is the one to beat.

6. Kenneth Branagh – Henry V (1991)
Henry-V
By 1989, Kenneth Branagh was already considered by many to be the Olivier of his generation. Following in his hero’s footsteps, Branagh’s first job as a filmmaker was to direct himself as the lead in Shakespeare’s Henry V. As with Olivier, this gritty and muddy take on the Battle of Agincourt earned him Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Director.

Branagh’s Henry V is almost a perfect blueprint for filming Shakespeare: his cast including a number of theatrical titans (think Paul Schofield, Ian Holm, Brian Blessed); his battle scenes were raw and energetic; and his soliloquies were rousing. Branagh’s own delivery of the St Crispin’s Day speech really is one for the ages.

Over the next twenty years, Branagh would go on to direct a number of vital Shakespeare adaptations, Marvel’s Thor and this year’s new Jack Ryan thriller.

7. Clint Eastwood – Play Misty for Me
Play-Misty
The director Clint Eastwood is in many ways just like Clint Eastwood the actor. They share a workman-like attitude to films that values simplicity and boldness over any sort of flashiness. Whether it’s his work in Westerns (High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josie Wales) or contemporary dramas (Mystic River), there’s an un-fussiness to the direction that’s distinctly Eastwood.

Having said that, his debut film Play Misty for Me is one of the most un-Eastwood films he’s ever made. He plays a late night radio DJ who gets himself into a world of trouble when goes to bed with his most devoted listener, played by Jessica Walters (Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth). It’s a real bunny-boiling thriller along the lines of Fatal Attraction and could be considered Eastwood’s only foray into horror.

Fun fact: Play Misty for Me was filmed in Eastwood’s home of Carmel, California. Being the towns’ favourite son, he was able shoot in local restaurants and at friends’ homes for a fraction of the usual cost.

8. Mel Gibson – The Man Without a Face
Man-Without-a-Face
Without trying to wade into some dangerous territory here, let us say this: it’s a crying shame that Mel Gibson has only four directing credits to his name. Of all the actors to win a Best Directing Oscar, his work on Braveheart has really held up over the years. The Passion of the Christ may not be to everyone’s tastes (with secular audiences seeing it as little more than a biblical snuff film) but 2006’s Apocalypto was a genuinely exciting and well-made chase movie. The only reason nobody saw it was because Gibson decided to film it in a Mayan dialect, as though it were his intention to alienate all mainstream audiences.

But let us back-peddle to his first film as director: a period drama in which he plays a reclusive, disfigured artist. It’s a modern reworking of the Frankenstein movies that sees Gibson’s character chased from town-to-town by local mobs who suspect he’s a pederast.

Who would have guessed that two decades later, life would mirror art when Mel Gibson found himself chased out of Hollywood over the not-so-small business of his anti-Semitic behaviour.

9. Jon Favreau – Made (2001)
Made
Before he was the guy responsible for summer blockbusters like Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens, Jon Favreau was best known as the writer and star of the 1996 indie comedy, Swingers.

For his first film as a writer/director, he reunited with his Swingers co-star Vince Vaughn for a story about two low level schmucks who are sent to New York to broker a money laundering deal with an East Coast mobster (P Diddy). It’s soon apparent that the pair of them are in over their heads; having seen all the gangster films ever made, they’re giddy at the prospect of becoming real tough-guys.

In this film, you see the sort of improv-heavy dialogue that would carry over to his later work on Elf and Iron Man. With camera work from Wong Kar-Wai’s maverick cinematographer Christopher Doyle, Made looks unusually quirky and experimental for a Vince Vaughn comedy. This came and went without a trace at the cinemas back in 2001 but if you’re a fan of Vaughn, this is a must-see.

10. Rob Reiner - This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Spinal-tap
Rob Reiner was born into showbiz. His father Carl was a writer on Sid Caeser’s Your Show of Shows before becoming famous for his collaborations with Steve Martin (The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid). Rob himself became a household staple with his role as ‘Meathead’ on the US television remake of Till Death Us Do Part.

In 1984 he directed his first film This Is Spinal Tap, a mockumentary (or, if you will, rockumentary) that is still considered to be one of the funniest comedies ever made. Relying on improvisation from its stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, This is Spinal Tap was a hilarious look at a washed-up British rock band on a dismal comeback tour of America.

While Guest would later refine the improvised film format as the director of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, Rob Reiner went on to develop a more eclectic palette. We’d argue that no director in history has had a better run than Reiner between the years of 1984 and 1992. During that time he made Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery and A Few Good Men: that’s six stone-cold classics in nine years.

Notable Omissions

Ralph Fiennes – Coriolanus

Tommy Lee Jones – The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

George Clooney – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Angelina Jolie – In the Land of Blood and Honey

Don Jon is now available to buy and rent


Mar 25 2014

These 8 Terrible Screen Mothers Will Make You Grateful For Your Mum

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 3:42 pm

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With Mothering Sunday quickly approaching, we thought it was about time we reflected on how much we owe to our dear mums. And what better way to put things in perspective than to take a look at some of the worst mothers in the history of film and television?

Once you’re done with these monstrous matriarchs, you’re going to feel a whole new sense of appreciation for your own mums. We assure you.

1. Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walters) from Arrested Development
Arrested-Development
The fabulously bitchy Lucille Bluth has an awful track record as a human being: she’s self-centred, alcoholic, casually racist and dismissively homophobic. On top of that, she’s also managed to raise four diversely broken children, ranging from the philandering illusionist G.O.B to the emotionally-awkward Michael.

Worst of all is hyper-dependent Buster (Tony Hale), a man-child whose crippling Oedipus complex has been brought on by years of being forced to attend annual Motherboy events.
motherboy

2. Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) from American Pie
American-Pie
We’re aware that being a single parent in suburban America can be quite a lonely existence. But the very fact that Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) turned into such a jerk must be in some part due to his mum’s lack of parenting skills. We’re not psychologists, but the ever-looming threat of your mother seducing your high school buddies can’t be good for a boy’s emotional development.

3. Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury) in The Manchurian Candidate
Manchurian-Candidate
Years before she played everybody’s favourite crime novelist/singing teapot, Angela Lansbury starred in this cold war thriller as a Communist agent who brainwashes her war hero son into murdering the US president.  Not only is she willing to sacrifice her son to Mother Russia, it’s also heavily implied that there’s some incest action going on between the two of them. Treasonous and gross!

Fast fact: Lansbury was only 36 years old when she starred in this film. That makes her just 3 years older than Laurence Harvey, who plays her son.

4. Margaret White (Piper Laurie) in Carrie
Carrie
The American public schooling system really failed this single mother. When her teenage daughter Carrie (Sissy Spacek) receives the first of her ‘monthly visitors’ at the age of 17, Margaret tells her that the bleeding is actually God’s punishment for her sins. She then traps poor Carrie in their home prayer closet and tells her to repent. Because theirs is the kind of overbearing home that has a tiny room with a giant statue of Jesus bleeding on the cross.

After that kind of abuse, can you blame Carrie for going postal at her senior prom?

5. Livia Soprano (Nancy Marchand) on The Sopranos
Sopranos
Spoilers ahoy! Few mothers who would be happy if their sons tried to put them in a care home for the elderly. Even fewer mothers would respond by trying to get their sons murdered, but that’s precisely what Livia Soprano did. By revealing to Uncle Junior that her son (and mob boss) Tony was seeing a psychiatrist, she tries to provoke him into having her baby boy whacked.

When that plot fails, she tries again for revenge by telling Artie Bucco that his pal Tony fire-bombed the hell out of his family restaurant (which he technically did), thinking that he’d put Tony on ice (which he almost does).

With family like this, who needs to worry about the Feds?

6. Kate McCallister (Catherine O’Hara) from Home Alone
Home-Alone
While Kevin’s mum might be the kindest, sweetest matriarch of this bunch, that doesn’t mean that she’s a responsible parent. Surely you can’t accidentally abandon your pre-teen son twice in the space of two years and not expect to hear from social services? Especially when that son end ups in a life-and-death struggle with criminals on both occasions.

Seriously… if Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) didn’t have the skills to build elaborate booby traps, Joe Pesci would definitely have murdered him on the streets of New York, right?

This lady really needs to get her act together.

7. ‘Joan Crawford’ (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest

This film based on the memoirs of Joan Crawford’s daughter did not paint the Hollywood star in a very flattering light. As played by the excellent Faye Dunaway, she’s a short-tempered, OCD-afflicted homemaker who constantly belittled and abused her daughter. She can’t stand messiness or insolence; but above all, she cannot abide wire hangers.

8. Mrs Lift (Anne Ramsay) from Throw Momma from the Train

Taking a cue from Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, hen-pecked Owen (Danny de Vito) hatches a half-baked plan to off his own mother, whom he lives with. And why not? She’s a shrieking harpy who constantly berates and belittles him. Without her around, there’d be nothing to stop him from making friends and having a life of his own!

What other baaad muthas from film and TV would you like to put in Room 101? Let us know in the comments below.

For more cinematic mothers, both good and bad, head over to our Movie Mums Collection


Mar 24 2014

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ gets a Star-Filled Poster and Trailer

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 3:57 pm

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There are seemingly fewer and fewer summer blockbusters these days that aren’t based on Marvel Comics but let us not forget about the franchise that arguably started it all.

Director Bryan Singer, who was responsible for igniting the comic book film with his first two X-Men films is back with X-Men: Days of Future Past. And judging by everything we’ve seen so far, it will be the most epic entry yet. Combining the casts of the original X-Men films and X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past is certainly the most star-laden action film of recent memory.

Just take a look at the new trailer:

You have veteran Shakespearean actors/Twitter besties Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart; two of the most impressive young actresses in Ellen Page and Jennifer Lawrence; and Michael Fassbender, who’s fresh from the award-winning 12 Years a Slave.

Plus there’s James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman and Oscar-winner Halle Berry!

How can you possibly fit so many stars onto one poster? Just like this:

X-Men-Poster

It’s a suitably epic poster, even if it looks a little familiar:

Marvel-Posters

Let it be known that from this moment in time, all Marvel posters must feature lots of characters superimposed over each other, with flying things streaking across clouds behind them. Also, if something could be on fire in the background, that would certainly be nice.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is in cinemas 22 May