Saturday, 29 August 2009

NOWAYSIS: BAD NEWS FOR FANS

Just learned that Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis, declaring he's unable to continue working with his brother, Liam. It remains to be seen whether this really is the end, so we'll just have to hope that things work out.
Here's a clip of classic Oasis, as a small tribute to a band who consistently delivered.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

ONE FOR YOU BEATLES FANS

Recently received an email revealing the choice of the closing night film at this year's London Film Festival.

The Closing Night Gala of The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival will be the World Premiere of Ecosse Films' Nowhere Boy, the highly anticipated debut feature from British artist Sam Taylor-Wood.

Imagine John Lennon's childhood... Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John. Mimi, the buttoned-up aunt who raised him and Julia, the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into rock n' roll. His fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the teenage Paul McCartney. Just as John begins his new life, tragedy strikes. But a resilient young man finds his voice - and an icon explodes into the world.

Nowhere Boy is written by Matt Greenhalgh (Control) and stars newcomer Aaron Johnson as John Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas as Lennon's Aunt Mimi, and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother Julia. They are joined by Thomas Brodie Sangster playing the young Paul McCartney and newcomer Sam Bell as George Harrison alongside a strong supporting cast that includes David Morrissey and David Threlfall. The film was produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae for Ecosse Films and Kevin Loader, with cinematography from Seamus McGarvey.

Nowhere Boy is an Ecosse Films production in association with Film4, the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund, NorthWest Vision and Media, Lip Sync Productions and Aver Media. The script was developed with the support of the UK Film Council's Development Fund and Icon Film Distribution will release the film in the UK on 26 December 2009. HanWay Films are selling international rights and The Weinstein Company have US rights.

Sandra Hebron, the Festival's Artistic Director comments: "We're delighted to be closing our festival with the world premiere of this first feature by Sam Taylor Wood, who brings her customary sensitivity and visual flair to this story of the formative years of one of the UK's cultural icons. Less a biopic and more a love-story, Nowhere Boy is as accomplished as it is moving, and will ensure the festival ends on a high note."

On having her film invited to close the London Film Festival, Sam Taylor-Wood comments: "For the past year I have lived and breathed this film. It's been one of the most transforming experiences of my life. For Nowhere Boy to chosen to close the London Film Festival, in a city I grew up in and which continues to inspire me is truly amazing."

The full programme for The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival will be announced at the Press Launch on Wednesday 9 September. The Opening Night film is the previously announced World Premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The full programme for The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival will be announced at the Press Launch on Wednesday 9 September. The Festival runs from 14-29 October 2009.

Friday, 21 August 2009

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND



999 were one of my favourite punk bands. Remember seeing them at the Birmingham Odeon in the 70s when they were down to support The Runaways. On that particular evening, England was in the grip of rolling power cuts and Birmingham was expected to have its power cut off from 9.00pm that very evening. So, The Runaways elected to take the stage first with the aim of playing their full set, leaving 999 to run the risk of not being able to play. Happily, the blackout didn't happen and 999 delivered a real stormer of a gig.

The above video was shot at a 999 gig at London's Clarendon Hall in 1984. I think it provides a great indication of how good they were. I hope you enjoy it. Don't forget to check back next Friday for another musical clip.

Friday, 14 August 2009

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND



A little musical something for the weekend. I'll be doing this every Friday, so don't forget to stop by. My first offering is a classic anthem from Oasis.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: BLOOD SIMPLE


It happened one night in 1983. The usual selection of pre-main feature trailers; a guy digging a grave in a field illuminated by headlights; a private investigator blowing smoke rings while spinning a tale of marital infidelity…
Three minutes worth of clips promising murder, intrigue and betrayal. This was my first introduction to the world of the Coen Bros. One week later, I was back to view BLOOD SIMPLE – their debut feature and, possibly, still their finest hour-and-36.

Here, classic film noir pitches camp in a Texas populated by self-serving characters who guarantee that, whoever comes out on top, good will not triumph! Bar owner Ray (Dan Hedeya) hires private eye Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to procure photographic evidence of his wife’s affair. Marty (John Getz), a barkeep at Ray’s saloon, becomes one of the targets in a planned double-murder (“I’ve got a job for you. It’s not strictly legal”), but things do not go according to plan as a series of twists and double crosses deliver a white-hot thriller. Abby (Frances McDormand) takes over from her husband and her illicit lover during a terrific final quarter, full of suspense, bloodletting and a tense bout of gunplay which may prompt you to do Dirty Harry-style math on the way to the most wonderful closing line of dialogue and a reprise of the wholly appropriate Four Tops classic.

For a debut feature, this a remarkably assured work, adding some nice comedic touches (Visser’s one-liners, a bungled wife-snatch that anticipates FARGO) to a storyline full of surprises. Quite simply, it’s a joy to see the cast discover information we are already privy to, and then pull the rug from under our feet as Visser moves one step forward and two steps back. Walsh is disgustingly fine as the sleaze-riddled detective, and ably supported by the intense Hedeya (just as scary then as in his memorable turn in MULLHOLLAND DRIVE, some 19 years later) and McDormand who also made her screen debut here, along with her director.

Universal’s DVD presents BLOOD SIMPLE in its original 1.85:1 ratio, with a nice clean transfer doing full justice to Barry Sonnenfeld’s photography. The presence of an audio commentary track should have served to heighten our knowledge and appreciation of this film but Kenneth Loring (of Forever Young films, apparently) had other ideas. As a send-up on commentaries, Loring is perhaps funny for around five minutes but quickly becomes tedious and remains so (“You may be getting a little bit tired of this lighter by now”). I’m sure folks who spent their hard-earned on this disc would have loved to hear the Coens talk about script development, problems encountered getting their film from story to shooting and casting choices. A pompous viewpoint? Maybe, but surely this film deserves better?

UK CINEMA ADMISSIONS UP


Despite this awful recession, UK cinema admissions reached 83.4 million in the first half of 2009; an increase of 14.8% when compared to the same period last year.
Although we're currently unable to afford to visit our local cinema, we're pleased to see that cinema-going is holding up so well and often cast an envious eye towards Derby's Quad cinema. During the course of this month, film buffs have a chance to see Von Trier's controversial ANTI CHRIST, Almodovar's BROKEN EMBRACES, Claire Denis' 35 SHOTS OF RUM, Duncan Jones' MOON, COCO BEFORE CHANEL, MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT, Coffin Joe's EMBODIMENT OF EVIL and check out the following special screenings: THIS SPORTING LIFE, BARBARELLA, VERTIGO and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S.

If you live within affordable reach of a good cinema complex, you don't know how lucky you are. Please support it if you're able to.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

WATCHMEN ON BLU.



I've never been a fan of graphic novels. No real reason for this. Just something I've never took the time to get into. Happily, this situation changed a couple of months ago when I finally decided it was way past time to check out the 'Gone With The Wind Of Graphics'.
My interest was sparked by a trailer for Zack Snyder's feature film, so a quick purchase on eBay's home shopping site and a copy of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' revered book was soon nestling on my lap. To say I was blown away would be an understatement! This alternate history 'lesson' - full of costumed vigilantes and extreme social and political turmoil - WATCHMEN proved to be the most engrossing page-turner I'd encountered in many a long day.
I'd been unable to catch a theatrical screening of Snyder's film, and eagerly awaited the DVD release which, in the UK, turned out to be the version seen at cinemas.News soon came through that the US would be getting Snyder's director's cut, and the Blu-ray would not be region-locked.

Running at 3 hours 6 minutes (some 24 mins longer than the theatrical cut), Watchmen is, in my eyes at least, an absolute triumph.
Here, characters are brought to life by several excellent performances, caught in an intoxicating mix of past, present and future.
Moore & Gibbons' dark world sees President Nixon serving a fourth term of office in a world where costumed crime fighters are outlawed by the Keene act and the tragic figure of Dr. Manhattan who finally abandons humanity. From the opening demise of 'The Joker' and wonderful opening credits sequence, through to the final line of dialogue, WATCHMEN had me gripped and left me regretting I'd missed those theatrical screenings.

Warner Bros Blu-ray contains 3 discs, with one disc full of extras and a digital copy of the film. Picture quality is hard to fault, with nice inky blacks, excellent shadow detail and striking skin tones, with only the blue glow of Dr. Manhattan exhibiting issues.
Snyder's Maximum Movie Mode (found on disc one) will surely be well received by fans of this film, revealing two screens in between Snyder who delivers a ton of information, backed by storyboards, comparison of scenes to comic book panels and behind the scenes info.
Fans will already be aware of the forthcoming 5 disc version, due in December. This will contain the film with TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER woven in; over 2 hours of bonus footage including Hollis Mason's TELL ALL UNDER THE HOOD; commentary by Dave Gibbons and Zack Snyder and The Complete Watchmen Motion Comics.
Put me down for one of those!

AWAYDAYS: DON'T MISS THIS STOP



Unable to get to the cinema for this one, but AWAYDAYS will be out on DVD 28th September. CONTROL meets THIS IS ENGLAND! Looks and sounds like a good 'un.