Tag Archives: movies

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‘Contagion’ – movie review

I really wanted to go and see this movie when it was released in UK theatres last October. I missed and so thought I’d wait until the DVD release.  Glad I missed that too.  I saw it today via online rental and, well, was left feeling more than a little underwhelmed.

The film headlines a stellar cast – Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwynneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet.  Just not quite making it to the acting front row, though she puts in a good performance is Jennifer Ehle who shot to fame opposite Colin Firth in ‘Pride & Prejudice’.  Be prepared for a shock right at the outset because within the first 5 minutes of the film one of these 7 is dead and another of them is not going to make it through.  Oh the suspense.  Any film that is able to field such a line-up of well-known actors is bound to grab attention and so it got mine at the time I used to pass the  ad posters on the London Underground on the weekday commute. Obviously not attention-grabbing enough to make me want to pay a trip to the cinema.

The film is described as a ‘thriller’. It’s not a gory horror nor a conventional disaster flick. The storyline is nothing that has not been done many times before – massive new disease pandemic appears out of nowhere, starts spreading like wildfire and killing millions around the world while a handful of brave scientists desperately look for an antidote.  Running amok among the scientists is freelance journalist and global Blogger played by Jude Law who suspects there is more about the outbreak than meets the eye with some suspected naughty goings-on among the world’s pharmaceutical companies.

There are several inter-connecting plotlines to follow through the movie and that is the problem with having so many lead characters – each plot is not fully developed or concluded to the viewer’s satisfaction.    The film’s tag line is ‘Contagion – nothing spreads like fear’. That really is what the film seeks to address – not so much the horrors of the outbreak and the efforts to counter it but what happens to human society when a greater and more destructive ‘contagion’ is unleashed –  fear and panic.  Noble thought only the film doesn’t really address it  at least not in a way I felt able to connect with it despite the newscasts along the way ratcheting up the global body count into many millions.   I wasn’t at any time through the movie challenged to ask myself what would I do if I were caught up in the same events.  There are irritating and distracting sub-plots like Matt Damon’s hormonal daughter that should never have made it out of the cutting room. I would more have liked tro know whether the doctor in China made it back to save the village of kids, please.

So to the acting.  I’ve never been a great fan of Matt Damon’s acting ability and this did nothing to change my mind. Stiff and wooden and Gwynnie, well….does a Gwynnie (though not for very long mind, though her gruesome performance is less painful than that infamous Oscar acceptance speech). For the 3 lead Brits (Winslet, Law and Ehle), a key demand throughout is putting on convincing foreign accents – American for Kate and Jennifer and Aussie for Jude.  All seem to pull it off rather convincingly, though as I’m neither American or Aussie I guess I can be no judge.  Jude Law gets my vote for the best overall performance.   It’s not really one of those films that inspires award-winning acting.

All in all, I found the temptation to look at my watch to see time passing was just about manageable – just.  It could have done with being 15 minutes or so shorter, especially when the makers had no intention of tying off all the loose ends. If you happen to scroll through the ‘Film 4’  channel schedule and see this movie there, it might be worth setting the record button  to watch when there’s nothing better on.

View trailer here

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‘The Lion Awakes’: ‘meeting’ the Producer…

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

 

As part of my job I have had the privilege to have worked with some film distributors and theatre promoters on a number of entertainment promotions we have run at the radio station.   We don’t do as many of these as I’d like, but then we are sensitive to the likes and dislikes of our audience and not everything would be suitable.  We’ve worked with the likes of Icon Films, Pathe, Disney, Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox on the film side and in theatre with The Globe, the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Stage Entertainment.  In all cases so far, I’ve really only got involved after the film has been produced and is ready for release and then only working with the distributors and promoters.   I’ve never had dealings with a movie in the early stages of production…until now.

I’ve written three posts already (see links below) that explain how I came into contact with an intriguing new project coming through and via the mysterious combination of this blog and social media managed to discover that a movie called ‘The Lion Awakes’ is about to go into production.   If all goes well, it’s due for global release in early 2013.  Again, I’ve written about the plot and storyline as I understand it in earlier posts.

My research into the film and who is behind it eventually lead me to make contact with the Executive Producer himself via Facebook.  From my office I emailed him.  A few minutes later my phone rang.   It was a long distance call from Australia and it was the guy.

We’ve spoken a couple of times now and are in almost daily email contact.  Each time I hear from him he updates me on a little more of their progress. Though I have worked on the promotion side of films before, it is not my sole area of expertise and in fact I still feel I hardly understand the industry at all.   All of a sudden I’m hearing this guy talking to me about Associate Producers, film Attorneys, screenplays, ‘kickstart’ campaigns… I’m in no position to make a call on whether this project is just a day-dream someone is trying to make happen or whether I will one day be sat in a cinema as the opening credits roll thinking back to writing these very words now.  However, the more this guy tells me about the film and the more names he throws into the conversations, the more I get a sense that this project has some momentum behind it.

There is so much already in place that appears to give it the legs to run the distance.  For a start, they have a winning subject matter – a biopic on the lives of two of the greatest authors in British literature – C S Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia and more) and JRR Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings…).    They have an authentic screenplay co-written by two men who are leading experts on both the authors who are central to the story.   Not only that, but the script has been read and has the approval C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham.  If that wasn’t enough, the script also has the eye of a former Head of BAFTA.

The Executive Producer guy explained that in order for a potential film to get noticed and funded, it needs to attract and engage a credible film Director and he is wanting an ‘A-Lister’. To do this, apparently, you need a top-notch Lawyer in the field.  One has been appointed – a chap called Paul Renney who filled a similar role that got some other obscure film project noticed: ‘The King’s Speech’.   Mr Renney is now on the case to find and appoint the Director and the Casting Director.  Oh, and on that point, among the ‘talent’ they are approaching for the role of ‘Jack’ Lewis is Jude Law and Perri Snowdon (pictured).    They are even looking further ahead at potential film distributors mentioning Momentum Pictures in the UK (who also distributed ‘The King’s Speech’ here) and the Weinstein Company for the international release (who have just handled ‘The Artist’).   As for whether the film has got its full funding yet remains unclear though for legal reasons the guy was not able to discuss that part of things yet, but he did say that they were making plans to start filming at Oxford University toward the Summer.

At the radio station, we’ve heavily promoted two of the adaptations of C S Lewis’ eternally popular ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ books: ‘Prince Caspian’ and ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’.   Both Lewis and the Chronicles are immensely popular with our family audience.   Yesterday I posted up a teaser on our company Facebook page that drew one of the biggest recent reactions to a post.  As far as they are concerned, they think a new film out of one of the books is floating around.  They have no idea yet that this film will be about the man who created Narnia itself and not just him but about the great impact the creator of ‘Middle Earth’ had on him and the legacy their friendship has left that has touched millions and millions all over the world.

Our audience will only be in the dark a little while longer.  We have an exclusive interview with the Executive Producer lined up very soon and I shall leave him to spill the beans.

Related:

I have written a number of articles on the movie now. To find all related posts, please visit the Home page and scroll down to the ‘tag cloud’ on the right of screen and then click on ‘Narnia’.

 

 

 

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The Lion awoke: Narnia film company makes contact

I got some new insights to the movie-in-production (‘The Lion Awakes’).  I only discovered this project after wondering why people from America were finding my one and only post on the ‘Narnia’ movies that I sent online last November.

After I looked into it a little more, I discovered Jude Law was currently under consideration for one of the lead roles so I posted an update on that too.

So then a guy who knows one of the co-writers of the new movie got in touch via this blog to make me aware of interviews he had done with the movie’s writers.  You can listen to the interviews with them here and here.

In my post ‘The Lion Awakes’ I did question whether the movie would ever be destined for showing outside the US if it ever gets into production. On the film’s official Facebook page tonight they made a reassuring comment aimed at non-US followers that the film is being aimed at an international release.  It would be nice to think they had read my blog and taken my thoughts into consideration eh?  Wishful thinking….but then how did this guy who knows the scriptwriter pick up on my Blog?   That’s the wonder of social media I’m still discovering.  Anyway, I posted back to them on Facebook…and they messaged me to get in contact with them.

How very interesting.

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

Related:

To find my other posts on the movie, please visit my Home page and the scroll down to the ‘tag cloud’ and click on ‘Narnia’

 

 

 

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‘The Lion Awakes’ – movie in production?

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

I’ve been wondering why the rumoured end of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ movie franchise last November has suddenly gone to the top of the ‘most popular’ blogs read on this site and stayed there for a couple of weeks. As I’ve looked through the stats reports, it seems that this particular blog has been turning up in search engines when people are browsing for information on ‘Narnia’. How odd. Has there been an about turn that I don’t know about and the next Narnia film has actually gone into production? Well yes…and no. It looks like C.S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ and JRR Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ are about to fuse together on a big screen near you in 2013. Possibly. Sort of….

‘The Lion Awakes’ is a new movie from Three Agree Studios that is going into production at the moment and is due for release sometime in 2013. Interesting that the internet movie database – IMDb – makes no mention of the film as at today’s date. My investigations as to why people were searching on’ Narnia’ and finding my blog led me back to the Narniafans.com website and there I got news of the new film. My excitement (being a fan of the books and movies) kind of died down at that point. If this film was coming into being then it may well be one the many that is made in America for America that may never see the light of day anywhere else. My interest was reawakened again today when the studio announced that they are currently in discussion with actor Jude Law for the role of C S Lewis. He’s no bit part actor  and film credits include The Talented Mr Ripley, Gattaca and The Holiday. Maybe they are lining up an international release for this one?

The film will be an historical drama based on real life about the friendship between two of the greatest writers of their genre in the English language – CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Set during World War 2 as Nazi bombs are falling on London, Lewis is miles away from danger at Oxford University where he is a Professor. A former atheist now turned to faith, Lewis is caught up in his own internal and intellectual war of exploring and defending his faith against marching, rampant Atheism in British society. Apart from his brother, it would appear that his close friend and fellow lecturer, Tolkien, became the most influential person in his life as he struggles between his childhood love of myth and his adult love of faith. With Britain facing its greatest hour of need, the BBC call up ‘Jack’ Lewis to make a radio broadcast to a desperate nation: will the British Lion of courage once more roar? The Lion – the key character that appears through all the Narnia stories that he would later create – was not yet fully formed in Lewis’ thinking as he battles his doubts with his faith. It is Tolkien who is key in forcing his friend to challenge his doubts and so eventually become one of the most influential authors on the Christian walk this country has ever produced.

Post-script:  I am now in direct and regular contact with the Executive Producer of the film and am closely following its progress.  I will post updates here as and when I have them and the media organisation I work for is also engaged with the film and I shall post links to all related contact on our website as and when they become available.

To find my other posts on the movie, please go to my Home page and type ‘Narnia’ into the search box or use the ‘tag cloud’.

 

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Troll Hunter – movie review

I’ve just watched the movie ‘Troll Hunter’. This one was out in theatres on a limited release in the UK in September 2011 and has just been released on DVD/Blu-ray.  From the marketing both the theatrical and the DVD enjoyed (at least here in London), you might have thought this was more of a blockbuster.   It’s not that bad.  Hear me out.

The theatrical release made around $4m globally, so very, very modest, but then…hey…when was the last time you went to the cineplex to see a movie in Norwegian?  Rest assured, with the DVD you get to pick whether you watch it in Norwegian with English subtitles or watch it with English voice-over.  I hate voice-over dubbing so opted for the Norwegian.

OK, it does help to know a little about Norse mythology before the film starts, at least I think so. Not knowing any won’t stop you engaging with it if you are partial to ‘creature feature’ movies as I am, but it might help to explain some of the things the Norwegian film makers take as a given.

“Fee!   Fie!  Fo! Fum!   I smell the blood of a Christian man!  Be he alive or be he dead…I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”   Familiar words spoken by Pantomime baddies (usually giants or ogres).  There are variants of this fairytale verse that use the words ‘blood of and Englishman’ (as Panto tends to stick with these days) or ‘the blood of a Christian man’ as in records dating from 1889.  In this film, it’s definitely the blood of the Christian man that the Trolls find more to their taste.

(pictured: Trold, der vejrer kristenblod – ‘The Troll That Smells Christian Blood’ sculpture by Niel Hansen Jacobsen in Copenhagen).

The other thing that might be helpful as a precursor to the film is to get a handle on who Trolls are in Norse mythology.  In the UK, I’ve generally only come across Trolls in two contexts. Those infernally irritating and ugly dolls, usually hung on a key-ring with luminous pink, green or blue hair that young girls do or used to have a weird fixation with.  The only other Troll I know of is the internet kind that inhabit web chat rooms and forums plotting menace as their poor excuse for a lack of (real) social life.    Trolls are not little toys with luminous hair to the Scandinavians. They are an ancient collective ‘Bogie Man’ that have historically played on the minds of successive generations of northern people who lived much of their lives finding solace and safe refuge from the dual demons of the Winter and the Dark. Tales of evil, man-eating trollic ghoulishness have been used to scare naughty young Vikings into being good for eons.  They are not particularly intelligent.They are tough, rough,  terrifyingly ugly with vomit that can melt metal. They eat anything from rocks and trees to bones and human flesh and if hacked apart, they can regenerate. Bwah  har  har!!!

The film is billed in its publicity as the best monster/creature flick since ‘Jurassic Park’.  Stay on that trend of thought and you won’t be too disappointed because ‘Alien’ it isn’t. It’s kind of ‘Cloverfield meets Jurassic Park meets Crocodile Hunter’.  The story follows a group of students aiming to make a documentary about a seemingly eccentric bear hunter (supposedly) in the Norwegian wilds who they think may know a secret or two. Much of the film is therefore filmed through the eye and shaky lens lens of the kids a la ‘Cloverfield’ or ‘Blair Witch’.  After dogging him and making a thorough nuisance of themselves, he eventually takes them along to witness his secret life hunting the creatures he knows are only too real while his compatriots have simply consigned them to legend and fairy tale.   We viewers pretty much journey with the kids the rest of the way on their eerie and fatal forray of into the realm of the Trolls.

I must admit that listening to the film in Norwegian with English subtitles took a lot less getting used to than trying to forget that that one of the students looks the spitting image of Declan Donnelly (Ant & Dec) and I was waiting for his other half, Anthony McPartlin to rip his Troll mask off any moment shouting “gotcha!”.

In all….it was OK and I kind of liked it but that’s not necessarily a recommend for other viewers.  I do tend to like strange films like this, though I like them a bit more full of suspense and to be spookier and more gory. There are some Jim Henderson (The Muppets) moments and a bit of Jurassic Park ‘OMG…the ground is shaking and what’s that huge growling thing chomping up the trees over there in the pitch black coming toward us and we’ve no place to run’ suspense and some tongue-in-cheek humour.  Be careful when you choose to take a sip of your beverage or you might be caught unaware by lines like “Run!   It’s a Tosser lad!”.   It’s not a bad watch but probably not a permanent addition to your viewing collection.  You can either pay £15 or so to buy from HMV as I did…or you can buy it, then Google it and find you can rent and view it online for £3 and feel a bit sick.

View the trailer here.