Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Torrent of Trailers

Sorry. Way behind on trailers. It's like they had a sudden convention at the weekend, or something. Let's get cracking.


New horror from A Tale of Two Sisters and The Good, The Bad, The Weird director Jee-woon Kim. Out April 29.


Rose Byrne gets spooked in this new one from the creators of Paranormal Activity. Out May 6.


Woody Allen's new one - this time the subject is Paris. Owen Wilson is exactly the same. Premieres at Cannes in May.


Oh YES, sometimes a film just comes along that has culturemouse written all over it. Australian cinema! Emily Browning! Gone wrong fairytale! Jane Campion! Also out at Cannes.


The new Lars Von Trier (Antichrist, Dancer In The Dark) film that everyone and their goose is talking about. Will it fuck you up or is this the most accessible the director has ever been? Out July 1.


A girl's relationship with a boy over the Internet turns into something much more sinister in David Schwimmer's Trust, out July 22.


Someone I don't care about, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy choose another bad script I have to sit through. The torment is from August 12.


I'm a bit obsessed with the teaser trailer for The Woman In Black - and it's not out until Halloween! It just looks so dramatic. I kind of want to read the book before the film's out (as I do most things) but on this occasion... I want to be scared!


"Juno as reimagined by David Lynch" with Kat Dennings? Hello! No release date for this as yet, sob sob.


And finally the Hesher trailer, which looks all kinds of insane. Again no release date, but it's only just coming out in the States after premiering at Sundance last year. Nerdy Natalie!


Monday, 18 April 2011

FILM REVIEW: SCRE4M


I never eat popcorn in the cinema. I'm more of a Ben and Jerry's girl (sundae if it's a Natalie film) or pick'n'mix (bought outside the cinema's extortionate stand). But on Saturday night when a group of us went to see Scre4m, we got popcorn. Toffee, of course. Why? Scream is the ultimate horror flick popcorn on a Saturday night franchise: you get to jump out of your seat (flailing popcorn, obviously) at exactly the right moments, giggle at the self-referential/meta/popculture tidbits, watch goggle eyed as the girl runs away from Ghostface (a wise man once said "you might as well lock all the doors, go upstairs, and TAKE A SHOWER.") and then once it's all finished, bounce out of the cinema with a big smile on your face, not having had as much fun in forever. Scre4m - yes, I'm spelling it right - is pure cinema heaven.

Watch out, mind your way - spoilers ahead for sure.

On the upteenth anniversary of the Woodsboro murders (the stalked'n'slashed from the original Scream) and it seems, the DVD release of Stab 7, old-hand survivor Sidney returns to her home town to promote her new self-help drivel novel. She is reunited with old friends (Deputy Dewey, now Sheriff, and his wife Gail, now retired from prime time news and trying to become an author of best sellers), family (Auntie Kate and cousin Jill) and, as luck would have it!, old foes as a new Ghostface killer is in town and starts slicing and dicing the town's youngsters, be it hot busty blondes, closet nerds or the annoying publicist. Then the phone calls start: the killer knows Sidney and all she's been through, and wants to put an end to her tormented life once and for all...

I had no expectations coming into this, other than please be better than the god awful mess of Scream 3. The reviews were beginning to trickle in (previews had been limited to prolong the suspense of who the new killer is) and they weren't all good, although strangely places like the Guardian gave it three stars which made me question what taste the critics had. Clearly it was never going to surpass the original, and the (IMO) superior sequel, but as long as there was a point to it, and it was clever and inventive, I would be happy. And about four minutes in, this was already my favourite film of the year so far. BECAUSE THESE TWO GET HORRIBLY MURDERED:



Talk about pop the champagne, send the parade out - this is the best time I've had in the cinema EVER! I've never been so defiantly pleased in all my days. If only everything that happened on the screen was real, and these two were no longer alive to return to their original shows... [/fantasy]

I thought the beginning was helluv fun, cleverly subverting what you think you've been watching into random scenes you can't quite believe make up a whole film in themselves! When we finally made it to Scre4m it felt like the sequence had run out of steam a little bit, although I did like the cheeky nod to Rose McGowan getting chopped up by the garage door, only for Ghostface to crunch the new victim's back a little before dragging her back, rolling her over, and then getting stabby-stabby happy. 

The rest of the film then flew by with angsty bored moments from the tweens avec snappy dialogue which was oh-so Kevin Williamson; touching scenes hinting at a bigger emotional arc for the original characters, and then lots of tense, bloody but thoroughly entertaining death scenes, including by far my favourite - death by letterbox! YES.

There had been a lot of rumours flying around that one of the main three were going to 'gank' it in this outing - hot tip being Courtney Cox's character Gail, who I thought was written and played brilliantly: the frustration of not being able to help or report on the new murders, and also finding herself in a world where handheld cameras are pushed aside by flashy new webcams. I definitely thought she was a goner in the haystack scene, but of course, her injury served a greater purpose later on in the film. I thought the character development was brilliant actually - even though I'm not particularly fond of Sidney, Dewey or Gail, we know them so well having been through the exact same trauma with them many times and their behaviour is so intrinsic and consistent that you naturally find yourself becoming interested in their lives - was there a romantic undertone to Dewey and Sidney's conversations or am I being too much of a  Screek?

Warmly welcomed the new characters as well, even though they couldn't stick around for long. Hayden Pannacotta (stealing this from a friend!) was actually enjoyable to watch as the slightly edgy but secret film buff Kirby - the scene where she rattles off every single horror remake was indeed genius as Wes Craven pointed out; Marley Shelton (who I got very confused with Heather Graham, who stars in the original 'Stab' film) was fun as the smitten deputy officer, as were the double act of cops Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody; Alison Brie was a delight as the bitchy, no morals/ethics/manners publicist  ("IT'S TRUDY FROM MAD MEN!" I cooed.)

I called Rory Culkin as the killer from the first trailer (it's so blatantly obvious) but I always forget these films work as a two-some and the hubby to be called the second killer halfway through the film: Emma Roberts' character Jill. I was genuinely impressed by Emma Roberts in this. I've only ever seen her do silly girly films (like Wild Child!) so found the reveal - even though we'd guessed it - highly satisfying, and her performance thereafter was just fabulous. SHE WAS SO MENTAL, I LOVED IT! Now whenever I get slightly peeved I'm going to tell the person next to me: "would you like me to scratch my own face, pull out my hair, stab myself with a knife, run into a painting and then throw myself backwards into a glass coffee table?" She was so methodical, and actually a complete maniac with the cutthroat ability to shoot/stab someone mid sentence. Her motive was also believable, and tied in very well with the modernista language, props and context Scre4m played into. It was only the ending at the hospital which brought things down a notch or two for me: she had been so careful and cunning all the way through, but when she realises Sidney made it out alive she goes batshit crazy and starts throwing her about the ward room. How is no one going to notice that?! Although eventual death by defibrillator - awesome cakes.

Not gonna tell you to go out and see it after reading this review coz I've just ruined the whole thing for you - ha! But just want to reiterate what a return to form this film is, and even though there were no expectations, what a pleasant surprise it was. I'll be raving about Scre4m and its ability to reign supreme of the teen horror genre for some time. And yes - Courtney Cox is turning into Janice Dickinson. It's not just you.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

US PILOTS 2011: ALL THE REST




 

And now a round up of other US networks of note to see what they're proposing for the 2011/2 season. There's not a huge amount worth getting excited about, but sometimes you can't tell what's going to be your next favourite show, so best to cover them all - just in case. You'll notice that AMC is missing - this is because the channel held a 'bake off' several weeks ago: some odd Americanism for pitting a collection of new TV ideas (six to be precise) together with the aim of taking three of them on for further development, and to make a pilot. But even though the results of this were supposed to be announced last week (hence me leaving this as late as possible) they still haven't announced anything. So until further notice, AMC is just boring this year, yeah?

American Horror Story (FX)
Tell me now: can't tell you much, I'm afraid - the plot is very hush hush, but it centres around a couple moving into a new home in San Francisco which is supposedly haunted.
And who's in it: Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Denis O'Hare (True Blood) and Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Big Fish)
Should I care?: well, I'm always intrigued by a new horror, especially one that focuses on the supernatural rather than vampires, zombies or witches, and American Horror Story adds itself to the growing number of spooky pilots this year. But this one has me particularly interested because it's created by Ryan Murphy, he of the singing banshee club we care not to mention here on culturemouse. I prefer to think of him as the man behind Popular and Nip/Tuck, two brilliant shows I have been addicted to in the past. Murphy played scary very well during the Carver storyline on the plastic surgery show, so now he has a whole series to play with the genre I can't wait to see the results.

Whales (Showtime)
Tell me now: a group of young, eccentric, brilliant people move to Las Vegas to live in a luxury apartment in the hope of winning a $10 million poker prize.
And who's in it: still in the very early stages of development so no-one's been cast yet.
Should I care?: it's being billed as a half hour comedy, and also comes from the producer of Weeds, so ordinarily, no, not something to be that bothered by. But there's something about the premise that has stuck with me, and so that's why I'm including it in my picks - a lot will depend on who is cast as the genius college graduates, 'cos if they get that right and manage to construct a story along the way I think this could be fascinating. And no, I don't have the first clue about poker!

Imboycrazy (Showtime)
Tell me now: a girl trying to find love in Los Angeles, one guy at a time.
And who's in it: Alexi Wasser (Dirt, and the soon to be HBO show I've been talking about, Girls)
Should I care?: wellllllllllllllll. The boys reading can look away now, is all I'm saying. From the title you can see it's not going to be the most substantial of TV commitments - in fact it sort of reminds me of Clarissa Explains It All (you know, the girl who used her window as her front door) and My So Called Life but obviously a more updated version. What intrigues me is the route this took to the TV screen: from a blog written by Alexi Wasser about her own life. So it's a reality show, but it looks like it may be scripted, and it's being classed as 'comedy' so who knows how this could turn out. The only indication we have is from the videos posted by Wasser to 'promote' the blog (which has over 1000 followers) - is this what it will be like (she's kind of annoying)?



Generations (TNT)
Tell me now: following three generations of a Southern family living in the same house, spanning across several decades.
And who's in it: again, no cast yet as this has just been greenlighted.
Should I care?: well, it depends on how soapy it's going to get, doesn't it? The show will be produced by Robert Redford (pictured) who as well as being a celebrated actor also gave the world Sundance, so he's not exactly a person to ignore. The show is getting a lot of comparisons to a 2008 programme called The Oaks which was given a pilot by Fox, but never picked up - it was exactly the same premise, but the house was haunted. I'd never heard of it until I put two and two together and realised it was remade over here (ITV's Marchlands). Having a ghost around would definitely liven things up, but maybe this is supposed to be a pure family saga instead?

The Lying Game (ABC Family)
Tell me now: a girl finds out she has an identical twin sister, but when she goes missing she takes on her identity in order to try and find out what's happened to her. Or some other nonsense.
And who's in it: Alexandra Chando, Andy Buckley, Blair Redford... lots more unknowns.
Should I care?: it's basically Ringer but without SMG and as written by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars). Whilst I love PLL, I don't think I can bear another show of this type - does she have to keep writing about essentially the same thing, and be so explicit about it?! I think I'll be giving this one a miss, but it's bound to be insanely popular.



And there we have it! Hope you've got a few things stashed away in your mind for September time. Why not let me know what you're most looking forward to in the comments section?


Thursday, 14 April 2011

US PILOTS 2011: CBS AND THE CW




Now here's an interesting pairing: CBS, a channel I loathe and have never watched a thing on, and The CW, a channel which I watch all the time and heralds some of my favourite programmes. But times are a-changing, and the CW style and format is becoming tiresome for me now, and I'm beginning to realise it only really disappoints. That doesn't mean to say I'm switching off and now bowing down to everything CBS put out - God no! - but it does mean my mind has been opened, so to speak.

There's two picks from each network - here is what CBS has to offer.

Two Broke Girls
Tell me now: two girls from very different backgrounds - one poor, one rich - become unlikely friends working in a diner and decide to go into business together.
And who's in it: KAT DENNINGS! I love Kat Dennings! I'd watch anything with her in. Even CBS. She'll be playing the 'poor girl' and Beth Behrs (her first big role) will be playing 'the rich girl'. Also stars Jonathan Kite, Garrett Morris and Matthew Moy.
Should I care?: I think it'll be a lot of fun. It's being billed as a comedy (so probably half an hour in length) but not in the canned laughter/studio audience style (we hope!) so should be watchable in some form or other. Kat Dennings usually picks good scripts, so I may follow her on this one.

Ringer
Tell me now: a young woman on the run from the mob takes up the identity of her identical twin sister to try and escape, only to find out they're after her twin as well.
And who's in it: Sarah Michelle Gellar, in her first major TV role since Buffy, which is why the majority of people will tune in. Also they will see Nestor Carbonell (Richard from Lost), Kristoffer Polaha (Mad Men) and Tara Summers (which mildly amuses me).
Should I care?: the plot sounds daft as hell (and very similar to The Lying Game, which I'll preview in the next few days on ABC Family) and as much as I loved Buffy I'm not going to be sat with my nose against the screen for the next SMG project. I can't see this lasting long.


And now The CW:

Secret Circle
Tell me now: Charmed by the writer of The Vampire Diaries: you can't get more CW than this! A young girl moves to New Salem (oh my yes) and discovers she's actually a witch from an ancient coven. 
And who's in it: young witchy will be played by Brittany Robertson (Life Unexpected- The CW like to recycle their 'talent') with turns from Ashley Crow (Heroes), Adam Harrington (Dexter) and Thomas Dekker is now on board, who is best known from the Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Should I care?: guhhhhh, probably not. Witches are infinitely more interesting than vampires I'll give it that, but I was such a huge fan of Charmed that I don't know if I want to put myself through the same old "but I want a normal life!" melodrama again. Plus there's no Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan, so what's the point? The thing that bugs me is L.J Smith wrote a brilliant trilogy of books that I read when I was younger (Point Horror, so what, *ahem*) called The Forbidden Game, about a girl who gets lured into a board game by a brooding but dangerous guy called Jared (or something like that). And it was ACE, and original. Like a teenage emo angst-ed up Jumanji. Why can't that be a TV show instead?

Awakening
Tell me now: two sisters fight on opposite sides in the midst of a zombie uprising.
And who's in it: sisters Meredith Hagner (Lights Out) and Lucy Griffiths (Robin Hood on the BBC) plus a whole host of undead.
Should I care?: obviously the success of The Walking Dead on AMC has led to this being greenlighted, but don't expect the same amount of gore, tension and grenades in handbags (thanks, Carol!) - this will be The CW does zombies, so lots of cheapy effects and enticing yet predictable story lines. Still to give them credit, this is something they've never done before, so even though the sisters will end up coming together to save one another in the end because they're 'blood', it may still be worth tuning in.



Last to come: a round up of all the other channels, including Showtime, ABC Family and FX.

Monday, 11 April 2011

US PILOTS 2011: NBC

I'm not a big NBC fan - along with CBS (which I never watch) - this is the channel that I tend to gloss over when it comes to pilot season, mainly because it's choc full of POLICE COPS. But things seem to be different this year. Yes, the same amount of rubbish is ever present, but there's a few interesting shows in there too, which - shock horror! - may get me watching the channel that I avoid. So what's changing things around at NBC?

Grimm
Tell me more: two detectives attempt to solve crimes in a fantasy world where characters from the Brothers' Grimm fairy tales exist.
And who's in it: David Giuntoli, Kate Burton, Silas Weir Mitchell
Should I care?: it's the other 'fairy tale' pilot of the season (along with ABC's Once Upon A Time), although this one looks like it's going to be much darker and grittier. All because it's a cop drama, with y'know, POLICE COPS in it. But police cops investigating big bad wolves, and trolls, so that could work... it depends on how much they want to ground it in a certain reality. This has also been compared to Fables, and I'll be tuning in for my love of all things Grimm.

Playboy
Tell me more: drama focusing on the bunnies of the Playboy mansion in the 1960s.
And who's in it: Amber Heard (Hidden Palms), Jenna Dewan (Melrose Place 2.0), David Krumholtz (Numb3rs), Eddie Cibrian (Sunset Beach!), Naturi Naughton (some bad films)
Should I care?: will you be tuning in for the nudity, is probably a better question (we're all grown ups here, yeah?). This is yet another 60s period drama that's been inspired by the success of Mad Men (ABC's Pan Am is t'other) and this has the risque factor to boot. Will it be classy and interesting or just gratuitous and shallow? From looking at the cast I don't think this is going to be winning Emmy's anytime soon, but perhaps it'll prove me wrong. Onto the long list it goes.

R.E.M.
Tell me more: a man called Michael Stipe and his friends... loljoke! It's actually about a man who wakes up after an accident to discover he is living in two different realities.
And who's in it: Jason Isaacs will be playing the man with the messy head, alongside Laura Allen, Cherry Jones, Wilmer Valderrama, Steve Harris
Should I care?: it's being billed as the Inception style TV show, and to be fair, sounds very NBC. But after he discovers he is living in two separate realities, then what? What tone will the show take? Drama, sci fi, POLICE COPS? Depending on where it's heading and the turns it takes to get there will decide whether I'm along for the ride or not. It's on a lot of critics 'pilots they want to watch NAO' lists, so it's got a lot of people clapping their hands. I'm not so fussed.

Smash
Tell me more: a group of people come together to put on a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe.
And who's in it: who isn't! Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katherine McPhee... Anjelica Houston!
Should I care?: this could become your guilty pleasure of the new season (discounting any shows on the CW, of course). Not only is the cast a bunch of well-known faces, but the idea comes from Steven Spielberg and will feature genuine musical theatre and Broadway talent. It's already being compared to Glee, but hopefully won't become a chore to watch after four episodes leading to me turning off for good. It's a bit of a cheesy, girly one and for me I'll only be sticking around if the humour's lollingtons.

17th Precinct
Tell me more: similar to Grimm in actual fact: centring on a police team in a world called Excelsior where magic rules over science.
And who's in it: Battlestar Galactica alumni time: Tricia Helfer, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Esai Morales plus Kristin Kruek and Stockard Channing.
Should I care?: it's not something I'll be watching but is gathering a lot of attention because it's Ronald D. Moore's new project (he of Battlestar Galactica and ill-fated Caprica) - so thought I'd mention it here. A lot of people are still missing BG from their life, and are understandably getting excited about the reunion going on here for 17th Precinct. It will be intelligent and geeky - but will it survive?



Wednesday it's the combined forces of CBS (ugh!) and the CW (gah!).


US PILOTS 2011: HBO

Always trust in HBO - for both drama and comedy, it never lets you down. I neglect it at times, and don't give it the attention I should. The biggest problem I find with HBO is not very much appeals to me blurb wise - the only drama I have ever loved and watched on the channel is Six Feet Under. Yet I can't take anything away from its reputation and if it's better quality TV programmes I'm seeking out in 2011/2, then I could do worse than look at what HBO has in its oven. Let's do that, shall we?

More As The Story Develops
Tell me now: behind the scenes on a busy cable news show - by Aaron Sorkin.
And who's in it: Jeff Daniels is in talks/has signed (whichever story you read).
Should I care?: Aaron Sorkin was always well regarded in the TV world prior to his Oscar win, but now he's even hotter property. This show is still in development at HBO - it may even go by another name by the end of it - but already the Internet is buzzing. Greg Mottola (Superbad) has also signed on to direct the pilot episode. For me, though I very much enjoyed the sharp dialogue in The Social Network I'll be tuning in more for the story. Yes, Morning Glory has had a lasting effect on me.


Luck 
Tell me now: a drama centred around the world of horse-racing. Not by Aaron Sorkin.
And who's in it: Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Michael Gambon, Kevin Dunn
Should I care?: it's one of the most talked about HBO shows for the coming year, mainly because of its stellar cast but also because the show is the dual effort of Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies, The Last of the Mohicans) - in his first dalliance with the small screen - and David Milch, who has written for Deadwood to name but a few. I'm intrigued because horse racing is one of those sports where I can believe the drama, and I can absorb the emotion (only today I was watching the Grand National with baited breath, clutching my placed bet as my horse.... fell at the first. Gah!). It will definitely be worth a watch. Now if only they'd do a motor racing drama as well...

Angry Boys
Tell me now: the new mockumentary comedy gold from Chris Lilley introduces us to six characters - some of which are, well, angry boys.
And who's in it: Chris Lilley, Chris Lilley, Chris Lilley
Should I care?: you'd be flaming mad not to! Ugh, you're so random. Most of the WORLD has been waiting for Chris Lilley's new series to finally be out and now it's almost here. No more continuous repeats of We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High for the foreseeable future as we concentrate on new (a Japanese family with overbearing mother) characters, and recurring ones too (the twin brothers from We Can Be Heroes). Sadly it looks as though the run of Ja'mie has come to an end. The show will air on ABC in Australia in the next month, and hopefully we can expect a quick turnaround onto HBO. And UK fans can also rejoice - it will be show on BBC 3 this Summer! Now onto that trailer.




Girls
Tell me now: the lives, ups, downs, ins, outs, rises, pitfalls of a group of 20 something girls in New York City. Sex and the City a decade on, with younger folk, basically.
And who's in it: Lena Dunham (who also created and will write/direct for the show), Allison Williams, Alexi Wasser, Jemima Kirke, Chris Eigeman
Should I care?: I may have eluded to Sex and the City then but this is going to be anything but. Lena Dunham wrote and directed a film last year called Tiny Furniture - I wanted to like it as offbeat quirky films that go nowhere are a culturemouse staple, but the trailer bored me halfway through and I turned off. As long as the characters aren't all losers, then I'll be watching - put it that way. What further interests me - and this may sound strange - is that Judd Apatow is producing. Yes I loathe anything Apatow touches, but at the beginning of his career, he made an amazing TV show called Freaks and Geeks and if Girls has any of the humour and pathos of that then it'll be a winner.

Veep
Tell me now: a comedy set in the female US Vice President's office.
And who's in it: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Curb, Arrested Development) is rumoured to be playing the lead alongside Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Alison Trumbull
Should I care?: why yyyyyyyes! Americans reading this blog ('lo) probably haven't heard of Armando Iannucci, but you may recognise some of his creations: Alan Partridge, The Day Today and probably, hopefully, In The Loop, the 2009 film based on the brilliant TV series The Thick of It (there's more but you really wouldn't know them). Anyway, there was a segment in the film which featured the American political system, and that's what will be explored here in Veep, his first outing in the US market. He has categorically stated this is not the 'American The Thick of It', but more of a companion piece. Whatever it is, it's unmissable viewing - this man is a genius (and nice in person, too).

Spring/Fall
Tell me now: a comedy about two female fashion designers and their differing views of work, love and life while all the while being surrounded by beautiful clothes.
And who's in it: Tea Leoni and Hope Davis have just been confirmed as the two leads.
Should I care?: I'm not a fan of either actress, and tbh I'm not a huge fan of the US comedy on HBO - but of course, I am a sucker for the fashion industry, so this intrigues me. The involvement of R.J. Cutler who made The September Issue is also highly promising. This has only just recently been green lighted, so don't expect it this year.


Mindhunter 
Tell me now: investigating serial killers, yeah!
And who's in it: Charlize Theron looks pretty certain to star.
Should I care?: it's David Fincher's first TV project, so it's going to be big. I was never a fan of Seven, but I was engrossed by Zodiac, so Fincher knows what he's doing tackling this serious subject matter - and really getting a feel for the psychology behind it as well. Plus we all know Ms Theron can get mean and dirty when she wants to! The programme will be based on the 2006 book 'Mind Hunter' - the memoirs of an FBI agent and his experiences tracking serial killers in America. This is in the very, very early stages of development at the moment so don't be expecting this on your box in 2011 either. But exciting stuff.


And a couple of maybes...

Under The Dome
Tell me now: based on the Stephen King novel about a town that one day wakes up to find a huge dome has been placed over it (yes, like in the Simpsons movie).
And who's in it: no word yet on casting.
Should I care?: probably not unless you're into Stephen King mini-series. I need to be in the mood for them myself: I enjoyed Storm of the Century and The Langoliers has to be one of my all time favourite forgotten gems. This was rumoured to be happening in 2009, but I'm not sure what's going on with it - the IMDB page seems to suggest it's still going ahead, so maybe we'll hear more in the coming months.


All Signs Of Death
Tell me now: again based on a book - this time Charlie Huston's 'The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death' - focusing on a young slacker who accidentally falls into a career erasing crime scenes.
And who's in it: Ben Wishaw starred in the pilot alongside Max Martini, Kelsey Ford and James Read.
Should I care?: it's the new Alan Ball drama, so if you love Six Feet Under, American Beauty and True Blood then you'll be watching no matter what! I'm afraid I can't really keep track of this one: it was in development, a pilot was made, HBO turned it down, then it was back on again, then AMC were interested in taking it... I'm not really sure what the show's status is at the moment. The plot didn't really grab my attention, it was only Alan Ball's name and also finding out Ben Wishaw (who I do love) was starring as the main protagonist that got me sniffing around. But I have no idea what's happening with it at the moment so watch this space.


Tomorrow I'll be seeing if there's anything at NBC that takes my fancy.


Thursday, 7 April 2011

US PILOTS 2011: ABC

ABC has been good to me in the past (Lost) and it's been very cruel to me in the past (My Generation - seriously, two episodes? I'm still gutted). This year there are some very good things to get excited about - it's the network with the most on offer as far as I'm concerned. Here's why:

Pan Am
Tell me now: drama set in the 1960s centred around the stewardesses who worked on the once famous and glamorous Pan Am airline in America.
And who's in it: Christina Ricci for one! She headlines the cast which also includes culturemouse fave Kelli Garner (Going The Distance, My Generation), Annabelle Wallis, Michael Mosley, Jonah Lotan
Should I care?: wellll... it's got some very good actresses in it, and if it's going to be focusing on the females rather than the males than that's a plus (although may narrow its audience). It's clearly drawing on the success of Mad Men, and it's not the only pilot to be commissioned this year which focuses on a 'vintage' business and the drama that surrounds it. I'm definitely going to give it a go - whether it becomes an excellent drama or descends into soapiness we'll have to wait and see.


The River
Tell me now: after a well-known explorer goes missing on a trip up the Amazon river, his friends and family journey out there on a mission to find him. AND THINGS BECOME TERRIFYING.
And who's in it: Bruce Greenwood, Leslie Hope, Paul Blackthorne, Jeff Galfer
Should I care?: Yes, if you like your horror. Along with Locke and Key this is the other spookylicious series to keep an eye on this autumn. If the story doesn't sound so scary (Bruce Parry meets Mean Creek?) then consider it's been thought up by Oren Peli, the creepiness behind Paranormal Activity. If it's half as affecting as the film then it's going to be some disturbing watching!



Hallelujah
Tell me now: a mysterious stranger comes to the town of Hallelujah in order to restore peace and justice, after the townspeople are ravaged by the forces of good and evil.
And who's in it: John Locke!, aka, Terry O'Quinn; Arielle Kebbel, Frances O'Connor, Brett Cullen
Should I care?: well, there have been plenty of series about messed up towns and eccentric, enigmatic strangers riding in to save the day - or create further chaos. Can this one stand out from the rest? Well for one thing it's the brainchild of Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) and it's going to be a musical drama, of sorts: a gospel choir acting as a Greek Chorus at the close of every episode, anyway. Sounds a bit pretentious even for moi... and I love Greek Tragedy.


Once Upon A Time
Tell me now: a young woman moves to a new town called Storybrook, where fairy tales and folklore such as Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin may or may not be actually occuring.
And who's in it: well this may rival best ensemble cast of 2011/2: Jennifer Morrison (House) plays the lead role, along side Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, Lana Parilla as the Evil Queen, Josh Dallas as Prince Charming and Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin. Oh, and lil Bobby Draper (Jared Gilmore) is also going to be in it.
Should I care?: well I certainly do! I desperately want this to do well, as it sounds right up my alley. In fact, it sounds dangerously similar to a development project I've been championing for years: Fables, which is also under option for ABC. Does the commission of Once Upon A Time - from the writers of Lost - mean that Fables is now a goner? I hope not. I'll be tuning in to see how dark things get.


Poe
Tell me now: Boston, 1840s: the world's first detective Edgar Allen Poe has some mysteries to solve.
And who's in it: Christopher Egan is playing hark, the raven himself, with Natalie Dormer, Kevin McNally and Leslie Odom Jnr co-starring.
Should I care?: well, he is one of literature's greatest Gothic figures, and I'd imagine he'd be an arresting presence on the screen - a great character to play. And the premise certainly spins a new twist on the detective/police genre that America so loves and I'm snoozy about. I can't get images of From Hell out of my mind, even though it's a completely different tale. I'll watch the pilot and take it from there.


Suburgatory
Tell me now: a girl from New York moves into the suburbs and discovers her neighbourhood to be a lot more 'frightening' than she'd imagined.
And who's in it: another decent cast: Alan Tudyk (anything Joss Whedon), Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under), Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Ana Gasteyer (SNL)

Should I care?: wellllll - heads up first, it's a comedy. I don't normally preview comedies in pilot season because US comedy is so very hit and miss, and is usually discovered a good year or so later when enough people with good taste recommend it. But I've mentioned this as it sounds like it could be The 'Burbs elongated into a TV series, with able cast, and well, it's a brilliant name isn't it? Suburgatory. It comes from Emily Kapnek whose other successes have included Hung and Parks and Recreation - two shows I have never seen. Let's throw the boat out and give this one a go.

**EDIT**

I forgot one!

Georgetown
Tell Me Now: focusing on the personal and professional lives of a group of 20-somethings in Washington DC who are aiming to make it big in the political world.
And who's in it: ONLY KATIE CASSIDY! For some reason this show had completely slipped off my radar and I had forgotten to include it, but now it's definitely back on thanks to the lovely lady. Others attached include: Jimmy Wolk, Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl's Damien), Tiya Sircar, Joseph Mazzello (Tim who gets electrocuted on the safety fence off of Jurassic Park!)
Should I care?: Oh God, yes. The project comes from Josh Schwarz, angsty melodrama king who gave us The O.C. and Gossip Girl, so it's bound to be a full dollop of guilty pleasure giddiness. But the added spark of having the characters lobbying up the steps to the White House gives it a fresh faced The West Wing vibe - if this is actually a prominent part in the lives of the beautiful people and not some weighty backdrop to occasionally prop things up. I'm excited though, especially with Will Fetters (Remember Me) and Mark Piznarski (My So Called Life, Veronica Mars, 90210, Gossip Girl) directing the pilot. My only qualm is that Katie Cassidy shows never seem to last very long...


Later tonight it's the turn of high quality HBO.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

US PILOTS 2011: FOX



It's hard to get too excited about anything on the Fox channel as there's the looming CHOP CHOP CHOP above a programme the whole while it's on. Fox do have a tendency to cut the best things, just because the overnight TV ratings don't match their dizzying expectations (Point Pleasant, Wonderfalls, Dollhouse, Firefly, Tru Calling - the list is endless!).

Here's the best of what's on offer (possibly briefly) for 2011:

Alcatraz
Tell me now: a group of FBI agents are assigned to track down the whereabouts of missing Alcatraz prisoners, who have mysteriously turned up in the present day - 30 years after they vanished.
And who's in it: a whole host of TV alumni: Sam Neill, Jorge Garcia (that's Hurley to you and me), Santiago Cabrera, Sarah Jones... etc etc
Should I care?: YES! Because it's the new one from JJ Abrams. The possible plug for the Lost shaped hole in our lives. Plus it actually sounds intriguing and exciting, unlike the total mess that was Undercovers. I previewed this earlier in the year, and I'm loving watching it all come together. Definitely one of the most talked about and anticipated shows of the whole 2011/2 season.

Exit Strategy
Tell me now: set in real time, a team of experts are called to CIA operations gone awry to try and extract the people involved.
And who's in it:
ETHAN HAWKE, that's who. And a bunch of others.
Should I care?: probably not unless you love 24 and Ethan Hawke. I only have the latter, and it drifts a bit too much into the crime caper genre for me to be getting too worked up about it.

Locke and Key
Tell me now: based on the graphic novels, it's about a mother and her three children who move into a new house in Lovecraft (raises eyebrow), Massachusetts only to discover an evil and dark presence is also living with them.
And who's in it: Nick Stahl (Carnivale), Mark Pellegrino (the awesomeness combo of Lost's Jacob and Supernatural's Lucifer), Miranda Otto (LOTR)
Should I care?: YES! The cast alone is terrific (one of the best ensembles for the new season?) and also it's great to have a horror series to look forward to. The man in my house has just started reading the graphic novels (on the off comment of: "have you read Locke and Key 'cos they're going to be making a TV series of it" and then boom, the GN suddenly appears in his hands the next day) and he's really enjoying them. I think the nod to Lovecraft is playful more than a forewarning, but don't rule out any comparisons. It looks a little bit like The Hole on first glance: kids and a single mother getting tangled up in a sinister force that reels them in. Exciting!

Touch
Tell me now: A father discovers that his mute and autistic son, who is a whizz with numbers, has the ability to tell the future. Does he possess super powers, or is he just a genius?
And who's in it: The big news here is the casting of Keifer Sutherland (the anxious father) in his first TV role since 24.
Should I care?: probably not - Tim Kring has created it. Yes, I know, TIM KRING! HE'S STILL GOING! Run away fast and don't look back!

Terra Nova
Tell me now: a family, living 100 years in the future from now, are sent back by scientists to prehistoric Earth to try and save the planet from threatened extinction in their own lifetimes. Yes, with dinosaurs.
And who's in it: Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn, Stephen Lang... mainly a load of people you've never heard of.
Should I care?: absolutely - this is one of the most expensive and epic TV shows to ever get made (Steven Spielberg is producing - Jurassic Park advice muchly sought). It's either going to be full-blown amazing or it's going to be the biggest flop of the decade. Grand scale shooting and editing means the project has been delayed somewhat - never a promising sign - but hopefully they're wanting to make it just right. The pilot, to be followed by the rest of the series in the autumn, will premiere on Fox on May 23rd and 24th in a two hour extravaganza. Check out the trailer below to see if you'll be tuning in with myself...




Tomorrow I'll be peeking at the ABC line up.


US PILOT SEASON 2011



Squeeeee ohmygodohmygodohmygod it's US Pilots season! It has to be in my top 5 culturemouse things I look forward to throughout a year (Sundance, Edinburgh Fringe, Leeds Film Festival and the West Yorkshire Playhouse new seasons being the others). I'm being even more dedicated to it this time around as my US viewing schedule has been dwindling rapidly. Gossip Girl and 90210 stopped being fun ages ago (I should know better, I know) and do not even get me started on Supernatural (I haven't even seen the last episode before the break yet - such a chore! But yes, meta episode = fabulous). Even Damages I forget exists because it's become so poor. There's a massive gap where the likes of Lost, Nip/Tuck and even Dollhouse used to be and I can't live on Pretty Little Liars forever (well, I can, but I might turn to mashed potato. Which wouldn't be a bad thing. Add some wasabi paste...mmm...)

I've been trying to put things right by watching the amazing-why-have-I-just-noticed-it-now Mad Men, The Walking Dead continues (or will continue) to be enjoyable, and Boardwalk Empire is next on my list to watch.

But I desperately want something new to get excited about, that I can watch in real time with everybody else instead of being behind or staying loyal to a dead dog. I've decided it's time to stop gawping so much at the CW - it's never going to be groundbreaking, so stop watching so much trash! I need to turn my attention to the other channels instead, who with their bigger budgets attract the talented writers, cast and fresh ideas. Obviously not CBS as they're shit, but you know, all the others. So my list this year is longer and has more depth to it - I'm punting on a lot of things that I probably won't even end up watching, but I'm spreading the word for you readers, too.

Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing - I'll be looking at a new network every day, starting with Fox later tonight. Hopefully my new favourite show exists in there somewhere...


Monday, 4 April 2011

New Thundercats! HOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yes I love Thundercats. I always wanted to be Cheetara. I quite fancied a go in a skycutter. And the 'Trials' episodes are some of the best cartoons ever made.

And now they're bloody re-making it for Cartoon Network! A trailer for the new style 'cats was released at the weekend and the result is as follows. It's all a bit manga for me, and there are some key characters evidently missing, but of course I'll end up giving it a go...



Why don't they just make a film instead? I should do a blog post one day with my dream cast.

Until then, a boxset of the original series may be in order...


Thundercats is out later this year on the Cartoon Network.
 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

FILM REVIEW: Source Code


So, Source Code. Dashings of stars from every review. 'An intelligent thriller that's also thoroughly exciting', 'an excellent sci-fi film', 'the best film of the year so far'. Oh I was excited. From the trailer it looked a bit hit and miss, but once the positive words starting coming in from all angles I was pleased it was going to be one to watch. I was all set for a film that would puzzle me for days, require repeat viewings, get me talking with other film fans. But no. Despite my most heightened expectations, Source Code was neither intelligent and it was far, far from being anywhere near exciting.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Cpt Colter Stevens, a RAF soldier serving in Afghanistan who suddenly wakes up on a train in the body of another man. His confusion over what's happening, causing the bemusement of his travelling companion Christina (Michelle Monaghan) lasts for exactly eight minutes before he is blown to pieces by a bomb on the train which kills everyone on board. But then he awakes: he's in a pod in a sealed off area talking to a woman on a screen who informs him - eventually - that he's inside the Source Code: a device which allows him to live over the last eight minutes of a guy's life on the ill-fated train in an attempt to find out who the bomber is to prevent further attacks which are happening in real time. He's not going back in time to change what happens: merely to discover information for the authorities. And at the same time, he has no idea how he got there or what has happened to the real Colter Stevens.

Sounds like a good premise, doesn't it? It would have been if it had been remotely interesting. Source Code falls into the category - and it's a big category - of thinking its too clever for its own good. And not being charming with it. There were so many plot holes and irrelevancies and cliches and yawnifying 'twists' in this spectacle it's hard to know where to begin.

He has 8 minutes to find the information out. That's fine. I quite enjoyed how he went about using this time, the different methods he used (albeit his train of thought didn't seem to follow a lot of the time. He just suddenly thinks to take the mobile phone off the bomb and phone the bomber?) and the different people he went after (stalking the motion sickness guy). But here's the thing: how did they even know the bomber hadn't been killed on the train with everyone else? How did they know he survived, so Colter could track him down? OK, they may have had intelligence leaked that another bomb was imminent, but this could have been a whole organisation working together with one guy singled out as a suicide bomber on the commuter train - if he had been killed how would they have known where to look next? It's all a bit convenient, isn't it, that the guy just so happened to get off the train and go straight to a van full of the next load of explosives? Ugh, contrived writing, my favourite.

Also, his sudden urge to rescue Christina whom he's known for all of, hmmm, 16 minutes? 24 minutes? Apparently this film is full of strong characters with an emotional attachment that really holds tight (unlike Sucker Punch...) but the only meaningful relationship here is between Colter and his father, and the phone conversation they have after he discovers he's dead in the 'real world'. Everything else is so flimsy, so unbelievable. It's not as if the characters are unlikeable, but for Colter to suddenly have a deep connection to all of them - including Goodwin, the woman on the screen who's coordinating this mission - is dubious if we're being lenient, implausible and laughable if we're being honest.

Then there's the same event we keep going back to time and time again. As I said, enjoyable for the first couple of times, tiresome beyond that (I checked my watch about 40 minutes in. God it seemed to drag on endlessly). I was intrigued to see that every time he managed to get off the train he would conveniently be killed somehow the moment the 8 minutes were up - convenient seems to be the word of the day here, huh? There's only so much being engulfed with flames you can sit through before, of course, things make a change and suddenly the hero finds the information and wins the day. Except he can't win the day because this isn't time travel and the people on the train all die in the end... except wait. They don't. Colter Stevens knows the Source Code better than the team who put it together actually do. Hurrah! If he prevents the bomb from going off at all and citizens arrests the bomber then the Source Code expands to become actual reality and he can go on possessing the guy on the train's body forever even though he's dead. Yah! Go sci-fi film win! 

A vital fact I missed before going to see this film was properly acknowledging who the director was - Duncan Jones. He made the film Moon a couple of years ago, a very small budget cult followed sci fi British film which became the little independent darling everyone had to go and see, and subsequently love. It was a lot of critics' film of the year. I hated Moon. I've just had a look back to see what I wrote about it and it reads like this review: interest just bobbing up the surface, curious premise but boring characters I didn't care about, unconvincing and underwhelming. The problem with Source Code is that I was so looking forward to it on my own merits. I saw Moon because everyone else was raving about it, but didn't get the fuss at all. Now I think I know my limits, and will be avoiding a Duncan Jones film in future. (on a side note I really, really hope all this love isn't because he's English. I hate deluded patriotism! Stop it!)

Not impressed, can't understand the praise this is getting at all. Hell even The Adjustment Bureau was more entertaining than this. A mystified culturemouse here, giving the 2 star film 4 cheeses and the 4 star film 2 cheeses. The only good thing about Source Code is being able to say 'Jake's on a train'. Hee, let's leave it at that.