Thursday, 19 May 2011

US TV Upfronts: Pilots Becoming TV Shows Revealed!

So a few weeks ago (or was it a month? Time flies when you're fast-forwarding through Gossip Girl) I previewed what was in the pilot cooking pots for the US TV networks 2011-12 season. And now we've found out which lucky few had the oven door yanked open in time, and which others have been left to burn. There's an array to be excited about, a few slabs of disappointment, and a sprinkling of surprises (Why exactly are Fox still making Touch?)



PICKED UP

*Alcatraz - from January/February 2012, Mondays

I can't hide my disappointment at how rubbish this looks. Perhaps I'm being too harsh? Is it a bad trailer? I'm just not sure I care.

*Terra Nova - from September, Mondays
Now it just looks like Jurassic Park on Avatar. Well, at least Sam Worthington isn't in it.

*The X Factor - from September, Wednesdays and Thursdays
Surprisingly the US have never had the pleasure of IT'S TIME (breathe) TO FACE (phew) THE MUUUUSIIIIIIIC! But now Simon Cowell has brought his sob story money bucket (oh, I love it really) to Fox, also home of American Idol which continues. It's kind of like having two cycles of America's Next Top Model as we do every season. Only this move has now blown a hole in the UK equivalent leaving us with Louis Walsh and some random from N Dubz. What exactly is N Dubz? Is it like the So Solid Crew? or Blazin' Squad? Anyway, good news for US peeps, shocker for us.
 
*Touch
Fox are encouraged by this (they called it "compelling"!) and will continue development in the Kiefer Sutherland haz autistic son Tim Kring lolz for a future airing, possibly mid-season, possibly later. Who cares.

*Exit Strategy
Being 're-tooled' I have observed. This is some American slang. It means throwing everything in the bin and starting again, because Ethan Hawke has a pretty face.


PASSED UP

*Locke and Key
I am so, so disappointed they passed on this. They were apparently already hesitant about ordering sci-fi shows for the new season - with Terra Nova already long being confirmed (it was supposed to pilot in May) it looks as though the genre box has been ticked by Alcatraz, and there was no room for Locke and Key on the schedule. Here's hoping that's the reason, and it's not because the pilot - with such a fine, fine cast - sucked. And here's also hoping this cookie isn't dead, and one of the cable channels will pick it up.


The full Fox line up can be viewed here.



PICKED UP

*Smash - from January/February 2012, Mondays

This looks like so much fun and will hopefully have more depth and quality than the squeaky Glee.

*Grimm - from September, Fridays
OK, so I wasn't that bothered before, but the trailer looks several kinds of awesome (it also helps the Grimm is pretty). Unfortunately - a) NBC have put it on Fridays, and b) it's up against Supernatural and Fringe.

*The Playboy Club - from September, Mondays
Now this looks like Mad Men meets Burlesque. It's a formula, but an intriguing one at that. Although Cole from Sunset Beach is never going to be Jon Hamm.

*Awake (previously REM) - from January/February 2012 (day tbc)
Also pleasantly surprised at how good this looks: there's a lot of layers there, and Jason Isaacs is always class.

PASSED UP

*17th Precinct
NBC have passed on the new one from Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore, probably as they have enough sci-fi/fantasy in the schedule already. Fans of the cylons will be disappointed though, especially after the bombing of Caprica. Back to the boxsets, eh?


You can see NBC's full line up here.



PICKED UP

*Two Broke Girls - from September, Mondays

Mmm, kind of put off by the laughing track, but Kat Dennings is lovely. I'll see if it endears me.


PASSED UP

*Ringer
But never fear, it's gone to The CW instead! Speaking of which...

(you can see CBS' mediocre full line up here)





PICKED UP

*Ringer - From September, Tuesdays

Wow, if a trailer was going to lack further tension and charisma it would be a blank screen. Sorry SMG, this looks yawnsville.

*The Secret Circle - From September, Thursdays

Oh please. I've sat through eight seasons of Charmed and seen The Craft a dozen times. Give us something new, CW!


PASSED UP

*The Awakening
The sisters fighting through a zombie apocalypse premise didn't favour with the Network, who chose Buffy, witches and a bland country medical practice instead. Too bad because this would have been, if not necessarily different, refreshing for a network that is really struggling at the moment - hence why it renews a lot of its stale bread while it ponders on how to make more dough.


You can view the rest of the CW line up here.



PICKED UP

*Once Upon A Time - From September, Sundays
Oh my, this looks utterly ridiculous (and disturbingly like Enchanted). But I'm still on board! The fantasy land looks gorge.

*Pan Am - From September, Sundays
Disappointment! I can't believe The Playboy Club looks better than this. It's just too girly for me.

*The River - From January/February 2012 (day tbc)
I do like the way someone has described this as Paranormal Activity on a boat. Surely that black smoke is from somewhere else...?

*Suburgatory - From September, Wednesdays

Yay, fun times! Someone has decided to take Mean Girls, Easy A and Juno and make a TV comedy out of them. Why has no one done this before?


PASSED UP

*Hallelujah
I guess there's just been too many shows about a town being torn apart by good and evil shown before, but it's still a shame Terry O'Quinn won't be joining his fellow Lost alumni in a new show this year.

*Poe
Not too devastated this 19th Century detective series wasn't picked up - looks as though other fantasy/sci-fi premises were stronger.

*Georgetown
But I am upset that this hasn't been taken to a full series. Poor Katie Cassidy - when is she going to get a break?


You can view the rest of the ABC line up here.


As you can see lots to look forward to! Let me know if you'll be adding any to your own personal schedules below.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cannes Film Festival 2011: The Top 10

Most of my picks from this year's sun drenched elegant event are actually from The Director's Fortnight selection (yes I remembered it this year!). As a bit of background: Director's Fortnight is an annual film event which takes place in Cannes at the same time as the film festival but is not directly attached - it's more of a companion event, if you will. It shows a range of full length and short films over two weeks, mainly promoting debut works and new talents and has a reputation for being cutting edge, off-beat and experimental. Many household names today have made their mark at the festival: Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee, Micheal Haneke... it's an illustrious place to get your film on board, and very hip to boot.

It's a festival just like its big sister: there's a programme, tickets available to buy, and well, if you're lucky enough to be in the area then the details of the 2011 event are here

But I've thrown a few big Can-nes (ho ho ho, STOP IT) in there as well to (slightly) mix it up. The majority of Cannes starlets this year have already been previewed on culturemouse so I'll do a quick summary at the end.

Top 10 at Cannes 2011

Apres Le Sud - Director's Fortnight
France
Dir: Jean-Jacques Jauffret
Adele Hanele, Sylvie Lachat, Ulysse Grosjean, Yves Ruellan



 

The lives of four troubled people living in the south of France intertwine one scorching hot day, leading to a spill of events which ends in tragedy.

Les Bien-Aimes (Beloved) - Closing Film
France
Dir:Christophe Honore
Catherine Deneuve, Ludivine Sagnier, Milos Forman



 



Spanning several decades and crossing countries, it's a romantic comedy, a melancholic look at life, a mother - daughter relationship full of relationships, and it's from the director of Dans Paris. It will close the Cannes Festival on May 22.

Blue Bird - Director's Fortnight
Belgium
Dir: Gus Van Den Berghe
Bafiokadié Potey, Téné Potey, Nanty Libéria Bani


 



Two African children leave their village in search of a bluebird, and along the way encounter a number of different fantastical and spiritual people, learn about life and have transforming experiences.

Corpo Celeste - Director's Fortnight
Italy
Dir: Alice Rohrwacher
Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantalupo, Pasqualina Scuncia, Anita Caprioli



 




Thirteen year old Marta feels out of place in her new life in Italy with her mother and sister, whilst at the same time discovering who she is and struggling with her Catholic upbringing in the lead up to her confirmation (yes, it's the Italian Love Like Poison!)

Eldfjall (Volcano) - Director's Fortnight
Iceland
Dir: Runar Runarsson
Theódór Júlíusson, Margrét Helga Jóhannsdóttir, Benedikt Erlingsson



 



A lonely old man faces up to his life estranged from his children when he retires from his life-long job and his wife becomes ill. Since Kitchen Stories and White Night Wedding I'm a sucker for Scandinavian redemption cinema.

Hanezu No Tsuki - Cannes In Competition
Japan
Dir: Naomi Kwase
Tohta Komizu, Hako Oshima, Tetsuya Akikawa



 




Set in the ancient and spiritual region of Asuka and based on the novel by Masako Bando, the film follows the lives of two people who lead unfulfilled lives and draws upon the history of the land and the past souls who have lived there.

L'Apollonide Souvenirs de la Maison Close (House of Tolerance) - Cannes in Competition
France
Dir: Bertrand Bonello
Noémie Lvovsky, Hafsia Herzi, Céline Sallette, Jasmine Trinca








A Parisian brothel at the end of the 19th Century sees a prostitute hideously disfigured by a man as the other girls around her live in their joyful, painful and ardent debauchery.

La Fin du Silence (The End of Silence) - Director's Fortnight
France - Austria
Dir: Roland Edzard
Marianne Basler, Carlo Brandt, Franck Falise, Thierry Frémont





After a heated and violent argument, the youngest brother of a family is thrown out of the house into the nearby forest. He joins up with a group of hunters and becomes intent on getting revenge on those he fought with...

Play - Director's Fortnight
Sweden
Dir: Ruben Ostlund
Anas Abdirahman, Sebastian Blyckert, Yannick Diakité, Sebastian Hegmar




A fascinating film from Sweden. Based on true events from a few years ago, the film documents a gang of black children on the streets of Gothenberg who used the 'brother' tactic in order to rob and bully other children, but the film's tone looks set to surprise and amuse.

The Island - Director's Fortnight
Bulgaria
Dir: Kamen Kalev
Thure Lindhardt, Laetitia Casta, Boyka Velkova, Russi Chanev, Mihail Mutafov, Luben Dilov-Son



 


A devoted couple go on holiday to Bulgaria, and end up on a strange and remote island in the Black Sea where events and inhabitants begin to change their personalities and behaviour...


A few others of note that have already been given the seal of approval by culturemouse:

IN COMPETITION

Melancholia - Lars Von Trier
Sleeping Beauty - Julia Leigh
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lynne Ramsay
The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick

UN CERTAIN REGARD (which has been quiet this year)

Martha Marcy May Marlene - Sean Durkin*
Restless - Gus Van Sant

*winner of Best Director at Sundance

OUT OF COMPETITION

Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen - Opening Film May 11
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Rob Marshall


This year's jury will be headed by Robert de Niro, who will be helped out by film royalty such as Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Olivier Assayas amongst others. Who will win the Palme d'Or 2011?

News and reviews, plus the usual controversy springing up from one corner, to follow throughout the 12 days.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

FILM REVIEW: Thor


I'll admit I was never the biggest supporter of Thor. From the footage that was released from Comic Con last year, to the 3D announcement, to the trailers - "the things Natalie makes me do" I muttered a fair few times. But then, astonishingly, surprisingly, the reviews started coming in - and they were good. "The new Iron Man!" people were proclaiming (not that I know what that means, I've never seen Iron Man). But it seemed like it was a good thing - a very good thing. But still it has taken me a good week to get round to seeing it (okay fair enough I have been sprucing up the ol' mousehole). 

BUT I LOVED IT.

I wish I could say I loved it before Natalie even came on the screen, but she does get the first line in the film, so...

It was *such* an adventure film, a proper adventure film where you could believe in the characters, understand their flaws, understand the motives for what was happening, and enjoy yourself immensely in the process. 

Just as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is about to be crowned King of Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins with eyepatch) there is an attack by old enemy the Frost Giants. Keen to make sure they no longer return, Thor and his friends plus brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) journey to the foreign land and ruffle a lot of icy feathers - the two sides are now at war. Dismayed at the outcome and angered by his son's impulsive recklessness, Odin exiles Thor and his powerful hammer to Earth, where he is discovered by an astrophysicist Jane (Natalie) and her crew (Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard) who are studying storm patterns in the desert. The strange weather phenomenons also attract the Government, who take away all of Jane's research and impound the hammer which no one can lift from the ground (ala Excalibur) - not even Thor. But while the God of Thunder struggles with his temperament and maturity (and making Natalie all dewey eyed), his brother Loki is made King after Odin falls into a deep sleep. But Loki is not who everyone thinks he is, and has an unholy connection and alliance with the Frost Giants...

My two main loves: all the humour on Earth and THE FROST GIANTS. Whilst I adore Natalie (and she was lovely) Kat Dennings was just a gigglesome treat and I now adore her even more than before. I loved her deadpan, dry comments - she is just an awesome sidekick to have. And the interactions as a group with Thor as they are trying to come to terms with who he really is led to some brilliant moments: the cafe scene was hilarious (I loved his big cheesy grin for Facebook), and the continued car scrapes - winning slapstick! And then to compare this with the Frost Giants - who were a wickedly brilliant enemy, and Jotunheim was such an atmospheric and imposing fortress - just shows how the balance of action and humour in this film really pays off. I am such a kid for good enemies, sinister backgrounds, and thrilling battles so I was have a whale of a time watching Thor and his enemies first attack the Frost Giants. Beginning the film in Earth, and then travelling to Asgard to spend a good 30-40 minutes with the Gods before re-connecting with the narrative was expertly done - it gave the film a sense of being epic, of helping to achieve that adventurous spirit. 

Chris Hemsworth was an absolute revelation. I know him as Kym from Home and Away, the blond buff guy with emotional issues, but here he has transformed into an actor of strength, veracity, comedy, and well, massive abs. You can't ignore the massive abs! Joss Whedon did well to recommend him, and he will not only add to the cast of The Avengers next year but now provides a reason to go and watch it. Also an important mention to Tom Hiddleston, an actor I've had very little dealings with before now, but who was a gloriously twisted and corrupt sibling powered by jealousy and dark magic. I hope his disappearance into the cosmos doesn't mean a permanent end to his story (God here I am, dreaming of a sequel). 

What also made the film for me was that it didn't end with a new magical rainbow bridge being created in five seconds, so he could bring Natalie back and show her the palaces of Asgard. Ugh. It was so refreshing to have them together, but then apart, yet with the promise for more just as would have been the case in the comic books: "she searches for you." Kenneth Branagh has done more than a solid job of bringing the Marvel action hero to life, and his enthusiasm, knowledge and care for the characters shines through and helps make Thor detailed, clever, pacy, funny and most of all thoroughly entertaining and watchable. My only quibble? Worst use of Jeremy Renner EVER.

Seriously go and see it. It's a fantastic trip out to the cinema. Make sure you skip the 3D song and dance, and go have some fun. Natalie's there too, girlishly putting dirty plates in cupboards!


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Trailer Park

Oh my God there's more, more of them! Someone shut the window!



Intensely excited about seeing this - I was never a fan, but his legend cannot be ignored. Out June 3.


Bigwig at Sundance, will now play at Cannes next week. YES THAT IS AN OLSEN TWIN, I KNOW!


The film of the book everyone's read except for me (if you're planning to, don't watch for spoilers). Out September 30.


Greek mythology done by Tarsem Singh (The Fall). Fangirl squee from me at the inclusion of all the characters I've studied... not so much on the presence of Freida Pinto. Out November 11.


I love documentaries like this - utterly absorbing and fascinating. And important. No release date as yet.


I WANT TO SEE THIS IS A LOT. That is all.


I thought this looked familiar when I saw it... it's 'Homework' which I previewed at Sundance, now going by another name. Unfortunately it's the most horrible trailer you will ever see.


Really looking forward to this as well - Emma Stone can do no wrong at the moment.


I can't decide if this looks intriguing or awful - less tension, more melodrama?


Zack Braff plays a drug dealer (yes, really) who tries to make up for a terrible accident (that looks a lot like Another Earth!). Sparse and bleak. Yeah, a fun way to end this entry.


Friday, 6 May 2011

FILM REVIEW: Submarine


I remember Submarine premiering at the London Film Festival last year - the cool new Brit flick - but for whatever reason it didn't catch my attention. Perhaps it was the way the film had been written up, or the fact that it just seemed a bit 'dowdy' (I'm not the most patriotic of film fans - I can't stand Mike Leigh/Shane Meadows/Ken Loach et al) that put me off. It got rave reviews, but I ignored it anyway. Until its official release a couple of months ago. Then something about it seemed to click, even before I got to see the trailer. It became one of those universally loved, eccentric black comedy Brit specials that you get maybe once or twice a year and that you have to see immediately. Because it will be unquestionably good. 

Sadly despite its glowing reputation it still managed to dodge the multiplexes, so I've had to wait until this week for my local art house to pick up the pace to finally go see it. I feel I'm a little behind heaping praise on it, but the cinema itself was joyously packed and this created an atmosphere which elevated the film enormously, though I still would have enjoyed watching it from a PC screen at two in the morning no doubt.

It's based on a book dontcha know: 15 year old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) lives in a small Welsh seaside town with this mother and father, and spends too much time thinking and watching: thinking about a world in which he's died; thinking about fellow classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige); watching his parents every move (including 'routine searches' of their bedroom and a charting of light bulb levels); watching Jordana to see what kind of a person she is. Soon his world revolves around two things: being the greatest boyfriend there is - and losing his virginity, and to stop his parents for breaking up, after his mother (Sally Hawkins) reconnects with new neighbour and old flame mystic Graham (Paddy Considine).

This film is all about character and style. The characters - even a passing schoolboy - are all so brilliantly played by the actors: they are real, awkward, cowardly, pathetic, but most of all have sublime comedic timing. Craig Roberts is absolutely perfect as Oliver. Not only does he deliver his lines impeccably - unwittingly wanton - even his face is just perfect for the role: it embodies dweeby teen and faux adult all in one. He's extremely clued into everything that is happening in his world, and has an insatiable desire to control it - even if it means stalking, breaking and entering, and getting into the most toe curling of incidents (the "dad still wants to make love to you" scene with his mother, and the reading the suicide note out in class are all classic examples you'll find yourself sub-consciously howling at). Yasmin Paige is also a real gem as pyromaniac and PDA shunning Jordana: no-nonsense and tough on the surface, a timid and lonely girl underneath. The reasons for this, highlighted in a pre-Christmas dinner scene at her house, is black comedy pushed to the limit. You'll either laugh or you'll cry.

But it's the parents who probably steal the film for me: the cringey conversations they have with their son (who they believe is gay and has mental problems, further encouraged by Oliver) are absolutely priceless. Noah Taylor as the marine biologist-stroke-mildly depressive father was just absolutely wonderful. I defy you not to say "K-nock K-nock!" every time you enter a room. Paddy Considine was also a particular lolriot as the aura reading new age hippy psychic mystic, complete with kung fu dance moves.

To get such a cast is testament to the power of director Richard Ayoade, who has long been liked and respected as an actor in Garth Marenghi, Nathan Barley, The Mighty Boosh (and that other not so good show). For his debut he picked the perfect material, but all the rest is him - putting his own unique style and look on things, finally allowing the creative genius in there to peep out. A lot of people have compared him to Wes Anderson - some calling him the British Wes Anderson - and I get the Rushmore parallels, yes. Even when a heartbroken Oliver is drinking lemon from the same cup - absolutely something a Jason Schwartzman character would do. (FYI: the film it actually reminded me of the most was Todd Solondz's Welcome To The Dollhouse). But Ayoade is different. He manages to keep things very real in a non-compromising and humble way: there's less surreal here, and more 'yes, yes, that's exactly what would happen' moments. He's definitely a talent to keep an eye on, and I hope the film has huge success in America (it's out there next month).

Eminently likable and shamefully funny too, Submarine is a film I have a million people to recommend it to - hopefully they've seen it already. It makes me a little bit patriotic... (ish, ish).

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Cycle 17 will be ANTM All Stars!

So The CW have renewed the majority of their programmes for next season: more torturous hours ahead of 90210, Gossip Girl, and Supernatural (that's Series 7, people). They've also renewed America's Next Top Model but with a bit of a twist - Cycle 17 is going to be an all stars season - huzzah! This is potentially amazing news as I start scouring through my mind for all of the beautiful models denied by the entertaining wackjob that is Tyra Banks. There's one that immediately springs to mind...

Considering they won't bring back any of the winners, and the age limit will still be 26 (although rules/judges/prizes are still to be announced) here are my top 14 girls I'd love to see back bitching in the house, tearing up the runway and smizin' with their eyes:

Cycle 5 - Jayla
 Yes, she was a bit of a bitch, but she had some damn fine pictures.

Cycle 8 - Brittany
 She had a bit of a meltdown, but she was quirky and I WANTED THAT HAIR.

Cycle 8 - Natasha
 Robbed by Jaslene for the win, she was the cutest lil Russian girl.

Cycle 9 - Kimberly
 She was eliminated WAY too early in Cycle 9, criminally too early.

Cycle 9 - Heather
 The awkward, gothic beauty who was only eliminated because she couldn't do a commercial.

Cycle 9 - Jenah
 OMG my favourite girl of ever, ever, ever I would run around the house screaming if she came back.

Cycle 10 - Katarzyna
 No personality for Tyra, but she had an amazing face for photos.

Cycle 11 - Lauren Brie
 One of the many mysteries of Top Model history: HOW was Lauren Brie eliminated when she was dominating Cycle 11?

Cycle 11 - Marjorie
 Well, just look at the photo. The 'odd French girl' was haute couture all the way

Cycle 11 - Analeigh
 Possibly the world's favourite top model contestant who didn't win?

Cycle 11 - Samantha
Such a transformation after the makeovers - the above pic should have been a jeans ad.

Cycle 12 - Allison
Vamp chic with the crazy eyes, she should have won Cycle 12.

Cycle 13 - Laura
 The country bumpkin turned bombshell who only lost out 'coz the winner was exceptional that season

Cycle 14 - Raina
 Fierce to the finish, but Tyra saw no personality and said bye-bye

Oh if they weren't so old (or too cool for this anymore): Elyse (Cycle 1), Shandi (Cycle 2), April (Cycle 2), Norelle (Cycle 3), Nicole (Cycle 3), Ann (Cycle 3), Yaya (Cycle 3), Brittany (Cycle 4), Kahlen (Cycle 4), Sara (Cycle 6), Mollie Sue (Cycle 6), Melrose (Cycle 7)

Can't wait to see the confirmed line up! It's not going to be half as ace as my selection, but we can but hope. Hope for JENAH, anyway.