Sunday, 21 August 2011

Expensive

So I'm a bit rammed with Top Models at the moment: New Zealand is about to finish; Britain and Ireland has just properly got going after the pointless and dull X-Factor style auditions; America (all stars!) will be underway shortly, and Australia has just started up again.



Australia's Next Top Model has always been my favourite - two of its winners have been some of my favourite contestants throughout the whole franchise (Cycle 1's Gemma and Cycle 4's Demelza - I might steal Demelza as a future child's name) and the quality compared to the other countries - not just in models but in challenges, designers, stylists, fashion-shoots, abroad destinations, photographers, prizes... well, EVERYTHING, is outstanding. AUSNTM was the first show which offered the winner the front cover of Vogue.

This year however things have upped the ante yet again. Perhaps all the publicity from the embarrassing cock-up that was last year's live finale (where host Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner) has actually benefited the show, as it seems to have had a major upheaval in its bank account. After whittling 100 girls down to 20 in episode 1, they were all told they would be flown to Paris for the next stage of the competition, to compete in a challenge and a photoshoot that would determine the Final 16. Paris in Week Two?! Amaze!

And when they got to Paris, they took part in the most expensive and luxurious couture photoshoot in top model history: everything from Gucci, to Galliano, to Louboutin, flown in from all over the world, to be shot in the beautiful rooms of the Chateau de Vuax le Vicomte. THIS IS EPISODE TWO PEOPLE.


This year there are two contestants who I just adore. So much so I'm having to do a culturemouse first and write about them immediately. I loved them both in Week 1 when they did their first initial catwalks and photoshoots, but after Week 2 when I got to see them properly perform an editorial shoot, I was just speechless by how beautiful they were. Sort of in a trance really...I can see myself ferociously hanging onto them every week and fawning over them and sobbing hysterically if they get eliminated (I take it all very seriously).

These two stunning ladies are Madeline:


(I think it's the Eva Green look that's doing it for me), and Izzy:


who is just divine and I WANT her pink and blue hair! She's like a perfect sized modelesque pick'n'mix sweet.

You can see the rest of the Final 16 here, and all the photos from the most expensive photoshoot in top model history here

Also, I could never afford this dress but I want it so much I might cry.




Australia's Next Top Model continues Mondays on FOX 8.


American Horror Story: What Are All The Clues About?


One of my most hotly tipped shows for this year (and probably the one I'm most excited about - I do love a good scare!) is F/X's American Horror Story which begins October 5 and follows the tremors of a family who move into a new house only to encounter a bizarre and spooky series of events. Oh yes, it's haunted! It's the brainchild of Ryan Murphy, who though he hasn't dipped his feet into this genre before, was responsible for the excellent Carver storyline on Nip/Tuck.

The first trailer for the series has just been launched (you can view it here) but also intriguingly, F/X have released a trail of "clue" promos, one for each episode, showing a teaser about the programme's "monster" (which is promised to be terrifying - as long as it's not anything like The Hole or the little goblin people in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark I'm happy). You can view them below. Let me know if you have any ideas - or which one creeps you out the most (gotta be the first one).





















So the woman plays the Cello, which Attracts the Rubber Man, who gets her pregnant and she gives birth to a Baby... oh wait, there was a man who Melted in a Fire, so maybe he's the Rubber Man, who also lives under the Stairs... but maybe the Baby is Evil and caused her mother to die in a Fire, and possibly also her Father, who then turned into the Rubber Man who plays the Cello under the Stairs... ohhh I give up.

Your TV Planning Schedule Begins Here!

It's less than a month away now until the new US TV season begins - how blooming mad is that? Actually, the weather is beginning to chill considerably and I'm kinda looking forward to snuggling down with a hot chocolate and watching all the new shows...I was always a Winter child.

And this year looks better than ever with an array of amazing looking shows debuting in September/October. If you haven't already had a browse, I've added the culturemouse personal viewing schedule to TVDAR, which kicks off with Ringer on September 13. I'll be adding new promos as and when they become available - for now I have the new trailer for Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story which begins on F/X October 5. Go check it out! (you can see the full Fall schedule here)

Speaking of which...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

FILM REVIEW: Fright Night


The film that closed Movie Con was the UK premiere of the un-staked Fright Night; a blend of the ludicrous, the bizarre, and the ticklingly funny. It was presented by David Tenant - undoubtedly the best thing that ever happened to this film - who bounced about excitedly telling us what to expect before creeping in after the opening credits to watch with his friends and family on the balcony (and a few rows over from where I was). He would have been pleased then to hear everybody around him thoroughly enjoying themselves. It's the perfect 'Saturday night at the movies' kinda picture and tops Cowboys and Aliens for overall entertainment.

Anton Yelchin (God, it's good already) is Charley, a teenager who has dumped his nerdy best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for the trendy gang of kids at school and hot girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). He lives alone with his mother (Toni Collette) in a sleepy town just outside of Las Vegas, and everything seems pretty humdrum. That is until suspiciously elusive but sexily mysterious (to the ladies) Colin Farrell moves in next door, and kids in his class start disappearing from school. Ed is adamant Charley's new neighbour is a vampire, and is feeding on the town's population. Charley ignores him until Ed himself goes missing, and Charley is forced to find out the bloody (slurp) truth. Having no where else to turn, he takes up Ed's last piece of advice which is to seek out TV vampire slaying expert Peter Vincent (Tennant) to help him kill it and save his family and friends - but Vincent turns out to be a lot less capable than he'd hoped.

I'm unfamiliar with the original 1985 camp-fest so unfortunately won't be able to give a blow by blow account of how the 2011 version stands up (though I'm told it's largely faithful to the cult hit). Though it's a vampire film, it's actually unlike any that I've seen before: there's no Twilight brooding here (not that I've watched Twilight), no Thirst style gore and terror, no epic-ness of Interview With The Vampire. In fact, Fright Night is so brilliantly refreshing because it doesn't take itself seriously - one iota. There's nothing terrifying about Colin Farrell's powdered out skin and dark eye make up, and he's so self-satisfyingly laid-back that it's hard to feel anything other than amused when he's around. The other trick is the film's pace: fluid and skillful, there's no time for any hanging suspense as we get down to the nitty gritty: look there's no doubt about it, he's a vampire, so you bloody well better deal with it as he wants you NEXT. Don't be put off thinking you're going to see a horror film here - it's comedy all the way.

The cast is strong, and it's one of the reasons the film flows so enjoyably. OK so perhaps Toni Collette is underused, and Imogen Poots isn't the most sympathetic of girlfriends (did we really care if she'd been turned or not?) but I adore Anton Yelchin, even if he isn't on top form here, he still manages to steer the film and be the heart at the centre of it. Christopher Muntz-Plasse is delightfully annoying both alive and as a creature of the night, and the knockabout between the two sparring former friends delivers some of the film's highlights. I'm not a big fan of Farrell, but thought he was fangtastic here - he makes a pretty convincing vampire (with an ego) and I enjoyed this more than some of his other roles. And there was a big cheer when Chris Sarandon turned up as the hapless victim on the highway - Sarandon of course playing Farrell's role in the 80's original.

But the film belongs to David Tennant, who is brilliant as the flippant, narcissistic, jaded TV personality who makes fun of his vampire obsession to hide a darker truth... his parents were both killed by one. Probably Farrell. Channelling Russell Brand to the extreme (not sure he was conscious of this) and proving himself to be a snivelling coward in the face of danger, he's responsible for some of the best one-liners "damn you, Ebay!" and funniest parts of the film. The laughter in the audience was all for him.

It's slicker - and if possible - cooler than its predecessor with lots of pop-culture references thrown in to show director Craig Gillespie and writer Marti Noxon are on the ball. But I'm surprised they failed to mention the thing it's closest to in tone - Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Some of the scenes were crying out for a reference. The 3D element was also a lot of fun - blood flying in your face, but they missed a trick not using bats.

If you're wanting a good night out in the cinema over the coming weeks, you can't do much better than going to see this. The characters are likable, the script is sharp and witty, and there's some ridiculous horror in there makes you grin from ear to ear and realise this hasn't got any roots in the modern day (I'm particularly thinking of the hand coming up from the floor of the car...) but it's the comedy that will win you over. I probably wouldn't have seen Fright Night when it came out, so I have Movie Con and David Tennant to thank for this one.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

FILM REVIEW: Conan The Barbarian


I could literally just fill this review with photos of Jason Momoa topless and snarling. Maybe I'll do that instead, as what I'm about to write kinda sucks...

The main draw for going to this was seeing the man in person present the premiere, and he is the boomingst man I've ever heard. "THIS IS THE QUIETEST CINEMA I HAVE EVER BEEN IN," came this voice of God from somewhere in the big superscreen as Chris Hewitt's appearance on stage had dropped the room to a hush. Then this humongous man appeared waving and grinning to the packed auditorium as I struggled like a fan girl with my camera (which I still couldn't get to work). "THIS IS THE BIGGEST SCREEN I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE," he declared. Surely only a few feet bigger than yourself Mr Momoa? What he privately thinks about Marcus Nispel's take on Conan The Barbarian he'll probably keep to himself, but here he was praising how good it was and urged us all to enjoy ourselves. Well, it's not boring I'll put it that way.

The 'prologue' of Conan's birth into the world reeked of ridiculosity throughout (yes it gets a new adjective) and this then lingered throughout the rest of the film. Did Ron Perlman just deliver his own son by pulling him out? Is this the world of Conan? (on the plus side, RON PERLMAN. I didn't even know he was in this, so I had a mini seizure)

I'm unfamiliar with the literary work of Robert E Howard and the earlier adaptations of the stories, but I'm always intrigued by a land which isn't our own, with ripples of fantasy running along the edges of the map. The land Conan inhabits is the Hyborian age - akin to our own world, but set after the fall of Atlantis and before the dawn of other civilisations (thanks Wikipedia). It's filled with sorcery, religion, revellers and slavery, and amongst them is the wildchild orphan Conan, who fights for no-one and for no cause. The landscapes and cinematography are just breathtaking (it was all filmed in Bulgaria, somewhere I'm now desperate to go. At least I got travel recommendations out of this!) - and what I find deeply, deeply disappointing is that we didn't get to properly explore it. We had lots of handy little place names appear on the screen, but there felt no history or mythology steeped in these places - it was all just a massive battleground. The Skull Cave was so striking, but all just wasted. I wish they'd done more.

The story - well, there was no story, put it that way. Just a few grunts of direction and that was it. Again, unfamiliar with the underlying material, but Robert E Howard wrote tonnes of stories for his hero. Surely one of them had potential for use? Why come up with a brand new tale, and why come up with such an unoriginal lousy one? Conan's father is killed when he is a little boy by a warlord and his crazy magic-mad daughter (Rose McGowan) and he is left alone. Later, as a grown up Momoa, he hears of them stalking the land looking for the "pure blood" to bring back a dead sorceress and he chases after them on a quest for revenge. But of course, as there's absolutely zilch in the way of character development, suspense, peril, or surprise and everything is so sketchily told - you don't really care. Of course Conan will win. At least throw a twist in there. "You have a sister!" No, better: "ROSE MCGOWAN IS YOUR SISTER!" Hell, I could write a better trashy swords and sandal romp than this.

Rose McGowan is lovely, and she does her best playing a bordering on incestuous witch (she had plenty of practice on Charmed. BEING A WITCH), but she just cannot act. Nor can Rachel Nichols, who playing the female love interest (and "pure blood"), I wanted to smack a fair few times. Yes partly out of jealousy, but also partly out of having the charisma of a piece of paper. She was annoying, pointless, capable in battle but yet somehow completely uninspiring or empowering, and her relationship with Conan was laughable (talk about a rehearsed sex scene. Although, go on then, we get to see a largely naked Momoa).

Fighting in a village, fighting in a prison, fighting on a ship, fighting in a monastery, fighting in a cave, fighting on horses, fighting people made out of sand... that's largely the premise of the film. There's a tiny bit of dialogue in there somewhere, you might just find it. It all gets so repetitive after a while that your eyes are enjoying it but you find your mind wandering... although fighting on a massive wheel was my personal favourite, and pretty impressive. If only the girl had died. Le sigh.

And I think this has to the biggest non-use of 3D I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, who worked on this? 

Don't be expecting the beginning of an epic franchise as there's no richness, scope or intrigue to this film which is a disservice to its creator, and also to Jason Momoa, who is a damn fine actor (see Game of Thrones) and doesn't deserve the barrel of abuse that's about to come flying his way. He's such a pretty Conan - go just to stare at how beautiful he is (I did), but apparently he has written - actually written - the script for a possible sequel (he has signed on to three films) so I wonder what will come of that.

Conan the Barbarian is big, dumb and silly and has a strong whiff of Kevin Sorbo about it. Nispel shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near it. Here's hoping any further 'adventures' have a bit more brains about them.


A Special Movie Con Edit...

..because the tinterwebs now has the new The Woman In Black trailer up. Looks like the willies. And Daniel Radcliffe also lookingly slightly illegally hot?




Tuesday, 16 August 2011

FILM REVIEW: Cowboys and Aliens


By far the biggest film at Movie Con was Cowboys and Aliens. The UK premiere kicked off the event on Thursday night and was attended by all its main stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and its director Jon Favreau (Iron Man). And what with it then playing out every evening for the next three days, it was almost inevitable that we were going to cross paths at some point.

As I have stated in my Attack The Block review: I don't do alien movies. This however, was a pleasant surprise, and a great Saturday night film - even though we were three rows from the front of the superscreen and you had to physically turn your head to look from one end to the other.

Daniel Craig is Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw who wakes up in the middle of the desert with no memory and a strange metal shackle around his wrist. Heading into the nearest town he gets attracts the attention of the local sheriff after a run in with bigshot Paul Dano, and mystery woman Olivia Wilde, who seems to know more about his present situation than he does. When Harrison Ford, a local colonel who wants Jake for stealing his gold, turns up in town all hell suddenly breaks loose as lights flash from the sky and alien planes snatch up half the town's population, setting fire to buildings and leaving a trail of devastation and grief. During all of this, the metal shackle comes to life, and Jake is able to shoot down one of the planes with its powers, and in doing so the survivors can track the alien and follow it to try and win back their people.

The concept (based on a graphic novel) was always going to be intriguing - interrupting a Wild West scene with technologically advanced creatures.  In comparison with the other 'aliens in an unfamiliar environment film' I saw this weekend, Cowboys and Aliens is more enjoyable, and more exciting and visual to watch. I was always more interested in Westerns than Brit flicks anyway...

The 'attack' scenes are fantastic, particularly the first raiding on the town which dazzles the viewers and sets the film up for the main conflict. Favreau is using all of his skills here from his previous action films to make these sequences dramatic as well as dynamic. The cinematography and sets are also stunning - it looks and feels like the desert, and seeing an alien spaceship lodged amongst the blazing sun and rocky terrain is compelling as it is striking.

It's a shame everything good about the film was on its surface. The characters did feel as though they had been simply lifted from the pages of the comic book. They had a rigidity about them, a 2D feel, and though the film itself didn't give in to the gimmick of 3D the characters could have at least developed a layer or two. I found this particularly evident with Sam Rockwell's character, the saloon owner, who loses his wife in the first attack but yet his love for her and grief at losing her are barely noticeable. Therefore its the reunion of boy and grandfather that draws the biggest pathos at the end of the film.

Craig, Ford and Wilde are all very capable in their roles and certainly look the part and authentic to the genre, but their characters emit little sympathy or connection, especially Wilde when - in a less then pleasing twist halfway through the film - is revealed to be an alien (albeit a good one). There are some promising notes: Harrison Ford's relationship with the Indian he takes in is nicely done, and Paul Dano is excellent as the good for nothing bothersome Percy, who is sobered and matured by his abduction. But the Craig/Wilde romance is underwhelming, as is the resolution of Craig's Jake Lonergan. What does he actually learn from any of this? What does he actually achieve? And in all honesty, all the townsfolk seem rather non-plussed with the events happening around them... there was a cute dog though. I did fear for him a few times.

Cowboys and Aliens does exactly what it sets out to do in its title, and you're not going to be bored watching it all play out on the big screen. Whether you'd watch it again though, is another matter. Whether there's going to be a sequel... well maybe there's more to come from these characters after all. But thank you Movie Con, for allowing me to see something brainless for a change.



FILM REVIEW: Attack The Block


I was reluctant to go and see Attack The Block when it came out as I was pretty sure it wouldn't be my kind of thing. And having now seen it at Movie Con - I uphold that conclusion.

The only reason I saw it was because of the crazy booking system at the event, and how sessions overlapped with other sessions and we didn't get our first choice of the secret screening (which is a shame as it would have been Drive) so we took whatever else was on. And this showing came with a Q&A from director Joe Cornish (of Adam and Joe fame) and the cast, so if you're going to see something you're not uber sure about, you might as well go with a whole lot of freebies thrown in.

I'm not really one for alien movies anyway (she says, then going off to watch Cowboys and Aliens immediately after) and the setting - a council estate in South London - didn't really appeal to me either. Film for me is about escapism and storytelling, and there's nothing appealing to me about a characterless concrete block of flats. I don't really see a lot of laughs in urban 'street' culture and 'Trust; Believe; Bruv' slanguage; nor do I get excited about watching black furry aliens or Nick Frost sat around in a tracksuit smoking weed. So I wasn't setting myself up for an enjoyable experience.

The first half of the film was very trying: samey and dull as the group of teenage boys ("hoodies") wander around after mugging a young woman (Jody Whittaker) and then killing a 'creature' that falls from the sky and taking it back to their mate's house as a trophy. Then they become the target of the pissed off and faramone hungry species, who start dropping from the sky and chasing them with their glow in the dark gnashers. It gets steadily more interesting after that, especially when they are confined to the block of flats, and have to befriend other people - including their mugging victim so we can get the redemption arc flowing - for help. The smoke engulfed corridor sequence was probably my favourite - well executed and thought through, and it's interesting Cornish chose to kill of one of his 'heroes'. The second half of the film is definitely stronger, and funnier for it too.

The script to give its kudos (also written by Cornish) is authentic, on the ball and funny, whilst also offering up questions and nods towards real society with the boys' stifled and/or neglected home lives. The cast of unknown kids are also well plucked out, and deliver their lines with an oldhand assurance and confidence, especially the two youngsters Probs and Mayhem. I do have to question what the point of Nick Frost was however - just to have a big name in there to draw the crowds?

It's an interesting concept for a plot, and Cornish has done brilliantly well to see his vision all the way through to the big screen, where it has in turn, done extraordinarily well and should see him set up a busy career from here. Die Hard 5 has been mentioned, but if this is the kind of original thinking he can come up with I hope he steers away from an adaptation or a sequel, and taps out another idea from his imagination bank.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Q&A session afterwards though, and that's what made it worth going to see in the end. Someone even asked if there were any more plans for the Adam and Joe Show on TV to which he replied, "but we haven't made any since 2001! Won't all our viewers be dead by now?" Keep making the films, Joe: Attack the Block didn't strike a chord with me, but one of them eventually will.



Monday, 15 August 2011

Movie Con 2011: The Good, The Bad, The Funny, The Odd, The Snoozers and Laughing in Edward Cullen's Face


So I've spent the last three days holed up at the O2 in London for this year's Movie Con event, or - now exploded version - Empire Presents BIG SCREEN, agog with preview screenings, showcases, footage, premieres, trailers, panels, quizzes, secret screenings, merchandise stalls, film booths, talks, and even the animals from Harry Potter. I feel exhausted just remembering it. But instead of chilling, unpacking my bag and cleaning the house as I should be doing, I am bringing all the culturemouse faithful up to date from a crazy trilogy of days. There are things that look great, things which suddenly and surprisingly look great, things which look hilarious, and things that left me cold. Here's a run down of the weekend's thrills and spills, and to follow will be the reviews from the event's films I managed to catch: Friends With Benefits, Attack The Block, Cowboys and Aliens, Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night. I promise not to go on about Jason Momoa. Too much. Oh, here's a picture anyway.

MOMOA!
Friday

After queuing for an hour to pick up our tickets (tsch), there were showcases from film distributors 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures, as well as panels from Sherlock (with the brilliant Mark Gatiss: "that could be a 'nyes' or maybe it's a 'yo'") and Merlin, and Q & A sessions for some upcoming releases. Highlights included:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - a live Q&A with screenplay writer Peter Straughan and Producer Robyn Slovo, where they introduced three exclusive clips from the film (out September 16) including one highly suspenseful one with Benedict Cumberbatch (my favourite, probably 'cos they showed it twice!). The film itself looks amazingly intriguing. Not my sort of thing usually, but has class written all over it - and plus I need to know who the mole at the top of the circus is!



Demons Never Die - a Q&A for the new British horror film with director Arjun Rose and producer Idris Elba - only friggin' Idris Elba! - out 28 October, ripe for Halloween. There was no trailer - just a sort of sizzle reel from the film which is still in post production. The film stars a fresh faced slick British cast led by Robert Sheehan (Misfits), and is about a group of suicide pact teenagers, who aim to follow in the footsteps of a friend who has already taken her own life but are soon subject to a masked killer who plans to do it for them. Idris Elba was the first big name presence at the Big Screen and there was a real buzz in the room when he appeared which was fab.

In Time - exclusive footage from the film, which looked like a run of the mill new "high concept" sci-fi action thriller with Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy and Vincent Kartheiser (the wonderful Pete from Mad Men).

And trailers for: The Thing - remake/prequel of the John Carpenter film - I zoned out through most of that, clearly showing how interesting it looks; Battleship - you do not even want to know how horrible this looks. I am not tainting my blog with it, go and watch it for yourself. It's like Transformers at Sea. And has nothing to do with C9 or D11; Tower Heist - yo still got it, Eddie Murphy; The Darkest Hour - another sci-fi, this time set in Russia with electricity nomming aliens and the lovely Olivia Thirlby; Martha Marcy May Marlene - which did so well at Sundance earlier this year (although the Fox representative couldn't even get the name right - shoddy); and Johnny English 2: Reborn - I'm ashamed to say made me giggle compulsively in my seat.



Immortals - along with Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy this was the most exciting preview of the day - an exclusive scene from the new Tarsem Singh movie which I have been squeeing about for ages. And it looks amazing! The battle scenes are tremendous, and it has so much style. Can't wait for this on November 11.



Warrior with Tom Hardy (boxing his brother) was the day's secret screening. We also saw lots of clips from the new 3D Titanic, which, in a whisper, does look amazing and I may have to go and see it next April when it's out (I have only seen it once, and it wasn't on the big screen).


Saturday

A day on which we all had our mobile phones taken off us for several hours because we had designs to record the NEVER BEFORE SEEN Breaking Dawn footage and post it all over the Internet. Oh blasted damn! All my plans foiled!
This was the busiest day of the lot, and ran over a good hour late so we barely had time to gulf down our sandwiches and curly wurlys. Showcases from E One, Warner Brothers, Optimum, Sony, Icon and Momentum (phew) and lots of directors on talking and talking for ages. Oh, and some of the best footage of the whole weekend. This was a day of total squee activity.

Final Destination 5 - never have I experienced so much cheering in a cinema screen. We saw the first 5 minutes of the film - aka, the prophetic vision from hell - and this time Death gets inventive on a road bridge somewhere in America, splitting it in two in the most implausible way over the ocean. Cue impalings, beheadings, getting smacked in the water and then double smacked with a car, etc etc. I swear Final Destination has just given up now, with the level of pastiche and laughable acting that was on show. Still, having 3D iron rods flying into your face was a lot of fun - I applaud them in their honing of the gimmick.

Kill List - Empire gave this 5 stars in their latest issue, but it didn't capture my attention. Now having watched three clips from the film, the trailer, and listened to a Q&A with writer and director Ben Wheatley and stars Neil Maskell and Myanna Buring this looks fantastic. I'm particularly drawn in by the recurring comment "you will be creeped out for days after watching this unsettling film." Ooh, I like a challenge. Plus the trailer is so hauntingly creepy, and quality for something that's, ahem, British. See what you think below - it's out September 2.



The Three Muskateers - an exclusive scene from the new film which, frankly, I wouldn't waste your eyes on.

Contagion - exclusive footage from Steven Soderbergh's human virus film - it looks too frightening, I don't know if I'll be able to watch it. It's not going to be a happy ending, is it?



Drive - we watched an ultraviolent clip from the film (which reminded me a lot of The Killer Inside Me - it's very shocking and uncomfortable) and then there was an engrossing and insightful Q&A with the director Nicolas Winding Refn, who talked about how the project came about and a striking meeting with star Ryan Gosling which was wonderful to listen to (I have heard the account from Gosling's point of view, so it was really interesting to get the director's take on it. If you don't know the story you can read about it here. FYI, Gosling thought he had been bored and uninterested in anything he had to say). The film also turned out to be that evening's secret screening, so some lucky peeps out there have seen the whole thing in full. You can too on September 23.



Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - Guillermo Del Toro giggled with glee when he found out the Americans had given his new horror project an R rating for "pervasive scariness". We got to see some new clips of the film, long delayed but now out October 7 (hopefully). It looks a lot like Gremlins to be honest, but I'll trust it will pervasively scare me. Here's one of the clips we enjoyed below:



30 Minutes or Less - again, not something which caught my attention previously, but watching the 'heist' scene in the bank: very, very funny.

Anonymous - director Roland Emmerich (who looks like Christopher Lee) came on to talk about his new film (and new direction?) in which we are led to believe Shakespeare was a fraud and didn't write any of his own plays. We were subject to lengthy footage of this, and I got slightly bored after a while. It didn't turn out to be the dullsville Shakespeare film of the weekend though...

Arthur Christmas - the first Aardman film we got a sneak peek of was introduced to us by comedy legend Peter Baynham which was lovely. This one didn't look like my cup of tea personally (a lot like Flushed Away) but the next one did: Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. Initially skeptical again, but the script is just delightfully funny. A great cast too including David Tennant, Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven and Brian Blessed (that got a cheer). Director Peter Lord took us through a slideshow of all the characters, and footage from the film and by the end of it (which was rather a long time) we were all besotted with it.

The Amazing Spider Man - one of the highlights of the whole entire weekend - I cannot tell you how amazing Marc Webb's (HA) version of the spider tale looks. You may be non-plussed what with the Tobey Maguire franchise seeming only minutes ago, and the story being pretty much exactly the same, but the tone is different and Andrew Garfield brings a whole new goofy vulnerability to the role of Peter Parker, and there's a new villain too - Rhys Ifans' The Lizard. If the trailer hasn't whet your appetite, please believe me when I say it's going to be one of the films of 2012. I didn't want to leave the room - I wanted to stay and watch the rest of it (though that's impossible, it's not finished yet).



Breaking Dawn - Myanna Buring came back to introduce the TOP SECRET Twilight clips for us. They really had picked the wrong audience - as soon as we were told about "this scene involves a lot of sexual tension between Bella and Edward" every smouldering look from R-Patz dissolved the room into fits of laughter. I was so proud to be part of it.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Guy Ritchie came on to talk to us about the sequel out at Christmas and show us a sizzle reel. I haven't seen the first film and can't say this ignited any desire to get involved, but it was a good celeb moment all the same.

Haywire - this was a surprise, because on paper I wouldn't have anything to do with it, but from the footage we watched it looked kind of awesome. Even with Ewan McGregor's face in it. Steven Soderbergh's "other" film is about a covert female operative (Gina Carano) who is betrayed on a mission, and then goes seeking revenge. We watched the clip where she is attacked by and then thoroughly beats up Michael Fassbender - and I was hooked.



Total Recall - an exclusive five minute clip from the remake starring Colin Farrell. I don't think this even has a trailer yet (it's not out until August next year) so there was an impressed hush around the room when this was announced. Enjoyable, but I probably won't be investing in the full thing. I have seen the original, and this looks a lot more high tech but does have Bryan Cranston in it.

The Hobbit - we got to see the latest video blogisode from the set on the big screen, which was a treat. All videos are available to watch on the Internet, and you can watch them - and keep up to date with all the latest developments on the two films - here. Peter Jackson does like to keep us informed!

Welcome to the Punch - a panel from the new British crime thriller which was shooting just up the road from where we were in Canary Wharf. Director and writer Eran Creevy was there, along with star Mark Strong, who's in every film going at the moment. Again, not my kind of thing so left me a bit cold, but was great to have Mark Strong there. I wanted to get up and shout "Freak!" but feared people may give me dark looks instead of getting my Stardust reference.

The Woman In Black - OH MY GOD I'M SO EXCITED I'M SO EXCITED I'M SO EXCITED! This may have been my favourite thing of the whole event - a special Q&A and exclusive footage from the new British horror film about the "scariest ghost story of all time". It looks so good, I cannot even begin to tell you. Director James Watkins (Eden Lake) spoke of how great it was to work with Daniel Radcliffe (who, erm, looks quite hot in this? Ooh-er, I said it out loud) and Editor Jon Harris told us all how to edit a scare and the great (and terrified) reception they've had to test screenings. There was an exclusive clip and a rare trailer to watch, and oh my it's going to freak me out - it's going to freak us all out. Can't believe we have to wait until February 13! Great idea for a Valentine's date, eh?



And trailers galore for: Straw Dogs - the remake starring James Marsden and Kate Bosworth which I can't really see the point of; Paranormal Activity 3 - the "final" film in the trilogy goes back to the start when Katie and her sister were growing up and first encountered the demon; Moneyball - Brad Pitt's heart warming baseball story looks abysmal; Happy Feet 2 - I just didn't get it, I actually didn't understand the trailer. Are they all high?; David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Chris Hewitt called this his favourite trailer in ages; a random message from Sean William Scott telling us about American Reunion - the cast of the American Pie films getting back together (no trailer though); and of course The Dark Knight Rises - that got plenty of whoops from the crowd.

I also nabbed The Social Network t-shirt which was, er... maybe not so cool.


Sunday

The final day of the film extravaganza and I was beginning to get a bit film weary (bearing in mind we saw lots of full length films as well as all of the above!). Saturday did turn out to be the craziest day though, with things calming down on the Sunday (except when MOMOA turned up to present Conan: The Barbarian and held everything up for about 40 minutes). It was the turn of Paramount, Lionsgate and Disney to show us their slate of goodies. As well as Mr Momoa, Gareth Edwards was also there for talks and panels, and David Tennant showed up to present the UK premiere of Fright Night and also ended up setting next to us on the balcony (he tiptoed in late and laughed a lot).

Real Steel - the award to most animated director of the event goes to Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) who was positively bursting with enthusiasm about his new robot boxing movie, showing us lots of footage, and then giving away free tickets to the premiere to someone in the audience who could answer a very hard and obscure Twilight Zone question - and then being astonished no-one knew it (a guy got it right in the end, but only after admitting he had Googled the answer on his mobile). Real Steel looks like a high end grimy Robot Wars but without Craig Charles. Not my bag of beans but you gotta admire this guy's commitment and energy.



Footloose - as if I wasn't excited enough already about the 1980s remake (you can relax and read the sarcasm through the type) we got to see an exclusive clip of the dance scene outside the diner. I haven't seen the original with Kevin Bacon strutting his stuff, so watching the trailer for this confused me as it didn't seem to be all about the dancing, ala Street Dance or something heinous like that. I'll be passing, though.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn - one of the most anticipated showings of the day was the collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, who presented a sizzle reel of the film. It's looking beautiful and the script (penned by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish - how's that for a plethora of talent) is very strong. It feels odd to be watching a "serious animation" in truth! Here's the trailer for those who have yet to see it - film is out October 26.



Warhorse - then Mr Spielberg was back on the screen to talk to us about Warhorse, a feature film based on the popular book and equally popular West End play (maybe he does more work than Mark Strong...) I'm still not sold on a story about a horse, which will inevitably end in its death and make everyone including me cry. The new footage didn't do much for me, either. Jeremy Irvine came on for a Q&A and he's a bright young man. It's bound to win loads of awards...

Puss in Boots - the surprise of the whole weekend. I'd given up on the Shrek films a long time ago, and this was barely on my radar. When we were told we had 10 minutes of footage from it I probably died a little inside. But oh my word, it is HILARIOUS. The whole room was caught off guard with how genius it was - from the cat gags, to the Humpty Dumpty egg gags (I loved those. "Do you have any idea what they do to eggs in prison? I tell ya - it ain't over easy!"), the way Jack and Jill have turned into murderous thugs... it's as if Dreamworks have had new life (and a smarter sense of humour) pumped into them. You must check this out when it's out on December 9 - I can't believe I'm endorsing this, but you seriously must.



Coriolanus - and now to the dullest thing of the whole spectacle - yup, that duller than dull Shakespeare film I was alluding to - this is it. And we had to sit through stacks of it. I tried to have a snooze but I was so awake from trailers being shot into my eyes that I had to wait for it to end instead. For some reason (probably it's high brow concept) Coriolanus is getting a lot of hype from the Empire team - who have seen the whole thing - but jeez, it looked ridiculous. We're on different wavelengths here.

John Carter - another "super hero" film for 2012, but this one comes from Disney and it's immediately obvious. It's soft and family friendly, and the footage sought to prove I won't be amongst its target audience.

We also had the trailers for: Abduction - the less said about that th-; 50/50 - a cancer comedy that looks promising but unfortunately stars Seth Rogen; The Muppets Movie - I.JUST.DON'T.GET.IT.AND.NEVER.HAVE; A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg's film about Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbender) and an unbalanced patient (Keira Knightley) has gone straight to the top of my most looking forward to list; The Avengers - obvious hysteria broke out amongst the audience when this came on; The Lion King (3D) - I wouldn't bother, it's more redundant than it is in Conan; Brave - a sneak peek from the new Pixar film out next year, but sadly that's all there was - not this promised exclusive footage which had been showing in some of the other sessions. That was a disappointing note.

The secret screening of the day was The Debt - something I have absolutely no interest in thanks to the presence of Sam Worthington. I would have run from the cinema when that came up!

I'm going to end with the trailer which was shown twice during Movie Con (to my utter delight) and is the film I would happily rob a bank to see at the moment. Like Crazy won Best Picture at Sundance earlier this year and won't be with us until February (sob sob) so until then I'll have to content myself with watching the trailer every five minutes. It looks perfect and you can add it to your subconscious now:



Reviews tomorrow, I promise (I have written them, I did them on the train back up from London this morning, so there!). Perhaps I'll see you at next year's event?

MOMOA!