Thursday, June 25, 2009

Speed script-writing, plus Public Enemies’ killer cast…

Having tried the “writing a script in 21 days” thing with a Christmas movie and having good results – thirty days rather than twenty one but definitely the easiest scriptwriting process ever – I’m trying it again with a comedy flick. There’s something to the idea : rather than thinking things out AT ALL, you just write like a person possessed and let it flow. The weird thing is that the stuff you come up with using this method tends to be much better and more original than usual – it’s like you know at the back of your mind how the script should really be and this method lets you release it. If that doesn’t sound too New Ager!

I can’t wait to see Public Enemies, which has to have one of the best male casts in years. There’s Johnny Depp and Christian Bale of course, but also Billy Crudup, James Russo, Giovanni Ribisi and Shawn Hatosy, to name but a few. Stephen Graham, the English actor playing Baby Face Nelson, is up next playing Al Capone opposite Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire, a TV series about the birth of Atlantic city as a casino town. Definitely one to watch.

Speed script-writing, plus Public Enemies’ killer cast…

Having tried the “writing a script in 21 days” thing with a Christmas movie and having good results – thirty days rather than twenty one but definitely the easiest scriptwriting process ever – I’m trying it again with a comedy flick. There’s something to the idea : rather than thinking things out AT ALL, you just write like a person possessed and let it flow. The weird thing is that the stuff you come up with using this method tends to be much better and more original than usual – it’s like you know at the back of your mind how the script should really be and this method lets you release it. If that doesn’t sound too New Ager!

I can’t wait to see Public Enemies, which has to have one of the best male casts in years. There’s Johnny Depp and Christian Bale of course, but also Billy Crudup, James Russo, Giovanni Ribisi and Shawn Hatosy, to name but a few. Stephen Graham, the English actor playing Baby Face Nelson, is up next playing Al Capone opposite Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire, a TV series about the birth of Atlantic city as a casino town. Definitely one to watch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hangover staggers into view...

Sometimes you want to go and see something just because it’s funny. Not clever, not ironic, just laugh til you drop funny. The Hangover is one of those films.

I don’t know how someone didn’t think of this before: a bunch of guys wake up after a stag night and find that they’ve lost the groom. There’s the incredibly henpecked Stu, the groom’s irresponsible school friend Phil and his insane future brother in law Alan. The guys go to Vegas with differing aims: some to get wasted, others to have a good time and some just want to survive the night. They start the night by doing shots on the hotel roof and then… that’s it until they wake up the next morning with the hangover from hell, a trashed hotel room, no memories of the night before and no sign of the groom. With the anxious bride ringing them non-stop, the guys lurch around trying to follow clues and figure out what on earth they got up to in the previous 12 hours.

The jokes come thick and fast with some great scenes like the one where the police decide to use the hapless trio for a Taser demo and where Alan decides to put his card-counting skills to good use…

The only actor out of the quartet that I remotely recognised was Bradley Cooper, who’s managed to appear in a large number of big films without ever becoming a star. Well, it might happen with this one. Having said that, the person who completely steals this film from his first frame is the astonishing Zach Galifianakis who lumbers around doing his own thing and being hilarious with it.

Go and see The Hangover if you have one and I can guarantee the laughs will cure it.

The Hangover staggers into view...

Sometimes you want to go and see something just because it’s funny. Not clever, not ironic, just laugh til you drop funny. The Hangover is one of those films.

I don’t know how someone didn’t think of this before: a bunch of guys wake up after a stag night and find that they’ve lost the groom. There’s the incredibly henpecked Stu, the groom’s irresponsible school friend Phil and his insane future brother in law Alan. The guys go to Vegas with differing aims: some to get wasted, others to have a good time and some just want to survive the night. They start the night by doing shots on the hotel roof and then… that’s it until they wake up the next morning with the hangover from hell, a trashed hotel room, no memories of the night before and no sign of the groom. With the anxious bride ringing them non-stop, the guys lurch around trying to follow clues and figure out what on earth they got up to in the previous 12 hours.

The jokes come thick and fast with some great scenes like the one where the police decide to use the hapless trio for a Taser demo and where Alan decides to put his card-counting skills to good use…

The only actor out of the quartet that I remotely recognised was Bradley Cooper, who’s managed to appear in a large number of big films without ever becoming a star. Well, it might happen with this one. Having said that, the person who completely steals this film from his first frame is the astonishing Zach Galifianakis who lumbers around doing his own thing and being hilarious with it.

Go and see The Hangover if you have one and I can guarantee the laughs will cure it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Waiting for Eric- Eric Cantona that is....

I really wanted to see The Hangover tonight but somehow we ended up going to see Waiting for Eric instead. This would have been okay except the usher in the cinema insisted on everyone sitting right at the back (even though the front had loads of empty seats) and we were sat next to a man with the most annoying laugh in Ireland. Just to emphasise how toe-curling his laugh was, he would pound on the arm rest with his fist every time he found something funny.

And the film ain’t THAT funny. This is Ken Loach so the whole thing is full of decent working-class types and heartwarming scenes of male camaraderie. Eric Bishop is a depressed postman who left the love of his life (his ex-wife) years before and now lives with his out of control teenage stepsons and babysits his daughter’s baby while she attends college. Got all that? Oh yeah, and after smoking spliffs he gets life advice from Eric Cantona. I did want to like Eric and his attempts to win back his ex-wife, but I just didn’t care that much. Their story seemed a bit clichéd and that’s taking into account that the subplot contains the most clichéd gangsters I’ve ever seen on film. The best characters are his cheerful and kindly workmates, who he doesn’t even seem to appreciate that much.

The main hook for the film, of course, is Cantona – who’s basically playing himself. It’s a neat trick but one which barely sustains a wafer-thin plot, let alone one stretched across a two-hour movie. This is a pleasant movie but not one that will set your world on fire. Annoying Laugh Man obviously loved it, though so what do I know!

Waiting for Eric- Eric Cantona that is....

I really wanted to see The Hangover tonight but somehow we ended up going to see Waiting for Eric instead. This would have been okay except the usher in the cinema insisted on everyone sitting right at the back (even though the front had loads of empty seats) and we were sat next to a man with the most annoying laugh in Ireland. Just to emphasise how toe-curling his laugh was, he would pound on the arm rest with his fist every time he found something funny.

And the film ain’t THAT funny. This is Ken Loach so the whole thing is full of decent working-class types and heartwarming scenes of male camaraderie. Eric Bishop is a depressed postman who left the love of his life (his ex-wife) years before and now lives with his out of control teenage stepsons and babysits his daughter’s baby while she attends college. Got all that? Oh yeah, and after smoking spliffs he gets life advice from Eric Cantona. I did want to like Eric and his attempts to win back his ex-wife, but I just didn’t care that much. Their story seemed a bit clichéd and that’s taking into account that the subplot contains the most clichéd gangsters I’ve ever seen on film. The best characters are his cheerful and kindly workmates, who he doesn’t even seem to appreciate that much.

The main hook for the film, of course, is Cantona – who’s basically playing himself. It’s a neat trick but one which barely sustains a wafer-thin plot, let alone one stretched across a two-hour movie. This is a pleasant movie but not one that will set your world on fire. Annoying Laugh Man obviously loved it, though so what do I know!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sci-Fi sequels - characters and casting

Finally saw Wolverine last night and enjoyed it. I can see why it’s gotten some flack from reviewers – director Gavin Hood is not as comfortable with this material as Bryan Singer and it does tend to lurch from one fight scene to another. But Live Schreiber is great as Wolverine’s more vicious brother and Danny Huston ably fits into Brian Cox’s shoes as the future arch-villain. Plus Hugh Jackman is always watchable as Wolverine and has a pleasing habit of walking around half-naked/in a vest - so I couldn’t complain.

The only irritating thing is the way they’ve handled the Deadpool character. Ryan Reynolds is excellent as the wisecracking Wade Wilson but he’s only on screen for about ten minutes at the start and then disappears until the last ten minutes, by which time he’s a mute zombie fighter. Then he gets killed. And that’s it! Let’s hope those rumours of a spin-off Deadpool movie are true because the character deserves better than this.

Talking of sequels, can I just say that I think casting Christian Bale as John Connor in the new Terminator flick was a big mistake. I’ve watched Terminators 2 and 3 over the last few weeks on TV and it’s striking that in both cases they cast a non-star as Connor. I always saw him as an ordinary guy who has greatness thrust on him – and Nick Stahl in particular did a great job of portraying that in T3. IMO they should have been brave and continued with Stahl in this one, rather than going with a star just because it’s Christian Bale. Mind you, it doesn’t help that the director is McG rather than the great JC….

Sci-Fi sequels - characters and casting

Finally saw Wolverine last night and enjoyed it. I can see why it’s gotten some flack from reviewers – director Gavin Hood is not as comfortable with this material as Bryan Singer and it does tend to lurch from one fight scene to another. But Live Schreiber is great as Wolverine’s more vicious brother and Danny Huston ably fits into Brian Cox’s shoes as the future arch-villain. Plus Hugh Jackman is always watchable as Wolverine and has a pleasing habit of walking around half-naked/in a vest - so I couldn’t complain.

The only irritating thing is the way they’ve handled the Deadpool character. Ryan Reynolds is excellent as the wisecracking Wade Wilson but he’s only on screen for about ten minutes at the start and then disappears until the last ten minutes, by which time he’s a mute zombie fighter. Then he gets killed. And that’s it! Let’s hope those rumours of a spin-off Deadpool movie are true because the character deserves better than this.

Talking of sequels, can I just say that I think casting Christian Bale as John Connor in the new Terminator flick was a big mistake. I’ve watched Terminators 2 and 3 over the last few weeks on TV and it’s striking that in both cases they cast a non-star as Connor. I always saw him as an ordinary guy who has greatness thrust on him – and Nick Stahl in particular did a great job of portraying that in T3. IMO they should have been brave and continued with Stahl in this one, rather than going with a star just because it’s Christian Bale. Mind you, it doesn’t help that the director is McG rather than the great JC….