I chat with Quentin Tarantino about his glorious Hateful Eight & he also tells us about his version of James Bond's Casino Royale - IN CONVERSATION REVIEW
I had hoped to end last year with what I would consider a proverbial bang discussing a my cinematic highlight of 2015, instead I'm kicking off 2016 with that bang of a standard that will hopefully continue throughout the year.
There are many reasons as to why it was my cinematic event of the year if you read The Establishing Shot you'll probably be aware that I am all about the immersive experience and it's unlikely that I'll have as great viewing of a film for a very long time, if ever.
For better or worse I often struggle to appropriately articulate some of what I consider highlight or milestone experiences - words don't fail me rather I feel that these experiences are somewhat diminished when curating them for a broader audience. I have been fortunate to enjoy a number of extremely exceptional experiences that I have kept to/for myself as I have felt that in the end - they mean more to me personally than they would as just another blog post on the web. The irony being that was one of the reasons I started The Establishing Shot in the first place (
add something here about moving over the festive season and losing a laptop with the original draft of this postm).
This is one such experience...
|The Hateful Eight Poster (ZOOM)|
Towards the end of last year I was extraordinarily fortunate along with a handful of others to see Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight as it was meant to be seen in all it's gloriousness. That staggering experience was a highlight of 2015 for me and further turned into a milestone memory when I got to chat with Quentin Tarantino about the making of The Hateful Eight.
I visit George Lucas' Star Wars: Visions Exhibition in Tokyo - THRILLING CITIES: TOKYO - EXHIBITION REPORT
I have been quietly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To that end I have been avoiding the marketing and hype as much as I can - until a couple of evenings ago when after seeing a snippet of Daisy Ridley and John Boyega chatting on the news - the switch flipped - there is no containing my excitement - bring on December 4orce, secondarily I thought I would finish this piece on my visit to George Lucas' Star Wars: Visions Exhibition in Tokyo. Incidentally since writing this I believe I have the entire Legacy featurette that the aforementioned Ridley & Boyega interviews were part of, I have embedded it below and it's worth watching just to see their reactions to being on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set.
Earlier this year I was fortunate to fulfil a lifelong dream and visit a land far, far away. And I have to say - Japan, the land of the rising sun, far exceeded my expectations on every level. I hasten to add that Japan might be famed for its rising sun but its sunsets are absolutely spectacular. Whilst I didn't manage to team up with a travelling troupe of Ninjas and defend beleaguered farmers against an out of control warlord's hordes or find a Hattori Hanzō sword (or even an ancient Masamune Katana folded 200 times) I did however manage to wander the land, meet people... get into adventures and stuff.
When planning my Japan itinerary I was stoked to see that an exhibition dedicated to Star Wars called Star Wars: Visions would be on in Tokyo at the same time as I would be there. This was fortuitous as a little while back I had made tentative plans to visit the Star Wars: Identities Exhibition in Paris, my plans fell through and the exhibition moved on to its next international destination. London doesn't seem to be getting any Star Wars Exhibition love of late, in comparison to The London Film Museum's exceptional 2007 Star Wars: The Exhibition at least, so Star Wars: Visions was something I was keen to visit. However, my itinerary was fairly loose to say the least, as I intended to do a lot of travelling around Japan and as much as I intended to “plan the dive then dive the plan. I had no idea where I would end up from one day to the next or how long I might be there. If I may digress? My experience is that when it comes to travel you can plan for your expectations but if you can be flexible - some of the best experiences are the unexpected ones and you never know what new adventure or taste lies around the corner in wait. So there was a good chance I might not see the exhibition but it was on my radar.
|Star Wars: Visions Exhibition Roppongi Hills Tokyo City View|
Star Wars was released in 1977 and firmly placed itself into film history as well as became a cultural phenomenon.
An ingenious mix of a universe with compelling characters, an engaging weave of history and war, a variety of diverse planets, spacecrafts and weapons, the use of state-of-the-art video technology combined with a timeless story has captured the imagination of many, many fans.
Given Japan's contribution to Star Wars, particularly the films of Akira Kurosawa and its ardent Star Wars following it's no surprise that in the run up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens George Lucas decided to bring the Star Wars: Visions Exhibition to cities around Japan before taking up a permanent residence in Chicago at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in 2018. George Lucas even wanted legendary and influential Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune most notably known for his collaboration with Akira Kurosawa and roles in films like; Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo and Red Sun or Soleil Rouge, for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi, then Darth Vader but Mifune past on both roles. Clearly Obi-Wan's Jedi robe and Lightsaber are nods to Japanese culture and Darth Vader's head gear is a modernised Samurai helmet.
George said, 'OK', suggested adding a samurai helmet, and Darth Vader was born. Simple as that.
Information on the exhibition at the time was sparse and mainly in Japanese so I was a little unsure of what to expect. Below is the translated description from the Star Wars: Visions Exhibition website, please excuse the flyboy translation:
As George Lucas was inspired by other works of popular culture for his vision of Star Wars, he invited artists selected from all over the world to draw upon the entire Star Wars galaxy for inspiration in creating their own original interpretations of Star Wars. The Star Wars Visions Exhibition showcases their art for the first time under one roof.
The Star Wars: Visions Exhibition will premier 60 pieces of original art work on display to the public for the first time and over a 100 artefacts of; concept art, costumes, sculptures and props used in the making of the Star Wars series on loan from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
As it turns out the force of kismet or manifest destiny came into play and after about a week of going full out and making the best use of my JR Pass to cover as much of my ambitious itinerary as possible. I highly recommended a Japan Rail Pass if you would like to get around Japan.
I had no comprehension of how big Tokyo actually is, the distances between landmarks or how wide the cultural differences are - everything took longer and more effort, combined with the heat pretty soon I was exhausted. So I decided to take it easy and hang out in Tokyo. After a late breakfast of scrambled eggs I shot in to one of the most vibrant and thrilling cities on Earth and had a day to kill.
SalonQP 2015 Highlights Part 1 - We chat with Artist-Designer Jaime Hayon, view Marc Newson's Hour Glass & MB&F's Arachnophobia, Objectif Horlogerie & Jean Rousseau - SALONQP 2015 EVENT REPORT
This post was originally intended to be a “Must see things at SalonQP 2015”. You know the type of post I'm referring to - low on content and high on hyperbole - but after spending some time at SalonQP absorbing the atmosphere and chatting with some of the talented and clearly determined watchmakers. I thought I really would be doing them a disservice if I didn't at least try to capture some of the innovative essence and elegance that SalonQP and their watchmakers bring to London - once a year for their annual luxury exhibition dedicated to fine watches.
...the name? It’s from the abbreviation for Quantième Perpétuel, the French term for “perpetual calendar”. QP is all about the long view and the highest standards.”
- excerpt from the SalonQP website
How could I not take some time and try cobble together something a little more substantial? Initially I had thought I may be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of time pieces and objects of desire on display from the 80 exhibiting brands at SalonQP 2015. Also the large number of people that typically attend these kind of events was a factor in my concern that I might not get a chance to see everything I hoped. Last year over 7,000 people visited and as SalonQP is growing from strength to strength - this year even more were expected.
Thankfully this was not the case at all as the exhibition is spaciously laid out over all three floors of giant The Saatchi Gallery. I was able to make my way around the entire exhibition in a couple of hours but more time was needed for visits, demonstrations and browsing pieces as there is more than enough to keep you occupied for days if needed.
After a visit it is easy to see why SalonQP is the UK (if not Europe's) premier fine watch exhibition. I hasten to add that although the focus of SalonQP is time pieces - it is very much a lifestyle exhibition - with high end luxury houses from other areas like; Lotus (because cars & watches), Linn Audio, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Creed Fragrance, Harrods, et al, showcasing their goods to meet the needs of people who enjoy, nay celebrate life. I would be surprised if SalonQP did not grow into a complete luxury lifestyle exhibition in the future.
SalonQP is an extraordinary opportunity to research your next purchase, meet some of the most talented crafts people in the watch business, see early watch samples before public release as well as view limited and rare examples of some of the finest watches ever made, listen and discuss aspects of the art & science of Horology (there are talks and seminars from leading watchmakers), view specially curated exhibitions as well as have a jolly good time which seems core to the SalonQP experience.
But for me, if there is one overriding take away from my visit SalonQP 2015 it is that I may never look at a watch the same way again - for most of us watches arrive as fully formed objects of function and beauty an almost abstracted thing distant from its origins, so understandably it is easy to forget that they are the composite of a long road and meticulous hard work. Nowhere was this more pertinent for me than when I stopped by Objectif Horlogerie to watch one of their craftsmen busy constructing a time piece.
I visit Arkham Asylum for The Rogues Gallery - Creation of a Super-Villain book launch & tick off riding in the Batmobile bucket list item - EVENT REPORT
A couple of weeks ago we had one of the best nights out in ages, in fact it was possibly the best Halloween night I will ever have. We had an absolutely ace evening of immersive fourth wall crossing, Gothic shocks, surprises and dreams coming true. It all started when I received a creepy email inviting me to a Halloween get together at The Crypt Gallery, Kings Cross to view “The Rogues Gallery - Creation of a Super-Villain”.
|The Rogues Gallery - Creation of a Super-Villain|
What was this all about? I wondered. But as I was very keen to visit The Crypt Gallery an underground venue that had piqued my interest over the years – we were in. The invite was accompanied by a rather disturbing and edgy recording purporting to come from the inside of Arkham Asylum and the voice sounded a lot like Mr Long Green, the Laughing Man, The Ace of Knaves, Joe Kerr, Dr. J Reko, the Harlequin of Hate or the Clown Prince of chaos himself The Joker.
Of course this was all pointing to one thing - The Rogues Gallery may be a super villain team synonymous with Central City's Flash but since the 80s The Rogues Gallery has slowly shifted to also mean a super group of foes based around Gotham. Had the Crypt been turned into Arkham Asylum?
On the evening as I looked out across the river it was almost as if a signal was shooting up and lighting the sky alerting me to start our journey north to Kings Cross.
Amazon Prime kicks off their first ever free PREVIEW WEEKEND with the Ridley Scott produced adaptation of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle
Sir Ridley Scott may be producing the new Denis Villeneuve Blade Runner project but before it hits cinemas you can see him take on another famous piece of literature from prolific and legendary Science Fiction author Philip K. Dick.
Described as Amazon Prime's most ambitious and critically acclaimed show yet in their Amazon Original Series, Amazon Prime have brought Philip K. Dick alternate future tale of America would look like if it had lost World War 2 - The Man In The High Castle to the small (or big screen depending on your setup) and for this weekend only! Ahead of its November 20 launch.
Based on Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel and adapted by Frank Spotniz, The Man in the High Castle explores what it would be like if the Allied Powers had lost WWII, and Japan and Germany ruled the United States.
Starring Rufus Sewell (John Adams), Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) and Alexa Davalos (Mob City). Executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner).
|The Man in the High Castle|
A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war.
David Semel & Daniel Percival
Frank Spotnitz, Philip K. Dick
Rufus Sewell, Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank
|The Man in the High Castle Amazon Prime Poster (ZOOM)|
The making of Legend - Director Brian Helgeland tells us about his take on The Krays and Tom Hardy, Emily Browning & Christopher Eccleston discuss the making of Legend – IN CONVERSATION
To be fair it seemed Legend was on the back foot with me from the get go. I am most definitely not a fan of straight up East End gangster films, especially if they are set in the 50/60s. The reality of post war trauma seems to bleed into every aspect of creativity and tales of this time seem mired in the bleak kitchen sink social realism that had become the mainstay sensibility of the day.
Sadly, this still proliferates the British gangster genre. And for me at least, it always seems that in an effort to show “how it really was/is” the entertainment value of the film is smothered, stuffed uncomfortably into a cement laden barrel and then dumped in the Thames. Don't even get me started on the authentically dark camera work and more often than not dank locations.
This is of course a sweeping generalisation and there is something inherently British about this combination that sometimes gives seed to masterful acting, great character studies, immersive style Cinéma vérité or poignant storytelling but more than not it's overshadowed by a noticeable diminishing of the entertainment factor. Some of my favourite noir films have sprung from this very combination like Jules Dassin's unforgettable Night and the City, Joseph Losey's Time Without Pity and more recently Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 and more that I cannot think of off the cuff.
Add to that, that I am by no means a fan or have any interest in The Kray Twins. Ronnie and Reggie sound like wholly unlikeable chaps, again to be fair I have limited knowledge of the subject matter.
All that combined under the film's tagline: “The notorious true story of The Kray Twins” should have spelt cinematic disaster for me.
Legend tells the story of two twins, Reggie and Ronald Kray and how they became two of the most notorious gangsters in history.
Brian Helgeland, John Pearson
Tom Hardy, Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, Aneurin Barnard, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri
|Legend One Sheet Poster (Enlarge)|
I don’t know what the truth is but I thought to find something in the middle of all of that would be the truest thing I could do and I was interested in humanising them in a way.” - Legend Director, Brian Helgeland
40th Anniversary screening of Monty Python and The Holy Grail For one night only in 500 cinemas! & The Pythons speak - UPCOMING CLASSIC SCREENING
Once in a lifetime, there comes a motion picture which changes the whole history of motion pictures. A picture so stunning in its effect, so vast in its impact that it profoundly affects the lives of all who see it. One such film...
This coming Wednesday 14 October marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of the legendary Monty Python film, Holy Grail.
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary, Monty Python and the Holy Grail will be shown in UK cinemas nationwide for one night only on Wednesday 14th October 2015 accompanied by a specially filmed, exclusive introduction from The Pythons.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is definitely up there in the top 10 comedic films of all time just below the Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different and both are on our greatest films ever made.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail has spawned a 1000 belly laughs, quotes, memes and profoundly affected the lives of all who have seen it. It is as hilarious and relevant today as it was 40 years ago. So it's a real treat that we'll get to see this classic on the big screen again in its technicolour and surround sound glory (always very, very important to ensure that coconut sounds are acoustically perfect) even if it's just for one night only.
|Monty Python and the Holy Grail|
King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles..
Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Monty Python (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin)
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Connie Booth
|Park Circus Presents Monty Python and the Holy Grail 40th Anniversary Screening Poster (ZOOM)|
Sam Mendes' James Bond follow up to Skyfall - SPECTRE is just over a month away from smashing into UK cinemas on the 26 October 2015. Even though we have been following the production it feels like its imminent release kind of snuck up on us.
Since seeing Skyfall we have been positively hanging to see what Sam Mendes does with Bond 24 or SPECTRE as it is now known. But it has been a bit of a bumpy road - what with Bond screenwriting duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade confirming they would be leaving the franchise just as Skyfall became its biggest success. Thankfully they did a turnaround. Sam Mendes hinted he may not return after Skyfall but again after some persuasion he has, unfortunately master cinematographer Roger Deakins has moved on despite being nominated for an Oscar for his stunning work on Skyfall.
Their efforts on Skyfall resulted in an all time high for the Bond franchise.
Not to mention the critical acclaim.
For the first time ever a Bond film, that is Sam Mendes' Skyfall was nominated and won the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film at the 66th British Academy Film Awards.
It had been 31 years since John Glen's For Your Eyes Only received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in 1981 and 47 years since a Bond film was nominated for anything other than a sound related Oscar with Terence Young's 1965 Thunderball being nominated and winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects at the 38th Academy Awards.
In total Skyfall racked up 5 Oscar nominations; Best Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography. That is just slightly less than the 7 Oscar nominations that all the other 22 Bond films combined.
Since Daniel Craig exploded onto screen as James Bond in Martin Campbell's 2006 rebirth of Bond - Casino Royale the Bond franchise has slowly been building upwards in both Bond's character growth as well as success. But how do you top Skyfall?
Well I think Esquire Magazine has for the most part covered this in their exclusive interview with SPECTRE lead and co-Producer Daniel Craig:
He doesn’t want to jinx it but, “I feel like we’ve all done our absolute fucking best and that’s a good feeling. Whether that makes a better movie we’ll see.”
Is the “classic Bond” ethos still in place, I wonder? “Times 10!” Craig almost shouts, momentarily revelling in his role as hype man. He repeats it when I laugh, holding his beer in the air. “It’s Skyfall times 10!”
And that is a point he is keen to make. For all the soul searching, he says, Spectre is “a celebration of all that’s Bond”.
There is a new supercar, the Aston Martin DB10. There are beautiful women, played by the va-va-voom Italian bombshell Monica Bellucci and the kittenish Léa Seydoux. There are signature set pieces: a thrilling opening in Mexico City; a car chase through Rome; action sequences in the Austrian Alps, in Tangier and in London. There’s a thuggish henchman (the first of Craig-era Bond) played by the former wrestler Dave Bautista. And there’s an evil megalomaniac, played by the great Christoph Waltz, devilish star of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Reading the synopsis for SPECTRE it looks like the Bond team are again delving into the personal story of the man behind the mythos, how James Bond becomes 007 as well as slowly bringing more of the formulaic elements to the fore. But with some certainty all we can expect is the unexpected as the story rolls out and hopefully puts elements into play that push out into Bond 25 and beyond, bringing the same team together again to make some magic.
As the release is imminent and whilst the memories of the production in London are still fresh I thought I would put together a post that would be the equivalent of an extended cinematic montage training scene of all the SPECTRE production news in the build up to the release of SPECTRE.
We can expect to see Sam Mendes' SPECTRE in UK cinemas from the 26 October 2015. In the meantime I'll be updating this post with all the official news you need to know about SPECTRE.
First Look: Watch Danny Kleinman's Made for Bond SPECTRE advert for the Sony Xperia Z5 Bond phone & RX100 IV camera starring Naomie Harris
We are less than two months away from Sam Mendes' SPECTRE, the 24th cinematic outing of Ian Fleming's James Bond, exploding on to screen in the UK - on 6 November.
In the run up to SPECTRE's release Sony have a little surprise for Bond fans and released a Bond inspired advert for their new Xperia Z5 smartphone and compact RX100 IV Cyber-shot camera. To create the advert they asked Danny Kleinman – the man behind many of the legendary Bond title sequences to direct and Miss Moneypenny herself - Naomie Harris to take the lead in the 60 Second advert highlighting the advanced functionality of both the Sony Xperia Z5 smartphone and compact RX100 IV Cyber-shot. All set to the iconic backdrop of Bond's home - London.
Sony's new campaign film from Sony features brand new technologies that have been ‘made for Bond’
Set against a backdrop of London’s South Bank, Moneypenny uses Sony’s RX100 IV camera to capture super-slow-motion surveillance as a drama unfolds with an intense chase to deliver Bond’s Xperia Z5 smartphone
Directed by Danny Kleinman – the man behind many of the legendary Bond title sequences
John Erick Dowdle's No Escape is a cracking (albeit harrowing) piece of contemporary grindhouse cinema – NO ESCAPE FILM REVIEW
I didn't really have much expectation or knowledge of John Erick Dowdle or his film No Escape going in to see it. In fact I thought the trailer looked to be incendiary given the current state of affairs. Don't get me wrong it is a very well made trailer that definitely had me interested in the film but forced me into a crisis of conscience given the content - that is a seemingly wholly evil nation of bloodthirsty savages baying for the blood of wholly innocent Americans.
The shine of what is otherwise a very slick trailer was immediately replaced by the hope that No Escape was not an early indication that the mood in the air is manifesting itself in a return to the propagandist and exploitive, cynical style of 80s Hollywood cinema that had a regressive American foreign policy at his core, a policy that ultimately reasons that only the return of Rambo can save us from the great evil again.
Thankfully, even if it is - I didn't really care as pretty quickly I was swept away in the gripping tale of a family's harrowing flight through a danger fraught city. Just to return to the trailer quickly - it is one of those scenarios where the film is pretty much exactly what is promised by the trailer – a schlocky, albeit very slick schlock (did I just invent a new genre? slick-schlock pronounced like Hip Hop), grindhouse style film for the double bill - midnight crowd. Possibly an indication of whether you will enjoy No Escape (which I did) is watching the trailer first - if it's effective to you, you'll probably like the film. But it's a bit of a Catch 22 - as the trailer gives away vital plot elements which are better left discovered during the viewing.
|No Escape UK Quad Poster in cinemas 4 September 2015 (ZOOM)|
Legend of The East End Exhibition Brings Kray Legend to Life & Iconic photography to the Heart of the East End - UPCOMING FILM EXHIBITION - VISIT LONDON
T o celebrate the upcoming release of the new Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy starrer Legend into UK cinemas on 9 September. StudioCanal are bringing an exciting and iconic LEGEND OF THE EAST END Exhibition to the heart of the East End 28th August - 11th September 2015.
We have been quietly anticipating director Brian Helgeland's tale of the notorious 60s London crime lords - The Kray twins for awhile now. Helgeland has been building up a varied and impressive portfolio of work including being involved in the writing or adaptation of; Paul Greengrass' Green Zone, Tony Scott's Man on Fire, Richard Donner's Conspiracy Theory, Clint Eastwood's Mystic River & Curtis Hanson's superbe 50s crime thriller L.A. Confidential. as well as directing corkers like; A Knight's Tale and the Mel Gibson remake of John Boorman's phenomenal Point Blank - Payback.
To be fair I'm not a particular fan of straight up 50/60s British crime thrillers they always seem to unsuccessfully offset downbeat kitchen sink realism with tinsel glamour. There are of course notable exceptions, one of them being Paul McGuigan's much underrated Gangster No. 1. Yet despite being a peak in modern art, music, fashion and culture with Britain bouncing back after World War II the swinging sixties struggles to be framed as an attractive period in film. But Helgeland's work on Payback and L.A. Confidential are more than enough to have me very interested in seeing what he does with 60s London.
|Ronnie Kray and Reggie Kray Drink Tea Image: © Hulton Archive Getty Images(ZOOM)|
They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world, and me and my brother ruled London.” - Ronnie Kray, in his autobiographical book, My StoryIt looks like Brian Helgeland is already bringing his A game as he has managed to assemble an incredibly talented, and very strong, craft oriented cast for Legend. Which includes; Emily Browning, Paul Bettany, Taron Egerton, Chazz Palminteri, Christopher Eccleston and the legend that is Mr. David Thewlis - which will no doubt be a key strength of the film, particularly with performers having to bounce off Tom Hardy in what may be a career re-defining performance for him, in the dual roles of Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
In a quirk Legend pulls former Gangster No. 1 co-stars David Thewlis and Paul Bettany back into the 60s London underworld.
* Aneurin Barnard will be playing a young David Bailey before he became the master photographer and Legend we now know. Which brings me to - Legend will be in UK cinemas from the 9th September in the meantime StudioCanal's The LEGEND OF THE EAST END Exhibition will brings the Kray Legend back to life with a rare look into the lives of the notorious East End gangsters - Ronald "Ronnie" Kray and Reginald "Reggie" Kray aka The Kray Twins, a look behind the scenes of the making of the new Legend film, an amazing opportunity to view - iconic East End photography from Steven Berkoff, Duffy & Don McCullin as well as a FIRST LOOK at Jocelyn Bain Hogg's The Firm- a photographic retrospective documenting the British organized crime world.
Legend tells the story of two twins, Reggie and Ronald Kray and how they became two of the most notorious gangsters in history.
Brian Helgeland, John Pearson
Tom Hardy, Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, Aneurin Barnard, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri
|Legend Film Poster(ZOOM)|
The Ant-Man team talk about making Ant-Man, Edgar Wright's contribution, creating the characters of Ant-Man the possible the future of Ant-Man and also mention Captain America: Civil War and director Peyton reed talks Marvel sub genres and his favourite Ant-Man stories with us.
Marvel's latest big screen Summer blockbuster Ant-Man is still winning over audiences in the UK cinemas and is currently riding high in the UK box office but a couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the European press conference for the release of Marvel's Ant-Man and had the opportunity to ask the lead cast as well as director Peyton Reed some burning questions about Ant-Man as well as hear some interesting bits from the Ant-Man team.
The Ant-Man European Press Conference was a grand affair held at London's Corinthia Hotel and in contrast to the small theme of Ant-Man it was rather big. Attending the press conference were most of Ant-Man's lead cast; Scott Lang / Ant-Man himself Paul Rudd, Mr. Michael Douglas who plays Dr. Hank Pym and Michael Peña who takes the role of a close associate of Scott Lang, Luis. The chat was moderated by the people's champion and all round film buff Empire's Chris Hewitt.
Further below I have outlined some of the interesting bits from the conference, which sadly does not convey the camaraderie, humour or quick fire wit on display on the day, so I will add videos from the conference as soon as they are uploaded.
I guess I should frame Ant-Man a little. Boom tish! Ant-Man is a lot of fun with big laughs but it wasn't my favourite Marvel film. I think, whilst different elements will most certainly engage and entertain different audience segments - so everyone will have some fun. I did however feel it was largely aimed at a much younger audience than myself. Much of the film whilst fun while it happens on screen was instantly forgettable for me, with novelty and conventionality overriding depth or meaning and the film feels a little piecemeal to me. But there is a story in there that has the hallmarks of Marvel's sparkling ingenuity.
|Marvel's Ant-Man Poster (ZOOM)|
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Peña, T.I., Hayley Atwell, John Slattery
I thought I was able to easily manage my expectations of Ant-Man the film mainly as I was not really a reader of the Scott Lang era The Astonishing Ant-Man comics. But I am a huge *fan*, which is possibly not the right word if you know Hank Pym's turbulent history, let's say, I am very fascinated by Henry or Hank Pym as he is most well known. Along with many other wonderful characters he was a small part of my childhood and there is no doubt that he is certainly one of the most complex characters in the Marvel Universe.
In that regard many may acclaim and hold Alan Moore's The Watchmen as the tipping point in mainstream comics where it become acceptable for the good guys to also be afflicted by personal adult issues - but Hank Pym was there first. And I was really hoping that some of that came through into the Ant-Man.
My introduction to Hank Pym was in what I thought would be a quirky once off story, that became an ongoing strip in Tales to Astonish, the same title that later brought us the return of The Incredible Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner. And Hank Pym's adventures were of the weird, wonderful, astounding and unexpected kind. Along with his partner The Wasp they kicked ass and scienced their way out of some tricky situations.
Their adventures were always steeped in Science Fiction and in this respect the Ant-Man film plot does indeed capture the essence of those early comics.
Before seeing the film my approach was that - even if Hank Pym's presence isn't the focus it's OK after all it doesn't really matter who wears the suit it's a symbol – as long as someone is wearing it.
But after leaving the cinema I felt more strongly about the whole - anyone can wear the suit thing. For me in Ant-Man's case it really is the man in the suit that matters which made me remember why I wasn't that interested in the Scott Lang era Ant-Man comics.
Hank Pym was a brilliant man who built something and because of events in his life wanted to do good, sadly tragedy and fragmentation follows him. I was hoping that this would come through in the film. A little bit of it does but not enough - and this is all the more frustrating as director Peyton Reed made it clear that this element of Ant-Man is something that he was interested in as well. If you read on further below Reed makes it clear that if all the stars align and Ant-Man returns in a sequel the door may be open to expanding on Hank Pym's story and character. If so and all the signs are correct I'm guessing that we can expect some early Ant-Man with enough political intrigue and action to rival the brilliant X-Men: First Class/X-Men: Days of Future Past.
... Also it wasn't lost on me that Hank Pym in the comics is such a complicated character and we had a very complicated man playing that character, we had Michael that has an amazing career playing characters with a lot of grey area, and really we just wanted to deepen that character.” - Ant-Man Director, Peyton Reed
There is poetry in the tale of an ordinary man whose problems seem to big and insurmountable that sometimes putting on a suit that makes you small is the only way to overcome them. But Scott Lang comes across as just another victim of circumstance thrust by others into doing what he does, he doesn't seem to be a man of conviction, whilst occasionally cracking a joke. For me the hero by chance thing really doesn't work and I think may be the reason I wasn't so taken with the Scott Lang's Ant-Man comics in the first place. Even the new, new Irredeemable Ant-Man Eric O'Grady who is a plain old bad egg has a fantastic universe and characters around him- making him entertaining.
Again this may all be a non issue for anyone who has not read a Hank Pym comic and will be swept away with the new Ant-Man.
I was fortunate to get an early look at some Ant-Man footage a while back and really enjoyed what I saw, granted the cuts I saw were all about the action which is something that Ant-Man does really well. However I did struggle with some of the characters motivations, rational and actions. The performers really aren't given enough time or substance to bring weight to their larger than life personalities. In previous Marvel films sleight of hand and dazzling us with something of a greater distraction minimised the effect these holes but not so much with Ant-Man.
|The Establishing Shot: MARVEL'S ANT-MAN FINAL TRAILER - 17 JULY 15|
Another highlight of the film I must mention is the introduction of the Quantum Universe or the Microverse as I know it - anyone who loves Science Fiction will be mesmerised or at least smitten by these scenes but – why, oh why were they so short?
Also it would have been absolutely brilliant if The Micronauts (The Avengers of the Microverse) made an appearance in the Quantum Universe. There is more than enough reason for another visit to the Quantum Universe but either spotting The Micronauts or even having them help Scott would have blown the bloody doors of the cinema and I would have tried to book my seat for Ant-Man 2 then and there. Or dare I say it? How awesome would would it have been if Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange was involved in Scott's return?
I was fortunate to get an early look at some Ant-Man footage a while back which I loved, granted what I saw was all about the action and that is something that Ant-Man does really well. But I did struggle with some of the characters motivations, dialogue and rationale, the performers really aren't given enough time or substance to bring weight to their larger than life personalities. In this respect it is worth reading further below to hear the cast talk about how they built their character's personalities.
Before we get to the good stuff further below I should mention the story of Marvel's Ant-Man does not start with the cinematic release - there are in fact two tiny sets of prequel comics that set events in the film up.
The first is Ant-Man Prelude a little two parter that introduces Cold War era Hank Pym to us and his first mission, in which he dons the Ant-Man suit and heads to Berlin, this mission is referenced a number of times in the opening scene of Ant-Man in the explosive discussion between; Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Howard Stark (John Slattery), Martin Donovan (Mitchell Carson) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) which takes place at S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters. Ant-Man Prelude also introduces another mysterious character who will presumably play a bigger role in Ant-Man's story when they return, whether they are friend or foe is anyone's guess at the moment.
The second is a smaller story: Ant-Man Scott Lang Small Time which brings us to contemporary times and tells the story of how the Robin Hood like Scott Lang gets a little to carried away and ends up in San Quentin prison about to have his skull cracked which is where Scott Lang's cinematic adventure starts.
|THE ESTABLISHING SHOT: MARVEL'S ANT-MAN UK TRAILER - 17 JULY 15|
Enough waffling, here is the good stuff - The key questions I had lined up to gain some insight into Ant-Man's background were:
- Where is Evangeline Lilly?
- What was important to convey or bring to life with Ant-Man?
- How did Paul Rudd get involved in Ant-Man and what drew him to the project. Leading into could he tell us a little bit about the early production history of Ant-Man?
- Can you tell us a little bit about Edgar Wright's involvement in Ant-Man and did you guys collaborate at all after he moved on?
- What drew Peyton Reed to the story of Ant-Man?
- What happened with Peyton Reed's involvement in the Fantastic Four?
- Henry or Hank Pym as he is now known has a complicated history with dark periods. I am curious about why that was not brought to the fore, he seemed to be more of a conventional character can you tell us a little bit about your thinking behind that?
- Can you tell us a little bit about how Ant-Man fits into the Marvel Universe moving forward?
- Can reed tell your favourite comics or favourite comic stories?
Our movie happens to have the structure and feel of a heist movie and I think that’s one of the things that Marvel’s really done well. Sometimes you’ll talk to Kevin Feige and he’s like, we don’t make superhero movies, we make genre movies. And I think that’s been a very smart thing.” - Peyton Reed
Sadly many of the burning questions I was hoping to get some insight into were not addressed, specifically what drew: Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd to Ant-Man and a frank discussion on the early production history and decisions which lead to the film we now have.
Fortunately I was spared some of the onus when the very first question from the floor addressed the Edgar Wright question.Other topics we managed to touch on at a high level included;
- Paul Rudd on the pressure of Ant-Man leading into a new era in Marvel films
- Peyton Reed on Edgar Wright's part in bringing Ant-Man to life
- Michael Peña, Paul Rudd & Michael Douglas discuss the influences on their roles in Ant-Man
- Paul Rudd on creating Scott Lang aka Ant-Man
- Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd & Michael Peña discuss comics and their early cultural influences
- Paul Rudd on getting into shape for the role of Ant-Man
- Peyton Reed discusses whether the sub genre heist element of Ant-Man signals a change in the direction in Marvel films
- Michael Douglas on the experience of making Ant-Man
- Peyton Reed addresses the tone of Ant-Man
- Michael Douglas & Michael Peña on the possibility of wearing the Ant-Man suit in an upcoming Marvel film
- An acknowledgement of Evangeline Lily's absence
- Peyton Reed further hints at possible elements that might be explored in Ant-Man 2 and confirms Paul Rudd will appear as Ant-Man in Marvel's upcoming Captain America: Civil War
- Paul Rudd on his participation in Captain America: Civil War
First Look: Full cast announced & first look at Jamie Dornan & Cillian Murphy in Sean Ellis’ World War II thriller Anthropoid - Film Updates
This is very good news indeed! After hearing various murmurs and snippets over the last six months we have received some confirmed information of Sean Ellis' latest feature film Anthropoid.
And it seems to be nothing like I thought it would be. After hearing about Ellis gearing up for a film called Anthropoid I must confess I thought he would be returning to the horror genre, which he delved into with his 2008 feature The Broken starring Lena Headey.
1. resembling a human being in form.
relating to the group of higher primates, which includes monkeys, apes, and humans.
But it seems that Sean Ellis has put another feather in his cap as he adds a completely new genre to his growing resume - as Anthropoid is actually a military thriller based on real events occurring around Operation Anthropoid a joint British and Czechoslovakian World War II initiative.
If the photo further below is anything to go by it also looks like Ellis, a renowned photographer, has found a style of working that he is happy with, as the photo shows him very hands on in a foreign country as with his mesmerising and tense 2013 Philippines based crime thriller Metro Manila.
It has been a long road to getting Anthropoid into production (14 years) which hopefully means we can expect the film to benefit from all the hallmarks we have come to know of Sean Ellis' style - a very measured, beautifully composed and meticulously planned film, enhanced with Ellis' up close and personal handheld shots.
Along with the official synopsis and release we also get our first look at Jamie Dornan as Jan Kubis and Cillian Murphy as Josef Gabcik, the two soldiers at the centre of the Anthropoid mission.
|Jamie Dornan (Jan Kubis) & Cillian Murphy (Josef Gabcik) in Anthropoid (Credit: James Lisle / Courtesy of LD Entertainment) (ZOOM)|
I pay a short visit to Marvel UK's tiny Ant-Man Micro Art Exhibition & have a small chat with artist Willard Wigan aka What is this? An exhibition for Ants? Oh! - EXHIBITION VISIT
Earlier this week I headed back to Old Street to see the launch of the marvellous Marvel UK The Antsibition or Willard Wigan's micro art Ant-Man Exhibition.
A little while back I received a little invitation to a pop up gallery in Old Street Tube Station, where to celebrate the release of Marvel’s Ant-Man into UK cinemas on the 17th July 2015 Marvel presents The Antsibition in partnership with IMAX 3D.
Marvel UK have teamed up with IMAX and renowned micro-artist Willard Wigan to host a small exhibition or Antsibition of Willard Wigan's micro-sculptures and unveil a specially made Ant-Man sculpture.
I had actually heard of Willard Wigan's sculptures but did not connect the dots till I was actually at the exhibition and realised Willard Wigan was the same micro-artist who has created a buzz with his tiny sculptures, is the same Willard Wigan of the nine camels through an eye of the needle fame and actually holds the Guinness Records title of the worlds smallest sculptures.
All photos from my visit can be viewed on our Flickr Channel.
Cinesthesia presents Nicolas Roeg's WALKABOUT and Live Soundtrack by Orchestra Elastique - UPCOMING CLASSIC SCREENING
I am a huge fan of Nicolas Roeg. His talent as an auteur is immeasurable, to this day his oeuvre of films are just as impactful, engaging and influential as they were on release. I have a particular obsession with his debut feature film (as co-director) Performance starring James Fox, Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg. I doubt there will ever be a similar type of film that could possibly outdo Performance, as with his stranded alien on Earth tale - The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie and his grief filled horror Don't Look Now starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.
These films were part of a movement that defined not only progressive British cinema of the time but Britain in the 70s. I say Performance was his debut feature film (as co-director) as Roeg was a in demand Cinematographer man before shifting to directing. Coincidentally the original Far from the Madding Crowd has just been restored and re-released by StudioCanal - which Roeg worked on as cinematographer & cameraman and features a scene with Roeg's hallmark camera and editing style which he became known for with his own features.
The re-release of Far from the Madding Crowd is brilliant restoration starring some of Britain's finest talent making their mark including; Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates and of course Terence Stamp but sadly lacks in decent extras, apart from a rather insightful chat with Terence Stamp who recollects the making of Far from the Madding Crowd.
Nicolas Roeg's second feature as director, Walkabout is a beautifully shot tale of a young brother and sister played by Jenny Agutter & Roeg's own son, Luc Roeg and their local companion played by ubiquitous Australian performer David Gulpilil - has gone on to become the quintessential lost, coming of age, existential "road" man and nature film.
Is it a parable about noble savages and the crushed spirits of city dwellers? That's what the film's surface suggests, but I think it's about something deeper and more elusive: the mystery of communication.”
Which is why I'm stoked that Cinesthesia are bringing Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout back to the big screen for a special screening at the end of July with a Live Soundtrack from Orchestra Elastique. Listening to Orchestra Elastique's live version of John Barry's Walkabout score is worth the price of admission alone.
A Two young siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback and are forced to cope on their own. They meet an Australian boy on "walkabout": a ritual separation from his tribe.
Edward Bond & James Vance Marshall
Jenny Agutter, David Gulpilil, Luc Roeg