30 October, 2007

29 October, 2007

Film of the Week: "Me You and Everyone We Know"

"A lonely shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist struggle to connect in this unique take on contemporary life." imdb

The key word there is 'unique', it's pretty clear that the voice belongs to the writer-director Miranda July and no-one else. I think this is useful to look at in terms of the interesting characters and where story can take you if you allow your imagination free rein.

"With most new filmmakers, it takes the audience a couple of films to nail down their sensibility, scan their preoccupations, begin connecting the dots that define their aesthetic identities. But Miranda July's mind has all the lucidity of a crystalline prism. The outside world goes in, and then emerges, refracted, rendered mystic yet concrete, through her magical, melancholic sensibility. Her tone and touch are so assured and her vision so fully developed that it's hard to believe that this is only her first feature film." Girish

"Miranda July is a performance artist; this is her first feature film (it won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and at Cannes won the Camera d'Or as best first film, and the Critics' Week grand prize). Performance art sometimes deals with the peculiarities of how we express ourselves, with how odd and wonderful it is to be alive. So does this film. As Richard slowly emerges from sadness and understands that Christine values him, and he must value her, for reasons only the two of them will ever understand, the movie holds its breath, waiting to see if their delicate connection will hold.

"Me and You and Everyone We Know" is a balancing act, as July ventures into areas that are risky and transgressive, but uses a freshness that disarms them, a directness that accepts human nature and likes to watch it at work." Roger Ebert

"True to her movie's title, Ms. July proposes a delicate, beguiling idea of community and advances it in full awareness of the peculiar obstacles that modern life presents.

One of these is the tendency of city dwellers - the movie takes place mainly in the flat, drab inland neighbourhoods of Los Angeles - to live hermetically sealed inside their own minds and habits. Individuality itself makes communication difficult, but the drive to be yourself does not dispel the longing to find (and maybe also to become) somebody else.

This longing is addressed in various ways, some of them touching, some funny, some borderline creepy." A O Scott

Official site
Miranda July interview

Miranda July's much talked about promotional site for her book of short stories

Monday 29 October,
Channel 4, 11:40pm - 1:25am

24 Hours Of Horror With Eli Roth

AV Club:

"In anticipation of Halloween, we invited Roth to program a virtual 24-hour horror-film festival for A.V. Club readers. All the titles below are available on DVD, and though it may be traumatic, we suggest readers do try this at home and post their experiences in the comments section below."

Young Blood

The Reeler:

" Williamsburg splatter epic
Murder Party joins others to mobilise "hipster horror" genre " "

" While any film festival in America or abroad will program 20 or 30 films about white people talking in America, they will only save one or two spots for a horror or comedy if it's not a genre festival. We are always vying for the one slot." "

28 October, 2007



This is the first time Soundtrack has been devoted to an actual soundtrack rather than my fantasy soundtrack. That's because Once is a brilliant film with music to match.

Once is about a a musician who becomes friends with another musician and it's a case of will they-won't they. But Music and Lyrics, it ain't.

It's so spare and without clutter with a simple story. Normally I would want more obvious conflict but the more subtle conflicts and dilemmas is intriguing enough to hold my attention. It's an arthouse musical basically or a visual album with a three act structure.

Glen Hansard of The Frames plays the guy and Markéta Irglová the girl. Although I knew I would love the film from hearing the buzz about it from Sundance, where it won World Cinema Audience Award, it was those two performing Falling Slowly on The Culture Show that got me hooked.

I had given a friend some CDs as she was woefully ignorant of new music. She offered to give me copies from her extensive Irish music collection but I declined. I've got U2 and Simple Kid. Who else is there? I then sheepishly asked for her Frames albums once I heard the Once soundtrack.

I found the original Falling Slowly and the original When Your Mind's Made Up on their sixth studio album The Cost.

Hansard has worked with Markéta Irglová before for last year's The Swell Season, a project for a Czech film. Four of those songs are also on the Once soundtrack. Although I like all the versions, it's the raw simplicity and the strings on The Swell Season that elevate it above the others.

Incidentally the director, John Carney, is an ex-bass player with The Frames and Glen bought him his first movie camera while he was still with the band. Although he intended using Glen's music, his first choice for the lead was Cillian Murphy who dropped out which made the producer drop out as well requiring a much lower budget.

This turned out to be one of the greatest rejections in movie history as Carney went with musicians who can act instead. The film has made many times its budget back in American box office alone. One small strike against the star system.

Falling Slowly

When Your Mind's Made Up



Once - official site

The Frames - wikipedia
The Frames - official site

27 October, 2007

Zeitgeist Theatre

New Play Competition:

This is a rare opportunity for newcomers to have their play staged for a week at an industry-respected, central London venue.

Competition Rules:
Plays must be no longer than 20minutes long
Plays must be previously unperformed
Plays must be on contemporary themes
Plays must be sent with a one-page writer CV/Biog
Writers must be over 16 years old

The winner has the opportunity to collaborate with an experienced Director and receives professional mentoring in order to write a one-act play for performance. This is an excellent opportunity for industry exposure, while the theatre has first option to produce any plays for full production, royalties paid.

Submission Deadline: 15 November
Entry/Reading Fee: £10 waged/ £8 unwaged
(cheques payable to Zeitgeist Theatre)
Plays, CV and reading fee to be posted to:

Theatre Grand-Slam

Accepting email submissions of very short, entertaining scripts for our regular grand-slam/pub event in South London.

Scripts shouldn't be over a page long (between 3 - 5 minutes), require no more than five actors and have very basic lighting/sound direction.

The audience votes for their favourite play and the winner gets the chance to develop this for future performance at a top London fringe venue. There's even a prize for the runner-up!

Apart from a lot of fun, this is a good way to try out ideas on an audience before developing further.

Priority is given to writers who live/work in South London. Newcomers welcome.

Please email script and a short writer biog/CV to info@zeitgeisttheatre.com

Playwriting Process — Thinking Theatrically


"To me, writing theatricality means grasping space as you write. It means apprehending not only the characters and events that you mean to portray, but the physical environment in which they exist; how that physical environment affects your characters and events—and then using this apprehension creatively to your advantage—or more specifically, passing the three-dimensional world of the play that you are creating on to the audience and thereby making that world actively interesting, engaging, and unique to the meaning and content of your play."

Women scribes boost play cache


"America is gearing up for a presidential race in which for the first time, a woman has a very real chance at taking the White House. But have distaff playwrights made similar inroads in the theatre world?"

" Partly, there's the belief that when women write plays about women, they aren't being universal enough to court a broader audience.
"There's a perception that if a play is too much the story of one woman, then it doesn't have an Everyman and we can't sell it," says April Yvette Thompson "

Ron Marin, playwright, interview

Ron Marin.com:

" What's the most important component to writing?

In my case, it's having a story. I still believe story is the soul of narration. Mood, character, destiny, theme, these, to me, are the handmaidens of story - no matter how cosmic one's reach is. Those people who wrote the Bible, the Vedas, the Myths, they all understood the value of story." "

New life in WGA talks


"With time running out to prevent a strike, studio and networks have jumpstarted stalled contract talks with a streamlined proposal that flatly nixes a hike on residuals for DVDs, one of the WGA's key demands."

"The guild has insisted it won't discuss the other AMPTP proposals until they're modified to take so-called "rollbacks" off the table -- including the lack of coverage for new media distribution such as Internet streaming of movies and TV segs and cell-phone mobisodes; the right to credit any amounts due a writer against other payments; elimination of the requirement that writing credits appear in publicity and advertising; and restrictions in the ability of writers to exploit TV rights and reacquire screenplays."


The rollbacks are interesting especially the "elimination of the requirement that writing credits appear in publicity and advertising". With movie posters usually the director is on there three times and on the last time is in a little box to distinguish themselves.

At least talk of a strike and the prospect of their favourite TV shows being absent makes the general public realise that actors don't make up the dialogue and directors don't write the action.

26 October, 2007

Opening Weekend

Eastern Promises

Thriller. A gangster working for a crime family crosses paths with a midwife who has evidence against the family

With Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Jerzy Skolimowski, Donald Sumpter

Writer: Steven Knight
Director: David Cronenberg

Steve Knight interview (video)
Steve Knight interview (video)

Official site


Lost Moon (Khoya Khoya Chand)

Period musical. A starlet and a writer-director meet in the 1950s.

With Shiney Ahuja, Anil Chaudhary, Sonya Jehan, Rajat Kapoor

Writer: Sudhir Mishra
Director: Sudhir Mishra

Sudhir Mishra article
Sudhir Mishra interview

Official site


No Smoking

Comedy thriller. To get his wife back a man tries to give up smoking but he uses an extreme rehabilitation centre who insist he honour his contract

With John Abraham, Joy Fernandas, Paresh Rawal, Ranvir Shorey

Writer: Anurag Kashyap
Director: Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap interview 1
Anurag Kashyap interview 2
Anurag Kashyap interview 3 (video)

Official site


Saw IV

Horror. Although Jigsaw and his apprentice are dead, police investigating what happened find themselves abducted and facing deadly traps.

With Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis

Writers: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan interview 1

Official site


When We Meet (Jab We Met)

Romantic comedy musical. A failed businessman, who finds he has lost the woman he loves clashes, clashes with a chatty woman who is going to elope with her boyfriend.

With Shahid Kapur, Kareena Kapoor

Writer: Imtiaz Ali
Director: Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali interview

Official site

25 October, 2007

3rd STAGE Script Competition

STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration):

Deadline: 31 December 2007

"The Professional Artists Lab and the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara continue their collaboration with the third STAGE International Script Competition, open to plays about science and technology.


The winning script will receive $10,000 USD. The prize is given at a public awards event with distinguished professionals from the worlds of theatre, film, science and/or technology, to be held in conjunction with a staged reading/performance/demonstration with a cast of professional actors.* In addition, the winning playwright will have access to advice and guidance from professional theatre and film artists as well as experts in the fields of science, engineering and technology. Other Professional Artists Lab development opportunities for the winning script may be possible.

STAGE endeavors to:

  • Cultivate appreciation and collaboration between the two cultures of science and art
  • Catalyze the development of art that depicts the technological age in which we live
  • Promote understanding of the sciences in the public arena
  • Foster new and imaginative voices and methods of storytelling
  • Accomplish all of the above within an international community
Submitted plays must explore scientific and/or technological stories, themes, issues and/or events. Science and technology must figure prominently in the script, whether in form or content or both. Biographical dramas, history plays, and medical dramas are discouraged unless they significantly employ science and/or technology. Authors are strongly urged to avoid the stereotypes often assigned to science, technology, and those who engage in these disciplines. This competition is not open to plays written in the genre of science fiction.

100 Feminist and Queer Horror Books, Movies, and Personalities Part 1

Reading in the Dark:

"This list, like all lists, is subjective, but a number of considerations helped shape decisions about what to include. * I wanted to limit the number to 100 items and I wanted the list to begin with the popularization of horror through t.v. as a medium, so the list begins in the 1950s.

Yes, there are plenty of great horror books and movies by women or featuring great female protagonists that predate the 50s, but that would make it an even longer list."

24 October, 2007

Internet Watch Foundation Awareness Day

New writing group - London

From Kate Buchanan:

Off the Page
Bring your writing to life!

A workshop-style writing group focusing on writing for performance. The group would meet at Acton Library (west London), either fortnightly or monthly. The idea is to have a lively group where work is read out or performed, possibly by guest actors.

One of the most rewarding experiences of some screenwriting classes is to hear your work read by other people. You can hear the clunky dialogue and the bits of brilliance (!) quite clearly. After the reading there will be a chance for members of the group to give feedback.

Although all forms of writing are welcomed, the main focus will be on writing which is intended to be performed. This would include:

* Poetry
* Screenwriting
* Play writing
* Radio drama

In order to gauge whether the idea is worth pursuing, please take a moment to answer the following questions.


Would you be interested in joining this group? Yes/Maybe

How often could you commit to attending? Fortnightly/Monthly

What forms of writing would you be contributing? Poetry/ Scripts/ Fiction/ Non fiction

Any other comments.


Please reply to me: kateboo *AT* gmail. com

The Sitcom Trials

" Just when you thought sitcom couldn't get any better: The Sitcom Trials is back!

It's not enough that The Sitcom Trials does Edinburgh, does national tours, does an ITV1 show and is the springboard for such mega-talents as Stephen Merchant, Russell Brand and Miranda Hart - we're back with a knockout tournament: four sitcoms enter, two sitcoms leave.

November sees The Sitcom Trials' biggest venture yet: sixteen fresh, new comedies battling for the prize of Best Sitcom 2007. Each Thursday night for four weeks,four different situation comedies will go head to head. The audience votes for their favourite, and the top two from each night go through to the Semi-finals.

The Grand Final is at the Soho Theatre in December before a specially invited industry audience. And there's a Christmas Party and prize giving ceremony on December 13.

Venue: The Hobgoblin pub, opposite Forest Hill BR (12 mins to Charing X)
Dates: Quarter-finals: 1, 8, 15, 22 November
Semi-finals: 29 November, 6 December
Grand Final: 13 December 1pm Soho Theatre
Prizegiving and Christmas Party: 13 December 7.30pm, Hobgoblin, Forest Hill "


How to Become Famous by Tomorrow

American Chronicle:

" I was recently approached by a marketing guru who wanted me to pen a slap-dash ebook for him by Christmas that would carry a grabber title along the lines of “How to Write Screenplays for Fun and Profit”. Quite the little stocking-stuffer to be sure, its intended readership to include those who had already purchased how-to’s that instructed them on the craft of building backyard bird feeders, making perky stencils from vegetables, and fashioning 150 Halloween pet costumes out of napkins.

When I diplomatically suggested that screenwriting wasn’t exactly a pursuit for the weekend hobbyist, his ballistic retort affirmed what I already suspected; specifically, that hawking a dream is more lucrative to the seller than imparting any useful reality that could actually make that dream come true for the buyer. As my grandfather used to quip, the quickest way to make a million dollars is a two-step process: (1) write a book called “How to Make a Million Dollars” and (2) sell it.

The screenplay and fiction workshops I’ve taught over the years have only reinforced the notion that we’ve become a microwave society that wants instant results. I recall a student who once asked me what the secret was to becoming a writer. (Had I told him to put a blank ream of paper under his pillow at night and let the words flow out of his head as he slept, I’m pretty sure he would have believed me.)

“The first thing to do,” I told him, “is to pull out a chair and sit down.”

“Then what?” he asked.

“Then start writing,” I replied.

“But seriously,” he pressed with an underscore of whininess, “what’s the secret?” "

Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS


"Tell us a little about your role on the game."

"Let me get this out there first... my job is the screenwriter, so it's kind of difficult for me to talk about how good the script is, because that would be supremely pompous of me. So what I'll tell you is this: the lead actors in Haze are from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Those kind of actors don't do video games. However, actors are interested in two things: lots of money, or a good script. And we didn't have any money. So hopefully that's testament to the script being a pretty decent piece of work."

22 October, 2007


Was it something I wrote?:

"Last week I got a response to an idea I sent to a prodco in February! I had actually forgotten I'd sent it. And that is the best way to handle it. Don't hang around waiting for phonecalls or responses. Move on. Get the next thing out. Don't think for one moment that what you have out there could be life changing [which it could] because the chances are stacked against it.

But keep writing. Keep getting your work out there. Because eventually, if you are talented, something will stick. It might be the third or fourth spec you've sent to a prodco and they seemed to have no interest in the previous submissions. But...... they will remember the name, the style, and the fact that you keep producing the goods. You don't just call yourself a writer - you are one. There are many who are in love with the idea of being a writer more than sitting down and cranking out the pages."


Blue Cat:

"This is because a worryingly large proportion of British screenplays come about thusly:

  1. I am a man with too much money.
  2. I have an idea for a film!
  3. My brother in law once wrote an amusing article for the Chiswick Rotary Club Christmas newsletter, therefore I will let him write the script.
  4. Away we go."

Free Rice

Free Rice:

"For every word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to a hungry person, through an international aid agency"

Is it curtains for big British films?

The Times:

"Leaderless, underfunded and short on compelling subjects, British film-makers are up against it, thinks Stephen Frears. So, will he do anything about it?"

“I would certainly say a British film has to be that much better than an American one to get audiences. It has to climb the proverbial Everest. The public wants to see American films, mainly because Americans know how to make popular movies.”

"I find actresses to be uncomplaining and stoic. They also know their place in films. They are there to look pretty."

Anton Corbijn,"Control", interview

LA Weekly:

"I don’t think England has very good filmmakers."

Where the Boys Are (and Girls Aren’t)


"The new buddy movies turn out to be chick flicks made by guys for other guys."

UK film minister upbeat on industry but co-productions drop

Screen Daily:

"As Hodge's speech made clear, these are paradoxical times for the British film industry. On one hand - as Hodge pointed out - box-office returns and capital investment are up, the studio and post-production houses remain busy, and there has been an increase in film-related employment.

"Last year, the film industry contributed £4.3 billion to UK GDP, up from £3.1 billion in 2004," she noted.
On the other hand, independent British producers are finding it increasingly difficult to finance their movies or attract support from international co-production partners."

Tranter welcomes six-year stability of new BBC Films budget

Screen Daily:

""Discreetly celebratory" was how Jane Tranter, Controller BBC Fiction, described the state of mind at BBC Films, where a $4m (£2 m) increase in the current annual budget of $20m (£10m) was confirmed Thursday. There was also the added news that $2m (£1m) of the BBC's film acquisition budget would be ring-fenced for British films.

The news of the increase comes as part of BBC Director General Mark Thompson's six-year plan for the Corporation and has been confirmed by the BBC Trust.

BBC Films is the only branch of the BBC to have its budget raised at a time of wide-ranging and controversial cuts, prompted by the less-favourable-than-expected licence fee settlement. There are expected to be around 2,500 job losses at the BBC."

BBC Films receives funding boost


"BBC Films, recently restructured following the departure of long-time head David M. Thompson, is to receive an extra £2 million ($4 million) a year.
This brings the outfit’s total annual budget for developing and producing pics to $24 million and will take effect from the next financial year."

21 October, 2007


Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew

I have been boycotting a certain venue in Brum because the stage is too low and even at 6 feet tall I can only see the heads of bands unless I'm near the stage. But then my favourite band decided to play there and I ended up barging my way to the front.

I missed their previous visit to Birmingham, which was apparently legendary, but here it was just half the usual collective and in support of founder member Kevin Drew's "solo" album. And to make things worse the original lead guitarist broke his collar bone and was stuck in Scotland. They were thinking of cancelling the gig but instead flew in Jimmy of Metric from Toronto who didn't know all the songs. But it was still one of the best gigs I've been to.

And I still have the next full collective BSS album and tour to look forward to.

Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew: "Spirit If"
Listen (click 'discography)

Backed out on the...

Fucked Up Kid (live)


Official site

19 October, 2007

Opening Weekend

Blame It on Fidel! (La Faute à Fidel!)

Historical drama. A 9-year-old girl weathers big changes in her household as her parents become radical political activists in 1970-71 Paris.

With Nina Kervel-Bey, Julie Depardieu, Stefano Accorsi, Benjamin Feuillet

Writer: Julie Gavras (from the book by Domitilla Calamai)
Director: Julie Gavras

Julie Gavras interview 1
Julie Gavras interview 2
Julie Gavras interview 3
Julie Gavras interview 4 (en Français)

Official site


Daddy Day Camp

Family comedy. Having succeeded at running their home-based day care centre, Charlie Hinton and partner Phil Ryerson start up a dilapidated day camp -- largely because Charlie wants revenge on Lance Warner who's now the head of rival Camp Canola.

With Cuba Gooding Jr., Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant, Tamala Jones, Paul Rae

Writers: Geoff Rodkey and J. David Stem & David N. Weiss
Director: Fred Savage

Official site


The Last Legion

Historical action-adventure. As the Roman empire crumbles, young Romulus Augustus flees the city and embarks on a perilous voyage to Britain to track down a legion of supporters.

With Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai, Peter Mullan, Kevin McKidd, John Hannah, Iain Glen, Thomas Sangster

Writers: Jez Butterworth & Tom Butterworth
Director: Doug Lefler

Official site


Nancy Drew

Family thriller. Teen detective Nancy Drew accompanies her father on a business trip to Los Angeles, where she happens upon clues to a murder mystery involving a movie star.

With Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan, Barry Bostwick, Amy Bruckner

Writers: Andrew Fleming and Tiffany Paulsen
Director: Andrew Fleming

Official site



Musical romantic-drama. A man busking hoping for a music-biz break is approached by a Czech immigrant who is a fellow musician and finds in her both an artistic collaborator and a frustrating love object.

With Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova

Writer: John Carney
Director: John Carney

John Carney interview 1
John Carney interview 2 (video)
John Carney interview 3
John Carney interview 4
John Carney interview 5
John Carney interview 6a (video part 1)
John Carney interview 6b (video part 2)

Official site



Animated action-drama. When a man's porno star sister dies he gives up the priesthood, takes care of his niece and seeks revenge for her death.

With Thure Lindhardt, Stine Fischer Christensen .

Writers: Mette Heeno and Anders Morgenthaler
Director: Anders Morgenthaler

Anders Morgenthaler interview 1 (video)
Anders Morgenthaler interview 2

Production interview

Official site


Razzle Dazzle

Comedy. "Mr Jonathon's Dance Academy" who, with their unique dance routines, compete for Grand Final success at Australia's most prestigious competition.

With Kerry Armstrong, Ben Miller, Nadine Garner, Denise Roberts

Writers: Robin Ince and Carolyn Wilson
Director: Darren Ashton

Official site



Thriller. A CIA analyst questions his assignment after witnessing an unorthodox interrogation at a secret detention facility outside the US.

With Omar Metwally. Reese Witherspoon, Aramis Knight, Rosie Malek-Yonan, Jake Gyllenhaal

Writer: Kelley Sane
Director: Gavin Hood

Official site


The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising

Fantasy adventure. A boy's life is turned upside down when he learns that he is the last of a group of immortal warriors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the forces of the dark.

With Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, James Cosmo

Writer: John Hodge (from the book by Susan Cooper)
Director: David L. Cunningham

John Hodge interview 1
John Hodge interview 2

The Dark is Rising, so avoid it if you can

Official site



Fantasy adventure. In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.

With Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O'Toole, Mark Strong, Kate Magowan

Writers: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (from the book by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess)
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Jane Goldman interview 1
Jane Goldman interview 2
Matthew Vaughn interview
Neil Gaiman and Jane Goldman interview (video)
Neil Gaiman and Matthew Vaughn interview

Official site


The Witnesses (Les Témoins)

Drama. Paris, 1984: A group of friends contend with the first outbreak of the AIDS pandemic.

With Michel Blanc, Emmanuelle Béart, Sami Bouajila, Julie Depardieu

Writers: Laurent Guyot and André Téchiné
Director: André Téchiné

André Téchiné interview (en Français)


18 October, 2007

Word of Mouth: "Ratatouille"

A rat finds he has a heightened taste and smelling abilities and gets interested in cooking.

Ratatouille is probably the greatest animated movie ever. I often say that when Pixar release a picture but that’s because they set the bar so high and they usually surpass it.

There was a debate on Shooting Screenwriters about Mark Kermode, the BBC film reviewer. Was he ‘very stupid’, ‘quite stupid’ or ‘a little bit stupid’? He suggested that the problem with Ratatouille was that it’s too good and too perfect. He would have preferred something that was rough around the edges just for the sake of it. I’m going with ‘very stupid’. Brad Bird, the writer-director has a little dig at critics towards the end which is so true.

Awarding greatest animated movie ever status isn’t done lightly and isn’t simply because of the state of the art technology at work here. As Bird says, it’s all about the story; the technology is only there to serve that story.

The screenplay was more of a rush job than usual because Bird took over a project in crisis with a fast approaching deadline. The production was due to start but the story wasn’t good enough so the producers phoned Bird on his holiday, after he wrapped The Incredibles, and asked him to take over.

The premise of Ratatouille is set in the world of haute cuisine and was considered quite risky – both for kids and adults. The buzz in the trades were about lowered expectations and how it was likely to flop amongst all the sequels. They were very wrong.

It shows that you can take a risk with subject matter as long as the end result is quality. Bird mentioned how due to the rush there were some things in the movie he agreed to quickly when normally he would have taken longer to decide on something better. He was surprised that those things turned out just fine.

The opening shot as it swoops down on the farm house made me sit up and take notice. As it starts raining, it affects the wall realistically for a moment which required a sense of obsessive detail that you can’t help but admire. Unless you’re a pretentious elitist like Mark Kermode, of course.

The character designs are mostly very good. Remy Rat isn’t Mickey Mouse as he has to convince as a real rat who is just a bit more intelligent than most. I complained in a previous review about the glut of similar 'talking animals' films and technically this is one of them. In reality, it’s no such thing.

Actually Ratatouille isn’t perfect, if you’re inclined to be extremely picky, but it’s more perfect than anything else and that’s the main thing.

Highly recommended.

17 October, 2007

Red Planet Prize Update

Red Planet Productions:

"Competition News Update
Tuesday/16/October 2007
We are still working our way through the thousands of entries, but
still hope to inform those who have made it through by the end of the
month. Thanks for your patience and keep your eye on the website for
further updates."


Another two weeks. Sweet.

I've had comments back on what I thought was my final draft. John thought it has gone from too slow to too fast. And this is what Marc said:

"John is right, perhaps, in his point about trying to fit too much plot into the pot. But I don't think that's a bad thing, particularly in a first draft as long as you are not sacrificing character and emotional heart. What it does give you is great pace when you are ruthless in cutting back.

Texture and banter is usually the first thing to go when editing and to keep it, it means making scenes and interchanges of dialogue do more than one thing at a time and that is really what you want in a script - making it more layered, more complex."

Knowing what I need to do and knowing how to do it are two completely different things but at least I have another week or so to try and figure it out.

16 October, 2007

Michael Clayton director finds his way back home

Houston Chronicle:

""(Directing's) pretty much the opposite of writing," he explains. "When you're writing, you're alone in a room, and nobody cares. And it's just impossible and nothing is going well, and nobody cares. And then you have a perfect writing day, and nobody cares.
"When you're directing, there are 90 million people around who want to help you. It's like high-speed shopping. You can just sit still and stuff keeps coming to you, and you're so happy. Writers who make the transition to directing are just so ... happy to have someone in the room.""

It's cheaper to make a film about ethics and morality, writer-director says

Ottawa Citizen:

"Gilroy was writing the screenplay for The Devil's Advocate, the Keanu Reeves legal horror film that postulated Al Pacino as Satan -- Mephistopheles on a retainer -- and he toured law firms in New York to do research.

"I was sort of wandering on a tour and was just struck at just how huge this backstage area is," Gilroy recalled recently at the Toronto film festival, where Michael Clayton was screened. "It's sort of like a restaurant: no one ever goes in the kitchen. I thought someone should do a movie back here. There's got to be a movie. There's got to be 20 movies back here."

14 October, 2007

Not Again: 24 Great Films Too Painful To Watch Twice

AV Club:

"1. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
2. Dancer In The Dark (2000)
3. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928)
4. The Seventh Continent (1989)
5. Winter Light (1962)
6. Bad Lieutenant (1992)
7. Straw Dogs (1971)
8. Audition (1999)
9. Sick: The Life And Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)
10. Come And See (1985)
11. In A Year Of 13 Moons (1978)
12. Safe (1995)
13. Irreversible (2002)
14. Boys Don't Cry (1999)
15. Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
16. When The Wind Blows (1986)
17. Leaving Las Vegas (1996)
18. Jonestown: The Life And Death Of Peoples Temple (2006)
19. S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003)
20. The Last House On The Left (1972)
21. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
22. United 93 (2006)
23. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)
24. Nil By Mouth (1997)"

I'm not sure 'great' applies to some of those but I think most are worth seeing at least once.

13 October, 2007

Moby offers free music for non-commercial films

Washington Square News:

"It's almost painfully straightforward," Moby said. "The idea is basically free music for film students."

The prolific electronica master introduced his latest venture: Mobygratis.com, where students, experimental filmmakers and otherwise non-commercial artists can download the musician's work for use in their projects with no licensing fee. The website itself contains about 60 pieces of music that students can download and use in their projects. "It's really that simple," Moby said.

The socially conscious artist is keen to deny any selfish motivations behind the project. "Whenever you say that you're making something available for free," Moby said, "people's immediate thoughts are, 'well, what's the catch, why are you doing this?' There's no catch: It's free music."

Well, the musician says, there is one small catch. "If someone uses the music in a film that goes on to commercial success, you have to apply for a regular license, which is really inexpensive. Any money that is ever generated would go to charity," Moby said. "It's my way of keeping myself honest."

For Moby, the worlds of film and music first intersected in the early '80s, when he was studying to be an experimental filmmaker at SUNY Purchase. "I've been involved in the independent film scene since 1984," he recalled, "and this is essentially a way of trying to help out my friends. I found that over the years when I got together to have dinner with them, they would complain about how difficult it was to try and get music for their films. So I thought as a service to the independent film community I'd take a lot of my music and make it available."

For an artist who came to fame by licensing his music to films, TV shows and commercials, it's an oddly fitting step. "I've licensed my music to hundreds of different movies and found it to be a really remarkable process," he said. "I make music at home in my studio, and if it ends up in a movie, suddenly it's in a completely different context. On a creative level I've found that really exciting."

For that reason, despite the criticism he has faced for making his songs so widely available, Moby feels he's been vindicated. "Even 10 years ago, everybody looked at licensing with disdain, and now everybody's desperate to license as much as possible," Moby said. "The same people who might have criticized me are now on their hands and knees begging people to license them."

Moby offered advice to prospective filmmakers who would like to use his music. "Whether you want to do experimental films or documentaries or narratives, I think film school is an amazing time. You should experiment with everything and give yourself complete creative freedom. Try out anything you want to do, because it's the best time in your life to be as experimental as you want to be."

Big Screen Embraces Hot Muse: Rock Stars

New York Times:

"There seems to be enough projects in theaters and in development built on the intersection between celluloid and what used to be called vinyl to fill a jukebox."

How to make a pop-music biopic that doesn't stink.


"Anton Corbijn's
Control, arriving in theaters today, depicts the truncated life of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the foreboding Manchester post-punk band Joy Division, who committed suicide at age 23. Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, due out next month, casts six actors in the role of American idol-in-chief and professional enigma Bob Dylan."

12 October, 2007

Opening Weekend

Bhool Bhulaiyaa

Comedy supernatural horror. A man arrives back in his hometown with his new wife but supernatural events at the house he inherited puts them in danger.

With Akshay Kumarm, Vidya Balan, Shiney Ahuja, Amisha Patel, Paresh Rawal

Writers: Neeraj Vora and Manisha Korde
Director: Priyadarshan

Official site


Black Sheep

Comedy horror. An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorise a sprawling New Zealand farm.

With Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davis, Glenis Levestam

Writer: Jonathan King
Director: Jonathan King

Jonathan King interview 1
Jonathan King interview 2
Jonathan King interview 3 (audio)
Jonathan King Interview 4
Jonathan King Interview 5
Jonathan King Interview 6

Official site


The Counterfeiter (Die Fälscher)

War drama. True story of the largest counterfeiting operation in history, set up by the Nazis in 1936.

With Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow, Martin Brambach, August Zirner

Writer: Stefan Ruzowitzky (based on the book by Adolf Burger)
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

Stefan Ruzowitzky interview 1
Stefan Ruzowitzky interview 2 (audio)

Official site


The Invasion

Sci-fi thriller. As a Washington psychiatrist unearths the origin of an alien epidemic, she also discovers her son might be the only way it can be stopped.

With Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond,Jeffrey Wright

Writer: Dave Kajganich (based on the novel by Jack Finney)
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Production article

Official site


Mr. Brooks

Thriller. Mr Brooks is a serial killer haunted by the voice of his alter ego inside his head.

With Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt, Marg Helgenberger

Writers: Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon
Director: Bruce A. Evans

Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon interview
Bruce A. Evans interview
Raynold Gideon interview 1
Raynold Gideon interview 2

Official site


Nanny Diaries

Comedy drama. A college graduate goes to work as a nanny for a rich New York family. Ensconced in their home, she has to juggle their dysfunction, a new romance, and the spoiled brat in her charge.

With Scarlett Johansson, Donna Murphy, John Henry Cox, Alicia Keys, Lewis Payton Jr., Sonnie Brown

Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini (based on the book by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus)
Directors: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini

Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini interview 1
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini interview 2

Official site



Animated comedy. Remy is a young rat from the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead.

With Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett

Writer: Brad Bird
Directors: Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava

Brad Bird interview 1
Brad Bird interview 2
Brad Bird interview 3
Brad Bird interview 4 (audio)
Brad Bird interview 5 (video)

Official site


Resident Evil: Extinction

Sci-fi horror. Survivors of the Raccoon City catastrophe travel across the Nevada desert, hoping to make it to Alaska. Alice joins the caravan and their fight against the evil Umbrella Corp.

With Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Spencer Locke, Matthew Marsden

Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Director: Russell Mulcahy

Paul W.S. Anderson interview 1
Paul W.S. Anderson interview 2 (video)

Official site

11 October, 2007

How to get your play on at The National

Helen Smith

"John Morrison has some advice here about how to get your play on at The National.

The trouble with this, as with all such advice, is that first you have to finish writing the damn thing. (As my agent put it so succinctly 'write a full-length play - a good one'). Believe me, I'm trying."

A feature in five days - Day One

The Jobbing Scriptwriter:

"So, Day One of my latest project: a feature script which has to be finished in five days (by Sunday, I’m not working on Saturday)."

Day Two

Chicks behind the flicks


"Ten of Hollywood's most powerful women sit down to discuss the state of the movie business -- why there aren't more female directors, why blowing things up is fun, and more."

Greenaway announces the death of cinema

The Independent:

"He has been among the most exciting arthouse film-makers of his generation. But the British film writer-director Peter Greenaway caused a stir at Korea's Pusan film festival yesterday by launching an attack on modern cinema and claiming the medium's days are numbered.

'If you shoot a dinosaur in the brain on Monday, it's tail is still waggling on Friday. Cinema is brain dead,' said Greenaway, who has shocked and delighted audiences, often simultaneously, with movies such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Prospero's Books.

'Cinema's death date was 31 September 1983, when the remote-control zapper was introduced to the living room, because now cinema has to be interactive, multi-media art,' he told a director's masterclass."

10 October, 2007

Hollywood readies for possible strike


"Networks and studios have started thinking about the unthinkable this week.

The harsh rhetoric surrounding the WGA negotiations plus the guild's recent move to seek strike authorization have convinced execs that the threat of a Nov. 1 strike may be very real. A possible lockout is also being discussed.

"We are trying to get as much stuff as possible shoved through," said one studio VP. "It's as hot as I've ever seen it. And whether or not they strike on Nov. 1, we have to act as if they will."

On the feature side, studios are no longer taking writing pitches and are pretty much limiting themselves to making deals on fully developed packages. Warner Bros. and Universal, for example, have put out the word to agents: Don't bring in any spec scripts until the situation resolves itself."

Top 100 Non-English Language Films

Edward Copeland on Film:

"After nearly two months of preparation, the time has come to officially unveil the choice for the list which I've elected to give the title of The Satyajit Ray Memorial Anything-But-Definitive List of Non-English Language Films."

09 October, 2007

The 40 most memorable aliens

The Times:

"Beings from other worlds have excited the popular imagination since the Bronze Age: Both The Old Testament and the Sanskrit epics describe strange beings coming to Earth in flying machines. Modern literature and (especially) film make liberal use of sentient aliens as characters. But which ones are the best?"

08 October, 2007

Word of Mouth: "Control"

Musical biography of Joy Division and their lead singer Ian Curtis who killed himself. (I don't think that's a spoiler)

The pre-publicity for Control led me to believe that Anton Corbijn also wrote it as the screenwriter was never mentioned. I now realise that Matt Greenhalgh's name appears so late in the end credits that all the critics had probably left before it came up. What the hell is that all about?

I don't expect British films to follow the US and have the screenwriter credit next to the director's (they have the WGA, we have the WGGB) but for it to appear after the actors and the producers is taking the piss.

Anyway, I was always suspicious of Joy Division because of their alleged Nazi sympathising and never truly got into them. This is addressed in the film where Tony Wilson calls them Nazis and, Barney denies it. You might recall Wilson defended them against the accusation in 24 Hour Party People, calling their provocation 'art'.

Barney's famous comment at a gig sympathising with Rudolf Hess (a hero in the Neo-Nazi movement at that time) also appears in the film - they couldn't very well leave it out - but it is without context and not discussed.

When Ian explains the origin of the band's name he talks vaguely about it being the name given to women that German soldiers had sex with, implying that they were prostitutes. The person he's explaining to doesn't care, and the audience is meant to take a cue from that and not care either. Joy Divisions consisted of Jewish sex slaves faced with the choice of being raped or being killed.

Lots of young white Brits flirted with or openly embraced fascism at that time and they usually moved on when they grew up. (Although what was left of Joy Division didn't move on until after they named their new band New Order, obviously.) Some tossers do make brilliant music and that paradox would have been worth exploring further instead of the oblique sanitised throwaway references. Did Ian's obsession with Nazis really not contribute to his state of mind?

The main problem with the film is highlighted early on. There is a nice scene where Ian talks to the other three who are looking for a singer and I cringed expecting Ian to immediately offer his services as it is such a cliché. It happens a little differently, playing on our expectations and generating a big laugh, But it makes you realise the actual band story must be more complicated and we're getting a simplified version to save time.

It's a difficult job trying to do the whole "band meet, play gigs, get signed, release records, get famous" thing while at the same time avoiding being like every other boring band biog. It's only the Rob Gretton manager character that provides some humour and energy. Nothing else really surprises or is very interesting until we get to the bizarre love triangle later in the movie.

My problem with biogs is that if in reality there was no drama and the characters were dull and unlikeable then you're stuck with them. You can't just change characters and change the plot.

Corbijn is famous for his monochrome photographs and snapped Joy Division that way back in the day and so he says the movie has to be monochrome too. Although, the press release says it reflects the gloom and doom of the time. I actually remember the period as being in colour. The monochrome does look good but then so would colour. I suppose that's a valid artistic choice, as is the dull photo-like static set-ups.

What is most impressive about the film is the music. Rather than miming the original music, the actors had to learn the songs and style of Joy Division and they did a really good job.

Control isn't a bad film and perhaps it's the over-hype that has left me disappointed but it's not a must-see unless you're a fan of the band.