Wednesday, 27 January 2016

George Miller clarifies his comments on the future of Mad Max

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) fans can breath a sigh of relief. George Miller has clarified his recent comments, and confirms that he is indeed planning more adventures in the wasteland.

We did rather suspect that the writer, director and all-round genius had been misquoted about making more Mad Max movies, since he had previously gone on record to talk up plans for sequels that explore more of the world he has been creating for all these years. "That was a completely garbled interview; I was in New York and it was so noisy and the journalist was asking me questions on a red carpet at the National Board of Review," he tells The Wrap of the Page Six interview that made our collective hearts sink. "She completely got the wrong fragments of information that were just not true. I said no, another Mad Max movie will not be next, and she took that to mean I never wanted to make another Mad Max. It won't necessarily be next, but I have two more stories."

Given the hefty workload and seemingly endless schedule changes for Mad Max: Fury Road, it certainly makes sense that he would want to focus on something else before diving back into the post-apocalyptic universe that most recently gave us Charlize Theron's Furiosa. Plus, there remains every chance that even if he does make more Mad Max films, he could still hand over at least one to someone else, preferring to stay involved as a producer.

Still with an Academy Award® nomination in hand and a chance to shoot something a little less challenging, our main hope is that he returns to the world of Max refreshed, re-invigorated and ready to get back behind the wheel.

Agyness Deyn set for The Titan

Soon to be seen in the Coen brothers' (Inside Llewyn Davis Hail, Caesar!, former model Agyness Deyn (Pusher) has just set up her next acting role. News arrives via Deadline that she is set to join the cast of The Titan along with Diego Boneta (Rock Of Ages) and Aleksander Jovanovic (Shirt Sharp Shock). Sam Worthington (Avatar) is already aboard as the film's lead, supported by Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).

There is a whiff of the familiar about that title for Worthington and Deyn, both of whom were previously in Clash Of The Titans (2010). No krakens will be released this time, however, with the focus on a military family participating in a revolutionary experiment about genetic evolution in space.

There are no details of the cast's specific roles in the film as yet, plus no mention of Ruth Wilson (Luther), who was previously reported as attached.

Voltage Pictures (The Hurt Locker) are behind the film, with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Sinister), Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh (Welcome To The Punch), and Arash Amel (Grace Of Monaco) producing. Amel also came up with the pitch that Max Hurwitz (Hell On Wheels) based the screenplay on. Lennart Ruff will make his directorial debut with the film.

Pre-production is underway, with shooting due to start imminently. The Titan is yet to receive a release date, but we will see Deyn in Hail, Caesar! when it arrives on 26 February, and Worthington in Mel Gibson's (Apocalypto) Hacksaw Ridge sometime later this year.

First trailer and quad poster for Orthodox arrives online

Zeitgeist Films have recently released their first trailer and quad poster for David Leon's feature debut Orthodox.

Written and directed by David Leon and starring Michael Smiley (The World's End) and Stephen Graham (This Is England), Orthodox is a hard-hitting drama born out of a 2012 short film.

Leon, who has also appeared on the other side of the camera in Alexander (2004) and RocknRolla (2008), among others, has delved deep into the world of Jewish culture, boxing clubs and the criminal underworld. It is a mighty clash of British cultures and subcultures given added force by having Stephen Graham at its epicentre as an orthodox Jewish man who was bullied for his faith as a kid and turns to boxing as an outlet. As an adult, his need to provide for his family leads him into ever deeper waters.

"Benjamin is a man caught between two worlds," explains Leon, "the Orthodox Jewish community and mainstream life, yet the challenges he faces are much like those that we all have to confront. Through the decisions he makes he becomes an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances."

Unusually, the short film also provides footage used in the feature length version. The former was acclaimed and the extended edition will makes its UK bow from 19 February, with Picturehouse cinemas showcasing it as part of its Discover Tuesdays slot on 23 February.

"Something's coming"

Paramount Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Dan Trachtenberg's feature debut 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Well this one came out of nowhere. Last April it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) director J.J. Abrams was producing a psychological thriller called Valencia. Dan Trachtenberg, who had made a splash with his video game inspired short film Portal: No Escape (2011), was the director. It now turns out that Valencia was just a working title.

Rather than a sequel to Matt Reeves' found footage monster movie Cloverfield (2008), Abrams tells Collider that the new film is "a blood relative to Cloverfield". He says the idea has been in development for some time, and that, with typical secrecy, he wanted to hold back the real title for as long as possible.

Back last year, we were told that the scenario involved a teenage girl awakening in a cellar after a car crash to discover from a strange caretaker that society has been devastated by a nuclear attack. Clearly the details of that cataclysm are now rather more specific, although the extent to which the Cloverfield creature will have a bearing on the new proceedings remains to be seen.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) stars as the girl, with John Goodman (Argo) as the Caretaker, and John Gallagher Jr. (Short Term 12) also present in the basement. The script is the work of Dan Casey, who reshaped an earlier draft by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken.

10 Cloverfield Lane is out in the US on 11 March before arriving on these shores on 8 April.

First trailer and one sheet for Sing Street arrives online

Lionsgate have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for John Carney's (Once) Sing Street.

John Carney, the man behind Once (2007) and Begin Again (2014) is back in a musical milieu for his next film Sing Street.

Much like Once, Sing Street draws heavily from his own life and spins the story of 14-year-old Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who longs to break free from his life in Dublin and the money troubles of his parents. Moved to a new school, he quickly realises that it is going to be harder to fit in and thinks a possible way out (and a chance to impress a local beauty played by Lucy Boynton) to form a band and start shooting music videos. But how do you do that when you have zero budget?

With Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age Of Extinction) as Cosmo's unruly, but weirdly wise older brother and Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Jupiter Ascending) as his mum and dad, Sing Street promises all the knowing references to 1980s music you could want and Carney's usual grasp of heart in drama.

Sing Street arrives on our screens 22 April.

New quad poster for Grimsby arrives online

Sony Pictures have recently released their latest quad poster for Louis Leterrier's (Now You See Me) Grimsby.

The film sees Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as M16 super spy Sebastian Graves, with Baron Cohen (The Dictator) as his gormless brother Nobby. The pair have been separated for many years but to Sebastian's obvious chagrin, they have been reunited. Nobby means well but he is more bushel than lantern in the smarts stakes, and his unofficial occupation – England football hooligan – is a source of embarrassment for his sibling.

Nobby lives in Grimsby with his 11 kids and girlfriend (Rebel Wilson), but what he wants most of all is to have his brother back in his life. But on his quest for a reunion he stumbles upon a terrorist plot that makes him suddenly indispensable. God help us all.

Directed by Luc Besson (Léon: The Professional) protégé Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me), Grimsby also stars Penélope Cruz (Volver), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious).

Grimsby will land in UK cinemas on 24 February.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

"It won't end well."

Altitude Film Entertainment have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Jeremy Saulnier's (Blue Ruin) Green Room.

If you caught Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin (2013), you will be all too aware of his ability to seamlessly thread together a knotty thriller that marries violent shocks and comic beats. His latest film, Oregon roadhouse thriller Green Room, certainly looks to channel all Saulnier's directorial hallmarks into another gripping piece of work.

Green Room, hopefully the second part of a three colours crime trilogy, offers the delicious prospect of Patrick Stewart (X-Men) turning to the dark side. Stewart plays a murderous redneck in a turn that looks like having echoes of Walter White in his blank eyed sociopathy, with a group of goons in close attendance.

The set-up sees a hard-up punk band, The Ain't Rights, stop by a remote Oregon roadhouse for a spontaneous gig. Something which quickly becomes a bad idea when they discover the venue has just witnessed a blood splattering murder spree. Stewart's club owner and his gang naturally don't want any witnesses, a stance that sees the band barricade themselves in their green room desperately trying to come up with a way out or a means of fighting back.

With Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment), Alia Shawkat (Whip It), Joe Cole (Now Is Good), Macon Blair (Blue Ruin) and Callum Turner (Queen And Country) along for the carnage, Green Room lands in UK cinemas on 13 May.

New one sheet for London Has Fallen arrives online

Lionsgate have recently released their latest one sheet for Fredrik Bond's (Charlie Countryman) London Has Fallen.

Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart), Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (Olympus Has Fallen) are behind the script for this one, which finds Gerard Butler's grizzled Secret Service man Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart's President Benjamin Asher, Angela Bassett's Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs and Morgan Freeman's Speaker Trumbull among those who travel to London to attend the funeral of the Prime Minister.

But when it turns out that there is a dastardly plot afoot to assassinate world leaders, Mike will have to team up with a distrustful MI6 agent (Charlotte Riley), prove that the fictional Secret Service is not as slipshod as the real one at the moment, and save the day. Radha Mitchell is back as Leah Banning, with Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Melissa Leo (Prisoners), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) and Colin Salmon (Resident Evil: Retribution) all aboard.

London Has Fallen will arrive in the UK 4 March.

New one sheet for The Little Prince arrives online

Onyx Films have recently released their latest one sheet for Mark Osborne's (Kung Fu Panda) The Little Prince.

First published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's much loved children's tale Le Petit Prince has been adapted several times, including a live action version in 1974 and a recent French TV cartoon series.

Directed by Kung Fu Panda's (2008) Mark Osborne, the film boasts Jeff Bridges (True Grit), James Franco (127 Hours), Rachel McAdams (Midnight In Paris), Marion Cotillard (Rust And Bone), Benicio Del Toro (Savages), Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring), Ricky Gervais (The Invention Of Lying), Albert Brooks (Drive) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways) leading the voice cast.

Saint-Exupéry's plot sees a pilot crashing in the Sahara desert and meeting a young boy who claims to be a prince fallen to Earth from an asteroid. The Prince regales the Pilot with tales of other asteroids, narrow-minded adults, a fox, a rose and more.

As you will see, the trailer reveals another layer to that narrative in Osborne's version, with the Pilot recounting his strange tale to an audience of one – a young girl with a high achieving mother. Note the different animation styles between the girl's strand and that of the Prince's.

Irena Brignull (The Boxtrolls) and Bob Persichetti (Puss In Boots) wrote the screenplay, and The Little Prince stems from the indie Onyx Films, taking on the corporate might of Pixar and Sony Pictures with seemingly considerable panache.

The Little Prince is set to arrive in UK cinemas this March.

New one sheet for The Witch arrives online

A24 Films have recently released their latest one sheet for Robert Eggers' feature debut The Witch.

The stylish and haunting period horror is set in New England in 1630, where William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine's (Kate Dickie) strictly devout life sees them largely shunned by their fellow colonials. The family moves to a remote plot of land on the edge of a forest rumoured to be controlled by witches and before long strange things start to happen. Animals turn against them, crops fail, and one of their children disappears, only to be returned seemingly possessed by evil spirits.

As paranoia and recrimination rise, fingers point at the couple's teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is accused of witchcraft even as the family begins to fall apart and finds both their love and faith tested.

Eggers, who wrote and directed, made the leap from working on short films and serving in the art, production design and costume departments of other movies, bringing his keen eye for visuals to the film. The Witch will haunt US cinemas on 19 February before stalking over here on 11 March.

New one sheet for Gods Of Egypt arrives online

Lionsgate have recently released their latest one sheet for Alex Proyas' (Knowing) Gods Of Egypt.

Gods Of Egypt finds Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) going bad as god of darkness Set, who has usurped the throne of the country and plunged the once peaceful empire in to chaos and conflict. To stop him will require the talents of one brave mortal, thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites), who must join forces with Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), whom Set blinded ages ago, and who would be looking for a little vengeance.

But with a quest to retrieve magic objects and pass tests of courage and sacrifice (not to mention Horus spends some of the time with just the one returned eye, which means depth perception issues), can they defeat Set's dreadful henchmen and army of creatures?

Proyas has the likes of Chadwick Boseman (42), Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), Geoffrey Rush (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Rufus Sewell (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), and Elodie Yung (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) on board for Gods Of Egypt, which arrives in cinemas 26 February.

New one sheets for Dirty Grandpa arrive online

Lionsgate have recently released two new one sheets for Dan Mazer's (I Give It A Year) Dirty Grandpa.

The new film sees Robert De Niro (Heat) play the irresponsible grandfather to Zac Efron's (That Awkward Moment) waspish young house husband, with the wily De Niro somehow persuading Efron to head to Daytona Beach, Florida for depraved spring break jollities.

Expect wild parties, drinking from red cups, crack smoking, and Aubrey Plaza (Parks And Recreation) on bikini duties.

Dirty Grandpa is out now. Probably not a film to bring your actual grandpa along to, though.

New one sheet for Operation Avalanche arrives online

XYZ Film and Lionsgate have recently released their first one sheet for Matt Johnson's (The Dirties) upcoming film Operation Avalanche.

Canadian filmmaker Matt Johnson caused quite a stir with his feature length debut The Dirties (2013), in which he starred with Owen Williams in a thriller that tackled the subject of high school shootings with daring and intelligence. His follow-up, Operation Avalanche, "investigates the truth behind the CIA's involvement in the space race" and promises to be just as invigorating as his debut.

Set in 1967, during the height of the Cold War and the global race to put a man on the moon, Operation Avalanche follows a team of young CIA operatives as they hatch a plan to root out a Russian spy who may be leaking information to the Soviets about NASA's Apollo Program. Going undercover as documentary filmmakers, the agents infiltrate Houston's NASA Space Centre to find the Russian mole. But once there, they discover a secret inside NASA that shakes up their initial operation. No longer setting out to capture the truth, they endeavour to fake it – by filming a moon landing that will fool the Soviets and the world.

Johnson is reuniting with his The Dirties team, including co-writer Josh Boles, co-star Owen Williams, and producer Matthew Miller. Lee Kim (The Conspiracy) has been added as a producer, and Nick Spicer will serve as executive producer for XYZ Films.

New character one sheets for Triple 9 arrive online

Entertainment One have recently released a batch of character one sheets for John Hillcoat's (Lawless) Triple 9.

Matt Cook wrote the script, which finds a crew of dirty cops blackmailed by the Russian mob into pulling off a near impossible heist. In order to distract attention away from their complicated crime, they look to create an 'officer down' situation – hence the code number – setting up an unsuspecting rookie (Casey Affleck) to die. He, however, has other ideas, and goes on the attack.

As the posters highlight, Affleck is just one element of a cast bursting with talent that includes Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6), and Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim) to name but a few.

Triple 9 arrives in cinemas on 19 February.

John Boyega says Star Wars: Episode VIII will be much darker The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to shatter box office records since its release on 18 December, with its global haul currently standing at $1.73 billion. But as impressive as these box office numbers are, it can only signal the beginning of this franchise's box office dominance, with five more movies slated to open over the next five years, starting with the first standalone outing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, hitting our screens this December, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII, arriving the following year. With production scheduled to begin later this month on Star Wars: Episode VIII, star John Boyega recently teased new details about the sequel in an interview with Vogue, revealing that next saga instalment will be much darker. We should caution, however, there are spoilers ahead for those of you who have yet to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"But now, we just starting work on Star Wars VIII, the next film, so I'm back to keeping secrets again. It's great. Much darker, but we're very excited. My part in the next film will be much more physical so I might be in the gym a bit more."

Unfortunately, he wouldn't reveal any specific details about why the script for Star Wars: Episode VIII is so great, or why his role is so much more physical this time around. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we did get to see his character Finn use a lightsaber a few times, once while battling the now infamous Stormtrooper TR-8R, and again while squaring off against Adam Driver's Kylo Ren. It isn't known if he will be wielding a lightsaber once again in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Rian Johnson (Looper) is directing Star Wars: Episode VIII from his own script, and while no specific plot details have surfaced, there are a few rumours about who will be returning. A rumour surfaced over the weekend that Harrison Ford's iconic character Han Solo may actually return in some capacity, even though he was killed by his nefarious son, Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That hasn't been confirmed yet at this time, but as we get closer to production starting, hopefully we will learn more about who is coming back, and who isn't.

Benicio Del Toro (Savages) has also been rumoured to star, possibly as the villain in Star Wars: Episode VIII, but no specific details have been released regarding his character. Johnson has already shot some scenes for this sequel at Skellig Michael Island, the location where Luke Skywalker's scene at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is set arrive 15 December 2017.

Deadpool officially rated R for graphic nudity and strong violence

Long before we ever saw the first red band trailer for Deadpool last August, star Ryan Reynolds (Buried) pulled an April Fool's Day prank on fans, where he confirmed that the movie would have an R rating. With just over a month left until the movie hits theaters, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has finally confirmed the R rating, via Box Office Mojo. The official reason for the rating is listed as, "strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity."

Of course, we don't know who will be involved in these scenes with sexual content and graphic nudity, but we can make a few guesses, based on set photos that surfaced in April. The photos gave us our first look at T.J. Miller's (Transformers: Age Of Extinction) Weasel, who was seen conversing with a few scantily clad strippers. We have also seen a few scenes inside a strip club in the trailers that have been released, so it seems likely that the aforementioned "sexualy content and graphic nudity" will be on display here.

As for the strong violence and language throughout, that isn't a surprise at all, since the red band trailer gave us plenty of both. It isn't known if director Tim Miller, who makes his directorial debut with Deadpool, had to cut any scenes to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating or not. Regardless, fans who have been waiting years for an R-rated Deadpool movie will get their wish next month.

You may recall that, way back in September 2014, a report surfaced that claimed 20th Century Fox figured out how to get a PG-13 rating, without losing the "soul" of Deadpool. This was backed up by Deadpool comic book creator Rob Liefeld, who claimed that 20th Century Fox was never even considering an R-rated version. But then screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland) chimed in and said the rating was not yet determined, and last March, Reynolds announced he would fight for an R rating. It seems that battle has finally been won.

Based upon Marvel Comics' most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Deadpool will wisecrack his way into UK cinemas on 4 February.

Monday, 25 January 2016

X-Men spin-off Gambit set to start shooting this March

Back in November, producer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg confirmed that production on 20th Century Fox's X-Men spin-off Gambit will begin sometime this spring, describing the movie as a "sexy heist thriller." Channing Tatum (White House Down) is set to star as the titular card throwing character, with Léa Seydoux (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) portraying the female lead, Belladonna 'Bella' Boudreaux. Now news arrives via WGNO that the movie will start production this March in New Orleans.

20th Century Fox previously announced a 7 October 2016 release date for Gambit, putting it up against Warner Bros' The Accountant, Walt Disney Pictures' The Girl On The Train and Lionsgate's Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life. Production was originally set to begin on Gambit last autumn, but the production schedule shifted after director Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) dropped out in September. The production got back on track with Doug Liman (Edge Of Tomorrow), but the studio has yet to issue a new release date for the film.

If principal photography goes ahead in March, it seems highly unlikely that the studio can still meet its 7 October release date. The studio already has the next Wolverine standalone slated for release on 3 March 2017, which will mark Hugh Jackman's final performance as the title character. It is certainly possible that Gambit will be pushed to a later 2017 date, but the studio hasn't made an official announcement about the release date quite yet. Hopefully we will learn more about this highly anticipated adventure once production gets under way.

Gambit was first introduced on the big screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), with Taylor Kitsch as the New Orleans based Mutant. The superhero has the power to manipulate kinetic energy, and often uses playing cards against his victims, throwing them and turning them into tiny bombs mid-air. He is also known for fighting with his Bo staff.

Channing Tatum was on hand to present one of the awards at the Golden Globes last week, and the Twitter account Superhero Feed noticed that the actor's new hairstyle is remarkably similar to Gambit's comic book look. Take a look at the photo below of both the actor and a comic book image of Gambit, and watch this space for more details as Gambit gets ready to start production.

Gambit is currently set to arrive 7 October.

Star Wars: Episode IX director promises a satisfying answer to all Rey theories

The impressive box office and critical success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly has fans excited for the future of the franchise for the first time in several years. As of now, there are five more films coming out over the next five years, including Colin Trevorrow's (Jurassic World) Star Wars: Episode IX. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens leaving fans with a number of unanswered questions – specifically about the mysterious Rey (Daisy Ridley) – Colin Trevorrow has revealed in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight that he has seen all of the theories about Rey, and assures fans they will be satisfied with the answers to several unanswered questions, including who her parents are.

"I've seen all of the theories. What I do know is that we're going to make sure that that answer is deeply and profoundly satisfying, because Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens but in the entire galaxy, and she deserves it. So we'll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was-it's something that happened a long time ago [in a galaxy] far, far away, we're just telling you what happened."

The most popular theory swirling around the internet is that Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who she meets for the first time at the very end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Others claim that she is actually a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi, while some think she is the daughter of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), which would make her the sister of the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Of course, Colin Trevorrow wouldn't address any of the rumors directly, but he did add that he wants to acknowledge the movies that came before Star Wars: Episode IX.

"By the time we get to Episode IX, I look at that movie as one movie, as three movies, as six movies, and as nine movies. It's something that needs to honor a story that has been told over a period of 40 years... Star Wars is a belief system, it's not just a story and it's not just a movie, and it's something I take very seriously."

We still have a long way to go before Star Wars: Episode IX arrives on our screens, though. The first standalone, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, arrives 16 December, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on 26 May 2017, Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo on 25 May 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019 and Star Wars Anthology: Boba Fett in 2020. Are you looking forward to seeing all of these questions about Rey finally get answered?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out now.

Amber Heard in talks to play Aquaman's Mera

Currently on our screens in Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) The Danish Girl, Amber Heard is reportedly in early negotiations for some very different cinematic depths. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that she is talks to co-star in Aquaman alongside Jason Momoa' (Conan The Barbarian).

According to The Hollywood Reporter's sources, Heard is in talks to play Mera, the comic book love interest of Momoa's Aquaman and the future queen of Atlantis. She first appeared in the DC canon in 1963 and has powers of her own, including the ability to control water.

This being the current superhero movie shared universe climate, she may, if she signs, end up being introduced in Zack Snyder's (Man Of Steel) planned first Justice League film alongside the likes of Henry Cavill (Man Of Steel), Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) and Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6). Part one of the two Justice League films is scheduled for late 2017, with James Wan (Furious 7) developing Aquaman's first standalone outing for a 2018 release. 

Heard, currently on UK screens in The Danish Girl, is also playing Nicola Six in the Martin Amis adaptation London Fields, which has yet to set a solid release date.

Chronicles Of Narnia set for a reboot with The Silver Chair

Six years on from the last instalment, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (2010), it is fair to say that the franchise didn't quite take off in the way everybody had hoped. Conceived as blockbuster material in the wake of Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Warner Bros' Harry Potter series, Walt Disney Pictures bailed after just two films – The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005) and The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) – leaving 20th Century Fox to swoop in for the third. The rest was silence, but now news arrives via Collider that producer Mark Gordon (Steve Jobs) has piped up to confirm that The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair is still very much a going concern.

"We're hoping to be able to make the movie very shortly," Gordon tells Collider. "We're very excited about it. It's all going to be a brand new franchise. All original. All original characters, different directors, and an entire new [filmmaking] team that this is coming from."

For a time there had been talk of Chronicles Of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew being the fourth film, before the agenda switched back to The Silver Chair. David Magee (Life Of Pi) was revealed to have been working on a screenplay in 2013.

The news of a total re-cast is hardly a surprise given that all the child actors from the previous films are now in their 20s. Eustace aside (Will Poulter), Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair doesn't cause many problems in that respect anyway. We have yet to meet Jill Pole in the films, and The Silver Chair's Caspian is now an old man. It would be sad not to hear Liam Neeson giving voice to Aslan anymore though.

The rights to C.S. Lewis' books remain with The Lewis Company, so whether 20th Century Fox will pick up the baton again, or whether the next Chronicles Of Narnia will end up at another studio remains to be seen. But if Gordon's "very shortly" isn't just spin, we should be reporting more very soon. As always, watch this space.

George Miller announces his retirement from making more Mad Max movies

Now this – assuming he sticks to his guns on the subject – is sorry news. George Miller has announced that he doesn't plan to make any more Mad Max movies.

It's certainly a surprising announcement, given that he has talked up plans for sequels while out promoting Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). But it seems the gruelling schedule of that movie has left him unwilling to make such a commitment again. "I won't make more Mad Max movies," he said at the Golden Globes. "Fury Road was forever getting completed. If you finish one in a year, it's considered a leap of faith. Start, stop, start again. I've shot in Australia in a field of wild flowers and flat red earth when it rained heavily forever. We had to wait 18 months and every return to the US was 27 hours. Those films take forever. I won't do those anymore."

That said, Miller could very well change his mind once he has had some distance from Mad Max: Fury Road and neither does it preclude him producing future instalments while handing over the reins to other filmmakers. Still, we would be sorry not to see another visit to the wasteland from the man who started the journey himself. As always, watch this space.

First trailer for Money Monster arrives online

Sony Pictures have just released their trailer for Jodie Fosters (The Beaver) Money Monster.

Money Monster sees Foster making a rare and welcome return behind the camera for a new drama that blends topical economic outrage with a hostage situation.

The film features George Clooney (The Descendants) as Lee Gates, a loud, gregarious financial TV host who offers up stock advice on his eponymous hit cable TV show in a style that would probably make Robert Peston blanch. Julia Roberts (Duplicity) is Nancy Fenn, the director and executive producer of the show, who has to deal with his charismatic but chaotic presenting method every day.

But this particular programme will not herald the start of just another broadcast day. Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a blue-collar worker sick of the damage still being done by Wall Street, has invaded the studio toting a gun and a bomb. With a growing family to support, he takes Gates hostage on air to increase a stock's value and expose the corruption behind the stock market, mostly so he can get some answers.

That doesn't sit well with Dominic West's (John Carter) Walt Camby, the CEO of the company behind a bad stock call that Gates makes, who tries to minimise the damage to his own career by hiding out in his private jet.

With a script by Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall) developed from earlier work by Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf (Grimm), the film will be out here on 27 May.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

First trailer for documentary Crazy About Tiffany's arrives online

Gravitas Ventures have just released their first trailer for Matthew Miele's (Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's) Tiffany's documentary, Crazy About Tiffany's.

The film, authorized by Tiffany & Co., looks at the iconic brand's history, exploring how a simple New York City jewelry store, which opened its doors in 1837, has woven itself into the American culture and consciousness to become a global phenomenon. It includes interviews with Jessica Biel (The Illusionist), Katie Couric (Dateline NBC), Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby) and stylists Kate Young and Rachel Zoe.

"After three years of being afforded a rare glimpse behind the scenes at Tiffany, I'm thrilled to get this film out there, and because the Tiffany reach is so vast, I'm grateful that Gravitas Ventures allows for distribution channels to reach those who share my curiosity about such an iconic New York institution," Miele said.

Crazy About Tiffany's arrives in the US and on VOD on 19 February.

New trailer and one sheet for The Witch arrives online

A24 Films have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Robert Eggers' feature debut The Witch.

The stylish and haunting period horror is set in New England in 1630, where William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine's (Kate Dickie) strictly devout life sees them largely shunned by their fellow colonials. The family moves to a remote plot of land on the edge of a forest rumoured to be controlled by witches and before long strange things start to happen. Animals turn against them, crops fail, and one of their children disappears, only to be returned seemingly possessed by evil spirits.

As paranoia and recrimination rise, fingers point at the couple's teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is accused of witchcraft even as the family begins to fall apart and finds both their love and faith tested.

Eggers, who wrote and directed, made the leap from working on short films and serving in the art, production design and costume departments of other movies, bringing his keen eye for visuals to the film. The Witch will haunt US cinemas on 19 February before stalking over here on 11 March.

"Would that it were so simple?"

Universal Pictures have recently released their latest trailer for the Coen brothers' (Inside Llewyn Davis) Hail, Caesar!.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) followed Barton Fink (1991), Burn After Reading (2008) followed No Country For Old Men (2007), and continuing that trend of a serious film followed by a fun one, The Coen Brothers' next after the low key Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is Hollywood kidnap caper Hail, Caesar!.

Set during one of the golden ages of the big studio system, the film is focused on private detective turned movie company fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who tracks down and covers up scandals among contracted players and directors. His current case involves him digging into the mysterious disappearance of a big star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) mid-way through a shoot.

The Coen's have assembled a ridiculously stellar cast for this one, with Scarlett Johansson (Lucy), Channing Tatum (White House Down), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street), Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin), Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading), Clancy Brown (Cowboys & Aliens), Christopher Lambert (Southland Tales), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager) and Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables) among the rest of the cast alongside Clooney and Brolin.

Hail, Caesar! is out in the UK on 26 February.

New one sheet for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their first TV spot for Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, of course, follows the fallout from Man Of Steel's chaotic battles. Fearing the actions of a god like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City's own formidable, world weary vigilante takes on Metropolis' most revered, modern day saviour, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) going toe-to-toe, a new threat quickly arises, as Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) exploits the uncertainties about Superman for his own ends.

As well as Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Cavill returning as Clark Kent/Superman, the film also features Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa (Conan The Barbarian) as Aquaman, Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures) as Alfred Pennyworth and newcomer Ray Fisher as Cyborg, alongside Man Of Steel veterans Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Snyder will also be finding screen time for Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty), Scoot McNairy, Holly Hunter (Paradise) and Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine).

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice arrives in the UK on 25 March.

First trailer and one sheet for The Other Side Of The Door arrives online

20th Century Fox have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Johannes Roberts' (Shortage 24) The Other Side Of The Door.

The film sees Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) as Maria, a mother who has lost her son in a tragic car accident. When she learns of a mysterious temple linked to an ancient ritual that can cross the barrier between the living and the dead, she realises she might have a chance to say a final goodbye to young Oliver. There is just one unbreakable rule – you must never open the door between worlds. Ten guesses what happens next?

With Jeremy Sisto (The Returned), Javier Botet (Mama), Sofia Rosinsky (Our Little Secret), and Logan Creran (Steel) also in the cast, The Other Side Of The Door will open on 18 March.

Juan Antonio Bayona leaves World War Z sequel

The first World War Z's (2013) extensive production problems were well documented, and the developing sequel is now encountering some of its own. News arrives via Deadline that director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible), who has been attached since December 2013, has quit the film just ahead of its summer start date.

According to Deadline the problem is one of timing. Paramount Pictures are keen to get World War Z 2 in front of cameras this year, while Bayona still feels commmitted to the post-production and publicity process for his recently completed A Monster Calls.

"Bayona is no longer able to make World War Z 2 this year," reads the studio's official statement, "and it is our ambition to do so. He is a wonderful director and we hope to work with him soon."

Dennis Kelly (Utopia) is the most recent writer to take a crack at the screenplay, with the original drafts by Steven Knight (Locke). As before, the film will be loosely based on Max Brooks novel. Before Kelly's arrival, Bayona was reportedly already considering jumping ship to direct Jurassic World 2. The speculation is now that he will take that job, which certainly has a more flexible timetable. 

Quite what aspect of the ongoing zombie crisis will make up World War Z 2 is still unclear, but there will now be a scramble to fill the director's chair in order to meet the current release date of 9 June 2017. Bayona's A Monster Calls, meanwhile, is out in the UK on 21 October.

Ryan Coogler confirmed to direct Black Panther

Following the critical and box office success of his second full length directorial outing, Rocky spin-off Creed, it was announced last month that Ryan Coogler was in talks to direct Black Panther for Marvel. Now Kevin Feige has made it official, with the Fruitvale Station (2013) director signing on to join the ranks of indie contemporaries Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and Joss Whedon (Avengers: Age Of Ultron).

Coogler will direct Chadwick Boseman's (42) Black Panther in the character's first solo outing. "We are fortunate to have such an esteemed filmmaker join the Marvel family," says producer Kevin Feige. "The talents Ryan showcased in his first two films easily made him our top choice to direct Black Panther. Many fans have waited a long time to see Black Panther in his own film, and with Ryan we know we've found the perfect director to bring T'Challa's story to life." But with MGM now locking in a November 2017 release for the Creed sequel, it seems likely that Coogler will have to pass on making the follow-up to that film.

It will certainly be a big step for the director to enter the complex, world building Marvel Cinematic Universe and direct the first full film for Boseman's Wakandan prince T'Challa, who will be introduced in Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: Civil War, due here on 29 April. Not every director has enjoyed working within the boundaries of Marvel's interconnected universe, but then this is a man who wrangled Sylvester Stallone's approval to make Creed and directed him to a performance that has people talking Academy Award® nomination. Previously, Ava DuVernay (Selma) passed on the Black Panther job, but Coogler is arguably a better fit.

Currently, Black Panther has a script in progress from Joe Robert Cole (Amber Lake) and a planned 2018 release date. Creed, meanwhile, is in UK cinemas now.

Priyanka Chopra set to join new Baywatch

Bollywood star and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra has recently been getting attention in the US for her starring role in ABC's TV series Quantico. Now the first ever South Asian actress to headline a network drama series is making the transition to movies. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that she is currently in talks to join Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 6), Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment), Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D) and Kelly Rohrbach (The PET Squad Files) in Seth Gordon's (Horrible Bosses) Baywatch reboot.

Chopra won't necessarily be filling a swimsuit in quite the same way as her potential co-stars, however – the role she is up for is that of the story's villain. Whether she gets to do it is currently dependent on figuring out some Quantico scheduling conflicts.

The film finds Johnson inheriting the role of lifeguard Mitch Glazer from David Hasselhoff, with Daddario as Summer Quinn, originally played by Nicole Eggert, Rohrbach is in Pamela Anderson's role as C.J. Parker, while Efron plays an unspecified hotheaded young guard who must help his colleagues take on an oil tycoon's plans that include beach threatening environmental chaos.

Pre-production has been officially underway since November, and Baywatch is expected to start running down beaches in slow motion soon, for a release next year.

Young Han Solo could have a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story cameo

As J.J. Abrams' (Star Trek Into Darkness) Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to break box office records, attention is naturally turning to the other films set in that galaxy far, far away. The massive casting search is now underway to find the actor set to tackle the challenge of playing a younger Han Solo in one of the standalone outings, and now there is a shortlist with the potential for whoever signs to appear in Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

With thousands of young actors having auditioned, the list has now been whittled down to a much more manageable number, with Variety reporting that the expected likes of Ansel Elgort (The Fault In our Stars), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street), Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age Of Extinction), Scott Eastwood (Fury) and Logan Lerman (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) are on it, alongside newer names such as Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond The Pines) and Blake Jenner (Glee).

The push is apparently for directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie) to make their choice in the next couple of weeks, which would also give time for whoever wins the role to potentially show up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, set in the years shortly before Star Wars itself, and is currently in production for a 16 December release this year.

Apparently, the thinking is that the Lucasfilm team could take a page from Marvel's book and introduce the new Han in much the same way Tom Holland's (The Impossible) incarnation of Spider-Man will appear in Captain America: Civil War before his own film. Of course, all that part of the story remains firmly in rumour territory.

What is known is that Lord and Miller will be working from a script by Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-writer and Star Wars stalwart Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon. The movie, whatever it ends up being called, is aiming for a 25 May 2018 release date. More news on whoever inherits Harrison Ford's blaster when we know it.

Jamie Foxx set to play Little John in Robin Hood: Origins

Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) certainly isn't someone you would expect to slip into Lincoln green and run around a forest. But news arrives via Deadline that his set to play Little John for Otto Bathurst's (Peaky Blinders) Robin Hood: Origins.

Don't go expecting him to fill the role of cranky mentor to Taron Egerton's (Kingsman: The Secret Service) Robin, right away though – he is apparently a battled hardened and war weary veteran of the Crusades, where he fought on the opposite side to Hood, and enters the story distrustful of our hero. He will eventually find his way to working alongside the young man however, in a story that is being described as the Robin Hood version of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Robin returns from the Crusades to discover Sherwood Forest and its surrounding area is teeming with crime and corruption. So he forms a band of outlaws to start shifting the balance for the forces of good.

Peaky Blinders regular director Otto Bathurst is the man charged with injecting the grit into this one, working from a script by Joby Harold (Awake), who hatched the Knights Of The Roundtable series of films that Guy Ritchie (Sherlock: A Game Of Shadows) is looking to kick off next year with Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur. Eve Hewson (Enough Said) has the role of Maid Marian for the Hood movie, which is scheduled to roll its cameras once Egerton has finished his stint on the Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) sequel and is available to work again.

Foxx, last seen in Annie (2014), will appear in action thriller Sleepless Night and is part of the cast for Edgar Wright's (The World's End) latest, Baby Driver.

Javier Bardem in talks to join Jennifer Lawrence in the new Darren Aronofsky film

Following the announcement last October that Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) was in talks for Darren Aronofsky's (Black Swan) new film, things appear to have moved forward, as news arrives via Variety that Javier Bardem (Skyfall) is looking to join the untitled project.

According to Variety, Paramount Pictures have stepped up to handle the movie, with Lawrence, who picked up a Golden Globe last week for Joy (2015), confirmed to star.

Aronofsky has written and will, as ever, direct and produce the new film. The story will find a couple whose peaceful existence is shattered when uninvited guests show up at their home.

However the story shakes out, Lawrence was tempted by the concept and the chance to work with the Requiem For A Dream (2000) director, and the potential addition of Bardem certainly ups the interest factor. With luck, the film will be out next year.

Lawrence next has X-Men: Apocalypse out on 19 May, with science fiction romance Passengers following on 23 December. Bardem, meanwhile, will be in villain mode again for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which will finally arrive in 2017.

James Gunn wanted a David Bowie cameo in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

The world is still trying to process the tragic loss of iconic musician and occasional actor David Bowie (The Prestige), and his impact is being felt across the film world as well as that of pop and rock. James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy) has shared his own remembrance via Facebook and includes mention of trying to secure Bowie's services for a cameo in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

A Bowie track, as Gunn mentions below, appears on the soundtrack, but for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 he was looking to go a step further. "Just a very short while ago Kevin Feige and I were talking about a cameo role in Guardians Vol. 2, and he brought up Bowie's name. I told him nothing in the world would make me happier, but I heard from common friends he wasn't doing well. We heard back that he was okay and it could potentially happen. Who knows what that was about? But, for whatever reason, it made my Twitter revelation more of a surprise."

You can't help but feel that Bowie would have fitted in well to the bright universe Gunn created with the first Guardians, and it is certainly shame it won't now have a chance to come to pass.

Gunn goes on to add his own thoughts on the death of the icon and another plan for his music in the sequel. "Bowie was an idol of mine, huge and omnipresent. Few artists in any field have had as an indelible impression upon me as he has. To my mind, Ziggy Stardust is perhaps the greatest rock and roll album of all time. We featured Moonage Daydream in Guardians, but I always thought the album's character was felt far beyond that, in the aesthetics, in the integral and seemingly-natural linking in popular culture of '70's rock and space opera. I've been trying to work another song from Ziggy into the sequel, which would make Bowie the only artist to have a song on both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I thought this was fair and appropriate. Although I cut the scene it was used in from the script, we have the rights. Who knows. Maybe I can figure a way out."

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, meanwhile, will be in cinemas on 28 April 2017.

Guillermo del Toro in talks to direct James Cameron's Fantastic Voyage

The last time Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) agreed to work with another big filmmaker, we never quite got to see his vision for The Hobbit. Hopes are higher for a new potential collaboration, however, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that he is currently in talks to develop and direct Fantastic Voyage for James Cameron (Avatar).

The Avatar (2009) director has been trying to get a new take on the miniaturisation science fiction adventure afloat as a producer for years now, burning through such name directors as Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), Shawn Levy (Real Steel) and, though he was only considering the job, Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips). The project currently has a script by Justin Rhodes (Contract Killers) based on David Goyer's (The Dark Knight) treatment. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they would both stay on board to work with Guillermo del Toro if he does officially take the job.

Cameron has had dreams of a big blockbuster version of the story for ages, which in the 1966 original finds a team of scientists shrunk to atomic size and injected with a miniature submarine into the body of a scientist whose life is under threat. It certainly sounds like a fun project for del Toro to work on while the Pacific Rim (2013) sequels linger in development limbo.

We will have to wait and see if he signs on, especially given that he has plenty of other projects under consideration. As always, watch this space.

Aaron Sorkin making directorial debut with poker drama Molly's Game

It was announced last year that Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) was set to craft an adaptation of Molly Bloom's memoir of life as a sports star turned poker magnate. Though he was only initially attached to pen the script, news now arrives via Variety that he has also signed to direct the film.

Producer Mark Gordon, who bought the rights to the book in the first place, is on board for this one alongside former Sony Pictures boss Amy Pascal. Molly's Game, subtitled From Hollywood's Elite To Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure In The World Of Underground Poker, chronicles Bloom, whose story is a fascinating one. A world-class skier since she could walk, she became a nationally ranked business mogul at 21 while still excelling in college. She just missed out on joining the Olympic team upon graduating and took a year off to live in Los Angeles, choosing the unlikely path of waitressing. Thanks to her business acumen, she ended up making millions by running the world's most exclusive high stakes poker game for eight years before the FBI came calling.

There is no word on when shooting will start just yet, but Sorkin should certainly have the time to work on it this year.

HBO gives green light to Deadwood movie

David Milch's profanity filled HBO Western series Deadwood was abruptly cancelled after three seasons back in 2006, meaning it never managed to conclude its story. In the aftermath, there was some talk of a couple of TV movies to wrap up the threads of the tale left to tell, but they never materialised... until now. Following a brief flurry of rumours and scuttlebutt last year, news arrives via TV Line that HBO have confirmed a Deadwood movie has been given the go-ahead.

"David has our commitment that we are going to do it," says HBO President Michael Lombardo. "I've known him for a while and it feels like it's something he's not done talking about. He pitched what he thought generally the storyline would be – and knowing David, that could change. But it's going to happen."

Milch's superb show took the real history and many genuine characters from the South Dakota territories of the 1870s, and crafted a narrative that was riveting, brutal, often hilarious and always astonishingly written. Deadwood revolved around new arrival to the town Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), who started out a hardware store owner and ended up the sheriff. Al Swearingen (Ian McShane), the shifty bar owner who unofficially ran the town, and Alma Garrett (Molly Parker), a widow with a valuable gold claim. There was also Brad Dourif's doctor, Dayton Callie's Charlie Utter and Robin Weigert's Calamity Jane among many others.

Season 3 revolved around the town's dealings with the bastardly George Hearst (Gerald McRaney), and the rest was silence. The town's history gives us some possible answers, but since that is now potentially spoiler territory, we will leave you to discover those for yourselves, should you be inclined. Quite when we will get to see Milch's version – and who among the original cast will return – is unclear at this point. But Milch will be starting work on Deadwood once he has finished another unnamed project.

Is it too much to hope that Walter Hill, who shot Deadwood's pilot episode, might direct? As always, watch this space.

Ben Mendelsohn joins Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One

Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) is already in place, and now Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) has chosen his next cast member for Ready Player One. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly) is set to join the science fiction project in a villainous capacity.

Cooke is Sam, a Canadian blogger who goes by the handle Art3mis, while Mendelsohn will play the story's major antagonist Nolan Sorrento.

Written by Ernie Cline, the screenwriter behind Fanboys (2009), Ready Player One follows teenager Wade Watts who likes to escape his dreary, dangerous real world by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives.

When the game's eccentric, Steve Jobs style billionaire creator dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Wade is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who will do anything, in the Oasis and the real world, to reach the riches first.

The script started life with Cline and Eric Eason (A Better Life) before Cline's friend Zak Penn (The Avengers) was hired by Warner Bros to take a fresh pass on boiling down the sprawling tale, laden with references to classic video games, comics, movies and other pop cultural items. Spielberg's hunt for the right cast continues, since there is still no news of a male lead to play Watts.

Spielberg is currently putting the finishing touches to The BFG, while Mendelsohn has been at work on Gareth Edward's (Godzilla) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The former arrives in UK cinemas on 22 July, while the latter is set to arrive 16 December. Ready Player One is currently pencilled in for 15 December 2017, with shooting taking place sometime soon.

Emma Stone in talks to play Cruella De Vil

Following in the footsteps of Maleficent (2014), Walt Disney Pictures have raided the archives for yet another origin story. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that the Mouse House are developing Cruella De Vil, which will look at the younger years of 101 Dalmatians (1961) villain, with Emma Stone (The Help) in talks to play the titular fur loving fashionista.

Not much is yet known about what we can expect to learn of Cruella's past, but Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) is at work on the latest draft of the screenplay. She has taken over from Aline Brosh McKenna (Annie) in working out the trajectory that made Cruella the chain smoking hound hater we know and love.

Originating in the 1956 Dodie Smith novel that became Disney's animated classic, Cruella has been seen in live action twice already, portrayed by Glenn Close in both 101 Dalmatians (1996) and it's follow-up 102 Dalmatians (2000). Close is actually connected to this new film, but only as a producer so far.

Stone is currently "in talks", so there has been no signing on the dotted line as yet, although it is certainly sounding likely. There is no director in place yet either, but that should also be sorted soon, since Disney are hoping to get Cruella De Vil before the cameras this year.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

"Me and my brother, we're gonna rule London!"

Like it or not – and it is certainly nothing to be celebrate – Ronnie and Reggie Kray were as much 1960s British icons as The Beatles, Michael Caine or Twiggy. The identical twin crime lords may have been violent thugs and, eventually, convicted murderers, but during their rise they rubbed shoulders with the rich, famous and powerful, and encouraged a 'they look after their own' street mythology that endures to this day. Like Al Capone a generation before and an ocean away, they accrued a glamour that obscured their atrocities, and for some people it still does. They are, as writer and director Brian Helgeland would evidently agree, prickly subjects. Get too judgemental and moral, and you deny them their charm, which was as important to their rise as their brutality. Become too enamoured, and you have made heroes of monsters.

Based on John Pearson's 1972 crime biography The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins, Legend tracks the twins from backstreet scallywags punching above their weight at the local boxing club, to rulers of gangland London with police and politicians in their pockets. Always immaculately booted and suited, the Kray twins, owners of first a billiard hall and then a West End nightclub, mingle with the rich and famous before becoming celebrities in their own right. In the shadows behind the spotlight, however, they cement their status by heading up The Firm, a fearsome gang that deals in robbery, murder, arson, torture and protection rackets.

In The Krays (1990), director Peter Medak strove to explain, rather than excuse, the twins via a full on biopic which laid the blame at a perhaps too easy target – their mother. Helgeland takes a more interesting approach. He makes Reggie's delicate, doomed girlfriend then wife Frances (Emily Browning) our guide to the Krays' world. She loves Reggie fiercely, so at first he is portrayed as a twinkle eyed, cheeky, drainpipe climbing scoundrel. She is wary of Ronnie, a hulking bottled storm with genuine psychological problems, but still with his own quirky charisma, wrapped up in the fact that he is an open homosexual. Frances is swept up in all the glitz of their thrall over the East End. Then, inevitably, the filthy, gruesome true nature of her husband and brother-in-law is gradually exposed. Through her eyes they are both heroes and monsters.

Browning is excellent, simultaneously brittle and warm, though her deliberately quaint voice-over occasionally grates. But like 1960s London itself, the film is overshadowed by the award baiting performance of Tom Hardy (Lawless) as both Ronnie and Reggie. And don't think the twins just appear at separate times or occupy different halves of the same screen. With the help of digital trickery, this is a physically integrated, symbiotic relationship.

Into Reggie, he throws all his charm, making him a young Marlon Brando with a wide boy swagger. His Ronnie, meanwhile, is a hot stew of nasal croaks, eye contact avoidance and stiff, awkward body language. One is more hero, one is more monster, but Hardy makes sure the lines blur. It is a rare thing to observe – an actor creating chemistry with himself.

At times Hardy pushes it close to comic caricature – the violence is almost played for laughs in earlier scenes, especially in a virtuoso Ronnie versus Reggie hardcore brawl – but he balances on the brink as he did with such spectacular success in Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson (2008). Which all perfectly fits Helgeland's brief – he is portraying the Krays through the prism of Frances, to whom they are larger than life. The clue is clearly in the title.

Helgeland's savvy new take on this well known story proves that crime can pay, while Hardy is astonishing and magnetic in two truly towering performances.