Tuesday, 29 March 2016

"One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation."

Based on the 'mostly true' book and stage accounts of the peculiar old van lady who took refuge on the delapodated driveway his property, Alan Bennett's deceptively light-hearted brew of social observation and self-examination modestly arrives on our screens. You might say that director Nicholas Hytner (The History Boys) has styled his movie to reflect the famously nebbish personality of his screenwriter and subject matter. Shot in and around the Camden terrace Bennett moved into in the 1970s, showing off is expressly forbidden.

With perhaps one exception – much like Tom Hardy's impressive take on the Kray twins in Legend (2015), at the heart of the film we find flawlessly rendered twin Bennetts (Alex Jennings). This is entirely a theatrical device. One is the real Bennett, fretting behind his curtains, failing to take charge of the situation. The other is Bennett the writer, his inner Gollum supplying barbed witticisms and exploiting this strange predicament for fiction. "You won't get Harold Pinter pushing anything down a street," he points out unhelpfully.

We move through the years, the van rusting away, to the unfussy rhythm of the entwined lives of this oddest of couples. More accurately, we follow Bennett's testy analysis of his own reaction to his squatter's fierce devotion to prayer, casual racism, explosive defecation, and an elusive past. "She never lets on..." he says, concerned they have more in common than he cares to admit.

There is an aura of caricature about Jennings' well-honed Bennett (he has played him on stage and TV), so comforting and English he might have been animated by Nick Park. It is the caricature in which Bennett armoured himself long ago – the cardigan clad man of letters distributing home truths with wistful candour. Is he putting up with the insufferable Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith) only because he is too timid to object?

Smith, as you would expect, has a ball as the malodorous Miss Shepherd. It is a liberating role, unencumbered by social niceties and deafeningly oblivious to kindness. A staggering force of nature, she is both shrill and hilarious, but not a joke. Smith is too astute to neglect the brittleness and lingering sense of loss. Her abandoned life haunts both Bennett's conscience and his art. Who is she? How did she end up like this? And why does he care so much? The film becomes a quest, of sorts. Bennett, man and writer, wants to restore a life. Though whose exactly remains open to question.

Hytner delivers a fine, moving comedy of English manners between a writer and his cantankerous tenant, which slowly deepens into an exploration of human bonds.

The Lady In The Van is a sparky and joyfull celebration of eccentricity and tolerance that serves as a warm hearted showcase for one of our best loved playwrights and finest actresses.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Jessica Chastain in talks for Aaron Sorkin's drama Molly's Game

Back in 2014, Steve Jobs (2015) screenwriter Aaron Sorkin agreed to craft an adaptation of Molly's Game, Molly Bloom's memoir of life as a sports star turned poker magnate. Though he was only initially attached to pen the script, he has since signed up to make his directorial debut with the film. Now at the casting stage, news arrives via The Wrap that he wants to see Jessica Chastain (The Martian) in the lead.

A deal has yet to be set in stone yet, with proper negotiations still to happen and Chastain juggling a busy schedule that includes The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan, No Show Jones and Miss Sloane. She is, however, according to The Wrap's 'insiders', keen to make it work, via her production company Freckle Films.

Producer Mark Gordon (Source Code), who nabbed 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 start date set yet, so Sorkin may well have time to wait for Chastain to find a space in her diary. As always, watch this space.

John Wick 2 gets title and release date

Quickly storming into production following the breakout success of the original, the sequel to John Wick (2015) started shooting last autumn. Keanu Reeves is, of course, back in the title role, with returning support from John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynihan, and Lance Reddick. And we now have a title and a release date. Exhibitor Relations have announced via Twitter that the film will be called John Wick: Chapter Two and is set for release early next year.

New to the cast are Ruby Rose (Around The Block), Laurence Fishburne (Contagion), Peter Stormareand (Argo), Common (Now You See Me), and while there is no news on the specific plot as yet, it has been revealed that at least some of the story will take place in Rome.

"We have ideas for days and without blinking twice we know we can outdo the action from the original," said director Chad Stahelski a few months ago. "It's the matter of story and how much you like the character. That's always the most important. If there's great action but you have a character that no-one likes and doesn't have charisma you're not going to watch it. Look at any great action star, whether it's Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson or Robert Downey Jr., pick a name, you love the guy first. Good action, bad action, you just love them in action. So we want to make sure we have a story and a character that everybody loves and then we'll dress it with action that we promise will be awesome."j

Stahelski is directing on his own this time, with his former cohort David Leitch opting instead to make The Coldest City. Derek Kolstad remains the screenwriter, however, and John Wick: Chapter Two will be out in the US on 10 February next year. Hopefully the release won't be months later in the UK, as it was last time.

Emily Blunt is Walt Disney Pictures' first choice as the new Mary Poppins

Given that the new Mary Poppins film sees Rob Marshall reunited with the producers behind Into The Woods (2014), it was arguably inevitable that they would pluck someone from that cast for their latest project. News arrives via Variety that Emily Blunt is currently their first choice to play the titular magical nanny.

Marshall and the rest have a script by David Magee (Finding Neverland) that draws from other books in Poppins author P.L. Travers' range, which expand beyond the original tome across a series that ran between 1934 and 1988. It has been reported that this new film will catch up with the Banks family 20 years after the original, and finds Mary coming to help during the Depression era. While original co-songwriter Richard Sherman has given his blessing to the new film, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Into The Woods) will be the ones providing the necessary tunes.

Blunt is currently front runner, and is in talks to star, but has still got to figure out whether she can actually fit it into her busy schedule, with the added wrinkle that she is expecting her second child with husband John Krasinski (Away we Go), so that could be a factor. As for other work, she will next be seen in The Huntsman: Winter's War, which is out on 8 April.

San Andreas sequel in the works

If you thought The Rock was finished making the earth roll with San Andreas (2015), prepare for more seismic madness. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that New Line have hired writers to start figuring out a sequel.

It would appear that the film's box office success turned on a green light at the company, and now Neil Widener (Subdivision, Colorado) and Gavin James (Footsteps) are the people currently thinking up ways that the planet's tectonic plates can start to shake and shudder once again. Exactly what will go down (or up) is still in the realms of speculation, but The Hollywood Reporter has heard that it will expand the story globally to include the Ring of Fire, the famous chain of fault lines and volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean. Which, incidentally, is thought to be home to a good deal of the world's earthquakes.

Dwayne Johnson's rescue pilot Raymond Gaines is set to return, with Carla Gugino as Emma Gaines and Alexandra Daddario as Blake Gaines also expected to rejoin the action alongside Paul Giamatti's neurotic seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes. Who, knowing his luck, will be studying the very location when it all goes horribly wrong.

It is still clearly early days, but Andreas director Brad Peyton and producer Beau Flynn are climbing back aboard. As to when this will happen? We wouldn't expect it before 2018, as Johnson has a busy schedule this year, including re-teaming with Peyton for the Rampage video game adaptation.

Abbey Lee set for The Dark Tower

Following her role as The Dag in George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, Abbey Lee should certainly be used to strange landscapes and even stranger people. That will surely stand her in good stead, with news arriving via Deadline that she is set to join Idris Elba (Prometheus) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) in The Dark Tower.

According to Deadline's report – which mentions that she hasn't solidly locked down the part yet, but is negotiating – Lee is playing a character named Tirana, which has been causing consternation among readers of the books, since she is a relatively minor villain in one of Stephen King's later tomes. So this could well be a cover name to occlude who Lee is really playing in the film until a later date, or there will be some big changes between the movie and the books, and this isn't as much of a lead role as the early reports suggest. Not unusual, but we will have to wait and see how it shakes out.

The film, which represents the first step in the plan to bring the story to cinemas (plus a companion TV series which is still in development), would follow Deschain (Elba) and protégé Jake Chambers as they quest to locate the titular tower, a central point in the universe, before dark forces (including McConaughey's main villain) invade and destroy it, wiping out reality. Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) originally adapted the script from King's first book in the series, The Gunslinger, and director Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) has been working with fellow Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen (In A Better World) on his own draft.

Lee, meanwhile, can currently be seen in Gods Of Egypt and has Nicolas Winding Refn's (Drive) The Neon Demon out later this year.

Christian Bale set for Western drama Hostiles

The health concerns surrounding the necessary weight gain which ultimately kept him out of Michael Mann's (Public Enemies) Enzo Ferrari biopic, may not have seemed like a blessing for Christian Bale, but his Out Of The Furnace (2014) director Scott Cooper is certainly seeing it that way. News arrives via Variety that the director is set to reunite with the actor for his next project, Hostiles.

According to Variety, Cooper is writing and will direct the Western film, which will feature Bale as a legendary American Army captain in 1892 with a burning hatred for Native Americans.

When he is ordered to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to tribal lands in Montana from an isolated outpost in New Mexico, he is initially resistant, but agrees to the task. Along the way, the pair meets a young widow whose family was murdered on the plains, and the small unexpected unit must band together to overcome distrust, the landscape's challenges and hostile Comanche tribes intent on making sure they don't reach their destination.

It will mark Bale's first Western since 3:10 To Yuma (2007), and certainly sounds like the ideal project for the former Batman to channel his gruff side into. Bale will be seen in Terrence Malick's Knight Of Cups and Weightless, and has also provided voice and performance capture for Bagheera in Andy Serkis' (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) directorial debut Jungle Book: Origins, which won't reach our screens until 2017 at the earliest.

Holliday Grainger joins Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin in My Cousin Rachel

Director Roger Michell (Venus) already has Rachel Weisz (The Fountain) in one of the main roles for his romantic thriller remake partly based on My Cousin Rachel (1952), which starred Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland. Sam Claflin (Snow White And The Huntsman) recently signed on and now news arrives via Deadline that Holliday Grainger (Jane Eyre) is currently in negotiations to join them.

The film, which Michell will also adapt, takes its story from Daphne du Maurier's novel about Philip, an orphan who is used to living a happy life with his cousin and guardian, Ambrose. But when Ambrose is off on one of his health related holidays, he reports back that he has fallen for Rachel, a distant relation, the tone of his letters starts to change and Philip decides to go and investigate. Yet he underestimates the power the beautiful Rachel will have over him.

Weisz will play the seductive title character, with Claflin as Philip, but there is no indication yet of who Grainger will play. She can currently seen in Coast Guard drama The Finest Hours and has worked on Tulip Fever, which has yet to nail down a firm release date.

Julianne Moore in talks to join Kingsman: The Secret Service sequel

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) had many things going for it, but despite the presence of Sophie Cookson's Roxy and Sofia Boutella's Gazelle, great roles for women were not really among them. The sequel is aiming to address that, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Julianne Moore (Still Alice) is in talks to play the villain.

Matthew Vaughn is once again directing the film, which will follow the further adventures of Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (Taron Egerton), the most unlikely recruit for gentlemanly boutique secret agency the Kingsmen, yet who turned out to be one of their greatest assets... With a little help from Colin Firth's Harry Hart, who isn't returning for the sequel.

Egerton has said previously that the new movie will see Eggsy travelling to new places as he sorts out other problems on the world stage, and if she does make a deal, Moore would be the main antagonist for the young agent. But that will depend on her schedule – the actress is as ever in demand, and is trying to figure out which jobs she will likely take.

Vaughn and regular collaborator Jane Goldman have been working on the script and are looking at starting pre-production in May before rolling the cameras in the summer. The movie already has a 16 June 2017 release date pencilled in.

Ron Howard attached to direct Robert Downey Jr.'s Pinocchio

The attempt to give the Pinocchio story yet another cinematic twist has been confounding filmmakers for years. Specifically, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and wife/producing partner Susan Downey, whose Team Downey company has been working on a version with Walt Disney Pictures. Now there is another potential director in the mix, with word arriving via The Tracking Board that Ron Howard (Rush) is seriously considering directing.

This Pinocchio would focus a little less on the wooden boy who comes to life, and more on his carpenter creator, Geppetto. When Pinocchio goes missing, the worried father figure must go looking for him.

At least, that is potentially what the story will be, aiming to give the tale a Maleficent (2014) style shift. So many writers have come and gone in the years of development (including Jane Goldman, Bryan Fuller and Paul Thomas Anderson) that it is anyone's guess as to whether the idea stays.

And if Howard truly does take on the job, he will naturally want to bring in his own writers to take a new crack at the script. We will have to wait and see if this emerges from the depths of rumour and scuttlebutt before postulating what Howard's version might look like. His latest, third Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, arrives on these shores on 14 October.

Keira Knightley in talks to play Catherine the Great for Barbra Streisand

Eyebrows were raised last December when it was reported that Barbra Streisand would end two decades away from directing for a biopic of Russian empress Catherine the Great. But she is now locking down a cast, with news arriving via The Wrap that Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) is in early talks to star.

Streisand will direct the film based on Kristina Lauren Anderson's script, which took the top spot on the 2014 Blacklist for unproduced screenplays. While that hasn't always been the indicator of great eventual films, this does seem like a topic that the woman who made Yentl (1983) and The Price Of Tides (1991) can do justice to.

The biopic will find the young Catherine dealing with the rigours of royalty after 1762, when she took power following her husband's assassination. Trapped in an abusive marriage, she nevertheless went on to make strides in modernising the Russian empire. Knightley certainly has experience playing troubled Russian women after her turn in Anna Karenina (2012), but it remains to be seen if she takes the job. She is about to start work on Collateral Beauty opposite Will Smith (I Am Legend), which will probably hit our screens next year after a December release in the US.

Blade Runner 2 will arrive in January 2018

We may not know what will be happening in the film, or how Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard – replicant or not – fits into the story, but we now know when the Blade Runner (1982) sequel will launch onto our screens, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that the film is set to hit American cinemas on 12 January 2018.

With Warner Bros handling the release in the US (Sony Pictures have the international distribution rights), we may also see a day and date release here, but there has been no official confirmation as yet. The Stateside date might seem strange for the film you would expect to arrive closer to summer, but it appears to be taking advantage of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Prisoners (2013) director Denis Villeneuve is calling the shots for this one, working from a script by Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner) and Michael Green (Green Lantern), the future world of Replicants and those that hunt them will be brought back into existence. The one element we do know so far is that the story will be set decades after the end of Ridley Scott's neo-noir science fiction thriller and will pick up the plot, with Ryan Gosling (Drive) aboard in some capacity.

With Scott overseeing things as executive producer, the cameras will be rolling in July. Hopefully we will soon find out who else will be populating the futuristic world originally conjured up by author Philip K. Dick in his novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? As always, watch this space.

New quad poster and teaser trailer for Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie arrives online

Fox Searchlight have recently released their first quad poster and teaser trailer for Mandie Fletcher's (Miranda) Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Long talked about, but never quite made until now, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie finally rolled cameras earlier this year with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley returning to live their version of the high life.

Mandie Fletcher is calling the shots on this one, working from Saunders' script, with Edina and Patsy joined, as you might expect by Julia Sawalha's Saffy, Jane Horrocks as Bubble and June Whitfield as Mother. "I am thrilled and excited to finally start filming," says Saunders. "We are all taking our medication and hoping for the best."

The plot, which follows some of the archetypes for a film based on the British sitcom sees Edina and Patsy shopping, drinking and clubbing their way round London's top spots until they stumble into a fashionable launch party and are blamed for a major incident. Fleeing the ensuing media storm and attendant paparazzi, they head for the French Riviera without a penny to their names, but start to form a plan to stay there permanently.

A cavalcade of cameos and guest appearances bolster the cast for this one, with Kate Moss, Emma Bunton, Chris Colfer, Dawn French, Kim Kardashian, Rebel Wilson and more on the roster. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie will stagger onto our screens this summer. Champers sweetie?

First trailer and one sheet for Florence Foster Jenkins arrives online

Pathé have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Stephen Frears' (The Queen) Florence Foster Jenkins.

The film will chronicle the life of Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a hugely wealthy heiress and socialite whose driving passion was opera. Specifically, she wanted to get on stage and sing, but was held back by the fact that she could barely warble a correct note.

Yet while Florence was convinced that the voice she heard in her head was mellifluous and lovely to all, her partner/manager, aristocratic actor St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) became determined to protect that delusion, convincing everyone around them to support her. He ended up organising a Carnegie Hall concert for her in 1944, which racked up ticket sales of more than 3,000. Jenkins died a month later.

With Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory), Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen) and Nina Arianda (Midnight In Paris) also aboard, Florence Foster Jenkins arrives in the UK on 6 May.

New character one sheets for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows arrive online

Paramount Pictures have recently released their Super Bowl TV spot for Dave Green's (Earth To Echo) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows.

Proof that a critical mauling isn't quite enough to stifle franchise ambitions, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) managed enough of a box office haul to justify a sequel.

Leaning further into the mythology of both the original comic books and the 1980s cartoon version of the characters, hence the arrival of mutated enemies Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows ramps up the Michael Bay flavoured action (he is once again a producer).

Joining the mutant mayhem is Stephen Amell (Arrow) as vigilante friend Casey Jones, who, if his storyline holds true to the source material, will become a love interest for Megan Fox's April O'Neil.

We will have to wait until 3 June to see if the movie, which also features Tyler Perry (Alex Cross), and the returning Will Arnett and William Fichtner, can win over more than just the younger audience and keep the pizza party going.

New trailer and one sheet for Colonia arrives online

Screen Media Film have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Florian Gallenberger's (City Of War: The Story Of John Rabe) Colonia.

America isn't the only country for which September 11 has painful significance. On 11 September 1973 a coup was launched against the regime of Salvador Allende by General Pinochet, plunging the country into violent upheaval that is being depicted in Emma Watson's (The Bling Ring) latest film, Colonia.

Colonia follows Costa-Gavras' Missing (1982) in charting the brutal aftermath of the Pinochet led coup. That film had Jack Lemmon trying to get to the bottom of his son's disappearance – this one sees Emma Watson's Lena doing likewise when her partner, Daniel (Daniel Brühl) is abducted by the secret police. Lena tracks him down to Colonia Dignidad, an anti-communist sect run by Mikael Nyqvist's (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) lay preacher Paul Schäfer. There she joins the cult to find Daniel.

Colonia is due arrive in cinemas 15 April.

J.J. Abrams' new science fiction project God Particle arrives next year

In development since 2012,  J.J. Abrams' (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) next project as producer is the science fiction thriller God Particle. Now news arrives via Variety that he is steering his team for a launch next February in the States.

Abrams has a script in hand from Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street), which Paramount Pictures bought for Abrams' Bad Robot company to tackle. Back then, it was going to be aimed at the studio's low budget label Insurge, but that has since been shut down.

The budget is set to stay thrifty, however, despite a high concept pitch that involves astronauts on the International Space Station making a terrifying discovery that changes everything they know about reality, and the idea of the Earth vanishing after an experiment is conducted in the Large Hadron Collider.

No cast has been recruited yet, but Nigerian-American director Julius Onah (The Girl Is In Trouble) is on board to call the shots. Abrams, of course has had a little bit of success recently with a certain new Star Wars outing, and is back as producer with 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is out in cinemas now.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Donnie Yen confirmed for xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage

First reported by the team at Birth.Movies.Death., news that Donnie Yen (Ip Man) joined the cast of xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage has now been confirmed, with a few new details arriving about his role.

Yen is replacing Jet Li (The Expendables) in the latest sequel to xXx, and will be playing warrior Xiang, who will cause serious problems for Vin Diesel's Xander Cage as the extreme sports rebel turned government asset races to find and stop a doomsday weapon.

D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four) is is directing the latest franchise outing, and Diesel stars alongside an eclectic, diverse cast that includes Deepika Padukone (Chennai Express), Tony Jaa (Furious 7), Ruby Rose (Around The Block), UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor, Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), Kris Wu (Somewhere Only We Know), Hermione Corfield (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) and Samuel L. Jackson, who returns to his role as Agent Augustus Gibbons.

Quite what led to Li's departure has not been mentioned, but Yen is certainly a more than capable replacement. Yen can currently be seen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny via Netflix and is the part of the cast for Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is out on 16 December.

Adam McKay set to return for Ant-Man And The Wasp

Despite his recent awards success with The Big Short, Adam McKay is not forgetting his nerdier side. Talking to Nerdist at the Santa Barbara Film Festival last month, McKay confirmed that he will definitely be back in some form for Ant-Man And The Wasp.

McKay was drafted in during the hectic late development days to do some work on the script for the first Ant-Man (2015) alongside star Paul Rudd. There had been hope and talk that McKay would back in some capacity for the sequel, which is set to expanded on Evangeline Lilly's character Hope van Dyne in her capacity as The Wasp.

"We've been talking to Marvel actually," McKay says. "We just talked to them the other day, and it looks like I will be involved. I don't know if it's gonna be right from page one. But it looks like I will definitely be involved."

Peyton Reed is directing once again, with Ant-Man writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari set to work on the script. Ant-Man And The Wasp is currently scheduled to arrive on 6 July 2018.

Ryan Reynolds in talks for science fiction thriller Life

With Deadpool breaking forth walls and box office records, Ryan Reynolds new career trajectory looks set to hit the stratosphere. And he is already considering fresh projects, with news arriving via Deadline that he is currently in talks to join Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation) in Mars set thriller Life.

The science fiction thriller also boasts a number of people Reynolds has worked with in the past –Deadpool writing duo Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have been drafting the script and Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) is aboard to call the shots.

Life's story is still largely being kept in an information vacuum for now, but previous reports had it focusing on the International Space Station, where samples recently procured from Mars turn out to display more than the expected signs of intelligence. But even given the potential reunion of the Deadpool team, we doubt it will feature Reynolds making cracks about Matt Damon and The Martian (2015). Right now though, Reynolds is simply in talks.

Reynolds will next be seen in memory swap thriller Criminal, due here on 15 April.

Margot Robbie set for crime thriller Terminal

With Focus (2015) and David Ayer's (Fury) forthcoming Suicide Squad on her recent CV, Margot Robbie is sticking with crime for another thriller. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that she is set to star in Vaughn Stein's noirish feature debut Terminal.

Stein also wrote the screenplay, which sees two hitmen taking on a dangerous mission for a mysterious high paying employer. As the job progresses they get entangled with the "dynamic" Robbie, who's involvement in the affair proves deeper than was initially apparent.

This is Stein's first time directing his own feature, but hardly his debut behind a camera. He is a veteran second and third unit assistant director, with credits on Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), Snow White And The Huntsman (2012) and World War Z (2013). In the last year alone he has worked on In The Heart Of The Sea (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), Dad's Army and Grimsby.

Highland Film Group are financing Terminal and deals were recently made at the European Film Market in Berlin. "Highland is delighted to be able to kick off this year's market with another title of such strong caliber," say the group's Arianne Frasier and Delphine Perrier. "Crafted with incredibly in-demand and relevant talent in front and behind the camera, the project perfectly showcases the quality of genre-led movies we’re committed to supporting."

In a packed year, we will next see Robbie in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on 22 April, Legend Of Tarzan on 8 July and Suicide Squad on 5 August.

Release date for Bumblebee Transformers spin-off and more announced

Whatever your feelings are towards the idea of further visits to the Transformers movie universe, their continuation is guaranteed. And now we know that in addition to next year's fifth main instalment, two more movies have been slated for release, including a Bumblebee spin-off in 2018. 

Nothing beyond the subject and the date of the Bumblebee film have been released. We suppose it makes sense to focus on Bumblebee, who has been one of the focal points of the movies so far, despite his reliance on radio transmissions for bursts of dialogue. 

It has all been generated by Paramount Pictures and Hasbro convening a Transformers writing room that gathered a number of scribes together under the direction of Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend). They have generated concepts for other movies and are assigning scripts, with Art Marcum, Matt Holloway (Iron Man) and Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) currently at work on the fifth Transformers for Michael Bay to direct, due in June next year. Which means Paramount are set to go head to head with Warner Bros' Wonder Woman. Bumblebee, meanwhile, is taking aim at Legendary's Godzilla sequel in June 2018. Finally, another, unknown Transformers entry (potentially a Cybertron origin movie) is set to arrive in late June 2019.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 begins filming

Time to get hooked on a feeling again. Filming on the first sequel to Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) began recently with the addition of four brand new cast members.

Returning director, James Gunn, confirmed on Twitter that filming on Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is officially underway, marking the occasion with a teaser image of the gang. Gunn simply told his Twitter followers, "you're very welcome". 

The rock star image – note the amplifiers on a stage – shows the returning lineup of Peter Quill, also known as, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and the currently baby sized Groot (Vin Diesel) following the events of the first film.

Other returning cast members include Michael Rooker as Yondu, Karen Gillan as Nebula and Sean Gunn as Kraglin. Meanwhile, a clutch of Guardians newbies have been announced. Pom Klementieff (Oldboy) will be playing Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Chris Sullivan (The Drop) and – as was heavily rumoured – the great Kurt Russell (Death Proof). No confirmation on who Russell will be playing, but our guess is that he will playing Peter Quill's father.

Something of an cheeky galactic outlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the original Guardians Of The Galaxy surprised everyone in 2014 by actually being really rather good. It surprised us all further by grossing an impressive $774m worldwide gross – not bad for a comic series barely read beyond die hard Marvel fans. The sequel was confirmed before the original was even released.

Filming is currently taking place at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, aiming for a release date of 5 May 2017, placing it square in the middle of the MCU's Phase Three – shortly after Doctor Strange and a year before Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1. Marvel, it would appear, have part of a plan.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

New trailer for Pee-wee's Big Holiday arrives online

Netflix have recently released their latest trailer for John Lee's (Wonder Showzen) Pee-wee's Big Holiday.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday sees the return of the helium voiced Pee-Wee Herman as a man happy to stay in his home town of Fairville, a perpetually happy small-town chunk of Americana. He doesn't like to try new things and he doesn't want to leave. But then he meets a mysterious stranger, played by Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike), who convinces Pee-wee that maybe there is more to life than working in a diner and living his cheery, but seemingly limited suburban existence.

Of course, getting out into the world means meeting lots of new people and having strange encounters, and from the looks of this it doesn't always go Pee-wee's way. Still, you can count on him usually remaining chipper in the face of maddening odds.

Should you be unaware, Pee-Wee Herman was big news in the US in the 1980s, with the Saturday morning show Pee-Wee's Playhouse running on CBS from 1986 until 1990. Tim Burton's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) and Randal Kleiser's sequel Big Top Pee-Wee (1988) followed, but then there was the unfortunate incident in the disreputable Florida movie theatre, and suddenly Reubens was no longer a children's entertainer...

In recent years though, he has been having a bit of a renaissance. There was a one man show on Broadway, festival screenings of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Pee-Wee's Playhouse, The Pee Wee Herman Show and the two movies are already playing to enthusiastic audiences on Netflix.

With Judd Apatow (This Is 40) producing and a script by Reubens and Paul Rust (Arrested Development), Pee-wee's Big Holiday will land on Netflix on 18 March.

New trailer for Bastille Day arrives online

StudioCanal have recently released their latest trailer for James Watkins' (Eden Lake) action thriller Bastille Day.

Watkins' latest finds Richard Madden (Game Of Thrones) as an American petty criminal living (and pickpocketing) in the streets of Paris. Edris Elba (Prometheus) is Sean Briar, the CIA opperative pursuing him for a stolen bag containing something highly confidential. An explosion caused by a bomb in the French capital leaves them thrown together in common cause – a much wider conspiracy that brings them into the spotlight of local law enforcers.

Delayed following November's terrorist attacks on Paris, Bastille Day finally gets its UK release on 22 April.

New teaser image for Shane Black's The Predator arrives online

With Shane Black's (Iron Man 3) The Nice Guys finished and due for release in a couple of months, his next project is already starting the publicity machine. Black's latest will be the fourth instalment in the Predator franchise (sixth if you include the two Alien V Predator films), and in what appears to be an official missive, studio 20th Century Fox have released a new teaser image via the official Predator Facebook page. They have also revealed the title – possibly taking a cue from The Wolverine (2013) – as simply The Predator.

There is not a great deal to go on, although that title does suggest a singular enemy in blunt contrast to Predators (2010), which promised an army and gave us just three. What is visible behind the text though, is a battle scarred version of the titular beast, sporting his infamous shoulder cannon. The picture was accompanied on Facebook by the message, "Here we go again, bro" – a Bill Duke line from John McTiernan's original film.

Black was in that film as an actor, of course, ostensibly to be on-hand in the jungle as a writer should the screenplay need tweaking. "As if that script needed any work," he marvelled later. His connection with the franchise goes right back to the beginning then, which makes another sequel a potentially more interesting prospect in his hands than it might have been otherwise.

He has been developing the film with writer Fred Dekker (RoboCop 3) since 2014, and has previously assured everyone that their plans are for a continuation, rather than a remake or a reboot. "It's an inventive sequel," he explained. "As far as Fred and I are concerned, why start over, when you’ve all this rich mythology yet to mine? I like the idea of expanding and exploring the existing Predator mythology, rather than hitting the restart button."

There is no start date or cast as yet, but expect more news in the coming months. Black's The Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling (Drive) and Russell Crowe (Noah), arrives in the UK on 20 May.

"And the Academy Award goes to..."

Last Sunday saw the 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with The Revenant taking home two of the biggest prizes on offer. The gruelling survival thriller, having earned 12 nominations, took home Best Director Oscar for Alejandro González Iñárritu and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio. But the biggest award of the night – Best Picture – was scooped by real life journalism drama Spotlight.

Iñárritu becomes only the third director in history to win back-to-back directing Academy Awards, while DiCaprio – to the audible relief of certain corners of the internet – finally made good on his six nominations. The actor was first nominated for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).

The Revenant also earned Emmanuel 'Chivo' Lubezki his third Best Cinematography Oscar in a row. But it was Mad Max: Fury Road that went home with the most awards, sweeping the technical categories to earn six Oscars, including Best Production Design.

Other categories arguably fell as expected. Brie Larson took Best Actress for her performance in Room, and Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for her turn in The Danish Girl. Inside Out won Best Animated Feature for Pixar, a category the studio has dominated since it was first introduced in 2001.

Elsewhere, the Academy continued their fondness for British talent, with Asif Kapadia winning Best Documentary Feature for Amy, and Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor. And perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the evening saw Ex Machina (budget: $15m) beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens (budget: $200m) to scoop Best Visual Effects.

During the typically uneven ceremony, host Chris Rock addressed the #OscarsSoWhite elephant in the room head on, devoting most of his opening monologue to the entirely white acting nominations, and suggesting the Academy introduce separate black categories.

"You realise if they nominated hosts, I wouldn't even get this job," he quipped. "Y'all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now."

The full list of nominees and winners are below.

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu - The Revenant
Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Lenny Abrahamson - Room

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Matt Damon - The Martian
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

Best Actress
Brie Larson - Room
Cate Blanchett - Carol
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn

Supporting Actress
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara - Carol
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance - Bridge Of Spies
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Sylvester Stallone - Creed
Tom Hardy - The Revenant

Adapted Screenplay
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph - The Big Short
Emma Donoghue - Room
Drew Goddard - The Martian
Nick Hornby - Brooklyn
Phyllis Nagy - Carol

Original Screenplay
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer - Spotlight
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen - Bridge Of Spies
Alex Garland - Ex Machina
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley - Inside Out
Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff - Straight Outta Compton

Animated Feature
Inside Out
Boy & The World (O Menino E O Mundo)
Shaun The Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Foreign Language Film
Son Of Saul
A War
Embrace The Serpent

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki - The Revenant
Ed Lachman - Carol
John Seale - Mad Max: Fury Road
Roger Deakins - Sicario
Robert Richardson - The Hateful Eight

Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Film Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Big Short
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Revenant

Production Design
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bridge Of Spies
The Danish Girl
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Score
Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight
Carter Burwell - Carol
John Williams - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Thomas Newman - Bridge Of Spies
Jóhann Jóhannsson - Sicario

Best Original Song
'Writing On The Wall' from Spectre - Sam Smith
'Earned It' from Fifty Shades Of Grey - The Weeknd
'Simple Song #3' from Youth - David Lang
'Til It Happens To You' from The Hunting Ground - Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
'Manta Ray' from Racing Extinction

Best Costume Design
Jenny Beavan - Mad Max: Fury Road
Sandy Powell - Carol
Sandy Powell - Cinderella
Paco Delgado - The Danish Girl
Jacqueline West - The Revenant

Best Documentary
Cartel Land
The Look Of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom

Best Documentary Short
A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond The Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres Of The Shoah
Last Day Of Freedom

Best Makeup And Hair
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

Best Animated Short
Bear Story (Historia De Un Oso)
Sanjay's Super Team
World Of Tomorrow
We Can't Live Without Cosmos

Best Live Action Short
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bridge Of Spies
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens