22nd November 2005
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
12:00 AM — When Harry Potter first burst onto the scene and all those columnists in the newspapers began churning out ream after ream of gushing praise for the wonderful originality and depth of J K Rowling's contributions to fantasy fiction and children's literature, the few dissenting voices most often brought up C S Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia as a prime example of a classic children's book series that had done it all before. So it's really only fair that Narnia finally gets a cinematic outing, and also only fair that the first Narnia film is so much more accomplished than the first in the Harry Potter movie franchise.
16th November 2005
12:00 AM — Of late, Bill Murray seems to be making a bit of a thing out of playing middle-aged men desperately searching for some kind of meaning in their lives. There was, of course, the almost depressingly bleak and lonely Lost in Translation, then the quirky The Life Aquatic and now this. As in that last film, Broken Flowers revolves around the discovery of a son he never knew existed and the resultant confusion about the state of his life.
The Legend of Zorro
12:00 AM — It has been seven years since The Mask of Zorro catapulted its stars, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones from moderate fame to stardom. Seven years is normally a very long time to wait for a sequel. There are few exceptions to the rule that more than three years equals disappointing box office and normally equally disappointing films.
The Brothers Grimm
12:00 AM — Former Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam's first film in seven years couldn't help but be much anticipated. Especially since the well-documented failure of his Don Quixote project, so painfully revealed in the superb documentary Lost in La Mancha, which brought back industry memories of his big-budget, underrated flop The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the idea that Gilliam could ever get a project funded - let alone finished - ever again was but a vague hope for his many fans.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
12:00 AM — Val Kilmer's name on a film poster is, these days, enough to drive anyone away. He's been associated with more high-profile duds than pretty much any actor currently working, be it the awful The Saint to the sprawling Alexander, has built up a reputation for being an arrogant and unpleasant person to work with, and by most accounts he hasn't managed to put in a genuinely good performance since 1993's Tombstone, where he was truly superb as the slowly dying gunslinger Doc Holliday.
The Constant Gardener
12:00 AM — Following the near Oscar success of last year's Hotel Rwanda, Hollywood returns again to the plight of modern Africa. This time it's Kenya, where British diplomat Ralph Fiennes finds his outspoken, politically active wife, played by Rachel Weisz, murdered while travelling through the lawless outer reaches of the country.Based as it is on a novel by thriller writing legend John Le Carré, a conspiracy lurks beneath the killing, made to look like the work of bandits.
In Her Shoes
12:00 AM — The chick flick is much derided as one of the most formulaic and unoriginal of genres. It is effectively a derivation of the male version, the buddy cop movie, which, like the Lethal Weapon series, normally has at least some cross-gender appeal, and is often spliced with that other much-hated genre, the romantic comedy.Chick flicks always tend to revolve around two or more women who shouldn't really be friends, who have some kind of - usually relatively minor - obstacle to overcome, and who eventually end up bonding over one or more men, be it through love or hatred.
12:00 AM — It's not often that you get a western these days. It's even less often that you get an Australian western.Rarer still is the attraction of an Australian western written by cult Aussie singer Nick Cave, erstwhile lead crooner in The Birthday Party and now best known as the deep-voiced head of slightly weird music troupe The Bad Seeds.Set as it is in 1880s Australia, as that vast island was just beginning to grow some kind of civilisation out of its penal colony status, this is a perfect yet original setting for an old-school western.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
12:00 AM — If the title doesn't ring any bells, if you don't know which number in the series this is, there's little hope that this film will hold any interest - although if you've managed to avoid the Harry Potter phenomenon this long, either you have no interest in anything that's going on around you or you've been locked up in some far off distant land for the past few years.This particular tale is set in Harry's fourth year at Hogwart's wizard school. He should technically be 14. Not only is actor Daniel Radcliffe already 16, but he looks rather older. Does this matter? Well, it means the films are becoming ever more unlike the books. The tall, muscular Radcliffe is hardly much like the rather small and weedy Harry that Rowling seems to envisage any more.
Everything Is Illuminated
12:00 AM — Adapted from the critically acclaimed faux-autobiographical novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, this could well be the film that allows Elijah Wood to shake off the Frodo associations which, following the insane success of The Lord of the Rings movies, threatened to haunt him for the rest of his career.Following outings in both Sin City and Green Street, in which he was evidently determined to play against type, Wood here shows that he can indeed do more than merely gaze in wide-eyed terror at computer-generated beasties with a performance that is at once sensitive and quirky.
10th November 2005
Madonna claims she’s really a gay man 2
12:00 AM — Madonna shocked chat show legend Michael Parkinson by telling him that she's really a "gay man in a woman's body".The 47-year-old pop superstar will be the only guest on Parkinson this Saturday on ITV1.She added that she's quite a queen when it comes to her temper, "I'm a dramatic person and I probably had some spectacular tantrums.
9th November 2005
12:00 AM — This is looking like a superb year for Tim Burton. After his long-overdue return to form with his new take on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, released last month to rave reviews, we are now in for a real treat - a project he has been rumoured to have been working on for more than a decade, ever since the rampant success of his last animated outing, 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas.When Burton's eccentric visual style is allowed to run fully wild, as here, it can really be a joy to behold. His strangely elongated take on human beings, making them almost skeletal, adds an ethereal feel which is wonderfully complemented by the crooked twirls of the background sets. It's a delightfully unique style in movie-making and ideally suited to the material.
12:00 AM — There have been well over 20 different film versions of this, one of Charles Dickens' most famous tales. Even in the last few years there have been high-profile television versions produced on both sides of the Atlantic; the British had Robert Lindsay as the perennial favourite Fagin, the American's had Richard Dreyfuss and a then unknown Elijah Wood as the youthful master thief the Artful Dodger.Yet despite all these many different takes on what is, at its heart, a fairly simple story of the desire to be loved and human nature, the best remains David Lean's 1948 take, with Alec Guinness as a deliciously over the top Fagin, and Carol Reed's much-loved 1968 musical version.
Wallace Gromit – The Curse of The Wererabbit
12:00 AM — It's hard to think of anyone who doesn't like Wallace and Gromit - or even how anyone could fail to like them. There's something about this bumblingly eccentric inventor's bizarrely mundane adventures with his infinitely more intelligent, exasperated, yet ever loyal dog which seems especially English. The ever-creative humour and pitch-perfect timing of this animated duo's escapades, as meticulously crafted by creator Nick Park and his team, simply brings the concept to perfection.
20th October 2005
It’s got to be Cameron for the Conservatives to get the gay vote 27
12:00 AM — So the young pretender David Cameron has jumped from virtual non-entity to the winner of the Parliamentary stage of the Conservative leadership contest.The party membership need to make sure that they pick a winner this time and not repeat the debacle of the Duncan-Smith era.