1st July 2007
5:10 PM — It's doubtless a little harsh to put John Cusack in the same league as the likes of Ben Affleck in terms of career dives. He has, after all, been making at least a couple of films a year for the last few years. But at the same time, it's hard not to feel that none of them have really lived up to the hype that surrounded him towards the end of the 1990s. As the new century dawned, Cusack seemed to be the new darling of Hollywood. The masses adored him in the likes of High Fidelity and Gross Point Blank, and his experimentally bizarre turn in Being John Malkovich showed that he was more than willing to take risks.
5:10 PM — This latest film outing is the first in a glut of new movies for the former Darling Buds of May star, who has managed to become one of the most successful female British stars in Hollywood over the last ten years or so. Though coming up to her 38th birthday, so nearing the age where Hollywood traditionally begins to lose interest in actresses known for their good looks, she's still just as stunning as ever, and still seems to be in much demand, despite her last couple of big screen outings having come in for a bit of a critical mauling.
Run, Fat Boy, Run 1
5:10 PM — Americans seem to have had a long, special kind of reverence for the British sense of humour. Be it the slapstick Vaudeville antics of London boy Charlie Chaplin, the surreal sketches of Monty Python, or the more recent Stateside superstardom of Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais, when America takes to British humour, it takes to it big time.Little wonder, then, that after the insane successes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg is now considered a hot comedy property with serious potential to make it big in the US.
5:10 PM — For the last three decades, Ian McEwan has been at the forefront of the British literary scene - a multiple prize-winner and author of innumerable critically-lauded books that have seen him inducted into the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and even given a knighthood.His very first collection of short stories won the Somerset Maugham Prize back in 1976, and considering Maugham's long association with Hollywood it is perhaps only fitting that McEwan's Booker Prize-shortlisted 2001 novel Atonement should now receive the movie treatment.
3:10 to Yuma
5:10 PM — Back in the 1950s, it was practically impossible to go to the cinema without being confronted with posters for movies about men in wide-brimmed hats with six-shooters at their waists.Where today it's science fiction and superheroes dominating the box office, with every other film seeming to have some kind of fantastical computer-generated special effect or other, in the fifties it was the Western that was king.
A Mighty Heart
5:10 PM — Six years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Hollywood has begun to gear up to critical approaches to the War on Terror. In the last couple of years we've had the sentimental looks at the attacks themselves in World Trade Center and United 93; now A Mighty Heart takes us into the aftermath, and the impact of America's swift response. Over the next 12 months will come a glut of films looking at life in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the machinations behind the scenes in the world's latest war.
5:10 PM — Sometimes even the biggest names in cinema can get it wrong. When uber-producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein - the chaps responsible for such mega-hits as Sin City, Chicago, Cold Mountain, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill - decided to team up with best buddy directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to create the ultimate cool, experimental cult movie, few would have predicted an impending commercial disaster. Though Rodriguez and Tarantino may not be to everyone's taste, they each have a vast and loyal fanbase - a smash hit seemed all but inevitable.
Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution
5:10 PM — Catherine Tate is a bizarre phenomenon. Her rise over the last few years has been so rapid that the expression "meteoric" seems to have been made for it.She's now a big enough name that pretty much everyone in Britain has surely heard of her, but for those who haven't watched her BBC2 comedy sketch series, modestly entitled The Catherine Tate Show, the precise nature of her talents seems a little vague.
5:10 PM — This latest outing from George Clooney is another of the character pieces in which he is beginning to specialise - a close study of one flawed man up against overwhelming odds.After taking on similar parts in the likes of Syriana and The Good German, and having directed films revolving around the same basic concept in Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, it seems that this is becoming Clooney's personal trademark.
5th June 2007
Shrek the Third
5:32 PM — Since the first appearance of the big green ogre with the odd Scottish accent back in 2001, Shrek has achieved an enviable place as one of the best loved and most successful animated characters in recent Hollywood history.Both films to date have achieved that rare feat of appealing as much to adults as to the kids, creating that scarcest of all cinematic phenomena - a truly pan-generational movie.
5:32 PM — After the dire second outing in the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney caper series, it looked rather as if the magic had gone. Not only that, but some began to question the very concept of movies with massive ensemble casts, made up largely of A-list actors. After all, how many massive egos can any screenwriter realistically accommodate while maintaining a coherent and entertaining script?Of course, the first Ocean's Eleven film - at least, the first in the Soderbergh series, as it was a remake of a 1960s classic - was a real treat.
5:32 PM — If you're a fan of psycho killer thrillers, this should be right up your street. It's classic, almost clichéd slasher movie material.Young couple getting lost in a remote part of the countryside? Check. Car breaks down? Check.They find a remote motel in which to spend the night? Check. It all turns out to be a bit creepy and they end up having to run for their lives? Check.
5:32 PM — The fact that this much-delayed gambling-based love story was originally supposed to be released nine months ago says much.Movies that have their release dates put back, the general rule goes, are never much cop - but when the film in question was intended to be a comeback vehicle for not just one, but three erstwhile next big things, you know that somewhere in Hollywood, the gods of faltering careers are having a field day.
Le Vie En Rose
5:32 PM — The role of Edith Piaf must count as one of the most challenging real-life potrayals that any French actress could hope for.One of those classic legends in her own lifetime, her rise from obscure poverty to international stardom came on the brink of the Second World War - a war in which she was to play an active part, not just as the best-known voice of France, but also as an active participant in the French Resistance.
26th May 2007
9:34 AM — When former music video director David Fincher made the shift from making promos for the likes of Madonna, Sting and George Michael - most famously Vogue and Englishman in New York - he seemed determined to get away from the kind of 80s pop music camp with which he'd previously been associated.His first big Hollywood flick was the decidedly unpleasant Alien 3 - the one where Sigourney Weaver finds that humans can be just as bad as the Aliens she'd been battling in the previous two films, if not worse.
The Tiger’s Tail
9:34 AM — Just a week before Buena Vista does its big budget blockbuster thing again with the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, the studio better known as Disney's distribution wing is out to show that the Mouse can do serious, indie-flavoured movies as well. Of course, no film put out by a company as vast as Disney can ever truly be considered indie, but with near-legendary director John Boorman at the helm, and with the actual production handled by two tiny British and Irish companies, it's fair to give The Tiger's Tale the benefit of the doubt.
Black Snake Moan
9:34 AM — It's a well known rule of the movies that it's damned tough being a former child star. Hollywood is littered with tales of one-time cute kiddie actors and actresses who have ended up fading into obscurity, going off the rails or both.There's the famous likes of Drew Barrymore, who somehow managed to resuscitate her career after a heavy drugs problem, having shot to fame aged three in ET.
9:34 AM — It may not have won Martin Scorsese an Oscar, but his epic period biopic The Aviator does, at least, seem to have had a bit of an impact on Hollywood.The spectacular flying sequences during the recreations of the filming of director Howard Hughes' classic First World War film Hell's Angels were amongst the best in Scorsese's impressive film, and they appear to have revived the film industry's interest in the heroic dogfights of the age of biplanes.
25th October 2006
12:00 AM — After a string of successes of remakes of recent Japanese cult hits like The Ring and The Grudge, Hollywood seems finally to be turning its eye to Hong Kong for material.As the Mecca for extravagant and imaginative action flicks for more than three decades, much has been pilfered from Hong Kong cinema in the past - including the director John Woo and actors like Bruce Lee, Maggie Chung and Jackie Chan. Rarely, however, has Hollywood attempted an outright remake of a Hong Kong hit.
12:00 AM — Despite the fact that she's both richer and more successful than any of us can imagine, it's hard not to feel sorry for Sofia Coppola.If it wasn't bad enough to have one of the late 20th Century's greatest film directors as a father, ensuring that any initial forays she made into cinema would be dismissed as merely "Francis Ford Coppola's daughter imitating daddy", she first came into the public eye as a late replacement in one of her father's own films.