Tag Archives: Nic Cage

Failed Critics Podcast: Episode CXV – A New Sound Quality

Edge of TomorrowWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast: now with added not sounding like we recorded it at the bottom of the ocean with only a drill and some bees for company. Steve, James, and Owen round up the week in film news, including the latest Star Wars rumours, and the joyous future collaboration of Nic Cage of John McTiernan.

We also review Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi blockbuster, Edge of Tomorrow, and will James finally convert to Seth MacFarlane fandom after watching A Million Ways to Die in the West?

Join us next week for reviews of 22 Jump Street and (brace yourself) Grace of Monaco, and put up the bunting and get the good champagne out as we introduce our newest full-time member of the team..

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Best Films on TV: 24 – 30 June 2013

Site editor James Diamond presents his picks for the best films on terrestrial television this week in increasingly inaccurately titled blog.

300 This is SpartaMonday 24th June – 300 (ITV2, 9pm)

If, like me, you were disappointed by Man of Steel and Zack Snyder’s by-numbers impressions of Christopher Nolan and Terence Malick, then sit back and watch the film that really announced him as an exciting director to watch. Viscerally violent and almost comically homoerotic in equal measure, it’s also fun to spot the now-very-recognisable actors on display here including a young Magneto, a brunette Cersei Lannister, and a particularly shifty McNulty.

Tuesday 25th June – The Outlaw Josey Wales (5USA, 11pm)

Clint Eastwood’s second Western as a director (after 1973’s High Plains Drifter) and although he was clearly still learning the craft at the time, this film owes more than a passing resemblance to Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name trilogy. Set before and during the American Civil War, Eastwood also stars as the farmer who joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and pledges to take revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his family.

Wednesday 26th June – The Rock (BBC3, 10pm)

BBC3 continue their screenings of one of the most impressive purple patches in cinematic history, known by historians as the ‘Cage Action Era’. This week it’s The Rock, starring everyone’s favourite bonkers anti-hero, alongside a suitably grumpy and charismatic Sean Connery. For tenuous and barely explained reasons, Ed Harris is the army general who has gone rogue and is holed up in Alcatraz threatening to release chemical weapons across the western seaboard. A stark reminder that Michael Bay used to make quite fun films.

Thursday 27th June – The Blair Witch Project (Horror Channel, 9pm)

For all my usual aversion to the found footage genre, I actually really enjoyed this film on release, and it’s staggering to think of the hype surrounding a film made for less than $10k back at the end of the nineties. Obviously the success of the film lead to over a decade of mostly poor and badly made imitators, but for a few brief moments a horror film shocked the mainstream cinema-going public and moved the goalposts in favour of young film-makers with tiny budgets.

Friday 28th June – The Talented Mr Ripley (More4, 9pm)

I’m sure everyone will have already seen The Running Man (Film4, 11.20pm) and Starship Troopers (BBC1, 11.25pm) more times that I’ve said I don’t get ‘found footage’ films on the Failed Critics podcast. So I am going to recommend this thriller from the late Anthony Minghella, starring Jude Law and Matt Damon. Damon plays the titular Mr Ripley, an underachiever who blags a job to retrieve a millionaire’s son (Law) from his Italian sojourn in the 1950s. The fantastic central performances are matched only by the beauty of the Italian locations, and Minghella’s change in tone midway through the film just about holds together. An art-house ‘guilty pleasure’ in many respects.

Saturday 29th June – Stardust (Film4, 1pm)

This Matthew Vaughn adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book is about as close as this generation has got to its version The Princess Bride. A classic tale of a simple young man drawn into a fantasy world in the 1800s when he retrieves a fallen star, only to discover the star is a young woman (Claire Danes) being pursued by three witches (led by Michelle Pfieffer). Rober DeNiro steals the show as a crossing-dressing pirate, while even Ricky Gervais manages not to grate too much during his cameo.

Sunday 30th June – Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Film4, 11am)

I recently lauded this as my one of my two favourite Stanley Kubrick films on Failed Critics Podcast (along with A Clockwork Orange) and every viewing always seems to make me love it more. Despite Kubrick’s reputation for cold and harsh direction of his actors, he famously said that directing Peter Sellers in this was easy, as all he had to was make sure he always had at least three cameras pointed at him. A fine example of how satire and comedy can sometimes be the most frightening way to confront our worst fears.

Also on television on a brilliant day for film is Groundhog Day (5*, 2.15pm), Fantastic Mr Fox (Channel 4, 4.55pm), and Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (Sky One, 8pm).

Best Films on TV: 10-17 June 2013

Hi honey, we’re home! Site editor James Diamond is back from holiday and can’t wait to recommend the best films on terrestrial TV this week. God knows what you did last week without our guidance. We hope you didn’t actually try and talk to anyone.

The Truman ShowMonday 10th June – The Truman Show (Film4, 7.05pm)

Jim Carrey pulls off the archetypal ‘comic actor in semi-serious role’ with aplomb in Peter Weir’s film about a man who has unwittingly spent his entire life as the star of a reality TV show. Then again, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already, so as a bonus today I also recommend the Pedro Almodovar film Talk to Her (Film4, 0.55am) on behalf of the podcast’s resident Spanish cinema expert, Gerry McAuley. He had this to say about it in his 2002 Decade in Film piece:

On the face of it, Hable con Ella is a pretty odd film. It centres on the solitude and inner turmoil of two men who bond over the beds of the female coma victims who they care for, the gradual entanglement of their lives – whilst in parallel the events leading up to the film’s present are slowly unravelled in flashbacks. There is a quiet power to the film which draws the viewer into this world so deeply that it is impossible to forget. Essentially, old Pedro tests how far he can push an audience (again), this time in terms of how much you’re willing to forgive because you like someone. I often say this about foreign films on the podcast but THIS IS WHAT CINEMA IS ABOUT. Tremendous performances, a director whose vision is so clear and whose skill is so well-developed that they are able to interweave symbolism and narrative to devastating effect, a story which engages throughout and an exploration of wider themes and societal issues without being preachy or ever failing to entertain.

Tuesday 11th June – Cube (Horror Channel, 9pm)

A cult classic from 1997, Cube is a cunningly simple low-budget sci-fi/horror film that delivers in spades. Six strangers awake to find themselves in maze constructed of a seemingly infinite number of cubes, each with its own deadly boobytraps and puzzles. The strangers must work together and use their unique skill sets to escape, and find out why they were chosen. Not for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday 12th June – Con Air (BBC3, 9pm)

There was a time in the nineties when Nicolas Cage was the best, and most unlikely, action hero working in Hollywood. He was a new breed of action star who didn’t solely rely on physique or a funny accent, but could actually, you know, ‘act’. Con Air is my personal favourite of this era (narrowly edging out The Rock and Face/Off), also featuring some entertaining performances from John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and John Cusack.

“Put the bunny back in the box”.

Thursday 13th June – A Knight’s Tale (Film4, 6.25pm)

Some films charm you despite all their ingredients being completely wrong. For me, this is one of those films. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (who wrote the screenplays for Mystic River, Man on Fire, and L.A. Confidential) it stars Heath Ledger (before we started taking him seriously) as a peasant squire who cons his way into medieval jousting tournaments as a nobleman, with an uber-anachronistic Queen and Robbie Williams soundtrack. It’s actually a lot of fun, and Paul Bettany is an absolute star as a young pre-fame Chaucer.

Friday 14th June – The Breakfast Club (BBC2, 11.05pm)

Much like Owen Hughes will always find a zombie and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme film to recommend, I can’t help myself when a John Hughes film turns up on television, and this is the pinnacle of not only his films, but teen films in general.

SPOILERS

Saturday 15th June – Superman (5USA, 12pm)

Richard Donner’s take on the ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the great comic book film adaptations, and sets a very high bar for Zak Snyder’s Man of Steel (released this weekend). Christopher Reeve was a virtual unknown when cast, and apparently modeled his performance on Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Gene Hackman co-stars as one of cinemas great villains, Lex Luthor. You can catch Superman II at 6.25pm on the same channel, although its hugely different comic tone feels odd after the seriousness and grandeur of the original. You could always try and get a copy of the Richard Donner cut though.

Sunday 16th June – Valhalla Rising (BBC2, 11.30pm)

If you stay up to watch this before having to get up early for work the next morning, don’t blame me for any nightmares or general sense of mental anguish you experience. Reviews from Cannes suggest that director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives features only 17 lines spoken by its star Ryan Gosling, and this film proves Refn has previous in this area. Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute viking warrior (played by my current acting crush Mads Mikkelsen) who starts off as a slave and ends up quite literally dragging everyone around him to a dark and violent hell. Pure art-house action and violence.

GFF13: Diary of a Failed Critic 19/02/13

Mark Millar discussing Kick-Ass 2 as much as he is allowed to
Mark Millar discussing Kick-Ass 2 as much as he is allowed to

I started this diary with a combination of high hopes and great ideals. The trouble is, I’m having so much fun at Glasgow Film Festival I’m struggling to find time to do the boring work of actually writing things down. Today was one of those rare days of relative rest; no screenings planned and just the one event to attend. Still, I somehow ended up watching a couple of films and writing up my diary at nearly midnight yet again.

I won’t bore you with the details of my non-festival life (I got a haircut, and handed in a lost phone to the police). What I will do is tell you what I’ve learned about Kick-Ass 2, and Mark Millar’s other projects in the pipeline.

I watched Kick-Ass in the afternoon, in preparation for the Mark Millar (creator of Kick-Ass, and comic-book writer extrordinare) event, and it was even better than I remembered. It’s one of the strongest comic-book adaptation storylines in a very long time, and the cast are uniformly excellent. It’s very funny, the action is brilliantly directed, and it has a killer soundtrack. Plus it has Nicolas Cage doing an Adam West impression. In short, it’s pretty perfect. So the news that original director Matthew Vaughn, and screenwriter Jane Goldman were no longer involved in the sequel, and that their roles would instead be carried out by the director of Never Back Down, worried me greatly. I went to listen to Millar talk about the sequel hoping he would allay my fears.

And to an extent, he did. Millar’s openness used to get him into trouble, and he told a few anecdotes that demonstrated his previous lack of media training, and willingness to ‘play the game’. He’s a big Hollywood player now though, and while the talk was very interesting with regards to his work and the film-making process, this wasn’t the place to come for gossip and unguarded comments.

Millar was very open with his thoughts on the adaptations of his work, and admitted that he would “rather kill a project than have it come out crap”. Apparently an American studio was very interested in adapting Millar’s American Jesus series, but he had to turn them down when they wanted to remove the Jesus aspect of the story. He is also sticking to his principles in writing just one more Kick-Ass book (which he all but confirmed would make it onto the big screen) and finishing the story there.

As a Nicolas Cage fan (yes, that is a thing), I was particularly interested to hear about his input on the first Kick-Ass film. Millar was full of praise for Cage, and told the audience how Big Daddy’s Adam West-style staccato delivery was Cage’s idea, as was the stroke of genius for his moustachioed character to disguise himself with a slightly larger moustache. Millar went on to say that Jim Carey is a similar presence in the sequel, and that his character, though not pivotal, ends up stealing every scene he’s in. It sounds like Kick-Ass 2 may be in safe hands after all.

Millar’s next project with Vaughn and Goldman is Secret Service, a story Millar describes as “My Fair Lady meets The Spy Who Loved Me”. Casting is complete, and shooting should start soon, although Millar is now getting too good at playing the game to reveal any more than that to a room full of strangers.

Other little tit-bits we learned yesterday:

  • Plans for a Wanted 2 movie are “at a stage”
  • Millar was four days into filming Miracle Park when he found out about Josh Trank’s Chronicle, and had to kill the project as the two were pretty much identical
  • Although we sadly didn’t get a sneak peek at Kick-Ass 2, there will shortly be 3 “really good” teaser trailers online
  • Most worryingly of all, Millar said that the Dawn of the Dead remake is his favourite of all of the ‘Dead’ series!

I spent the evening relaxing at home with one of my favourite Scottish films in preparation for a big day of screenings and podcast recording tomorrow.

“I trust the sight of the young people refreshes you”.

Pick of the day for Wednesday 20th February – The Thieves

The surprise film has become a staple of the festival circuit in recent years, and Glasgow Film Festival usually delivers in spades. Recent choices for this slot have included David Lynch’s Inland Empire, and last-year’s mumblecore delight Jeff, Who Lives At Home. We’ll be recording our GFF Podcast Special directly after this screening with our instant reactions.

The only disappointment will be from those who miss out on a ticket for a screening that will almost certainly sell out.

The GFF 13 Surprise Film is showing at Glasgow Film Theatre at 8.30pm.

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The Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival is sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars.

We would have spent most of the festival there regardless, so we’d really like to thank them for their generous hospitality.

On Netflix, indecision, and about five minutes of Face/Off.

You know when you have severely limited time for sitting on your arse watching tv, to the point where you actually kind of forget how to do it? And then when you’re suddenly faced with a free evening on your own, with full access to the remote control, you just panic?

I hate Netflix. I mean, I love it. It’s an incredible achievement. Tell 12 year old me, with her cherished collection of taped off the tv double bills (Dirty Dancing & Uncle Buck, anyone?) that one day she’d be able to watch films on demand. WITHOUT ADVERTS! She’d promptly give up school and commit to an education via the Police Academy franchise.

But it’s hard work, all those films. It’s not like flicking around the tv channels of an evening and landing on ITV2 showing Mission: Impossible III again, and you might as well leave it on as it’s the blowing up the Lamborghini scene soon. This is a billion different films all vying for your attention and you have to pick one. And then watch it without all the while thinking ‘oh, I wish I’d scrolled a little further & found something better.’

The arbitrary categories don’t help. Sports Movies, for example, aren’t guaranteed to all be as heart wrenching as Jerry Maguire. Annoyingly, some of them will just be about sport. I don’t want to be pigeon holed into watching a Romantic Movie (a section which may just as well be renamed ‘J-Lo filmography’) and I can’t watch a Foreign Movie because it’s Friday night and my attention span is small, and how am I supposed to tweet and read subtitles? Also: is the entire Netflix catalogue on these scrolling categories? Or are there extra secret films for people who know what they want to watch, and remember the names of stuff?

I default to Action & Adventure Movies because, well, Die Hard. And I remember Face/Off being good, John Woo and all that. However my thought process throughout goes something like ‘there’s Joan Allen – she was in Pleasantville – with Jeff Daniels – King of Newsroom – I wish there were new Newsroom episodes to watch immediately!’ And then someone on twitter tells me I’d really like teen drama Gilmore Girls, so I have to pause the film and see if it’s on Netflix (it’s not, for shame!) and then I get an email about a hen do I’ve been invited to, which contains a 13 part questionnaire, so then there’s that to deride on all available social networks. And so it goes, to the point where, an hour in, all I’ve really got is Nic Cage’s hilariously manic laughter and a vaguely recurring theme of peaches.

Two hours later I’ve made weekend shopping plans with my mum, had an in depth discussion about nursery rhymes on twitter, and smirked at Nic Cage’s naked arse. There are two fundamental flaws to this movie, one being that they left Sean Archer’s removed face just flopped out on the side, instead of putting it under police protection or at least locking it in a fridge somewhere. The other is that Sean and his wife didn’t have some secret code word for just these situations. Adopting a code phrase to be used in the event of duress is the second rule of marriage, for crying out loud! The first is preparing a Zombie Apocalypse contingency, and the third is not arguing about the washing up.

I could have watched seven episodes of Parks & Recreation in that time. I could’ve made my own personal best of Jim & Pam tribute. I could’ve learnt Latin via the last episode of season two of West Wing. Besides which, as if that distraught family (not a patch on the Bauer clan, by the way) would just adopt Castor Troy’s kid as a replacement for their own dead son. C’mon! Film is slowly losing me to tv, one Over The Rainbow montage at a time.

Suggestions for you to watch now…Braveheart. Oh do fuck off, Netflix.