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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bardem signs on for Stephen King's Dark Tower

Mulitple award winner Javier Bardem has signed to star as Roland Deschain in Hollywood hit machines, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, TotalFilm confirmed on Thursday.

Mr Bardem is the only confirmed actor for a huge project, even by Hollywood standards.

There will be a trilogy of films and three TV miniseries that are planned to follow each film.

The New York Post said: "Bardem has signed on to the first movie and the miniseries, but the intention is that he will star in all three movies and each of the TV series.

"It's an enormous deal for any actor, but Bardem was always the first choice."

The Dark Tower is one of Stephen King's most popular series, especially for people who moved away from his horror writing.

The story, which has been made into a graphic novel already, features "Gunslinger" Deschain on a journey to find the mythical Dark Tower as he tries to save civilisation. It is a very interesting tale and King even wrote himself into it.

Howard is set to direct and production should start later this year.

Alistair Anderson

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Musicians who act too

Pop stars have entered the film world with mixed results. Only some stuck to roles that are similar to their music careers. This has not necessarily led to good acting performances. Prince, pictured above, was decent in Purple Rain as a kid who wants to make it big in music, but he was terrible in Under the Cherry Moon.

Many pop stars enjoy performing, which may prompt them to try acting too as they can then express themselves through a different medium. They can also take on a second career and earn more money, if they wish. However, not every singer makes a good actor.

Rapper 50 Cent was awful in the movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He plays a drug dealer with hip hop dreams. He's a walking stereotype and we don't care about him. He wastes our time; that's all.

Eminem did a much better job with 8 Mile. Yes, he plays himself but the film is well-directed and entertaining. It has humour and cool rap battles. Eminem is a man possessed when he's rapping in the film, kudos to him. The soundtrack was good too.

Music folks can also do comedy, sometimes. Snoop Dogg captured the character of Huggy Bear brilliantly in the Starsky and Hutch remake. Yet, Steve Tyler and Christina Milian were part of the big pile of swamp turd that was Be Cool. This film is a shoddy sequel to the clever Get Shorty.

Singers and rock stars do not have to megalomaniacs and take on leading roles in serious films, which they may mess up. Jack White played a quiet but likeable character in Cold Mountain.

Alanis Morissette played God in Dogma. She didn't have to speak which made her more believable as an supernatural being.

Finally, the best performance by a musician in a film has to be Bjork in Dancer in the Dark. Her character works to look after a son even though she is suffering from a disease which will make her go blind eventually. She finds strength in musicals.

One notable rock star I cannot end this post without referring to, is David Bowie. He was O.K. in The Hunger, awful in The Prestige and exceptional in Labyrinth. His performance in Labyrinth was referenced in the television masterpiece Flight of the Conchords. Interestingly, it is chosen as an era of Bowie as Ziggy Stardust was, but it was a film role and not a career persona.

Alistair Anderson

Also featured at

Soccer Movies

Few films have been made about the beautiful game of soccer. Instead, Hollywood has focussed on its major sports, Baseball, American Football and even Basketball Ice Hockey.

SA has not made any blockbuster or independent fictional soccer films that I can remember. Yet, besides the English and Spanish, even the Tibetans have made a film about kicking a round ball around.

The Cup, made by Tibetans, pictured above, was released in 1999 and had monks checking out soccer legend, Ronaldo's haircut, and, based on this, thinking he was a monk too.

While SA waits to see its national sport, soccer on celluloid, here is a look at bunch of films that were made about that sport.

Escape to Victory was released in 1981. It is one of the few soccer films to feature real players but the play is far-fetched and the acting is hammy. It has Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles in it. Then Sly Stallone and Michael Caine deliver two rotten performances in it.

The Cup, as mentioned above, was more entertaining, even if it did not deal with soccer and its rules as directly.

The plot of The Cup involves two young Tibetan monks who are soccer fans, living in a Himalayan monastery in India. Their major goal in the film is to get a television so that they can watch the 1998 Soccer World Cup Final.

It is a cute film that looks at the concept of delayed gratification.

A film that does well with looking at a part of British football history is 2009’s The Damned United. It tells the story of Brian Clough, a famous British soccer manager. The film, based on a novel, follows Clough’s work at Derby County and Leeds United. This was where he upset officials, fans and players. He then won European titles at Nottingham Forest.

Clough is played by Michael Sheen, who is famous for impersonating Tony Blair in movies. He also does a rather good David Frost.

Timothy Spall plays Peter Taylor, Clough’s assistant manager. Their chemistry between the two actors is excellent and the film is very entertaining.

Shaolin Soccer was released in 2001. It also does not show accurate football. It is very creative though. Actor-Director Stephen Chow meshes soccer and kung-fu into a crazy film.

A Shaolin monk soccer team takes on a corporate-type soccer team. It is fun but it just is not true to the laws of soccer but maybe the spirit of it.

Lastly, I want to mention, Bend It Like Beckham (2002). This film launched the career of the English actress who loves to pout and show audiences her teeth, Keira Knightley. It also has Bollywood elements and, for people who remember, a cameo from MTV UK presenter, Trey.

It is easy to get behind the characters and dance along to the soundtrack. The football actually looks real too.

Now, anyone interested in making a local soccer film with myself?

Alistair Anderson

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Liam is in his happy place - CD Review: Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

Rating: 8/10

Oasis without Noel Gallagher have created a solid album. This is not of the same quality as and is unlikely to have the same impact as Definitely Maybe, but it is still a good album made by an experienced band. Sometimes the boys try to channel The Beatles and Rolling Stones which may bore some listeners. The song Beatles and Stones is a bit dull. I do love The Roller, however.

Brother, Liam Gallagher's voice is still powerful, regardless of critics saying he had lost it through smoking. The DVD attached to the album shows that he was feeling confident again. Yes, it could sound arrogant of him to say he wants to be in the world's best band, again. Was Oasis ever the world's best band? No, they were not, but who cares? A band that wants to produce quality music and carry themselves with arrogance is what worked with Oasis, and is already working with Beady Eye.

The tracks are more chilled and sunny than expected. Liam is happy on this album and his fame persona may be that of an arrogant arse but in this album, he's more happy bloke than ever.

"Millionaire" makes you feel like you are on a drive. "Bring the Light" is a power number with a cool Jerry Lee Lewis - ness about it that you could hear in a bar with your mates. "The Beat Goes On" just makes you feel good.

It is now up to Noel to respond with an album or some television show, one thinks. Either way, in his 40s, he's not too old to throw any towel in yet.

Alistair Anderson

I need a hero

Hollywood is trying to find new action stars to begin a wave of films.

There was Newman and McQueen in the 1960s. Then, in the 1970s, Clint Eastwood was Mr Action. Then, they hit a golden age in the 1980s and 1990s with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and Bruce Willis, who ruled the 1980s and 1990s. One could argue that whimpy Keannu Reeves took over with The Matrix in 1999 but what is clear is that macho action men were weak in the 2000s or the films they were in were just pure rubbish.

Jason Statham and wrestlers Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were badly used in many films in that decade. Statham was only any good in Snatch - not a gungho action film and true story, The Bank Job. The Transporter's sequels and Crank I and II were poor but maybe I expected too much of them. Steve Austin was solid in The Condemned but the material he had to work with was ridiculous. Good action movies like the Die Hard series had strong performances from Bruce Willis playing John McClaine.

They also had good plots and exciting stunts. Good action films like all good films require actors who can act.

So, what has the current decade offered us so far?

Channing Tatum? GI Joe was junk. The Rock recently told the interviewer Piers Morgan that he would focus on acting for now. Does Bradley Cooper count as an action star? The A-Team was rather awful. Sly Stallone may have felt the same way as me and made the Expendables (see picture at top) with a host of action maniacs. Released last year, it was quite entertaining. Even the ending was very action 1980s.

Perhaps Hugh Jackman is the only real action hunk left? Ryan "I love to act in comic book films" Reynolds may be trying. Well, there are about 9,5 years to go for this decade so I am giving Hollywood a chance.

Alistair Anderson

This post also appeared on ScreenforumSA:

Paul Thomas Anderson begin his career well

Rating: 8/10 - Excellent

Released in 1996, Hard Eight is a strong start to director Paul Thomas Anderson's career. It allows John C. Reilly and Phillip Baker Hall to deliver good performances.
It also features Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson.

The film is not a strict action or crime film but rather a human interest story. Anderson has shown courage by risking his debut feature, starring highly rated, if still up-and-coming actors, with an unconventional approach.

It tells the story of John played by John C Reilly, a young loser who has lost all of his money. He is feeling sorry for himself when gambling-maestro Sydney finds him, buys him coffee, and takes him to Reno. Sydney shows John how to get a free room without losing much money and to become a better gambler. Sydney's character is interesting because he has gambling skills but he also has a forced calmness which he tries to put on when acting as a father figure character to John. Sydney is actually a lonely man, looking for a family.

Years later, John meets Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a cocktail waitress and sometimes hooker. The story continues to be interesting from there one.

Even if some people may not enjoy the subdued overtone of the film, John C Reilly, is my favourite element in this film, shows that he can act well in serious roles. He was strong again in Anderson's films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, a few years later.

Perhaps, Anderson will get a leading role out of him soon but Hard Eight is a powerful ensemble.

Baker Hall also deserves to be commended.

Hard Eight launched what has proven to be an impressive career for director, Paul Thomas Anderson. He may not make films that often - his last was released film was 2007's There Will Be Blood, but he's an exceptional talent.

Alistair Anderson

This blogpost also featured on my blog: Screenforum SA:

Monday, April 11, 2011

DVD Review - Vampires Suck fixed

Rating: 3.3/10 This is one of the worst spoofs ever made. Director: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Screenplay: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Producer: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer and Peter Safran. Executive Producer: Arnon Milchan. Cinematographer: Shawn Maurer. Score: Christopher Lennertz. Editor: Peck Prior. Studio: Regency Enterprises. Starring: Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Christopher N. Riggi, Ken Jeong and Anneliese Van Der Pol. Running Time: 86 Minutes. Age Restriction: 13 Spoof movies tend to be hit and miss. Vampires Suck just plain sucks. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, The Naked Gun and Police Academy series spoofed police action films with nice results. The Scary Movie movies did a decent job in the early part of last decade. Admittedly, they got worse with each installment. And films like Disaster Movie and Epic Movie were awful. Still, there were some genuinely funny films along the way - Not Another Teen Movie, was actually smart, and Galaxy Quest was cute. If Vietnam-type movie, Tropic Thunder counts as a spoof, it trumps most competition. It would be unfair to compare Vampires Suck to a Ben Stiller-directed film. But, as far as poking fun at a crazy phenomenon like the Twilight saga goes, Vampires Suck does not come close. It basically retells Twilight's main story but laces itself with extremely hackneyed jokes, and they just aren't funny. It is no play on vampire films in general either. Basically, if you want to tear Twilight to shreds, look for parodies of it on the Internet. Various comics have poked fun at it. The Simpsons television show spoofed it well in a Halloween episode. Still, the film is not complete excrement and you may laugh at one or two scenes. Verdict: A poor parody which fails at a great opportunity to poke fun at a massively popular book and film series. Alistair Anderson This piece also featured on my film blog:

Liverpool vs Manchester City

Liverpool is going to defeat Manchester City

My prediction: Liverpool 2, Manchester City 1

Suarez will score. He is itching too. Tevez may get the goal for City.

Kuyt is Liverpool's dangerman and new talisman so let's hope he can score and create tonight.

Liverpool will win because they will be too quick and too clever for the boring Manchester City team. Reina and company will also be strong tonight to keep the Sky Blues out.

Now I wonder if Noel will be watching...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Salute Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

One of American film's most revered directors, Sidney Lumet died at the age of 86 on Saturday. He had been ill with lymphoma and passed away at his home in Manhattan.

Lumet was nominated by Hollywood's film academy four times for best director.

In 1957, he received an Oscar nomination for his debut feature film: 12 Angry Men.
Before this film, he had worked on various off-Broadway films.

He went on to win Oscar nominations for 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon, 1976’s Network and 1982’s The Verdict. He received his final Oscar nomination for the co-writing the screenplay to 1981’s Prince of City.

Some people have argued that he is not quite as good as Martin Scorsese or other directors but how does one really rate directors at that stratospheric level of filmmaking?

For one thing, he told New York's stories like few others have.

The following list of selected Lumet films in a five decade Hollywood career make for exceptionally good viewing:

12 Angry Men (1957) - A crisp adaptation of a play

The Pawnbroker (1964) - One of the early films to consider the effects of the Nazi regime's concentration camps on their survivors

Serpico (1973) - A true story that challenges police corruption in New York about an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) - An exciting adaptation of the classic novel, featuring a list of strong actors

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - This film challenged the drama genre because it was based on such an unusual but true story. The Chase Manhattan Bank in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was held siege by a homosexual bank robber determined to steal enough money for his lover to undergo a sex change operation. Al Pacino's performance is unforgettable.

Network (1976) - The movie studies how the media can be abused for the gain of a few.

The Verdict (1982) - This film is about redemption. It features Paul Newman as a career trying to resurrect his life. It may be his best ever performance, at least one of the performances that stretches him as an actor and not just an action hero.

Find Me Guilty (2006) - A fan of true stories, Lumet directs Vin Diesel as Jack DiNorscio, a mob man who defended himself in court in a mafia trial. Paul Newman may have also made The Colour of Money but Vin Diesel has not acted this well since and its hard to believe he ever will.

The wrote:

On, Stephen Witty said his films “shared a dedication to character and performance, a feel for the sweaty rhythms of New York, a preference for narrative clarity over fanciful artistry.”

"He had a unique gift with actors, an unusually dynamic feeling for drama, and a powerful sense of place, of the world of the picture," Martin Scorsese said.

He said Lumet was a "New York filmmaker at heart".

"Sidney Lumet will be remembered for his films. He leaves a great legacy, but more than that, to the people close to him, he will remain the most civilized of humans and the kindest man I have ever known," Al Pacino said.

"Sidney gave me my start in film composing in 1963 with 'The Pawnbroker' and I was privileged to work with him on four additional films including 'The Wiz,'" composer Quincy Jones said.

"Sidney was a visionary filmmaker whose movies made an indelible mark on our popular culture with their stirring commentary on our society," he said.

A director who began to tell New York stories, especially involving the city's minority populations, Spike Lee, said on Twitter:

"We all lost a Master Filmmaker yesterday, the Great Sidney Lumet. There could have been no INSIDE MAN without his superb DOG DAY AFTERNOON."

"Sidney was a visionary filmmaker whose movies made an indelible mark on our popular culture with their stirring commentary on our society" (Quincy Jones)

With AFP
Alistair Anderson

This article also appeared on

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More words on Real Madrid vs Tottenham Hotspur

After some deliberations with my football brains' trust, I can confirm that, earlier this week, Spurs got maimed by Real Madrid and not just because they lost Peter Crouch to a red card.

Spurs were awful. There may have been this idea that they had one strategy which relies on Crocuh and is deadly but that's a lie. Spurs were played off of the park.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another earthquake just hit Japan

Another quake has ravaged Japan's North East coast. This one managed 7,4 on the Richter scale. There is a Tsunami alert. Mercy on the people of Japan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Real Madrid and Schalke are brilliant

Real Madrid just made Paella with chicken - Tottneham Hotspur chicken.

A cooking uncertainty was matched by a Barcelona-esque performance from Real Madrid.

Real Madrid destroyed Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 and Schalke massacred Inter Milan 5-2 away.

This was one of the best nights for a non-Inter, non-Spurs fan. It was probably only second to when Liverpool - my favourite English team beat AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, after being 3-0 down.

One of my national teams is Germany so these results gave me a really good feeling.
Hamburger SV is my German club team but I'll take a Schalke win over Inter Milan.

How did Real Madrid do it - they overwhelmed Hotspur. And Schalke? Maybe Raul channelled his old Madrid presence and spread it around his new team? Inter were hopeless at the back though.

More analysis to come, once I've chatted to the footie oracles (mates) then.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jay-Z wants to buy Arsenal football club

He said this last year. It seems more poignant now that Arsenal are so hopeless.

Here's the rap I wrote about it.

Jay-Z - great rapper. Good businessman. He's a real mensch but he cannot run a footie club. Can anyone?

I got 99 problems but injuries aint one
Hit me

And it's a hard knock life
For Cesc
It's a hard knock life for him
Barca has bet-ta weather
Barca has hot-ter chicks
It's a hard knock life

I love goals
goals i do adore
put my fot to that ball run it alon the ground
long balls are so Liver-fool

LCD Soundsystem - A great band plays its last show

It saddens me that I will probably never experience LCD Soundsystem live.

This New York born band has created some of the most entertaining music on the alternative-dance-rcok scene in a decade.

The band played a three and a half hour set on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. That's a massive set - they played everything they had ever done I'd assume which makes it tougher to stomach that it's too late for me to hear any of their brilliance anywhere on Earth.

Frontman James Murphy and company started gaining notoriety for their original sound in 2002. They soon released a double self-titled album. The opening track "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" was their break-out hit, playing all over alternative music lists and in video games, including SSX on Tour and FIFA 06.

Soon the band had received Grammy nominations for the album and for the track.

They became well-loved in New York and they showed their appreciation for this affection by releasing their song - New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down.

The song appeared on the band's second album, Sound of Silver. Murphy also released a track called 45:33 in 2006, as part of a promotion with Nike for download fro iTunes. He was one of the first artists to take advantage of the iTunes technology.

A third album, This is Happening, followed in 2009. It also garnered praise.

So, why then did the band split? Well, they wanted to leave on a high note.

"We get to do our last show and reunion show all together because we’re fucking old," Murphy said last Monday.

He wanted to put an end to something that was dear to him before it collapsed naturally.

He's 41 so maybe there is another musical project in him. Maybe he'll go into film next?

I'm eager to find out.

LCD Soundsystem at Denmark's Roskilde in 2010.

Picture free to use from Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What's the best South African music video ever?

I watched Lark on MK yesterday. Their debut for Moonlight was incredible. It's the best South African music video that I have seen yet. It's something to do with people breaking into a compound and using a baby robot bear to blow things up.
It looks very cool - I love the use of blues and whites. Anyway, I'm on the hunt to find other good local music videos. aKing's "Safe As Houses" comes to mind. I think that video is a homage to Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" - both the singers have crowns and look like they're playing "medieval times". aKing's has nice rain effects.

So, what other videos come to mind as being nice on the eyes or as evoking other things in audiences?