The Watchers

The Watchers

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Programme 24: Argo and 1960s Movies

Programme 24 is now available!

Tez reviews Ben Affleck's latest movie Argo and we discuss our favourite movies from the 1960s!

In the news, there's a belated sequel to a Hollywood classic, the opening weekend box office for Skyfall and casting rumours for a Tarzan remake.

Podcasts versions are also available here and here.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

For Your Consideration: Possible Contenders For Awards Season 2013

Just like preparations for Christmas, it does seem like it's never too early to start considering the films and performances which might be up for the major film awards next year. Big wins at major festivals will bolster chances for nominations for the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Academy Awards.

Based on wins at major film festivals and general internet chatter, below is a list of films I would expect to feature heavily in the upcoming awards season. Please note these are not my official Oscar predictions (I will put those up on January 9th 2013, the day before the Oscar nominations are announced).

Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master seems to have Oscar written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. A shared Best Actor win for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Venice Film Festival could see them both nominated at the Oscars (Phoenix as Best Actor and Hoffman as Best Supporting Actor, or possibly both as Best Actor) despite Phoenix's recent comments that he finds the awards season 'stupid'. Amy Adams is a possibility for Best Supporting Actress whilst the film could potentially be a Best Picture and Best Director nominee too.

Argo, Ben Affleck's third time in the director's chair, could continue the actor's run of Oscar-nominated films; both of his previous films- Gone Baby Gone and The Town- were nominated for at least one Oscar each. It's based on a true story- the unorthodox rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis under the cover that they were scouting locations for a science-fiction film- and has been lauded by critics, particularly Alan Arkin's performance as a movie producer.

Silver Linings Playbook took the main prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and there's been heavy praise for Jennifer Lawrence's performance as a grieving widow so a second Best Actress nomination for her could be forthcoming. The film could also see a Best Picture nomination and possibly Supporting Actor and Actress nods for Robert de Niro and Jacki Weaver. It could even give Bradley Cooper his first Best Actor nomination.

If this year is anything to go by, Hitchcock could feature heavily in next year's awards season. Hollywood love films about films (see The Artist and Hugo) and the story behind Hitchcock's struggle to make Psycho is an absorbing one. Judging from the trailer, Anthony Hopkins gives an uncanny impersonation of the director as does Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh. Both could be up for acting awards (as could Helen Mirren for her turn as Hitchcock's wife Alma), and the film could be a Best Picture nominee.

Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis' precocious central performance in low-budget drama Beasts Of The Southern Wild could see her named the youngest ever Best Actress Oscar nominee. Tom Hooper's big-screen adaptation of Boublil and Schonberg's musical Les Miserables could also see some nominations; possibly Best Picture and Director and maybe even acting nods for Hugh Jackman and/or Russell Crowe (Best Actor) or Anne Hathaway (Best Supporting Actress). Mike Newell's recent adaptation of Great Expectations- starring Jeremy Irvine, Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter- might also see some nominations

Assuming both films meet the eligibility criteria, I would expect both Roger Michell's Hyde Park On Hudson and Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln to be heavy contenders for Best Actor as there's been a lot of positive feedback for both Bill Murray and Daniel Day-Lewis as US Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln respectively. Biopics traditionally do well at awards season, with performances of real-life figures also favoured, so these two films could also be nominated in other categories.

A number of foreign-language films could feature heavily outside the Best Foreign Language Picture category. Rust And Bone won Best Film at the London Film Festival recently with the main performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts commended by many reviewers. It's entirely possible that a Best Picture nod and acting awards could follow. Similarly, Untouchable- France's submission for Best Foreign Language Film- could feature with the performances by Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy (as a rich white quadriplegic and his black ex-convict carer respectively) commended. Another foreign language films which may be nominated is Michael Haneke's Amour, winner of this year's Palme d'Or and also Austria's submission for Best Foreign Language Film.

One big question has been: will The Dark Knight Rises get a Best Picture nod? I think it's unlikely, sadly. Reports were that an Academy screening of Nolan's Batman film was met with a less than positive reception which will almost certainly scupper its chances. Christopher Nolan may be an outside shot for a Best Director nod but it seems more likely that The Dark Knight Rises' best Oscar shots will be- like Avengers Assemble and Skyfall- in the technical categories (although Skyfall might also get a crack at Best Original Song).

The timetable for the major awards in 2013 is as follows:

Film Independent Spirit Awards
Nominations announced: 27 November 2012
Awards Ceremony: 23 February 2013

Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award
Nominations Announced: 12 December 2012
Awards Ceremony: 27 January 2013

Golden Globes
Nominations announced: 13 December 2012
Awards Ceremony: 13 January 2013 (hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

Writers' Guild Of America (WGA) Award
Nominations Announced: 3 January 2013
Awards Ceremony: 17 February 2013

Directors' Guild Of America (DGA) Award
Nominations Announced: 8 January 2013
Awards Ceremony: 2 February 2013

BAFTA Film Awards
Nominations announced: 9 January 2013
Awards Ceremony: 10 February 2013

Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies)
Nominations Announced: TBA
Awards Ceremony: 23 February 2013

Academy Awards (Oscars)
Nominations announced: 10 January 2013
Awards Ceremony: 24 February 2013 (hosted by Seth McFarlane)

There’ll be more on the upcoming awards season later in the year.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Rhys was a guest on GTFM's Film Show

Well during our Bondathon, Tez and myself appeared on there special 007 show. A week later after successfully completing the challenge, they kindly called us for our thoughts on Skyfall & too see how we are after 23 Bond films in 3 days!

Tez wasn't available so they had to make do with me !! So, here's the clip from last Sunday's GTFM Film Show, hope you enjoy and don't forget you can still donate to our Bondathon - donations are open until the end of November. Many thanks.

V For Vendetta (2006)

'Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot...'

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and several others- including Robert Catesby and Thomas Winter- plotted to kill King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. They failed. Fawkes was captured and tortured but jumped from the scaffold before he was hung.  So every November 5 here in the UK, we commemorate the failure of Fawkes' attempt at regicide by burning his effigy on a bonfire and setting off fireworks. It's an odd kind of celebration; we commemorate something that didn't happen, rather than something that did. Now, Fawkes is representative of a revolutionary anti-establishment movement.

Fitting then, that Alan Moore decided to use a Guy Fawkes mask for his hero V to wear in his comic-book series V For Vendetta (first published 1982-1985). In the comic book, V is a lone anarchist who seeks to bring down the totalitarian government of Britain using theatrical acts of destruction. Unsurprisingly, a film adaptation of the comic book was released in 2006, directed by James McTeigue.

Britain is ruled by the fascist Norsefire party, under the tyrannical High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt). One night, a young woman named Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is saved from an attack by the secret police by a masked vigilante named V (Hugo Weaving). V has an agenda: to topple the government. He destroys the Old Bailey and then, in an exhilarating speech, hacks into the emergency system to deliver a stark message to the people:

Performance-wise, the film is top-notch. Portman, gaining top billing, is great as Evey: her British accent very seldom slips and she captures the conflict within the character very well. It's difficult to gauge Weaving's performance as he is almost always masked but he imbues the character with a vocal intensity which is superb. The role should have been played by James Purefoy who dropped out of the project after finding it difficult performing behind the mask. Hurt gives a steely performance as High Chancellor Sutler, who- even when the character rants- steers clear of an easy performance as a tinpot dictator. 

Stephen Rea and Rupert Graves make for an excellent pairing as police officers Eric Finch and Dominic Stone who investigate V's acts of terrorism (as Sutler calls them) but find their loyalties stretched when Norsefire's previous actions come to haunt them. Stephen Fry gives a lovely turn as Gordon Deitrich, a talk-show host whose interest in Evey is merely a front to hide his true desires; homosexuality is not tolerated in Norsefire's world. Which leads me on to a powerful performance by Natasha Wightman as Valerie, a relatively minor but important role as a young woman imprisoned by Norsefire for being a lesbian. 

The action set-pieces are directed with breathless skill by McTeigue (who cut his teeth on The Matrix trilogy); the early destruction of the Old Bailey is a pyrotechnical feast, especially, and- whilst the metaphor is slightly overplayed- the sequence with the dominos also looks fantastic. There's a pervading sense of dread that hangs over the film which is impressive; this futuristic dystopia seems all too easy to imagine coming to pass. 

The film is an excellent thriller and a damn fine adaptation of a seminal comic book, but it also has a more lasting legacy; the Guy Fawkes mask as portrayed in the film is now used as a symbol by hacker group Anonymous and has also been used by protesters during the Occupy protests and other political protests in the UK. Quite apt as one of V's bon mots is: 'People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people'.

So, this Fifth of November, take a seat and watch this film. One thing's for sure, it's one you'll remember.