/Film UK - Ghost Stories, Fantastic Mr. Fox, An Attack The Block Explosion And Much, Much More

Coming to you weekly from my vantage point in good old Blighty, it's Slashfilm UK. Anglos and Anglophiles rejoice as every Friday I'll be bringing you a round up of news, links and coverage specific to the motion picture comings and goings here in the UK. Sometimes we'll be talking about films that have already played in the US, other times it will be films that won't make it to the US for a good while yet, and from time to time you'll read about films that will never make it to the US at all.

John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn and Clare Grogan were this week reunited at the Glasgow film festival for a 30th anniversary screening of the truly brilliant Gregory's Girl (sort of a Scottish Rushmore but even better) . The Guardian took this snap of them all, as they are now. Wonderful. Now – can Bill Forsyth please make another film or ten? Thanks.gregorys-girl-cast

Thursday March 4th was when the BBC broadcast the 2010 Kermode Awards. If you don't know, this is an annual excuse for the gasbag film critic from the Culture Show and Radio 5's unfortunately named Wittertainment slot to hand out some Oscar alternatives. You have until Thursday March 11th to see the relevant episode of The Culture Show online.

In related news, a certain support site for a certain director has announced a certain win.

Alan Moore and Ian Sinclair are off on a psycho-geographic wild goose chase. The Guardian have a video featurette with the two of them that explains a little of what they're up to.

How about Hugh Grant as Henry Higgins in the new My Fair Lady? That's what The Telegraph are saying. At least, he's considered frontrunner. There's the following quote from an unnamed producer too:

It is starting to sound a bit like the sort of film the BBC would make. They could have been a lot more daring.

Well, that's a bit harsh on the BBC. They did make, say, In The Loop. That's hardly a safety bet. Talking of which...

BBC2 are giving In The Loop its network TV premiere on Sunday March 7th, before it even wins or loses its Oscar. That's quite an incredibly quick turnaround from Sundance premiere to Network TV – 14 months. And, again, not changing the subject much...Variety are reporting on how BBC Worldwide are to stump up £17 million for what shares of 2Entertain DVD distribution they don't already own. You tell me if that's money that could have been better spent on buoying up 6 Music and The Asian Network.Noel Clarke has given a video interview to The Telegraph. It's ostensibly about his filmmaking but it seems designed to some extent in order promote Doritos. No, really. Meanwhile, Clarke is also the spokesman for the new anti-piracy campaign that is hitting UK cinemas today.

The overall winner of the Paranormal Activity short film contest was David Bryant's Heebie Jeebies. Here's a YouTube embed of the film, though it has been included on the UK Paranormal Activity discs so you may want to hold off and watch it on your nice HD TV instead. Bryant, you may recall, was a co-director of Dead Wood, the indie horror film previously discussed at length in a /Film video featurette.

Deepak Chopra's Beyond is being adapted into a UK-produced feature film. Business of Cinema have this quote from one of the film's producers:

Beyond takes a genre that has been popular through the decades from Frantic to Taken to the next level by adding in the surreal elusiveness of a multi-dimensional mind bender.

Through the decades from Frantic to Taken? That's barely two and a half decades.

Cine-Asia have announced UK DVD and Blu-ray versions of Raging Phoenix for April 12th. As per their blurb:

Action Cinema's first lady, Jija Janin (Chocolate) plays Neu, a wandering musician who, having been abandoned by her family, knows only shame and rejection.

Well, shame, rejection and kicking people's faces off in an almost dancerly fashion. Gotta love that Jija Janin. Prep by watching Chocolate if you haven't seen it already.

It's believed that HBO's newly greenlighted A Game of Thrones could be worth £20 million a year to the Northern Irish economy, says Irish Times.

Baz Bamigboye at The Daily Mail, has listed David Tennant, Mackenzie Crook and Matthew Rhys as the cast of Love on the Murder Mile, a new thriller that actor Laurence Fox will direct in the summer. He's also skirting around the idea that Fox's wife Billie Piper may be in the film, but I think there's some smoke and mirrors at work here.

St. Trinians' creator Ronald Searle has just turned 90 and given his first interview in 35 years. It's good stuff and well worth a watch:

The UK Screen Association have unveiled their report "The UK Facilities Sector: a key contributor to the film and television industries and to the UK's creative economy". Here's a few of the findings, as reported on their site:

  • The industry is currently made up of 1,300 specialised companies, employing more than 25,000 people with an annual turnover of in excess of £2.2 billion.
  • The work of the sector is split across three main markets – TV (52%), film (18%) and commercials (18%).  Direct exports into these areas totalled £293 million in 2008
  • Although there are a large number of companies within the UK facilities sector, only a very few have achieved scale in their operations.  The sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, with 99% of firms employing fewer than 250 people, and 78% employing fewer than 10
  • In terms of overall economic impact (including indirect and induced impacts), the report estimates that the facilities sector is responsible for generating 50,850 jobs – in turn generating £1.6bn in GVA. In 2008 the sector contributed £262m (excluding VAT) to the Exchequer
  • You can buy the full report for the bargain price of £250. I don't think I'll be investing, personally.

    The National Film and Television School have made Harry Potter director David Yates an honorary fellow. An easy way to remind people he's an alum of their program, I suppose.

    Shooting this summer will be a Edinburgh-set superhero indie called Electric Man. According to The Edinburgh Evening News, there is going to be open casting calls to find the cast – but be quick, they're happening today.

    Here's the cover and then red-band trailer for George Romero's wonderful Survival of the Dead, hitting UK Blu-ray and DVD on the 15th.


    Earlier in the week, I was lucky enough to attend the press night of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's Ghost Stories at the Lyric Hammersmith. On the way there, I was excited to see how a play by a magician and actor and a comedy writer with a taste for the macabre would feel and work, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be scared or unsettled. How frightening can a stage play even be? Surely we all know how theatrical "Let's Pretend" works well enough to just see through any scare effects? I was expecting a harmless little bit of make believe that couldn't possibly get into my head.

    I was very, very wrong.

    While I'd find it very, very hard to tell you much about the... experience without giving away too much (ie. anything), I can honestly give this play the strongest of recommendations. Not to diminish the value and intelligence of the play overall, and definitely not the wonderfully well-woven writing of Mr. Dyson, I was particularly astonished by the last minute or so in which some brilliant, sly techniques were used to completely shatter the audience's assumptions and expectations and then, when we were all deeply, hopelessly off guard, slap us with simple shock effect made screamingly effective by how we'd all been invisibly primed. The noises of fear and surprise coming from the audience in the first seconds after the play was finished are as memorable as anything performed up on the stage.

    Now, I can look back on the play and perform an autopsy on its intricate and clever construction and its layers of meaning and resonance almost like it wasn't ever a real, live event, but even that won't help me shake my memories of disorientation and alarm. It's Andy Nyman's sterling work as a psychological trickster and weaver of misdirection, lies and manipulation that has helped elevate Ghost Stories from something interesting, smart and pointed to something astonishing, shocking and unforgettable.

    Walking into the foyer afterwards, I felt a little out of joint with the real world, and it took a bit of effort to finally click back. That most of the audience seemed to be made up of famous faces I knew from the TV only added to the feeling.

    I'm embedding the completely spoiler-free trailer for Ghost Stories, which I have watched both before and after seeing the show. I don't think it gives anything away to say there's a lot of things in this clip that mean something completely different to me now.

    Book now, because the run is almost sold out and this isn't the kind of thing they could translate to TV or DVD.

    Here's the trailer for The Posession of David O'Reilly, a new horror picture that has just a little in common with Ghost Stories.

    My home viewing for the week was the new UK Blu-ray of The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Like the theatrical release, the film is hitting DVD and BD in Britain ahead of the US. For fans of the film, a BD is the no-brainer option, with HD revealing the textures and intricate construction of the puppets beautifully.

    There's also a range of special features that shed some light on the elements of Wes Anderson's movie that do really work: recording the voice actors together and "on location", the painstaking construction of detailing for the sets, the references in the design to Donald Chaffin's illustrations from the original US pressing of Roald Dahl's book. These video documentaries add up to about 45 minutes of material and do a far better job in selling the movie's qualities than a commentary by Anderson ever would.

    Nonetheless, the film still seems as flat and arch as it ever did and I can't help wondering what happened to the Anderson who made Rushmore and Bottle Rocket and let some air into his films.

    In a nutshell: if you liked Mr. Fox at the cinema, or if you suspect you will enjoy the movie – ie. you didn't get a stomach upset from The Darjeeling Limited – then this Blu-ray is an even better presentation than 35mm allowed. This is also particularly true if you're the kind of animation lover who likes to really get down to the frame-by-frame nitty gritty. I don't know if I'll ever watch the film in "real time" again, but I've already been freeze framing and getting up close to the TV for a good look at some details. If nothing else, I'm even more in love with Blu-ray now than I already was.

    The disc is out now, whereas the US release happens on March 23rd. It's nice to remember we're not always trailing.

    Derek Jacobi and Juliet Stevenson have lent their thesping skills to a motion comic version of Macbeth. Bleeding Cool report that the DVD will "allow people to watch the comic one panel at a time, progress through at normal speed, and contain live context notes to explain certain words and phrases".Legion is out in UK cinemas today. Here's a clip called Gladys that pretty much sets the tone.

    I'm expecting Paul Bettany will be a bit more of a draw here than he was in the US.

    Earlier this week, there was a YouTube video of some filming for Attack the Block taking place, but it has since been removed. It showed a very, very early scene in which a car is hit by a meteor... a meteor with an alien on it. The clip had this description:

    Girl is on the phone. Walks across the road. Gets attacked by hoodies. Car explodes randomly.

    I guess the observer hasn't read the script, then. Here's a screen grab from the dearly departed clip.


    Members of the Prince Charles Cinema can attend a FREE preview screening of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans this Saturday 6th March at 1pm. It's a first-come-first-served affair, and attendees must have their membership cards with them.

    Meanwhile, the cinema has just been renovated and had a new screen, carpet and chairs fitted. The best cinema in the UK just got better. Here's some pictures of the work:

    pcccurtainspccscreenpcccseatsBroadcast have reported that the creators of Being Human are next working on a superhero series for BBC One and are launching their own indie production company. I'm betting this show ends up being huuuuuuuuuuge.

    So, a short-ish one this week (though next week's column is already shaping up to be a monster). If you want more, I've now got a regular Sunday morning slot on Jack FM's Sunday Roast in which I talk about movies with Ali Booker and try to slip in a plug or three for /Film. I've typically been scheduled for between 10 and 10.30am, but the show runs 9-11.