Update on New Line’s Shaft reboot… a comedy !!!???

According to a report today states that New Line intend to have a “much more comedic tone” to their Shaft reboot, bringing on board writers Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. This is a huge disappointment to fans of the character who had hoped for a treatment sympathetic to Ernest Tidyman’s creation.

David F Walker, who made Shaft’s return to the printed page in the recent comic book series and the novel Shaft’s Revenge (the first since The Last Shaft in 1975) has written an open letter to New Line protesting at their proposed approach. I would urge any fans of Shaft and of cinema in general to support his letter and Twitter campaign.

A creatively bankrupt Hollywood strikes again.

Film Review – STARDUST (1974)

Stardust (1974; UK; Technicolor; 111m) ∗∗∗½  d. Michael Apted; w. Ray Connolly; ph. Anthony B. Richmond; m. Dave Edmunds, David Puttnam (music producers).  Cast: David Essex, Adam Faith, Larry Hagman, Ines des Longchamps, Rosalind Ayres, Marty Wilde, Edd Byrnes, Keith Moon, Dave Edmunds, Paul Nicholas, Karl Howman, Richard LeParmentier, Peter Duncan, John Normington, James Hazeldine. The rise and fall of a rock singer (Essex), in the mid 60s, with his manager and his group, “The Stray Cats.”  Sequel to THAT’LL BE THE DAY is a well-made parable on the trappings of fame. Apted authentically captures the mayhem with well-staged crowd scenes. Strong performances from Faith and Hagman dominate, whilst Essex struggles manfully to convey the angst of the artist caught up in the business and media frenzy that surrounds him. [15]

Film Review – THAT’LL BE THE DAY (1973)

That’ll Be the Day (1973; UK; Technicolor; 91m) ∗∗∗  d. Claude Watham; w. Ray Connolly; ph. Peter Suschitzky; m. Neil Aspinall, Keith Moon (music supervisors).  Cast: David Essex, Ringo Starr, Rosemary Leach, James Booth, Billy Fury, Keith Moon, Rosalind Ayres, Brenda Bruce, Robert Lindsay, Verna Harvey, James Ottaway, Deborah Watling, Beth Morris, Daphne Oxenford, Kim Braden. Abandoned by his father at an early age, Jim MacLaine (Essex) seems to have inherited the old man’s restlessness. Director Watham mirrors the kitchen-sink dramas of the era in his approach to this episodic rights-of-passage tale. Essex creates an unlikeable central character with a colourless performance, but a strong cameo from Ringo and excellent period detail make this an interesting and authentic depiction of youth in the 1950s. It spawned a sequel, STARDUST (1974). [15]

Film Review – SHENANDOAH (1965)

Shenandoah (1965; USA; Technicolor; 105m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Lee Barrett; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Frank Skinner.  Cast: James Stewart, Rosemary Forsyth, Doug McClure, Katharine Ross, George Kennedy, Patrick Wayne, Strother Martin, Glenn Corbett, Philip Alford, Charles Robinson, Denver Pyle, Charles Robinson, Gene Jackson, Tim McIntire, Jim McMullan. A farmer in Shenandoah, Virginia and finds himself (and his family) in the middle of the Civil War. First-rate story of a family’s struggles to come to terms with the war raging around them. Stewart is superb as the head of the family spirited into action when his youngest son is taken prisoner. Whilst it is occasionally over-sentimental and the ending is a little too convenient, it is still a thoroughly entertaining and effective movie that will melt the stoniest of hearts. Ross’ film debut. The movie was turned into the stage musical under the same title in 1975 starring John Cullum. [PG]

Film Review – RED (2010)

RED (2010; USA; DeLuxe; 111m) ∗∗  d. Robert Schwentke; w. Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber; ph. Florian Ballhaus; m. Christophe Beck.  Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine, James Remar, Julian McMahon. When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, a former black-ops agent reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants. Flashy visuals and overly choreographed action sequences along with an interesting cast are the main draws to this otherwise superficial story. The stars all have fun with their eccentric roles, but a lazy script and a bland jazz-rock score do not help. Based on the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. Followed by RED 2 (2013). [12]

Film Review – SANTA FE (1951)

Santa Fe (1951; USA; Technicolor; 87m) ∗∗½  d. Irving Pichel; w. Kenneth Gamet, Louis Stevens; ph. Charles Lawton Jr.; m. Paul Sawtell.  Cast: Randolph Scott, Janis Carter, Jerome Courtland, Peter M. Thompson, John Archer, Warner Anderson, Roy Roberts, Billy House, Olin Howland, Allene Roberts, Jock Mahoney. After the Civil War four brothers who fought for the South head west. Yanks are building the Santa Fe Railroad and one of the brothers joins them. The other three still hold their hatred of the North and join up with those trying to stop the railroad’s completion.  Disjointed and unevenly directed western still has its moments, but it uneasily blends melodrama with comic relief. Whilst Scott is as capable as ever in the lead the film is not one of his best. Based on the novel by James Vance Marshall. [U]

Film Review – TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991; USA; Technicolor; 137m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. James Cameron; w. James Cameron, William Wisher Jr.; ph. Adam Greenberg; m. Brad Fiedel.  Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Earl Boen, Joe Morton, Xander Berkeley, Jenette Goldstein, S. Epatha Merkerson, Castulo Guerra, Danny Cooksey, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, Peter Schrum, Ken Gibbel, Robert Winley. The cyborg who once tried to kill Sarah Connor is dead, and another T-101 must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from an even more powerful and advanced Terminator, the T-1000. Spectacular action and ground-breaking visual effects in this high-budget sequel. Additions include a new T-1000 Terminator in the form of Patrick with Arnie the protector this time. A nice twist sees Hamilton almost become a terminator herself. Elongated finale is breathtaking. Won four Oscars for Best Sound (Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Lee Orloff); Sound Effects Editing (Gary Rydstrom, Gloria S. Borders); Visual Effects (Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Gene Warren Jr., Robert Skotak) and Makeup (Stan Winston, Jeff Dawn). Also released in extended versions at 152m and 154m. Followed by TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003). [15]

Doctor Who Retrospective – 1.11 BOOM TOWN

1 episode / 44m / 4 June 2005
Rating: ∗∗½
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Joe Ahearne
Cast: Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), William Thomas (Mr Cleaver), Annette Badland (Margaret), John Barrowman (Captain Jack), Noel Clarke (Mickey), Mali Harries (Cathy), Aled Pedrick (Idris Hopper), Alan Ruscoe (Slitheen).
Plot: The TARDIS crew take a holiday, but the Doctor encounters an enemy he thought long since dead. A plan to build a nuclear power station in Cardiff City disguises an alien plot to rip the world apart. And when the Doctor dines with monsters, he discovers traps within traps.
Comment: The Slitheen (or rather one of them), first seen in the earlier Aliens of London/World War Three, return in this uneven episode, which mixes juvenile humour, in the entrapment of Annette Badland’s alien, with commentary on the Doctor’s unwillingness to face the effects of the changes he instigates. The episode is best when tackling the latter issues packaged around a restaurant dinner in which Badland’s Slitheen prods and pokes at the Doctor’s conscience. There is also the reuniting of Piper’s Rose with Clarke’s Mickey and Clarke manages to at last add some depth to his character. Barrowman continues to impress as Captain Jack, but in more of a support role here. The finale adds a little spectacle to the proceedings and the denouement is fairly neat. But overall the episode is another struggling to find the balance between the serious and the silly. In retrospect it is easy to understand Davies’ broad brush approach during this first season, with him being keen to attract a wide enough audience back to the series after its lengthy absence. Fortunately he would get it right in the season’s finale.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO Hyde Park Concert to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray

Jeff Lynne’s ELO concert at Hyde Park last September will be released on both DVD and Blu-Ray on 11 September 2015. The concert, in which the band were backed by  demonstrated the true strengths of this underrated band and in particular the humble Jeff Lynne. The audience lapped up every song in the set and it was a truly memorable night.

The songs performed were:-
“All Over the World”
“Evil Woman”
“Ma-Ma-Ma Belle”
“Livin’ Thing”
“Strange Magic”
“10538 Overture”
“Can’t Get It Out of My Head”
“Sweet Talkin’ Woman”
“Turn to Stone”
“Steppin’ Out”
“Handle With Care”
“Don’t Bring Me Down”
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King”
“Telephone Line”
“Mr. Blue Sky”
“Roll Over Beethoven”

A feature-length documentary will also be included on the discs.