Rom-com film posters: A short history

Pretty Woman: The original. 

Forces Of Nature: An early example of the Sandy Bollocks 'lean'.

Two Weeks Notice: The Sandy Bollocks 'lean' hits its stride. 

The Proposal: The Sandy Bollocks 'lean' version 2.0. She's not leaning at all! It's Ryan Reynolds who's leaning! GENIUS. 

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days: The McConaughey 'lean' begins at a gentle 20 degrees. 

Failure To Launch: 45 degrees. 

Fool's Gold: Oh come on Matthew! What's wrong with leaning now?

Ghost Of Girlfriends Past: Right, this just ain't funny anymore. If you don't lean in your posters, I'm just not going to see your film. GEDDIT?

Four Christmases: Not only are they bound together with Christmas ribbons, but she's so short and he's so tall that...that...that...**laughs hysterically**...SHE'S STANDING ON BOXES TOO!!!! HILARIOUS! !!!!

(thanks to Dr K for continual inspiration) 

Congratulations, Sandy Bollocks

She's a smart one, that Sandy Bollocks.

Nicking off for a few years after The Lake House, Infamous, Premonition Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous were released to universal indifference, she's now got the biggest hit of her career with The Proposal.

She's not doing anything different, mind. The Proposal is com-com by numbers if ever you saw one (though better than the upcoming Ugly Truth, reviewed elsewhere on this site).

But seeing her again after a while, you sit in the movie thinking 'Awwww, bless Sandy. She's really quite good. I sort of missed her.'

Of course the truth is, you probably didn't. But if Bollocks can do one thing, she can make you love her. Always has done, always will do. And after a two year gap, that charm feels even more welcome.

She's warm, natural, pouty but not snooty. She's not the munter Miss Congeniality made her out to be, but at the same time she's not off-puttingly fit. She looks like the kinda girl you could have a drink with, shoot some pool and end up on a table doing air guitar to 'Sweet Child O' Mine'.

That's my kinda night, readers.

And going away has only made us believe that all the more. Welcome back Sandy Bollocks. You've made us think we missed you.

Michael Fassbender awesomeness...

I'm not allowed to tell you much about Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds at the moment because of the dreaded 'embargo' (quite why I don't know - it was shown and reviewed at the Cannes Film Festival in May but hey, I'm a good boy). 

I can, however, tell you that that's Michael Fassbender up there, playing a British spy called Archie Hicox, who involves himself with with 'Basterds' (a group of of Jewish American soldiers out to get Nazis in the 2nd World War occupied France). He is also RATHER BRILLIANT. 

I've been a bit slow on the uptake with Fassbender. Maybe because I haven't always enjoyed the movies he's been in  - although looking back, he's always been great in them. Or maybe because it's very difficult to see someone as a cool, sexy leading man when they have the word 'bender' in their surname. 

I NOW THINK HE'S AWESOME.  Inglourious Basterds confirms his massive range, as he plays it all stiff-upper-lip and posh. He'll also be seen soon in the brilliant Fish Tank, about a teenage girl living on a depressed Essex tower block estate, where he's much more a man of the people (but hiding a secret). 

I now need to go back and rewatch him getting beaten up by ASBOs in Eden Lake and starving himself for Northern Ireland in Hunger. 

He's also in 300 but I don't think I can manage that. 

Big movies to come include comic book yarn Jonah Hex (with Megan The Fox), ancient Roman horror film Centurion (directed by Neil 'Dog Soldiers' Marshall) and historical romance Birdsong (with Paddy Considine). 

All of which makes him officially THE NEXT BIG THING. 

Despicable Me trailer

A couple of years back, Hollywood animation seemed to be obsessed with animals:

1. Madagascar
2. Over The Hedge
3. Barnyard
4. Chicken Little
5. Open Season
6. Ratatouille

Now it seems all about sci-fi. Old-skool, 1950s B-movie sci-fi:

1. Wall-E
2. Monsters vs Aliens
3. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (man invents machine that drops food from the sky)
4. Planet 51 (astronaut lands on planet of green aliens who live like humans)

It's a bit like 2009 being the year of female electro pop or 2008, Amy Winehouse rip-offs. Different record labels all compete to see whose artist does the best. But which animation will be the Duffy and which the Gabriella Cilmi?

Thankfully some movies buck the trend. Disney/Pixar's Up, about a man and boy who travel the world in a house that floats using balloons, doesn't really fit any box. Amazing. 

And next year, this one looks enjoyably odd, dare I say 'Hitchcockian' - as well as boasting 'the cream' of comedy to do the voices (and Julie Andrews).

Postgrad is out Jan 2010.

Just graduated? Can't get a job? Depressed?

Don't worry, Uncle Hollywood's here to help you by making huge amounts of money out of your misery, in a film featuring the star of The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants.

2006 -The Devil Wears Prada. 2010 - The Devil Has To Sell Her Prada Coz Of The Global Economic Downturn.

This week's vote: THE RESULTS

Honey I Shrunk The Kids wins the all important 'Best Rick Moranis Film' vote with a whopping 65%.

Hot new, readers. Hot news.

Thoughts on 'The State Of Hollywood Today' after seeing Land Of The Lost...

Land Of The Lost is out here on 31st July. In the States it's already come out and made an underperforming $50 million. I know that $50 million hardly sounds like the proverbial 'peanuts' but when you've got a $100 million budget it ain't so fun. Suffice to say, someone, somewhere, will be getting told off.

Having seen the Will Ferrell 'science fiction comedy' I can see why. It doesn't know whether it's a kids fantasy flick or a teen comedy. Will Ferrell does his normal schitck (very funny) but he also fights dinosaurs (not funny).

It's not a million miles away from Year One, where Jack Black also does his normal schtick (very funny) but also fights Egyptians (not funny).

All of this whilst The Hangover quietly makes $300 million around the globe.

All of which rather poetically sums up the dilemma of being a well-recognised star with a well-recognised routine:

1. We don't like it when stars try to do something different. Will and Jack in weird settings - The Lost World's other dimension or Year One's ancient world - just aren't as funny as when they're talking about rock music or reading the news.

2. BUT Will and Jack doing their normal routines is
also getting a little bit tired (Step Brothers, Tropic Thunder) so it's quite refreshing to see a comedy with 3 stars who are relatively unknown, arsing about in Vegas. No expectations = you can only be impressed.

The answer for WF and JB? Sequels. Familiar ideas but with a new twist (though not too weird). Hello School Of Rock 2. Hello Anchorman 2. Hello desperate re-treading of former glories.

There, my friends, is The State Of Hollywood Today.

Moon starring Sam Rockwell... and Chesney Hawkes.

Sci-fi isn't normally my 'thing' but Moon starring the rather brilliant Sam Rockwell is something else. Director Duncan 'David Bowie's Son' Jones has said that he's not into silly, action-figure-selling sci-fi. He likes the old-school stuff like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien. Sci-fi that deals with, amongst other things, the drama of loneliness out there in the middle of nowhere. Or in this case, as the title suggests, the moon.

It's all really engrossing. A film that's both about intimate, personal emotions and global, cold-hearted greed. It's got that eerie background hum to it that all great space station movies should have to.

But way, way, waaaaay more important than that is that Sam Rockwell's astronaut is woken everyday by an alarm clock that plays 'The One & Only' by 90s one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes. I WANT THAT TICKER! Weirdly, in the context of the film, the song's lyrics take on a kind of existential power too. Nice one Sam. Nice one Duncan. Nice one Chesney.

It's out this Friday (17th July).

Peter Parko - Tobey and Jake are Brothers this December...

Well, who'd have thunk it. Some lad called Tobey Maguire is back, back, back! And he's only gone and made a movie with Jake Gyllenaal, the doe-eyed Donnie Darko who dated Kirsten Dunst straight after the Tobester.

That said, if actors who've dated Kisten Dunst weren't allowed to make films together, Hollywood would shut down.

Brothers is directed by Jim Sheridan, a man who's previously made In America, The Boxer and In The Name Of The Father to mention but a few. To say he likes to wear his heart on his sleeve is an understatement. To say he shouts out his fiery political opinions everytime he starts his camera rolling would be more accurate. The fact that Brothers deals with the fallout of war suggests we're in for plenty more soap-boxing.

The fact that it's out at the beginning of December in the States also suggests it's 'Oscar material' (always a scary prospect).

Anyways, it's lovely to see the return of Jake G. Natalie Portman is obviously attempting to do her 'everyday American housewife' thing that might not be quite so successful. And old Tobey, meanwhile, hits the comeback trail - leaner and meaner than ever before (ooooh, weight loss - good for the Oscars) and still decidely - and brilliantly - odd.

The ugly truth about The Ugly Truth...

My favourite quote about Katherine Heigl is on the cover of the 27 Dresses DVD:

'Katherine Heigl is the new Bridget Jones'.

What? So you're saying this real person is now a FICTIONAL character? How does that work?

But it's indicative of how sloppy a lot of thinking about chick-flicks can be. I'm a big fan of rom-coms - my friend at the screening last night accurately described my feelings thus: 'You LOVE this shit!' - but there's also a laziness with a lot of criticism surrounding them. Of course, so much of loving this genre is all about familiarity and feelgood. But that shouldn't stop basic things like realism coming into play.

The Ugly Truth plays big on familiarity. Once again (as in Knocked Up), Heigl is a TV producer and once again (as in 27 Dresses) we're meant to believe that despite her stunning looks and shiny, A-list styling, NO MAN WOULD EVER DATE HER.

Such a premise is classic Sandra Bullock. Remember in Miss Congeniality when her cop colleagues photo-shopped a bikini onto a picture of her? Judging by their reaction, this was meant to be THE MOST DISGUSTING IDEA EVER. Balls. Sandy may not be Megan 'The' Fox but she's still all Hollywood glam. Sticking her in a few chunky knits and giving her a cat doesn't make her a minger.

Still, The Ugly Truth travels this well-worn route and we're meant to go with it. After that, the cliches come thick and fast:

1. The love/hate relationship. Heigl and her new sexist presenter (Gerard Butler) hate each other at first but slowly the ice melts. WELL, WHO'D HAVE GUESSED.

2. The playing out of that relationship in front of an audience. The setting of a live television studio offers characters the chance to, out of the blue, reveal their true feelings, watched by thousands of wooping and clapping viewers in their living rooms. Stressed TV execs in the gallery take 'phonecalls, saying things like: 'That was corporate on the line! They love it!' Seriously, it's like Anchorman never happened. THIS IS NOT HOW TV WORKS.

3. The Bedingfield. Has some research been done that says chick-flick consumers are all obsessed with Natasha Bedingfield? That's the only thing that could explain her warbling presence on the soundtracks of...**deep breath**...Miss Congeniality 2, Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants, 27 Dresses, Bride Wars, Confessions Of A Shopaholic and now The Ugly Truth.

I know, like I said, chick-flicks are all about a warm, familiar feeling. But there's a difference between cleverly twisting our expectations (Judd Apatow's speciality) and just churning out the same ol' cack. I predict in interviews Kat and Gerry will say stuff like 'it's a movie like those old Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy films' which it categorically ISN'T. You might as well say 'Prisoner: Cell Block H' is like The Shawshank Redemption.

The Ugly Truth does attempt to stamp its own personality on things by being a bit dirtier. The funniest moment 'comes' when Heigl's character puts on a pair of vibrating knickers (seriously). It's actually not as bad as it sounds because KH really is very good at ditzy rom-com, despite her Exec Prodcuer credit for this film suggesting she's anything but flaky. Gerry Butler and his weird, forced American accent on the other hand...

The Ugly Truth is undemanding and that's no bad thing. It's not that terrible. But as a lover of this genre, I'm getting so tired of lazy portrayals (often of the media) that bear no relation to real life. Film-makers seem to think that's okay because 'hey, it's only a chick flick' (similar things are often said about kids' movies).

But why be half-hearted? Why just coast along? A great rom-com can tick all the boxes you expect (incl. Bedingfield) but can also take us to new places along the way. Meryl Streep's turn in The Devil Wears Prada was a classic of understated mystery. I've watched that film UMPTEEN times and still haven't entirely worked her out. Reese Witherspoon's performance in Legally Blonde was a masterpiece of the tongue-in-cheek, an acting lesson in sending-up a cultural type, making someone utterly vacuous totally lovable. Somehow, The Ugly Truth is directed by the same guy.

And then there was Renee Z in Bridget Jones' Diary, brutally sticking two fingers up to cliche at the same time as being, hopelessly, beautifully romantic, thanks to some cheekily acerbic Richard Curtis one-liners. God bless you Bridget. She's the old Katherine Heigl, don't ya know...

The Ugly Truth is out 7th August.

The Ugly Truth is out 7th August

Got sent my ticket for The Ugly Truth tomorrow night.

Just a guess but I reckon the strategic positioning of the hearts in this shot suggests that she thinks with her head, whilst he thinks with his groin.

Comedy ensues.

Just a guess.

Adventureland loveliness...

I love films about slackers.

Slow, ponderous films about teenage Summers, growing up, falling in love, drinking too much Strongbow etc.

In this list I would include Before Sunrise, Dazed & Confused, Garden State, The Virgin Suicides , Juno and, at the broader end, Superbad.

And now Greg Mottola, 'helmer' of that last movie, has made Adventureland, a film where Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart bond one Summer whilst working at the local theme park.

Not a huge amount happens but both the leads are beautifully subtle and there's lots of willowy indie rock on the soundtrack. There are also supporting roles for the frequently-rather-hilarious Bill Hader and the better-in-small-roles Ryan Reynolds.

It's dreamy, slacker rom-com at its finest. It's out here 11th September. Go watch it.

Potentially cack sequel alert.

Oh 'joy'. The next St. Trinian's film is being made. Here's the press release




Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson return to helm on

follow up to UK box office smash

 London, 6th July 2009:   Eight weeks of principal photography commences today in and around London and at Ealing Studios on “ST TRINIAN’S® II:  THE LEGEND OF FRITTON’S GOLD”. 

 David Tennant (Dr. Who)  and Sarah Harding (Girls Aloud) will join the cast from“St Trinians” which includes Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Shakespeare in Love, Stage Beauty) and Colin Firth (Dorian Gray, Mamma Mia!, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Love Actually), Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace), Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked), Jodie Whittaker (Venus, Cranford), Juno Temple (Atonement, Notes on a Scandal)  Tamsin Egerton (Keeping Mum), Celia Imrie (Calendar Girls, Bridget Jones’ Diary) and Fenella Woolgar (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Vera Drake).  Actors joining the exciting cast line up will include new talents Ella Smith, Zawe Ashton and Montserrat Lombard.

“ST TRINIAN’S® II: THE LEGEND OF FRITTON’S GOLD” sees the schoolgirls start a new term amidst the usual chaos and excitement.  Rupert Everett returns as unconventional headmistress Camilla Fritton and Colin Firth as her old flame Geoffrey Thwaites.  A rollercoaster-style treasure hunt for the legendary Fritton’s Gold  ensues as they face their most fearsome establishment rivals yet, but the feisty and ever-resourceful girls of St Trinian’s are undeterred in their mission to outwit the villainous Pomfrey (David Tennant) and his sidekicks from the women-hating secret society known as AD1.  

On the downside:

1. It's made by the same people who did the last one. 

2. It stars people called Fenella, Tallulah, Tamsin and Monsterrat. 

3. It will therefore be another thrown together shambles of a film, created by posh old men trying to be cool and lacking anything close to charm or style. 

On the upside:

1. I spend a lot of time in Ealing. I may see Sarah Harding. 


Some reasons why Bruno is not homophobic.

1. Bruno is the most OTT character Sacha Baron-Cohen has ever done. No-one is actually REALLY like him. He's just a cartoon character played for comic effect. Just like Will Ferrell did with Ron Burgundy and no-one said that was offensive to newsreaders.*

2. Yes you laugh AT Bruno for the first 10 minutes and then you laugh WITH him - well, the guy behind the mask, Mr Baron-Cohen - as the real targets are revealed...

3. ...the fame-obsessed people of America, from Madonna and her orphans to pushy parents. All actual people, not fictional characters. Bruno wants to be famous and holds a mirror up to that celebrity world. We're watching the reflection. 

4. And not forgetting the bigots, the zealots and those who just take themselves waaaay too seriously - we have a laugh at them too. 

5. So the fact that Bruno is gay isn't really the main point (it's A point, but not the biggest one). Bruno is shallow and it's shallowness that the film is really about. And then,  just like Ali G and Borat do, he realises that love is much more important than anything else. Bless.

6. So that's why. Thanks. 

* A newsreading legend told me this. All hail Alistair Stewart. 

Someone who is quite good...

Beverly Hills 90210. Dawson's Creek. The OC.

Shows I have loved and lost and shows where I presumed the stars would go on to great things.

If you consider Mischa Barton being pictured stumbling out of Bungalow 8 as a 'great thing' then I was right. If you're more about great acting in great movies then it's fair to say, I wasn't.

Therefore I'm not going to make any predictions about which stars of my current fave Gossip Girl will go on to great things on 'the silver screen', but I will say this:


In GG, she's a bit rubbish. Very pretty? Yes. Great clothes? Definately. A mop of blonde hair that's single-handedly keeping John Frieda in business? Absolutely.

But still a bit rubbish.

Yet in 'The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee' she's really rather good as a drugged-up, rebellious teen in 70s New York. There's attitude there but also a real vulnerability that's not just reliant on her being a bit whiny.

The pic's directed by Rebecca Miller, a woman who boasts Daniel Day-Lewis as her hubby and has made the-also-very-good 'Personal Velocity' and 'Ballad Of Jack & Rose' in the past. I'm beginning to believe that she might have a bit of magic in her fingertips since not only is Blake good in 'Pippa Lee', but so is...gasp...Keanu Reeves.

Still, I'm making no predictions about Blake being the next Cate Blanchett. 'Pippa Lee' is worth seeing though. And with Ed Westwick's (Chuck Bass) 'Donnie Darko' sequel 'S.Darko' limping into a couple of cinemas before heading straight-to-DVD she's certainly ahead of the pack. *

Not that I'm making any predictions, mind.

* Until Chace Crawford remakes 'Footloose', anyway.

Some thoughts on the trailer for Ricky Gervais in 'The Invention Of Lying'.

1. Its title, 'The Invention Of Lying' isn't great but I can see why studio execs chose it over the original name 'This Side Of The Truth', which doesn't mean a huge deal. As it is, the new title is very much in the vein of the story, which is about a world where no-one can lie and everything is matter-of-fact. So if you're going to make a film about the invention of lying, you might as well call 'The Invention Of Lying'.

2. It's Ricky doing his 'thing'. As in the little-bit-underrated 'Ghost Town' I think his 'thing' works rather beautifully up against big shiny Hollywood types with lovely teeth, like Jennifer Garner and Rob Lowe. They're all polished and fake, he's deadpan and real. Therefore, we like him.

3. Although some people may now be starting to tire of Ricky's 'thing'.

4. The trailer - as is their wont - is a bit brash and brassy but the film probably won't be. At the moment it feels like a Jim Carrey trailer but with Ricky co-writing and co-directing I can't believe the finished product will be. I think it will be less zany, more melancholy and slightly romantic. ALL OF WHICH IS GOOD.

5. This isn't the film that Ricky is currently making with Stephen Merchant. That's 'Cemetery Junction'.

Bandslam is out August 12th

Bandslam is an odd one.

50% edgy teen issues pic, packed with references to New York scenester bands and avant-garde icons such as 'Dame' David Bowie.

50% tween cheese.

After every cliched 'let's do the show right here' moment, there's dark bit where nihilistic slackers look depressed and listen to Velvet Underground.

So who's going to enjoy this? Who's been asking for a mix of 'Garden State' and 'High School Musical'?

I think it's fair to say that most of us have varied music taste, the classic 'bit of everything, really', but when we pay our money to watch (or listen to) something we tend to like to know exactly what it is we're getting. 'Bandslam' doesn't know what it's giving.

I enjoyed it but then, I didn't have to pay. Its bizarre attempt to snare hugely different demographics turned it into something hugely camp, but that's hardly a quote for the poster. Vanessa Hudgens is pretty good playing it moody and Alyson Michalka (from AJ & Aly, Disney fans) is awesome. Some of the tunes are genuinely powerful too. If you feel like taking a risk, go see it.

But I've just got visions of queues outside cinema toilets when the film is finished, mothers holding hands of their under-10s, the little moppets looking up to their parent and asking, bewildered, 'Mummy, who are Vampire Weekend?'