I asked you who your favourite wrestler-turned-actor was. The result? The Rock is beaten by pure indifference. Now there's a fight I'd like to see on WWE:
1. Like you James, I really don't know or care much about wrestling
2. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
3. Terry 'Hulk' Hogan
4. John Cena
5. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin
Precious is the gritty story of a 16 year old single mother in late 80s Harlem, New York, dreaming of a better life. Although Mariah Carey is in it, to say it's a Mariah Carey film would be like saying The Hangover is a Mike Tyson movie. She's actually pretty good in it, playing a welfare officer - and just a little bit scary without make-up - but Precious is something else altogether.
Here's what you need to know:
It's 80% brilliant. The unknown lead, Gabourey Sidibe (as Precious), plays nearly everything under the surface. She has a stony face that you know is hiding a million feelings but she's just too confused to let it all out. Because she's in such a helpless situation - but is so silently stoic and tough - you're rooting for her every step of the way.
It's 15% overdone. Precious' mum Mary is played by Mo'nique who gives one of the most startlingly shocking performances of recent years. Seriously, she will scare the crap out of you. At times though, her big scenes in her high rise flat are shot a bit like a horror movie, all moody lighting and eerie camera angles. It turns those moments into something from Carrie rather than what it should be - just really raw, indie cinema. The direction (not the performance) is completely out of sync with the rest of the film. Later, Mary has a scene in the Welfare Office which doesn't have that melodrama and, man, IT'S ONE OF THE MOST PANT-WETTINGLY DRAMATIC MOMENTS YOU'LL EVER SEE.
It's 5% a bit silly. Precious has dream sequences where she imagines being a superstar, all glamorous clothes and paparrazi flash bulbs. They're done a bit like something from a kids' TV show. It doesn't really work and again, isn't in tune with the rest of the film.
The cons don't ruin it though. This is one awesome display of acting, even if the direction is a bit amateur and occasionally sappy. It reminded a little of Hustle & Flow, another Sundance Film Festival movie that took on the big guns. Like that, this'll get Oscar nominations. Oprah's ALL OVER IT so you know something big's gonna happen.
Here's a clip from Bunny And The Bull, a film by Paul King, one of the gents behind TV's The Mighty Boosh. As you'll see in this clip, he's got Boosh-man Julian to make a cameo. There's also one from Noel **sound of Pixie Geldof screaming** Fielding.
The pic is very well made, being the daydreams and recollections of an agorophobic (played by Edward Hogg) who's both mourning and lovesick. Remembering his road-trip around Europe with best mate Bunny (occasional Boosher Simon Farnaby), his OCD house transforms into Swiss mountains, Polish back streets and Spanish bull rings.
All of which is very impressive - if you've never seen any films or music videos by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) who's done it all before, and in a more magical, less depressing way. The film's deliberately artificial, ramshackle feel - like a 70s jumble sale - is also breathtaking at first... but it's all so constraining, it's hard not feel suffocated after half an hour.
Loner Stephen and lairish Bunny are also pretty hard to like - one too weedy, one too beery. Luckily those Boosh cameos from Julian and Noel lift things just at the right time (Noel as a matador, anyone?), leaving a film that's as hypnotically weird as you'd expect it to be but too frustrating to break out into must-see territory.
Basically, this is The Santa Clause but about The Tooth Fairy. It's even directed by the guy who made The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (nice). It will, however, be better because:
1. It's The Rock not Tim Allen.
2. IT'S THE ROCK NOT TIM ALLEN!
3. A great supporting cast - Stephen Merchant (cruelly cut out of much of this US trailer but will be in the UK one more I'm sure), Julie Andrews and Billy Crystal.
4. Its tagline is 'You can't handle the tooth!' which is actually brilliant.
5. I've had a very little sneak peak at the script and seem some stills 'and stuff' and it genuinely looks like it's got its heart in the right place. That's something in my book.
It's out early next year.
Until I saw Zombieland, the winner of the Best Cameo award for '09 was a shoe-in: Mike Tyson in The Hangover.
My mind has now been changed.
I'm not gonna ruin things by telling you which star now holds that title but suffice to say, as with everything in Zombieland, it's a perfect moment.
For this is a film with everything. Yes, it's first and foremost a horror flick, telling the tale of a handful of survivors after 99.9% of Americans have been turned into the undead. But it's a gorefest with so many nods to comedies, road movies, romances and teen pics that actual scares are less important than knowing winks, great lines and loveable characters.
And there are plenty. Jesse Eisenberg's nerdy Columbus - surely the only horror movie hero with Irritable Bowel Syndrome - is joyously understated, providing the perfect foil for his macho co-hort Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). If I'm pushed, it's Woody's picture, swaggering around as he does with his cowboy boots and sawn-off shotgun. He fills the screen with redneck attitude, a Tarantino/Rodriguez kinda guy with an odd love of the banjo. As Columbus puts it so poetically: 'He sets the standard for not to be fucked with'.
Meantime, the female stars Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who the boys meet en-route to a Californian safe-haven, are certainly no wallflowers. Stone is sexy for sure but it's never overplayed - quite refreshing for a teen slasher pic.
Most of all though, Zombieland works because it knows exactly what it wants to say, how it wants to say it and who the movie is for. With unerring energy it's a Shaun Of The Dead USA; ballsy, bloody and in-yer-face (witness the slo-mo opening credits, with Metallica on soundtrack duties) and with a use of locations from supermarkets to theme parks that kicks ass. The peppering of pop culture gags are spot-on and emotional moments are crucial but not over-played. In short, it's a slamdunk.
And then there's that mystery cameo, a scene or two of pure movie genius. Now, who's gonna tell Mike Tyson that he's lost his crown. You or me?
- ▼ October (9)