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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Best of 2010


Later this week Rob and I will record our 'Best Of' podcast - exactly one year ago, our very first podcast was a summary of 2009. Back then, I had probably seen more films than Rob had- now that ratio has reversed radically, with Rob having seen hundreds of films at the Dukes and festivals. My record is much poorer and therefore my list is less authoritative - but somehow I feel like my list wouldn't be too different anyway. Deciding what to include is difficult, and for me, it's just everything I've seen in the year, including things that haven't been released in 2010 (or might never get a release here).

Listen to an audio version of this and Rob's list on iTunes or on the Picturehouse site.

1- ALAMAR
One of the most moving films I have seen in years. Simple, beautiful, perfect.
2- BLACK SWAN
A mashup of Polanski, Cronenberg and Powell - yet completely at home in Aronofsky's obsession with self-destruction.
3- THE SOCIAL NETWORK
The most relevant of all films released this year - media and business exposed in a Citizen Kane-style tableau of greed and ambition.
4- SHUTTER ISLAND
Nobody can create a film history pastiche like Scorsese and still move you. His best in years.
5- MOTHER
Further proof that Korea (and its protectionist film policies) are near the top of the pile when it comes to talent. Gripping, surprising, completely original
6- DOGTOOTH
A disturbing, powerful and wonderfully allegorical story that can be interpreted in a million ways.
7- LIFE DURING WARTIME
As good as HAPPINESS - scary, poignant and brave.
8 - GREENBERG
A great 1970s movie - with a different production date this would be a New Hollywood classic.
9- SONS OF CUBA
A tiny film that proves you really don't need much money to create drama - just an eye and a subject.
10- REVOLUCION (compilation of short films, Carlos Reygadas' episode)
The Reygadas episode of this portmanteau is controlled chaos and cinematic genius. Proves he can do so more than 'slow' cinema.

Honorable mentions: INCEPTION, THE PROMISE: THE MAKING OF THE DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, THE MAID, THE GHOST.

Monday, 20 December 2010

UK Box Office 17-19 Dec

Disney opened TRON: LEGACY after an expensive budget ($170 million) and an equally expensive worldwide campaign ($150 million), and although I am skeptical about the legs on this title, it certainly did OK: nearly £2 million, and an over 4K screen average is nothing to be sniffed at. BURLESQUE, on the other hand, struggled out of the gate and stumbled along with just over £1K sreen average. Park Circus reissued IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, doing its 158th week of business and still going strong!

1- TRON: LEGACY (£1,954,589)(NEW)
2- CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOYAGE OF DAWN TREADER (£1,224,507)(2 weeks, total £4,773,562)
3- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1 (£870,110)(5 weeks, total £44,317,641)
4- THE TOURIST (£716,661)(2 weeks, total £2,913,208)
5- MEGAMIND (£566,806)(3 weeks, total £5,542,603)
6- BURLESQUE (£425,787)(New)
7- ANIMALS UNITED (£306,156)(New)
8- FRED: THE MOVIE (£252,117)(New)
9- UNSTOPPABLE (£157,051)(4 weeks, total £4,404,584)
10- DUE DATE (£75,227) (7 weeks, total £10,476,443)

Friday, 17 December 2010

New BFI


The BFI announced yesterday a series of restructuring measures ahead of their new lead role in shaping film policy in the UK. One of the key decisions was to close the current gallery at the BFI Southbank and replace it with the BFI Library. This will come as a blow to moving image practitioners and enthusiasts, as there are few spaces like this, specially in such high profile locations. The rest of the announcement holds few surprises, with cost-cutting measures across the board, and a 'research centre' at Berkhamstead - an odd location for such a centre.

Here is what the BFI said in its announcement:

"At the core of the proposals are:

1) A plan to bring greater coherence to the cultural programme across the whole of the BFI, a move which will also reduce costs and create more incentives for fundraising and philanthropy. A new post of Director of BFI Public Programmes will lead a unified team of programmers across cinemas, festivals, distribution, digital and print.

2) An aim to further increase the number of people across the UK and internationally who can engage with the BFI's public programme and film culture. Digital technologies will play a critical part in this and the BFI proposes renewing infrastructure and investing in new skills.

3) Closure of the BFI Gallery at BFI Southbank as part of the prioritisation on those activities that only the BFI can deliver.

4) A proposal to move the BFI Library and reading room from its current location and create new facilities at BFI Southbank in the space currently used for the BFI Gallery.

5) Establishing a bespoke research centre for academics, the film industry and researchers in the heart of the BFI National Archive at Berkhamsted.

6) A stringent review of procurement processes to achieve economies; reducing overheads by making savings in support costs; boosting new business through the development of commercial opportunities both within the UK and internationally; a drive to increase fundraising income and philanthropy."

What this actually means in the short or even long term remains to be seen. Let's hope Greg Dyke knows what he's doing.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Uk Box Office 10-12 Dec

Another chapter in the NARNIA franchise rolls out, knocking POTTER out of the top spot but not out of the game. THE TOURIST opens stronger here than in the US, and SOMEWHERE makes a modest entry in the Top 10 with nearly 2K screen average. Look at the drop off in takings after MEGAMIND - the box office is up, but at the expense of the little guys.

1- CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF DAWN TREADER (£2,066,507)(NEW)
2- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (£1,847,697)(4 weeks,total £42,389,209)
3- THE TOURIST (£1,298,193) (New)
4- MEGAMIND (£1,160,002)(2 weeks, total £4,500,086)
5- UNSTOPPABLE (£395,263)(3 weeks, total £3,978,235)
6- DUE DATE (£188,331)(6 weeks, total £10,259,040)
7- MONSTERS (£147,966)(2 weeks, total £678,083)
8- SOMEWHERE (£115,728)(New)
9- NO PROBLEM (£107,340) (New)
10 - THE AMERICAN (£107,020)(3 weeks, total £1,173,565)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Disney Trade Show '10


Yesterday I attended the annual Walt Disney Exhibitor's Trade Show, which is a chance for the company to show exhibitors upcoming 'product', as they like to call films, and take the temperature on their slate. I find these events interesting as they give you a good insight into the inner workings of one of the biggest distributors in the UK, and obviously, one of the biggest entertainment companies worldwide. The UK film division is but a small part in a global corporation which has dominated family entertainment for decades.

Recently, Disney has undergone some corporate restructuring, with changes of power at the top and some aggressive acquisitions. Dreamworks studios and Marvel are shiny new items in their baskets, and they were keen to show these purchases off. The Marvel stock, particulary, will provide huge profits for Disney. Their first film from this new brand will be AVENGERS, and subsequently all the sequels and spin-offs from that property.

We had a chance to see some early footage from CARS 2, trailers and 'sizzles' for REAL STEEL, THE HELP, WINNIE THE POOH (my personal favorite), JOHN CARTER OF MARS, I AM NUMBER FOUR, PROM, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN and of course TRON. Apart from Winnie, none of these releases really excited me at all and really don't belong in any arthouse/indie cinema.

TRON, on which Disney seems to be betting a lot, looks to me like a dud. The 23 minutes we saw are visually impressive, but (like the original) lacks any humour or life in it. There is nothing inherently wrong with that as I admire the original, but I don't see hordes of teenagers coming out for it.

Finally we had a screening of TANGLED (originally titled RAPUZNEL, as it's based on that fairy tale). The film has impressive 3D animation, probably the best I have seen so far (including Pixar's UP and TOY STORY 3) and plenty of witty dialogue and sight gags, but I am really not the target audience for this film. I am not a big fan of the 'canonical' Disney feature stuff (bar the classics from the 1930s-1940s) and the soppy songs just put me to sleep - literally. But it's a classy piece of 'product' and will most likely do very well.

Monday, 6 December 2010

UK Box Office 3-5 Dec

Another week, another HARRY POTTER dominated box office. MEGAMIND took a big chunk of that family audience away, and homegrown indie genre flick MONSTERS came in strong at over £2K screen average.


1- HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (£3,723,710) (3 weeks, total £39,129,043)
2- MEGAMIND (£1,913,050) (New)
3- UNSTOPPABLE (£859,201) (2 weeks, total £3,146,342)
4- DUE DATE (£389,875)(5 weeks, total £9,858,564)
5- MONSTERS (£336,390)(New)
6- THE AMERICAN (£283,417)(2 weeks, total £909,972)
7- LONDON BOULEVARD (£253,622)(2 weeks, total £1,059,713)
8- DESPICABLE ME (£136,282)(8 weeks, total £19,585,837)
9- THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (£113,957)(2 weeks, total £418,787)
10- THE WARRIOR'S WAY (£105,132)(New)