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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012


The last year was one of huge personal and professional changes for me, and although change can be painful, it was also necessary and has set me on a new course in many ways.

I started a new job at the Stratford Picturehouse in London, as Business Development Manager, working on consolidating the Picturehouses' position in Stratford in light of the new competition and huge developments happening in East London (Olympics, Westfield, etc). The job has been challenging but hugely educational.

My job at the Dukes continued, and we experienced one of our most succesful years ever, with growing audiences and amazing events, like the Brighton Rock Premiere, the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon Q&A, and great gigs from artists like 65daysofstatic and WHY?.

I also spent a lot of the year travelling to festivals, including the Berlinale in February, the Toulouse Latin American festival, I served on the CICAE jury at the Sarajevo Film Festival, attended the Venice Mostra, and finally the San Sebastian festival. I've become a real festival addict, and in 2012 I'll be re-visiting Berlin, Toulouse, and also reprising my CICAE Jury role, this time at the Vilnius Film Festival in Lithuania. Where else the year will take me is yet unknown.

This blog has taken a back seat in my life, due to lack of time, and also a re-definition of what it's for. The podcast I record with Robert Beames almost every week is the more regular outlet for opinions and rants, and after two years recording it, I think we've actually gotten good at it.

I'll post festival updates and reviews through here, and ocassional pieces if I feel the need. My twitter feed @splendorcinema is pretty active too.

Have a great year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Best of 2011


The year, cinematically, was dominated for me, as for many people, with the release of Terence Malick's long-awaited TREE OF LIFE. Beyond that, traveling to a few amazing festivals (Berlin, Venice, Sarajevo, Toulouse, San Sebastian) afforded me opportunities to see work overlooked or just unreleased in the UK (MARIMBAS FROM HELL for example). My Top 10 might be different if I'd had a chance to see films like WEEKEND, MARGARET, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Fincher's version), A SEPARATION or MONEYBALL. Below the Top 10 is also a list of some runners up in no particular order.

1 - TREE OF LIFE
Any year that includes a Terence Malick film is going to be a good one. This film is pure Malick, distilled, a true expression of all the ideas that percolate throughout his career. It was a moving, beautiful, powerful, astonishing piece of work. Primarily about memory, I cried, laughed and was blown away. Films like this make the word masterpiece easy to use.

2 - MARIMBAS FROM HELL
A gem from Guatemala. Saw this in Toulouse and spent a good part of the year trying to get others to watch it and love it. In a world with hundreds of copycat films, all a replica of something else, a true orginial emerges. Funny and moving, real and staged, intense and light all at once.

3 - WUTHERING HEIGHTS
Andrea Arnold's flawed masterpiece is a giant 'fuck you' to the legion of boring, safe heritage films that constitute the British film 'industry'. Fresh, raw, moving, and in gorgeous 1.33 aspect ratio.

4 - PINA
Wenders' best film in a couple of decades is the best use of 3D up to now in any feature film. A poem to Pina Bausch wrapped in superb stereoscopic set pieces. A landmark in film history.

5 - THE CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS
Watching Herzog's doc alone at The Dukes one morning was one of the most powerful cinematic experiences of my life. With his trademark humour and smart observation, he unravels the origin of art in the medium's latest gimmick: 3D.

6 - THE GUARD
This came as a huge relief, sandwiched between the generic gloom of the Berlinale. A sharp shotgun of a dark comedy with hugely quotable dialogue and Brendan Gleason in his most memorable performance ever. To be re-watched ad nauseum.

7 - HUGO
Martin Scorsese delivers a film history lesson wrapped in a family-friendly package, using 3D technology to drive home the point that cinema itself is the biggest 'gimmick'. Everything THE ARTIST wishes it could be.

8 - WE HAVE A POPE
As a long standing admirer of Nanni Moretti, I was always going to love this, but its a particularly well executed piece of high concept comedy from Italy's answer to Woody Allen. The message being that often stupidity and inefficiency can be as pernicious as pure evil.

9 - BEGINNERS
If you can avoid knee-jerk reactions to the 'quirk' in this film, and embrace its very personal and human story, it's heartbreaking. If you can't, then you have no heart. Ewan McGregor has never been better and Christopher Plummer confirms his status as global treasure.

10 - RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
A surprising entry - I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. Embracing the political allegory of the 1970s Planet movies it delivers a strong action film which never compromises its message or meaning. Can't wait for the sequel.

Amongst my runners-up are Julie Deply's third outing as director, SKYLAB, Chilean romance BONSAI, Woody Allen's light and fluffy MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Asif Kapadia's doc SENNA, Lars Von Trier's depression-as-end-of-world MELANCHOLIA, the hilarious BRIDESMAIDS, Serbian documentary CINEMA KOMUNISTO, Aki Kaurismaki's sweet LE HAVRE, Crialese's beautiful TERRAFERMA and the kick-ass Samurai flick 13 ASSASSINS.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cine-Files


On Tuesday The Guardian's Film website published a review I wrote for their Cine-Files blog, a weekly look at cinemas across the world. My review was for the Amsterdam cinema Kriterion, a beautiful cinema in a city filled with gorgeous cinemas.

Kriterion is at the heart of the film industry in Amsterdam, and everyone I know in that city has worked there at some point or another.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The day we met Mark



Last night, Robert Beames and I recorded a podcast with Mark Kermode, Britain's most popular film critic, who was at the cinema for his book tour. The show was sold out and we didn't have a lot of time, so we were ready for him to be stressed and not very amenable to talking on our little podcast.

We were wrong - he was not only amenable, but went on for longer than we expected, and answered our very non-sycophantic questions with wit and verve. I disagree with almost everything he says (and I told him so on the podcast) but compulsively listen in every week anyway. He does make talking about film, discussing it, and arguing about it, exciting, and although I wish he was paired up with a serious film critic instead of Simon Mayo, I do enjoy it.

His book, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MULTIPLEX is a collection of his most famous thoughts (3D is bad, projectionists are good, multiplexes are bad, indies are good) and I was ready to dismiss it until one of the chapters where he argues for public funding for independent and arthouse cinemas. This is something close to my own heart and I have been arguing for it for years. So it was nice to be confounded by my own expectations.

You can listen on iTunes here: Splendor Cinema Podcast

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

San Sebastian/Donostia Roundup


Sorry for the delayed update but I hit the ground running straight after landing and haven't had a moment free since. Enough excuses. I attended this year's edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival (or Donostia Zinemaldia in Basque) for its 59th edition, as a guest of the CinemaLab programme, which seeks to create better links between European exhibitors and distributors and Latin American films.

It was my first time at this Festival but not my first in San Sebastian, a city not too far from Bilbao, where my father is from and where I attended University many moons ago - essentially I am half Basque.

I was only in town for 3 nights, and had two meetings to attend, so the filmgoing was sparse. But I did get in six films altogether. Four of those were titles from Cinema en Construccion, the movies-in-progress strand of the festival which focuses on Latino films. The quality was high, and I saw real gems. But it's not fair to review unfinished films. The two others were competition features, and both were excellent.

RAMPART, starring Woody Harrelson in an Oscar-worthy performance, is about a corrupt police officer in the infamous Rampart district headquarters of Los Angeles, home to a lot of the evidence-planting, police brutality and other naughty stuff the LAPD was up to. Harrelson, a terrific performer who has been underrated and underused in the past, takes what is a fairly generically-filmed movie and turns it into an epic character study that is complex, funny and terrifying all at once. This will get Awards buzz.

LE SKYLAB is the third feature from actress (and now director) Julie Delpy, best known for BEFORE SUNRISE/SUNSET. A hilarious French family comedy like only the French could produce, it's sprawling, with over 20 speaking parts, all of them performing at top notch level. I saw this in the Teatro Victoria Eugenia, a Belle Epoque palace turned into a cinema for the night, with a 4K projector beaming crisp-clean images onto a giant screen. A fantastic film and an amazing screening experience.

San Sebastian is one of my favorite film festivals (I've been to six this year) because it doesn't have a huge amount of corporate sponsorship, it's situated in an amazing city by the sea, all the venues are within walking distance of each other, and as a class A fest is has access to top notch competition features and juries. Just popping into bars in the Old Town I ran into Catherine Deneuve, Michael Fassbender and Rita Wilson (?!).

This is the end of my Festival tour for the year - it started with the Berlinale in February, and took me to Toulouse in March, Pula/Sarajevo in July, Venice in August and finishing in San Sebastian last week. Now on to focus to my own Festival, the Cinecity Brighton Film Festival, starting 17 Nov!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Venice, Day 5


No matter how much I plan, I always end up on a sleep deficit in Venice. Maybe it's the heat or the screening schedule, but I am struggling to stay awake, particularly when the films are not great.

The surprise film this year was PEOPLE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE SEA, a Chinese feature from Cai Shangjun, a dark and nihilistic violent thriller which is not the usual fare you get from China in the festival circuit. The false fire alarm which interrupted the screening provided some well needed relief from the bleakness. I'm still not sure what I think of the film, but it was certainly very well made.

Francesco convinced me to attend the homage to Armenian documentary filmmaker ARTAVAZD PELESJAN, which included two of his shorts (SEASONS and LIFE) and a documentary about him from an Italian filmmaker, THE SILENCE OF PELESJAN. The original shorts were beautiful, the tribute doc at the end less so. It certainly made me want to seek out his other work.

Gianni Mina is an acclaimed journalist who has traveled to Cuba over the last 30 years, and he has a clear love and affection for the island and the revolution, as I do. So I went into CUBA IN THE AGE OF OBAMA, PART 1 with high expectations. Unfortunately, like the Jonathan Demme doc, the filmmaker let its subject down, with poor camera work, lazy journalism and cloying use of music. A missed opportunity.

Following the international success of THE BAND'S VISIT, Eran Kolirin delivers a boring film about boredom - THE EXCHANGE. Following a university professor as he engages in bizarre behavior with a neighbor, this has moments of humour and originality but ultimately is a short film blown up to feature length.

The buzz on the lido has died off significantly, with screenings half empty and fewer people around in general. You can actually find a seat on a vaporetto! I guess this is the Toronto exodus that happens every year. Perhaps someone needs to reschedule?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Venice, Day 4


In 2009, I saw Todd Solondz’s LIFE DURING WARTIME in Venice and it was my favorite thing that year. So I was understandably excited to see his latest film, DARK HORSE, in competition. It starts off in pure Solondz style, with biting satire of the blandness and crassness of America mixed with genuine affection for the damaged souls he portrays, but ultimately runs out of steam in the second half and becomes almost sentimental in its final minutes, a first for this director. Unlike most of his other films, this one follows only one story as opposed to an ensemble cast of fuck-ups, which perhaps explains the disappointing second half.

Swedish drama PLAY was a gamble, a film we decided to see because of a gap in the schedule. Not knowing anything, we encountered a stylish, formalist piece (the whole film consists of probably no more than 40 static shots) about bullying and petty criminal activity amongst children in Gottenberg, Sweden. It was genuine, tense and thought provoking, but ultimately unsatisfying, as it never seemed to go anywhere.

This highly anticipated film is yet another where I know, as with SHAME, I’ll be at odds with both audiences and critics: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY was an efficient, well acted, tight spy thriller whose existence is caused only by a cynical opportunity to exploit an existing literary property. There is no need for this movie and frankly, I was bored by it. Perhaps I am prejudiced as I have never been a fan of the story to begin with – I find Smiley dull (I know that’s the point) and I never found the tale compelling.

Jonathan Demme does a great disservice to what could have been a heartbreaking masterpiece in I’M CAROLYN PARKER, a documentary about the titular character, a black woman living in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. Her story is the story of thousands of black families who lost their homes and were scattered across the country – but Carolyn stayed behind and slowly rebuilt her home. She is dynamic and funny, but Demme’s shaky, amateur camera and wedding video style techniques betray his lack of effort. Shame.

Andrea Arnold’s version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS couldn’t be more dissimilar: a big, towering masterpiece that should be the template for all English period pieces: unconventional, bold, innovative, brave – and above all, moving. The film reminded me a lot of Malick’s THE NEW WORLD in the way that the love story is intertwined with the natural landscape, and the lack of score is filled by the sounds of the moors – the howling winds, the pouring rain, the dogs and the crickets. This is exactly the kick up the ass a classic like this needs – a necessary, fresh approach. One of my favorite films of the year.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Venice Days 1,2 & 3


My third Mostra in a row, and finally I have some time to watch films. For the past two years I have attended Venice in official capacity as part of the CICAE Art Cinema Management course, and this time, I rocked up just for the movies. Here's a round-up of what I have seen so far:

ALPS is the follow up from DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lathimos, and follows the same twisted logic of that first film, but fails to bottle the same tension the second time around.

David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD is a very un-Cronenberg-like film in its execution, an elegant period piece with a sharp script by Christopher Hampton. Its themes, though, are thoroughly in the vein of the Canadian filmmakers’ oeuvre: sex, violence and psychology. It was enjoyable despite some heavy handed acting from Keira Knightley, complete with dodgy Russian accent.

PERSEPOLIS was one of the most entertaining films of 2009, so I was looking forward to Strapjani’s follow up, CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, a foray into live action with one of the most talented actors around, Matthew Almaric. It was a huge disappointment – sentimental, clich├ęd and very much attempting to pull off a Jeneut-sense of wonder without the skills to do so.

Al Pacino is this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, and he’s brought a film with him: WILD SALOME, an essay-film very much like his directorial debut, LOOKING FOR RICHARD, in which the actor explores the process of putting on Oscar Wilde’s play Salome. It was self-indulgent and had true moments of Spinal Tap-ness about it, but Pacino still has an electric face and voice.

Fassbender is everywhere. Within 24 hours of his turn as Carl Jung, he shows up here in Steve McQueen’s follow up to HUNGER, as an executive with a predilection for prostitutes and porn. SHAME suffers in comparison to HUNGER because of its almost purposefully low-stakes plot, and Carey Mulligan is miscast as his troubled sister. There are a few moments of humour and originality, but overall its just too lightweight and familiar ground.

My favorite film so far has been Emmanuelle Crialese’s TERRAFERMA (pictured), a gentle and straightforward story about a Sicilian island and the struggles of its inhabitants in the age of tourism, dwindling fishing stocks and increasing African immigration. The characters were funny, interesting and real, and the director of THE GOLDEN DOOR has a sharp eye and ear for the Sicilian people and landscape.

Watch this space for more reviews throughout the week.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Sarajevo - Final Day


Yesterday I awarded the CICAE Prize to BREATHING, an Austrian film by first time director Karl Markovics (better known as an actor from COUNTERFEITERS). It's a beautifully engaging film, full of emotions but lacking any sentimentality or cliche. Austere and rigorous in its realisation, it's also surprisingly funny. The story of a 19 year old struggling to reintegrate into society while serving time in a juvenile detention center, it stood out far above all the other films in the competition.

The only other film that was considered for the prize was AMNESTY, an Albanian film which was solid throughout but let itself down with a melodramatic ending and a jarring harmonica score.

All the films in competition were interesting, but if there was one common complaint it was that the stories and scripts were seriously undercooked. Slovenian drama THE TRIP and Croatian drama SPOTS suffered from an amateur style which hampered the best efforts of its young cast. BROKEN MUSSELS, a Turkish attempt at neo-realism, benefited from likable child actors and great locations but lacked real dramatic drive and was clumsy at times. WASTED YOUTH was a PARANOID PARK style Greek feature which featured some fantastic skating footage in Athens but like many of the others, concluded with a over the top ending which made no sense. Finally LOVERBOY was a well-crafted Romanian drama which failed to ignite me emotionally but looked great, and AVE, a very slow Bulgarian film which featured Bruno S's final performance.

My Balkan experience has been fantastic - I've seen some beautiful places, met some wonderful people and spent time with some of my favorite friends. Thanks to Tanja in Pula and to the Sarajevo Film Festival for hosting us. Back to work now.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Sarajevo Day 7


Yesterday was my first day without my fellow Jury members and without any 'homework' cinema to watch, so I scheduled myself for two films I'd been looking forward to seeing for a while, THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD, which Rob Beames saw in Berlin and really liked, and the Dardenne Brothers' THE KID WITH A BIKE, which premiered at Cannes.

THE KID WITH A BIKE was typical of the Dardennes' in that it focused on an underprivileged kid, this time a young boy who's been abandoned by his dad in an orphanage and fostered by a kind hairdresser. A simple, straightforward plot that is executed flawlessly and dramatically. Incredible moving and with unbelievable performances, particularly from the lead.

THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD is directed by Joshua Marston, an American filmmaker, but set in rural Albania, against a backdrop of blood feuds based on centuries-old traditions. The two young leads are non professional actors who give fresh, realistic performances and the story is unusual enough and interesting that you are constantly engaged. Solid all around.

I also went on a 'Mahala' tour of the city, which focused on tightly-knit neighborhood in Sarajevo, usually around a mosque, synagogue, orthodox or catholic church. This really highlighted the incredible multicultural nature of this city, which has embraced people from all faiths and ethnicity for centuries, ages before the modern metropolitan melting pots of today.

Tonight we hand over our awards and tomorrow I'll be able to discuss freely the competition programme.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Sarajevo Day 6


Yesterday we didn't watch anything other than competition films as we had to decide on our winner, which we did in a hotel conference room. It didn't take long, as we were all convinced of the quality of our winner, which is to be announced tomorrow at the awards ceremony.

The whole Sarajevo experience has been amazing and slightly surreal, hanging out at parties with Wim Wenders, breakfast with Bela Tarr, red carpet walks with Michael Fassbender and taxi rides with Ari Folman, the head of the Jury (pictured). The festival has really high profile guests and films while also being small city festival (Sarajevo only has 500,000 inhabitants) so you don't get such a 'VIP' feel as in other festivals.

My jury colleagues Francesco and Ruta departed today but I have the award-giving responsibility for Friday, so I'll stay on and watch a few more films and explore the city.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sarajevo Day 5


It was with great anticipation that we entered the Open Air Screening last night to see Nanni Moretti's latest, HABEMUS PAPA (WE HAVE A POPE), and despite some really poor projection quality (focus and out of rack), the film was hilarious and all 2000 people in attendance were laughing in unison. Unexpectedly, Nanni Moretti himself showed up at the end of the screening for an awkward self-Q&A. He was clearly upset by the poor presentation and seemed baffled that no one was interviewing him on stage.

Earlier we saw French animation A CAT IN PARIS, which, despite a poor DVD presentation, no English subtitles, and Bosnian subtitles that didn't work half the time, at least had beautiful animation.

In the morning we saw two more competition films, BROKEN MUSSELS from Turkey and BREATHING, an Austrian film. Today we see the final two films, LOVERBOY and WASTED YOUTH, and then decide the winner. Prizes are awarded on Friday.

This is my final day with my fellow jurors Francesco and Ruta as they depart early tomorrow morning and I am left alone to hand out the awards. I hope the sun stays out.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sarajevo Day 4


Yesterday we saw another competition film, PLACES, from Croatia. And then we went to the Cinema City multiplex for a screening of the fascinating documentary CINEMA KOMUNIST, the story of the state-funded film industry from the creation of Yugoslavia in 1941 until its fall in 1991. It's an incredible documentary, which details the close personal involvement of the Yugoslavian leader Tito in the film industry, and serves as an in-depth look at life in his time.

It was an early night then as Festival exhaustion caught up with us and we recharged our batteries. Today, four films: two competition features (BREATHING, BROKEN MUSSELS), animation from France CAT IN PARIS and Nanni Moretti's WE HAVE A POPE.

Bigger updates tomorrow!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Sarajevo, Day 3


"There are three things we're known for: killing Franz Ferdinand, the Winter Olympics of '84, and the siege' said our guide, Mohammed, as we set off on a tour of the tunnel built during the war in order to smuggle weapons into the city. Although Sarajevo is now a bustling metropolis, with a world-class film festival, the spectre of the war is on every street, with the scars visible on almost every wall and sidewalk.

From 1992 till 1996 the city was under siege, and 11,000 people were killed from the snipers, shelling and bombing from the Serbian forces. While the complex politics of that conflict still escape me, it was clearly a humanitarian disaster right in the heart of Europe. The Festival started in the middle of that siege, both as defiant gesture and effort to regain normality, and has grown ever since. That gives this film festival a special quality not found elsewhere.

Before we set off on that tour we experienced MELANCHOLIA, Von Trier's latest provocation. The cinema we saw it in was so full, there were dozens of people sitting on the floor and the aisles. Enough to make any health-and-safety conscious cinema manager shudder. But it certainly added a certain 'gig' like atmosphere to the screening. The opening doesn't disappoint - a combination of spectacular cinematography and special effects combined with classic Von Trier family dynamics. But the ambitious storyline and science fiction elements come off the rails in the second half and I was left cold in the end. It seems Von Trier doesn't take his storytelling seriously, and really doesn't have a lot of respect for the audience. Comparisons to TREE OF LIFE are certain to emerge.

We also saw, as part of the competition, AMNESTY, an Albanian feature which, again, I shan't review as I need to judge it. Today, apart from my obligatory competition homework, I'll be watching documentary CINEMA KOMUNISTO, about the Yugoslavian film industry.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sarajevo, Day 2


Yesterday was a film-filled day, as we caught up with our competition programme homework and saw two of the eight we have to judge. First off was THE TRIP, a Slovenian debut about three high school friends who reunite for a trip to the seaside. Then we saw AVE, from Bulgaria, another first feature.I won't really review the competition films here as we have to award a prize and it just wouldn't be right.

In the strictly fun category we saw Argentinian film LAS ACACIAS, from first time director (a lot of those here) Pablo Giorgelli, and I can tell you what I think about it: it's fantastic. A small, gentle two-hander that takes place almost entirely in the cabin of a truck, it features a very endearing baby and top notch performances from the leads.

We also popped into the KRITERION cinema, which is an offshoot of its namesake in Amsterdam, a wonderful, student-run venue that is a source of much of the most talented Dutch distributors and exhibitors. We had dinner with the other Juries, the Festival Director and Bela Tarr, who is presenting Turin Horse here.

Sarajevo is a city pulsating with a raw energy that you can feel everywhere, from the hard partying on the streets to the wee hours, to the men playing life-sized chess in the square and shouting like it was football, to the fresh memory of the siege with bullet holes in almost every building. A very special place.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Goodbye Pula, Hello Sarajevo


Yesterday we arrived in Sarajevo after three very relaxing nights in Pula, Croatia, where my friend Tanja Milicic runs the fantastic PULA FILM FESTIVAL, which provided us with the unique experience of seeing the latest HARRY POTTER film under the stars in a Roman Arena with about 8,000 people. But it was a strictly pleasure, not business trip, and the serious work begins in Sarajevo, where my friends Francesco, Ruta an I are the CICAE Jury members for the SARAJEVO FILM FESTIVAL.

CICAE, faithful readers will recall, is the international network of arthouse cinemas to which the Dukes belongs and who organised the Venice training I attended in 2009. Our job is to give the award to a film that will then be promoted by the network, and help its chances of reaching more cinemas. We're the 'junior' jury if you like, and live below the main festival jury, which is headed by filmmkaer Ari Folman (WALTZ WITH BASHIR).

After an 11 hour train journey from Zagreb, we rolled in just in time for opening night film, Aki Kaurismaki's LE HAVRE. The film was essential Kaurismaki, with his unique way of staging performances and delivering deadpan laughs while saying a lot about the human condition, and immigration politics too. We were then whisked to the opening night party, where we brushed with Wim Wenders (in town for a 3D panel discussion) and the American ambassador (?).

More posts to follow as the days go - on top of the competition films, I am really looking forward to seeing Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA, Tarr's TURIN HORSE, Moretti's WE HAVE A POPE and other surprises I am sure we'll encounter.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

THE TREE OF LIFE


Terrence Malick is a director whose work I anticipate the way some people anticipate having children or getting married. It's a huge event for me, and because they come so infrequently, it makes it even more exciting when they finally arrive. THE TREE OF LIFE has now finally opened after much wrangling about its release date (ICON were originally meant to be the distributors, before they breached their contract, some say on purpose, and then Fox picked it up), and I have now seen it twice.

It's already my favorite film of the year, one that affected me emotionally above all and then hit me on many technical and 'film geek' levels too. It's an incredible experience, a transcendental, ambitious, epic masterpiece that deserves to be seen on the big screen. I understand it's not for everyone. But if you get it, it'll devastate you.

Rob Beames and I recorded a podcast about it (his opinion on the film is a lot less enthusiastic than mine) and we were joined by ocassional guest Craig Munro, who sits somewhere in between our opinions. You can subscribe and listen on iTunes here.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

ICO Cultural Exhibition Course, Day 5: The End


Yesterday was the final day in the ICO Cultural Exhibition Course and we finished with an overview of the marketplace and looking towards the future.

To this end, we had a panel discussion titled ‘The Way Forward for Cultural Cinema” with Eddie Berg (pictured), Artistic Director of the BFI, Ed Fletcher, from Soda Pictures, and Ian Christie, respected film historian and Vice-President of Europa Cinemas. It started with Ian’s presentation, which in true academic style, delivered no strong opinions, but asked a lot of questions; good questions. “Does film education translate into cinema admissions?” “Will alternative content spell the end of arthouse cinema?”

Ed Fletcher, never a man to withhold his opinions, presented the antithesis of Ian’s own talk with a strong rant about the difficult arthouse market, placing a lot of the blame for things at exhibitors door. He pointed to the change in ownership of many of the main exhibitors as an explanation for what he sees increasingly commercial programming. I found his talk quite condescending and arrogant, but a lot of that might have to do with his own personality.

Eddie Berg followed with a very different approach. He speaks in the way that people in very senior executive positions do, in small sentences that are loaded with meaning, a very logical (and some would say dry) and circular way that you really have to focus to get your head around. He talked about three different venues, the Bell Light box in Toronto, the Eye in Amsterdam and the American Museum of Moving Image in New York. He then explained the BFI’s own plans for a National Film Centre and the balance between the need for a monolithic center and the lack of regional film centers and even screens.

After our break we presented our fictional projects to the class, but I think fatigue had set in, especially as we were locked in the awful basement spaces all day with no air. The class looked a bit ragged and was aching for our final drinks, which followed in the studio space upstairs.

Overall, I think that given my master’s degree and my experience in Venice, I didn’t get as much out of this course as some of the others, but I met some fantastic people and witnessed some lively debates about the industry in the UK. I was also trying to gather as much info and contacts ahead of my new job in Stratford, which starts next week.

We need more, not less exhibitor training, so I hope that Skillset continue to support this important work in the future and there is a Cultural Exhibition Course in 2012.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

ICO Cultural Exhibition Course, Day 4


Today was all about marketing and PR and we kicked off with a talk by Julia Short, former MD for Verve Pictures. She presented a case study of how they handled the release of THE ARBOR. She was terrifically candid, with many of the best things she said preceded by “I really shouldn’t tell you this”, which is exactly the kind of thing the trainees are looking for. Some of the best anecdotes came from her time at Polygram, when too much money was paid for mediocre films (MULHOLLAND FALLS, anyone?).

After that Clare Wilford, a freelance publicist who has worked on our own CINECITY Film Festival, outlined her ‘rules of the game’ when it came to generating press coverage and interest in your event/venue/festival. Her approach is very straight-forward and rooted in real-life experience. I attended a course with Clare some years ago and although it was familiar territory, it reminded me of some fundamentals.

The post-lunch slot was a workshop on solving fictional press problems, with a Ken Russell retrospective being my group’s homework. Somehow we ended up proposing that staff dress as nuns. Don’t ask.

Finally, the groups formed yesterday to workshop the course’s project reunited and we started working on our fictional programming exercise, which is a lot of fun because it’s basically just a group of smart, film-literate people brainstorming fun programming, marketing and event ideas. Something I usually do in my own head.

After class I popped into the BFI Filmstore and picked up an Eisenstein box set (yesterday I bought Ballad of a Soldier and Destiny of Man, two other Soviet classics) – thank goodness the course is over tomorrow or I would spend too much money.

Tomorrow: Ed Flechter from Soda Pictures discusses the future of cultural cinema, and we present our homework!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

ICO Cultural Exhibition, Day 3


Our third day on the course brought an area that perhaps is my weakest link: short, archive and moving image films. I’m a feature guy. We’ve shown some of these things in the past at the Dukes, mostly because of our relationship with the Screen Archive South East. Frank Gray, the archive director and also co-director of our Cinecity Film Festival, was here today to talk – and as always he was engaging and very non-didactic. Sue Porter, from the Moving Image Archive for Central England, made the somewhat arguable claim that “archive film has never been sexier”.

Then followed perhaps the juiciest bit of the day: Sandra Hebron, the director of the London Film Festival, pulled the curtain on how the UK’s largest international film festival is put together. What I didn’t realize is how much the LFF relies on sponsorship money: 50% of its budget. She then described the ‘arduous’ task of traveling the world’s best film festivals scouting for films all year long. The feeling in the room was not one I would describe as pity. One of the most interesting things she said was that the UK culture was undergoing a ‘festivalisation’, not just in film, but literature, music and art.

Mark Cosgrove from Watershed joined the discussion halfway through and described how the Encounters Short Film Festival was created and where it stands now. He resents the thematisation of programming and described his approach as ‘pix n’mix”.

We were then moved into the basement for a talk with Adam Pugh, former director of the AURORA animation festival in Norwich who derisorily described Cinema City as ‘conventional’ which didn’t impress a City Screen man like me. Straight afterwards we were ushered into NFT3 for a screening of short films. Apart from the first two films, The Anthem by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Guest of Honor by Miguel Calderon, every single one of the films confirmed all my prejudices about artist moving image and short films.

Things got practical after that: we’ve been broken up into groups and have some workshop homework to do. That’s always the best part about any course like this because you get to know your cohort and become animated and inspired.

Tomorrow it’s all about marketing and PR. Stay tuned!

Culural Exhibition, Day 2


Our second day kicked off with one of my main areas of interest: audience development. David Sin walked us through the basics, and I took advantage and tried to gather as much knowledge as I could in advance of the new challenges we’ll be facing in Stratford. He underlined the importance of market research and audience surveys, which I think should be at the heart of any venue’s work. Being audience-led is key.

Gaylene Gould (pictured) joined us for a talk on Cultural Diversity, a topic that makes most people’s eyes roll because it has become synonymous with public policy talk, and often is not rooted in real work and/or results. But Gaylene brought a fresh and smart approach which made us gasp and laugh in equal measures. “Film, of all art forms, I find is the most bigoted and the most racist.” She said, right before I asked how to connect with black audiences in East London. She gave me some top notch pointers. “For starters, if you’re whole team looks like you, you’re in trouble.” Noted.

Then we had very interesting panels on accessing disabled audiences, young people and children. Cathy Poole from the Curzon in Clevedon showed us an amusing home video which revealed that they have the same exact ancient ticket machine (AUTOMATIC) that we have! This session also gave us one of my favorite quotes of the day, courtesy of Martin Grund from Leeds Young People’s Festival: “you wouldn’t expect the world to only read books from one city in one country” on Hollywood’s film dominance.

The last session for the day was the distributor’s perspective: Dave Jarmain from Universal (my favorite major), Matt Smith from Lionsgate and Colin Burch from Verve. They outlined their business models and then we got on to the juicy stuff: distributors versus exhibitors. While they bemoaned the existence of windows, I pointed out that flexibility is needed both ways, specially when asking for all shows for weeks at a time. As always when you pit these two groups together, it gets fun, tense and “a little passive aggressive” as another trainee mentioned.

We finished off with a tour of the Roxy Bar and Screen near Bourough Market, an innovative and cool venue which, as it names suggests, is a bar first and a screen second. The owner and manager Phil Wood was a gracious host and apparently is a reader of this blog. Hi Phil!

Tomorrow, on Cultural Exhibition: Programming shorts, archive, festivals, moving image…

Monday, 23 May 2011

ICO Cultural Exhibition Course, Day 1


Today was the beginning of the Independent Cinema Office’s Cultural Exhibition Course, held at the BFI Southbank. It runs till Friday, and I’ll be tweeting (via @splendorcinema) and blogging about it.

After a basic outline of the ins and outs of exhibition and distribution from the ICO’s David Sin (who was best when he went off script and told us the implications of the European Court case of pub landlady versus Sky), we had an interesting talk from Julie Pierce, Head of Programme Planning for the BFI.

As a massive fan of the BFI’s retrospectives and seasons, it was fascinating to hear how they put the programme together, with some of the seasons (like Godard) taking up to two years to research and book. They have 9 programmers for 4 screens, which is a luxurious amount of staff, and which allows them to put on such magnificent films.

Then we had an amusing presentation from Richard Boyd, Technical Manager at the BFI, who again, amazed us with the ridiculous amount of resources this venerable institution (rightly) has: £200,000 spent recently on two film projectors, and weekly testing of all equipment. Interesting to hear that the BFI Southbank has the only public license in the UK to screen nitrate film, a very flammable (and familiar to anyone who’s seen Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds) and dangerous substance that hasn’t been used in film prints for 60 years.

After some lunch, former Dukes programmer and friend Jason Wood (now head of programming at Curzon) joined Tracey Hyde from Saffron Screen for a panel on programming. Jason is always a funny, engaging speaker, and he knows his stuff. He outlines some of the ambitious plans Curzon has in store: putting other distributor’s films on their On Demand service, programming the Cornerhouse in Manchester, opening new Curzon sites in University towns across the UK, and also their recent acquisitions in Cannes: Artificial Eye (Curzon’s sister company) will be distributing the Von Trier, the Dardennes, the Kaurismaki, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. That’s an impressive lineup.

Some of Jason’s pearls of wisdom for the day: “There’s a danger that cinema will become alternative content”. And “A Judi Dench film means an onslaught of comfortable shoes” and when talking about the danger of losing young audiences to On Demand: “ There’s no audience to be lost, cause they’re not there”.

We finished the day with an interesting panel on non-theatrical exhibition, which included the Flatpack Festival, the ‘open-source’ Star and Shadow venue in Newcastle and the Slough Film Society (which is apparently filled with Communists!).

Next, on Cultural Exhibition: Audience Development. Cutural Diversity, Programming for children and the distributor’s perspective!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eastbound and Up


Last week I was offered a new position as Business Development Manager at the Stratford Picturehouse in East London. I'll be working there three days a week, retaining my General Manager job at the Dukes.

It's an exciting new challenge, one I have been waiting for. I love the Duke of York's Picturehouse and I remain devoted to its success, but it's time to take on new ventures, and develop as a manager.

The Stratford Picturehouse opened in August 1997, and is a very interesting purpose-built building which now sits right next door to the 2012 Olympic Site. My job is help build new audiences and revenues for the cinema, which faces some new competition.

My entries on this blog will become even less frequent, and I'll probably take a break from it until I attend the Pula and Sarajevo Film Festival in July. Until then, happy moviegoing!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Terrence Malick Pantheon


A couple of days back Rob and I sat down to record one of our now legendary Pantheon podcasts, where we look at one single director that we both love and place them in the pantheon of all time greats. That was an easy task with Terrence Malick, whom I consider one of the all-time and living best directors out there. Rob was less familiar with his work, but quickly caught up and shared (most) of my enthusiasm. We also had a lot of speculation and comments on the ongoing drama with the release of TREE OF LIFE, hopefully coming to a cinema near you soon. But why read about it here in boring words and stuff, when you can listen to it on our podcast:

Splendor Cinema Podcast 55: Terrence Malick

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Newer, Slimmer Splendor


I've decided to stop posting the box office figures on Monday. I started posting them a couple of years ago, and at that time no one else posted the Top 10 on a Monday morning. About a year ago, Charles Gant started his really well written column in the Guardian where he breaks down the week's releases by numbers on Tuesdays. Now IMDB.co.uk also posts the figures on a Monday, so the purpose of the posts (to provide industry with a top 10 with some analysis) is being covered by others.

In fact, my whole relationship to this blog has changed recently as my workload increases. I post a lot less, and I am sorry for those regular readers. I will still post reports from Festivals, and when something in the industry happens that grabs my attention you will hear from me.

I spend a lot more time on Twitter these days, posting from the cinema's account: @Dukeofyorks and my own: @splendorcinema. The podcast is still going strong, now 53 episodes in, and you can download that on iTunes or at the Picturehouse website.

Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Toulouse Roundup


Last week I attended the Cine Latino Film Festival in Toulouse, France. It's an annual showcase of the best in Latin American cinema, one of the biggest in the world. I attended as a guest of the CINEMA EN CONSTRUCCION strand, which is a competition for unifinished films looking for post-production money.

The Festival is very relaxed, laid back, and the beer is cheap. The anti-Cannes, if you will. Lots of directors from Latin America fly in and the atmosphere is positively latino. Last year I attended as part of the CINE SIN FRONTERAS (now CINEMALAB) programme, with the CINE ESTELI project.

I saw seven films in two days, including opener from Argentina ROMPECABEZAS, a tired collection of cliches about a woman who obsesses over puzzles (the title of the film). Not a great beginning. This was a finished film which competed the year before for the CONSTRUCCION prize.

Another finished film I saw was LAS MARIMBAS DEL INFIERNO, from Guatemala, which can only be described as Central America's answer to ANVIL, about a poor marimba player who joins a heavy metal band. This is one of the best films I have seen all year: moving, hilarious, beautifully shot. A real original crowd pleaser, and made in the docu-drama style of ALAMAR.



I won't bore you with the collection of unfinished films because it's not really fair to review something which doesn't even have a sound design, but suffice to say, most were done in the 'slow cinema' style that has completely taken over all festivals worldwide, and they bored me to death. Except one: BONSAI, a Chilean film from Cristian Jimenez (pictured), a director from Valdivia (where I was last year), also produced by Bruno Bettati, a friend and director of the Valdivia Festival. BONSAI, as I tweeted, was like 500 DAYS OF SUMMER with a PhD in Proust. As the director himself sais before the screening, it's a film about love, books and plants. It's also gorgeously shot (in Valdivia and Santiago), well acted, cleverly written and genuinely erudite in its use of literary references (a cat is called Gogol). It should be a festival hit and might even be a minor commercial success in selected territories. This film won the Best Film Prize at the Construccion competition, which ensures its post-production and distribution in France (TONY MANERO was a previous winner).

Monday, 28 March 2011

UK Box Office 25-27 March

Replicating its debut in the US, LIMITLESS takes the number one spot with a healthy screen average. Although out of the Top 10, Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (distributed by Picturehouse Entertainment, the Dukes' sister company) opened with the second largest screen average (over £3k) of any film out. With only 23 sites, it grossed over £100K. Not a bad beginning to the 3D arthouse revolution.

1- LIMITLESS (£2,078,211)(New)
2- THE EAGLE (£1,036,688)(New)
3- A TURTLE'S TALE (£1,119,577)(New)
4- RANGO (£669,250) (4 weeks, total £5,890,532)
5- UNKNOWN (£476,260)(4 weeks, total £5,358,987)
6 -BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (£427,388)(3 weeks, total £4,270,480)
7- ANUVAHOOD (£391,812)(2 weeks, total £1,207,454)
8- CHALET GIRL (£339,328)(2 weeks total £1,305,404)
9- THE LINCOLN LAWYER (£323,163) (2 weeks, total £1,273,691)
10-HALL PASS (£303,699)(£2,609,822)

Monday, 21 March 2011

UK Box Office 18-20 Mar

The overall box office is significantly down as spring kicks in, scaring the hell out of exhibitors who've had a great first quarter. All the new entries failed to ignite ticket sales, including high profile Matthew 'shirtless' McCougnaghey vehicle THE LINCOLN LAWYER which was outgrossed by CHALET GIRL.

1-RANGO (£1,044,696)(3 WEEKS, TOTAL £5,020,115)
2-BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (£874,199) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,453,441)
3-UNKNOWN (£775,258)(3 WEEKS, TOTAL £4,492,646)
4-CHALET GIRL (£681,405)(NEW)
5-THE LINCOLN LAWYER (£571,833)(NEW)
6-HALL PASS (£554,444)(2 WEEKS TOTAL £1,991,478)
7-ANUVAHOOD (£536,815)(NEW)
8-THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (£532,655)(11 WEEKS, TOTAL £4,094,452)
9-THE KING'S SPEECH (£349,836) (11 WEEKS, TOTAL £44,011,080)
10- A TURTLE'S TALE (£324,545)(NEW)

Monday, 14 March 2011

UK Box Office 11-13 March

New entry WAR OF THE WORLDS-esque BATTLE: LOS ANGELES takes the top spot with a solid if unimpressive 1.7 million. The other two new releases in the top 10, HALL PASS & FAIR GAME fail to attract much of an audience. THE KING'S SPEECH, at its lowest position ever on this chart, clocks another 700K into its mountain of cash.

1- BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (£1,790,894)(NEW)
2- RANGO (£1,536,888)(2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,612,765)
3- UNKNOWN (£1,037,502) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,157,009)
4- THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (£910,729)(2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,080,931)
5- HALL PASS (£899,280)(NEW)
6- THE KING'S SPEECH (£689,299)(10 WEEKS, TOTAL £43,256,669)
7- PAUL (£559,411) (4 WEEKS, TOTAL £13,230,514)
8- GNOMEO AND JULIET (£551,802)(4 WEEKS, TOTAL £14,744,764)
9- FAIR GAME (£302,704)(NEW)
10- WEST IS WEST (£248,424)(3 WEEKS, TOTAL £2,091,615)

Monday, 7 March 2011

UK Box Office 4-6 March

PIRATES collaborators Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp took top spot with animated (and 2D) flick RANGO, with solid but not spectacular results. Matt Damon, in one of two films out bearing his name (the other being INSIDE JOB, no. 25 on the chart) hit the second spot with the hard-to-market BUREAU. Incredibly, THE KING'S SPEECH is still within the top 5, and has now a lifetime gross of £42 million. This exceeds Charles Gant's predictions - could it become the no. 2 film of all time at the UK box office?

1- RANGO (£1,629,345) (New)
2- THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (£1,392,625)(New)
3- UNKNOWN (£1,350,247)(New)
4- PAUL (£1,107,407)(3 weeks, total £12,204,690)
5- THE KING'S SPEECH (£1,072,130)(9 weeks, total £41,924,349)
6- GNOMEO & JULIET (£834,888)(4 weeks, total £14,067,243)
7- I AM NUMBER FOUR (£498,352)(2 weeks, total £2,590,583)
8- TRUE GRIT (£461,697)(4 weeks, total £7,472,755)
9- WEST IS WEST (£453,493) (2 weeks, total £1,620,958)
10- YOGI BEAR (£433,748)(4 weeks, total £8,215,536)

Monday, 28 February 2011

Uk Box Office 25-27 Feb

Half term holidays meant that GNOMEO & JULIET climbed back to the top of the charts, wiht other family titles still playing strong. Eight weeks after release, and with four Oscars in the bag, THE KING'S SPEECH is the film playing in most theatres across the UK. New openers failed to ignite interest.

1- GNOMEO AND JULIET (£2,497,665) (3 WEEKS, TOTAL £12,885,321)
2- PAUL (£2,079,226) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £10,146,390)
3- YOGI BEAR (£1,463,297)(3 WEEKS, TOTAL £7,630,225)
4- TANGLED (£1,351,039)(5 WEEKS, TOTAL £19,150,591)
5- THE KING'S SPEECH (£1,207,962)(8 WEEKS, TOTAL £39,850,418)
6- I AM NUMBER FOUR (£1,628,522)(NEW)
7- BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (£993,484)(2 WEEKS, TOTAL £4,079,795)
8- TRUE GRIT (£862,259)(3 WEEKS, TOTAL £6,426,423)
9- NO STRINGS ATTACHED (£978,974) (NEW)
10- WEST IS WEST (£753,698)(NEW)

Monday, 21 February 2011

UK Box Office 18-20 Feb

UNIVERSAL will be pleased with the very strong opening of PAUL, which despite a terrible poster and trailer scooped up £5.5 million, in an incredibly competitive chart. The overall box office is very healthy and will only get better as we approach half-term, with lots of family-friendly fare on offer. Bieber-mania fails to make a splash. The King's Speech continues its inexorable march towards world domination (and after winning all the Oscars, we'll be talking about it here for weeks to come.)

1- PAUL (£5,511,325) (NEW)
2- GNOMEO & JULIET (£2,216,219) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £6,355,211)
3- THE KING'S SPEECH (£1,679,683) (7 WEEKS, TOTAL £37,122,370)
4- TRUE GRIT (£1,463,170) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £4,553,805)
5- YOGI BEAR (£1,366,965)(2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,858,744)
6- TANGLED (£1,291,618) (4 WEEKS, TOTAL £15,343,329)
7- BIG MOMMA'S: LIKE FATHER LIKE SON (£1,430,789)(NEW)
8- JUST GO WITH IT (£1,236,916) (2 WEEKS, TOTAL £3,766,221)
9- JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER (£817,894)(NEW)
10- BLACK SWAN (£692,531)(5 WEEKS, TOTAL £14,277,888)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Berlinale Roundup


Yesterday I returned from Berlin where I spent a week at the Berlinale, my second visit. Last year I blogged that the festival was a real downer in both tone and content, with a dominance of slow cinema, and frankly, unremarkable films. I thought it might have been an off year, but 2011 was yet another collection of mostly dour movies (with some exceptions, which I will talk about further ahead.)

This year I was there with two colleagues from the cinema, Rob Beames (Dukes staff member and writer for Obsessed with Film, Picturehouse Blog and his own, Beames on Film) and with Duty Manager Carina Volkes. You can listen to a podcast we all recorded together in Berlin at iTunes or at the Picturehouse website. Another podcast shall be recorded next week with a roundup of the festival.

One of the biggest stories at this year's festival is the presence of so many 3D features, many by acclaimed arthouse filmmakers: Wim Wenders' PINA, Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS and Ocelot's TALES OF THE NIGHT being the three highest profile ones. This festival may mark a new beginning in the use of 3D outside of the blockbuster genre, as acclaimed filmmakers take on this new tool and apply it in unusual ways. Wenders has created a revolutionary performance piece with PINA, pushing the medium to maximum effect - I still haven't seen the Herzog, but we're installing 3D at The Dukes in order to screen it. Picturehouse Entertainment, a division of City Screen, our parent company, is distributing it in the UK and many of the cinemas in the group are installing 3D equipment ahead of this release. I believe this is a game-changing moment for the arthouse scene and 3D in this country, and eventually, in Europe.

Other highlights in the festival included THE GUARD, a hilarious comedy with Brendan Gleeson as a corrupt, perverse Irish cop; MAMA AFRICA, a documentary about Miriam Makeba, and THE DAY IS DONE, an experimental moving image project from Switzerland; and sitting next to Isabella Rossellini at the Bergman reception.

Monday, 7 February 2011

UK Box Office 4-6 Feb

The chart is largely unchanged from last week, with Disney's TANGLED and Momentum's THE KING'S SPEECH holding the top two spots. New entries included James Cameron's latest 3D venture, SANCTUM, which had a decent debut. BRIGHTON ROCK opened with nearly £3k screen average, not bad for a film with a negative critical reception. Almost 10% of that gross came from Brighton, where audiences flocked to see themselves on the big screen. THE FIGHTER comes out punching above its weight at number three. RABBIT HOLE debuted at number 20, the single Oscar nomination not being sufficient to boost its box office.

1- TANGLED (£4,551,739) (2 weeks, total £10,724,869)
2- THE KING'S SPEECH (£2,727,445) (5 weeks, total £29,993,376)
3- THE FIGHTER (£2,107,277) (New)
4- BLACK SWAN (£1,719,895) (3 weeks, total £10,638,321)
5- SANCTUM (£857,961) (New)
6- THE MECHANIC (£532,238)(2 weeks, total £1,936,562)
7- A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN (£442,098) (New)
8- GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (£394,607)(6 weeks, total £14,913,487)
9- BRIGHTON ROCK (£336,617) (New)
10- GREEN HORNET (£302,167) (4 weeks, total £5,422,401)

Monday, 31 January 2011

UK Box Office 28-30 Jan

Disney shows it still dominates the family market with a spectacular opening for TANGLED, buoyed by 3D ticket prices and the lack of animation or child-friendly product out there. A superb £11k screen average. THE KING'S SPEECH shows no signs of letting up on its fourth week, with minimal drop in takings. Of the new releases, only macho actioneer THE MECHANIC showed any power, with HEREAFTER & HOW DO YOU KNOW? limping out of the gate. BIUTIFUL and BARNEY'S VERSION did OK business for arthouses.


1- TANGLED (£5,095,736) (New)
2- THE KING'S SPEECH (£3,623,234)(4 weeks, £24,894,347)
3- BLACK SWAN (£2,563,245) (2 weeks, total £7,299,437)
4- THE MECHANIC (£919,366) (New)
5- THE DILEMMA (£669,367) (2 weeks, total £2,292,011)
6- THE GREEN HORNET (£655,628) (3 weeks, total £4,909,200)
7- HEREAFTER (£598,686) (New)
8- GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (£581,849) (5 weeks, total £14,453,679)
9- 127 HOURS (£408,585)(4 weeks, total £6,604,451)
10- HOW DO YOU KNOW? (£374,340) (New)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations were announced just over an hour ago, and no big surprises were revealed, with THE KING'S SPEECH leading the way with twelve nods, including Best Picture, Actor and Director. THE SOCIAL NETWORK picked up ten nominations and TRUE GRIT eight. Nice to see WINTER"S BONE on the Best Picture list.

The full list:

BEST PICTURE

TRUE GRIT
THE FIGHTER
TOY STORY 3
INCEPTION
THE KING'S SPEECH
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
WINTER'S BONE
BLACK SWAN
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
127 HOURS

BEST DIRECTOR

DAVID FINCHER
DAVID O. RUSSELL
DARREN ARONOFSKY
TOM HOOPER
JOEL & ETHAN COEN

BEST ACTOR

COLIN FIRTH
JAVIER BARDEM
JESSE EISENBERG
JAMES FRANCO
JEFF BRIDGES

BEST ACTRESS

ANNETTE BENNING
NICOLE KIDMAN
JENNIFER LAWRENCE
NATALIE PORTMAN
MICHELLE WILLIAMS

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

CHRISTIAN BALE
JOHN HAWKES
JEREMY RENNER
MARK RUFFALLO
GEOFFREY RUSH

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

AMY ADAMS
HELENA BONHAM CARTER
MELISSA LEO
HAILEE STANFIELD
JACKI WEAVER

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
TOY STORY 3
THE ILLUSIONIST

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

DOGTOOTH (GREECE)
BIUTIFUL (MEXICO)
OUTSIDE THE LAW (ALGERIA)
INCENDIES (CANADA)
IN A BETTER WORLD (DENMARK)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

TOY STORY 3
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
127 HOURS
WINTER'S BONE
TRUE GRIT

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

ANOTHER YEAR
THE FIGHTER
INCEPTION
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
THE KING'S SPEECH

Monday, 24 January 2011

Uk Box Office 21-23 Jan

The phenomenon that is THE KING'S SPEECH rolls on with no signs of letting up. As Oscar time approaches, the buzz will become a fever and then, presumably, an epidemic. Its weekend gross was only very slightly down from last week's, showing the legs the film has. In any other week, BLACK SWAN's opening would have been a number one spot (specially with a near £8K screen average). High concept and star driven films THE DILEMMA and MORNING GLORY fail miserably, proving that churning out generic product only works if you have a recognisable property attached to it. N.E.D.S. had a robust opening with nearly £4K screen average, third highest average in the top 10.


1- THE KING'S SPEECH (£4,193,961) (3 weeks, total £18,272,615)
2- BLACK SWAN (£2,704,406) (New)
3- GREEN HORNET (£1,187,393) (2 weeks, total £3,830,737)
4- THE DILEMMA (£1,101,561) (New)
5- GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (£986,918) (4 weeks, total £13,726,584)
6- 127 HOURS (£803,929) (3 weeks, total £5,799,821)
7- LITTLE FOCKERS (£684,926) (5 weeks, total £18,250,519)
8- MORNING GLORY (£524,072)(New)
9- HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (£339,940)(10 weeks, total £51,850,426)
10- N.E.D.S.(£281,855)(New)

Monday, 17 January 2011

UK Box Office

Momentum was popping champagne as THE KING'S SPEECH conquered the box office for a second weekend in a row, this time with even an even higher gross and screen average. With a Golden Globe in the bag, and Oscars surely on their way, this film has 'legs' and could run for months. Many arthouse cinemas across the country were also celebrating in-house box office records (including the Dukes), wishing there were more adult crossover hits like these.

1- THE KING'S SPEECH (£4,390,184) (2 weeks, total £10,739,800)
2- THE GREEN HORNET (£1,876,030) (New)
3- 127 HOURS (£1,339,954) (2 weeks, total £4,364,963)
4- GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (£1,247,401) (3 weeks, total £12,490,712)
5- LITTLE FOCKERS (£1,219,165) (4 weeks, total £17,154,981)
6- LOVE & OTHER DRUGS (£603,513) (3 weeks, total £4,689,964)
7- THE NEXT THREE DAYS (£538,118) (2 weeks, total £1,997,035)
8- HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (£529,785) (9 weeks, total £51,325,438)
9- CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF DAWN TREADER (£407,421) (6 weeks, total £13,547,819)
10- TRON LEGACY (£330,423) (5 weeks, total £9,753,146)

Golden Globes


In a foreshadowing of what is to come at the Oscars, THE SOCIAL NETWORK swept all the top categories at this year's Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Colin Firth, unsurprisingly, took the top Actor prize, and Natalie Portman Best Actress. Here's the full list:

BEST PICTURE, DRAMA
The Social Network

BEST PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
The Kids Are All Right

ACTOR, DRAMA
Colin Firth - The King's Speech

ACTRESS, DRAMA
Natalie Portman - The Black Swan

ACTRESS, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right

ACTOR, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Paul Giamatti - Barney's Version

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Toy Story 3

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In A Better World (Denmark)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, MOTION PICTURE
Melissa Leo - The Fighter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, MOTION PICTURE
Christian Bale - The Fighter

BEST DIRECTOR, MOTION PICTURE
David Fincher - The Social Network

BEST SCREENPLAY, MOTION PICTURE
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE, MOTION PICTURE
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross - The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SONG, MOTION PICTURE
"You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me" - Burlesque

Monday, 10 January 2011

UK Box Office 7-9 Jan

This weekend British cinema triumphed with the universally acclaimed THE KING'S SPEECH, which boosted the fortunes of arthouse cinemas who'd been waiting for a hit this size for ages. 127 HOURS, although less seismic, also helped out specialised cinemas with a solid £5,261 per screen opening figure. Star vehicles for Crowe and Cage fail to capture anyone's attention.

1- THE KING'S SPEECH (£3,523,011)(New)
2- 127 HOURS (£2,166,828)
3- LITTLE FOCKERS (£1,798,670)(3 weeks, total £15,282,285)
4- GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (£1,554,255)(2 weeks, total £10,881,578)
5- THE NEXT THREE DAYS (£1,046,300)(New)
6- LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (£805,621)(2 weeks, total £3,583,900)
7- HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (£710,181)(8 weeks, total £
8- TRON LEGACY (£639,903)(4 weeks, total £9,072,983)
9- CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF DAWN TREADER (£618,726)(total £12,973,840)
10-SEASON OF THE WITCH (£559,766)(New)