Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gorgeous new images from Ang Lee's Life of Pi

Today marks the release of a film they said could never be adapted. Based on Yann Martel's incredible Man Booker prize-winning novel, Life of Pi has been turned into a cinematic masterpiece with Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan playing Pi at different ages. Directed by Ang Lee, the film also stars Rafe Spall.

To celebrate the film's release, here are some gorgeous new stills from the film. Click to enlarge.

Check out the book vs film for Life of Pi here and make sure you experience this incredible adaptation on the big screen and in 3D while you can. It will take you on one hell of a journey!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Books of 2012: My Highlights

A lot of great books hit the shelves in 2012. Some highly-anticipated novels left many readers underwhelmed, while other quiet debuts proved that you don't have to have a well-known name to write a quality piece of fiction. 2012 also saw the welcome return of much-loved author Marian Keyes and brought British expat Jane Green briefly back to her native England.

This year, Young Adult fiction became my new favourite genre. Having adored the imagination and complexity of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, I had been searching for something to fill that void. The release of the Hunger Games film earlier in the year sent me to the book trilogy and I managed to devour all three in a very short space of time. It was similar in plot to that of Battle Royale (one of my favourite films!) but it brought a sick reality TV element that made it all the more sinister in its glamour. The Suzanne Collins trilogy was simply the beginning of my YA enjoyment this year though, with an impressive debut from Louisa Reid and a dramatic change in style from world-renowned author Jodi Picoult.

Firstly, Reid's dark book Black Heart Blue blew me away. There is nothing worse than finding something written for teenagers that is filled with a patronising attitude and simplicity - as if they are incapable of grasping anything more. There is none of that here as Reid deals with abuse, neglect and disability with grace and intelligence. The book, about the twin left behind after the death of her beautiful, more socially accepted, sister, is heartbreaking but gripping in its style. An eye-opener that promises more exciting work from an immensely talented author.

Completely different in style to Black Heart Blue, Picoult teamed up with her teenage daughter Samantha Van Leer to write the simply magical Between the Lines. The story, which sees the division between reader and fictional character blurred, saw a teenage girl fall for a character in a book - who wants nothing more than to leave his world and join hers. With gorgeous images in the margins and an utterly captivating and imaginative story, it's pure unadulterated escapism. A delight.

Another impressive debut this year came from Karen Thompson Walker who took a slow and menacing apocalyptic look at the end of the world in The Age of Miracles. It's completely captivating throughout and the prose is just gorgeous.

For the more adult reads this year, highlights have included Jane Green's The Patchwork Marriage, Dorothy Koomson's The Rose Petal Beach and the welcome return of Marian Keyes with her first novel in a few years, Mystery of Mercy Close. Green handled the contemporary issue of blended families with impartiality and understanding. Koomson brought a hidden darkness and humanity to a mystery and Keyes brought her own battle with depression into a courageous book about Helen Walsh.

2012 was also the year when Novelicious creator, Kirsty Greenwood, self-published her hilarious debut novel, Yours Truly. The book is filled with northern charm, humour and endearing characters. The premise - that Natalie Butterworth, people-pleaser and all round wallflower, is hypnotised into telling the truth - is inspired and loses nothing in the execution.

For the even more adult readers, of course, this was the year of 'mummy porn' Fifty Shades of Grey. The writing of this phenomenon was poor but the book was a guilty pleasure enjoyed by millions of readers across the world. The series spawned lots of copycats who tried to follow on from the success of E.L. James's books but only one managed to come close. With the creation of her crossfire series - which began with Bared to You - Sylvia Day created a brilliantly written tale of two dysfunctional people far more equal in their partnership. It's dramatic, naughty and devilishly exciting. Well worth a read.

What have your book highlights been for 2012? Share your tips in the comments below...

Cinema: Hot Tips for the Christmas Break

Many people are now counting the days, minutes, perhaps even seconds until they break up for a Christmas holiday. So if it's school or work you're having a break from, check out my hot tips of what to see at the cinema this holiday season:

Thursday 20th December - Life of Pi

Based on the book by Yann Martel, is a stunning piece of cinema that must be seen in all it's cinematic 3D glory to be experienced at its best. With incredible performances and ocean loads of emotion and drama, it is certainly one to watch now while you can! Check out the book vs film.

Friday 21st December - Pitch Perfect

Having been delayed for two months, this hilarious US film finally reaches UK shores just in time for Christmas. It's crude, it's hilarious and it's musical - American Pie meets Glee. Full review at Filmoria.

Friday 11th January - Les Misérables

It's due out in the US on Christmas day so us Brits need to wait a little bit longer - but it is worth the wait! So much more than the incredible music, this incredible cast bring a raw, intoxicating performance. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman will be the ones to beat come award season. Full review at Filmoria.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Les Misérables Film Review

I had the absolute pleasure this week of seeing Tom Hooper's new musical film adaptation of Les Misérables which boasts an all-star cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried... the list is endless. Let me just say, it's 24 hours later and I still can't get it out of my head. It's raw, powerful and totally captivating - even with Russell Crowe as Javert. 

I'm afraid I haven't read the Victor Hugo book but I have seen and loved the stage production and can say that it does the musical justice. It isn't as neat and precise as the stage show but brings something new in its authentic feel.

I highly recommend checking it out - whether or not you are a fan of musicals - if only for Anne Hathaway's interpretation of the infamous I Dreamed a Dream. Stunning cinema.

For my full review, check out Filmoria. The film is out in the US at the end of December and on January 11th in the UK.

Enjoy! x

(If you have read the book, I'd love to know how it compares...)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen Discuss new Bodyguard Musical

Did the idea of remaking the hit Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film The Bodyguard into a stage musical strike you as ridiculous? Well it seems the two stars of the show thought that too - until they read the script!

I caught up with Lloyd Owen and Heather Headley recently and, having seen the show, can say that it is certainly an adaptation worth checking out - whether or not you loved the original film.

Here's my interview with the pair:

Source: Filmoria

Friday, 7 December 2012

James McAvoy to Play Macbeth in new 2013 Stage Production

Film and stage actor James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men: First Class) will take on the infamous role of Macbeth next year when the Shakespearean tale comes to the London stage. Alongside his impressive film credits, James McAvoy has starred on stage in 2009 in Three Days of Rain (Olivier Award nomination). his other stage credits include Breathing Corpses at the Royal Court, Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse and Out in the Open at Hampstead Theatre. For Macbeth, McAvoy will be reunited with Three Days of Rain director Jamie Lloyd. Macbeth will be staged at Trafalgar Studios from 9 February until 27 April.
On 9 February 2013 Trafalgar Studios will be transformed. Macbeth is the inaugural production in a season of productions to be directed by Jamie Lloyd in Trafalgar Studios, set to be the theatre destination of 2013. Olivier Award winner Jamie Lloyd (Donmar’s Passion, Broadway’s Cyrano de Bergerac starring Douglas Hodge, Royal Court’s The Pride) directs one of the most exciting international film stars James McAvoy (The Last King Of Scotland, Atonement, X-Men) in this nihilistic vision of chaos, played out with breathless momentum and visceral passion. Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy is re-imagined in post-apocalyptic separatist Scotland. In this toxic dystopia, mysticism and witchcraft are interfused with hallucinogenic drugs as Macbeth begins his crusade of pathological ambition. Spurred on by arrogance, paranoia and the eroticism of murder, his struggle for power explores the corrosive potential of the human mind and exposes the ugliness of a society brutalized by war and tyranny. Set to be the hottest ticket of the year. Macbeth opens on February 9th 2013 and runs until April 27th 2013. 


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Life of Pi: Book vs Film

Let me begin this review with a warning. Life of Pi is not a children's adventure story. This is not Robinson Crusoe for a new generation. The story is shocking, violent, graphic, terrifying and completely heartbreaking. Yet somehow it also manages to be awe-inspiring and beautiful. As a result, this will not be for everyone. Life of Pi has the potential to make or break you - much like Pi himself - so prepare yourself for a choppy ride... 

Life of Pi follows the trials and tribulations of young Pi Patel as he is shipwrecked at sea with only a tiger for company. The epic tale won the Man Booker Prize back in 2002 and saw author Yann Martel propelled to worldwide fame. 

What Martel created in Life of Pi was so much more than a story of shipwreck, of being lost at sea. The son of a zookeeper, Pi has been around animals his entire life. He understands them better than most and must battle not just the elements, the fear of starvation and everything that being stranded at sea would normally entail. Pi must also face off a Bengal tiger by the name of Richard Parker that could kill him in a split second.

Stuck for seemingly endless days at sea in an apparently hopeless situation, Pi's daily struggle is both a physical and emotional one - laden with such intensity that the story becomes completely immersive for the reader.
The detail of the battle between human and animal, between what lies within the boat and what lies outside of it, is intoxicating and captivating. Pi's battle is with himself and watching him give in to his animal instincts is fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.

Before he reaches the sea though, Pi has an upbringing to consider and by spending a substantial amount of time at the start of the novel dedicated to Pi's backstory, Martel manages to really show the many sides to his protagonist. He is a deeply religious person, fascinated not just by his Hindu upbringing but by what Christianity and Islam have to offer. Pi is not simply picking and choosing, though, as if he wants to cover his bases. He is an intelligent young man who has a great love of God and all that is spiritual. 

The main focus of the story is of course what happens at sea. Given that most of the story is spent out in the ocean, turning Life of Pi into a film might have seemed too big an ask for many directors. Ang Lee, however, decided to bravely take on the project and the end result is something to behold.

For the film adaptation, Lee found a total unknown actor to play young Pi Patel. Suraj Sharma puts in a performance more seasoned actors would struggle to accomplish, capturing both the innocence of the religious teenage boy and the strength and desperation of a boy alone at sea. Audiences feel his every emotion: his loss, his hope, his stupidity and his bravery. It is both heartbreaking and intoxicating. 

In Irrfan Khan - who plays Pi grown up - Lee has found a man who can reveal such deep emotion with merely a glance, an inflection or the slightest hint of a smile that he needs no spectacle to get his story across. Stunning as the scenes at sea are, many viewers will find themselves just as gripped by his story and the way he tells it. Khan is a superb storyteller and conveys the truth behind Martel's story gracefully and respectfully. 

With these two central performances sorted, it was up to Lee to figure out how to put the epic tale on the big screen. The use of 3D really allows audiences the opportunity to fully enter Pi's world. With this extra dimension added, viewers are sure to both cower in fear and marvel in awe at all that Pi witnesses on his journey.

Martel's book was groundbreaking. It is a truly unique piece of writing that blends action adventure, religion and emotion in a way no other story has managed. It is hard to read at parts though, with great detail given to just what Pi has to do in order to survive - details that some readers may find too much to bear. It's the book's greatest strength and weakness that audiences may not fully know what to expect. You go in thinking it's a story about a boy in a boat with a tiger and then the kid starts talking about religion and the beauty of life in India. It's jarring and unsettling and for me, if I hadn't been told to power through it, I may well have given up in that first section. Had I done so I would have missed out on so much. At the same time, the greatest way to experience the story itself is to go in knowing as little as possible. It is the kind of story that stays with you long after the book has been closed but you have to have a little faith that it is worth sticking it out to the end.

With Lee's adaptation, something magical happens. Though none of the horror of Pi's story is forgotten, certain details are left off screen, making it just that little bit more palatable. Enough of his story is explained that audiences fully understand what he has had to endure - so the feel of the book is not lost - but every graphic detail is not required to enforce the point.

Lee has so flawlessly managed to capture the imagination of Martel's book that it really doesn't matter if the film is seen before or after reading it. Both versions convey the full extent of Pi's struggle, the tumultuous but entirely necessary relationship between him and Richard Parker and the heartbreaking duality of both the majesty and torture that comes with a life stranded at sea. In choosing a stunningly talented cast and by adding the extra dimension of 3D to the film, Lee has proven himself one of the greatest directors of modern cinema. Life of Pi is a visual spectacle but never loses its heart and emotion. 

They said Martel's book couldn't be adapted. They were wrong.Life of Pi must be seen to be believed and seen to be experienced. Most of all, though, it must be seen in 3D and on the big screen to really get the full effect. It is a master class in adaptations - a true masterpiece in cinema. 

Book: 4.5/5 FOBLES
Film: 5/5 FOBLES

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Breaking Dawn: Book vs Film

*Warning: contains some spoilers* 

With Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer brought her Twilight series to a close. The book followed Bella Swan as she marries the love of her life, Edward Cullen, and becomes both a vampire and a mother. With this book, the series took a bizarre turn from the teen angst that had riddled the pages of the earlier three and saw Bella mature into an impressive woman thanks to her new vampiric status. It also offered a shift of perspective for a while as Jacob took centre stage with his wolfpack.

For its adaptation, the book was divided into two films - the first following Bella as she prepared to marry Edward, went on her honeymoon and discovered she was pregnant with his child and the second as she had given birth to their half-vampire, half-human baby and was enjoying life as a newborn vampire herself.  Director Bill Condon was on hand for both parts meaning that the feel and flow of the pair worked well together.

Part One was all about the romance. There was a stunning outdoors wedding, a honeymoon on their very own island and the opportunity to consumate their new marriage. Bella then gets protective over her unborn child that is - quite literally - sucking the life out of her forcing Edward to turn her before she dies.

Though Part Two begins with a happy Bella (Kristen Stewart) revelling in her new life, the drama begins when Alice sees that the Volturi vampires think their daughter Renesmee is an immortal and are coming to kill her. The most important law of the vampire world is that biting a child is forbidden and the Volturi believe the Cullens have broken this law and must stop them. In order to prove that Renesmee was born, not bitten, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Carlisle travel the world and enlist all the friends they can find to stand with them against the Volturi. As a result, a whole host of new vampires arrive in the town of Forks from across the globe and Jacob, who has imprinted on baby Renesmee so is forever with them all, finds himself outnumbered by red eyes. 

In the film, Stewart took to the vampiric Bella superbly, showing just how talented an actress she really is when given the opportunity to (pardon the reference) shine. Pattinson is able to relax a little here too which makes for a much more amusing Edward than audiences have seen previously. He is no longer living in fear of hurting the woman he loves. He now realises that it is her turn not to hurt him (as she is stronger than him!) and relishes watching his wife in action.

Whereas fans of the series had spent all their time thus far observing the world of the vampires from the outside, Breaking Dawn Part Two offers the chance to experience it from the inside. It is a far more adult book than the earlier three, with marriage, pregnancy, parenthood and lots of vampire sex to boot and Condon handles this well, keeping the theme of young love and Bella and Edward's plans of 'forever' at the forefront while allowing his stars to grow up and develop.

While the book of Breaking Dawn went off on such a random tangent that many fans of the series may have found it jarring and peculiar, the final film managed to add the drama and action seriously lacking in the book - and, more importantly, made it credible. It wasn't action for action's sake and in creating a far more spectacular ending to the film franchise, the film managed to surpass the book. What the book lacked in tension, loss and drama, the film more than made up for with some impressive fight sequences and cinematic blood on snow imagery.

After the release of the first Twilight book, I don't think anyone could have guessed that Bella would become a vampire, a mother and a wife - not even Stephenie Meyer herself. Though no doubt many fans did enjoy the 'happy ending' of it all, this twi-hard found it massively anti-climactic and all too neat and tidy. The film, however, clarified the book's ending with all the tense action necessary to give the series a fitting end.

Book - 3 FOBLES
Film (Part One) - 3 FOBLES
Film (Part Two) - 4 FOBLES

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Silver Linings Playbook: Book vs Film

It's that time of year when people (and by people I mean film-enthusiasts and award show nuts) begin to give serious consideration to Oscar season. What performances are likely to be getting nominated? What films? 

One that has snuck in relatively quietly of late is The Silver Linings Playbook, which sees Bradley Cooper play Pat, a man battling mental illness and trying to find the 'silver lining' in his life. Recently released from a mental institution and back home with his parents, Pat has only one goal - to be reunited with his estranged wife Nikki.

The book, written by Matthew Quick, is a stunning debut written from the mind of Pat Peoples and follows Pat as he struggles to adjust to life back home. Pat gets obsessive about his exercise regime - something he began in order to get in shape for Nikki - and every day is a constant battle with himself. A particular song triggers violent outbursts, he spends hours reading Nikki's school syllabus (also in order to impress her) and always says what he thinks - irrespective of just how wildly inappropriate it may be.

Along the way, Pat is reacquainted with old friend Ronnie and tries to rebuild his acrimonious relationship with his father, Pat Snr., whose moods depend entirely on whether his team is currently winning or losing. When Pat meets Ronnie's sister-in-law Tiffany at dinner one night, he is surprised to see that she may just have more issues than he does. Recently widowed, Tiffany is living in the extension behind her parents' house and has just been fired from work having slept with everyone in the office. She is lost and in need of direction.

Pat, by comparison, is an incredibly driven man. He has been given his freedom after spending a lengthy amount of time in an institution and believes that if he can better himself, he can win back his wife. However, the people around him are nervous and keeping things from him he is too afraid to really let register. Photos are hidden, his wedding video has been 'misplaced' and his friend now has a toddler he doesn't remember being born. It makes for captivating reading then when Tiffany begins to run with Pat - despite him telling her he doesn't want company. She sees what is happening around him while he runs on to his sole goal. She challenges him in a way nobody else does and forces him to look closer at what got him sent away in the first place.

What makes Quick's book so compelling is the witty, brutally honest and unashamed mind of Pat. Following his path from his own perspective means that the reader is as much in the dark as he is and this drives you on, much like Pat, to what you can only hope is Pat's silver lining. 

The film, on the other hand, looks more closely at both Pat and Tiffany whose backstory is equally fascinating. By looking at the pair of them together, a new dynamic is introduced. Of course, it helps immensely that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence offer stunning performances (surely there will be an Oscar nod in there for at least one of them!), capturing all the elements of vulnerability, bipolar behaviours and fear, with care and elegance. Audiences get to see more of Tiffany's past trauma and her own instability. There is an endearing and often funny side to both of them, though the seriousness of their conditions is never ignored or swept aside, thanks largely to some brave directing from David O. Russell. Though the trailer had me worried, after it made the focus of the film the 'romance' between the two, the film itself manages to keep the romance second and the story first and is a much stronger feature as a result. 

The supporting cast all hold their own, with Robert De Niro showing that he has not lost his touch with all his recent comedy outings. His performance as the OCD-riddled Pat Snr. is heartbreaking. It would have been nice to have more of his backstory explored - as it is in the book - but the film is no worse for its absence, thanks to his stunning portrayal. It is also nice to see Danny, Pat's only friend from the institution, get more of an involved role in the adaptation. He is referenced more than he is seen in the book but with Chris Tucker bringing a troubled edge to the often comical role, the character gets developed.

It wasn't until watching the film that it became apparent just how much sport is referenced in the book. For those who - like me - really don't care or understand American sporting habits, the emphasis placed on the game did, at times, feel a little superfluous. It is relevant in the text as it goes a long way to explaining Pat's relationship with both his brother and psychiatrist. It also explains a lot more about Pat Snr. and his previous violent outbursts. However, Russell has wisely decided to trim this element dramatically in the film. He spends more time looking at the family watching sports or attending a game than actually going into all the intricacies of the game itself - something many film-fans will no doubt appreciate. Pat's enigmatic past is also explained far earlier in the film, with the reason he got sent away being divulged near the very beginning. 

All in all, a fair few changes have been made to the story for the film but in keeping mental illness as the centre of the story, Russell has managed to do the near-impossible and create an adaptation that keeps the feel and essence of the original while becoming a fantastic film in its own right.

Book - 4.5 FOBLES. Original, brave and compelling.
Film - 4.5 FOBLES. Honest, endearing and superbly acted.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Adapt or Die: Why Adaptations are Taking Over Cinema

Adaptations are everywhere. Cinema over the last few years has relied heavily on books, plays, comics and often previously released films for their source material. Some claim that cinema today lacks originality, that filmmakers have run out of new ideas…and with the resurgence in comic book films, English-language remakes and book to film adaptations, is it any wonder? But people are still flocking to the cinema in droves to see these adapted films. So why the appeal?

Think back to your favourite film from the last few years – was it a new idea? In just a few years, we’ve had adaptations made from the books for Anna Karenina, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Lucky One and the massive blockbuster hit, The Hunger Games. On the side of comics, there’s been Avengers Assemble (The Avengers in the USA) and The Dark Knight Rises – two of this year’s biggest films. In the last few weeks alone, adaptations of The Silver Linings Handbook, Breaking Dawn and Argo have hit, with a new take on Great Expectations arriving in cinemas this weekend. The play Carnage was adapted into a hilarious film with big names including Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.

So why do filmmakers keep taking these ideas, instead of coming up with their own? Well, for one there is an audience already out there to tap into. The popularity of The Hunger Games book trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, meant that fans of the books were already going to see any film adaptation that was made – no matter how good it may have been. Just look at the staggering box-office success of Twilight!

The other factor, I imagine, is the opportunity to bring something old and tired back into the limelight. The number of times Batman has re-imagined himself would put even Doctor Who to shame. He is a fascinating and beloved character and fans will always want to see new guises for him. Classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre are always getting new adaptations because, after all these years, people are still enjoying the stories over and over – be they in book, TV or film form.

It’s worth considering that the dominance of adaptations at the cinema does not mean there is no room for something new. Two of the greatest films of 2012 so far – The Raid and The Cabin in the Woods – took old, tired ideas and injected new life into them. Cabin took every cliché in the horror genre and flipped them on their head to make something brilliantly clever and original – but it was done by lovingly taking everything that had been done before and making something new with it. The Raid had a fundamental plot similar to that of Judge Dredd but by using a new martial arts star (the insanely talented Iko Uwais) and showcasing the martial art style of silat, writer/director Gareth Evans managed to redefine the action genre.

More solemn and incredibly well-acted adaptations like We Need to Talk About Kevin and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy did tremendously well with critics and audiences alike, winning numerous awards and worldwide acclaim. Sadly though, for every We Need to Talk About Kevin, there is a My Sister’s Keeper – a debacle of an adaptation which can be seen to take a strong, powerful idea and turn it into overly sentimental drivel. Film adaptations like these have no need for adapting a source text when all they want to do is change it into something that has been done already – and often done better.

This tendency to adapt shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Still to come in the next few months are adaptations for Life of Pi, Les Misérables, Gangster Squad, Cloud Atlas and The Great Gatsby.

The old phrase goes that you need to adapt or die. Well it seems filmmakers are finally learning to adapt to new ideas – even if they sometimes need to use old ones to get there.

Which adaptations have you enjoyed so far this year and which ones are you really looking forward to in 2013...?

Friday, 16 November 2012

UK Jewish Film Festival 2012 Highlights

There have been some brilliant films shown at this year's UK Jewish Film Festival 2012 and I have been fortunate enough to cover some of them over at Filmoria. There have been giggles, tears, belly laughs and quiet fascination and topics covered ranging from the meddling Jewish parent to joining the army and finding love. All these incredible features and shorts had something unique to offer and I only wish more people could see some of these films on wider release.

Highlights from this year's festival include the fascinating documentary Poisoned, which followed four young men as they joined the Israeli army and looked at how the army affected each of them, the smile-inducing Dorfman starring Elliott Gould and Sara Rue, and the gorgeous and totally endearing We Are Not Alone, which starred Israeli actor Ohad Knoller.

My absolute favourite though has to be Simon and the Oaks, an incredibly powerful and moving coming-of-age story with stunning Swedish backdrops and incredible central performances.

There are still a few days left to catch something as part of the festival. So check out the programme at for more information.

You can check out all the coverage of the festival over at Filmoria.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

New Trailer for Tom Hooper's Film Adaptation of Les Misérables

There have been no adaptations this year that have got this book, film and musical theatre geek quite as excited as Les Misérables. Check out this stunning (and rather lengthy!) new trailer for the film - which hits North America at the end of the year and the UK in early January.

The film stars an impressive list of acting and singing talent including Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmaye, Samantha Barks and Amanda Seyfried. 

The film is based on the book by Victor Hugo and the hit musical theatre production.

Source: Filmoria

Monday, 5 November 2012

Top Ten Tips for Breaking into the Publishing Sector

A couple of years ago, aged 27, I decided to quit my job to enter my dream industry – that of book publishing. It was, I realised, where my true passions lay and I was convinced that people would see that and give me a job. I was keen, I was hard-working and I loved reading. Why wouldn't they give me a job?

I was prepared for it to take a few months. What I was not prepared for was the thirteen months of uncertainty that followed, the long hours, the lack of sleep, the stress, the dramas or my depleting bank balance.

For anyone considering the work experience route into publishing (or a similar sector), here are my top tips to consider before you take the plunge:

  1. Have savings ready in your bank account
Money is a worry for anyone who doesn't know where the next pay cheque is coming from. You may have some money in the bank when you decide to opt for this route but the longer you spend as a workie, the more time will pass with money going out and not coming in. If you can, get a weekend job to supplement your income, but this may only add to your stress levels so it's always wise to do some forward planning and have a back-up sum ready to use when needed.

  1. No job is too small
As you are not getting paid and are coming in at the very bottom, be prepared to do the jobs nobody else wants to do or has the time for. These jobs are not made up just to annoy you. They are all necessary, whether they be photocopying, scanning, putting names into a spreadsheet or posting out book after book and receiving a million papercuts for your efforts. These jobs help the team you are supporting. Do them and they are far more likely to help you out in the future. Moan about them and nobody is going to be recommending you for anything but a deletion from their list of potentials employees.

  1. Build relationships wherever possible
The saying goes “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” This is never more true than the publishing sector, where one person's recommendation can mean the difference between a paid placement or no placement, an interview or no interview, a job or no job. You are likely to move around a lot as a workie, from department to department and company to company and it pays to keep in touch with the people you meet along the way.

  1. Make yourself known
Many departments have a new work experience person every fortnight, especially the busier ones. That's twenty-six people over the course of a year. Make them remember you. And by that I don't mean start a fight with someone or leave photos of yourself on everybody's desk. Talk to people. Engage with them. Be more than just another face passing through. Make an impression – and make it a good one.

  1. Ask questions
As well as talking to people and making yourself known, it's incredibly important to ask questions. Don't worry about bugging them or being a nuisance. Have questions ready prepared, think about what it is you want to know about the industry and how they can help you find the answers. Chat over lunch, or while you grab a cup of tea in the kitchen. If you're worried that the person is too busy all the time, send them a quick email asking if they'd be able to sit down with you at some point and go over some questions you have. If you don't ask, you don't get. Of course, it's probably best not to harrass people on your very first day.

  1. Enjoy the perks where you can – you've earned them!
You may not be getting paid but there are perks to be had as a workie for those able to prove their worth. The biggest perk is the books. If you are offered any, take them without feeling the need to check “Is that OK, are you sure?” Many companies, especially the larger ones, have shelves covered in books that can easily be re-ordered. Always ask, of course, but take what you can get. They'll be happy to give you something as a thank-you. There may also be invites to events – book signings, launches. These are all part of the industry so go if you can. Offer to help out. It shows dedication on your part and will probably be lots of fun!

  1. Prepare for the long haul
The uncertainty is the hardest part of being a workie. You could get a job in a few months, perhaps – if you time it beautifully – even less. It's more than likely though, especially in the current economic climate, that you will have to wait a lot longer. Prepare yourself as much as possible for the possibility that you may be doing this for a while. It's a marathon not a spirit. You have an end-goal in sight and it is highly probable that you will, at some point, reach a wall and just want to pack it all in. You need to really want this if you are going to be able to stick it out for the long haul, so make sure you've really thought about it beforehand.

  1. Have a break
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And all work and no play makes a workie a cranky, volatile shell of a human being. Take it from me. It's important to pace yourself and have some downtime. See your friends, have a night in watching mindless TV, spend an afternoon cooking. Whatever you do to relax, do it – at least once a week. Or you will go mad with the stress of it all.

  1. Be prepared at interviews
The longer you work as a workie, the more job offers will come your way. You will probably have an idea of where you want to work and will be checking the websites weekly, possibly daily, to see if new jobs have come up. You will probably be applying for any job you feel is remotely relevant just to get your foot in the door. To a workie, a job interview really is the be-all-and-end-all because it is your lifeline. It is your goal. The last thing you want to do then is be so excited at actually making the interview stage that you panic, talk too much, forget what you wanted to say and completely mess it up. Focus on all the skills you have learned to date, research the company and department thoroughly. Read up on the authors and have some questions ready. It's easier said than done, I know, but go in there calm and prepared, show them why you are the ideal candidate for the job and don't let it destroy you if it's a no.

  1. Be strong, don't let people take advantage
Overall, everyone I encountered – both as a workie and beyond – in the world of publishing was supportive. If you proved you were a worthy asset they would do what they could to help you. Many have gone above and beyond for me without me even asking. However, there are always going to be exceptions to that rule and you need to be very careful not to be so helpful that people end up taking advantage of you. There is a reason workies are given the menial tasks – they are unpaid staff. It's great to be given a bit more responsibility – it shows they have faith in your abilities – but this responsibility can become too much too quickly. I had one placement where I was effectively doing somebody's job while they were on holiday – something I should have been receiving a temporary salary for. I had clearly been placed there because I was an experienced workie. They saw my abilities and sought to exploit it. I didn't even get a reference or any thanks at the end of the three weeks and nobody ever stopped long enough to answer any of my questions. Work experience should be a two-way street. Don't let them walk all over you.

Good luck, and may your journey be worth it!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Bella Learns to Be Human in New Breaking Dawn Clip

What's scarier and altogether more difficult than becoming a vampire? Apparently, pretending to be human once you are one. This new clip from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two, as found on YouTube, is pretty funny - as Bella tries to remember to blink, breathe and move slowly enough to pass for a human.

Contact lenses at the ready twi-hards!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Chloe Moretz, Julianne Moore and Kimberly Peirce Talk 2013's Carrie Adaptation

There are a few adaptations coming up in the near future that have got me more than a little excited recently. I was excited about the film musical adaptation of Les Misérables the second I discovered Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were going to be in it. I scoffed when I heard David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas was being adapted. It seemed impossible! Then my lovely friend Hillary saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival and sung its praises so highly I finally started to believe it might actually be more than a little bit brilliant. None have got me quite as excited though as the short trailer for Carrie - based on the fantastically sinister book by Stephen King and starring Chloe Moretz.

At the recent New York Comic Con, stars Moretz and Julianne Moore joined director Kimberly Peirce to discuss this new adaptation - which looks to be closer to the original source text than the 1970s Brian De Palma, thanks to the teaser trailer which swept over a burning town and had the voiceovers of the town's inhabitants.

Peirce said that she adored De Palma's adaptation but clarified: "I took a lot from reading Stephen King's fantastic novel - Carrie's plight, Carrie's mother, and thinking 'My god, this is a fantastic story.' That was always what I went back to." The cast were behind her on this as, Peirce said, they all loved the book.

When discussing the on-screen relationship between mother Margaret (Moore) and daughter Carrie (Moretz), Moore stated that "we were able to push it pretty far" as they felt so comfortable together off screen. What the pair will have made of the rather nasty scenes of abuse and punishment remains to be seen but it certainly seems to have the potential for the same level of darkness found in King's novel.

The panel debate seemed to suggest that the two key elements of the story are going to take centre stage for this film - that of the mother/daughter relationship and Carrie's bullying. Moore said she felt King was ahead of his time for addressing the bullying issue, adding that "one of the great things about Stephen King and this story is [that it] allows us to participate [in] many different ways." Peirce also said added: "I certainly think in some of the scenes there's an awareness of the teacher and the school...There's also a subplot about what one of the characters does in social media."

Those elements aside though, let's not forget that Carrie is - at it's heart - a horror of epic proportions. Those who know and love the story of Carrie White - in either book or film form - will understand why it was entertaining that director Peirce attempted to figure out a rough idea of just how much fake blood had been used during the shoot. Her final answer?  "1000 gallons of fake blood!"

Roll on 2013!

Source: Indiewire

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

First Teaser Trailer and Poster for Carrie Remake

The first teaser trailer and poster have arrived for the new Carrie remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz. And if the town's burning destruction is anything to go by, this adaptation might just stick a little closer to the original book, written by the master that is Stephen King.

Who's excited?

Source: Yahoo! Movies

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Motorcycle Diaries: Book vs Film

In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires went on an immense road trip on their motorbike 'La Poderosa' with the idea that they would explore as much of the continent as they could. One of these two men would become the face of the Cuban revolution. His name was Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

The Motorcyle Diaries, Guevara's diary kept on this lengthy journey, takes him across the continent as he meets people of all cultures and classes, sleeps on floors, struggles to find shelter, food and transport. More fascinating than all of this, though, is Guevara's search for purpose, his search for meaning.

The diaries are written eight years before the Cuban revolution but this is when Guevara's sense of injustice began, it seems. Alongside friend and travel companion, Alberto Granado, the diaries show the major class differences across the continent, the feelings toward those indigenous populations who are judged to be inferior by so many and the lengths many go to just to provide for their families - the section where the pair meet people waiting for work at a mine is particularly upsetting. The work is extremely dangerous and the pay is ridiculously low. But, sadly, these people have no alternatives.

On the journey, both Guevara's and Granado's eyes are opened to the world around them. They have led fairly middle-class 'normal' lives in Argentina, studying and socialising - so this is the first time they really experience the world beyond that to which they have become accustomed. They use their trainee medical skills to get letters of recommendations from doctors and medical staff. They stay at leper colonies and meet those unable to get medical attention. Mirroring this, Guevara himself struggles with his severe Asthma - which on occasion grounds him for days on end. The pair are shown great hospitality and care by some but are also scorned and rejected by others.

As well as meeting people from all walks of life on their journey, the pair also experience all the highs and lows of mother nature and witness some stunning, breathtaking sights along the way. Guevara is an incredibly evocative writer, even here in his diary, as he describes in great detail not just what he is seeing but the impact such sites have on him. His reaction when they arrive at Machu Picchu is intoxicating.

The book is relatively short, with a forward written by Guevara's daughter Aleida Guevara March and a chronology of his life. It is choppy to say the least, but this is to be expected from a diary.

The film, on the other hand, is compelling from start to finish and flows with stunning beauty, thanks to two incredible leads, stunning landscapes and flawless directing from Walter Salles (who recently directed another coming-of-age road movie 'On the Road'). Gael Garcia Bernal is perfectly cast as the young idealist Guevara and pulls off a performance all the more powerful for its subtlety and control. Rodrigo De la Serna also captures all the passion and humour of Granado. Salles has strayed slightly away from the overly political elements of the text, allowing the experiences to speak for themselves and affect audiences as much as they do Guevara and Granado.

The Motorcycle Diaries is a fine example of taking a powerful, evocative text and making a simply stunning film that conveys to audiences what the text can only imply.

Book - 4/5 FOBLES
Film - 5/5 FOBLES


Friday, 12 October 2012

Douglas Hodge Cast as Willy Wonka For New Stage Musical


Only days before tickets go on sale for 2013's new musical stage production of Roald Dahl's much-loved book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it has been announced that Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge is to play the infamous role of Willy Wonka. The production will be directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Summary/Plot

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors, and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

Tickets for the production go on sale next Monday 15th October. The World Premiere is set to be held in June 2013 with previews from 18 May 2013.

Here is the official press release:

Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick today announced that Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge will play Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 25th June next year.

Tickets for the new musical go on public sale on Monday 15th October, for performances from 18th May 2013 until the end of the current booking period on Saturday 30th November 2013.

Douglas Hodge is a four time Olivier-nominated actor/director, who has worked at the National Theatre, the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Court Theatre. On Broadway, he is currently starring at the American Airlines Theatre in the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac, for the Roundabout Theatre Company. He won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his Broadway debut in La Cage Aux Folles, having already won the Olivier Award for the same performance in London. For ten years he worked closely with Harold Pinter, and he was Associate Director at the Donmar from 2007 to 2009. He has released two albums of his own compositions 'Cowley Road Songs' and 'Nightbus', and won the Stiles and Drewe 2012 Best New Song Award for ‘Powercut’. Alongside numerous television credits, his feature films include Vanity Fair, Robin Hood, the soon to be released Serena, and Diana – in which he plays Paul Burrell, butler to Diana, Princess of Wales.

ROALD DAHL’s deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life in a brand new West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Bacchae; Tintin In Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda).

This world premiere musical is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick.

Further information is available from the website:
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Prince Charles Cinema Horror Movie Marathon

What's better than watching some great horror films in your PJs? Watching them on the big screen... in your PJs. Oh and in a room with 200+ other film fans to keep you company.

Last weekend I did just that at the fantastic Prince Charles Cinema in London's Leicester Square. Ahead of Halloween, they put on a pyjama party with a difference - scary costumes were allowed (actively encouraged really). The film list was as follows: Scream, The Faculty, The Craft, Carrie, Fright Night (original) and The Lost Boys.

So, big sis and I dressed up like schoolgirls from The Craft, packed some snacks (the cinema only had popcorn and we figured something a bit more substantial might be needed if were going to make it till the morning...) and headed into town.

With a packed-house full of vampires, people hiding behind the Scream mask, schoolgirls and a plethora of onesies, we settled in to watch film number one - Scream. Scream had special significance to me and big sis. When the film first hit cinemas back in 1997, I was too young for its 18 certificate. But big sis relished the opportunity to recount the film - almost in its entirety - to me, so I felt like I had been right there with her watching it. Fifteen years, three sequels and a Scary Movie later, the mask no longer had the same terrifying impact it once did. The inherent comedy in the film, though, went down well and there were cheers and applause for the appearance of Henry Winkler AKA The Fonz. With lines like "What are you doing with a cellular phone, son?" from the sheriff and the classic "My mum and dad are gonna be so mad!" at the end, the film that had once terrified audiences across the globe now provided hilarity and a few jumps.

The biggest shock for me came from just how enjoyable The Faculty was. Having seen the film a few years ago - and been more than a little underwhelmed by it - it was the only film on the list that didn't appeal. But with the crowd around me and the surprise realisation of just how many famous faces were actually in the film, it proved to be one of the highlights of the night. Did you remember Usher was in it? Yeah - neither did I. There's also a young Josh Hartnett, the hilarious Jon Stewart, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen and Terminator 2 himself, Robert Patrick.

Next up was the dark magic of The Craft which proved far darker on second watch than I remembered. It did bring Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich back to the screen for the second time of the night though and remembering the fun of the magic the first time round was great fun. It was Fairuza Balk's brilliantly OTT performance that stole the show for this audience though, with lots of laughs and cheers.

Our fourth film of the night finally answered a question I had been unsure of for years - had I actually seen Carrie from beginning to end? Turns out - I hadn't. I could've sworn I had but my stunned expression for the opening scene made it perfectly evident that I had not. I had no memory of all the nudity, all the close-ups, the bizarre romantic score. I only remembered death and destruction and the crazy mother. The film was presented in all its hazy, jumpy, original quality like we were back in the 1970s.

The audience really feels for Carrie, a struggling teen unable to talk to anyone about what is happening to her body or going on in her head - with a crazy religious and abusive mother and no friends. A girl's first period is traumatic enough without thinking you're dying or being told you brought it on yourself for being such a sinner. Poor Carrie. Sissy Spacek is incredible in the role. The ending is spectacular and more theatrical than the calmer, more sinister ending of the book by Stephen King. But I am very excited now to see what the remake is going to be like...

5am and the start of film number five - the original Fright Night. This was another film I hadn't seen, but I had seen the remake so had an idea of the plot. This was wildly different to the remake - not so much in plot, but in style. It is a far more camp, silly tale and utterly ridiculous - but oh so enjoyable on the big screen.

By film number six, I'm afraid I was desperate to head home to my bed so I'll just have to check out Lost Boys some other time.

Thanks to the PCC for a great, fun-filled night and to big sis for lasting as long as you did with a stonking cold!

And remember... don't answer the phone, don't tell the vampire next door he can come in and don't invoke the spirit unless you can handle it...