Billie Eilish Sings No Time To Die

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Last month, it was revealed that Billie Eilish would be the youngest-ever person to record a theme song for a James Bond movie, No Time To Die, the 25th in the franchise. And now, seemingly faster than a bullet fired from a Walther PPK, here it is…

“We’ve always wanted to write a James Bond theme song,” Eilish’s brother and co-writer, Finneas told the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast  after news of the song was announced. “And you know, it’s a legendary franchise, so we had to convince a lot of people that we were the right choice. And then we had to write a song that everybody liked. So it was a hard-won process.”

Will this hit the target with Bond fans and join classics such as Goldfinger, by Shirley Bassey, or Thunderball, by Tom Jones, and highly regarded modern efforts by the likes of Chris Cornell (You Know My Name, from Casino Royale) or Adele (Skyfall, from, uh… Skyfall) or will it be relegated to the exploding volcano bases of history alongside Alicia Keys & Jack White’s Another Way To Die (from Quantum of Solace) or Sam Smith’s beyond dreary Writing’s On The Wall (from SPECTRE)…!?

I guess you’ll know your answer to that by now. As for me, I love it.

No Time To Die (the movie) is released in April (date according to country).

Here’s Your First Look At Robert Pattinson As The Batman

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Director of Warner Bros.’ forthcoming reboot of The Batman, Matt Reeves has revealed the first look at incoming Bruce Wayne, Robert Pattinson, in costume as the Dark Knight…

The short, atmospheric video is part of a camera test for the film, so this may not be the final costume, but there’s no doubt that Pattinson looks good in the cape and cowl.

The cast for The Batman also includes Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, John Turturro as crime boss Carmine Falcone, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, and Peter Sarsgaard in an as-yet unrevealed role.

The Batman hits our screens on June 25, 2021.

UPDATE: Apparently that IS the Bat Suit and also the music is from Michael Giacchino, who’s scoring the film. That makes this clip a whole lot more intriguing.

WandaVision, Loki and Falcon and the Winter Soldier Teasers: You WILL Subcribe To Disney +

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Those of you who unsubscribed to Disney + at the end of The Mandalorian: get ready to re-subscribe:

There are your Super Bowl teasers for forthcoming Marvel TV shows: WandaVision, Loki, and Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Well, Disney +, you have my attention.

All featuring the actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Mackie & Sebastian Stan), joined by the likes of Kat Denning and Owen Wilson, these look set to be intriguing expansions of the first ten years of Marvel, ready to lead us into the next phase.

The first show up will be Falcon And The Winter Soldier (autumn 2020), which looks like it will deal head on with the space left by Steve Rogers (oh, the whole world has seen Avengers: Endgame by now, right!?).

WandaVision (following soon after) looks especially bizarre, seemingly taking visual cues from the likes of  I Love Lucy and Roseanne. It’s great to see these shows might take some creative risks.

And I feel sure Mr Hiddleston will bring a fan or two into the Disney streaming service with Loki, in 2021. Also expect this show to tie-in heavily with cinema sequel, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, sadly without director, Scott Derrickson, who recently departed the production due to those pesky “creative differences.”.

Now, where’s that TV remote? I have some planning to do…

Dario Argento Is Back With New Giallo

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Horror-meister Dario Argento will return to directing later this year, reteaming with his daughter, Asia, for a new Giallo.

First revealed last August by Alan Jones at FrightFest in London, official reports now confirm that Dario Argento will direct Occhiali Neri (Black Glasses), with shooting to take place this spring in Italy.

The film will star his daughter, actor/director (The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things) Asia Argento, as he confirmed on the  Criminology Festival website:

“Yes, I will shoot it in the spring. There are many outdoor scenes, surrounded by nature, in winter it is too cold to shoot,” he said.  “As announced there will also be Asia. Our paths have crossed many times.”

The pair have previously worked together on films including Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome and the final film of the Three Mothers trilogy, The Mother of Tears.

Somewhat Surprisingly, The New Mutants Gets A New Trailer…

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Whatever has occurred in the twists and turns taken to bring Fox’s The New Mutants to the screen remains somewhat of a mystery, but we finally have a new trailer and a new (new) release date.

Though I’m generally not a huge fan of Marvel’s mutant teams, I’ve always had a soft spot for The New Mutants, encouraged mainly by the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz ‘Demon Bear‘ storyline that elevated a bunch of second string characters into a must read comic book!

I also rather liked the first trailer for Josh Boone’s The New Mutants film for Fox, released two years ago, followed by… well, officially, nothing.

Behind the scenes, however, everything seemed to be going on, from the Fox/Disney merger (would Disney want to see Marvel characters in a straightforward horror movie, albeit released under the Fox banner?), to delayed release dates, rumoured reshoots involving X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinsberg and further rumours that the film would be shelved as it now longer fitted in with the Mouse House’s overall plans for Marvel.

But just recently, director Boone tweeted that a new trailer would be released and a final release date set, and here we are.

I’m more than intrigued by this, the cast is full of great young actors (honestly, I’d watch Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, and I’m dying to see her take on Illyana Rasputin / Magik, but Maisie Williams, Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Charlie Heaton are all of great interest too), and the thought of a superhero/horror mash-up ticks all of my boxes.

The New Mutants is released (finally) on April 3rd. Here’s hoping I won’t regret spending so much time writing about it.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Spoiler Free Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes with so much baggage it actually feels difficult to write a full review after my initial viewing.

I came out with some hugely conflicting feelings, so rather than a fully considered review, this might best be considered a collection of immediate, post-screening thoughts.

The film, of course, is the conclusion not only to this most-recent Disney backed trilogy (comprising The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi), but it also concludes the entire Skywalker saga (preceded by the films in the Prequel and Original trilogies).

Many fans will, I suspect, find The Rise of Skywalker to be a hugely satisfying ending to the nine film cycle, as returning director J.J. Abrams and his team play far safer than The Last Jedi’s controversial Rian Johnson and pack the film to the rafters with many fan-pleasing elements. Perhaps too many.

And this seems to have been done to the detriment of a cohesive movie, as Rise lacks a certain elegance in narrative to play very episodically, with MacGuffins galore leading our heroes from one set piece to the next.

While Johnson seemed determined to use his film to kill off certain elements of past Star Wars films to suggest a new future path, Abrams and co have apparently paid careful attention to the howls of outrage over this approach from the hordes of man babies and over-entitled toxic fans and dialed back on this by making a film about resurrecting the dead. And boy, do the dead rise up in this film. Literally and figuratively.

There are tantalising glimpses of a thematic element, present in all three films of the Disney trilogy, of the Rebellion against the evil Empire spreading out beyond the usual resistance fighters and causing “the people” to find the will to rise up against their oppressors, but it’s almost too casually thrown away here, and not developed strongly enough to add depth to the narrative. A definite missed opportunity which could have given these films a far greater resonance.

It’s also difficult to see that these films were created with a firm road map, rather each feels like a reaction to the previous film, and so this might just be the least satisfying trilogy, thematically and in terms of overall arcs.

The trilogy leads (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac and Adam Driver) all do excellent work, even when their roles are not developed as well as we might have hoped – yes Finn, I’m looking at you. Personally, I’d like to have seen more emphasis on Boyega, who the camera loves, than on time spent with the introduction of a pointless droid or even (sorry, Bill Dee Williams), the largely irrelevant Lando Calrissian.

The film deals pretty sensitively with the death of Carrie Fisher and just about manages to give Princess Leia/General Organa a useful role and an emotional send-off. No mean feat, under the sad circumstances.

And, as mentioned previously, there are (many) nods to fans of all three trilogies (and event offshoots like Star Wars: Rebels), familiar faces and voices and callbacks, visually and thematically, that this mostly works as a wrap-up of the saga with a big bow on it. And of course, much of this may play well on repeated viewings, but it might have been a stronger film had it concentrated on finding its own identity instead. In fact, I’m not sure I could see the film working for newcomers to the saga, and those resistant to the charms of George Lucas’ creation will find nothing to persuade.

Now all this sounds as if I didn’t have a good time. I did, and will almost certainly enjoy revisiting The Rise of Skywalker. As a fan, I can say it certainly leaves the characters where I might have expected them to end up. And, as with all Abrams films, it moves like a bullet and looks beautiful. There’s also a rather nice coda which plays against the expectations of a vocal area of fandom with a central character, and leaves us with a touching return to the saga’s beginning.

Perhaps the film simply had too much baggage to be the conclusion of over forty years of filmmaking, or perhaps my own baggage won’t allow me to enjoy it for what it is.

Right now, however, I’m satisfied but lacking that triumphant, gleeful feeling something with less reliance on its own past might have left me with.

Bond Is Back – No Time To Die Trailer

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Hey, anyone interested in seeing the trailer for the new James Bond film, No Time To Die?
‘thought so…

 

There’s a lot riding on this, as not only is it Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as 007 (like, 99.99999999% probably), but after the critical drubbing handed out to the previous film, Spectre, fans are hoping that Craig will bow out on a high note for the long-running series.

Director Cary Fukunaga, infamously replacing Trainspotting’s Danny Boyle – who bowed out after disagreeing with producers on the direction of the script – also has a lot on his plate with this. He’s had a pretty acclaimed run as director up to this point (True Detective season one, Beasts Of No Nation, etc), so he’ll be hoping this won’t be The Spy Who Killed Him.

It’s an interesting one even further behind the scenes too, as it will be the first Bond film distributed internationally by Universal Pictures, following the expiration of Columbia Pictures’ contract after Spectre. I’m sure the studio will be crossing their fingers for a successful debut.

So, y’know, no pressure on this being a Bond barnstormer.  That being said, this trailer seriously kicks all the ass; it looks beautiful, the action (of course) looks amazing and there’s even the strong suggestion of a great storyline.

No Time To Die also stars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright and Léa Seydoux reprising their roles from previous films, along with newcomers Rami Malek, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah and Billy Magnussen. And yes, as revealed here, Christoph Waltz is returning as Blofeld.

The film is currently scheduled for theatrical release on 2 April 2020 in the United Kingdom and on 8 April in the United States.

Marvel’s Black Widow Teaser Trailer

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Things have been relatively quiet on the Marvel front post-Endgame/Far From Home, but now you can get your Marvel geek on again with the Black Widow teaser trailer…

…that looks like a whole bunch of fun.

Scarlet Johansson and Rachel Weisz are always good value, Florence Pugh is increasingly on my radar after Midsommar and, honestly, who doesn’t want to see David Harbour squeeze his dad bod into the Red Guardian’s costume (straight out of the comics, natch)!?

I’m sure we’ll be getting a more expansive trailer closer to the film’s May release, but honestly, I’m sold already.

Black Widow moves us fully into the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four on May 1st, 2020 and I am all here for it.

The Mandalorian – Simply Star Wars *spoiler free review

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If I tell you that the first episode of The Mandalorian – the new high profile, live action Star Wars series helping to launch the Disney + channel – is simple, I trust you’ll understand that I’m complimenting it.

Set five years after the fall of the Empire, as seen in Return of the Jedi, the extremely straightforward storyline of this premiere episode follows the adventures of a Mandalorian bounty hunter (played by Pedro Pascal, though so far he remains firmly under the helmet) hired to round up or exterminate a mark. And for the first 38 minutes, that’s pretty much it.

Carl Weathers crops up, as does (in a much-ballyhooed, sublime piece of casting) existential German film director, Werner Herzog, who appears to be having a blast in his role, plus we meet (sort of) Nick Nolte and Taika Waititi (director of Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit). It’s a heckuva cast for what amounts to a little spaghetti western in space.

What you really want to know is: does it feel like Star Wars? Yes, it does, and it feels like exactly what I had hoped for, Star Wars without the Skywalkers, or Jedi, or the Force (at least so far), and what a lot of fun it is. The Mandalorian comes across as if show creator Jon Favreau and pilot director Dave Filoni are just kicking back and enjoying themselves in the Star Wars universe. They even manage to throw in a deep-cut gag taken from the infamously reviled Star Wars Holiday Special TV show from 1978.

The Mandalorian looks and sounds totally Star Wars too, with some really top notch VFX and creature FX (many of which, I’m overjoyed to say, are practical). Whoever thought we’d live to see a weekly Star Wars TV series with movie level special effects? Not this kid who saw the original movie more than twenty times at the cinema in 1977 and 1978, that’s for sure.

There’s no great human drama, so far, but we get a lot of world-building in just over half an hour (with no necessary Star Wars knowledge needed, but plenty of nods to fans), events are set neatly in place and some intriguing threads are left dangling. We’re offered just enough of what might make the title character of interest (he’s a bounty hunter with a heart of gold), but the main point here is to make us want to come back for more. And if the showrunners can ensure this level of pure enjoyment for the next seven episodes then that won’t be a problem.

Simply put, The Mandalorian is uncomplicated fun.

The Colour Of Madness – Exclusive Horror Movie Location Report

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Exclusive set report on a new horror movie filmed here in Norway, starring Barbara Crampton.

The mountains around Bjørke are extraordinarily beautiful, forming a soaring, jagged cradle around the small village in the rugged western fjords of Norway. But on the summer evening I visit the location, for the filming of a new British horror movie, The Colour of Madness, at the end of a cloudless and unseasonably hot day, that cradle feels somewhat more ominous.

Maybe it’s the décor of the cabin that the crew are holed up inside that helps create the atmosphere, a typical small wooden structure, with verging-on-kitsch late 1950s/early 1960s furniture. Look a little closer, however, and odd details begin to stand out; strange little betentacled knick-knacks, resembling unearthly octopi, and what’s that over the fireplace? Is that a grisly painting of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods?

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A mysterious looking piece of set design

Clearly, dark deeds are afoot on the sweltering, busy set, underlined by the familiar appearance of a petite, graceful figure: Barbara Crampton, the much-loved star of classic genre films such as Re-Animator, From Beyond and We Are Still Here. The actor stands behind the cameras and prepares to shoot a short scene but makes a point of introducing herself to me and Jon, who’s here with me to snap some behind the scenes photos. Then the cameras are rolling, and Crampton is consoling a distraught character played by Sophie Stevens (The Haunted), handing her what looked to me like a suspicious glass of water. I spent some time talking in detail with Crampton about her life and career, so look out for that in an upcoming piece.

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Star Barbara Crampton chats with Out of Dave’s Head’s editor

With Crampton’s shot in the can, the co-directors, Andy Collier and Toor Mian then busy themselves setting up a tricky POV shot from beneath a glass table, as Stevens’ character succumbs to unconsciousness, spilling the water she’s been drinking across its surface. I got the feeling water wouldn’t be the only liquid spilled during the film’s creepy storyline.

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Co-Director Toor Mian (right) watches a shot being filmed

Shooting reached a break and the cast and crew gathered outside in the cooler air, with the mountains looming over us in the gathering darkness.  I ask the directors what brought them to Norway? Had they always planned to film here? “Not at all,” says Mian, munching on some Norwegian-style bacalao, as part of a late crew dinner on the gently rolling hillside. “Originally, we set the story in Scotland, but honestly, so many productions have shot there recently, and we really wanted to avoid any kind of Wicker Man-feel, in terms of the look of the film. Plus, my Mum is Norwegian, so now here we are filming in the most expensive country on Earth!”

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Directors Toor Mian & Andy Collier plot ghastly acts 

“But it really feels right to be shooting here,” Mian says. “Because there’s such a big connection in the story between the sort of Lovecraftian Cthulhu elements and all the water around us! Plus, you know, look at this place!” He finishes on this point, indicating to the breathtaking natural scenery. “We get so much bang for our production bucks!”

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Outside the cabin, on location in Bjørke, Norway

And how have they found filming in Bjørke? “Norway’s been great, not at all intrusive and really fluid!” Mian says. “And Bjørke’s been very easy to film in,” Collier adds. “We thought shooting in a tiny place like this might attract lots of local attention, but everyone has been brilliant. We were filming down at the harbour one day and this guy came in on his boat. He started asking a bit about the film, really interested in it all, but when he realised he’d be in shot he just said he’d move his boat somewhere else… and off he went!”

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The inhabitants of this cabin clearly shop at Cthulhu-R-Us

Watching them in cramped, hot conditions, I noted the two directors keep a focused but light-hearted set. How do they split duties? “I tend to be more technical,” Collier replies. “Working on DOP stuff and with the camera.” “While I usually work more with the actors,” Mian finishes. Does this lead to any kind of tension between the two of them, I wonder? They both laugh and simultaneously reply “Only sexual tension!” I get the feeling they’ve been asked this before.

I’d recently watched the pair’s previous film, Charismata, and noted the callbacks to Alan Parker’s 1987 psychological horror, Angel Heart, as well as the visual cues taken from David Fincher’s Seven. What could they tell me about any such inspirations for their latest work?

“Nicolas Winding Refn!” says Collier, without missing a beat, before Mian adds “I think Drive is a big influence on this film, in terms of the way we’re approaching the narrative.” “And definitely The Neon Demon for the visuals.” Collier finishes. The pair obviously enjoy working together, as they weave in and out of each other’s sentences.

“But another big inspiration is John Carpenter’s The Thing,” says Mian. “We’re going full-on with practical effects, loads of Cthulhu monster tentacles and all kinds of horrible stuff!” “Films like The Howling, those great 80s horror movies with all the practical effects, all very tangible, that’s really the essence of what we’re going for!” Collier adds enthusiastically.

And what can you tell us about the plot of The Colour of Madness? “Not much!” says Collier. “Or we’d have to kill you!” Mian jokes, or at least I hope he was joking.

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Barbara Crampton (right) practices some lines of dialogue in Norwegian

“One of our characters, Issac, played by Ludovic Hughes, returns to the remote Norwegian island where he grew up, after his mother dies,” continues Mian. “But on coming back with his pregnant wife they find things aren’t very welcoming and they quickly find themselves involved in a nightmare situation involving a Pagan cult, and, well… other things… ha ha.”

I wanted to move forward, to talk about what these two likeable creators have lined up for the future. “Well, there’s a film called Perpetual,” Mian offers. “That’s probably our next film.” I tell them I had read up about it and am intrigued by the potentially controversial plot, involving a small-town cop hunting a serial killer who leaves behind what seem to be Islamic terror calling cards in what’s left of his victims.

“Yeah, it’s a bit in limbo at the moment,” explains Collier, somewhat wearily. “We had some strong studio interest, but then they got cold feet over the subject matter. We’re quite prepped on it though, so as soon as the financing comes together, we’re good to go.”

“Plus we have a sort of medieval western we’re working on,” Mian adds. “The locations here would be perfect for that, so maybe we could even shoot that in Norway too.”

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Maybe someone should advise Sophie Stevens not to drink that water

“We learn from each of our films,” Collier concludes, as the actors are dismissed for the day and wander off in the now-inky black Norwegian darkness while the crew wraps and prepares for a long night shoot the following evening. “And we’re getting more confident. The Colour of Madness is a big leap from Charismata, and I think horror fans will find a lot in it to get excited about!”

As Jon and I finished our visit and drove away into the night, we left feeling excited at what horrors these directors and their hard-working crew would unleash on the screen, and kept an extra-sharp eye out for tentacles as we drove past the nearby lake…

The Colour of Madness is now in post-production and will be released in 2020.

Words by Dave King/Pictures by Jon Harman

Set video by Jon Harman: