First Look…The Lost City of Z

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Taking the lead last minute after Benedict Cumberbatch dropped out, Charlie Hunnam begins his quest to become the leading star I’m convinced he is with James Gray’s The Lost City of Z.

Hunnam stars as Percy Fawcett, real-life army major, surveyor and explorer who spent the early 1900’s in Bolivia, exploring the Amazon. Co-starring are a hairy Robert Pattinson, new Spiderman, Tom Holland and Sienna Miller, who continues to prove she always has been a good actress, it just took a while for everyone to notice.

The film has no release date yet but you can guarentee it’ll be more toward the end of the year, perhaps trying to creep into the awards season bracket.

In A Nutshell….Outlander

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The highly anticipated second season of Outlander begins this weekend. If, for some reason, the highly acclaimed show and it’s dedicated fan base have passed you by, then it’s time to get up to speed…..

What’s it about?

Outlander starts in 1945’s post-war Britain where former combat nurse, Claire Randall and her husband, Frank, are holidaying in Scotland while researching Frank’s family history. Claire visits some a local standing stone circle and is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. Immediately put in danger by one of her husband’s ancestors, Jack, she’s saved by a local group of men, including the dashing Jamie Fraser. Eventually falling for Jamie, Claire finds herself torn between two men, two worlds and two times.

Who’s in it?

OUTLANDER - Season 1 - Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) andn F Jamie Fraser (Sam Heugan) - Photo Credit: Nick Briggs/Sony

The show has made stars of its breakout leads, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan but it is littered with other familiar faces. You might recognise Tobias Menzies (Frank/Jack Randall), Graham McTavish or Bill Paterson.

It looks stunning…

Set and filmed in rural Scotland, it’s a feast for the eyes, especially as a large part of the story involves castles and galloping around the hills on horseback.

But beware…

It’s graphic. If you’re of a sensitive nature, it has some seriously brutal scenes of torture and rape amongst other things. It pulls no punches, especially later in the season, but don’t let that put you off, it’s all make-believe and the performances are incredible.

Season one highlight…

Perhaps episode 7, ‘The Wedding’ could be considered the high point of season one. It’s a big turning point for both the leads as Claire if forced into marrying Jamie to save herself. It’s also contains the series first big sex scenes, and joyfully, has the female character taking control.

The hook…

The love triangle. Claire’s love for both her husbands is at the forefront of the story, but there is also the time travel element. Claire, being from the future, knows what’s ahead for the Highlanders.

And about Season 2…

Without giving too much away, family Frazer rock up in Paris determined to change history and stop the Jacobite rebellion putting an end to the historical slaughter that happened at Culloden before it can even happen.

 

The Rest of 2016’s Offerings

April

The Jungle Book

Jon Favreau’s sumptuous looking motion capture version of the classic story (not to be confused with Andy Serkis’ version), stars the voice talents of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johnasson and Lupita N’yongo amongst others.

The Huntsman; Winters War

In a bid to erase Kristen Stewarts awful Snow White (and the tabloid fodder that came with it), The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) gets his own prequel, abley joined by three kick ass women, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. The story seems pretty silly but the costumes are stunning and it looks beautiful enough to get by.

Captain America; Civil War

While I don’t really see the point of pitting Cap against Iron Man, the Avengers films, in any capacity rarely fail deliver, with the introduction of Black Panther, the inclusion of Ant-Man and an all new Spiderman making an appearance. It’s a huge cast with a lot of star wattage. And I’m sure a brilliant way to spend a few hours.

May

X-Men; Apocalypse

While the idea of casting Oscar Issac in something then hiding him under prosthetics and changing his voice seems truly insane to me, I appreciate the fact he’s the big bad in the lasted X-Men offering. With the gang all returning, McAvoy, Fassbender, JLaw, there’s also room for some new faces too. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke seems like she might be particular fun. Also, Oscar Issac.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

I adore Alice in Wonderland, the real dark Victorian version, away from any Disney touching. But I am pleased they’re finishing up the story started here. It’s a great cast that includes Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway and perhaps most importantly the final dulcet tones of Alan Rickman

June

Warcraft; The Beginning

Honestly, I lack too much enthusiasm for this. I’ve tried but as much as I love Travis Fimmel and I’m so pleased to see him getting a lead in such a huge film, it leaves me cold. I have no doubt it’ll do brilliantly though.

The Nice Guys

Directed by Shane Black, this 70’s set private eye mystery stars the unusual team up of Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling, but you only had to see them present at the Oscars together to see they have surprisingly great chemistry together. Fans of LA Confidential will also be excited to see Crowe back on-screen with Kim Basinger. This could be one of the odd ball hits of the year judging by the trailer.

Now You See Me 2

We lose Isla Fisher this time round but gain Lizzie Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe. Other than that the oddball gang is all back. It felt like such a random cast last time round and it still does, but it works. Here’s hoping it’s as clever as last time.

Independence Day; Resurgence

No Will Smith this time round but Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman are back, along with a few other familar faces and the bonus additon of Liam Hemsworth and frankly any baby Hemsworth is good baby Hemsworth. Oh and there’s female POTUS!

July

Absolutely Fabulous; The Movie

The whole TV cast is back for this along with a myriad of famous and fashionable faces. Little is known about the plot beyond Edina and Patsy escaping the authorities and heading to warmer climbs. Fans of the show will love it, I’m sure.

The Legend of Tarzan

Truthfully, I don’t know how good this is going to be, it doesn’t look overwhelmingly brilliant to me, but it stars several of my favourite human acting people on the planet, Alexander Skarsgard (topless), Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson and Christophe Waltz.

Ghostbusters

Long awaited, highly anticipated and already getting some criticism on social media, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters will cause a stir either way. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth star. I suspect there are more surprises to this film than we’ve been led to believe.

The BFG

Steven Spielberg brings Roald Dahl’s classic to the screen with the genius of Oscar winner Mark Rylance. It’s true family entertainment, which probably means I’ll be bored 20 minutes in.

Star Trek; Beyond

Fast and Furious director takes over from JJ Abrams behind the camera. The gang is all back and we have no idea where they’re going but you can bet that somewhere along the way Idris Elba is going to try to kill them all for some reason.

Jason Bourne

After handing the Bourne franchise over to Jeremy Renner briefly (they blew up Oscar Issac!), Matt Damon is back in as the titular hero. Little is known about the plot but Julia Stiles returns as Nicky Parsons and the glorious Alicia Viaknder is in there too.

August

Suicide Squad

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this film. For me this is the film of the year. Jared Leto has some big Joker sized shoes to fill but it seems he will do it masterfully. The real break out star though is guaranteed to be Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (if you don’t fall in love with her during this trailer we can’t be friends). Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis and Ben Affleck round out the cast.

Ben Hur

Let’s be honest the 1959 Charlton Heston film might be legendary but an update doesn’t hurt. Directed by Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov, Jack Huston (yay) takes the lead and Morgan Freeman has epic dreadlocks. What’s not to love here?

September

Bridget Jones’s Baby

It’s the Bridget Jones film no one is really sure they want. Colin Firth is back alongside Renee Zellwegger who returns from whatever abyss she disappeared to. Patrick Dempsey steps in as the other man where Hugh Grant left off and Emma Thompson makes an appearance.

The Magnificent Seven

I have it on good authority this is more Wild Bunch than Magnificent Seven or even Seven Samurai. There’s not even been any pictures released yet, let alone a trailer but it was a hard shoot for all concerned from what I hear. Whether you can tear yourself away from the idea of Steve McQueen and Yul Bynner being replaced or not, you can’t deny the cast, which includes Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cam Gigandet, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard si a great one.

October

Gambit

Providing it’s ready in time, Channing Tatum’s X-Man, Gambit, will debut in early October. The real joy of the film though is the fact it has the stunning Lea Seydoux co-starring.

The Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt stars in the thriller based on the best-selling novel. Joining her are Rebecca Ferguson, Hayley Bennett, Justin Theroux and Luke Evans. Much like Gone Girl, I expect this to be the book-to-screen adaptation of the year.

Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch dives head first into the Marvel Universe as the sorcerer Doctor Strange, opening the door to the more weird side of the Marvel universe. Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton co-star. I mean a film with Cumberbatch and Swinton? Too good.

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November

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

November pickings are slim, but really the one film that counts and counts in a big way is the Harry Potter spin-off. JK Rowling penned the script and veteran Potter director David Yates in back behind the camera. Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander alongside Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterstone, Samantha Morton and Ezra Miller.

December

Moana

Normally I would side step any Disney animation, but this story of a little girl in the South Pacific who goes on an adventure to find a mysterious island, has The Rock as a Demi-God. But really the only reason this interests me is that all the music has been written by Hamilton genius Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Rogue One; A Star Wars Story

The first of the Star Wars spin-off films jumps back to when the X-Wing rebels were gearing up to steal the Death Star plans Luke Skywalker later used. Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed star.

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Passengers

Little is known about the plot for Morten Tyldum’s sci-fi adventure but Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star (potential best promo tour ever) and Lawrence has said filming it included her first ever real sex scene. So there’s that.

Assassins Creed

I don’t know the computer game, but the film stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson and Jeremy Irons. Fassbender with a sword seems like an okay prospect though.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiars

Adapted by Jane Goldman from the Ransom Riggs novel and directed by Tim Burton, Eva Green takes the lead (new muse for Burton?) with Asa Butterfield, Samuel L Jackson, Judi Dench and Alison Janney rounding out the cast.

 

So, Jon Bernthal

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So here’s the thing, with the release of the second season of Daredevil and the scene stealing role of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, I found it hard to believe that flicking through comments Twitter that the actor hadn’t been on peoples radars prior to this.

He’s not huge star that’s true, but he’s had good solid roles in The Wolf of Wall Street, Fury and Sicario. But if you’re a new Bernthal fan then I suggest hunting down TNT’s 2013 series Mob City, and LA noir in which he plays a damaged ex marine turned LAPD cop caught up in the mob world. It’s a true star turn and the rest of the cast, which includes Milo Ventemiglia, Ed Burns, Robert Knepper and Alexa Davalos, puts in great performances too.

Your new period drama obsession

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VERSAILLESSaison1-affiche-2048x920If you’re a period drama fan, and we’re talking the sexier dramas like Outlander or Vikings, as opposed to the gentle fare of Downton, then Versailles might just become your new go-to show.

Not surprisingly, this French-Canadian co-production looks stunning. Filmed on location at the real Versaillles, amongt other lavish French locations, it’s budget runs at a whopping £21 million, costing twice as much per episode as Downton.

It’s written in English, by an all British team that includes Simon Mirren (Waking the Dead) and David Wolsencroft (Spooks), so comes with a stellar pedigree. And while the cast are largely widley unknown faces, you might recognise George Blagden as Louis XIV from Vikings where he played monk Athelstan.

Having already been succesfully sold all over Europe, shown in Canada it is due to hit BBC 2 later this year. And it’s been so successful the cast have been busy on Season 2.

 

Tales for the Broken Hearted

I guess, in life, shit happens. We all have break ups, and we all deal with them differently. Me, having my heart ripped out then Riverdanced on repeatedly over the course of a few months really did some damage and when it finally all ended, well I was a literal puddle of tears and snot lying on the floor screaming. Coming in the middle of an already rough time, dealing with a host of other ill-timed and depressing things has just been too much.

By 10pm last night (the night of the break up) I decided to rewatch Game of Thrones (not too much romance there you see, more killing, this felt like a good thing) but I just wanted to cry, so I did, I did both. It would have been more logical of me to turn it off but really, achieving anything beyond staring at a screen and crying felt impossible. I’m still partially convinced this is my new life now, crying while going about tasks, because you see, I’m a drama queen.

So now it’s 4am, I haven’t really slept and in truth, I haven’t really stopped crying, but in a bid to be productive in the face of the shit tsunami that hit last night, I decided to start thinking about break up films. So here we go…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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That desire to erase the soul destroying romance from your mind is all to real to me. Watching Jim Carrey crying uncontrollably in his car as Beck’s “Everybody’s gotta learn sometime” plays, well at least you’re not alone, someone else is falling apart too. Beyond that though, it is a beautifully made, quirky little film with brilliant performances from Kate Winslet and Carrey, and some neat, in-camera effects.

500 Days of Summer

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We’ve all been so into someone that early on your relationship feels like it requires a musical number of happiness. Then it all crashes and burns and you’re left bumping into each awkwardly. If any film can sum up my heart right now it’s this. I think for a while I even had the ‘expecation’ and ‘reality’ split screen going on.

Under the Tuscan Sun

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Because running away after a break up feels like a really good idea right now even if I can;t buy a villa in Tuscany. Rediscovering oneself while discovering somewhere new seems like the perfect antidote. If it makes you stronger and more greatful for the little things like Diane Lane’s character then all the better.

Annie Hall

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Arguably the greatest realtionship movie of all time. Beautiful, witty and full of sarcasm, watching two people fight it out over a period of time, makes you realise just how hard relationships are. Sometimes they end, even when people love each other.

Funny Girl

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In truth it’s a straight forward love story. Girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, boy screw up, girl is broken hearted, but it’s the score that so beautifully illustrate this. So this comes with extra media, because well…

Sense & Senseability

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Because we’re all Marianne standing on that hill in the rain in heartbroken agony.

Legally Blonde

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Hear me out, because underneath all that pink and fluff, Legally Blonde is a break-up film. Elle, dumped by her boyfriend, sets out to change her ways and win him back, only to discover that’s not what she wants. It’s actually the ultimate post-beak up empowerment film.

The Way We Were

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More Streisand. It’s really about how two people who are so different can beat the odds for just a short time to be happy and when it’s over they still manage to love and respect each other in their own way.

 

Welcome to the Stark side….

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It’s time for our annual round up of Superheros guys, I mean we get at least one of these things a year now right? That’s the deal?

It’s time for Cap to take centre stage again (come on Thor, get your crap together) as we venture into Civil War, which will lay the ground work for 2018’s Infinity War Part 1. Still, we have to get through this film first, and it’s going to divide people. The marketing has already started and it’s clear people are picking sides, you’re either #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan (we’re all Cap here, I’m sure). But as our fav characters, and some newbies, are forced to take sides, things are going to get interesting.

Siding with Steve we have Bucky, Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Hawkeye while standing with Tony is War Machine, Black Widow, Vision and Black Panther. Firstly this brings up a lot of relationship questions. Black Widow and Cap had been firm friends, and of course her long term relationship with best bud Hawkeye will also be put to the test. I’m actually curious as to how that friendship gets divided, although Natasha likes to do things by the book, I would have expected her to side with the boys over Tony. I get why Vision would go to Stark, and War Machine, but Natasha is a big question mark for me, especially after the events of Winter Soldier.

Then we have the introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther (of everyone, I really feel for him in that suit!), which has been cause for the most excitement amongst fans, and of course our new Spiderman. Oh and can I say how pleased I am to see Paul Rudd’s Ant Man in this because, I feel like he’s going to be one of the best parts of the New Avengers team down the line.

The Name is Pine, Jonathan Pine

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Tom Hiddleston may not have set out to make The Night Manager his unofficial Bond audition, but three episodes in that’s exactly what it’s become, shirtless running along a Mediterranean beach and sexy exiting from a swimming pool included. Which is not to take anything away from the brilliant adaptation of Le Carre’s taught thriller.

It’s all a little muddy at the beginning, deliberately so, but as the action progresses we see Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine morph into more than just a tall drink of water in a well cut suit. There’s a steel core and a beast waiting to emerge. Which is probably a good thing when he ends up in the inner circle of the diabolical Richard Roper, played with disturbing quietness by Hugh Laurie. This is off-set wonderfully by his loud, arse of a right hand man, Corky played by Tom Hollander.

In the middle of this you have Ropers girlfriend, Jed, who knows her place and goes about things all too quietly, with good reason we later discover. Elizabeth Debicki is a fantastic actress, cool, sophisticated and built for a role like this, her switch between her public persona amongst Roper’s associates and her frailty behind closed doors is wonderful. We’re also blessed with the wonderful Olivia Coleman as Burr, Pine’s recruiter and handler. It’s a role originally written for a man, so it was Colman’s to make her own. Unintentional at her time of being cast, the fact that Colman was very pregnant during filming only adds to her character. A covert meeting with Pine at an ice cream van in episode 3 for instance, would have played out so considerably differently had she been a man, or just not been pregnant.

It is though, all boiling down to a brilliant masterclass from Hiddleston and more importantly, from Laurie. We wait 40 minutes to meet the man foreshadowed as ‘the worst man in the World’ and when he finally appears, he slinks onto our screens with a mixture of affability and underlying danger and it’s perfect.

 

The 100. The Best Show You’re Probably Not Watching

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If you’re not watching The 100. You probably should be.

The CW’s surprise hit about a bunch of teenagers sent from a space station to a post-apocolyptic Earth didn’t seem like much on the face of it. Just another silly show with a beautiful young cast. But if you stuck it out through the first few episodes, you’ll have realised it was so much more than that. The show quickly got much darker than I think anyone expected for a CW production, with a much wider and more mature outlook.

Tonight Season 3 premiere’s in the US.

The Arrival of the Suicide Squad or How Harley Quinn is my Spirit Animal

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There’s two films that since last years Comic Con I have been tapping my fingers to see. The first is Deadpool and he will be among us soon, the second was Suicide Squad. 

The first footage last year, released with the Bee Gees, I Started A Joke was sublime and kudos again because the new trailer comes with a touch of Bohemian Rhapsody and plenty of one liners. It goes a little further into what to expect from ‘the worst heros ever’. Interesting, it’s only Deadshot who’s named and there’s some deliberate vagueness to the introductions, and the plot. Is the carnage they walk into really all down to the Joker? But from this footage, the film potentially belongs to Margot Robbie and the crazy, yet glorious Harley Quinn.

It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s violent (can you see a trend here) and I can’t bloody wait.