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2015 R AT E D & S L AT E D


The bear’s back in Kung Fu Panda 3, p98.

February 2016 Issue 241


Michael B. Jordan gets in the ring for Creed.

84 Surf’s up in the new Point Break.



>This issue… 53 | 2016 PREVIEW TF Next year is big. And not just because there are 366 days. 54 | FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM TF We cast the net over the Harry Potter prequel. 60 | DEADPOOL TF The Marvel movie to get people’s spandex in a twist. 66 | HIGH-RISE TF Fights in the stairwells and lifts. That’s just the TF office.

77 It’s all getting a bit dark in DC’s Suicide Squad.

54 Eddie Redmayne comes over all magical in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

>Buzz News

>Every issue

>Screen Cinema reviews

10 | DIRTY GRANDPA De Niro. Efron. Spring Break!

37 | Leo crawls 200 miles for an Oscar in The Revenant, Chris Hemsworth has a whale of a time in In The Heart Of The Sea, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are Sisters and Rocky VII AKA Creed comes out swinging...

70 | CREED TF Fisticuffs, tears, fresh starts... That’s just the TF office.

13 | CHRIS HEMSWORTH Thor is all at sea in whaling epic In The Heart Of The Sea.

20 | IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A FILM JOURNALIST Jamie samples on-set catering while looking at grown men in nappies.

77 | SUICIDE SQUAD TF The most badass nutters in the movies. That’s just...

15| AGENT CARTER Hayley Atwell moves to LA and goes noir in the second season of Marvel’s hit TV show.

31 | CAREER INJECTION The Terminator franchise. How to go from tinpot to precious metal.

>Agenda Views

143 | IS IT JUST ME? ...or is Quantum Of Solace a quality Bond movie?

27 | IDRIS ELBA He’s going bad in The Jungle Book and Star Trek Beyond.

144 | CLASSIC SCENE The opening, Jets-fuelled gangs-of-New-York dance-off in West Side Story.

84 | POINT BREAK Waves and robberies. Will the remake catch a break? 106 | OUR BRAND IS CRISIS Sandy Bullock gets political. She wants world peace... 112 | REVIEW OF 2015 TF Will The Cobbler be our film of the year? Nah, it’s Pixels. 120 | TF INTERVIEW: PATRICK STEWART TF Chilling with Professor X.

4 | Total Film | February 2016

32 | YOUTH Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel explore every wrinkle. 34 | JANE FONDA Discusses her comeback. And getting old.

146 | 60-SECOND SCREENPLAY The pen is mightier than the laser-lobotomy. SPECTRE cut down to size.

>Lounge Home entertainment 127 | Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation runs and guns on to DVD, Fantastic Four doesn’t get any better in living rooms and The Goonies is 30 years young. Plus, Christmas specials for Sherlock and Doctor Who. With exclusive iPad-only extras! Available on Apple Newsstand


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Leapin’ lizards!

Fantastic Beasts heads up our massive 2016 preview.

ather than go Christmas shopping this year, the TF team lovingly selected and wrapped cinematic gifts for you, all tied up in a big 2016 bow. We’re looking into our crystal balls (the distributors’ schedule) and highlighting every corking blockbuster, arthouse, comedy, animation, you-name-it you should be getting all excited about next year. With 2016 being a leap year, that gives you even more days to get to the cinema and see ’em all! And as 2015 comes to a close, we’ve also hailed and hated on the good, the bad and the downright ugly of this year’s flicks (Adam Sandler, all is not forgiven). Have a lovely Christmas and see you on the other side. Enjoy the issue.




Drop us a line: The ups and downs of making this issue…



ENTERTAINED Mustn’t Grumble Day


Rocking up the Rocky Steps

Toilet habits sym-poo-sium

Should Shaun The Sheep be in our Top 10?


It’s great to see some of the plucky female heroines who are ripping up sci-fi at the moment. It seems as though my favourite genre is stepping out from the shadow of the recent surfeit of supercilious superhero films. Yawn! With the likes of Katniss and Star Wars’ Rey proving that women in sci-fi can be intelligent, spunky and heroic, I’m hopeful we will see more seductively strong women rather than the strongly seductive stereotype that’s become so dull and irritating in recent years. As Joss Whedon has finally been unleashed, it’s surely a matter of time before he reproduces the magic of Buffy or Firefly’s River Tam. However, there’s one sci-fi question which still needs to be answered: where are all the female directors?



6 | Total Film | February 2016



Advent calender countdown to The Force Awakens


It’s a depressing state of affairs, but one light in the darkness is Kathleen Kennedy as empress of all things Star Wars; here’s hoping her influence will plot a course correction away from Planet Beardy. Laura and everyone with a letter printed here will receive a copy of The Gift, out now on DVD.

Peeta! You will know his name.

Didn’t send an address? Email it! Just to be clear, it’s not the one with Bad Keanu.

Catching fire water Try watching all four Hunger Games movies back to back and every time someone on screen says the name “PEEEEEETTTAHHHHHH!!!” you have to neck a shot of booze. By the end of Catching Fire you will be completely intoxicated and probably spewing. Enjoy your hangover. PHIL SLOAN, BEXLEY

Readers: if you’re of appropriate age by all means take up Phil’s challenge; but we’d like to remind you of the dangers of consuming too much Hunger Games in one session. At least consider fast-forwarding through all the bits where Gale has a face on. Subscribe at


Mail, rants, theories etc...


Die Hard is still the quintessential Christmas movie.

TOTALFILM ONLINE ON OUR WEBSITE… 10 Best Star Wars Board Games This Christmas, fill the gap between repeat viewings of Episode VII with some rolling dice and pewter figures. Has anyone come up with Connect Force yet?

Good Willis to all men With Christmas just round the corner, I was wondering what your favourite festive movies are? For me it’s a triple whammy of The Muppet Christmas Carol (heartwarming family sing-songs), It’s A Wonderful Life (affirming, timeless classic) and – of course – the peerless Die Hard. I ask you: what fills one with Christmas cheer more than some bloke in a vest battling European uber-thieves in an LA skyscraper? Nothing, that’s what. So yippee-ki-yay and Merry Christmas!

‘What fills one with more Christmas cheer than a bloke in a vest?’

to the cinema matinees when the Captain Marvel serials were showing. As I remember it, a boy called Billy Batson had to utter the magic word “SHAZAM!” to transform under cover of a cloud of smoke into the mighty Captain Marvel. He would emerge sporting a red uniform and a small yellow cape (grey on the screen). My question is: how long is it since TIM COLEM AN, Captain Marvel had a sex change COVENTRY and why has he had one? If I We see your vest in a remember correctly, the comics news reviews skyscraper and raise you addressed the gender issue with videos trailers his sister, Mary Marvel; there was Mel Gibson having a judo death battle on the lawn in also a boy, Captain Marvel Junior, and Lethal Weapon. Or Danny DeVito a super-dog whose name I forget... IAN WINSON, VIA EMAIL fancy-dressing as a scrotum in Batman Really, it’s a simple case of same name, Returns. But no one gets into the festive different comics universes. The (male) spirit quite like Sly Stallone: First Blood has Captain Marvel you recall is the DC version, an accident with a tree, a meltdown rant, plus the line about eating things “that would later renamed Shazam to avoid any rights hoo-ha. Meanwhile, Marvel’s Captain make a billy goat puke”. Pure Christmas! Marvel has always been a woman. Apart Oh captains… from when he was a man. The one the I’ve been a film and comics fan for a long upcoming movie is about is definitely a time now (I’m 69) and can remember woman – she’s called Carol – although she the Captain Marvel comics. I also used to go used to go by the name Ms. Marvel, but

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50 Best Action Movies Of All Time Buddies, Bourne, Bruce Lee… plus that odd ’90s period when Nic Cage was the world’s biggest action star. Guaranteed to leave you more pumped than a bouncy castle. 20 Best TV Shows That Got Their Own Movies From Tom Cruise burgling the CIA to four fwwrrriends going mad in Malia, here’s a list of quality adaps that does not contain the words ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’.

@TOTALFILM BOUNTY HUNTER JUMPER OF THE MONTH status/671326784311422977 There are more Christmassy Star Wars jumpers out there – Vader in antlers etc – but none cooler than this Boba Fett item via Funstock. Perfect for those Cloud City constitutionals. ANT-SIZED ISSUE OF THE MONTH status/671326318278103040 Ant-Man’s arrival on Blu-ray inspired Disney-Marvel to create this ultra-ultra-compact edition of TF. Gave us a chronic case of Clint Squint, but still very cute. SHORTS OF THE MONTH status/670205200074981376 To get us in the mood for Creed, Warner Bros sent us these boxing shorts. Cue spontaneous audition for Creed II. Phone hasn’t rung yet, but we’re waiting till after Christmas.

Chatter ‘gems’ overheard in the Total Film office this month...

8 | Total Film | February 2016

TV REVIEWS GAMESRADAR.COM/TV There’s a new Star Trek TV show on the way; read what our sister mag SFX wants to see at http://www. Contribute your own list of wishes and they could be brought to life in a future issue via the medium of funny drawings!

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“Oh no, don’t make sexy tea.” “You just startled me with a sharon fruit!” “What did we do on the toilet before smartphones?” “I dreamed I was street-cast in Spielberg’s new one. Every take was a disaster.”

What’s your New Year’s movie resolution? Tell us yours at @totalďŹ lm #tfstarname! Editor Jane Crowther (JC) @totalďŹ lm_jane Embrace ‘fun in the foyer’ Acting Associate Editor Jamie Graham (JG) @jamie_graham9 Watch all of PTA’s ďŹ lms in a day Acting Associate Editor Josh Winning (JW) @joshwinning Watch every movie on Netix in a year Screenings Editor Matthew Leyland (ML) @totalďŹ lm_mattl More Carry On marathons

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News Editor Matt Maytum (MM) @mattmaytum Do my Ingmar Bergman homework Operations Editor Alex Cox @hipattack Learn to spell Chiwetel Ejiofor off by heart Art Editor Mike Brennan @mike_brennan01 Re-watch every Chuck Norris ďŹ lm starting with Delta Force

that’s someone else now. Simples! Also, the ‘dog’ you’re referring to was actually a tiger, Mister Tawky Tawny. Whose Wikipedia bio reads like the work of chemically enhanced hackers.

currently in production. Cue music: 10. Alien Vs Predator Vs Kramer; 9. Mr Popper’s Hissing Cockroaches; 8. Schindler’s Naughty List; 7. RoboCopper: Scotland Yard; 6. Godzilla Vs Austerity; 5. Pitch Perfect 3: Move Pitch, Get Out The Way; 4. Filthy Dancing; 3. Sometimes Back Down; 2. Kiss Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Bang; 1. Superman Returns: Diminishing. This is all 100 per cent medically accurate.

War of the words


The letter about noisy cinemagoers in issue 240 reminded me of the time I went out one night to celebrate getting a new job; after a few drinks we went to see Jurassic Park, and for the first 10 minutes some woman talked non-stop and unwrapped lots of noisy plastic-covered sweets. Despite being asked to be quiet she kept on talking. By now I was annoyed and I started a cinema-wide argument with the woman. Insults were thrown and we were both threatening bodily harm. I got up and walked towards her, she started towards me, we were both effing and jeffing, and when we came face to face I realised the person I’d been badmouthing in the darkness was my new boss! Oops! ISABELL A HOLLIFIELD, C AERPHILLY

Crikey. That sounds like some deleted scene from Trainwreck. Did a random world-famous sports personality chip in with a killer one-liner?

Sequel opportunities So me and my bestie decided to help out sequel-obsessed Hollywood by planning their roster for the next 24 months. Here are the top 10 sequels

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That’s next year’s TF covers sorted, then. We might go for a split run with your number six: Godzilla on one cover, sheet of blank A4 on the other. Subscribers get a free half a crayon.

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CONTRIBUTORS Hollywood Correspondent Jenny Cooney Carillo (JCC) Contributing Editors Kevin Harley (KH), James Mottram (JM), Neil Smith (NS) Contributors Stephen Armstrong (SAr), Sam Ashurst (SA), Tara Bennett (TB), Tom Bond (TBo), Paul Bradshaw (PB), Ali Catterall (AC), Tom Dawson (TD), Emma Dibdin (ED), Nathan Ditum (ND), Jordan Farley (JF), Matt Glasby (MG), Richard Jordan (RJ), Stephen Kelly (SKe), Philip Kemp (PK), Simon Kinnear (SK), Matt Looker (MLo), Andrew Lowry (AL), Andre Paine (AP), Stephen Puddicombe (SP), Kate Stables (KS), Charlie Whatley-Smith (CWS). Illustration Glen Brogan, Lizzy Thomas, Jason Pickersgill Thanks to Nick Chen, Chris Hedley (iPad) We’re now offering select intern opportunities at Total Film or over-18s with a proven interest in journalism. Please send a covering letter and 200-word film review in TF style to using ‘TF intern application’ in the subject line.

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Enjoy the silence Having managed to wangle my way into press screenings, I can now finally enjoy the cinematic experience in peace. No phones, no shit-chat, no annoying foods. It’s so good, any time I see a movie with an everyday audience, it’s ruined by my now overly-conscious perception of all things irritating. It’s like being downgraded from first class on a plane (I assume, having never seen first class) to the undercarriage, where everything is noisy and smelly and completely unenjoyable. How does everyone else do it? RIAN SMITH, CLONSILL A

Well, you say that, but press screenings aren’t always a bed of roses – they expect you to sit on something called a ‘chair’ without so much as a monogrammed cushion or a bell to ring for mid-screening nibbles. And where the devil’s the page boy to transcribe our biting comments?


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February 2016 | Total Film | 9

Welcome to the movies!


Gutsy performance: Zac Efron brings out the (really) big guns and (below) Dick (Robert De Niro) and grandson Jason hit the beach.

10 | Total Film | February 2016


‘De Niro is totally balls-to-the-wall’ AUBREY PLAZA


The beer hunter DIRTY GRANDPA Party till you’re pregnant! Zac Efron and Robert De Niro get wild… After that messy interview walk-out business this year, Robert De Niro is getting back to what he does best: upsetting people who think he should still be playing Johnny Boy. De Niro in another low-brow comedy isn’t Taxi Driver 2, but the redder-than-red band trailer has got us wondering if this filthathon will be something rare for Bob-coms: funny. After his stiff-shirted dad in the Fockers series, here De Niro cuts loose – and we’re not just talking about unleashing the belly (see pic, left), which isn’t quite the full Cape Fear-pack. The story sounds thin but, going by the trailer, it’s really just a thread on which to hang some fairly uproarious raunch-com skits. After playing a Bad Neighbour dressed as Travis Bickle, Zac Efron stars as prim lawyer Jason Kelly, who’s about to get wed but first joins just-widowed gramps Dick (yes, Dick) on a cross-country road trip. Cue life lessons? Er, no: hard-drinking, hard-swearing, ex-Army dude Dick tricks Jason into hitting Florida for spring break because he wants to f… Well, let’s just say Johnny Knoxville’s Bad Grandpa would blush. As co-star Aubrey Plaza says of Bob, “His character is totally balls-to-the-wall dirty grandpa.” The fact that Plaza’s Lenore turns the screen bluer as Dick’s lover gives you some idea of the scurrilous intent here. So do the creatives: writer John Phillips co-wrote Bad Santa 2, while director Dan Mazer co-wrote Borat and Brüno before directing I Give It A Year. Jeff Bridges and Michael Douglas were linked to Grandpa in 2012 but De Niro seems to have grabbed Dick by the horns, which should please anyone (everyone?) who thought Last Vegas could’ve used more “horse cock” gags. We’ll get (hopefully) quality De Niro in Joy. Here, we get him sticking a thumb up Efron’s arse. Maybe he’s found his funny bone at last. KH ETA | 22 JANUARY Dirty Grandpa is out next month.

February 2016 | Total Film | 11

buzz Welcome to the movies!


Grimm reaper THE FOREST | Natalie Dormer leads Buzz into a deep, dark wood… “It’s physically exhausting,” Natalie Dormer tells Buzz of shooting “thriller slash horror” The Forest. “We shot in chronological order, which was a good call: I got more and more tired, and looked rougher and rougher. So by the end of the five-week shoot, I really had gone on that journey.” The Game Of Thrones actress was never going to be in for an easy ride, not least because The Forest is set in Japan’s infamous Aokigahara Forest, also known as ‘Suicide Forest’ because up to 30 people a year are thought to take their lives there. Gus Van Sant’s controversial Sea Of Trees sent Matthew McConaughey into its woods earlier this year, while The Forest – which filmed in Tokyo at the same time as Van Sant’s movie – finds Dormer’s Sara heading into Aokigahara in search of her missing twin sister. Based on an idea by producer David S. Goyer (Blade, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films), it’s a spooky genre offering and the directorial debut of Jason Zada, who previously shot interactive Facebook horror short Take This Lollipop. “This is a true genre movie,” Dormer says as she chats to Buzz in a London hotel. “The psychological unravelling of the protagonist... I found it very Grimm fairytales. I think it harks back to something deep in our human psyche, the idea of going into the forest to meet your demons, but the monsters are actually a reflection of yourself and your own baggage and ghosts.” The Forest is the first of two horror films Dormer is heading up in 2016, with zombie flick Patient Zero (“it’s Contagion meets 28 Days Later”) due out later in the year. “A horror movie, I suppose, works in the same way a comedy does,” Dormer muses. “With comedy, you set up the joke and then give the punchline. In a horror, you set up the scare and the tension, and then give the payoff.” Be afraid. Be very afraid. JW ETA | 26 FEBRUARY The Forest opens next year.

12 12 || Total TotalFilm Film || February xxx 2011 2016

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‘I’d like to think I’d be a good motivator if lost at sea...’

Chris Hemsworth swaps hammer for harpoon in In The Heart Of The Sea...

What was the toughest part? Losing weight. Basically eating just a couple of bowls of vegetables each day. It definitely brought the cast closer together. We were quite moody; my wife certainly had something to say… No, she was great. But I think Ron expected us to be blowing up stuff! The film’s based on the story that inspired Moby Dick; is your character essentially Ahab? Well, the whole experience did send Owen Chase insane in later

life – the emotional and physical trauma he went through. He was out of his community, out of his normal consciousness… I think that may have inspired Ahab to some degree. But I think Owen in our movie is a far more grounded, personable human being. How do you think you’d fare placed in a similar situation? It’s hard to say. I’d like to think I’d be a good motivator, a good team player. I certainly have an appetite for life so there’s a survival instinct that would keep pushing me along. I’ve captained football teams over the years, and I’d say that’d come in useful, but maybe not after 90 days of being lost at sea! Is the style of action very removed from Marvel? It’s all much more reality-based. It’s trickier in a way; half the time you’re in bare feet so somewhat more painful too. I didn’t have all

the floor padding to protect me if I took a fall. It was a whole new environment for me and one I was excited to jump into. How would you compare fighting a whale to fighting Ultron? You need just as much imagination, because neither exists while you’re shooting. It’s either green cardboard, or a big bouncing green ball, or something else green… ML ETA | 26 DECEMBER In The Heart Of The Sea opens this month and is reviewed on page 42.

Heart-throb: Hemsworth plays Owen Chase.

February 2016 | Total Film | 13


Between takes

This is your second Ron Howard movie in two years… He’s the best. We had a great relationship on Rush – so to jump straight into this was an easy decision. He’s one of the most collaborative, generous people, one of the smartest filmmakers. I can’t think of anyone else I want to go through an experience like [this film] with.

buzz Welcome to the movies!

Pieces of Peace: (l-r) Prince Andrei (James Norton), Natasha Rostov (Lily James) and Pierre Bezukhov (Paul Dano).



WAR AND PEACE | How the most famous novel ever written is still proving itself relevant in a new TV adaptation. “Everyone’s heard of War And Peace, pretty much, but not that many people have read it. There’s definitely a fear factor that comes with it,” considers Tom Harper, director of the BBC’s lavish new six-part miniseries. “But it’s such a wonderful book,” he continues. It [still] seems really, really relevant. One of the most amazing things about it is how even though they’re still living at the turn of the 19th Century in Russia, in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, it still feels like they’re people you know, and their loves and losses and doubts and fears and passions all feel very, very contemporary.” If you’ve ever been put off by Leo Tolstoy’s enormous doorstop of a novel, this adaptation will probably be a good place to test your toe in the water. Written by Andrew Davies (the Colin Firth-starring Pride And Prejudice) and

14 | Total Film | February 2016

exec-produced by Harvey Weinstein, War And Peace stars Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton as the central trio. At its core, the novel examines the impact of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia on the lives and loves of several aristocratic families over a number of years. From illegitimate heir Pierre (Dano), to flighty Natasha (James) and cynical military man Andrei (Norton), the scope of the novel allows for meaty character arcs. “There is a big canvas and that is certainly fun to have – to live out and try to understand,” adds Dano. “The bigger the journey, the more rewarding, fun and challenging it is.” Don’t expect six hours of navel-gazing though. Filming in Latvia, Lithuania and Russia over a sixmonth shoot, Harper had an army of his own to marshal. “All the war stuff was pretty challenging,” he says. “Obviously there’s the explosions, and the safety aspect. But just moving 500 people around is really, really time-consuming...”MM ETA | EARLY JANUARY War And Peace airs on BBC One next year.



How did you get involved in War And Peace? I was sent a script. Anna Karenina is one of my favourite books, and War And Peace has long been on the docket of things to read. And I do love Tolstoy and most Russian literature, so I was excited to read the script. A lot of the characters felt like people I could know and understand, so the human element of it felt very vital. How would you sum up your character, Pierre? I think Pierre is searching for his place in the world. One of my favourite ideas in Pierre and in the book and in the film is how sometimes the idea of something isn’t always what makes you happy or what you’re looking for. Sometimes we get the girl or we get the money or we get whatever. Is that really what makes life good? Even though he struggles, I think his heart is in the right place. What was it like filming on location? The Russian winter is not for the meek. It was very dark and very cold. Luckily, we had a nice big group of us there. I was very impressed by the scope, and very happy that we got to film on location because it had something to offer that I don’t think we could have got anywhere else. MM

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From Russia with love



Peggy goes to Hollywood AGENT CARTER: SEASON 2 Relax, Hayley Atwell is back, and this time the UK doesn’t have to wait so long. There’s a Marvel hero in the telly-verse who doesn’t run around in spandex or possess powers, yet still keeps evil at bay. Sassy and smart Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is returning for a second season, which airs on UK screens just a week after its bow in the US. Season 2 is set in late 1940s Los Angeles, always the epicentre of solid noir storytelling. Reassigned to the LA branch of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.), Carter has survived a gender war amongst her sexist peers in New York City, which has earned her new respect and responsibilities, including (crucially) that of investigating latest enemy Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett). Executive producer Tara Butters explains Peggy’s change in direction: “In the new season, her colleagues respect her, but it’s not saying sexism


is gone in 1947. [During] the first season, much of her focus was on people disrespecting her at work and not [appreciating her value], and a small part of it was grieving Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers (Chris Evans). Now the work thing is sort of fixed, since it’s gotten better, and she’s considering what her life is.” “There’s less angst for her this season,” Atwell says of her character’s new horizons. “She sees the world as it is rather than how she’d like it to be. And I think she is in a better place within herself so she’s ready to move on romantically and that’s something [we’re going] to explore this season also.” With Howard Stark’s butler (and fellow Brit) Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) as familiar face and ally, the two will help push each other to explore their true potential. Butters reveals, “Peggy meets Jarvis’ wife, Anna (Lotte Verbeek), and she sees that she and Jarvis have this great relationship. Peggy will both envy it but not get it. We’ll explore it.” TB

ETA | 17 JANUARY Agent Carter: Season 2 starts on Fox next month.

February 2016 | Total Film | 15

buzz Welcome to the movies!



Fungus among us: the three-parter blends CG, live action and Raymond Briggs’ classic character designs.

Having a gas FUNGUS THE BOGEYMAN | Buzz visits the set of the new TV adap of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved storybook.


It’s a warm summer’s day in Hemel Hempstead and Timothy Spall is farting on set – silently but violently – while the crew do their very best not to giggle. Afterwards, Spall can barely contain his relief at the suppressed laughter.

“Drama is so much easier than comedy – the crew have been very generous in laughing properly and not just pretending to laugh, because any actor can spot the difference,” he explains, leaning back on a tatty sofa, inside the dainty cottage where filming’s taking place. “That’s what you need for a good old pantomime.” Fungus The Bogeyman – airing on Sky 1 this festive season – isn’t exactly a pantomime, but it has plenty of boo and hiss. It’s inspired by, rather than adapted from, Raymond Briggs’ eponymous graphic novel about a mildly existential Bogeyman. In this new three-parter, Spall’s Fungus – who can ‘face bend’ to appear human – tries to find his

16 | Total Film | February 2016

son Mould who’s journeyed upstairs to the land of the drycleaners (their nickname for humans). “He’s a victim of the information age, he’s drycurious,” Spall quips as he shows us around. Father and son both encounter a seemingly charming Eve, as played by Victoria Wood. “Eve rescues Mould and he lives with her, but she has various hidden agendas because she’s not all she seems to be,” Wood nods carefully as we sit in her trailer sipping tea. She’s doing her best to avoid spoilers but admits that Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium team – the producers of the show – do have a motion-capture Bogey with her face on it (before she’s shushed by a producer). Wood admits it hasn’t been easy to keep a straight face throughout filming. “We did a scene the other day in a barn and had two Bogeys and two stunt Bogeys,” she explains, starting to giggle. “It was exactly like It’s A Knockout. I was trying to act while this Bogey disappears through a window with these enormous boots…” and, unlike the crew, she dissolves completely. SAr ETA | CHRISTMAS Fungus The Bogeyman starts on Sky 1 this Christmas.




The Brit thesp on Bogeys and farts. Are you a fan of the original Fungus The Bogeyman book? Yes, absolutely. The first time I read Fungus, I was about to start my own family. I remember rejoicing in the fact that he wants to wear trousers that really stink. How do you get into character if you’re playing a Bogeyman? There’s a kind of elephantine quality to the way you move – they’re bigger than us, and they’re lumbering but dexterous. Also they’re kind of reptilian and they have terrible flatulence, which still makes me laugh. We are a scatalogical nation, and we’re unashamedly going for that. The tension between the Bogeymen and their human neighbours feels like a call for tolerance. Without sounding too highfalutin about it, yes, there are pertinent parallels between what it is to be a displaced alien, trying to get by in an ordinary world, and this show. The Bogeys are trying desperately to fit in but occasionally get it wrong – something we all as human beings have had to adapt to as we become more integrated. Do you think this is classic Christmas TV? Yes, because a four-year-old can sit with an 80-year-old and get something out of it. One of the hardest things to crack is family entertainment but I think everyone finds farts funny. SAr

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One giant bleat: Shaun and co take an action-packed ride.


Comics trip FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD Delving into the origin story of the anarchic British comic.


Sheep shot


SHAUN THE SHEEP: THE FARMER’S LLAMAS | The woolly wonder is back on telly with a festive special. “Shaun is basically a 10-year-old boy pushing the boundaries as far as he can,” explains Richard ‘Golly’ Starzak, creator of Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas – the latest half hour Christmas animation from Wallace And Gromit creator Aardman Studios. “He’s the character who’ll press a button that says ‘do not press’.” INTERNATIONAL APPEAL “Shaun is huge internationally – maybe because everyone sees a family relationship in the show,” Sean Clarke, Aardman’s head of rights and brand development, points out. The stop-frame animation shorts are on air in Japan, China, Indonesia, the Middle East, the USA, Germany, Holland…. “We’re all over the world,” Clarke says gleefully.

NEW NEMESES “The Farmer’s Llamas are Hector, Fernando and Raul – and Shaun manipulates the farmer into buying them at a county fair auction,” says director Jay Grace. “They’re sociopaths really, they’re not purposefully trying to do any harm, they’re just big and clumsy and they create a mess. No conscience or any empathy I suppose. And technically they’re alpacas…”

OWN CHRISTMAS “I suppose it is a bit of a tradition to sit down with the family on Christmas Day and watch an Aardman film…” nods Starzak when we talk to him next to one of 16 detailed toytown sets in Aardman’s Bristol studio. “So Christmas legally belongs to Aardman. We’ve bought it and it cost us a fortune…” SAr ETA | CHRISTMAS Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas airs on BBC One this Christmas.

Even if you’ve never heard of 2000AD, you’ve likely seen its riotous influence in everything from 28 Days Later to Watchmen and Avengers Assemble. Future Shock documents the turbulent life of the British comic institution (and home of Judge Dredd) that’s been sticking two fingers up to the man since the days of Mary Whitehouse.

FAN FLICK “2000AD was set up in the ’70s as a mainstream sci-fi comic” explains director and fanboy Paul Goodwin. “Star Wars had just come out, and people felt that sci-fi was about to blow up. It was different from any other comic out there and for me and my buddies it had a huge impact.” PUNK DOC Goodwin was keen to show that far from being just another adventure rag, 2000AD boasted a harder, subversive edge. “It’s huge robots kicking the crap out of each other, but the comic was born out of a left-wing punk ethos, so it’s laced with this acerbic commentary about things like inequality and racism.” FALL OUT BOY Not surprisingly for an office full of leftie freethinkers, life at the comic wasn’t all coffee runs and team-building. The film’s not afraid of showing 2000AD’s fall as well as its rise and rebirth. “We never set out to make a puff piece,” grins Goodwin. “This had to be warts and all.” ORIGINS Some of the biggest names in fantasy, including the likes of Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, cut their teeth in 2000AD’s dingy writers’ room. Other contributors crossed the pond and joined Vertigo, Marvel and DC, taking the comic’s spirit with them. “If you look at some of the big, self-aware superhero movies,” insists Goodwin, “there’s the thumbprint of 2000AD.” CWS ETA | OUT NOW Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD is out now in cinemas and on DVD.

February 2016 | Total Film | 17

buzz Welcome to the movies!

Editor-at-Large Jamie Graham lifts the lid on movie journalism. This month: on-set catering. ‘The magic of movies’ is an oft-used phrase, but the real conjuring act on any film set happens at lunchtime, when a three-course banquet appears from a cramped trailer like it’s really a TARDIS. Cast, crew and extras queue for a choice of meat, fish or today’s veggie option. Sides include chips, potatoes, rice, vegetables, salads and sauces. And it’s a fair bet that the dessert menu will offer up such stodgy, keepthe-gaffers-going treats as bread pudding, chocolate fudge cake and spotted dick with custard. (Hang on, maybe the trailer really is a TARDIS, making daily forays back to the ’70s.) Still peckish? Load up an assortment of cheeses on bread and crackers, and decorate your plate with grapes. Of course, the standard of the catering (or ‘craft services’ as our American friends have it) does vary from movie to movie and budget to budget, as indicated by the coffee facilities. Micro-budget production? Kettle and a jar of instant. Mid-range movie? Oversized urn. Blockbuster? Starbucks truck staffed by baristas. But even the smallest, most spitand-sawdust DIY production understands that a film crew runs on its stomach, and somehow throws together a lunch (it’s always ‘lunch’, even if it’s served up at 2am on a night shoot) fit for royalty. That said, the leading actors normally settle for a salad-bar fly-by, or perhaps have a sliver of white fish delivered to their trailers. Stodge is good for burly crew folk but Angie, Sandy and Bradley can’t afford to

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If you’re very lucky, Sofía Vergara will take your order. Don’t forget the pudding...

‘Weirdly, the Muppets all skipped their lunch’ add to the 10lbs already being put on by the camera. My catering highlights during set visits include the immense, international-cuisine buffet that fed the representatives of 30-plus nationalities working on Life Of Pi in Taiwan; the local delicacies available on the Cape Town-shoot of Doomsday (though, being a veggie, it was a case of “see ya later, alligator”); and the sight of flailing crowds wrestling king crab’s legs on Postal (director Uwe Boll could have made a monster movie from B-roll footage). Lowlights are all self-inflicted, for I seem

incapable of learning that you should pick up your dessert at the same time as your main – a return trip is often met with the sight of vast baking tins now scraped clean of sponge pud and soaking in suds. But better even than the food is the sight of stars and extras queuing in full costume. On Edgar Wright’s Shaun Of The Dead and George Romero’s Land Of The Dead, it was cadaverous zombies whose contact lenses ensured they remained dead-eyed while chatting merrily. On Hitman: Agent 47, it was guys dressed head-to-toe in SWAT gear.

And on Exodus: Gods And Kings and 300: Rise Of An Empire, it was oiled beefcakes clad in nappies and sandals. I’d like to tell you about the Muppets getting their pasta bake on Muppets Most Wanted, but, weirdly, they all skipped lunch. And finally, a tip: if you want a sly, off-the-record interaction with the movie’s star, hang out by the coffee truck. It was here, stirring lattes, that I chatted to one of cinema’s biggest superheroes, me in jeans and T-shirt, him in full, glorious costume. Said superhero even told me of his outfit’s slyest secret. A mortal man, this Hollywood A-lister needed to take quick toilet breaks like anybody else… Jamie will return next issue... For more misadventures follow: @jamie_graham9 on Twitter.

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buzz Welcome to the movies!

This month: Issue 113, April 2006

Let’s do the time warp as we look back at classic issues of Total Film... OLD NEWS We were gearing up for the film that would finally nab Scorsese an Oscar, The Departed. “Leo wanted a film where he could be a tougher character who emanated from the streets,” Marty said of the third of their five collaborations to date.

THE INSIDE SCOOP Elsewhere in the issue, we offered up 63 ways to improve the movies. Some have come to pass: Give Scorsese an Oscar; adapt The Hobbit. Others we’re waiting on – ‘bring back the old Cameron Crowe’ is even more pertinent now than it was

COVER STORY Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow was back, for the first of many Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels (Part 5, AKA Dead Men Tell No Tales arrives 2017). On the back-to-back shooting, Jerry Bruckheimer told us, “If we’d set out just to do a part two, it could have been three or four years before we could

get everyone back together for a third film.” Meanwhile, it was business as usual for Keira Knightley, who has since abandoned the franchise: “The other day I was dragged across the deck by an invisible giant squid… Gore [Verbinski, director] was running around going, ‘I’m a tentacle, I’m a tentacle!’”

back then. Plus, we visited the set of V For Vendetta, at first with James Purefoy before he was replaced by Hugo Weaving. “I think you should just credit V,” the Matrix actor said. And with Rent and Sin City in the bag, Rosario Dawson was on the rise.

QUOTE ME ON THAT “I sort of justified it by saying it’s like a play. Nobody says, ‘Oh, I can’t do Hamlet because Richard Burton did it.’ So Clouseau is the Hamlet for comedians.” Steve Martin

TF INTERVIEW SHANE BLACK The outspoken writer turned to directing with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.


ON HOLLYWOOD “It’s a vile place in a lot of ways but also oddly romantic. I referred to it once as a big grinning idiot of a city, blindly throwing off sparks and splitting its head open with its own jollity. But there’s nothing behind the smile.”

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ON ACTION FILMS “I think action movies that used to be about characters suddenly became about motion. It’s like you would be having this story and then stop, have the action scene, and then go back to the story. I feel it should be seamless.”

ON WHAT TO DO NEXT “I want to do something unusual in horror. I don’t like slasher films. I like the Asian horror films a lot, but even then there’s something still missing. The Exorcist is the last elegant, character-driven horror movie I can think of.”

When we hit the set of X-Men: The Last Stand, the cast stayed tightlipped. “I can’t say anything about my character. I can talk about the weather though...” joked Famke Janssen. A low point of the franchise, no one has talked all that much about it since... Back in 2006, we were pondering the future of Pixar after Disney bought it for a whopping $7.4bn. The Emeryville studio now looks as strong as ever, and Disney has since acquired even more assets, from Marvel to Lucasfilm, giving it the industry’s most enviable slate. Tom Cruise dangled out of a moving car for Mission: Impossible III, his stunts having become ever more elaborate since. “If you think we’ve no more surprises, you couldn’t be more wrong,” teased director J.J. Abrams.

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PLUS! Get two FREE ODEON cinema vouchers!* *TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Savings compared to buying 13 full priced print issues. This offer is for new UK print subscribers (paying by Direct Debit) only. You will receive 13 issues in a year. Full details of the Direct Debit guarantee are available upon request. If you are dissatisfied in any way you can write to us at Future Publishing Ltd, 3 Queensbridge, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7BF, United Kingdom to cancel your subscription at any time and we will refund you for all un-mailed issues. Prices correct at point of print and subject to change. Two ‘admit one’ ODEON cinema vouchers are included in this offer. The ODEON cinema vouchers can be redeemed for standard 2D tickets at the box office at ODEON cinemas in the UK and ROI excluding the following cinemas: Barnet, Beckenham, Camden, Covent Garden, Epsom, Esher, Greenwich, Holloway, Kensington, Kingston, Lee Valley, Leicester Square, ODEON Studios (Leicester Square), Marble Arch, Muswell Hill, Panton St, Putney, Richmond, Streatham, South Woodford, Surrey Quays, Swiss Cottage, Tottenham Court Road, Uxbridge, Whiteleys, The Lounge at Whiteleys, Wimbledon, and BFI IMAX. For full terms and conditions please visit: Offer ends: 31/01/2016.

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This month’s trending topics...

The One To Watch


Idris Elba is getting in touch with his villainous side... ’ve acted in many different things and that was the most challenging I’ve done,” reveals Idris Elba when quizzed about his role as the as-yetunnamed villain in Star Trek Beyond. “I enjoyed making Star Trek a lot but it was very hard work and very different to anything I’ve done before.” The London-born actor is currently on a roll with powerhouse performances in the Netflix hit Beasts Of No Nation and his return as the unhinged detective in TV’s Luther. And he’s still hopeful


that the explosive BBC cop drama could jump from TV to cinema. “I would love to see an epic version of Luther on the big screen,” he grins. Elba’s less enthused about fielding questions about the James Bond role (“I don’t even want to talk about it any more”), but he becomes, well, animated when the conversation turns to his voicing of Shere Khan in Jon Favreau’s remake of beloved Disney favourite The Jungle Book. “I was obviously nervous about recreating a classic, but Jon wanted to completely reinvent

it, he’s chosen a really interesting style, something that I think is quite groundbreaking in terms of cinematography,” says Elba. “I just attacked it as I would any role, with passion and honesty.” It also means he’s made a movie suitable for his children. “My daughter saw Beasts Of No Nation and I was horrified,” smiles Elba. “So I’d love to do things that are in her age group.” AP ETA | 15 APRIL The Jungle Book opens in April and Star Trek Beyond opens in July.

February 2016 | Total Film | 27

agenda This month’s trending topics...

The need-to-know...

Star Wars Thanks to the Christmas release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s everywhere. TV ads, toy shops, even bottles of water. And, by the time you read this, it’ll even be IN CINEMAS. Finally.

DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD Production has just wrapped on the movie outing for Ricky Gervais’ smarmy middle-manager. More than a decade after the UK version of The Office ended, Brent still harbours dreams of rock stardom, and the film sees him funding his own tour with bandmates, Foregone Conclusion. Gervais is writing and directing, as well as starring. He’s always been open about the influence of This Is Spinal Tap on his work, so it’s fitting that he’s putting Brent in a rockumentary. Here’s hoping it goes all the way up to 11, and is more Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa than Kevin & Perry Go Large...

Following the success of Maleficent and Cinderella, big-screen fairytales are a huge deal these days. The Little Mermaid, from Universal and Working Title, lost original director Sofia Coppola, but has since bounced back by confirming a star: Chloë Grace Moretz will play the titular fish-person, with Richard Curtis taking on scripting duties. As this is a new take on the original Hans Christian Andersen story (rather than a live-action redo of the Disney version), don’t expect to hear Moretz belting out ‘Part Of Your World’. And depending on how closely Curtis sticks to HCA’s text, this one might not even have a happy ending…

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Alien spin-offs Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel – officially dubbed Alien: Covenant – was thought to be part of a trilogy, but Sir Rid has hinted that it could be the second in a four-part series. Men In Black The franchise is up for reinvention. The next episode will feature “a prominent woman in black,” according to producer Laurie MacDonald. And apparently we shouldn’t count out a return for Big Will.



The actor most famous for portraying psycho killer Leatherface in 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has passed away, aged 68. He enjoyed a successful career in horror movies including Mosquito and Murder-Set-Pieces.

The LEGO Batman Movie has landed itself another big-name star, with Ralph Fiennes signing up to voice Alfred, the Dark Knight’s butler. He’ll join Will Arnett as Batman, Michael Cera as Robin and Rosario Dawson as Batgirl.

Fantastic Four While this is probably the least surprising movie news of the year, the latest iteration of Fantastic Four is all but dead, now that its sequel has been yanked from the release schedule. Bad box-office 2015 has seen some of the worst wide releases ever. The likes of Jem And The Holograms, Rock The Kasbah and Victor Frankenstein have performed so poorly release strategies may have to change.



Universal’s interconnected ‘expanded universe’ of classic movie monsters may have found itself a figurehead in everreliable action man Tom Cruise. He’s in talks to star in the studio’s reboot of The Mummy, which is being scripted by Alex Kurtzman (Mission: Impossible III) and Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious). Frankenstein, Wolfman and The Invisible Man reboots are all set to follow.

After the success of Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy, an Amy Winehouse biopic is in the works. Swedish star Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is in talks to portray the singer in a film set to be directed by Kirsten Sheridan (August Rush). “Our aim is an innovative, emotional and lifeaffirming approach,” she says. PA


The scale

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Craft services: Brie Larson (Ma) and Jacob Tremblay (Jack) bonded over creating the film’s authentic artistry.

The Spotlight

Captive audience ROOM | Lenny Abrahamson’s mother-and-son kidnap tale is this year’s awards season darling.


ometimes a film’s synopsis just doesn’t cover it. Take Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s tale of a kidnap victim and her five-year-old son – the result of repeated rape by her captor. While it sounds unfathomably grim, “This is not a film about abuse,” promises Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did). “That’s the back story.” Indeed, for a movie with such dark subject matter, Room has been uplifting viewers wherever it’s played. Winner of the People’s Choice award at Toronto, it’s fast becoming this year’s indie breakout with Oscar potential. Adapted from the 2010 novel by Emma Donoghue – itself inspired by the shocking case of Austrian father Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter imprisoned in a cellar for 24 years – Room is very much seen from the perspective of the incarcerated Ma (Brie Larson) and her boy Jack (Jacob Tremblay) rather than the little-

glimpsed kidnapper, dubbed Old Nick. It’s their relationship that forms the emotional heart of the film; Jack may be the product of her confinement but he’s also the reason Ma still has hope. Locked inside a sound-proofed shed, with only a skylight connecting them to the outside, ‘Room’, as they call it, is their whole world. “Any situation, no matter how strange it might seem,

‘These are two people as well adjusted as they could be to the situation’

can become normal to people when they’re living it,” says Abrahamson. “You’re looking at two people, the mother and the son, who are as well adjusted as you could possibly be to this situation. I find that moving – realising that this is their daily life. You’re not watching distress; you’re not watching the first week of her incarceration.”

One of the most important aspects was the set, which took two months to build. “Every single thing had to be thought through,” says Abrahamson. From ventilation to gradual wear-and-tear on the cork floor tiles to whether it would be possible for Ma to guess the seven-digit code on the keypad locking them in (no, it’d take 150 years, says Abrahamson), nothing was left to chance. The team even considered how the sun, over time, would fade certain patches on the wall. “Maybe nobody will notice that but for us, it brings us into a fully imagined world,” he says. One of the daily tasks he set Larson and Tremblay, “to help them bond,” was to make the crafts that appear in Room. It worked, with both Larson and the now nine-year-old Tremblay superb together and now being touted as Oscar contenders. Previously best known for The Smurfs 2, Tremblay would be the youngest ever winner, if he were to prevail. And judging by ecstatic reactions so far, he’s in with a chance. JM ETA | 15 JANUARY Room is out next month.

February 2016 | Total Film | 29

agenda This month’s trending topics...

The Spotlight

In the zone: Claus (Pilou Asbæk) is forced to make difficult decisions in A War.

Court in the act A WAR | Danish director Tobias Lindholm goes into battle… y vision for this was to make a story where the audience would understand a guy committing a war crime while he was doing it,” says Tobias Lindholm, writer-director of the searing new Danish drama A War. Writing both political show Borgen and Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, he’s more than used to setting up moral quandaries for audiences to grapple with. But A War takes it to another level. Pilou Asbæk, star of Lindholm’s two previous films, A Hijacking and R, plays Claus, a commander in the Danish army fighting in Afghanistan; forced to make a highly questionable decision under heavy fire from the Taliban, it saves his troops but leaves 11 civilians dead. “Who wouldn’t save lives in that situation?” argues Lindholm. “I think that’s understandable on a human level. Do I like the outcome of it? Of course not, it’s disgusting.” Inspired by real-life incidents he’d read about in Germany, England, Denmark and America,


what follows is a fascinating second-half as Claus is brought to trial. Just don’t expect grandstanding courtroom scenes full of uplifting speeches. “This is not a film that has a blockbuster built into the DNA of it,” he says. “You don’t feel happy leaving this. You probably feel sad. And you probably have seen greater special effects. You’ve probably seen greater shots of a war. But at least it’s an honest expression.” Lindholm is actually being modest – shot with real Danish troopers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war scenes are superb. The only real downer is that his star is now getting so big, he’s heading to Westeros. “Pilou is going to have a tremendous career,” he says. “Now he’s in Game Of Thrones – a little part of me wants them to kill him fast, but chances are they won’t! And then I have to wait three, four years to work with him again.” JM

‘You don’t feel happy leaving this film. You probably feel sad’

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ETA | 8 JANUARY A War opens next month.

PILOU ASBÆK The Borgen star on boot camps, Ben-Hur and breaking into Thrones. You worked with real soldiers on A War. Did you go to a boot camp too? I did all that shit. They woke me up in the middle of the night. Boom! A firework next to my tent in the middle of the forest! I just had my underwear, my military boots, my gun and a flashlight – and I ran out! You’re in a remake of Ben-Hur. What will it be like? It’s a $150m production. It’s massive! We shot in Rome, at [Cinecittà] Studio 5, Fellini’s old studio. The first meeting I had with the director was in Fellini’s bedroom... that was pretty cool! I play Pontius Pilate, so I have the golden throne. For the chariot scenes, I go ‘Race!’ and then you would see these chariots – it was spectacular! You’re in the next season of Game Of Thrones. Are you a fan? I fucking love it, man. I’m a huge fan. I can’t say anything because I signed a contract with HBO. It got leaked that I’m playing Euron Greyjoy. But I really feel that I’m trying the big, big, big Hollywood machine – and I mean it in the nicest way when I say ‘machine’. It’s going so smooth. JM

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Duty Bond? Daniel Craig made headlines with his comments that he’d “rather slash” his wrists when asked about playing Bond again after SPECTRE, but he has since backtracked on his statement, which was made right at the end of the film’s arduous shoot. “I say things when I feel it and then I change my mind,” he clarified. After SPECTRE’s epic boxoffice haul, maybe he’ll be tempted back for one last outing... Director Sam Mendes is equally reticent on the subject of returning to 007, admitting he feels like he has “finished a journey”. Never say never again, eh? MM ETA | TBC Bond 25 does not currently have a release date.

Plain talking Learn the movie lingo ILLUSTRATION: GLEN BROGAN

This month:

Anthropomorphism The giving of human characteristics to animals, objects or practically anything non-human. Naturally animation is its usual residence: Disney and co have anthropomorphised everything from foxes to fish to teapots. Inside Out even did it with the emotions in your head.

Career injection THE TERMINATOR | The unknown future rolls towards us again. Can a system reboot save Cameron’s creation? feel like the franchise has been reinvigorated – like this is a renaissance,” spoketh James Cameron to the internet about Terminator Genisys. Six months on, we’re still asking: was he at gunpoint? For most, Genisys was the robo-tooled point at which every creaking “The machines have won” pun was deserved. Reviews raged, box-office spluttered and the film itself continued a three-film tendency to mobilise the wrong talent. Director Alan Taylor brought a good Game Of Thrones pedigree but failed to nail the transition from TV to T-film: the comedy lacked timing, the plot lacked cogency, the action lacked vigour. Action is a big issue here. T2 set a standard for set-piece-linked action tentpoles but Genisys sticks too avidly to its template to forge a unique identity. The T-1000, the chopper and the large vehicular mishaps look like The Terminator’s Greatest Hits: Remixed, with time-travel conundrums thrown in to obscure any clear, direct melody. Whether or not that’s because the studios wanted to see some spiffy trailer shots for their $155m, the result was the same. Even without taking into account the dangly ends – Where did J.K. Simmons go? Why so little


Matt Smith? – Genisys simply didn’t catch light as a self-contained film. At least McG’s Salvation tried something different, charging full-bore into the future war with game-faced casting. But ‘different’ is no excuse for its dumber ideas, like treating the budget as an excuse to stuff the frame with noisy set-pieces and often naff new robo-dangers (“Mototerminators…!”). And again: McG? Really? The focus on T2-inspired excess stifles the simplicity of Cameron’s originals. Both Cameron films focused on clear characters thrust into a nightmare involving one or two Terminators. Both are ripped chase movies with stakes and tight causal reins: propulsive, purposeful, laced with soul. Since Jonathan Mostow struggled with T3’s pile-up, the light of directorial vision has fizzled out. What’s needed is a bold re-authoring: new characters we care about, fresh settings (or time zones), ingenious infiltration moves. If we must look back, try T1’s example. Make T6 dark, hard, keenly budgeted, practically self-contained and only ever blackly comic. And get the right helmer. Franchise rights revert to Cameron in 2019. Come on, Jim: show us a real renaissance. KH



Spend less, risk an adult rating and max out the intensity. Do away with ‘nice’ Terminators. No ‘Pops’.

Get rid of all the in-jokes and Easter eggs – less funny business means you might get taken seriously.

Make a satisfying standalone T-movie, with no loose ends or sequel-bait: earn the sequel first.


Sad as it is, set Arnie free. T6 needs a full system reboot, with soul in the machine.

Bin the complex timey-wimey spaghetti. Stay lean and clean, like Jon Watts’ Cop Car. Hey, he’s got promise…

February 2016 | Total Film | 31

agenda This month’s trending topics...

Mortal thoughts

The Spotlight

YOUTH | Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel smile into the abyss…


uestion: how do you follow up The Great Beauty, the frenetic, sprawling, hugely ambitious Rome-set drama that peered deep into the human condition between incessant bouts of partying to garner comparisons to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita en route to scooping an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film? Answer: by going small and intimate. Once more proving that Italian maestro Paolo Sorrentino is at the forefront of European cinema, the dazzling Youth is set at a plush spa in the foothills of the Alps, zooming in on two old pals – retired composer Fred (Michael Caine) and blocked director Mick

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(Harvey Keitel) – as they dine, stroll and soak, all the while hazily reflecting on their long pasts and contemplating their short futures. “It’s a question I ask myself many times but I have no answer!” laughs Sorrentino when asked why, at the age of just 45, he’s obsessively returned to many of The Great Beauty’s big themes (mortality, memory, creativity, forgiveness), albeit in a minor key. “Yes, I’m young, but not that young! I guess it’s simply something I know how to tell, which is why I concentrate on that topic. Melancholia is part of the adult life.” Melancholia, yes, but what most surprises about Youth is that it’s low on angst and

bitterness. Fred and Mick are accepting of their weary limbs and foggy heads, and the film invigorates like an autumn breeze, swirling with grace and humour. Sorrentino notes that it would have been “predictable” to make a tougher, uglier movie about old age, while Caine, 81, insists the characters’ attitudes chime with his own. “There’s a line in the movie when the doctor says, ‘How’s it feel to be old?’ And I say, ‘I don’t understand how I got here,’” he offers with a grin. “And that’s how I feel myself. I’m 38. That’s how I see myself. I just can’t get around as much anymore.” Keitel, a spring chicken at 76, nods.

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Spa-ing partners: (main) Mick (Keitel) and Fred (Caine) reconnect over an Alpine retreat; teach life lessons to the likes of Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano, top right); and, importantly, relax.

He presumably agrees with his co-star (Youth is their first film together, though they had no trouble convincing as old friends, bonding from the beginning over their shared military backgrounds) but has a penchant for talking in half-answers, obfuscated truths and philosophical riddles. “I learn every day,” he starts. “You want to do films where you feel you don’t know all the answers. You want to jump in and find out something. Boom. We have thunder. What is that? [laughs] It’s a journey. It’s a discovery.” Youth is Sorrentino’s second Englishlanguage film after the Sean Penn-starring This Must Be The Place, and Caine and Keitel were his first and only choices for the roles. Caine is clearly still astonished, saying, “I was a big fan of Paolo’s and he’d just won the Oscar for The Great Beauty. My agent said, ‘Paolo has

sent a script for you’, which was a stunning thing because I didn’t imagine I’d figure in his world at all. Here’s this genius Italian writer/director and he’s got a script for me? And then she said, ‘He wrote it for you, and if you don’t do it, he won’t do it.’ It was a most incredible thing.” The idea occurred to Sorrentino when he read a newspaper story about an Italian composer who refused to play for the Queen because he was opposed to the music she’d requested. (In Youth, Fred refuses to come out of retirement for a royal engagement, irked that it’s the perennially popular tune he once wrote that is desired). Sorrentino chose a spa as the setting because many of his friends had talked of such retreats, making him curious. Filmed at the Grand Waldhaus Hotel in Switzerland, it’s a resplendent setting, all

shimmering water and manicured lawns, and the visuals are made all the more ravishing by occasional camera flourishes, for Sorrentino is a stylist. Do not make the mistake of thinking that a picture set at the fag-end of life is sure to be ash-grey: the action is liable to turn abstract, surreal or seriocomic in the blink of a wrinkled eye, and a colourful supporting cast – Paul Dano, Rachel Weisz, Jane Fonda (see over) and Paloma Faith cameoing as herself – help pep things up. “I hope my approach hasn’t changed, that it’s just as enthusiastic and as playful as it used to be,” shrugs Sorrentino. He’s talking about how he might have changed in his own life, but his answer can be applied to his work. Caine, meanwhile, is happy to follow the example of his character Fred and just put his feet up. “My spa is my home,” he chortles. “Basically, in my mind I’m retired, and I only come out of retirement if something extraordinary happens. Which was, of course, Youth. But I’m retired. Scripts come, but I turn them down.” Which leaves the final word to Keitel. The veteran actor has worked with Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Jane Campion, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Roeg, Abel Ferrara, Spike Lee and many more, but considers Youth the match of any film he’s appeared in, Sorrentino the equal of any filmmaker he’s worked with. “Let’s face it, not all girls are alike, not all guys are alike, and not all great movies are alike,” he begins. “But in terms of the essence of things, there’s a common denominator with great directors: they seek, explore, discover.” Audiences would do well to discover the secrets of Youth. JG ETA | 29 JANUARY Youth opens next year.

February 2016 | Total Film | 33

This month’s trending topics...

The Hero

business. I retired for 15 years. But during that time I changed. I was 65 years old, already old, and I said, ‘Maybe I’d like to try it again.’ And so what I’ve done has never been done, I don’t think. A woman coming back at 65 and recreating a career; it’s unique. What was it like making your comeback? My first film back was Monster-In-Law – which was a big hit in the US. But I was shocked. When I left, there were big Kleig lights. When I came back, there would be a tiny little fluorescent; the film itself had become so different. You didn’t need all those lights. Are you still as politically outspoken as you once were? I am still politically active – for the rights of women. Very important in the United States. We have no equal rights amendment in the constitution. Women earn less than men doing exactly the same job. Women are discriminated against in movies. Very few movies are directed by women. Most central roles are not women.

The legendary star returns to the limelight… Actress, activist, aerobics guru; Jane Fonda, 78 this month, has lived more public lives than most. A two-time Oscar winner, for Klute and Coming Home, and daughter to legendary star Henry Fonda, she bowed out of Hollywood in 1990, returning 15 years later in Monster-InLaw. Now, she’s even busier than ever, with TV show Grace And Frankie and Paolo Sorrentino’s new film, Youth. What was it like playing bitchy actress Brenda Morel in Youth? It’s fun. I’m not a diva. I’m an actress and I’m playing a diva. I would never say the things that she says! What impressed you about working with Paolo Sorrentino? One of the things that makes the

34 | Total Film | February 2016

difference between a good director and a great [one] – and I consider Paolo a great director – is where they choose to put the camera. I found it fascinating. We shot the scene with me and Harvey [Keitel] all day long. I imagined it would be a small room – an intimate conversation between two friends. No – he shoots it in this empty ballroom. And then he puts the camera way down at the other end of the room. And then between the camera and us is a ping-pong table! That’s Paolo Sorrentino!

Fantastic Fonda: (top to bottom) in Stanley & Iris (1990), Monster-In-Law (2005) and new film Youth.

Your last film in the first phase of your career was 1990’s Stanley & Iris. What happened? It became so hard that I left the

‘I retired from film for 15 years, but during that time I changed’

Do you think this television renaissance will harm the movies? I don’t think that’s going to be the end of cinema. That’s what they said back in the late ’50s, when I started. ‘Television is going to destroy movies!’ There will always be the love to go into a dark theatre with friends, and see something on the big screen. That’s a social experience. In the United States – I can’t speak about any other country – most of the really good writers now are going to TV. Why? Because you can take risks more. It’s edgier. Movies are so expensive that to make a big movie, they play it safe. So if you want to say something, you go to television. JM ETA | 29 JANUARY Youth opens next month.

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Jane Fonda

Is that why you took on your TV show, Grace And Frankie? I wanted to do a television show… first of all, because TV is very forgiving for older women. It’s much harder, when you’re an older woman, to get a major role in a movie, but on TV it’s somewhat easier. But still… old women are the fastest growing demographic in the world and yet you don’t see them in central parts. I wanted to change that and people are responding very, very positively to Grace And Frankie – they really, really like it.

“I was like, ‘This is nuts!’ Eat your heart out, Muppets. I have to say, I grew to be very fond of that [doll].” Bradley Cooper

Sound bites Quotable dialogue from this month’s movies – and their stars… “If they’re putting somebody else in Darth Vader’s mask then I’m not the slightest bit interested.”

“It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi. They’re real.” Han Solo (Harrison Ford) talks mythology in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

David Prowse on the future of Darth Vader.

“I certainly don’t eat raw bison liver on a regular basis. When you see the movie, you’ll see my reaction to it, because Alejandro [González Iñárritu] kept it in.” Leonardo

gives his take on American Sniper’s fake baby.

“The way that Colin told me that the sequel was happening and I was going to be in it, he texted me, ‘#NoHeels2018’” Bryce Dallas Howard is running with the Jurassic World franchise.

DiCaprio goes Method on The Revenant.

“It’s a really cool idea, because it’s the origin story... We’re going to bounce back and forth.” Bruce Willis talks Die Hard 6’s prequel element.

“I pick up the gun!” Jennifer Lawrence’s title character talks business tactics in Joy.

“I was disappointed, but the fans aren’t wrong. The fans want what they want to see and if they don’t get satisfaction, they let you know.” Toby Kebbell on the reaction to Fantastic Four.

“She’s a young, fabulous, talented whippersnapper and I love that she’s stirring things up.”

“My safe word is ‘keep going’” John Cena’s burly drug dealer pushes limits in Sisters.


Julia Roberts on Jennifer Lawrence’s pay-gap essay.

February 2016 | Total Film | 35







Every new movie reviewed & rated


‘You cannot afford to miss The Revenant on the big screen’

> NEW RELEASES 18.12.15 - 15.01.16 OUT NOW By The Sea Christmas With The Coopers Essex Boys: The Truth Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD The Good Dinosaur The Night Before Rise Of The Footsoldier Part II Sisters Swung Victor Frankenstein

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In The Heart Of The Sea



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1 JANUARY At Any Price The Danish Girl Fall Of The Krays Le Mepris Sleeping With Other People

8 JANUARY Bolshoi Babylon A War

18 DECEMBER Sherpa Sparks & Embers 

We couldn’t see them in time for this issue, so head to for reviews of the following: TITLE RELEASE DATE Star Wars: The Force Awakens Out now Belle And Sebastian : The Adventure Continues Out now Daddy’s Home 26 December Ip Man 3 1 January Joy 1 January The Hateful Eight 8 January Partisan 8 January

Rocky still packs a punch in Creed, p40.

For more reviews visit

15 JANUARY Creed The Revenant

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21 DECEMBER Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

February 2016 | Total Film | 37

The Revenant +++++Out 15 January

Survival special…

EVENGE IS IN THE creator’s hands,” real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass is told midway through Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s extraordinary wilderness drama. It’s this feeling of vengeance that boils inside Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) throughout much of this two-and-a-half-hour epic – and little wonder. Mauled by a bear, left for dead by his men and witness to the murder of his own son, Glass’ bleak and bloody survival in this harsh 1820s terrain is motivated by one reason alone: to even the score. That bare outline doesn’t even begin to capture the sheer wild ambition, beauty and


38 | Total Film | February 2016

savagery on show in The Revenant. Far more challenging than even Iñárritu’s bravura Oscar-winner Birdman, this is his Fitzcarraldo or his Apocalypse Now – man versus the elements, both on screen and off. Stories have already spread about the legendarily arduous shoot endured by cast and crew in the Canadian wilderness. Whatever hardships they went through were worth it. In the first five minutes, Iñárritu and his Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki will leave you agog with a scene of arrow-whizzing, tomahawk-wielding carnage as Glass and his fellow fur trappers, led by the resourceful Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), are set upon by a gang of Native Americans. As a group

of 40-odd men is whittled down to just 10, Lubezki’s camerawork ensures you’re just as captivated by incidental details as you are by the action: the sun glinting through trees, birds circling, plumes of smoke rising.

Bad news bear By the 25-minute mark, you’ll be literally slack-jawed for one of the most stunning scenes ever committed to film, as Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear protecting its two young. Is it CGI? Is it real footage? However it was done, the result astonishes as Glass is tossed around, clawed, bitten and even sat on, the bear’s paw squashing his head into the dirt. Like so much of this remarkably visceral film, you’ll live every

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REVIEWS SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... FITZCARRALDO 1982 Werner Herzog moves mountains in this seminal study of obsession and madness in the Amazon. THE GREY 2012 Liam Neeson dances with wolves in Joe Carnahan’s Arctic adventure tale. BIRDMAN 2014 Iñárritu and Lubezki take flight – and Oscars – with this meta movie about Hollywood heroes. For full reviews of these films visit reviews

We think we’ll excuse him the fur coat...

moment with him – every scream and anguished howl. THRILLED While Henry is able to sew up Glass’ wounds, ENTERTAINED it becomes clear that the group won’t be able to NODDING OFF carry him to safety through the harsh, mountainous ZZZZZZZZZ... landscape. “The proper RUNNING TIME thing to do would be to finish him off quick,” says Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), interested only in self-preservation. Volunteering to stay with Glass, Fitzgerald is joined by youngster Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and Glass’ half-Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), who refuses to leave his father’s side. Soon enough, Fitzgerald is leading the escape back to civilisation, leaving Glass to die. This, of course, he refuses to do,


Horse bag


Straight arrow


Grave decision



Showdown Scalp

Rapid escape



flaunting survival skills that would put Bear Grylls to shame (not least hauling himself out of a shallow grave). Co-written by Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith (who penned Joe Dante’s The Hole), the story is adapted from Michael Punke’s 2002 novel – itself inspired by the myth that built up around Glass after his grizzly attack. If the film has a documentary-



‘This is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Fitzcarraldo, or his Apocalypse Now’ like realism to it, Iñárritu seasons it with frequent digressions, flashbacks, hallucinations and dreams, as Glass drifts in and out of consciousness, conjuring images of his son and wife (who at one point appears floating above him like a ghost).

Snow joke Glass isn’t the only man left on the mountain, though; in a parallel story, a Native American is leading his tribe in search for his missing daughter Powaqa (Melaw Nakehk’o). French-speaking fur trappers, rivals to the Captain Henry-led gang, are also in the mix. But to say more about their involvement would give away elements of the final blood-soaked act – which’ll leave you feeling especially battered and bruised. If you’re imagining The Revenant is a film chock-full of gratuitous violence, though, nothing could be further from the truth. True, some moments are stomachchurning – not least Glass cutting out the innards of a dead horse and using it as a makeshift sleeping bag (think Luke Skywalker on Hoth with his Tauntaun). But Iñárritu, pacing the film to perfection, never forgets that even in the most extreme circumstances there can be levity – Glass and a Pawnee Indian, for example, catching snow on their tongues. With Lubezki’s photography at once capturing the magnificence and cruelty of Mother Nature, like the moment Glass stands by to watch a bison stampede, you’ll be left in a state of shock and awe. Will The Revenant repeat Iñárritu’s tripleOscar swoop for Birdman? Will Lubezki gain his third consecutive golden statue? Will DiCaprio, in full-blooded form, finally shake off that Academy curse? On this evidence, it’s impossible to see how they could not. James Mottram

THE VERDICT Astounding. With a director, DoP and cast at the top of their game, The Revenant is a filmmaking triumph. You cannot afford to miss experiencing this on the big screen. › Certificate TBC Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, Paul Anderson, Lukas Haas Screenplay Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith Distributor 20th Century Fox Running time 156 mins

February 2016 | Total Film | 39

Creed +++++Out 15 January

Welcome to the punch…

T’S NINE YEARS since the Italian Stallion hung up his gloves in Rocky Balboa, part six of Sylvester Stallone’s now four-decade-long boxing saga. Thankfully, in Ryan Coogler’s Creed, a smartly engineered spin-off, he doesn’t put them back on. Stallone leaves the punching to Michael B. Jordan, star of Coogler’s Sundance-winning 2013 debut Fruitvale Station. Instead, Sly slips into Burgess Meredith mode, becoming mentor rather than fighter. It’s a clever conceit, heightened by the hook that Jordan’s character, Adonis Johnson, is the illegitimate offspring of


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Rocky’s one-time (OK, two-time) rival, Apollo Creed. Born after Creed died fighting Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Adonis never knew his father – though, as we see from the opening scene, set in 1998 Los Angeles in a juvenile detention centre, he’s inherited the champ’s cast-iron punch. After Creed’s widow Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad, the third actress to play this role in the franchise) comes looking for Adonis, saving him from a life of ignominy, the story cuts to the present. Adonis is a model citizen by day; but by night, he’s nipping down to Mexico for backroom brawls. Despite a promotion in his office job, he quits – heading to Philly to seek out his father’s one-time nemesis, Rocky,

and plunder his ringside wisdom. Stallone’s character doesn’t even come into Creed until the 20-minute mark; when we meet him, he’s clearing tables at his restaurant, Adrian’s. And, despite a mild curiosity when he discovers Adonis’ family roots, he has no wish to head back to the gym. In the meantime, Adonis has other issues – like Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a downtown R&B singer who doesn’t take long to move from noisy downstairs neighbour to potential love interest.

Rock of ageing Adonis gradually wears Rocky down; the old prizefighter’s interest is piqued by the smell of the canvas. And an opponent duly

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REVIEWS SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... ROCKY BALBOA 2006 A retired Rocky discovers he’s still got something “in the basement”. FRUITVALE STATION 2013 Coogler and Jordan’s first team-up, an award-winning take on real-life tragedy. SOUTHPAW 2015 Jake Gyllenhaal pumps up for this riseand-fall tale of a volatile boxer. For full reviews of these films visit reviews

‘Michael B. Jordan, in peak physical condition, really rips up the screen’ health is beginning to fail him. Without going into spoilery detail, Stallone has never been better as Rocky than he is in these scenes; there’s nothing more crushing than watching a legend look fallible and human. As for Jordan, he may not have caught fire as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four but he rips up the screen as Adonis Creed. In peak physical condition – yes, he even does one-handed press-ups– he looks the part in those obligatory training montages. Better still, Jordan is fully able to handle the emotional scenes: the need to stand up and be counted, the search for a surrogate father in the absence of your biological one.

Mersey beat

Rocky, now physically unable to blink, had never lost a staring contest.

arises in the shape of British light-heavyweight THRILLED champion, ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlon (real-life ENTERTAINED cruiserweight boxer Tony Bellew). A Scouser, NODDING OFF Conlon wants one more fight before a prison ZZZZZZZZZ... sentence is set to curtail RUNNING TIME his career – and his manager Tommy Holiday (The Hobbit’s Graham McTavish) convinces Balboa to set up the fight. This may all sound rather so-so – not least because it leaves Rocky behind the ropes, rather than on them – but nothing could be further from the truth. Coogler and his co-writer Aaron Covington show complete control in their scripting, carefully nodding towards Rocky staples without ever


Rocky!! Rocky!! Chicken run Juvie



Final round

Sick note Weigh-in

Blue nose



breaking out the Philadelphia cheese. A visit to the side-by-side graves of his late wife Adrian and brother-in-law Paulie, for example, is touching (“Yo, Adrian,” he says, softly) rather than maudlin. Perhaps even more daring, Creed shows Rocky as vulnerable and ailing. He’s no longer the indestructible boxer who punches slabs of frozen beef for fun but a man whose



In a first for the series, the action shifts to England for the climactic bout, which takes place in a boxing ring housed inside Everton FC’s Goodison Park. It certainly makes a change from, say, Madison Square Garden, though Brit viewers may find it slightly surreal watching a sea of Toffees fans (plus one lone Liverpool FC supporter in his red replica strip). Still, with the help of Bellew and fellow boxer Andre Ward (who briefly features), Creed’s fight scenes are impeccably crafted. Put up against Antoine Fuqua’s recent Southpaw, they’re just as bruising, as Rocky rouses his charge with the maxim: “One step, one punch, one round at a time.” Backed by a fantastic score from Ludwig Göransson – OK, not quite on the level of Bill Conti’s classic Rocky soundtrack – these moments will leave you breathless. Yet what really registers is the poignancy behind the body blows. Coogler has crafted a film that doesn’t adhere to the usual fanfare required for a Hollywood ending. Instead, it’s the relationship between Rocky and Adonis that we really invest in, rather than who wins or loses. Harking back to the franchise’s glory days, it’s a movie hardcore Rocky fans will love. James Mottram

THE VERDICTCoogler and Jordan re-ignite their Fruitvale chemistry while Stallone delivers a knockout performance. Surprisingly effective, punchy and powerful, this Rocky rocks. › Certificate 12A Director Ryan Coogler Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Tony Bellew, Phylicia Rashad Screenplay Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington Distributor Warner Bros Running time 133 mins February 2016 | Total Film | 41

Where are the rest of the Avengers when you need them?

SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... JAWS 1975 Spielberg’s blockbuster masterpiece still makes open water terrifying. MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD 2003 Russell Crowe picks up the spyglass in Peter Weir’s terrific maritime adventure. UNBROKEN 2014 Adrift at sea, there’s little more for Jack O’Connell to do than cling on against all odds. For full reviews of these films visit reviews

In The Heart Of The Sea +++++Out 26 December

Plain whaling.

ERMAN MELVILLE’S LITERARY epic Moby Dick has been adapted for the screen a gazillion times (approximately), so kudos to Ron Howard for taking a slightly different approach, even if it never quite matches the resonance of Ahab’s epic quest. Melville’s text is still front and centre though: Ben Whishaw plays the fledgling author in a frame story, set in Nantucket, 1850. He’s getting the inspiration for his most famous story from Thomas (Brendan Gleeson), the last living survivor of whaling vessel the Essex, destroyed at sea some 30 years earlier. The bulk of In The Heart Of The Sea’s action takes place while the much younger Thomas (played in flashback by future Spider-Man Tom Holland) is a young cabin boy on the Essex, where tensions are flaring between the captain and the first mate. Howard’s Rush star Chris Hemsworth is first mate Owen Chase, a working-class


grafter who has the skills and experience to be captain, but the role is instead given to the less-experienced George Pollard Jr (Benjamin Walker), on account of his family connections. Stormy waters are ahead, with the men bickering through rough seas, but they have bigger fish (well, mammals) to fry when a giant white whale decides to send their ship to Davy Jones’ Locker. Perfectly solid from start to finish, ITHOTS lacks the thrills that helped make Rush such a, yes, rush. It often holds you at arm’s length, from the overly glossy cinematography that lends an artificial sheen – it’s hard to ever forget you’re mostly watching made-up actors on a set – to the not-strictly-essential frame story that occasionally interrupts the action. The best sequences reside in the mid-section: as the seamen hunt whales for their oil, Howard Ending #3 enlivens the pursuit with some unique camera angles. Performances, meanwhile, are decent Ending Ending #2 #1 across the board, with Holland reaffirming his 100 120 screen presence after



Thar she Imperfect blows! storm


Drawing the short straw



42 | Total Film | February 2016




The Impossible. Hemsworth marshals the kind of authority you can imagine rallying behind in testing times, but the key rivalry has none of the depth of Rush’s competitive protagonists. As such it’s hard to really care about the characters, even as their situation grows ever more dire. Occasionally you’ll catch the scent of a bigger idea (man versus nature, the morals of hunting, the cost of oil), but it quickly evaporates. Given the weighty themes and heavy metaphor of Moby Dick, In The Heart Of The Sea could be expected have a lot more going on behind the outward action. The composite parts are in fine working order; it’s the sum that’s slightly lacking.

‘Perfectly solid, but lacking the thrills that made Rush a, yes, rush’

Matt Maytum

THE VERDICT At its best when chasing whales, Ron Howard’s seafaring adventure is perfectly serviceable, but never next-level thrilling. For a story inspired by Moby Dick, it should be searching for something bigger. › Certificate 12A Director Ron Howard Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw Screenplay Charles Leavitt Distributor Warner Bros Running time 122 mins Subscribe at


Eddie Redmayne, with a lovely red mane.

THE CRYING GAME 1992 Neil Jordan’s IRA thriller twists gender, loyalty, and love skilfully. Includes cinema’s worst kept secret. BOYS DON’T CRY 1999 Hilary Swank is throat-catchingly good as true-life trans-martyr Brandon Teena. TRANSAMERICA 2005 An Oscar-nommed Felicity Huffman headlines one of the highest-profile trans movies of the past decade. For full reviews of these films visit reviews

The Danish Girl +++++Out 1 January

Man! I feel like a woman…

HE TIMING COULDN’T BE better, really. In the year of Caitlyn Jenner and TV’s Transparent, this handsome and sensitively played biopic about Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, pushes all the right topical buttons. Recounting how 1920s Copenhagen artist Einar Wegener found his inner girl when he posed as ‘Lili’ for his wife Gerda’s daring portraits, it also provides a fine showcase for Eddie Redmayne’s transformative powers. Like The Theory Of Everything, this is an outsider triumph-and-tragedy tale, with Redmayne’s confused-but-determined Einar creating Lili’s transition as carefully as one of his landscape paintings. To make the story relatable, the Wegeners’ stormy and unconventional marriage is put resolutely front and centre, all the way from newlywed


gender-bending frolics in bedrooms and ballrooms to ‘three people in this marriage’ anguish. Too bad that, unlike director Tom Hooper’s Oscar-laden The King’s Speech, where an odd-couple friendship powers the story, Gerda and Einar’s bond proves more glamorous, but less moving. Performance power isn’t lacking here – Alicia Vikander’s feisty Gerda, torn between helping Lili and losing Einar, gives it her all. She’s overshadowed, however, by Redmayne’s delicate, androgynous performance, moving from shy experimenter to fully-fledged femme without a false move. Even those daring scenes in which Einar strips-and-tucks to conjure up Lili, or mimics a naked hooker’s seductive poses, are tender rather than titter-raising. ‘I am entirely myself’ By contrast, the Wegeners’ rows and reconciliations feel overwritten, the show‘What and-tell dialogue (“I felt you draw, Gone I become’ I was kissing myself!”) with the wind… just underlining what’s already perfectly visible. 100 120 And throwing Matthias



Iron Gerda


Peekaboo penis…

NODDING OFF Love’s young dream


Operation Lili


‘They’re Lili’s dreams’

‘Am I pretty enough ?’ 25



Schoenaerts’ world-weary art-dealer Hans in between them ups the melodrama more than the excitement. The film’s considerable visual beauty at times overwhelms rather than offsets the drama. It creates a gorgeous setting for Redmayne’s performance, but along with Alexandre Desplat’s lush, string-sobbing score, makes for a selfconsciously rich mix. Thematically it’s all in the best possible taste, careful not to upset either multiplex viewers or the transgender community with anything crass or edgy. While admirably spotlighting Lili’s bravery, the film does develop a faint whiff of well-dressed earnestness. A little less decorum wouldn’t have hurt – and would have made it a whole lot more fun. Kate Stables

‘Redmayne goes fully-fledged femme with no false moves’

THE VERDICT Eddie Redmayne shines as a transgender trailblazer. But a stiff love story and stately staging make this Danish too sweet… › Certificate TBC Director Tom Hooper Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw Screenplay Lucinda Coxon Distributor Universal Running Time 120 minutes

February 2016 | Total Film | 43


“What do you mean we have a shopping problem?”

MEAN GIRLS 2004 Iconic teen-com scripted by Fey, with Poehler as a Barbie-esque Franken-mom. BABY MAMA 2008 Fey and Poehler’s first big-screen two-hander similarly relies on their comedic instincts. PITCH PERFECT 2012 Comic and choral orchestrations from Sisters director Jason Moore. For full reviews of these films visit reviews

Sisters +++++Out now

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1989…

AIRING TINA FEY AND AMY Poehler for a nostalgic party flick should be like detonating a comedy powder keg. Who could forget their incendiary Golden Globes 2015 intro, in which they roasted George Clooney, Boyhood and (perhaps most controversially) Bill Cosby with the kind of butter-wouldn’t-melt glee that rocketed their TV comedies (30 Rock and Parks & Recreation respectively) to ratings heaven? It’s no surprise, then, that Sisters – their third movie collaboration after Mean Girls and Baby Mama – leans heavily on the duo’s comic prowess, but even this seasoned duo struggles to rescue what is comparatively flimsy material. Having discovered their parents are selling their childhood home, rebel sis Kate (Fey) and sensible sis Maura (Poehler)


decide to throw one last party. Maura’s got her eye on a cute neighbour (the hugely likeable Ike Barinholtz), and so Kate agrees to be sober sister for the night, safeguarding their parents’ pad from spillages and scraps. Of course, it’s not long before things start to go wrong, especially when one-time high school rival Brinda (Maya Rudolph) arrives, miffed that she wasn’t invited to the party and intent on pulling the plug. Between the dance routines and tiffs with their on-screen ’rents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, superb), it’s clear Fey and Poehler are having a hoot, and Sisters soars when director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) lets them off the leash. Run-ins with pedicurists, changing-room attendants and the cops zing with off-the-cuff humour, and the improvised Ballerina We are balls-up family moments stand out amid the increasingly weary genital gags. Our central duo Coke trouble Hole in one aren’t the only ones transcending the 100 120 material, either, with support players like


Eyebrow irritation


Dance off

NODDING OFF Party time Home sweet home


Home invasion


44 | Total Film | February 2016




SNL regular Bobby Moynihan (as a manic ex-classmate) and even John Cena (in a white vest and black beanie) scoring big laughs. Standout scenes are peppered throughout (the wardrobe malfunction glimpsed in the trailer; Rudolph on great ‘mean girl’ form), but Sisters lacks the absurdist nous of 30 Rock and the satirical bite of Parks & Rec. Fey and Poehler have never written a vehicle for themselves (it’s hard to imagine Fey lumbering herself with the motherdaughter subplot she gets here), but they’re clearly able to mine gold from average material – their likeability is what bumps Sisters from fine to good. It may be time for them to put pen to paper, though, and gift themselves the movie they deserve. Josh Winning

‘Between dance routines and tiffs, Fey and Poehler are having a hoot’

THE VERDICT Laugh-out-loud in places. Frustratingly flat in others. Sporadic giggles guaranteed. Fey and Poehler’s comic chemistry is undeniable; shame the script didn’t get a Liz Lemon rewrite. › Certificate 15 Director Jason Moore Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Cena Screenplay Paula Pell Distributor Universal Running time 118 mins

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Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie +++++Out 21 December

The beagle has landed…

T’S NOT OFTEN YOU GET THE chance to start over with a clean slate!” declares Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) in this computer-animated upgrade of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip. But it’s an opportunity that Ice Age creator Blue Sky largely spurns, deciding instead to celebrate the pared-down simplicity of its 65-year-old source material. OK, so the animators go to town on the aerial fantasy sequences in which Snoopy’s flying kennel does battle with the Red Baron’s biplane. And yes, Horton Hears A Who! director Steve Martino tinkers with the original by providing Charlie’s canine compadre with a poodle love interest (voiced – non-verbally – by Kristin Chenoweth) and by finally putting a face on the Little Red-Haired Girl whom Charlie is never courageous enough to talk to. But for the most part, Martino is content to serve up a Best Of compilation, recreating all the moments and characters you remember in


The invisible rodeo horse paid for itself.

gussied-up form. Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty… they’re all here in an episodic narrative strung together by Charlie’s doomed romance. Fans of Schulz’s single-panel masterpieces will expect nothing less. Yet while the fidelity is appealing, there’s little here that takes the property forward. The fact that Schulz’s son and grandson had a hand in the screenplay is an indicator of how closely they guard the family jewels. Had they taken a step back and let Blue Sky work its own brand of magic, the result might have been truly special, instead of just pleasurably nostalgic. Neil Smith

THE VERDICT Lucy’s football remains unkicked in a charming pic that gives you everything you expect in glossy new packaging. › Certificate U Director Steve Martino Starring (voices) Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Alex Garfin, Bill Melendez Screenplay Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, Cornelius Uliano Distributor Fox Running time 93 mins

By The Sea +++++Out now

EN YEARS AGO, BRANGELINA whammed and bammed their way through action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith. If you’ve been holding your breath for a follow-up as fun ‘n’ frothy as that film, it’s time to exhale in bitter disappointment, because By The Sea is a bird of a much duller feather. What we have here is essentially the home videos of the dreariest beautiful people you could ever meet. Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie) are a distant, detached couple tumbling through the twilight of a troubled marriage in the early ’70s. They settle in at a French resort to stare out the window, smoke cigarettes, and not talk to each other. And that’s pretty much it. Eventually, Vanessa finds a hole in the wall and starts spying on the happy newlywed couple staying next door and, even more eventually, Roland joins in – and somewhere out there at the edge of eternity it comes to some bitter resolution. But at that point you really find yourself


He’d been trying to take his watch off for two hours now...

French disconnection. wondering if it’s really worth this cinematic purgatory just to stare at the two most beautiful people on the planet. By The Sea was written and directed by Jolie (her third film after In The Land Of Blood And Honey and Unbroken); Lord knows, she’s done enough for the world that we ought to grant her an indulgence here and there, but the movie is so punishingly slow and uneventful that it almost feels like a prank. To be fair, it does look gorgeous (with lensing by frequent Michael Haneke collaborator Christian Berger), but it’s still a stretch to call this entertainment. It’s like being stuck in the world’s most upscale waiting room for two hours. Ken McIntyre

THE VERDICT Stare at the wall for two hours and you’ll get more thrills than this glacially paced mope-fest offers. It’s Eyes Wide Shut. Without the ‘Wide’. › Certificate 15 Director Angelina Jolie Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud Screenplay Angelina Jolie Distributor Universal Running time 122 mins February 2016 | Total Film | 45

The Good Dinosaur +++++Out now

The really wild bunch…

IMPLICITY IS THE ultimate sophistication,” was a phrase the late Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs was fond of, and it could almost be a maxim for The Good Dinosaur. 2015 marks the first time two Pixar films have been released in one year, and in a lot of respects, this second effort couldn’t be more different from summer’s Inside Out. While the first 2015 Pixar film gloried in its complexity, personifying emotions and making tweenage brain processes of a piece with the action, The Good Dinosaur — as the title hints — feels at heart like a child’s picture book, from the bright,


46 | Total Film | February 2016

colourful characters, to the simple linear plot. That comparison isn’t intended as an insult; this is a rich and rewarding family film. That it doesn’t quite reach Pixar’s highest standards for invention and storytelling verve is unfortunately exacerbated by its proximity to the instamasterpiece released earlier this year. The fact that two Pixar films ended up being released in the same year is down to well-documented production problems: The Good Dinosaur was postponed when original co-director Bob Peterson was moved to a different project, leaving Peter Sohn (director of short Partly Cloudy) solely at the helm. The film that’s been salvaged kicks off 65 million years ago with the

asteroid destined to destroy Earth narrowly missing, meaning that some millions of years later, humans and dinosaurs co-exist.

Arlo ranger As the story proper begins, dino-parents Momma (Frances McDormand) and Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) raise three kids on their farm. Gangly Arlo (voiced by Jack McGraw, and later, when he’s a little older, by Raymond Ochoa) is the runt of the litter, struggling to live up to his father’s expectations. Oddly, the family are farmers, ploughing fields and tending to crops, but this particular concept of industrial dinosaurs isn’t really explored much after tragedy strikes and Arlo finds himself lost in the wilderness, with only

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REVIEWS SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... THE JUNGLE BOOK 1967 Cave-child Spot feels like a scruffier incarnation of man-cub Mowgli. HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY 1993 Animals make a dangerous cross-country trek home. Hankies needed. TRUE GRIT 2010 A modern Western in the classical mould, with an odd couple, ace scenery and terrifying yokels.  For full reviews of these films visit reviews

The dino-barber was in hot demand.

a feral human child named Spot for company. Maybe THRILLED the idea was played down as part of the behind-theENTERTAINED scenes shake-up, as none of the other dinosaurs NODDING OFF Arlo encounters on his journey have evolved to ZZZZZZZZZ... use machinery. RUNNING TIME A four-legged longnecked klutz, Arlo is ostensibly an Apatosaurus, but that sort of information isn’t offered up readily. The filmmakers might earn a few science points for giving some Velociraptor-like beasts feathers, but it’s likely these dinosaurs will simply be classified as ‘the green one’, ‘the funny one’, ‘the scary one’, as opposed to any technical genus. It feels like a confident, conscious decision, rather than a lack of


Head in the clouds

Fireflies Whack-a-gopher Swept away


Eggs 0




research (although as is always the case, the food chain is glossed over). The bold hues of the prehistoric creatures only stand to make the mountainous backdrops all the more stunning. Paying homage to the classic Western look with lush ranges and treacherous rivers (even some cattle herding), the scenery is among the most beautiful to ever spring from a computer,



‘The Spot and Arlo relationship will have you feigning grit in your eye’ and the rain is so gorgeously executed you can practically smell it. That landscape certainly gives Arlo a rough time of it – battered, bruised and tormented, he’s one of the more put-upon animated heroes of recent times, and some of the rival species he comes across could prove a touch too scary for the youngest viewers. One scene, in which a pack of helpers turns threatening on a dime is genuinely tense. There’s also a nice balance of adult-friendly gags thrown in with the visual humour, while pop-culture references are pretty much absent.

Berry funny Where TGD really comes into its own is in Arlo’s interactions with Spot. Sohn has always been upfront about this being a ‘boy and his dog’ story, with the killer Pixar twist here being that the human is the dog. Arlo and Spot form the customary road-tripping odd couple that’s become as much a mark of Pixar as the Luxo lamp. While Arlo will no doubt sell more merch, Spot is an incredible creation, skittish, snarling, scrambling around on all fours. The inevitable relationship that develops between the two has real heart, and will have you feigning grit in your eye more than once. In one of the finest moments, Sohn musters more emotion with stick figures and dirt than lesser animations manage in a whole movie. Certain flaws keep The Good Dinosaur from earning a spot on the Pixar podium. For all the scares thrown in en route, it never really feels that Arlo is ever that far away from home. The parental figures have a tendency to talk in platitudes, and the human/prehistoric creatures don’t feel as fresh as some other Pixar creations; this territory won’t feel entirely unfamiliar to anyone who’s seen Ice Age or The Croods. But for a film of uncomplicated pleasures, there’s much to delight in. Matt Maytum

THE VERDICT Simple but effective, this doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still damn fine family entertainment. Slow to get going, it comes into its own when its heroes buddy up. › Certificate PG Director Peter Sohn Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Sam Elliot, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin Screenplay Meg LeFauve Distributor Disney Running time 101 mins February 2016 | Total Film | 47

Victor Frankenstein +++++ Out now

It’s alive! Just…

T’S NO GOOD GRIPING THAT Max Landis’ (Chronicle) riff on Mary Shelley’s classic text throws in backstories and a love story and a crazed chimpanzee called Gordon – cinema’s most famous Frankenstein adaps, by Universal, Hammer and Mel Brooks, are equally patchwork affairs, as befits a source story about creating new life from ransacked body parts. More concerning is that for all the bellowed banter, mad-eyed compulsion and steampunk set-pieces, Victor Frankenstein rarely gets viewers’ hearts pumping, least of all with emotion. Pitched as both an origin story and a bromance, Landis’ screenplay begins with James McAvoy’s titular scientist rescuing a scientifically minded hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) from the circus. Draining his hump (icky) and naming him Igor (funny), Frankenstein enlists this upright young man as his assistant, and together the pair seeks to conjure life from death. First they animate a pair of milky eyes floating in electric jelly, then Gordon, a homunculus with a chimp’s head, and finally an oversized mishmash of a man. McAvoy gives it his considerable all as the charming, monomaniacal, bullying


The monster had stolen their umbrella.

Victor, and Radcliffe brings his innate likeability to the surgeon’s table, whether he’s experimenting with an accent or dropping it altogether. Each murky frame is bursting with grime and clutter – this is cutting-edge (Victorian) science in the way Alien is futuristic sci-fi: lived-in, ramshackle, all clunk and clatter – while the novel’s key themes of obsession, rampant ambition and the perils of playing God are all present if not quite correct. Why? Because everything is too busy, too loud, too determined to do for Frankenstein what Guy Ritchie (big screen) and Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (small screen) have done for Sherlock Holmes. Director Paul McGuigan helmed four episodes of BBC’s Sherlock but here the grafts don’t quite take. The result is far from monstrous but it’s hardly divine, either. Jamie Graham

THE VERDICT Fun, but not the lightningbolt-to-the-heart update we hoped for. For a far superior take on the Prometheus myth, read Stephen King’s Revival. › Certificate 12A Director Paul McGuigan Starring James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott Screenplay Max Landis Distributor Fox Running time 110 mins





+++++Out 1 January

+++++Out now

+++++Out 8 January

+++++Out 1 January

MADE IN 2012, RAMIN BAHRANI’S rural farmland drama may not match the punch of his recent repossession tale 99 Homes, but his interest in social inequality is equally evident. Dennis Quaid plays Iowa corn magnate Henry Whipple (brilliant name), who wants son Dean (Zac Efron) to inherit the family biz. So far, so what – but with Dean’s fondness for stock-car racing taking him to the track and Henry’s dealings putting him under investigation, this poke around the American Dream boasts intelligence and integrity. The result is a loving, if far inferior, homage to Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman. James Mottram

AIMING TO SEPARATE FIRST-HAND fact from movie-adaptation fiction, this doc offers true insight into the notorious Essex firm led by Damon Alvin in the aftermath of the brutal murder of previous top dogs Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe in 1995. Former insider Bernard O’Mahoney uses extensive interviews with firm and family members to provide personal accounts of power trips and paranoia, undermining the sensationalist media coverage that followed the events. Pre-knowledge is recommended, though, as the onslaught of names and anecdotes will be near-impenetrable to newcomers. Matt Looker

IN JANUARY 2013, A MASKED MAN threw acid in the face of the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin. The investigation into the crime, eventually attributed to a peeved ex-dancer, revealed deep-seated resentments at the company that make Black Swan look tame by comparison. Given indepth access to the Bolshoi’s inner workings, co-directors Nick Read and Mark Franchetti present a compelling – if ultimately somewhat dispiriting – study of the sacrifices required to be part of this world-famous institution and the competitiveness that underpins its artistic supremacy. Neil Smith

JEAN-LUC GODARD’S 1963 CLASSIC IS perhaps the quintessential film about film. Michel Piccoli plays a weak-willed screenwriter caught between director Fritz Lang (in a winning self-portrait), Hollywood producer Jack Palance and his own enigmatically contemptuous wife (Brigitte Bardot). Godard rhymes the making of a film with the unmaking of a marriage, achieving a haunting melancholy. Crucially, he realises that a movie-biz satire needs to outclass its targets – between Raoul Coutard’s cinematography and Georges Delerue’s magisterial score, few films have achieved such elegance. Simon Kinnear

› Certificate 18 Running time 102 mins

› Certificate 18 Running time 118 mins

› Certificate PG Running time 87 mins

› Certificate 15 Running time 93 mins

48 | Total Film | February 2016

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+++++Out 8 January

+++++Out 18 December

+++++Out 18 December

THE STORY OF REVERED SCI-FI WEEKLY 2000AD (birthplace of Judge Dredd) is one of innovative, home-grown talent. Though largely celebratory, this talkinghead doc also pulls no punches revealing the failed business model that almost broke the comic, mainly through initially not crediting, and then underappreciating, its staff. Former writers like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Pat Mills all give their insights, although it misses contributions from Mark Millar and, unsurprisingly, Alan Moore. Nonetheless, we’re left in no doubt of Dredd and co’s indelible impact on modern pop culture. Matt Looker

TOBIAS LINDHOLM’S GRIPPING wartime drama musters the same intensity as his high-seas tale A Hijacking. Pilou Asbæk plays Claus, a respected Danish troop commander in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, who makes a morally questionable, if understandable, decision mid-battle that leaves 11 civilians dead. Is he to blame? Lindholm raises the question in an equally compelling second half, as Claus goes home to face charges. The courtroom scenes are just as jawhanging as those on the battlefield, exploring accountability as those around Claus close ranks. Thoughtful, thunderous filmmaking. James Mottram

JENNIFER PEEDOM’S DOCUMENTARY explores Everest from the point of view of local Sherpas, for whom undertaking the dangerous ascent in assistance of travelling westerners is simply part of the day job. There’s a damning political undercurrent here, highlighting how the now-huge Everest industry mistreats and takes advantage of the Sherpas. Peedom does a great job of building tension to subtly demonstrate how lowpaid, non-white workers are expected to be submissive and, via candid footage, exposes the shockingly self-centred and entitled attitudes of some of the western climbers. Stephen Puddicombe

A LACK OF CHARM’S THE HARM IN Gavin Boyter’s seasonal romcom, despite its nifty two-timeframe plot. When sacked record-label schlub Tom (Kris Marshall) gets stuck in a lift with corporate downsizer Eloise (Annelise Hesme), he ogles her bra, she huffs and love ignites. Five years on, they meet post-relationship as she’s about to leave town. A classic will she/won’t she scenario emerges, with game leads and Richard Curtis-esque draws (London landmarks, comedy carol singers, ‘bantz’): but we don’t care because he’s a regressive dork, she’s an out-of-touch cipher and the chemistry never sparks. Kevin Harley

› Certificate 15 Running time 107 mins

› Certificate TBC Running time 115 mins

› Certificate TBC Running time 96 mins

› Certificate 15 Running time 85 mins


Sleeping With Other People +++++Out 1 January

AN A MAN AND A WOMAN BE platonic friends, asks writer/director Leslye Headlund (Bachelorette)? If it sounds familiar, it’s because When Harry Met Sally is the clear model for this acerbic romcom starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Even if these two aren’t quite Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan Mk II, Sleeping With Other People comes on as a classy comedy of manners with a smart take on the modern dating scene. A brief prologue introduces us to Lainey (Brie) and Jake (Sudeikis), who enjoy a brief encounter in college. Twelve years later, they’re reacquainted at a sex addicts’ group therapy session, after both have just split from their latest squeezes. In the case of Lainey, she’s still hung up on college crush Matthew (Adam Scott), a married doctor who isn’t against the occasional hook-up with her. Lainey and Jake strike up a friendship, while resisting the urge to jump between the sheets (their safe word, if things get too hot ‘n’ heavy, is ‘mousetrap’). It’s not exactly well-balanced: Jake’s issues, not least the frisson with his boss (Amanda Peet), don’t really compare to Lainey’s problems as she


The quickest possible way to attract the local pickpocket.

When Harry bed Sally… moons over Matthew – something to which the excellent Brie lends real weight. While Headlund doesn’t shy away from sex or frank discussion, the humour isn’t aimed below the belt (so to speak). That said, one scene involving a green-tea bottle – if not quite as classic as Meg Ryan’s diner moment – is still liable to wind up on both Brie and Sudeikis’ showreels for the rest of their lives. Sudeikis, to his credit, resists the urge to go We’re The Millers broad. Ditto Brie, in the scene where an ecstasy-high Lainey dances to David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ at a kids’ birthday party. It’s a pity that mixing these moments with Sex And The City-style heartto-hearts lends the film a wildly uneven feel.

James Mottram

THE VERDICT Neither romantic nor comic enough to be a great romcom, but still date-night worthy. The Brie/ Sudeikis chemistry is citrus sharp. › Certificate 15 Director Leslye Headlund Starring Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Scott, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet Screenplay Leslye Headlund Distributor Icon Running time 101 mins

February 2016 | Total Film | 49

The Night Before +++++Out now

Christmas Eve of destruction…

HRISTMAS IS JUST THE WORST thing going, let’s face it. Drained bank accounts, forced encounters with half-remembered relatives, awkward office parties... it’s all too much. Even worse: syrupy, cloying films about Christmas, which are generally as life-affirming as last-minute shopping frenzies on 24 December. Which is why The Night Before is so refreshing. Yes, it ends on a celebratory note – they all do – but along the way, it properly knocks our intrepid heroes around, dragging them through a druggy night of craziness. The true spirit of Christmas is challenged at every turn – meanwhile, homage is paid to all the festive perennials you can think of, including Die Hard, Home Alone and The Grinch. The story centres on sadsack Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 30-something basket case unable to move forward after his recent break-up with girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Kaplan). His two best buds Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have a long-standing tradition of taking Ethan out for a night of boozy hijinks every Christmas Eve, but their busy lives have made it more of a chore every year. Ethan manages to steal tickets to the most exclusive


They had great rapping presence.

THE VERDICT If buddy movies are your thing but Christmas flicks aren’t, you’ll enjoy this refreshingly edgy romp about three friends lost in the city full of hallucinogens and regrets. › Certificate 15 Director Jonathan Levine Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Shannon Screenplay Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg Distributor Sony Running time 101 mins



+++++Out 1 January

+++++Out now

THIS SEMI-ANTHOLOGY SERVES UP a Christmas feast of mawkish goodwill but luckily the star quality offsets the slush. Bickering marrieds Diane Keaton and John Goodman are waiting until after the holidays to tell their kids – divorcee Ed Helms and ‘disappointment’ Olivia Wilde – that they’re separating. Factor in grandpa Alan Arkin and his protective friendship with waitress Amanda Seyfried, plus shoplifting sister Marisa Tomei counselling closeted cop Anthony Mackie, and there’s plenty to distract from the clunky dialogue and corny twists. Matt Looker

MORE SCRAG END THAN LEGEND, this follow-up to direct-to-video title The Rise Of The Krays revels sickeningly in the East End siblings’ brutality and treats their various slayings and beatings like a veritable Greatest Hits. A slender budget, though, largely reduces Zachary Adler’s film to a series of yawn-worthy gab-athons in which Ronnie (Simon Cotton) and Reggie (Kevin Leslie) merely talk about the mayhem they’re about to unleash. It would be cartoonish if not so morally bankrupt and tasteless: even the pill-assisted suicide of Reggie’s wife Frances is recreated here for our dubious titillation. Neil Smith

BRIT CINEMA TENDS TO TITTER about sex rather than explore it frankly, so it’s refreshing to see such a confident, non-judgmental take on the swinging scene. First-time director Colin Kennedy handles risqué material with class and a sense of humour, offering a convincing portrait of coupledom in David (Owen McDonnell) and wife Alice (The Skin I Live In’s Elena Anaya). Involvement with other couples may be the cure for David’s impotence; the sex scenes are driven by dramatic tension as the pair expand their horizons and work on their relationship problems. Original, thoughtful and bold. Stephen Puddicombe

› Certificate 12A Running time 107 mins

› Certificate 15 Running time 113 mins

› Certificate 18 Running time 85 mins



+++++Out now

+++++Out now

BRACE YOURSELVES FOR ANOTHER couple of numbing hours spent in the company of psychopathically violent and sweary career criminal Carlton Leach (played by writer/director Ricci Hartnett). Set in the late ’90s after the Rettendon ‘Range Rover’ murders of three drug dealers in an Essex country lane, and including a sub-GoodFellas voiceover from its hard-man protagonist, this sequel follows a cocaine-fuelled Leach and his associates as they batter and torture their way past rival crews, both in England and Europe. As repetitive as it is unenlightening. Tom Dawson

› Certificate 18 Running time 109 mins

50 | Total Film | February 2016

party in New York, a white whale the trio has been chasing for over a decade. As they stumble through the urban wonderland in search of the Nutcracker Ball, attempts are made to mend their strained friendships. Our trio runs into various ghosts of Christmases past, present and future, including Michael Shannon’s deadpan drug dealer Mr. Green and Ilana Grazer (TV’s Broad City) as a sex-crazed grinch. Meanwhile, Rogen’s character inhales more drugs and embarrasses pretty much the whole city. Directed by 50/50’s Jonathan Levine, The Night Before is essentially Superbad for the holidays. Funny, cynical, and warm in all the right ways, this could finally be the Christmas movie for people who hate Christmas movies. Ken McIntyre

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> Box office charts 02.11.15 – 29.11.15

CREED Start betting on the opponent in the lookinglikely Creed 2: Mr. T’s grand-nephew? FrankenPaulie? The poor sod that has to wash Apollo’s endlessly handed-down trunks each time?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

SPECTRE ++++ The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ++++ The Lady In The Van ++++ Brooklyn +++++ Hotel Transylvania 2 +++ The Good Dinosaur ++++ Suffragette ++++ Steve Jobs +++++ Bridge Of Spies +++++ The Martian ++++












5 2

£9m £4.4m

£9m £4.4m

3 4







£2.3m £2.1m

£9.7m £2.1m

7 3

£1.7m £1.6m

£1.7m £23.4m

1 9

STEVE JOBS Outstanding reviews, mediocre box office. Maybe they should have gone with a slightly more alluring title; something along the lines of ‘Free iPhone 6S With Every Cinema Ticket!’


THE GOOD DINOSAUR Reportedly one of Pixar’s lowest-ever openings. Though that’s obviously without adjusting earnings to reflect Jurassic-era ticket prices. That’s what we’d tell the shareholders, anyway.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ++++ SPECTRE ++++ Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie +++ The Good Dinosaur++++ Creed ++++ The Martian ++++ The Night Before ++++ Bridge Of Spies +++++ Christmas With The Coopers +++ Goosebumps N/A






Maggie Smith’s scored a vehicular hit. Meanwhile, Vin Diesel’s mapping the next arc of his signature series... we just put two and two together and came up with Fast & Furious 8.



THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 The nightmare’s over: no more articles where we have to write out ‘Francis Lawrence’ and ‘Jennifer Lawrence’ in full to avoid confusion.

$198.3m $198.3m 2 $176.1m $176.1m 4 $116.8m $116.8m 4 $55.6m $55.6m 1 $42.6m $35.8m $24.1m

$42.6m 1 $218.6m 9 $24.1m 1

$22.4m $20.5m

$67.6m $20.5m

7 3




SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE Please, no crass cash-ins: “It’s The Avengers, Charlie Brown!”; “That Kidney-Shaped Pool Won’t Pay For Itself, Charlie Brown!”

> Still out, still good… Our pick of the movies out now CAROL +++++ “Under Todd Haynes’ sure hand, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara deliver a love story to melt to. Every glance means something, no strain shows: it’s filmmaking as natural as breathing. You hardly notice its hypnotic hold until the end.” BRIDGE OF SPIES +++++ “Political intrigue abounds as Steven Spielberg grippingly recreates a famous real-life spy-swap case of the Cold War, with both Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance on top form. The tension of the climax is utterly nail-gnawing.” GRANDMA ++++ “Owning the movie through and through, Lily Tomlin makes a welcome comeback in a heartfelt comedy with a full set of teeth. Consistently and genuinely funny, it brings out the best (and the worst) in everyone involved.”

> Coming soon... The big hitters on the cards for next issue... Movies out in Jan and Feb fall roughly in two camps. On the one hand, there’s major awards troublers like Room (15 Jan), Spotlight and Youth (both 29 Jan). And on the other, there’s Dad’s Army (5 Feb). On 22 Jan, you could immerse in the ravishing beauty of critics’ darling The Assassin. Or you could see

Ride Along 2. And so on. And in the thick of it all, one of 2016’s potentially coolest blockbusters: Deadpool (4 Feb), a superhero flick aiming to put the ‘X’ in X-Men. We’re anticipating one of the most potty-mouthed performances ever seen in a Marvel movie. And that’s just Stan Lee. Also not minding his Ps

and Qs: Robert De Niro as the titular Dirty Grandpa (29 Jan), firing off filth that would make Joe Pesci blush. Meanwhile, The Big Short (22 Jan) is not only a superb synonym for ‘movie’ but features endless classy actors (Pitt, Bale, Gosling, Tomei) in a credit-crunch drama that won’t send you to sleep.

February 2016 | Total Film | 51

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This year, movies get mean as superheroes, boxers, orcs, pouty models and ghostbusting funny-gals duke it out for box-office supremacy. Total Film has ringside seats at the year’s mightiest smackdowns...


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54 | Total Film | February 2016

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Harry Potter’s story may be finished, but it’s just the beginning for period spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Come with us as we enter the strange world of Newt Scamander... WORDS RICHARD JORDAN


n Hollywood, one thing’s for certain – you can’t keep a good franchise down. Case in point? When Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 rounded off the lucrative saga in 2011, few people actually thought that was going to be the last we saw of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world on screen – especially given the rich expanded universe she’d created within the books. And so, five years later, comes Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, the first of a new trilogy set 70 years before Potter and based on an in-world tome that served as one of Harry’s key Hogwarts textbooks, and was later written for real by Rowling in 2001. This is no cheap cash-in, though: the entire Potter creative team – including four-time director David Yates – is back and, unlike the original series, the script is written by J.K. herself… “It’s odd giving notes to one of the most successful writers of all time,” laughs long-term Potter producer David Heyman when asked about working with the author in her new role. “But she’s ambitious for her craft. She doesn’t want to fail. The first draft had things in it that would have made any screenwriter proud. She wants to make it the very best she can.” Set in 1920s New York, the film follows magizoologist and Fantastic Beasts author Newt Scamander – played by Eddie Redmayne – on his travels across the pond, where he discovers the American wizarding community is living in fear of public exposure and the bigoted ‘No-maj’ (non-magical folk, or ‘muggles’ to us Brits). Probably not a good time for his tatty old briefcase – a bigger-on-the-inside home to his collection of weird and wonderful creatures – to be opened and let loose on the city, then… Though his job as the new face of one of the world’s most successful film franchises (over $7 billion and counting at the box office) is no doubt daunting, Redmayne isn’t letting it show. On-set photos have shown him looking confident and already iconic as Newt, rocking a natty teal-and-gold trenchcoat and a suitably foppish ’do for an eccentric Englishman in NY. “If we can deliver on what J.K. has written I think it’ll be a wonderful thing,” he says. “I’m not playing a ‘real’ character, but in her >>

February 2016 | Total Film | 55

mind Newt is entirely three-dimensional. She could talk you through every intricacy.” He’s got some solid support, too. Inherent Vice’s Katherine Waterston plays fellow spellcaster and love interest, Porpentina, while Samantha Morton takes on villain duties as Mary Lou, the ominous leader of an anti-magic extremist group, the New Salem Philanthropic Society, who’s looking to continue the work of her stake-burning ancestors. Big names padding out the cast are Flash star Ezra Miller as Mary Lou’s troubled (and no doubt ironically gifted) son Credence, and Colin Farrell as a high-ranking auror – a sort of magical detective tasked with apprehending out-of-control wizards – who’s on the hunt for Newt.


ut enough about the human cast – what about the fantastic beasts of the title? The film is currently shooting at Warner Bros’ UK base, Leavesden Studios, and – as anyone who’s visited the Making Of Harry Potter studio tour there can attest – the filmmakers will be continuing the grand Potter tradition of crafting spectacularly detailed animatronics to work in tandem with the mass of computer-generated creations. Chief among them will be – cute animal sidekick alert! – Newt’s pet ‘Niffler’, a small dog-sized, long-snouted critter with a penchant for mischief and shiny things. “They have this wonderful love-hate relationship,” says Redmayne of Newt and his favourite beast. “He’s aggravating and wonderful at the same time.” Other creatures already confirmed to appear include the slithery ‘Ashwinder’ (a pale-grey snake with glowing red eyes and combustible eggs); the deadly ‘Lethifold’ (a dangerous nocturnal hunter that resembles a black cloak and has a taste for human flesh) and the ‘Augurey’ (a green-and-black Irish variant of the phoenix that serves as a portent of doom – and bad weather). We’ll also apparently see the return of the decidedly unfriendly merpeople, last shown on screen attempting to drag Harry Potter to a watery grave in The Goblet Of Fire. And with Rowling’s original Fantastic Beasts book detailing 85 magical species from around the world, there’s plenty of potential to populate the two sequels with a plethora of as-yet-unseen beasties that will allow the film’s creature design department to really go to town. Imagine what they could do with the bizarre beauty of the Chimaera – a lion/ goat/dragon mash-up – or the magnificent eagle/ big cat hybrid, the Griffin. If the magical menagerie sounds like Fantastic Beasts might skew too young, though, fear not – while Yates will be busy directing an army of imaginary animals, he won’t be softening the tone… “It’s a wee bit more grown-up,” he says of his new franchise’s distinction from its big brother. “There are no kids in this movie!” TF Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them opens on 18 November.

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Case by case: Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, shooting in and around New York with (below) Katherine Waterson and (bottom) Samantha Morton alongside director David Yates.

Family ties Four ways Fantastic Beasts could link up to the Potter saga... HOGWARTS Hufflepuff is perhaps unfairly regarded as the least ‘cool’ of the four Hogwarts houses, falling under the large shadows cast by Gryffindor and Slytherin. But it does have one big-name alumnus – Newt Scamander! Both Rowling and Yates are fond of a flashback, so don’t rule out Fantastic Beasts offering a glimpse into the young Newt’s formative years.

HAGRID Hogwarts caretaker and Harry’s pal Rubeus Hagrid (played by Robbie Coltrane in the movies) was born in 1928 – two years after Fantastic Beasts is set. But if the sequels push forward in time we could meet the young, half-giant wizard… He is an expert on magical creatures, after all.

DUMBLEDORE Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was born in the late 1800s and didn’t start teaching at the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry until the late ’30s, so he could well join Newt’s adventure at some point. We have already seen young Dumbledore in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by actor Toby Regbo in Deathly Hallows Part 1.

5 things we know about...

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Chris Hemsworth has an axe to grind in the fairytale adap...


It’s a prequel/spin-off to 2012’s Snow White And The Huntsman, Rupert Sanders’ gritty, visually ravishing Grimm fairytale adap. Though Kristen Stewart’s Snow White isn’t returning, Chris Hemsworth is back as the titular wood-chopper. Also back: Sam Calflin’s Prince William and Nick Frost’s dwarf Nion.

HERMIONE Time travel does exist in the Potterverse… In The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Hermione uses her ‘time turner’ necklace to save Sirius Black and Hagrid’s pet hippogriff, Buckbeak. Dumbledore warns of a five-hour limit for people to jump back without risk of serious injury, but if anyone can find a workaround, it’s Hogwarts’ star pupil. Question is, would Emma Watson want to return?


The handy prequel loophole means Charlize Theron’s evil Queen Ravenna is still around, but it’s her sister, Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), we should be worried about. “I don’t think I’ve played evil before, which is why it’s been so rewarding,” the Brit star says. “I’m surprised how much I enjoy it.”


Plot-wise, think Frozen for grown-ups as The Huntsman draws from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Freya’s powers include the ability to freeze just about anything. Nursing a broken heart, she fashioned herself an ice palace decades ago, where she’s trained up an army of lethal huntsmen – including Hemsworth’s Eric.


Cedric Nicolas-Troyan was Oscar nominated for his effects work on the first film, and takes the main reigns on the prequel, replacing outgoing director Frank Darabont, who cited “creative differences” for his departure. Given the first film is best remembered for its gorgeous visuals, we’d say The Huntsman is in very safe hands indeed.


Filming took place entirely in England, with locations including Waverley Abbey and the mossy woodland of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. It wouldn’t exactly be a fairytale without creepy woods now, would it? JW The Huntsman: Winter’s War opens on 22 April.

ve the Taking wings: in flight abo t) righ Dalaran Sanctuary; (top insky) Kaz Orc bigwig Orgrim (Rob onents and (right) his Alliance opp s... are not short on number

Diving down: the Alliance uses flying mounts to its advantage and (left) Travis Fimmel plays protagonist Lothar.

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This is war Duncan Jones thinks big for his epic fantasy adaptation. Total Film goes on the set of Warcraft: The Beginning to watch the battle unfold... WORDS JORDAN FARLEY

W 5 more fantasy films… ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 27 MAY Mia Wasikowska heads back down the rabbit hole. ASSASSIN’S CREED 22 APRIL Fantasy history lessons with Fassbender. GODS OF EGYPT 8 APRIL 3D epic starring ancient deities. TROLLS 21 OCTOBER Hair-raising toy adap. KNIGHT OF CUPS 1 JANUARY Terrence Malick’s latest.

orld Of Warcraft is big. Really big. In early 2015, almost 10 years after it was first launched, video game developer Blizzard’s all-conquering fantasy MMO had upwards of 10 million subscribers. Movie adaptation Warcraft: The Beginning is even bigger. Think Lord Of The Rings big. Or (whisper it) Avatar big. It’s a production that’s blending massive live-action sets and lavishly costumed human characters with cutting edge performance capture creatures to a degree that no other film has dared attempt, let alone achieved. During Total Film’s tour around Azeroth (aka the vast sound stages of Vancouver’s Bridge Studios) we’re led to the inner sanctum of Karazhan – the colossal tower of human mage Medivh (Ben Foster) – a space so large it makes the 18ft tall Golem sitting in the middle look like a miniature. And it’s not even the film’s biggest set. So, yes, big. Vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big. But you’d expect no less from a film that’s been in the works at Legendary Pictures for the best part of a decade and boasts a fanbase as dedicated as Warcraft’s. Sam Raimi was attached to direct for several years before moving on to Oz The Great And Powerful, opening the door for Moon’s Duncan Jones and his producing partner Stuart Fenegan, who’d been ensconced in a world of orcs and men for almost 20 years. “Duncan and I were both hugely into the original RTS games,” Fenegan explains to TF. “And then obviously when WOW came out in 2005, we both started playing together, right up until [expansion pack] Burning Crusade came out. I stopped at that point because my wife threatened to divorce me, which is a very common story!” Jones’ intimate understanding of Blizzard’s universe was exactly the kind of insight that Legendary needed to crack Charles Leavitt’s existing script. The problem – it told the story from the human perspective, but a one-sided war didn’t fit with the series’ ethos. “One of the great things about Warcraft is there are two sides – there's the Horde, who are the orcs living on

Draenor, and there's the Alliance, who are the citizens of Azeroth,” says producer Charles Roven. “Duncan came in, re-wrote [the script] and made sure that we were telling this film from two points of view.” As its name makes clear, Warcraft: The Beginning goes back to the start of the story established in the games. Draenor is dying. The orcs’ only hope is the Dark Portal – a gateway to another world that orc warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) submits as their only option for survival. Frostwolf Clan chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and his second-in-command Orgrim Doomhammer (Rob Kazinsky) are sceptical, but soon realise their people have no other option. The catch? Their destination, Azeroth, is already inhabited by elves, dwarves and humans, the latter led by King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his brilliant military strategist Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). Understandably, the citizens of Azeroth aren’t too keen on the idea of hulking beasts flooding into their world, but the real enemy has yet to reveal its hand. “What I responded to most reading it was it's compassionate to both sides of conflict,” says Foster during a break from playing Azeroth’s magical guardian. “It shows a tremendous amount of humanity for creatures and a fair value system rather than good guys vs bad guys. That was very unique for a genre picture.” After years of middling (Silent Hill) to pitiful (pretty much everything else) video game adaps, crucially there’s a sense from everyone on set that the source material is being treated with the utmost respect. The kind of respect that Marvel comics now enjoy, with key players including Jones, Fenegan, visual effects artist Bill Westenhofer and orc actor Rob Kazinsky out and proud Warcraft obsessives. “Rob’s our barometer,” says executive producer Jillian Share. “If he walks into the Lion's Pride Inn and tears are on his face because he's so impressed with how much we're able to capture the feel of the game, we know we’ve done our jobs.” TF Warcraft: The Beginning opens on 3 June.

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Dead set As the Merc with a Mouth prepares a fresh assault on cinemas, we examine the cult of Deadpool… WORDS SAM ASHURST & JOSH WINNING


e’s very irreverent, he’s very edgy, he’s very silly, he’s borderline psychotic.” That’s how screenwriter Rhett Reese describes comic-book screwball Deadpool, and though it sounds like he’s being anything but complimentary, those are exactly the qualities that have seen the expletive-rattling anti-hero become a Marvel favourite ever since his debut in New Mutants #98 in February 1991. Violent. Fourth-wall-breaking. Pop culture fanatic. Deadpool’s like no other comic-book character, which goes part way to explaining why – in a time when there are more superheroes in multiplexes than spilled boxes of popcorn – he’s only just getting his first solo movie, after a lacklustre cinematic debut in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That film had no idea what to do with such a crackpot, and so they shaved his head, sewed his mouth shut, and served him up to Wolverine for an inglorious beheading. That was 2009, but this is 2016. With Ryan Reynolds returning for a second pop at the anti-hero, the signs are there that he and debut director Tim Miller have finally got Deadpool sussed. “It’s made in a way the most critical of fanboys could embrace,” Reynolds has said of the film, and going by early trailers, this version of Deadpool should offer comic lovers both a wild ride and an explosive “thank you” for sticking by his side through the many ups and downs. The fans have always been instrumental to Deadpool’s success. Created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist/writer Rob Liefeld, he was initially portrayed as an assassin with a grim sense of humour, going from New Mutants to

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Pooling resources: Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) teams up with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).

antagonising the main players in X-Force. His calling card quickly became his penchant for smashing through the fourth wall to comment on everything from the Star Wars prequels (he blasted away a space pilot who defended them) to his love of Star Trek (“the classic, not the one with the bald guy who looks like Professor X”). “I think one of the reasons that Deadpool has gained a lot of momentum isn’t just that it’s funny or that it’s rated R,” Reynolds muses. “The meta aspect is very important.” The character’s self-aware sense of fun flourished under the watch of writer Joe Kelly and artist Ed McGuinness, who launched an ongoing Deadpool series in 1997. Bleaker but funnier, it transformed the Merc into an anti-hero

proper as he attempted to do good while also indulging in his dark side. Kelly was instrumental in pushing the character’s irreverence to manic extremes – a flashback ’60s storyline in Deadpool #11 had the Merc appearing in a real back issue of Amazing Spider-Man. And, in a time when fans were finding each other online, Deadpool’s cult following boomed – fans twice rescued him from cancellation (“Please please please tell me that Deadpool isn’t going to be cancelled!” begged one avid reader). Meanwhile, the cult of Deadpool expanded from the comics to video games, TV and toys. He made his pixelated debut in X-Men Legends II: Rise Of Apocalypse in 2005, and fan demand meant he returned again in other games, including Marvel

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Rob Liefeld The Deadpool creator talks anti-heroes... Is Deadpool going to be different to other comic-book movies? In an age where we’ve had multiple Iron Man and Dark Knight films, as well as all the do-gooders of the Avengers movies, you’re now going to get this very irreverent character that’s going to be a giant contrast to all the boy-scout movies that have been coming out lately. Deadpool’s not a superhero. He wears a costume but he doesn’t fight crime. He’s a ruthless mercenary who will turn on you for a dollar. I think that when Deadpool comes out, it’ll be the right movie in the right place at the right time. Have you been very involved in the movie adaptation? I’m very fortunate in that right after X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out, the producers heard the cry of the fans that this wasn’t the Deadpool they wanted to see. They got him so right in the opening scenes where Ryan Reynolds is on his mission with Wolverine, but then they go in such a wrong direction. So they met with me and I walked them through the various paths they should and shouldn’t take.

Ultimate Alliance 2 and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds. He popped up in animated TV shows and as a collectible figure, and there are entire forums for fans to analyse Deadpool’s various appearances. Meanwhile, in the absence of a decent Deadpool film, fans have even grabbed cameras to shoot their own films (check out German effort Deadpool: A Typical Tuesday). What’s the key to his popularity? Well, violence aside, he loves all the things comic readers love, with Reynolds arguing: “I think it’s speaking to them as though the guy in that red suit is one of them, to some degree.” Deadpool understands entertainment media and the appeal of trash culture as much as his admirers do. What it comes down to is the fans. Reynolds

told Total Film it was they who finally got Deadpool a greenlight, having gone wild for the test footage Miller shot for 20th Century Fox four years ago. And while Reese concedes “we’re not pushing him quite as far as some of the later comics do in terms of his sheer insanity” (there has been much talk of Deadpool’s pansexuality), those ferocious, quippy trailers suggest the Deadpool devotees – and Deadpool himself – will finally get a movie the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ would be proud of. “It’s just darker and edgier and weirder in the best way – like Deadpool should be – than any other movie in the genre,” says producer Simon Kinberg. Deadpool, we’ve been expecting you... TF Deadpool opens on 4 February.

Does the film draw on any specific storylines? You have to ask, ‘What would a Deadpool movie be about?’ At its core, it has to be an introduction to the character with a first, second and third act, and to be honest the Deadpool comics of recent years don’t lend themselves to that, as they’re more kind of gaggy one-offs. So what [screenwriters] Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have done is to take 25 years of cool stories and boil them down into this one product. There is no story in the comics where Deadpool, Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Ajax and Angel Dust all come together, but they’ve taken all of that and come up with a very potent story that’s going to blow people away. What makes Ryan Reynolds right for Deadpool? He works hard all the time, makes brilliant films and is focused on making a good character. In the same way that Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man are now simpatico, Ryan is going to be simpatico with Deadpool. SJ

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Avengers disassemble Hero turns on hero in Captain America: Civil War... WORDS JOSH WINNING


ar! What is it good for? In the Marvel cinematic universe, it’s about to be about superheroes scrapping, loyalties switching on a hairpin and things getting blown the heck up. A lot. “Captain America and Iron Man get into a fight with each other,” says director Joe Russo of Captain America: Civil War, returning with brother Anthony after their Captain America: The Winter Soldier became the seventh most profitable MCU movie (with $714m worldwide) ever. Loosely based on Mark Millar’s Civil War graphic novel, this third Cap flick essentially functions as an unofficial third Avengers film as the majority of the A-team (minus Thor; Thor: Ragnarok is due in 2017) reunite for all-out war. The team’s divided by the introduction of the Sokovia Accords, a hero-registration act championed by Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt, last seen in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk). With battle lines drawn, our heroes split into factions headed up by the anti-Sokovia Captain America (Chris Evans) and pro-Sokovia Iron Man (Tony Stark). “Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth,” the latter tells the former, in what’s surely just warm-up snark ahead of a ground-shaking scrap that could also involve Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man… TF

BLACK WIDOW Team: Iron Man Wait, what? Black Widow fighting against Captain America? Yep, Steve’s long-time ally is going rogue in Civil War, siding with Tony Stark over the registration act. “She’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life,” says Scarlett Johansson. This is going to be messy.

ANT-MAN Team: Captain America After his brush with Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in Ant-Man, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is entering the Avengers fray for good, and it seems he and Falcon have patched things up between films, as Marvel’s tiniest hero is siding with Caps. “It’s been a surreal ride so far,” says Rudd of joining the superhero stable. “It’s really only just starting...”

Captain America: Civil War opens on 29 April.

Weirded out Marvel heads into uncharted territory with Doctor Strange, and with the film cloaked in mystery, we look to the comics for clues about its all-new cast of characters... WORDS SAM ASHURST

STEPHEN STRANGE Played by: Benedict Cumberbatch Back story: An arrogant neurosurgeon turned cosmos-manipulating magician, Doctor Strange has one of the weirdest/coolest origin stories ever. After a car accident destroys his hands, he obsessively searches the world for a cure. Finding a hermit known as the Ancient One, Strange learns the mystic arts, which allow him to control time, space and fancy-punching. Powers: He can fly, see the future, throw spells, and travel across dimensions. Key quote: “By The Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!” Strange days: Doctor Strange teamed with Thor to fight zombie vikings. That is a movie we definitely want to see.

THE ANCIENT ONE Played by: Tilda Swinton Back story: The original Sorcerer Supreme, the Ancient One was born in Tibet over 500 years ago, and worked as a simple farmer until magic changed her life. After a bitter conflict with her mystic mentor causes the deaths of innocent villagers, the Ancient One is stripped of her immortality, and is now travelling throughout the world fighting evil on a mission of repentance. Powers: Magic, teleportation, illusions. Key quote: “You must prove you are worthy!” Strange days: The Ancient One is male in the comics, and has been admirably gender-swapped by Marvel for the big screen.

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WAR HAMMER Team: Iron Man Old Shellhead’s greatest ally, War Hammer (Don Cheadle) looks to get into a spot of bother in Civil War – the film’s trailer shows his pulverised body being cradled by a distraught Tony. Could this be the end of the line?

BLACK PANTHER Team: Iron Man After that Avengers: Age Of Ultron Easter Egg placed Black Panther in Wakanda, the clawed hero debuts in Civil War. “We needed fresh eyes, [somebody] who wasn’t embedded with the Avengers,” Marvel honcho Kevin Feige has said of introducing Panther at this point in the story, and with Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up) signed up for a five-picture deal with Marvel, he’ll be around a while.


BARON MORDO Played by: Chiwetel Ejiofor Back story: A trainee magician with an extremely nasty past to deal with, Karl Mordo convinces The Ancient One to train him in the mystic arts before using his powers in a nefarious plot to kill his mentor. Luckily, Doctor Strange steps in and saves his master, inspiring Mordo to become one of Strange’s key enemies in the process. Powers: Demon-conjuring, magic blasting, general evil spell skills. Key quote: “I, Baron Mordo, who must be the most powerful magician of all!” Strange days: In the ’90s Spider-Man animated series, Mordo was part-responsible for the creation of iconic villain Carnage.

NICODEMUS WEST Played by: Michael Stuhlbarg Back story: West is essentially a Doctor Strange superfan, a fellow surgeon whose long admiration of the good doctor leads him to attempt to save Strange’s hands after his accident. Devastated by his failure, West follows Strange to Tibet in order to learn magic from the Ancient One. He ends up abandoning his studies, a decision that eventually pits him against his former hero. Powers: Limited magical abilities. Key quote: “I’ve forgotten many of the incantations the old man taught us, but not the ones that count.” Strange days: West is a later addition to the canon, created by former Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan.

THE WINTER SOLDIER Team: Captain America Last seen in the post-credits Ant-Man sting, he may have been trying to kill Caps in The Winter Soldier, but now that he’s recovered his memories, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is back on side – possibly. “You’re always trying to guess what side he is on... because he can go both ways,” Stan teases.

NIGHTMARE Played by: Mads Mikkelsen Back story: Though Mads Mikkelsen’s role has yet to be confirmed, it’s a pretty safe bet he’ll play Nightmare, the impish ruler of the ‘dream dimension’ where he tortures anyone unfortunate enough to fall asleep and wake up there. We’re imagining Hannibal’s dream visions magnified by a hundred. Powers: Stealing psychic energy from human victims. Key quote: “I am the Master of the Subconscious, the Midnight Leviathan – proof positive that the most precious of dreams too often fall prey to… Nightmare!” Strange days: He’s fought several Marvel heroes, even attempting to assassinate Deadpool.

NIGHT NURSE Played by: Rachel McAdams Back story: McAdams’ role hasn’t been confirmed yet, but we’ve got our money on her playing Night Nurse, who specialises in helping superheroes recover from their injuries. She became a hero in her own right when she teamed with Doctor Strange to recover the cure for cancer. The pair also found romance together. Powers: None, she’s just kind and smart. Key quote: “Get the hell away from my patients!” Strange days: Rosario Dawson was slated to play the role in the Daredevil Netflix series, but Marvel nixed the idea to reserve Night Nurse for the big screen. Doctor Strange opens on 28 October.

February 2016 | Total Film | 63

Love in space As two of Hollywood’s hottest players unite for sci-fi Passengers, could Chris Pratt plus Jennifer Lawrence equal box-office gold? WORDS KEVIN HARLEY 64 | Total Film | February 2016

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ne’s a gamer, the other a guardian. One was on fire, the other on ’raptor-herding duties. Between then, they’ve re-ignited the idea of The Star at a time when pre-established properties are thought to be the only game in town. Critics like them too, so unite them in a high-concept original project and studios will bite. Right? You’d think. But the long-gestating film of Prometheus/ Doctor Strange writer Jon Spaihts’ romantic science-fiction script Passengers struggled to achieve lift-off even when Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt spliced star wattage for the job. Under the direction of Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, The Imitation Game), Pratt plays one of 5,000 sleepers on a 120-year space journey to a new planet. When a glitch jolts him from cryogenic sleep some 90 years too early, he decides he needs a mate (after a coffee, presumably?) and wakes Lawrence up. Luckily, she isn’t totally creeped out… and love blooms. Spaihts’ script has itself been hibernating since its placing on 2007’s Black List of good-to-go scripts. Big names including the likes of Keanu Reeves, Rachel McAdams and Reese Witherspoon almost boarded. The Weinstein Company and Warner Bros were involved. “It is probably the best thing I’ve written and the best-loved thing,” said Spaihts: but love can’t buy you money in Hollywood, so it remained unfilmed. When Sony stepped in Lawrence was bagged, no small matter considering her reluctance to follow Katniss’ arrow to another mega-movie. “I knew that coming out of The Hunger Games it was a bad move to do a big blockbuster,” she said. “I want to get back to my roots, back to indies, where I started. And then I read Passengers and I loved it. This is my first time saying ‘Yes’ now that I am free of franchises.” But when you’re Lawrence or Pratt, you don’t say “yes” for peanuts. Pay-day wranglings rumbled at Sony under chairman Tom Rothman’s purse-watch. Original sci-fi is a tough sell right now: sadly, Tomorrowland hardly heralded a bright new future. The ameliorating element is that Passengers veers closer to the $100m end of things than $200m – and these are bankable leads. After public tussles over her American Hustle pay (less than her male co-stars), Lawrence apparently wanted what she was worth to Hollywood. Imagine! From Winter’s Bone to X-Men, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Hunger Games, her box-office reach, critical kudos, relatability and awards clout have been confirmed on most fronts. And she’s in demand: she left Richard Linklater’s The Rosie Project because of a crowded upcoming schedule of comic (with Amy Schumer), prestige (with Steven Spielberg) and maverick (with Darren Aronofsky) gigs. Happily, Rothman agreed to $20m for Lawrence, plus 30 per cent of the back-end. Meanwhile, Pratt’s price increased from $10m to $12m post-Jurassic World, adding Passengers to a slate that includes forthcoming Lego voice work, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven remake and more Guardians/Jurassic blockbusting. As for what we’ll get for our money in Passengers, two screen definitions (plus classy support from Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne) of starry smoulder is the selling point, with Lawrence giving her emotional all. She had to get “really drunk” for the love scenes, the first of her career, saying: “He was married, and it was going to be my first time kissing a married man and guilt is the worst feeling… I called my mom and I was like, ‘Will you just tell me it’s okay?’ That was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.” Epic romance meets intelligent fantasy is the highly tantalising gist: Titanic meets Gravity, Before Sunrise meets Logan’s Run or WALL•E. Either way, promises Spaihts, “Passengers is funny and heartwarming and hopefully heartbreaking.” With original sci-fi rare right now, let’s hope Lawrence and Pratt make this one fly. TF

5 more sci-fis… THE 5TH WAVE 22 JANUARY Chloë Grace Moretz fights invading aliens. THE CIRCLE TBC Operating system sci-fi starring Emma Watson. REPLICAS TBC Keanu Reeves resurrects the dead. SPECTRAL 12 AUGUST Monsters take on New York City. PASSAGE TO MARS TBC Zachary Quinto and Charlotte Rampling space out.

Independence Day: Resurgence They’re back...


f sequels are all about raising the stakes, Roland Emmerich has set himself a heck of a challenge following up his 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. After all, what’s bigger than blowing the White House to smithereens? We’ll find out in much-belated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, which picks up on Earth 20 years after it was first attacked by giant flying saucers, and reunites many of the film’s survivors, including Judd Hirsch, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner and Bill Pullman. “It’s a little bit of a resurgence for us all,” says Emmerich, who first started work on the sequel back in 2004 with long-time collaborator Dean Devlin. Things are a little different two decades on, though. “We call it the War Of ’96,” the director says of this brave new world, in which borders are no longer relevant. Now, it’s strictly humans versus aliens. “It’s a post-World War generation, which is unified. It’s amazing to see the world come together with a common enemy.” There’s one notable absence – Will Smith skipped the sequel to join Suicide Squad – but with the first film’s kids now grown up, we’ll get Maika Monroe (“I’m kind of a badass”) as the daughter of ex-President Whitmore (Pullman), plus Jessie Usher as fighter pilot Dylan. Of course, it wouldn’t be Independence Day without Goldblum, whose Daniel Levinson is now director of Earth Space Defence. “It’s my job to make sure everybody’s safe on this precious and beautiful planet,” he says. Considering this is an Emmerich film, he’s got his work cut out for him, too… JW Independence Day: Resurgence opens on 25 June.

Reunification: the old (and new) cast gathers on set.

Passengers opens on 23 December 2016.

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Ben Wheatley does Ballard with a blistering cast… WORDS JAMIE GRAHAM


ot many writers merit their own adjective, but so distinctive is the fearless fiction of J.G. Ballard that ‘Ballardian’ can be found in the Collins English Dictionary: ‘Resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J.G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.’ Only a certain type of filmmaker is capable of aligning themselves to Ballard’s unblinking vision: David Cronenberg shares many of the author’s pet peccadillos and thus brought sex ’n’ wrecks opus Crash to gleaming, shuddering life; and now another cine-anarchist with a penchant for the perverse, Ben Wheatley, has succeeded where others have failed for 40 years. Yes, he’s erected a movie of social-meltdown fable High-Rise, in which the residents of a stateof-the-art 40-storey tower block turn on each other with primal savagery. Famed British producer Jeremy Thomas, the man behind Crash as well as Cronenberg’s take on William S. Burroughs’ ‘unfilmable’ Naked Lunch, has been trying to adapt Ballard’s prophetic novel of urban disillusionment and human bestiality since its publication in 1975. “I always liked the idea that the richest, most powerful people live at the top of the building and the most base people live at the bottom, because I find it close to life,” he chortles on set at the Bangor Leisure Centre, just outside Dublin – chosen for its Brutalist architecture. “And I liked the idea of a gated community in a dystopian world. It’s a protected community but a sickness pervades. Ballard’s book was a pre-commentary on where the world was going.” It was the ‘pre-commentary’ aspect – the fact that Ballard’s book was set in the near-future –

that threw Thomas in his efforts to get it made. When Wheatley waded in and said, “I want to set it in the period,” it suddenly all made sense. Hence an incredible cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy and Reece Shearsmith, today wandering down dingy corridors and past an empty, grimy swimming pool in flares and mutton chops. Hiddleston is the lead, playing upwardly mobile Dr Robert Laing, a resident of the 25th floor who gets swept up in the class warfare as stairwells are barricaded, lifts hijacked and running battles lead to beatings, murder and complete mental disintegration. “If you grew up in Shanghai [in World War 2], where the first 14 years of your life you’re exposed to death, terror, disease, poverty and cruelty, how do you then make sense of Britain in peacetime, where everything’s civilized?” Hiddleston ponders, attempting to throw light on Ballard’s unnerving worldview. The actor’s dressed in an immaculate suit that will soon be torn and mussed. “I’m pretty sure that human beings are not actually sophisticated. Human beings are much more unpredictable and primal, so Ballard thought, ‘Let’s put them in a place where the mask is pulled away.’ It’s fascinating.” And it’s also not for the faint-hearted. Ballard was described as a “connoisseur of catastrophe”, a description that equally fits the director behind Kill List, Sightseers and A Field In England, so it’s safe to expect carnage of the unflinching variety. Like Crash, this is the perfect synthesis of author and filmmaker, ensuring a viewing experience akin to standing on the roof of a tower block and inching your toes out over the edge until your balance is at tipping point: terrifying, certainly, but also thrilling. TF High-Rise opens on 18 March.

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Death proof

One rogue: Felicity Jones, centre, leads the Rogue One cast.

Gareth Edwards heads back in time for the Star Wars prequel you're looking for. Get ready for gritty spin-off Rogue One...



anish any anxiety caused by the phrase 'Star Wars prequel'. Difficult, we know, given the bitter aftertaste of The Phantom Menace et al, but things are different now. In the wake of Disney's record-breaking franchise buyout (it purchased Star Wars along with Lucasfilm for $4bn in 2012), this is a new era for Star Wars – and while The Force Awakens continues the story of Luke, Leia and Han, the Mouse House is also getting into the expanded universe game with new adventures set elsewhere in the Wars-verse. First up is Rogue One. “It’s set after Episode III, before Episode IV,” explains Gareth Edwards, who signed on to direct in May 2014, the same month his Godzilla reboot stomped into cinemas to the tune of $529m. Following a ragtag band

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of Rebel fighters, Rogue One pits them against the Empire as they attempt to get their hands on the plans for the Death Star before the Emperor can use it to wreak terrible destruction. Leading the fighters? Brit actress Felicity Jones, who packed considerable heat in the film's first official still. “Felicity’s amazing, is the simplest way to say it,” Edwards enthuses. “She’s fantastic.” Like Force Awakens counterpart J.J. Abrams, Brit-born Edwards is a Star Wars fankid. He admits to crying when he saw the trailer for The Force Awakens (“as soon as Han turned up and said 'we’re home', this tear just came out”) and to him, Christmas will always be inextricably linked to that galaxy far, far away (“I talk about Star Wars all the time; I get Star Wars presents”). In other words, he's the perfect person to unleash the first spin-off, his film landing ahead of planned prequels

for Han Solo in 2018 and Boba Fett in 2020. If The Force Awakens is a slavish action space opera, though, Rogue One promises somewhat grungier pyrotechnics. “A clue would be that my favourite film of all time is A New Hope,” Edwards teases of the film's tone, going on to reveal that “realism” is key. “It’s the reality of war,” he says. “Good guys are bad, bad guys are good. It’s a complicated, layered, very rich scenario in which to set a movie.” It's also set in a post-Jedi universe (“they're all but extinct”) and that absence, says the director, “hangs over the whole movie. It comes down to a group of individuals that don’t have magical powers, that have to somehow help bring hope to the galaxy.” We have a good feeling about this. JW Rogue One opens on 16 December.

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STAR WARS Oscar Isaac is going intergalactic...


hether sharing screen time with a cat (Inside Llewyn Davis), an android (Ex_Machina) or leading the biggest franchise revival of the decade as pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the last five years have seen Oscar Isaac go from intense support player (Drive, Sucker Punch) to Golden Globe-nominated lead. With X-Men: Apocalypse also on the horizon, we caught up with sci-fi’s new favourite player...

Were you a fan of Star Wars before signing on to The Force Awakens? I’ve been a big fan of Star Wars and my entire family was obsessed with the series. I was also completely absorbed by what J.J. Abrams told me when we first discussed the role and he laid out the story for me and how he wanted to really energize the series for a new generation. Did you ask Harrison Ford lots of Star Wars questions? No! But I discovered that he has a pretty dry sense of humour. He and Carrie [Fisher] were both great to work with and I’ll also never forget the first table reading when Anthony Daniels [C-3PO] was there and you’re actually listening to that iconic voice. That was a very special moment. Were you in awe while shooting? I was in a constant state of awe of just being there and coming to work every day and seeing all these iconic props and the droids and everything. You feel that you’re getting to be part of history and getting to work with actors who have played characters that are part of our cultural imagination. It’s a very special kind of appreciation that you have for being part of that and getting to create your own character that people might remember for a long time. You’re also part of the new X-Men film... Yeah, I’m the bad guy [Apocalypse]. The X-Men had better watch out! [laughs] I’m getting my fair share of sci-fi roles these days, I guess. I enjoy the mythology that comes with the genre. It’s still about human beings, though, and how we’re adapting to different technology and different ways of living.


Was there any one turning point in your career? Getting cast by Ridley Scott [as Prince John] in Robin Hood was huge, especially because he was casting against type. The other major turning point was getting my first lead role in Llewyn Davis and getting to be in a Coen brothers film – as soon as people knew that I was doing that film, I started getting more offers and scripts being sent to me than I could ever have dreamed about. What are you aiming towards in the future as an actor? I want to be able to play characters that surprise you. I like the idea of some hidden element that defines an individual and you only really understand that person later on because of a major event or crisis. Human nature is a fascinating thing and that’s what makes life so stimulating. It’s also what drives you and inspires you as an actor because you become so intent on exploring what makes us who we are. Every day I’m very curious about people and what someone’s true nature is really all about. JW

Star awakens Call the Poe Poe: Isaac buckles up for The Force Awakens.

X-Men: Apocalypse opens on 19 May.

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School Rocky Of

A decade after Rocky’s story ended… he’s back. And teaching the young ’uns a thing or two. Total Film meets Sylvester Stallone and the Creed team in Philly to discover how Sly’s classic franchise is informing a new generation. WORDS MATTHEW LEYLAND

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hen Sylvester Stallone was approached to play Rocky again, he knew there was only one answer. “No. No, no, no,” he rumbles, sounding like the world’s gruffest Amy Winehouse impersonator. Stallone was done with the Italian Stallion. In 2006, the 30th anniversary of the original Rocky, he called time on the boxing saga with the warmly received Rocky Balboa. “It was such a struggle to get the last one done,” he recalls, “and I was so happy with that film to conclude Rocky’s story that I didn’t think we needed to go any further.” So when a young, untested filmmaker called Ryan Coogler pitched a spin-off/side-quel, Stallone declined. “I dismissed his idea but… he was very adamant about it,” he smiles. Before long, Sly saw the (green)light, realising there was room for the

Rocky-verse to expand. “I thought, my story is told, but there’s a whole other generation out there – two generations – since Rocky started whose story hasn’t been told… so I finally agreed to do it after being shamed for my narrow-mindedness!” And so we have not Rocky VII but Creed, written and directed by Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan as one Adonis Johnson, a wannabe professional boxer with some mighty gloves to fill: he’s the illegitimate son of former heavyweight champ Apollo Creed. Franchise fans will recall that the latter died at the fists of Soviet slugger Ivan Drago in Rocky IV; without Dad around to mentor him, Adonis instead beats a path to the door of Apollo’s former rival-turned-BFF, Rocky. Like Stallone, Balboa is at first reluctant to get back in the game, but is gradually swayed

by the youngster’s will and skill. Adonis also stirs Rocky’s paternal instincts. “This is very much a movie with a father-son theme,” says Coogler, meeting TF in Rocky’s hometown, Philadelphia. “The series has that in its DNA. The sport of boxing kind of has it. Fighters have this bond with their trainers – we saw it with Mike Tyson and Cus D’Amato. You see it with Rocky and Mickey [in the first movie]. It’s a very special bond, and we wanted to capture that.” The 29-year-old filmmaker – who stunned Sundance with his 2013 debut Fruitvale Station, also starring Jordan – has his own father-son thing going with the series; he grew up watching them with his dad and finds the first sequel (1979) tough to watch because of the personal emotional associations it evokes. Creed, then, is as much passion project as stepping stone for Coogler. “I came into this industry telling very personal >>

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stories,” he states. “Fruitvale Station was a story that mattered to me very much. So with Creed, I was really just continuing on the path of making a movie I wanted to watch with my family.”


oogler would be first to admit that he’s not the only one to whom Rocky means a lot. Making the obligatory pilgrimage up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art (walking, not jogging), TF has to wait mere seconds to see fans posing with the bronze statue of Balboa created for 1982’s Rocky III. It’s one thing to take a selfie with a replica of an icon. How is it actually directing him? “Phenomenal! Awesome!” Coogler breaks out a smile as he recalls Stallone’s first day on set. “When he came in, I was so focused on the work. Next thing I know everybody – all the extras, crew – everybody’s cheering as hard as they can – it’s Rocky!” Stallone’s first scene was one of the shoot’s most technically demanding: Adonis’ first major bout, lensed in a single lengthy take. The scene was shot 13 times – but even those rigours can’t compare to the movie’s climactic bout, which took eight days. “On the ninth day, I was bedridden,” winces Michael B. Jordan. “For two days.” He looks none the worse for it. Still sporting his impressive Creed bulk, he’s engagingly animated, all dancing eyebrows and sudden grins. His hands aren’t still either, rolling and unrolling a large cotton flannel. Or maybe it’s a bath towel – like we said, he’s big. “Going into this, I was like, ‘Oh man, I get to change my body, which I’ve always wanted to do,’” says the 28-year-old actor last seen – well, if you saw it – in Fantastic Four. Working with Coogler was a no-brainer. The cameras hadn’t even started rolling on Fruitvale Station when

On the run: Adonis Creed’s training sessions ape those of mentor Rocky Balboa (Stallone, right).

Jordan got the Creed call, but he didn’t hesitate. He recreates the conversation in full: “It was like, ‘Hey Mike, I’m thinking about doing a film about Apollo Creed. I’m excited. You want to be in it?’ ‘Cool.’ And that was it!” As prep, Jordan rewatched his favourite Rockys – the original, II and IV – but didn’t feel the need to burn them into his memory. “It’s nice not being so fresh with that world because Adonis doesn’t really know it,” he argues. “We wanted to have a lot of ‘first times’ in the script. I didn’t even go to the museum until the end of our time in Philly.” A prime example of a ‘first time’ is the budding relationship between Adonis and Tessa Thompson’s Bianca. Don’t expect a Rocky/Adrian redux. For starters, Bianca is no wallflower – she’s Adonis’ noisy neighbour, a singer-songwriter every bit as ambitious as he is. You won’t find her working quietly in a pet shop. At the same time,

Thompson did draw a certain inspiration from Talia Shire’s Oscar-nominated performance. “I just liked how complicated Adrian was,” says the bright-eyed Thompson, who had a bitpart in Selma and was a standout in ensemble indie Dear White People. “She sort of blossoms in the course of the series. Also, the course of true love doesn’t run smooth – she isn’t immediately open to [Rocky]. So we loved that about her.” But Bianca is an original, she maintains. “I think in Ryan’s mind, Bianca really adds layers to the movie because you kind of know all these characters – even Adonis to a degree. I hadn’t seen a character like Bianca before.” The balance of old and new is a large part of Creed’s appeal. But when it came to integrating those classic Rocky elements, Coogler didn’t have a tick-list at hand. “Things evolved naturally,” he says. “Some things you know you’re going to have. You know there’s going to be a big fight.

Head to head: Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) share a moment.

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You know there’s going to be a montage. But we knew with this that there’d be a lot of fights, because this is a guy who’s trying to make something of himself.” Though he insists that non-Rocky-watchers will find Creed highly accessible, he’s laid plenty of tantalising Easter eggs for long-time followers. “There’s interesting things here that as a Rocky fan, you’ll want to know. Like what’s happening with the old gym, that kind of thing.”


nother question that’ll be on series lovers’ minds: what does the original Creed, Carl Weathers, make of it all? Coogler answers carefully. “He was open to [the film]. At the same time… it’s complicated. That’s a role that’s so close to him. It was career-defining.” Coogler spoke with the actor during pre-production and kept him in the loop as the script evolved and decisions were made. “I think eventually he’ll see the film, but I don’t think he has just yet,” Coogler says. “I think for him it’s a lot of emotions – this character, this movie.” Jordan met Weathers in passing at an LA charity event – they talked a little and that was it, though he did get to hear some “pretty dope” stories about him via Sly on set. “How [Carl] got the role, the whole thing. It was pretty great.” Those weren’t the only anecdotes. “He has so many stories, it’s crazy, because he’s lived so much life. That man’s week can top most people’s year...” Yep, Stallone’s done it all – from winning Oscars to being crowned Worst Actor Of The Century by the Razzies. He’s had hits, flops and multiple comebacks (Cliffhanger, Rocky Balboa, The Expendables…). Now, half a year away from turning 70, he looks in rude health,

like “a piece of iron”, to quote Ivan Drago. It’s a different story in the film, though, where we’re confronted with an ageing, ailing Rocky. “It made me realise the clock is ticking,” Stallone says of Rocky’s predicament. “Any day, age could flip the coin and take away our health. It opened my eyes and made me very, very aware of mortality.” Is this the last we’ve seen of Rocky? What about Adonis himself? With a franchise this long-legged, you already presume there’s a sequel in the works. Maybe… But don’t expect 100 per cent confirmation just yet. “I think how the movie ends maybe lends itself to other things,” teases Coogler. “But I’m not at the point to be able to talk about it yet...” Jordan too sees scope for a follow-up: “Well, Adonis hasn’t [SPOILER REDACTED] yet,” he offers. “There’s so many places we can go from here, which is the fun part, the creative part. I definitely hope for a sequel.” Either way, he’ll be making more movies with Coogler. “Yeah, that’s going to be an ongoing thing. We’re not going anywhere. He’s one of my best friends, so it’s awesome.” One future project locked in for the duo is real-life drama Wrong Answer, centred on the standardised-test cheating scandal that hit Atlanta’s school system in 2013. “That’s going to be a good one!”

While Jordan’s got his mind on the future, Stallone’s is on the past. “I was just thinking about this the other day, about everything I have… it all leads back to Rocky,” he muses. “What’s amazing is this character and his stories have stayed around without any special effects, any car chases, without blowing anything up – the kind of things I usually do.” He’s on a roll now: “Seriously, no bullets, no cursing, no sex scenes… that was never Rocky.” Casting a glance at Coogler, Jordan and Thompson, he continues: “That’s why I think it’s so phenomenal – this generation wasn’t even around when we did the third one, let alone the first one; and they’ve embraced [Rocky] and taken it to a new level.” Over the last decade, most of Stallone’s biggest successes have traded on nostalgia – not just Rocky Balboa, but the fourth Rambo (2008) and the home for retired action heroes that is the Expendables franchise. Creed, though, is more forward-looking. “What these guys can do that I can’t do any more is live in the here and now; I pretty much live in the past because that’s where I acquired all my knowledge. These guys are still acquiring their lives, so their stories will be very now, as opposed to retro.” He’s “proud and stunned” he says, to be on Rocky VII… Scratch that, Creed I. “Rocky’s story is done,” Stallone says. “This is now hopefully a whole new series. It just continues to go on...” TF Creed opens 15 January and is reviewed on page 40.

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Man of (blue) steel The catwalk’s open for Zoolander 2… WORDS JANE CROWTHER


he last time we checked in with airhead clotheshorses Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson), they’d foiled a terrorist plot to assassinate the leader of Malaysia and quit modelling to open The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good. That was in 2001, when Bush was president, before Facebook, iPhones and selfies. Back then, everyone knew about Derek’s signature pout, ‘Blue Steel’. A lot’s gone on since then… “It’s [set] 10 years later and most of it is set in Europe,” Stiller says of Zoolander 2, 15 years in the making. “Though the last movie ended on a happy note, a lot of things have happened in the meantime. [Derek and Hansel’s] lives have changed and they’re not really relevant any more. It’s a new world for them.” The fresh world in which the duo will be floundering is being moulded by Stiller (on directing, as well as posing, duties) and screenwriter Justin Theroux (who co-wrote

Touching scenes: Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) meets androgynous model ‘All’ (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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ZOOLANDER 2 Tropic Thunder with Stiller). And, yes, they’ve brought back Will Ferrell’s diabolical dressmaker, Mugatu, plus Kristen Wiig and Benedict Cumberbatch in full scene-stealing mode, and Penélope Cruz as an Interpol agent investigating the deaths of the world’s most beautiful people – including some kid called Justin Bieber. “The first one didn’t do that great, so it’s a little odd to be doing a sequel,” Wilson recently confessed of the original movie, which brought home a relatively modest $61m. “I guess over the years some people really embraced it.” All very well, but nostalgia can only take a film so far (lest we forget Dumb And Dumber To). The zinger-packed trailer hinted this is a high fashion follow-up that won’t disappoint, though. “For all the fans of the first one, I can tell them… this is going to be even better!” assures Cruz. “It’s really funny. It’s hilarious.” And presumably really, really ridiculously good-looking… TF

Going incognito: Melissa McCarthy revisits improv character Michelle Darnell.

Zoolander 2 opens on 12 February.


The Boss Silky smooth: Stiller and Wilson drop in on Paris Fashion Week.

Melissa McCarthy’s aiming for the top…

ot off leading spoof Spy to becoming a box-office smash ($236m and counting), Melissa McCarthy’s back working with her husband Ben Falcone on another surefire rib-tickler. Unlike their first film Tammy (which received lacklustre reviews, but still garnered a respectable $101m at the box office), the plot’s inspired by a character McCarthy created during her days in improv sketch troupe The Groundlings, and follows Oprah-style inspirational speaker Michelle Darnell, who’s locked up for insider trading and pledges to turn her life around when she’s released. “I just could never get her out of my head,” McCarthy says of picking up the character again. “We made her the 47th wealthiest woman in the world. She’s not particularly nice about it.” JW The Boss opens on 10 June.

La La Land It’s dancing shoes at dawn for Ryan Gosling...

5 more comedies


MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 25 MARCH Nuptial hilarity courtesy of Nia Vardalos. DIRTY GRANDPA 22 JANUARY On the road with Efron and De Niro [see p10]. KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES 1 APRIL Jon Hamm does suburban spy caper. DAD’S ARMY 5 FEBRUARY War-time reboot. GRIMSBY 24 FEBRUARY Sacha Baron Cohen as reluctant super-sleuth.

Specs appeal: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on set.

his is actually a full throttle, song and dance, romantic musical,” says director Damien Chazelle of his follow-up to Whiplash. Where that Oscar-winner was a furious mentor movie, La La Land will be “in the spirit of old MGM musicals”, the director name-checking everything from A Star Is Born and Singin’ In The Rain to The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. Ryan Gosling stars as a jazz pianist who falls for Emma Stone’s actress and, going by their deft recreation of Dirty Dancing’s ‘The Lift’ in 2011’s Crazy Stupid Love, we should be in for a toe-tapping treat. “Whiplash is about the pain of making music,” adds Chazelle, “this is much more about the joy.” JW La La Land opens on 15 July.

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The world’s finest unite to make history… WORDS MATT MAYTUM


he Avengers took their time assembling, but in the newlyestablished DC movieverse (launched with Man Of Steel in 2013), the big guns are wasting no time getting together, even if they’re not exactly teaming up… “The cool thing with the Marvel movies is they took a nice amount of time to gestate their world,” says director Zack Snyder. “I don’t know that we didn’t go, like, ‘Shall we make a bunch of movies before we get to Justice League?’ I think [our approach] was just more evolved out of the material, these stories we were working on.”

Snyder admits that it was difficult to put the genie back in the bottle once the idea of Superman fighting Batman came up (“It’s a tough one to beat,” laughs Snyder). Although they’re facing each other, don’t expect either of the iconic heroes to be a traditional baddie in this story. According to Snyder, it’s a two-hander, with their differing moralities creating the antagonism. Ben Affleck’s stepping into the cape and cowl to play this rebooted Batman, and admits he was sceptical until Snyder showed him that he was taking the character in a different direction. This is an older, grizzlier Batman. “Typically, you start out with Batman and there he is,” says Affleck. “His parents got killed and he has a suit. Now here comes the bad guy… This was very different from that because it actually asks, who is the bad guy really?” “Batman, he’s angry and he’s bitter,” adds Superman himself, Henry Cavill. “It’s a direct

continuation of what happens in the final events of Man Of Steel,” he explains, as Bruce Wayne sees one of his buildings razed by the climactic Supes-Zod battle. Don’t forget about the Dawn Of Justice subtitle though… as this is leading to the two-part Justice League, expect Batman and Superman to have at least begrudgingly shaken on it by the time the credits roll. And the eponymous duo won’t be the only DC good guys in BVS: as well as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, see p78), fellow League-r Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is also expected to cameo, and rumours suggest we’ll see The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Parker) too. “That [Justice League] conversation now can really occur because you’ve done the laying of the groundwork,” says Snyder. “I was creating a world where that was possible.” Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice opens on 25 March.

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DC’s anti-Avengers assemble. WORDS JORDAN FARLEY


ll this ‘good vs evil’ is kind of played out right now,” director David Ayer said at San Diego Comic Con in June 2015. “It’s time for bad vs evil, right?” Focusing on the rogues and reprobates of DC’s nascent cinematic universe, Suicide Squad is a superpowered team-up movie with a sinister twist. Loki aside, Marvel’s weak link has always been its villains. DC is addressing the issue head on by putting its biggest and baddest front and centre, from Will Smith’s marksman [right] Deadshot to Margot Robbie’s psychotic pixie dream girl Harley Quinn (see overleaf). “I’m all about real drama, real performance, and real people,” Ayer explains. “I’m creating a brotherhood here.” It’s a reluctant brotherhood at best, with Task Force X established by Viola Davis’ shadowy government agent Amanda Waller after pulling expendable super-crims out of their cells at Belle Reve, stuffing a nanobomb in each of their necks and sending them out on conveniently deniable suicide missions. Also along for the ride are reptilian cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), ancient witch Enchantress (Cara Delevigne), Antipodean

assassin Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), master of ropes Slipknot (Adam Beach) and firestarter El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). Unlike most of the Squad, military man Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and soul-sucking bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara) are volunteers, tasked with babysitting the bickering scoundrels. But for all its clinically insane characters, Suicide Squad has a wild card up its sleeve – Jared Leto’s Clown Prince of Crime. Leto went to extreme lengths to portray the Joker, staying in character for the entirety of the shoot. “I’ve never actually met Jared Leto,” said Smith. “We worked together for six months and we’ve never exchanged a word outside of ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’” For all the film’s ambition to break the superhero mould, it’s Leto’s performance and self-aware makeover that has people talking, the first-glimpse Comic-Con footage racking up more views than even the mighty Batman V Superman trailer. Because however Suicide Squad turns out, one thing’s for certain – Leto’s Ace of Knaves is not to be missed. “I can’t wait for you to see this,” Leto says. “They’re going to lock me away in a box after this movie comes out.” Suicide Squad opens on 5 August.

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Wonder Woman G Gal Gadot is...

The DC heroine finally hitting the big screen. WORDS MATT MAYTUM

al Gadot might be aiming to keep her roles varied, but there’s one caveat she’d like to stick to. “You take a lot of general meetings with writers, producers, directors, and they always ask you the same question,” she tells Total Film. “They always ask you, ‘What’s your dream role? What would you like to do?’ My immediate answer was I was very open and curious to try every genre, as long as the story is good, as long as the character is good. But I would prefer to play the stronger side of women...” She’s playing the strongest woman of all as Diana Prince (AKA Wonder Woman) in 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. While Gadot has a blockbuster background with the Fast & Furious franchise, her character Gisele was very much a supporting player in those nitro-fuelled actioners. Now, the 30-year-old Israeli is going to have all eyes on her in a historic role: DC Comics’ most famous heroine is finally hitting the big screen, in live action, just as she turns 75. Not that Gadot is sweating the big stuff. “When you think about all the expectation, you waste your energy on thinking about it, rather than actually doing it,” she sighs. “So, I’m very, very focused on this project and on putting it on its best side.” Currently based in London for the shoot of the solo Wonder Woman movie (due 2017), Gadot can hardly contain her excitement at playing an icon. The first costume fitting “felt like it was an out-ofbody experience, because it was bigger than life,” she gasps. “The dream became reality.” And while she beams with confidence, nerves were a factor when it came to screentesting opposite Ben Affleck’s Batman for Dawn Of Justice (she was on a shortlist of five actresses). “I had to stay in the trailer for four hours before I did the camera test with him,” she remembers. “The nerves [were] crazy. I was about to freak out. And then I called my husband, and he told me, ‘Just put some music on. Put some Beyoncé or something on. Just dance!’ I was full of energy, I was up and about. It was great.” While teasing that she’s “well-informed about where this saga is going”, Gadot isn’t giving up any Wonder Woman spoilers. Not that it’s the only thing on her mind in 2016. That varied slate of hers also includes starry crime thriller Criminal (with Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Costner), Greg Mottola’s caper comedy Keeping Up With The Joneses, and John Hillcoat’s gritty heist movie Triple 9. If there’s a knack to avoiding being type-cast as a legendary superhero, Gadot would seem to have it down pat. “As long as the story is good, and I like the character, I will do it,” she says of her line-up. “I’m not just a one-type genre actress...”

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Margot Robbie is...

The DC dame breaking bad. WORDS MATT MAYTUM


argot Robbie has come a long way since her days on Ramsay Street. In just four years the Queensland actress leapfrogged from Australian soaps to Hollywood A-list but her biggest challenge yet lies ahead in Suicide Squad, where Robbie has the unenviable task of bringing fan favourite Batman villain Harley Quinn to the big screen. She won’t be the first live-action Harley – Mia Sara of Ferris Bueller fame played the character in short-lived DC show Birds Of Prey – but it’s the first time the Joker’s squeeze has had a stage quite this big, and Robbie’s not oblivious to the pressure. “I guess it’s intimidating because there’s obviously a lot of people I want to please, and a character I have to do justice,” Robbie recently said. “But it’s a challenge, I’m definitely up for it, and hopefully I don’t disappoint.” If the rapturous reaction to the world’s first glimpse of Harley in action at Comic-Con 2015 is anything to go by, Robbie needn’t have

worried. She may not be decked out in Harley’s traditional red and black harlequin cat suit, but there’s no denying that Robbie looks the part – sporting multi-coloured pigtails, supershort hot pants and traditional baseball bat – for up close and personal brutality. Robbie will bring the same tough-as-nails blonde bombshell qualities to Harley that she did to Jordan Belfort’s trophy wife in The Wolf Of Wall Street, with added bubblegum-blowing psychosis. Even her Brooklyn accent is on point (again). Like the rest of Task Force X, Harley is a bad egg. Previously an upstanding clinical psychiatrist working in Arkham Asylum, Dr Harleen Quinzell is twisted into the deranged Harley Quinn after just a few sessions opposite the Joker. With an insatiable appetite for wanton destruction, Harley is more than at home with the thieves and murderers of DC’s extended universe. “The one common denominator is we’re all bad guys, it just makes everything more fun that way,” Robbie explains. “The scenes are more interesting, I feel, when you just don’t know how the characters are going to react, especially with

Harley, who’s absolutely nuts... She’s either going to kill you or laugh and give you a hug.” It’s Harley’s relationship with “Mistah J” that has Bat-fanatics most excited. Having captured imaginations in Batman: The Animated Series, Suicide Squad marks the first time we’ll see the couple together in live action, with flashbacks revealing the abusive pair in their prime before a run-in with Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight separates the perverse lovebirds. Suicide Squad will put a full stop on a busy year for Robbie who has a standout cameo in Adam McKay’s financial comedy drama The Big Short and Tina Fey’s war comedy Fun House coming up in the first half of the year, while in July she’ll play Jane to Alexander Skarsgård’s Tarzan in David Yates’ jungle adventure. But it’s Harley that has everyone’s attention, and Robbie knows it. “The whole comic-book world has such a huge fan base. You get a taste of it when you do exterior shoots, like on the streets, and fans line up – you’re kind of reminded of how closely people are watching and anticipating it...” TF

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War of words With a stellar cast led by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight turns a journalistic investigation into abuse in the Catholic church into one of the year’s most gripping films… and the frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar. WORDS MATT MAYTUM


utside of Clark Kent’s escapades at the Daily Planet, journalism on film can be a hard sell. After all, if you’re going to portray the profession accurately, it’ll involve a lot of talking, typing, huddling around desks, and sifting through impenetrable documents with a fine-tooth comb. None of which are particularly thrilling on the big screen. So when Spotlight became the unexpected frontrunner for next year’s Best Picture Oscar, after playing out of competition at the Venice Film Festival to effusive reviews, people suddenly sat up and started taking notes. “I was aware that there’s been a few very good journalism movies over the years,” director Tom McCarthy tells Total Film. “The question is, what makes this original?” Spotlight takes as its subject the sexual abuse scandal in Boston’s Catholic archdiocese, viewed

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entirely from the perspective of the eponymous Spotlight team, the investigative unit of the Boston Globe. Spotlight’s coverage brought the suppressed abuse to light in 2002, with the ongoing exposé winning the Pulitzer prize for the team, as well as ultimately leading to revelations of abuse in other locations across the US and Canada and beyond. As it was such a complex investigation, figuring out how to tell the story in a movie form was never going to be easy. Somewhat appropriately, it all started with the research. “It was a great challenge because we didn’t have anything in the way of original material,” says co-writer Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate). “We had the rights to these individuals.” While the much-read Spotlight report detailed the extent of the crimes (and how they’d been swept under the carpet), it didn’t tell the behindthe-scenes story of the investigation. For that,

McCarthy and Singer did their own form of journalism, extensively interviewing the real Spotlight team. After a week hounding Mike Rezendes (as played by Mark Ruffalo, see right), Singer had 50-plus pages of notes for the story, piquing the interest of McCarthy, who decided to dive into the research and co-write the script. “We kept going back and going back [to Boston],” explains Singer. “Tom was incredibly interested in authenticity and really getting it right, and doing as much research as we could to uncover what the story was. Almost everyone you meet in the movie, we talked to at length.” The parallels aren’t lost on McCarthy. “Maybe because we were writing about journalists... but the work felt journalistic,” he says. “We would interview them, go away, compare notes, compare them with someone else, interview them again, start to build their trust, go a little

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Life story We meet the real people behind the movie… Mike Rezendes, as played by Mark Ruffalo “Mark came to my house. He opened a notebook and he turned on his iPhone, and started asking really probing questions. I thought he would ask me about how I did my job, but he wanted to know why I did my job. We spent a lot of time together. He shadowed me at The Globe. He sat next to me at my desk. He got involved in an investigation I was doing. “There’s that scene at the baseball game, near the opening of the movie. That was actually the scene they shot first. After the sixth or seventh take of watching Mark Ruffalo, Sacha grabbed my arm and she said, ‘He’s got your laugh!’ It was a mannerism I didn’t know I have, but I guess I do it frequently. He can do it on command.”

Sacha Pfeiffer, as played by Rachel McAdams “It never ever occurred to us that this could be an interesting movie, or a movie anyone would want to watch [laughs]. Our day-to-day jobs involve data entry, phone calls, reading documents – not a particularly interesting movie. It’s about child molestation by priests – not a great topic. I had great doubts that this could make a good movie that we wouldn’t be embarrassed by. And instead, they’ve made a lovely movie, we think. “The first time [watching the film] was too surreal to appreciate at all. We could mostly only focus on ourselves and our colleagues and how they were portrayed. It’s hard for us to be objective, but I do think that we have such gratitude about how authentic they are. I think I’ve seen it six or seven times. I feel like it’s time to pace the viewings.” MM

Desk job: the Boston Globe newsroom is intricately replicated.

deeper, push a little more, back off, interview them again, compare notes...” Best known for directing The Station Agent, The Visitor and, erm, The Cobbler, McCarthy is also an actor who’s probably best recognised for his turn in Season 5 of The Wire, where he played an unscrupulous journalist, which gave him some insider interest in the field. “I learned a lot about journalism, doing the show,” he says. Inspired by Wire creator David Simon’s blue-collar approach to “the noble profession of journalism”, McCarthy also admits that Simon’s storytelling style had an influence on how he approached Spotlight. Parallels can be drawn in the rigorously researched world. From the performances to the set design, the film is a meticulously faithful recreation of the minutiae of the Boston Globe’s newsroom in that era. Unless you were there, you won’t even realise how accurate a flashback it was. “We didn’t want [the period detail] to in any way distract the viewer,” says McCarthy. “We couldn’t have them be conscious of it. We had to let them just get totally lost in it.” The Black List-approved script clearly didn’t have trouble attracting talent, with McCarthy assembling a stellar ensemble toplined by Michael Keaton, who recently trod the awards seasons circuit for his performance in Birdman. Keaton plays Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, the leader of the Spotlight team, with Ruffalo as Rezendes, and Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer. Theatre veteran Brian d’Arcy James rounds out the team as Matt Carroll. The actors researched as

thoroughly as McCarthy and Singer, which was unnerving for their real-life counterparts. On seeing himself portayed on screen, Robinson exclaimed, “My persona has been hijacked. If Michael Keaton robbed a bank, the police would quickly have me in handcuffs.” So was McCarthy always confident that this story would translate into a compelling movie? “By the time we started shooting it, it was feeling like we had something that was working,” he remembers. “But you never know when you put all the pieces together. You just don’t… It’s what makes making good movies so difficult.” With a background in TV procedurals, Singer was at least confident that Spotlight would make for gripping viewing. “I always thought the ins and outs of this investigation were fascinating,” he says. “It’s a great detective story.” With deafening Oscar buzz now surrounding the film, their faith in the story appears to have been well placed, even if McCarthy is trying not to get swept up in the Best Picture chatter. “You can’t block it out, because just everyone talks in this industry, and I was just in LA for two weeks promoting the movie, and they really like to talk about it there,” he says. “What’s most exciting is [that] the film’s connecting. It’s connecting with audiences. It’s connecting with journalists. It’s connecting with survivors. It’s connecting with Catholics. That’s what we set out to do – make a movie that would start the conversation.” TF Spotlight opens on 29 January.

In the books: Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) researches and (right) Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) talks to Mike Rezendez (Mark Ruffalo).

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Hacked off

Cate Blanchett goes in search of Truth... WORDS JAMES MOTTRAM


really wanted to make a film about journalism, but at the core, I really wanted to tell a human emotional story,” says James Vanderbilt, writer/director of Truth. Set in 2004, this newsroom drama manages both, as it peeks inside CBS’ gold-standard show 60 Minutes and a contested report concerning thenPresident George W. Bush’s questionable military record – a report that ultimately cost legendary anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes their careers. “I didn’t know about the producer,” admits Blanchett, who plays Mapes. “I knew Dan Rather, I knew he’d stepped down as anchor, but I thought that was for genuine personal reasons. So when I read the script, it was a real eye-opener for me.” Based on Mapes’ memoir Truth And Duty, Blanchett met with her real-life counterpart, who never returned to journalism after this affair. “The wound of these series of events is still open,” she observed. To play Rather, Vanderbilt cast an actor with just as much clout, Robert Redford. Tailoring the part to the actor, even before

he signed on, Vanderbilt then wrote to him to cajole him into taking the role. “One of the things I talked about was All The President’s Men and how much it meant to me, growing up, as a film,” he says. “That there would be a certain power to him playing a journalist again in this film.” With that 1976 multiple Oscar-winning movie dealing with a pair of reporters investigating the Watergate affair, it certainly bears some comparison to Truth. “It’s not lost upon us that [both films are] about two journalists doing a story about a sitting president, and they have markedly different outcomes,” says Vanderbilt. “It’s a very different world now.” With first-rate support from Dennis Quaid, Bruce Greenwood and Elisabeth Moss, Truth arrives at a time when other films, like Spotlight, are also lamenting the demise of reporters digging deep for months on a single story. “In a way, the rise of the documentary has been really interesting,” says Blanchett. “Perhaps that’s the realm where investigative journalism lies.” Truth opens on 4 March.

The Big Short Greed is good in a financial exposé.


hen you’re doing a comedy, you’re at a breakneck pace the whole time and just pushing and pushing,” admits director Adam McKay, perhaps partly explaining his decision to swap the goofiness of Anchorman and Step Brothers for his first drama, The Big Short. Based on the book by Michael Lewis, it stars Christian Bale as an eccentric hedge fund manager who predicts the credit crumble that will leave millions homeless in 2008. With Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt also on board, it promises to be a sharp exposé in the vein of Moneyball and Margin Call. So how did McKay find the genre swap? “It was really a treat because we got into the nuances of the shots and performances,” he enthuses. “I really enjoyed it.” JW The Big Short opens on 22 January.

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On assignment: Dan Rather (Robert Redford), Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and Andrew Heyward (Bruce Greenwood) converse.


Eye In The Sky Dame Helen arms up for drone warfare...


elen Mirren dons combat gear in Eye In The Sky, a tensioncranking thriller that plunges the 70-year-old dame headfirst into the murky world of military air strikes. As stern British army colonel Katherine Powell, she has to make the tough call of whether or not to bomb a residence in a Nairobi shantytown, despite its close proximity to the dwellings of innocent citizens. Meanwhile, Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) plays an antiterror agent attempting to infiltrate the residence. “It’s a thriller that explores how we live now, how we wage war,” says director Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game), who shot the film in his native South Africa. “What excites me is when a story evokes empathy, when it reminds us of our humanity and when it starts a conversation.” JW Eye In The Sky opens on 8 April.

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10 reasons...

Point Break will blow your mind You either surf or fight, unless you’re in heist thriller Point Break… Total Film catches up with director Ericson Core to find out why his reboot is all about full-throttle thrills. WORDS SAM ASHURST

IT’S NOT A REMAKE... “We certainly weren’t trying to remake the original,” director Ericson Core tells TF of updating Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 thriller, which starred Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Johnny Utah, who goes undercover to root out a thief among a gang of surfers led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). “We’re all fans of it,” Core adds. “We live in a different world than we did in the early ’90s. We live in a much broader world.”

...BUT IT’LL EXPLORE SIMILAR IDEAS Core plans to take the original’s rebellious attitude and bring it to a new generation. “The idea of taking the original film’s themes – living freely, following your spirit – and reimagining that into today’s culture was key to us,” he explains.

THE ACTORS DO THEIR OWN STUNTS Swayze famously threw himself into the original’s skydiving stunt, and new guys Luke Bracey (as Johnny Utah) and Édgar Ramírez (as Bodhi) were similarly dedicated to the all-out action. “So many times actors go to Pinewood, go to a soundstage, look at a tennis ball, stand on a mark and they pretend,” says Core. “No-one was pretending on this film.”

YOU’VE NEVER SEEN SURF SCENES LIKE THIS BEFORE Showing TF a huge surf sequence at an exclusive footage screening in London, Core explained the awe-inspiring scenes were shot for real. “We chased waves based on weather

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and swell charts,” he reveals. “We were extraordinarily lucky – the waves in Hawaii were the largest in a decade. Our professional surfers had never been on a wave that size.”

IT’S GLOBAL ON AN UNPRECEDENTED SCALE Filming on four continents and in 11 countries, Core’s commitment to realism took cast and crew around the world. “It was more like we were making Planet Earth than a normal film,” he enthuses. “We shot a key scene on the side of Angel Falls, on a 3,200ft cliff. It’s the highest waterfall in the world – and one of the eight wonders of the world.”

IT’S GOT THE BEST INTERNATIONAL TALENT The original Point Break was packed with US stars, but Core’s take has a refreshingly global flavour. “It’s an international film,” the director says. “There’s only one American actor in the entire film, and we kill him in the first scene. It’s an absolutely international cast; even Delroy Lindo was born in London.”

THE CAST REALLY PUT THEMSELVES INTO LIFETHREATENING SITUATIONS Bracey, Ramírez and their Point Break pals’ mission to do as many of their own stunts as possible put them in perilous situations. Core reveals: “The actors were willing to do things – literally swimming with sharks, hanging off cliffs, being up on the edges of extraordinarily dangerous ice fields, all filmed by helicopters, all in very remote places.” Their dedication shows on screen.

IT’S AN ALTERNATIVE TO SUPERHERO MOVIES Superheroes dominate the modern action marketplace and – while he clearly loves them as much as we do – Core’s happy to offer an alternative to audiences after a real sense of danger. “I believe the sense of peril will separate this film from those where the audience knows there is no risk,” he says. “They’re wonderful and entertaining movies, but we all know there is no risk when you throw someone through a building. Ultimately here, there are real risks.”

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Bourne 5 Back in action...


n 2007, it seemed Bourne was over. The Bourne Ultimatum tied up the trilogy of hand-held actioners, and neither Matt Damon nor director Paul Greengrass were interested in going fourth. Five years and one spin-off (2011’s passable Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner) later, the duo are back with Bourne 5. “I trained a lot more than I ever had done before,” Damon has revealed, with early shots showing him looking more buff than ever while filming in Greece and London. “Paul really wanted me to be physically fit and lean.” With Julia Stiles returning as Nicky and Alicia Vikander on board in an as-yet unspecified role, Vincent Cassel will play an assassin out for Bourne’s blood. Some things never change… JW

Bourne 5 opens on 29 July.

Mountain men: Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) and Bodhi (Édgar Ramirez) face off.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Cruising for a bruising...


t’s going to be a very different movie than the last one,” director Edward Zwick promises of the second Jack Reacher, revealing that – not unlike fellow fist-bruising franchises like Bond and Mission: Impossible – the action sequel will be a largely standalone movie. According to Zwick, “it’s a whole different world; different set of circumstances” in which former military officer Reacher (Tom Cruise) finds himself. Based on Lee Child’s 18th Jack Reacher novel, acclaimed as the best of the lot, it sees Reacher accused of murder after returning to his old unit. Reuniting Zwick and Cruise over a decade after they worked together on The Last Samurai, the film also adds Cobie Smulders to the mix. Fists will fly. JW

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, the extreme sports stars appearing in the remake (including mountain snowboarders Mike Basich and Xavier De La Rue) found real-life inspiration in the original film. “Pretty much every single one of our extreme athletes came on board because they were influenced by Point Break,” Core says. “They pursued their various sports charged by the spirit of the original film.”

THERE’S HARDLY ANY CGI The trailer might feature an enormous CGI avalanche, but Core assures us that the sequence was the only thing they couldn’t do for real; none of the major stunts were crafted in a computer. “We never discussed doing this with CGI, or a green screen,” he tells TF. “It just wasn’t an option for us. This was as much a documentary as it was a feature film...” TF Point Break opens on 12 February.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens on 21 October.

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Charlie Hunnam claims the sword in Guy Ritchie’s gritty King Arthur reboot... WORDS JAMIE GRAHAM



he legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has provided rich folklore and literature for centuries, but it’s proved far from magic at the box office over the last 20 years. In 2004, Antoine Fuqua offered King Arthur, a “demystified take” starring such brawny, bloke-y actors as Ray Winstone, Joel Edgerton and, playing Arthur himself, Clive Owen, while Keira Knightley’s Guinevere wielded a bow and arrow like some proto-Katniss. King Arthur took just $203m from a $120m budget. Before that, in 1995, First Knight gave us Sean Connery as Arthur, Richard Gere as BFF Lancelot and Julia Ormond as Guinevere, only to finish 25th at the box office. It’s a ballsy decision, then, for Guy Ritchie to ride upon multiplexes with yet another take on the Arthurian legend – and for Warner Bros to announce that Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur is the first of six (yes, six!) planned films. Pitched to the studio as ‘Lord Of The Rings meets Snatch’, Joby Harold’s script looks to offer modernday viewers a rougher, tougher Arthur in the form of Charlie Hunnam, whose audition was so strong it put fellow hopefuls Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney to the sword. (Upon meeting Hunnam for a 90-minute chat before the audition, Ritchie said, “I really fucking dig you, bro… I hope you act as well as you talk.” Turns out he does.) We’ll meet Arthur as the leader of a gang in Londonium, unaware of his royal lineage and with

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not one shred of nobility about him. Until, that is, he finds himself grasping mighty sword Excalibur and cosying up to a shadowy young woman named Guinevere (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, who Ritchie chose, remarkably, over Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones and Alicia Vikander). The pair land in the centre of a rebellion against Vortigern (Jude Law), the dictator who murdered Arthur’s olds. It’s been a bumpy journey getting a new King Arthur movie to the screen – David Dobkin was originally going to direct Kit Harington with Joel Kinnaman as Lancelot, then Colin Farrell circled Arthur with Gary Oldman as wizard Merlin – but Ritchie’s vision wooed the suits, promising grit and ever-supersizing sequels as Arthur grows into the King who’ll defend Briton against Saxon invaders. The director shot in Wales to take the story back to its roots, filled out the lead cast with Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen and Djimon Hounsou, and demanded Hunnam get in the shape of his life in order to play “a hustler”, because “good guys are boring”. “We discussed the origin of the man behind the legend,” explains Hunnam. “He’s orphaned, living on the streets, fending for himself.” And ripped… “I said [to Ritchie], ‘Look dude, you keep bringing up the physicality, so if you want to do away with this auditioning bollocks, I’ll fucking fight those two other dudes. Bring them in here. The one who walks out the door gets the job…’” TF Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur opens on 22 July.

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These Final Hours Goodness gracious, great balls of fire…


he world is burning, literally, in this apocalyptic Aussie thriller, which nods to Mad Max and The Walking Dead as a meteor crashes to Earth, giving tearaway James (Nathan Phillips) just 12 hours to set his affairs in order before a firestorm incinerates Australia. And when we say 'affairs', we mean head across a Perth gone wild to reach the party to end all parties. After an encounter with a lost little girl, though, he finds himself on a possible path to redemption. “I was thinking about these natural disasters, and if you could see it coming, what would you do?” director Zak Hilditch tells TF. “It’s a movie about redemption, an apocalyptic thriller, but it has quite an emotional core to it.” The end is nigh... JW These Final Hours opens spring 2016.

Ghostbusters ’Bustin’ to make you feel good...


Ghostbusters opens on 15 July.

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wenty-six years in the making, Ghostbusters will feature cameos from original players Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver, and feature Chris Hemsworth as a receptionist. But the leads, as if you didn’t already know, are Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) once more proving he’s a ladies’ man. As for the plot, all we know is that the action is once more set in a New York of eeks and ectoplasm. And it's a reboot. “If the world has gone through this big ghost attack, how do you do it again?” asks Feig. “I wanted to come into our world where there's talk of ghosts but they're not really credible...” JG

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Grey Matter She may have hit headlines with Fifty Shades, but Dakota Johnson is making intelligent film choices outside of her franchise. Meet the woman making A Bigger Splash in 2016... WORDS JAMES MOTTRAM


hat’s up?” says Dakota Johnson, casually sauntering towards Total Film in a blackand-white diagonalstriped dress and mules. It’s a particularly drowsy day during the Venice Film Festival and the 26-year-old starlet, her light brown hair scraped into a ponytail, is looking suitably laid-back when she arrives at a waterside restaurant to discuss her latest film, A Bigger Splash, a sun-drenched island tale co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts. While she recently popped up opposite Johnny Depp’s gangster in Black Mass, the past year has been something of a blur for Johnson, since playing Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Of Grey – the naïve literary student heroine of E.L. James’ bonk-buster phenomenon. The Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed film went on to gross a whopping $570 million worldwide, but Johnson can barely remember what she did in those post-Grey months. “I blocked everything out,” she says. As it happens, she was shooting How To Be Single in New York, an ensemble rom-com in which Johnson plays Alice, a freshly-solo girl who gets taught the ways of the dating scene by Rebel Wilson’s loud-mouth friend. With Wilson lambasting her in the trailer for her, ahem, lady gardening (“It’s like Gandalf is staring right at me”), “it is a pretty hysterical, unconventional friendship,” explains Johnson. “They both learn a bit from each other.” Playing the sensitive wallflower may not be a push for Johnson after Fifty Shades but, as A Bigger Splash shows, she’s more than capable of the other extreme. A remake-of-sorts of Jacques Deray’s 1969 film La Piscine, with Alain Delon, the film sees Johnson play Penelope, the alluring daughter

to Fiennes’ verbose record producer Harry, who arrives on the remote Italian island of Pantelleria to shatter the tranquillity of Harry’s ex-flame, Swinton’s former glam-rocker Marianne, as she hides out with Schoenaerts’ doc-maker boyfriend. What follows is a languid study of sexual intrigue, past and present. “My heart was attached to Penelope right away,” explains Johnson, who read the script a year before she was hired, only to see the project collapse more than once due to financing issues. When it finally came together, in 2014, Johnson had taken the summer off – and was travelling on a tour bus with some musician pals in France (she’s besties with

decorator Emily Ward, who is married to the Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney). Johnson, who has been on-off dating vocalist Matthew Hitt from indie band Drowners, then got the call to meet A Bigger Splash’s director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love). “It was a whirlwind and I was not ready at all to work,” she admits. “Normally, I’m like: ‘Let’s do it, I’m ready to go,’ and I feel like I have ample time to prepare myself mentally. But I was in an emotional place in my life, and my private life, and I wasn’t ready to do this. So it was very sudden.” Flying to Crema, where Guadagnino lives, Johnson then found herself battling the fear. >>

In the shade: Penelope (Johnson) by the pool with father Harry (Ralph Fiennes) in A Bigger Splash.

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“I freaked out and I didn’t think I could do it, and I didn’t want to… I felt like I didn’t have enough time to develop a character as wonderful as this. I didn’t want to damage it and I didn’t want to fuck it up. I thought I was going to be wasting everyone’s time. And then Ralph and Tilda talked me off a ledge. I was terrified, though. I didn’t want to ruin it.” Despite acting for five years, initially as Justin Timberlake’s conquest in David Fincher’s Facebook drama The Social Network, Johnson is still at that stage where feedback from others “whose opinion I value” is crucial. “Reading into things very specifically… I haven’t got to a place in my career where I feel comfortable enough to do that yet,” she says. “I’m sure that I will. I admire someone like Tilda, who is able to really read everything and dissect her work. I’m a little more fragile!” That said, she’s been around the business her whole life. Her father is ex-Miami Vice star Don Johnson; her mother is actress Melanie Griffith; her stepfather is Spanish legend Antonio Banderas and her maternal grandmother is Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren. So what’s the best advice they ever gave her? “That’s a very big question,” she sighs. “A lot of things, every day. My grandmother said to me, ‘Say exactly what you want to say and nothing more.’ So that’s what I do.”


orn in Austin, Texas, Johnson’s childhood was peripatetic thanks to her parents’ work; Cincinnati, Colorado, Budapest, she went wherever their films took them. In and out of high schools, her education came from other sources; her dad taught her to ride a horse, drive a car and even shoot a gun before she was 10. Her only movie role came playing her mother’s daughter – alongside half-sister Stella – in the Banderas-directed 1999 film Crazy In Alabama. “I took it very seriously!” she laughs. Her parents weren’t so keen on her acting, preferring her to study textbooks over scripts. “It can be a frightening business and it can be brutal and tough,” she says. “Any parent would want them to protect their child from that.” After graduating high school, Johnson started modelling – winning a campaign for Mango and becoming the first second-generation Miss Golden Globe (her mother had won the accolade in 1975). Acting, inevitably, was the next step. Roles in The Five-Year Engagement, 21 Jump Street

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and Need For Speed established her – small fry, though, compared to Fifty Shades. Even now, the hysteria surrounding her and co-star Jamie Dornan, taking on the roles of Anastasia and the S&M-loving Christian Grey, is baffling to her. “That is something I don’t know if I’ll ever get my head around,” she says. “It’s astonishing and incredible. I have incredible fans and I owe all of my jobs to them.” Her anonymity eroded in an instant, and it didn’t help that she’d witnessed similar activity with her family. “It’s different when it’s you,” she argues. “I always watched my parents go through things like this and it’s a different feeling. [When somebody approaches me] I often feel very awkward and I think that maybe

‘Acting can be a frightening, brutal, tough business’ I went to high school with them… I always take it and make it my fault… yeah, I don’t know.” She stammers, momentarily. “I don’t know if anybody ever gets used to it.” What about the critics, though? For an actress as “fragile” as Johnson, surely the savaging the film took from reviewers must’ve hurt? “Well, anyone who has their work criticised, it can sting a little. But for that specific film, we all knew that was coming. It wasn’t surprising. It’s a very peculiar movie. It was sort of expected.” She pauses, defiance in her eyes. “There were a lot of people who did like the movie… that made me feel happy and proud.” Already signed on for sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, due to be shot back-to-back in 2016, she’ll have to do it without Sam Taylor-Johnson, who quit the franchise to be replaced by veteran director James Foley (Glengarry Glenn Ross). So how does she feel about the switch? “That’s the way things go,” she says, diplomatically. “I’m excited to work with James and I’m excited to have a different experience.” She beams. “That’s the joy of my job.” TF A Bigger Splash opens on 12 February. How To Be Single opens on 19 February.

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Central Intelligence Dwayne digs for dirt... The Rock wearing a My Little Pony T-shirt. What more do you need to know about Central Intelligence? How about the fact that he plays a CIA operative fingered for a crime he didn't commit, fighting to clear his name? “He’s a grown man who views the world through exuberant teenage eyes,” Dwayne Johnson has said of Bob, who teams up with high school buddy Calvin (Kevin Hart). With director Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re The Millers) calling the shots, the rest should be gut-bustingly funny… JW Central Intelligence opens on 1 July.

Hail, Caesar! Bow to the Coen brothers...

Drink up: Robin (Rebel Wilson) tips the balance for Johnson’s Alice in How To Be Single and (above) opposite Matthias Schoenaerts in A Bigger Splash.

Shelved for over a decade, the concept for this showbiz satire – written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen – went unproduced until 2014, when the Coens revealed it would form the third part of their 'Numbskull Trilogy' with George Clooney (after O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty). Set in the 1950s, Clooney’s an actor kidnapped in the middle of filming, prompting Josh Brolin's Hollywood 'fixer' to go looking for him, encountering Scarlett Johansson's actress and a kaleidoscope of colourful characters along the way. JW Hail, Caesar! opens on 26 February.

The Nice Guys LA confidential... “Either we’ve done something that’s really special,” laughs Russell Crowe, “or we’ve just driven a bus into a brick wall!” Whatever, The Nice Guys looks set to be Crowe’s sexiest, slickest movie for a while – a ’70s-set detective yarn amid LA’s porn industry from director Shane Black. “It’s [Black’s] Kiss Kiss Bang Bang without the industry in-joke bullshit,” notes Crowe, who seemingly enjoyed a bromance with co-star Ryan Gosling. “He’s a beautiful bloke,” he says. “He’s a really nice guy.” Hmm… good title. JM The Nice Guys opens on 6 June.

All at sea Inspired by an incredible true story, The Finest Hours pits ordinary men against one of the worst storms of the 20th century. Total Film battens down the hatches with star Chris Pine and director Craig Gillespie to find out why this is a disaster epic in the classic Disney mould. WORDS JOSH WINNING


n 18 February 1952, a monster storm battered New England. On land, towns were pulled to pieces, but conditions were even worse at sea. Bearing the brunt of the storm’s terrible force, a pair of 500ft oil tankers – the SS Pendleton and the SS Fort Mercer – were torn in two just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, stranding a crew of 41 with little hope. Until, that is, a small coast guard team led by coxswain Bernie Webber set out in a wooden lifeboat on an impossible rescue mission. “It’s astounding that it’s a true story,” marvels director Craig Gillespie, whose sea-sprayed drama The Finest Hours recreates that historic rescue, drawing on Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias’ 2009 book of the same name. “It’s boggling when you see the odds that these guys went up against. It is the greatest small boat rescue in American history – probably because they should never have done it!” Talking to Total Film at the tail-end of a full year of post-production honing the film’s special effects, Gillespie has spent almost two years crafting his film. Taking the director’s job in April 2014 after Robert

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Schwentke (RED) departed to make The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the Australian filmmaker had just six months to prep before shooting what would be his biggest film to date after indie hit Lars And The Real Girl and the charmingly offbeat Fright Night remake. “The film is – candidly – actually larger than I even expected,” Gillespie admits of his $85 million behemoth. “Every day, I’d be like, ‘That was a big day.’ It’s like, every day’s a big day! But we got through it all. It was just one day at a time.” It helped that, for all the film’s intense white-knuckle spectacle, its heart lies with unassuming steersman Bernie Webber. Engaged to telephone operator Miriam (Holliday Grainger), he’s the polar opposite of your usual vest-wearing big-screen champ, confronting terrible odds not because he fancies himself as a hero, but because it’s his job. “I usually play these headstrong, passionate, decisive guys,” says Chris Pine, who was already cast as Webber when Gillespie came aboard. “And Bernie is not that. Bernie is a blue-collar, insecure guy; a man who hasn’t found his voice, who is human and fallible, who’s failed before, who wants to prove his worth, his mettle, and is given a chance to do so.” >>

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Gillespie referenced Rocky Balboa when talking about the character, “this idea of a guy who wasn’t book smart, but had an incredible amount of will,” says Pine. “Craig wanted me to really step outside my comfort zone.” The film’s script, by Oscar-nominated The Fighter screenwriter Scott Silver, all but guaranteed that. “By page 14, we’re on water,” Gillespie reveals, which meant that cast and crew spent much of the 70-day shoot getting doused in the wet stuff, blasted by wind machines and rocking a ship on a gimbal.


ll you hear about water films are horror stories,” Gillespie laughs, no doubt fully aware of the waterlogged productions of Jaws and Waterworld. “Two things. One, I tried to be as prepared as possible. The other thing is I went into it knowing it was basically going to be like the 18th mile of a marathon.” Prep began the moment he signed up. Gillespie worked on “thousands of frames of storyboards” and previsualised large sections of the movie, including the destruction of the SS Pendleton, which leaves chief engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and his men stranded in the middle of the ocean. “It has to be so meticulously orchestrated when you’re dealing with the scale of sets and FX that we needed,” Gillespie nods. His background in ads helped, Gillespie having spent 15 years directing commercials (with the likes of Bruce Willis and Ozzy Osbourne) before moving into film. “I’ve been able to play with all of the toys,” he says. “In the commercial world, I’ve done action sequences plenty of times. So I was really excited to get the opportunity to try that on a larger scale in film. It wasn’t intimidating in a sense. I was really looking forward to the challenge.” Though the film ended up utilising 900 effects shots – rendered by SFX house MPC, which helped create Life Of Pi’s nerve-shredding shipwreck – Gillespie used as many practical effects as possible. Authenticity was key, right down to the locations. Principal photography began in September 2014 and predominantly took place in Massachusetts, including the actual Coast Guard station the rescue mission departed

Ship shape: Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and his crew fight for survival.

from – the actors even took a spin in the lifeboat Webber manned for the mission. While certain portions of the film were shot aboard the USS Salem – a decommissioned Cold War-era cruiser now part of a heritage museum in Quincy, Massachusetts – the majority of The Finest Hours was filmed on stages constructed at the nearby former Fore River Shipyard. Here, great sections of the SS Pendleton were built by production designer Michael Corenblith, previously Oscar-nominated for his work on Apollo 13. The cast and crew could wander through replicas of the ship’s galley, engine room, steering station and mess hall. “It was fun to play make-believe,” says Pine, “like something out of Disneyland – a boat on a gimbal and a huge tank, with water tanks throwing water on you. It was cold and damp and miserable for most of it. It certainly helped create the reality of what we were doing.” One bonus – Pine doesn’t suffer from sea sickness. Whenever it got too much, though, the actor just remembered real men really went through this, and there were some helpful reminders around to ensure he never forgot that. “There was one day that was particularly tough, and it was a war of attrition, basically,” he reveals. “Day number 50-whatever. You’re in the water again, and you’re cold and miserable, and you get off the boat. Just as I was about to lose my cool, I look over and in the corner of my eye I spy Andy Fitzgerald, who was one of the four gentlemen who was on the boat that day. I immediately zipped my mouth.” Pine sighs.

“It was a great reminder that these men were in dire danger and they did an extraordinary thing: they never bitched, they never moaned, they never complained, they just did it.” That includes Ray Sybert, the SS Pendleton’s chief engineer, who is forced to take charge of his traumatised crew if they’re to survive the storm. “He becomes the reluctant leader,” Gillespie reveals, adding that the emotional core of The Finest Hours is watching ordinary men become heroes. “In that very classic American way, Bernie’s a hero who defies his superiors and does what he thinks is the right thing,” the director says. “It’s a very American trait. So there’s that maverick quality to him, and it was necessary, and it’s what he actually did in real life.” Let’s not forget the peril, though. With 70ft waves, hurricane-force winds and freezing temperatures, The Finest Hours promises the kind of at-sea spectacle previously delivered by The Perfect Storm and Master & Commander. “From the time that they go out to try and rescue these guys, which is fairly early in the film, I don’t want the audience to be able to breathe,” Gillespie grins. Adds Pine: “It’s not bleak, it’s not jaded, it’s not self-referential. It’s kind of a classic Disney film.” He pauses and adds: “I was just on holiday, actually, and found myself in pretty awful weather out at sea. It was 25ft waves with whitecaps and… er, I don’t even know how fast the wind was, but it was pretty bad and really scary. I couldn’t imagine doing what they did.” TF The Finest Hours opens on 29 January.

Sinking feeling: disaster at sea; (left) Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) with chief officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana); (right) saying goodbye to fiancée Miriam (Holliday Grainger).

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THE FINEST HOURS Whether clashing with Klingons or battling 70ft waves, Chris Pine isn’t afraid of a fight – or, as he tells Total Film, exploring strange new worlds...



Space man

think it’s important in this new generation of selfies, selfie sticks, Tumblr and all that to remind ourselves that it’s good to do something for someone besides yourself,” rumbles Chris Pine, talking to Total Film down the line from Los Angeles. Though he’s just turned 35, the Hollywood star isn’t having a ‘grumpy old man’ moment, instead talking about the old-school heroes of The Finest Hours, in which his ’50s blue-collar worker throws caution to the wind for a daring sea rescue mission. “They’re human,” he says. “They’re not men with superpowers. They screw up.” Pine’s no stranger to supermen, of course, having played intrepid heroes like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and CIA operative Jack Ryan. In The Finest Hours, though, his steersman Bernie Webber is almost the anti-Kirk. “That’s a wonderful way of describing him,” Pine says, his gravelly tone brightening. “I think precisely that. Bernie doesn’t have much. He doesn’t mask himself with a kind of bravado and machismo that at least my version of Kirk did. Bernie is kind of a blank slate. He’s wide-eyed, a little scared and nervous, driven by fear.” In comparison, Pine’s recent cinematic forays have seen him fearlessly trying on new hats. Though his 2014 Jack Ryan movie failed to reignite the franchise, Pine bounced back with impressive comedic turns in Horrible Bosses 2, Into The Woods and Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer series. He even wooed the festival circuit with a grubbily pared-back performance opposite Margot Robbie in post-apocalyptic Sundance hit Z For Zachariah. Heroes are still a feature of his future, though. Pine’s already wrapped Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the mega-franchise, and couldn’t be happier with incoming director Justin Lin. “What he did was extraordinary,” he enthuses. “I think his take on a kinetic universe, that he’s so used to with Fast & Furious, was well-aligned with where we wanted to go with Star Trek. Simon Pegg and Doug Jung came up with a really fun story that I think harkens back to the first Trek, and will pay great tribute to what is a wonderful franchise.” Story specifics are off the table, of course, but he does reveal we’ll meet an older, less bullish Kirk. “I think you see a guy that’s grown up,” he muses. “All of us have gotten older. It’s a man who’s trying to decide his future, and essentially answer the age-old question of: ‘why am I here and what am I doing?’” Perhaps more exciting than even Star Trek Beyond, Pine’s already started shooting the Wonder Woman movie with Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins. “It’ll be a fucking blast,” he says of suiting up as WWI fighter Steve Trevor. “Patty’s got a tremendous sense of story. I couldn’t be happier to be supporting Gal in what’s going to be the first female-driven superhero film. I think in the world today we’ve had plenty enough of male-driven everything, and it’s finally time to see how wonderful the world can be with beautiful, strong, intelligent women kicking some major ass.” Spoken like a true hero. JW

Star Trek Beyond opens on 22 July. Wonder Woman opens in 2017.

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Mystery road Jeff Nichols explains how the early films of Spielberg and Carpenter inspired him to put a personal touch on secrecyshrouded sci-fi Midnight Special... WORDS MATT MAYTUM


he lazy reviewer is not my friend [on this film],” laughs director Jeff Nichols of Midnight Special. “The one that kind of says, ‘Yeah, it was OK – this happened, this happened, this happened.’ That’s going to suck because someone will do that.” He shrugs it off. By the time the film opens in April, you’ll no doubt be able to find as detailed a plot synopsis as you could want lurking somewhere on the internet, but this is the type of film experience best enjoyed cold. After Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud, Nichols has crafted a throwback movie in the style of Spielberg and Carpenter’s ’80s sci-fis. “I just really wanted to make a sci-fi chase film,”

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he explains. “I really loved [this genre] growing up, especially the sub-genre of the government sci-fi chase film.” The story begins with two men driving through the night with a kid in tow. Where they’re going, and why, is unclear. And you can presume that the goggles the boy is wearing aren’t being used for swimming lessons. For those in need of a morsel of plot, one of the men in the car is Roy (Michael Shannon, something of a good luck charm for Nichols, having appeared in all of his films to date), and the boy is his young son, Alton (St. Vincent’s Jaeden Lieberher). “It’s a father who’s on the run with his son who has these supernatural abilities,” says Nichols, and there’s more than one group of people concerned about their whereabouts and final destination.

Nichols has assembled a cool-as-hell cast for his sprawling mystery, with Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver and Sam Shepard along for the ride. Filmed before Driver became the big bad in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Midnight Special was shot in early 2014. Not that it’s been quite as difficult to keep under wraps as Episode VII. “I’m not J.J. Abrams,” grins Nichols. “People aren’t digging through my garbage yet. Thank goodness, because I think it will be better the more people are experiencing it from scratch.” Even those ’80s throwback comparisons are primarily surface-level. “It wasn’t like I was taking page-for-page cues from early Spielberg or Carpenter… Once you get the basic premise, then I think it’s the aesthetics that are really kind of

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The BFG Roald Dahl’s classic gets the BIG screen treatment...


teven Spielberg's return to family fantasy promises (ahem) big things. Based on Roald Dahl's beloved tale of orphan Sophie, who teams up with a Big Friendly Giant to capture man-eating ogres who like to eat “human beans”, it will use state-of-the-art motioncapture to bring the 50ft beings to life. Bridge Of Spies star Mark Rylance plays the BFG. “It was like being in an experimental theatre production!” he tells Total Film of the mo-cap. “You have to invest your imagination. It was challenging. But Steven is happy with what he’s got.” JG The BFG opens on 22 July.

Giving chase: there’s plenty of hard driving going on; and (below) Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon and director Jeff Nichols on location.

A Monster Calls

Author Patrick Ness reveals the secrets of his YA adap...


t seven minutes past midnight, 13-year-old Connor meets a monster. Hulking and treelike, it tears through Connor's bedroom wall and drags him out into the night, but it doesn't attempt to gobble him up – it wants to tell him a story. “In YA, the best stories are allegorical,” says author Patrick Ness, whose 2011 young adult novel A Monster Calls revolves around the three fairytales the monster tells Connor. “Each one has a sting – and a big sting,” Ness says. “A story’s more than just what appears on the surface. There’s always more to it...” Scripted and executive produced by Ness, the film is being translated to the screen by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible) and stars newcomer Lewis MacDougall as Connor, whose mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill. Staying with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), Connor struggles to understand what's happening to his family when the monster appears, always at the same time, promising to tell him three fairytales. Fleetingly glimpsed in the film's atmospheric trailer, the monster itself is played by a growly Liam a kindred spirit to those films.” It turned out to be a very personal theme that would end up subverting the genre beats. “When I was making Take Shelter, my wife was pregnant with my son,” remembers Nichols. “Now he’s five years old. So when I went into writing [this] script, it was really about the experience of having a young kid and how that made me feel about the world… Everyone who has a kid will be able to identify with these ideas of sacrifice that, as parents, we’re sometimes faced with. And protecting…” he pauses, takes a breath. “The really intense need to protect our children. That’s what this film’s about.” TF

Neeson, who donned a mo-cap suit to ensure the monster's interactions with Connor delivered the same emotional payload as the book. “It was really important that it was an exchange,” Ness explains. “It’s so emotional that I think Juan felt it needed to be more than just someone talking to a tennis ball.” As for the stories themselves, Ness can barely contain his excitement. “Wait until you see how they’re done, they’re filmed magnificently,” he enthuses, adding that MacDougall is terrific in his first movie role (“he’s really eloquent, he’s not movie star precocious”). With its unique blend of drama and heightened reality, A Monster Calls promises to strike the same balance between sentiment and scares that made Bayona’s The Impossible and The Orphanage so powerful. “It’s a story about loss, and fear of loss,” Ness concludes. “It’s about how you can tell yourself a story about the world to make that bearable. It’s why we have books. It’s why we have stories. It’s why we have movies.” JW A Monster Calls opens on 21 October. Putting down roots: Lewis MacDougall debuts as Connor.

Midnight Special opens on 15 April.

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Po’s back with fists of furry…


’m not a big fat panda. I’m the big fat panda,” declared Po back in 2008, moments before defeating snow leopard Tai Lung using the deadly Wuxi finger hold. Thirteen years on from that first Kung Fu Panda, though, Po (voiced by Jack Black) is about to find he’s one in a crowd of bouncing Chinese bears as he’s reunited with his long-lost father and whisked off to a panda village in the mountains. “The funny thing is, Po’s always been based on contrasts,” says Alessandro Carloni, who worked as a story artist and animator on the first two films, and co-directs Kung Fu Panda 3 with series overseer Jennifer Yuh Nelson. “Po is


such a goofball. You see the guy surrounded by masters and people who are strict, and I figured, why not try the very opposite? What if you put Po in a place surrounded with people just as silly as he is, but more so?” It’s been five years since Po last somersaulted across cinema screens, with Kung Fu Panda 2’s cliffhanger ending showing his biological father, Li Shan, sensing his son’s presence. Now a kung fu master and full-fledged member of the Furious Five, Po’s gone from student to teacher, entrusted with training up the next generation. That new responsibility’s interrupted, though, when he’s finally reunited with pops Li, who’s voiced by none other than Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Watchful eye: Mr Ping (James Hong) is keeping tabs.

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“People may know him more for Breaking Bad; you think of that massive melodramatic ability, but he also has an amazing comedic background,” Yuh Nelson tells Total Film, in London to observe the threequel’s score (by a returning Hans Zimmer) being recorded. “He has great comedy and great emotional weight. We got somebody who can stand up to Po for both of those things. He’s been really, really amazing for us.” And while Po’s among pandas for the very first time, he’s also going toe to toe with his first supernatural villain. When it came to finding the perfect voice for evil spirit Kai (which means ‘god’ in Japanese), who’s intent on stealing the powers of kung fu masters, the directors were inspired by a recent, furious, Oscar-winning performance. “We were watching Whiplash and saw J.K. Simmons’ amazing performance in that,” says producer Melissa Cobb. “It just really spoke to us. He had so much vocal range and intensity. But we also needed a lot of comedy. We really wanted the villain to have this other side that was a little bit jealous and a little bit comedic. He really, really surprised us when he came into the studio.” If there’s a distinct sense of Po and co ‘levelling up’ for the threequel, that’s certainly true of the film’s visuals – TF was given a sneak peek at some

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Jack Black V J.K. Simmons The threequel’s hero and villain collide...

Jack Black as Po the Panda

J.K. Simmons as Kai the Collector

What keeps you coming back to this panda? I love Po. Po is just me. He’s like the child version of me. He’s very innocent and naive but that’s what’s funny about him. He’s kind of dumb but very passionate.

Kai is a massive bull who collects the chi of those he vanquishes. What’s his beef with tortoise Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim)? Kai was a brother-in-arms with Oogway. They were very close and from Kai’s point of view, he was betrayed by Oogway. So he’s had 500 years of festering anger and thirst for revenge which is classic bad guy stuff.

How is Po different now that he’s a master of kung fu? He’s getting more mature. He’s becoming the adult panda now, going from the student to the teacher. You have kids. Do you teach them? Yes, but they don’t really listen to me though. I feel like when other people teach them, they listen more. Bringing balance: Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) returns.

footage, and the animation was even more stunning than previous outings. “This time we actually pushed it even further because we had this whole panda village and an entire world we’re designing,” says Yuh. Adds Cobb: “There’s a lot more visual richness that we start to see in a lot of the details. I think the pandas are much more snuggly. That’s my main thing.” A snuggly kung fu master? We can bear-ly contain our excitement... TF Kung Fu Panda 3 opens on 11 March.

Have you dabbled in kung fu? I did learn a little bit of kung fu when I was in England just for exercise and a little kung fu research. But I’m no master.

What made you want to play Kai? Part of what appealed to me, after I actually had a chance to learn about the story and the character, was that he’s a really fun, supernatural bad guy, but he’s not all just one level the whole time. What do you think is the message of this installment in the franchise? I think it’s about daring to step outside of yourself and take a risk. It’s about coming together as a species and planet. Find your chi and use it to the best possible effect. TB Bull’s eyes: Kai The Collector (J.K. Simmons) is out for revenge.


Do you see think of this film as the trilogy’s end? It’s been good this time around because we have a great story. It feels like the big finish. Maybe number four, I’d start to get bored.

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Hot dogs Renaud introduces us to Pets’ pooches...

MAX Voiced by Louis C.K. “Max loves his owner. He thinks he’s got the perfect life. That is, until she – Katie is the name of his owner – brings home Duke, a rescue dog.”

Cats entertainment Director Chris Renaud reveals The Secret Life Of Pets… WORDS JOSH WINNING


espicable Me producer and Illumination Entertainment chief Chris Meledandri had a lightbulb moment in spring 2012. “Do you ever wonder what your pets do when you leave during the day?” he asked director Chris Renaud. The furry, fluffy, fishy answer, bouncing into cinemas later this year, is The Secret Life Of Pets, a sort of Toy Story for household critters that peeks through the cat-flap at what happens when you leave for work in the morning. Researching wasn’t difficult. “There’s a wealth of material on the internet!” laughs Renaud, who previously directed Despicable Me 1 and 2 (he was the original voice of the Minions), and co-helms Pets with former production designer Yarrow Cheney. “The starting point was everybody’s own experiences,” he says. “A lot of it really started with our own personal memories of our own animals. I’ve had every animal under the sun over the course of my life, at one point or another.” Where previous pet-centric movies have favoured pooches, though, Renaud and Cheney’s film boasts a veritable menagerie of cats, dogs, rabbits, budgies, guinea pigs and fish. “Pet ownership is different than it was when those great Disney dog films like Lady And The Tramp were made 40-50 years ago,” he says. “There’s been an evolution. So, one of the things we really wanted this to be was a movie about pets – not just dogs or cats.” Still, leader of the pack is terrier Max (voiced by Louis C.K.), whose life is turned upside down when his owner brings home rescue dog Duke (voiced by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet). The resultant rivalry pits them against

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one another in true ‘resentful sibling’ style. “If you have more than one child, the first kid thinks the sun rises and sets on him or her,” Renaud says. “Then when you bring that second baby home, it’s like, ‘Hey, what the heck? Wasn’t I enough?’” Max and Duke are forced to set their differences aside when their home is threatened by the ‘Flushed Pets’, a gang of abandoned animals led by sinister white rabbit Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart). “We literally sent him one drawing of the character,” Renaud reveals of Hart, “and that piqued his interest, because he could see how it would be funny, his voice coming out of this little fuzzy bunny.” Talking of fuzz, animation has come on leaps and bounds since Renaud helmed the first Despicable Me in 2010. “With Despicable Me, we made the conscious decision to avoid things like water, a lot of hair, a lot of fur,” he says, explaining that those elements were all expensive and time-consuming. “But now there’s big crowds of characters, a wide range of different animals. We’re definitely not avoiding water. Everybody’s got fur!” Pets is the first film out of the Illumination stable after Minions made $1bn at the worldwide box office, so there’s a little pressure on Max, Duke and co. Four years after Meledandri’s lightbulb moment, though – and in an age ruled by YouTube cat videos – The Secret Life Of Pets couldn’t be arriving at a better time. “The age of social media has really changed how we think about our pets and how we view them,” Renaud muses. You’ll never look at your cat the same way again. TF The Secret Life Of Pets opens on 24 June.

DUKE Voiced by Eric Stonestreet “Eric just inhabits this guy, just with the size of his voice and his personality.”

GIDGET Voiced by Jenny Slate “Gidget is a little white puffball – literally the cutest little dog out there. But she’s got the heart of a lion, and you find that contrast.”

BUDDY Voiced by Hannibal Buress “Buddy’s a dachshund, and just by the nature of being a dachshund, there’s such a great shape. It gives you all kinds of ideas and things to pursue.”

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5 reasons...

The Angry Birds Movie will fly Producer John Cohen talks TF through the year’s barmiest fight flick... IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER FRANCHISE It might be the biggest freemium game of all time, but there’s not much meat on the bones of Rovio’s bird vs pig phone-flicker – which is a good thing for the filmmakers. “When you have these big properties, you normally find yourselves with a book series or a comic to adapt,” explains producer John Cohen. “Whether that’s Harry Potter or Spider-Man or whatever, everything’s completely defined already, so all you’re doing is translating… but with Angry Birds, it’s completely up to us to make an original movie, and that’s really exciting.” THERE ARE BIG FINGERS DOING THE FLICKING “Animation is a completely collaborative environment and every idea can come from anyone,” says Cohen, who assembled a top-table team of ’toon veterans to work behind the slingshot. Written by long-term Simpsons scribe Jon Vitti, and directed by Fergal Reilly (storyboard artist on everything from The Iron Giant to Spider-Man 2) and Clay Kaytis (former head of Disney’s animation department during Wreck It Ralph and Frozen), if anyone can make Angry Birds fly, it’s them. THE BIRDS ARE ACTUALLY ANGRY Cute sells, but don’t expect any giggling Minions and breakdancing chipmunks here. Jason Sudeikis headlines a grown-up voice cast including Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad – all outcasts,

oddballs and eccentrics struggling with group therapy on an island of annoyingly happy bird-brains when Bill Hader’s smarmy green pig army turns up and gives them all something to really get cross about. IT’S FUNNY ENOUGH TO MAKE PETER DINKLAGE LAUGH “I had more fun on this movie than anything I’ve ever been a part of,” says Cohen, himself an alum of the Ice Age and Despicable Me series. “The challenge that we put on every joke in the movie, from the big gags to the background puns, is that it had to make us all laugh – that’s everyone in a room full of comedians and seasoned actors.” THEY ACTUALLY WILL FLY The game is well referenced. “The birds use the slingshot in their battle with the pigs and the audience is going to feel like they are on that catapult, flying through the air with the birds… crashing into the pigs,” says Cohen, with a remarkably straight face. Absurd or not, Angry Birds is still putting its pig-smashing action front and centre – now in glorious 3D. “It’s some of the coolest, most spectacular action I’ve seen in a long time,” Cohen enthuses. “We’re bringing the games to life… I think it’s going to be very, very cool.” PB

5 more animations FINDING DORY 29 JULY Fish in troubled waters. ZOOTROPOLIS 25 MARCH Bunny, ahem, buddy cop comedy. ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE 15 JULY Scrat in space. STORKS 14 OCTOBER Kelsey Grammer is a bird brain. NORM OF THE NORTH 18 MARCH Aka ‘A Polar Bear In New York’.

The Angry Birds Movie opens on 13 May.

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Commuter chaos: Emily Blunt as the unreliable Rachel.

The Girl On The Train Adap on the right track.


aula Hawkins’ cinematic thriller became last year’s mustread novel, so it’s little surprise the movie was rushed into production. With the London-based tale shifted to upstate New York, it follows functioning alcoholic and deliciously unreliable narrator Rachel as she becomes obsessed with the lives of a couple she sees during her train commute. The Girl On The Train won’t suffer author-meddling à la 50 Shades’ E.L. James script fiddling, as Hawkins has declared she’s going to let director Tate Taylor (The Help) just “get on with it”. With Emily Blunt as Rachel, Chris Evans dropping out to be replaced by Justin Theroux as her ex, and an explosive double-cross finale, this could be this year’s Gone Girl. Shhhh now… No spoilers. JC The Girl On The Train opens on 7 October.

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Hat’s entertainment: Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star.

The stage is set for even more magical mayhem in Now You See Me 2... WORDS JOSH WINNING


ots of twists and lots of fun” is how Mark Ruffalo describes the sequel to Now You See Me, and if the first film’s heady mix of cocky conjurers and fantastical feats is anything to go by, he’s not fibbing. Arriving just over two years after director Louis Leterrier’s uber-successful first caper ($350m at the box office), this second round of sorcery catches up with Ruffalo’s ex-FBI agent, plus street magicians the Horsemen – comprising Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg). “Their first act was just the set-up for an even bigger reveal,” promises ex-trickster Thaddeus Bradley (Martin Freeman) of the Horsemen, with stunts this time including an impressive raindrop show, plus new player Lizzy Caplan producing a flock of doves from her jacket. And though Isla

Bridget Jones’s Baby

Fisher chose to sit the sequel out (heading off to make Grimsby with Leterrier), there’s magic pedigree in the form of one-time wizard Daniel Radcliffe, whose Walter Tressler (son of Michael Caine’s imprisoned Arthur) enlists the group to pull off their most dangerous heist yet. With Leterrier vacating the director’s chair, action connoisseur John M. Chu stepped in to oversee the pyrotechnics. It seems like a perfect fit – Chu’s no stranger to stage choreography, having directed the first three Step Up films, and he proved his ballistic action credentials with fan-pleasing sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation. And while his Jem And The Holograms was one of 2015’s biggest flops (making $2.2m on its $5m budget), Now You See Me 2 has the potential to magically erase that blip from audience memories. Let the show begin... Now You See Me 2 opens on 10 June.

Oh baby: could Bridget (Renée Zellweger) go out with a smile?

Miss Jones weighs in. V. Good.


leven years after her last misadventures, Bridget is back – with original cast (sans Hugh Grant), original director (Sharon Maguire) and now a moppet. Although Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy has returned, it’s still not clear if Bridget’s (Renée Zellweger) unexpected pregnancy is thanks to him, or Patrick Dempsey’s smoothie. Or indeed Ed Sheeran, who’s making a cameo... Based on Helen Fielding’s newspaper columns (and co-written by David Nicholls), Bridget Jones’s Baby promises more embarrassing moments for our favourite singleton, plus, finally, a happy ending? All Zellweger’s saying is that it’s “such a treat to revisit” her most famous character. Let’s hope it’s a treat for devotees, too. JC Bridget Jones's Baby opens on 16 September.

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13 HOURS 29 JANUARY War-torn Bayhem from the Transformers director. THE ACCOUNTANT 4 NOVEMBER Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick cook books. CRIMINAL 15 APRIL CIA reincarnation drama starring Ryan Reynolds. GREEN ROOM EARLY APRIL Punk band v neo-Nazis led by Patrick Stewart [see p120]. THE FREE STATE OF JONES 27 MAY McConaughey joins the Confederate army.

Darkness abounds in Billy Ray’s grim, gripping thriller Secret In Their Eyes...


ix years ago, Argentinean thriller The Secrets In Their Eyes came from nowhere to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Now comes the US remake, under the watchful eye of writer-director Billy Ray (Shattered Glass), transposing this hard-edged mystery from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles, with an A-list cast led by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. “It was amazing to witness the skill of two of the greatest actresses there are,” admits Ejiofor, who plays Ray, an FBI investigator who picks up a lead for an unsolved crime from his past – the brutal murder of the teenage daughter of his colleague Jess (Roberts). Noting it offers up “a conversation about obsession and all these life-and death-scenarios”, Ejiofor credits Ray’s film for being “a dramatic thriller that’s rarely made these days”. While elements of the story have changed, Ray – who co-wrote the script – insisted on keeping the famed sports stadium sequence from the original, with its remarkable tracking shot. It meant placing the scene in the iconic home of the LA Dodgers baseball team. “It was extremely important to me because there are certain moments in the original that I just felt had to be honoured,” says Ray. “That soccer stadium sequence was certainly one of them.” JM Secret In Their Eyes opens on 4 March.

How did you get through the emotional scene where you find your daughter in the dumpster? Just little by little. I really don’t know, and it’s very hard to articulate. There’s not a linear explanation for the dumpster [scene]. You just do it and hope you can bring something true and honest to it. Had you seen the original movie? I had seen the original Argentinian version of Secrets In Their Eyes and was just enthralled by the story, the performances, how intricate it was, the plot twists, because I love a great suspense. In talking to writer/director Billy Ray, he changed the lead role to a woman and in our discussions we thought what would be the greatest loss she could have and we decided it would have to be her daughter. You get to work with such a great team in this film. Are you still learning from your co-stars? Oh yes! Well, that’s the fun part, really, and showing up to work every day. I know what I’m going to do and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do. That’s the great part, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman are both just beautiful people, just beautiful human beings and very driven, relentless actors. It was fantastic. What is it that makes you choose a role? It’s just a feeling that I have when I’m reading something. I can just feel the “yes” or I can just feel the “no”. It’s as simple as that. Your husband Danny Moder was the cinematographer on the film. Was it easier having him there every day? I have worked with him before, but I don’t know if I would say it was easier. Our days were so complex, but definitely there was a huge sense of comfort for me having him there, and I think, I have to say that he still makes me pretty nervous, so I try to be as good as I can be in front of him! Why does he still make you nervous? Is it that you want to do your best? Of course, exactly. I mean, here we are at work, trying to do our best, and I see him doing his great work, and when he stops working, everyone looks over at what we’re going to do, and all I’m thinking is, “Don’t blow it.” It makes me feel a little insecure. JW

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5 more thrillers

You went to a dark place to play Jess. How did you prepare for the role? In a very calculated way. Before we even started filming, I had it pretty well mapped out. The closer we got to shooting, and the more I was trying to excavate the things I was going to try to do. I made a deal with myself that there was going to have to be a very specific separation from the kind of world that I would occupy at work. It would be completely fueled by the character Jess and nothing to do with me. Whereas, as an actor, normally you are trying to find everything you can in your own life and your own emotional landscape to bring to it, and this one was just not the case.


Tough love Hot off her second Oscar nomination, Julia Roberts returns with a powerhouse performance in Secret In Their Eyes. She talks to Total Film about one of the most demanding roles of her career‌

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Power play Sandra Bullock battles the odds in political comedy Our Brand Is Crisis, but the fight extends to Hollywood. Total Film hits the campaign trail to find out how she’s making movies on her terms... WORDS JOSH WINNING


never realised I was a woman,” Sandra Bullock tells Total Film. “I mean, I knew I was female, but I never realised that there were limitations, or I was looked at as ‘less than’ until I was pretty deep in this business and I had a pretty unsettling moment when I went, ‘Oh my God, I’m being treated this way because I’m female.’” It’s an overcast October day in Los Angeles, storm clouds hanging over the Four Seasons hotel as we talk to Bullock, relaxed in sheer black wide-leg trousers and a black top, about her latest movie, Our Brand Is Crisis. A political comedy centred around a presidential campaign, Bullock plays political consultant ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, who’s yanked out of self-imposed exile – and the United States – to run a seemingly unwinnable campaign for Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) in Bolivia. Produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov through their company Smokehouse Pictures, the film’s partly based on Rachel Boynton’s same-named 2005 documentary, which followed a real Bolivian election. However, Peter Straughan’s script languished in pre-production for almost a decade before Bullock’s interest finally garnered it a green light, the actress choosing it as her first liveaction film since 2013’s monster-hit Gravity (last year she voiced a character in Minions). “It gets a lot easier when you get Sandy to do it,” admits Clooney, sporting a silver goatee and smart-casual in a loose white shirt when we catch up with him. “That’s the truth.” Though Bullock remains one of the few women in Hollywood who can make or break a project by attaching her name to it,

she almost didn’t take on the part of Jane Bodine because it was originally written for a man. Straughan’s early drafts followed maverick political consultant ‘Wild’ Bill Bodine but, in an inspired moment of gender blindness, it was Bullock who suggested to long-time friends Clooney and Heslov that the character could be even more compelling if it was a woman whose manic behaviour causes havoc in her team. For Bullock, the idea stemmed from a years-long frustration with the lack of decent female roles in the industry. “I was looking at comedies,” she recalls of when she first started reading scripts that could be genderflipped. “I was like, ‘Why is the only comedy that’s available for women the romantic comedy?’ I was so done, but I yearned for comedy, so it was like, ‘Can I look at every script that Jim Carrey didn’t want to do to see if that can be switched?’” She laughs in her famously unreserved way, but that kind of astute insight is typical of an actress whose career has never played by the rules. Over the past three decades, the 51-year-old actress has triumphantly avoided the girlfriend trap (i.e. playing the leading man’s mere bit on the side), whether getting behind the wheel and co-saving the day in Speed, championing equal rights in The Blind Side, or leading Gravity to a $274m payday. Even when she tackled female-led comedy with Miss Congeniality, her refreshing lack of vanity garnered giggles and kudos alike. “It started a while ago, just looking,” Bullock explains of her script search, “and nothing really popped up that I felt was extraordinary.

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Sworn frenemies: ‘Calamity’ Jane (Sandra Bullock) with rival Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton); (left) with team members Nell (Ann Dowd) and Ben (Anthony Mackie); (top left) Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida).

And then The Heat showed up, which was, I felt, out of the need for women to have a comedy that wasn’t centred around getting a man. Nothing wrong with that. I love men, but I don’t need to always be talking about them.” As a result, Bodine is easily one of Bullock’s most interesting roles (“it made total sense,” says Clooney of the swap, “she’s so wonderful in the part”). Still reeling after a tragedy that derailed her career, Bodine has endured a stint in the Betty Ford clinic, is haphephobic – “she doesn’t like to be touched,” says her former associate Nell (Ann Dowd) – and when she arrives in Bolivia’s La Paz, she lopes around cloaked in a floor-length coat, clutching her bag strap like a parachute. She’s been sober for three years.


eurotic, weird, opinionated, “she’s fighting a life battle when we meet her, and goes through some serious changes,” says Heslov. Adds director David Gordon Green; “Sandy brings that weird baggage where she can be neurotic or say mean things, but people just like her. She has that quality that makes you love who she is. Even if she’s saying something hostile, she seems like a good person.” Things get particularly interesting when Bodine’s opposition, oily campaigner Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), shows up in Bolivia gunning for the other guy. The duo embark in all-out war on the election trail. Candy moves into the hotel room opposite Jane’s to mess with her head, there’s havoc with a llama, and even a cliff-edge bus race that sees Bodine mooning her competitor through the window (Bullock used a ‘stunt butt’). The rivalry was amped up by director Green, who encouraged the actors to improvise, not least during a confrontation backstage of a public debate. “There’s about two and a half hours of footage where David just had us say the most bizarre things,” Bullock reveals. “He just let us go, and

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it just became more and more… just creepy.” That’s all part of Bullock’s appeal, though. Her ability to switch between comedy and drama has seen her movies earn $3.3bn at the worldwide box office (when adjusted for inflation), and though her average $15m annual payout is half that of highest-paid-actress-in-Hollywood Angelina Jolie, Bullock remains one of only a handful of actresses who is actively producing films (she’s executive producer on OBIC). Meanwhile, the issue of gender inequality in Hollywood has heated up in the past 12 months. With Jennifer Lawrence publicly balking at the gender pay gap that short-changed her and Amy Adams on American Hustle, and high-powered individuals like Kathryn Bigelow weighing in on the sensitive issue, it’s one that won’t be going away any time soon. And though Bullock has consistently opened movies to considerable acclaim, even she isn’t box officeproof – when Our Brand Is Crisis opened in the US in October 2015, it made a disappointing $6.7m on its $28m budget. Clearly, this is just the start of a much longer conversation, and just weeks after our chat with Bullock, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it was launching an investigation into Hollywood discrimination, having discovered that women directed just 1.9 per cent of the 100 highest-grossing films in 2013 and 2014.

Meanwhile, of the $6.3 billion spent on the top 100 films of 2014, just $85 million went on films directed by women. Bullock isn’t giving up, though. “I learned that you can’t worry about getting a no,” she reveals. “The thing is, as actors, we’re pretty used to getting nos in this business, but you have to keep going forward, or you’d never work again. So, I learned that sometimes just asking... it can’t hurt to ask. And I’m glad I asked. They could have said no, but they didn’t.” “I think we’re in a nice land-rush of the appreciation of women in movies, and hopefully that translates to every professional environment,” weighs in David Gordon Green. “It seems like there’s been a rush of successful movies starring women and I know there’s been a lot of talk in the media for a number of reasons, I think that’s a good thing. Any time an under-served element gets a voice... it’s nice when something has its moment and it can shine. There’s endless talent there, so why not start making movies for everybody?” When it comes to Our Brand Is Crisis and Bullock’s relationship between Clooney and Heslov, though, the hierarchy is quite clear. “Sandy’s boss,” Heslov says. Clooney concurs: “Sandy’s boss. Honest to God, she’s the boss.” TF Our Brand Is Crisis opens on 22 January.

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Things are heating up for Anthony Mackie. Total Film catches up with Hollywood’s busiest rising star...



elling a politician is like selling cereal,” says Anthony Mackie, talking enthusiastically with his hands. “It’s like selling a car. Do you identify with Tony The Tiger and Frosted Flakes? Or Toucan Sam and Fruit Loops? And which one and why, and how can I get you to identify with the other one more? That’s what politics has turned into: branding.” If there was any doubt that Mackie’s one of the smartest actors working today, the 37-year-old all but eradicates that doubt when he talks to Total Film. Looking dressed-down athletic in a denim shirt and black jeans (he bulked up to play superhero Falcon), he’s approachable and full of energy as we chat in the Four Seasons in West Hollywood. Whether working Off-Broadway (he trained at the prestigious Juilliard), kicking ass in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or earning acclaim for The Hurt Locker, he’s always dedicated, always passionate. In Our Brand Is Crisis, he plays Ben, a young political advisor who works with ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) during a Bolivian presidential campaign. “It’s a dating game,” he says of the election trail. “When you’re on a date, you present the best you. As soon as you get the girl, you say, ‘Yeah, look… nah, I’m actually not that person at all.’ Politics has become a game of dating.” Admitting that when it comes to real-life politics, “every now and then, I tune in, laugh, and check back out,” Mackie has nothing but praise for Bullock. “It’s amazing how over herself she is, because no one else is over her,” he laughs. The industry’s pretty into Mackie, too – he’s already worked with directors Jonathan Demme, Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood, and this year he adds John Hillcoat to that list with a role in ballistic bank-heist actioner Triple 9. “When I read the script, I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m in Heat!’” Mackie whoops. “It’s a really clever and interesting movie. You know that one scene in Heat when they’re doing the tactical shooting through the cars, and they’re trying to get away? That’s Triple 9. It’s a really high-paced, adventurous, action, bad guy movie.” Not that he’s skipping out on the good guys. Having reprised winged hero Falcon in 2015’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron (and had an extended Ant-Man cameo), he’s back in the super-suit again for forthcoming superhero smackdown Captain America: Civil War. “Falcon is definitely evolving,” he says. “He’s now one of the new Avengers, has a very strong relationship with Cap, still trying to get a date with Black Widow...” He pauses, mulling something over. “Marvel does something really smart,” he continues. “They take the movie and they build it around characters. When they write the script, they write a script with no action. It’s only action beats, dialogue and moments, and then they put the action on top of that. I think that’s why, when you see these movies, you’re able to get such amazing actors, like Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr and Paul Bettany, you’re able to get Don Cheadle, these amazing actors, because you have great acting moments in the movie. And Civil War is just like a bunch of really good acting. And some action.” Sounds pretty smart to us. JW

Return of the Mack

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REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2015 From returning icons James Bond, Max Rockatansky, the T. rex, Macbeth, Steve Jobs and Amy Winehouse to thrilling new tales about a jazz drummer, a stranded astronaut, a sexually transmitted curse, an Iranian skateboarding vampire and an Emotional little girl, 2015 has delivered the goods. Total Film looks back on the past 12 months. WORDS PAUL BRADSHAW, MATT GLASBY, JAMIE GRAHAM, KEVIN HARLEY, JAMES MOTTRAM, NEIL SMITH





OK, so espionage thrillers have forever been a staple of cinema, but in 2015 you couldn’t help but spy a spy movie wherever you looked. SPECTRE, of course, saw the return of the daddy of secret agents, James Bond. But elsewhere we had a youthful, anarchic 007 riff in Kingsman: The Secret Service, a comedic spin on the genre in Spy, Ethan Hunt getting back in the game in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, some Brit-grit in Spooks: The Greater Good, and Cold War cat-and-mouse in Spielberg’s Bridge Of Spies. We won’t mention Mortdecai…

With distributors chasing the grey pound, there’s been a rash of mumbling, grumbling OAPs on multiplex screens this year: Lily Tomlin’s grieving, skint poet in Grandma, Bill Murray’s sour-faced neighbour in St. Vincent and Maggie Smith spitting pithy put-downs in both The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Lady In The Van. Meanwhile, the Taken effect has taken over the likes of Sean Penn (The Gunman) and Keanu Reeves (John Wick) to give us a different kind of angry oldie, and Old Arnie beat up Young Arnie in Terminator: Genisys.

Are we seeing a backlash against the digital jiggery pokery (to use the technical term) that has been dominant for the last 25 years? Be it balls-out action in the likes of Fast & Furious 7, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Blackhat and SPECTRE, or the indelible monsters in Corin Hardy’s ace Irish folkhorror The Hallow, the done thing now is to go practical, prosthetic, in-camera. Even Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – films that can’t be made without oodles of CGI – keep it real when possible.

After decades of behind-camera creative and financial disparity, the women of Hollywood have decided they’re mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it any more. There are still many mountains to climb, but conversations are finally happening, instigated by Ashley Judd talking about being sexually harrassed, Jennifer Lawrence saying “Fuck that” after the Sony leak revealed she was paid less than her male co-stars on American Hustle, and the likes of Emma Watson, Lena Dunham and Jessica Chastian speaking out.

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TOP 20 TF’s picks of ’15...


Fair is foul – and that’s it – in Justin (Snowtown) Kurzel’s flinty, ferocious Shakespeare adaptation. Shot in-situ in the unforgiving Scottish Highlands, and lashed with rain and regret, it’s as much a psychodrama as a tragedy. Using “ambition to replace grief”, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard find themselves in blood stepp’d so far they lose their minds, and everything else. Beautifully made, and brilliantly acted, the results stand shoulder to shoulder with versions by Kurosawa, Polanski and Welles.


One false nose is all it took to turn Steve Carell into 2015’s biggest creep – a manipulative, powerabusing billionaire who thinks he can buy wrestler Channing Tatum, his brother Mark Ruffalo and Olympic glory for Uncle Sam. Having previously elevated a truecrime story in Capote, Bennett Miller is ideally suited to a tale in which ambition, obsession and murder come with a homoerotic undertow. Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller, meanwhile, offset a very male drama with subtly contrasting feminine energies.




From Brendan’s son to Star Wars...

“I’m no good at having my photo taken,” murmurs Domhnall Gleeson. “If you smile, you’re a schmuck. If you look serious, you think you’re a movie star.” That might explain why we only see the back of his head in one of the most iconic photos of the decade; sharing the first table reading of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as First Order bad guy General Hux. Not that he’s ever been that far from the camera. Sort-of-known as Brendan Gleeson’s son, sometimes-remembered as Ron Weasley’s boring brother and starting-to-get-there by propping up a handful of impeccably chosen blockbusters before he out-acted his dad in a single scene of Irish drama Calvary. “This will sound really big-headed,” he says with another shovelful of modesty, “but enough people have decided to work with me – the Coen brothers, Lenny Abrahamson, Richard Curtis – enough people that I can’t be that shit...” This year, John Crowley (Brooklyn), Alex Garland (Ex_Machina), J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant) have joined that list, and he’s already shot Doug Liman thriller Mena alongside Tom Cruise. “I’ve always thought that I wouldn’t make it to 30 so I tried to get as much done as I could…” he laughs. “Maybe I should change it to 40...”


Sharing the Cannes 2014 Jury Prize, Xavier Dolan’s fifth film is a typically bravura effort from the French-Canadian wunderkind. Channelling the adolescent angst of his debut, I Killed My Mother, Dolan cranks the emotion up to 11, as Anne Dorval’s brassy, long-suffering matriarch contends with her volatile ADHD-suffering teenage son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon). Heartwrenching? Yes. But moments like the already-famous sequence as Dolan brazenly adjusts the film’s aspect ratio, cut to Oasis anthem ‘Wonderwall’, truly reinforce the magic of cinema.


With its pot-fugged plotting and a permapuzzled Joaquin Phoenix as a PI who tracks a missing tycoon and finds, maybe, sort of, a whole lot more, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adap of Thomas Pynchon’s flavourful, circuitous novel was not to everyone’s taste. But like a great album, its rewards prove greater with each revisit, the hazy narrative beginning to tantalisingly cohere and a sweet, tender sadness rising to the surface: for a lost love, a lost dream and a lost country. Exquisite. >>

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With Age Of Ultron a shoo-in for success, Marvel’s other 2015 bid was a triumph against super-sized odds. The title induced sniggers, yet the result silenced cynicism like Iron Man did in 2008. A fast and fizzy MCU semi-reset, its mix of comic caper, heist smarts and quantum psychedelia came powered by pitch-perfect performances (Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas), briskly layered plotting and good, gratuitous size gags. After the saddening Edgar Wright stuff, director Peyton Reed aimed for fun – and sized right up.



In a year that brought us a fifth Mission: Impossible movie, a 24th (official) Bond and a slightly questionable Man From U.N.C.L.E., kudos to Matthew Vaughn for giving us a spy pic with a difference: a jauntily subversive retro actioner whose sink-estate hero (rising talent Taron Egerton) is more suited to an ASBO than a licence to kill. In a film full of pleasing surprises, Colin Firth merits special mention for a game-changing turn that splices John Steed’s aplomb with Jason Bourne’s ruthlessness.


GIRL WALKS HOME 14AALONE AT NIGHT With the neck-nipping scene looking livelier after What We Do In The Shadows and Only Lovers Left Alive, Ana Lily Amirpour’s self-styled “Iranian fairytale” brought some fresh flavours to the table. The enigmatic romance between a hipster and Sheila Vand’s magnetic bloodsucker lures you in to an eerie ‘Bad City’ realised with enough style to make Sin City look pallid. Adding in retro-cool music, Amirpour boosted her heady cine-spell’s power with devilish wit. Best skateboarding, hijab-wearing vampire ever? Definitely.



















CHURCH CARNAGE Kingsman: The Secret Service TRAIN PUNCHUP SPECTRE ROAD RAGE Wild Tales SPANNER TIME Fast & Furious 7 HULKBUSTER VS HULK Avengers: Age Of Ultron


The year’s biggest box-office winners...



1,000 1,100 1,200 1,300 1,400 1,500 1,600 1,700

SET-PIECES TRAFFIC SHOOT-OUT Sicario SANDSTORM Mad Max: Fury Road THE WALK The Walk DOG CHASE White God OPERA HOUSE Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

*All box office figures were correct at the time of going to press. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 stood at $442.3m and will be in the Top 10 when you read this. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had not yet been released.

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“Just keep an eye on the time…” After the piercing darkness of Prisoners and Enemy, Denis Villeneuve brings this Mexican drugs war thriller. A panic-mounting study in tight-wound tension, it gets Clarice Starling-grade work from Emily Blunt as an FBI agent struggling to penetrate a dirty war’s moral murk. With Benicio Del Toro’s enigmatic assassin obscuring the view, Villeneuve commands the tension between them with the chilling, thrilling focus of prime Michael Mann.





Shooting from the hips...

This isn’t Amy Schumer’s first award. As if nabbing Total Film’s Woman Of The Year wasn’t enough, her CV has recently been filling up with Emmys, BAFTAs and Peabodys – as well as a spot on Time’s 100 Most Influential list, seeing her share page space with Barack Obama, Kim Jong Un and Pope Francis. And this time last year, most people had never even heard of her. Going from stand-up comedy to sketch show to co-writing a new comedy with Jennifer Lawrence in the space of a single film, Schumer’s meteoric rise is only half down to Trainwreck – the stinging anti-rom-com that she wrote from painfully funny experience. As much a leading lady off screen as on, Schumer’s shameless,


gutsy award acceptance speeches have led one paper to label her “a sneaky feminist honesty bomb” (and another as “more than just Seth Rogen with boobs”). Picking up another gong at The Gloria Awards, she went from confessing her night as a drunk booty call (“His asshole is a canyon, and this was my 127 Hours”) and ended it by planting her flag atop the whole film industry. “I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say,” she said, in her now viral Hollywood gut-punch. “I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. And I have the freedom to say, ‘No, I don’t want to be Olivia Wilde’s fat friend...’”

Just as young inventor Hiro uses brain-control to shape his microbots into amazing constructs, so this gorgeous Disney/Marvel ani-merger uses heart to fuse its component parts. Mashing up superhero team-pics, buddy movies and How To Train Your Dragon, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams deploy doses of pure feeling to douse charges of cynicism. The pop-art images shine, the take on teen trauma treads lightly. To answer show-stealer and ballooning nurse-bot Baymax: we are satisfied with the care.


Danny Boyle’s sublimely-realised take on the titular tech titan is a backstage drama like no other. Three key product launches form the backbone to Aaron Sorkin’s mercilessly brilliant script as Apple’s alpha-male asshole (Michael Fassbender, in a powder-keg performance) spits out friends, family and colleagues (Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels included) in his relentless quest for perfection. Capturing the ugliness of genius, Boyle and Sorkin have created an object even Jobs would admire. >>

Best Film winners around the Globe... GOLDEN GLOBES Boyhood BAFTA Boyhood



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The Bond to end all Bonds? Quite possibly, Sam Mendes loading his Skyfall follow-up with enough references and signifiers to make it a veritable greatest hits. Not that one needs to be a 007 expert to enjoy this muscular and globe-trotting thrill-ride, bolstered as it is by Daniel Craig’s most confident outing in the tux to date and the ultimate ‘big bad’ in SPECTRE itself, an organisation so fiendish it might easily have had a hand in that Sony hack.



“A lone US astronaut pitted against all the odds beyond this earth!” Not the tagline for Ridley Scott’s speculative sci-fi, but that for 1964 B-movie Robinson Crusoe On Mars – a title that would probably serve just as well for a picture whose knack for “sciencing the shit” out of its stranded astronaut plot is balanced by the simple pleasures of classic adventure storytelling. Matt Damon’s boyish charm helps the pootatoes go down in a film as jaunty as Interstellar is solemn.




Mad Max: Fury Road Star Wars: The Force Awakens (teaser) The Good Dinosaur The Revenant Suicide Squad



116 | Total Film | February 2016

GEORGE MILLER Mad Max: Fury Road KEANU REEVES John Wick LILY TOMLIN Grandma KURT RUSSELL Fast & Furious 7 HAN & CHEWIE Star Wars: The Force Awakens



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08 AMY

Like Senna, his Bafta-winning 2010 doc about the fallen F1 driver, Amy is a thousand-piece jigsaw-puzzle of a film, brilliantly pieced together by director Asif Kapadia. Splicing home-movie, archive, audio and more, this sensitive portrait of Back To Black singer Amy Winehouse cut through the tabloid junkie image to find the North London Jewish girl with stars in her eyes. But Amy was much more than just a cut-and-paste bio; themes of family, friendship, media intrusion and celebrity culture all loom large. Haunting.


Inspired by a recurring nightmare and imbued with woozy, just-woken dread, David Robert Mitchell’s determinedly 21st-century horror concerns a sexually transmitted demon stalking teen Maika Monroe and her friends/lovers through the twilight of their youths. Aware of the classics (Carpenter, Argento, J-Horror), but wholly its own, it’s half fright flick, half coming-of-age fable, as the pounding Disasterpeace score, ruined Michigan suburbs and sense of mounting scopophobia (the fear of being watched) means It doesn’t just follow; it stays.









“It’s just two humans in love,” said Rooney Mara at Carol’s Cannes debut, stressing the universal appeal of Todd Haynes’ sumptuous take on Patricia Highsmith’s deeply personal romantic thriller. Yes, it is, but it also perfectly captures the strictures and specifics (gender, class, age) of this particular love in this precise time (the early ’50s), as Cate Blanchett’s eponymous socialite falls head-over-6-inch-heels for Mara’s shopgirl. Undoubtedly the love story of 2015.




One of the most original Best Picture Academy Award winners of all time, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s twitchy masterpiece is a backstage nervous breakdown – think Network meets Noises Off – brushed with magical realism. Haunted by the voice of mediocrity, ex-superhero star Riggan (Michael Keaton, himself a former Batman) gambles it all on a Broadway folly. The ensuing satire spares nobody – actors, critics, enablers – but its single-shot staging sucks us down the rabbit hole, until you’ll believe a man can fly, or fall, without SFX.






February 2016 | Total Film | 117



Smoother than glass, cooler than metal and more complex than the wiring that keeps its lead character erect, Alex Garland’s sleek story of a robot and the men who love her is a Pinteresque chamber piece masked as cutting-edge sci-fi. Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson personify machismo and nerdy neediness as the male points of a triangle so spectacularly completed by Alicia Vikander, unreadable as the artificial intelligence with Pinocchio’s yearning to be real.


Like Inception (yes, there’s even a train of thought) with great puberty gags, Pixar’s fully-felt return plunged into the world of tween feelings and played merry havoc with ours. If Andy leaving home in Toy Story 3 broke you, young Riley’s farewell to Minnesota devastates. Yet this being Pixar, the Brain Trust manages to make Sadness, Joy, Anger, Fear and Disgust all part of life’s dazzling tapestry. Growing up is tough, it admits: but just check out the views!


Like Black Swan on fever-pitch overdrive, Damien Chazelle’s break-out feature bleeds for its art. With biceps tighter than drum-skins and insults more baroque than Malcolm Tucker’s, J.K. Simmons’ jazz tutor makes malevolence magnetic and pulverises fluffy student-teacher clichés. The tempo is intensified by Simmons’ S&M dynamic with Miles Teller’s driven student, and Chazelle’s portrait of ambition dares to push the boundaries of creative-graft dramas: pain – the sweet hell of success – is genuinely given its due. Clenched-fist keen, Whiplash electrifies with every cruel beat.




SOUNDTRACKS It Follows The Diary Of A Teenage Girl Eden Kill Your Friends The D Train


Maxine Peak As Hamlet Pay The Ghost Age Of Kill The Goob Tomorrowland: A World Beyond 118 | Total Film | February 2016

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n a typically eclectic year of bold acting choices, Tom Hardy played a brooding Russian cop in Child 44, a singing cabbie in London Road and both of the Kray twins in Legend. Oh – and he also found time to resuscitate the moribund Mad Max franchise with a feral, virtually silent turn as the legendary road warrior in what was indubitably the action movie of 2015. In fact, so resounding was Fury Road’s victory in our poll of Total Film’s critics, it was indutiably the film of the year, period. Beset by production hassles and interminable delays, it was a wonder George Miller’s belated reboot made it to cinemas at all. That it did with the Australian helmer’s singular vision intact was nothing short of a miracle, especially in a year in which the watered-down sequel seemed the order of the day (Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys). There were no such worries for Fury Road, a rampaging riot of autovehicular car-nage that dared the viewer to keep up as it raced across the screen. It also nimbly wrong-footed us by making Max Rockatansky himself a largely peripheral figure, relegated at times to scarcely more than a passenger in a story that was driven and dominated by another’s hand. Yes, we’re talking about Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa – a one-armed, shaven-headed, ass-kicking force of nature who instantly earned a place alongside Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley and T2’s Sarah Connor in the pantheon of great action heroines. In a film so bloated with outrageous stunts, insane design and outlandish characters, Theron gave us somebody to root for and care about. Here’s hoping her Road is only just beginning... TF


*Star Wars: The Force Awakens had not been screened at the time of going to press. Tweet us at @totalfilm to tell us how high it should rank in our Top 20 of 2015!


February 2016 | Total Film | 119





120 | Total Film | February 2016

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itting in a back room of a private members’ club in Soho, London, Sir Patrick Stewart wrinkles his noble nose and peers at an almond croissant through rectangular, wire-framed spectacles. Satisfied, he chances a nibble, careful to crane forward over his plate to avoid spilling crumbs. As you might expect of the man who spent 18 years at the Royal Shakespeare Company before essaying Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard (“Playing all those kings, emperors and tragic heroes was nothing but preparation for sitting in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise,” he’s said) and X-Men’s Charles Xavier, he exudes calm authority. His bald pate shines, his brown eyes glint, his sonorous voice fills the room. And yet he also gives off an air of approachability, quick to laugh or grin and dressed down in plain grey t-shirt and blue jeans. And by God he can talk, his conversation so given to digressions it’s the verbal equivalent of freeform jazz. Anecdote upon anecdote spills forth, many of them culminating on a humorous note. “I lost myself in movies,” he notes of his childhood spent in Yorkshire, the son Alfred, a Regimental Sergeant Major, and Gladys, a textile worker. “Of course, in those days you could hang around outside the cinema and wait to ask an adult to take you in. It’s a scary thought. [Adopts little boy’s voice] ‘Can you take me in, please?’ [Creepy baritone] ‘Ooh, I can take you, alright…’” No sooner has he finished recalling his youthful viewing habits than he’s musing on his own on-screen status… “You know, all my life, I always wanted to be known by my last name,” he sighs. “Why is it that some actors are so famous they’re known by their last name? McKellen is one of them. Nobody calls me Stewart”. Which leads into a bizarre, hilarious story (far too long

RODDENBERRY THREATENED ANYBODY WHO BROUGHT UP MY NAME. ANYWAY, IT WORKED OUT and complicated to go into here) about how David Lynch never called him anything at all on the set of Dune, or, indeed, even spoke to him, though now, 31 years later, they’re firm friends united by a shared passion for Transcendental Meditation. Just listening to the 75-year-old actor leaves you gasping for breath. As does his quietly spoken, tightly coiled performance as Darcy, the leader of a gang of white supremacists in Green Room. Essentially a throwback siege movie that splices John Carpenter’s mastery of atmosphere and craft

122 | Total Film | February 2016

with the bile of ’80s video nasties, Green Room posits a punk band (Anton Yelchin on bass) making the foolhardy decision to thrash out the Dead Kennedys’ ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ upon finding themselves playing to a crowd of skinheads at a roadhouse in rural Oregon. It leads to a literally sticky situation, all barricades and bloodletting. Directed by Blue Ruin’s Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room is a more straightforward, less sophisticated genre outing than his knowing, nuanced debut, but is drenched in tension and bristles with volatility. Much of it emanating from Stewart.

“Jeremy showed me a new way of working,” he says. “The first couple of days he kept saying to me [whispers], ‘Quieter, quieter...’ They had to sew a microphone into the lining of my costume. Darcy is a man who doesn’t need to raise his voice, he’s so confident he can resolve this challenging situation.” With extreme violence? Stewart chuckles. “He’s a long way from Jean-Luc Picard or Charles Xavier…” How did Green Room come to your attention? The script arrived online, as they always do these days; you never hear that lovely sound where the script hits the doormat. I printed it out and settled down in my house in Oxfordshire, which stands isolated, all alone in fields, and I was about 40 pages in when I closed the script, got up, and went around the house checking all the locks on the doors. I checked the security system, looked at all the cameras. Absolutely true. And then I got back and reopened the script. It unnerved me so much, just sitting there in my living room. What harm can come to anyone? Apart from David Cameron, of course. I live in his constituency. Maybe that’s what I was afraid of.

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SIR PATRICK STEWART Supreme leader: Stewart tackles the role of white supremacist head Darcy in Green Room.

You’d seen Blue Ruin, presumably? The next day, they sent me a link. So I watched it on a laptop, and I had to do exactly the same thing: stop it, take a walk around, have a big glass of scotch. I thought, “Whoa, this writer and filmmaker has the ability to unnerve one in a very unusual, interesting way.” It happens so slowly. Was that the main appeal of Green Room? It’s a genre movie. It’s a horror movie. But there are no zombies. These are just very ordinary people. And the situations are realistic and truthful. The film it reminds me of most is Deliverance. You can’t say to these people, “Look, let’s sit down and talk this over.” They’re not open to that kind of reasoning. That’s something, all my life, I’ve been afraid of, finding myself in that situation where you cannot talk yourself out of where you are. You’ve mentioned that Jeremy Saulnier gave you excellent technical notes. How confident is he visually? He knows exactly what every shot should look like. There’s no “hmmm, what should we do here? Maybe if we put the camera here…” He doesn’t have a shot list.

We’re used to seeing you play authority figures, but Darcy is a different side of that coin…. Diversity has always been part of my work. The week after I filmed the final episode of 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I had lunch with my agent, and I said, “You’ve got to find me something that is a million miles removed from anything to do with science-fiction, of uniforms, of space.” And that’s when he came up with this lovely movie about gay pride, Jeffrey. I’ve played kings and knights, bad guys and noblemen. It’s why I’ve always loved repertory – because every week or two, you’re in another realm. It’s why Ian McKellen and I were so enthusiastic about our project on Broadway [they performed in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot] two years ago. We said, “Let’s do two plays! And we’ll change them twice a week.” It was glorious to be in these two completely contrasting worlds. Did you meet with any white supremacists? [Shakes head] Thank god for the internet these days. Just Google ‘white supremacist movements in the United States’. Oh Jesus. Where we filmed, that is the heartland of the white supremacist movement: Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, bits of northern California. What is so interesting is that essentially these are white European communities. You don’t see many minorities in that part of North America and yet these organisations have flourished there. It made me look at people on the street and think, “Hmmm, what organisations have you been up to?” Speaking of the West Coast, is it true you were not a fan of Star Trek when you went out to LA to audition for The Next Generation? Yeah, it’s absolutely true. It was a fluke. I used to do little academic tours of southern California, talking about Shakespeare. I was reading extracts in these public lectures on the UCLA campus, and this man called Robert Justman – who was one of the producers of the original Star Trek and was brought out of retirement to launch The Next Generation – he turned to his wife and said, “We’ve found the character.” Then it took six months because [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry absolutely didn’t want me and threatened anybody who brought up the name of Patrick Stewart in casting meetings. Anyway, it worked out. You must have seen the original Star Trek… I knew nothing about it. I had to ask my kids. I remember, on Saturday afternoons, there was always this show on, with these guys in coloured t-shirts. I said, “They look weird. What is this you’re watching?” They told me what to say at the auditions. The deal I was offered was dazzling. But we were on the point of transferring a production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? from the Young Vic to the West End, and I wanted to do that really badly. I knew a few people in Hollywood, and everybody said, without exception, said, “Look, this isn’t going to work. You can’t revive an iconic series. It’s a crazy idea. You may not even get through the first season. So come here, make a bit of money for the first time in your life, get a suntan and go home.” So I signed the >> thing. And seven years later, I was done.







Years of roles with the RSC were ideal preparation for Stewart’s appearance as Lord Leondegrance in John Boorman’s epic slab of sword and sorcery. “What John liked was when the rehearsed bit ended,” the star recalls. “He liked to improvise action which, when you’re in full armour with battleaxes, could be quite scary.”

1987-2005 ++++ “Make it so!” And make it Stewart did thanks to his career-defining role as Jean-Luc Picard, the Starship captain whose stern carapace hid a soul of pure luvvie. Over 176 TNG episodes and four films (Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis), his gruff paternalism ensures the first line of his obituary is already written.



Long before Extras (“I’ve seen everything!”), Python fan Patrick got the chance to indulge his goofy sense of humour in Mel Brooks’s otherwise forgettable parody. “Brother, you have surrounded your given name with a foul stench!” declares a returning King Richard. “From this day forth, all the toilets in this kingdom shall be known as ‘Johns.’”


X-MEN 2000 ++++


TED 2012 ++++

“What do they call you – Wheels?” That’s Professor Charles Xavier to you, another beacon of calm authority for Stewart to invest with his patented gravitas. “I was an initially reluctant participant,” he confesses. “But because it was dealing with a contemporary issue, concerning prejudice and the treatment of outsiders… that was a strong incentive to be part of the franchise.”

“I watched a lot of Next Generation as a kid and thought ‘why is this great comedian being wasted on drama?’” says Seth MacFarlane. It was an oversight Seth was able to correct as a grown-up, not just by having Stewart narrate his Ted films, but also by giving him roles in Family Guy, American Dad! and Piers Morganinspired sitcom Blunt Talk. NS

February 2016 | Total Film | 123



You initially complained about the ‘Treknobabble’. At what point did you begin to love the show? At first I wasn’t comfortable wearing those strange Lycra suits but it did change. We took a month to film the pilot, and towards the end of the shoot, we were doing this shot which was going to be the last shot of the pilot. The director, Corey Allen, had me looking out of one of the windows on the Enterprise. The camera was outside. He has this shot which would start very tight on me, and then pull back, pull back, pull back. His direction to me was, “OK, Patrick, I want you to FUCK the universe!” It was that moment I thought, “I think I get it. I think I know what we’re doing on this show.” Have you seen J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies? J.J. has done really brilliant work. In every respect, in moving the franchise forward – or back, you might say – and creating his own style, his own world. I think all the performances are really wonderful. So I’m a fan. Do you think he’s widened the appeal? Yes. I think that’s it. He’s reflecting very much the way that science fiction or fantasy or superhero movies are being made now. I haven’t seen one of our movies for a long time, but maybe that might make ours look a little bit dated.

terrific, but why would I want Jean-Luc Picard in my movie?” You know, I had one albatross around my neck – a wonderful albatross, but nevertheless, there it is hanging around my neck – so do I really want two? I said, “Thank you very much, but no, I’ll pass.” But Bryan Singer wouldn’t accept “no” as an answer… I sat down with Singer for lunch. He’s very, very persuasive. I remember him saying, “This will erase Star Trek.” I said, “Look, I’d love to. I’ve seen The Usual Suspects. I’d love to work with you and the great people you already have in the movie. But it’s just going to be a bad career move.” He persuaded me it wasn’t. So here we are, four films – soon to be five films – later. Were you surprised by the heft of the movies, the depth of characterisation, the nuances and subtexts? The opening scene of the first movie, which I believe was Bryan’s idea, is set in a concentration camp. The kid whose parents are taken away from him, he reaches out and the fence begins to move. I mean, what an audacious way to begin a superhero franchise! A scene about prejudice and suffering and pain. Bryan established that tone. It’s still part of the franchise, very much so. It’s essential with fantasy and science fiction that the reality you try to create has to be even

RICKY GERVAIS’ STYLE WAS AN INSPIRATION – THE MORE SERIOUS YOU ARE, THE FUNNIER IT GETS Perhaps more than Picard, you’re now best known as Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies… Here’s what happened. I’d done a film with Dick Donner [Conspiracy Theory] and I was at Warner Bros doing ADR. Somebody came onto the stage and put a little note – it said, ‘Patrick, when you’re done with your recording, would you come to my office and see me?’ It was signed Lauren Shuler Donner, Dick’s wife. I walked into Lauren’s office and she picked something up and held it up in front of her. I said, “Why am I on the front of that comic book?” And she said, “Exactly.” That led to your casting? Yeah. But I turned it down. I was already experiencing the impact of Jean-Luc Picard on my career. The negative side of it. Getting typecast? I met a director and she said to me, “You’re

LIFELINE 124 | Total Film | February 2016

stronger, even more dedicated [than in dramas]. The performances need to be sincere… On Star Trek, we all worked very hard to make the scripts the best they could be and to make the performances the best that they could possibly be. And there were some wonderful performances. In the seven years we were on, we did not get one single nomination for creative or technical awards. In the last season, I got a Screen Actors Guild nomination. That was all we got in seven years. That was frustrating because I would look at the work of my colleagues and be dazzled. That’s just snobbery, isn’t it? Yeah. I didn’t realise Hollywood had a class structure. I found out during that show that I had come into Hollywood way, way down. We weren’t even a network show. We were a first-rung syndicated science fiction show based on an

13 JULY 1940 Born in the small town of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, the youngest of three brothers.

1958 Loses his hair but finds confidence in acting which leads to joining the RSC in 1966.

1967 Makes his small screen debut playing a fire officer in ITV’s Coronation Street.

Chairman: as telepathic mutant leader Charles Xavier in X-Men: The Last Stand.

earlier science fiction show which a lot of people thought was jokey, anyway. It was frustrating, at times. But nevertheless, I would not have changed a moment of it. Back to X-Men: how is it having James McAvoy playing a younger you? My first thought, when I heard that news, was that I was profoundly flattered. He’s a very goodlooking guy and he’s very smart and a wonderful actor. I thought, ‘My God, this is a real compliment.’ And then finally we got to shoot a scene together on Days Of Future Past. Great scene. It must be a delight to work with Ian McKellen. You’re firm pals who go way back... Yeah, but we weren’t pals at first. I had known Ian all my career. He’s a couple of years older than me. He was a star before he left university. He’d already been seen and handpicked at Cambridge,

1987 Signs up for Star Trek: The Next Generation and plays the role of Picard until 1994.

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and he belonged to this year of Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn and Peter Hall; they were known as the “Cambridge mafia”. I saw his work when he became a professional. It was brilliant. So audacious. And he was also gorgeous. So beautiful. I remember thinking, “God, I don’t think I can ever be like that.” Then he joined the RSC while I was there. We were never in the same company but I would see him in the green room. We’d say ‘hi’ but we had no relationship at all. I was quite intimidated by him, actually. We then did a Tom Stoppard play called Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and had a couple of scenes together. I enjoyed working with him very much. So how did you go from there to him being the minister at your wedding in 2013? On X-Men, we all had these super-luxury trailers. Ian’s and mine were next-door to each other.

2000 Takes on the role of Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise.

I would sit in his trailer and he would sit in mine. And we got to know one another. We found that we had so many things in common. A love of Shakespeare, obviously. Politically we were in the same area. And we had fun together. That grew and grew, until we did Waiting For Godot together four years ago, five years ago. The two of us were locked together for two-and-a-half hours on stage. And we toured it. We actually shared a dressing room. Ian’s idea – he said we can’t do this play and meet on stage every night; we’ve got to start the play before we go on stage. That was when my wife, my then girlfriend, met him. They got on incredibly well. Then when we took our two plays to Broadway, she said to me, “I want to ask Ian if he’ll marry us.” He joined the Universal Life Church and got a certificate. He’s a very, very important man in our lives.

2003 Finds his funny with Frasier. Continues in Extras, Family Guy, American Dad! and Robot Chicken.

2009 Appears on Broadway with Ian McKellen in Waiting For Godot. McKellen officiates at Stewart’s third marriage to Sunny Ozell in 2013.

Let’s talk about your comedy. You’re very funny on Twitter, and send yourself up in Family Guy… It’s come quite late in my life. I have to acknowledge the influence of my wife in encouraging this. Certainly as far as social media is concerned. Never tweet when you’ve been drinking is one of the rules. It always looks great, you know, with a few glasses of wine inside you, and then in the morning your PR people are on the phone saying, “What were you doing? God, no!” So we sleep on ones that could be a little scandalous. Is it liberating to find the funny? All the usual objectives apply about giving a believable, truthful, interesting, authentic performance. But now, with the added thought of: where is the comedy in this? I mean, Extras was the big breakthrough. When Ricky asked me to do that, and having watched The Office… His style was an inspiration – totally straight, absolutely serious. And the more serious you are, the funnier it gets. Laurence Olivier said, “It’s wonderful to hear audiences gasp and cry out sometimes, or hear them weeping at the drama and tragedy of your work. But none of that can possibly beat hearing an audience laugh.” Olivier is one of your heroes. But isn’t Marlon Brando your main man? Brando was my hero for years and years and years and years and years. I grew up in the West Riding of Yorkshire loving cowboy movies and Technicolor movies, and then I saw On The Waterfront and it changed everything for me. The people in that movie had lives whose circumstances and conditions were essentially the same as mine and my family’s – which were putting enough food on the table, having a job, earning a living, paying the rent, and occasionally having a few beers. People made movies that weren’t just inhabited by Doris Day and Tab Hunter? It was a kind of revelation to me. Brando could be self-deprecating. He sent up his performance as Don Vito Corleone in The Freshman. You now take the piss out of yourself all the time… I feed into my image as Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier. That is who people think I am. I never was either of those two characters, God forbid. So now, I’ve got that expectation to start with, and I can blow it up. It’s been rejuvenating. Within four minutes of the first episode of Blunt Talk [a new sitcom in which Stewart’s newscaster moves to LA to host a sanctimonious talk show], I’m drunk, stoned, driving my Jaguar on Hollywood Boulevard, picking up a transsexual prostitute and sucking on her tits in my car. I never expected to be doing that… TF Green Room opens early April.

2015 Sir Patrick (knighted in 2010) defies typecasting in TV’s Blunt Talk and on screen in Green Room.

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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Maggie Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Paper Towns Pixels Red Army Robinson Crusoe On Mars Seconds Southpaw Stop Making Sense Straight Outta Compton The Transporter Refuelled The Wolfpack

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Games Preview On Demand TV On Location: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride TV Preview: Doctor Who Christmas Special TV Reviews Extras Books Instant Expert: Kathleen Kennedy Is It Just Me? Quantum Of Solace is quality Classic Scene: West Side Story

p134 p135

Do the truffle shuffle on p132

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N/A Extras not available at time of going to press

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Faust and furious Rebecca Ferguson hits Cruise-ing altitude… MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION 12 Film +++++Extras +++++ OUT 7 DECEMBER DVD, BD, DIGITAL HD AS TOM CRUISE OUTDONE himself? In previous Missions, his bouts of precipitous dangling ranged from M:I2’s rock-climbing nerve-rattler to Ghost Protocol’s Burj Khalifa butterflies. But Rogue Nation goes one better: here, Cruise hangs gamely from his movie’s edge while a newcomer deftly steals the show. With Cruise’s money-shot Airbus stunt dispatched with bracing confidence in a precredits fly-by, Rebecca Ferguson is one big reason that this Mission feels so surprising for a series on its fifth entry. Under the marvellously locked-and-loaded name of Ilsa Faust, she brings just what a long-running franchise needs: a rogue


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element, armed with mystique and effortless charisma. And a big knife. Whether you see her as another welcome jab for high-grade action women in 2015 (alongside Charlize Theron’s Furiosa), a shot in the Mission series’ arm or both, this is Ferguson’s lift-off moment. A newcomer to action, she had to slide down a roof for the Vienna Opera House sequence on her first day. “And she’s afraid of heights,” marvels Cruise on his hyper-enthused (what else?) joint commentary with the film’s writer/director. But she’s in good hands, because the other big star here is that helmer, Christopher McQuarrie, who clearly enjoys some special hotline to what makes Cruise films tick: he co-wrote Edge Of Tomorrow,

one of Cruise’s best in years, and wrote/directed Jack Reacher, the other one. Here, the man who grabbed an Oscar for his whiplash-smart script for The Usual Suspects writes/directs a relatively unusual Mission movie. Cruise calls it the “analog” version on the chat track, a description borne out by the vinyl sequence (lifted from the TV show’s pilot) and functioning London phone box (lifted from pure fantasy). Rogue Nation isn’t without gadgets but a dash of in-camera focus drives, say, the mask scene – thoroughly anatomised on the commentary.

Listen carefully Mostly, McQuarrie downplays tech in favour of old-school spy moves. The many references tell you what territory is being aimed for: The Parallax View, Three Days Of The Condor and North By Northwest are noted, and you can add nods to Casablanca, The Third Man and Hitchcock’s The Man Who Wasn’t There. As McQuarrie himself quips, it’s a real “Homage-arama!”

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DVD & BLU-RAY NEW Going rogue: Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) drops the big elbow and (main) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on the wrong side of the law.

‘Rebecca Ferguson brings mystique and effortless charisma’ With the dial steered towards vintage style, McQuarrie’s classicist control helps focus a potentially muddled plot in which the IMF gets dismantled, a “terrorist superpower” rises and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt trots global hot-spots. The cat-and-mouse opera scene is a model of meticulous clarity, the climax a thing of clipped efficiency: and you can’t often say that of climaxes. McQuarrie worried that his film lacked a big send-off, but his decision to lean on likeable leads for leaner action keeps things fresh because it inverts the usual order of things (big airborne bit to open, intimate stakes to close): Billy Wilder, who had firm rules about endings (“Don’t hang around”), might even have approved. Not that stunt-addicts are deprived. Cruise sings Pegg’s

praises for daring to share a car with him for the chase sequence. (Presumably the bike was a vehicle too far.) Having trained to do the diving scene, Cruise spent hours in the tank. A dialogue sequence shot at the end of that same soggy day finds Cruise looking unusually cream-crackered, leading to what must surely be another first: tireless Tom talking about aching joints on the talk-track.

Self destruction Like Cruise, M:I5 isn’t without creaky bits. As with many MCU rogues, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) falls short of his nefarious reputation, unless “looking a bit peaky” is the new terrifying. Simon Pegg dishes decent laughs to compensate, but some chuckles are unwitting – “Hunt is the living

manifestation of destiny,” indeed – and Jeremy Renner’s dry input doesn’t quite explain McQuarrie’s salivating praise for his on-set improvisation skills. But Cruise might almost be the living manifestation of stamina. Keeping that frown/ grin/run routine on alert over a 19-year-old, five-film series is impressive, especially given some of the glitches that cropped up along the way, which you can revisit in the box-set version for the full collection of Cruise doing dangly things. After Brian De Palma’s tight, twisty opener (++++), the sizzling fuse went damp for John Woo’s over-styled doves’n’mullets entry (++). But J.J. Abrams’ cavalier follow-up (+++) boasted a bracingly cheeky skyscraper stunt and a great Philip Seymour Hoffman villain, before Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol (++++) gave the series a triple injection of cleverness, cartoon-ish fun and clammy-palmed vertigo. There are moments where the Cruise frown goes nuclear in Rogue Nation (check his face in the record booth), which might be a series high. Hunt may not be the manifestation of complex characterisation, but a top six placing in 2015’s worldwide box office suggests Tom Cruise knows what it takes to defy the laws of diminishing returns (as well as gravity). Mission 6, then? Accepted: but keep Faust part of the bargain.

Kevin Harley EXTRAS › Commentary › Featurettes › More TBC February 2016 | Total Film | 129

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Broken family Where did it fall apart?

FANTASTIC FOUR 12 Film +++++Extras N/A OUT NOW DVD, BD OUR MONTHS AFTER IT received a resounding clobbering at the box office, it’s still unclear who’s to blame for Fantastic Four spiralling into a critical negative zone. Obvious reshoots (as evidenced by heavy-handed editing, excessive ADR and Kate Mara’s alternating wig status) blight the final release, but was Fox improving or ruining Josh Trank’s original vision for a “hard sci-fi” version of Marvel’s first family? It was certainly an enticing prospect: superhero transformation depicted as Cronenbergian body horror. Once Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) finally step into a dimension-jumping machine and are exposed to the transformative rigours of “Planet Zero” – leaving a senselessly sidelined Sue Storm (Mara) behind – we catch a glimpse of what Trank wanted to


The crew didn’t want the movie’s stink to rub off.



Film +++++Extras +++++

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ADAM SANDLER FRONTS WHAT WAS presumably intended as a Ghostbustersfor-games franchise, with misfit nerds saving the world against the odds and in branded overalls. Sandler himself is the film’s major weakness – his sadsack installations guy, arcade glory days behind him, has no charm or spark. In comparison, the invading fleet of retro videogames which provide Pixels with its core conceit – Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipedes – unpatronisingly capture the spirit of the originals. It’s a shame the story they’re placed in couldn’t do the same. Nathan Ditum

IMPRESSIVE NAMES ON THE POSTER don’t count for anything in this thinly plotted crime thriller, which takes cues from Ocean’s Eleven and Speed and leaves gaping logic holes in the process. Jeffrey Dean Morgan carries the film as a casino dealer who hatches a plan to steal from his violent gangster boss (Robert De Niro) to pay for his daughter’s operation. Despite a faintly clever ending, most plot turns are bafflingly lazy, and most of the stellar cast – including ‘lead’ actress Kate Bosworth who appears in just one scene – phones in every word of the junky dialogue. Matthew Leyland



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explore in this film. Yet the horrifying scenes of metamorphoses and torturous military experiments that ensue would have understandably left Fox execs wondering what had become of their supposed summer blockbuster. What we get, then, is a final product that has undergone a similarly terrible transformation to its characters, one that’s been inserted into a production machine and spat out the other side irreversibly corrupted at a basic level. With terrible pacing, awful dialogue and severely underwritten relationships, the result is an ugly mess that never gets a chance to fully superstretch its comic-book legs. Like the eventually assembled quartet themselves, it remains to be seen if the franchise can ever recover from this mishap and still do some good with what it has become. Matt Looker EXTRAS › TBC

A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY 15 Film +++++Extras +++++




THE PROBLEM WITH CHRISTMAS IS inflated expectations. So it is with this yuletide Trick ’r Treat-alike, more stocking filler than main present. Co-directed by Canadians Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan, it intertwines tales of a badass Santa, a haunted nunnery, a changeling, and a rampaging Krampus, although a stretched budget means its best story, location and SFX are in different strands. Still, there’s fun to be had if you want to see William Shatner excelling as a cheesy DJ and bloodied elves dropping the c-bomb. Matt Glasby

N.W.A. GET THE BIO THEY DESERVE as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and co become hip-hop hard-hitters. Cube’s real-life son O’Shea Jackson Jr. is particularly impressive, and director F. Gary Gray’s concert scenes are electric. Capturing the anger of the era, the first half grips; pity the second succumbs to ego stroking, with peripheral figures (Snoop Dogg, Suge Knight) squeezed in. Thankfully, SOC never forgets that the late Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) was the group’s ticking heart. James Mottram

EXTRAS › Featurette

EXTRAS › Featurettes › Commentary › Deleted scenes › Director’s cut

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The round-up Hockey players, a financier and a barber who cuts lives short…




Film +++++Extras N/A

Film +++++Extras +++++



DON’T PUT YOUR DAUGHTER ON THE stage, they say. Or, failing that, don’t put her in the clutches of Errol Flynn. Co-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, in the film they made before Still Alice, dramatise a little-known sordid Hollywood episode, as 15-yearold would-be starlet Beverly Aadland falls for the swashbuckling Casanova. Dakota Fanning puts her doe eyes to good use as the naive neophyte, Kevin Kline is sublime as Flynn and Susan Sarandon shines as Aadland’s foolhardy mother Florence. But ending with more whimper than bang, the film lacks third-act impact. Not quite the Flynn biopic you’d hope for. James Mottram

IT MIGHT HAVE GOT LOST AT THE BOX office amid 2015’s glut of spy movies, but Guy Ritchie’s retro reboot of the ’60s TV hit is an entertaining, refreshingly old-school addition to the genre. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are suave sparring partners as rival Cold War agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, forced together in a breezy European jaunt involving chic femme fatales Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki. As in Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie blends his instinct for a caper into a winning package of cheeky action, mismatched buddy banter and designer style, with Daniel Pemberton’s swinging score the MVP. Simon Kinnear

WHAT IF FILM WAS YOUR ONLY window on the world? Imprisoned in their New York apartment by their domineering father, the six Angulo brothers know life only from the movies they act out at home (they do a mean Reservoir Dogs). Director Crystal Moselle’s dark, tender documentary wanders their cramped, creative world, slotting candid interviews with the engaging siblings alongside their bizarre home movies, like a teenage Grey Gardens. Watching them break out into the city they both crave and fear is riveting stuff. But the film crackles with unasked questions about the fine line between eccentricity and abuse. Kate Stables


EXTRAS › Making Of



Film +++++Extras +++++ OUT 28 DECEMBER DVD, BD



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MAGGIE IS A FILM ABOUT ZOMBIES but it’s not a zombie film. It’s a drama about a father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) learning to cope with the terminal illness of his daughter (Abigail Breslin), the titular teenager who’s been infected by a bite. So etched with pain are Arnie’s features as he deals with inevitable loss, and so desaturated the visuals, many will no doubt wish he’d just grab a semi-automatic weapon and start spraying all and sundry with killer puns. But kudos to first-time director Henry Hobson, who locks and loads Arnie into ‘controlled and tortured’ mode, thus teasing out his finest acting work since his return to movies in 2012. Stephen Kelly

RENOWNED FOR HIS HARD-HITTING performances, Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut is a nuanced psychological thriller that keeps on giving until its somewhat dubious climax. A modulated modernday take on hysterical ’80s cuckoo-inthe-nesters like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, The Gift sees picture-perfect couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall) bump into Simon’s old ‘mate’ Gordo (Edgerton, timorous and weaselly) and so begins a gradual slipslide into fraught, perilous territory. Percolating with paranoia and past trauma, Edgerton’s screenplay goes to unexpected places, and all three leads are excellent. Jamie Graham

THERE’S A WEIRD POIGNANCY WHEN an actor swings for the fences, only for the film around them to let them down. Jake Gyllenhaal clearly put the time in for this fall-and-rise boxing drama, bulked up and throwing his jabs convincingly – but sadly the story he’s servicing wanders from one sportingmovie cliché to another as he goes from being the champ, to falling into booze after the death of his wife, to the inevitable comeback. There’s nary a surprise in here, and while it’s seldom less than watchable thanks to the professional work by all involved, there’s a rote air of familiarity that the film can’t shake off. The Eminem song’s brilliant, mind. Andrew Lowry


EXTRAS › Featurette › Deleted scenes › Alternate ending


Gabe Polsky’s fascinating doc Red Army (++++, out now, DVD) tells the story of Russia’s Cold War-era hockey team, presented to the world as proof of communist superiority. The story transcends sport, with star player Slava Fetisov – a hilariously difficult interviewee – cast as its reluctant protagonist.

Jason Statham may be no Olivier, but he sure as hell looks like one beside his replacement in The Transporter Refuelled (++, out 28 Dec, DVD/BD). Ed Skrein is only one failing, though, in a dull, sexist reboot likely to send the franchise to the scrapyard. In Paper Towns (+++, out 14 Dec, BD, DVD), Cara Delevingne is well cast as Margo, the enigmatic object of Q’s (Nat Wolff) infatuation; If only this familiar, tropefilled coming-of-age dramedy took similar risks.

With contributions from people as diverse as Kevin Costner, Paul Verhoeven and Oliver Stone, doc Hollywood Banker (++++, out now, DVD) elucidates Dutch banker Frans Afman, whose finance model is still key to indie movies today. Sounds dry, but he helped more than 900 films get made, including The Terminator, Platoon and Total Recall. Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut The Legend Of Barney Thomson (+++, out now, DVD) sees him play a Glasgow barber and accidental serial killer. Some acrid belly laughs and a fine Scottish accent from Emma Thompson as Carlyle’s ma.

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SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE 1978 Richard Donner expertly juggles blockbuster thrills with character comedy in Kal-El’s finest screen outing. STAND BY ME 1986 Corey Feldman swaps gangs in the ’80s’ other kids-ona-quest classic. SUPER 8 2011 J.J. Abrams’ Amblin homage is awash in The Goonies’ “never say die” spirit. For full reviews of these films visit cinema_reviews

Playing dirty Unlike today’s cine-kids, The Goonies keep it real...

THE GOONIES: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION 12 Film +++++Extras +++++ 1985 OUT NOW BD HIRTY YEARS ON, IS THERE anything more to this than nostalgia for those halcyon days of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin imprint? Yes: The Goonies is a minor classic of its kind, a joyful, breezy adventure allied to a delightfully naturalistic tone whose occasionally rough edges only enhance its coarse charm. Crucially, in today’s age of superheroes and teen dystopias, it’s a fantasy fuelled by easy-going naturalism. Sure, Christopher Columbus’ screenplay sees the titular gang dodge the booby traps of long-dead pirate One-Eyed Willy and the cartoonish criminality of the Fratelli family – a dry run for his later direction of Home Alone – but the story is rooted in everyday, existential crises: moving home and losing touch with friends. The real baddie, as so often in 1980s movies, is the yuppie Trent and his property developer dad.


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What still enthrals about The Goonies today is not only that its kids-eye-viewpoint never wavers, but how refreshingly unpretentious and unsanitised those particular kids are. A gauche profanity holds sway, from the gag about a statue’s broken penis, to the copious swearing, let alone the unmentioned innuendo of Willy’s name. As a vision of childhood, The Goonies is far preferable to today’s stagemanaged moppets and this is one of the most iconic youth ensembles ever brought together (bettered only by Corey Feldman’s cohorts in Stand By Me a year later). At the time, Ke Huy-Quan (aka Indiana Jones’ pal Short Round) was probably the biggest name and noticeably gets the lion’s share of stuntwork. But the show is stolen by Jeff Cohen as Chunk, so lovable he can carry a subplot on his own: his “fake puke” story might be the film’s best moment, based partly on Cohen’s own memories.

“Check out this picture of me with Indiana Jones!”

The biggest surprise, though, is that neither of these young actors – nor 1980s stalwarts Feldman or Martha Plimpton – would forge the most durable adult careers. Who would have imagined that Sean Astin would achieve immortality as a Hobbit, or that Josh Brolin would later go on to become one of America’s most reliable movie stars? To some extent the cast calls the shots, but it’s obvious that there’s a lot of talent behind the camera too. The Goonies benefits from having a bona-fide A-list director in Richard Donner, whose unarguable pedigree is apparent throughout. The autumnal location filming is gorgeous, while Nick McLean’s widescreen, permanently-dollying camerawork gives the kids space to interact without ruining the cocksure exuberance expected of a Spielberg production of this vintage. On-disc extras are mainly holdovers but good ones: an indispensable Donner-plus-cast commentary and the infamous, preposterous ‘octopus’ deleted scene. The set also includes storyboard art cards and a souvenir booklet, although neither sheds fresh light on the film.

Simon Kinnear EXTRAS › Commentary › Deleted scenes › Booklet › Storyboard art cards Subscribe at





Film +++++Extras +++++

Film +++++Extras +++++

Film +++++Extras +++++

Film +++++Extras +++++




“HI,” SAYS A LONE DAVID BYRNE, on the naked stage of Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, with just a boombox for company. “I’ve got a tape I wanna play.” Eighty minutes later, the joint has been comprehensively danced to its stumps by one of the greatest rhythm sections in the galaxy, making some brilliant, furious funk. Routinely dubbed ‘the best concert movie ever made’ (it is, in truth, even better than that epithet), Jonathan Demme’s film of Talking Heads at their preppy pomp in 1983 literally and thrillingly builds up piece by piece towards its euphoric climax. Treat yourself. Ali Catterall

SET IN THE LEAD-UP TO 1990’S Operation Desert Storm, the US is seduced by Tim Robbins’ eponymous right-wing folk-singing politician in this ever-timely faux-documentary. It’s not essential to be acquainted with the classic Bob Dylan touring movie Don’t Look Back to get the most out of Robbins’ directorial debut, but it helps; there are dozens of crafty homages throughout – sitting somewhat uneasily alongside the (barely satirical) heavy-handed commentary on personality politics and Washington’s business interests. Still, the triumphs (the songs alone are genius) and general sense of goodwill outweigh the flaws. Ali Caterall

KING HU’S TAIWANESE WUXIA thriller is deservedly a touchstone of martial arts cinema. Set in feudal China, it charts the attempts of villainous authorities to massacre an opponent’s family, only for a gang of protectors to band together at the titular hostel. The choreography of impossibly agile, inventively violent swordplay has been nabbed by Asian directors for decades, but the film has a wider dialogue with world cinema. Hu’s sardonic tone and pop-art visuals betray the influence of Sergio Leone; in turn, his preference for funny/fearful stand-offs between kickass heroes (plus one heroine) clearly inspired Tarantino. Simon Kinnear

BEFORE MATT DAMON AND RIDLEY Scott hit the red planet, there was this cult classic from 1964, in which Paul Mantee’s US astronaut Kit Draper (and his pet monkey Mona) crashlands on Mars – in reality, Death Valley – and is forced to adapt. Compared with the campy sci-fi B-movies that preceded it, it’s practically an art movie (albeit one with Martian sausages), thanks to its superior art design and existential-lite ruminations on isolation. 2001: A Space Odyssey would be an interstellar leap for the genre four years later, but this is a surprisingly poignant, transitional stop-gap. Ali Catterall EXTRAS › Commentary › Booklet

EXTRAS › Commentary › Bonus tracks › Band press conference



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Film +++++Extras +++++



A WEARY MIDDLE-AGED BANKER stages his death and is “reborn” via plastic surgery into a young (ish), cast-against-type Rock Hudson – before realising he’s paid a terrible price, in John Frankenheimer’s superbly creepy update of the Faust legend. The crowning glory in the director’s so-called Paranoia Trilogy (see: The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days In May), this eerie expressionist sci-fi thriller died at the box office in 1966, yet in this era of lunchtime Botox appointments and shifting identities feels more relevant than ever. (It’s also afforded extra poignancy by what we now know about Hudson.) Ali Catterall

HOLLYWOOD IS GLITZ AND GLAMOUR, but it’s also Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin), a desperate wannabe producer who convinces his cast and crew that he’s landed Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), the world’s biggest action star; in reality, he plans to secretly shoot actionthriller ‘Chubby Rain’ around Ramsey’s life (sending the paranoid star doolally in the process), and fill in gaps with a dumb stunt double (Murphy again). Martin’s script, directed by Frank Oz, offers a thin but savvy plot, at once ridiculous and knowing. Brilliantly performed, Bowfinger stands tall as a sharp satire on the farce of fame and failure. Stephen Kelly

EXTRAS › Interview › Gallery › Booklet

EXTRAS › Deleted scenes › Featurette › Director’s commentary › Trailer


EXTRAS › Booklet › Video essay › Archive newsreel

THE CANNONBALL RUN/ BELLEVILLE CANNONBALL RUN II PG RENDEZ-VOUS 12 Films +++++/+++++ Extras +++++ 1981/1984 OUT NOW DVD, BD WACKY RACES MEETS IT’S A MAD, Mad, Mad, Mad World in these two all-star ’80s comedy caper classics as teams race cross-country. More fun than breaking the speed limit, Burt Reynolds is in his element as driver J.J. McClure, accompanied by Captain Chaos himself, Dom DeLuise. But it’s the stunt casting that makes it – from Rat Packers Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin as Ferrari-driving priests to Roger Moore parodying his 007 image in an Aston Martin. CBII recycles the same idea/gags to slightly lesser effect, and is mainly notable for being Frank Sinatra’s last movie. James Mottram EXTRAS › None

Film +++++Extras +++++ 2003 OUT NOW DVD FROM THE KITCHENWARE CABARET TO the sound of teeth grinding on a spoon, Sylvain Chomet’s fast, frisky and very funny junk-jazz escapade remains a one-off miracle of meticulous 2D and 3D animation. The off-piste plot involves a kidnapped Tour De France pedal-pusher, lowering mobsters, a foot-stomping vocal trio, a jowly mutt and a daredevil granny, but the worldbuilding delights most. Even with nods ranging from 101 Dalmatians to Jacques Tati, Chomet crafts a uniquely tactile vision. Generous extras include footage of a sound man playing a vacuum cleaner. Kevin Harley EXTRAS › Making Of › Featurette › Selected commentary › Interview

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Those visors are going to need a good wipe.

The 9 must-have games of 2016 Close the curtains, grab the control pad, never go out again….


NO MAN’S SKY The elusive galactical exploration title that has been promising, for two years now, to show us the vastness of the universe, but has so far only ponied up a few (admittedly very exciting) trailers. The basic deal is that by using maths trickery No Man’s Sky is able to generate a galaxy so big our own sun will have died before it’s possible to visit every planet it contains – a galaxy also full of procedurally generated life, hostile environments and unseen wonders, and actually arriving in June.

MIRROR’S EDGE CATALYST Back in 2008 EA launched two new series: one was Dead Space, which was about aliens and guns and spawned a pair of just-fine sequels. The other was Mirror’s Edge, a stark white future about surveillance state totalitarianism and, uh, freerunning. It was brilliant, half-broken, and sold four copies – to people who have been screaming for a follow-up ever since. Here it is: one which promises to accentuate the very good (the minimalist cityscape, the glorious feeling of motion) while cutting out the bad (agonising clumsiness, and split-toed shoes).

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In a way Gears Of War epitomises a certain branch of videogaming: men the size and shape of cars with voices like revving engines thud against walls and shoot guns that sound like factory production lines (at, you know, aliens). It’s stupid, but it owns its stupidity – and now so does Microsoft, having bought the series from Epic so that it could make another one exclusively for Xbox One. Gears 4 looks dark, destructive and beautiful, sounds loud and aggressive and is, by the looks of things, staying as deliberately stupid as ever.

CRACKDOWN 3 A very early Xbox 360 title, the original Crackdown was a strange, futuristic open-world about super-powered law enforcement and jumping really, really high. It became, for reasons often misunderstood (not least by its sequel), a weird hit, a sort-of militaristic puzzle platformer featuring skyscrapers and city squares. Crackdown 3 seems to be a technically dazzling return to this formula – a playground approach, where exploration is key and is joined by a superb-looking environmental destruction system to make stomping around the city a manic joy.

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GAMES GAMES PREVIEW THE LAST GUARDIAN PlayStation’s resurrected CatDogBird finally arrives (probably) in 2016, and no doubt requires some explaining. The team behind wistful PS2 fantasy triumph Ico (about a lost boy and a princess in a castle of shadows) and the sad, giant-conquering Shadow Of The Colossus have been working on The Last Guardian, the story of another lost boy and his colossus, for years. Their trademark poignancy and looming sense of “this game is about to make you cry” seeps from every still and video of the long-gestating project, which should finally arrive to break our hearts in the next 12 months.

UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END As it draws to a close, the series that began as an extended hat-tip to matinee screen idols by way of Lucas and Spielberg has become a showcase for videogame drama and performance that also happens to include the most likeable hero going and astonishing, standard-setting action. Naughty Dog reached a whole new level with 2013’s The Last Of Us, and in setting the scene for hero Nathan Drake’s departure the studio will be bringing as much of the emotional gravitas to bear in what also promises to be a stunning set-piece send off.

DISHONORED 2 The first Dishonored was that rarest thing – a genuine surprise, in an industry where original, successful games are almost unheard of. Borrowing ideas from the classic first-person adventure Thief, Dishonored was a unique and wonderfully stylish blend of stealth and the supernatural, set in a seething neo-Victorian city of poverty and plague rats. And Dishonored 2 (in the grand tradition of hits we did see coming) is all of that but bigger, with a style now inflected with flashes of colonial colour.

FIREWATCH One to watch. Firewatch is a first-person adventure set during the Yellowstone fires in 1988, which is really an excuse to put you in the great outdoors with a map and something to worry about. It’s made by the leads from season one of Telltale’s excellent The Walking Dead adaptation, with visuals from artist (and serial movie poster reimaginer) Olly Moss – all of which means that it’s beautiful, thoughtful, and worth your attention.

DOOM Doom is back, and it looks more like Doom than it did last time. Which is to say it’s a savagely exaggerated first-person shooter about sideways dodging, sprinting down corridors, and shooting hell – all of it, demon by demon – with a shotgun. Or, failing that, a big sack full of rockets. Recapturing the spirit of early classics can be tough with the bells and whistles afforded by new technology, but Doom has the loudness, the crassness and the violent explosion of everythingness to make us believe this could happen.

ON DEMAND The pick of the films and shows to stream and download this month… Fancy some madcap Christmas cheer? Then head straight to Netflix for A Very Murray Christmas, starring (you guessed it) Bill Murray and directed by Sofia Coppola – their first team up since Lost In Translation. Murray plays himself, fretting no one will turn up to his Xmas show because of a snowstorm in New York. There are cameos by George Clooney, Chris Rock, Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus and more.

There’s plenty on Sky Movies On Demand. If it’s action heroics you’re after, why not hop from the Bondian frolics with big bollocks of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015, +++) to the Marvel-meetsDisney superheroics-witha-huge-heart of Big Hero 6 (2015, ++++) to the gang’sall-here (well, bar Spidey) smackdown of Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015, ++++)? Then there’s Ridley Scott’s epic of Biblical proportions, Exodus: God And Kings (2014, ++++), and David Oyelowo in mesmerising form as Martin Luther King in Selma (2015, ++++). Need some laughs after all that breathless action and breathtaking drama? Amazon Prime has just the ticket, with January seeing the arrival of Horrible Bosses (2004, +++) . Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are on fine comic form as the shlubs who decide to murder their, well, horrible bosses – played with delicious venom by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell with the movies’ worst ever comb-over.

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Ghosts from the past On set of BBC’s Sherlock Christmas special ‘The Abominable Bride’... T’S A ONE-OFF opportunity to let Benedict and Martin do it both ways.” Mark Gatiss pauses, mid-thought, and raises an eyebrow. “That’s a terrible quote…” Innuendo aside, doing it both ways is precisely the challenge Gatiss and Steven Moffat set for themselves when they made the decision to follow up Sherlock’s emotionally gruelling third season with a festive, time-warped non-sequitur. The show’s imminent Christmas special ‘The Abominable Bride’ sets out to preserve the visceral spirit of their modern-day adaptation while returning the characters of Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) to their rightful place in Victorian London. “Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are the only other Holmes and Watson who’ve done period and modern, so that was


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irresistible to us,” Gatiss smiles, sharing a tea break with Total Film on a bitterly cold day in Bristol. “But we’re not just doing an extended comic relief sketch – it’s a very strong mystery, a full-blooded Gothic horror.” Fans awaiting a resolution to Series 3’s thrilling, bewildering final moments, in which Sherlock’s called back from a probable suicide mission by his nemesis Moriarty’s (Andrew Scott) apparent return from the grave, will have to wait at least another year. The decision to side-step into 1895 was born largely of necessity, Sherlock’s notoriously tricky scheduling made trickier than ever by Cumberbatch’s Shakespearean and Marvelian commitments – with time to make only one episode, Moffat and Gatiss opted to make it a one-of-a-kind. “It’s absolutely thrilling,” Cumberbatch enthuses of the Victorian switch-up, when we manage to grab some downtime with him between takes. “It’s going to be a bit of

a wrench going back [to modern], to be honest! It’s Sherlock in what you imagine his natural environment to be, and he doesn’t feel quite so much a man out of his own time.” His 1895 Holmes is closer to what Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, more guarded gentleman than antisocial loner, less at odds with his surroundings but still utterly dependent on what Cumberbatch calls the “stabilising element” of Watson.

Dash my wig Cumberbatch admits he also jumped at the chance to shear back Sherlock’s Byronian curls – a haircut beloved by fans but loathed by actor – into a stern, sleek gentleman’s cut. “I was really excited about changing the hair, but beyond that I thought they were mad,” he admits. “I thought they were truly crazy when I first heard they were doing an updated version, and then I got the script and it was love at first read.”

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On the fiddle: Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) ponders mysteries over his violin; (main) Watson’s (Martin Freeman) ’tache is back; and (inset) Bristol’s Queen Square doubles for Victorian London.

‘We’re not just doing an extended comic relief sketch – it’s a very strong mystery, a full-blooded Gothic horror’ MARK GATISS Having already developed their Holmes and Watson in such loving detail, Moffat and Gatiss opted here to jump in with their friendship established and John married to Mary (Amanda Abbington), dropping the episode roughly in line with the established continuity. “We haven’t gone right back to the start,” Gatiss teases, “but we do have some fun re-playing a few moments…” As with every new episode of Sherlock, we know next to nothing about the plot of ‘The Abominable Bride’, but it sounds as though being isolated from the show’s canon allows for more playing around with genre. The closest the show has come to a horror story before now is ‘The Hounds Of Baskerville’, which tied its otherworldly elements to a wholly scientific and logical explanation – this, by contrast, is directly billed as a ghost story. “In terms of action and drama, it does,” Freeman nods, asked whether the episode

SEE THIS IF YOU LIKED... SHERLOCK SERIES 1 2010-14 The supersleuth in modern-day London, brought to dazzling life by the Gatiss/Moffat/ Cumberbatch/Freeman dream team. ELEMENTARY 2012-15 Another entertaining modern-day take, this time set in NY and starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson. THE IMITATION GAME 2014 Cumberbatch playing a socially awkward, computer-brained genius? Where have we seen that before?

sustains the level of intensity evident in Series 3. “They don’t drop the ball on that – it’s not like it’s set back then, so it suddenly becomes sedate or overly polite. It’s still visceral and funny and rattles along at a great pace.” He describes the time jump as a shot in the arm for a show that was always steeped in the spirit of its source material: “If it were pure novelty, I’d be very resistant, but spiritually and tonally the show has always worked so well because they took Arthur Conan Doyle’s lead and ran with it.”

Baker Street Boys It’s evident in every moment spent with Cumberbatch and Freeman just how deeply they relish these roles, which precipitated (and propelled) both of their rises to stardom. “If we’d left it a bit later to pitch Sherlock as a series, we’d probably say, ‘I tell you who would be brilliant for this, but we’ll never get them…’” Gatiss marvels later, as he and Moffat show TF around

a perfectly reconstructed, dizzyingly detailed Victorian version of the familiar 221B living room. “We’re very blessed.” With everyone involved clearly sharing that sentiment, Sherlock’s legions of fans can probably rest easy in the knowledge that there’s no end in sight. A fourth series will go into production in spring, with Moffat ominously promising “tragedy” and “consequences”, and Cumberbatch hoping to continue the job of gradually humanising his misanthropic Holmes. “It’s really interesting to keep shapeshifting the character, and qualifying him psychologically. He’s a hero with such deeply flawed characteristics that draw you in, and keep you coming back to examine him, rather than just look at him as a perfect magician.”

Emma Dibdin ETA | 1 JANUARY ‘The Abominable Bride’ will premiere on BBC One in the new year.

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Identity crisis: River Song (Alex Kingston) doesn’t recognise Peter Capaldi’s Doctor...

Who goes there? Five things you need to know about Doctor Who’s Christmas special... the return 1 Itoffeatures River Song! Last seen in 2013’s ‘The Name Of The Doctor’, fans thought the Time Lord’s timey-wimey marriage to River Song had definitely ended this time. But guess who’s back – again! “I didn’t expect to return,” says Alex Kingston. “I love playing River Song and any opportunity to play her I’ll always say yes. But eventually, there will be a point where we are finished with that character. Otherwise you’ll be seeing me with a zimmer frame going, ‘Hello... sweetie.’”

story features the 2 The very festive idea of a megalomaniac 9ft cyborg But there’s a twist. This time the Doctor unwittingly runs into River, with her not believing it’s him. Queue a tale of mixed identities, jewel robberies and, naturally, a giant cyborg trying to destroy them too. “[The Doctor’s] confused,” Kingston explains. “I don’t know who he is and he’s on his own journey trying to figure out what’s going on and why River doesn’t recognise him.”

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Song has a whole 3 River new Doctor to deal with She’s woken up next to David Tennant and Matt Smith, but times have changed. So how did Kingston find Peter Capaldi shaped up as her husband? “The interaction between the two is sort of like the old screwball movies, like Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn,” she says. “And then the fun is interacting with someone who’s essentially the same man in a different skin, and with a different energy.”

a much lighter 4 It’s Christmas special

than last year

Last year’s Christmas special, ‘Last Christmas’, was a dark and terrifying episode inspired by films such as Alien and Inception. This year, however, showrunner Steven Moffat is going for more of a light-hearted romp. “When I come around to this time of year, I always think that this could quite possibly could be my last [episode].” he says. “It’s not, but I always think

it might be. So I always do something that I might enjoy, and the idea of getting Alex back as River cheered me up. When I was utterly knackered at the end of this series, it sort of perked me up again. And maybe it’ll perk everyone else if I do it!”

features guest roles 5 Itfrom funnymen Greg

Davies and Matt Lucas

Fitting with the more light-hearted tone, this year’s Christmas special features cameos from Man Up’s Greg Davies, and Shooting Stars/Little Britain royalty Matt Lucas. “[They’re both] just carved out of solid funny,” says Moffat. “Everything they do is comedy gold.” Davies, who will – unsurprisingly given his enormous frame – be playing the aforementioned 9ft cyborg, was delighted to be cast. “It’s a huge thrill,” he says. “It’s one of those jobs that gratifies my career – and my mother.” Stephen Kelly ETA | 25 DECEMBER ‘The Husbands Of River Song’ airs on BBC One on Christmas Day.

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Cruel Britannia

Copping a feel is an essential perk of friendship.

An end of an era drama...

THIS IS ENGLAND ’90 18 Show +++++Extras N/A 2015 OUT NOW DVD, BD FTER NEARLY A DECADE, ONE film and three mini-series, Shane Meadows’ counter-cultural odyssey ends in fine style. It’s 1990, and the gang is enjoying the beatific high of Madchester. Yet, as the Happy Mondays knew, where there are pills and thrills, bellyaches are sure to follow. The return of Stephen Graham’s Combo forces major soul-searching for Lol (Vicky McClure), Woody (Joe Gilgun), Milky (Andrew Shim) and Kelly (Chanel Cresswell). This Is England’s transition from standalone classic to ongoing drama hasn’t always been easy; some have accused Meadows of neutering the original’s stark impact in favour of neo-realist soap opera. Meadows answers his critics head-on by finally addressing the fallout from the film, but it’s the accumulated weight in between which has ensured our wrenching investment in everybody’s story.



This is ensemble drama at its best and Meadows’ way with actors remains astonishing. McClure and Gilgun are one of the great screen couples and their hilarious Mike Leigh-esque encounters with Woody’s parents are the ideal counterpoint to the encroaching darkness. An extraordinary Graham hints at real character growth in every anguished gesture. But it is Shim and Cresswell who carry the heavy lifting; the latter in particular is a revelation. Given Meadows’ fondness for improv, this isn’t the tightest telly around and some sequences are prone to wander. Then again, to cut these moments would be to deny the startlingly lifelike immersion. Few directors can match him for empathy or vitality; now it’s over, it is clear that England warrants consideration in its entirety as Meadows’ masterpiece. Simon Kinnear




Show +++++Extras +++++

Show +++++Extras +++++

Show +++++Extras +++++




IF THE WALKING DEAD PORTRAYS life post-apocalypse, this prequel series should by rights be the action-packed telling of the event that started – and ended – it all. Instead we get another character study as the extended Clark-Manawa family, each pretty uninteresting bar Nick the recovering heroin addict (Frank Dillane), witness society succumbing to the zombie epidemic. There’s tension and enough gore to satiate rabid fans, but it still feels like a Romero retread that drags its feet just a little too much. Matt Looker

STELLAN SKARSGÅRD SEES DEAD people in this Abi Morgan six-parter about a Scandi-cop in London, haunted by the ghosts… sorry, “manifests” of the cold cases he is trying to lay to rest. Stevie (Nicola Walker), the partner he saw gunned down in front of him, is one such visitor, lending this BBC spin on Nordic noir the kooky shadings of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). Yet there are spookier ghouls here as well, with Eddie Marsan’s turn as Lambeth Poisoner Thomas Cream tipping an oddball procedural into the realms of the chillingly nightmarish. Neil Smith

DEBUTING AS A WOBBLY TWILIGHT knock-off, The Vampire Diaries has gone up and down in quality like few other shows – but this sixth season shows signs of terminal decline as it throws parallel dimensions, witchcraft and the kitchen sink into its vampires vs werewolves vs plausibility saga. The ideas well seems to be running dry, although there’s a late-season shakeup that should lead to some innovation next season. The cast of babes ‘n’ hunks are as good as ever; lead Nina Dobrev transcends the material as usual. Andrew Lowry

MUCH LIKE ITS PARENT SHOW The Vampire Diaries, this is a soapy supernatural mishmash of endlessly dense mythology, delivered by an implausibly LA-hot cast. This time the werewolf faction is running New Orleans, our heroes must face the new normal, and a vampire/werewolf hybrid has an almighty huff. Sadly, in veering further from the source novels, the wheels come off pretty rapidly. If you’re a teenage girl in love with the property, fine – but you can get the same thing better and even more emo elsewhere. Andrew Lowry


EXTRAS › Deleted Scenes › Featurettes

EXTRAS › Featurettes › Gag reel › Deleted scenes

EXTRAS › Featurette › Comic-Con panel › Web series › Deleted scenes

Show +++++Extras N/A 2015 OUT NOW DVD, BD

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Extras The other stuff we’re excited about this month…





The immaculate poise of Todd Haynes’ period romance gets a loving partner in Carter Burwell’s score. The Coens regular’s swirl of gently insistent piano, sighing woodwinds and heart-piercing strings swells with tender yearning. Classy retro smooch-songs come from Helen Foster, Billie Holiday and others; all inarguable. But as three major themes curve intuitively towards the crescendo of ‘The End’, it’s the ecstasiy of Burwell’s music that brings goosebumps. And, hopefully, an Oscar nom.

Licensed mayhem in a tropical setting, in the open-world series that started as a South American GTA clone but somewhere along the way has refocused into a Fun Things To Do With A Grappling Rope And Various Exploding Items sim. Mostly this involves standing impossibly on planes (see above) attaching things to other things which blow up, then watching them fly about while on fire.



FIGURE OUT NOW If you thought wee Dancing Groot from the end of Guardians Of The Galaxy couldn’t get any cuter, let us introduce you to your new favourite festive tree: Dancing Holiday Groot. A special addition to the Funko Pop vinyl line, this Groot comes in a green pot festooned with a red holiday bow. The figure even has a bobblehead body so he can swivel to the grooves of your favorite carols.

TOYS OUT NOW Need the perfect gift for a Ghostbusters fan? We got one! The brand new LEGO Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters set bundles up 4634 bricks and nine minifigs so you can reproduce the Ghostbusters’ iconic home office. From the fire pole to the basement containment unit, this set has it all – including an open parking spot for the Ecto-1 LEGO set you probably already have.

HARLEY QUINN BOOT SLIPPERS CLOTHING OUT NOW The weather outside may be frightful, but your feet will feel ever so delightful, and perhaps a little bit feisty, ensconced in these fuzzy Harley Quinninspired slippers. Plush and warm, they’re stitched in red and black in Quinn’s signature diamond motif. There are even non-slip dots on the soles in case you’re feeling a little dangerous. We can hear the squeals of delight these will bring already.

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Craig turners

Three more...

Four gift ideas for the Bond fan in your life… BLOOD, SWEAT AND BOND:

Horror, Hartnell and the Holiday Special.



CURATED BY RANKIN | Dorling Kindersley



Book +++++ FREDERIC BRUN | Aurum Press


PAUL SIMPSON | Race Point Publishing



Just open the curtains, Daniel.

MEG SIMMONDS | Dorling Kindersley NE OF THE INCIDENTAL pleasures of the last four Bond movies has been Greg Williams’ Bond On Set series, an excellent collection of behind-thecurtain chronicles that appealingly gave a human face to this allconquering juggernaut (Gemma Arterton having a sneaky fag while shooting QOS, for example.) Blood, Sweat And Bond: Behind The Scenes Of Spectre, ‘curated’ by Rankin out of work by six other snappers, feels a tad impersonal by comparison, with glossily posed portraits of Daniel

Craig, Christoph Waltz et al taking the place of more spontaneous, unguarded moments. If you have a Bond fan in your life, though, they won’t be too disappointed to find it inside their Christmas stocking. In contrast, not even Jeremy Clarkson would be pleased to receive James Bond Cars, a thunderously dull tribute to 007’s motors that reads like a long, baffling manual. (Do we care, for example, that the Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me had a good weight/power ratio, or that the Citroen 2CVs featured in For Your Eyes Only had

four-cylinder engines? We do not.) Given the choice, we’d much rather get Bond Vs Bond, a whistle-stop rundown of 007’s “many faces” whose plentiful illustrations include everything from comparisons of the weapons and gadgets to rare lobby cards from Connery’s early outings. Best of all, though, is Bond By Design, a gloriously hefty coffee table title that’s packed to the gills with sketches, concept art and complete sequence storyboards. The perfect alternative, in other words, to another Bond On Set.




NICK FROST | Hodder & Stoughton

Book +++++

THERE’S A DISCERNIBLE melancholy in the work of Nick Frost – perhaps that’s why we feel such kinship with him on screen. Written for his son, stopping just pre-fame, his autobiography reveals why: Frost’s was an extraordinarily sad upbringing that made him seek family elsewhere. Between boozy anecdotes and bed-sharing with Simon Pegg, Frost offers up, eloquently but reluctantly, “the shit, the death, fun, naughtiness, addiction, laughter, laughter, laughter.” You’ll wish him more of the latter. Matt Glasby

CHIP KIDD | Abrams


Book +++++ JAMES BELL | BFI LIKE LAST YEAR’S sci-fi study Days Of Fear And Wonder, this essay collection ties in with a new BFI season. It’s a rigorously researched dissection of on-screen romance and passion, written by a crack squad of critics including David Thomson and Mark Cousins. There’s one frustrating gap (no room, it seems, for transgressive obsessions with aliens, AIs and animals) but pretty much everything else is here, from a spirited defence of modern rom-coms to a wry look at cinema’s standing as the ideal location for date night. Simon Kinnear

Neil Smith

THE TITLE REFERS to the spare line drawings that defined Charles M. Schulz’s hugely influential Peanuts comics, and Chip Kidd’s visual history takes a similarly economical approach. This coffee-table monolith flaunts its extensive archive access with beautifully reproduced images: classic strips, tie-in artwork and even unused sketches are included. Not a comprehensive bio, but a resonant impression of ‘Sparky’ and a timely reminder of his timeless creations. Matt Maytum

Still hurting over Clara’s departure? Soothe yourself with a bit of Who-themed colouring in. Forty-five pictures (plus quotes) spanning the series’ history: yes, you and your felt-tips get to have a go on the current opening titles and Eric Roberts’ Master!

THE ART OF HORROR +++++ The sharp illustrations scream off the page in this study of scary pictures, taking in everything from roaring dinosaurs to Daniel Radcliffe. Amid all the were-folk and bat-winged naked ladies are several learned essays – and the captions are minidissertations in themselves.

STAR WARS FAQ +++++ Every aspect of the original trilogy explored, including gaffes and flubs – ironic, considering this book has a few of its own. Still, it leaves no tie-in unturned, with a whole chapter on the eternally amusing car crash that is the Star Wars Holiday Special.

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Kathleen Kennedy She may not primarily be known for it, but Kennedy has made her mark in animation. Notable credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Adventures Of Tintin and English versions of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo along with Studio Ghibli projects The Secret World Of Arrietty and From Up On Poppy Hill. “He is, in a sense, the Steven Spielberg of animation,” says Kennedy of Miyazaki, who admits that her two (now teenage) daughters would watch his films in Japanese because the imagery was so powerful.


As Spielberg put it, “Kathy could have had any number of career options. It’s just fortunate for me she chose this one.” In 1981, she co-formed Amblin with him and future husband Frank Marshall. It housed everything Spielberg, from E.T. to Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List to next year’s The BFG. Kennedy’s own Amblin-era credits saw her work with Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future trilogy), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Martin Scorsese (Cape Fear) and Clint Eastwood (The Bridges Of Madison County).

30 October, 2012 – Kennedy’s Empire expands as she becomes President of Lucasfilm and succeeds the man who built it, George Lucas. It was Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, who convinced Kennedy to take the job. Now effectively the brand manager for Star Wars, it’s so far, so good, with Kennedy instrumental in securing J.J. Abrams for The Force Awakens – she’d hired him in the 1980s as an intern. With Rian Johnson and Gareth Edwards on board for future films, strong her choices are… hmm? JM

Kennedy and Frank Marshall married in 1987, and in 1991 they formed the Kennedy/Marshall Company, kicking off with the Marshall-directed Alive. With frequent co-productions with Amblin, she calls their remit “lifeaffirming, humanist stories”. But the company is not beyond action – it’s co-produced all five Bournes, including the upcoming Matt Damon/Paul Greengrass reunion.

Key movies

Vital statistics $11billion






1999 ++++

1982 +++++

After 1988 Amblin cartoon The Land Before Time, it became time for Kennedy to produce the live-action equivalent. A masterpiece of tension, Spielberg’s classic remains the T-Rex of dinosaur dramas.

Adept at seeking out Spielberg acolytes, Kennedy worked with M. Night Shyamalan on his supernatural breakthrough. It secured a $672 million gross and six Oscar nods, including Best Picture.

Kennedy’s first producer credit, Spielberg’s classic alien-on-earth tale also won her a first Best Picture Oscar nom. Instrumental in shaping the story, she took to it all oh-so-naturally.

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worldwide grosses for her movies to date

Best Picture Oscar nominations – she has yet to win one



feature film credits as producer, associate or executive

years married to fellow producer Frank Marshall


Proof that Kennedy isn’t all about blockbusters… Julian Schnabel’s highly moving tale of paralysed Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby won four Oscar nods and huge critical admiration.

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Kathleen Kennedy started at San Diego TV station KCST – working up from operating cameras to producing chat show You’re On. Moving to LA, she won a job as screenwriter John Milius’ assistant while he exec produced Steven Spielberg’s 1941. She was hired by the ’berg as his secretary, and kept on through Raiders Of The Lost Ark before graduating to producer on E.T., and smartly suggested screenwriter Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s then girlfriend whom she’d befriended on the Raiders set.


More powerful than the Emperor…

‘Quantum should be applauded for doing something different’


Is it just me? ...or is Quantum Of Solace one of Bond’s best movies? asks Tom Bond UANTUM OF SOLACE has a lot to blame Michael G. Wilson for. The veteran producer may have ably guided the Bond franchise since Moonraker in 1979, but he’s also responsible for its most ridiculous title to date. For a series containing Thunderball and Octopussy, that’s impressive. The question of just how much solace is in a quantum kept audiences clueless in the build-up to release, and the film’s nearly wordless, context-free opening car chase didn’t help matters. But then Bond opened his car boot to reveal Mr White, announcing the franchise’s boldest move yet: its first direct sequel. Bond had appeared alongside recurring heroes and villains before, but they were never linked by a continuing narrative. Casino Royale took Bond back to basics; now Quantum was picking apart his consequence-free lifestyle as he dealt with the grief from Vesper’s death. It was a daring change of direction for a series so preoccupied with the cheap thrills of globetrotting and casual sex, gadgets and blowing stuff up, and one not popular with critics. Many reviewers were disappointed


that Quantum deviated from the usual formula, with Ryan Gilbey of the New Statesman asking, “Shouldn’t a Bond film worth the name be simply enjoyable?” Quantum may be less fun than past Bonds, but then this isn’t the time for jokes and Daniel Craig isn’t Roger Moore. Bond has just lost the love of his life and thankfully this new incarnation isn’t so quick to throw around sleazy innuendos. Quantum should be applauded, not criticised, for daring to do something different with the franchise and to show some real development in Bond’s character. Quantum is hardly a wild departure, anyway. There are still plenty of great action sequences; they’re just presented in a more modern way. The rooftop chase in Siena may have been edited to within an inch of its life, but it has a battering physicality and pendulous physics inspired by the Uncharted videogames as much as any rival blockbusters (cough Bourne cough).

OFFICE-OMETER The TF staff verdict is in!

The criticism of Quantum Of Solace largely amounts to one long anguished shout of “stop getting Bond wrong!”, but with a franchise formula so repetitive it’s overripe for parody, things can only be improved by taking a few risks. If you want to live in the past and watch a ‘classic’ Bond film then go ahead – you’ve got 20 nearidentical offerings to choose from. Or you could appreciate the way Craig, director Marc Forster and writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade continue the work begun in Casino Royale by delving deeper into Bond’s past and psychology. Quantum is certainly better than many of the series’ previous efforts, and, for that matter, it roughs up the soporific SPECTRE, which perplexingly re-embraced the kind of gadgets and flamboyance (read: camp theatrics) that the Craig-era Bonds had previously worked so hard to leave behind. Or is it just me?

Agree or disagree? Tell us at totalfilm or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.



LAST MONTH… In TF240, Neil Smith argued that Scorsese hasn’t made a good film since GoodFellas. You respond… ANDREI ANGHELIU Same as Spielberg. Hasn’t made a good movie in decades. RICH PEREZ Absolute rubbish. The Departed and The Wolf Of Wall Street are fantastic films which clearly

demonstrate that Scorsese still has sharp teeth. TREVOR HILL He’s still head and shoulders above every other director out there. The only director of his generation still making

actor-led event movies. JAMES LOGAN He hasn’t made a bad film since GoodFellas. BRYDON GRAHAM He hasn’t made a classic

since GoodFellas. I think that’s the better statement. Casino and The Departed were close but anything else? No. MARTIN GOLDER Good films? Yes, he has. Great films? Well…

WAYNE SHIELDS I think the writer is jealous he’s not Martin Scorsese. SERGIOS SERGIOU Agree. And neither has Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro or Ray Liotta.

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The jazz-hand gangs were running rampant.

THE FILMMAKERS Jerome Robbins directed the stage version of West Side Story, but had never made a feature film. Robert Wise was not only highly experienced – he edited Citizen Kane (1941) and directed The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) – he’d just made the urban drama Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). They were hired as co-directors, with Robbins handling the musical sequences. It was “like two great chefs trying to make a cake”, said Rita Moreno (Anita).

Gangs of New York WEST SIDE STORY (1961) | The click-bait prologue. ASED ON ROMEO & JULIET, AND fresh from Broadway, Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim’s (lyrics) musical danced

into new territory on the big screen. The cinemaexclusive opening sequence brings the deadly conflict between New York gangs The Jets and The Sharks slowly, balletically to life…

The abstract title card bleeds into the New York skyline, which we follow across town, zooming in on the Upper West Side projects, where…

Back in the basketball court, Action (Tony Mordente) is tripped by a Shark, who spits at him. They dance-fight until the Jets chase them off.

Riff (Russ Tamblyn), leader of the Jets, clicks his fingers. His gang shadows his movements across the playground, menacing passers-by while meticulously keeping the beat.

More run-ins: the Sharks cover the Jets in paint, and pelt them with stones. Baby John (Eliot Feld) changes some graffiti to read “Sharks Stink”. They chase him to the playground.

Out on the streets, the Jets break out in dance, stealing fruit and jostling with rival gang the Sharks, lead by Bernardo (George Chakiris), for territory.

The Sharks attack Baby John, but the arrival of cops Officer Krupke (William Bramley) and Lieutenant Schrank (Simon Oakland) averts a full-on brawl. For now… Matt Glasby








THE DUBBING Despite most of the performers being accomplished all-rounders, music supervisors Saul Chaplin and Johnny Green dubbed in better singers whenever they could. Marni Nixon sang for Natalie Wood (but was poorly recompensed until Bernstein offered to give her 0.25 per cent of his album royalties), Jimmy Bryant handled Beymer’s vocals, and Tucker Smith (who plays Ice) dubbed Tamblyn, despite appearing alongside him in most scenes.


West Side Story is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

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THE MUSIC New music was written for the prologue. Because it hadn’t yet been finished, on-set pianist Betty Wahlberg gave the cast beats to base their movements around. Bernstein was, reportedly, unimpressed with Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal’s orchestrations, finding them “overbearing and lacking in texture and subtlety”. He can’t have been too happy when Ramin, Kostal, Chaplin and Green were awarded the Oscar for Best Music. West Side Story remains the most Oscargarlanded musical ever made.

THE PROLOGUE Wise left the prologue to Robbins to direct. Filmed on location (the rest was shot in a studio), it was one of the toughest sequences to stage. Robbins really went for it, shooting from cranes and trenches to provide unusual angles. “It was a whole block of dancing, it was summer, like 110 degrees, extremely hot and painful to be dancing on cement all day,” said Tamblyn. The cast did rain dances to postpone shooting.


THE DANCING The performers were given three months of intensive dance training before the shoot. “We were banging bodies out there, and constantly jumping over somebody or around them or underneath them. I know it looks easy, but it was difficult,” said Tamblyn. “He [Robbins] wasn’t happy with a dancer unless their feet bled.” Poor Eliot Feld was so overworked he collapsed with pneumonia after the filming of ‘Cool’, a later number.





THE FIRING Robbins’ inexperience and perfectionism sent the film way over schedule and budget. Under a great deal of stress, he was fired a third of the way through the production, and his assistants kept on to choreograph the remaining dances. “We were crestfallen, heartbroken,” said Moreno. Wise was generous enough to keep Robbins’ co-directing credit, so when the film won 10 of its 11 Oscar nominations, Robbins triumphed too.

THE LOCATION The street scenes were shot on West 61st and 68th Street. When the Jets leap in the air, a cut takes them across town to East 110th Street, where the playground/basketball court were. The West Side tenements were in the process of being demolished to make way for the Lincoln Center. Robbins claimed to have paid off the contractors to clear 68th Street last – hence the desolate backdrops.

THE CASTING Lots of theatre actors were retained for the film, but in different roles. Chakiris had previously played Riff, Bernardo’s arch enemy, on stage in London; Mordente had played another Jet, A-Rab. Eliot Feld was a Broadway understudy. Stars from Audrey Hepburn to Elvis Presley were considered to play the romantic leads, Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer). Elvis was put off by the film’s violence, but regretted his decision come Oscar-time.



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TF saves you a night out every month. This issue: we abbreviate SPECTRE… ________________ FADE IN: EXT: DAY OF THE DEAD, MEXICO CITY Superspy DANIEL CRAIG joins the parade in dead Fred Astaire cosplay. Racing against time to catch some terrorists, . he stops for a quick shag DANIEL CRAIG Only one way to prevent those guys causing mass destruction, and that’s by blowing half the city to buggery. CRAIG chases assassin ALESSANDRO CREMONA, smacking him about on a plummeting helicopter without thought of risking 0 his life. Or leaving 1,00 . less head as extr ALESSANDRO CREMONA Blimey, hope you didn’t rough Her Maj up like this during that Olympics parachuting stunt… CUE OPENING TITLES: Women fondling Bond. A giant octopus. Women fondling Bond fondling a giant octopus. SAM SMITH [Singing] The writing’s on the waaall/This isn’t as good as Skyfaaall…




146 | Total Film | February 2016


RALPH FIENNES What’s the big idea Craig, front loading the movie with the best set-piece? We’ve now got two hours to fill before my killer C-word gag!

CHRISTOPH WALTZ So, that’s a five per cent rise in wanton fiendishness… a slight dip in unthinkingly hurtful remarks… Hey look, it’s Daniel! After him! One person max!

Suspended indefinitely until his third-act redemption, DANIEL shows a secret video to NAOMIE HARRIS to stop her feeling left out of the movie.

INT: AUSTRIAN MOUNTAINS CRAIG enters a clinic so high up the first thing patients need treatment for is altitude sickness.

DEAD JUDI DENCH [On TV] If you’re seeing this Craig, it means you’re such a great agent you can’t even look after a little old lady. Anyway, throw a man to his death then attend his funeral, I’m sure there won’t be any awkwardness. DANIEL CRAIG Got it. I’ll go incognito, driving around in a large chrome penis. INT: ROME DANIEL offers widow MONICA BELLUCCI some dubious grief counselling. MONICA BELLUCCI Finally, a chance to show g that there’s no such thin as ageism when it comes to thankless female roles! CRAIG visits a meeting of the world’s most evil folk on Eyes Wide Shut Night.

Onsetofone We go ofnextyear’s behind the biggest,baddest scenes of a superhero towering sci-fi movies! thriller!

DR LÉA SEYDOUX Mr Craig, I’m worried about your blood pressure – seriously, that suit looks tighter than your Casino Royale budgiesmugglers. As for your drinking, the fact that your urine sample came with three olives and an umbrella tells me it’s time to cut down. BEN WHISHAW Daniel, I’ve looked into this funny ring of yours – eyebrow down, Roger Moore – and found that EVERYONE’S had a go on this thing, like a freaky bunch of Gollum fanboys. INT: MOROCCAN HOTEL DANIEL CRAIG A secret room, giving directions to the world’s biggest plot-hole metaphor! Bit cheeky of your dad not to pack up

Major stars! Major sequels! Major remakes that look decent!

s his stash of torture tape before noon checkout. INT: TRAIN TO DESERT CRATER OF WRONGDOING DRIVER Would the couple who shot the train up, threw a giant out the window and are now having noisy sex PLEASE STOP LEANING ON THE DOORS!! Thank you. INT: THE I’VE-SEENMARATHON-MAN-TOO-MANYTIMES ROOM CHRISTOPH WALTZ It was me, Daniel. The author of all your pain. Quantum Of Suckage? Me. Embarrassing royal request for a tickle fight? Me. And all because you wouldn’t share the Stickle Bricks! Cowboys And Aliens? You, actually. EXT: TOURIST LONDON The rubble of the MI6 building becomes smaller rubble, and CHRISTOPH’s chopper comes a cropper. RALPH FIENNES Go on Dan, ‘Swann’ off… If you ask me, this was all a Sneaky Plot Enabling Craig To Retire Early! FIN NEXT ISSUE: THE HUNGER 2 GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART

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