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7 items from 2004


Evans joins 'Magic Roundabout' voice cast

21 December 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- British comedian and actor Lee Evans has signed to the voice cast of The Magic Roundabout, the production company Pathe Pictures said Monday. Evans, currently starring in London's West End production of The Producers, joins a star-studded cast including Jim Broadbent, Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy and Joanna Lumley for the CGI animated feature. »

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Enduring Love

12 October 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Telluride Film Festival

A small but big-talent cast gets an intellectual workout in Enduring Love, director Roger Michell's wrenching tableau of an unraveling relationship. Daniel Craig, in his meatiest film role to date, delivers his usual incisive performance, even if this intimate drama of contemporary Londoners pushes the boundaries of credibility.

Novelist Ian McEwan's book, though opened out by screenwriter Joe Penhall, receives a faithful rendering. We are privy to a provocative examination of romance, obsession and the manner in which an unexpected event can subvert our lives. The Paramount Classics release should produce solid early-autumn boxoffice in adult specialty venues.

Craig, reteamed with his producer and director from The Mother, portrays Joe, a London professor contentedly involved with his live-in girlfriend Claire (Samantha Morton), a successful sculptress. In the film's opening scene, they settle into an idyllic picnic in Oxfordshire. Then, literally out of the blue, a gigantic hot-air balloon comes bouncing into view. It is in distress, with a frightened boy in its basket. Craig and a handful of farmers and passers-by instinctively try to bring it safely to earth. One of the good Samaritans suffers a fatal accident, but it is another, a moon-faced Jed (Rhys Ifans), who sets the story in motion.

Jed, apparently dazed by the incident, begins to contact the professor at his apartment in the city. The bedgraggled soul seems at first to be a religious zealot, or perhaps a bit of a simpleton. One thing is certain: In his insistence on exploring an imagined bond between the two of them, he quickly becomes a nuisance.

The balance of the movie finds the academic at his wits' end, both in grappling with the residual effects of the bizarre rescue/tragedy as well as in discerning the motivations of this sycophant-cum-stalker. Intriguingly, Joe tries to connect strands of these two themes to uncover the truth and solve (for his own sanity) the mystery of that fateful afternoon. Not surprisingly, he is starting to alienate Claire and everyone in his life.

To its credit, the film is tight, focused and suspenseful in the depiction of the randomness of events, and how a serendipitous moral action can spiral out of control, upsetting not merely order and regimen but emotion and love. Michell and cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos perfectly capture the gray yet trendy London settings with constantly fluid, roaming and offbeat angles that suit the story.

But it is hard to fathom Joe's internalizing of such a potentially explosive situation. Claire suggests that he seek psychological counseling, and virtually anyone would at least consider alerting the police. However, Joe can't help but see the balloon accident as a springboard for self-examination and discovery. Consequently, his skirmishes with Jed are almost operatic in their intensity.

Ifans, who broke out in Michell's Notting Hill, delivers a performance that teeters admirably between the pathetic and disturbed. Craig, who has been effective going back to Love Is the Devil, is well cast as the modern "hero," embodying the physical and cerebral, something of a cross between Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins. Morton is good in what is essentially a supporting role.

The couple's best friends (characters invented for the film) are depicted by the always reliable Bill Nighy and Susan Lynch. Helen McCrory impresses as a conflicted widow. Impatient viewers will miss the filmmakers' nicely executed (unspoken) coda after credit roll.

ENDURING LOVE

Paramount Classics

Pathe Pictures in association with the U.K. Film Council and Film Four and Inside Track present a Free Range Film

Credits:

Director: Roger Michell

Writer: Joe Penhall

Based on the novel by: Ian McEwan

Producer: Kevin Loader

Executive producers: Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken, Duncan Reid, Tessa Ross

Director of photography: Haris Zambarloukos

Production designer: John-Paul Kelly

Music: Jeremy Sams

Costume designer: Natalie Ward

Editor: Nicolas Gaster

Cast:

Joe: Daniel Craig

Jed: Rhys Ifans

Claire: Samantha Morton

Robin: Bill Nighy

Rachel: Susan Lynch

Mrs. Logan: Helen McCrory

TV Producer: Andrew Lincoln

Professor: Corin Redgrave

MPAA rating: R

Running time -- 98 minutes »

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Shaun of the Dead

9 October 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Opened April 9 in U.K.

LONDON -- A great joke is recycled to very funny effect at the start of this engaging zombie movie spoof. In 1979's "Love at First Bite", George Hamilton, fetched up in full Dracula regalia, wanders the streets of nighttime Manhattan to the complete and utter disregard of the locals. Here, agreeable slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) drifts through his North London neighborhood after the pubs close at night, completely oblivious to the fact that he's strolling among the living dead.

Outside of the slick Richard Curtis school of Hugh Grant humor and television's "The Office", British comedy is in dire straits these days. So Pegg, who co-scripted this clever and well-crafted movie, is a major find.

There are certainly touches that only the homegrown crowd will get, but there's sufficient energy and scattershot horror movie references that it should please fans of gross-out humor everywhere.

Shaun is a no-hoper, content with his job at an electronics store and nights at the Winchester Pub with girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and best mate Ed (Nick Frost). He's good with promises, however, even if he forgets to book a table for a romantic dinner with Liz and overlooks his mum's birthday.

But when the streets of London do begin to crowd with bloody and sometimes limbless zombies, Shaun is quick to act. Learning from the television news that only removing the head or brain will render a zombie harmless, he sets off with cricket bat in hand to rescue all his loved ones. Ed trundles along with a shovel. But being the tiresome staple of British comedy, the fat stupid friend, it's his job to prang the car, make too much noise and generally put everyone in harm's way.

Pegg and co-writer/director Edgar Wright keep their eyes firmly on the ball to follow the absurd logic of a genuine zombie film so that it becomes essential to gather a small crowd in a place that can be defended. Inevitably, that means the Winchester Pub. The setting offers Shaun and Ed lots of means in which to combine two key goals: killing zombies and drinking beer.

There are clever gags along the way, including a very nice bit with Bill Nighy ("Love Actually") as Shaun's stepfather, who's been bitten by a zombie. "It's all right", he says confidently. "I ran it under the cold tap".

In a very funny sequence, Shaun and Ed try whipping vinyl record albums at the walking corpses, prompting a discussion of what albums can be sacrificed, such as the soundtrack to "Batman".

One of the problems of recent British comedies has been that they run out of steam early. This one gains pace pleasingly and unsentimentally adheres to the horror film convention of losing popular characters along the way. "It's been a funny sort of day, hasn't it?" says Shaun's mum just before she succumbs to a zombie's bite.

It's worth sticking around for the coda too as it contains some hilarious and very politically incorrect suggestions as to how zombies might be put to work once they've been tamed.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD

United International Pictures

Universal Pictures, Studio Canal and Working Title Films present a WT2 production in association with Big Talk Prods.

Credits:

Director: Edgar Wright

Screenwriters: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Executive producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Natascha Wharton, James Wilson, Alison Owen

Director of photography: David M. Dunlap

Production designer: Marcus Rowland

Costume designer: Anne Hardinge

Music: Daniel Mudford

Editor: Chris Dickens

Cast:

Shaun: Simon Pegg

Liz: Kate Ashfield

Ed: Nick Frost

Dianne: Lucy Davis

David: Dylan Moran

Barbara: Penelope Wilton

Philip: Bill Nighy

Running time -- 99 minutes

MPAA rating: R »

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Grant Was First Choice for 'Hitchhiker'

5 May 2004 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

British heart-throb Hugh Grant was late author Douglas Adams's first choice to play Arthur Dent in the long-awaited movie adaptation of his best- selling novel The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Adams penned the screenplay for a big screen version of his 1979 book before his sudden death of a heart attack in 2001. Last month filming began in London, with The Office star Martin Freeman playing Dent, rapper Mos Def as Ford Prefect and Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast. Nighy says of Freeman's casting in the role Adams wished for Grant, "They're both first class. Adams probably thought having Hugh on board would have got the film made." »

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Shaun of the Dead

29 April 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Opened April 9 in U.K.

LONDON -- A great joke is recycled to very funny effect at the start of this engaging zombie movie spoof. In 1979's "Love at First Bite", George Hamilton, fetched up in full Dracula regalia, wanders the streets of nighttime Manhattan to the complete and utter disregard of the locals. Here, agreeable slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) drifts through his North London neighborhood after the pubs close at night, completely oblivious to the fact that he's strolling among the living dead.

Outside of the slick Richard Curtis school of Hugh Grant humor and television's "The Office", British comedy is in dire straits these days. So Pegg, who co-scripted this clever and well-crafted movie, is a major find.

There are certainly touches that only the homegrown crowd will get, but there's sufficient energy and scattershot horror movie references that it should please fans of gross-out humor everywhere.

Shaun is a no-hoper, content with his job at an electronics store and nights at the Winchester Pub with girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and best mate Ed (Nick Frost). He's good with promises, however, even if he forgets to book a table for a romantic dinner with Liz and overlooks his mum's birthday.

But when the streets of London do begin to crowd with bloody and sometimes limbless zombies, Shaun is quick to act. Learning from the television news that only removing the head or brain will render a zombie harmless, he sets off with cricket bat in hand to rescue all his loved ones. Ed trundles along with a shovel. But being the tiresome staple of British comedy, the fat stupid friend, it's his job to prang the car, make too much noise and generally put everyone in harm's way.

Pegg and co-writer/director Edgar Wright keep their eyes firmly on the ball to follow the absurd logic of a genuine zombie film so that it becomes essential to gather a small crowd in a place that can be defended. Inevitably, that means the Winchester Pub. The setting offers Shaun and Ed lots of means in which to combine two key goals: killing zombies and drinking beer.

There are clever gags along the way, including a very nice bit with Bill Nighy ("Love Actually") as Shaun's stepfather, who's been bitten by a zombie. "It's all right", he says confidently. "I ran it under the cold tap".

In a very funny sequence, Shaun and Ed try whipping vinyl record albums at the walking corpses, prompting a discussion of what albums can be sacrificed, such as the soundtrack to "Batman".

One of the problems of recent British comedies has been that they run out of steam early. This one gains pace pleasingly and unsentimentally adheres to the horror film convention of losing popular characters along the way. "It's been a funny sort of day, hasn't it?" says Shaun's mum just before she succumbs to a zombie's bite.

It's worth sticking around for the coda too as it contains some hilarious and very politically incorrect suggestions as to how zombies might be put to work once they've been tamed.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD

United International Pictures

Universal Pictures, Studio Canal and Working Title Films present a WT2 production in association with Big Talk Prods.

Credits:

Director: Edgar Wright

Screenwriters: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Executive producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Natascha Wharton, James Wilson, Alison Owen

Director of photography: David M. Dunlap

Production designer: Marcus Rowland

Costume designer: Anne Hardinge

Music: Daniel Mudford

Editor: Chris Dickens

Cast:

Shaun: Simon Pegg

Liz: Kate Ashfield

Ed: Nick Frost

Dianne: Lucy Davis

David: Dylan Moran

Barbara: Penelope Wilton

Philip: Bill Nighy

Running time -- 99 minutes

No MPAA rating

»

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London offers film-friendly base

23 April 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- The Mayor of London, film industry executives and talent including Bob Hoskins, Bill Nighy and David Suchet turned out Thursday for the high-profile launch of Film London, the startup agency charged with promoting the film and media business here. Backed by more than £3 million ($5.3 million) from sources including the U.K. Film Council and the London Development Agency, the newly established body -- kick-starting a slew of initiatives to encourage filmmaking in London -- also intends to reduce red tape and the bureaucracy facing filmmakers working in the British capital. Said London Mayor Ken Livingstone: "London must become a more film-friendly city to compete with other major filmmaking cities around the world. With so many agencies involved in whether a film gets made in the capital, it is important to have a strategic agency with both a commercial and cultural role to promote and encourage film." »

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'King' returns with 4 BAFTAs; 'Master' commanding

16 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- Hobbits, elves and Orcs lorded it over the Royal Navy at the Orange British Academy Film Awards Sunday as Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World each picked up four prizes but the Tolkien epic was named best film. King also won in the major categories of adapted screenplay, cinematography and special effects. Helmer Peter Jackson lost out, however, to Peter Weir as best director for Master and Commander, which also won for production design, costume design and best sound. Lost in Translation leads Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray won the best acting awards while the supporting actor prizes went to Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain and Bill Nighy for Love Actually. »

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7 items from 2004


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