Bill Nighy

Shaun of the Dead Romance

On the 10th anniversary of Shaun of the Dead opening in UK theaters, let’s talk about love. Not just the love we have for Edgar Wright‘s 2004 zom-rom-com but the love that is explored in the rom-com side of that genre-splicing equation. Forget the zed word. Pretend there’s no zombies in the movie at all. They drive the plot but they’re not really relevant to the story, which is of a relationship on the rocks and the obstacles in its way of succeeding. The zombie element only exacerbates (a word I genuinely learned from this movie) the situation, heightening the tension and increasing the difficulty level while also providing a mechanism through which the main characters are able to more easily get over their relationship hurdles. I use the term “difficulty level” because, in a way, Shaun of the Dead is like a romance video game where different bosses have to be defeated in order for Shaun (Simon Pegg, who also co-wrote the script with Wright) to win back his princess, Liz (Kate Ashfield). Wright would, of course, later do the same thing very literally in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and here not all the “bosses” are in fact adversarial obstacles, at least not before they’re turned into undead monsters. The two most advanced stages of the game, for instance, involve Shaun’s mum and best mate. And if you’re a grown man in a serious relationship, maybe even marriage, you should identify with just how tough those stages are […]

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I Frankenstein

Where to begin? In 1795 Dr. Frankenstein creates a “monster” (Aaron Eckhart) who, contrary to past representations, is a pretty boy with a few nasty scars. The doctor considers it a monstrous creation of science, and while we’re never shown exactly why that is he attempts to kill the creature for the betterment of mankind. The monster survives and, as revenge, murders the doctor’s wife. Sounds fair, right? That’s a part of Mary Shelley‘s classic novel, but in this retelling, that murder does not fit in at all. Writer/director Stuart Beattie‘s film is all about the monster being as human as the rest of us even as he’s on a path towards true humanity. The problem is you’ll never care. He shows no regret killing the good doctor’s wife, and in one of the unintentionally funniest bits of the film he shrugs off a cop’s death as no biggie. It’s a strange choice to have a character an audience is meant to root for act so nonchalant over something like this to the point that he even makes a sarcastic quip over the cop’s death. Beattie and Eckhart are trying to create an anti-hero, but Adam (as the monster comes to be known) is too villainous for too long. His character arc is a flatline making it difficult to invest in whether or not he’ll come to learn about himself or grow as a “person.” Adam is a character passively wandering through a bigger story, and that’s not engaging movie […]

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nighy

Bill Nighy is a chameleon. He’s an actor who can go large and then, as we see in his new film, About Time, craft an effortlessly grounded performance when needed. When Nighy discusses the idea of a performance without thinking about “acting,” it makes for an interesting contrast to his work as Davy Jones. The Pirates of the Caribbean villain is a job that consistently reminds you you’re acting with the tech involved. Wearing those dots on your face and that mo-cap suit probably can’t make your job any easier, and yet Nighy still managed to bring gravitas to Jones and that series as a whole. There is no transformation in About Time, which, to some actors, is an even loftier challenge. But it’s a task Nighy seems up for any day of the week, especially if it’s Richard Curtis behind the camera. Speaking with Nighy, his fondness for Curtis rang loud and clear. Not only that, Nighy stressed an important little detail for all the young actors out there. Read on to find out about Nighy’s discovery:

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curtis

Love Actually is one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all the time. That film is only ten years old, but it’s already fair to claim the film is a classic. Initially the web of down-to-earth love stories didn’t receive uniformly stellar reviews or massive box office numbers, but what kind of madman doesn’t watch it when it’s on cable or come Christmas time? That wasn’t a shabby way to kickoff the directorial chapter to an already successful career. By 2003, Curtis had written Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Notting Hill, so he was no romantic comedy rookie when he hit it big behind the camera. Since then, he’s directed two films with The Boat That Rocked and his latest, About Time. The time travel dramedy is about life, love, sorrow, children, and (unsurprising if you follow Curtis’ work) most everyday facets of life. The movie feels like a swan song for Richard Curtis, who is retiring from filmmaking. Speaking with Curtis at the press day for About Time, the writer/director discussed his reasons for retirement. Here’s what he had to say:

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I Frankenstein

Though not a sparkly vampire, Aaron Eckhart isn’t that much better as a rugged version of the Frankenstein monster (sorry, Adam Frankenstein) in the trailer for Stuart Beattie‘s I, Frankenstein. Far from the slow-moving, slow-witted monster we’re used to seeing terrorize villagers, the new reimagining of the Mary Shelley horror classic (this one is based on a graphic novel) has Eckhart surviving 200 years to the present day to become some sort of knife-wielding action hero. You see, being composed of various dead body parts doesn’t make him an abomination of nature – it makes him a superhuman with strength and speed that can surpass any regular person. Like a corpse Voltron. It’s up to him to lead other good supernatural creatures in a fight to save mankind(?) from bad gargoyles(?) led by dark prince Bill Nighy. Guys, this looks really, really bad. There’s also a savvy scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) who’s fascinated with his hot bod (it’s made of other bods!) who says things like “you’re only a monster if you behave like one,” and strokes his back. Mmm, pretty sure being the Frankenstein monster makes you a monster. But it’s a nice sentiment. Check out the trailer here:

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worldsend08

It’s pretty clear that Edgar Wright and his sometime co-writer/star Simon Pegg are movie junkies. Their series Spaced was all about allusions to their TV and film favorites, while the first two installments of the “Cornetto trilogy,” Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, were tributes to zombie and action flicks, respectively. With The World’s End, the homage and referencing continues. Even though the message of the movie is to move forward not backward, and even though it’s apparently a veiled criticism of Hollywood’s own nostalgic impulses, it’s okay for a movie this clever to have its influences and predecessors as long as the acknowledgment is through nods to the past works rather than a recycling or cloning of them. One key difference between what Wright does and what the remake/reboot machine does is he provides a gateway to older movies and the machine creates a substitution, a replacement. As a true movie lover, Wright is known for hosting programs of beloved classics and cult classics, usually in hopes of introducing his fans to stuff they’ve never seen. He also likes to name other films that have informed his work and are worth checking out either prior to or after seeing his movies. The following list is not all selections that he has credited nor that he would necessarily endorse. It’s a combination of some of his picks (found mentioned elsewhere) and some of my own, some obvious and some not, some great and some just worth a look for […]

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About Time

What if your dad said that you could travel through time? Would you believe him? Would you be hesitant? Would you have him hauled away to a mental institution? About Time shoots for the middle ground between those first two, and builds a very Groundhog Day-esque romantic comedy on the idea that time travel is in fact a real thing. Watch a new international trailer for the film below (although be advised there’s a smidgeon of salty language in there).

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Earlier today, our own dapper man Nathan Adams predicted that Rian Johnson’s Looper could go down as the best action picture of the year. Now we got a trailer for another upcoming sci-fi actioner: Total Recall, which looks to give that time travel hitman tale a challenge in the trailer set piece count. Based on these trailers, if Looper is going to be 2012′s thinking man’s sci-fi picture, then Len Wiseman‘s remake shall take the honor of being this year’s most expensive ADD teen boy movie. A few months ago, Wiseman told us he wanted to make a “dangerous mind trip” with Total Recall, but, based on what Sony is selling, he really made a teenage boy’s ultimate wish-fulfillment – beautiful gals, a hunky lead as their P.O.V., robots, three-breasted ladies, and a frustrated Bryan Cranston. Take a look after the jump!

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More than a few opinions were changed about the upcoming Total Recall when that trailer hit last month. The big summer sci-fi blockbuster’s preview sold an epic scope, the chance to explore a new world, and a fresh take on Philip K. Dick‘s story. Gone was Mars, the mutants, and a body builder acting like a killing machine. What director Len Wiseman is bringing to the table is more in line with the tone of Dick’s short story: serious, heady sci-fi. Wiseman has unquestionably made a film that will contain its fair share of explosions and one-liners, but the mystery of Douglas Quaid is what piqued the Live Free or Die Hard filmmaker’s interest the most. “Who am I?” is a quintessential life question, so imagine the stakes of having to answer that while being chased down and shot at. Speaking with Wiseman, the busy director discussed his reliance on practical effects, building an entire world without too many talking heads, and the identity crisis Douglas Quaid faces.

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Your parents probably don’t want to go to The Avengers this weekend (and that’s okay!) but audiences can do far worse for themselves than to take a quick cinematic trip to John Madden‘s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While a film about a pack of retired Brits heading off to live in a swank retirement resort in India that, surprise!, turns out to be a rundown old hotel might sound like the most boring and narrowly appealing film of the year, Madden’s film is actually consistently delightful and charming, with enough characters and plot points to engage just about any viewer. Running just over two hours, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is able to tackle issues big (homophobia, arranged marriage) and small (there are too many flies in my rundown retirement hotel room!), and despite a few moments that feel far too obvious, Madden and his cast have crafted a lovely film with unexpected mass appeal.

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Countdown to the End: Love Actually

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Love Actually (2003) The Plot: Love Actually marked one of the first multi-plot story line films (that actually worked) which explored the different stages, phases and versions of love set against the magical background of Christmas time in London. From the young love of Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson) to the forbidden love of David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) to Daniel (Liam Neeson) dealing with heartbreak, Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and the blossoming relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), each relationship depicted a different side and aspect of that crazy emotion that seems to drive and link us all. Love Actually showed audiences that in the end, all you need is love (despite the pain, anguish and complications that can come with it) and did so in a way that was sweet, humorous and touching.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Recently, I found myself looking for a movie to watch that was Christmasy and festive, but not necessarily something so holiday-themed that it had Santa Clauses, reindeer, and Jesuses in it. You know, something about normal people but set around the time of the holidays. While perusing all of the top ten holiday movie lists that I could find around the web, I saw one title keep popping up again and again, Richard Curtis’s Love Actually. I never saw this one when it came out, it just looked like another generic romantic comedy to me, but it turns out a lot of people love to watch it every year around the Christmas season. And further research led me to the fact that a lot of people mention it as one of the few romantic comedies that’s actually good from the last decade as well. Sounded strong enough for me to give it a watch. It turns out I didn’t much care for the film, though, and my need for something Christmasy had been left unsated. Not willing to go out on another limb, I decided to revisit a film that I had already seen before, one that I remembered enjoying much more than I was expecting to back when it was released. This second choice was Thomas Bezucha’s 2005 film The Family Stone, which already seems to be rather forgotten. Luckily for me, time did not prove my idiocy, because upon a second watch I found that I still enjoyed […]

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Did you not already get your fill of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth from this year’s Puss in Boots? Good, because Bryan Singer has his own (live-action) take on the tale, and the results look to be similarly cartoonish. Listen, you try to make magic beans look menacing while also crafting a giant goddamn beanstalk that pops up out of the ground without it looking totally bizarre and silly, okay? Oh, you did already? Oh. Oh, that looks nice! While there was a fair bit of buzz around Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer before the film blossomed into existence (see what I did there?) mainly regarding Singer talking about the project for over two years, casting rumors as to who would be starring as the titular Jack (Aaron Johnson and Andrew Garfield were both talked about before the role went to another superhero kiddo, X-Men: First Class‘s Nicholas Hoult), and a delay that pushed the film back almost a year, news on the project has been surprisingly scarce since it started filming earlier this year. So what’s the finished result of the classic tale reimagined going to look like? Well, if you believe this trailer, a bit like a cross between Puss and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Check out the first trailer for Jack the Giant Killer, complete with its own big-eyed orange kitty (seriously), after the break.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Most Christmas films are too often saddled with the same basic plotlines and tropes – “new” takes on A Christmas Carol or a focus on dysfunctional families gathering for the holiday or something about locating the perfect present – but few of those spins on the genre can match the magic of the good ol’ “but just how does Santa do it?” plot. How does Santa Claus make it around the world in just one night to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, with only a sled and eight reindeer to aid in his journey? Well, according to Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas, he doesn’t. At least not anymore. In Arthur Christmas, Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham (who, strangely enough, also scripted this year’s Arthur remake) imagine a traditional Santa-Claus-at-the-North-Pole concept, but one that’s been turned on its head by the influx and influence of new technology. Santa and Mrs. Santa’s (Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, giving the film some real British brio) eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has revitalized the way that Christmas is done at the North Pole, while youngest Arthur (James McAvoy) is still pleased as Christmas punch to keep doing things in the old style. Steve has outfitted each elf with a HOHO (an elf smart phone named after an acronym too fun to spoil here), while Arthur spends his days as a Mail Agent who is most happy to write back (with pen and paper and everything!) to each boy and girl […]

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Yesterday, our own Cole Abaius reported on the possibility of Bill Nighy joining Stuart Beattie‘s I, Frankenstein as a demon, but before we get official word of Nighy going evil, Deadline Manchester reports that Yvonne Strahovski has signed on to play the female lead and principal love interest in the film. Best known for her work on television series Chuck, the role will continue Strahovski’s steady slip into more feature work (she recently co-starred in Killer Elite). Beattie wrote the script for the modern take on the Frankenstein’s monster tale, working off a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux. Aaron Eckhart is on board to play the monster (which any nerd worth their salt knows is not actually named Frankenstein, that name comes from the monster’s creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein, so I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to the name of this project), who wavers between his more hideous needs and a burning desire to be truly human. As if that wasn’t enough to make a monster go positively batty, he’s also being “pursued by demons wanting to gain the secret of his reanimated corpse.” Also? Those demons want to create an army of the undead. And I thought Mary Shelley’s novel had enough issues to keep the staggering one busy.

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According to Variety, Bill Nighy is in talks to play another immortal-yet-aged being for I, Frankenstein. The movie is being written and directed by Stuart Beattie, the screenwriter behind the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which Nighy was a part of. This will be Beattie’s second feature as director after Tomorrow, When the War Began. A modernized version of Shelley’s story which sees Aaron Eckhart playing a centuries-old Frankenstein’s Monster is an abstract idea, but it should push Beattie more into the minds of American audiences as a director. So far, it’s also the furthest along in a slew of Frankenstein projects that have yet to be struck by lightning. As for Nighy, there’s nothing ever wrong with casting him, whether it be for a villainous demon or an aging rock star trying to mess up the lyrics to a Troggs song. Hopefully here, he plays both. I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes.

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Shuffle. Shuffle. Groan. Crawl. Shuffle. And commentary on all of it. It’s the Halloween season, so you know the zombie movies are out there in force. But we always like a few lot of laughs with our scares. What better movie to dish out both of those along with an ample helping of heart – figurative heart, as in emotion, not actual bloody hearts being tossed about, though we have that here, too – than Edgar Wright‘s Shaun of the Dead? What’s even better, Wright has brought along a familiar and jovial voice to help him recollect some of the fun and interesting times on set. Simon Pegg is helping out with the color commentary, that color being red more than likely. So it’s time to head on down to the Winchester – provided they have a DVD player – grab a pint and your best cricket bat, watch the ball go from bat to wicket – that’s a cricket reference just to show I know a thing or two. That’s two things. I’m out. – and hear what Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have to say in this week’s Commentary Commentary. Shuffle. Crawl. Shuffle. Groan. Brains.

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If you’re looking to take the geriatrics in your life out on a hot movie date, have we got a film for you! John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! It’s about old British people who move to India because it’s cheap! Fun, right? You know how the title’s syntax is just a smidge off? That’s probably how the cultural minglings (manglings?) of the film will pan out, too – just a little off and just a tad incorrect. The film stars a murderer’s row of prime British talent, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson. Playing a pack of retirees looking for a cheap place to kick it (you know, until they die), the group sets off for distant India (exotic! and best! now with more marigolds!) to a rehabbed hotel that’s been marketed as a swank retirement home that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Of course, said hotel isn’t quite up to snuff. Adventures will be had, lessons will be learned, something about saris and curry, and so on and so forth. Grab some prunes and check out the first trailer for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel after the break.

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But which one of them will have a human growing out of their stomach? Collider is confirming that Kate Beckinsale is officially signed for Total Recall as Colin Farrell’s character’s wife. The more cynical of the world might believe that it’s simply because her husband Len Wiseman is directing that she got the part, but it might also have to do with her being incredibly attractive and outstanding in roles like this. Plus, with the production starting next week, they’ve secured Jessica Biel to play a woman that Farrell’s character meets in the “spy world.” As if that weren’t enough to get the blood flowing, The Hollywood Reporter is announcing Bill Nighy will be re-teaming with Wiseman and Beckinsale to play Quatto – the leader of an underground resistance. To play catch up, this incarnation of the Phillip K. Dick story will never make it to Mars. Instead, it will focus more on Quaid (Farrell), a factory worker who believes he is spying for one of the two major world governments. From the sound of it, Wiseman and company might be making it more along the lines of a confusing mystery thriller – so more Minority Report than, you know, Total Recall. This cast is strong, and sticking closer to Dick might make this re-adaptation one actually worth making.

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