Here’s a clip from Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear, the alleged inspiration for Ted

Wednesday July 16th 2014


Can you imagine suing Seth MacFarlane for stealing one of your ideas? That’s like punching someone in the face for copping to your murder charge.

Well, that’s exactly what Bengal Mangle Productions did this morning, alleging that MacFarlane’s 2012 box office smash Ted infringed upon the copyright of their 2009 webseries Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear. And, in their defence, the webseries in question (you can see a clip from it above) does bear a striking resemblance to MacFarlane’s film — like Ted, it’s a grossly misogynistic, badly written, odiously conceived pile of old toss.

Hopefully the courts can sort this one out quickly, and then we’ll know who to blame when the Nuremberg gross-out comedy trials begin in 2025.


Has it really been 20 years since the release of Forrest Gump?

Sunday July 6th 2014


In his 1905 paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”, Albert Einstein posited the theory of special relativity, which sought to explain the relationship between space and time. Three years later, one of Einstein’s teachers, the mathematician Hermann Minkowski, put forward the notion that space and time were in fact two aspects of a unified whole, and thus the concept of spacetime was born. Minkowski suggested that, as spacetime is not flat, but instead warped by the existence of matter and energy, time could appear to move slower near massive objects such as the centre of the Earth. This explains why astronauts on the International Space Station age at a marginally slower rate than people on the surface of our planet. And yet, both for the 214 men and women who’ve set foot upon the ISS since its launch in 1998, and the 7 billion human beings on Earth, it has been twenty years since the theatrical release of Forrest Gump.

The high-precision time standard International Atomic Time is calculated from a weighted average of the time kept by over 200 atomic clocks in over 50 national laboratories worldwide. It differs from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is used for civil timekeeping all over the Earth’s surface, by 35 seconds. This is due to the addition of leap seconds, which prevent UTC from drifting away from atomic time because of irregularities in the Earth’s rate of rotation. Leap seconds are irregularly spaced and unpredictable, having occurred only 25 times since this system of correction was implemented in 1972. The most recent leap second happened on June 30th 2012 at the entirely unorthodox time of 23:59:60 UTC. Of course, whether you take into account the 7 leap seconds added to UTC since 1994 or not, twenty years have indeed elapsed since audiences the world over were first introduced to Tom Hanks’s endearingly slow-witted Alabama everyman.

Philosophers continue to disagree on the nature of time, with some arguing that it constitutes a key component of the fundamental structure of the universe — a framework through which events and objects must pass — while others see it as an intellectual construct, created by humans to aid in the processing of their environment. What’s beyond any doubt is that temporal matters are at the very heart of human existence, playing a key role in societies, industries and religions of all kinds. Since the dawn of mankind, efforts have been made to record time, and today we can do so with previously unimaginable precision. Our modern calendars, clocks and operational definitions of time — which use observable events such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum to measure time with an incredibly high degree of accuracy — mean our lives are now unavoidably defined by the days, weeks, months and years over which they unfold. And whichever way you look it, twenty such years have passed since we first opened our hearts to Robert Zemeckis’s Oscar-winning tale of life, death and the little moments that touch us in between.


Roger Ebert deemed too grumpy for ‘Life Itself’ movie poster

Thursday July 3rd 2014


Here’s an archive photograph of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, taken to promote their long-running TV show At The Movies.

And here’s the new poster for Life Itself, a documentary about Ebert from Hoop Dreams director Steve James.

No prizes for spotting that those last two images are in fact the same photograph, albeit with Siskel cropped out of the movie poster to shift the focus onto Ebert.

There is, however, a more subtle difference between the two…

Can you spot it yet?

Cheer up Roger, you’re a movie star now.


The mysterious case of Blood Glacier, a.k.a. The Station

Wednesday January 22nd 2014


At the beginning of the year, I took over the Guardian Guide’s home entertainment column. After half a decade of covering only theatrical titles, my letterbox is now laden on the regs with forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases, from the sublime (Upstream Colour) to the ridiculous (Insidious: Chapter 2) via a high definition re-release of Tinto Brass’s saucy early-noughties sex comedy Cheeky.

Every now and then, I’ll also receive something utterly perplexing and instantly fascinating, as I did earlier this week when — hidden amongst a wodge of press releases and review discs — I uncovered Blood Glacier, a.k.a. The Station.

The film, due for release next Monday from StudioCanal, arrived burned onto a DVD bearing the latter title, though an attached compliments slip warned that…

The disc will be marked as “The Station” but please rest assured that the film’s name has been changed to “Blood Glacier”. In any reviews or coverage that you may give for this, please refer to it as “Blood Glacier”.

It seemed odd that a single film might bear two such disparate names, so I assumed that perhaps StudioCanal had purchased a sophisticated arthouse title called The Station and were now trying to market it to the FrightFest mob by giving it a provocative title. That is, until I turned over the press release to reveal…

… AN ACTUAL BLOOD GLACIER.

It turns out that the film is about a team of scientists (a bit like the ones in The Thing) who travel to a remote, wintry research centre (a bit like the one in The Thing) and are stunned to discover a mysterious sickness (a bit like the one in The Thing) affecting local wildlife. Amazingly enough, the film has drawn comparisons to The Thing, as noted at the top of its DVD cover art:

It’s original German title — Blutgletscher — translates literally as Blood Glacier, making no bones about the film’s horror credentials (or the involvement of a blood glacier) so it’s hard to imagine what some sales agent or other was trying to achieve when they elected to offer up The Station as the film’s English-language title. As if there weren’t already enough boring indie movies with almost precisely that name.

Still, the name must have gained some kind of traction, because as you can see above, it still merits a small mention on the film’s otherwise overwhelmingly bloody, glaciery, cover art. Fellow UK distributors, take note — it can’t hurt to hedge your bets…


Here are this year’s BAFTA nominations, beneath five paragraphs of arbitrary text

Wednesday January 8th 2014


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Best film

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Philomena

Outstanding British film

Gravity
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Philomena
Rush
Saving Mr Banks
The Selfish Giant

Actor

Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

Actress

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)

Supporting actor

Barkhad Adbi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Supporting actress

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Director

Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
David O Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Adapted screenplay

12 Years a Slave
Behind the Candelabra
Captain Phillips
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

Original screenplay

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

Animated film

Despicable Me 2
Frozen
Monsters University

Documentary

The Act of Killing
The Armstrong Lie
Blackfish
Tim’s Vermeer
We Steal Secrets

Foreign film

The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Colour
The Great Beauty
Metro Manila
Wadjda

Cinematography

12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

Costume design

American Hustle
Behind the Candelabra
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
Saving Mr Banks

Editing

12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Rush
The Wolf of Wall Street

Make-up and hair

American Hustle
Behind the Candelabra
The Butler
The Great Gatsby
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Music

12 Years a Slave
The Book Thief
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Saving Mr Banks

Production design

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Behind the Candelabra
Gravity
The Great Gatsby

Sound

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Rush

Visual effects

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Star Trek Into Darkness

Short animation

Everything I Can See From Here
I Am Tom Moody
Sleeping with the Fishes

Short film

Island Queen
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Orbit Ever After
Room 8
Sea View

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer

Colin Carberry, Glenn Patterson (writers, Good Vibrations)
Kieran Evans (writer-director, Kelly + Victor)
Scott Graham (writer-director, Shell)
Kelly Marcel (writer, Saving Mr Banks)
Paul Wright. Polly Stokes (writer-director and producer, For Those in Peril)

Rising Star award

Dane DeHaan
George MacKay
Lupita Nyong’o
Will Poulter
Lea Seydoux


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