First Look: Emma Thompson Is Robert Carlyle’s Mother

Ray Winstone, Robert Carlyle, The Legend of Barney Thomson, movie, photo

Ray Winstone, Robert Carlyle on the set of The Legend of Barney Thomson

Another one of my favorites, actor Robert Carlyle, has spent the summer up in Glasgow where he has just finished principal shooting on his directorial debut, a black comedy called The Legend of Barney Thomson. The photo above of the director with one of his stars, Ray Winstone, is the first image from the set .

There is so much for me to like about this, I can hardly contain myself. In addition to directing, Carlyle plays Barney and stars along with Winstone and the always wonderful Emma Thompson, who will bring her formidable acting skills to bear as she plays the mother of a man who is a mere two years her junior. The script is based on a popular series of novels by Douglas Lindsay, with a screenplay by BAFTA winning writer Colin McLaren and Richard Cowan.

Barney Thomson, awkward, diffident, Glasgow barber, lives a life of desperate mediocrity and his uninteresting life is about to go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, as he enters the grotesque and comically absurd world of the serial killer.Complicating matters further, Barney’s mother, Cemolina (Thompson) cheerfully emasculates him at every turn, causing a bloody and comedic chain of events. While Barney clumsily tries to cover his tracks, Glasgow police inspector Holdall (Winstone) fights his own battles within his inept homicide department as he tries to solve the crime of the century.

The rest of the cast includes Sir Tom Courtenay, James Cosmo , Ashley Jensen, Martin Compston, and Brian Pettifer.
Icon (Mel Gibson’s company) has the UK distribution rights, so although The Legend of Barney Thomson doesn’t yet have a release date, I think it’s safe to assume one will be forthcoming. When I know, you’ll know.

In the meantime, peep these pics of Ms Thompson and Mr. Carlyle on set.

Two, Two, Two Geezers in One! Tom Hardy Films Legend

Ronnie Kray, Frances Shea, Reggie Kray, photo, Legend

Ronnie Kray, Frances Shea, Reggie Kray at the 1965 wedding of Frances and Reggie

British actor extraordinaire, Tom Hardy has already played a number of diverse characters including  Robert Dudley to Anne-Marie Duff’s Queen Elizabeth,  Heathcliff to (future fiance) Charlotte Riley‘s Cathy, incarcerated hardman/mad man Charlie Bronson, and of course arch-villain Bane, to name but a few.  He’s already set to add Sir Elton John to that list in the upcoming Rocket Man.  But first, he’ll add not one, but two O.G.’s (original geezers) to his resume.

Filming began this week on writer/director Brian Helgeland‘s Legend in which Hardy plays both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the sadistic twins who ran a murder and protection racket in London during the 50s and 60’s (that probably gave Whitey Bulger something to aspire to) and palled around with socialites, MPs and entertainers. Their exploits were nearly single-handedly (double handedly?) responsible for the creation of the British tabloid  industry.  (So don’t confuse it with the 1985 Tom Cruise fantasy. There be no unicorns here.)

We got the first images from the set in London via the Daily Mail. Smartly, STUDIO CANAL/Working Title decided to follow that up with  an official image.  Brilliant move.

Tom Hardy, Reggie Kray, Ronnie Kray, Legend, movie, still

photo credit: Greg Williams/STUDIOCANAL

It’s obvious though that the appetite for news of  this film has just barely been whetted, probably all due to the fact that Hardy is one of a triumvirate of current British “IT” Boys (that also includes Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch) and this film’s stunt casting. Not only have the paparazzi been staked out at most of the London shooting locations, but news agencies all over the world have published the photos as if this were real news.

Seen below are Hardy as Reggie Kray filming scenes with bride Emily Browning as his ill-fated first wife, Frances Shea, as well as some shots of Hardy, as twin Ronnie, in which he appears to have prosthetic jowls. (Actually some are Hardy and some are his stand-in. Can you tell the difference?)

The storyline is simple,

Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s.

but little is known about the actual plot of the movie, although a little more of the cast has been revealed. The cast also features David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri and Tara Fitzgerald.

I’m curious who will be/has been cast as the twins’ mother, Violet. The thing about the Krays was, despite their reputations for some truly depraved behavior,  they really did go home every night to the small East End house in which they still lived with mum.  She was played by Billie Whitelaw in the 1990 film, The Krays, in which Spandau Ballet’s Gary and Martin Kemp played Ronnie and Reggie.  Whitelaw’s Violet was very nearly as scary as her sons. Can’t wait to find out not only whom Helgeland has cast, but what delicious lines he’s written for her.

More information will surely follow.  Legend doesn’t have a release date yet. I expect an initial announcement will be made soon.

Gerard Butler Set to Keep London Bridge From Falling Down…Maybe

Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, bromance, movie, Olympus Has Fallen

via imdb

Now that Olympus has been reduced to rubble, Gerard Butler and company are taking their show on the road. It’s just been announced that a sequel, London Has Fallen, is scheduled to begin shooting in Old Blighty next spring.

No director has yet been named, but Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger will again write the screenplay. Millennium Films is financing and will produce along with Alan Siegel and Butler’s G-Base (formerly known as Evil Twins), as well as Mark Gill, Matt O’Toole and Danny Lerner, while Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Christine Crow will exec. produce. Focus Features (which swallowed up Film District, which distributed the original) will release the film in the US.

Butler, along with Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell and Angela Bassett are all reportedly on board. (So why isn’t OHF director Antoine Fuqua…yet? After the lovefest between Butler and Fuqua during press for OHF, there can’t be any bad blood there…can there? Surely not between any of the other producers? Olympus Has Fallen brought in $161m worldwide from a budget of approx. $40m. So, that can’t be it. Is he holding out for more money? I suppose we’ll soon find out.)

Okay, those are facts (along with a little conjecture). I just haven’t decided how I feel about this. On the one hand, it means that Olympus Has Fallen was a big enough hit that, according to the suits and bean counters, it merits a sequel. On the other hand, does it actually merit a sequel? Few films, in my humble opinion, do. Dollars (rubles, pounds, euros whatever) in the till should not be the only criterion. Is there more story to tell? The answer to that questions would appear to be no, since the plot sounds like it’s going to be a rehash, set in a different city:

There’s a  plot to strike the city of London during the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Only the President Of The United States (Eckhart), his secret service head (Butler) and an English MI6 agent can save the day.

This could be good if that agent is James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. Hey, I can dream. As long as it’s not Johnny English, there’s hope.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Would I like to see more of Special Agent Mike Banning as he wrecks havoc from Piccadilly to Mayfair, all the while gruffly spouting humorous one-liners and kicking terrorist ass? Of course I would. (Especially if it will mean another press tour featuring my new favorite bromance, Butler and Eckhart.) However, that’s not to say that I should. Sequels, with very few exceptions, do not live up to their originals, nor the hype with which they are inevitably surrounded in order to sell you a ticket.

Butler was smart enough to take a pass on the 300 sequel, but that was before his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year…or couple of years. I need not devote any more space to a defense of his past projects. The fact is, prior to OHF, his last couple of movies were box office duds, regardless of their respective actual merits. And we all know the saying, “You’re only as good as your last picture”. **

If all goes according to plan, London Has Fallen will go before the cameras on May 5, 2014. (So I’m assuming they’re looking at a 2015 release). Watch this space for updates.


**Actress Marie Dressler upon acceptance of her Academy Award for Best Actress for Min and Bill, 1930

A Few Thoughts on the Affleck Kerfuffle

Ben Affleck, Superman vs Batman, movie, casting news

courtesy imdb

Zack Snyder, director of Watchmen, Sucker Punch and of course, 300, is already hard at work on the sequel to this summer’s lucrative Superman movie, Man of Steel: Superman vs Batman.  This, by the way, is only a working title. By the time the flick hits theaters on July 17, 2015, I’m sure the producers will have come up with more memorable, something spectacular, that all the fans will love!

Again, my kingdom for a Sarcasm Font!

Regardless of what they call the next film, there will be scores of vocal fans who will hate the title.  In this matter only one thing is absolute: All of the fans will never be altogether happy about anything. Ever.

While the producers want the fans to be passionate about their projects based on much loved pop-culture icons; to look forward to the films and eagerly await the opportunity to plunk down their hard earned cash on tickets and movie tie-in memorabilia etc, they also know that they must be prepared to have every decision, every tidbit of news, met with skepticism by an army of magnifying glass-wielding nerds ready to separate the fly shit from the pepper.

This, of course, brings me to an observation about Snyder’s casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

By now, anyone with access to a computer, and with any interest, knows that Affleck will be donning the cowl and the cape in Snyder’s movie and everyone, it seems, has an opinion on the matter.  That said, what follows, is mine.

I rather like it when a director or writer or god forbid a studio, instead of trying to be all things to all people, goes their own way and adheres to their own “vision”, whatever that may be.  Snyder, at his core, is a fan boy. He knows the world. He walks the walk and talks the talk. He knew that he wasn’t going to make every one of the legions of Superman fans happy with the movie he was making, so he made the movie he wanted to make. Whether you loved it or you hated it, you still had to buy a ticket to see it. Obviously enough people saw it and loved it, to have spawned the sequel.

The decision to go to the next level by tackling not one but two beloved super hero icons in the same movie, was itself met with a lot of hue and cry. Once the hubbub died down, thoughts naturally turned to casting. If Henry Cavill was guaranteed to repeat as Supe, who would be Batman?

It was known that Snyder (as well as DC Comics and Warner Brothers) wanted to go “40-ish”, a little older than Superman.  A lot of names floated around all summer. Some inspired, some downright preposterous.  One name that was never in the mix was that of Ben Affleck.

Snyder gave his reasons for what, at first blush would appear to be a head-scratcher of a decsion, thusly:

“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is.

One, the role of Batman will likely be, if not a cameo, at most a supporting role in Henry Cavill’s Superman movie. Affleck will not be carrying the movie by any stretch, not to mention they’ll both be surrounded by the A-list likes of a returning Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

Second, I happen to like Ben Affleck. I’m on record with my opinion that he’s a better director than he is an actor (and his casting as Batman renews speculation that he will direct the Justice League movie), but I also think his thespian skills are wildly underrated.   Frankly, given the dark tone of Snyder’s first Superman movie and having seen Affleck in Hollywoodland, a movie for which I have long sung the praises, he could have pulled off The Big Blue Boy Scout (and watch him do pull-ups in The Town. He’s nearly as ripped as Cavill under that nice-guy exterior).  He’s not going to embarrass anyone, so lighten up.

Third, I don’t think any known actor would have satisfied the masses other than Christian Bale and that just wasn’t going to happen.  Bale’s Dark Knight was iconic, of that there is no doubt, but he said it over and over again. He was done. No one believed him. Maybe now they will.

I have to agree with film critic Scott Weinberg* who posited that

“The only reason Affleck seems weird is because you’ve seen him in 35 movies already. If he was younger (“newer”) it wouldn’t be an issue.  …If it’s a nobody, we’re all psyched, but if it’s someone we know, we’re all furious. Every time!”

He has a point. We lived in a web-less world  way back in 1988 (yes I know the movie came out in 1989), so news traveled slower and it was a bit more difficult to gauge public opinion, but do you think Michael Keaton was a popular choice for Batman?  More recently, do you think everyone was happy with the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker?   No and no.  Even without Twitter and Facebook, the internet was aflame with Heath-hate when Christopher Nolan gave him the job. Today, people genuflect at the memory of his performance.

Back to Affleck, my biggest concern, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that his next directorial effort, Live by Night, based on another book by Boston writer Dennis Lehane, will be pushed back. (He’s already dropped Tell No One.) Again I say, Ben is a good actor, but he’s a great director and I want to see that movie more than Superman vs Batman.  But that’s Just My Humble Opinion.

Besides, I’m more concerned with who Snyder is going to cast as Lex Luthor. *wink wink*

*via Twitter

Will The Raven Fly Over Olympus?

Gerard Butler, Kable, Gamer, Lionsgate, The Raven

photo courtesy Lionsgate

Gerard Butler is, according to The Hollywood Reporter, in talks to take the lead of a sci-fi action adventure called The Raven. (Not to be confused with either the Edgar Allan Poe poem or the 2012 movie it supposedly inspired. That film was the cinematic equivalent of a night with a few too many martinis. It was fun at the time then you wake up with a headache and vow to never do it again. Poor John Cusack.)

This new film, to be directed by Peruvian Ricardo de Montreuil, will be based on his own 2010 short of the same name. The short was made for $5000 over the course of a couple of weekends and became a YouTube sensation. The feature version been in development since then. Back in July of 2010 it was announced that Mark Wahlberg would star and produce for Universal Pictures. The last we heard of it, Liam Hemsworth was attached to star, but Wahlberg would stay on to produce.

Ricardo de Montreuil, The Raven, Gerard Butler

photo via imdb

The short, which you can see below, is about a young man, Chris Black aka The Raven, with telekinetic powers being chased around downtown Los Angeles by assorted police drones and mecha, while a giant police ship hovers above.

At first blush, swapping Liam Hemsworth for Gerard Butler might not make much sense. I can, however, think of a few reasons why the producers would think it could work, aside from the fact that Liam Hemsworth has in no way proven he can carry a movie.

First, we really don’t need another “teens in peril in a dystopian future” movie (see: The Hunger GamesThe Host etc) or even “teens at the mercy of their own powers” movie (see: the Twilight series- if you must, City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures, Chronicle).

And second, making the hero older increases the likelihood that The Raven will be R-rated.

Traditionally, those making action movies walk the line between PG-13 and R, trying to stay on the side of the former, the logic being a lower rating means more butts in seats. The problem with that is two-fold. Not only do adults not want to share every cinematic experience with their tweens, but that line has been blurred and obscured so badly, the envelope has been pushed, (use whatever metaphor you like) to the point that the inevitable backlash has begun. Why is the massive amount of violence shown to those under seventeen so more acceptable than sex? How much is too much? (For my own part, I’d like to know who the arbiters of these things really are.  Who makes up the governing body known as the Motion Picture Association of America and what are the hows and whys of their decisions? The head of this august body is former Conn. Senator Christopher Dodd, more than likely chosen for his history of “bringing much-needed attention to children’s and education issues”.)

As usual I digress. My point is that an R-rating increases the probability of some no-holds barred action, sci-fi and otherwise, as well as the possibility of a sweaty, “hurry up before they find us” love scene. (I am ever hopeful.). This would seem to be less of a financial risk with reference to The Raven and the possible casting of Gerard Butler as he is just coming off the (surprise) success of another hard R action movie, Olympus Has Fallen, not to mention his greatest box office success to date, 300, was also rated R, thereby giving him a proven track record.

So if Butler is indeed cast, Michael Gilio, who wrote the script (Justin Marks did an earlier draft) will have to do a little tweaking since it’s thought that cameras will likely roll on the film later this year.

Wahlberg and Steve Levinson, who brought the project to the attention of Universal, will produce alongside Gold Circle’s Paul Brooks.

The premise of The Raven (which will more than likely get a name change before all is said and done) has potential.  This could be a good move on Butler’s part. It’s territory he should be comfortable with and at the same time, there is the possibility of covering new ground. I’m not providing any startling insight when I say that it will all depend on the script.

Butler had to have been as disillusioned as anyone with the box office failure of the last few films prior to OHF. The critical drubbing he’s probably used to, but it’s easier to shrug that off when you’re raking in the dough. As I’ve previously pointed out, love ’em or hate ’em, Butler’s movies usually make money. No actor sets out to make a “bad” movie. Critical response to Olympus Has Fallen was split, but the box office was decisive. (Another thing I’ve talked about before is how tirelessly Butler supports his projects (and how well Olympus Has Fallen made use of social media), and how often his enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be merited. While I’m all for an actor breaking out of their comfort zones (note to Gerard Butler: I will continue to repeat this until it somehow makes its way to you: You really, really need to get a meeting with Matthew McConaughey’s agent. At the very least, there should be some heart-to-hearts on the set of Thunder Run) and he has a project that would seem to have some gravitas on his docket with Dynamo, that one’s not due for a couple of years. So even if The Raven plants him in familiar territory (re: Gamer), if it’s a hit, no one will care.


In other, more disturbing news, the director of that other The Raven, James McTeigue, is set to helm an “action thriller” called Survivor with Clive Owen and….Katherine Heigl. What is this fuckery?  With all due respect to Ms. Heigl, I don’t think she’s in Clive Owen’s league. At all. Are they planning to change it to an “action comedy”? That’s the only way her casting makes sense, but then it doesn’t explain Owen.  See the above with reference to comfort zones, but I’m skeptical about this.  It’s being shopped in Cannes. We’ll see.