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MSN Movies Blog: The Big Picture

MSN Movies Blog: The Big Picture has written 44 posts for Periferica

Hooray for Blu-ray?

20th Century Fox is very excited about Blu-ray. And it wants all of us to be very excited about Blu-ray too. Why? Well, it doesn’t exactly hurt the studio’s bottom line when we all dash out and buy those players and lots of discs.

To help their cause Fox decided to invite MSN and a few other select outlets along to various locations in LA to preview some of their upcoming titles and bring out some of the creative types working on the various discs to sing their praises.

First up? X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner and X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood, who showed off some of the shiny new features that the film’s Blu-ray package will offer.


Chief among them was the Live Lookup idea – basically, a way to access the IMDB – yes, they’re aiming for quality control to keep the number of errors the site often brings up in actors’ credits down – live from the disc as you watch the film so you can see what they’ve done and, more importantly, stay updated on what they’re doing. It’s perfect for that endlessly nagging relative who can help asking, “Who are they? What have I seen them in?” every time you watch a film with them. And that’s just the tip of the interactivity iceberg – there are scavenger hunts, indexes and all manner of games coming too on other titles.

Donner in particular was quick to praise the format as perfect for big movies like Wolverine. “In our heads we’re always geared for a movie theatre. And that’s why we like Blu-ray, because you get the same experience as in a cinema and we’re thrilled about that.”

But if you want the true champion of the format, you need to talk to Baz Luhrmann, who preached the gospel of the ‘ray to us. Bubbling over with energy at every moment, Luhrmann is a seemingly perfect fit for the audio-visual experience of the format, given his attention to detail on the look and sound of his movies.

He’ll be bringing us Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge on Blu-ray (“2010, though Fox is graciously giving me all the time I need to work on the films,” he laughs) and was only too happy to sing its praises.

“It’s absolutely the most perfect format right now for my films. The ability to change things and the look is ideal.”

Yes. Luhrmann fans will be able to enjoy his films next year, but Fight Club fans won’t have to wait as long – there’s a brand new, 10th anniversary release arriving by the end of the year, complete with all the features of the two-disc set and a host of new ones – including a sound studio that lets you play with several scenes to hear how the unique audio treatments worked on the movie.

It was certainly impressive, and it sounds like there are plenty of treats on their way down the pipeline…

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The BFM Film Festival

If you’re swinging by London’s South Bank in November you might want to check out the BFM Film Festival. It’s the UK’s premier film festival dedicated to celebrating black world cinema.

The bfm International Film Festival, will provide audiences with abundant opportunities to view a diverse range of some of the most innovative films of either black content or directed and written by black filmmakers.

The five day festival will present over 60 films – dramatic and feature lengthdocumentaries – which will be screened across four venues in London. The program is divided into five distinct categories; Made in UK, Caribbean Tales, Contemporary, Africa Calling and Political Thought, and includes films from; the UK, USA, South Africa, Ethiopia, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Tanzania,Congo, Canada and Senegal.

The festival opens on the 6th November with the European premiere of Good Hair (Dir: Jeff Stilson), the award-winning film co-written and produced by Chris Rock. Something is Killing Tate; (Dir: Leon Lozano); Good Day to be Black and Sexy (Dir: Dennis Dortch) and The Story of Lovers Rock; (Dir: Menelik Shabazz); are just a few of the acclaimed films which will also be showcased. Other festival highlights include; the opportunity to discuss and debate an array of issues addressed in the films in a selection of post-screening Q&A’s with filmmakers, industry seminars and workshops facilitated by the UK Film Council Channel 4 and Skillset, DJ evenings and the Shorts Awards on closing night.

The full line-up is at www.bfmmedia.com/.

Exclusive: Fantastic Mr. Fox Preview

Guest post by Steven Wilson-Beales, Entertainment Content Manager (http://twitter.com/stevewb)

Greetings. Whilst our Movies Editor Ed is away trying to scale Nepalese mountains, I thought I’d take the opportunity of introducing some preview images we’ve just received from the forthcoming Roald Dahl flick. Hope you like them.

Check out the film trailer and more here

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Patrick Swayze dies. The web reacts

Guest post by Matt Ball, MSN UK editor-in-chief (http://twitter.com/thisismattball)

Patrick Swayze died on Monday September 15 2009, 20 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Here is how the web is reacting to the news of the actor’s death:

The Times begins its tribute by stating that “every male who grew up in the eighties at one point wanted to be Patrick Swayze. He was the classic all-American ‘beefcake’ who could also channel his more sensitive side – in real life, his mother was a choreographer – thus giving him almost supernatural powers with the opposite sex.” patrick-swayze

The Guardian also focuses on Swayze’s looks in its obituary, saying that the actor was “a beefcake leading man with rugged, unpretty looks and a lean dancer’s physique, who enjoyed staggering success in Reagan-Bush-era America with two classic movie roles”.

According to BBC Online, the actor always rejected the notion of himself as the sexy lead. He once said: “It’s the cult movies that have given me a career for 30 years. It wouldn’t have been worth it if I had been stuck as the leading man or the dance guy.”

The Independent recalls the Oscar winning song from Dirty Dancing and the dance move Swayze performed with co-star Jennifer Grey, suggesting with a touch of hyperbole that “no wedding reception is complete without ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ and a drunken attempt at that lift”. I suddenly feel like I have attended some quite tame wedding receptions.

MSNBC.com says Swayze was “the ultimate romantic lead” and explains why one of his lines in Dirty Dancing became so well known, repeated and even parodied: “There’s a reason “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” became an iconic line: it combines someone loving you, someone insisting upon your freedom, and someone defending you from your parents — what could be dreamier? Swayze was just the right guy for that scene and that story; it’s a more effective version of a knight in shining armour than you’d get from a slicker, harder-edged actor.”

The Movies channel on our US sister site MSN.com offers an inspiring gallery of Swayze’s life. The site also provides a gallery of celebrities’ tributes posted on twitter.

CNN.com reminds us he could still makes young ladies’ hearts flutter in his later years, citing 22-year-old Scarlett Johansson, upon receiving Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Award in February 2007. “She said her dream date was ‘probably Patrick Swayze, my dream come true’.”

Reaction on forumsMovies_RIP_Patrick_Swayze_trending_topics

On twitter this morning RIP Patrick Swayze is the top trending topic. Dirty Dancing is second and Ghost is seventh.

On Digital Spy some members are expressing their shock at the number of high profile celebrities who have passed away recently. Others express their feeling that Swayze always came across as one of the good guys in celebland. CJ Marlowe, for example, comments: “I’m genuinely moved by this one. He came across as such a nice guy and I grew up watching his films. This feels a bit more of a personal loss to me than the majority of celeb deaths ever do. I’m so sad for Patrick and his family.”

You’ll find similar sentiments on TMZ.com where Christy says: “Awesome Dancer, Great Actor, and Fantastic Horseman! We will miss you, wished you had done a western. Happy Trails, Patrick.”

Your memories
You can share your thoughts and read others’ tributes on MSN’s message boards.

Disney Buys Up Marvel’s Superpowers

The long arm of Disney gained yet more muscle today as it purchased Marvel in a $4 billion deal. Spider-Man, X-Men and Iron Man are only a few of the thousands of characters who now belong to Mickey Mouse.

Franchises such as the these have gained extraordinary mass appeal over the last decade or so thanks to blockbuster adaptations. But it’s the hardcore fans who have really fuelled the recent success of Marvel. Will those same fanatics stay on board now that their beloved vigilantes are in the same stable as Pluto and Daffy Duck?


A sweep of the forums suggests not. Fans have already had to let go of any sense of “niche” they might have enjoyed when scouring comic-book shelves. Now the most powerful entertainment company in America has lined them up alongside Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers. You can imagine Mickey in his office with Iron Man – you know the evil version out of this South Park episode – giving him a stern induction into the Disney line-up.

“Go out there and make me some f******’ money ha ha!!”

But before we become too enraged, it is worth pointing out that these characters were intended for broad mass entertainment at the outset. Spider-Man set sales records throughout the seventies and the superhero concept was at the very least a national obsession for American teens and at most a global phenomenon.

Furthermore, Marvel does deal in a more “cartoonish” brand of superhero. They tend to wear bright, tight costumes and have happy endings. Spider-Man feels a long way away from Disney but The Fantastic Four, for example, do not. Rival company DC Comics – that owns the Batman franchise – is certainly not so well suited to Disney.

The thought of Mickey’s ears appearing behind the batman logo does just feel so wrong, particularly in the light (or dark, rather) of Christopher Nolan’s impact on that franchise. The lighter, brighter characters of Marvel are certainly better suited to Disnification.

Admittedly, the purchase of Pixar in an even bigger deal was a smoother fit and an easier way of accessing grownup credibility for Disney. But this is ultimately an empowerment of Marvel’s many brands allowing them broader reach and perhaps the type of domination they originally enjoyed on paper in the middle part of the twentieth century.

Disney is becoming almost uncomfortably huge. But something with as much leverage as this mega-company has to buy something and this an obvious and immediate way for them to re-connect with the young male audience. It’s the big-business antidote to Hannah Montana et al and the fans will have to hope that Spidey vs Pluto is not in the works.


Avatar: Bringing Games And Movies Closer Together

Today is Avatar day: The day that James Cameron unveils a preview of his space age adventure to fans and snooty media types like me. It was only ten minutes or so. It felt like I was straight back on the tube actually.


So a hostile alien world is unveiled to us, filled with vicious beasties. And our human expeditionary force appears to be turning recruits into Avatars – the local humanoids – who are blue, bulgy-eyed and about nine feet tall.

Then we’re out in the half-CG half-action world, being chased through forests by gigantic beasties. I’m not the first to comment that it feels very much like a cut-scene in a videogame. The similarities to Japanese video games such as the Final Fantasy series are marked and obvious to anyone who’s nerded their way through one of the games.

That said, you’ve got to commend Cameron for using the 3D glasses to give a sense of depth unlike anything yet seen. The highlight is set on top of a cliff far too high to be anywhere near earth and you do feel the size of the space.

Even so, it lacks a “blow your head off” moment thus far. Remember the fight scene between the big gorilla and the T Rex in Peter Jackson’s King Kong? The bit where you were kind of impressed, slightly amazed but also a bit bored? I was strongly reminded of that.

Even if it might leave us a bit flat when the full product is released, we have to credit Cameron with making such a massive investment in completely original and sometime whacky sci-fi. How do you tame the giant flying lizard? Stick your pony tail in its ear! I’m not even going to try and explain that one.

The man that introduced the clips said that James Cameron is telling a great story here and that it’s not all about the jazzy 3d fx. All I can say is that I hope he’s right. It may be pushing the tech barrier but, from the looks of this, it’ll be judged by the same criteria as regular old fashioned 2D movies: story is king.

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Tron Legacy: The Bit With The Bikes!

Wow, wow and double wow!

This looks ace – tribute to the original (particularly in the audio) and lots of twists. This might be the best bit of the whole thing!

QT’s lead Nazi on Nazis in film

I recently attended the press junket for Inglourious Basterds. My main reason for being there was an interview with Tarantino, which was great and will be up on the site soon.

For now though, I’d like to share with you this segment of my interview with Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who gives a wonderfully creepy performance as Colonel Hans Landa – the pivotal Nazi character nick-named “The Jew Hunter”. It was a “roundtable” interview, meaning several journalists sit in and ask questions. It was all very run-of-the-mill (“What was it like working with Tarantino?” etc etc) for ten minutes or so (I struggled to get a word in edge-ways), until someone asked the question below. It appears Waltz has given a lot of thought to Nazis in film – I was fascinated to hear his thoughts.

Christopher Waltz (Col. Hans Landa) stars in Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

We are aware that Nazi films, like Downfall, are all historically correct. Inglourious Basterds clearly isn’t. Is it ok to laugh about the Nazis? What do you think the reaction will be in Germany and Austria?

“I have a slightly different approach to this issue, because I detest these movies that try to make us believe that they are telling the truth. I find it ludicrous, but not laughable, unfortunately. I think it’s hypocritical to say ‘we want to tell, especially a young audience, how Hitler really was as a person’. First of all I’d like to know why?

Second I’d like to know why young audiences need to know how Hitler was as a real person, because how does it help them in their lives? Is that really dealing with the subject in a responsible manner? I could go on for a year and a half about why this is the irresponsible approach to turn it into a backdrop for a sh**** movie that’s boring in the first place. It’s neither this nor that because the approach is boring; what are we meant to derive from it? What message does it give us? That Nazi’s were actually people? ‘This is how it really was, you must not forget’? We know! It’s supposed to appease our conscience; it’s the politically correct rubbish – the overlooking of the criteria that helps us to deal with the subject. We are only the second of third generation after the disaster, the biggest disaster in the history of humanity, and we’re using it to think, ‘we are all good, we are all right because we know that they were wrong’, but how does that help us to get an idea about the course of history? It doesn’t.

But look what Quentin does; he rips it open and all of a sudden you gain a completely new perspective. The question ‘what if?’ isn’t irresponsible, it actually triggers a process within you and you think ‘yes, what if? What can I contribute so that the process and the consciousness of this disaster actually turns in to something that helps me, and helps us all to avoid it in the future. It gives us an active understanding and an active way of dealing with the subject, and doesn’t turn the process in to a consumable product so that we find ourselves saying, ‘good, let’s go and have dinner because we don’t have to deal with this any further’.

And that’s why I love Quentin’s work, because he does it again and again and now he’s done it with this part of history. Laughing is a release reaction, that’s why the sound of laughter is explosive; it relieves tension, and the tension in this story is so immense that you need to laugh in order to stand it, in order to endure it to the end. Sorry, I get very passionate about this!”

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Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!

Memories of a dark time in my life resurfaced today. There was a time when I was a skinny, pale junkie. All I ever did was sit in a darkened, dingy room, endlessly feeding my addictions. I was off the rails. And it’s taken me years to get clean.

Yes, there was a time when I played World Of Warcraft.


The World Of Warcraft movie has been certain to happen for a while now. It’s ridiculous to think that a global gaming phenomenon like this wouldn’t be snapped up by the franchise-loving Hollywood culture at some point.

But the big news is that Sam Raimi – a favourite among geeks ever since the genius of the Evil Dead trilogy – is locked in as director!

"At its core, Warcraft is a fantastic, action-packed story," he said in his press release. "I am thrilled to work with such a dynamite production team to bring this project to the big screen."

Members of the Warcraft (including our tech & Gadgets editor) fan community are already questioning Raimi’s commitment to the Warcraft world. The burning question: “Does he have level 80?” It’s worth noting that I only ever got to level 45 – and it certainly felt like I was committed at the time! Though I’m a rubbish gamer.

Still, what happens to me when I’m sitting in the cinema watching Raimi’s glorious vision of the World Of Warcraft err… world!? Will I be able to resist?! I still have an account that is only a few clicks away from re-activation!? Worrying times.

Interesting thing I read today: The 300 Sequel is definitely happening.