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Scarlett Johanssons Black Widow Costume

Posted by: Matthew Turner 17/07/2009 @ 15:39
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 236
Films seen this week: Burma VJ, Frozen River, Up, Echoes of Home, The Informers, The Blues Brothers, Bustin' Down The Door, Land of the Lost, Crossing Over, Born in '68.

Scarlett Johanssons Black Widow costume and other superhero casting news
Yesterday, the release of the first pictures of Scarlett Johansson in her Black Widow costume for Iron Man 2 nearly broke the internets. I have mixed feelings about the pictures. On the one hand, she looks fantastic and I'm delighted that they've got the look right. But on the other hand, it's annoying that after all the build-up (director Jon Favreau had been promising pictures on Twitter for weeks), we don't even get a proper full-length shot. It also shows just how powerful the PR machine's stranglehold is, if Favreau himself isn't allowed to take a twitpic of Johansson in costume and the first “official” pictures come via Entertainment Weekly.

In other superhero casting news, Natalie Portman has joined the cast of Thor in the role of earthbound love interest Nurse Jane Foster (there's some interesting speculation about what that means to the plot here) and Ryan Reynolds beat out both The Hangover's Bradley Cooper and Justin Timberlake for the coveted role of D.C.'s Green Lantern, which is interesting because he's also slated to reprise his role as Marvel's Deadpool and it's highly unusual for the same actor to play two different superheroes, let alone for two rival companies. Although I think Reynolds is a good choice for Green Lantern, I still wish they'd taken heed of this awesome fan-made trailer (see below) and cast Nathan Fillion.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Whip It
I only heard about Whip It earlier this week, but it's already shot straight into my Top Five Films I Want To See list (alongside Where The Wild Things Are, 500 Days of Summer, An Education and Shutter Island). Ellen Page plays misfit Texas teen Bliss, whose pushy, social-climbing mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is obsessed with entering her into beauty pageants. However, when Bliss discovers the world of Roller Derby, she sees a way to escape her small-town misery. The film's based on a novel (by Shauna Cross, who also wrote the screenplay) and is, intriguingly, directed by Drew Barrymore, who also co-stars as team captain Smashley Simpson. The cast also includes Juliette Lewis and the always-wonderful Kristen Wiig.

Admittedly, the trailer does make it look a lot like Juno 2 (right down to the wise-cracking dad character – Daniel Stern filling in for J.K. Simmons), though Bliss doesn't seem to be as much of a quip-tossing smartass as Juno was. My other complaint about the trailer is that it gives away one of the big emotional scenes (which, I confess, brought a tear to my eye and that was just the damn trailer) and, to be fair, it's the kind of film where you already know how it ends, but even so, it looks like a lot of fun. No sign of a UK release date yet but it's a Fox Searchlight film so it'll get here eventually.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three more new entries this week with Irish pre-teen runaway drama Kisses (check out our exclusive interview with writer-director Lance Daly here), US indie Frozen River (which landed Melissa Leo a richly deserved Oscar nomination for best actress) and Duncan Jones'
wonderful sci-fi flick Moon all making it into the top ten. I'm delighted to say that Synecdoche, New York is also still hanging on in there, but it won't be around for much longer, so catch it now while you still can. I'll also put in a good word for Burma VJ, which is also out this week.

1. Kisses
2. Frozen River
3. Moon
4. Drag Me To Hell
5. Star Trek
6. Synecdoche, New York
7. Public Enemies
8. The Hangover
9. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
10. Bruno

DVD of the Week: Mad Men season 2 (out now, RRP £29.99)
Regular readers will know that I'll only make a TV show the DVD of the Week if I really, really love it and feel that more people ought to really, really love it too. That was the case with Dexter last year and it's certainly the case with Mad Men this year. If you've never seen it, then obviously start with the season one DVDs but if you have, then rejoice, because the eagerly-awaited season two DVDs are out this week. The series is based around the lives of the men and women who work for ad agency Sterling Cooper in 1960s New York, most notably enigmatic Don Draper (Jon Hamm), his increasingly frustrated wife Betty (January Jones), secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and ambitious young adman Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), although the superb supporting cast are arguably just as important.

Without giving anything away, plot-wise (although it's not really a plot-driven show), season two picks up 15 months after the events of season 1 and leaves a couple of key questions tantalisingly unanswered, so that the audience has to work hard to fill in the gaps. This is an absolute treat from start to finish – it's superbly written, impeccably acted and beautifully shot, with incredibly detailed, lovingly crafted production design work that will bring tears to your eyes. It is, quite simply, the best show on TV and I can't wait for season three (starts August 16th in the US). Extras include: a two-part documentary, a featurette on the ‘60s styles and fashions and four episode commentaries with both cast and crew. Highly recommended.


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