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X-Men: First Class Trailer

Posted by: Matthew Turner 11/02/2011 @ 10:57
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 50
Films seen this week: My Kidnapper, Princess Mononoke, Graveyard of the Fireflies, Gnomeo & Juliet, Just Go With It, Vidal Sassoon The Movie, Forget-Me-Not

Why I Hate The BAFTAs
Regular readers (both of you, etc) may remember me promising that there was an anti-BAFTAs rant in the works. Well, since the blasted things are screening this Sunday night, now is probably the perfect time for it, so here it is. The first thing I hate about them – the thing I have always hated about them, even though they are by no means the only guilty party in this – is that they insist on sticking to a February-to-February release pattern for their awards criteria. I'm sure there are official reasons for this but the result is that often, when the nominations are announced, British audiences won't yet have seen the films in question so the list feels less like a celebration and more like an elitist in-your-face preview of coming attractions. It also means that films that are meant to be 'the best films of 2010' weren't even released in that year – case in point, of this year's shortlist, three out of five films (The King's Speech, Black Swan and True Grit) were all released in 2011 and True Grit only comes out today, three days before the ceremony.

The second thing I hate about them is that they pride themselves on being “a predictor of the Oscars”, something that a) they're NOT (let's be clear – the Oscars don't give a toss about the BAFTAs and this Sunday's BAFTAs will have no bearing whatsoever on the Oscar results) and b) they have no business being in the first place (the shifting of the date from April/May to Feb in 2002 just so that they could be before the Oscars smacked of pettiness). This would be bad enough in itself but they can't even get that right – as I said before, any awards shortlist that doesn't feature Winter's Bone (nominated for 4 Oscars and ... um ... zero BAFTAs) is not an awards shortlist worthy of your consideration.

Similarly, this year their Best Actress shortlist has somehow contrived to miss off two of the best performances of the year (Kidman for Rabbit Hole, Williams for Blue Valentine), while the mediocre Despicable Me has landed a Best Animated Feature nod over the likes of The Illusionist (Oscar nominated) or Tangled (though at least they got How to Train Your Dragon right). Finally, for a body that's supposed to celebrate British films they do a pretty terrible job of celebrating British films. No mention of Peter Mullan's NEDs, for example, no recognition of the performances in Tamara Drewe (Tamsin Greig wuz robbed, etc) and no sign of Down Terrace director Ben Wheatley in the Outstanding British debut category.

For comparison, check out this excellent list of film awards handed out this week by the London Evening Standard – NEDs gets Best Film, Kristin Scott Thomas (deservedly) gets Best Actress (for Leaving), Wheatley gets Most Promising Newcomer and Roger Allam gets a comedy award for his work in Tamara Drewe. These, in many ways, are the awards the BAFTAs should be. And don't even get me started on the Orange Rising (Risen) Star Award ...

Films I Am Dying To See: X-Men – First Class
Up until yesterday, I'd been maintaining a certain amount of scepticism towards the new X-Men movie on the grounds that a) it seemed crazy to reboot the franchise when the previous film only came out five years ago (see also: Spider-Man) and b) this fake-looking-but-apparently-official-after-all photo made it look really cheap and rubbish. However, the official trailer was released yesterday and I have to confess, it's won me over a little bit and I'm now genuinely looking forward to it.

I still have an issue with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) having hair (I've read tonnes of old school X-Men comics and have never once seen a story where Xavier isn't bald) but I suppose I can let that slide. There's a lot to like in the trailer, anyway – McAvoy and Fassbender (as Magneto) look fabulous together (Fassbender is excellent casting for a young McKellen) and there are tantalising glimpses of Emma Frost (January Jones), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and various X-Men I'm not familiar with – I couldn't tell you who's shooting energy beams at
1 min 22, who's teleporting at 1 min 26 or who the girl with insect wings is, for example (imdb says Angel Salvadore but that means nothing to me).

I like that they've set the film in the 1960s and also that we get to see the transformation of the Beast (Nicolas Hoult) from the man he was when the comics began into the blue-skinned creature he is today. I'm also amused by the idea that (based on the shot at 1 min 24) it might be Xavier's first use of Cerebro (the computer) that causes him to lose his hair and also, oh yes, the bit where Magneto MAKES A SUBMARINE FLY IN THE AIR. So, yes, officially excited. Opens 30th May although trailer says June.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week with Coen Brothers Western True Grit (which is likely to be my favourite film of 2011), haunting, sci-fi tinged drama Never Let Me Go (starring Keira Knightley and Carey
Mulligan) and Simon Pegg/Nick Frost sci-fi comedy Paul (out Monday) all making it into the top ten. We also have a semi-exclusive Frost/Pegg interview that was conducted at 8.45am in an RV parked round the back of Claridge's. Elsewhere you can still read our excellent round-table interview with Barney's Version star Paul Giamatti, an exclusive one-on-one interview with a remarkably unguarded Donald Sutherland, an exclusive interview with Honeymooner star Gerard Kearns, and an even more exclusive interview with ex-Hollyoaks star Roxanne McKee where she mentions Game Of Thrones. I really can't wait for Game of Thrones. Even though I've not read Game of Thrones, I still can't wait to see it. I mean, really, who isn't looking forward to Game of Thrones? I know I am.

1. True Grit
2. The King's Speech
3. Blue Valentine
4. Black Swan
6. Rabbit Hole
7. The Fighter
8. Tangled
9. Never Let Me Go
10. Paul

DVD of the Week: Black Dynamite (out now, RRP £12.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is note-perfect Blaxsploitation spoof Black Dynamite, directed by Scott Sanders. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the film stars Michael Jai White (who co-wrote the script) as superbad Shaft-alike Black Dynamite, who takes to the streets and sticks it to The Man in revenge for the murder of his younger brother (Baron Vaughn). Along the way he takes down a Mafia boss, romances orphanage activist Gloria (Salli Richardson), encounters the kung fu treachery of the fiendish Doctor Wu (Roger Yuan) and uncovers a government conspiracy that goes all the way to Nixon's White House.

The jokes come thick and fast and the film basically gets everything right, from the production design to the funk-based score and some superb fight sequences, as well as some clever in-jokes such as over-the-top sound effects, reusing footage or pointless split-screen moments. In short, this is a lovingly made, hugely enjoyable and frequently hilarious action comedy with a witty script and a terrific performance from Michael Jai White. Extras include: 17 deleted or alternative scenes, three lengthy Making Of featurettes (totalling nearly an hour), a short featurette on the music and a music video. No commentary though, which is a shame - an in-character commentary track would have been hilarious.


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