Friday, April 17, 2015


  With a General Election looming in the UK on May 7, self-styled revolutionary and actor/comedian Russell Brand has been talking politics.
 For anyone who is confused about where he stands politically and which party he will vote for, he explains:" I'm exploring new territories of consciousness, detonating old ideas through profanity, puerility, scatology and shock.

"We are trapped in a risible, non-functioning, flimsy paddock of secular democracy.

  "Pernickity specificity can only lead to it sounding ill-conceived."
   Thanks for clearing it up for us, Russell. 

Monday, April 13, 2015


Had a chance to talk with the newest Bond girl, lovely Stephanie Sigman on the set of SPECTRE after she had finished her opening scenes---a sexy assignation with Daniel Craig in a Mexico City hotel room. 
For 28-year-old Stephanie,  the role means a big career breakthrough although she is no stranger to sex and violence on the screen. A keen boxer who trains regularly with professional boxers in a Los Angeles gym, she previously portrayed the title role in the movie Miss Bala, playing a kidnapped Mexican beauty queen caught up in Mexican gang violence. She also played the ex-girlfriend of a contract killer in the TV series The Bridge.
   Stephanie, 27, was born in Ciudad Obregon, the second largest city in the crime-ravaged state of Sonora. Residents of the town claim the problems with organised crime became serious around 1998 when the now-famous starlet would have been just eleven. 
She left the city when she was sixteen and began a modelling career.The first Mexican Bond girl, she landed the role of the mysterious Estrella in Spectre after answering a casting call, auditioning and then meeting Sam Mendes. 
   "Am I sexy? I don't know," she laughs. "For some people I'm not going to be sexy and for others I'll be too sexy, so it's all very relative. I just try to embrace what I am, so if I'm sexy....all well and good."

Thursday, April 9, 2015


  The little town of Bridgend in South Wales (population 39,000) has earned the unwanted nickname of Death Town because an estimated ninety-nine young people have been found hanged there since 2007.
  Many in the town believed a serial killer was at large, others assumed it was a suicide cult. The deaths have struck fear and unrest into the hearts of most. Many of the victims were pretty young girls who typically do not commit suicide by violent methods. 
   I don't usually plug movies, but a documentary film, Bridgend, investigates the events that caused the sleepy little town to become the subject of gruesome speculation across the United Kingdom and is worth seeing.
  Writer and director John Williams spent five years in the town and he says: "When I went to Bridgend to investigate the rumors, I was bullied and threatened. The police and government officials refused to be interviewed or even provide a statement or confirm the number of deaths."
   With the help of private investigators and interviews with family members and friends of the victims, he uncovered the tragic stories behind the deaths and traces the final hours of many of the victims.   One boy laid out his suit to attend his friend’s funeral, and hours later walked to a tree next to the one where the friend had died and hanged himself. Another girl was found hanging in a bathroom just hours after hearing of the suicide of her younger cousin. A young man, having attended several of his friends’ funerals, ended his life in a children’s park after arriving home from a night at the pub.  Within weeks, two of his ex-girlfriends were also dead by the same method.
 The stories leading up to the tragic deaths are varied, but they are starkly alike in their endings. The victims are left hanging from coat jackets or cell phone cords or ropes, from playground slides or banisters or the back of a closet door.

 Debate still rages over the causes behind the hanging deaths and the numbers continue to rise

  “I spoke with and befriended so many families in this town including one individual who swore to me that he would never kill himself but then committed suicide after the first cut of the documentary was done," says Williams. "I was horrified.  I lived in this town and saw the grief and devastation– we need more awareness on this topic.”

Find all the info on how to watch Bridgend at:

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Daniel Craig on the trail of an assassin
   Have just spent four days in Mexico City where Daniel Craig is filming Spectre, the 24th James Bond adventure. It is a huge production and Craig and the movie's cast, crew and 1500 extras have taken over parts of the city, including the historic Plaza de la Constitucion, for three weeks of explosions, chases, fist fights and virtually non-stop action.

  Gigantic skulls and skeletons have been built in the square in front of the National Palace for a scene in which Craig chases an assassin through more than a thousand extras dressed in macabre costumes revelling in the festivities of Dia de los Muertos and then leaps into a helicopter. Spectators lined the sidewalks to watch as he dashed frantically through a carnival parade of inflatable skulls and skeletons.

   Earlier, wearing a dapper grey suit, he walked coolly away from an explosion which sent rubble and smoke across the cobblestone streets.
Day of the Dead carnival procession
 Although details of the plot are being kept under wraps it is safe to say that Mexico City, which is battling a serious image problem because of drug-related violence, will look like a tourists' dream when the movie is released. The government, which has been hit by corruption scandals and human rights violations, reportedly paid the Bond producers $20 million to film in the city as a promotional ploy to boost tourism.

  So parts of the original script have been changed to make the city look good including the opening scenes during Dia de los Muertos, a popular Mexican national holiday, which were originally reportedly set during a cage fight.

  Also, Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman was cast in a small role as a last minute addition; the character of the Mayor of Mexico City---a target for assassination---was replaced and helicopters buzzed over the city filming aerial shots of its parks and buildings. 

A chat with a couple of Day of the Dead zombies
 Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, is due to be released on November 6. It features the re-introduction of the global terrorist group SPECTRE----the Special Executive for Counter-Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

  Producer Michael Wilson told me: "The story concerns a puzzle which Bond has to piece together and solve."

   Monica Bellucci costars with Craig along with with MI6 allies Tanner (Rory Kinnear), quartermaster/gadget man Q (Ben Whishaw), fellow agent Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and the new M (Ralph Fiennes).

  The official synopsis on IMDB reveals 'A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation.
'While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.'

Friday, March 20, 2015


   Judi Dench wasn't kidding when she told me recently that she thought retirement was a rude word.
The 80-year-old Dame is more active than ever, working on three films and a TV series since returning from India for the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 
   Although macular degeneration is destroying her sight and she finds it impossible to read scripts any more---someone reads them to her--- she keeps her brain sharp by making it a point to learn at least one new thing every day.
  What had she learned today I asked her when we talked in London "Do you know what a man who makes arrows is called?" she asked me. "No? Well, he's called a fletcher. I learned that today. And yesterday I learned about Shakespeare's mother whose name was Mary and who had two daughters who died. I didn't know that." 
  With the aid of a  magnifying lamp she has recently taken up embroidery and, she says: "I've just done a very rude cushion for a friend."    
  She is currently working on two movies at the same time---Peregrine's House of Peculiars and chadenfreude, has finished Tulip Fever for Harvey Weinstein and is portraying Cecily, Duchess of York in The Hollow Crown TV mini-series. 
 Quite a woman!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


  Had an interesting talk with Shailene Woodley, the hot young actress who stars in the "young adult" movies The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent and its sequel Insurgent.  
   Unlike Jennifer Lawrence, with whom she has been compared, and other young stars, 23-year-old Shailene has no qualms about appearing nude on screen.
   "When somebody's doing a sex scene and they're wearing a bra and underwear that's not how it happens in real life," says Shailene, who displays full  nudity in the film White Bird in a Blizzard, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.and in which she plays a 17-year-old engaging in on-screen sex and seducing a middle-aged cop played by Thomas Jane. 
   . "If I'm going to say yes to a movie where this is necessary then I'm going to bring truth to that situation," she says." Nudity's not difficult because when I am changing clothes that happens, so I feel like it's pretty normal."
   Shailene is contracted to two more films in the Divergent series---Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy is being split into two films---and is currently filming Snowden for Oliver Stone, playing Edward Snowden's girlfriend Lindsey Mills. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015


  Had a brief chat with Bill Nighy while I was in London. It had to be brief because we  both wanted to get to the nearest TV to watch Crystal Palace, which Bill has supported all his life, play their F.A Cup match against Liverpool (sadly, they lost).

  But we had time for a quick catch-up about the upcoming big screen movie of the long-running and immensely successful TV show Dad's Army in which Bill plays Sgt. Wilson, the part played in the series by John Le Mesurier.

   "I hope the world will forgive us for making this film, and forgive me for not being John Le Mesurier," he told me. "Because the series is so beloved, I thought, 'Why not leave it alone?' But then the script came, which is very, very good and then you've got a cast which includes Sir Michael Gambon, Sir Tom Courtney, Toby Jones and Catherine Zeta-Jones and you start to think, 'Well, the whole thing might just work.And every time I had any doubts I just looked at Toby Jones, because he's brilliant as Captain Mainwaring. It's a stellar cast so I hope it works. 

   "A large part of the appeal for me was the fact that Michael Gambon was in it and we could sit on a beach in Bridlington and he would make me laugh, which he did. He made me laugh so much that I thought I'd never take another breath and it would kill me. He makes you laugh like that."