Monday, July 24, 2017


Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in the original Mary Poppins
  It's about time! Dick Van Dyke has finally apologised for his abysmal attempts at a cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Disney's 1964 Mary Poppins. 
  Amazingly no one told him at the time that he sounded ridiculous.
  "'I was working with an entire English cast and nobody said a word, not Julie Andrews, not anybody said I needed to work on it, so I thought I was alright," he says. 
  The American actor, 91, who has been chosen by Bafta to receive The Britannia Award For Excellence In Television adds: "I appreciate this opportunity to apologise to the members of Bafta for inflicting on them the most atrocious cockney accent in the history of cinema."
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack the lamplighter
 Van Dyke has a cameo role in the Mary Poppins sequel, which stars Emily Blunt as the famous nanny with Van Dyke playing Mr Dawes Jr. 
  The role of Bert the chimney sweep has been replaced by Jack the Lamplighter, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda who has been living and working in London while preparing his musical Hamilton for the West End.  So his cockney accent is near perfect.
The film is due for release next year.. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Krysten Ritter on the set of Jessica Jones
   It took Wonder Woman 76 years to make it from her first appearance in 1941's all Star Comics to the screen this year. 
   Jessica Jones has made it a lot faster than that. The super-heroine first appeared in Alias #1 Comic in 2001 and now the second series of her Jessica Jones TV series is filming with the super-actress Krysten Ritter in the title role.
   I met the delightful Krysten on the set of the series in a studio in Long Island City where Jessica's apartment and her Alias Private Investigations office have been meticulously constructed. 
   For those who aren't up on super heroines, the mysterious Jessica Jones is one of the darker Marvel characters whose short-lived career as a super-heroine ended in tragedy. Suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome,she opens her own detective agency but her primary interest isn't in saving the world but just getting through each day. Based on a graphic novel it is certainly not a super-heroine story for kids.  
Krysten as Jessica Jones
  But 35-year-old Krysten is anything but dark. Lively, vivacious and funny she grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania and started her working life as a model after being discovered in a shopping mall when she was 15. After turning to acting she appeared in numerous television series and movies and as Jessica Jones, she also appears in the new TV series The Defenders.
  When she is not being Jessica Jones she sings and plays guitar in a band called Ex Vivian and, she says, she "dates musicians."

    "Jessica Jones is kind of a misfit superhero and she's not very good at it," says Krysten. "She is strong and tough and she kicks ass, but she is also very vulnerable at times and funny at times and she has meaningful relationships and she is trying to survive in a very dark world.

  "The tone of the show is very sort of dark noir and it’s really more of a psychological thriller than anything else Marvel has done. It’s a strong drama, but then I also get to do all these really fun stunts and action sequences. 
  "I get to be vulnerable and I get to have sex scenes with a beautiful man and then I get to kick ass. It really covers a lot of boxes."

Monday, July 10, 2017


  Beautiful bisexual Cara Delevingne is in a happy, upbeat mood.

Cara in Valerian
  The 24-year-old party going socialite/musician/actress, who has been been romantically linked with both men and women, tells me:  "I love love. I'm a hopeless romantic and I think love has the power to save the world and save all of us."
  We are talking in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills shortly before the world premiere of Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets, the 150 million pounds sci-fi epic from Luc Besson in which she stars as a special operative investigating a dark force which threatens Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets. 

   Her hair is cropped in a buzz cut for the movie she has been filming, Life in a Year, in which she plays a cancer victim. 

with crew-cut Cara
  "I'm in the short hair club and I  think that I look like a 14 year old boy, which is not bad but definitely not something that you want to go for as a 24 year old woman," she laughs. "I wouldn’t have done it without having to do it for a film, so I am glad I got that opportunity." 
   She says she was "sober, clean and clear-headed" during the six
weeks she was filming Life in a Year.

   "It was so important to be as focused as possible because it was  definitely the most intense and difficult role I have ever played and it was very important to spend most of my time trying to learn about what it would be like to have cancer and putting myself in those situations," she says.

Cara and Dane DeHaan in Valerian
  " It was a very dark six weeks because to really understand what it’s like to have cancer, I thought about death every second of every day and every morning when I woke up.  So if I wasn't completely clear headed it could have got very dangerous and I could have gotten sucked into massive depression."

   Cara originally opened up about her sexuality back in 2014, when she revealed she first fell in love with a woman at the age of  20.

  "I think you should be allowed to be who you are and not have to explain anything," she tells me. "More and more, not just young girls but young boys too, grow up struggling with being labelled and for them to understand who they are we have to completely demolish labels to stop them being put into a box or being someone they are not. 

 "Connecting emotionally, I think is the most important thing."


Saturday, June 24, 2017


With Woody Harrelson in the Soho Hotel
    Woody Harrelson is one of those easy-going, dope-smoking off-the-wall guys who says exactly what he thinks and appears to have no regrets about anything he's done, no matter how outrageous. 
  That's why I'm looking forward to seeing his film Lost in London which he wrote, produced and stars in and in based on a riotous night out he had in London a few years ago.
  "It was a terrible night that I wanted to forget," he tells me when we talk in London at the Soho Hotel. "Then I thought it could be a good comedy because its about the stuff that happened to me in the course of a night---having an altercation with a taxi driver, running from the police, spending time in jail....and it's also about a guy--me--who has it all and when he is threatened with losing it he really appreciates how great he has it, and has a shot at redemption." 
   And running from the police?
    "I've run from the police a few times in my life and I don't recommend it because it doesn't pay off," he says with a grin.
  Woody, 54, currently starring as the hard-nosed Colonel in War For the Planet of the Apes, has had plenty of problems with authority figures in his life. "The ones I had the hardest times with were some police in Ohio, a judge in Massachusetts and lots of people from the jurisprudence system," he says.

Friday, May 26, 2017


  David Lynch is recalling a day in 1981 when, he says, he "rescued" five Woody Woodpecker toys that he saw hanging up as he drove past a petrol station.

"I screech on the brakes, I do a U-turn, go back and I buy them and I save their lives," he says seriously. "I named them Chucko, Buster,   Pete, Bob and Dan and they were my boys and they were in my office. They were my dear friends for a while but certain traits started coming out and they became not so nice."

  Looking straight ahead he says with a grim finality: "They are not in my life anymore."

   It is a story like much of his idiosyncratic work---intriguing but mysterious and with an inconclusive ending---along the lines of the thematic aesthetic dubbed "Lynchian."

  We are talking in a Beverly Hills hotel shortly before the 71-year-old filmmaker is due to leave for Cannes with the first two hours of his 18-episode return to the lumber town of Twin Peaks.

   He spent five years creating the new Twin Peaks with his co-writer and collaborator Mark Frost. "I love the world of Twin Peaks and I would think about it fondly and sometimes would wonder what people were doing and wonder about how things were left," he says. But I didn’t really think of going back into the world until Mark Frost invited me to lunch and we started talking."

   The early episodes have received decidedly mixed reviews and he says: "You don’t know what will happen until you release something into the world. It’s out of your control. So it was a big surprise that Twin Peaks traveled around the world and people really liked it. And now, going back in, the rule was to follow the ideas, be true to the ideas, do it as good as you can, and when it’s finished, you release it. And there’s nothing you can do. You just do the best job that you can."

   His body of work, containing as it does babbling dwarfs, ominous red curtains and episodes of hideous violence, has variously been described as "weird," "trippy,"  "bizarre" and "twisted, " So it is no surprise that David Lynch himself comes across as a strange and occasionally baffling man.

   Plain spoken yet inscrutable, he is something of a dichotomy: cheerful and friendly yet enigmatic and brusque at times. Much like his work, he defies a tidy description. 
 More of a surreal artist than a traditional movie director and writer, he also composes songs and music, has produced several albums, makes wood sculptures, has exhibited his paintings, drawings and photographs around the world, designed a nightclub in Paris and founded a coffee company.

    He says he loves cinema but goes on to say: "I have not seen anything for years and I am not really a movie buff. I love to make them, but I don’t really see a lot of films. And I don’t watch much TV except I have been watching this Velocity Channel, where they have  car shows and customise and restore cars. I have learned so much--- the metal work and the upholstery and the engine work that these guys and gals do  is thrilling to me. A lot of these people are real artists."

Friday, May 19, 2017


with Gillian Anderson in London

 Her friends and fans were horrified when Gillian Anderson did the unthinkable.  She was a pop culture icon and one of the biggest television stars in America thanks to her role as the sceptical FBI agent Dana Scully in the landmark series The X-Files.  
   But after nine seasons she turned her back on television and Hollywood to move to London to take on smaller theatre and film projects.
   Now, 16 years and several love affairs later she has no regrets, considers herself a Londoner and is more visible than ever in a string of high profile television projects.
   She starred as a detective hunting down Jamie Dornan's serial killer in The Fall, had a recurring role as Hannibal Lecter's psychiatrist in Hannibal, starred in the series Crisis, is now portraying the Goddess of Media in the new series American Gods and is preparing to return for yet another X-Files series, almost 25 years after it first hit the screens.
  When we talk in London's May Fair hotel suite the 48-year-old actress is walking with the aid of a crutch.  
With X-Files  partner David Duchovny
   "I fractured my foot jumping into a swimming pool in Costa Rica that was too shallow but I'll be OK," she says with a faint smile. "It could have been a lot worse."
    She expects to be fully recovered for the next season of American Gods and for her return to the X-Files in the eleventh series of the sci-fi adventure,  although she admits she knows very little about it yet.   
  "It’s really us taking the opportunity to maybe bring closure to the story," she says. "I didn’t really feel like the end of the last season we did was a place for us to finish because we ended up doing less than we had intended to. So there was a lot of consideration about whether it was something that we could improve on and in the end we agreed that we would like to have one more go at it.
  "We know that the fans are still there. I think the surprising thing is that there are new fans--- a whole other generation of fans who discovered it and I'm still surprised to be met by 13 years olds who are talking about how they have seen all the episodes or they just started watching a year ago and can’t wait for the new season. I guess it means  it has a longevity beyond what we had ever imagined."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Charlie Hunnam as a Cockney King Arthur
  A few days ago I was asked by a national newspaper in England to write a review of Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, which I had seen in New York. 
  Although I'm reluctant to turn down work I refused this commission because I hated the movie so much. Writing a bad review doesn't usually bother me but in this case I thought perhaps I was at fault and had misjudged the movie because the audience I saw it with cheered, clapped and seemed to love it.
Guy Ritchie: I didn't tell him what I thought
  But now other reviews have come out and most critics disliked it as much as I did. So although I feel vindicated in my judgment, I am also kicking myself for not having had the courage of my convictions and written what I thought.   
 What I particularly disliked were Ritchie's manic cutting; the continual battles, some for no obvious reason; the Cockney crew surrounding Charlie Hunnam's King Arthur. And Hunnam himself.
   Here are some of the reviews, with which I totally agree:

   “Ritchie and his regular editor James Herbert cut up the action scenes with the desperation of the life of the party who’s secretly afraid to go home to his empty apartment,” writes TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde. “‘King Arthur’ seems constantly panicked that the audience’s attention span won’t last another second, so each moment is a frenzy of sight and sound (particularly Daniel Pemberton’s emphatically percussive score), and the ultimate effect is more exhausting than exhilarating,” he added.

  And Evan Saathoff, Birth.Movies.Death:

“If you have problems with ‘Refusal of the Call’ heroes, this movie is going to be rough for you. Hunnam’s Arthur has no interest in the sword and yanks it only at the end of another. It takes him almost the entire movie to wield it because it gets into his brain and makes him relive his parents’ deaths whenever he tries. (You will see Arthur’s mom get killed more than in all the Batman movies combined.) Even when the film is near its final act, he’s throwing the thing away.”

And Matt Singer, ScreenCrush:
“Ritchie’s ‘King Arthur’ values style and cool over everything else, and the results, which are handsome but trite, reflect that. At least the ‘Sherlock’s had extremely charismatic lead performances from Robert Downey Jr.; despite his rugged features, a sweet shearling vest, and a physique that would make a crossfit model jealous, Charlie Hunnam isn’t in Downey’s league, and his legion of ten or so sidekicks have maybe three personality traits between them.”