Sunday, October 28, 2012


Hanks...not much to smile about
  How the mighty have fallen! It wasn't so long ago that Tom Hanks was one of the world's top box office stars. Any movie he was in was a sure fire bet to make money. But now...oh dear! It seems the Forrest Gump star can't do anything right nowadays. His new movie, the overlong and overly-complex Cloud Atlas is the latest box-office bomb for the Oscar-winner. It seems the sceptics who doubted that a worthwhile movie could be made from David  Mitchell's novel, which encompasses six stories over a span of 500 years, were right. On its opening weekend Cloud Atlas came in third at the bolx-office, behind Argo in its third week of release, and the horror movie Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
   Hanks' roles include a scheming doctor on board a voyage across the Pacific in 1849, a trash-talking novelist in contemporary London and a peaceful goatherd who is part of a post-apocalyptic tribe in the 2300s. None of them are very interesting and critics have reserved particular scorn for his attempts at a Cockney accent in one section. 
   His last two movies, the 9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Larry Crowne, which he both directed and starred in, couldn't even manage $40 million apiece.    
  Cloud Atlas, which cost way north of $100 million and comes from the Wachowskis, who haven't made a good movie since 1999's Matrix, is not expected to do much better, 
  Hanks has to look back three years to Angels and Demons, the flop-proof sequel to The Da Vinci Code, for his last live-action hit.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


  He may not be doing Mitt Romney any favours but Clint Eastwood is trying again. 
  After his widely-mocked appearance at the Republican convention, in which he ramblingly addressed an empty chair, the 82-year filmmaker is back, supporting Romney in a new advertisement called At Stake.
   This time he talks to the camera instead of a chair, announcing: "Obama's second term would be a rerun of the first and our country just couldn't survive that."
    But he is facing opposition from his one-time friend and co-star Morgan Freeman, who is starring in a rival commercial promoting President Obama called "Challenges." 
    Freeman, who co-starred with Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby and played Nelson Mandela in Eastwood's Invictus, openly contradicts his former friend's message, saying: "The last thing we should do is turn back now."

Monday, October 22, 2012


  They have been described as the first gay superstar group. One of the original members was discovered dancing in an American Indian head dress in a gay nightclub and several others answered a job advert reading: "Macho types wanted. Must have moustache."
  But---and don't laugh!---they insist they are NOT gay.
 In an interview in the documentary The Secret Disco Revolution, screened at the London Film Festival, Felipe Rose, the original American Indian, insists: "We are just a party band."
   And David Hodo, better known as the construction worker, says: "People always talk about the double entendres in our music but there was not one double entendre in anything we sang."
  So In The Navy, with its references to "Come on and join your fellow man" and  "signing up new seamen fast" really WAS about joining the Navy? And YMCA really WASN'T a celebration of sodomy in the showers?
  In that case the Village People have been sadly misunderstood for the past 35 years.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A lucky lad with a bottle of Armageddon
  I've been scouring the pubs of Covent Garden and London's West End on the lookout for a beer called Armageddon. I haven't managed to find it yet which is probably just as well, as it is the strongest beer in the world.
  At 65 per cent alcohol, it’s stronger than whisky or brandy and 16 times more potent than a standard pub lager. A bottle contains 22 units of alcohol — the equivalent of ten pints of Carlsberg---and costs a staggering 80 quid. 
   Armadeddon is brewed by Lewis Shand whose company Brewmeister, set in the Aberdeenshire countryside, had successfully created conventional beers but wanted to try something more adventurous.
 ‘We didn’t want just to break the record with the world's strongest beer but also to make something that’s got some character to it, something beautifully sweet and malty,’ says Shand. Yeah, right.
  He says it is not a beer that problem-drinkers will turn to. ‘We’ve designed it for people to consume like a fine brandy, in small amounts, not sitting in a park with a brown paper bag round the bottle. In any case, the price will put off problem-drinkers. These bottles are for sharing.’  While I couldn't find anywhere selling the world's strongest beer I did find what is probably the world's most expensive whisky---in Harrod's of course. There, a 40-year-old bottle of Glenlivet sells for 19,999 pounds. 
 Wonder if they do duty-frees. If so I think I'll buy a couple to take back to California. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012


   Twenty years ago David Beckham was an insecure teenager struggling to cope with the pressure and demands of being a Manchester United player. 
    After attending a Bobby Charlton training school he signed schoolboy forms at Manchester United on his 14th birthday and two years later made his first team debut, coming on as a substitute in a League Cup match against Brighton.  
   But although he relished being part of United he found training life tough and wrote about it in letters to a mate named Lee, revealing he had just received his first pay packet for one hundred and twenty pounds. 
  He also told how he, Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe went to a nightclub and he and Sharpe "got pissed and pulled two birds." 
   The letters are displayed on the wall of The Old Coffee House pub in London's Soho, a popular spot for watching televised football matches.  
   Pictures: Theo Kingma

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Pictures: Theo Kingma

I've seen plenty of movies featuring action and adventure in the 
skies but I found myself caught up in a real-life drama on a flight to London to attend the London film festival.
A few rows behind me an attractive young woman, probably high on drink and/or drugs was getting amorous with a male passenger she clearly took a fancy to. She kissed him, tried to clamber into his seat and refused to return to her own seat when asked to do so. Eventually a male flight attendant forcibly pushed her into her seat but she leaped up and ran after a him. She struck him and when the captain came to take control she struck him too. That was it! A group of flight attendants overpowered her, put her in handcuffs and restrained her in a seat on the last row of the plane.
Then, in what many saw as over-reaction the captain decided to divert back to Chicago where a squad of armed policemen boarded the plane and escorted her, screaming and swearing, off to jail. That should have been that but United in their wisdom and for whatever reason, then decided to cancel the flight, stranding some 200 passengers at 3am.
Definitely a contender for best drama at any film festival. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


  Jennifer Garner must be wondering what is going wrong with her professional life. While her husband Ben Affleck has had a string of successes and his latest movie Argo is being tipped for multiple Oscars, poor Jen has flopped once again. 
Jennifer Garner at work in the film “Butter”
Garner at work in Butter
  Her latest movie, the satirical comedy Butter grossed only $70,000 in its weekend debut. Two months ago her family drama The Odd Life of Timothy Green only amassed around $50 million and the Arthur remake in which she co-starred last year grossed a disastrous $33 million. 
 Perhaps she should seek the advice of her husband who also had a few flops--remember Gigli and Man About Town?---before turning to directing and striking box office gold with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now Argo.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


007 trunks

  James Bond fever continues to mount as a pair of unwashed trunks worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale fetched £44,450 at an auction marking 50 years of the spy films.  
  But while Craig is at the centre of the hoopla leading up to the release of the next Bond film, Skyfall, his predecessor as 007, Pierce Brosnan, is living a very different life.  
  The 59-year-old actor is currently co-starring in a Danish film called Love Is All You Need in which he plays a lonely widower looking for love. Hardly the stuff of James Bond! 
   During his three-film stint as Bond Brosnan was also known as the Omega Man for his endorsement of Omega watches, which was one of several products to which he lent his name.  But when he was replaced by Daniel Craig, the Bond-related endorsements died.
    "My time with Omega is over and I don't have any endorsements from the days of James Bond," he told me sadly. 
   But, he added: "For me being Bond was a gift and a joy to do. It's a gift that keeps on giving because once you're Bond, you're always Bond. It's a small group of men who have played the role so it was an honour to do it and to still carry the mantle of the character. The role stays with you--it doesn't leave you and I'm very proud of my time being part of it."
     Even though he no longer has an Omega on his wrist, the actor has no trouble telling the time, thanks to a pre-Bond movie. 
   "One of my first films was called the Fourth Protocol which I did with Michael Caine and I still have the watch that I wore in that film," he said.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


George Lazenby as Bond....
  Producers of the James Bond movies had some anxious moments when they hired George Lazenby to replace Sean Connery as the dashing 007---but then worried that he might be gay! 
  So they sent a girl up to his apartment to find out----and were reassured to discover that that he wasn't. 
  Lazenby, who had been a model and featured in television commercials before making his Bond debut in the 1969 release On Her Majesty's Secret Service, recalled: "They sent a girl up to my apartment to make sure I wasn't gay. A little while later they had their answer. I sure as hell wasn't."
....and Lazenby today
 As the role brought stardom and numerous admirers, the actor went on to become known as the most notorious womaniser of all the Bond actors.
 "Suddenly I was James Bond and you can imagine what that did to me. I didn't want to brag but I had at least one girl a day," he said.
 "There was a tent on set where the stuntmen used to keep mattresses they fell on in fight scenes and it was a good place to take a chick if you were in a hurry.".
His comments come in the documentary Everything Or Nothing, which chronicles the 50-year history of 007 and has been produced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first Bond movie Dr No.


  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...