'Sup? Welcome back to The 405 Film Digest. This week, wrap your eyes around Film Talk, wherein Joey Godman will explain why it's been such a big week for the UK film industry, Maria takes a look at the lesser known formative gems of a colossal director in our new column 'Auteur Theory', Steve O'Shea dissects a choice trailer of the week and we make a quick visual low-down on the week's posters.

Doom and gloom everywhere then, but still the general mood of the industry is high in the run-up to Sundance which kicks off in less than week. So don't let January or having to go between multiple articles to get your film feature fix, be happy here with the 405 Film Digest!

Danny - Film Ed.



Film Talk

- Joey Godman

The BAFTA Long List was recently announced with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and My Week With Marilyn leading the pack in terms of nominations; which begs the question “Has anyone actually watched My Week With Marilyn and if so why has it received so many nominations?” (Harsh! - Ed) . Other films receiving lots of nominations are: The Iron LadyThe Artist,War Horse, The Help and Hugo

David Cameron sparked a fair bit of controversy earlier this week when he ‘leaked’ some of the recommendations from an upcoming report on the UK film industry authored by, former Labour Secretary of Culture, Lord Smith. Mr Cameron indicated that funding from the lottery and the Government would focus on more mainstream, commercially viable films. Ken Loach appeared on BBC Breakfast to react to the news, he said: “If everybody knew what would be successful before it was made there would be no problem. What you have to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then some will be successful, some will be original, some will be creative, and you will get a very vibrant industry." Although the report hasn’t been released yet things don’t look good for the future of cutting edge British films.

Later this month (25th Jan - 5th Feb) The Rotterdam Film Festival will take place, in Rotterdam surprisingly. Two of the biggest attractions at the festival this year are bound to be premiers from the Japanese king of sickness Takashi Miike and Golden Globe winner James Franco. Apparently Franco’s film Francophrenia will be comprised of footage from his days on American soap opera General Hospital.

Rejoice and praise your respective religious texts or favourite scientific books. According to rumours (from good sources mind) the live action remake of  Akira has shut down yet again due to casting and budget issues. Some outlets are reporting that below the line crew have already been sent home.



Auteur Theory

- Maria Pilkington

Steven Spielberg

A man who probably shouldn’t need an introduction…but hey, let’s do one anyway. War Horse, Spielberg’s latest, is out this week, and it’s amazing that this is in fact the first film he’s made about WWI. I say amazing, because this is a director who is so synonymous with the modern war film. Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, the first three Indiana Jones films and TV programmes Band of Brothers and The Pacific have changed the way war - and in particular WWII - has been portrayed on film and television.

As an American Orthodox Jew, it was natural for him to explore the Holocaust and WWII in some way, bringing with it an understanding that not many other directors have done. A victim of anti-Semitism himself, as a viewer you sense that Spielberg knows how Amon Göth’s concentration camp victims feel; he understands what the troops in Saving Private Ryan are fighting for – even if they don’t. Since coming to prominence in the early 70s with his tense thriller Duel (watch it, it’s great!), Spielberg has led the way in mainstream blockbusters that have a heart and multiple layers to them. From Jaws to ET to Minority Report to Tintin, he’s also easily the most famous and recognisable living director.

How about two of Spielberg’s arguably lesser-known war films?

1941 (1979)

Spielberg does comedy! Set around the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Spielberg’s wartime funny features a role call of some of cinema’s 1980s comedy superstars – Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty and John Belushi – to depict the events surrounding of the turning point in WWII…and the very normal lives it affected. It also features legends Christopher Lee and Toshiro Mifune, in what was to be his only American film in which he used his real voice (he was dubbed in the few other English language ones he did). Although not originally a huge success at the box office, since its release the film has become a cult status not only because of its stars and storyline, but arguably because this is Spielberg’s one and only out and out comedy film (albeit focusing on one of the most dramatic events in American history)

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Starring a young Christian Bale and based on J G Ballard’s novel of the same name (which itself was based on the experiences of the author), this was Spielberg’s second full-on war film, set in China and chronicling a young boy’s experience in an internment camp. Spielbergian elements are all here: survival against the odds, parent abandonment, surrogate father figure, childhood awe at the unusual (in this case, aeroplanes and the war itself). With a supporting cast including John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers and Ben Stiller in one of his earliest roles, this should really be up there with the majority of Spielberg’s filmography.



Trailer Park

- Steven O'Shea

The usual tagline of 'from the producer of...' usual draws a great sigh from me as I pity the poor person who's managed to help make a great film and now gets roped into every movie that is even remotely related to it. However, seeing this line with the word Bridesmaids at the end of it did give me cause for hope as I sat back and watched the trailer for The Five Year Engagement, as did the inclusion of Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, two of my favourite actors at the moment and certainly two that I would not have paired together. If you like Jason Segal then chances are that you will like this film as it looks to follow in a similar vein of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and indeed Bridesmaids. The film itself appears to be nothing special as it surrounds a comedy couple who just aren't quite able to make it to the alter and will undoubtedly present little more than a nice Saturday night rom-com. However, the one surprise of the trailer did seem to be how funny Emily Blunt could actually be. The British actress is certainly not known for her funny bone and its always good to see an actor spreading their wings a bit. This is a trailer that's certainly worth checking out and if you're stuck for something to do the weekend that this comes out then there are worse things that you could do than to see it.



Posterity

- The Studios

A little pick of the more interesting looking film posters that have been seared into every commuters eyeballs this week.

And surely the most suave, elegant poster (and film) in some time.