Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Were back in early october

Yep, thats right, despite various setbacks, grimm up north rides again early october at a new brilliant venue here in Manchester. Well be making the official announcement very soon, but suffice to say, were really excited by what weve got lined up. Also were setting up a whole lot easier and flexible ticket system. Watch this space over the next day or so.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

STRIGOI – GRIMM 09 fav now on Itunes & DVD.

Actual, Real Romanian Vampires for a Change.
Bram Stoker has a lot to answer for; especially as far as the Romanians are concerned. Stoker’s use of the historical figure of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, better known as Vlad the Impaler, as the basis for his vampiric count, Dracula (Drăculea was Vlad III’s family name) has led to endless misrepresentations and distortions of Romanian culture in novels, films and television ever since. So the last thing one might expect to see is a Romanian vampire film. Surely, they’d be sick to the back teeth of vampires by now.
Well, yes and no. STRIGOI is an attempt to set the record straight; to reclaim Romanian vampire mythology from the distortions it has been subjected to over the years. The film takes the ancient legend of the Strigoi – one who has returned from the dead to avenge a wrong, but must feed on blood to survive – and uses this as the basis for a darkly comic parable about rural Romania struggling to adapt to the modern world, and the seemingly inescapable legacy of the Ceaucescu regime. As the film’s writer and director Faye Jackson explains, Strigoi are “the people you just can’t get rid of, even when they’re dead” – an ideal metaphor for “the way corruption survives and infects even those who seek to destroy it, and the way violence and injustice echo down the generations, seeping into the very soil.”
STRIGOI’s mix of political satire, bucolic comedy, and ghoulish shocks went down a storm at the very first Grimm Up North back in 2009. Faye Jackson and Producer Rey Muraru joined us to introduce the film and kept everyone entertained with their tales of shooting in rural areas of Romania where such legends still persist, and the screening was a real festival highlight.
So it’s good to hear that STRIGOI is now available via iTunes, and will be released on DVD in the UK in August. It’s well worth catching it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

GRIMM Attends the premiere screening of DESPERATE MEASURES

A man dances, drunk and drugged off his face in a nightclub. He collapses and is dragged off. He wakes up on a filthy mattress, in a bare, windowless room with walls of grubby, whitewashed stone. Who is he? Where is he?
So begins DESPERATE MEASURES, a low-budget independent feature film, written and produced by Chris Green, and directed by Steve Looker, whose earlier short COLD BLOOD screened at the very first Grimm Up North back in 2009. The Grimm team were there for the film’s Premiere, prior to its DVD release, at the Vue Cinema in Salford, along with the great, the good, and the not so good of the region’s filmmaking community, and a sizable number of the filmmakers’ family and friends. We all had a Hell of a good time.
The film stars local boy and sometime Eastenders face Stephen Lord as Ross Hadley, a cynical, embittered young man with a serious substance abuse problem, who finds himself held hostage in a deserted Yorkshire farmhouse by thuggish Cockney ex-squaddie Jack (Ricci Harnett) and the older, more world-weary George (Max Beesley, Sr). To discover just who they are and what they want from him, Ross must play along with their games and the routines they impose on him, but more importantly he must face up to his own past actions and continued failings.
Beginning as a gritty, claustrophobic little thriller, the film gradually shifts into a tale of tough love, failure, loss and redemption. If I’m honest, I saw some of the film’s narrative twists coming, but this really doesn’t matter that much. The film is far more about the characters and the developing relationships between them, and here is where it excels. The dialogue is sharp, the characterisation is strong, complex, and well-observed, the emotional journey is powerful and the performances of the three leads are excellent. Stephen Lord conveys Ross’s journey of self-discovery admirably, never glossing over his character’s unpleasant aspects but retaining audience sympathy throughout. Ricci Harnett displays the brutish Jack’s unexpected levels of vulnerability and sensitivity with real empathy and Max Beesley Sr perfectly captures George’s complex mixture gruff decency, anger, resignation and sorrow. The film also has a nicely judged, low key but weighty supporting turn from Steven Hillman, as a character whose arrival at the farmhouse forms the turning point in the narrative.
Steve Looker’s deft direction is taut and stylish, but unobtrusive. He focuses on telling the story well, keeping it moving, keeping the audience gripped. He gets the best out of everyone and everything, trusting to the strength of Chris Green’s powerful, emotive yet witty script and the strong cast, and making great use of the striking locations. The result is a formidable piece of filmmaking that should turn heads and open doors. Shot on a tiny budget, the film is a triumph for everyone involved in its production, and another sign that the North West’s filmmakers are now a serious force to be reckoned with.
Desperate Measures is out now on DVD. Check it out. by Steve Balshaw

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Does Michael Bay's 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' Recycle Old Movie Clips? (Video)

Movie buffs on the web are abuzz over a video suggesting car chase scenes from the action movie and his 2005 film “The Island” are similar.

Michael Bay

Is Michael Bay ripping off himself?

The Internet is buzzing over a video suggesting that the director recycled clips from his 2005 film The Island in his latest movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

A YouTube user has posted a video comparing car chase scenes from the two movies, in which certain shots are strikingly similar. [Watch below.]

VIDEO: Shia LaBeouf Jokes 'Transformers 3' Is ‘Crap’ on 'Jimmy Kimmel'

Dark of the Moon, the third installment in Bay’s Transformers franchise, opened Wednesday and has become the third best worldwide debut of all time, smashing records and grossing a whopping $372 million through Sunday.

With the actual July 4th holiday still to go, the movie should finish Monday with a total opening gross of $405.8 million.

STORY: 'Transformers' Now on Track to Earn $180 Million Domestically Through July 4th

Dark of the Moon stars Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson and Patrick Dempsey.

LaBeouf has suggested this will be his last Transformers film.

The Island, a thriller starring Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor, earned $163 million at the worldwide box office during its theatrical run.


STORY: Shia LaBeouf: 5 Things You Didn't Know

STORY: 'Transformers 3' Earns $37.3 Mil, Best Opening Day Gross of 2011

STORY: 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon': How the Sequel's Star Cars Were Cast

Friday, 8 July 2011


American comic book artist Gene Colan died at 11pm on June 23rd 2011, after a long fight against liver disease.
He was 84. He had been ill for a couple of years, and no doubt many of the obituaries that have appeared since that date had been prepared for a while. His death was hardly a shock when it came, and yet it still shook me. It has taken me this long to sit down and think about how much I loved Colan’s work, how important it was to the medium in which he worked, how substantial his influence was, and will continue to be.
Gene Colan can legitimately be described as a legend in the field of American comics, where he worked from 1944 until 2009, when he became too ill to continue. He started out drawing Crime comics, War comics, and Romance comics, and became something of a specialist in the latter.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that Colan began working on the Marvel superhero titles that would make him famous. At the time Stan Lee encouraged all artists working for Marvel to study the work of Jack Kirby and to try to emulate it as much as possible. Often this resulted in inept Kirby clones, but Colan was able to assimilate the force and dynamism of Kirby into his own very different drawn-from-life naturalism to create art that had all of the required dramatic impact, but also a level of elegance, fluidity and narrative sophistication that would allow for more subtle character interplay and narrative detail than the work of many of his contemporaries. He offered a heightened, stylised vision of the world that was nevertheless solidly grounded in carefully-observed reality, and did much to push comic book storytelling in a more adult direction. His skilful orchestration of mood, in particular his use of shadow, made Colan particularly suited to stories of the supernatural. Indeed, he claimed never to have felt much affinity for superheroes.
Nevertheless, Colan thus became the definitive artist for pretty much every superhero character he ever drew, and failing that, the artist who helped entirely REdefine the character for a new audience. It was Colan who made the previously clunky Iron Man’s body armour look sleekly plausible and the Submariner’s lush undersea world look startlingly real, while his Captain America, second only to Kirby’s, was the first to be confronted by the contradictions and social upheavals of the country whose flag he wore. Colan also co-created The Falcon, one of the first black superheroes, born out of his desire to see more black faces in the comics he drew. But it was Daredevil who would be his signature character. Colan worked on the comic for 80 issues, and was the first artist to suggest the character’s affinity for shadow and darkness. Little wonder that when Colan fell out with Marvel in the 1980s, DC immediately offered him Batman. Of all the superheroes Colan worked on, however, Dr Strange was the one he was clearly best suited to - appropriately enough, the character least like a superhero. Dr Strange gave Colan a chance to combine his skill at depicting the real world with his love of the shadowy, the supernatural and the plain weird, and the character went from being a superhero with spells up his sleeves to being a credible “Master of the Mystic Arts”.
But Colan’s finest work of all was outside of the field of superheroes. With Howard the Duck, he returned, strangely enough, to a theme that had characterised his run on Captain America - a character “trapped in a world he never made”, trying to come to terms with what he finds there. But this time around the intention was angrier, crazier, more satiric. Colan’s naturalistic depiction of 70s America, contrasted with the Disneyfied stylisation of the title character, served to emphasise the sense of dislocation and alienation and made the force of writer Steve Gerber’s satire all the more pungent. A number of collaborations with writer Don McGregor saw Colan’s art being reproduced for the first time from his original pencils, a trend that would continue until the end of his career. Particularly notable were Raggamuffins, a sequence of sour little tales about loss of childhood innocence, and the noirish private eye series. Nathaniel Dusk.
Above all, however, it was Colan’s collaborations with the improbably (but appropriately!)-named writer Marv Wolfman on several supernaturally-themed comics that finally established his legendary stature in the field, and should recommend him to our loyal Grimmlins, if they are not familiar with his work already. In Marvel’s 1970s Tomb of Dracula, Colan and Wolfman were able to transform a catchpenny horror title into a sophisticated exploration of Faith, moral choice, and the nature of evil. They subsequently returned to many of the same themes in the cult 80s DC title, Night Force, and indeed teamed up again to create an entirely different take on the Dracula character for Dark Horse in the 1990s. But it is Tomb of Dracula that has the lasting legacy: it introduced the world to Blade the Vampire Hunter, Hannibal King, and Deacon Frost, all of whom would turn up in the successful film and TV franchise. And yet it wasn’t until the second Blade film that Colan got so much as a credit. It was ever thus.
Gene Colan, R.I.P. Another of my heroes gone, but not forgotten.