Friday, 4 April 2014

Beyond the Screen and beyond: apps for film fans

Last month, NBCUniversal launched Beyond the Screen, the new movie trivia app for any film fan that likes to dabble in a bit of "second-screening".

The Beyond the Screen app is a bit like your DVD special features menu, with your usual trivia and stats info, except it syncs with the microphone to provide these features as the movie plays. Think soundtrack details and Spotify links as a particular song plays, etc.

Currently the app is only applicable with the Cornetto Trilogy, with an enormous amount of trivia and interesting references to play with, but there is a great amount of potential to be had if/when this expands to future films. Plenty more info here.

As a dab-hand at second-screening (it's rare for me to NOT have the IMDB trivia page open at any given time during a film), I cannot wait to get stuck into this app.  Here are a few other go-to (but perhaps unconventional) websites that I rely on during film-viewing.

Does the dog die?

There are few things I dislike more than being caught unawares by the death of a beloved pet, or loyal animal sidekick. The shock can even put me off any future viewings of the film, regardless of how excellent the rest of the film could be. means that, whilst I can't avoid the inevitable, I can be more prepared to deal with these scenes in the future, perhaps planning a quick toilet break during it...which leads me onto the next website.


We've all been in that situation of squirming in our seats waiting for an opportune moment to rush to the toilets, but without wanting to miss anything good. This app is a giant database of 700+ films (movies are constantly added), catalogued into the "story-lull" moments. The app also lets you know whether to stick around after the credits or not. RunPee sort of flouts the "turn your mobiles off" rule, but when it's this handy, who cares?


Like an online film diary, Letterboxd is a social network for film fans to share reviews or to simply list films watched. If you've ever used Goodreads, this is the movie equivalent.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Future Film Friday: 2014 July-September

Jupiter Ascending
Release date: July 25th

Channing Tatum - that chick-flick actor that only got cast because of his looks without an ounce of talent... is what people tended to say a few years ago. And then he did 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike and made fun of himself in various cameos and he was cool and pretty funny. Good turnaround Tatum. His next challenge is the intriguing sci-fi Jupiter Ascending, also starring Mila Kunis, an unlucky janitor who just turns out to be potential ruler of the universe and therefore becomes the target for assassination by the current Queen of the Universe.  With reported special effects that have never been used before and a cast that I would never have thought to put together (Sean Bean! Eddie Redmayne! Douglas Booth! Terry Gilliam!) and, consequently, I cannot wait to see the results.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Release date: August 1st

So, with a cast made up of a tree and a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, GotG looks weird. Set in the 31st century, a group of superhero aliens are responsible for the protection of the galaxy. The film has been rumoured for a number of years and was finally announced during SDCC  2012 with the main team consisting of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (B-Coop). Early footage was released the following year in San Diego, and looks to be Marvel's quirkiest adaptation yet. However, being much less well-known than their Avengers relations, it's difficult to tell at this stage how popular the film will be and it will be interesting to see how big the marketing push is for it.

The Inbetweeners 2
Release date: August 6th

Despite the success and hilarity of the tv show, I was still surprised by just how much I enjoyed The Inbetweeners Movie. With their next adventure beginning in Oz, we can expect much of the same rude and crude behaviour involving waterparks and wildlife.  Filming began Down Under last month, with production moving to UK for 2014.

The first movie took £45 million and became the most successful British comedy in cinema history, so producers will surely be pulling out all the stops to emulate that success.

The Boxtrolls
Release date: September 12th 

From the people behind Coraline and ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls is based on Alan Snow's novel Here Be Monsters!

After becoming orphaned, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors called Boxtrolls, who become targeted by evil exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and it is Eggs job to save them.

The trailer is just gorgeous, and there's something magical about stop-motion animation, almost as though stepping back in time, and this looks to be no exception.

Release date: September 19th

What happens when you combine Sam Claflin, Max Irons and Douglas Booth? Well, a dream scenario for most girls, but also an adaptation of Laura Wade's play - Posh.  Centering round two Oxford students who join the elite Riot Club, where member's reputations can be made or destroyed over the course of an evening. Not much is known yet about the film, although if the play is anything to go by, except excessive drinking and sexual activity.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Future Film Friday: 2014 April-June

Release date: April 4th

A lot of people have, unfairly, already written off Divergent as just a Hunger Games knock-off, due to the similar audience and dystopian themes. Controversially, having read both, I prefer Veronica Roth's creation to the Suzanne Collins franchise so I am really looking forward to seeing how Neil Burger, along with Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor, has approached the story, particularly some of the more iconic scenes, such as the 'fear landscapes'. Also I'm looking forward to seeing Kate Winslet as a big meanie.

The F Word
Release date: May 2nd

What I love most about Daniel Radcliffe is his refusal to be typecast (well...apart from that big role he had a couple years back...).  From The Woman in Black to A Young Doctor's Notebook, his choices are intriguingly eclectic, and now he has turned his hand to an indie rom-com.

The basic premise of The F Word is Wallace's (Radcliffe) infatuation with Chantry (Zoe Kazan), only to discover she is already in a relationship, and is relegated to the "friend zone". It was very well-received at TIFF, and being the enthusiastic lad that he is, I think we all wish a little bit that Daniel was our F word.

Bad Neighbours
Release date: May 9th

I wrote a while ago about how Zac Efron needs to focus his attention to comedy, because that is where he really shines.  Bad Neighbours isn't going to set the Oscars alight, nor is it even particularly original, but it's rude and crude and looks to produce a few LOLs.  From the director behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Nicholas Stoller also wrote the screenplays for The Muppets and Yes Man, all successful and respected comedies in their own rights so I have high hopes for this one.

Release date: May 30th

It takes a certain kind of bitch to curse a baby, and Maleficent really was bitch of the highest order.  There is, of course, a story behind the evil and Maleficent tells her side of the story, plus the events that drove her to curse baby Aurora to death.

At this stage, I can't see myself having any kind of empathy for the evil fairy, but the cinematography, set design and costumes look absolutely stunning so I will enjoy being wooed by pretty pictures for 2 hours at the very least.

The Fault in Our Stars
Release date: June 20th

The second Shailene Woodley offering in this post, which is impressive from someone who was virtually unknown a couple of years ago, with the exception of being George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants in 2011.

TFIOS is the story of Hazel and Gus, two cancer sufferers who bond and embark on a relationship, despite their bleak future.  The book, written by the tremendous John Green, is witty, heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measures and I challenge you to not fall in love with H and G.

There's been a furore surrounding the film's tagline (, suggesting it is offensive and makes light of cancer but I disagree.  What gives this film heart is that the characters don't want to be martyred and I believe this matches that.  And as JG himself said - "I like the tag line because it says, literally, the sick can also have love stories. Love and joy and romance are not just things reserved for the well."

Friday, 3 January 2014

Future Film Friday: 2014 Jan-Mar

Now that the door has officially closed on 2013, and a year of great movies (Prisoners, Captain Phillips, Place Beyond the Pines and Frozen being my particular highlights), it's time to look ahead in anticipation of  the new crop of stories to grace our big screens this coming year.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Release date: January 17th

Starring Donna from Neighbours (hasn't she done well??), this is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a Long Island stockbroker, documenting his swift transformation into a Wall Street criminal, who served 20 months imprisonment for fraud during the 1990s.

Comprising a stellar cast and with Scorsese behind the wheel, we already know we are in for one hell of a ride with this blockbuster.  Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finest actors on the scene right now, and Matthew McConaughey has really come into his own since he ditched the romantic comedies and pursuing a heartthrob status, and has become one of Hollywood's biggest surprises.

Labor Day
Release date: February 7th

Kate Winslet plays single mum Adele, who, along with her son Henry offers shelter to a desperate man.  It soon transpires that he is an escaped convict and their options become increasingly limited as the police search the town.

The trailer screams tension, and from a director who's work is as varied as Reitman's, it will be really interesting to see how multifaceted this film is.

Release date: February 14th

Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams are almost unrecognizable in this story of a brilliantly-named writer (Theodore Twombly) who develops a bizarre relationship with his new operating system. The style seems quirky and fun, whilst also urging us to take a look at our own relationships and values in life.

The Lego Movie
Release date: February 14th

I don't think there's a single person alive who doesn't harbour a love for Lego.  With an all-star cast (seriously, more than any regular blockbuster I can think of), this film, based on the popular mini figures, seems genuinely hilarious and a whole load of fun.

Release date: March 28th

And now for something biblical.  Regardless of your religious persuasion, you can't argue that the old testament doesn't offer up some brilliant stories that can become great films.  Noah is being hailed as one of this year's blockbusters and it's not hard to see why.

From the director of Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky's latest offering looks to be even more epic, with the cast headed up by Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly.

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Boy Who Lived, and a bit more.

People who know me know how much I champion any kind of spin-off that helps to keep the Harry Potter dream alive, and here is the latest: a play based on the early years of Harry Potter, co-produced (but not written) by J.K. Rowling herself.

When I first heard the news about a Harry Potter prequel play, I sincerely hoped that it would be based on The Marauders, but alas, not to be.  However, I am curious as to how the previously untold story of Harry's childhood will play out, due to us muggles only being aware of it consisting of one place - a broom cupboard.

Ant Man's identity revealed

Following months of speculation, Marvel have confirmed that the wonderful Paul Rudd will be bringing Ant-Man to life in 2015.

As both Marvel's and director Edgar Wright's choice, it will be interesting to see Rudd turn his hand to superhero, having proved he is adept at both comedy and occasional drama.  Marvel have certainly made good choices in the past and I am personally thrilled about the prospect of Rudd joining the Marvel universe.