Posted in Obituary

Vale – Michel Legrand

Three-time Academy Award-winning composer Michel Legrand, known for his scores to The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and Yentl, has passed away.

French-born Mr Legrand was a noted composed across almost all fields of music, including classical, songs, jazz (a heavy influence) and of course feature film, for which he received his first Academy Award nominations for Jaques Demy’s The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (1964), and later for 1967’s The Young Girls Of Rochefort. His first Oscar came for the theme song from The Thomas Crown Affair, “The Windmills Of Your Mind”, sung by Noel Harrison (the song would also be covered by Dusty Springfield, Jose Feliciano and, later, Sting, for the Crown remake in 1999. His other Oscar winning achievements were for the score of Summer of ’42, in 1971, and for the Barbara Streisand-led Yentl, in 1983.

Legrand (standing, right) with Barbara Streisand (Left) on the set of Yentl.

Among his many other film score credits, you can find Mr Legrand’s work in Ice Station Zebra (1968), Cops & Robbers (1973), Gullivers Travels (1977), Never Say Never Again (1983), Casanova (1987), as well as the Orson Welles films F For Fake (1974) and the director’s recent posthumous release of The Other Side Of The Wind.

Other major award notations include multiple Grammy nominations, winning for 1982’s jazz performance of “Images”, the score for The Three Musketeers (1974), as well as the Tony Awards and Golden Globes.

Michel Legrand passed away on January 26th, aged 86, in Paris, France.

Posted in Obituary

Vale – Carol Channing

Acclaimed star of stage and screen Carol Channing, a Broadway veteran and performing legend, has passed away.

Ms Channing’s career started on Broadway, where she snagged a bunch of awards (including several Tony nominations) for her performances in (among others) Hello Dolly, The Vamp, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Lorelei, during the 1960’s and 70’s. Her feature film breakout role arrived in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), alongside Julie Andrews and John Gavin, and it was for this film she received an Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actress category. Although she would not grab Oscar, she did receive a Golden Globe Award for the same role.

Carol Channing in Hello Dolly

Other feature film appearances include Skidoo (1968), a cameo in the Beatles’ film Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and several voice roles in Thumbelina (1994), Shinbone Alley (1971) and The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars (1998).

Channing’s television credits were extensive, including a regular guest stint on gameshow What’s My Line (1962-1966), as herself in both The Muppet Show, Magnum PI and Sesame Street, as well as a voice role as Grandma Addams in the short lived animated series The Addams Family (1992-1993). More recently she guested on The Nanny, The Drew Carey Show, and appeared as herself in RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

But it was for her Broadway career than she is most celebrated, appearing in innumerable productions between 1941’s No For An Answer and Razzle Dazzle in 2004. Her acting awards and nominations are also extensive, including the aforementioned Tony and Golden Globe wins, she was also nominated for an Olivier Award (for Hello Dolly), a Grammy (for the Hello Dolly cast recording), and two lifetime achievement Tony awards.

Carol Channing passed away on January 15th, in California, aged 97.

With Leo Robin in the original run of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Posted in Awards Season Golden Globes Opinion

Bohemian Crapsody: Queen’s Reign In Controversial Globes

The most recent Golden Globes ceremony produced many, many surprises in announcing the Hollywood Foreign Press’ choices for cinema in 2018. Aside from Glenn Close snagging Best Actress over Lady Gaga, and the little-seen Green Book snagging Best Comedy/Musical over the juggernauts of Crazy Rich Asians and Mary Poppins Returns, by far the biggest lurch from the Globes this past weekend was seeing Bohemian Rhapsody – itself a musical – grab Best Film – Drama.

My Twitter feed was vociferous in condemnation over the HFP’s choice for Best Picture in both categories, none moreso than Queen’s Greatest Hits: The Movie. Admittedly, I too was surprised the film took the gong, considering it was up against Black Panther, Spike Lee’s BlacKKKlansman and legit Oscar contender A Star Is Born, all of which were touted as far more serious fare for the category.

Earlier in the evening, Rhapsody star Rami Malek, who played Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the film, snagged Best Actor for his performance, and for most people this was not a surprise at all: Malek is excellent as Mercury and had the film’s script followed a different path Bohemian Rhapsody might have jostled for place among the genuine contenders. But let’s face it, for all its crowd-pleasing, foot-stomping antics Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t 2018’s “Best Picture”. It’s not even close.

Outcast director Bryan Singer (left) and Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek (Right)

And in what became the biggest talking point, the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody was co-directed by (or credited to) Bryan Singer, a man of questionable character who walked off the set and never came back midway through production, and who has in the past been accused of underage sex and sexual assault and named in part of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, seems to have rankled plenty of big names. After all, for an industry starting to come to grips with the rampant sexual issues highlighted in the last few years and trying to turn a corner with regards to its treatment of women, Bohemian Rhapsody’s win with a man like Singer in its camp smacks of a major backwards step.

Lady Gaga and her dress arrives at the Golden Globes

It’s a dilemma: we want to praise Malek for his work on the film – and if gossip is to be believed he had a major issue with Singer on the film and was a staunch supporter of the #MeToo movement, so kudos to him – but we also cannot condone a career like Singer’s being recognised (albeit tangentially, the man never showed at the Globes’ ceremony) for a film that is so obviously not the best film of 2018 and everyone knows it. It also furthers the proposition (as noted in our article here) that the Hollywood Foreign Press are completely out of touch with the real world of cinema, out of touch with what people who care about film are talking about, favouring populism and/or favouritism at the expense of its own credibility. The fact that Vice, a film about former US Vice-President Dick Cheney starring Christian Bale, could grab a slot in the “Comedy or Musical” category indicates yet again that the Golden Globes are an absolute farce of a thing, and should be roundly criticised from every corner.

Meanwhile, here’s an actual kween winning an award.

As I run my eyes across the acting categories I’m absolutely sure that any of the nominated performers could have won and I’d be happy – the only surprise being Glenn Close over Gaga – and to see the latest Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse win Best Animated film over heavy-hitters like Ralph Breaks The Internet and Incredibles 2 gives me hope that Sony’s film might grab Oscar next month. Of course Roma was going to go big, winning both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director (for Alfonso Cuaron), and you’d expect that to happen at the Oscars as well (read my own review for my general lack of enthusiasm for it, but the groundswell appears to make it a lock for betting folks!), and Justin Hurwitz’ win for his score of First Man was a giant leap in the right direction (see what I did there?).

It’s a shame the Globes chose to give Bohemian Rhapsody, a film with a distinct lack of depth but excellent production values and an eye for knowing what its audience wants to see, the Best Film tag, and it probably throws open the Oscar race for 2018. I’d be surprised to see Malek and Brian May up on the Dolby Theatre stage accepting Best Picture in seven weeks’ time, and I think the Academy Voters (none of whom had a thing to do with the Golden Globes, I should make clear) will probably think very differently than the Foreign Press Association, which appear to have snorted some of Freddie’s opiates before casting their ballots this year.

So we commend Rami Malek for his win in Bohemian Rhapsody (much like we commended Adrian Brody for his win in The Pianist all those years ago) but we condemn the apparent blind-eye turned towards Bryan Singer and the film overall (like we did for Roman Polanski for The Pianist) as noted sexual assaulters seemingly getting praise (no matter how much the rest of the producing team might think otherwise) in Hollywood’s Boys Club. Apparently you don’t even have to show up to film half your movie and it can win a prestigious award. That, my friends, is appalling.

Posted in Film - General

The Best Film and TV-Themed Casino Slot Games for 2019

The online casino industry has been steadily growing in popularity over the last decade or so. This is in no small part due to the increasing variety of games on offer and online slots remain some of the most popular types of games in the online casino landscape. Thanks to a drastic improvement in both graphics and playability, top game developers have now been able to produce a number of themed online slot games which are based upon some of the most popular TV shows and movies. Due to the familiarity of themes associated with these programs, themed slots are now among the most popular online casino games and below is a list of the ones to look out for in 2019.

Credit: Gladiator via Facebook

Gladiator Slot

Russell Crowe’s performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius has been rightly lauded ever since Gladiator burst onto our screens back in 2000. The success of movie-themed slots can largely be attributed to efforts such as Gladiator, owing to the game’s immersive 3D graphics, epic sounds and impressive progressive jackpots. When it comes to movie-based slot games, Gladiator is still top of the pile.

Credit: Game of Thrones via Facebook

Game of Thrones Slot

It’s little surprise that George RR Martin’s fantasy epic has been turned into a successful online slot game. The wide variety of characters and various sub plots translates perfectly into the online casino arena – with 15 paylines and 243 ways to win, you could argue that the online slot is garnering just as much attention as the TV show itself.

Little Britain Slot

No matter whether you’re a fan of the quintessential British comedy of Little Britain or not, it’s difficult not to enjoy the online slot variant of the series. With classic characters like Andy, Lou and Marjorie Dawes heavily featuring in the game, there’s no shortage of humor. As an added bonus, the slot also provides an impressive 94% payout rate and plenty of free bonus spins.

Themed Slots are Constantly Updating and Improving

While these three themed slot games are our favorites, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether there is a slot game based on your favorite TV show or movie or not, there’s bound to be an online slot which suits your playing style. With hundreds of themed slots floating around the interwebs, there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the world of online casino.

Posted in Obituary

Vale – Don Lusk

Legendary Disney animator Don Lusk, known for his work on Pinocchio, Fantasia and Alice In Wonderland, has passed away. 

Don Lusk was hired to work at Disney Animation in 1933, where he quickly became known for his prolific output. Initially working as an “inbetweener”, filling in frames between key poses for the main animators, for nearly thirty years Lusk worked on all forms of Disney’s animated projects, including countless shorts and multiple feature films. Lusk is known for working on Gepetto’s goldfish Cleo in Pinocchio, the dog chase in Bambi, the mice for Cinderella as well as the Arabian fish dance from Fantasia. His work can be seen in almost every major Disney feature produced between Snow White and 101 Dalmations, his final film for the company. He was one of several hundred animators who went on strike against Disney in 1941 over better pay and conditions (a strike they would eventually win), although his relationship with the studio was never the same after that.

After leaving Disney in 1960, Mr Lusk would work for several high profile animation studios throughout Hollywood, although his most fruitful would be with the legendary Hanna-Barbera, for whom he directed over a hundred episodes of The Smurfs, as well as Pound Puppies, The Addams Family, Johnny Quest and The Snorks (among others). Through the 1970’s Lusk also worked on a number of Peanuts productions, including A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Snoopy Come Home, and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Mr Lusk retired from animation in 1993, aged 80.

Don Lusk passed away on December 30, aged a spectacular 105. His legacy on popular culture is immense and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his influence on animation and creative artistry.

Posted in Obituary

Vale – Penny Marshall

Hollywood actress and director Penny Marshall, best known as one half of Laverne & Shirley as well as the director of Big, Awakenings and A League of Their Own, has passed away.

Ms Marshall was the sister of fellow Hollywood alumni Garry Marshall, and came to prominence early through her co-starring role on the Happy Days spin-off series Laverne & Shirley, playing Laverne DiFazio on the show between 1976 and 1983. She was recognised for her work with three Golden Globe nominations. Previous television work included a recurring guest role on comedy series The Odd Couple, which her brother was executive producer on, as well as the Marlo Thomas-starring sitcom That Girl, in the late 60’s. 

Penny Marshall (left) with her co-star Cindy Williams in “Laverne & Shirley”

Transitioning to the role of film production, Marshall helmed her first feature in Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), starring Whoopi Goldberg, which wasn’t a critical success but remained profitable at the box-office. Her second film, Big, would go on to become one of 1988’s top grossing and most acclaimed films, with Tom Hanks in the starring role (he would be Oscar Nominated for his work here, as was the screenplay by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg), earning over $150m at the US domestic box-office. Two years later, Marshall’s third film, Awakenings, would be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with star Robert DeNiro garnering an acting nomination and Steven Zallian’s original screenplay also gathering a nod. 

Ronnie Marshall, Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall.

Two years after that, Ms Marshall helmed the sentimental baseball flick A League Of Their Own, re-teaming her with Tom Hanks and featuring a female-centric cast including Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Petty. The film was an enormous success domestically, making well over $130m at the box-office. 

Between 1994 and today Ms Marshall directed a further three films; the Danny DeVito-led military comedy Renaissance Man (aka Army Intelligence in some markets), period drama The Preacher’s Wife, and 2001’s soppy romantic drama Riding In Cars With Boys. Marshall also had extensive executive producing credits across both film and television, as well as a number of modern series’ directing credits on According To Jim and The United States of Tara

Penny Marshall passed away in Los Angeles on December 17th. She was 75.

Posted in Obituary

Vale – Sondra Locke

Academy-Award nominated actress Sondra Locke, star of the 1970’s alongside former partner Clint Eastwood, has passed away.

Born Sandra Anderson in 1944, the actress known as Sondra Locke landed her first role (following a talent contest to choose a performer) alongside Alan Arkin in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, in 1968, a film which garnered both her and Arkin Oscar-nominations for their work. Supporting roles would follow in Cover Me Babe (1970), Willard (1971), and A Reflection of Fear (1972), and the lead role in The Second Coming Of Suzanne arrived in 1974. 

Sondra Lock (r) in The Heart is A Lonely Hunter

It would be 1975’s The Outlaw Josey Wales, in which she starred alongside Clint Eastwood, that would change the course of Locke’s career. During filming, Locke and Eastwood became life partners, and the actress would not appear in any film project in which Eastwood did not appear or direct. The Gauntlet (1977), Every Which Way But Loose (1978), Every Which Way You Can and Bronco Billy (both 1980), and 1983’s Sudden Impact formed the cinematic legacy Locke and Eastwood carved out as a couple. 

Locke’s directorial debut arrived in 1986’s Ratboy, for Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, with the film a critical and financial failure in the United States. Shortly after, but not directly related to, the relationship between Locke and Eastwood soured, with the former taking the latter to court a number of times for palimony and fraud. 

Locke (r) and Clint Eastwood (l) on the set of The Gauntlet

Sondra Locke’s career remained almost exclusively behind the camera following her breakup with Clint Eastwood. She helmed Impulse (1990), Death In Small Doses (1995) and Do Me A Favour (1997), was a producer on Eli Roth’s Knock Knock (2015), and her final on-screen roles were a duo of direct-to-video efforts in The Prohpet’s Game and Clean & Narrow.

Sondra Lock passed away on November 3rd, following a heart attack. She was 74.

Posted in Obituary

Vale – Geoff Murphy

Noted New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Murphy, known for directing action staples such as Under Siege 2 and Freejack, has passed away.

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Posted in Opinion

The Genie Is Out: The Alternative Disney Renaissance

To borrow a phrase popularised Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. The latter stages of this decade have become an all-consuming tsunami of pop-culture defining cinema that, for many reasons, I’m struggling to appreciate the further the wave crests. Hollywood studio Disney, for so long the paragon of family entertainment and now one of the world’s leading corporate behemoths, is responsible for my despair; not for its size or omnipresent presence within our society, but for what appears to be a streak of capitalist cannibalism overtaking it. And to again borrow from “Torn”, a key phrase keeps repeating itself to me the further Disney’s entertainment juggernaut continues to swell:

“Illusion never changed, into something real”

The last decade has seen a disturbing trend in Disney’s overall scheme to control the world. I speak of the studio’s persistent desire to take their classic animated catalogue – from Cinderella to Beauty & The Beast, et al – and turn them into live-action versions, typically with enormous budgets and top-tier casting, to capitalise on the world’s current fascination with nostalgia culture. The relatively fast reprise of the 80’s over the last few years has transformed the entertainment landscape, what with Stranger Things, IT, and even the recent Gen1 reboot of Transformers in Bumblebee, all showcasing how large a demographic is available to studios willing to invest in this kind of subgenre. Disney aren’t alone in trying to hit the nostalgia button, but I think they’re generally doing it more, and better, than anyone else.

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Posted in Obituary

Vale – Nicolas Roeg

Acclaimed British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg, known for Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth and The Witches, has passed away.

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