Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making film 'Boyhood' received four nods, including best feature
If you’ve ever wondered just how much of Benedict Cumberbatch there is in Smaug, we have a Thursday treat for you. This fascinating extra from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’s forthcoming home-formats release pulls back the curtain on an off-set performance that’s as much physical as it is vocal. Sure, Cumberbatch may not have spent a decade sitting on a pile of treasure or gone full Stanislavski by hanging out with other wryms to interrogate their motivations in life but be in no doubt, Smaug is as much a meticulously prepped and fully-formed Cumberbatch performance as John Harrison or Sherlock.brightcove.createExperiences();
This marriage of technology, as rendered by the tech wizards at Weta Digital, and acting craft is why directors like Peter Jackson and James Cameron are so keen to shift the ‘capture’ terminology from ‘motion’ to ‘performance’. The facial rigging originally pioneered for Avatar transports emotions and expressions from the face of Cumberbatch and directly onto the visage of the Lonely Mountain’s resident fire-burping sibilant. It is, as Queen liked to say, a kind of magic.
Of course, with a bunch of unwelcome dwarves and a Hobbit barging in on his dragon nap, the emotions that play on those features are largely from the furious end of the spectrum. That said, the exchange between Bilbo and Smaug, running through the scales from mock-playful to teasing to menacing to purely incandescent, is one of the highlights of The Hobbit saga to date.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Extended Edition is available on Digital HD now, with the Blu-ray and DVD follow suit from November 3. Meanwhile its sequel and the concluding part of the saga, The Battle Of Five Armies, hits UK big screens on December 12 and their US counterparts five days later.
The ‘Boyhood’ star is ready to get lost in the jazz trumpeter biopic
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Michel Gondry and Vincenzo Natali have struggled to adapt, respectively, Ubik and Neuromancer in recent years, and now another cult sci-fi classic looks likely to beat both to the screen. Steve Carell is starring in IQ 83, based on the 1978 novel by Arthur Herzog (the political speech writer who also wrote The Swarm and Orca). Charlie Kaufman has signed on to write the screenplay.
IQ 83 centres on Dr James Healey (Carell's role), leader of a group of scientists involved in DNA research and accidentally responsible for unleashing a pandemic that reduces people's intelligence. Healey has to rush to contain the outbreak and find a cure, as the masses devolve into packs of fools. But he's quickly ceasing to be the intellectual he recently was, having been afflicted himself.
Carell's presence perhaps suggests a broadly comedic take on Healey's serious novel, but the intention for the film is more along the lines of a biting social satire on a Fox News-loving America. Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove is being mentioned as a touchstone.
Producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper, Get Smart, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind) has had the project developing for twenty years, but has never yet cracked a workable script. Kaufman will be starting the whole thing over from scratch, and there's confidence that the writer of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation is the perfect man for the job.
Walter Parkes (Men In Black, Sweeney Todd) is also among the producers, but there's no director or start date yet. Herzog's novel isn't in print here in the UK, but is published in the States by iUniverse.
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Avengers: Age Of Ultron star James Spader has spoken exclusively with Total Film about playing Marvel uber villain Ultron.
"There's a humerous aspect to him, which is something that drew me in from the very first conversation I had with Joss [Whedon]," Spader revealed. "In many ways he's a child, this character, because he's a brand new being who's just come to be. And yet, through artificial intelligence, he has an incredible capacity for knowledge. So he's a very powerful, smart child."
Currently starring as a former government agent, turned criminal, in Sky Living show The Blacklist, Spader drew fundamental differences between the morally ambivalent Red and the Avengers big bad. "Ultron takes abrupt turns in scenes." He explained. "Red isn't pyschopathic but Ultron is. Yes, he is psychopathic. He's really batshit crazy!"
The first trailer for Avengers: Age Of Ultron hit earlier today featuring a deranged voiceover from Mr Spader which begins, "I'm going to show you something beautiful - everyone screaming for mercy..." before a sinister restyling of the Pinocchio tune "I've got no strings" kicks in.
Directed by Whedon ("Besides being just a lovely person, his directions are very precise" Spader describes) and starring Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, Avengers: Age Of Ultron will smash into cinemas on 24 April.
Read the full interview with James Spader in the latest issue of Total Film, on sale Friday 24th October.
The market comes to a bustling conclusion, leading right into the Tokyo Film Festival
To be released for Chinese New Year, the film will star Louis Koo as the titular character
While he’s stayed busy in the cinema and on UK TV, Nick Frost hasn’t had as much success cracking the world of US network telly. He’s linked to a pilot for Fox called Sober Companion, which is still in limbo, but he’s also attached to a new show, The Finger.
Ben Karlin, who boasts work on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Modern Family on his CV, is aboard to co-write the pilot with Frost and oversee the show. Frost will star as Nick Ferguson, the world’s most famous – or perhaps that should be infamous – jewel thief, who plans to quit the criminal world and settle down to a quiet life, mostly because he wants to spend more time with his nine-year-old son. But he soon discovers that playing within the law and running a sandwich shop might not be as easy as pulling off gem heists.
The show, which has been bought by US network ABC, is planned as a single-camera comedy, but we’ll have to wait and see if this one is picked up. Frost will be back on the small screen in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, and has fantasy film Syrenia and comedy Unfinished Business set to hit next year, with Business new on March 6.