Regina Hall joins cast for Shaft sequel

Variety has reported that actress Regina Hall has joined the cast of the latest Shaft sequel – provisionally titled Son of Shaft – currently filming in Atlanta and New York. It is reported she will play the former love interest of Samuel L Jackson’s John Shaft (nephew of Richard Roundtree’s original Shaft) and mother to Jessie T. Usher’s John Shaft Jr. Hall has worked with producer/writer Kenya Barris on Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016), Girls Trip (2017) as well as the TV series Black-ish.

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Filming commenced this month in Atlanta and will later move to New York. The film is slated for release on 14 June 2019.

Film Review – HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)

Related imageHouse of Frankenstein (1944; USA; B&W; 71m) **½  d. Erle C. Kenton; w. Edward T. Lowe Jr.; ph. George Robinson; m. Hans J. Salter.  Cast: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Elena Verdugo, Sig Ruman. An evil scientist and a hunchback escape from prison and encounter Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster. Suffers from having to cater for too many monsters and therefore each story feels rushed and is ultimately disappointing. Karloff and Naish, as the mad scientist and his hunchback assistant, do their best with the material, but this is only mediocre entertainment. Based on a story by Curt Siodmak. Followed by HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945). [PG]

Film Review – ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE (2013)

Related imageANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE (2013; New Zealand; Colour; 92m) ****  d. Anthony Powell; w. Anthony Powell; ph. Anthony Powell; m. David Donaldson, Plan 9, Steve Roche, Janet Roddick.  Documentary. A visually stunning chronicle of what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, and enduring months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth. Powell’s film is a personal document of his ten years working in Antarctica, contrasting life in the summer months, when thousands of scientists descend on the continent to that in the winter (spent at times in total darkness) when only a skeleton staff remain. His use of time-lapse photography creates some stunning images of seasonal change and barren icy landscapes as well as the stunning aurora. Powell expertly captures the reality of life in an unforgiving environment through demonstrating the impacts of extreme weather and isolation through his visuals and interviews with personnel from both McMurdo and Scott bases. An often stunning and honest account of what to many will seem like an alien environment.

Book Review – A QUESTION OF BLOOD (2003) by Ian Rankin

A QUESTION OF BLOOD by IAN RANKIN (2003, Orion, 440pp) ****

Image result for a question of blood ian rankinBlurb: Two seventeen-year-olds are killed by an ex-Army loner who has gone off the rails. The mystery takes Rebus into the heart of a shattered community. Ex-Army himself, Rebus becomes fascinated by the killer, and finds he is not alone. Army investigators are on the scene, and won’t be shaken off. The killer had friends and enemies to spare and left behind a legacy of secrets and lies. Rebus has more than his share of personal problems, too. He’s fresh out of hospital, but won’t say how it happened. Could there be a connection with a house-fire and the unfortunate death of a petty criminal who had been harassing Rebus’s colleague Siobhan Clarke?

This was the fourteenth book in Ian Rankin’s perpetually popular Inspector Rebus series. The subject matter resonates strongly in light of recent instances of campus shootings in the US. Rankin uses the plot to tackle a number of themes including some of his favourites – single-minded politicians, government cover-ups, changes in modern society, families. He also explores the trust in the relationship between Rebus and his DS Siobhan Clarke by having Rebus suspected of killing a low-life who had been stalking Clarke. The main plot is presented as a “why-dunnit” as Rebus is called in by a colleague due to his military background to help with the investigation of a multiple shooting at a public school. The various plot strands and themes unfold and ultimately begin to intermingle and connect. Rankin’s skill as a writer ensures these progressions feel natural connections rather than contrivances. Only in the finale does the plot seem forced.

By now, Rankin is totally at home with his characters and Rebus remains a fascinating creation – a loner, yes, but one who’s affection for Clarke is seen as a surrogate for the daughter he no longer sees. Whilst there would be just three more books in the series’ initial run which ended in 2007, that Rankin returned to the character five years later and restarted the series is testament to the affection he holds for Rebus.

The Rebus series rated:

  1. Knots and Crosses (1987) ***
  2. Hide and Seek (1991) ***
  3. Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992) ***
  4. Strip Jack (1992)
  5. The Black Book (1993) ***
  6. Mortal Causes (1994) ***
  7. Let it Bleed (1996)
  8. Black and Blue (1997)
  9. The Hanging Garden (1998) ****
  10. Dead Souls (1999)
  11. Set in Darkness (2000) ****
  12. The Falls (2001)
  13. Resurrection Men (2002) ****
  14. A Question of Blood (2003) ****
  15. Fleshmarket Close (2004) ****
  16. The Naming of the Dead (2006)  ****½
  17. Exit Music (2007) ****
  18. Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012) ∗∗∗½
  19. Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013) ***
  20. Even Dogs in the Wild (2015) ****
  21. Rather Be the Devil (2016) ***½

Concert Review – PHIL COLLINS at Manchester Arena, 29 November 2017

Having last seen Phil on tour with Genesis ten years again, since when (bar a Motown covers album) he has been largely inactive musically, I had feared that that was it. Talk of retirement followed by health issues involving some vertebrae and back operations that have left him unable to drum or even stand for any length of time, plus his well-publicised battle with the bottle, led me to believe I would not see Phil or Genesis in concert again.

Photo by David Aldous

It was therefore enormously pleasing to see Phil and his band in such excellent form last night at Manchester Arena. His body may be battered, but his voice retains its soulful character and a set of great songs had the whole audience on its feet in the home run during the second set. His 16-year old son, Nic, filled in on drums and is most definitely a chip off the old block. A confident and powerful drummer he surely has a great career ahead of him. His 14-piece band was tight and powerful, conjuring up atmospheric moods with “Another Day in Paradise” and “In the Air Tonight” and grooves with “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” and all of the aforementioned home run. The sound was amazing – the best I have ever heard at an arena venue.

Yes, I missed Phil’s mobility – he was confined to a seat throughout – but the energy of his vocal performance and the superb band more than made up for his lack of physical movement. If anyone was worried PC may not have it in him any more they can be reassured, this was a top performance. Reviews of the shows have been excellent and it seems Phil’s music is being re-appraised.  He has already announced a tour to South America in 2018 and I am sure he will follow up in the US and maybe other territories. There are hints at writing new material and as he stated last night he is still in touch with his Genesis colleagues having met up again the previous evening – so you never know.

Set List:

Set 1:
Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
Another Day in Paradise
One More Night
Wake Up Call
Follow You Follow Me
Can’t Turn Back the Years
I Missed Again
Hang in Long Enough
Separate Lives
Who Said I Would

Intermission

Set 2:
Drum Duet (Nic Collins & Louis Conte)
I Don’t Care Anymore
Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
You Know What I Mean
In the Air Tonight
You Can’t Hurry Love
Dance Into the Light
Invisible Touch
Easy Lover
Sussudio

Encore:
Take Me Home

Shaft sequel to be released in Summer 2019

Image result for new line logoA report by The Wrap states that a release date has been set for New Line’s controversial new take on Shaft. The date the film has been slated to his cinemas is 14 June 2019 – so quite some time to wait yet. No further reports on casting as yet, but with production scheduled to commence next month I expect further details will become available soon.

Film Review – WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017)

Related imageWar for the Planet of the Apes (2017; USA; Colour; 140m) ***  d. Matt Reeves; w. Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves; ph. Michael Seresin; m. Michael Giacchino.  Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Gabriel Chavarria, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Ty Olsson, Judy Greer, Sara Canning, Devyn Dalton, Michael Adamthwaite, Aleks Paunovic, Toby Kebbell. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. Bloated third entry in the rebooted APES series has stunning visuals and special effects, but is weighed down by two-dimensional characterisations. Reeves too often slows the action down to a crawl in order to manufacture emotional wallop and some of the plot progression lacks logic. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – KOJAK: FATAL FLAW (TV) (1989)

Image result for KOJAK FATAL FLAWKojak: Fatal Flaw (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 94m) **½  d. Richard Compton; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Angie Dickinson, Steven Weber, George Morfogen, Charles Cioffi, Richard Jenkins, Paul Guilfoyle, Kario Salem, David Ciminello, Sally Jessy Raphael, Don King. Popular book writer is murdered. Kojak finds out that shortly before his death he was working on a book about the mafia, so the mob is automatically his number one suspect.  Dickinson adds glamour to this okay mystery. Savalas seems more engaged with the material and the whole thing is competently directed by Compton. [PG]

Son of Shaft synopsis and casting news

Image result for alexandra shipp shaft
Alexandra Shipp.

A number of websites and trade papers are reporting New Line’s negotiations with actress Alexandra Shipp to join the cast of Tim Story’s new Shaft sequel. What role Shipp (who recently appeared as Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse) will take is not yet known. Jessie T. Usher has already been signed to play the son of Samuel L Jackson’s John Shaft – the nephew of Richard Roundtree’s original John Shaft.

In addition DenofGeek.com report a newly released synopsis for the movie provisionally titled Son of Shaft:

Working for the FBI, estranged from his father and determined not to be anything like him, John Shaft Jr. reluctantly enlists his father’s help to find out who killed his best friend Karim and bring down a drug-trafficking/money-laundering operation in NYC.

Production is due to commence in December, meaning a winter shoot emulating the original Shaft movie which started shooting in January 1971. Larry Blanford who worked with Story on Ride Along and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, will be the director of photography.

Film Review – KOJAK: ARIANA (TV) (1989)

Kojak: Ariana (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 96m) **  d. Paul Krasny; w. Maurice Hurley; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Shari Headley, Caroline Wilde, Hector Elizondo, Joe Grifasi, Kario Salem, Jean De Baer, David Margulies, Liliana Komorowska, Mike Starr, James Rebhorn. One of Kojak’s old enemies uses Ariana, a young Greek girl, as bait to trap the legendary New York detective. Meanwhile, Kojak finds himself a brash young associate. After a promising start this first episode of a revived series of Kojak TV Movies descends into sentimentality and some weak comic moments. Braugher is introduced to handle the action sequences, whilst Savalas seems a little tired in his iconic role. [PG]