July 2014

Category:Movies

Five Reasons You Should See 'Cuban Fury'

If you’re anything like me many of the British films you hear about and are excited to see never come to your local cinema. My nearest art house theater is about an hour away so I often find myself forgoing that trek and waiting for the DVD release instead. One example of such a motion picture is Cuban Fury which I finally got to watch via digital download.

This film tells the story of Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) who, as a young man, was a salsa dancing phenom.  However, after a vicious beating by some bullies, Bruce retired his sequins and quit the competitive dance circuit.

Flash forward to present day and we find that Bruce works for an industrial equipment company and lives a joyless, lonely existence. His sister and former dance partner, Samantha (Olivia Colman) and his golf buddy, Gary (Rory Kinnear) are his only support system. Then one day Bruce’s new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) arrives from America and his cautious life is changed forever.

Category:Movies

Watch: The First Trailer for ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy’s Epic Conclusion

Hi guys! I’m home from Comic Con – exhausted, sore, seriously jetlagged and super happy. I had a great con. More on that later, but first I have to catch up on the apparently millions of things I did not read or watch over the last week. Bear with me!

One of the (many, many) fantastic bonuses to come out of San Diego Comic Con International is a positive explosion of new trailers for things. Having a captive audience, so to speak, the biggest studios and networks in the world want to make as big of a splash with as many properties as possible.

Thus, it’s no surprise that Warner Brothers rolled out the red carpet for the final appearance of The Hobbit – and likely the final Comic Con for fanboy god Peter Jackson for a very long time (if ever). The director has filmed six Tolkien-based movies over the past fourteen years, and unless he somehow manages to wrest the rights to The Silmarillion away from the author’s estate (unlikely), we’re approaching a true end of an era.

The studio hosted a star-studded panel on Saturday morning in the convention center’s Hall H, featuring stars Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly and more, and dropped the first trailer for the trilogy’s highly anticipated final installment, subtitled The Battle of the Five Armies.

Spoiler alert: If you are at all in any way a fan of Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, get your tissues ready now. Just trust me.

Category:Comedy

Monty Python Live (Mostly): A Good Laugh and a Fond Farewell

Disclaimer: I am a life-long Monty Python fan so this post is very unlikely to be an objective account of the simulcast I am about to tell you about. That being said, yesterday I had the privilege of witnessing a very special event indeed – Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus comedy troupe reunited after over 30 years away from the stage for a limited run of ten live shows at London’s O2 arena. For those of us who weren’t in the vicinity or couldn’t get their hands on a ticket, the Pythons kindly consented to turn their very last show into a worldwide party by live streaming the event to cinemas around the world and to UK residents on the Gold channel as well.

It was great to gather in a movie theater with other Python fans, people who know, love and, in many cases, can recite the sketches verbatim. If you’ve ever watched Monty Python with the uninitiated you may well know the confused scowls and the bewildered lament of “I don’t get it.” There was none of their ilk in the seats yesterday. Who’s going to pay $18 to watch a bunch of septuagenarians being silly on stage without being obsessively familiar with their body of work after all?

Category:Other

Telly Visions at San Diego Comic Con 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, the dog days of July are upon us, when entertainment enthusiasts everywhere gather in Southern California for the best weekend of the year, when we all put on costumes and revel in whatever various forms of geekery we most enjoy. Yes, I’m headed back to San Diego Comic Con International this weekend, so bear with us if the blog is a bit quiet this weekend.

While I’m technically going for fun once again this year (and with the hopes that it’ll take my mind off things to be quite honest), there’s no reason that I still can’t report back to everyone about all the relevant and exciting Brit-related news from this year’s convention.

Sadly, there are no Doctor Who or Sherlock panels to be had this year, but rumor has it a host of British celebs will be in San Diego promoting their latest projects, which will include appearances by such famous faces as Colin Firth, Daniel Radcliffe and more – including, yes, even Benedict Cumberbatch.

Expect a full report next week, but in the meantime make sure you're following the blog on Twitter, because if I manage to see or do anything exceptionally awesome, that's likely where you'll see it first. (If you just want to see photos of my TARDIS dress and me sitting in various massive lines for things, you can find my personal account here.)

Category:Movies

Get Your First (Two) Look(s) at Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in ‘The Imitation Game’

World War II biopic The Imitation Game – which tells the story of British codebreaker, genius and general hero Alan Turing - has been a buzzy project for months now, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the release of the film’s first trailer has been met with rapturous reviews.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch – well known for his ability to portray complicated genius types like Stephen Hawking, Vincent Van Gogh and Julian Assange – plays Turing, joined by an all-star cast comprised of British acting heavyweights, including the Oscar-nominated Keira Knightley, Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance, Downton Abbey’s Allen Leech, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Matthew Goode, Matthew Beard and more. 

Learn  - and watch both (fantastic) new trailers – below. 

Category:Culture

Watch the Queen’s Guards Play the ‘Game of Thrones’ Theme Song at Buckingham Palace

So, Queen Elizabeth probably doesn’t have a Ser Barristan the Bold of her own outside Buckingham Palace, but the Queen’s Guards are apparently big fans of fantasy drama Game of Thrones anyway.

We know this because during a recent Changing of the Guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the band suddenly burst into a rousing rendition of the HBO series’ incredibly recognizable theme tune. (For those that don’t know the band traditionally performs a song during the ceremony, which takes place daily in the summer at 11:30am.)

It’s awesome. And thankfully a quick bystander recorded it and put it on YouTube

Five Benedict Cumberbatch Performances You Can Stream Online - That Aren't 'Sherlock'

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. But we've all already seen that, right? (Photo: Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE) The actor who plays everyone's favorite consulting detective is turning 38 today (July 19), and but why restrict yourself to celebrating Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch on just one day? (Confession time: I certainly do not.) We’ve already covered Cumberbatch’s extensive acting catalogue in our British Actors You Should Know series (which, honestly, is already a bit out of date thanks to his grueling movie making schedule), so it seemed more appropriate to spend today highlighting the ways you can most easily get your celebratory Cumberfix. Which, of course, means the stuff you can watch on the internet.

[Serious time: If you really want to do something special for Cumberbatch’s birthday besides dehydrate yourself watching Third Star, stop by the Batch of Kindness hashtag on Twitter (#batchofkindness) and take part in a global effort to do something nice for someone else. It’s pretty cool.]

Now, back to binge watching.

But, I’ve seen Sherlock, you say. It can’t possibly get better than that. Well, that’s wrong, and we’re here to give you five options of Cumberbatch-filled films and TV programs that you can stream online right now. (Yes, yes, there are a lot more than this, but they aren’t all online, so they’re not as easy to locate.)

Category:Drama

Watch: The Creepy New Trailer for 'The Fall' Series 2

BBC Two has released the first trailer for the The Fall’s highly anticipated second season and it’s actually possible that this one is even creepier than the first. Dark and foreboding, it really makes you wonder what we’ve got to look forward to in Series 2.

The crime drama – which stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan  - tells the story of DSI Stella Gibson, a hard, but talented detective who is on the trail of a serial murderer who’s been targeting young professional women. However, thanks to the twist that makes this show more interesting than your average procedural, we already know that the killer is Paul Spector (Dornan), an unassuming everyman with a charming wife and family at home. 

Things will pick back up right where we left at the end of last year, with Dornan’s serial killer Paul fleeing Belfast with his family in town, narrowly avoiding capture by DS Gibson. Additionally, Merlin star Colin Morgan has joined the cast for Series 2, playing an officer who will work closely with Gibson on the investigation

Watch the new trailer for yourselves below.

Category:Online

The 'Doctor Who' 50th Anniversary Special Redone in LEGO is Everything

Making LEGO versions of things has become a popular trend in fannish circles over the last few years (spurred on, no doubt, by the financial and critical success of The LEGO Movie, which is basically what it says on the tin). You have a favorite show or movie? Chances are, some uber-creative soul out there has LEGO-ized it for you, whether it’s bits from Sherlock episodes or Star Trek trailers or the Downton Abbey estate or  The Hobbit redone with mini-figures

Now someone has re-done last year’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary block-for-block and it is incredible. 

Category:Drama

'Last Tango in Halifax' Mid-Series Recap: Discuss the Dramatic Twists of Series 2

Like many of you, I’ve been faithfully watching  Series 2 of Last Tango in Halifax, a late-in-life romance/family drama. But half way through last Sunday’s episode I started to wonder why we haven’t done recaps of this exceedingly chat worthy show. I won’t lie, more than once I’ve rolled my eyes at the constant barrage of melodramatic circumstances that have befallen the Buttershaw/Dawson clan. But I’ve also witnessed authentic family dynamics that ring so true I feel that they are speaking directly to me. In my opinion, the merits outweigh the soap opera elements. In fact, I liken it to a more serious and decidedly adult-themed Brady Bunch for our time.

So Last Tango fans, here’s my rehash of the most important developments in the very eventful lives of our favorite West Yorkshire residents. So far this series has boiled down to three major themes: estrangement, money and babies.

Category:Drama

American Maggie Gyllenhaal Does Her Best British Accent in ‘The Honourable Woman’ This July

BBC Two political thriller The Honourable Woman will be making its way to America later this month, where we’ll all get to see the very American Maggie Gyllenhaal give us her best attempt at a British accent. American ladies doing British drama seems to be quite the thing now, what with actresses like Gillian Anderson and Elisabeth Moss crossing the pond to headline various dramas (The Fall and Top of the Lake, respectively).

In this eight-part drama, Gyllenhaal stars as Nessa Stein, and the Academy Award nominee is joined by an all-star cast that includes The Shadow Line’s Stephen Rea, Doctor Who’s Lindsay Duncan, The White Queen’s Janet McTeer, Broadchurch’s Andrew Buchan, The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson and many more. 

Category:Drama

Is 'Endeavour' Just the Beginning? Other British TV Characters That Should Get a Prequel

Endeavour has recently returned to Masterpiece Mystery for a second series and I must say I find it to be the most compelling show on PBS’ very British Sunday night line-up.  So far DC Morse (Shaun Evans) has solved intricate cases dealing with beauty queens, ancient artifacts, a boarding school for girls and a century’s old mass murder. In addition, I’m looking forward to discovering how the Freemasons play into all the mayhem being unleashed in Oxford.

As advertised when it first aired last summer, Endeavour is the origin story of the beloved Inspector Morse, who was played by the late John Thaw in the orignial series of the same name. This prequel is not only an opportunity to allow fans of the original series to see Morse solve a few more murders, but a peek into the past to discover how the promising young Endeavour developed into the brilliant but somewhat sullen detective he became. We get to witness his growing affinity for opera and drink, as well as get a glimpse of some people who will follow him through his police career. Fans love little homages like that and new viewers get to meet a well-written character with a definite destiny ahead of him.

The concept of the prequel got me to thinking about other series that might want to employ this narrative device. While some shows are all about character development and uncovering the layers, so to speak, there are other personalities that are so mysterious, eccentric or enigmatic you can’t help wondering how they got that way. 

Category:Sci-Fi

BBC Releases Full 'Doctor Who' Series 8 Trailer

Rejoice, Whovians! The first full trailer for Doctor Who Series 8 has officially arrived and it’s pretty much everything we could have wanted and more.

After a couple of teaser trailers that featured little more than backlit shots of new Doctor Peter Capaldi and creepy voiceovers that sound like they could be from familiar characters, we’ve finally got a real look at footage from the new season. There are old enemies, new threats, a tyrannosaurus rex running past the Houses of Parliament, the Doctor riding a horse and a lot more.  It’s so awesome.

Watch and get excited:

Category:Drama

Get a Look Behind the Scenes at the Filming of 'Mapp and Lucia'

Production on the BBC’s upcoming three-part remake of Mapp and Lucia is officially under way, and you can now get your first look at the many famous faces who will be bringing the residents of Tilling to life.

The comedic drama will be based on the novels by author E.F. Benson, originally published during the 1920s. Our story begins when Mrs. Emmeline Lucas, known to her friends as Lucia, decides to take a holiday in the charming Queen Anne town of Tilling and runs into – and almost immediately afoul of – Miss Elizabeth Mapp, its designated social ringleader. Chaos (predictably) ensues. 

Two-time Academy Award-nominee Miranda Richardson is playing Mapp opposite  The Hour’s Anna Chancellor as Lucia. Our leading ladies will be joined by The League of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton as Lucia’s devoted BFF Georgie Pillson, as well as Sherlock star Mark Gatiss as Raj Army veteran Major Benjy.

Mapp and Lucia is tentatively slated to air later this year, but you can get your first look at the new series now, thanks to the wonders of Twitter.  The official BBC One account and several members of the Mapp and Lucia cast and crew have helpfully shared a handful of behind the scenes filming photos, and everyone looks fantastic, basically: 

Category:Culture

'Downton Abbey', 'Sherlock' Lead British Invasion as 2014 Emmy Nominations Are Announced

The 66th Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced this morning (July 10) so I thought it a good time to take an inventory of how some of our favorite actors from the UK fared with the Television Academy. If you're curious - the answer is - quite well, and in a few unexpected categories to boot! Let's take a look. If you’d like to see the complete list of nominees, regardless of their nationality, click here.

Category:Movies

First Look at Sir Ian McKellen Playing Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes currently holds the Guinness World Record for most frequently portrayed fictional character in film or television – over 70 actors have taken on the role of the world’s greatest detective, from Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett to Michael Caine to Benedict Cumberbatch.

There are currently two contemporary television properties (Sherlock, Elementary) and a feature film series (starring Robert Downey, Jr.) focused on the character, but we’re about to add yet another Holmes adaptation to the list –  a big screen adaptation called Mr. Holmes directed by Bill Condon (known most recently for his work on The Fifth Estate and several of the Twilight films) has just gone into production.

The movie will offer a slightly different take on the tale of the great detective –and will be set during the twilight of his life, as he battles old age, dementia and a growing obsession with an unsolved case. The great Sir Ian McKellen is set to play Holmes – yes, get the screaming out of your system now; it is perfect casting – as he grapples with the diminishing powers of his singular mind.

Filming officially gets under way this month, and we now have our first look at McKellen as Holmes (though there doesn’t appear to be a deerstalker in sight, sadly).

Take a look for yourselves below. 

Category:Theater

Watch: Martin Freeman Talks Playing Richard III

Martin Freeman’s performance as Shakespeare’s Richard III is currently in previews at the Trafalgar Theatre in London, as part of their “Trafalgar Transformed” series. The stage play officially opens this week, and tickets are still available for anyone who fancies a pop across the pond this summer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with your Wars of the Roses, here’s how the story goes: In the aftermath of civil war, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, makes a hateful resolution to claw his way to political power at any cost. A master of manipulation, subtle wit and beguiling charm, he orchestrates his unlawful ascent by spinning a ruthless web of deceit and betrayal. His staunch ambition soon begins to weigh heavy, as the new ruler finds himself utterly alone and steeped in dread, forced to answer for his bloody deeds and face the horrifying consequences. (Keep this handy synopsis in your mind, too, because Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch will also be playing Richard Crookback in the not-too-distant future.)
But, even though the story is about manipulation and betrayal and murder, it’s not completely dark.

Category:Drama

‘Sherlock’ Star Rupert Graves Joins Cast of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ Series 3

Popular romantic family drama Last Tango in Halifax was renewed for a third season earlier this year (the show’s second run is currently airing in America as we type speak) and production is slated to begin in July. This is all in and of itself very good news for those that love the show, but there’s even more good news to be had.

Sherlock’s Rupert Graves has officially announced that he’ll be part of the cast in Series 3! The actor is best known for his role as the put-upon Detective Inspector Lestrade in the hit consulting detective series, but has also had featured roles in such series as The White Queen, Scott and Bailey and Doctor Who, among many others. Graves will play a man named Gary Jackson in Halifax, but other than his name, we know literally nothing about who this character will turn out to be or who he will interact with on the show. So, start speculating, I guess? 

Category:Sci-Fi

New 'Doctor Who' Teaser Hints a Familiar Face Might Return for Series 8

Seriously, is it August 23, yet?

Another new teaser trailer for the upcoming eighth season of Doctor Who has arrived and while – yet again – it doesn’t feature anything that looks like actual episode footage,  it does raise an intriguing question about the sort of villains we’re likely to see once Series 8 gets underway.

The new clip is called Two Hearts, in reference to the Doctor’s unique biology and follows the pattern set by previous teasers by opening with several shots of the TARDIS on fire and electricity surging through Twelve’s body and illuminating his cardiac system.

So, yeah, not a lot that’s new to go on in this trailer, image wise, but make sure you play attention to the voiceover that’s playing during the footage. 

Category:Culture

Celebrate Independence Day by Imagining If The British Had Won

As every American knows, on July 4 the United States celebrates its independence. We watch fireworks, eat barbecue, go to baseball games, and basically spend the day generally rejoicing in our Founding Fathers’ successful thrashing of the British Empire.

I never know what to write about on this particular day here on the blog – it’s such an American holiday and we cover all things British and it’s probably not best to cross the streams and all that kind of thing. But luckily, the marketing team at beer manufacturer Newcastle has helpfully provided us with the perfect post topic this year.

Category:Drama

It’s Official: ‘Sherlock’ Will Return for a Special and a Fourth Season!

Fans everywhere can rejoice: The BBC has officially confirmed that Sherlock will return for a one-off special and a three-episode Series 4!

[Yes it’s okay if you start screaming now.]

Even though the entire cast and creative team has been discussing this for ages as a done deal, it’s nice to get the official word that the fourth season is happening (plus the bonus of an extra episode!) Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will return as Sherlock and John and presumably solve the mystery of why Moriarty’s face was plastered everywhere in London at the end of last season (and hopefully deal with the fallout from the Mary situation that left a lot of fans scratching their heads). 

British Actors You Should Know: Michael Fassbender

Ever since Carmen did a post on James McAvoy – and I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past – I’ve been dying to do a post on all the many talented roles of his co-star, Irish actor Michael Fassbender. (General note: Yes, I am aware that Fassbender is Irish and that I’m stretching the definition of “British Actors You Should Know” a tiny bit to include him as part of this series. But, I’m going with it. Don’t yell at me too much.)

Anyway, most of you reading this probably do know who Fassbender is, in one form or another – whether it’s as the young Magneto from X-Men or the psychotic slave owner in 12 Years a Slave, or even the guy who danced with Benedict Cumberbatch at the Golden Globes in that photo that was everywhere the next day.  But he’s turned in several truly phenomenal performances over the course of his (fairly short) career thus far that are well worth your time to watch.

Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

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