Tag Archives: Bulgaria
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It’s Miller time! Sin Sity: A Dame To Kill For trailer

7 Mar

I am unreasonably excited by the new teaser trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, which has just been released. The first film was a stone-cold, hard-boiled cult classic, echoing Frank Miller’s Expressionist (in film terms) art with amazing precision while still adding life to the book – it didn’t feel like a second-hand reproduction as Watchmen did. That they didn’t tone down the violence was something of a miracle, though not every viewer had the stomach for a Harry Potter lookalike getting his arms and legs eaten off by dogs while still alive.

A lot of people are no fans of Frank Miller, and in some ways he’s the anti-Alan Moore. Right-wing in sensibility where Moore is left-wing to the point of anarchy, he also despises realism in superhero comics, pushing for archetypal stories of violence, desire and redemption. Whatever you may think of his politics and view of women, I’ve interviewed him and found him eloquent, intelligent, mildly irascible and good company.

It’s Frank’s year: 300, the movie you’d think couldn’t possibly have a sequel, gets a second go-round with Rise of an Empire. I visited the studios in Bulgaria when they had just finished shooting, and the crew were agog at what a monumental production it was, using up every single one of their massive soundstages for green-screen work. But to me, it looks overwrought from the trailer. No fun; just brutal.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, in contrast, looks to be a visual feast, with a knock-out cast that reunites Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Powers Boothe, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis, as well as adding Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach and, er, Lady Gaga. It’s been nine long years since the first film. Welcome back, big Marv.

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Putting the “cock” into “Cockney”: Danny Dyer’s massive part in EastEnders

3 Jan
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Legs apart: Danny Dyer as Mick Carter in EastEnders

 

Sir Alan Sugar’s not a fan of Danny Dyer’s debut as Mick Carter in EastEnders, recently branding the new cast a “total joke” on Twitter. I am looking forward to tonight’s storyline, in which Johnny Carter comes out to Daddy Dyer as gay, but it’s true that having seen Dyer’s big opening scene last weekend I can’t unsee it: there he was, wallowing on a double-bed with the missus in nothing but skimpy black briefs.

Now I understand why, when I went out to the New Boyana studios in Bulgaria to watch ITV’s hist-com Plebs being filmed, the cast members were all agog at the sheer size of Dyer’s, um, personality.

“Double D”, as they called him, was apparently the life and soul of the shoot when filming his episode as a gladiator in the first series. “We’d go out most nights with him,” said Lydia Rose Bewley, who plays Metella. Ryan Sampson (Groomio) added, “We’d go all the time to this club where everything is mirrored. I loved his word for kissing: a ‘lips-up’, he calls it.”

Sophie Colquhoun, who plays Cynthia, also nicknamed him “Planet Dyer” because “his personality is so massive”. And it’s not the only thing that is. “In one scene,” she said, “I go to him, ‘Ooh, Danny, I’m seeing quite a lot.’ And he goes, ‘I’m sorry, darlin’, let me shift position.’ Then he shifts, and he’s put it behind his legs, and it’s poking out! You have a little bundle of joy in your eye.”

A crew member also had his eyes indelibly seared: “In the bath-house scene Danny just didn’t care. There it was, in your face, swinging against the lockers.”

“He was pretty confident in the bath-house scene,” agreed Tom Rosenthal (Marcus), in his typically deadpan style. “He does have a penis. It is… worthwhile.”

I’m sorry to go on about Danny Dyer’s member (if you prefer high-brow, read my blog about Hamlet and Citizen Kane instead), but at least it makes a change: when people refer to a load of cock in connection with Dyer, they are normally talking about his films. Dyer by name, dire by nature. He just doesn’t seem able to say no to films such as Pimp, which I had the displeasure of sitting through for a week of film reviews in The Times (I gave it one star; more than it deserved). 

Then again, at least Dyer has the self-awareness and sense of humour to know it. “I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made some s*** films but 7lives is f***ing awful,” he once Tweeted. And: “I ain’t gonna lie. [Just For The Record] is the biggest pile of s*** I have ever done and that’s saying something.”

And actually, for my money Dyer’s a rather good actor; he was actively terrific in Severance. He has an ear for comedy and a puppy-dog vulnerability that underscores his foul-mouthed, wide-boy front. The British film industry seems not to have been able to do more with him, sadly, than cast him as gangsters, wide-boys and football hooligans.

Here’s hoping the BBC give him a meatier part to play with. As it were.

The first series of Plebs is available on DVD through Universal; the second series will be out later this year.

Hooray for Bulgaria-wood

24 Nov
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Ancient Rome… just outside Sofia, Bulgaria

I’ve spent this week at the new hub of big-budget action movies. It’s not in California. It’s not in London. It’s in… Bulgaria.

Whoever thought, given its ending, that 300 could even have a sequel? But it does, and it has just finished shooting entirely in green-screen on Nu Boyana Studios’ 13 massive sound stages. In October, Robert De Niro and John Travolta squared off here for Killing Season. Before that, Nu Boyana reinforced its floors for the musclebound casts of Expendables 2 and Conan.

And, for the last few months, it has stood in for Ancient Rome. I’ve been on the set of Plebs, an ITV2 sit-com slated for spring 2013, doing interviews with the terrific young cast, and it looks very impressive indeed. Nu Boyana, you see, just happens to have a fantastically detailed recreation of the Eternal City in its backlot, complete with forum, temple, bank, living quarters and Coliseum.

But that’s not all. As you can see from my snaps, it also has a realistic 1940s New York (except for misspelling “Veronika” Lake on the cinema marquee for This Gun For Hire); a war-torn Middle Eastern town; and some crashed fighter planes on a back lot. With Santa Claus painted on their fuselage. If someone can tell me why, please do.

The studios were built by the Soviets in 1962, inspired apparently by a trip to MGM, in order to churn out propaganda films.  They have been in private ownership since 2005, and a heavy programme of investment is underway. The crew are hard-working, efficient and wildly experienced (they also specialise in Blowing S*** Up), and everything here seems to be half UK prices or less. Pinewood had better look to its laurels.