In Defence of Bill Nighy

Last night I found myself in a very odd position, I was being forced to defend Bill Nighy as an actor and all round amazing human being. And this is after his star turn in Page Eight. At short notice it is hard to articulate why you find a particular actor’s performances so appealing, but with time and a trawl of YouTube I have compiled my defence.

Meerkat Manor

Bill Nighy lends his vocal talents to the narration of the best TV series following a group of meerkats ever. Without Nighy the story of these furry creatures would lack much of the drama and emotion that won it critical acclaim. (Let’s ignore the fact that it was re-dubbed by Sean Astin for the US broadcast).


Roughly 2 minutes into this video you can watch Bill Nighy play an evil snake opposite Johnny Depp’s cowardly chameleon. With basic sets and no costume the acting shines on through. In the finished film you can barely tell Nighy is playing the snake, how’s that for versatility?

Love Actually

By all accounts Love Actually is not a good film, but it does have its moments. Amongst the schmaltz is the heartbreaking story between Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, the sweet romance of Martin Freeman and Joanna Page and of course Bill Nighy as the washed up rock star.

Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz

Bill Nighy was arguably the first big name to get behind the Wright/Pegg partnership and his small roles in the two films are amongst the many, many highlights to be enjoyed.

Gideon’s Daughter

Finally we have one of Nighy’s best roles, as the Gideon in question who is at risk of losing contact with his daughter. The whole TV movie is on YouTube so there’s no excuse not to give it a watch.

If you aren’t convinced of Bill Nighy’s talents by now then I give up.

Maybe Saying Sorry Can Save Your Franchise After All

Back in July we looked at the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers franchises as examples of when the filmmakers have apologised for the quality of previous instalments before the release of the latest film in the series. We wanted to see if the apologies affected the reception of the new films, both in critical acclaim and at the box office.

Because Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was still in cinemas at the time we could only look at opening weekend gross to gauge the success of the films (taken from Box Office Mojo). This figure was plotted alongside the “freshness” (aggregated critic score) for each film from Rotten Tomatoes to see whether the quality of the film had improved as promised by the film-maker. The original conclusion was that opening weekend box-office continues to decline after the apology with the critics score either continuing to decline or increasing, but not to the heights of the original series.

It looked like saying sorry and admitting your film was bad didn’t work, but things have changed…

Pirates of the Caribbean
The second and third films in the Pirates series were dubbed as confusing by viewers and cast alike, Johnny Depp then promised the fourth film would be more fun and much less confusing. Did they follow through and make a better film, and did this make for a better box office? This time we’ve included Worldwide Lifetime Gross and the Audience Freshness from Rotten Tomatoes, determined by user (rather than critic) ratings.

The first thing to notice is that the general public are a lot more friendly when it comes to rating the films, with none of the original trilogy slipping below 70% fresh. More importantly, despite the quality of the films continuing to decline (as agreed by critics and fans) the total box office went back up after Depp had promised them a better film. We can’t prove causality, but we can wildly speculate!

After the second Transformers film came out the critics were falling over each other to pan the sequel and were soon followed by both its lead actor Shia LaBeouf and director Michael Bay. Megan Fox also had plenty to say but was then swiftly removed from the franchise. LaBeouf and Bay did not leave the series, instead they both promised that the third film would be better than its two predecessors and that they had learnt from their mistakes.

While the general audience may have felt that the quality of the films fell after the apologies, the critics were much more forgiving. If critics are to be believed the third Transformers film was much better than the second; not only had Bay and LaBeouf promised a better film, they had delivered. The promise of a better film combined with a film that was indeed an improvement led to a huge increase in total box office gross.

In Conclusion
Using that ability to wildly speculate, we can say that confessing to a lacklustre film and pledging to make a superior follow-up feature will give audiences confidence in your franchise and help you out at the box office. What really seems to help however, is following through on your promise. Both franchises suffered a drop in their opening weekend takings but by actually making a better Transformers film, Michael Bay was able to give the total box office a big increase.

The moral of the story kids; say sorry and keep your promises.

Tyrannosaur – Trailer

Paddy Considine is not content to be a successful writer and actor but has directed his first feature film. Rather than take the easy route and direct a simple, lighter film Considine has gone right in the deep end with a dark drama about an unlikely relationship between a violent widower (Peter Mullan) and a troubled charity shop worker (Olivia Colman). You can see the first trailer below, just don’t go expecting any dinosaurs.

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// While we’ve seen the film we won’t be doing a full review for a while as the film isn’t out until 7th October. After attending the press screening we were asked to provide a brief reaction so that’s what you’ll get for now:

“Powerful, brutal and honest. An attention grabbing and emotionally raw feature debut from Paddy Considine. Olivia Colman broke my heart and Peter Mullan terrified me.”

Plenty of material for a poster quote there. In fact below are three alternatives they’d be mad to not go with…

Page Eight – Tonight

Often the term “TV movie” means something of much lower quality than either regular TV or any film in the cinema, but this is different. This is the BBC and this is David Hare, a man with two Oscar nominations under his belt. Page Eight is a spy thriller about an MI5 officer (Bill Nighy) who sets out to find the truth after his friend and colleague dies suddenly.

Did you see what name I slipped in back there? That’s right, Bill Nighy is the star of this film. Bill Francis Nighy. And he’s not the only name to get excited about; Michael Gambon, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones round out the cast. It’s no surprise this “TV movie” has been doing the festival circuit with actors like that on board.

Page Eight is on BBC One tonight at 9pm, and is followed by David Hare’s The Hours. What can I say? I’m excited.

Out Now – 26th August 2011

In a rare twist we have seen all the films on general release today, both were good and the smaller films on limited release are completely uninteresting. The two big films are both pretty grim, but well worth seeing.

Final Destination 5
Irresistibly fun and surprising new instalment in this franchise. It could easily have become a stale format by now but somehow the elaborate deaths never get old. Click here for extra gush.

The Skin I Live In
After many sleepless nights we are happy to recommend Pedro Almodóvar’s latest, though that recommendation comes with a lot of hesitation. This is not the easiest film to watch and won’t leave you feeling warm and/or fuzzy afterwards. Click here for extra adjectives.

Powder (limited release)
“A dark comedy about an emerging band’s experiences in the UK music scene.” I dare you to find more information about the plot.

As Blood Runs Deep (limited release)
A boy is killed during a burglary and the town rallies together to help find the killers. I bet the killers are people you don’t necessarily expect at first. That’s where the plot comes in. I’ve seen films before, trust me.

R: Hit First, Hit Hardest (limited release)
Danish prison drama about two people whose names begin with “R”. The original title is R – Slå först, slå hårdast which is much more fun.

Children of the Revolution (limited release)
Documentary following two separate women who led the Baader Meinhof Group and the Japanese Red Army after the student revolutions of 1968.

Yoda vs. Yoda

For George Lucas no film is ever finished. He probably won’t leave the Star Wars films alone until every actor is finally replaced by a CGI creation, and then he’ll do it all again with claymation. His latest victim comes in the Blu-ray release of The Phantom Menace as puppet Yoda has been replaced with his now-familiar CGI equivalent.

Watch below and directly compare the two different versions as they ramble on about the dark side (new Yoda on the left, old on the right):

How’s that for taking two clips found on Movieline and putting them next to each other, slightly out of sync?

The Skin I Live In – Clips & Pics

It’s been over a month since we reviewed The Skin I Live In so it seemed appropriate to give a little reminder before it is released tomorrow. A film about a plastic surgeon, his invention of synthetic skin and the human guinea pig he holds hostage, this is precisely as good as you would expect from writer/director Pedro Almodóvar.

Below are two obscure clips and a whole host of stills and behind the scenes images. It’s as if the press kit has thrown up all over this post.


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Out Now – 24th August 2011

Two poorly received adaptations today, neither of which we have seen. Stupid Wednesday releases making us look bad. We’ve seen two of Friday’s releases, two!

Conan the Barbarian
This seems like a slightly old-fashioned film somehow, not containing quite enough character for the modern audience. Whatever the reason, audiences in the US just didn’t want to see it as it opened to a poor weekend box office. Not Glee The 3D Concert Movie bad, but bad nonetheless.

One Day
Based on an acclaimed novel filled with emotions and nuance this was never going to work. Certainly not with Anne Hathaway trying to do a northern accent. Probably still good for a date night with a sensitive soul, just be prepared to hear about how the book was better.

STUDIO and New Empress: Film Magazines for Women?

Studio New Empress film magazine

With half of the Mild Concern team being female and the other half currently studying how to be a woman, we were curious about all the buzz surrounding new film publications, STUDIO and New Empress. Both are being touted as “for women” with the former claiming to be the “first and only of its kind”, while the latter just tries to convince you that it’s “not quite as pretentious as it might sound”.

Launched earlier this month, STUDIO is digital only and marketed as “the UK’s first film magazine for women”, leading us to conclude that it must be modern and forward-facing. So let’s check out how STUDIO describes itself.

Packed with witty editorial and Hollywood news, plus all the latest movie reviews…

Sounding pretty standard so far.

STUDIO stands out from other film magazines with…

Yes? yes?

…its distinctive pages dedicated to the hottest film-inspired fashion, proving to be the one-stop source for female film and entertainment enthusiasts.


You are kidding me. The single thing that “Britain’s first women’s film magazine” picks out as what it has to offer us over and above the offerings of Sight & Sound or Little White Lies is HOT FASHION?

Just take a look at that cover.

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Final Destination 5 – Review

Since the first Final Destination way back in 2000, the various sequels have varied in quality, each trying to replicate a winning formula without being a mere imitation. Final Destination 5 knows where it is coming from and gives knowing nods to all previous films while forging on ahead as a film better than all previous sequels.

In many ways FD5 follows the usual path, a group of young attractive people escape death due to the plucky lead’s premonition, only to get horrifically killed one by one as Death restores his plan. As with any film in this franchise the characters themselves take the situation very seriously and have their own internal dramas which are pretty inconsequential to the audience. There is also the obligatory new rule to Death’s plan: this time that killing someone else allows you to inherit their remaining years on this Earth. This idea is used to fill the gap between the elaborate death sequences, and as such is pretty unimportant.

The deaths are what Final Destination is all about. Watching as a series of random events culminate in an elaborate, and often bloody, death is what made Final Destination popular and why we return every few years to watch it all unfold again. When it comes to elaborate deaths FD5 is a real joy and contains plenty of surprises. None of the deaths I detailed in my trailer dissection happened exactly as expected, there are plenty of red herrings along the way. Most deaths left the audience laughing, murmurs of delight, and occasionally a ripple of applause.

It feels odd to say but the 3D is some of the best I’ve ever seen and there really is no better way to see a fun horror film. When they make the effort to utilise the 3D to the full in a gimmicky fashion then, and only then, will I bother to lower chunky plastic glasses over my own.

The ending of the film is fantastic and the opening credits are sublime. The film as a whole is ridiculous fun and had me giggling and grimacing, often at the same time. Final Destination 5 is out on 26th August and I cannot recommend it enough.

There’s a special joy in knowing that director Steven Quale cut his teeth working as second unit director on Avatar, therefore learning all about 3D from James Cameron before utilising it in a way which would horrify Cameron himself.