Tony Scott Continues to Ride the Rails with ‘Unstoppable’
From an underground train to a cross-country one
BY: Brad Brevet
March 27th 2009 at 2:16 PM
Variety is reporting director Tony Scott has lined up his follow-up project to this summer’s John Travolta and Denzel Washington remake The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and he isn’t leaving the tracks any time soon.
Pelham involves a heist taking place on the subway beneath the streets of New York City and Scott’s new film, titled Unstoppable, also boasts a similar set piece as it involves an unmanned runaway train that is carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. An engineer and his conductor find themselves in a race against time. Sounds like it could almost be called Speed 3.
The film is set up at 20th Century Fox from a script penned by Mark Bomback who is working with Scott to get the picture in shape to be shot later this year.
As for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, that will hit theatres on June 12
In conjunction with the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009 Yarra Trams is sponsoring a short film competition where all entries must “feature a tram or trams as a focal point or as imagery in the film.” Entries close on 5 June.
"Sin Nombre" a tragic and gripping tale of Mexican gang warfare
"Sin Nombre," Cary Fukunaga's tragic and gripping tale of Mexican gang warfare, is handled with conviction and artistry as it follows the border-crossing adventures of a teenage gang member.
By John Hartl
Special to The Seattle Times
CARY JOJI FUKUNAGA / AP
"Sin Nombre (Nameless)," with Edgar M. Flores, Paulina Gaitan, Tenoch Huerta Mejia, Kristian Ferrer. Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga. 96 minutes. Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content. In Spanish, with English subtitles.
Tragic and gripping, Cary Fukunaga's "Sin Nombre" revitalizes a gang-warfare genre that had appeared to be played out lately.
The movie deservedly made a splash at this year's Sundance Film Festival, earning prizes for Adriano Goldman's fluid widescreen cinematography and Fukunaga's sharp direction. The co-producers include the young stars of "Y Tu Mamá También," Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal.
While the early scenes suggest a traditional tale of brutal one- upsmanship and revenge, Fukunaga's script takes several unexpected turns as it follows the border-crossing adventures of a Mexican teenage gang member nicknamed El Casper (Edgar M. Flores).
Dominated and humiliated by Lil' Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia), a sadistic rapist who tortures and kills for sport, El Casper is just beginning to sense that he may want to reach the North with someone less volatile.
Like a Mafia chieftain, this psychopath is at his most threatening when he tries to create a little family feeling with the "homies," cuddling with a baby or announcing "I love you, son" to the person who's most likely to be next on his hit list. To nervous immigrants, he's as scary as a sudden cry of "border patrol!"
When they head toward the United States on a freight train that's crowded with far too many hopefuls, El Casper makes a decisive break with this monster that earns him the admiration of a young Honduran woman, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan). He also says goodbye to a future with the gang, smashing his cellphone on the tracks as if that could erase what he's done.
At the same time he alienates his young pal, Smiley (Kristian Ferrer), who is in the process of becoming a child soldier. Methodically taught to be indifferent to suffering, Smiley turns out to be an alarmingly quick study. His initiation rites include waving a gun and using it.
Reminiscent of the child narrator's blithely amoral viewpoint in "Days of Heaven," Smiley embraces his darker nature in a way that suggests there's no turning back. "Sin Nombre" eventually turns into a grimly ironic account of survival of the luckiest. But at what cost?
Everything is tarnished by the carnage that begins and accompanies this desperate migration to an unwelcoming North, and that includes the relative righteousness of the hero. El Casper tries to behave decently but, as Flores so vividly plays him, he's trapped by the noirish circumstances that surround him.
"Sin Nombre" director hopped trains in search of real faces
An interview with Cary Fukunaga, whose debut feature, "Sin Nombre" (or "Nameless"), opens Friday. The film deals with a real Mexican gang that preys on immigrants who crowd trains headed for the United States. The director/writer researched his film by hopping trains and befriending strangers.
By John Hartl
Special to The Seattle Times
ENIAC MARTINEZ / AP
Cary Fukunaga's debut feature, "Sin Nombre (Nameless)," deals with a real Mexican gang, Mara Salvatrucha, that preys on immigrants who crowd trains headed for the United States.
Motivated by a magazine article that shocked him, Fukunaga researched the script by hopping trains, befriending desperate and hopeful strangers, and observing the anonymous crosses that represent those who didn't make it.
"The immigrants are nameless," he said by phone from New York. "The gang members have nicknames."
The central character, Willy, mostly goes by his gang nickname, El Casper (inspired by Casper the Friendly Ghost). Fukunaga cast Edgar M. Flores in the role because "he has the street in his eyes."
The sadistic gang-boss villain of the story, Lil' Mago, is played by Tenoch Huerta Mejia. Fukunaga chose him because "he's good-looking, charismatic and a leader — the captain of his football team."
The role of the heroine, Sayra, went to a more experienced actress, Paulina Gaitan, because "we needed a girl with a haunting look."
After his experiences on the trains, Fukunaga felt he had to have the right faces to tell this story. He didn't always get his first choice.
"I found this homeless kid in Veracruz," he said. "I saw that face and I thought, 'That's Smiley' (El Casper's young pal), but we lost contact. He had no address and he never showed up." The role finally went to Kristian Ferrer.
A graduate of New York University's film school, Fukunaga was born and raised in Oakland, Calif., where he shot home videos starring his little brother.
"When I was 14, I worked all summer and spent everything I earned — about $1,000 — to buy a Sony," he said.
Directing brief comedies, mini- dramas and fake trailers for horror films, he created a homemade flicker effect to make the video images look like film.
He still prefers a film experience to video. While it was tempting to shoot "Sin Nombre" in a digital format, he and his prize-winning cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, chose widescreen 35 mm.
All of "Sin Nombre" was shot in Mexico, where the filmmakers worked closely with train officials to create the more scenic and spectacular episodes.
A couple of Fukunaga's shorts have become film-festival favourites: "Kofi" (2003), about a child whose parents are separating, and "Victoria para chino" (2004), a fact-based drama about would-be Mexican immigrants who die in a refrigerated truck while trying to cross the border.
Fukunaga, who lives in New York, is working on a couple of projects: a love story and a musical.
"But the musical won't be Broadway," he said, "and it won't be a rock opera.
April 15, 2009, (Sawf News) - Rifkin-Eberts Productions have released two trailers for Brian King penned action thriller Night Train that stars Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn, and Danny Glover.
The 2m 14s long International Teaser Trailer with Japanese subtitles shows sequence of events in a running night train.
Footage in the generous 3m 12s long second trailer is quite similar to the international teaser trailer.
Train conductor (Glover) goes on a ticket checking round in the train. He reaches this cabin with three passengers. One of the male passengers (Zahn) and a female passenger (Sobieski) together with the conductor discover that the third passenger in the cabin has passed away while seated upright in the seat.
They come across valuable jewels on his person, which they wish to keep for themselves. So, to make it look like the man never boarded the train, they conspire to dump his body in a river that the train passes. Their scheme to get rid of the corpse escalates to the point where they have to chop up his body just to fit him into a small trunk. The female passenger takes the lead in getting hold of a big knife and hack the body. They then become paranoid, and turn on each other.
The release date of the film is yet to be announced.
Movie promo train to tour country
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Published: Monday, April 20, 2009
LOS ANGELES - Disney will send a train on a nationwide tour in support of its upcoming remake of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" starring Jim Carrey. The diesel-powered train will depart Los Angeles in late May, and will visit 41 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
The touring consist will include five cars: a baggage car, three display cars, and the heavyweight observation car Lamberts Point, which the train's staff will use. The three display cars were previously part of the Art Train while the baggage car is leased.
Four of the five cars are being transformed by Disney into a representation of 19th century London and will have a variety of interactive displays for visitors. Disney has a staff of approximately 30 working on the train in the Los Angeles area, completely refurbishing it for the project. Planned motive power is to be a pair of Amtrak locomotives, which along with the display cars will be "wrapped" in Disney promotional material.
A fleet of trucks will travel with the train, arriving at display locations ahead of its arrival with equipment to set up tents and other displays to promote the film. Visitors who have seen the train during construction said they have been surprised by the amount of work that has gone into the project, and that for the first time the "Disney experience" of the company's theme parks will be brought to the rails.
The movie, set for a late-October release, will appear in a digital three-dimensional format. Carrey's voice will portray Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts.
To celebrate the upgraded Chiltern Railways Mainline service between Birmingham Moor Street and LondonMarylebone, Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS) has partnered with Chiltern Railways to remake the famous 1962 British Railways promotional film ‘Let’s go to Birmingham’.
The Stratford-based chamber orchestra filmed the new version of the original soundtrack, ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ Polka, by Johann Strauss, during a train journey from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone.
Called ‘Let’s Go to London’, the new film, which has been sped up to show the 90 minute journey in just five minutes, shows the musicians playing their instruments in a carriage, while conductor David Curtis directs from the aisle.
The film was re-created by Goodmedia, a Birmingham-based film and media company. Project partner Naxos, the world’s leading classical record company (www.naxos.com), is releasing the audio recording as a single on its own digital platforms (Classics Online / http://www.classicsonline.com, Naxos Music Library / http://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com) and associated third party digital platforms including iTunes.
David Curtis, OOTS’ artistic director and conductor, said: “This was a wonderful and unique collaboration between us, Chiltern Railways and Goodmedia. It was a lot of fun to make and passengers certainly enjoyed listening to classical music on their journey to London.”
Ian Baxter, Customer Service Director at Chiltern Railways, added: “This video showcases not only fantastic classical music but also the Chiltern Mainline journey between Birmingham Moor Street and London Marylebone. Whilst we do not always have an Orchestra to entertain you, our trains will get you to your destination in comfort, speed and style.”
Chiltern Railways completed a £150m investment to upgrade their line between Birmingham Moor Street and London Marylebone in September 2011, which has reduced journey times between our first and second cities and created the Chiltern Mainline.
Public Television Series Great Scenic Railway Journeys To Feature Colorado's Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
Emmy Award-Winning Show to Film Alamosa Based Railroad, Kick-off to Rails & Ales Brewfest and Concert Event
ALAMOSA, Colo., June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad today announced its participation in the Great Scenic Railway Journeys' television series that profiles some of the world's most historic and scenic railways. Produced by Emmy Award winner Robert C. Van Camp and hosted by storyteller David Holt, the series on "Celebrating North America's Steam Railways" airs on public television stations across the U.S. and will feature Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's historic 100-year old steam engine.
During the filming on June 23rd - 25th, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad will take passengers on rides through picturesque mountains to the majestic La Veta pass, a Colorado symbol of natural beauty and wildlife. Film crews and passengers alike can bask in the historic symbolism of the steam engine, while participating in Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's fifth annual Rails & Ales Brewfest and Concert.
"By filming with Great Scenic Railway Journeys, we hope to bring more attention to the history of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad and its significance as the longest and highest standard gauge railroad in the country," said Fred Hargrove of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. "For those looking for something completely different, but still wanting to enjoy the historic Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, we've created the unique Rails & Ales Brewfest and concert series."
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's Rails & Ales Brewfest and concert is a favorite among adventure-seekers. With over 20 breweries in attendance, at 9400 feet in a concert venue only accessible by train, it is Colorado's most unique beer festival. The Rails & Ales Brewfest and Concert is part of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's 2012 Mountain Rails Live Summer Concert Series lineup, featuring performers Chuck Pyle and The Rifters. Concerts are hosted at an eco-conscious concert site and are only accessible by train.
For the Summer Concert Series and Rails & Ales Brewfest and Concert, tickets range from $19 to $149 depending on the class of service and departure location. Trains depart from Alamosa or La Veta and take passengers directly to the concert site at Fir - an amphitheater powered solely by wind and solar energy. For complete information on Mountain Rails Live, visit us online at http://www.mountainrailslive.com
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad depot is located at 610 State Ave., Alamosa, Colo., and the La Veta Depot is located at 111 Westmoor Street, La Veta, Colo. To purchase tickets for opening weekend or for an upcoming excursion, or for more information call 877.726.RAIL or visit http://www.riograndescenicrailroad.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Rio Grande Scenic RailroadThe Rio Grande Scenic Railroad conducts fun, nostalgic and entertainment-filled train excursions through one of the most beautiful and historic areas of the Rocky Mountain region. Founded in 1878 as the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, it played a critical role in the region's development for decades and today provides memorable trips from Alamosa to the Spanish Peaks and the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad will host numerous special events during 2012, including a summer concert series onboard the trains, the Rails & Ales Brewfest, special steam trains to Antonito and Monte Vista, Saturday evening dinner trains, a Photo Spectacular excursion, and much more. The Rio Grande's sister railways include the Mount Hood Railroad in the Columbia River Gorge, the Copper Spike Train in Arizona, the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad in New York State and the West Texas Polar Express(TM) and charter excursions with High Iron Travel. For more information, visit http://www.riograndescenicrailroad.com .
It’s an industry we all love to complain about,’ says narrator Kevin Whatley at the start of the BBC’s new show about Britain’s railway.
The industry would take issue with that statement, but watch the first five minutes into The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track and it becomes difficult to argue against it convincingly.
The programme’s opening sequences show a passenger pretending to steal a computer monitor to recoup a ?99 refund, an odd exchange in which another passenger says he feels he’s being treated like a ‘rabbit’ and a generous sprinkling of bad language.
Any new TV programme, newspaper article or segment about our railway is treated with suspicion by those who spend their lives working with or writing about trains and track. Ask most commentators, engineers and train operators and you’ll get the same answer – mainstream news media is only interested in late trains and ticket prices.
The public get suspicious when train people try to tell them about the positive things that are happening on the network. It is not surprising if the person you are trying to convince has had their train home cancelled for the second time in a week.
It might be difficult for those who are frustrated to see a service which is used by millions every day represented by a few angry customers, but sometimes you’ve got to pick your battles.
Bad news is good news and viewers don’t want to turn on to see a documentary that is trying to convince them every train runs on time and no one ever complains when they’re asked to hand over more than ?150 for a single ticket from London to Manchester.
The thing is, filmmakers don’t just want doom and gloom. They want engaging characters and human interest stories – real life.
The first programme in the series, which aired last night, followed the final working days of lifelong railwayman Laxman Keshwara, who has worked on the railways since coming to Britain in the 1960s, and demonstrated the kind of difficult circumstances station staff have to cope with every time they arrive at work.
Scanning Twitter after the show, it was clear that some people had a new-found respect for rail staff.
Kevin Groves, head of media at Network Rail, is the man who allowed the BBC to set up its cameras where few have been before. He said: “Having watched the episodes in advance, I think viewers will get a real and valuable insight into the challenges that railway staff face on a daily basis.
“It’s clear that people working in this industry are dedicated, passionate about the railway and their jobs and about good customer service.
“The series may also make it clear to those watching, some of the underlying reasons for journey delays and rail costs, where currently misunderstanding fuels public frustration.”
The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track is being broadcast in six parts on Tuesday’s at 9pm. The first episode can be found on the BBC iPlayer.
When Armie Hammer signed on to play The Lone Ranger, he figured he would put on the mask and get to work - and that most of the action would be added during post-production.
The actor was in for a bit of a surprise, as he spent a mere week filming in front of a green screen, and more than three-and-a-half weeks shooting on top of moving trains!
"They were going about 40 miles per hour," Armie told Access Hollywood at the junket for "The Lone Ranger" in New Mexico, where the movie was filmed. "We built our own railway that we could use. I think it was like 12 miles of railway or something like that.
"It was kind of a big loop that kind of had a little thing to it and figured out the proper angles so that they could maximize the amount of sunlight they would get and shoot for the most amount of time, at the right turns and all that," he explained. "So we basically would climb up top those trains and just ride in circles for hours until they ran out of film and then we'd go back down, re-load, go back up and just do it again."
Despite days spent aboard locomotives, Armie said it never became old hat.
"I mean you're standing on top of a train - the novelty never really wears off!" he said.
Prior to filming, the 26-year-old actor attended "cowboy camp" - something Armie described as a definite job perk.
"[It was] fantastic. It's basically going to work on a horse ranch for two weeks," he said. "Lassos, bull whips, hand guns, horses - every 6-year-old's dream."
When it came time to perform dangerous stunts for the Disney film, Armie explained the key to maintaining safety is to go for it.
"If you hesitate, that's when you're going to get hurt," he said. "If you get up there and all of a sudden you look down and you get nervous about falling off, all of a sudden you're not paying attention about where you're going or what you're supposed to do and that's when you get hurt.
"[When you're done] you get off and you kind of get the shaky leg," he continued. "You're like, I can't believe I did that! Thank God it worked."
As for whether he's heard talk of a possible sequel, Armie said they "haven't yet."
"I think everybody is still too sore and tired from the first one to even go into it," he added, with a laugh.
Catch Armie, along with Johnny Depp as Tonto, in "The Lone Ranger" - in theaters on July 3.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has received its first ever complaint about The Railway Children.
For more than four decades, families have gathered to watch the U-rated movie with adults trying to hide their tears at the heart-warming tale. But the moment which got the viewer steamed up was not when Jenny Agutter gasps "Daddy, my Daddy", prompting uncontrolled blubbing, instead it was the fear that it could encourage youngsters to play on railway lines.
However the BBFC, which has classified movies for a century, points out that the film illustrates the dangers all too clearly and is set in a very different time.
The 1970 film, which stars Agutter, Bernard Cribbins and Dinah Sheridan, has been a festive favourite for many years and is widely regarded as one of British cinema's treasures. Based on the E Nesbit novel, it was filmed on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway - masquerading as the Great Northern and Southern Railway - and chronicles the adventures of three children when they are forced to move from London to Yorkshire after their father is imprisoned for being falsely accused of selling state secrets.
The scene in which Bobbie (played by Agutter) rushes to embrace her released father on the platform at Oakworth station is imprinted on the minds of anyone who has seen it. But in some scenes the children are seen on the tracks, notably as they attempt to warn a train driver about a landslide, and rescuing a young boy who has hurt his leg in a tunnel during a paperchase with near-disastrous consequences.
The complaint about the footage is revealed in the BBFC's annual report, which notes: "The correspondent was concerned that children may be encouraged to play on railway tracks as a result of seeing the film.
"While aware of the real dangers of such behaviour, the BBFC judged that it was very unlikely that The Railway Children would promote such dangerous activity. The Railway Children is set in the Edwardian period and trains and access to railway property are very different today. The film also demonstrates the potential harm to children if proper care is not taken."
The most complained-about film of the year was The Woman In Black, which prompted 134 people to grumble the film was "too dark and unsettling" for its 12A certificate.
The report notes that one of the factors had been that it starred Daniel Radcliffe, best known for his Harry Potter role, who would have attracted younger cinemagoers who may not have been prepared for the content.
Men In Black 3 also proved controversial, generating a hefty postbag with 50 complaints about either bad language, violence, horror or sexual innuendo.
By STEPHEN MCGINTY
Published on 13/07/2013 00:00
IT was a close thing, but a dastardly 40-year campaign by the film industry to corrupt impressionable young minds with dangerous images has been exposed, rejoices Stephen McGinty
I ONCE wrote a column for another newspaper called “The Best Bit”. It was a short, 600- word weekly despatch in which a celebrity or notable figure would enthuse not just about a cultural work, a book, a play, a television series or concerto, but a specific part. The idea was to capture the enthusiasm that bottles up during a pub discussion when you compete with your friends to narrow down a work to its most crucial nugget: “The Best Bit”.
I no longer have the faded yellow cuts and even the new digital retrieval systems can’t quite reach the back page of this particular weekend supplement, but, for example it might have included a paeon of delight about the trash compactor scene in Star Wars or the final image of The Great Gatsby. I can’t quite remember and it didn’t last that long, barely 12 weeks. In fact, the only column I can specifically remember was writing up an interview with Julie Burchill, then the highest-paid columnist in Fleet Street, who each week dipped her quill in acid in preparation for autographing her name across the flesh of whomever had recently provoked her ire.
Over the phone she had the smallest, most girlish voice and her choice was surprising. It wasn’t a scene from her own novel, Ambition, as many might have expected given her healthy ego, perhaps the daring chapter in which the heroine turns herself into a naked coup from which to serve up vintage champagne, or given her view of herself as a literary gunslinger, perhaps a scene of rat-a-tat dialogue in Howard Hawks His Girl Friday. No. Julie Burchill, the co-founder of the Modern Review, had a specific scene she wished to celebrate from British Cinema. Julie Burchill’s “The Best Bit” was from The Railway Children and for 15 minutes she eulogised the final scene in which Jenny Agutter runs down the smoke-filled platform and into the arms of her father.
Those last few minutes of the children’s classic never failed to make her cry, no matter how many times she had watched the film. It was the sheer joy on Agutter’s face at the prospect of being reunited with, as she calls out repeatedly, during her sprint her “daddy”. As Julie Burchill explained, how could anyone not love The Railway Children? However, as we now know, Julie Burchill and many millions of viewers over the past 40 years, have been quite blind to the subversive, hooliganism that has flickered past our eyes at 24 frames per second. For what is this film but a blatant attempt to tempt the young from the safety of their playgrounds and parks onto “Death’s waiting room”: the railway line? How could we not have seen the dangers that have been flickering past in the dark for so many decades? And what has been the cost in young lives?
All we can do now is thank the foresight and bravery of the anonymous person who wrote to the British Board of Film Classification to complain about The Railway Children being given a “U” certificate as “universal” and suitable for all. Although we do not know what certificate the complainer actively sought to have the film elevated to, we must assume it was an “18”, for only when one is comfortably able to access pubs and seek the solace of strong liquor will the dangerous lure of railways lose their fatal attraction to the addled young mind.
Yet what is shocking is the disdain with which this brave individual has been treated by the authorities charged with protecting impressionable young minds from dangerous images. Has the BBFC immediately recalled all DVD copies of the film so as affix the new “18” certificate and a strongly worded text along the lines of: “Warning: Most likely to provoke children into pestering their parents to purchase petticoats and hob-nailed boots with the sole purpose of whipping them off and brandishing them at train drivers.”? No, I’m afraid, the BBFC have done no such thing instead they have dismissed the complainer as a crank and refused to countenance any changes to the film’s original certification. Clearly when it comes to nudity and copious amounts of arterial spray the BBFC are quick to whip out the “18” but in the face of trains and the might of the RMT union they are clearly powerless.
Yet, it is often said that when something has been seen it cannot then be unseen and so it is with The Railway Children. Thanks to that stoic, clear-headed critic we can now see Jenny Agutter for what she really is: a feral youth, who would surely by now have collected a string of ASBOs. She and her brother are but pied pipers dancing a generation of youths to their deaths. As a resident of Glasgow, a city where the last words of many a citizen’s close family friends is: “Watch this!”, I can only deplore the BBFC’s failure to act on what is the continued promotion of dangerous high-jinks masquerading as family entertainment.
The caul has fallen from my eyes and, for once, I can see clearly the morally destructive films on which two, sometimes three, generations have been weaned:
• DUMBO (U) A baby elephant born with giant ears discovers he can fly. Buried beneath the surface of this Disney cartoon is a deeply destructive message. It encourages the bullying of those children blessed with over-large ears and offers them false hope that if they can stoically withstand the playground taunts they, too, will one day be able to take flight powered only by the their powerfully vibrating ear lobes. How many more children must face the crushing disappointment of leaping off a park bench only to come tumbling down to earth until this film is re-certificated an (18)?
• FANTASIA (U) In order to complete domestic chores more swiftly a mouse meddles with magic and brings brooms to life. No amount of classical music can drown out the siren call of the Old Nick from this colourful concoction whose sole purpose appears to be to consign our children’s souls to eternal damnation. A cute mouse with a lop-sided hat is still an apprentice Satanist and what message is it to send to the younger generation that chores are not to be embraced as a rite of passage towards the adult world of responsibility but to be passed on to devilish walking appliances who will eventually turn on their animator? New certificate: (15)
• MARY POPPINS (U) Unless one is naive enough to believe in magical nannies capable of transporting their charges from city roof-tops to cartoon landscapes, there can only be one chilling reading of this contentious “children’s classic”. Let us put aside for a moment the cynical promotion of the dangerous, lung-blackening work of the chimney sweep as a suitable career opportunity for young children and focus instead on the actual behaviour of the film’s anti-hero. The subtext of the film is that, like many nefarious nannies before and since, Ms Poppins has clearly drugged the children into a hallucinatory state with opium and laudanum, before making off with the contents of the vault and the family silver and into the arms of her black-faced (clearly racist) heel clicking accomplice. New certificate: (18)
• ET (U): For 30 years this film has made a mockery of the cardinal rule drummed into successive generations of children: “Do not talk to strangers”. In mitigation the consequences of talking to strangers are brought home rather forcefully with the eventual arrival of various government agencies and the necessity that one’s house be wrapped in plastic for fear of alien contamination but still the lasting message is that talking to strangers can lead, at the very least, to having your heart broken and abandonment issues which means the film should only be suitable for those of (18) and over.
• CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (U): It is 35 years since I first saw it and the thought of the child catcher still gives my shivers. You don’t need to look for dark sub-texts or hidden meaning in this film, it’s just too scary for kids, at least, it certainly was for me. Long before the Cybermen, it was the child catcher who chased me behind the sofa. Still, kids are more resilient today so it should at least be a (PG).
We may mock the bold complaint of The Railway Children’s anonymous critic, but it is nice to know that the mettle of the late Mary Whitehouse lives on.
TV series looks at Hyde train crash The first episode in a new TV series, Descent from Disaster, takes a look at the Hyde train crash which occurred on the 4th of June 1943.
The episode screens next Tuesday at 9.30pm TV One — so if it sounds interesting, mark your diaries now.
Other episodes will cover the Kaimai DC3 crash of 1963, the Hawkes Bay Earthquake of 1931, the Strongman Mine Explosion of 1967, the shipwreck of the S.S. Wairarapa in 1894 and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.
For more information on the series, visit: http://www.facebook.com/descentfromdisaster
Railsimulator.com's Paul Jackson on big dangerous machines, satisfying a passionate audience and zombies
In the old days train enthusiasts could usually be found lurking on railway bridges, anoraks zipped tight against the British weather, noting down details and dreaming of playing conductor. These days those same train fans are just as likely to be sat at their PC learning to drive the NKP S-2 Class Berkshire. And one of the men making those dreams come true? Paul Jackson of Railsimulator.com, home of the massive Train Simulator series.
"I think we're a niche business, but about 20 years ago Coca-Cola recognised that they'd got something like 80 per cent of their business from 11 per cent of the population," he told GamesIndustry International.
"I kind of expect us to be just like Coca-Cola, a niche business with millions of customers."
To anyone not familiar with the world of Train Simulator, or even just more used to a world of blasting aliens or fighting goblins it can seem an oddity at first. And Jackson admits that the series' core audience is made of transport enthusiasts, who come to the games looking for a very specific experience.
Train managerPaul Jackson Esq. OBE launched Railsimulator.com in 2009, but his career started at Electronic Arts in 1988. He started at EA Northern Europe as vice president and managing director, and stayed with the company for 18 years.
Between 2005 and 2008 he was the board director and a trustee of BAFTA, and between 2006 and 2009 he served as director general of ELSPA.
"People who, like me, if life had taken another turn we'd be train drivers or farmers or pilots or racing drivers or truck drivers or something. And in my head often I imagine them coming home from the city, watching an episode of Ice Road Truckers, and then driving a ten thousand tonne train in our on sim."
But there's another audience who don't just come for the tracks, they come for the thrill.
"We have a wider group of players who play an array of management simulation titles, various types of titles, and then we have a range of fans who come to us through their passion for big dangerous machinery."
He likens it to the feeling you get stumbling off a jumbo jet at a small airport, and making your way down a set of open steps straight on the tarmac, feeling dwarfed by the massive machine you just sat for 6 hours eating peanuts on.
"And that seems to be a constantly growing and exciting group. Our audience is growing, our community is growing by 50 odd per cent a year and has done ever since we started."
But that community is one that demands a level of authenticity beyond the norm.
"Our players end up being very dedicated, very enthusiastic, and servicing them is really quite a responsibility for us to bear and we have to and we need to take that very seriously. That brings with it some pretty significant challenges, not least of which is the amount research we have to do so the sheer amount of travelling, photography, measuring even, that our dev teams have to undertake is... we ask them to do a lot."
"Our audience is growing, our community is growing by 50 odd per cent a year and has done ever since we started"
For instance, in the last six months the dev team have taken trips to California, Pennsylvania, Germany and Japan, and wherever possible the official blueprints for a train are used, for example on the German ICE 3 express train. The company also maintains relationships with train manufacturers like Hitachi Rail Europe, National Railway Museum, and Freightliner.
But the upside of such an active community it that you can also make the most of their expertise, one specific instance Jackson mentions is when the team are researching sounds for trains which no longer run or no longer exist. Perhaps part of the secret of that symbiotic relationship is that Jackson maintains an open office door policy when it comes to the community in a way it's hard to picture many other CEOs doing.
"I've probably spoken individually to one customer or another every week for the last four years. And often every day," he explains.
"So we're able to keep incredibly close to our customers and to try and understand what they want. The key often is to back that up with heavy duty research because quite often what people are prepared to say online is different to what they really want. And so with a combination of those things we're able to hopefully define what people want and try and give it to them."
Of course, even in the world of transport simulations there have to be slight deviations from authenticity.
"What we have to do is simulate things in a way that simmers can address them. So if it takes 6 months to learn to drive a particular locomotive, or in the case of steam engines years to learn how to do that, in real life we have to shortcut that in some way and to ease the path of our players to being able to simulate that experience. It's the, as Coleridge would put it, the willing suspension of disbelief I guess, we need to try and get that balance right."
"I've probably spoken individually to one customer or another every week for the last four years"
Perhaps the biggest break from the company's authenticity rules came from a surprising idea, with surprising results. Trains vs Zombies, the shuffling, undead brainchild of one of the content developers that Jackson decided to back.
"We were quite nervous, it clearly wasn't authentic, it clearly was a departure for our fan products, but the guy was enthusiastic, we wanted to give it a go, so we did it. And we put it out there at Halloween and we were a little bit trepidatious but funnily enough the reaction we got was fabulous."
"It's not our business going forwards but it does show that while we're very serious about our simulations both as developers and as customers, we're happy to have a bit of fun periodically."
That balance is clearly working for the company, it's seeing major success in its genre and has the added advantage of facing very little competition from large or small developers. As a veteran of the industry, Jackson is surprised by the situation, but not exactly heartbroken.
"I don't think that our customers have changed, I just think that the mainstream industry has stopped supporting that particular element of video gaming to any great degree. And that's something we're happy to address, bluntly. I'm very comfortable where we are."
He points out that when he started out Microprose beat EA to be the first $100 million company in the US, and did it by providing simulation style games. So if it wasn't the customers that changed, what did? Jackson admits it's something he's been puzzling over for years.
" I think at the end of the day where the industry is now in the mainstream is if it's costing you $50 million or $70 million to commission a game, we probably wouldn't start off commissioning a train simulator either," he admits.
"And so it's a change in the way we're reaching our customers through digital distribution, the breakdown of the old way of doing things that's allowing this older type of game play, you might say, to re-emerge. "
For now the team are focussed on keeping its core technology strong, and making sure that it takes the community with it as it updates.
"If you've ever bought a copy of our core sim in the last four years, no matter where from, you will get that technology upgrade for free the next time you log onto Steam. And that's something we do that's very important to us, we hope to be able to do that forever."
As for the future? Train Simulator 2014 has just been announced and is due out in September, and during the interview he hints that the company isn't just looking at moving to new devices (a request that has come from the community) but also on creating some products that aren't just focused on trains. Jackson refuses to say much more than that, but it seems like the formula that is working for the company so far could easily be applied to a number of big, dangerous machines.
"There are big challenges ahead of us in terms of how we address our customers concerns and where we address them. They're exciting problems to have."
New Delhi, July 31 -- The first trailer of Abhinav Singh Kashyap's Besharam is out.
Ranbir Kapoor features opposite Pallavi Sharda in the film.
Kapoor plays an orphan in the movie that also stars Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Javed Jaffrey.
Abhinav Kashyap seems to have followed his the Dabangg (his first directorial venture) style in this one too. Especially, the action sequence on railway platform reminds you of Salman Khan beating up the goons in Dabangg as Sonakshi Sinha looks on.
He has travelled the length and breadth of the country in his quest to follow in the footsteps of 19th century cartographer George Bradshaw, and Michael Portillo’s latest trip for his television series saw him given a lesson on Norfolk’s agricultural past and present.
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Michael Portillo, centre, with Norwich Livestock Market operations director, David Ball, during filming for a TV series. Picture: Denise Bradley
A mention of Norwich’s old cattle market in his copy of Bradshaw’s 1864 railway guide drew Mr Portillo to bring his Great British Railway Journeys film crew to Norwich Livestock Market on Saturday, where the former Conservative cabinet minister turned broadcaster and writer even had a go at bidding for a calf and driving cattle.
Before filming got under way, former Conservative front-bencher Mr Portillo explained: “We are now making the fifth series of Great British Railway Journeys, so we will shortly have made 115 programmes in the series. It’s our second visit to Norwich.
“We are always guided by my 1864 Bradshaw’s guide and there is a reference to the cattle market in Norwich, so here we are. In 1864 it was described as one of the largest outside London, not surprising because there was no bigger agricultural area than Norfolk in those days.
“In those days the market stood on the southern slope of the castle I think, it got moved here in the 1960s, but nonetheless it is a long continuum of history.”
Michael Portillo, right, with Norwich Livestock Market operations director, David Ball, during filming for a TV series. Picture: Denise Bradley
Mr Portillo said they were interested in finding out about the history of the market, including its more recent history when, after being closed during the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, it was reopened in 2002 as an independent and farmer-run market.
David Ball, Norwich Livestock Market operations director and an auctioneer, said the filming went very well on Saturday and he was impressed at how knowledgeable Mr Portillo was about the subject.
“He bought a calf on behalf of one of our regular buyers and then he did some droving in the ring. I think he enjoyed himself,” Mr Ball said.
“The whole ring gave him warm applause. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
Michael Portillo, right, with Norwich Livestock Market operations director, David Ball, during filming for a TV series. Picture: Denise Bradley
“What was interesting was that when he was doing the bidding he was using his Bradshaw’s guide.” He said that Mr Portillo, on behalf of Roger Long, from Scarning, successfully bid £345 for a Belgian Blue calf from Tom Crawford at Bungay. Mr Ball was also interviewed by Mr Portillo for the show.
Mr Ball said he was asked about the history of the market, about how he came to be involved in the farmers’ cooperative that reopened the livestock market in 2002 and how Norfolk was famous for the four-course system of crop rotation.
Mr Ball said the market was pleased to host Mr Portillo and looked forward to seeing the episode of Great British Railway Journeys.
“Anything that draws publicity to Norwich Livestock Market and helps keep its profile up and maintain its future is a good thing,” he said.
“It’s good for Norwich as a whole too.
“Once the show is aired, hopefully that will give Norwich another boost.”
Following the visit to the livestock market, Mr Portillo and his film crew also paid a visit to Norwich Castle to look at the old prison and discuss the prison reform work carried out by Elizabeth Fry. He said they were also going to visit Norwich Cathedral.
“We were here two or three years ago and we did a feature on Colman’s Mustard, so this is a return visit to Norwich for our programme,” Mr Portillo said. “It’s great. We have found a way of threading our way through East Anglia again, but picking up stories that we didn’t do last time. There’s plenty of material in this lovely book, always a hint that takes you somewhere new.”
On a visit to the county in July 2010 for another episode of Great British Railway Journeys, Mr Portillo travelled from Dereham to Thuxton on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, visited Peele’s Norfolk Black Turkeys based at Rookery Farm in Thuxton, and travelled to Cromer to learn about crab fishing and coastal erosion.
The episode of Great British Railway Journeys featuring Norwich Livestock Market is due to be screened on BBC Two in January next year.
Subhash K Jha in Mumbai
Shah Rukh Khan's latest film Chennai Express is all set to race ahead at the box office and break all records when it releases on August 9. Here's why.
1. Shah Rukh Khan
The magnitude of SRK's celebrity is unfathomable.
His last home production Ra.One may have ended up as a fiasco and Jab Tak Hai Jaan may have had to make do with lukewarm response but the buzz for Chennai Express has been bigger than for any other film in the recent past.
Image: Movie poster of Chennai Express
TORONTO (Reuters) - Actor Colin Firth said on Saturday he felt a special sense of obligation portraying the true story of a British soldier who was tortured and then suffered for decades before finding the strength to forgive his captors.
In "The Railway Man," which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, Firth portrays World War Two veteran Eric Lomax, who was captured by the Japanese and spent years as a prisoner of war.
"You just want to be absolutely sure that you don't drop the baton, that you don't compromise how well this story has been told up to now, despite your limitations. Such care has been taken to get the truth out there," Firth, who won an Oscar in 2011 for his performance in "The King's Speech," told reporters in Toronto.
The film begins in the later decades of Lomax's life, when he meets and falls in love with his future wife Patti, played by Nicole Kidman. Their marriage was tested by his nightmares and breakdowns, a legacy of the beatings and other torture he suffered.
British actor Colin Firth arrives with his wife Livia Giuggioli of Italy for the film premiere of "R …
Lomax is forced to confront his past when he learns that Takashi Nagase, the young English-speaking officer who participated in his brutal interrogations, is still alive.
Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce said that sadly, while the film is historical, topics like the trauma of torture victims and returning soldiers are as relevant as ever.
"The way that Eric was tortured was water-boarding. When we first started working on this film, that seemed like a kind of antique, remote thing. And now it's part of how we do business in the West," he told reporters.
"These are very alive issues. It's not just about a forgotten moment in history.
But the filmmakers drew inspiration from the outcome of Lomax's story. After confronting Nagase, he was able to forgive his former captor, and the two became friends. Lomax eventually recounted the events in a memoir, also called "The Railway Man."
Actor Colin Firth arrives for the film premiere of "Railway Man" at the 38th Toronto International F …
The film drew a standing ovation following its premiere in Toronto on Friday, though reviews were mixed. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both commended the performances of Firth and Kidman, but were critical of the structure and direction.
Still, the production team won praise from the real Patti Lomax, who acted as an adviser.
"There's another point to this film, and that's no matter how bleak life might be, there's always a way forward if you're open to see it," she told reporters in Toronto.
"You have to let these things go one way or another. And I think really, that is the legacy that my husband has left more than anything else."
The first trailer for a film based on the memoirs of a Scots soldier who was held in a Japanese labour camp during World War II has been released.
The Railway Man stars Nicole Kidman and Oscar winner Colin Firth, who portrays Edinburgh-born Army officer Eric Lomax.
Mr Lomax was captured following the surrender of Singapore and was among prisoners of war forced to build the Burma Railway. He was also tortured.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbS_dYEwf2M&list=TLEyjZGT5WdDM include a shot of the Glenfinnan railway viaduct.
The viaduct has previously featured in the Harry Potter films.
Filming for The Railway Man was also done in Edinburgh and North Berwick.
Premiered at this month's Toronto Film Festival, the film sees Firth's haunted Lomax return to the Far East after the war to confront one of his interrogators, Takashi Nagase.
The prison camp interpreter is played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who was in the movie Wolverine and the US TV series Lost.
Moulin Rouge and Stoker actress Kidman plays Mr Lomax's wife Patti, who helped her husband cope with his mental scars.
Firth, winner of the best actor Oscar in 2011 for his portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech, met Eric and Patti Lomax twice. He said the meetings helped prepare him for the role.
Mr Lomax died in October last year. He was 93.
The Railway Man will be released in UK cinemas in January next year
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