Tomorrow, the highly-anticipated adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation arrives in theatres — well, in some theatres. For some reason, Paramount has decided to release the movie through Netflix in the UK, despite its internationally-popular star and critically-acclaimed director. Directed and screenplay adapted by Alex Garland, and starring Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh (among others), here’s the trailer:

Annihilation is the first novel in Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US, and Fourth Estate in the UK.


Here’s the novel’s synopsis:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers — they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding — but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

The trilogy has also been collected into a single volume, Area X (US/UK).




This movie is based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames (a review copy of which I received quite recently). A brutal crime story, the movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, who is hired to rescue a young girl kidnapped by a sex ring. The movie, directed by Lynne Ramsay, is already racking up accolades and awards, and was the winner of Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Here’s the trailer:

The movie is due to arrive in cinemas in April 2018 — distributed by Film 4, Amazon Studios, and others.

AmesJ-YouWereNeverReallyHereJonathan Ames’s You Were Never Really Here is published in North America by Vintage (a movie tie-in edition is due out in March), and in the UK by Pushkin Vertigo. Here’s the synopsis…

A gritty, harrowing story of corruption and one man’s violent quest for vengeance.

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter


I missed the trailer for the new Tomb Raider movie when it was first release in September, but I think it looks great. The re-booted game series was a real step up from the originals. Looking forward to its release in March 2018! Joining the excellent, Academy Award-winning Alicia Vikander, are Nick Frost, Dominic West, Walton Goggins and Daniel Wu (and others). The movie is directed by Roar Uthaug, and the screenplay was written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet (who is also working on the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, to star Brie Larson) and Alastair Siddons.

Warner Bros. has also released a behind-the-scenes clip of an interview with Vikander about becoming Lara Croft:



Well, I’m excited.




SDCC: New JUSTICE LEAGUE teaser trailer

Save for the superb Wonder Woman movie, DC’s cinematic output hasn’t been too well received. I’ve quite enjoyed each of the movies (though, I still haven’t seen Suicide Squad), and so I’m very much looking forward to Justice League. Warner Bros. has just unveiled a teaser trailer at San Diego ComicCon, featuring a lot of Steppenwolf, some parademons, and of course the League. Here it is:

Justice League should hit theatres in November 2017. During SDCC, a new poster was also unveiled, and I couldn’t agree more with io9, it really does look like an Alex Ross painting brought to life:


Quick Review: MONSTER by John Gregory Dunne (Vintage)

DunneJG-MonsterUSAn entertaining, engaging memoir of screenwriting

In Hollywood, screenwriters are a curse to be borne, and beating up on them is an industry blood sport. But in this ferociously funny and accurate account of life on the Hollywood food chain, it’s a screenwriter who gets the last murderous laugh. That may be because the writer is John Gregory Dunne, who has written screenplays, along with novels and non-fiction, for thirty years. In 1988 Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion, were asked to write a screenplay about the dark and complicated life of the late TV anchorwoman Jessica Savitch. Eight years and twenty-seven drafts later, this script was made into the fairy tale “Up Close and Personal” starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Detailing the meetings, rewrites, fights, firings, and distractions attendant to the making of a single picture, Monster illuminates the process with sagacity and raucous wit.

This is a fascinating, unreserved memoir of John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion’s long, often frustrating experiences writing Up Close & Personal. It’s engaging, entertaining and illuminating. Continue reading


Review: SLEEPLESS IN HOLLYWOOD by Lynda Obst (Simon & Schuster)

ObstL-SleeplessInHollywoodAn excellent follow-up to Hello, He Lied

Over the past decade, producer Lynda Obst gradually realized she was working in a Hollywood that was undergoing a drastic transformation. The industry where everything had once been familiar to her was suddenly disturbingly strange.

Combining her own industry experience and interviews with the brightest minds in the business, Obst explains what has stalled the vast moviemaking machine. The calamitous DVD collapse helped usher in what she calls the New Abnormal (because Hollywood was never normal to begin with), where studios are now heavily dependent on foreign markets for profit, a situation which directly impacts the kind of entertainment we get to see. Can comedy survive if they don’t get our jokes in Seoul or allow them in China? Why are studios making fewer movies than ever — and why are they bigger, more expensive and nearly always sequels or recycled ideas?

Sleepless in Hollywood is an excellent, accessible explanation of the ways in which Hollywood has evolved since the 1980s. This is an account of emergence of the “New Abnormal”, as Obst calls it: the shifting practices and ideologies that dictate how the movie and TV industries operate. Continue reading