Clint Eastwood at 80

He is The Man With No Name. He is Dirty Harry. He is Josey Whales. He is William Munny. He is Walt Kowlaski.

He has directed films about DJs, cowboys, cops, jazz musicians, soldiers and political leaders.

He has been quoted by the President of the United States, become the mayor of a Californian town and composed music for his films.

Throughout his seven decades in Hollywood he has achieved a unique place in the the film business as movie star and director.

Amazingly, there is still more work to come.

Happy Birthday, Clint Eastwood.

> Clint Eastwood at the IMDb
> More tributes and links at MUBI

Guillermo del Toro is no longer directing The Hobbit

After numerous delays to the upcoming film of The Hobbit, director Guillermo del Toro has confirmed that he is departing the project.

In a nutshell, the ongoing financial problems at MGM – who share the rights with New Line/Warner Bros. – meant that the delays had become overwhelming and were preventing him from making other films.

He made the official announcement through the long-running Lord of the Rings fansite The One Ring:

In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life. After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures.

I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed.

The blessings have been plenty, but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wish the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.

Producer Peter Jackson also said:

We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave the Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects…

The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him.

Guillermo’s strong vision is engrained [sic] into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA. Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished…

New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work.

Back in 2008 I spoke with Del Toro and he seemed thrilled about tackling the project. You can listen to the interview here.

With MGM’s financial situation delaying this project as well as the latest Bond film, it would seem imperative that they get them sorted out as soon as possible.

> One Ring fansite
> The Hobbit at the IMDb

 

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 31st May 2010

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

The Book of Eli (EV): Set in a post-apocalyptic America, this action-drama is about an enigmatic traveller named Eli (Denzel Washington) on a mysterious journey towards the west coast involving a valuable book. Along the way he comes across marauding bandits, a town ruled by the villainous Carnegie (Gary Oldman), and a young woman who he befriends (Mila Kunis).

Although The Hughes Brothers haven’t made a film since From Hell (2001), they manage to craft an entertaining and well-paced film with a satisfying twist. Although it owes a lot to other films in this genre (notably Mad Max 2) there are some nice ideas sprinkled in amongst the well-staged action sequences. Shot on the high-definition Red One camera, the visual look of the film is striking due to the heavy use of filters and the Blu-ray transfer is satisfyingly smooth. [Blu-ray / DVD]

The extras include the following featurettes:

  • A Lost Tale: Billy
  • Behind The Story
  • Deleted / Alternate Scenes
  • The Book of Eli Soundtrack
  • BD Exclusive: Picture-in-Picture Feature : Behind the Scenes and Interviews

The Damned United (Sony Pictures Home Ent.): This biopic of legendary English football manager Brian Clough was adapted from David Peace’s bestselling novel about his turbulent spell in charge of Leeds United during the 1970s. Starring Michael Sheen as Clough, Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor, Colm Meaney as Don Revie and Jim Broadbent as Sam Longson, it was adapted by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed Tom Hooper (Longford, John Adams).

Although the light-hearted tone tends to gloss over the riveting, dark tone of Peace’s book, the film is powered by several fine performances, with Sheen and Spall on top form. The production design impressively evokes the atmosphere of the 1970s, and the Blu-ray transfer is excellent with an impressively detailed image. [Blu-ray / DVD]

The extras for the Blu-ray include:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English Audio Description Track
  • English, English HOH and Hindi subtitles
  • Commentary with Director Tom Hooper, Michael Sheen and Producer Andy Harries
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Cloughisms with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Perfect Pitch: The Making Of The Damned United
  • Remembering Brian
  • The Changing Game: Football in the Seventies
  • Creating Clough: Michael Sheen Takes on ‘Old Big ‘Ead’

* Listen to our interview with director Tom Hooper *

ALSO OUT

Alice in Wonderland (Disney) [Blu-ray + DVD]
Armored (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Astro Boy (E1 Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray + DVD]
Bodyguards and Assassins (E1 Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray + DVD]
Daybreakers (Lionsgate UK) [Blu-ray / DVD]
La Boheme: Royal Opera House (Opus Arte) [DVD]
One Night in Turin (Kaleidoscope Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Romantic City: Venice [Blu-ray]
Salome: Royal Opera House [Blu-ray]
The Sky Crawlers (Manga Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Winter in Wartime (Kaleidoscope Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 28th May including Sex and the City 2 and The Losers