It looks like the next 007 film has finally found its Bond girl. The Daily Mail is reporting French actress Léa Seydoux will star opposite Daniel Craig in the upcoming 24th installment of the legendary franchise. American audiences likely recognize her from "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" where she traded blows with Paula Patton. But it was her leading role in 2013's "Blue is the Warmest Color" that really launched her career. It was rumored director Sam Mendes was initially looking for a Scandinavian actress to star opposite Daniel Craig, but he apparently changed his mind. Full transcript >>
More Europeans will soon have access to the world's largest subscription streaming video service. That's right, Netflix is expanding again. "Moving on up. This is like next level crazy." Netflix has already moved into Canada, South America, the U.K. and the Netherlands. This latest expansion will add Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, not everyone is happy about this. In France, there has been a lot of public concern about the the product. Full transcript >>
As a fan of TV series such as Breaking Bad and Homeland, I signed up for Netflix on Monday (the first month is free). The good news is that all the English and American films and series are available in English as well as French. Not all of them have English subtitles, but a fair number do, so Netflix is a great resource for learners who want to improve their English by streaming content in VO to their various devices (phone, computer, tablet). There's also an iPad app you can use with Apple TV to watch stuff on your television.
VOCABULARY 1. A trailer is an advertisement for a film or television programme that shows a short part of that film or programme. 2. Note that the English spelling of 'grey' is used even in an American context (where it is usually spelt 'gray') because it's a play on the name of the, er, dominant, male protagonist Christian Grey.
BACKGROUND Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has attacked Western lifestyles for causing climate change that is “pushing the environment towards crisis”. Writing in The Telegraph, Dr Williams says that the “appalling” floods and storms that devastated parts of Britain this winter were a demonstration of “what we can expect” in the future. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Bob from The Sunday Telegraph takes the form of a spoof poster for the new blockbuster movie Noah, in which Russell Crowe plays the eponymous biblical hero. In Bob's version, Noah is played by Rowan Williams and the tagline is "The End of the World ... Is All Your Fault" - a reference to the ex-Archbishop's comments. The tagline on the actual movie poster is "The End of the World ... Is Just the Beginning."
The space movie Gravity has swept the technical awards at the Oscars. Much of the groundbreaking work on conveying space and weightlessness was done at London's Framestore. As Melanie Ralph reports the UK is leading the the way in the field of special effects.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Blockbuster Gravity reached new heights - not only in the award stakes, but technical achievements too. Despite the very convincing end product the space needed to shoot this movie was a lot less than you'd think. In fact, much of the magic was produced here in London at this production company nestled in the windy streets of Soho. It's hard to believe that most of what you see in Gravity on the big screen was done on a small screen from behind a desk. Framestore's Alexis Wajsbrot was the Effects Supervisor on Gravity. ALEXIS WAJSBROT, FRAMESTORE EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: ''One of the main things about Gravity is it's full CG, so the cloth, the suit, the body, the helmet, everything is CG, and then the thing was to put back the face into our 3D software, so we had full freedom to control the arms, the legs and reanimate everything.'' REPORTER: Although they may have saved on the studio space, they certainly didn't scrimp on the staff. It took 400 people more than three years before Gravity was ready for the big screen. Gravity isn't the only blockbuster movie that Framestore's been involved with. Harry Potter, James Bond's Skyfall, and Robocop are just some of the other films that this London-based firm have been involved with, proving that London is still one of the top locations for creating movie visual effects. London has led the way in film and animation for many years. Framestore's CEO William Sargent thinks London's talent offers unique qualities to movie making. WILLIAM SARGENT, FRAMESTORE CEO: ''The UK is very good at innovating. If you look at a lot of the innovations in film making, Gravity being a very fine example, that the process isn't just technology innovation but production processes have been innovated. The UK's very good at that, and so we were the first people to apply computers to making commercials, television and films.'' REPORTER: It's not just the talent that attracts the blockbuster movies to the UK. London's film businesses are all located close to each other, making the job that much easier. Sohonets' Ben Roeder. BEN ROEDER, CTO, SOHONET: ''You have companies such as The Foundry, Film Light and Kodak Digital, that are some of the main powerhouses of the industry these days, and provide the tools, and they're also based in London, within spitting distance of the visual effects companies.'' REPORTER: For the producers of Gravity, the making of the movie is already in the distant past, having finished the project a couple of years ago. But no doubt the success of the movie has left its makers feeling on top of the world.
IDIOMS & WORDPLAY 1. To reach new heights - to reach a better or greater level of something. 2. On top of the world - very happy or proud. 3. Within spitting distance of - very close to.
"The Lego Movie" builds on an already strong showing, taking the top box office spot for third weekend in a row. Gavino Garay reports. Watch report >>
TRANSCRIPT "The Lego Movie" continues to topple the competition on the box-office scoreboard, bringing in $31.5 million dollars in ticket sales for the third weekend in a row, according to studio estimates. Meanwhile, the new Kevin Costner spy thriller "3 Days to Kill" generated $12.3 million in U.S. and Canadian sales, making it a distant second. That was followed by the big-budget "Pompeii", which brought in $10 million in its first week in theaters. So far, the film hasn't received shining reviews — Toronto Star wrote, "The drama is deadly but the volcano's a blast, making "Pompeii" something less than the complete disaster you might expect."
WORDPLAY • builds on an already strong showing (you build things with Lego) • continues to topple the competition (to make something fall over) • the volcano's a blast (slang for a very enjoyable experience) • the drama is deadly (very boring) • less than the complete disaster you might expect (it's a disaster movie)
Speechyard is a newish site which allows you to improve your English while watching favourite movies or reading interesting books. There are dozens of complete movies (and scenes from movies) available, all of which are subtitled in English. The neat thing is that you can save words or phrases and their translation in an online library, and then practise them using a series of activities (Word Constructor, Listen and Write, and Dictionary Cards).
As for books, you can do pretty much the same thing. There's also a Community feature, which allows you to chat with other users. To find out more, read this PDF, which also has some screenshots (strangely, the site itself doesn't seem to have any instructions).
Children as young as 15 are to be allowed to watch films filled with obscene language. Swear words are now so ‘commonplace’ among teenagers that age ratings will be relaxed, censors said yesterday. Full story >>
VOCABULARY Swearing is the use of rude or offensive language. • I was shocked at the swearing in The Wolf of Wall Street.
"Catching Fire" had a record-setting debut, kicking off the holiday movie season and setting the bar for the rest of the pack of Hollywood holiday movies. Bobbi Rebell reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Like her character Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire", Jennifer Lawrence is the golden girl of Hollywood. She is reason one that the movie Catching Fire is the movie to beat this holiday season. Rentrak Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian. PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST, RENTRAK: "You have a star at the center of that franchise in Jennifer Lawrence who has grown in popularity since the first film made its debut. You can have a massive second installment opening weekend. This was the biggest November opening ever with $161.1 million. It earned about $146.6 million internationally. $307.7 million for "The Hunger Games Catching Fire" in its first weekend worldwide. Those are amazing numbers." REPORTER: Reason 2- The movie appeals to the coveted four quadrants- male, female, young and old. PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST, RENTRAK: "When the first Hunger Games was released it was thought that it would be more of a young adult movie appealing more to the younger teen girls, but it's broadened out in terms of that appeal because of its star Jennifer Lawrence. Also the movie has some older stars in the movie like Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland and so there is this crossover to that older demographic as well." REPORTER: Reason 3: First mover advantage - coming a week before Thanksgiving with no real competition - yet. The next installment of "The Hobbit" is on deck, as are family films like the animated movie "Frozen" as well as high profile flicks like Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street". Reason 4: a built-in base thanks to the books. The Hunger Games Trilogy has sold millions around the world creating a fan frenzy ready to line up and make this another blockbuster year for Hollywood.
COMMENT I saw the first "Hunger Games" movie when it came out and thought it was a pretty good adaptation of the book, but this one has a running time of 146 minutes (!), so I might just wait for the DVD.
A temporary thousand-seater drive-in cinema opens in the French capital. Sharon Reich reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It's a long way from the old days, but Paris is bringing back the drive-in movie theater. Under the vaulted ceilings of the Grand Palais just off the Champs Elysees, film fans are settling in to enjoy a new kind of drive-in -- one where you don't actually have to drive in. A fleet of Fiat 500s is already there - and the cars have extra roomy interiors to give movie-goers more leg room than they might even have at a local ciniplex. CINEMA-GOER TIFFANY BOUTHRY: "We've all seen drive-ins in films, we've all dreamed about them and it's great to be able to experience that with friends in a nice atmosphere with champagne. We're privileged." CINEMA-GOER ULYSSE BRAVIT: "The cars are a bit new, there are lots of security personnel and so on but I think that with some good pictures and a bit of music we'll be dreaming a bit more." REPORTER: A thousand movie-lovers a day are expected to visit the exhibition hall. Organizers plan to screen cult classics like "The Big Lebowski" and "Pulp Fiction". The temporary theater called "Cinema Paradiso" will operate until June 21st.
VOCABULARY Old school means old-fashioned or traditional. • Teens are ditching texting for 'old school' ways of communicating.
With this year's crop of summer blockbusters bigger and more expensive than ever, the pressure is on for the big movie studios just to break even. Executives will be hoping to avoid any repeat of last year's most under-performing film John Carter which lost Disney a reported $200 million. Edward Baran reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Hollywood legend Brad Pitt oiling the publicity machine with Angelina Jolie at the Berlin premiere of his new film. Despite a reported price tag of at least 200 million dollars, the critics have been less than complimentary about Paramount's World War Z. London's Evening Standard review says it's a disaster, while the British Daily Mail calls the zombie thriller 'brain dead'. But the only thing that really matters to the studios is that the summer movies take more here at the box office than they cost to make and promote. Movie budgets of 200 million dollars aren't unusual these days plus a typical global marketing spend of around 150m dollars. Factor in that the film distributors take just half of gross receipts, and you can see that breaking is be easier said than done. Kaleem Aftab is the film correspondent on Britain's Independent newspaper ... KALEEM AFTAB: "The films are usually costing 200 million dollars or upwards and the films need to make three or four times that much to break even ... so it's a huge amount that they have to make. I think World War Z will struggle to break even in the short term because it's not getting very good critical reception. Zombie movies don't make a lot of money, I think the highest grossing one is 150 million dollars so it has to smash that." REPORTER: This year's crop of other summer blockbusters are bigger and more expensive than ever. Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp is rumoured to have cost 215 million dollars to produce. Man of Steel with Henry Cavill is said to have a budget of between 175 and 225 million. And Pacific Rim with Idris Elba was made for around 180 million dollars. So just what is the perfect formula for summer blockbuster success? KALEEM AFTAB: "The ideal template is something that will be a franchise film, that will have lots of big action sequences, that will have instantly recognisable characters, so if we've seen the characters before and they're coming back again, audiences lap that up." REPORTER: Last year's biggest loser was John Carter - it lost Disney a reported 200 million dollars, making it one of the biggest flops in cinema history. It resulted in regime change within the studio with the resignation of Rich Ross, the head of Disney. With such high stakes, there could be a few nervous execs checking the box office figures as they sit by those LA pools this summer.
PRONUNCIATION Note that the Americans pronounce the last letter of the alphabet 'zee', while in Britain, they say 'zed'.
MOVIE VOCABULARY 1. A blockbuster is a film that is very popular and successful, usually because it is very exciting. 2. If a movie is a flop, it is completely unsuccessful. 3. In Hollywood parlance a franchise film is any film title that is
itself a sequel, or a title that has one or more sequels that follow
from it, e.g. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, etc. 4. If a movie breaks even, it makes enough money to cover its production and marketing costs. 5. The box office in a cinema is the place where the tickets are sold. When people talk about the box office, they are referring to the degree of success of a film in terms of the number of people who go to watch it or the amount of money it makes.
REPORTER: The three young royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka William and Kate, along with William's brother Prince Harry visited Warner Bros studios in Leavesden on Friday. For once, it was a chance to let their hair down on a royal visit with William assuming the role of Batman by mounting the Batpod. It seemed that William outed himself as a huge fan of the Dark Knight series directed by Christopher Nolan, taking great pleasure in playing around with the special effects and also making a plea to Warner Bros with this speech. PRINCE HARRY: Please, make another of the Dark Knight series. And another. And another. REPORTER: And he got further into the movie making spirit with the use of a clapper board... PRINCE HARRY: Warner Brothers studios, Leavesden, Act One, Take One. REPORTER: After the speeches, it was time for the trio to enter Harry Potter's world - more specifically the Great Hall of Hogwarts. And while Harry checked out the detailed sets, William and Kate were given a lesson in fighting with the franchise's magic wands. But if the pair were to meet in a clash of spells, who would be the winner?
VOCABULARY The Munchkins are the natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. They first appeared in the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which they are described as being somewhat short of stature, and wear only blue. They are best-known from their depiction in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, in which they are played by adult proportional dwarfs, dressed in brightly multicolored outfits, and live in Munchkinland. As a result of the popularity of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the word "munchkin" has entered the English language as a reference to small children, dwarfs, or anything cute of diminutive stature. [Source: Wikipedia]
The latest movie news including ''Twilight's'' final saga scoring big at the weekend box office. John Russell reports.
TRANSCRIPT The "Twilight" vampire saga's final chapter debuted with a massive 341 million dollars (USD) in global movie ticket sales as devoted fans bid farewell to Bella and Edward in one of Hollywood's biggest franchises. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" earned an estimated 141 million in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, that fell slightly short of a record for the supernatural romance series about a human-vampire-werewolf love triangle. The excitement over "Twilight" eclipsed all other movies over the weekend. Last week's winner, James Bond movie "Skyfall" finished in second place with 41.5 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters. "Skyfall" is now the highest-grossing Bond movie to date with a global total of over 669 million, surpassing the 599 million taken in by "Casino Royale" in 2006. 007's Daniel Craig meanwhile made a surprise visit to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, where the actor met with British troops. Dressed in military gear, Craig was on hand for the premiere showing of "Skyfall" at the military base. The historical drama "Lincoln" expanded from a limited opening a week ago and landed in third place with 21 million. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president near the end of his life as he battles to ban slavery and end the Civil War. The movie is directed by Steven Spielberg and has earned critical praise and an Oscar buzz. Walt Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph" landed in fourth place, while Denzel Washington's drama "Flight" rounded out the top 5.