The week before the Tour of Flanders is a time for thorough preparation.
One local fan is, perhaps as we speak, out buying nails, having become sufficiently outraged by the decision to change this year's route to exclude the iconic Muur in Geraardsbergen to post a letter threatening to booby-trap the course ("Based on the font, it was clearly typed on an old typewriter," local mayor Marnic De Meulemeester said, tactfully describing the sender as "a person who is not at peace with the thorough changing of the course").
George Hincapie and his blinged-out headphones will be gearing up in their own way as Hincapie attempts to break Belgian Briek Schotte's 60-year-old record for the most finishes in Flanders. Hincapie, 38, finished third in the race's 2006 edition and will hold the record alone if he rolls over the line on Sunday for the 17th time.
But for preparations veering thrillingly towards Boy in the Bubble proportions, look no further than Vacansoleil's BjĂ¶rn Leukemans.
TV kings David Chase and Matthew Weiner take on the big screen, while actress Emma Watson hears voices.
Since the late 1990s some of Hollywood’s best screenwriters have been smiling politely and backing out the door, sneaking across the road to take up a career in television. Screenwriters have traditionally been the lowest rung on the creative process for mainstream American pictures; a director get first cut and the writer gets replaced. On the small screen writer’s can create and produce their own shows – directors are hired by the episode and it’s much easier to get a scene with eight pages of dialogue shot. But the movies remain mythical, unquantifiable but nonetheless special, and now several of the small screen’s leading writer/producers are plotting to make them.
Much of cable television’s dramatic lustre originated with The Sopranos, the sage of a New Jersey mob family (in both senses of the word) created and overseen by David Chase. Chase has been quiet since the acclaimed series ended in 2007, but he’s now finished an autobiographical film called Not Fade Away. The coming of age tale is about the clashes between a hopeful teenage musician in 1960s New Jersey and his father. Chase, who wrote and directed the picture, has Sopranos star James Gandolfini as the patriarch, while John Magaro plays his son. The supporting players includes Belle Heathcote, the young Australian actress who has leveraged a small role in Jeremy Sims’ Beneath Hill 60 into being cast by Tim Burton (May’s Dark Shadows) and co-starring with Brad Pitt (September’s Killing Them Softly).
Matthew Weiner made his name on The Sopranos, and then went on to create Mad Men, the hit 1960s cable drama that is commencing its fifth season. The show has had long gaps between seasons, and Weiner has obviously spent some of that preparing a feature film. You Are Here is a comic story about a pair of 30something wastrels – a lazy heir and a womanising TV weatherman – whose lives are upended when one of their father’s die and the other is attracted to his widow. Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson play the two men (lean towards Galifianakis as the indolent scion), with another television star, Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation, on board as an interfering sister for a May shoot.
Still bamboozled with the race organiserâ€™s sentiments after Milan-San Remo, Anthony Tan wants to know: exactly what is the problem with foreign winners and a variety of courses that reward different types of riders?
Mauro Vegni is an idiot. There are all kinds of races, and they are all exciting in their way. Cycling would be boring if we put the finish at the top of hills and mountains every time. It would also be boring if we put the finish at the bottom of hills and mountains every time. San Remo is exciting in the way it was this year. The Lâ€™Equipe article was just 127 words long but plenty was said. And even though itâ€™s been almost two weeks since the race was held, the comments made by RCS Sport technical manager of cycling, Mauro Vegni, continue to irk me.
â€śItâ€™s true that we have experienced an attractive finale, but once again the Poggio has not allowed Vincenzo Nibali to make the selection,â€ť the parochial Vegni told Lâ€™Equipe in its March 19 article, two days after the race was astutely won by our own Simon Gerrans.
â€śBut a race that doesnâ€™t give an attacker the chance to finish it off alone is not a race anymore. Weâ€™ll have to modify it, to make it a bit harder,â€ť added Vegni.
For the past decade tennis has been defined by the battles between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In track cycling the corresponding clash is the one between Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton.
Sure the worldâ€™s two fastest women donâ€™t get as much coverage as their big money racquet swinging counterparts, but the rivalry is every bit as intense.
Thereâ€™s an apparent friendship between Federer and Nadal. Not so Meares and Pendleton. Respect yes. Potential friends? Not likely.
The physical risks associated with track sprinting only serve to stoke the fire that rages between the two.
This week sees President Obamaâ€™s key domestic achievement on trial. In a
particularly American expression of democracy, the Affordable Care Act,
or what opponents call â€śObamacareâ€ť is not being put before the
Instead, the President’s reform of healthcare is before the Supreme Court.
Twenty-six states (and a lobby group representing small businesses) have challenged the federal law – signed in 2010 – that planned to revolutionise healthcare in the United States. Reform remains divisive and most of it is along political lines.
Obama’s plan includes a requirement that people obtain compulsory health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. Important point: healthcare in the United States is not, for most of the population, supported by the government in the way it is in Australia.
Just as the Hong Kong Filmmart comes of age its relevance appears to be in jeopardy.
As I sat waiting for Japanese heartthrob Joe Odagiri to begin his Asian Film Awards press conference, I couldn’t help staring at the much-discussed head of hair belonging to the Nipponese acting heartthrob. Famed for his wild bouffant in even traditional samurai movies, Odagiri’s haircut in Hong Kong featured a shaved incursion oddly placed near his right temple that made it look as if he was wearing an askew wig.
And for a long time Hong Kong’s Filmart had a similar feel. From the early 2000s when the Hong Kong Trade and Development Corporation really started to promote Hong Kong as the gateway to the Chinese film industry, it didn’t also quite look right. Not quite fitting. Slightly, but significantly out of place. They positioned Hong Kong in the middle of invited companies and government agencies from Europe (Unifrance has been a long time supporter), Asia (cue the Japanese, Koreans and the Taiwanese) and a small smattering of US hopefuls, and created Filmart as the perfect way to introduce these producers and government film bodies to the huge market and wealth of Mainland China. But it just didn’t convince. Likewise, the addition half a dozen years ago of the Asian Film Awards. All the star-studded fanfare of everyone from Jackie Chan to Tony Leung just made it look like the Hong Kong film industry was whistling in the dark.
Now several years and one Global Financial Crisis later, all the ducks (Peking or otherwise) seemed to have lined up. The gamble seems to have paid off and Hong Kong has indeed become the place for all those film production dreams to come true. In recent years, the Mainland presence has been significant, and there was enough sense of optimism amongst boothholders that things were looking up. One regular Hong Kong attendee working for a Hong Kong sales agent went so far as to describe Filmart as reaching a turning point, that it was clear that Asian companies could do sufficient business in their own backyard and that Cannes – while still essential for visibility – was no longer the centre of the universe.
The veteran filmmaker plans to shoot his first film in Australia in more than 25 years.
John D. Lamond, one of the pioneers of Australia’s sexploitation film industry, aims to shoot his first movie in Oz since 1986’s Sky Pirates later this year.
The writer-producer-director’s comeback project is Jetlagged, an erotic thriller about a Japanese woman who seduces an American guy on a plane and takes him to her apartment in Surfers Paradise where they have a fight which results in his death.
“It’s film noirish with elements of Body Heat, Basic Instinct and the French film Plein Soleil (Purple Noon),” Lamond told SBS Film.
Is Omega Pharma-Quick Step, a superteam or a team of super individuals, asks Cycling Central Editor Philip Gomes?
While all the pre-season hype focussed on BMC Racing Team, GreenEDGE and RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Omega Pharma-Quick Step is showing that it is the real superteam of the 2012 season.
Adding Tom Boonenâ€™s victory at Gent-Wevelgem, Omega Pharma-Quick Step has won 26 races this season while the BMC Racing Team, and its collection of superstars, has posted just two winning results, with Cadel Evansâ€™s victory at the Criterium International providing the brace.
It's not that Omega Pharma-Quick Step is lacking in riders of quality, itâ€™s what it is doing with its roster that is making the cycling world sit up and take notice: working as a team to produce a string of results that will probably remain unmatched in 2012.
Martin Scorsese goes corporate, Denis Villeneuve sees double, and Clive Owen returns to crime.
Martin Scorsese is returning to New York, albeit to a new neighbourhood. The revered filmmaker, whose last feature was the lavish 3D recreation of 1930s Paris for the children’s/cineastes fantasy Hugo, will take on the city’s financial hub. Scorsese will direct an adaptation, by Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire writer Terence Winter, of Jordan Belfort’s memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, where the former stockbroker recounts the stock manipulation tactics he used to make (and spend) hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1990s, before his arrest and imprisonment in 1998.
Hubris and excess on Wall Street is a popular topic, and Belfort’s disgraced brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, has already inspired one feature, Ben Younger’s 2000 drama Boiler Room. Scorsese (pictured), who reportedly starts shooting in August, will up the stakes by bringing in his current leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio. The Wolf of Wall Street will be their fifth feature together (Scorsese previously did eight with Robert De Niro), and the partnership has increasingly served each of them well after the somewhat shaky start a decade ago with Gangs of New York.
Scorsese has been prominent in recent years, not only for his dramatic features but overseeing a handful of crucial music documentaries and his extensive work promoting film preservation as the celluloid era winds down and the digital one begins. He turns 70 in November, and he’s seemingly increased his output since attaining his iconic status. He has two other films as possible 2013 projects: Silence is the story of two Jesuit priests who face persecution in 17th century Japan (one of the clergymen may be played by Daniel Day-Lewis), while Sinatra is a biopic of the legendary singer and actor that has long been talked about but has never secured the right candidate for the title role.
Global gaming company, Zynga has reportedly paid $200million for OMGPOP, the six year old start-up firm that is behind the Draw Something application which is sitting at the top of the application charts in many parts of the world?
But what happens when a company exhausts online gaming growth?
The answer? Go to the real world.Continue Reading "From games, to merchandise, to theme parks"
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