DVD Pick: Pillars of the Earth miniseries released in November!

Just a few months ago, I was rather bummed out that I couldn’t watch this awesome miniseries that aired on the Starz network. But looks like I won’t have to wait much longer now that the dvd is going to be released in late November!

The Pillars of the Earth is based on the bestselling Ken Follett novel, and produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company. The six-part, eight-hour epic miniseries is set during the bloodiest civil war in England’s history. It promises to be a sensuous, spirited and passionate story is set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart. In that time, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge.

Check out the trailer and info about the show in my previous post. The reviews I’ve been reading have been good, with an IMDb user rating of 8.7/10. Well, I have quite a high expectation for this, but I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. Especially when it comes to Rufus Sewell’s performance!

Rufus Sewell brings the perfect amount of passion and vulnerability to Tom Builder. His moments of inspiration are stunning. He was the last person I pictured in the role, but now I can’t think of anyone more suited. – IGN TV review

Rufus Sewell provides the machismo and sexual tension as Tom Builder. Whenever the action starts to lag, Sewell energizes the entire production as the talented mason who must negotiate the politics of the church, the will of the king and the interests of the workers. – Denver Post
According to this site, in addition to the 8 episodes, listed and described just below, Sony will include a Making-of Featurette, plus a Featurette on the special effects and another one about the making of the main titles of the show.

Well, this behind-the-scene featurette is wetting my appetite even more!

Has any of you had the privilege of seeing this show? Well, what did you think?

Weekend Roundup: Flugtag, Ridley Scott’s Filmmaking Contest, Pillars of the Earth Debut

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope y’all had a smashing weekend. Mine ended up being quite hectic that I didn’t get to see The Prestige that I rented again. As I said in my Top Five Nolan flicks post, I’m curious to see if I understand it better the second time around.

  • I had the pleasure of attending the Red Bull Flugtag event on Saturday, a first for the Twin Cities. What’s Flugtag? Well, it means “flying day” in German, but the Red Bull Flugtag is a competition that challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight! Well, team Major Trouble and the Dirty Dixies set a world record, as they flew 207 feet, beating the previous record of 195! Woot woot! You can watch the awesome team soared to victory here. Too bad we missed seeing this one as we were stuff in traffic and trying to find parking! But still it was fun to enjoy a day in the sun along with a bazillion people.
  • My friend and blog contributor Ted Saydalavong (who recently gave us Batman Begins & Superman Returns Vision-to-Film posts, the latter happens to be featured on IMDb today!) tipped me a short while ago about this Philips Cinema collaboration with Ridley Scott, called the Tell It Your Way contest. It’s based on the Philips company’s campaign “There are millions of ways to tell a story. There’s only one way to watch one.” What each contestant has to do is create a short film to go along with Philips’ Parallel Lines short films series available on their YouTube Channel. Five very different short films, five different genres, five different directors, but one unifying dialogue. So the challenge is to come up with your own 3-minute version, no matter what storyline, but using the same 6-lines of dialogue provided (i.e. It’s a Unicorn, Never seen one up close before).
    Ted’s one of the aspiring filmmaker hopefuls who’s vying to win the Grand Prize which includes a week’s worth of work experience at Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) in one of their worldwide offices (all expenses paid), as well as one of these magnificent Philips Cinema 21:9 HDTVs. “I’ve decided to enter into this film competition because I wanted to showcase my movie directing abilities, I’m a film fanatic and wanted to tell a good story in 3 minutes. Also, Ridley Scott is one of the judges on this competition and I hope he likes what I created and if I win I get to meet him in person. Scott is one of my favorite film directors, he has such a great visual on all of his films, bad and good ones,” Ted said, “I thought this competition is a great challenge to amateur filmmakers out there, you have lines of dialog to follow but you can tell it in anyway you wish. As a filmmaker wanna be, this is a great opportunity to showcase my talents and I think my team accomplished that with our film.”

    “It’s the competition to find the next Ridley Scott,” says Fame Magazine UK, where three rounds of judging will be held including public voting via YouTube. Ted told me Carl Erik Rinsch’s The Gift, about a futuristic robot butler who flees the police, is his favorite, and I can see why. It’s a gorgeously-shot and meticulously crafted sci-fi short, see it for yourself below:

    It is so impressive in fact, that Warner Bros. and Fox were apparently got into a bidding war in their quest to turn this into a feature film (per HeatVision blog). Though well-known in the commercial world, Risch’s name will soon be known to moviegoers, too, as he’s reportedly working on Keanu Reeves’ samurai film 47 Ronin, and possibly helming the remake of the 1976 Logan’s Run sci-fi adventure-drama next.

    Back to the contest, finalists will be judged on criteria including creative storytelling, use of dialogue, and technical achievement.This sounds like a super fierce competition, but of course with a prize like that, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime! So best of luck to you, Ted!
  • Speaking of sir Ridley, I wish I could watch his epic miniseries Pillars of the Earth, produced by his Scott Free production company. As I said in my previous post on it, the six-part, eight-hour miniseries is based on an International best-seller novel by Ken Follett, which tells a story about building a cathedral set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles in the Middle Ages (you watch the trailer here).
    Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder

    Starz premiered the show over the weekend and it generated pretty good reviews according to MetaCritic. Prairiegirl and my favorite Brit Rufus Sewell was often praised for his performance as Tom Builder, who apparently lives up to his name as a master builder for this massive Cathedral project. This one particular review even said Sewell pretty much stole the show. Well, I don’t expect anything less from the stunningly-handsome and talented actor! The show’s also got a stellar cast that include Ian McShane, Donald Shuterland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfayden, Tony Curran and Hayley Attwell.

    Those who have cable, the premiere last Friday will be followed by one-hour segments until the two-hour conclusion on August 27. I’ll be sure to rent this once they’re available on dvd and write my review of it then.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Pillars of the Earth miniseries

Back in November of last year, I talked about this miniseries project based on Ken Follett’s best-seller book Pillars of the Earth. The show’s produced by Tandem Communications, Muse Entertainment and Ridley & Tony Scott’s Scott Free Films, and has been acquired by cable network Starz.

The Pillars of the Earth is a sweeping epic of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty. This sensuous, spirited and passionate story is set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart. In that time, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge.

It’s got a pretty decent budget of $40 million and was shot on location in Hungary and Austria. Last week the first trailer was released (thanks Prairiegirl!):

Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder

This looks like a captivating story and I’m a big fan of historical period dramas — medieval or otherwise. It boasts a stellar, mostly-British cast, including Prairiegirl and my favorite Rufus Sewell, which is always a huge plus. Here’s what the British author said on Oprah’s site about the casting: “… Ian McShane as the dark soul Waleran Bigod, who believes he is God’s will; the intense and multifaceted Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder—probably the most popular character I ever wrote. Matthew Macfadyen, who portrays the complex Prior Philip with unrelenting strength; the highly regarded Sarah Parish as the manipulative and dangerous Regan Hamleigh. Then there’s the wonderful young talent: the lovely and truly gifted Hayley Atwell playing our heroine, Aliena and Eddie Redmayne as our hero, Jack … I’ve been looking at footage regularly since Pillars went before the cameras in June 2009, and the cast is so good I can hardly believe it.”

I’m hopeful it lives up to the hype. It’ll arrive in the US sometime in July, looking forward to it!