Film News: Derek Jarman at BFI; Boba Fett movie rumours; the death of Optimus Prime

A round-up of film news: Derek Jarman gets a retrospective at the BFI; those Boba Fett movie rumours; screenwriter Ron Friedman on the death of Optimus Prime; plus the latest trailers

Feature by News Team | 06 Jan 2014

Derek Jarman, one of the most important British filmmakers of the last 50 years, will be given an in-depth retrospective in February and March this year at London's BFI, in association with The Quietus. The programme will be called Queer Pagan Punk. It will feature rare works, discussion panels and guest appearances, and will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the director's death. 

Jarman's career in film began with set design – he created the visually stunning sets for Ken Russell's The Devils in 1970, going on to make groundbreaking films like Sebastiane (1976), a film about the martyrdom of St. Sebastiane, and Jubilee (1978), a dystopian Elizabethan time-travel epic which featured appearances from Adam Ant and Toyah Willcox, alongside other luminaries of the punk scene. These early films were credited with raising awareness of gay lifestyles, depicting homosexual relationships with a frankness unseen before in British cinemas. Throught the 1980s until his death in 1994, Jarman was an active campaigner on AIDS and HIV-related issues.

The retrospective will be split into two halves: the first half is titled Jarman & The Occult and explores his early period, with the second half, New Queer Cinema, focusing on "Jarman's engagement with new ways of representing gay culture and the AIDS crisis alongside perennial themes of Englishness and landscape." The programme includes screenings of rare films, including his 1971 short Electric Fairy and guest speakers, such as Toyah Willcox, Dexter Fletcher, Isaac Julien, Tariq Ali, James McKay, Keith Collins, John Maybury and Don Boyd. Final dates and times for screenings, and ticket info, will soon be available from the BFI website. Read The Quietus' announcement about the retrospective here.

Ask any serious fan of classic Star Wars which character they wanted to be when they were a kid, and you'll be likely to get one of two answers. Either they wanted to be the cool, wisecracking smuggler who gets the girl – Han Solo – or they wanted to be the silent-but-deadly bounty hunter who traps him in carbonite – Boba Fett. Forget, for a moment, the debacle of Clone Wars, and picture this: an all-new Boba Fett spin-off movie, chronicling the bounty hunter's adventures pre-Return of the Jedi

This fanboy fantasy could be nearer reality than ever before, with Metalocalypse director Joe Schnepp telling YouTube podcast AMC Movie Talk that amid the rumours flying about potential spin-off movies, Boba Fett is one that is definitely happening. "It is. I know. I know for a fact," said Schnepp. "I will never reveal my source, but it is the one written by Lawrence Kasdan." Kasdan, the writer of the original trilogy's Empire and Jedi (not to mention Raiders of the Lost Ark), has also been hired to work on J.J. Abrams as-yet-untitled Star Wars: Episode VII. So, is Schnepp in line for the director's chair on the Fett movie? Or is he just imparting unconfirmed gossip...? We'll keep you posted!

It's a seminal, unforgettable moment in 80s youth culture history, burned indelibly into the psyche of all Transformers fans – the death of Optimus Prime in the 1986 animated classic Transfromers: The Movie was an affecting and heartbreaking scene. Lying on a slab after a fatal battle with his Deceptacon foes, Prime whisperes the immortal words: "Do not grieve... soon I will be one with the Matrix."

Just before new year, the film's screenwriter Ron Friedman gave a revealing interview to blogger Todd Mathy, talking about his doubts about killing off the hero of the Transformers franchise. "They [Hasbro] didn’t recognise that Optimus Prime was the heartbeat of the Autobots," Friedman tells Mathy. "The strong and fatherly presence that made sure everybody else behaves and tries to live up to his example. You cannot pass that over and have any hope of duplicating the success you had. I proved right because they resurrected him rapidly. They established an icon."

Faced with Hasbro's insistence that Prime must die in the film, Friedman came up with the concept of the Matrix. "I tried to establish an essential ingredient for the Optimus Prime character that he was both the caretaker and exponent of. That was the Matrix. It’s like the Petrean Touch in Catholicism. St. Peter touched his successor and every successive Pope has touched the next Pope carrying the touch of Peter into eternity... In effect, Prime did not die, he assumed another form resident in his successor, Rodimus Prime."

Describing his approach to the moving death scene, Friedman said: "I tried to do that and make it as emotionally valid as I could. When a warrior dies he dies for purpose. It’s not a willingness to give up his life but a willingness to use his life as supplication for good. His recognition that immortality belongs to no one and if by dying he can preserve what is valuable, he would have died well." Read the interview in full here and watch Optimus Prime's tear-inducing death-scene below, and try to forget that Michael Bay was ever given the keys to the franchise

The Raid: Redemption, directed by Gareth Evans, was an adrenaline-powered, claustrophobic thriller combining blood-pumping Indonesian martial arts with acrobatic gunplay. This year, Evans unveils the hotly-anticipated follow-up, The Raid 2: Berandal. Iko Uwais returns as hard-bitten cop Rama, who goes undercover to bust a ruthless crime syndicate in Jakarta. 

Sticking with action, here's the preview for the new Arnie vehicle, Sabotage. Schwarzenegger plays a member of an elite, hard-drinking DEA anti-drugs squad, who are targeted by a rogue assassin after busting a major cartel. Given that we've just come off the back of our Christmas holidays, during which we watched Jingle All The Way and Kindergarten Cop back to back, we're glad to see the Governator back in an action role, sans the geriatric company of his aging Expendables co-stars.