Joe’s Blog

Archive for January, 2009

The Tall Guy (1989)

January 29, 2009 5:34 am

tall guy


Richard Curtis is such an enigma, I swear he has an evil doppleganger who is going around trying to bismirch his good name.

How else can you explain that the same man who wrote Blackadder also created The Vicar of Dibley? Or that th eman who gave us the witty and emotional Four Weddings and a Funeral also gave us the cynical, emotionless Notting Hill?

 (And the least said about Love Actually the better, except that Lady Scaramanga has vowed never to watch it again, and she’s seen Notting Hill at least five times!)

 For me, Curtis’ masterpiece, in cinematic terms at least, is the underrated and near-enough forgotten The Tall Guy. It’s a film that remembers it’s a comedy first, then a romance; it laid down the ground rules for Brit RomComs for years to come (for better or worse) and gave the world probably the greatest sex scene ever (of which more later).

 In terms of structure, anyone who’s never seen it before will see we are in familiar territory. Jeff Goldblum is the lovable loser who just can’t find the right girl. His circle of friends include his nympho flatmate, a funny foreigner and a blind man (the disabled friend would become a Curtis fixture; here it’s simply for comedic effect rather than as a crowbar plot device in the final reel).

 Whilst recieving injections for allergies, he meets and falls in love with kooky nurse, Emma Thompson (never lovlier than she is here), and their relationship goes through the standard cinematic motions.

 Also in the mix is Goldblum’s employer. Rowan Atkinson plays the odious and ridiculously successful comedian Ron Anderson. Goldblum is Anderson’s straight man in his West End show, and he eventually gets fired after missing a show. Anderson is such a wonderful creation, mainly because, if rumours are true, his persona is not a million miles away from Atkinson’s. Only Curtis and director Mel Smith (yes, THAT Mel Smith) could have possibly persuaded him to do it.

 Following a hilarious montage of Goldblum trying out for various ‘legitimate’ theatre productions (the Berkoff is easily my favourite), he lands the plum role in a vulgar new West End musical based on the life of John Merrick, called, simply, Elephant! (exclamation mark included).

 And so on, until Goldblum and Thompson split, then get together again for a slow-mo hug in the middle of casualty.

 It all sounds dreadful, and it very nearly could have been. Watching with cynical eyes everything seems cliched up to the hilt. But it’s like watching the original Halloween now: it only seems cliched because everything that followed ripped it off so much.

 There’s so much good stuff here, it’s difficult to know where to start, so I’ll start at the end, or rather Goldblum and Thompson’s ends.

 The sex scene they share together is easily the funniest ever put on screen (funnier even than Body of Evidence) as the pair proceed to wreck Thompson’s flat in a fit of hormones. Anyone who says they don’t find the sight of a piece of toast stuck to Emma Thompson’s bum funny is either lying or dead.

 Then there’s Elephant! A musical so tasteless and vulgar you’d swear it had been running for ten years in the West End. We get glimpses of what’s in store through the various rehearsal scenes, but actually witnessing it is pure joy.

The sight of Thompson barely able to believe what she’s seeing, whilst Goldblum’s flatmate sits there lapping up every awful second of it is a wonderful piece of acting from both actresses.

 There’s also one-liners to die for (“What in the name of Judas Iscariot’s bumboy is going on?”; “I hope all your children have very small dicks! And that includes the girls!”), blink-and-you’ll-miss-em appearances by Angus Deayton, Mel Smith himself and Jason Isaacs.

 This being a romantic comedy, of course, the path of true love never runs smooth, and everything is rather too neatly wrapped up at the end, but by then  you just don’t care because you’ve had such a laugh for the past 90 minutes.

And who knew that all you had to do was take this formula and change the sex of your imported American star to take over the world?

Oscar Nominations 2009

January 23, 2009 3:17 am


 It must be January,because the cinemas are filled with ‘worthy’ films. Biopics of people who made the front page, once, in 1976; real life stories that normally end up in TV movies on Channel 5 on a wet Tuesday afternoon; actors ‘playing against type'; and Will Bloody Smith in a bloody black bloody suit looking at me all smug and mysterious.

Yes, Oscar season arrives with all the attendant banality that goes with it, namely, the films.

Until a few years back, I loved the Oscars. It was something about all that glamour, shininess and the fact you had to stay up all night to watch it. Legends would be honoured, and occassionally get overlooked in favour of saying ‘well done’ to a rookie (Fact: Martin Scorcese lost out on Best Director Oscars TWICE to actors directing their first films, Robert Redford and Kevin Costner… think on).

But now, rather than being a celebration of the best Hollywood (and occassionaly Britain; those damn foreigners can have their own category) has to offer, it is now just a love-in for all those heartfelt dramas, true-life tales, and costume epics that appear in the last two months of the year.

Of this years Best Picture nominations, only two, Slumdog Millionaire and The Reader, were on release in Britain at the time the nominations were announce, and they both came out this month. Of the others, Milk and Frost/Nixon are both out today, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button isn’t out until February.

“Aaaah”, I hear you exclaim, “But this is for films released in America last year”.

Indeed. To qualify for the Oscars, a film needs only a ‘limited’ release in 2008. As FOUR of the five films did. Only The Curious Case of Benjamin Button had a full release. A limited release can consist of just ONE public showing normally either in New York or LA. So at the time of the nominations probably about 200 people have seen each of the nominated films. Hardly worthy of best film of the year, is it?

Another aspect of the process is the use of ‘screeners’. These used to be specially arranged screenings of films for voters, who, as they all work in the industry, are normally two busy to have a spare evening to go to the cinema. Or they just can’t be arsed to see a pretty actress wearing shock-horror prosthetics.

These days, the ‘screener’ has been superseeded by free DVDs and (it wouldn’t surprise me) downloads. So the people voting haven’t even made the effort to actually go and watch the films. The films come to them.

Now, call me picky, but surely if a film is any good people will WANT to see it, rather than be COERCED into seeing it? (This is the point where I remember that good films do get overlooked… but it doesn’t fit my argument so I’m going to ignore it)

I remember years ago, when MOVIES got nominated. You remember ‘movies’? Films that are entertaining and take you away from the real world for a couple of hours?

Just going back a couple of decades, consider that these films got nominated for Best Picture: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fatal Attraction (!), The Fugitive, The Full Monty.

You can argue the toss about their individual merits, but at least they were films that were wildly popular and to this day are still loved. (if you’re interested they were beaten by: Annie Hall, Chariots of Fire, The Last Emperor, Unforgiven and Titanic…)

Titanic and Lord of the Rings are probably the only populist winners in the past thirty years. And both were wrong.Titanic is a superb spectacle wrapped inside a dreary costume drama, and LOTR: The Return of the King (the final part, the one that actually won the Oscar) was the worst of the three films.

Some classic films never even got nominated. Off the top of head there’s Seven and Heat which both qualified for the 1996 awards. Then there’s groundbreakers like The Matrix. Yes, now it’s become a bit of a cliched dud of a series, but the original film was like nothing that had been seen before. I remember reading an interview with William Friedkin saying he thought it should have won the Oscar for Best Picture. It wasn’t even nominated (and he should know having won for French Connection and being nominated for The Exorcist.. The Exorcist! Can you imagine a horror movie getting a Best Picture nomination these days, even if they DID make decent ones?)

At the end of the day, I shall not be popping Pro-plus with Red Bull chasers to watch it this year. There is no point.

I haven’t seen any of the main contenders, and frankly, bar Frost/Nixon, I couldn’t give a toss about any of them either. So how can I get excited about it?

I’d like to see Robert Downey Jnr win in Best Supporting Actor for Tropic Thunder, but that’s had heath Ledger’s name engraved on it since last March; I’d like In Bruges to win Best Original Screenplay just because it contains so much swearing, I’d love to know what clip they’re going show.

But, for the record, here’s what I think will happen:

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director: Danny Boyle

Best Actor: Frank Langella

Best Actress: Kate Winslet (finally)

Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger

Supporting Actress: Not a fucking scooby since Marisa Tomei is the only one I’ve heard of, and she’s already got one

Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire

Original Screenplay: Happy-Go-Lucky

There… you don’t need to watch it now, either.

The Dull Hunter

January 19, 2009 4:18 am

dull films header

 “You know, most of these movies that win
a lot of Oscars, I can’t stand them…All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books.
Mad Max, that’s a movie. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, that’s a movie. Rio Bravo, that’s a movie.
And Coming Home in a Body Bag, that was a fuckin’ movie.”

Clarence in True Romance

 I thought on Clarence’s diatribe this past week as I had two experiences with those films that you are ‘suppossed’ to like but you actually find quite dull. When you explain to people that you don’t ‘get’ these films they launch into great pre-prepared speeches about ‘substance’, ‘subtext’ and ‘submarines’ (if you’re discussing Das Boot).

Now I like my fair share of movies that people wouldn’t be seen dead even looking up on their EPGs, but generally these are films that most right-thinking people don’t even know exist.

The films I’m talking about here, are those that are lauded by critica, film-makers and people with pointy beards you see nursing a coffee for four hours in the BFI coffee shop. (It is a rule that you only ever buy one coffee in there, and maybe a muffin to share, no matter how long you may be there for.)

Instance number one occurred on Wednesday, when a friend was very excited about seeing Blade Runner at the IMAX. This sounds like a great idea. Blade Runner is one of the most visually stunning films ever made, so seeing it projected on the moon-sized IMAX screen would surely be a sight to behold.

Then I remembered that Blade Runner is also very, very dull.

It’s a film I submit myself to about once a year, determined that this time I will ‘watch it properly’ and come to realise why it is so enthusiastically supported by just about everyone. I normally make it to Sean Young’s ‘replicant test’ before I’m asleep.

Only twice have I managed the whole thing: once as a wide-eyed 14 year old, keen to behold this cinematic masterpiece; and again when the Director’s Cut was released in 1992. I preferred the original, which is a kin to saying not only did I rape your disabled grandmother, but I really, really enjoyed it. In fact I might do it again this week.

This movie just makes people go insane. I would be tempted to put it down to sci-fi geekery, and Blade Runner attracts more of these conspiratorial types than most. In fact on finishing this, I fully expect to recieve death threats, be accussed of being an FBI stooge trying to dismantle the world economy and have my inbox stuffed with cryptic l33t speak which will leave me no closer to caring whether Harrison Ford is a robot or not. For the record I think he is, but I think there are far more important things to worry about. Like should I cut my toenails or give them another couple of days.

The group of friends I was with on Wednesday were stunned when I proclaimed myself less than a fan.

“It looks great”, I said, “and if there’s a DVD option to watch it with the just the soundtrack, I would love that. But I just find it incredibly dull.”

“Well, I can see what you’re saying , but you’re wrong.”

This from a friend, who I’d assumed was normal. No discussion, no exchange of ideas. I’m wrong.

But then he tripped himself up.

“Yeah, the story’s not great, but it’s about the visuals and the mood.”

Which sort of proved my point for me. Thanks mate.

The case for the prosecution next presents Exhibit #B: Vertigo.

One of the most celebrated thrillers of all time, held up as an example of Hitchcock’s genius, and regularly voted one of the greatest films of all time… it’s also incredibly dull.

Now I love Hitch. Without a doubt probably the finest film directors that has ever graced the planet. Rear Window, North by Northwest and Frenzy are three of my all-time favourites. So it really pains me to say that I find one of his films so tedious that I find myself wishing it would finish so I could watch something better, like Chucklevision. Or the testcard.

If you’ve never seen Vertigo I should warn you that what follows may spoil the film for you. But then if you ever had any intention of watching it, and haven’t by now, then you probably couldn’t care less anyway.

James Stewart is a detective who’s had to retire from the force because he suffers from vertigo (dum dum dum!). A college friend he hasn’t spoken to for years wants him to follow his wife who he thinks is possessed (!). Stewart and the wife fall in love, but she plummets to her death from a bell tower in a nunnery (!).

A year later, Stewart falls for a woman who reminds him of the dead wife, and starts an obsessive desire to mould her in the wife’s image. Wouldn’t you know it, it is in fact the same woman! She wasn’t actually the bloke’s wife at all. She was a in fact apaid to pretend she was bloke’s wife, while bloke knocked off the real wife. And she didn’t plummet to her death, it was a very unconvincing dummy. But since Stewart was paralysed with fear halfway up the bell tower he was a bit pre-occupied to notice (though quite how the nuns who rush to the body fail to notice is never explained).

It all ends with a happy confession and the imposter falling to her death from the same bell tower (why do they keep letting him take women up there?) when she mistakes a nun for a ghost. Easy mistake to make I suppose.

This takes 2 hours and 10 minutes, but feels like double that.

Vertigo was a bit of a flop at the time of its release, and I can understand why. Aside from its intermniable running time, Stewart is very unlikable. In fact, in the scenes where he is making over Kim Novak v2.0, far from being a ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ montage, it could in fact be scored quite easily with some of the more disturbing Mr Bungle or Nick Cave tracks. Stewart is downright violent in his desire to dress his new girlfriend exactly the same way as his dead ex.

But that’s not why I dislike the film (seeing someone like cuddly James Stewart playing an absolute bastard is always something of a joy). It’s the fact that it’s so loudly shouted from the rooftops that this is a classic is what really grates.

And the excuses given leave me cold too.

It was revolutionary. By this I assume the vertigo-vision shots. Yes, very clever, well done. They take up at most 10 seconds of the running time.

Jimmy’s dream sequence. Yes, done much better in Spellbound.

It’s Hitch’s most personal film. Yeeeeesss… Hitch had a thing for icy blondes. I would never have guessed that from watching his other films. Tippi Hedren had such an easy ride The Birds and Marnie, didn’t she.

And, as with Blade Runner, these feel like excuses and apologies rather than reasons.  It’s the old ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’ line. If I find a film boring then saying “oh, but check out that shot in the bell tower” isn’t going to convince me otherwise. A brief 2 seconds of genius do not make up for the other 2 hours, 9 minutes and 58 seconds being among the most disappointing of Hitch’s ouvre.

Vertigo is a film that has gained acclaim over the years, rather than achieving it instantly. Other films have done this in the past few decades, many of which are among my faves like Peeping Tom and The Wicker Man. Not to mention Hitch’s Frenzy.

But these films don’t need excuses made for them. Watching them is enough to realise that they are great films that were cruelly ignored, or worse, when they were released.

With Vertigo, there is this constant explanation for why it’s so highly regarded. This shouldn’t be neccessary. A film should live or die by itself.

As I said, Peeping Tom may have been ‘saved’ by people like Martin Scorcese, but he didn’t write long essays about why it’s so wonderful. he simply helped get it rereleased so people could judge for themselves.

If I want to know about Hitch’s OCD, or his obsession with blondes, I’ll read a book about it. If I want to watch an entertaining thriller I’ll watch Rear Window.

I should say, I’m not completely innocent of the whole ‘how can you not love this film’ scam. The thing is, the film’s I endorse, are not those that end up on the BFI list, or in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies of all Time.

Two of my favourite directors, the Davids Cronenberg and Lynch, regularly make films that leave audiences aghast in disbelief. For me, the difference is, films like Videodrome, Eraserhead, and more recently, Mulholland Drive, may be uncomfortable, obtuse viewing, but they are rarely, if ever, dull. (On finishing Mulholland Drive, Lady Scaramanga, no slave to dull films, turned to me and said “I really enjoyed that, but I’ve no idea why!”)

Anyone who has seen Eraserhead will never forget that experience. They may not have a clue what’s going, or what the whole thing’s is about, but it will be burned into your brain.

I can’t even remember if James Stewart already had vertigo, or if he developed it as a result of seeing the plod fall off the roof.

Everyone has their favourite films. And everyone has their favourite films when they are trying to impress someone. Don’t bother. Have the nerve to stand by your conviction and demand to be entertained rather than have your beard stroked.

 And I never even got started on The Deer Hunter


1408 (2007)

January 16, 2009 2:20 am


1408 poster

So what was the last decent Stephen King adaptation?

Most people, I imagine, would be inclined to say The Green Mile, but since I’ve no desire to see a three hour Jesus allegory with Tom Hanks discussing erectile disfunction, I’ve managed to find a spare day in which to watch it.

This was, of course, preceeded by the Greatest Film Ever Made (according to imdb users), The Shawshank Redemption. The problem with both of these is, they don’t feel like Stephen King films. It’s like saying the best Wes Craven film is Music of the Heart (Meryl Streep struggles to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids… I’m not making this up).

Despite the occassional low-key triumph (Apt Pupil, Dolores Claiborne) there hasn’t been a great Stephen King film since 1990’s Misery. So one wonders why film studios still wet their pants over him, and even hunt out older stuff to adapt.

1408 was originally a short story in an audiobook collection first released in 1999, so why nearly ten years later it should be dredged up for a big-budget, high-profile movie is beyond me.

 Anyway… John Cusack is a writer (in a Stephen King story? You don’t say!) who is cynical, sarcastic and generally quite rude. His work consists of crappy tour guides of haunted places, of which his latest is a book on haunted hotels.

He lives a reclusive life and over the course of movie we discover ‘what made him this way’. I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say that he left his wife a year before following the death of their daughter.

One day he recives an unsigned postcard from the Dolphin Hotel in New York telling him NOT to stay in 1408. His interest peaked he decides to do the complete opposite.

The hotel manager, a superb cameo from Samuel L. Jackson (Note the word CAMEO, despite what the poster and credits may have you believe), tries his best to dissuade Cusack. he regales him with tales of suicides, accidental death and one guy who slit his own throat and then tried to sew it back with a darning needle. Oh, and the guy who drowned in his soup. Spooky…

Most people, he claims, never last longer than an hour. So there’s our ticking clock.

Undettered, Cusack checks in and within about ten minutes it’s all gone crazy-ape-shit-bonkers: a murderous woman appears, Cusack sees a reflection of an evil doppleganger, he sees his father and dead daughter, Sam Jackson appears in his minibar.

If this all sounds ridiculous, well, it is.

The first half an hour was excellent. The build up to Cusack checking in rachets up the tension superbly. Jackson’s hotel manager stays just the right side of knowing camp, and you feel he genuinely is scared of the room (it’s explained that no-one is allowed to use the room and Cusack only gets access after threatening legal action!).

The turning point comes with the first shock: yes, it’s that old staple the radio that turns itself on at an obscenely high volume… gets ‘em everytime! But more terrifying than that is the fact that it’s playing The Carpenters. I shit myself. The clock radio then proceeds to inform us of how much longer Cusuack will have before he dies. So we now, literally, have a ticking clock.

Speaking of old staples we also get bleeding walls, paintings that change, mysterious voices and visions, and the classic crying baby noise (which I do find very unsettling).

Cusack is very good, basically carrying the film for 80% of it’s running time. It’s just him and the room. But there is a tendancy for his character to drift in and out of cynical mode. At one stage he is so traumatised by what he’s experiencing he tries to escape through the air vent only to be confronted by some zombie (looking oddly similar to the nazi zombies in Shock Waves). After dispatching the zombies jaw, he falls back into the room only to deliver a clunky one liner about how it’s good to be back.

You’re probably thinking, why doesn’t he just leave the room? Ah, well they’ve thought of that. You see, as Jackson explains, this room “is an evil fucking room”. When does try to leave he finds the door locked, and the key breaks off in the lock. OMG!

But it’s OK, cos he’s a modern guy, despite still using an old fashioned tape dictation machine. Hooray, he’s got a mobile phone! It only takes him half the film’s running time to finally decide to try and use it (the room’s phone, obviously, just connects to a cheery but sinister reception desk from hell), but he forgot that Jackson had already explained that “electronics don’t work so well in … 1408″. Surprising then that he manages to get his laptop to work and manages to have a slightly fuzzy video conference with his estranged wife, who seems more concerned with arguing with her clearly distressed husband, than helping him out.

The whole ‘Shining in a hotel room’ just doesn’t work. Whilst The Shining was never going make a satisfactory two hour film and be faithful to the book (personally, I love the film because it doesn’t try to make an authentic adaptation work), 1408 has barely enough going for it to cover a two hour film.

It’s a Twilight Zone episode, a Tales of the Unexpected story (particularly it’s drearily predictable and ridiculous last scene) at best. It’s impressive start is blown away in seconds and you then spend an hour being bombarded with noise and effects.

Hotel-based horror is better served recently by the low-rent (in budget, setting and cast) Vacancy.

Transformers (2007)

January 5, 2009 7:31 am

Transformers poster

I fucking hate Michael Bay. The same way I hate Girls Aloud. Half the time they produce fast food shite that makes me want to stab my eyes (or ears) out with the bluntest instrument I can find.

Then the other half of the time they do stuff that I actually enjoy (guiltily) which makes me hate them even more.

Bay made a cracking start to his film career with two extremely, ridiculously enjoyable movies in Bad Boys and The Rock. Both showed promise, but also the guiding hand of super producer Jerry Brukheimer. In Bay it seemed Bruckheimer had found a natural successor to Tony Scott (Top Gun, Days of Thunder).

After this double whammy though, things took a downturn. Armageddon was more of the same, but showed a shift from ridiculously entertaining to just ridiculous. And then came Pearl Harbor (sic), a shameless attempt to recreate the ‘magic’ of Titanic. They succeeded only in the sense that it’s only worth watching for about twenty minutes when the SFX kick in.

So, when it turned out Mr Bay was to take the reigns of Transformers, one of the most anticipated films of all time for a certain generation of people, my heart sank lower than a certain cruise liner.

18 months on from its release, I finally caved in and in full cynic mode, I watched it. And bugger me if they didn’t do a fairly good job with it.

After a cracking opening sequence where the first Transformer is revealed (complete with the original ‘transform’ sound effect sadly lacking from the rest of the film) things settle down into a very cheesy, predictable story of Shia la Beouf playing a high school loser (yeah, right) and his attempts to buy his first car to get the girl of his dreams. (Surely, if she’s only interested in him because of his car, she’s a bit of a cow and not worth bothering with…?)

Anyhow, wouldn’t you know, the car he buys turns out to be Bumblebee, the Scrappy Doo of Cybertron, except here he’s a sexy, classic Camero, rather than a VW Beetle. This is the first of many ‘character’ changes, but on the whole they don’t really matter. Bumblebee’s new appearance is at least acknowledged, as the car next to him is a rusty old Beetle.

Many of the characters have changed since their cartoon incarnations, but for the most part it’s not a problem. I did spend the first 45 minutes thinking Bumblebee was Hotrod, and got very confused when one of the Decepticons appeared as a police car, since cars were all Autobots originally.

The transformation effects are simple stunning, with seemingly every gear and rachet seperately animated and a wonderful sense of wonder and awe when the robots true identities are revealed.

As is usual for films like this, the ‘human’ side is a bit of a let down. Le Beouf, a very likeable lad with good comic timing, is clearly on auto-pilot. Megan Fox is your typical sexy teenager, despite clearly being well into her twenties, whilst the far more attractive and talented Rachael Taylor is relegated to a supporting geek role and, along with half the cast, is completely forgotten about half an hour before the end of the film.

Then there’s the two heavyweight names in the cast: Jon Voight and John Tuturro. Voight is now an old hand at playing, well, the old hand in action adventures. Here he turns up as the defence secretary, recruiting a bunch of young trendy IT geek types to work out what’s going on… just like he did in Enemy of the State.

Tuturro is an odd one though. Clearly in it for the money, he turns up half way through as an FBI agent, clearly taking his cue from Jeffrey Coombs in The Frighteners. As if playing the paedophile, Jesus, in The Big Lebowski wasn’t an indignity enough, here he gets reduced to his underpants for no apparent reason.

There’s also a Michael Biehn-a-like soldier just back from the Middle East (and witness to the first Decepticon attack), and eventually, as usual, our rag-tag gang of characters find themselves pulled together, in this case in a secret bunker in the Hoover Dam, where the mighty Megatron has been kept in cold storage since he crash landed to Earth 100 years or so previously, searching for some cube thingy which has the ability to create new Transformers (or something… but for some unexplained reason the ones that we see it create are all evil).

After some further contrivances it’s decided the best thing to do is NOT to take the cube to the nearby Nevada desert, but a much better idea to take it into ‘The City’ where a balls to the wall CGI-fest finale can take place. And here’s where everything starts to fall apart.

One of the problems with the film is that when the Transformers are in robot form it’s nigh on impossible to tell them apart. This makes the climax a frustrating experience since you don’t know who’s winning each battle.

I won’t spoil thiongs by saying who does eventually triumph (if you can’t guess), but there are casualties on both side.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable waste of a saturday night, but I won’t be first in the queue for the inevitable sequel later this year.