11 items from 2014
Simon Columb continues our Al Pacino Retrospective with Looking for Richard...
The Al Pacino season at the BFI has showcased his best work, but it can be difficult to get a sense of what Pacino is like when viewed through the fictional lens of characters like Michael Corleone and Frank Serpico. Looking for Richard is Pacino’s directorial debut, digging deeper into American attitudes towards Shakespeare – specifically the influential historical drama Richard III. This is an insight into Pacino’s acting and his love for the stage. Informative, insightful and playful, Looking for Richard is a theatrical treat for film fans.
Led primarily by Pacino himself and his co-writer Frederic Kimball, they banter and argue about the text and purpose of the documentary. While Pacino is building and amassing footage to create a film to educate and illuminate a centuries old text, Fred is keen to prove how actors understand Shakespeare, »
- Gary Collinson
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Running Time: 115 minutes
Synopsis: Escape artist Ray Breslin (Stallone) makes a living out of testing the security of prisons by going in and getting out. But when he finds himself betrayed and left for dead in an impossibly complex facility, he must team up with the mysterious Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) to form… An Escape Plan.
“You look like a man who finds things interesting,” says Arnie to Sly. I honestly don’t know if that’s a really good line or a really bad line. This is indicative of the whole film which finds itself falling between two big, meaty stools, if you can imagine such a thing. On one hand it is forgettable, incredibly cliched, predictable, forgettable, poorly acted and not very memorable. On the other hand it is an »
- John Sharp
Derek Jarman is remembered as an innovative film-maker and artist but his stage work is key to his career – even his own residence was a performance
Derek Jarman wandered into theatre, as he did into much of his creative life. The stage design department at the Slade School of Art in 1963 was casually structured, and, for the era, an uncloseted zone of gaiety. He'd previously slapped a distemper brush on scenes for Lorca's Blood Wedding and other plays put on by fellow students at King's College, London. He had not seen much theatre, as movies – even concerts – came cheaper; the first production that really excited him was Peter Brook's short and gory staging of Antonin Artaud's Spurt of Blood in the RSC's 1964 Theatre of Cruelty season.
- Veronica Horwell
Alain Resnais, who has died aged 91, was a director of elegance and distinction who, despite generally working from the screenplays of other writers, established an auteurist reputation. His films were singular, instantly recognisable by their style as well as through recurring themes and preoccupations. Primary concerns were war, sexual relationships and the more abstract notions of memory and time. His characters were invariably adult (children were excluded as having no detailed past) middle-class professionals. His style was complex, notably in the editing and often – though not always – dominated by tracking shots and multilayered sound.
He surrounded himself with actors, musicians and writers of enormous talent and the result was a somewhat elitist body of work with little concern for realism or the socially or intellectually deprived. Even overtly political works, Night and Fog, »
- Brian Baxter
When I awoke this morning to the unhappy news that Alain Resnais, the French director of "Last Year at Marienbad," "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and "Night and Fog" among many, many others, had passed away at the age of 92, my first thought was how different the moment felt to most other announcements of veteran artists' departures -- more sorely immediate than the usual solemn, remove-your-hat mourning. Most nonagenarian directors who die do so with their life's work complete; Resnais's certainly wasn't lacking, but the man wasn't finished either. Only three weeks ago, Resnais premiered his 19th feature, "Life of Riley," in Competition at the Berlin Film Festival to warm applause and even a couple of trophies. The jury awarded him the Alfred Bauer Prize for "a film that opens new perspectives on cinematic art" -- an award that, at first blush, seems an odd fit for one as comfortingly seasoned and familiar as Resnais, »
- Guy Lodge
One of the most critically-aclaimed French helmers of all time, Resnais directed such arthouse masterpieces as “Hiroshima Mon Amour,”a flagship pic of the New Wave, which earned writer Marguerite Duras an Oscar nom for original screenplay in 1961, and “Last Year at Marienbad,” a major influence on such directors as David Lynch.
Resnais, who began his career with a number of art documentaries and then broke through with the gripping 1955 “Night and Fog,” about the Jewish Holocaust in WWII, was one of the more intellectually rigorous members of the new wave of filmmakers who overturned the French film industry in the late ’50s.
The French cinema world is mourning Resnais today as critics, industryites, festivals’ toppers and fans pay him homage.
- Elsa Keslassy
Mention the name Hercule Poirot and chances are that the first thing that pops into your mind is David Suchet’s moustachioed visage. Suchet, of course, portrayed Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian export for 24 years, from 1989 to 2013, during which time he starred in every major Poirot story that the author wrote. As great as these televisual treats were, though, I have very fond memories of the trio of Poirot movies that are included in this new Blu-ray collection.
Though I never saw them at the cinema, Murder On The Orient Express (1974), Death On The Nile (1978) and Evil Under The Sun (1982) always seemed to crop up on television whenever there was a Bank Holiday (on rotation with The Great Escape (1963) among others) and guaranteed that we as a family would sit together, glued to the screen, no matter how many times we’d seen them.
The first of these three movies, »
With I, Frankenstein in theatres, The Creature is sure to be on a lot of people's minds; and if you're in the UK, you'll soon get a chance to check out Michael Sarrazin in the role when 1970's TV movie Frankenstein: The True Story finally arrives to your shores.
One of the most acclaimed versions of Mary Shelley’s classic tale, Frankenstein: The True Story, featuring a stellar all-star cast including James Mason and Leonard Whiting, makes its UK DVD debut on 10 March 2014 thanks to Second Sight Films.
Originally airing on NBC in 1973, this much lauded film also stars David McCallum ("The Man From U.N.C.L.E."), Jane Seymour ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), Tom Baker ("Doctor Who"), Ralph Richardson (Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes), John Gielgud (Ghandi), Peter Sallis (Last of the Summer Wine), and Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; Feardotcom) as The Creature.
In 19th century England, »
- Debi Moore
After 40 years, the British-born actress who conquered Hollywood and starred in TV's Murder, She Wrote is back on the West End stage. As she approaches her 90s, she's in her theatrical prime
In the play Blithe Spirit, the wildly eccentric and chaotic clairvoyant Madame Arcati, Noël Coward's most colourful creation, announces that "time is the reef upon which all our frail mystic ships are wrecked".
No aphorism has ever applied less than this does to the actress now about to don the headscarves and bangles to play Arcati in the West End at the age of 88. Dame Angela Lansbury, ennobled earlier this month, has defied the laws of nature by becoming more theatrically prolific as her years have advanced. In 2007, she was Tony award-nominated for her role in a new Terrence McNally play, Deuce, on Broadway; in 2010, she was nominated again for a revival of Sondheim's A Little Night Music; and then, »
- Vanessa Thorpe
Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence and/or Scarlett Johansson to make Oscar history? (photo: Jennifer Lawrence in ‘American Hustle’) The 2014 Academy Awards’ Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor races seemed quite fuzzy at first. The picture became clearer following the announcement of the SAG Award nominations: now, there are three or four top contenders in each category; these performers will probably — or rather, in a couple of cases, surely — be shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards. (See also: "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actress: Meryl Streep Possibly to Break Another Record," "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actor: Robert Redford Possible Near-Record," and "Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture, Best Director.") Yet, there’s quite a bit of room for a couple of upsets. In other words, pay close attention to our list of runners-up for Best Supporting Actress. In fact, even one of the "long shot" actresses might manage to squeeze in; admittedly, »
- Steve Montgomery
Happy New Year, dear Backlot readers! I hope everyone’s 2014 has gotten off to a great start and that you all rang in the new year with an appropriate level of celebration. Of course if you’re like me you clearly overdid it and, while I am blessedly immune to hangovers myself, I imagine there may be some throbbing heads and bleary eyes among you. For those suffering few, let me offer up some suggestions of movies and TV that, while perhaps not curing what ails you, will at least remind you that you’re not suffering alone. So grab a bag of frozen peas from the kitchen, mix yourself up a prairie oyster in your toothpaste glass and check out a few of these.
Ray Milland plays Don Birnam, an alcoholic author struggling to overcome his crippling alcohol-induced writer’s block. The film follows Don through »
11 items from 2014
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