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Murder mysteries are so commonplace on TV that each week offers seemingly dozens of them on police procedural series and detective shows. But in the movies, whodunits are surprisingly rare, and really good ones rarer still. There's really only a handful of movies that excel in offering the viewer the pleasure of solving the crime along with a charismatic sleuth, often with an all-star cast of suspects hamming it up as they try not to appear guilty.
One of the best was "Murder on the Orient Express," released 40 years ago this week, on November 24, 1974. Like many films adapted from Agatha Christie novels, this one featured an eccentric but meticulous investigator (in this case, Albert Finney as Belgian epicure Hercule Poirot), a glamorous and claustrophobic setting (here, the famous luxury train from Istanbul to Paris), and a tricky murder plot with an outrageous solution. The film won an Oscar for passenger »
- Gary Susman
• Remembering Peter de Rome: the maker of gay erotica loved by Warhol, Gielgud and the BFI
He is known as one of the greatest ever interpreters of Shakespeare, who was awarded an Oscar and made a knight, but John Gielgud is to become known for something rather more counter-cultural: a gay porn film he wrote for Peter de Rome, which may finally go into production.
De Rome was a film-maker who made gay pornography in New York from the 1960s onwards, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, and became the subject of the recent documentary Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn. He died earlier this year. The film’s producer David McGillivray, in conversation at a recent retrospective of pulp director Pete Walker, revealed details of a collaboration between De Rome and Gielgud. »
- Ben Beaumont-Thomas
'Henry V' Movie Actress Renée Asherson dead at 99: Laurence Olivier leading lady in acclaimed 1944 film (image: Renée Asherson and Laurence Olivier in 'Henry V') Renée Asherson, a British stage actress featured in London productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Three Sisters, but best known internationally as Laurence Olivier's leading lady in the 1944 film version of Henry V, died on October 30, 2014. Asherson was 99 years old. The exact cause of death hasn't been specified. She was born Dorothy Renée Ascherson (she would drop the "c" some time after becoming an actress) on May 19, 1915, in Kensington, London, to Jewish parents: businessman Charles Ascherson and his second wife, Dorothy Wiseman -- both of whom narrowly escaped spending their honeymoon aboard the Titanic. (Ascherson cancelled the voyage after suffering an attack of appendicitis.) According to Michael Coveney's The Guardian obit for the actress, Renée Asherson was "scantly »
- Andre Soares
Anyone who’s been to an acting class knows that there are as many approaches to the craft as there are actors approaching it. Though all actors must develop their own understanding of the work, several master teachers have led the way in training since the turn of the 20th Century. These well-known gurus helped develop acting as we know it, and continue to grow some of the industry’s most respected stars. Stanislavski’s SystemOne of the greatest acting teachers of all time, Constantin Stanislavski’s work signaled a shift in 20th century acting and inspired a whole new generation of techniques and teachers. In addition to changing the face of acting worldwide, Stanislavski’s Moscow Art Theatre was at the forefront of the naturalistic theater movement in the Soviet Union and in Europe. His approach incorporates spiritual realism, emotional memory, dramatic and self-analysis, and disciplined practice. Lord Laurence Olivier »
When Oscar glory comes knocking for a successful Hollywood actor, it must be hugely tempting when the chance arrives for them to reprise that award-winning role. But while sequels and reboots are a common enough sight in the movie industry these days, examples of stars who've returned to their Oscar-winning roles are relatively few and far between.
The reason, perhaps, is because it's so difficult to recapture the creative lightning in a bottle that led to the Oscar win in the first place. Nevertheless, some actors do occasionally take up the offer and return to the filmmaking well. And as the list below proves, the results can sometimes be highly accomplished - though seldom quite as powerful and fresh as the films they're following...
Won for: The French Connection
Played the »
Richard Attenborough, who was honored for his helming and production of the 1982 Oscar best picture “Gandhi” but was best known to American audiences for his role in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and its first sequel as park creator John Hammond, died on Sunday, his son tells BBC News. He was 90.
The stocky British filmmaker was awarded a life peerage by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for his stage work and for his efforts behind and in front of the camera to promote British cinema.
While Attenborough had been a prominent character actor in his native country since the early 1940s, he also achieved much as a producer, motion picture executive and cultural impresario. At various times he was chairman of the British Film Institute, Channel 4, Goldcrest Films, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Capital Radio and a director of the Young Vic and the British Film Institute. In the late ’70s, »
- Carmel Dagan
A primer on and an interview with Jean-Marie Straub and the late Danièle Huillet, both from the early 80s, top today's round of news and views. Also: Three takes on Orson Welles, an excerpt from a new book on Terence Davies, a review of a new biography of John Gielgud, remembering Austrian filmmaker Florian Flicker, appreciations of two little-known 30s-era actresses, Glenda Farrell and Marjorie Rambeau, Guy Gilles Day at DC's, the trailer for Erol Minta's debut, Song of My Mother, the big winner at the Sarajevo Film Festival—and more. » - David Hudson »
Trains in cinema have always made for an excitable source within the realm of the comedy, drama, mystery or suspense pertaining to the plot of a particular film. The setting for the featured trains as the driving force of entertainment serves as the heart and soul of the action for the most part.
In some cases using trains as a last minute symbolic theme for a film can generate great impact that thrives and questions the motives and urgency of the characters and storyline (i.e. the climax scene in The Defiant Ones where the salt-and-pepper escaped convicts Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier try and make a desperate dash for permanent freedom on a speeding train en route to permanent freedom). Perhaps a train could also add an extra element of action-packed excitement in a film’s conclusive ending such as the uncontrollable commuter train in Speed?
In Getting on »
- Frank Ochieng
Alcoholism in the movies have been played for both dramatic and comical effect. In fact some of the binge drinking done on the big screen have garnered considerable praise and pathos resulting in many performers winning Oscars and Oscar nominations based on this very serious addiction.
The alcoholic in cinema is larger in life because it is a societal reflection of the demons and destruction that affect millions of people globally. Film allows for the liberty to use creative licenses to highlight the physical and psychological pain and false feelings of pleasure to convey the true face of alcoholism and its hold on fictional characterizations that are bound by the poisonous allure of the bottle. However heavy-handed or hearty it may seem in portraying the detached drinker or happy drunk one thing is for certain…the depth and dimensional range of the chronic cinema sipper has never disappointed in giving »
- Frank Ochieng
Content announced today that Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, Vera Drake), Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call the Midwife), and Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hunger Games) have joined the voice cast of Kim Burden's Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost featuring two-time Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie (House) and Golden Globe nominee Stephen Fry (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). Giles New and Keiron Self are adapting the classic Oscar Wilde story. The animated film is produced by Robert Chandler and Gina Carter. Content will be handling worldwide sales starting at the Cannes market this month. Take a look at the first poster, then read on for more details.
Currently in pre-production, the animated comedy follows the story of Sir Simon de Canterville who has been haunting his ancestral home in rural England, »
Content announced today that Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, Vera Drake), Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory), Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call The Midwife), and Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hunger Games) have joined the voice cast of Kim Burdon’s Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost featuring two-time Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie (House MD) and Golden Globe nominee Stephen Fry (The Hobbit Parts 2 and 3, Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows).
Giles New and Keiron Self are adapting the classic Oscar Wilde story. The animated film is produced by Robert Chandler and Gina Carter. Content will be handling worldwide sales starting at the Cannes market this month.
Currently in pre-production, the animated comedy follows the story of Sir Simon de Canterville who has been haunting his ancestral home in rural England, Canterville Chase, for over three hundred years. He has successfully scared off »
- Michelle McCue
Originally published way back in 1887, Oscar Wilde's short story "The Canterville Ghost" is headed to the big screen once more, this time receiving an animated adaptation. Read on for the latest casting news!
From the Press Release
Content announced today that Academy Award® nominee Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, Vera Drake), Freddie Highmore ("Bates Motel," Charlie And The Chocolate Factory), Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call The Midwife), and Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hunger Games) have joined the voice cast of Kim Burdon's Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost featuring two-time Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie ("House MD") and Golden Globe nominee Stephen Fry (The Hobbit Parts 2 and 3, Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows).
Giles New and Keiron Self are adapting the classic Oscar Wilde story. The animated film is produced by Robert Chandler and Gina Carter. Content will be handling worldwide sales starting at the Cannes market this month. »
- John Squires
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
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