18 items from 2015
The British invasion that hit these shores during the swinging '60s went beyond such musical acts as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. There also was an army of acting talent that charged into U.S. movie houses, a dazzling array of angry young men and alluring mod women who held us captivated through much of that turbulent period and beyond. Many have since gone on to that great Carnaby Street in the sky: Alan Bates and his Georgy Girl, Lynn Redgrave; Peter O'Toole, who redefined the words "matinee idol" in "Lawrence of Arabia"; Oliver Reed, who so unforgettably wrestled sans attire with Bates in "Women in Love"; Richard Harris, the essence of machismo served raw in "This Sporting Life"; David Hemmings, the smug photog caught up in a conundrum in "Blow-Up"; Laurence Harvey and Dirk Bogarde as predatory males trying to catch Julie Christie’s wandering eye in "Darling. »
- Susan Wloszczyna
'Saint Joan': Constance Cummings as the George Bernard Shaw heroine. Constance Cummings on stage: From sex-change farce and Emma Bovary to Juliet and 'Saint Joan' (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Frank Capra, Mae West and Columbia Lawsuit.”) In the mid-1930s, Constance Cummings landed the title roles in two of husband Benn W. Levy's stage adaptations: Levy and Hubert Griffith's Young Madame Conti (1936), starring Cummings as a demimondaine who falls in love with a villainous character. She ends up killing him – or does she? Adapted from Bruno Frank's German-language original, Young Madame Conti was presented on both sides of the Atlantic; on Broadway, it had a brief run in spring 1937 at the Music Box Theatre. Based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, the Theatre Guild-produced Madame Bovary (1937) was staged in late fall at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Referring to the London production of Young Madame Conti, The »
- Andre Soares
The 59Th BFI London Film Festival Announces Full 2015 Programme
You can peruse the programme at your leisure here.
The programme for the 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership launched today, with Festival Director Clare Stewart presenting this year’s rich and diverse selection of films and events. BFI London Film Festival is Britain’s leading film event and one of the world’s oldest film festivals. It introduces the finest new British and international films to an expanding London and UK-wide audience. The Festival provides an essential platform for films seeking global success; and promotes the careers of British and international filmmakers through its industry and awards programmes. With this year’s industry programme stronger than ever, offering international filmmakers and leaders a programme of insightful events covering every area of the film industry Lff positions London as the world’s leading creative city.
The Festival will screen a »
Glenda Jackson: Actress and former Labour MP. Two-time Oscar winner and former Labour MP Glenda Jackson returns to acting Two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson set aside her acting career after becoming a Labour Party MP in 1992. Four years ago, Jackson, who represented the Greater London constituency of Hampstead and Highgate, announced that she would stand down the 2015 general election – which, somewhat controversially, was won by right-wing prime minister David Cameron's Conservative party. The silver lining: following a two-decade-plus break, Glenda Jackson is returning to acting. Now, Jackson isn't – for the time being – returning to acting in front of the camera. The 79-year-old is to be featured in the Radio 4 series Emile Zola: Blood, Sex and Money, described on their website as a “mash-up” adaptation of 20 Emile Zola novels collectively known as "Les Rougon-Macquart." Part 1 of the three-part Radio 4 series will be broadcast daily during an »
- Andre Soares
Ron Moody as Fagin in 'Oliver!' based on Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist.' Ron Moody as Fagin in Dickens musical 'Oliver!': Box office and critical hit (See previous post: "Ron Moody: 'Oliver!' Actor, Academy Award Nominee Dead at 91.") Although British made, Oliver! turned out to be an elephantine release along the lines of – exclamation point or no – Gypsy, Star!, Hello Dolly!, and other Hollywood mega-musicals from the mid'-50s to the early '70s. But however bloated and conventional the final result, and a cast whose best-known name was that of director Carol Reed's nephew, Oliver Reed, Oliver! found countless fans. The mostly British production became a huge financial and critical success in the U.S. at a time when star-studded mega-musicals had become perilous – at times downright disastrous – ventures. Upon the American release of Oliver! in Dec. 1968, frequently acerbic The »
- Andre Soares
'The Fixer' movie with Alan Bates, Dirk Bogarde and Ian Holm (background) 'The Fixer' movie review: 1968 anti-Semitism drama wrecked by cast, direction, and writing In 1969, director John Frankenheimer declared that he felt "better about The Fixer than anything I've ever done in my life." Considering Frankenheimer's previous output – Seven Days in May, the much admired The Manchurian Candidate – it is hard to believe that the director was being anything but a good P.R. man for his latest release. Adapted from Bernard Malamud's National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (itself based on the real story of Jewish brick-factory worker Menahem Mendel Beilis), The Fixer is an overlong, overblown, and overwrought contrivance that, albeit well meaning, carelessly misuses most of the talent involved while sadistically abusing the patience – and at times the intelligence – of its viewers. John Frankenheimer overindulges in 1960s kitsch John Frankenheimer »
- Andre Soares
With Thomas Vinterberg’s retelling of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd hitting theaters today, I thought it was a good excuse to look back at an earlier adaptation that spawned some memorable poster art.Made in 1967, John Schlesinger’s corseted rural love quadrangle was a far cry from the biting contemporary urban dramas like Billy Liar and Darling that had made his name. Schlesinger defended his decision to direct a big budget Victorian costume drama by saying “I wanted to get away from a contemporary subject. People are tiring of the flip side. Contemporary is dated,” but in ’67—the year so beautifully chronicled in Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution as the year Old Hollywood ceded to the New—Far from the Madding Crowd, shot in 70mm and nearly 3 hours long, was inevitably overshadowed by the nowness of the likes of The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde. »
- Adrian Curry
It’s All About Love: Vinterberg Revamps Hardy’s Classic Romance
Inevitably, we would have seen some filmmaker tackle a revamp of Thomas Hardy’s classic 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd, so it’s mostly surprising to note that it wasn’t Michael Winterbottom, who has made several Hardy adaptations since the 1990s. Instead, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg takes the reins from director John Schlesinger, who previously held credit for a famous 1967 adaptation starring Julie Christie, with Terence Stamp, Peter Finch and Alan Bates as the trio of suitors (and let’s not forget to mention a modern reimagining of this novel, the comic strip serial Tamara Drewe, made into a film by Stephen Frears in 2010). Curiously, this is Vinterberg’s follow-up to his 2012 critically acclaimed title The Hunt, which won Mads Mikkelsen Best Actor at Cannes and received an Oscar nod for Best Foreign Language Film, making »
- Nicholas Bell
Carey Mulligan proves that she can carry a movie as the incandescent and powerful Bathsheba in "The Hunt" director Thomas Vinterberg's gorgeous realization of the Thomas Hardy classic "Far from the Madding Crowd." Julie Christie played the role at the height of her powers in John Schlesinger's stormy 1967 romance. Casting is everything in this movie. Rising Belgian star Matthias Schoenaerts ("Rust and Bone") shares real chemistry with Mulligan as the stalwart and loving salt of the earth once played by Alan Bates. We're rooting for him, while Michael Sheen ("Masters of Sex") is the more mature hapless gentleman neighbor who proposes marriage (Peter Finch). The weakest link is young Tom Sturridge ("On the Road") as the rakish sergeant (Terence Stamp) who sweeps Bathsheba off her feet, which is hard to believe. The movie already opened in Vinterberg's native Denmark and some other territories, hence the early trade reviews below. »
- Anne Thompson
Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways.But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40-year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.
Recently, Al Pacino sat down with a small group of press to talk about taking on the role of Danny Collins, his relationship with Bobby Cannavale, and passing John Lennon in Central Park. Check it out below.
(Al Pacino starts out…)
Al Pacino: Dan wanted me to be in the picture. He saw me in the part, and that’s always kind of, to me, it’s always surprising. »
- Melissa Howland
Part I. Anger, Suez and Archie Rice
“There they are,” George Devine told John Osborne, surveying The Entertainer‘s opening night audience. “All waiting for you…Same old pack of c***s, fashionable assholes. Just more of them than usual.” The Royal Court had arrived: no longer outcasts, they were London’s main attraction.
Look Back in Anger vindicated Devine’s model of a writer’s-based theater. Osborne’s success attracted a host of dramatists to Sloane Square. There’s Shelagh Delaney, whose A Taste of Honey featured a working-class girl pregnant from an interracial dalliance; Harold Pinter’s The Room, a bizarre “comedy of menace”; and John Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, which aimed a Gatling gun at its audience. Devine encouraged them, however bold or experimental. “You always knew he was on the writer’s side,” Osborne said.
Peter O’Toole called the Royal Court actors “an »
- Christopher Saunders
A forthcoming remake will do well to match the power of John Schlesinger’s 1967 Hardy adaptation, which is rereleased this week
I bid you good luck, young Thomas Vinterberg, if you think your forthcoming remake of Far From The Madding Crowd will outstrip John Schlesinger’s version from 1967, now extensively reupholstered and rereleased for our delectation.
Schlesinger’s Hardy was derided back then for its casting of Julie Christie and Terence Stamp, mere months after they’d been name-checked in the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset, and who then seemed more Swinging London than Wailing Wessex. Time and distance have eradicated that feeling, however, and I delighted in the credits as they unfolded: not just Terry and Julie, but Peter Finch and eternal peasant-pagan Alan Bates, all perfectly cast; Stamp in particular, as the vile Sergeant Troy, whose name should really be “destroy”.
Continue reading »
- John Patterson
I. The Landmine
In August 1955, George Devine, director of London’s Royal Court Theatre, ventured to meet a promising writer, living on a Thames houseboat. “I had to borrow a dinghy… wade out to it and row myself to my new playwright,” he recalled. Thus began a partnership between Devine, who sought to rescue the English stage from stale commercialism, and the 26 year old tyro, John Osborne. Together, they’d revolutionize modern theater.
Born in London but raised in Stoneleigh, Surrey, Osborne lost his father at age 12, resented his low-born mother and was expelled from school for striking a headmaster. While acting for Anthony Creighton’s repertory company, his mercurial temper and violent language appeared. In 1951 he wed actress Pamela Lane, only to divorce six years later. Osborne soon immortalized their marriage: their cramped apartment, with invasive friends and intruding in-laws, John and Pamela’s pet names and verbal abuse, »
- Christopher Saunders
An attempt to salvage a semi-lost feature, Andrew Piddington’s “Sins of a Father” adds footage reuniting some original cast members to the pre-existing “Shuttlecock,” an adaptation of the same-named Graham Swift novel that basically vanished after its San Sebastian Film Festival premiere in 1991. Unfortunately, the new framing device only muddles further what was already a polished but convoluted, emotionally remote misfire. There’s curiosity value in seeing a hitherto inaccessible if minor performance by the late Alan Bates, plus one by Lambert Wilson straddling a nearly quarter-century interval. But this repackaging is unlikely to gain the beleaguered pic much more exposure than it got the first time around.
Swift’s short, cogent book should have made a better film than this one, which was purportedly dogged by production woes even before the cameras started rolling in 1990, then suffered a budget crisis mid-shoot. After the feature unwisely premiered in a less-than-final version at San Sebastian, »
- Dennis Harvey
Save for a mention in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “His Last Bow,” precious little is known about the latter years of Sherlock Holmes: “We heard of you as living the life of a hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South Downs,” Dr. Watson tells Holmes in that final installment of the author’s short stories — hardly the sexiest ending to an illustrious career.
Novelist Mitch Cullin caught up with the character at age 93 in “A Slight Trick of the Mind,” which finds Sherlock a bit less sharp than before, handling a case whose clues are tied up in his foggy memories of the past. “Mr. Holmes,” the bigscreen adaptation of Cullin’s novel, debuted Feb. 8 at the Berlin Film Festival, and picks up where earlier stories left off. The indie movie, which Miramax will release later this year in partnership with Roadside Attractions, »
- Peter Debruge
Esteemed Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski began his directorial career in the late 60′s, but gained international acclaim outside of his native film system, dipping into the French/Belgian production of The Departure (1967), headlined by Jean-Pierre Leaud (and winning the director the Golden Berlin Bear), before helming a trio of infamous UK productions starting with 1970′s iconic Deep End, an adaptation of Nabokov’s King, Queen, Knave (1972) and the mystical genre film The Shout (1978) featuring Alan Bates and John Hurt. Skolimowski would compete at Cannes five times, winning the Grand Jury prize twice, for The Shout and 1982′s Moonlighting. And then three rounds in Venice would nab him two more Jury Prizes, for The Lightship (1985) and Essential Killing (2010). Skolimowski was assumed to have retired after a hiatus dating from 1991′s 30 Door Key, but broke his silence with 2008′s Four Nights With Anna, followed by Essential Killing, »
- Nicholas Bell
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has unveiled its 2015 line-up which includes films representing 54 countries, 23 world premieres and 53 U.S. premieres. The U.S. premiere of Niki Caro’s McFarland USA will close out the 30th fest. Based on the 1987 true story and starring Kevin Costner and Maria Bello, the film follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. The unlikely band of runners overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well.
The festival runs from January 27-February 7.
Below is the list of World and U.S. Premiere films followed by the list of titles by sidebar categories.
A Better You, USA
Directed by Matt Walsh
Cast: Brian Huskey, »
- The Deadline Team
A self-acknowledged "showcase for Academy Award frontrunners," the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is often overlooked for the actual films that earn it festival status. An amalgamation of international discoveries and ’merica’s circuit highlights, the Sbiff curates a week of best-of-the-best to pair with their star-praising. The 2015 edition offers another expansive selection, bookended by two films that aren’t on any radars just yet. Sbiff will open with "Desert Dancer," producer Richard Raymond’s directorial debut. Starring Reece Ritchie and Frieda Pinto, the drama follows a group of friends who wave off the harsh political climate of Iran’s 2009 presidential election in favor of forming a dance team, picking up moves from Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev thanks to the magic of YouTube. The festival will close with "McFarland, USA," starring Kevin Costner and Maria Bello. Telling the 1987 true story of a Latino high school’s underdog cross-country team, »
- Matt Patches
18 items from 2015
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