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Champagne corks must have been popping in Julian Fellowes' house last night. After months of speculation and anticipation, finally it's official: Upstairs Downstairs is nowhere near as good as Fellowes' baby, Downton Abbey.
Poor Upstairs Downstairs. If only they had aired it six months ago, everyone would be saying how wonderful it is. Instead it has had to endure the curse of comparison. And next to Fellowes' glittering showpiece (with an audience of 10.8 million and one of the top 10 ratings winners of 2010), the BBC's revival of its 1970s classic looked as limp as the shammy leather wielded by Spargo, the spurned fascist chauffeur.
Here's the problem. Downton Abbey completely changed the way we watch period drama. Fellowes brought all the tight, witty scripting of a Hollywood adaptation to an original story, »
- Viv Groskop
Period dramas from the 1970s often explored class politics from a leftish perspective. Today's versions are escapist fantasy
The BBC's Christmas revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, taken together with the popularity of ITV's Downton Abbey, suggests that a new wave of period dramas is about to hit the small screen.
The 1970s was the last time schedules were dominated by dramas like The Onedin Line, Poldark and When the Boat Comes In. Critics complained that producers were obsessed with an anachronistic past – but audiences lapped them up. The 1970s was also a decade of recession, government cuts and falling living standards. Some believed it was this miserable context that explained why period dramas were so popular: they helped viewers retreat into a comforting nostalgia for a past that never was. Given the similarities between the 1970s and our own times, can we learn anything from the first wave of period dramas? »
- Steven Fielding
Julian Fellowes says BBC's rival costume drama has 'tip-top' cast, and could be a success
Julian Fellowes said that he thought that both programmes could be hits even though they are broadly based on the same formula of upper-class characters and servants.
The Downton creator believes that the British public remain fascinated by what he calls the "servanted house" and argues that the format is a form of workplace drama, where people from different social backgrounds mix – a successful construct shared with police and hospital shows.
He added: "There hasn't exactly been a lot of [costume drama] on offer recently, »
- Maggie Brown
The 1970s 'costume soap' returns – in a far more status-conscious world
When Upstairs, Downstairs was first broadcast on Sunday 10 October 1971, Britain was struggling with decimalisation and that new-fangled trumpery of a gaudy Satan, colour telly. Its first episodes were shot in black and white because of an industrial dispute by cameramen seeking more money for operating colour cameras.
And yet, in some respects, Britain then was a happier place than it is today. It was arguably less class-stratified than now. As a result, we would settle back on Sunday evenings to watch this drama of Edwardian-era masters and servants as if it were ancient history.
We, in socially immobile 21st-century Britain, have no such luxury. In 1971 we weren't led as we are now by Etonian toffs whose educations were bankrolled by Daddy. Conservative prime minister Edward Heath and his successor, Labour's Harold Wilson, were both clever grammar-school boys whose Oxford »
- Stuart Jeffries
Final of hit series tops list of most-watched programmes, with England's World Cup defeat to Germamy in second place
The X Factor's domination of television ratings continued this year, with last weekend's final topping the list of most-watched programmes of 2010.
ITV1's hit series, now in its seventh year and showing no signs of flagging, even beat this year's football World Cup. An average of 17.7 million watched Matt Cardle win The X Factor final, compared with 17.4 million who saw England crash to a 4-1 defeat against Germany in June.
Drama also fared well on ITV1 in 2010. Downton Abbey pulled in 10.7 million viewers, making it the highest-rated new drama of the year and the tenth most-watched show. Written by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes, Downton was ITV's most successful drama series launch for almost seven years, perhaps marking a renaissance for scripted drama, which has been sidelined by reality programming over the past decade. »
- Tara Conlan
Down at the ITV offices, Hugh Bonneville thinks he is giving a press conference about his role as a butler in the new Poirot, Murder On the Orient Express, to be shown on Christmas Day. Yet all anyone wants to talk about is Downton Abbey. In his role as Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, who presides over a house and family on the brink of ruin, Bonneville was a pivotal part of the Edwardian costume drama that pulled in 11.6m viewers and became the TV sensation of the year. In the next room, David Suchet (Poirot) is being interviewed and can be heard through the wall murmuring about Downton – and he wasn't even in it.
"I've had people come up to me in the past and say they enjoyed whatever show I've been in, »
- Emine Saner
In the genteel world of TV costume drama, any tensions are usually scripted – and fictional. But an unlikely spat has broken out between Jean Marsh, actor and co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs – which will return to BBC1 this Christmas – and Hugh Bonneville, star of rival ITV Edwardian drama Downton Abbey.
Hackles were raised when Marsh suggested that Downton Abbey, one of the unexpected hits of the year, was a thinly-disguised facsimile of the original Upstairs, Downstairs, which ran from 1971 to 1975 and has been watched by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
"I think we were all surprised," Marsh told BBC1's The One Show. "The new Upstairs, Downstairs had been in the works for about three years. We were trying to sort out … 40 years of rights and then it also started – Downton Abbey – in the Edwardian era, »
- John Plunkett
The Tourist Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Written by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, and Julian Fellowes (screenplay), Jerome Salle (Anthony Zimmer) Starring: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp , Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton 2010 has been a year glutted with mediocre spy fare. The Tourist joins the dubious ranks of Red, Knight and Day, and Killers — and that it might be the best of the lot isn’t saying much. Anchored by arguably the strongest cast, including stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, he Tourist moves at a more relaxed pace than its blockbuster brethren. Then again, Red was plenty slow, but still wound up nigh incomprehensible. I understood The Tourist, which is a compliment, unfortunately. The Venetian caper keeps its audience in the loop, with a story thankfully straightforward enough to follow. Jolie plays Elise Clifton-Ward, the squeeze of a master criminal who's lifted two billion pounds from a no-nonsense »
By Pete Hammond
HollywoodNews.com: Jolie. Depp. Narnia. Brand names all that led the pre-holiday boxoffice with a whimper , not a bang this weekend. So what’s the deal with “The Tourist?” I mean Jolie is arguably the biggest female box office star in the world right now, particularly in something as commercial as this light thriller set in Paris and Venice. Depp had a billion dollar grosser in his most recent, “Alice In Wonderland” earlier this year. Producer Graham King won a Best Picture Oscar for the hit “The Departed.” It marks the Hollywood major studio debut of director Florian Henckel VonDonnersmarck who won an Oscar for his critically acclaimed Foreign Language film winner, “The Lives Of Others” and was co-written by him with Oscar winning screenwriters Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) and Christopher Quarrie (“The Usual Suspects”). The reviews though were universally dismal, only 7% positive among top critics at Rotten Tomatoes and 21% fresh overall. »
- Pete Hammond
The Tourist is a remake of a 2005 French film titled Anthony Zimmer. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes penned the screenplay. It has a rousing score from James Newton Howard which helps intensify the chase sequences and set the tone for the remainder of the film.
Johnny Depp stars as an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance and danger in "The Tourist." During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank (Depp) unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious »
Academy award winner writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) takes the helm of the suspenseful drama The Tourist as it sails through from a cafe in Paris to the canals of Venice. Joined by seasoned writers Christopher McQuarrie (Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects) and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Vanity Fair), Donnersmarck would at first glance appear to be making an homage to Stanley Donen's classic espionage thriller Charade, which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. However, The Tourist is actually a remake of French writer/director Jerome Salle's 2005 crime thriller Anthony Zimmer, which starred French film star Sophie Marceau.
The Tourist centers around Frank (Johnny Depp), a math teacher from Wisconsin who is traveling through Europe. What appears to be a chance encounter on a train with a mysterious beautiful woman is actually no mistake. Elise (Angelina Jolie) deliberately picks him out to throw police off »
- Debbie Cerda
This week, we have the return of the ever beloved Chronicles of Narnia franchise, as well as another *gasp* Angelina Jolie action movie. So which one's worth your time and (more importantly) money this weekend? That's right, everyone: It's time for another Cinema Showdown!
Contestant #1: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Synopsis: Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are returning to Narnia, and they're taking their cousin Eustace with them. But when they land on the royal vessel Dawn Treader, the trio is in for an epic journey that will take them to the edge of the world.
In Five Words: Narnia...but on a ship.
Georgia Henley as Lucy
Skandar Keynes as Edmund
Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian
Will Poulter as Eustace
Liam Neeson as Aslan
Based on the Novel By C. »
Chicago – Though you probably don’t know his name, Christopher McQuarrie’s involvement might sell you on paying to see “The Tourist” even more than “A”-list stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. After all, McQuarrie is the writer behind 1995’s Oscar-winning magnum opus by the name of “The Usual Suspects”.
While these two films both embarked on the pursuit of conning you into one belief and then twisting you into another, “The Usual Suspects” masterfully succeeds in every fiber of its being while “The Tourist” can’t even play ball in the same league. And to even consider “The Tourist” as Hitchcockian would be a crime of blockbuster proportions bestowed upon the true man of mystery.
Though McQuarrie’s words might be found somewhere in this Angelina Jolie model fest, the ink from its two other writers (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Julian Fellowes) clearly snuffs away McQuarrie’s natural skill. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Is Angelina Jolie the closest thing we have to Audrey Hepburn? Not exactly, and Johnny Depp is not quite Cary Grant, but they have a strangely watchable non-chemistry in The Tourist, the latest romantic-comedy-action movie to borrow the formula of the great Charade. Top-notch production values, beautifully costumed Hollywood movie stars, a plot promising mischief, seduction and romance. So why did this movie trip on itself and fall flat on its face?
While at best uneven in tone and quality, The Tourist offers Depp as something other than a Disney pirate or cartoon character, and while Jolie doesn’t physically kick any ass, you still believe she could if she wanted. Still, this is the kind of movie Hollywood used to knock out of the park – star wattage, romantic European scenery, deadly intrigue. The Tourist plays it all way too safe, and the audience is left wondering what the hell happened. »
- Anthony Vieira
Filed under: Features, New Releases, Holiday Movies
This Friday, after years of deal-making, rumor-mongering and star-swapping, 'The Tourist' finally lands with all its European allure in American theaters. By the time Johnny Depp was cast as the lovelorn tourist Frank and Angelina Jolie was cast as the mysterious and stunning Elise, photographers were ready to pounce on the set, releasing photos of Jolie's on-and-off-set moves, which titillated film geeks and fans alike.
Amid all the hype about Jolie and Depp's new movie, however, what most movie-goers may have overlooked is that 'The Tourist' isn't new at all; the original is a 2005 film called 'Anthony Zimmer.' Directed and written by Jerome Salle, it stars Sophie Marceau as the female lead, Chiara, who becomes ensnared in a mysterious plot, and Yvan Attal as the mysterious (and surgically altered) Francois Taillandier. In the new version, by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck »
- Anna Dimond
With historic studio MGM buried in a mountain of debt, there has been a glaring hole, a $200 million chalk outline, which the James Bond franchise usually fills alongside the equally hefty Bourne series. The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, will not satiate the thirst the public has for those two iconic behemoths. However, one can’t help but think that director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck had 007 in mind when he began drawing up plans for this romantic thriller remake starring two of the world’s most idolized film stars. With secret messages, luxurious apartments, guns, chase scenes and two or three major twists, there are all the makings here of a classic action thriller. When you add the romance of Venice to the equation, you suddenly see the potential for the perfect Saturday night date movie.
It starts off well enough. Elise, a glamorous Anglaise, is being tracked »
Photo: Columbia Pictures For the life of me I can't think of a director taking a more dramatic turn from one film to the next than Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has done moving from his fantastic 2007 Oscar-winning foreign language feature The Lives of Others to this dim-witted and dull rom-com actioner. The Tourist tries its hand at every trick in the book and comes up empty each and every time. Whether Henckel von Donnersmarck is going for laughs, love or excitement the bored and stone-faced expressions of his actors leaves the film falling flat.
The Tourist is a nothing movie. What is it exactly? A spy thriller? A romance? A case of mistaken identity? A comedy of bumbling buffoonery? It certainly makes an effort at all of these things from the first moment we're introduced to Angelina Jolie's Elise, a woman »
- Brad Brevet
‘You are the least down-to-earth person I’ve ever met,” someone tells Angelina Jolie’s character, in what may be the understatement of the century. In the dud thriller “The Tourist,” Jolie basically plays an overdressed, humorless live-action version of Jessica Rabbit, running around Venice dodging hired killers. Jolie, who oddly never picks up a gun, is joined in boring chases through the canals and over the rooftops by Johnny Depp — with whom she has no romantic chemistry whatsoever, no matter how many passionless kisses they share. »
- By LOU LUMENICK
Like two Persian cats who have been drugged and somehow trained to walk side by side down the street, those exotic A-listers Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie make a curious spectacle. These pampered exquisites star in a glossy, silly, occasionally amusing caper set in Venice – remade from the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer, and borrowing a little from Polanski's Frantic, with something of Live and Let Die in the chase sequences. Jolie plays a haughty, beautiful woman of mystery with lips as big as a Dalí sofa. She is first seen sipping a coffee in a Paris cafe while under surveillance from some flics hunched in an unmarked van – their leering sweatiness signalling, naturally, that they are about to be royally outwitted. She receives word from her top international criminal lover, »
- Peter Bradshaw
“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” - Ambrose Bierce A house might be a home, but it can also serve as an apt metaphor for an entire country. Numerous writers have offered portraits of the changing face of their nation in such condition-of-England novels as Charles Dickens' "Bleak House," Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited," and Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cranford" and "North and South." In the case of Julian Fellowes' extraordinary period drama Downton Abbey, launching January 9th on PBS' Masterpiece Classic, the titular country estate, home to the well-heeled Crawley family, is in turmoil. Great houses such as these are both relics of bygone eras as well as living, breathing organisms of their own right, humming along as they employ a staff of hundreds. Everyone--from the lord and lady to the humblest footman and scullery maid--has their function and their duty to maintain. »
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