14 items from 2015
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s transcendent gangster classic “Goodfellas,” and while the director’s grand stature in cinematic history is in no doubt, that doesn’t mean there are no under-appreciated gems hiding in his filmography. Point of fact, this year also marks the 22nd anniversary of the little discussed adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel, “The Age of Innocence.” To convince you of the sensual beauty and magnificence of the period piece, Milad Tangshir has crafted a nearly 20-minute-long video essay on the virtues of the 1993 film. Titled “Hidden Behind Lace,” Tangshir’s video essay not only breaks down Scorsese’s visual style and offers analysis, but also includes clips from interviews given by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, co-screenwriter Jay Cocks, production designer Dante Ferretti, and Scorsese himself. It’s a loving tribute to a film that’s been unfairly overlooked »
- Cain Rodriguez
With an opening weekend that topped $70m in the Us, Kenneth Branagh may have the hit of his movie directing career on his hands with his live action Cinderella take. It's a strong film too, that finally makes it to the UK this week. And ahead of its release, he spared us some time for a natter about it...
I think I've worked out what you're up to. I've worked out your ruse. You do Thor, Cinderella and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Three different juggernauts, aimed at three different segments of the market, opening your work up to an audience that may otherwise not be familiar with it.
This is all about selling DVDs of Peter's Friends, isn't it?
[Laughs] That would be a lovely by-product.
Were you consciously looking for different audience subsets, »
Cinderella hits UK this Friday. A traditional take on the classic fairy tale, Kenneth Branagh directs Downton Abbey‘s Lily James as the titular heroine. The film is a true live adaptation of Disney‘s iconic cartoon and features a plethora of fine actors and actresses, most of them British. Kenneth Branagh’s name on the directors chair obviously helped get a few to sign the dotted line; the film stars Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi and Stellan Skarsgard to name but a few.
Ahead of Cinderella’s cinematic release (which feature new Frozen short film Frozen Fever) we were invited to the luxurious Claridges to attend a very special press conference. We felt just like Cinderella as we walked through the historic building. There were many questions that people were dying to ask, but we had but one – had Prince Kit not learned anything from Rob Stark’s marital choices? »
- Kat Smith
As a child growing up in Macerata, Italy, Dante Ferretti — the renowned production designer who won Oscars for Hugo, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and The Aviator — first saw Disney’s 1950 animated Cinderella in a theater with his parents. Decades later, he was inspired by its grandeur when he watched it again, this time after being approached to do production design for Kenneth Branagh’s grand retelling of the classic story for Disney, which, since opening on March 13, has already topped $135 million worldwide. “I began doing a lot of research and ended up drawing the bulk of my
- Carolyn Giardina
"Cinderella" was certainly a comfortable fit for director Kenneth Branagh, containing the same connective tissue as his acclaimed Shakespeare adaptations or "Thor." And production designer Dante Ferretti (currently making Martin Scorsese's "Silence") certainly knows his way around period pieces. In fact, they used "Gone with the Wind" and "The Leopard" as inspiration for designing and choreographing a new take on the iconic ballroom sequence featuring Lily James as the faux princess (watch the clip below). "For me, it's about the concentration on performance and the human dynamic that makes sure that even the most spectacular visual worlds are rooted in some kind of... dysfunctional family—or at least on the road to being functional, perhaps," Branagh quipped. "One of the big moments when I joined the project was to visit the art department for the first time, see the layout of this kingdom and where all the »
- Bill Desowitz
Talking with Kenneth Branagh, the legendary director of "Hamlet," "Frankenstein" and "Thor," is such an effervescent, invigorating experience that the moment I got off the phone with him, I started imaging a vivid fantasy scenario where he taught me, "Kingsman"-like, how to become a proper English gentleman. He's that kind of classy.
I was talking to Branagh about his work as director of "Cinderella," a job that he got after the original filmmaker, Mark Romanek (known mostly for his visionary music video work), departed the project, leaving no one to locate Cinderella's lost glass slipper. In recent years, Branagh has gone from the director of Shakespeare adaptations to a hired gun for blockbusters like "Thor" and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." It's been a fascinating and surprising career turn, which I talked to him about.
Branagh also addressed similarities between his film and the original animated Disney classic, why »
- Drew Taylor
“Have courage, and be kind.” That’s the effortless but nonetheless winning message at the heart of Disney’s new Cinderella. In an age of conflicted antiheroes and darkened inversions of fairy tale characters, a film that recaptures the simple charms of its classic source material is the breath of fresh air that audiences may not have realized they needed to take. Cinderella is that film, an earnest and impeccably executed adaptation filled with the same wonder and magic that re-imaginings like Maleficent and Mirror Mirror, among others, evidently deemed too vintage for inclusion.
Their mistake. Director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz know better. By trusting in the power of the original Cinderella story, and only really modernizing it in how they identify themes of empathy, empowerment and positive body image, the pair have delivered an elegant and engaging movie that is leagues above any other fairy-tale reboot Hollywood »
- Isaac Feldberg
Over the past half decade Walt Disney Studios has spent a great deal of time and money to create live action versions of some of their own animated classics. While these films have performed at the box office, creatively they were often lacking. The studio may have finally found its own fairy godmother in the form of director Kenneth Branagh and his new adaptation of “Cinderella.” The Oscar nominated filmmaker is best known for shepherding new versions of "Hamlet" and "Henry V" to the big screen. The former was released almost 20 years ago, but Branagh earned a reputation for bringing a modern sense of realism to Shakespeare's creations even if the stories were still set in the distant past. This talent made him a smart choice to direct the underrated "Thor" and an even better hire for a movie that could have been just another shell for Disney’s consumer product division. »
- Gregory Ellwood
In Disney’s new live-action “Cinderella,” four mice are ballooned into elegant white horses, two lizards are forced to serve as makeshift footmen, and an oblivious old goose gets zapped into driving a pumpkin carriage. But as the American Humane Assn. can attest, no animals were harmed in the making of this delightful if overly safe update of the gold-standard toon classic. More importantly, the underlying property emerges untarnished, as director Kenneth Branagh reverently reimagines Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale for a new generation the world over, spelling countless opportunities to exploit fresh interest in the story throughout the Disney universe.
The latest in a trend to rework the most precious treasures in the Mouse House vault, “Cinderella” is by far the studio’s most calculated retelling yet, to the extent that those who know the toon by heart may find Chris Weitz’s serviceable script a wee bit dull. »
- Peter Debruge
Jeff Bridges, psychic medium. Ask the Oscar-winning actor a relatively straightforward question and you can expect an answer ten times more interesting and in-depth than you expected. On approaching his character, the gruff Master John Gregory, in Ya fantasy adaptation "Seventh Son": "You know these kinda psychic guys that channel spirits and stuff? I remember Ramtha...this woman would channel this spirit named Ramtha," said Bridges, referring to controversial American mystic J.Z. Knight. "And...it has that aspect to it for me. You know, I'll just invite a spirit or a character into me [so it can] have its way with me. And I did that in this case. Once you get the costumes on, and you're in those wonderful Dante Ferretti sets and stuff, you open yourself to be inhabited by a character to have its way with you. And that's kind of what happened [on 'Seventh Son'], you know." The Sergei Bodrov »
- Chris Eggertsen
Ben Barnes, best known for his portrayal of Prince Caspian in the Narnia franchise, is no stranger to mythical beasts and dangerous swordplay. While this might not be a useful trait for the world you or I live in, such talents are necessary when hunting medieval monsters, which made Barnes a perfect fit for Sergey Bodrov’s Seventh Son. Although the film was finished a few years ago, audiences are just now getting the opportunity to watch Barnes fight witches alongside the likes of Jeff Bridges and a loveable ogre, as they rush to stop Julianne Moore before she harnesses an impending Blood Moon for all of its evil power.
I had the chance to sit down with Ben Barnes last weekend when he was in New York City to promote Seventh Son alongside his fellow cast members, and we chatted at length about his role as Spook apprentice Tom Ward. »
- Matt Donato
Following a lengthy wait, Seventh Son has finally made its way to theaters. The epic fantasy centers on a professional spook (Jeff Bridges), who takes a dashing young apprentice (Ben Barnes) under his wing as the two prepare to face the end of the world. Together they square off against Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) and her army of deadly minions.
At a recent New York press conference for the film - Bridges, Moore and Barnes discussed their personal connections to their roles and how themes of fate and destiny have played out off-screen.
This film talks a lot about destiny and fate. How much has fate played a role in your lives?
Jeff Bridges: Destiny and fate? You guys wanna go first on that one?
Ben Barnes: Nobody wants to go first on that! »
- Justine Browning
In a time of enchantments when legends and magic collide, the sole remaining warrior of a mystical order (Oscar winner Jeff Bridges) travels to find a prophesized hero born with incredible powers, the last Seventh Son (Ben Barnes). Torn from his quiet life as a farmhand, the unlikely young hero embarks on a daring adventure with his battle-hardened mentor to vanquish a dark queen (Julianne Moore) and the army of supernatural assassins she has dispatched against their kingdom.
Academy Award nominee Sergei Bodrov (Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan, Nomad: The Warrior) directs Seventh Son from a screenplay by Charles Leavitt (upcoming In the Heart of the Sea, upcoming Warcraft) and Steven Knight (The Hundred-Foot Journey, Closed Circuit) and a screen story by Matt Greenberg (Reign of Fire).
Joining director Bodrov behind the screen is a stellar crew led »
- Movie Geeks
The past year has been a great one as concerns the availability and restoration of several titles from Italian auteur Liliana Cavani, a director who came to fame and notoriety alongside peers such as Pasolini, Bellocchio, and Bertolucci. Her work has often faced difficulty in achieving the same sort of international acclaim as those male colleagues, each of them certified as a particular brand within the cinematic canon. And yet, Cavani is as equally provocative and prolific, with boundary pushing titles languishing in obscurity, usually historical reconstructions with gender or sexuality as a unique entry. Her work has often been described as having a feminist bent, but Cavani isn’t aspiring to create female agency in spaces dominated by masculinity. Rather, her concern resides in honest depictions of women ravaged by male dominated systems. Cavani’s most notorious title, 1974’s The Night Porter, received a Blu-ray transfer from Criterion recently, »
- Nicholas Bell
14 items from 2015
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