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5 items from 2011

Whitechapel: The Ripper Returns - DVD Review

7 December 2011 9:56 AM, PST | Monsters and Critics | See recent Monsters and Critics news »

Jack the Ripper haunts our imaginations as one of the most famous unsolved serial murderers of all time. This new take places a copycat in London recreating those famous crimes and some fabulous actors and acting are dragged along as well. Connected Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler (Rupret Penry-Jones) has been posted to Whitechapel by Commander Anderson (Alex Jennings) as a ceremonial move before Chandler gets promoted upstairs. Chandler is supposed to halfheartedly investigate a murder case and hardboiled Detective Sgt. Ray Miles (Phil Davis) knows it and isn.t afraid to show it. The case turns out to be more complicated and even worse to Anderson; Chandler starts to take it seriously instead of just a rung on »

- Jeff Swindoll

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John Hodge: from Trainspotting to Bulgakov

6 December 2011 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Does Trainspotting screenwriter John Hodge's play, Collaborators – about an author forced to work for Stalin – echo his own Hollywood nightmare? Not quite, he tells Xan Brooks

One of the upsides to being a writer is the ability to write yourself out of trouble, to conjure a last-gasp escape for the imperilled hero. A few years ago, John Hodge found himself bogged down in a film script about Joseph Stalin. The subject was too vast, too elusive, and he was getting nowhere fast. So he spun the screenplay into a stage play instead. Collaborators is his tale of artistic compromise born out of artistic compromise; his freewheeling response to the hell of the deadline. It also happens to be his most purely successful, critically lauded piece of writing since Trainspotting crash-landed in UK cinemas way back in 1996.

Hodge's stage debut is a portrait of the mentor and his muse, the tyrant and the artist. »

- Xan Brooks

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The Queen Review – Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen d: Stephen Frears

15 March 2011 12:49 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

The Queen (2006) Direction: Stephen Frears Cast: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Sylvia Syms, Helen McCrory, Roger Allam, Julian Firth Screenplay: Peter Morgan Oscar Movies, European Film Award Movies Recommended Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, The Queen A more sober tone would have made Stephen Frears' filmization of Peter Morgan's The Queen screenplay less appealing to a mass audience. However, it would also have made the film itself — and the people and events portrayed in it — more true to life. Frears and/or Morgan and/or the film's producers and executive producers (among them Scott Rudin) simply couldn't resist "humanizing" Queen Elizabeth II and British prime minister Tony Blair, as they both fight a semi-public battle following the sudden and violent death of Princess Diana in 1997. Usually, when we're discussing mainstream movies such as The Queen, "humanizing" means mushying things up. The Queen may not have been »

- Andre Soares

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Tori Amos, Mike Leigh and Stalin: the National Theatre's new programme

26 January 2011 4:01 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Artistic director Nicholas Hytner says only response to expected funding cuts is to be 'bullish in our programming'

A musical by the singer-songwriter Tori Amos, a new drama by Mike Leigh and Simon Russell Beale as Stalin are all part of a defiantly ambitious programme for the coming year at the National Theatre, with artistic director Nicholas Hytner declaring that the only response to expected funding cuts was to be "bullish in our programming".

Russell Beale's Stalin will be seen in a debut stage play by John Hodge, who wrote screenplays for Danny Boyle's early films, including Shallow Grave, A Life Less Ordinary and Trainspotting.

His script – about an imagined meeting between the author Mikhail Bulgakov and Stalin – was sent in to the National on spec; it is mere coincidence that his old collaborator Boyle's vision of Frankenstein opens at the theatre next month. Alex Jennings will play Bulgakov and Hytner directs. »

- Charlotte Higgins

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Susannah York obituary

16 January 2011 4:02 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Star of Tom Jones and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, she defied typecasting

Susannah York, who has died aged 72, was a vibrant, energetic personality with a devouring passion for work, strong political opinions and great loyalty to old friends. Her international reputation as an actor depended heavily on the hit films she made in the 1960s, including Tom Jones (1963) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969, for which she received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. But, even when her movie career waned, she worked ceaselessly in theatre, often appearing in pioneering fringe productions. It was typical of her that, although diagnosed with cancer late in 2010, she refused chemotherapy and fulfilled a contractual obligation to do a tour of Ronald Harwood's Quartet.

In her early years York was often cast as an archetypal English rose. But, although born in Chelsea, south-west London (as Susannah Yolande Fletcher), she was raised »

- Michael Billington

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