1-20 of 23 items from 2012 « Prev | Next »
Stephen Fry's assured directorial debut sees him joyously lifting the lid on the lives of aristocratic young revellers of 1920s London. Based on Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, it follows the trail of newcomer Campbell Moore as he woos the mercurial Emily Mortimer. As sleek and refined as a vintage Bentley, this purrs along with Fry with his foot down but still firmly in control. »
At this time of year, Denis Forman would usually be in Goa, India, where he and his wife have a house. This year he is in St Mary's hospital in London, being treated for ulcers and pneumonia, and after seven weeks he's hating it. "I'm getting hospital-minded," he complains. "I can listen to music, but I can no longer read or be creative, and 24 hours is a lot to get through. The only thing I can do now is make up nonsense rhymes about members of my family. That is the limit of my creative ability."
Even in bed, with a tube up his nose and his artificial leg on the floor beside him »
- Stephen Moss
Q in Skyfall goes back in time to the 1950s newsroom in Season Two of The Hour, beginning tonight. I explore the range and appeal of talented British actor Ben Whishaw. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Hour's British Invader," in which I write about the astonishing range of 32-year-old British actor Ben Whishaw, who held his own against Bond as Q in Skyfall and returns to television tonight with Season Two of BBC America's The Hour. You know Ben Whishaw. Or rather, you should know precisely who the British actor is, even if he isn’t yet a household name. You may have seen him as doomed poet John Keats in 2009’s Bright Star or as doomed playboy Sebastian Flyte in the remake of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. In this autumn’s Cloud Atlas, he plays five distinct roles, from »
- Jace Lacob
Vivienne Michel is perhaps the least well-known of the women for whom Ian Fleming arranged assignations with James Bond, and yet none of her more celebrated sisters, from Vesper Lynd through Tatiana Romanova and Pussy Galore to the Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, succeeded in engaging the author's interest to the same extent. To her alone is accorded the honour of a Bond book written entirely in her voice, with 007 making a late appearance in a supporting role. And although, unlike some of the others, she survived to tell the tale, she was destined to suffer a different kind of literary death.
Few novelists in Fleming's position, riding the public's voracious appetite for the adventures of a fictional hero, »
- Richard Williams
It takes confidence to be as silly as this charming spy thriller
There have been rumblings that Homeland is losing the plot, stretching plausibility to breaking point. No worries, though, because here is Spy (Sky1) to provide a more accurate insight into life inside the intelligence services. The British ones, admittedly – we're with MI5, not the CIA – but hey, we're allies, right, all in it together?
Oh yes, I remember: it's this one. With Darren Boyd as the accidental agent – he joined up by mistake. Now he's got a prisoner to interrogate, with a hood over his head, Abu Ghraib-style, and wires and electricity to torture him. Tsszzz! (That's the sound of an electric shock.)
Actually Darren and and Rebekah Staton (love Rebekah Staton!), who also works at MI5, are mainly using the prisoner for relationship advice. She was sort of with Darren, but now that this other dude – clearly a much better option, »
- Sam Wollaston
Rupert Everett returns to dish the dirt in his second fearless and witty account of life with the A-list crowd
As sexist old Samuel Johnson said of a woman preaching, when an actor writes a book "it is not well done, but you are surprised to find it done at all". These are adults who spend their whole lives raiding dressing up boxes and speaking the words of others for a living, after all. Rupert Everett, like Richard E Grant and Kathy Burke, is the exception that proves the rule; he really can write, as his 2006 bestseller Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins – which took a bejewelled hatpin to the blow-up egos of co-stars Madonna and Sharon Stone, among others – proved. But despite reviews that, above the sound of easily impressed critics noisily wetting themselves, could be heard comparing him to Evelyn Waugh, Noël Coward and Lord Byron, the question »
- Julie Burchill
I might still find it insufferable, but there is much to admire this 30-year-old TV classic – even if you don't share its nostalgia for a lost England
Thirty years after Brideshead Revisited was first broadcast on ITV, some questions remain unanswered. Why, after Sebastian threw up through Charles's ground-floor Oxford college window, did the latter not clean up the mess but retire to bed, where the stench must surely have invaded his dreams? Were Oxford servants in the interwar years so in thrall to their oppressors that they could say of Lord Sebastian, as Lunt (the intolerably 'umble Bill Owens) does, the following day: "Such an amusing young man. Pleasure to clean up for him, I'm sure." Does a fetid air, for me, infuse the whole drama – the suffocatingly deferential class system, the airless orchid house of its quest-for-grace storyline, the rottenness at the heart of the English stately home Arcadia? »
- Stuart Jeffries
Something in this gloomy conspiracy thriller set in 1990s Belfast reminded me of an exchange between Ivor Claire and Guy Crouchback, in Evelyn Waugh's Officers and Gentlemen. Ivor asks Guy what he would do if challenged to a duel. Guy replies: "Laugh", but Ivor responds thoughtfully: "One hundred and fifty years ago, we would have to fight if challenged. Now we'd laugh. There must have been a time when it was rather an awkward question." In the 1970s, an Ira man knew it was his duty to attack the British with every violent means, but in 2012, with Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the Queen, the idea is laughable. In 1993, the era of the Downing Street declaration and the Good Friday agreement, republican footsoldiers found themselves confronted with Ivor Claire's "awkward question".
- Peter Bradshaw
On hearing in 1964 that doctors had removed a benign tumour from Randolph Churchill, Evelyn Waugh remarked that it was "a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it." One feels much the same about Tracy Barlow's collapse with a virulent kidney infection in Coronation Street – the scientific triumph in this case comprising the medical profession's ability to determine the least toxic organ in the body of Ken and Deirdre's entirely malignant spawn and remove it.
Okay, not remove it – Tracy, of course, has famously only one kidney and that's formerly the property of her mother's Moroccan and renally generous toyboy Samir, so they can't afford to be cavalier – but they have treated it and Tracy has alas responded well. »
- Lucy Mangan
While real bears often attack humans, sometimes fatally, the stuffed version can be an emotional crutch for people of all ages
Only in a film comedy, you might think, would a 35-year-old man otherwise in possession of his senses still be clinging to his teddy bear; and even then only if it happened to be able to talk. In fact, more than a third of British adults sleep alongside a prosaically mute ursine stuffed toy, if a recent Travelodge survey is to be believed. Fifteen per cent of men and 10% of women regard their teddy as their best friend.
Perhaps few go as far as 28-year-old Charles Marshall of Cincinnati, who was arrested in June for the fourth time for sexual behaviour with a teddy bear in public. Nonetheless, teddies have been exerting an ever-tightening grip on the human heart since they we first hugged them a century ago.
As is well known, »
- David Cox
Let's get this out of the way first and let's not be super alarmist about it (aka don't panic Miss Piggy and Kermit fans). There's nothing super concrete that says "The Muppets" sequel has been delayed, scrapped, etc. However, in a new Variety report about "The Muppets" director James Bobin, the trade says it's unclear where the sequel is at in its development and the filmmaker could be taking another gig first.
That job? He's now attached to direct the spy film "Agent Zigzag" for Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions. Dubbed a “A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal,” the film is based on Ben Macintyre's novel about spy vs. spy machinations said to be a blend of John Le Carre (“Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy”) and the high farce of Evelyn Waugh. Rowan Joffe (“Brighton Rock,” “28 Weeks Later”) penned the most recent pass on the script, which has »
- Edward Davis
Six stars send a Father's Day message out to their dads
My father, Danny, didn't get to see my kids. He died 28 years ago. I had just got married. But my father was very important in my life. He was a stay-at-home kind of dad. First he had a candy store on Springwood Avenue, Asbury Park in New Jersey. Then, when I was still young, he decided to go into business where he could work from home and just use a phone. He became a bookie taking bets on horses.
I loved it. I could see him whenever I wanted. If you have a father who wants to spend time with you, which mine did, then you're really fortunate. You get that rush of being with your dad, going places, even if it's just shopping or to the movies. We used to fish a lot, my father and me. »
- Elaine Lipworth
(317 minutes, 6 parts)
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Troy Kennedy-Martin
1985, UK, BBC2
The way in which Edge of Darkness reaches its final moments of grandiloquence feels like tonal prolapse; as if, in giving birth to a Cold War-sized tale of nuclear espionage and corruption, a once firm-bellied thriller with a very Northern type of English brooding pushed too hard and ended up stretching itself irreversibly. Then again, from the outset there is a sense, a feeling that the boxy reserve of the visuals will not necessarily extend to theme or narrative or intellect. Think back to the moment in Jacques Audiard’s Un Prophete when it becomes evident that the film has no interest in being your garden variety realist prison thriller. Well, while not as ostentatious or perhaps as mystical, at several points during the six stellar episodes that comprise Edge of Darkness, the show’s »
Who's got the best putdowns, the biggest hair, and the most guys? Whit Stillman's Damsels, or their rivals?
From Damsels in Distress
Who Self-righteous social reformer Violet (played by mumblecore darling Greta Gerwig) leads a trio of hyper-articulate college co-eds on a mission to prevent student suicide. Through tap-dancing.
The newbie Shy, insecure transfer student Lily is the Damsels' new protegee. And she's not even handicapped or depressed. They're progressive like that.
Killer line "Speaking of suicide prevention, do you have a boyfriend, Lily?"
Sartorial code Giving Zooey Deschanel a run for her Marc Jacobs in the kooky stakes with preppy pastel sundresses and twee twin-sets.
Pet hates Doofi (the non-standard but preferred plural of doofus), the "atmosphere of male barbarism" and people who aren't clinically depressed but eat their free medicinal doughnuts anyway.
Affiliations A French pseudo-intellectual, various "playboy operator types" and a frat boy so »
- Kate Wills
Who are the great American film directors? More to the point, who do we think are the great American film directors? Well, there’s Ford, of course, the Zeus of the American pantheon, by turns comic, epic, maudlin and humane. Then there’s Welles, the ill-fated genius, abused by producers but beloved of critics. Spielberg, even in his seventh decade, is still the boy wonder; Scorsese the mad scientist. Griffith is the wise forefather, deeply flawed but idolized nonetheless, while Hawks is ageless, just as sly and self-assured as he was at the time of “The Big Sleep” (1946).
Kubrick, however, beats them all.
Is there anyone more respected or, with the possible exception of Hitchcock, recognizable? Turn on any Stanley Kubrick movie and you should know instantly, whether you’ve seen it before or not, who the film’s director is. The peerless, pristine images; the long, empty corridors; the upturned, »
- Graham Daseler
Melvyn Bragg is tackling a subject even more sweeping than his hair
It's a good job the classless society has not yet come to pass. The television schedules would be bereft. No more point-and-laugh/cry/gasp/reach for the hotline to social services documentaries about those who have less than us, no more point-and-shout/cry/gasp/go puce with fury and take to the barricades films about those who have more than us. No more Upstairs Downstairs. No more Downton Abbey. Who could comprehend such absurd divisions in a purely egalitarian world? It would be like insisting that the Eloi and the Morlocks were real. And not only real, but forever having strange tingles in allegedly defunct genitalia, slipping on soap and gassing monkeys in prams.
No, it wouldn't work at all. People would just have you committed. Better we remain riven. In addition, a classless society would deprive us »
- Lucy Mangan
Journalists have been glamorous social climbers and bumbling fools in fiction – sometimes they've even been feminists and righters of wrongs
Journalism is a glamorous trade in Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami, as Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod's film adaptation (released in the Us next week and in the UK a week later) underlines by casting Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy and Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Holly Grainger as women drawn to the rising Parisian reporter. As well as introducing him to them and assisting his progress as a social climber, working for La Vie Française gives him the power to manipulate or bring down ministers.
What he epitomises too, though, is a press that's sordid and shallow, advancing the personal ends of journalists and owners with no underlying ethical code. Writing talent and a lengthy building up of specialist knowledge aren't essential: Duroy owes »
- John Dugdale
Guillermo del Toro, long attached to produce a new version of "Beauty and the Beast" for Warner Bros., has signed on to direct the movie, TheWrap has confirmed. Andrew Davies, who adapted Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited," Alexander Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" and Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones' Diary" for the big screen, will write the latest iteration of the fairy tale. Emma Watson, who has long been loosely attached to the project, is in negotiations to formalize her involvement. Also read: Legendary Makes Deal for Guillermo del Toro 'Pacific Rim' Toys Del Toro is now »
- Joshua L. Weinstein
Los Angeles: It’s this Saturday!
Larry Karaszewski is a busy man, but that hasn’t stopped him from presenting great screenings of great films. As part of that ongoing series of impossibly cool American Cinematheque screenings, Larry Karaszewski will host Tony Richardson’s hilarious, morbid comedy The Loved One at the Egyptian Theater on Saturday, February 4.
So sayeth The Cinematheque:
Marketed as “the motion picture with something to offend everyone!” this achingly funny, pitch-black comedy could only have been released in the anything-goes era of the 1960s. Judged unfilmable for more than a decade (Luis Buñuel was trying to set it up for years), writer Evelyn Waugh’s spot-on satire of Southern California – specifically the funeral business – finally was brought to the screen in the mid-’60s by director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones) with a screenplay by Terry Southern (Candy, Easy Rider) and Christopher Isherwood (!). Robert Morse, a British »
The BBC is having something of a happy new year when it comes to Sunday-night drama, with Call the Midwife providing bumper ratings, and Sherlock giving drama fans a welcome January filip. This weekend sees the final part of the corporation's two-part dramatisation of Sebastian Faulks's first world war drama Birdsong, adapted by the screenwriter of the moment, Abi Morgan. Viewers – and critics – have been split in their reactions to it: some praising the drama's long, painterly shots and sparse dialogue; others criticising the slow pace and Eddie Redmayne's central performance.
Whichever side of the divide you fall, there's little arguing that the scale and waste of the first world war is still laid bare for the viewer. Perhaps that's why many of the six TV »
- Ben Dowell
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