3 items from 2012
Catch up with the last seven days in the world of film
For a horrible moment, it looked like Skyfall would be the big story three weeks in a row. After it, it whomped every other 007 film at the box office, got the Vatican on its side, and even got a seal of approval (sort of) from the Guardian's Women's
But – and I can safely say this particular combination of words will never be mentioned again – thank God for George Lucas. The sale of his Star Wars production company Lucasfilm to Disney sparked an immediate frenzy of speculation, analysis and debate – much of it reflecting on the fact that Lucas had managed to piss on the oceans of goodwill his initial three Star Wars films had created, and made the prospect of Episodes 7, 8 and 9 something to dread.
The response varied from cautious optimism that Disney could »
Fact would have been more fun than fiction in this overblown big-screen biopic of Russia's 18th-century empress
A Royal Scandal (1945)
Director: Otto Preminger
Entertainment grade: B-
History grade: C
Catherine II "the Great" was Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796.
Anna (Anne Baxter), a lady in waiting, emerges from Catherine (Tallulah Bankhead)'s chambers to tell the chancellor of Russia (Charles Coburn) that the empress is fighting with the commander of the palace guard. The chancellor is known in the film simply as Nikolai Ilyich, with no surname, though since the film seems to be set in 1763 he should probably be Nikita Ivanovich Panin. In her rage, Catherine smashes a porcelain horseman – a gift from Frederick the Great, king of Prussia. "Even in her most furious moments, her majesty has exquisite taste," says the chancellor.
Anna's fiance, a young soldier called Alexei Chernoff (William Eythe), bursts into the »
- Alex von Tunzelmann
Hammer applies its trademark Gothic veneer with considerably greater care than usual in this, the second and best of the company's three stabs at the satanic stylings of author Dennis Wheatley. Christopher Lee comes over to the light for a rare foray as central hero the Duc de Richleau, teaming up with friend Rex van Rijn (Leon Greene) to prevent the evil Satanist Mocata (Charles Gray) from enmeshing the son of his old friend (Patrick Mower) into a devil-worshipping cult.
The Devil Rides Out is perhaps best remembered for what Lee argues in his commentary to be Hammer's most enduring image, that of our heroes fighting a series of spectral and psychological nemeses from within the protective confines of a ritual circle. And yet the most chilling scene contains no special effects, but is instead a simple conversation between the wife »
3 items from 2012
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