10 items from 2016
Totally relaxed in his Ritz-Carleton suite on Central Park South, his arms spread wide on a rather tasteful couch, Stephen Frears held court not at all like the monarch in his biggest success, The Queen, (2006). His press conference for his latest effort, Florence Foster Jenkins, will take place one hour later with about 40 journalists in attendance. His stars -- Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg -- would then be asked 95% of the questions. Not surprising. Directors, for the most, part do not drive traffic to web sites, sadly, even ones as near legendary as Frears.
Besides helming six of his past female leads to Academy-Award-nominated performances (Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening in The Grifters, plus Judi Dench in both Philomena and Mrs. Henderson Presents) and one Oscar win (Helen Mirren as the aforementioned queen), Frears has »
- Brandon Judell
Streep & StephenThe "Posterized" series has fallen into a 'totally inconsistent director' zone. Last week we looked at Woody Allen's filmography, full of impossible peaks and embarrassing valleys and everything inbetween. The 75 year old British director Stephen Frears hasn't had peaks that are quite as dizzy from the genius altitude but his valleys aren't as cringeworthy as Allen's, either. He's a safe middle distance director that critics and audiences and Oscar can all love, albeit not stay married to. He's made 22 features over the course of his long career which began with 1971's Gumshoe after which he disappeared into epidodic British TV for a decade or so until his movie career really started to sizzle; My Beautiful Laundrette put him on the global map. But did he ever really top that breakthrough?
For all the ups and downs that followed, the consistency is his love for actresses: he famously directed Helen Mirren to her Oscar, »
- NATHANIEL R
British director’s latest film, Florence Foster Jenkins, to screen at the festival’s open air theatre.
Frears, who was previously the subject of the festival’s tribute programme in 2002, will have his latest film - Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant - screened as part of Sarajevo’s Open Air programme.
Frears breakthrough as a feature film director came with the low budget hit My Beautiful Laundrette in 1985 and made his Hollywood debut with Dangerous Liaisons in 1989, which received six Oscar nominations.
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Victoria and Abdul will tell the true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Focus will release the movie domestically and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film around the world. Victoria and Abdul is being co-financed by Focus in association with BBC Films.
The feature »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
This week, Neil Calloway argues that method acting is often unnecessary…
This week it was revealed that Jared Leto sent pornography and condoms to his Suicide Squad co-stars in preparation for his role as the Joker. When I did that with my work colleagues I got arrested, but it turns out to be Ok if you’re an Oscar winning actor. It does also highlight the issue of when acting crosses the line into living a role.
There is a long and not so proud history of actors going above and beyond to immerse themselves in the character they are playing to ensure a great performance.
Daniel Day-Lewis is currently not looking for acting work as he believes it would be hard to top his performance as the title character in Lincoln, during which he would send his co-stars text messages in character as Abraham Lincoln; I do hope Sally Field »
- Neil Calloway
Dan and I were friendly competitors in the early days of video acquisitions. He was at Vestron, the first home video company whose deal with Time Life brought the industry into the mainstream. When he bought "Dirty Dancing", the video technology came into its own. I was at Lorimar Home Video and my earliest acquisition, "My Beautiful Laundrette" premiered at the Seattle Film Festival, the festival he had founded with Darryl McDonald (but was not running then as he had moved on to Vestron). We have stayed friends over these many years and I will always be beholden to Dan Ireland. A good man and all of his many friends already miss him!
He was supposed to be at Louisiana International Film Festival which he coprogrammed with Ian Birnie who just wrote in:
"In total shock. But almost no time to process. I am at Louisiana Ff. Dan was supposed to fly down with me but was feeling sick on Monday and thinking of cancelling. I called Tuesday and never heard back, so flew down solo, and was surprised to learn at the Opening Night on Thursday that no one at the fest had heard from him. Got the news in the middle of the night on Thursday...It would appear he had a stroke late Monday or early Tuesday. Will try to write some kind of tribute but am being pulled in 100 directions. Sorry I couldn't tell him that attendance has doubled this year, screenings are selling out, there is real energy. He is greatly missed in Louisiana today."
Ireland worked as an acquisitions executive, co-founded the renowned Seattle Film Festival, and directed films such as "The Whole Wide World," The Velocity of Gray," and "Jolene."
Here are some of the reactions from people who knew and worked with Dan Ireland over the years:
From Tim Ireland:
To all Dan's friends,
With great shock and sadness, Mike Ireland, Judy, and I must tell you that we have lost our "Hollywood" star. Dan passed away suddenly from natural causes on April 14. We found out just a few short hours ago, so details are sparse at the moment. We know the great multitude of Dan's friends will want to know this sorrowful news as soon as possible; and to all those in Los Angeles especially, we will appreciate your help and input in the coming days.
Darryl Macdonald: Dan and I were emotional and intellectual SiameseTwins for most of our lives. We used to sneak out of classes in grade 7 to watch movies together, then came back together as best friends when he moved back to Vancouver in the early 70s and we ran into each other in a bar. We moved to Seattle together to refurbish and open the Moore Egyptian in 1975 and started Siff in 1976. The truth is that Dan's boundless ambition, dedication to talent, refusal to take 'no' for an answer and ability to bring anyone 'outside the fold' on-side is what made our success possible. Though our professional paths diverged somewhat a decade later when he moved to L.A. to pursue his real passion - making great movies - we were never less than cosmic lovers, and remained as close as close can be for the next 30 years. His legacy - best exemplified by his body of work and the enduring love of his huge circle of friends, is a testament to the unique sensibility and incredibly positive energy Dan brought to everything in his life. But that's not what I will miss forever - as rare a trait as that constant positive energy is. It's that positivity, and Dan's unique, twisted sense of humor I will forever miss. Nobody on earth will ever take his place where either of those elements are concerned. I'll miss him madly, and pray he has access to making the movies he cares about in Heaven.
Jeff Dowd: Kindly Please Share Widely. Rip Dan Ireland. Dan was and will eternally be one of the leads in so many people's personal “It's a Wonderful Life”--he touched and helped so many people in so many ways. I just wrote a lot about Dan recently in one of Our Classic Tales Episodes. If you email me at jeffdowd6[At] gmail.com with Dan in the subject line I will send you a rough draft with some Dan Classic Tales some time soon. If you want to talk about Dan please feel free to call me. Lotsa of love to everyone--and never forget that one of Dan's great attributes was his sense of humor and his laugh which you are all hearing now. Have a laugh for Daaaaaan!
Diane Slattery: Heartbroken... longtime friend from Vestron days. Please keep us posted on what we can do and greatest sympathies to his sister and all close to him.
Karen Roberts: Beautiful soul, handsome man, good friend to many - this is such a terrible loss for all who had the good fortune to know him - way too soon, very sad news. Please let me know how I can help - please let me know of any arrangements to remember him with others. Tears...
Temi Lopez: Dan is one of my closest friends ever... I'm devastated...will miss his warmth, his smile, his lovely voice... I love you Dan and always will. »
- Sydney Levine
Stephen Frears is a directing chameleon.
In a career that’s spanned more than three decades, the English filmmaker has moved effortlessly from drawing room intrigue in “Dangerous Liaisons” to working class gay romance in”My Beautiful Laundrette” to noirish double crosses in “The Grifters.” In “The Program,” a look at disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, he tackles the world of competitive sports, exposing a competitive mentality that warps moral compasses and encourages people to do anything to get an edge.
Frears spoke with Variety about Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs, what excites him as a filmmaker, and why he has yet to join the streaming generation.
Were you a fan of cycling? Did you watch Armstrong win all those tournaments?
I knew absolutely nothing about cycling or about Lance Armstrong or about drugs and doping.
What did you learn about the sport?
They’re crazy people. »
- Brent Lang
“Todd Haynes‘ filmography is often overwhelming in its intellectual acumen and emotional devastation,” we noted upon the release of his latest film this past fall. “This is true of Carol, which is at once a return to the deconstruction of femininity, social mores, and mild anarchy of privilege, as well as an honest and heartbreaking story about falling in love and the trepidation therein.” Over 100 film experts, ranging from critics to writers to programmers, agree on the emotional power of the drama, as they’ve voted it the best Lgbt film of all-time.
Conducted by BFI ahead of the 30th BFI Flare: London Lgbt Film Festival, they note this is the “first major critical survey of Lgbt films.” Speaking about leading the poll, Haynes said, “I’m so proud to have Carol voted as the top Lgbt film of all time in this poll launched for the Fest’s 30th edition. »
- Jordan Raup
Get yourself a bunch of Stephen Frears movies and you're going to end up with a good night in. We'd recommend Philomena, High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things, Tamara Drewe and My Beautiful Laundrette to get you going. Let us know if you need more.
Frears' next film is Florence Foster Jenkins, which brings Meryl Streep, Simon Helberg, Hugh Grant, Rebecca Ferguson and Nina Arianda together in its cast. The first trailer and synopsis for the movie have just been released too, so let's take a mooch.
And here's the synopsis.
The comedy drama directed by Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) tells the inspirational true story of the eponymous New York heiress who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great singer. The film celebrates the human spirit, »
Titles backed by Film4 this year have a total of 15 Oscar nominations including a Best Picture and Best Director nomination and three of the five Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling. The total tally of Film4’s awards nominations and wins across the Academy, BAFTA, critics groups, guilds, etc. in 2015 to date is: 181 wins out of a total 581 nominations (95% of which were in the U.S.) across 11 films - “Room”, “Carol”, “Suffragette”, “Youth”, “The Lobster", "Ex Machina", "45 Years”, “Amy”, “Macbeth”, “Slow West”, and “Dark Horse”.
Film4 has already had two Academy Best Picture wins in recent years with "Slumdog Millionaire" and "12 Years A Slave" amid other Academy Award nominations, so we can declare they are a force to be reckoned with.
This year again they have more nominations than most Hollywood Studios! The New York based Distribution and Production Company A24 has seven nominations, and people are talking about them as serious players in the Oscar race, so let’s talk about Film4.
Film4 is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative, both new and established, talent. It develops and co-finances films and is well known for its involvement with “The Last King of Scotland” (2006), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), “This is England” (2006), “Seven Psychopaths” (2012), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) as well as its most recent crop of successes in the current awards season which has also already garnered a record number of BAFTA nominations this year - 22 in all.
Sue Bruce Smith is the head of distribution and brand strategy at Channel 4’s feature film division, Film4. She supports the building and financing of projects from the U.K. broadcaster. She works in some capacity across most of the Film4 slate but has been particularly associated with films like “Room”, “The Lobster”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Last King of Scotland”, “Tyrannosaur”, “The Imposter” and “Le Weekend”,
Sue has been at Film4 over 12 years. Prior to this she has worked variously in U.K. distribution, broadcaster investment in film, international sales and independent production at Palace Pictures, BBC Films, Littlebird and Film4.
Sl: Can you define what exactly you do at Film4?
Sue Bruce Smith: What I do varies quite a bit from film to film. Some of the seasoned producers are more adept at finding partners and don’t need much in the way of help putting their finance together. However, we also work with emerging producers and directors who require more guidance so I am on hand to help them access the right co-production or distribution partners to ensure the film is built in the best possible way. Once the film is completed, I again get involved in the strategy for the launch of the film and I oversee the distribution activity. Protecting and maximizing the strength of our Film4 brand is a key consideration in everything I do. We are also the only free-to-air channel dedicated to film in the U.K. so this really helps define our strong brand.
Sl: How are productions greenlit at Film4?
Sue Bruce Smith:The creative and commercial team within Film4 will guide a project through development to final greenlight. David Kosse, Director of Film4 is a key part of the whole progression of the film and his final decision, based very much on the soundings he gets from his senior team, also obviously draws heavily on his valuable experience and understanding of film investment and the international marketplace. The Film4 team is a very inclusive team of about 23 people working across development, production, finance and distribution. it is also able to draw upon additional resources within the Channel4, most specifically in marketing and press.
Sl: Do you do co-productions?
Sue Bruce Smith: If you mean financial co-productions, yes lots. These tend to be U.S. set financial co-productions or they might come out of Europe. But official co-productions are relatively rare as it is more difficult and takes longer to set up. “Room”, however, was an official co-production with Telefilm Canada and “The Lobster” was the result of a wonderful collaboration of over five different European co-producers.
Sl: What sort of budget parameters do you work with?
Sue Bruce Smith: We span from the very low to sometimes quite high. We try not to limit ourselves and allow the project to find its optimum level. When we developed “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk” with Ink Factory, in the course of looking for partners we found a fan in Tom Rothman who at that time was in the process of rebuilding production at TriStar and we have ended up, as a result, being involved in an Ang Lee film! However these are the exceptions and the range is usually between Us $3m to Us$15m.
Going forward, we are keen to be bolder in how Film4 invests especially when we feel a film is a potential break out. We operate a cross subsidy model where the bigger, more commercial investments allow us to generate revenue that then supports the new emerging talent. It is worth noting that absolutely everything we earn from our films goes straight back into more development and film investment.
Sl: Do you have special “strands” for particular types of films?
Sue Bruce Smith: We don’t really distinguish films in strands we just work across many levels and genres. First time filmmakers tend to have smaller budgets - around Us$3m and they are built in a slightly different way. For our larger projects I’d say our sweet spot is $10 – 15 million.
Sl: How do you find projects?
Sue Bruce Smith:: We are constantly scouting for interesting new talent, watching shorts like “Robots of Brixton” where we found Kibwe Tavares, culling talent from our TV arm (like Yann Demange who worked with us on the TV series “Top Boy” before making “'71”) from theater (Lucy Kirkwood who we are making a short film with and developing a feature), the arts (which is where Steve McQueen originated and is still very active) and writing (Alex Garland who adapted “Never Let Me Go” for us and went on to make his striking debut “Ex Machina”)
Sl: I notice you don’t do international sales like you used to in the 80s.
Sue Bruce Smith: Yes we shed the international sales division and the U.K. Distribution arm back in 2002 and brought the focus back to our core development and co-financing activities. We currently work with a wide range of sales agents like Protagonist, Hanway, Cornerstone, FilmNation, Westend, Pathe, Studio Canal, Independent and others.
Sl: In the early days in the 1980s operations were different.
Sue Bruce Smith: David Rose, in 1982, was the real visionary behind Film4. He decided Channel4 would be different from all other TV channels. Channel4 was the first U.K. broadcaster, through its film arm, Film on Four, to develop and co-finance films and, crucially, to allow these films to play in cinemas before their television transmission on Channel4. Our theatrical model became Film on Four and HBO, Sbs and Arte followed this lead. “Walter” by Stephen Frears followed this route in 1982. Frear's next film “My Beautiful Laundrette” followed shortly after in 1985
(An aside here by Sydney Levine):
If my readers will indulge me for a little history lesson in how films change with technological change, I want to point out that in the early days of home video, in 1985, Sue and I (a couple of the pioneer women in the modern business) shared in the good fortune resulting from the shift in the movie and TV business.
Working for the biggest TV production house in U.S. in the days of “Dallas”, I came to Lorimar to buy for home video, the fastest growing new technological distribution tool yet. We put up $175,000 advance to acquire home video rights to the Film4 feature “My Beautiful Laundrette” for U.S. $75,000 of that was to be used as P&A by theatrical distributor Orion Pictures Classics’ platform theatrical release – to platform first in N.Y. and L.A for critical reviews, and then, if profitable, to expand across the nation. It was the first British film to come to U.S. in many a year (except of course for the James Bond franchise). Orion Classics was headed by Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Donna Gigliotti who paid no advance but used the P&A allotment wisely and well. It was a happy association that we shared a couple of more times before they moved on to form Sony Pictures Classics and I moved on to Republic Pictures, reconstructed by Cnb’s Russell Goldsmith, former CEO of Lorimar. This Film4 picture, “My Beautiful Laundrette” was by complete unknowns in the U.S. and was a first for us all. We did not know it would go on to gross $7 million at the box office (a huge amount at that time for an independent film) and would sell 75,000 video units (at $50 wholesale a piece = $3,750,000). We at Lorimar made a $1 million profit and overages of $1 million went to Channel 4 and $1 million went to Working Title. I got a $100 bonus, and we were all delighted. My association with Film4 was followed by many loyal and loving years and reunions, but that is another lesson.
To quote Adam P. Davies, the writer of the U.K. Film Finance Handbook 2005/6: How to Fund Your Film:
Stephen Frears’s 1985 “My Beautiful Laundrette” signalled a change in direction for the industry in that TV backed film investment started to feed local productions. The Channel4 film encouraged the broadcasters to increase investment in filmmaking over the late 80s and also launched Working Title, initially run by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radcliffe (who left in 1992 to run her own company) and later Eric Fellner, with whom Bevan runs the company today [in a longstanding deal with Universal-Focus]. Video distributor and producer Palace Pictures, run by Nik Powell and Stephen Woolley, followed the success in 1985 of Neil Jordan’s “Company of Wolves” with “Mona Lisa” in 1986. The British Film Commission launched in 1992 [when “The Crying Game” had its world success].
Sue was at Palace Productions when I was at Lorimar and Republic and our paths crossed many times and so I was quite eager to share the latest good fortune of the 2016 Academy Awards at a time when the Academy is being besieged by negative publicity. At that time, back in ’85, I suggested to Michael and Tom that they put up Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor Nomination and as I recall, they told me British films or British actors in British films were not acceptable to the Academy, and so neither he nor the film was put up for nomination.
“My Beautiful Laundrette” obviously had Asian actors; it was about a gay skinhead and a Pakistani. Diversity was at its core, but it did not get past the British line of demarcation the Academy had drawn in ’85. Its ethnic boundaries might have existed if anyone had tried to test them but that was not even an issue in 1985. “Diversity” in those days did not exist as a word one used and the very idea of diversity was even more limited than today.
Film4 has had a key role in proactively promoting different voices and stories since the 1980s. And today diversity is a crucial consideration in the decisions Film4 makes about its developments and productions with the aim of increasing diversity across all areas of the business. They have several films currently in development with Bame writers and directors and are successfully working with many female directors such as Andrea Arnold, Debbie Tucker Green, Susanna White, Clio Bernard, Sarah Gavron and Lynne Ramsay.
In January last year parent company Channel4 launched the 360 Degree Diversity Charter which is all about a commitment to implementing diversity on and off screen and to measuring its progress. It is tied to Project Diamond, an industry-wide diversity monitoring system. Its results will be published in the next few months.
Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful U.K. films of recent years, Academy Award-winners such as Steve McQueen’s "12 Years a Slave", Danny Boyle’s "Slumdog Millionaire", Phyllida Lloyd’s "The Iron Lady” and Martin McDonagh’s "In Bruges" in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Mike Leigh’s "Mr. Turner", Chris Morris’ "Four Lions", Shane Meadows’ "This is England", Ben Wheatley’s “Sightseers", Clio Barnard’s "The Selfish Giant" Jonathan Glazer’s "Under the Skin" and David Mackenzie’s "Starred Up".
Film4’s recent releases include; Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room", Todd Haynes’ “Carol", Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette", Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth", Yorgos Lanthimos’ "The Lobster", Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary “Amy", Andrew Haigh’s "45 Years", Alex Garland’s "Ex Machina", Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth", Peter Strickland’s "The Duke of Burgundy", Daniel Wolfe’s "Catch Me Daddy" and John Maclean’s "Slow West".
For further information visit www.film4.com/productions, but for now, here is the Cheat Sheet on Film4’s 2016 Total Oscar Nominations numbering 15. It will be at my side as I watch the Awards on February. Parenthetically, I am also looking forward to watching the fashions before the show, and inside the show, to catching that one loose cannon who will deliver the only inspirational speech in a rather inspirationless, basically boring, but still worthy traditional show.
Nomination tally by film:
“Room” – 4 - Picture, Actress, Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
“Carol” – 6 –Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score
“Ex Machina” – 2 –Original screenplay, Visual Effects
“Amy” – 1 – Documentary Feature
“45 Years” – 1 – Actress
“Youth” – 1 – Original Song
Film4-backed films Oscar® nominations in full:
Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett
Actress in a Supporting Role: Rooney Mara
Adapted Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy
Achievement in Cinematography: Ed Lachman
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original score): Carter Burwell
Achievement in Costume Design: Sandy Powell
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Ed Guiney
Achievement in Directing: Lenny Abrahamson
Actress in a Leading Role: Brie Larson
Adapted Screenplay: Emma Donoghue
Original Screenplay: Alex Garland
Actress in a Leading Role: Charlotte Rampling
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original song): Simple Song # 3, music and lyrics by David Lang
- Sydney Levine
10 items from 2016
IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.See our NewsDesk partners