3 items from 2016
The second documentary by Douglas McGrath (best known for his narrative films Emma and Nicholas Nickleby), Becoming Mike Nichols explores the early career of Nichols through three specific phases: his early life as a German immigrant living in New York, his early collaborations during and after college with Elaine May, and his early directing career on stage and eventually on screen. Playing as a cross between a biography and directing master class, Becoming Mike Nichols is an engaging study of the filmmaker’s early career. We spoke with McGrath at the Sundance Film Festival, where his film had its world premiere, about what would be the director’s final performance, so to speak, as discussed in the interview.
The Film Stage: Can you tell us a little about how you approached these interviews?
Douglas McGrath: I think of the film as a sort of film version of what his »
- John Fink
The actress endured a firestorm of criticism for being ‘snooty’ and elitist. But she is a great British performer who will always go her own way
Wit is one of those rare English words whose scintillating but slippery side-effects can thrill or enrage in equal measure. In 2001, when the television producers of Wit, a Pulitzer prize-winning play about a professor of 17th-century metaphysical poetry who is dying of ovarian cancer, began casting for the small screen, they instinctively turned to Emma Thompson. “We wanted to mine every bit of humour we possibly could,” they said. “While the subject is inevitably that of a woman dying of cancer, this is a woman who appreciates humour and wit to her last breath. It’s at once a story of a woman dying, but also coming to terms with what it means to live.”
The producers wanted Thompson’s ability to register irony through a sideways glance, »
- Robert McCrum
The actor on Oldham Street, Manchester, the magic of Slow Club, a friend’s brilliant memoir, British feature film Radiator and Lemn Sissay’s poetry
Julie Hesmondhalgh is best known for her award-winning performance as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street – the first transgender character in a television serial. She played her with her trademark warmth, intelligence and sensitivity right up until the end when her character killed herself (Jan 2014) after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Hesmondhalgh is now starring in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer prize-winning Wit at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, a play about a tough academic, also dying of cancer, who takes a more upbeat approach and learns how to live before it is too late. She also appears as Amanda Wadsworth in the latest series of the BBC’s Happy Valley, which starts next month.
Slow Club should be bigger than they are. They have such life-affirming songs »
- Kate Kellaway
3 items from 2016
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