6 items from 2015
Chuck Workman’s documentary offers an excellent primer on the maestro’s career
“A magician is just an actor playing the part of a magician.” Released alongside a Welles retrospective at BFI Southbank (Touch of Evil returns to selected cinemas on 10 July), this watchable documentary provides an excellent primer on the maestro’s brilliantly chaotic career. Divided into biographical segments (The Boy Wonder, The Outsider, The Gypsy etc), Chuck Workman’s film intercuts archive interviews with clips of Welles’s work from stage, screen and radio. It’s a heady ride; from the national panic which greeted the War of the Worlds broadcast, through the “confidence of ignorance” of Citizen Kane (“I didn’t know what you couldn’t do”), to the butchering of The Magnificent Ambersons, and Welles’s subsequent status as an accidentally path-breaking indie film-maker. Clips from films in which he appears as a character (Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles, »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
Directed by Chuck Workman
A documentary exploring the life and work of Orson Welles…
Vincent van Gogh, famously, sold only one painting in his lifetime. Leonardo Da Vinci struggled to finish many of the commissions he was given – his Last Supper is technically unfinished as he intended to include a roof on the mural. Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles lifts the widely-respected filmmaker to such heights. Akin to van Gogh and Da Vinci, his canon of films includes multiple financial losses, alongside incomplete masterpieces that, even now, are rumoured to be lost in the deepest depths of Southern America. From Citizen Kane to F for Fake, his history is fascinating, and director Chuck Workman, takes us on the bumpy journey through his life.
Split into small, bite size chunks such as ‘The Boy Wonder’ and ‘The »
- Simon Columb
Suffer the First Vision: Goddard’s Debut Anchored in Episode of Literary Distress
Doomed Welsh poet Dylan Thomas gets a contemporary biopic treatment in Set Fire to the Stars, taking its name from the last line of his poem “Love in the Asylum.” The film marks the feature debut of British television alum Andy Goddard (“Torchwood,” “Downton Abbey”) and is presented in striking black and white, giving the visual attributes a dramatic edge over the familiar succession of beats often evidenced in these portraits of mad artists. Told through the perspective of poet and literary critic John Brinnin, the man responsible for bringing Thomas to the Us for the first time, the treatment is based partially on his highly criticized account, Dylan Thomas in America. Goddard and co-writer Celyn Jones (who stars as Thomas) don’t appear to take many liberties and/or risks, despite some slight implications concerning Brinnin’s latent desires. »
- Nicholas Bell
A product of the Disney princess machine. Its highest ambition is to move a new line of toys. Or to evoke despair in the fairy-tale-ization of girls’ lives. I’m “biast” (pro): I’ve enjoyed director Kenneth Branagh’s movies
I’m “biast” (con): I’m so done with princess crap
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
This is how it begins, the fairy-tale-ization of little girls’ lives. Make sure to get ’em while they’re young, and tell ’em: You don’t need any discernible personality or interest in the world to be successful as a lady. Just “be kind,” even to the point of being a doormat; for god’s sake, don’t make waves or complain, just endure whatever abuse the world throws at you even if you could easily walk away from it. As a reward, eventually, luck and magic will »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Justin Chang: We don’t always agree, Guy (no two critics ever should), but it’s safe to say we’ve been more simpatico than usual over the course of this very long and happily almost-over awards season. I think we would both argue, for example, that “Foxcatcher” was ridiculously worthy of an Oscar nomination for best picture, and that its failure to nab one seems all the more inexplicable given that Bennett Miller managed to crack the much more competitive directing race. Likewise, I don’t know anyone else who had almost precisely the same reaction and counter-reaction to “Birdman” as I did — an initial thrill that almost completely fell apart on second viewing.
Clearly the industry feels otherwise, if “Birdman’s” presumed Oscar-frontrunner status is to be believed — which I fear it is, even as some of us are still clinging desperately to the hope that “Boyhood” will prevail. »
- Justin Chang and Guy Lodge
By Anjelica Oswald
Nothing could stop ‘Dick Poop’ from becoming a Twitter ‘Trending Topic’. The site exploded with clever responses to the Academy Award nominations Jan. 15 — from surprises to snubs to the unfortunate pronunciation of one cinematographer.
So who exactly is Dick Pope?
Pope received his second Oscar nomination this year for his work on Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, about the obsessive British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner (portrayed by Timothy Spall). The film also received nominations for production design, costume design and original score. For his work on the film, Pope has earned BAFTA Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations. Pope won the Vulcan Prize for Technical Artist at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. He »
- Anjelica Oswald
6 items from 2015
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