Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
Chloe Moretz is an absolute pleasure to watch. She is highly expressive and - there's no other word - cute. Her smile - so rare in this picture - when she is playing categories is almost heartbreaking. You suddenly glimpse the child. Eton College has produced 19 British Prime Ministers, including the current one, Damian Lewis, Dominic West and Tom Hiddlestone. And Eddie Redmayne. It is very likely the grandest school in the world. You cannot get more aristocratic. Seems however that the sons of the British rich do very good Americans. Redmayne is astonishingly good in this movie - almost wasted. Because it is not a great film - perhaps a little nasty in fact - though thoughtful in its way. Soundtrack was great. Whomsoever was responsible was obviously a Dylan aficionado, with a pretty good knowledge of country. Patsy Kline has an appropriate melancholy to her voice, and Dylan is all Hibbing, Minnesota, pretty darn hick itself as far as I understand. In the end, though, Hick is not cinematic enough. Would do very well on late night TV (which is how I caught it).
This is a charming movie. It is in places very funny. Minnie Driver, as always, is excellent, a joy to watch. Colin Firth does his agreeable Colin Firth impersonation and the American girl is fluffy and sweet. I loved Mary Steenburgen doing a vulgar part and Oliver Platt always adds vim. I rather think this is a movie for bookish people with a night off, but there aren't enough of those about. It doesn't fill the screen quite, but it is certainly a feature rather than a TV movie. I like the Anglo-American tint to it: there seem to be no glaring cultural gaffes. We even get Marks and Spencers mentioned. Intelligent, engaging and funny. 7 out of 10 because only God gets 10 and only The Third Man and Casablanca get 9.
I have recently read a letter from my father, Huw Wheldon (later Managing Director of the BBC), to my mother, written from on board the SS Maasdam in August 1959, sailing from Southampton to Montreal by way of Quebec. In it he describes meeting a couple called 'Loeb'. Dad described the husband thus: "He has just written some BBC serial called 'Call Me Sam'. Nice chap,hard-bitten, professional, limited, penetrating." Is he by any chance Lee Loeb, who was nominated for an Emmy in 1964? My father was on a travel grant from the English Speaking Union, and at the same time scouting for material for the arts magazine program 'Monitor' of which he was then Editor. He met with Burgess Meredith ("a very nice man") in Los Angeles, bumped into Richard Burton in Hollywood and tried to woo William Faulkner onto 'Monitor' (with no luck).
Elgar was made by three people: Ken Russell, Humphrey Burton and Huw Wheldon. All three liked Elgar's music and all three thought him under-rated. They set about, with the aid of legendary researcher Anne James, to gather as much information about the great Edwardian as possible, and soon they had vast amounts of material with which they could tell the story of Elgar's life. Russell and Wheldon fought their famous battle about the role of actors - which, contrary to general opinion, both won - but both Wheldon and Russell and Humphrey Burton were not happy with what they had. It was Burton who finally said what all were thinking - that they were not telling the right story. The right story was not the story of Elgar but the story of Elgar's music. Burton and Russell spent a week doing nothing but listening to Elgar and emerged with a 50 minute soundtrack including snippets short and long. Now they set about making pictures to go with the music. In other words the music was not an accompaniment, the music was the thing itself. The pictures illustrated it. Speaking actors would have shifted the balance of the film back towards words and pictures. The power of 'Elgar' lies in the primacy it gives to the composer's music. Often referred to as 'Ken Russell's 'Elgar'', this film is actually Elgar's Elgar, and therein lies its claim for legendary status.
Orson Welles' Sketchbook was directed by Huw Wheldon, 'producer' being
1950s BBC language for producer-director. There is a story that during
the filming of one episode Orson ran out of ink and threw down his pen
in irritation. By the time Wheldon had reached the set Orson has
disappeared, telling a crew member that he was going to Paris. It
turned out to be the case. Nevertheless, the two men became friends.
Wheldon later conducted a celebrated interview with Welles on the
legendary BBC arts programme 'Monitor'. Welles tried to persuade
Wheldon to be his European manager. Wheldon was concerned both that he
would never be paid and that Orson would have 'eaten him up'. Wheldon
went on to become the Managing Director of BBC TV, and knighted for his
services to broadcasting. He died in the same year as Welles, 1986. On
his death the sketches Welles had done for the show were found among
Wheldon's papers, a gift from the one man to the other.
Welles was an accomplished artist, and went to Ireland at the age of 16 in order to become a painter, not an actor.