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British TV Comedies of the 1960s Brought Eric Idle With His ‘Monty Python’ Mates

  • Variety
British TV Comedies of the 1960s Brought Eric Idle With His ‘Monty Python’ Mates
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 50 years since the founding of the comedy troupe that gave us Silly Walks, Dead Parrots, Hell’s Grannies, the Argument Clinic and Sam Peckinpah’s Salad Days, to name only a few of the classic Monty Python sketches, but as with other great comedy artists, from Laurel and Hardy to Chaplin, Keaton, Abbott and Costello and Lewis and Martin, there’s something timeless about the truly ridiculous in the hands of the truly brilliant.

One of the founders of the Python troupe, Eric Idle, aided and abetted his colleagues, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, in their wonderful five-year run on the BBC as well as in their classic films such as “Life of Brian,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Meaning of Life.”

Idle has also carved his own spectacularly funny way through the world of show business,
See full article at Variety »

Venice Review: Damien Chazelle’s ‘First Man’ is a Majestic, Deeply Tragic Epic

“When you get a different vantage point, you get a new perspective,” says Ryan Gosling to a group of Nasa officials recruiting astronauts early into Damien Chazelle’s majestic First Man. At once cosmic and domestic, the director’s La La Land follow-up zeroes in on a man struggling for success with an unshakable, otherworldly willpower. In that, First Man is unmistakably Chazelle: Gosling’s Neil Armstrong fits nicely in the universe of career-driven, uber-determined workaholics the 33-year-old director has been following since Whiplash. But in its tragic undertones, complex psychological edifice, and claustrophobic visuals, First Man stands out, in both content and form, as a remarkable, jaw-dropping departure from anything Chazelle has previously made.

Based on the book by James R. Hansen and written by Josh Singer, First Man opens eight years before the moon landing, chronicling Armstrong’s ascent from Nasa recruit to Apollo 11 captain. It is
See full article at The Film Stage »

London Theater Review: ‘Allelujah!’ by Alan Bennett

  • Variety
London Theater Review: ‘Allelujah!’ by Alan Bennett
Fifty years after his play “Forty Years On,” Alan Bennett is still pining for the England of old. Just as his first play lamented the slipping standards of an old public school and, by extension, the nation at large, so “Allelujah!” sees an ailing National Health Service hospital as symptomatic of a wider national malaise. The show, now playing at Nicholas Hytner’s Bridge Theatre, is full of all the playwright’s signature elements — warmth, wry humor, faith in humankind — but at some point, you have to ask whether his idyllic, old England ever really existed. His nostalgia’s seductive, but mighty sentimental — and maybe, in this misty-eyed political climate, dangerous too.

Set in the geriatric wing of a Yorkshire hospital at full stretch, its future hanging in the balance, “Allelujah!” throws up a collage of characters and a criss-cross of subplots. Among the patients, singing in the hospital’s in-house Oap choir,
See full article at Variety »

Why are we so snobby about movies for older women?

Tom Beasley takes a look at the most unfairly maligned movie demographic…

How did you react when you saw the first trailer for Book Club? If you’re anything like me, your immediate response was probably a snort of derision, followed by a shaking of the head in disbelief. It seemed baffling that a movie about women in the twilight of their lives – the average of the four leads is 72 – reading Fifty Shades of Grey and subsequently revving up their sex lives was being made and pushed into multiplexes.

I have since seen the film, and it’s an absolute delight. This has led me to reconsider my original reaction to the trailer and consider precisely why the movie seemed like such an improbable and ridiculous prospect. It comes down to a simple prejudice against the target audience for a film like Book Club – an audience that is actually hugely valuable to UK multiplexes today.
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Tony Awards Watch: Jamie Parker Talks Broadway Magic & Being Harry Potter

The magic of Broadway’s Harry Potter and The Cursed Child can be as simple as a lightning-quick costume change, as startling as a bolt of fire sent blazing from a wizard’s wand and as spooky as the 100% convincing Dementors that float, wraith-like, over the audience at the Lyric Theatre.

None of it would work, of course, without the onstage magicians themselves – a cast led by the erstwhile (and grown-up) Harry himself, Jamie Parker. The British actor, who won an Olivier Award for his Potter portrayal on the London stage and is now Tony-nominated as lead actor in a play, is perhaps best known for his role as Scripps in both the play and film versions of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.

Or was, until Harry came along. Shape-shifting into a character assumed to forever belong to another actor – that Radcliffe kid – Parker pulls off a magic trick
See full article at Deadline »

‘The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society’ Review: Dir. Mike Newell (2018)

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society review: Charming but predictable wartime drama.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society review by Freda Cooper.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society review

Sometimes a title leads you right up the garden path. Aside from probably being the longest film name so far this year, The Guernsey Literary Society And Potato Peel Society sounds like it should be a comedy, something akin to last year’s Their Finest. But no. The only common ground between the two is the World War II setting. After that, they’re chalk and cheese.

Mike Newell’s first feature film for six years is set partly during the War and partly in the aftermath, with author Juliet (Lily James) receiving a letter from a member of the society of the title. She’s been looking for something meaningful to write about and
See full article at The Hollywood News »

When good TV goes bad: how The League of Gentlemen became no laughing matter

After two successful seasons, the eccentric sketch show adopted an ambitious concept for the third – at the expense of its best gags

When The League of Gentlemen hit our screens in 1999 it was like watching Monty Python remake The Wicker Man from inside Alan Bennett’s fever dream. Set in the fictional northern town of Royston Vasey, the sketch show was a weekly parade of monsters, tragicomic oddballs and one-off grotesques. Its most outrageous characters stuck most firmly in the popular imagination: Tubbs and Edward, serial-killing proprietors of the “local shop for local people”; Harvey Denton and his wife Val, urine-drinking toad breeders obsessed with the prevention of masturbation; sadistic Jobstart adviser and hater of “dole scum” Pauline. There was also poignancy in the form of failed musician Les McQueen, ex-rhythm guitarist of Crème Brulee (Eurovision heats finalists, 1981), and the cavern tour guide who suffers from Ptsd in the most deadpan fashion.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Inside No. 9 series 4 episode 1 review: Zanzibar

Louisa Mellor Jan 2, 2018

This comedy farce written in verse shows that custom cannot stale Inside No. 9’s infinite variety. Spoilers…

This review contains spoilers.

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4.1 Zanzibar

In series one’s The Understudy, Inside No. 9 gave us an updated take on Macbeth. Here, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton put their own twist on Shakespearean comedy with an episode set entirely in a hotel corridor and written entirely in iambic pentameter, the clever sods. Regular brilliance clearly wasn’t presenting these two enough of a challenge.

It’s a challenge they pull off with relish. The writing’s smart and self-aware (“Like this iambic foot, I’m stressed, you’re not”) while the gags are a bawdy delight. Shakespeare never rhymed ‘bum’ with ‘Magnus Magnusson’, but you know he would have done,
See full article at Den of Geek »

The Madness of King George

It’s great when a fancy costume picture really has something to say — Alan Bennett’s crazy tale of a king’s episode of mental illness becomes a highly entertaining comedy of errors, but with serious personal and political ramifications. Nigel Hawthorne is exceptionally good as the sovereign whose brain has de-railed; Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Rupert Everett and Amanda Donohoe variously try to help him — or steal his crown.

The Madness of King George

Blu-ray

Olive Films

1994 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 111 min. / Street Date October 31, 2017 / available through the Olive Films website / 29.98

Starring: Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Amanda Donohoe, Rupert Everett, Julian Wadham, Jim Carter, Rupert Graves, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Anthony Calf, John Wood, Robert Swann, Peter Woodthorpe.

Cinematography: Andrew Dunn

Film Editor: Tariq Anwar

Production Design: Ken Adam

Written by Alan Bennett from his play

Produced by Stephen Evans, David Parfitt

Directed by Nicholas Hytner

Every few years the
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Tim Roth interview: Tin Star, Reservoir Dogs, Twin Peaks

Louisa Mellor Sep 8, 2017

Tim Roth leads an excellent cast in unpredictable new Sky Atlantic revenge drama Tin Star, out now…

“It’s the disposal,” says Tim Roth. “The killing isn’t the problem, it’s the disposal that’s the problem. You run out of space.” The storage issues faced by serial killers aren’t something to which many of us will have devoted much thought. Roth has. Reassuringly, he’s had reason to thanks to his recent sinister role as real-life murderer Reg Christie in BBC drama Rillington Place. “Charming fella” he jokes.

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Roth is back on UK television on the other side of the law in new Sky Atlantic drama Tin Star, which has already been renewed for a second series.
See full article at Den of Geek »

‘Prick Up Your Ears’: Stephen Frears’ Lgbt Biopic Sets Itself Apart

“I was saying to my friend the other day that just proves being gay doesn’t change anything. Everybody has all the faults and failings of everybody else. A gay friend of mine said, ‘Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m fabulous all the time.'” – Alfred Molina, actor in Prick Up Your Ears

Many of today’s Lgbt films are hagiographies about great people in the international movement toward sexual equality. In film, adulation usually results in flat characters and boring scenes (see: The Imitation Game). In Stephen Frears’ groundbreaking Prick Up Your Ears — which Metrograph screens from September 1-7 for its 30th anniversary — Gary Oldman brings pioneer queer playwright Joe Orton to life, warts and all. Alfred Molina plays Joe’s long-time boyfriend, mentor, and murderer, Kenneth Halliwell.

The story is structured with flashbacks to Joe and Kenneth. Wallace Shawn plays real-life Orton biographer John Lahr,
See full article at The Film Stage »

Dominic Cooper: ‘My best kiss? James Corden’

The actor on narcissism, roaming the moors with Kate Bush, and his love of classic cars

Born in London, Dominic Cooper, 39, trained at Lamda. In 2004 he played Dakin in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys at the National Theatre and on Broadway; he went on to appear in the 2006 film adaptation. His subsequent movies include Mamma Mia!, An Education, Tamara Drewe and My Week With Marilyn. On television, he has appeared in Fleming, Agent Carter and, most recently, the AMC series Preacher, in which he stars with his partner Ruth Negga. Stratton, his latest film, is released on 1 September.

When were you happiest?

I am pretty chirpy at the moment.

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of Lgbtq Britain review – sad, joyous, sometimes both at once

Presented by Stephen K Amos and Susan Calman, this documentary told of the highs and lows in the long march for gay rights. Plus: 10 Puppies and Us

Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of Lgbtq Britain last night concluded its illumination of the fight for gay (and other) rights via the medium of treasured possessions of people who have lived through it.

Teacher Austin Allen has kept his copy of Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin (“the sickest school book in Britain” claimed the Sun on its publication in 1987) – a sign of hope at a time when he had just been sacked for answering honestly a student’s inquiry about whether he was gay. Ian Elmslie has kept his programme from the one-night-only, unrecorded performance of Before the Act, a show comprising only material from gay writers and musicians and during which Neil Tennant, Stephen Fry and Alan Bennett officially came out.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Prick Up Your Ears review – Stephen Frears' terrific testament to murdered playwright Joe Orton

Rereleased 50 years after Orton’s death, this Frears-directed 1987 biopic sees Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina in utterly convincing form

The title of this rereleased classic is the invention of Joe Orton’s biographer John Lahr, on whose book this is based: for a brief 60s moment, this brilliant young dramatist really did force London’s theatre world to listen to his outrageous and very tumescent wit. Then, after a grisly, gloomy murder-suicide, it was all over. Orton was bludgeoned to death 50 years ago by his partner, Kenneth Halliwell, apparently convulsed with jealous rage at Orton’s success, undiminished cottaging and ingratitude for the stability and mentorship that Halliwell had given him. (Maybe Kenneth was in his way Orton’s Bosie, or his vengeful Marquess of Queensberry, or both.)

Stephen Frears’ terrific 1987 movie – adapted by Alan Bennett from the Lahr book – is back in cinemas and Gary Oldman’s superb livewire
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Furniture: The Cluttered, Musty Madness of King George

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

by Daniel Walber

Play adaptations are frequently criticized for not being “cinematic” enough. It’s as perennial a complaint as it is a silly one. Many of the best play adaptations don’t abandon their more theatrical elements, they use cinema’s unique capabilities as an especially potent additive.

The Madness of King George is a great example, a film that juxtaposes the visual freedom of on-location shooting with the precision of period sets. Adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play and directed by Nicholas Hytner, it chronicles the Regency Crisis of 1788. King George III (Nigel Hawthorne), perhaps as a result of porphyria, lost his grip on reality. The Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett) petitioned Parliament to have his father removed from power, and to have himself declared regent.
See full article at FilmExperience »

Doctor Who series 10: Mark Gatiss interview

Louisa Mellor Jun 6, 2017

A few weeks ago, we chatted to Mark Gatiss about his Doctor Who series 10 episode, The Empress Of Mars…

This Saturday evening, Mark Gatiss will take us on a trip to Mars. 1881 Mars, to be precise, where the Doctor and Bill find themselves mystified by the presence of a group of Victorian colonists. Gatiss’ ninth Doctor Who episode is space historical The Empress Of Mars, which features the return of some familiar foes.

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A few weeks ago, we chatted to Gatiss about the episode, whether it will be his last for Doctor Who, series ten’s satirical side, and his take on the Steven Moffat era…

As a writer, you’re big on research, particularly for your Who historicals - you read up a lot on
See full article at Den of Geek »

The myth of The Madness Of King George

Simon Brew Jun 19, 2017

The Madness Of King George is a film that was sold off the back of a story that wasn’t true…

Nominated for four Oscars, and bringing the late, great Nigel Hawthorne to the attention of movie audiences (following his sensational work in television and on the stage), The Madness Of King George was a real breakout hit. Premiering in December 1994 (just two months after filming wrapped!), and released in the UK in March 1995, the film won one Academy Award, three BAFTAs, and grossed over $15m in the Us alone.

But there’s one story about the movie that continues to circle. And it’s to do with its title.

The film is based on Alan Bennett’s play, The Madness Of King George III, that tells the story of the health issues that King George III suffered during his reign in the 18th century. But when
See full article at Den of Geek »

Full list of winners from BAFTA’s 2017 British Academy Television Awards

The Crown may have led the nominations going in to BAFTA’s 2017 British Academy Television Awards, but the Netflix series ended the night empty handed, losing out on Best Drama Series to Happy Valley, which also saw Sarah Lancashire named Best Leading Actress.

Damilola, Our Loved Boy also picked up two awards in Best Single Drama and Best Supporting Actress (Wunmi Mosaku), while Adeel Akhtar (Murdered by My Father) and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) were named Best Leading Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

Check out a full list of winners here…

Leading actor

Adeel AkhtarMurdered By My Father (BBC3)

Babou Ceesay – Damilola, Our Loved Boy (BBC1)

Benedict CumberbatchThe Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses (BBC2)

Robbie ColtraneNational Treasure (Channel 4)

Leading actress

Claire FoyThe Crown (Netflix)

Jodie ComerThirteen (BBC3)

Nikki Amuka-BirdNw (BBC1)

Sarah LancashireHappy Valley (BBC1)

Supporting actor

Daniel Mays
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

The Guardian view on King Charles III: a foreboding play | Editorial

The BBC2 broadcast of Mike Bartlett’s play is a reminder that even for republicans, the Queen’s death will loom large

King Charles III, Mike Bartlett’s play set in a future shortly after the Queen’s death, aired on the BBC this week. Its trim new television version was directed by Rupert Goold and starred, in what turned out to be his masterful swansong, the late Tim Pigott-Smith, who died suddenly between filming and broadcast. The drama, the stage premiere of which was at the Almeida in London before runs in the West End and on Broadway, is about a constitutional crisis precipitated by the new king’s refusal to sign a bill into law. As the country descends into riots and unrest, a subplot also emerges about a romance between Prince Harry and an ordinary London student (their idyll rudely interrupted by press intrusion). And the Duchess
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Our Friend Victoria review: a lovefest in honour of a silly, sweet and brilliant talent

You won’t learn much in this tribute to VictoriaWood, but you’ll chuckle and feel warm in that uniquely BBC way. Plus: Peter Kay’s Car Share, a direct descendant of her brand of comedy

‘Inspiring, funny, genius, unique.” So says Maxine Peake of Victoria Wood in Our Friend Victoria (BBC1, 9.30pm), the first of a six-part tribute to the great comedian, actress, pianist, singer, director, screenwriter, and owner of the coolest pudding bowl haircut in history (actually, are there any others?). It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since Vic – as everyone from Richard E Grant to Celia Imrie calls her – died at the age of 62. God, she was great. And God, things have fallen apart since we lost our friend from the north.

This is a lovefest in the time-honoured BBC tradition. Lots of fond, gentle and uncontroversial reminiscences trotted out by the usual suspects.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »
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