An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
Richard E. Grant
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
Jean François Heckel,
The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Diana the 'People's Princess' has died in a car accident in Paris. The Queen and her family decide that for the best, they should remain hidden behind the closed doors of Balmoral Castle. The heartbroken public do not understand and request that the Queen comforts her people. This also puts pressure on newly elected Tony Blair, who constantly tries to convince the monarchy to address the public.Written by
The Lord Chamberlain tells Tony Blair that "representatives of all three palaces" will be attending the meeting to discuss plans for Diana's funeral. The three palaces mentioned in that line refer to Buckingham Palace (the Queen's residence), St. James's Palace (the residence of the Prince of Wales), and Kensington Palace (the base of operations for Diana's staff). See more »
When in the film they mention that the Union Jack is not flying at half mast, they should have said "Union Flag" as the Union Jack is the name of the flag on a boat or ship. However, the British flag is colloquially known as the Union Jack, so whilst its correct title is indeed the Union Flag, the vast majority of the population call it the Union Jack irrespective of where it is flown. See more »
After weeks of campaigning on the road, Tony Blair and his family finally strolled the few hundred yards to the polling station this election day morning. Amongst the Labour faithful up and down the country, there is an enormous sense of pride in Mr. Blair's achievements, and the confidence that he is about to become the youngest prime minister this century.
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It's still early innings, but Stephen Frears's The Queen is definitely going on my short list for best film of the year, and it will stay there. It's a flawless, burnished production, a virtually perfect film. This glowing, suspenseful docudrama retells the story of the days of upheaval in London and elsewhere, in 1997, shortly after Tony Blair had just won for Labor, by steering clear of trades unions and welfare statism, while flogging his "let's modernize Britain" program, window-dressing for his Clinton-like political shift to the right.
Then, on August 31, Princess Diana, recently divorced from Prince Charles, was killed in a high speed auto accident in midtown Paris. The film's story turns on how various echelons of British society reacted following Diana's death. Dramatized are many vignettes that bring together the major personalities at the center of the highly public dilemma that unfolded in the few days following Diana's passing.
Helen Mirren was, as they say, born to play Queen Elizabeth II. In every tableau, in every body movement, in every nuanced shift in feeling she conveys to us, with or without words, she is simply majestic. But this movie is far more than a showcase, a star vehicle, for Ms. Mirren. Each of the major supporting players, portraying some prominent person, is superb. Besides The Queen, we have The Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms), Prince Philip (James Cromwell), Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), Mr. Blair (Michael Sheen), and their respective retainers, playing out at close range their responses to one another, within the framework of a taut cultural and political crisis, one that is, above all else, a threat to public support of the Monarchy.
This drama takes place in an enervating, though also suppressed, emotional atmosphere, the tension level constantly ratcheted up by the principals' responses to pressures from the public and the press. (Of course the accuracy of the depictions is open to some question at least, and, in addition, there is the insurmountable problem that no one knows for sure the full truth about many of the rumored conversations -discussions that might or might not have transpired among these people - that are dramatized here. It is fair to say that the actors have magnificently sculpted their characterizations to fit the common perceptions of these celebrities in the public eye.
But there's more: I haven't yet touched on the main reason that I think this movie will be considered a classic decades from now. That is it's overarching subtext, not about individual personalities, but about a deep change in the very fabric of social custom signaled by events after Diana's death, especially in Britain, but also in the U. S. and other "anglophilic" "developed" nations. The point is made crystal clear in the film: Elizabeth's seemingly callous aloofness from the public in the wake of Diana's death is the result of her conviction, based on her upbringing, that duty must come first, that stoicism is the face one shows the world, while personal feelings are an entirely private matter, hence not to be aired in public. One must soldier on. Stiff upper lip. The English way.
According to this film narrative, Queen Elizabeth makes a serious miscalculation when she fails to consider, or perhaps even to perceive, the fact that the terms of public discourse - perhaps especially with regard to the open expression of personal sentiments - have changed radically around the world. Frank disclosure of personal feelings and issues once considered taboo for public consumption, emotional "witnessing," and even mass catharsis, have for many become the norm, displacing public stoicism, in response to poignant events. We know this from many lines of evidence, of course: confessional literature and film; the outpourings of personal tragedy and conflict on "Oprah" and a host of clone television and radio shows, and so on. But the Royals' cloistered existence very probably has always shielded them from accurately gauging the pulse of popular societal changes.
Never in recent times had there been such a worldwide wave of acute public grief over the loss of a single person, perhaps not since John Kennedy's death, as was the case of Diana, whom so many admired, revered, indeed, loved, even if from afar. The Queen documents with brilliance and power this major sea change in societal conventions, a shift that historians will undoubtedly look back upon as one of the most important and influential quakes in the tectonic annals of civil conduct. My grades: 10/10, A (Seen on 11/29/06).
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