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Archive for the ‘British’ Category

Gotham Nods Go Big for “The Favourite”

The Gotham Awards Nominations have been announced(They are always the first to do so.) and my favorite film, or ONE of my favorite films of the year “The Favourite” scored big with three major nominations. Including a brand-new category “Female Ensemble” for all three tremendous actresses, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman.

Doesn’t help figure out who is going where with the Oscars. But Colman WANTS to be run in lead, whether she wins or not. And both Weisz and Stone have Oscars of their own already. If that happened, the duo would be in Supporting(and deserve to be). Emma Stone is really the lead here, but all ways here are the Queen’s way. And the Queen(Olivia Colman) wants to be in lead, and so it shall be. Unless the Academy decides to go its own way(as it often does.)

Recently when Kate Winslet had some category confusion going on for her two roles in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road,” while she won TWO Golden Globes that year, the Academy went with only “The Reader” as the Actress contender. And Winslet won it.

Olivia Colman is an Oscar newbie, and though she has a stellar career in British films and onstage, she’s more or less unknown here. And she’s not an ingenue, just breaking through.

“The Favourite” was also nominated for Best Feature and Best Screenplay. This squarely puts it in running for Oscar nods in all those categories.

Of the other much-talked about contenders for Best Actress, only Glenn Close for “The Wife” made it here with the Gothams, who are the East Coast equivalent of the Indie Spirit Awards.

Yalitza Apericio was nominated as Best Breakthrough Performance for “Roma.”

I think all these five above mentioned women are going to be nominated for the Oscars, too.

For complete list go to http://www.awardsdaily.com, and you can also find my complete review of “The Favourite” there.

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My First Review at Awardsdaily for this year’s New York Film Festival

So proud, as always to continue my magnificent relationship, with the great Oscar site Awardsdaily! Here’s a link to my first review of the New York Film Festival’s Opener “The Favourite.” www.awardsdaily.com/2018/10/09/new-york-film-festival-review-the-favourite/

So much Oscar confusion with this one because the three leads, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz(both pictured above) and the beauteous Emma Stone(pictured on Awardsdaily.com) are all sooooo excellent. Too much of a muchness? Not in this case!

“The Favourite” is one of MY favorite films of the year!

“Bernhardt/Hamlet” She’s great. The play is not.


A theater goddess walks among us. Clearly, British actress Janet McTeer is one of the greats. Anyone who saw her “Doll’s House” back in the day can attest to this. Anyone who sees Theresa Rebeck’s half-baked “Bernhardt/Hamlet” will wonder why this acting colossus is attempting this pygmy play.

And of course, the answer is “There are no great parts for women.” Or few great parts as the play makes abundantly clear. Over and over and over again. Pedantic, didactic and I agree with playwright Rebeck’s conclusion. And frustration. But the means she uses to execute her thesis, and this is a thesis play. Collegiate. If she were in college, and she wrote this at the time she was in college, say roughly the 1970s, it may have seemed like something sparkling and new, but as “Bernhardt/Hamlet” as presented on Broadway by the redoubtable Roundabout, it is trite, trite, trite.

However the sublime Janet McTeer makes you almost forget all these things. Almost. If  Hamlet was a vivacious housewife who just solved her servant problem.And she is surrounded by some of the best young actors working today. Dylan Baker, Matt Saldivar, Nick Westrate and main among them, Jason Butler Harner. And they are all defeated by this mediocre material that the Roundabout is trying to foist on us as a silk purse, when it’s really the sow’s ear. Or in this case, the entire sow.

McTeer is a gargantuan presence. She is six-foot five at least, with the deepest and most resonant of voices. She has played many, many male roles herself, recently a remarkable Petruchio, in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park’s all female “Shrew” a few seasons back. And on-screen she was the transvestite lover of Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs.” So she is no stranger to cross-dressing. Nor, evidently, was the diminutive  Bernhardt, who was barely five feet.

Considered to this day, the greatest actress of the 19th century, she was a dyed-in-the-wool eccentric. She slept in a coffin. She had a leopard for a pet, and wore a hat made out of bats’ wings. The only way we non-time-traveling mortals can experience her greatness today is by reading about her in the many, many books and biographies of “La Divina” as she was known. And the contemporary reviews of her critics. Don’t forget the critics! George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde both adored her and wanted her in their plays.

None of this is in “Bernhardt/Hamlet.” Rebeck the writer makes her seem smaller than life and seems to have tailored this play as simply as a vehicle for the dynamic McTeer. Who deserves to have plays written for her. Just not this one.

She seems like a socialite, a gad-fly, someone who likes to have a beer and pal around with the guys, rather than sleep with them. She had many, many lovers and yes, McTeer kisses Butler Harner (As Edmund Rostand) again and again and again. As if to prove some kind of heterosexual point.

The great French playwright wrote “Cyrano de Bergerac” for her, but the part of Roxanne is hardly what you remember Cyrano for. And she chastises him, but he doesn’t make the part any better, and she still continues her affair with him. And yes, they kiss and they kiss and they kiss at every opportunity. Rebeck even presents us with Rostand’s wife,(Ito Aghayere) who in a very bizarre scene, seems to condone the affair, but that’s about as eccentric as this earth-bound Berhhardt is allowed to get.

Rebeck  has made the great Bernhardt seem very everyday as an actress. She seems remarkably superficial, constantly complaining the Shakespeare’s greatest play had too many words  in it. And constantly going “up” (forgetting her lines) in rehearsals, which this Bernhardt seems to treat as a schlog and a joke.

Ah! But then McTeer is allowed to do “Hamlet” straight on, it is just wonderful. And a great gift to those who witness it. There are only TWO niggardly moments that Rebeck allows her to play Hamlet at full throttle..

At the beginning of Act Two, she gets to do the entire “What a piece of work is man” scene with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. And she and Dylan Baker play the Ghost scene as if it were a love scene and it works. (pictured above^)How it works! These two moments really are worth the price of admission. I just which we had a chance to see the great Janet McTeer do ALL of the real Hamlet and not just this shoddy imitation.

And would that the witty and wonderful late playwright Wendy Wasserstein was still with us. SHE would’ve made Bernhardt scintillating, rather the mundane feminist Rebeck leaves us with.

“Downtown Abbey” Movie Coming Next Sept.

Focus Features will release the DOWNTON ABBEY movie on Friday, September 20, 2019 in North America and Universal Pictures International will release it on Friday, September 13, 2019 internationally. 

 

“Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter,” commented Focus chairman Peter Kujawski.  “We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen next September.”  

 

 

About the DOWNTON ABBEY movie

 

The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house.  Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way. 

 

The Downton Abbey movie will star the original principal cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Penelope Wilton, and Academy-Award® winner Maggie Smith, as well as new cast members Academy-Award® nominee Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips and Stephen Campbell Moore. 

 

Academy-Award® winner Julian Fellowes who created Downton Abbey and wrote the film’s screenplay will produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge. Michael Engler returns to direct. Brian Percival, who directed the series’ pilot, will executive produce the movie alongside Nigel Marchant.

 

The Downton Abbey movie is produced by Carnival Films, and will be released by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Roma,” Willem Dafoe Win Big at Venice Film Festival

Alfonse Cuaron’s “Roma” won big at the Venice Film Festival yesterday. It won the much-prized Golden Lion, their top film prize. It’s in Black and White, and set in Mexico in the 1970s and is in Spanish, but has been acclaimed every- where it’s been shown.

Willem Dafoe won Best Actor for his portrayal of the tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh, under the direction of Julian Schnabel, in “At Eternity’s Gate.”

British actress Olivia Coleman won Best Actress for “The Favourite,” Yorgos Lanthimos controversial period drama.

All three films will be at Toronto and I will see them all VERY soon when I begin to cover the New York Film Festival for Awardsdaily.com. The press screenings start the week after next.

Also expect all three of these acclaimed films to figure majorly in this year’s Oscar race. Though Coleman may find herself competing as Supporting Actress. She co-stars in “The Favourite” with two Academy Award winners, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. All are competing for the gold, it is said.

Oh, and the Academy has dropped its idea of starting a “Most Popular Film” category after much push-back, and I’m glad they did.

The Best Film will remain the Best Film. Period. End of Discussion.

“Downtown Abbey” Movie to Begin Shooting


It’s official! Downton Abbey fans! Rejoice! For the movie version of the blockbuster Masterpiece TV series is beginning to shoot in England. At where else? HIghclere Castle!

As the original cast is returning, it will feel like visiting with old friends. Including Dame Maggie Smith, Michele Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Frogatt. Things have changed in that now the nefarious footman Thomas (Rob James-Collier) is now the head butler.

Mr. Carson is unwell, the character, not the great actor, James Carter, but his real life wife, Olivier-winning actress Imelda Staunton, the odious teacher Frances Umbrage of Harry Potter fame, will be joining the cast as Dame Maggie’s cousin.

Julian Fellowes wrote this at a brisk clip. It must have been like a walk in the country for him after writing EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of the six year series.

Others being added to the already starry cast are:-

Geraldine James (Anne with an E, Beast), Simon Jones (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Brideshead Revisited), David Haig (Killing Eve, Penny Dreadful), Tuppence Middleton (War and Peace, The Imitation Game), Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders, The Crown) and Stephen Campbell Moore (History Boys, Lark Rise to Candleford), amongst others.

It’s a packed house already! And will undoubtedly be packing movie theaters all over the world upon its’ release next year. Once again, I can’t wait!

One little spoiler that Lily James revealed in her “Mama Mia 2” press interviews is that her character, the vivacious, flirtatious, former flapper Rose, won’t be featured as much, because she said “The focus is on the family.” And Rose, if you remember, married a rich Jewish young man, and they both moved to New York.

Domage!

 

Poirot’s Back! Sophie Hannah Works Her Sly Magic Again in “Mystery of Three Quarters”


Well, “Mille Tonnerres!” As Hercule Poirot is wont to say, “Sacre Bleu!” but Madame Sophie Hannah has worked her sly magic once again in the continuation novel “The Mystery of Three Quarters,” out and at bookstores on August 28th.

Of course, reviewing mystery novels is always a problem for the reviewer because you can not give any of the plot away. “You CAN NOT!” I am again using Hercule Poirot’s unique voice and intonation here.

But I can say that is the literary legerdemain that Ms. Hannah practices so well. And the Christie Estate was so astute in choosing HER as the inheritor and author of now THREE delicious Christie continuation novels. “The Monogram Murders,” “Closed Casket” and now “The Mystery of Three Quarters.”

The first quarter of “Three Quarters” is undiluted joy for Christie fans because it is all Poirot, all the time. He is front and center as his usually adept self in handling the perplexing question of who is sending these poison pen letters to various random people and signing his name, accusing them all of the murder of Barnabus Pandy. (LOVE that name!) Hannah is wicked good with her choice of her characters’ names.

The first character to accuse Poirot of this outrageous slander by snail mail (It is set in 1929. No emails here. Can you imagine Poirot sending an email? Or even going online! ) is the aptly named Sylvia Rule. And  a more vivid, angry introduct-ress to a murder mystery you cannot imagine. And Poirot cannot imagine it either!! He, Hercule Poirot, the greatest detective of all time (he calls himself, modestly) accusing others of a crime and signing his name to letters he did not write.”It is an outrage!” he tells the implacable  Sylvia Rule, and the other characters who turn up, in rapid succession, with identical letters. In various stages of discomfiture with Poirot..

This all happens in front of and inside his historic flat in Whitehaven Mansions. Hannah has preserved that from the Christie originals. New is the favorite place of Poirot’s to retire to, and figure out what to do with this perplexing situation with his “little grey cells”(Yes, they are here, too.)And that place is a pleasant café called Pleasant Café and run by Euphemia Spring. Who everyone calls “Fee.” (Once again Hannah’s marvelous choice of character names.) And Fee Spring has a large part to play.

She has graduated from “the waitress with the fly-away hair” in “Monogram Murders” to a full-blown character, the proprietress of the Pleasant Café,now also returning as Poirot’s favorite Hannah-named haunt. George, his always perfect valet is on hand here, too. And of course, Poirot, the ultimate foodie, is always eating. And it is Fee Spring, who  first raises the title of “Three Quarters,” through one of her delectable dishes, a cake that is shaped like a stained glass church window. The church window pane cake plays a major, major role in solving the mystery and the fact that Poirot keeps devouring all of its quarters so quickly made me think of how sweet and delicious this tasty treat must be. Just like this book.

This novel will make you hungry, I’m telling you. That I can reveal. And not just Window Pane Cake.

The Mystery of Three Quarters 4

And I also can tell you that you will not be able to PUT IT DOWN! It will possess you like you’re on a runaway train, maybe The Orient Express. Or a cake you can’t stop eating late at night.   The train metaphors and the food metaphors continue to abound in Hannah’s delicious tale of malice and murder. She’s so expert at this, the seemingly impossible task of recreating Agatha Christie’s unique, rotund Belgian detective with the great moustaches. Poirot is the only fictional character to ever get an Obit on the front page of the New York Times when he passed away in “Curtain.”

I never realized how deeply in love with this character I was until he rose from the dead so brilliantly at Sophie Hannah’s command in “Monogram Murders.” It was like encountering a long-lost friend! And you’ll feel the same way and be able to continue your own rapturous re-union with Hercule Poirot in “The Mystery of Three Quarters.”

 

 

 

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