a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’

NYFF ends…with a Sneak Peak at Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”

Yes, it’s finally over! The Best-It’s-Ever-Been 49th Edition of the New York Film Festival! The high points were really high – Centerpiece “My Week with Marilyn” totally blew me away & is probably going to net star Michelle Williams her first Oscar &  Closing Night’s Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” is probably going to get George Clooney his second. They are both launched, in any case. Ditto “The Artist” also playing here. And Pedro Almodovar’s super superb “The Skin I Live In.”

Yes, if you’re looking to see Oscar fare FIRST from the comfort of your NY-adjacent home, then the NYFF is your cup of tea. And apart from Oscar seekers, there are also films that you get to see in the exciting, glamorous, cinema-loving situation that seem just that more special because you’re viewing them in this unique setting on a big screen, my favorite way to see films. Period.

Like for instance, you could see TWO brand new films, in two entirely different genres, by one grand master of cinema, Martin Scorsese’s 4 hour documentary on George Harrison “Living in the Material World” which is one of the best films he’s ever made. Totally joyous, celebratory, informative, transportive.It’s length not a problem, and coming soon to HBO., where it will be seen in two parts, Beatles and post-Beatles.

Also, there was the thrill of seeing a sneak peek of his new full length feature film “Hugo” which is in 3-D. We, the press, were warned it was still a “work in progress” and not for review. So I will say no more at this point, but that is was very exciting to be allowed to be there. And Scorsese was there himself, in person, to introduce the film.

Sometimes this Business of Show makes me feel outside of things, sometimes, but that night I felt as “In”as In could be, and thank you for including me, NYFF.

I, a Native New Yorker, finally felt like I was being given the keys to the city, albeit for just one brief night.

And the addition,  the two brand spanking shiny new smaller screens across the street from the Walter Reader Theater, the Beale and the Bunin, and the intimate new restaurant between them all, provided  much-needed new spaces that were just a delight to eat in, to watch films in or to just hang out with other festival-goers.

And then there’s the amazing things that happen at the NYFF  – apart from the films, if you can imagine such a thing. Like for instance, “My Weekend with Marilyn” being so tumultuously received that its’ distributor the Weinstein Co. MOVED its’ opening date back three weeks to THE SAME DAY in late November as its’ other Oscar-bait-y film “The Artist”!?!? Now, THAT was stunning development. And not only that. It’s the same day in November that “The Descendants” and also “Hugo” are opening!!?!?!! OMG!

What does all that mean????? Yikes!

Well, it will be a very busy day for the newspapers, the few newspapers, that are left to cover the movies in their movie sections. That are losing readers and advertising EVERY DAY in the Internet. But as you may have noticed not to this particular section of the Internet “The Stephen Holt Show”s blog, which is still AD FREE.

And It’s going to make for a  very, VERY interesting weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, BTW, at the box-office! Yikes!

But “The My Week with Marilyn” reaction was so overwhelming and so positive, this move gives The Weinstein Co. three more weeks to mount a MAJOR Oscar campaign in all categories, something it may or may not have been planning before. IOW, not only for Michelle Williams, brilliant as ever, but also for Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier(a slam-dunk, methinks), Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike and Eddie Redmayne as the beguiling “My” of the title. Ditto the director Simon Curtis, the screenwriter Adrian Hodges, the cinematographer Ben Smithard, production designer Donal Woods, the costume designer Jill Taylor, the score(Conrad Pope & Alexandre  Desplat) and everything else you, and Harvey Weinstein can think of.

Michelle Williams Breaks Your Heart & Will Win Her First Best Actress Oscar for “My Week with Marilyn”!

I’m just rushing back from a packed, packed, packed Press Screening at the New York Film Festival this morning to rave and rave about how wonderful “My Week with Marilyn” turned out to be! Michelle Williams has just won the Oscar for Best Actress!!! She is HEARTBREAKING! And there’s so much NEW Marilyn info here. We think we know MMs story, but “My Week…” meticulously shows us that, we do not. There is more to be told And Michelle Williams! OMG! She is beautiful beyond belief, sexy, and she rips your heart out, too! It’s an Academy Award performance FOR SURE! Close the category! Nobody can top her!

And director Simon Curtis could be on his way to the Oscars,too, with this film.  It’s so good in all its’ aspects it could win Best Picture. And so could Kenneth Branagh, who’s definitely got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his future playing the egotistical, blue meany Sir Laurence Olivier, and so may Dame Judi Dench as a hilarious Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the only person on the film set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” who seems to be kind to Marilyn and sees and understands the torments she’s going  through. Dame Judi shows you that Olivier did not HAVE to behave the way he did to Marilyn. She tells him to “stop bullying her!” but of course, he does n0t and therein lies the conflict and the plot of this  spectacularly surprising, fantastically good movie.

And you just HATE Zoe Wanamaker asthe black-clad, matronly Paula Strasberg, who is Marilyn’s Method Acting coach. Paula accompanies her to England to film (true story) Olivier’s production of this Terrence Ratigan play that was a hit for him in the West End, where he played opposite his real life wife at the time Vivian Leigh. Played here by Julia Ormond, in a kind of throw away part. Wanamaker, as Strasberg, maddeningly interferes in every aspect of the production she can. Actually making things worse for the hapless Marilyn. And this is a true story, too.

IRL as he does in the film, Olivier REPLACES Leigh in the “Showgirl” role for the movie with Marilyn, hoping that she would renew him “make him feel young,” but instead Marilyn’s constant latenesses to the set and difficulty with Olivier in nearly every aspect of making this troubled , true Hollywood story , is making him feel very, very old. And draining him of every ounce of vitality he hoped he would have making this , his dream project of a movie.

And this is all true, and the fact that it is will resonate heavily with the Academy and Michelle Williams’ magnificent performance just breaks your heart, in ways that you wouldn’t think a film like this, a Hollywood biopic, could. It really is a profound story that goes beyond everything you might expect. And it’s a love story, too.

Williams and director Curtis take you SLOWLY inside Marilyn’s torment and insecurity. At the start of the film she is singing(and Williams uses her own voice to sing) one of her signature songs and we see Eddie Redmayne’s character of the Young Boy that is Colin Clark, watching her with a huge, freckled-faced smile,looking up adoringly at her in a darkened 1950s British movie house.

Then we see Clark, and his upper class family, who is shocked, SHOCKED that he wants to get a job at all, and in MOVIES. No less, and we see him worm his way into Shepperton Studios and become the third assistant director on “The Prince and the Showgirl.” This starts the movie.

Olivier is portrayed as a martinet, to say the least. And he is trying to find a way to work with Marilyn, who has no training whatsoever, but who as just discovered and embraced Method Acting and the Actor’s Studio in New York, hence her connection with Paula Strasberg, who ran it with her husband the legendary Lee Strasberg.

And the film is all about great acting, and great actors and how Olivier and Monroe are both united in their desire to do great work, but separated by the ocean of cultural differences and acting techniques.

And Olivier in the end admits that Monroe “had the greatest of instincts but no training whatsoever” and the film says that he is a great stage actor trying to be a film star and that Monroe was a great movie star trying to be a great actress. And clashes ensue.

Situated between her just-married status to playwright Arthur Miller, and before her greatest success of all time in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”, the film’s screenplay by Adrian Hodges is witty, insightful, and doesn’t pull its’ punches when it comes time to get to the crux of the matter…Marilyn’s brief, week-long love affair with Colin Clark(Redmayne), and the heartbreak Arthur Miller AND Colin Clark are in for with Marilyn.

And Michelle Williams goes beyond herself. In the role of her career, she totally rises to the occasion and does the best work she’s ever done, in a role that on paper at least may seem impossible to play. But play it she does! She gave me goose bumps. Chills. She made me cry. In fact, she did everything that a great actress is supposed to do in a great role.

And I can’t help but feel that Marilyn herself would LOVE this intrepretation of her oft-told story.

And the Academy? Well, this wonderful film should make them all feel as guilty as hell about what happened to Marilyn in her short lifetime. AND she was never nominated for an Oscar, as Michelle Williams will surely be. The pitch perfect Branaugh and wryly hilarious and touching Dame Judi are other very possible nominations here, too, in Supporting. In a wide open category of Supporting Actress, Dench could score again in a part that is longer than the one she won for in “Shakespeare in Love”, Queen Elizabeth I. THAT part was so tiny that maybe Oscar will feel guilty about THAT, too, and Dame Judi could win over Vanessa Redgrave…who is beyond awesome in “Coriolanus.”

And Harvey?

Well, he’s got his hands full of Oscar possibilites this year. With the sure-fire “The Artist” and now this marvelous “Marilyn” and the still unseen Meryl Streep/Margaret Thatcher vehicle “The Iron Lady”, the Weinstein’s Oscar cup is running over this Awards season, which is now ON.

Just look at the Suppporting Actress possiblities he’s got. Dame Judi, Vanessa Redgrave and Berenice Bejos for “The Artist.” Will a non-Weinstein actress even have a chance?

But I do think Michelle Williams is the front-runner now. CLOSE THAT CATEGORY! All the S.W.O.R.M. that make up the Academy, the Straight White Old Rich Men will all vote for her.

This movie is sooo good it’s like a new movie starring Marilyn Monroe herself. And as always the public cannot get enough of her.

“The Envelope, Please!’

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