Alan Bennett

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The Lady In The Van Review

Excellent

Maggie Smith couldn't be more perfect for the title role in this film if it were written for her. But the most astounding thing about this story is that it's true, an event from playwright-screenwriter Alan Bennett's own life. The film cleverly plays with the idea of a writer telling his own story. And it also gives Smith an unforgettable role in a movie that's both entertaining and sharply pointed.

It happened in 1970 Camden, as neighbours worried about a homeless woman parking her van in front of their houses. She turns out to be Mary Shepard (Smith), and resident Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) offers to let her park her van in his driveway for a few months. She stayed there for 15 years, during which Alan refuses to pry into Mary's personal life and she turns a blind eye to the steady flow of young gentleman callers at his door. Even so, over the years Alan learns some details about Mary's past as a musician, ambulance driver and nun, and that she became homeless because she was on the run from the police.

Bennett takes a cheeky approach to the script, writing two versions of himself: one who lives his life and one who writes about it. The interaction between the two is cleverly played by Jennings and directed with offhanded hilarity by Hytner, who shot the movie in the actual street and house where the events took place. Jennings also adds some emotional interest in Alan's relationship with his mother (Gwen Taylor), who ironically has to move into a nursing home. Opposite him, Smith is as magnetic as ever, reeling off each pithy one-liner with impeccable timing. The role may not seem like much of a stretch, but she delivers it with a prickly mix of attitude and humour, plus a strong undercurrent of pathos.

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Alan Bennett - BFI London Film Festival - 'Lady In The Van' - Premiere - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 13th October 2015

Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett

The Lady In The Van - Featurette


'The Lady In The Van' director Nicholas Hytner, producer Kevin Loader and writer Alan Bennett - on whose life the film is based - ponder over the excellence of leading lady Maggie Smith in the role of an educated yet poverty stricken old woman named Miss. Shepherd.

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Lady In The Van Trailer


Once upon a time, a normal man lived in a normal house on a normal street. Then, something extraordinary happened. An educated woman - a scholar of both music and art - who lives in a van, takes up residence on the road. Miss Shepard (Maggie Smith) is insistent on staying in her van on the street, and the man (Alan Bennett), invites her to park her mobile home in his driveway in order to relieve his neighbours of the site. They agree she will stay for three weeks; she ends up staying for fifteen years. 

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Dominic Cooper and Alan Bennett - Dominic Copper chats to the playwright Alan Bennett in Primrose Hill - London, United Kingdom - Thursday 23rd October 2014

Dominic Cooper and Alan Bennett
Dominic Cooper
Dominic Cooper
Dominic Cooper
Dominic Cooper and Alan Bennett
Dominic Cooper and Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett Didn't Want Gay Label, "I Wanted To Be My Own Man"


Alan Bennett Nicholas Hytner

Alan Bennett has explained how he guarded his sexuality for much of his career to avoid being pigeonholed as a gay playwright. Bennett, one of Britain's most respected writers, is best known for The History Boys and The Madness of George III. He was in conversation with BBC Four to mark his 80th birthday.

Alan BennettAlan Bennett Turns 80 on Friday

"My objection about people knowing more about one's private life was that I didn't want to be put in a pigeonhole," he told National Theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner.

Continue reading: Alan Bennett Didn't Want Gay Label, "I Wanted To Be My Own Man"

Alan Bennett Wednesday 23rd May 2012 'A Celebration of the Arts' held at the Royal Academy of Arts - Outside Arrivals.

Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett Saturday 11th August 2007 at the Edinburgh Book Festival Edinburgh, Scotland

Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett

The History Boys Review


Very Good
Plays do not always make the transition well from stage to screen - they can come off too talky or stagnant, mannerisms that work well on a far-off stage sometimes appearing stilted on a big screen.

Fortunately, thanks to the rambunctiously energetic performances and Nicholas Hynter's equally jaunty direction, The History Boys looks right at home on screen; what poses a larger problem is whether it will translate as fluidly from Britain to America.

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In Love And War Review


Weak
This period epic went virtually unseen and for good reason: It doesn't tell you much about love or war... or Ernest Hemingway, its ostensible subject. Chris O'Donnell playing rough-and-tumble Hemingway during his spell in World War I (which he spent in a hospital, falling for one of the nurses) is the bulk of the problem, but Richard Attenborough has never been one to tell a story succinctly, and In Love and War rambles interminably forever, going absolutely nowhere. The script, adapted from the nurse's diaries, actually feels like it was adapted from some nurse's diaries. I'll just read my wife's diary if I want that kind of a thrill.

Alice In Wonderland (1966) Review


OK
It doesn't take the Ravi Shankar soundtrack to cue you that this version of Alice in Wonderland -- just an hour long, shot for the BBC -- hails from the 1960s. Taking the story's thinly veiled drug metaphors to their ultra-serious limit, the movie has a bit of a Cheech and Chong feeling to it, and the star power of John Gielgud, Peter Sellers, and Peter Cook (among many others) conspire to ensure that Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) doesn't even got top billing. This was one of the first of director Jonathan Miller's numerous BBC teleplays, and his greenness is apparent -- it's neither kid-friendly (the actors don't wear animal costumes, they just allude to them) nor particularly clever, coming across in the end like a kind of Alice's Greatest Hits. Finally, I know it was 1966 television, but Alice just never works in black and white. It's like The Wizard of Oz without the yellow brick road.

The Madness Of King George Review


Good
1994's last Oscar contender crawled into Austin last week, the much-heralded film The Madness of King George. Adapted from the acclaimed stage play, Nigel Hawthorne reprises his lead role as King George III, the British monarch during the time of the American Revolution, who didn't quite have a full bag of marbles.

It all starts innocently enough, with a relatively sane King George administering government alongside the Queen (Helen Mirren). But soon George falls victim to an unpredictable nervous disorder, causing the King to completely lose his mind. For the next 20 minutes, people inexplicably chase the rambling King in his bedclothes, either in his castle or on the fields. I suppose there's a fine line between whether you can actually tackle a King or if he should be allowed to gallop around England unmolested, but I'm just a cold-hearted anti-Royalist American who wouldn't understand the intricacies of managing the throne.

Continue reading: The Madness Of King George Review

Prick Up Your Ears Review


Good
You might not even recognize Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina in this little-seen movie about a little-known playright from the 1960s named Joe Orton. Living the high life of a swingin' '60s British homosexual, Orton (Oldman) becomes famous while his older partner Kenneth Halliwell (Molina) does not. Halliwell's reaction to this turn of events is particularly tragic for both. Directed by Stephen Frears, the film unfortunately spends far too much time on the minutiae of Orton's life and takes way too long to build to its inevitable, horrible conclusion.
Alan Bennett

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Alan Bennett Movies

The Lady In The Van Movie Review

The Lady In The Van Movie Review

Maggie Smith couldn't be more perfect for the title role in this film if it...

The Lady In The Van - Featurette Trailer

The Lady In The Van - Featurette Trailer

'The Lady In The Van' director Nicholas Hytner, producer Kevin Loader and writer Alan Bennett...

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Lady In The Van Trailer

Lady In The Van Trailer

Once upon a time, a normal man lived in a normal house on a normal...

The History Boys Movie Review

The History Boys Movie Review

Plays do not always make the transition well from stage to screen - they can...

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