British theatre fans rejoiced when they heard that Bradley Cooper was coming to the West End for a limited UK run of 'The Elephant Man'; a seventies play which made its last revival more than 10 years ago. It's safe to say the UK audience were left just as satisfied as the Broadway spectators, and just as emotionally drained.
I've never seen the play in the past, so my only point of reference was David Lynch's iconic black and white 1980 biopic, which explored the life of John Merrick in all its harrowing destitution. Having recently watched the spectacular revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' and been shocked by how unfamiliar the characters felt, I was therefore left completely gobsmacked when Bradley Cooper opened his mouth and John Hurt's voice came out - totally spot on. All the familiarity you could ask for from a revival play. And his was the only British accent from an American actor during the entire play that never faltered; a remarkable feat given the acute discomfort he must've been feeling throughout.
The play is famous for its avoidance of a mask to imitate the extreme deformity of John Merrick, and so Cooper was forced to maintain an unpleasantly contorted face, stance, gait and hand throughout his time on stage; such dedication that becomes starkly astounding when you try it yourself for just five minutes. There was some initial disappointment when you realised there'd be no Hallowe'en mask, but that dissipated almost immediately - along with the initial chuckles over Cooper's funny face. By the end, you were convinced that the actor was indeed suffering with the same debilitating defects, so when his visage snapped back to the usual handsome features during the standing ovation, it was a startling switch back to reality.
Currently nominated for Best Original Score Written For The Theatre, rock legend Sting appeared at the 2015 Tony Nominees reception held at the Paramount Hotel in New York, unusually sporting a beard. The singer composed the score for the nautical England set play 'The Last Ship'.
The stars of Broadway's 'The Elephant Man' Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson were spotted laughing and joking together on the red carpet as they arrived for the Meet the 2015 Tony Nominees reception which was held at the Paramount Hotel in New York.
One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as iconic as Martin Luther King Jr. as a normal man anyone can aspire to emulate. Anchored by an internalised performance from David Oyelowo, the film is skilfully directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere) with a sharp attention to subtle details. And the script by newcomer Paul Webb draws the characters with such complexity that the film has provoked controversy from people who like their heroes untextured.
The film enters Martin's story as he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his activist wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) in October 1964, just over a year after his soaring "I have a dream" speech. And a few months later, he's called to Selma, Alabama, to help blacks who are being denied the right to vote by racially motivated voter registration laws. Martin meets with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who has more pressing things on his political agenda, then heads to Selma to lead a march on the state capitol in Montgomery. But the peaceful protest is met with nightmarish violence, ordered by Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth). So as the protesters regroup and plan a second march, Martin heads back to Washington to challenge Johnson to set some new priorities.
Cleverly, the script just covers a few months, punctuated with a series of King's most rousing speeches. Since none of this is presented for its big inspirational value, it has a much stronger kick than we expect. The film's punchiest scenes are almost silent, as King struggles to knot his tie before an appearance or fails to find the words to confess his infidelities to his wife. Oyelowo is so transparent in the role that King emerges as an everyday man with a gift for oratory in the right place at the right time. But it's his steely desire to do the right thing that makes him inspirational. And how he reacts when he discovers the human cost of his actions.
Continue reading: Selma Review
With this confident drama, J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) continues to evolve as a filmmaker, giving the mob movie a remarkably thoughtful twist with vivid characters and situations. This film holds us in a vice-grip, cleverly squeezing in on the characters and the audience with both emotional and moral dilemmas. And Oscar Isaac delivers yet another superbly textured performance, this time as a man trying desperately to remain outside the criminal world.
The title refers to 1981, when the crime rate in New York was at an all-time high. Abel (Isaac) has built his heating-oil company into a real contender, but has refused to indulge in the dodgy dealings of his competitors. Which has been difficult since he's married to Anna (Jessica Chastain), daughter of a notorious gangster. Then just as Abel takes out a loan to expand his business even further, he's hit by an indictment from the DA (David Oyelowo), which jeopardises the bank's loyalty. Meanwhile, his rivals' goons are hijacking his tanker-trucks and threatening his family. Although his chief competitor (Alessandro Nivola) denies this. And as things squeeze in on Abel and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), Anna urges them to take illegal action to get things back on track. After all, that's how business works in 1981 New York.
Isaac is utterly magnetic as Abel, a man who rejects the corruption and violence everyone else accepts as part of life. His interaction with an especially feisty Chastain is steely and riveting, as is his relationship with his young protege Julian (Elyes Gabel), a terrified hijacked driver whose storyline takes some surprising turns, some of which are a little obvious. All of the acting in the film is contained and bristling with emotion, giving the characters remarkable layers of texture that make them unusually believable and often startlingly easy to identify with.
Continue reading: A Most Violent Year Review
“What happens when a man stands up and says ‘enough is enough’?” So goes the question raised by Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) when President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) declines to help him in battling the race-related violence in Alabama. In retaliation, King organises a peaceful protest; he has African Americans march into Selma, Alabama, in an attempt to gain rights to vote. What follows, is a truly horrifying attack from the police on the peaceful protest which was televised and seen by millions, forcing the President’s hand, as he is forced to watch innocent people suffer.
Continue: Selma Trailer
In 1981, New York City saw its most violent year in the city's history. When an immigrant arrives in the city in pursuit of the American Dream, he never expected that his journey would result in so much bloodshed. The man's name is Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), and he will do anything to grow his family's business and secure the dream for his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain). But as the NYPD are forced to double their efforts with regards to putting an end to the violence, an investigation begins into the business Abel has bled to support. When the police start asking questions, Anna is forced to confront her husband about the nature of his work which, in turn, forces him to finally be totally truthful with her.
Continue: A Most Violent Year Trailer
Based on the events documented in West of Memphis and the Paradise Lost trilogy, this drama takes an almost clinical approach to the story. By filling in so many details and covering so many perspectives, skilled Canadian director Atom Egoyan sometimes loses the emotional connection, simply because there are too many punches to the gut. But it's utterly riveting.
The events took place in 1993 in rural West Memphis, Arkansas. After three 8-year-old boys go missing, suspicion immediately falls on four goth 16-year-olds: Chris (Dane DeHaan) has just left town, but the fiercely charismatic Damien (James Hamrick), hapless Jason (Seth Meriwether) and mentally disabled Jesse (Kristopher Higgens) are arrested and charged with murder. The victims' parents (including Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola and Kevin Durand) band together in outrage. But private investigator Ron (Colin Firth) thinks the police have wrongly accused these teens of being killers.
The story is a shocking account of a miscarriage of justice, as the community turns on kids who simply look a bit funny and the police and judicial authorities refuse to admit that they may have made some serious mistakes. The rush to judgement is terrifying, accompanied with explanations that falsely link the teens to satanic rituals and death-metal music. Egoyan cleverly builds a sense of outrage from the start, as the film mourns not only the young boys' death but also the horror of carelessly ruining three innocent teens' lives in response.
Continue reading: Devil's Knot Review
Samantha Mathis, Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola - American Film Institute's (AFI) 42nd Annual Life Achievement Award honoring Jane Fonda at The Dolby Theatre - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 5th June 2014
Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale, the leading male actors in crime drama film 'American Hustle', are spotted at the New York screening held at the Ziegfeld Theater. The duo play crime-fighting partners Richie DiMaso and Irving Rosenfeld respectively, who set out to uncover the corrupt international leaders and their dangerous mafia connections.
Irving Rosenfeld is a conman whose impressively deft criminal exploits have eluded authorities for years. However, when he finds himself forced to use his talents for good as he is roped into an FBI sting operation led by the unhinged agent Richie DiMasom, he finds his life of partying, drinking and squandering money under massive threat. He must use his fraudulent cunning to reveal the seriously corrupt crusades of Carmine Polito, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, whose power cast spreads much further than his constituency. Irving is helped by the seductive but dangerous Sydney Prosser who soon becomes less of a business partner and more of a mistress. As their relationship deepens, however, they arouse the suspicions of Irving's gregarious but unbalanced wife Rosalyn who threatens their whole operation with her lethal jealousy and deadly rage.
'American Hustle' is a high-stakes gangster thriller directed and co-written by the Oscar nominated David O. Russell ('Silver Linings Playbook', 'I Heart Huckabees', 'Three Kings') alongside writer Eric Singer ('The International'). Featuring a talented award-winning cast (some of whom O'Russell has previously worked with with much success), the flick is set to hit the big screen on December 18th 2013 in the US.
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