Billie Whitelaw

Billie Whitelaw

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Still from 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Billie Whitelaw - Billie Whitelaw as Madame Therese Defarge in 'A Tale of Two Cities' (CBS) TV movie Hallmark Hall of Fame, December 2, 1980 - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Still from 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970)

Billie Whitelaw - Billie Whitelaw in 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970) Directed by Bud Yorkin - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Still from 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970)

Billie Whitelaw and Gene Wilder - Billie Whitelaw and Gene Wilder in 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970) Directed by Bud Yorkin - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Still from 'Make Mine Mink' (1960)

Billie Whitelaw and Terry Thomas - Billie Whitelaw and Terry Thomas in 'Make Mine Mink' (1960) Directed by Robert Asher - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Still from 'Frenzy' (1972)

Billie Whitelaw - Billie Whitelaw 'Frenzy' (1972) directed by Alfred Hitchcock - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Maurice Review


Good
The second of three adaptations of E.M. Forster novels by James Ivory and Ismael Merchant, Maurice is one of Merchant-Ivory's strongest showings.

A painstakingly produced period piece, this Edwardian drama centers around the title character Maurice (pronounced "Morris") Hall (James Wilby), an Edwardian-era fancy lad who finds himself smitten with a schoolmate during his days at college in Cambridge (though this is of course notoriously against the law in England at the time). At first, he's smitten with Clive (Hugh Grant in his first major film role) but after seeing what happens to a friend of theirs (Mark Tandy) when he's busted for homosexuality and sentenced to hard labor in prison, they both attempt to mend their ways. Clive gets married, Maurice attempts hypnosis. This seems to "cure" Clive -- well enough, anyway -- but Maurice still can't shake it. Eventually he winds up shacking up with the much lower-class gamekeeper at the country estate.

Continue reading: Maurice Review

The Dark Crystal Review


OK
Is there such a thing as a children's cult film? The Dark Crystal may be as close as we have, but Jim Henson and Frank Oz's collaboration won't keep many of today's kids entertained for long. Kooky creatures are the lasting legacy of the film; the story doesn't inspire much excitement -- as one puppet (whose mouth barely moves when he talks) is tasked with healing a broken crystal and thus thwarting the impending rule of a gang of other, evil puppets. His journey takes the form of an almost casual stroll through his magical kingdom, as he encounters one outlandish creature after another en route to victory. Overly simplistic, I'll frankly take Labyrinth when it comes to fantasy puppet movies.

The Krays Review


Weak
The Brits love their gangster movies, especially when they're about, er, Brits. Here we have a tale of twin brothers in the 1930s who, thanks to early traumas, ended up turning from upstanding youths into die-hard racketeers. This is their story (from childhood to incarceration), dutifully (and rather artlessly) chronicled on film. Not much to see here, move along.

The Omen (1976) Review


OK
The Omen is not as serious a movie as it appears. Coming to the modern audience as the infant in a Holy trinity of satanic, apocalyptic horror films, including The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby, The Omen arrives leaden with reputation and expectation. Its story is renowned, its sequences remembered, and its delicious score is an iconic pop-cultural phenomenon. On the surface of things, Richard Donner's film matches its Trinitarian peers shock for shock. However, as little Damian proves, not everything is as it seems. Though garbed in the accoutrements of its satanic predecessors, it is at its core a story of gross implausibility and squandered potential, a schlocky piece of fluff shot and cut with unwarranted earnestness. When poked and prodded, when the hair is cut away, the film is essentially a pretty good bad movie.

The story of the devil's son born to the American politician begins with a moment that only reveals its ridiculousness in retrospect: when Ambassador to Italy Robert Thorn's (Gregory Peck) first-born dies moments after birth, he is offered, and accepts, an abandoned child as replacement. He does this so that his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) is spared the torment of the death. I know politics is pragmatic, but really. With any moral quibbles twitched away by a few hard long stares, the Thorns take up shop in England when Robert receives a promotion. The years pass in dreary montage and Damian (a creepily cute Harvey Stephens) grows to age five in blissful British tranquility. Naturally, when his nanny (Holly Palance) hangs herself on his sixth birthday, announcing "It's all for you Damian," things change.

Continue reading: The Omen (1976) Review

Frenzy Review


Excellent
One of Hitchcock's final movies is also one of his goriest -- his first R-rated feature -- and most dryly funny. The story's a relatively straight-up crime drama; we know who the bad guy is from the start -- Jon Finch, playing the Necktie Murderer. But he's framed another guy for his crime spree. Meanwhile, inspector Oxford (Alec McCowen) is on the case, and when he isn't tracking down clues, he's eating the increasingly questionable cooking of his trying-hard-but-failing wife. It's Hitch's last great film (he made one more movie and died eight years later), and proof that he still had his form -- last seen put to good use in 1963's The Birds.

The Dark Crystal Review


OK
Is there such a thing as a children's cult film? The Dark Crystal may be as close as we have, but Jim Henson and Frank Oz's collaboration won't keep many of today's kids entertained for long. Kooky creatures are the lasting legacy of the film; the story doesn't inspire much excitement -- as one puppet (whose mouth barely moves when he talks) is tasked with healing a broken crystal and thus thwarting the impending rule of a gang of other, evil puppets. His journey takes the form of an almost casual stroll through his magical kingdom, as he encounters one outlandish creature after another en route to victory. Overly simplistic, I'll frankly take Labyrinth when it comes to fantasy puppet movies.

The Lost Son Review


OK
Forget 8MM. The Lost Son's look at a troubled P.I. who gets caught up in what turns out to be a nasty child prostitution ring is exceptional considering it's barely anything more than a direct-to-video thriller packed with stars that barely speak English.

French ┬żber-actor Daniel Auteuil stars as Xavier, an investigator with a seedy past -- he's had a mysterious scrape or two, and now, to get by, he does double time, accepting money for an engagement only to blackmail the subject for more. When a wealthy woman (Nastassja Kinski) and her family hire Xavier to find a grown man who's gone missing, Xavier ends up cracking a child porn gang wide open.

Continue reading: The Lost Son Review

Quills Review


Excellent
Come frolic with the Marquis de Sade deep in the bowels of the Charenton Asylum, where he'll tickle your fancy with lavish descriptions of bestiality, flatulence and the dimples of a fat mademoiselle's bottom.

As portrayed in Quills, based on the Obie Award-winning play by Doug Wright, the Marquis is an earthy, dirty, jolly old soul with the unquenchable desire to write his perverse dreams on paper. He's the unflinching id in the face of mediocrity and tolerance, the middle finger held like a candle to the powerful hypocrites, and the loud fart in the house of God, an affront to restrictive dogma.

Continue reading: Quills Review

Maurice Review


Good
The second of three adaptations of E.M. Forster novels by James Ivory and Ismael Merchant, Maurice is one of Merchant-Ivory's strongest showings.

A painstakingly produced period piece, this Edwardian drama centers around the title character Maurice (pronounced "Morris") Hall (James Wilby), an Edwardian-era fancy lad who finds himself smitten with a schoolmate during his days at college in Cambridge (though this is of course notoriously against the law in England at the time). At first, he's smitten with Clive (Hugh Grant in his first major film role) but after seeing what happens to a friend of theirs (Mark Tandy) when he's busted for homosexuality and sentenced to hard labor in prison, they both attempt to mend their ways. Clive gets married, Maurice attempts hypnosis. This seems to "cure" Clive -- well enough, anyway -- but Maurice still can't shake it. Eventually he winds up shacking up with the much lower-class gamekeeper at the country estate.

Continue reading: Maurice Review

Quills Review


OK

Director Philip Kaufman establishes the nebulously erotic atmosphere of "Quills," a fictional film about the Marquis de Sade, with an opening scene in which a pretty aristocrat, shown on screen in some kind of ecstasy, is described by Sade (in a voice-over) as a woman with a sexual appetite for torture.

His voice slithers as he relates how she one day "found herself in the arms of a man whose skill in pain exceeded even her own" as the camera focuses on two giant, dirty hands coarsely roaming her neck and shoulders while she shivers in fear. The camera pulls back to reveal that the woman is standing before the gallows, about to become the eighth or ninth severed head to roll into a basket below as a crowd of rowdy peasants cheers on. (This is 18th Century France, after all.)

The Marquis' narration drips (like blood from the blade of the gallows) with a kind of odious sensuality and pricks at the viewer's darker side with a twisted sense of humor that carries throughout this engrossing, seductive, and at times unsavory film.

Continue reading: Quills Review

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