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House of Cards: The British Original That Paved The Way For The Netflix Giant

Kevin Spacey Ian Richardson

Despite Beau Willimon's brilliant work on House of Cards, he didn't create it, rather he borrowed the concept from the British version, wrote a watertight script and put Kevin Spacey right in the middle of things. Now, on the eve of the second season's bow on Netflix, the show is the talk of the town.

Kevin Spacey House of CardsKevin Spacey's House of Cards Season 2 Returns on Valentine's Day.

A Valentines release will either see couples arguing or happily settling down to tuck into Frank Underwood's political scheming. The singletons among us will be delighted.

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Kevin Spacey Thinks Netflix Airing Of 'House Of Cards' Will Tackle Piracy

Kevin Spacey Ian Richardson

Kevin Spacey stars in the US revival of 90s Brit TV series 'House of Cards' set to air exclusively on Netflix.

The Oscar winning 'American Beauty' star returns to our screens (our computer screens, that is) in the new US political series of which the entirety of the first series will be available on movie subscription site Netflix all at once. Kevin plays main character Francis Underwood, a Southern democrat politician who is less than admired by his colleagues. It's a far cry from the original character, the conservative Francis Urquhart who was portrayed by 'From Hell' actor Ian Richardson. Netflix's decision to air all the episodes at once has been called a gamble, but Spacey insists the decision could help combat piracy. 'Give the consumer what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, and they will buy it at a reasonable price and not steal it', he told Philly.com. 'So I actually think this way of putting it out there, giving the consumer the option will take a huge bite out of piracy.'

He also said that he would be 'very curious' to see how many people do watch them all at once and who will spread them out.

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M. Butterfly Review

In Mel Brooks' The Producers, the characters played by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel pay a visit to the Park Avenue home of eccentric theatrical director Roger De Bris, who greets them in a flowing peignoir. "Max," Wilder querulously points out to Mostel, "He's wearing a dress." "No kidding?" Mostel remarks dryly. Mostel may just as well be the audience surrogate for M. Butterfly, particularly for an audience with fond memories of David Henry Hwang's operatic romance and theatrical tragedy in its stage incarnation. David Cronenberg's film adaptation (with a script by Hwang) is a failure for many of the reasons that the stage production was a success, but the film is additionally hampered by Cronenberg's '90s lurch towards conventionality. Like a transvestite on a desert island, M. Butterfly is all dressed up with no place to go.

Based on a true incident involving a French diplomat who carried on an affair of 18 years with a man that the diplomat thought was a woman, M. Butterfly begins in 1964 Beijing, when French foreign service employee René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) becomes smitten with Chinese opera songster Song Liling (John Lone). Before long Gallimard is enamored with Song Liling and they begin their Affair to Remember, but bracketed by the condition that Gallimard will not be allowed to feast his eyes upon Song Liling sans clothes. Gallimard agrees to the strictures but, as he climbs up the diplomatic ladder, the Communist government gets into the love affair, corralling Song Liling to become an informant for the government. When Gallimard's lust can no longer be contained and he demands nudity, Song Liling runs out of Gallimard's life and he becomes a lovelorn husk, forever pining for his lost love. He leaves China and accepts a two-bit diplomatic job, but then Song Liling appears again to Gallimard, just in time for Gallimard's arrest and subsequent sensational trial for treason, which exposes his affair for the sham it is.

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Brazil Review

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a civil servant Dilbert at the Ministry of Information. He's a low level office grunt typing his way through a lifetime of meaningless papers in a retro-future totalitarian state. His one escape from his dreary life is his dreams. Bursting with vivid colors, Sam's visions see him with armored wings rising into the bright sky above the cold city. There, in the firmament, Sam battles with Darkness to free a blonde beauty (Kim Greist) imprisoned in a floating cage.

Unfortunately, there are no happy endings for dreamers in this alternate world. Sam always awakens to his mind-numbing existence, only plugging away in a system that rewards only blandness, appeasing his socialite mother (addicted to face lifts) whose only wish is to see her meek son move his way up a corporate ladder to nowhere.

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Man of La Mancha Review

The translation from theatrical musical to movie musical doesn't get much more disastrous than in Man of La Mancha, a cheap, muddled, and badly put-together debacle that resoundingly establishes Arthur Hiller (who directed Love Story and Silver Streak) as one of cinema's most hit-and-miss directors.

La Mancha adapts the stage play with Peter O'Toole in the lead as both Don Quixote and Miguel de Cervantes: Cervantes is imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition, finds his papers held ransom by his fellow inmates, and given a mock trial by them in order to determine whether they shall be returned. The trial takes the form of a reenactment of Don Quixote, Cervantes' adventurous tales of his alter ego. As the delusional Quixote, O'Toole jousts with a windmill and promptly rides to a nearby village, which he believes to be a castle holding his beloved Dulcinea (Sophia Loren). By his side is the lovable chubster Sancho Panza (James Coco), who sees the reality behind Quixote's grandiose delusions but finds himself taken in by them as well.

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Marat/Sade Review

Whether it's based on reality or not, Marat/Sade is an ambitious idea. The Marquis de Sade (Patrick Magee), often wrote and produced plays during his incarceration. Whether he made one about Jean-Paul Marat is debatable and this is certainly not based on anything Sade wrote.

Marat/Sade is actually a filmed version of a play written in the early 1960s (and fully titled The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade) by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Ian Richardson plays the bathtub-bound Marat, and Glenda Jackson plays his assassin. The only problem, of course, is that in the world of the film, Richardson is a lunatic paranoid and Jackson is a narcoleptic depressive. This makes for some strange interpretations of history, mental illness, heroism, and politics -- and where we draw the lines among all these things.

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Gormenghast Review

This BBC four-part miniseries adapts Mervyn Peake's epic fantasy novels for the small screen, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as the backstabbing upstart looking to gain control over the odd, timeless kingdom of Gormenghast, by any means necessary. Shot on a low budget, the series has enough cleverness, nifty effects, and curious characters to make its 6-hour running time worthwhile -- if only the BBC didn't play 4 minutes of commercials for every 10 minutes of movie. On DVD or VHS, you'll likely find Gormenghast a more palatable experience.

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Brazil Review

Categorically, one of the greatest films of the century--about a lowly clerk in a postmodern dystopia fighting to regain a sense of self against the all-powerful machine of government tyranny. As fought-over as Citizen Kane. As filled with nuance and meaning as A Clockwork Orange. As prophetic as 1984. Anyone who doesn't like Brazil is a fascist. You can tell them I said so.

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From Hell Review


A vivid yet distinctly fictitious recreation of the crime-plagued gutters of 19th Century London, the Jack the Ripper thriller "From Hell" is quite a homage to the dense graphic novel from which it was spawned.

It's nothing if not atmospheric, what with its opulently dingy, blood-red set dressings, its pinched-cheek and cheap-corset prostitutes, and its opium- and absinthe-addicted hero -- an unorthodox Scotland Yard Inspector named Abberline (Johnny Depp in lambchop sideburns) who discovers dangerous secrets in the Ripper's ritualized killings.

The film's talented directors -- brothers Allen and Albert Hughes ("Menace II Society," "Dead Presidents"), definitively demonstrating there's more to them than ghetto fare -- blend quite a transporting concoction with their viscous visuals, menacing moodiness, puzzling plot and heady performances.

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King And I Review


Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't kids like the "The King and I"the way it was? All the kids I know do. I did when I was a kid. So whydid Warner Bros. feel it was necessary to drastically dumb it down andgive it a shopworn formulaic re-write when they created this new, animatedversion of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic?

"The King and I" seemed like a natural for animation-- a vivid, colorful setting, great role model leads, plenty of lessonsto learn without it feeling like Sunday school -- but animator RichardRich practically threw that all away in favor of casting the Kralahome,the king's traditionalist prime minister, as a sneering and supernaturalnefarian bent on dethroning his shiny-headed majesty.

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