James Wilby

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Howards End Review


Excellent
After 35 years of toiling and only one hit to their name (A Room with a View), the directing-producing team of Merchant-Ivory finally hit their stride with Howards End, a work that would become synonymous with their names and the template for their unmistakable style.

Slow, intricate, and deeply symbolic, Howards End ranks among the top films in their oeuvre. It's a history that, if you look at it closely, really amounts to three greats (End, Room, and The Remains of the Day) and a whole lot of nothing-much-else. But that's a subject for another day.

Continue reading: Howards End Review

Maurice Review


Very 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

Regeneration Review


Weak
And I thought it would be difficult to take all the thrill out of a war movie. Regeneration manages to do exactly that by putting the setting at the end of World War I -- not in the action, but in a mental hospital, where a couple of British poets are being treated for shell shock. Poets. Shell shock. This is not excitement -- and I'm a writer for a living! (The film is based on a true story about a genuinely crazy poet.)

Continue reading: Regeneration Review

Gosford Park Review


Good
If Robert Altman had been given The Remains of the Day, the end product might have looked something like this.

Gosford Park is the name of an English country estate, where, in 1932, a gaggle of royals and wannabes -- including a horde of locals plus a popular British actor and a Charlie Chan-obsessed Hollywood movie producer -- gather to attend a weekend hunting party. Upstairs, it's the usual hoity-toity, drawing room chitter-chatter, while downstairs an army of servants does little but gossip about the visitors above.

Continue reading: Gosford Park Review

Maurice Review


Very 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

Howards End Review


Excellent
After 35 years of toiling and only one hit to their name (A Room with a View), the directing-producing team of Merchant-Ivory finally hit their stride with Howards End, a work that would become synonymous with their names and the template for their unmistakable style.

Slow, intricate, and deeply symbolic, Howards End ranks among the top films in their oeuvre. It's a history that, if you look at it closely, really amounts to three greats (End, Room, and The Remains of the Day) and a whole lot of nothing-much-else. But that's a subject for another day.

Continue reading: Howards End Review

Cotton Mary Review


OK
Cotton Mary is a 1950s half-Brit, half-Indian woman in the colonies who runs afoul of her employers -- a stuffy British household featuring new mom Lily (Greta Scacchi). Lily's daughter is a sickly one, and Lily's a borderline unfit mother, so Mary whisks the kid off to her sister for nursing. Yeah, that's the plot -- and the tragic thing isn't that it's a frightful two-hour-long bore, it's that Scacchi is outfitted to look like a fat, frumpy old mom -- which frankly doesn't suit her at all.
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Gosford Park Movie Review

Gosford Park Movie Review

If Robert Altman had been given The Remains of the Day, the end product might...

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