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Leonardo DiCaprio Is Maggie Smith's BAFTA Valentine


Leonardo Dicaprio Maggie Smith BAFTA

'Downton Abbey' star Maggie Smith became the luckiest woman at the BAFTAS (and possibly in Britain) this weekend when she received a great big Valentine's kiss off none other than Oscar favourite Leonardo Dicaprio, following his Best Leading Actor win for 'The Revenant'. 

Leonardo DiCaprioMaggie Smith is one lucky lady

With the BAFTAs landing on Valentine's Day this year, organisers decided to set up a Kiss Cam to celebrate, like they have at sporting events. And to Maggie's surprise, the camera landed on her and Leo who was seated behind her, prompting him to lean forwards and plant a tender peck on her blushing cheek as host Stephen Fry announced their names. Adorably, the actress promptly appeared to return the kiss.

Continue reading: Leonardo DiCaprio Is Maggie Smith's BAFTA Valentine

From Doctor Who To Downton Abbey: Here's Your UK Christmas TV Schedule


Doctor Who Maggie Smith Benedict Cumberbatch

We don't want to advocate spending Christmas in front of the telly as opposed to catching up with your family, but it'll be hard to resist with the array of entertainment on offer during the holidays. Record everything if you must, but definitely don't miss out.

Doctor WhoThe Doctor and River Song meet again

What show: 'Doctor Who'
Who stars: Peter Capaldi, Alex Kingston
Which channel: BBC One
What time: 5.15pm Christmas Day
What it's about: All we know so far is that the Doctor is alone now that Clara's dead, though apparently not for long because he's about to bump into his elusive wife River Song, who has a mission of her own she really needs his help with.

Continue reading: From Doctor Who To Downton Abbey: Here's Your UK Christmas TV Schedule

The Lady In The Van Lets Maggie Smith Revisit An Old Role


Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith returns to her stage roots in her new movie The Lady in the Van, reprising the role she played in Alan Bennett's play, based on his real-life experience with Mary Shepherd, a homeless woman who parked her van in his London driveway and stayed for 15 years.

Maggie Smith in The Lady In The VanSmith was comfortable in her new role

And Smith is enjoying the chance to sink her teeth into such a juicy role. "After all these years, I am known more for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey than anything I've ever done," she says. "It goes to show that you have to always be prepared for anything."

Continue reading: The Lady In The Van Lets Maggie Smith Revisit An Old Role

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.

Continue reading: The Lady In The Van Review

'Downton Abbey's' Final Season Ends, But Not Everyone Got Their Happy Ever After


Hugh Bonneville Michelle Dockery Maggie Smith Laura Carmichael Elizabeth McGovern Jim Carter Rob James-Collier

Yes there’s still a Christmas special to come, but after six series on ITV, ‘Downton Abbey’ ended its run last night, with a surprise wedding and a suicide attempt. But while Lady Mary Crawley got what she wanted (as usual), her younger sister Edith was denied her own happy ending, leaving some viewers furious.

Downton AbbeyAfter six seasons ‘Downton Abbey’ has ended on ITV.

During the episode unlucky in love Edith had her chances of happiness stolen, when sister Mary ruined her relationship by revealing details of her secret love child to fiancé the Marquess of Hexham, Bertie Pelham. But while Edith faced a lifetime of loneliness, all was okay for Mary, as she wed Henry Talbot.

Continue reading: 'Downton Abbey's' Final Season Ends, But Not Everyone Got Their Happy Ever After

A Week In Movies: Berlin Wraps Up, Dames Judi And Maggie Hit The Red Carpet, Julia Roberts Films In L.A. And There Are New Trailers For Age Of Adaline, Big Game And Crimson Peak


Cate Blanchett Helena Bonham Carter Tom Courtenay Judi Dench Maggie Smith Adam Scott Julia Roberts Chiwetel Ejiofor

Cinderella

The Berlin Film Festival wrapped up last weekend after the premiere for Disney's new live-action version of Cinderella, and stars Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Lily James and Richard Madden, plus director Kenneth Branagh were all on hand for the event.

Photos - 65th Berlin International Film Festival - 'Cinderella' - Premiere

Continue reading: A Week In Movies: Berlin Wraps Up, Dames Judi And Maggie Hit The Red Carpet, Julia Roberts Films In L.A. And There Are New Trailers For Age Of Adaline, Big Game And Crimson Peak

Everything We Know So Far About ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5


Michelle Dockery Richard E. Grant Maggie Smith

Everyone’s favourite period drama of manners, ‘Downton Abbey’ is heading back to our screens for a fifth season. If you’re in the UK the wait isn't too long with the season premiere set for this autumn, but things are slightly more frustrating for the drama’s loyal US fanbase who’ll have to wait until January 4th for the new episodes. But it’s not all bad news, this week the cast and executive producer Gareth Neame have given away some exciting new details about the fifth season, which looks to be as drama packed as ever. So to ease your ‘Downton Abbey’ wait, here’s everything we know so far about season five.

Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey Magge Smith is back again as Violet Crawley

1. The Dowager Countess will take center stage

Continue reading: Everything We Know So Far About ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5

Lupita Nyong'o, "American Hustle" Dominate SAG Awards 2014


Lupita Nyong'o Jennifer Lawrence Matthew Mcconaughey Cate Blanchett Maggie Smith

The Screen Actor Guild Awards are one of the biggest industry events during awards season and the one of the early indicators for Oscar trends. So, when Lupita Nyong’o won the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting role (aka Supporting Actress) over Jennifer Lawrence, the world of film took note. Earlier this month, Lawrence beat Nyong’o in the corresponding category at the Golden Globes, but this sets their chances pretty much on par.

Lupita Nyong'o, World War Z Premiere
The tables turned as Nyong'o beat Lawrence in the Supporting Actress category.

Something else was made clear last night: the main contenders this January are David O’Russel’s American Hustle and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Each film ended the night with one award, but Hustle received the top honor for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Continue reading: Lupita Nyong'o, "American Hustle" Dominate SAG Awards 2014

'Downton Abbey' Consoles Emmy Loss With 10.5m Tune-In To New Series


Michelle Dockery Hugh Bonneville Maggie Smith Penelope Wilton

Downton Abbey has finally returned to television for a fourth season meaning Sunday nights are once again sorted for fans of the meaty period drama. The ITV1 show failed to scoop any awards, apart from 'Outstanding Music Composition,' at last night's Emmy Awards but this didn't prevent record viewing ratings - 10.5m viewers - tuning back into the trials, tribulations, romances, deaths and dramas of the fictional estate.

Michelle Dockery
Michelle Dockery Excels In Her Portrayal Of A Widow.

The new season's first episode picks up in 1922, six months after the last left off; Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is still very much in mourning for her husband, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) who was killed in a car crash. Britain's post-war boom has receded to government cuts and widespread unemployment. Though the inhabitants of Downton Abbey may be less affected by the harsh reality of the economy compared to the public, the first episode serves to only highlight the class differences between the servants and their masters at the time.

Continue reading: 'Downton Abbey' Consoles Emmy Loss With 10.5m Tune-In To New Series

Primetime Emmy Awards 2013: How Accurate Were Nomination Predictions?


Emmy Awards Sofia Vergara Kevin Spacey Toby Jones Neil Patrick Harris Maggie Smith Helen Mirren Netflix Paul Aaron Kate Mara Adam Driver Ed O'Neill Bobby Cannavale Mandy Patinkin Jim Carter Al Pacino Peter Dinklage Michael Douglas Matt Damon Anna Gunn Alec Baldwin Matt Le Blanc Jason Bateman Bill Hader Tony Hale Julie Bowen Kerry Washington Claire Danes Connie Britton Jon Hamm Damian Lewis Jeff Daniels Emilia Clarke Christina Hendricks Benedict Cumberbatch Laura Linney Jessica Lange Game Of Thrones

The Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced yesterday (Thursday 18th July). The nomination ceremony was presented by Kate Mara and Aaron Paul via a live video stream on the Emmy's website. 

Kate Mara
Kate Mara at the Vanity Fair and Juicy Couture's Celebration of 2013 in L.A.

Netflix has managed to triumph with nominations for their shows: House of Cards; Hemlock Grove and Arrested Development. The company are developing this aspect of their business, which is proving hugely popular and profitable. The future does seem bright for the company which announced it was expanding into its 64th country. It also seems likely their awards over the next few years will increase especially with recent praise of Orange is the New Black

Continue reading: Primetime Emmy Awards 2013: How Accurate Were Nomination Predictions?

Paul Giamatti Continues American Invasion Of Downton Abbey With Season Four Appearance


Paul Giamatti Maggie Smith Hugh Bonneville Jamie Foxx Chris Cooper Shirley Maclaine

Paul Giamatti will become the next American actor to appear in the hugely successful British period drama Downton Abbey, with the American Splendour actor set to appear as a maverick American playboy during the upcoming fourth season of the show.

Giamatti will appear in the Christmas special airing this December, which will follow on directly from the upcoming fourth season of the hit costume drama. He will play Harold, the life-loving brother of Elizabeth McGovern's Cora, and the son of Shirley Maclaine's Martha. MacLaine will also be reprising her role for the Christmas special.

See more images of Paul as Rhino in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2

Continue reading: Paul Giamatti Continues American Invasion Of Downton Abbey With Season Four Appearance

Downton Abbey Will Return To PBS In January 2014


Hugh Bonneville Maggie Smith Julian Fellowes

After the surprise ending of series three, many were left wondering whether or not the hugely successful period drama Downton Abbey would be come back at all, but there's good news to all you Downton fans out there because a fourth series is imminent, and it will be back on PBS on 5 January 2014.

Downton executive producer Rebecca Eaton revealed the good news today in an official statement, revealing the airing date of the new series and adding that it will run for eight weeks. She also added the most of the show's original cast will be back too, including Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle, adding that there will be a number of new actors joining the established cast too.

Downton Abbey
Hugh Bonneville, Sophie McShera, Phyllis Logan, Julian Fellowes, Lily James and co. of the established Downton order

Continue reading: Downton Abbey Will Return To PBS In January 2014

Gary Carr Joining The Downton Abbey Cast As The Show's First Black Character


Gary Carr Hugh Bonneville Maggie Smith Michelle Dockery Jim Carter

Downton Abbey is going to get a whole lot more complicated and interesting, with the addition of a host of cast members, including Gary Carr. Carr will play the period drama’s first black character, the charismatic jazz singer Jack Ross. The rest of the new cast-members’ names were also an exciting announcement, since the list includes stars like Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter, all joining the show for its fourth season.

Carnival Films’ Managing Director, Gareth Neame, said the following about the character of Jack Ross: “We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to Downton Abbey. His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in Series Four”.

We’re sure the viewers are excited as well, but we’ll all have to wait a while longer for the series to return with its next eight episodes later this year, as well as the highly anticipated Christmas special, of course. The new cast members will be joining Downton veterans Shirley McLaine Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter. It’ll probably enhance the show’s dynamic, of course, but we can’t help asking… how are we supposed to memorise every tidbit of intrigue between so many characters?

Continue reading: Gary Carr Joining The Downton Abbey Cast As The Show's First Black Character

Dustin Hoffmans' Directorial Debut, 'Quartet', How Did He Do?


Dustin Hoffman Maggie Smith Billy Connolly Sheridan Smith Tom Courtenay

Double Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman has, at the age of 75, finally switched to directing. While many were surprised it had taken him so long, others were distinctly apprehensive about what Hoffman may offer. As the reviews roll in it appears that Quartet is a light hearted delight and that Hoffman has triumphed.

As well an A-lister as a director, Hoffman brought in some of Britain's best loved actors and actresses. Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Sheridan Smith and Tom Courtenay star in a sweet story set in an home for elderly and retired musicians. When an old star turns up, a group in the home attempt to get her to perform again in their quartet, but with old romances and a worn ego to get in the way, it's a struggle for them to persuade her.

Rolling Stone puts Hoffman's skill down to his long career, saying he "directs with elegance" and describes the movie as "flushed with humor and tenderness." Likewise, USA Today was also impressed by the veteran actor's directorial skill: "Hoffman directs with elegance, allowing the denizens to be dignified, as well as adorable. We get a strong sense of each major character." 

Continue reading: Dustin Hoffmans' Directorial Debut, 'Quartet', How Did He Do?

Enigmatic Maggie Smith Stays Away From The Golden Globes (Still Wins)


Maggie Smith Damian Lewis Claire Danes Lena Dunham

British screen icon Dame Maggie Smith did not attend the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills on Sunday (January 13, 2013) though fended off stiff competition to win Best Supporting Actress in a TV drama. Dame Maggie built on her 2012 Emmy Awards win by taking the prize for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Violet, the Dowager Countless in ITV's much-loved Downton Abbey. She was also nominated for Best Actress in the film category for the well-received Quartet.

Smith did not attend the Emmy Awards last year and is rarely spotted at awards' ceremonies despite her prestigious career. However, she did collect the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Legacy Award from actor Christopher Plummer at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel back in September. At the Globes, Smith lost out to Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) category, though beat the likes of Hayden Panettiere and Sofia Vergara to the Best Supporting Actress gong for Downton Abbey. 

It was a rather successful night for British stars, with Damian Lewis taking the Best Actor in a Television Drama award for Homeland. He beat Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Boardwalk Empire's Steve Buscemi, The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels and Mad Men's Jon Hamm in one of the evening's toughest-to-call categories. "I'd like to dedicate this to my mum, looking down on me bursting with pride telling everyone around her how well her son is doing in acting," Lewis said in his acceptance speech. It was a strong night for Homeland, which took Best Drama Series and saw its lead star Claire Danes win Best Actress.

Continue reading: Enigmatic Maggie Smith Stays Away From The Golden Globes (Still Wins)

Downton Abbey Season Three: Move Over Maggie, Shirley's Back In Town


Shirley Maclaine Maggie Smith

Season three of Downton Abbey premieres on PBS this Sunday (January 6, 2013), with the arrival of silver-screen icon Shirley Maclaine. The Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress plays Martha Levinson in the best-loved period drama, and is set to go head-to-head with the stoic Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

MacLaine - perhaps best known for The Apartment and Terms of Endearment - explained to the New York Times how she prepared to act alongside Smith. "I thought the best course of action in going toe-to-toe with Maggie would be a sense of American expressive feeling," she explained. In one upcoming scene, MacLaine's character serenades Smith, "I told her I was going to sing it, and first she said to me, [genteel Maggie Smith voice] 'You know, dear, when you do that, I'm going to fall off the chair.' I said, 'OK.' And then she said, 'No, I think not. I think I'll fall asleep.' I said, 'OK, that's good, too.' And then she said, 'No, I think I will cry.' I said, I don't know what you'd do that for, but whatever. What she did instead was flirt back. [Laughs] I was so surprised." 

Legendary actress MacLaine was married to businessman Steve Parker until 1982, though revealed to Oprah Winfrey in 2011 that she had an open relationship with her husband. Smith has been married on two occasions, to actor Robert Stephens and playwright Beverly Cross, and she and MacLaine compared notes on past lovers on the Downton Set. "We sat and we reminisced about life and lovers and the business and directors," said MacLaine, adding, "That was really interesting and so much fun.When we were doing a press conference here, someone asked me if I had known Maggie before. And I said, 'Oh, yes, we were lovers in another life.' [Laughs] I don't know where that came from."

Season 3 Of Downton Abbey Due In USA – But Has Twitter Spoiled It?


Maggie Smith Michelle Obama Shirley Maclaine

Season 3 of Downton Abbey is about to hit PBS in the USA on Sunday and so far, Michelle Obama has managed to keep her sneak-peek at the new series under her hat but the footnote at the bottom of Hitfix.com’s review suggests that social media sites have probably provided quite a few spoilers for US audiences. Unless America’s citizens have been living a net-free life since the series aired in the UK, it’s inevitable that they’ll have stumbled upon some of the storylines. The disgruntled Hitfix blogger Alan Sepinwall writes that “Twitter has already spoiled plenty for the non-torrenting American audience; let's leave it at that,” imploring the site’s users not to add to the gossip.

That said, Sepinwall is hardly a fan of the show, concluding that he needs to “simply accept” that, after three seasons of writing about it, it simply isn’t the show for him. It’s not all bad news for Downton, as season three is considered to be an improvement on the previous two series.

The highlight for many Americans, of course, will be the presence of Shirley Maclaine, who appears in the role of Martha Levinson, the American mother of Lady Cora (played by Elizabeth McGovern). the time that she shares onscreen with Maggie Smith, particularly, provides some of the highlights of the series.

Downton Abbey's Cast Enjoys Golden Globe Nominations


Michelle Dockery Hugh Bonneville Maggie Smith

It's not all that rare to find a British television show nominated at the Golden Globes, both The Tudors and Cranford enjoyed their days in the sun in 2008 and 2009, but Americans really do love a British period drama, so this year sees Downton Abbey receiving three nominations, for Best Drama, Best Actress (Michelle Dockery) and Best Supporting Actress (Dame Maggie Smith), which really is an extraordinary achievement. 

Some of the cast members joined the BBC to speak about their delight regarding the nomination. Joanne Froggat, better known as Anna Bates 'nee Smith', expressed her gratitude to the Globes, saying that "to have that kind of recognition from our American peers is wonderful... it's exciting!" 

"We've now joined  high table," said Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, the head of Downton Abbey, "and we're now being considered alongside these great other dramas that have excited the nation and we're thrilled that us from over seas have managed to fit in." Adding, "It's wonderful because when we're filming in Highclere castle... on a freezing February day in the mud, it's nice to know that sometimes it's worth it."

Continue reading: Downton Abbey's Cast Enjoys Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globes Nominations, No Surprises For A Great Year Of Film


Quentin Tarantino Leonardo Dicaprio Daniel Day Lewis Rachel Weisz Naomi Watts Helen Mirren Richard Gere John Hawkes Joaquin Phoenix Denzel Washington Maggie Smith Michelle Dockery Ben Affleck Marion Cotillard Christoph Waltz Ang Lee

The Golden Globes are one of the biggest film and television awards in the world. Winning an award from them will almost always top the C.V.s of anyone involved in film. 2012 has been one of the best years in film for a long time, with many films being deemed 'instant classics'. Although, of course, that's said every year, with just a quick glance at the calibre of performances, narrative and cinematography this year it's easy to see why it's being said.

2012's nominations were revealed today with few surprises. The favourites during speculation included Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and they haven't failed to impress in the Globes' nominations. Lincoln's set to be a big winner with seven nominations, while Argo has 5 nominations, Zero Dark Thirty has 4 and The Master has 3. All four, except The Master, are also in the running for Best Motion Picture, competing alongside Ang Lee's Life of Pi and Quentin Tarantino's re-envisioning of a slave narrative, Django Unchained

Tarantino's film received 5 nominations, which included two in the category for Best Supporting Performance by an Actor, for Christoph Waltz and Leonardo Dicaprio, which proves to us that it's more than worth the watch. Best Director nominations mirrors the Best Motion Picture, and include Ben Affleck (Argo), Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), which is no surprise really. 

Continue reading: The Golden Globes Nominations, No Surprises For A Great Year Of Film

Downton Abbey Series 3 Finale Pulls In Record Viewing Figures


Maggie Smith Hugh Bonneville

ITV's flagship period Drama, Dowton Abbey, aired it's season finale last night, and was viewed by a massive 10.7m people, making it easily the highest rated drama of the year, reports The Daily Mail.

Sunday night at 9pm has become a no fly zone for anything other than 'watching Downton' in the U.K. It has captured Britain's hearts, and in doing so, has become one of the most popular dramas of all time. Last night saw the last episode of season 3, which was watched by a mammoth 10.7m people, but it's not single episode figures that excite the channels, rather a consistent viewing average, and Downton can boast that for sure; actors like Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville help to pull in a very respectable 9.7 million viewers throughout the series. Compare that to the BBC's Call The Midwife and Sherlock, and Downton outperforms them by 2m and 2.7m respectively.

While the show's success knows no bounds, one key aspect is starting to get noticed: the homogenous level of white Caucasian characters. Many historical purists might point to inaccuracies of including a multicultural cast, but it's something that creator Julian Fellowes has considered. Talking in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said "Oh I think that's rather a good idea. You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. The show certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period."

Continue reading: Downton Abbey Series 3 Finale Pulls In Record Viewing Figures

Stand Up To Cancer, Shoot Your Wife For Cancer, Give Money To Cancer


Gwyneth Paltrow Twiggy Coleen Mcloughlin Maggie Smith Chris O'Dowd

Shoot your wife for cancer? It may seem a bit extreme, but Dawn Porter and her husband Chris O'Dowd from the IT Crowd, are making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a good cause. That's right Chris O'Dowd will shoot his wife for the cause... with a paint pellet. If Dowd shoots his wife, Stand Up To Cancer will get a massive £10,000!

The entire affair is an extravagantly star studded event, and celebs have done a whole host of things to support it from pulling the trigger on their better halves, to donating a pair of shoes for the public to wear. The Telegraph reported on Tuesday (Oct 16th) that the public could try on the shoes of "Gwyneth Paltrow, Davina McCall, Twiggy, Sir Chris Hoy, Coleen Rooney and Dame Maggie Smith" in Leicester Square for one day only, before being sold in a silent auction that ends on Friday.

Plus, Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory has jumped on board to lend his support, by giving an earnest plug before every showing on Channel 4 and its sister channel E4. And you can see him supporting the cause in a hilarious music video called Up2 You + Me on YouTube.

Continue reading: Stand Up To Cancer, Shoot Your Wife For Cancer, Give Money To Cancer

Julian Fellowes To Pen ‘Downton Abbey’ Prequel?


Julian Fellowes Elizabeth McGovern Hugh Bonneville Maggie Smith Michelle Dockery

Julian Fellowes wishes to write a prequel on the main characters in his hit ITV1 show ‘Downton Abbey’ after the last series is aired.

The Oscar winning screenwriter, who also wrote the recent ‘Titanic’ mini-series, ‘The Tourist’ and ‘Gosford Park’, wants to recreate the story of when characters Robert and Cora Crawley, the Earl and Countess of Grantham, met and the ‘trouble courtship’ that ensued on to screen. ‘She was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money’, Fellowes said at the BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture Series. ‘I sort of feel there's something quite nice in there because he's a decent cove, and so he feels rather guilty about this which has affected their marriage beyond that.’

Fellowes was also adamant that the show be aired after ‘Downton Abbey’ had finished. ‘I don't think you can continue a narrative in more than one area at once’, he said. ‘I never really liked those Coronation Street Christmas specials where they all go to Haiti, and you don't have to watch it. Somehow it doesn't feel very organic.’ The show is currently on series three and stars Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery.


Brits Abroad: Damian Lewis And Maggie Smith Win Big At Emmy Awards 2012


Damian Lewis Maggie Smith Julian Fellowes Martin Freeman Benedict Cumberbatch Jon Cryer Jim Parsons Charlie Sheen

British actor Damian Lewis and screen veteran Maggie Smith were among the winners at the Emmy Awards 2012 in Los Angeles on Sunday evening (September 23, 2012). Lewis – who plays an American soldier in ‘Homeland’ – picked up the award for Best Actor in a Drama, while Downton Abbey’s Smith won Best Supporting Actress.

On receiving his award, Lewis joked with the star-studded audience, “I'm one of those pesky Brits, I apologise,” adding, “I don't really believe in judging art, but I thought I'd show up just in case.” Lewis’ show ‘Homeland’ upset the odds by taking the evening’s biggest prize, for Best Drama, ahead of big favorite Breaking Bad and four-time winner Mad Men. Maggie Smith’s award was the solitary highlight in a terrible night for Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey, which had been nominated for a whopping sixteen prizes. Instead, it was national security drama Homeland, HBO’s Game Change and the much-loved US comedy Modern Family who won the most awards, with three each. Armed with Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the BBC would have felt quietly confident for the Lead Actor and Supporting Actor gongs, but both actors missed out.

Another big surprise at this year’s Emmys was Jon Cryer’s award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in ‘Two and a Half Men’. The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons was the hot favorite for the award, though it was Cryer who walked away with the prize. Who needs Charlie Sheen?


Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Review


Excellent

The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up the strands of the whole series and also manages to give its actors some meaty scenes to play with. While it's hugely satisfying, there's also a letdown as we reach the end.

With Voldemort (Fiennes) in possession of the mythical Elder Wand, and four Horcruxes still at large, Harry (Radcliffe) and pals Hermione and Ron (Watson and Grint) know that they have work to do. Breaking into a Gringotts vault is tough enough, but when they sneak back into Hogwarts, they find themselves in all-out war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. So with the help of adults (Smith, Walters and more) and fellow students (including Lewis, Wright and Lynch), they make their final stand.

After a sort of "Previously on Harry Potter" prologue and a quietly intense opening, the film plunges into the Gringotts heist and barely pauses for breath. Director Yates adeptly juggles action and drama, keeping images razor sharp and making sure the effects work is seamlessly eye-catching (they're also the most consistently high-quality effects in the series). But of course Lord of the Rings-scale spectacle is nothing without great characters, and this film pushes everyone into new territory.

Radcliffe takes on the challenge extremely well, bringing Harry's self-doubt and crippling guilt together with a potent sense of destiny and sacrifice. Of the supporting cast, Rickman, Smith and Gambon get the weightiest scenes, while Lewis and Walters finally have superb moments in the spotlight. And Bonham Carter clearly has a ball with a terrific scene as a shape-shifted Hermione.
Meanwhile, that outrageously starry ensemble fills out each scene, including many who barely utter a word.

As the story propels to the climactic moments, there are a few fits and starts while events recoil and wait to burst forth again. Even though this is the shortest of all eight movies, it feels a little long due to its intensely focussed plot. This means every moment on screen is vitally important, and most are given the chance to play out without feeling rushed. But it also means that, as the ending (and epilogue) get closer, we simply don't want it to end.

Gnomeo & Juliet Review


Very Good
With its Toy Story meets Shrek approach, this animated romp feels somewhat derivative. It's all snarky dialog and whizzy action. But it's also silly enough to keep both adults and children chuckling.

Gnomeo (voiced by McAvoy), son of Lady Bluebury (Smith), is the leader of the blue Montague garden. Accompanied by his sidekick Benny (Lucas), Gnomeo engages in tit-for-tat warfare with the red Capulets next door. Then he meets Juliet (Blunt), daughter of Lord Redbrick (Caine), and it's love at first sight. Which sends red warrior Tybalt (Statham) into a rage. As they plot a secret life together, Gnomeo and Juliet are assisted by Juliet's frog friend Nanette (Jensen) and the garden flamingo Featherstone (Cummings). But can these star-crossed lovers find happiness?

Continue reading: Gnomeo & Juliet Review

Gnomeo & Juliet Trailer


Some gardens just wouldn't be complete without the addition of a garden gnome or two. The gardens on Verona Drive are no exception; the owners of the houses are extremely fond of their little hat wearing friends. What the human residents don't realise is that when all's quiet and there are no humans around, their garden comes to life!

Continue: Gnomeo & Juliet Trailer

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review


Very Good
Darker and a whole lot drearier, this sixth Harry Potter adventure centres on a slow-developing mystery, and the filmmakers clearly struggle to give it much pace. It's well-made and watchable, but feels like an intake of breath before the frantic finale.

After the horrific conclusion of their fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Radcliffe) has a solitary summer before being drafted by headmaster Dumbledore (Gambon) into the ongoing war between the wizarding forces of light and darkness. And as year six starts, Dumbledore assigns Harry to get some important information from new potions professor Slughorn (Broadbent) about the Dark Lord's background. He of course does this with the help of pals Ron and Hermione (Grint and Watson), who with Harry are also caught up in conflict more typical for 17-year-olds: raging hormones.

Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Trailer & Featurette


Watch the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Continue: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Trailer & Featurette

Becoming Jane Review


Weak
Newly minted young star Anne Hathaway stars as a twentysomething Jane Austen in Becoming Jane, and the real excitement of the film is not her actual performance -- which is basically perfunctory -- but the fact that at least one cast member is not a member of Britain's acting-in-semi-retirement community. It may seem as if Julie Walters and Maggie Smith, who both have supporting roles here, are far from retired; they collectively appear in about half of the Shakespeare and Austen-related films that are released every year (divided up evenly with Judi Dench and Helen Mirren), and they both have lucrative gigs in the Harry Potter series, as well as whatever nutty, life-loving oldie roles that come their way.

But that's just the problem: These actresses have to wait ages between actual roles, biding their time with supporting roles that might as well have them standing in a pasture. So in Becoming Jane we're treated to Smith doing her umpteenth haughty old bat and Walters overplaying another frazzled mum figure. If we're still supposed to find this shtick delightful, I suggest the British Film Board start scouring actual retirement homes for some fresh blood.

Continue reading: Becoming Jane Review

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Trailer


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Trailer

Continue: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Trailer

Hook Review


Weak
In Hook, Steven Spielberg's rather odd and flat update of Peter Pan, Robin Williams plays an adult Peter Pan as one Peter Banning, a big-money mergers and acquisitions attorney who drinks too much and misses his son's little league games because there's always that one last call on his cell. It's trying to be a modern and hip fantasy with the idea that Peter is a yuppie and has completely forgotten the magic and wonder of what we know to be his rather unique childhood.

But Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) hasn't forgotten. Since it's Peter's fault he has a hook instead of a hand, he wants revenge, so he kidnaps Peter's children. Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) appears. She knocks Peter on the floor, ties him into a bed sheet, and then, in a lumpen image if there ever was one, flies him over the rooftops of London into Neverland where she drops him like a sack of coal (it is Christmas) so he can rescue his children from the evils of Hook, Smee, and the rest of the gaudily-costumed pirate crew.

Continue reading: Hook Review

Keeping Mum Review


Bad
With the fall season comes the expected push of European comedies and quirky family melodramas and 2006, no particularly special year, has its own bounty on the horizon. The first of the batch, preceding Confetti and Driving Lessons, is Keeping Mum, a slightly raunchier take on Mary Poppins, with the elder Poppins being played by none other than the great Maggie Smith. As with most films, there's a tiny twist.

The Goodfellow family has problems. The father, Reverend Walter Goodfellow (an exhaustingly unfunny Rowan Atkinson) seems to be at the beck and call of an elderly parishioner who is in need of constant companionship. This leaves his wife, Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas), sexually frustrated and constantly without her husband to solve it. She also has a daughter (Tamsin Egerton) who has a knack for making vans rock and a son (Toby Parkes) who can't stand up to a gang of bicycle riding twerps.

Continue reading: Keeping Mum Review

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire Review


Excellent

For the uninitiated, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the book where author J.K. Rowling finally went off her rocker, turning out a 734-page monster of a book (vs. 309 pages for #1) that made everyone wonder if any child could possibly have that kind of attention span.

Turns out they did: Book four is also where Rowling went from Big Hit to Mega Worldwide Sensation, and the Harry Potter series became a cultural touchstone. (This is also about the time that ultra-right wing groups started denouncing the series as demonic.)

And so, everything that is past is prologue: The first three films now feel like nothing more than window dressing for this one, a rich movie with expert plotting, clever humor, and a sophistication lacking in the earlier pictures. At the same time, it's fine for (older) kids, who'll root for Harry and Co. through his many scrapes in this edition.

Goblet of Fire finds Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) back for his fourth year at Hogwarts Academy. Things are getting heavier for the lad: He's having vivid dreams about Lord Voldemort being revived in the flesh. On top of that, the school is hosting the legendary Tri-Wizard Tournament, in which three aspiring magicians will compete to win a fancy blue cup (plus bragging rights), which brings two foreign schools -- one a collection of brutish Russian guys, another a group of breathless French fairy queens -- into Hogwarts for the term. While the tournament is meant for older kids, naturally the undersized Potter will find his way into the mix. On top of that, Harry's got some raging hormones, which has him swooning for fellow student Cho (Katie Leung), while Ron (Rupert Grint) tries in vain to suppress his budding love for Hermione (Emma Watson). This comes to a head of sorts during a formal dance, one of the film's most memorable scenes. And all the while, Voldemort inches closer to Harry.

Overall, the story is obviously and dramatically pared down from the book. Even I, a non-reader, could tell that there were huge gaps in the plot. Strangely, it doesn't really matter. All but the bare essentials have been stripped away, and even though it tops 2 1/2 hours, Goblet is a lean, mean, storytelling machine. There's rarely a dull moment (a stark contrast to some of the overblown earlier installments in the series), and it's amazingly easy to follow the serpentine plot. Partly this is because we've had three movies to get up to speed on the myriad characters of Potter, and even though Goblet introduces a good number of new faces, keeping track of them is a snap. The downside of this is that, aside from a little romance for the main three characters, there's not much time to develop our heroes further. But really, it isn't needed. They're fleshy enough as it is, and the film does give them a bit more structure to set up #5.

Speculation has been rampant about how director Mike Newell -- of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame -- would work out as the helmer of an action-oriented kid flick. Turns out, he's better than those who came before him. Not only does Newell have a good handle over the film's action showpieces, he knows how to deal with awkward romances and growing pains of the teen years. Maybe it's because he's the first British director to try his hand at this very British series?

Speaking of the action: The special effects in this installment are hands-down better than ever. There's probably not a single scene in Goblet of Fire that isn't manipulated with CGI in some way -- but you'll never notice. The effects are so good and so seamless that you seriously can't tell the difference (reality-wise) between Radcliffe and the giant, fire-breathing dragon staring him down.

And speaking of dragons: The film is scary, more so than the other three. As a case in point, the woman sitting in front of me, with two kids aged about six to eight, had to leave the theater after the first two minutes because the little ones were so frightened.

Altogether the film is just about right for what a Harry Potter movie ought to be. The story is consistently interesting but not too confusing, the dialogue is spot-on, and the film blends action and quiet moments perfectly. (Frankly, the film should win an Oscar for editing.)

But overall Goblet of Fire has succeeded in doing one big thing that the first three movies completely failed at: For the first time, I'm actually looking forward to the next in the series.

A little magic ought to fix that arm right up, no?

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie Review


Very Good
Miss Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) doesn't much care for the provencial attitudes of pre-WWII Edinburgh. She doesn't much care for traditional teaching methods, instead schooling the girls in her charge about art, love, passion, and so on. A primitive Dead Poets Society, Brodie encourages less-than-ladylike behavior, and not just because she's smooching guys in the classrooms when she thinks no one is looking. Smith is excellent -- and won an Oscar for the role -- helping to elevate the film above what can often be a somewhat stuffy character study.

The Last September Review


Weak
I really wanted to like The Last September. Sunday afternoon, really in the mood for a period piece, I sat down with the promising flick... and got a tired old romantic triangle flick set in 1920s Ireland that plodded along with little regard for the audience. The setting here is elusive: The title refers obliquely to Ireland's last September before its revolution, but the backdrop of war barely registers above the genteel performances and sleepy script.

Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Review


Weak
Are you disappointed that the Grumpy Old Men franchise died with stars Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon? Never fear. The familiar formula has been slightly doctored, recast, and relocated from Minnesota to Louisiana in Callie Khouri's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, though Sassy Old Women certainly seems a more appropriate title.

Being neither a mother, daughter, nor woman at all, I acknowledge the fact that I'm not 100% qualified to comment on Sisterhood. I did trudge through it, though, which instantly earns me the type of respect normally bestowed on veterans of a vicious war. Just be warned. A self-proclaimed celebration of the feminine spirit, this story, this film... hell, the actual theater showing this film is no place for any transporter of testosterone.

Continue reading: Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood 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

California Suite Review


Very Good
This Neil Simon tragicomedy features four groups of people who converge on a L.A. hotel on the eve of the Oscars. Three stories are pretty funny -- especially Walter Matthau's unfaithful husband to Elaine May, but it's the Fonda-Alda weep-fest that opens the movie that almost ruins the show completely. Still, it's salvagable, something of a Four Rooms... still not done quite right.

Hook Review


Weak
In Hook, Steven Spielberg's rather odd and flat update of Peter Pan, Robin Williams plays an adult Peter Pan as one Peter Banning, a big-money mergers and acquisitions attorney who drinks too much and misses his son's little league games because there's always that one last call on his cell. It's trying to be a modern and hip fantasy with the idea that Peter is a yuppie and has completely forgotten the magic and wonder of what we know to be his rather unique childhood.

But Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) hasn't forgotten. Since it's Peter's fault he has a hook instead of a hand, he wants revenge, so he kidnaps Peter's children. Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) appears. She knocks Peter on the floor, ties him into a bed sheet, and then, in a lumpen image if there ever was one, flies him over the rooftops of London into Neverland where she drops him like a sack of coal (it is Christmas) so he can rescue his children from the evils of Hook, Smee, and the rest of the gaudily-costumed pirate crew.

Continue reading: Hook Review

Quartet Review


OK
Quartet is -- quite strangely -- based on a true story. Jean Rhys's novel traces her life in glitzy Paris in the 1920s, one which stood in start contrast to the city lights.

Rhys -- reinvented here as Isabelle Adjani's wide-eyed Marya Zelli -- found her husband, an illegal art dealer, arrested and thrown into prison. Suddenly broke, she shacked up with a pair of Brits of questionable morality, eventually getting cut loose, whereupon she would become a professional writer.

Continue reading: Quartet Review

Ladies In Lavender Review


OK
Hear about a movie starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, and it's pretty obvious what you're going to get, and it's not going to be car chases and bank heists. Two of the grandest dames of the screen star in Ladies in Lavender, a scenic, charming, and quaint tale set in the 1930s. It's the kind of movie many English filmmakers specialize in.

Sisters Janet (Smith) and Ursula (Dench) Widdington live a quiet and active life in their spacious seaside house in Cornwall when a young man washes up on shore. The sisters take him in as a boarder and immediately take a liking to Andrea (Daniel Brühl), a Polish violin maestro who can't speak a word of English. The sisters soon grow close to Andrea, with Janet acting like a concerned mother, while the never married Ursula quietly falls in love with the hunky Andrea.

Continue reading: Ladies In Lavender Review

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Review


OK

Well folks, it's another year at Hogwarts Academy (two years in real life), and our rapidly maturing stars are back for another round of magical high jinks and mass merchandising in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry's been absent since the fall of 2002, and even casual viewers will notice that a lot has changed over the last two years. Director Chris Columbus (who did the first two films) is out, replaced with the controversial Alfonso Cuarón, who last hit the scene with the teen sex romp Y Tu Mamá También.

You'll notice Cuarón's touch right away. He likes to pick up the camera and get right in his actor's faces, moving all the while, a stark contrast to Columbus's traditionalism. Gone as well are the rich Technicolor tones of the Columbus movies; Cuarón prefers washed-out, yellowish shading that connotes decay and decrepitude. This is old-school wizardry, not kids stuff. In one fell swoop, Cuarón has reinvented the movies into an arthouse series that's as un-kid friendly as it gets.

How you feel about all of that depends on whether you're old enough to vote. I can't speak for the kids, but I heard more than one crying jag erupt during Azkaban's 150-minute running time. Will young kids relate to this iteration of Potter? Here's the story, you be the judge:

Once again, Harry's living with his cruel aunt and uncle, anxious to return to school. That happens soon enough, and quickly he discovers he's the target of the titular Prisoner of Azkaban, a wizard named Sirius Black who was convicted for killing dozens of people, most notably Harry's parents. Now he's escaped and is making his way toward Hogwarts, ready to snuff young Potter. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), now a troubled 13-year-old, doesn't seem overly fazed at first. He's up to his usual school antics; taking classes, sneaking out to go to town, dodging Draco. It isn't until Black arrives on the scene for real (well past the midpoint of the movie) that any of this starts to gel into a plot.

And I use that term loosely. I think of myself as an astute follower of stories, but Azkaban can be baffling if you haven't read the book or don't have someone nearby to explain who's who. For those going into this blind, there are soul-sucking dementors (not especially terrifying here), shapeshifting wizards, old friends reunited, and a time travel subplot all coming together into one of the least satisfying dénouements in fantasy movie history. While it's riddled with plot holes (which I won't reveal since they'd spoil the ending), there's no doubt Harry's going to come out of it okay: The last half hour of the movie is rehashed from another angle as we run through the time travel bit, reliving the scenes from another angle.

Azkaban the novel gets mixed reviews from Potter maniacs -- some say it's their favorite book; others say it's the worst. However, if my research is correct, it is the worst-selling of the five books to date, and it will probably go down in history as the worst of the movies, too. (But I've been wrong before, of course.) In any case, by all accounts, the books really get good starting at #4 (due out in movie form next year), while Azkaban is a slim volume where comparably little happens. Ultimately Harry is in virtually no peril compared to that in the first two stories and those that follow. Heck, Voldemort doesn't even show up in this round.

The other notable problem is how radically older the cast has gotten since 2002's Chamber of Secrets. Radcliffe is valiantly fighting off puberty, but Emma Watson (Hermione) is looking her age; she's tarted up in jeans and a rainbow belt for most of the film, and sports a more stylish haircut to boot. Now 15, Rupert Grint (Ron) looks like he ought to be starring in the next American Pie movie as a wacky foreign exchange student. And Tom Felton, who plays Draco, is now 17 years old and ought to be playing rugby in college. He probably is. I couldn't believe it was the same actor.

Speaking of actors, Richard Harris is sorely missed as Dumbledore. I love Michael Gambon, but he doesn't do the kindly old wizard too well. He's got a Robert Mitchum-esque undercoating of villainy that he just can't shake. David Thewlis and Gary Oldman are fine as the new blood, but it's Emma Thompson that steals the show as a doddering divination professor.

The rest of the series remains intact. Twittering ghosts and pictures are as we remember them (Dawn French steals a scene as a portrait of a vain fat lady), the Quidditch match is an abbreviated bust, and Snape (Alan Rickman) is as menacing as ever. But nothing much happens - certainly nothing to enhance any of the characters aside from the tenuous hand-holding of Ron and Hermione - and Azkaban generates very little energy along the way.

I have high hopes that Mike Newell will reinvigorate the series with next year's Goblet of Fire (how it will clock in at less than 8 hours I have no idea), but I can't recommend Azkaban for anyone but die-hard Potter heads.

The DVD is just the thing for those Potterphiles, including two discs of extras, such as bonus footage, cast interviews, and games for the kids.

Wand by Hogwarts. Jeans by Guess.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone Review


Very Good

When you're the chosen one, like the boy wizard Harry Potter, expectations surrounding your arrival can be quite high. The same can be said for the film adaptation about said boy wizard, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And while the young wonder might not let his magic school chums down, the movie chronicling his early wizard years could use a little lift.

Which isn't to say that Sorcerer's Stone, the first Harry Potter movie based on J.K. Rowling's inexplicably successful book series, is a boring movie. In fact, Rowling's exceptional world, involving young magic makers at a British wizardry prep school, transfers to the screen with a general creativity and charm in the hands of director Chris Columbus. The author's Cinderella-esque tale of a boy who gets invited to the most magical ball of them all, kicks off with a classic sensibility, almost like a modern Dickens.

From there, getting to the celebrated Hogwarts School is a treat, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and the rest of the incoming first-years (including Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger) buy the proper wizard tools, find the elusive Track 9 3/4 at the train station, and travel in boats by moonlight to the gothic center of higher learning. Columbus weaves the special effects so smoothly into the narrative as to make the magic nearly matter-of-fact.

But after we get the general gist of life at Hogwarts, Sorcerer's Stone loses some of its sheen. The collection of characters to which we're introduced early -- Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall; Alan Rickman as the eerie Professor Snape; the delightful Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid -- aren't utilized well enough to provide the necessary oomph. They're stuck within Steve Kloves' (Wonder Boys) light, thin plot, with their roles eventually reduced to side characters, comic relief, or vague red herrings.

And the flatness of the narrative goes hand-in-hand with some of Sorcerer's Stone look as well. Save for a couple of sequences, Columbus just doesn't provide enough visual wow for such magical subject matter. I know that some of the action is meant to be dark, but the overall look of the movie doesn't have the punch that the on-screen activity demands. In the end, there are too many missed opportunities for maximum thrills.

A prime exception is the truly wonderful centerpiece of the film, a prep school Quidditch match. For the uninitiated, Quidditch is a soccer style game played completely in mid-air, with players on broomsticks. Picture a combination of The Wizard of Oz and Rollerball.

Columbus' take on this game is superb. There's speedy action, seamless effects, and some thrilling excitement. The design of the match provides a wonderful combination of visual styles, with mid-20th century prep school clothes amidst medieval set design. The scene is, by far, the highlight of the film, much as the pod race was in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (oddly enough, another somewhat disappointing movie about a chosen boy).

But once we get back to the tale of our trio of little wizards, the plodding plot returns. And unfortunately, Radcliffe, as our hero, doesn't seem too enthused by much of the wild goings-on. His school cronies, on the other hand, are just great -- Grint, as Ronald, is wide-eyed and sympathetic, and Watson, as the precocious Hermione, is smart and energetic, taking a bigger bite out of this movie than any other actor.

While Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone does score points by giving visuals to some wildly fantastic stuff, the total picture lacks polish, and feels like a mild setup to future movies. Similar to X-Men, we get an environment being introduced just for the sake of future movies. That creates anticipation among fans, but shortchanges those watching this one.

The release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone coincides with another Harry Potter milestone -- the beginning of production on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, scheduled to hit theaters in mid-November, 2002. Stone is already expected to break box office records, including a possible run at Titanic (highly unlikely, if you ask me). That means there's one thing Warner Brothers will be saying about young Harry for the foreseeable future... long live The Boy Who Lived.

Harry Potter's DVD is as inexplicable as it is ambitious. An enormous two-disc set, the DVD promises tantalizing "never before seen footage," but good luck trying to find it. Disc one is the standard movie, and disc two amounts to what is best described as an intricate game for kids. It's all designed as a puzzle -- to do anything you have to twist the right bricks to gain access, just like Harry and Hagrid did in London. If you didn't memorize the pattern, you'll have to go back to the movie (swapping discs in the process -- though if you screw up enough times, the game will eventually show you the answer). To open more and more of the disc you have to complete more and more idiotic tasks -- picking a wand, mixing potions, and the like. I gave up after half an hour of this nonsense, having exposed little more than a collection of interview clips. Warner Brothers: I appreciate that you've tried to do something beyond the usual with this highly anticipated release, but for us adults, give us a back door to the special features. We just don't have time for this Hogwarts -- I mean, hogwash.

School's in session.

Washington Square Review


Very Good
Hardly a lush Merchant-Ivory epic, Jennifer Jason Leigh gets dumbed-down and uglified for her treatment in this adaptation of the Henry James novel, about a poor adventurer (Chaplin) who may or may not be after the wallflower's money. Father (Finney) disapproves, to the point where he hauls her off to Europe for a year. By film's end, dad is as stubborn as ever, which actually helps the two would-be lovers see things a bit more clearly. A great twist on the period piece, despite its maudlin sensibilities.

Gosford Park Review


Very Good

You may need a program to keep track of the two dozen-plus characters in Robert Altman's soap opera, murder mystery, chamber comedy-of-manners "Gosford Park."

Carpeted with dry wit and filled to the rafters with salacious secrets and unspoken animosity, the film takes place at an English country estate in 1932 and unfolds from two points of view -- above stairs, where a multitude of aristocrats size each other up in subtle sociological war games, and below stairs, where their gossipy maids and valets fall into a strict pecking order based upon whom they serve.

The estate is the home of the aloof upper-crusters Sir William and Lady Sylvia McCordle (Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas) and it's gathering place for their many coattail-riding relatives, including Aunt Constance (the wonderful, quizzically austere Maggie Smith) who habitually puts on airs as if she's not living off an allowance from the McCordles.

Continue reading: Gosford Park Review

Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Review


Weak

All book-to-film adaptations lose something in the translation, but the narrative gaps are simply insurmountable in the two-hankie estrogen fest "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

Brimming with talented actresses, none of whom steps on another's toes in across-the-board strong performances, this emotionally genuine bonding picture based on Rebecca Wells' novel stars Sandra Bullock as Sidda, a bitter New York playwright hijacked into visiting her Louisiana family home and her alcoholic mother, a Southern drama queen played by Ellen Burstyn.

Mother's life-long friends, who have collectively called themselves the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" since a mock-voodoo "ceremony" when they were young girls, have decided it's time for the two to bury the hatchet after a lifetime of sniping.

Continue reading: Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Review

Tea With Mussolini Review


Good

Franco Zeffirelli has assembled a delightful ensemble of drawing room eccentricsfor "Tea With Mussolini," his semi-autobiographical ode to hischildhood in fascist-era Italy.

The channel for his relatively light story of patriotism,war and personal independence is an orphan named Luca (7-year-old rookieCharlie Lucas), who drifts in and out of the lives of a resolute gaggleof oddball expatriate English women sipping tea in Florence as despotismrises around them.

Continue reading: Tea With Mussolini Review

Maggie Smith

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Maggie Smith

Date of birth

28th December, 1934

Occupation

Actor

Sex

Female

Height

1.65


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Maggie Smith Movies

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

What do you do when you feel like your garden ornaments are in grave danger?...

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...

Lady In The Van - Alternative Trailer

Lady In The Van - Alternative Trailer

Miss Shepherd is a highly educated elderly woman living off barely anything in a small...

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...

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 Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Movie Review

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Movie Review

A badly under-developed script leaves a fine cast without much to do in this sequel...

My Old Lady Movie Review

My Old Lady Movie Review

Every threat of sentimentality and melodrama is averted by a seriously strong cast working from...

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer

Set eight months after the 2012 original film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees...

My Old Lady - Trailer Trailer

My Old Lady - Trailer Trailer

Mathias (Kevin Kline) is penniless and pretty down on his luck in New York despite...

Quartet Movie Review

Quartet Movie Review

For his directing debut, Dustin Hoffman takes no chances, filling the screen with gifted actors...

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Movie Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Movie Review

Colourful and engaging, this lively comedy-drama gives a handful of mature actors terrific roles to...

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer

Muriel, Evelyn and Jean are just a few of a group of British retirees who...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie Review

The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Trailer

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Trailer

Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's...

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