Critics' awards in Los Angeles and London bring out local stars, while Johnny Depp's Mortdecai premieres in Berlin, London and L.A. Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe and Jesse Eisenberg are snapped on their film sets, and new trailers debut for Kidnapping Mr Heineken and Good Kill...
A-list celebrities turned out in Hollywood for the starry Critics' Choice Movie Awards last weekend, including Julianne Moore, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Keira Knightley, Ethan Hawke, Rosamund Pike, Michael Keaton, Reese Witherspoon, Marion Cotillard, David Oyelowo, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Aniston, Amy Adams and Chris Hemsworth. Jared Leto even matched his outfit to the blue carpet.
A classic British memoir gets the full costume drama treatment with this beautifully crafted World War I drama, although it never quite transcends the "beloved book" tone, remaining so worthy that it only rarely springs to life. The acting is sharp, as is the filmmaking, so it's frustrating that there's so little in the film that resonates with present-day audiences. And as the story sinks into a murky gloom, it's difficult for audiences to stay engaged.
Based on Vera Brittain's iconic memoir, the story opens in 1914, as Vera (Alicia Vikander) begs her parents (Emily Watson and Dominic West) to let her sit entrance exams at Oxford, which simply isn't the done thing for a proper young woman. She also has to convince them to let her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) sign up for military service in response to the conflict breaking out in Europe. But Vera is shocked when her sweetheart Roland (Kit Harington) also decides to enlist along with two close friends (Colin Morgan and Jonathan Bailey). Suddenly the war seems far too close to home for her. So she's provoked to leave university and volunteer as a nurse, serving in both England and France while the war rages around her.
The film's opening section contains a beautiful spark of hopefulness as these young people face the possibilities ahead of them, revelling in their education and then deciding to do their duty for their country. The rising-star cast packs the characters with cheeky humour, high energy and, yes, suitably repressed Britishness. But of course the realities of WWI change everything. Vikander handles this mood-swing very nicely, conveying Vera's resilience as she is bombarded with intense emotions. Her chemistry with Harington is strong, packed with passion. And the surrounding cast is terrific, even if most of the roles are relatively slight. The stand-outs are Richardson as a prickly Oxford professor and Atwell as a feisty fellow nurse.
Continue reading: Testament of Youth Review
Vera Brittain is an extraordinarily talented young woman who battles the odds to land herself a scholarship at Oxford University despite the attitudes of all the people around her frowning upon her desire to enter into a career in literature. Her life becomes even more promising when she falls for her brother's best friend Roland Leighton. However, the war is becoming ever closer and he is forced to abandon his own prestigious studies in favour of the frontline. Filled with grief over Roland's life-threatening circumstances, she decides to make the decision of a lifetime and leave her dreams behind. Instead, she decides to volunteer as a nurse for the sea of wounded troops that are yet to pour back into the country. Even as all that she holds dear are quickly annihilated by the vicious First World War, her determination keeps her focused on making the best of such horrors.
Continue: Testament of Youth Trailer
Patsy Byrne, the actress best known for playing Nursie in 'Blackadder II' has died "peacefully" at the age of 80.
Patsy Byrne, the British actress best known for her role as Nursie in Blackadder II, has died at the age of 80.
Rowan Atkinson starred alongside Byrne in Blackadder II.
The plot feels like a Jane Austen novel infused with a hot-potato political issue, but this is actually a true story. It's been somewhat fictionalised, but the central facts are accurate, and while the production is perhaps a bit too polished for its own good, the solid acting and filmmaking make the story involving and provocative. And its themes feel just as relevant today.
In 1769 London, a young half-black girl named Dido Belle is taken by her soldier father (Matthew Goode) to live with his uncle, the Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson). With his wife (Emily Watson) and sister (Penelope Winton), he is already caring for another niece, and the two girls grow up as inseparable friends. Hidden from society, Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) inherits a small fortune from her father. And while Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) is penniless, her white skin makes her a more suitable spouse. Then family friend Lady Ashford (Miranda Richardson) foists her son James (Tom Felten) on Elizabeth. To their horror, his brother Oliver (James Norton) falls for Dido. But she's more interested in an impoverished law student (Sam Reid).
Along with these rather standard period-movie romantic shenanigans, there's a major subplot about Lord Mansfield's imminent ruling in the first court case to take on the slave trade, which could destabilise the entire British Empire. And this is where the film jolts into something significant: the UK's top judge had an adopted mixed-race daughter who probably influenced the first landmark decision against slavery. Meanwhile, director Amma Asante also vividly portrays the gritty realities of this young black woman's precarious position in society.
Continue reading: Belle Review
Maleficent is a cruel sorceress who will stop at nothing to destroy those who have stolen her wings and ruined her world. As a child, she lived happily in the forest kingdom with a powerful force inside her that she was mostly unaware of. However, it wasn't long before it spun out of control at the arrival of the human kingdom's brutal army, who were intent on taking over. She fought bravely as the guardian of her land, but her valour soon turned to viciousness when she is callously deceived. A new person now filled with a dark desire for vengeance, she takes it upon herself to curse the daughter of her betrayer's successor, forcing her to die when she reaches her sixteenth birthday. Can Princess Aurora persuade Maleficent to turn her curse around, or is the wicked fairy truly a lost cause?
Adapted from the 1959 animated Disney movie 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Maleficent' is the untold story of the film's embittered villain. It marks the directorial debut of double Oscar winning visual effects designer Robert Stromberg with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton ('Beauty and the Beast', 'The Lion King'), Paul Dini ('Superman' animated TV series) and John Lee Hancock ('The Blind Side', 'Snow White and the Huntsman'). It is due to hit the UK on May 30th 2014.
Maleficent is a merciless sorceress who dubs herself the 'Mistress of All Evil'. But she hasn't always had a heart of stone. As a beautiful young girl she was happy and contented with her life in the forested kingdom, but deep down she held within her a powerful strength; a strength that would surface when she became the guardian of the entire land as a brutal army take siege. However, through all her great feats of bravery, she is faced with a callous deception that transforms her completely. In a fit of rage she places a curse on baby Princess Aurora; the daughter of the usurping King's successor; that would see her prick her finger on a spindle and die on her sixteenth birthday. However, on meeting a much older Aurora, Maleficent starts to wonder if she could actually help to bring happiness back to the land, and to Maleficent herself.
Continue: Maleficent - Teaser Trailer
Dido Elizabeth Belle is the mixed race daughter of Royal Navy officer Captain John Lindsay resulting from his affair with an African woman. Desperate for his only child to receive a comfortable upbringing, he takes her back to England and begs his uncle, Lord Mansfield, to take her in and care for her as their own. As much as she is treated well and enjoys the company of her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, she finds herself an outcast with no specified social status and disallowed from dining with her family on social occasions all because of her colour. While she is shunned by almost everybody, one man takes an interest in her; John Davinier, the apprentice of Lord Mansfield. However, both her great-uncle and John's parents are averse to the idea of their marriage - though their shocking love story forces Mansfield to re-think his own feelings about race and family.
Continue: Belle Trailer
It looks as though the news that Angelina Jolie’s daughter Vivienne will be appearing in Maleficent may have caused a touch of sibling rivalry in the Pitt-Jolie household. Today (October 23, 2012), US Weekly have revealed that another two members of Angelina’s sprawling brood have signed up for roles in the movie, which focuses on Sleeping Beauty’s evil nemesis.
Back in August, it was reported that four year-old Vivienne Jolie-Pitt had landed the role of the child version of Aurora, the Princess. The grown up Aurora will be played by Elle Fanning. Now, it’s been revealed that Pax – aged eight – and Zahara – aged seven – will also be appearing in the live-action movie, alongside their little sister and their mum. Disney haven’t actually commented on the news but a source told US Weekly that Pax and Zahara have “smaller parts” than Vivienne and apparently won’t have speaking roles. If you’re wondering why Shiloh, Maddox and Knox have been left out of the action, then you should probably know that Shiloh was offered a part as well but “she was bored and not in the mood during the day her part was supposed to happen so she ended up not being in the film.” Kids, eh?
Continue reading: Nepotism Alert! More Of Angelina Jolie's Brood Cast In Maleficent