Cinderella premieres as 45 Years wins two prizes at Berlin Film Festival, sequels premiere in London and Los Angeles, Julia Roberts cries on-set and trailers arrive for films starring Adam Scott, Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Hunnam...
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.
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?
After the holiday season, the movie world is slowly cranking up to speed. Although the really big news doesn't start until next week, with the announcement of the Oscar and Bafta nominations.
This week's biggest nominee announcement came from the Producers Guild of America, seen as a taste of the Best Picture Oscar race. The PGA's 10 feature film nominees are: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
For his directing debut, Dustin Hoffman takes no chances, filling the screen with gifted actors who are working from an intelligent script. So even if it's essentially a rather flimsy little drama that never really stretches the talented cast, there's plenty to like along the way. And Hoffman makes sure that we enjoy ourselves, inserting some sparky humour and a bit of romantic comedy to keep us smiling.
It takes place in a stately home for retired British musicians, which is planning its annual fundraising gala. Then iconic soprano Joan (Smith) arrives, and the gala's diva-like director (Gambon) decides to reunite the quartet known for a famed performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. The other three have long been residents: womanising Wilf (Connolly) and ditzy Cissy (Collins) are up for it, but Reggie (Courtenay) has never recovered after his marriage to Jean failed decades ago. Of course, everyone connives to get Jean and Reggie to talk to each other, but getting Jean to come out of retirement to sing again is an even more daunting task.
Aside from the central theme of second chances, there isn't much to this film beyond watching a group of superb veteran actors have a lot of fun on screen together. As the swishy ringleader, Gambon camps it up hilariously, even as everyone else ignores him. Connolly gleefully chomps on Wilf's innuendo-filled dialogue, and Collins radiates warmth. While Sheridan Smith surprises with a strong turn as the doctor in residence. This leaves Smith and Courtenay with the script's only meaty scenes, and they make finding the raw honesty in these wounded people look easy.
Continue reading: Quartet Review
Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy is enjoyably silly but never much more than that. Part of the problem is a lack of chemistry between stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, and the film focuses on goofy slapstick instead of a coherent plot. So we may chuckle along the way, but it's hard to be interested in anything that happens.
Firth is at the centre as Harry, a London art expert who has a score to settle with his arrogant billionaire boss Lionel (Rickman). So he sets up an elaborate scam involving a fake Monet painted by his talented pal Wingate (Courtenay). But they need the help of a sassy Texan, PJ (Diaz), to make it work, and she doesn't play along as Harry imagines she will. Soon she's flirting shamelessly with Lionel while Harry sneaks around in the background setting up the con and struggling to pay for her extravagant stay in the Savoy. Meanwhile, Lionel is trying to make a deal with a group of hard-bargaining Japanese businessmen.
While the Coen brothers' script bursts with absurd wit, Hoffman directs the film as a mindless farce, missing every chance for black comedy. From the animated Pink Panther-style titles, the tone is light and frothy, the characters are paper thin and the plot's convolutions never seem to amount to anything. Most of the big set-pieces are irrelevant asides, such as a half-hearted scene involving the lion that's featured far too prominently on the movie poster. Or a long sequence in which Firth cavorts around the Savoy without his trousers. It certainly doesn't help that Firth and Diaz never generate even a spark of attraction between them.
Continue reading: Gambit Review
Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay - Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay Monday 15th October 2012 56th BFI London Film Festival - Quartet - Premiere Arrivals
Colin Smith, the classic angry young man of disaffected postwar England, puts it all right out there in the film's first line, "Running's always been a big thing in our family, especially running away from the police." Played by a brooding Tom Courtenay, Colin is doing quite a bit of running in general when the police finally catch up with him for breaking into a bakery (a crime that is only mentioned at first, we'll only see it all much later, gradually built up to in flashback). Sent off to a reform school, Colin at first sets himself apart through his sarcasm, the first line of defense for any proper cinematic anti-hero. Despising everyone pretty equally -- especially the whingeing new administrator, spouting new-fangled psychological nonsense that's as condescending as the school's old-fashioned authoritarian rot -- Colin finds a release of sorts in running. It seems a pure thing, especially when he's given leave to go on unsupervised practice runs in the countryside, where he gambols through woods and babbling brooks while jazz tinkles on the soundtrack. Simple and ultimately pointless, it's nevertheless a sight better than his previous life.
Continue reading: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Review
2002 will earn but a single Dickens adaptation, a motion picture of Nicholas Nickleby, perhaps Dickens' least-read work and one of his most wandering (the novel being more than 800 pages long).
Continue reading: Nicholas Nickleby Review
In Lean's hands, the book is transformed into a sprawling epic and a lot of the subtlety is removed -- but despite all the lurid images and overdramatic camera work, the result is not as overwrought as one might have expected. After all, Russia is a big place, and communism is a big subject. Fortunately, the screenwriters of yesterday were not as heavy-handed as today's, and often the dialogue is nearly as rich as the costumes and settings.
Continue reading: Doctor Zhivago Review