Vanessa Redgrave - A demonstration takes place outside Pentonville Prison during which writers gathered for a poetry reading demonstrating against prisoners being denied access to books - London, United Kingdom - Friday 28th March 2014
Joely Richardson (l-r), Daisy Bevan and Vanessa Redgrave - 'PUNK: Chaos to Couture' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art - New York , New York , United States - Monday 6th May 2013
L, Camelot, Vanessa Redgrave, R, Guinevere, Queen Christina and Greta Garbo - L) Camelot - Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere; (R) Queen Christina - Greta Garbo as Queen Christina Wednesday 17th October 2012 Hollywood Costume - press view held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes - Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain, Tuesday 17th January 2012 at the New York premiere of 'Coriolanus' shown at the Paris Theater - Red Carpet
In it, all the Merchant Ivory hallmarks are present. The stalwart cast is led by Ralph Fiennes and a trio of Redgraves: Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, and Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave's daughter. The setting -- Shanghai in the period leading up to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 -- is lush and meticulously rendered. And the script, loosely adapted from Junichiro Tanizaki's novel The Diary of a Mad Old Man, was penned by acclaimed writer Kazuo Ishiguro.
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Telling you why would spoil what little plot Mission: Impossibleactually has, so I won't. Instead, let me try to shed a little light on what is a messy, uneven production that had so much promise but delivers so little.
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From the opening shot, where we see the top of Nicholson's half-bald, hair-transplanted head, The Pledge is an exercise in stomaching an ugly truth. Body parts, pony-tailed girls splotched with blood and bruises -- this isn't a film about happy endings and human triumph. Suspected sex perverts lurk down every road in The Pledge, causing Nicholson's character, a retired homicide detective, so much angst that he becomes his own worst enemy.
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Strangely enough, Welles couldn't have been more prophetic.
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Blow-Up, released in America in 1966, marked a departure. It was filmed in English and in color, and, it aspired to something like a plot: a photographer in swinging London (David Hemmings) uncovers evidence of a possible murder in the background of a series of pictures he's taken of a couple in a park. (De Palma's 1981 Blow Out is an obvious homage: A sound man records evidence of a murder on tape while recording ambient sounds.) Initially he's intrigued, since this event carries so much more gravity than the activities of his daily life, such as photographing models, driving around in a sports car, and off-handedly buying expensive antiques. But as the clues dry up, his interest does too. And having lost interest (after most of the prints are stolen), he simply throws the last print away.
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The reality is a bit different.
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Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Fox play the leads of Miss Beaumont and Major Paulo, aging British singles who vacation at a lake in 1937 Italy, just before World War II. The pair soon discover each other: She is a headstrong photographer. He is a crusty businessman who dabbles in sleight-of-hand. Clearly, they are meant for each other, and a love/hate relationship develops on the spot. As the romance progresses, the two abuse and play off each other's insecurities so well, you'd think they really were a couple. When youngsters Miss Bentley (Uma Thurman) and Vittorio enter the picture and complicate matters, the film becomes a game of sly cat and mouse, where you never know who is chasing after whom.
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Twelve year-old Owen Baker (Liam Aiken) has spent his summer break walking the neighborhood dogs to prove to his parents (Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon) that he is responsible enough to have a dog of his own. The dog Owen eventually adopts, which he names Hubble, proves to be much smarter than the ordinary canine; Hubble instantly knows how to sit, stay, roll over, and even play dead. Based on his previous training experience, Owen finds this degree of intelligence extremely odd. In search of answers, late one night Owen follows Hubble into the woods near their home; there he sees his new dog communicating with a bright light in the sky.
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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.
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Teen angst gets the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" treatment in "Girl, Interrupted," James Mangold's disappointingly common and commercial follow-up to his earlier, low-budget wonders "Heavy" and "Cop Land."
Poor Winona Ryder -- in her late 20s and still playing teenagers -- stars as 1960s suburban college drop-out Susanna, a compulsive writer stuck in an upscale asylum for a "rest" after mixing booze and a bottle of pain killers.
Borderline Personality Disorder is the maddeningly vague diagnosis of her psychological bugaboos -- the movie seems to want to make a point about our culture's tendency to seek scapegoats for our neuroses -- so Susanna is packed off to a New England psychiatric hospital where, in between the pill dole from the nursing staff, she writes endlessly in her dog-eared journal and fills it with tell-tale drawings the camera can cut to for moments of cheap insight.
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Director Sean Penn and star Jack Nicholson must have been drawn to the complexity of the haunted ex-detective character at the center of "The Pledge," because he's just about the only thing at all uncommon in this largely conventional serial killer suspense flick.
Although, even calling him uncommon is a stretch. Reno homicide dick Jerry Black is pretty much an assembly-line character -- a freshly retired cop obsessed with finding the "real killer" in an officially closed murder case that was his last assignment. Having made a promise to the parents of the dead little girl, he's still following hunches on his own time because nobody in the precinct believes him.
Doesn't Jerry sound like a regulation Morgan Freeman character? But with Nicholson in the role, he's a bit more of a wildcard. Big Jack brings an element of instability to Jerry that leaves the audience concerned for his sanity when his ostensive retirement finds him buying a gas station at a High Sierra crossroads as his nest egg because it's at the center of a geographic pattern he's discovered for his suspect.
Continue reading: The Pledge Review
Date of birth
30th January, 1937
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