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Sir Tom Stoppard Says He Dumbs Down For Modern Audiences

Tom Stoppard Nicholas Hytner

Sir Tom Stoppard, considered by many to be Britain's greatest living playwright, says he is being forced to dumb down to that modern audiences understand his references. Stoppard, 77, said he had to change a scene in his latest play The Hard Problem three times between previous to make a joke more obvious.

Tom StoppardSir Tom Stoppard suggested he had dumbed down his latest play for modern audiences

"It's very rare to connect an audience except on a level which is lower than you would want to connect them on."

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Sir Nicholas Hytner Pulls Out Big Gun Tom Stoppard For Final Season

Nicholas Hytner Tom Stoppard

Sir Nicholas Hytner's final play before his departure from the National Theatre will be an as-yet untitled production written by Sir Tom Stoppard - one of Britain's stage greats.

Tom StoppardSir Tom Stoppard Is Set For A New Play at the National

Sir Nicholas - whose time at the National is coming to an end after 12 years at the helm - revealed he had been "nagging" the acclaimed playwright for a new work since he was appointed director.

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Tom Stoppard Pens Radio Play To Commemorate Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon

Pink Floyd Tom Stoppard

The playwright Tom Stoppard was first asked to concoct a play based on Pink Floyd’s hit album Dark Side of the Moon but the 75 year-old claims he had no idea how to approach it, until recently, despite initially being attracted to the idea. The BBC reports that the radio play entitled Dark Side will be aired on BBC Radio 2 on August 26, 2013 and has been commissioned to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the band’s landmark album.

Starring in the radio play will be Bill Nighy, Rufus Sewell, Iwan Rheon and Amala Okafor and it will incorporate music from the album in its “fantastical and psychedelic” story. Pink Floyd’s guitarist and vocalist, David Gilmour said that he found Stoppard’s script “fascinating” and added “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Dark Side Of The Moon’s 40-year anniversary.” Radio 2’s head of music, Jeff Smith, said that the play would be a “dramatic examination” of the themes of the album, which include “conflict, greed and madness.” A seasoned and talented playwright, Stoppard won an Oscar in 1999, for his play Shakespeare In Love.

The album, Dark Side Of The Moon, which was recently admitted to the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Register, has sold an estimated 50 million copies since its release 40 years ago. 

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Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Hand 'Parade's End' Four Gongs

Benedict Cumberbatch Tom Stoppard

World War I drama, Parade’s End was the big winner at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, picking up four top honours, with ITV’s Jimmy Savile documentary picking up an award also. Parade’s End was named best drama series, while stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall won best actor and best actress.

Sir Tom Stoppard – for his adaption of Ford Madox Ford's novels - won the writer's award. The role saw Cumberbatch take on a more serious role that his Sherlock antics, and provided Dowton Abbey fans with some useful fodder when their favorite period drama wasn’t on. Onto more serious, but no less dramatic viewing, The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which showed several interviews with alleged sexual abuse victims of the DJ and TV presenter, saw ITV pick up best documentary. The piece catalyzed a UK-wide police investigation into the abuse scandal, and led to the departure of the BBC's then director general, George Entwistle. And it was the interview with Entwistle – carried out by John Humphrys on Radio 4's Today programme – that won the Harvey Lee Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting. The judges said the BBC veteran's "tenacious interviewing of politicians and others in the news [had] made his name a byword for fearless inquisition". The hugely popular Twenty Twelve picked up the entertainment/comedy award for it’s satirical take on the preparations for London 2012. Although, with its apparent "uncanny ability to predict real-life events," one would suggest it wasn’t so satirical.

Oh what the fluff, here’s the winners in full:

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HBO's 'Parade's End': Britain's Finest Living Playwright Returns To Television

Tom Stoppard

The highly anticipated period-drama 'Parade's End' premiered on HBO Tuesday evening to pretty strong reviews from critics. The show - perhaps unfairly compared to Downton Abbey before its first airing - boasts a classy pedigree, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and written by Sir Tom Stoppard.

The British playwright - now considered the finest the country has to offer following the death of Sir Harold Pinter - has adapted classic novels for television or film before (Nabokov, Tolstoy, Le Carre) and was this time tasked with bashing Ford Madox Ford's series of four 1920s novels into a five-part miniseries. "The problem was that I had to invent a lot," Stoppard told the Los Angeles Times, citing the stream of consciousness battle scenes as particularly complex to write, "There's no particular dramatic situation, let alone dramatic momentum - a character could be somewhere, or nowhere," he said. The series drew 3.5 million viewers and plenty of strong reviews after premiering in the UK last summer, though it seems Americans are dazzled by Stoppard's overt Englishness too. "Moment after moment the drama deepens, the rich complexity of Ford's characters make themselves felt in all their strangeness and variety," said the Wall Street Journal. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News wrote, "HBO'S new miniseries Parade's End won't stop the "Downton Abbey" DTs. But it can soothe the pain with wonderful visuals and superb performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall and Adelaide Clemens." 

Hall came in for high praise from Stoppard too, "[She] really nailed it - she's one of those ambivalent characters about who you think, well, she really does have a point - he would be very difficult to live with, this good man," he said.

Continue reading: HBO's 'Parade's End': Britain's Finest Living Playwright Returns To Television

Better Than Downton? Benedict Cumberbatch Drama 'Parade’s End' Is A Critical Hit

Benedict Cumberbatch Rebecca Hall Tom Stoppard

Benedict Cumberbatch’s new period drama Parade’s End depicts life in World War I England and the co-production between HBO and the BBC has so far impressed TV critics, with the first of five episodes, due to air on HBO tonight (February 26, 2013). Tom Stoppard worked on the adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s work of fiction and Benedict Cumberbatch (playing jilted husband Christopher Tietjens) and Rebecca Hall (Tietjens’ straying wife, Sylvia) are the undoubted stars of the show.

Both Cumberbatch and Hall have stellar reputations in the UK, though Hall is better established over the pond, having starred in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Once the inevitable comparisons to that other popular period drama Downton Abbey are out of the way, New York Times praise Cumberbatch for his delivery of lines such as ‘I shan’t have a house again, anything beyond a flat looks like impudence in a man who can’t keep his wife,’ writing that “It is to Mr. Cumberbatch’s credit that he delivers such lines without a smile or a smirk, as befits his unusual character.” They add that Cumberbatch is “almost unrecognizable in this role,” a sure sign that he’s not conforming to type – good news for any serious actor looking for challenging roles.

Elsewhere on Popmatters, Hall is described as a “firebrand” and argues that Sylvia “emerges as the most fascinating character in Parade’s End by several degrees.” 

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Anna Karenina Review


Tolstoy's iconic novel may have been filmed several times, but you've never seen a version like this. Clever writer Tom Stoppard and visually whizzy director Joe Wright combine talents with this ambitious film, which sets all of the action in a theatre that expands and shifts into a variety of settings.
Yes, it's rather strange, but it's also drop-dead gorgeous.

Knightley reteams with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement director Wright to deliver another solid performance as Anna, an aristocrat in 1870s St Petersburg who is married to the achingly nice establishment gent Alexei (Law) but falls under the spell of the bland but sexy young heartbreaker Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson). And when she gets pregnant, she has to make a very difficult decision. The central theme is that these people are characters in a play dictated to them by their restrictive Russian society, so they have little choice but head toward tragedy.

Fortunately, there's a parallel plot about a wealthy farmer (Gleeson) who rejects so-called civilised society to stay in touch with the earth. He pursues the smart, young Kitty (Vikander), also entranced with Vronsky but beginning to become disgusted with so-called civilised culture. The film includes a rather huge number of characters, including Anna's womanising brother (Macfadyen) and his longsuffering wife (a particularly excellent Macdonald). And Wright and Stoppard effortlessly let everyone swirl around each other in a huge pool of emotion.

Although this pool often feels frozen over, as the feelings are pretty icy. So it's good to have open-hearted performances by Macdonald and Gleeson to hold our interest. Knightley is excellent, although we never understand why Anna does anything she does (which is the whole point). But perhaps the most impressive thing about this film is its astoundingly beautiful design: the sets, costumes, photography and music are sumptuous and lush, never fussy but always adding to the intensity of each scene. Look for it to deservedly hoover up Oscar nominations across the board.

Rich Cline

Brazil Review

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a civil servant Dilbert at the Ministry of Information. He's a low level office grunt typing his way through a lifetime of meaningless papers in a retro-future totalitarian state. His one escape from his dreary life is his dreams. Bursting with vivid colors, Sam's visions see him with armored wings rising into the bright sky above the cold city. There, in the firmament, Sam battles with Darkness to free a blonde beauty (Kim Greist) imprisoned in a floating cage.

Unfortunately, there are no happy endings for dreamers in this alternate world. Sam always awakens to his mind-numbing existence, only plugging away in a system that rewards only blandness, appeasing his socialite mother (addicted to face lifts) whose only wish is to see her meek son move his way up a corporate ladder to nowhere.

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Empire Of The Sun Review

1941 notwithstanding (and we're all still trying to forget it), Empire of the Sun was Steven Spielberg's first big trip to World War II. For Spielberg, it was an unlikely way to go about it -- examining the British viewpoint of the Japanese incursion into China.

Christian Bale stars as Jim, a British kid born in Shanghai, the son of upper crust expatriates who feel the rising tide of Japanese-Chinese aggression will never reach there strata. Of course it does, and as the Japanese overtake Shanghai, Jim's family is torn asunder, scattering in the chaos. But eventually, like Ben-Hur, Jim returns home to discover his house in ruins and his loved ones gone, so he does the only thing he can think of -- surrender to the Japanese. Only the Japanese don't even want the worthless kid, until finally, after hooking up with a seedy scam artist named Basie (John Malkovich) and his flunkie (Joe Pantoliano), does he manage to get himself arrested and thrown into an internment camp where at least there is the promise of a daily potato and some gruel.

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Shakespeare In Love Review

Easily the best comedy of the year - and the best film of the year to star Joseph Fiennes and feature Queen Elizabeth as a major character - Shakespeare in Love gets a hands-down recommendation for all filmgoers.

The clever premise follows one William Shakespeare (Fiennes), stuck with writer's block while trying to pen "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter" and unable to get his own love life going to boot.

Continue reading: Shakespeare In Love Review

Tom Stoppard

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Tom Stoppard Movies

Anna Karenina Movie Review

Anna Karenina Movie Review

Tolstoy's iconic novel may have been filmed several times, but you've never seen a version...

Shakespeare in Love Movie Review

Shakespeare in Love Movie Review

Easily the best comedy of the year - and the best film of the year...