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Entries in Dame Judi Dench (12)

Tuesday
May272014

Beauty Vs Beast: Lions Vs Lambs

JA from MNPP here - last night I learned that one way to know a specific horror movie has left a deep mark on your brain is if you can identify it down to a scene just by hearing the screams of the actor(s) in said horror movie. It's like Name That Tune, but the nightmare version. I was minding my own business last night watching TV when what should erupt from the other room but horrible, blood-curdling shrieks. Thankfully I immediately knew the shrieks and felt no need to call 911 - my boyfriend was watching The Silence of the Lambs and those were the cries of Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) as she first gets a good look at the walls of the hole she's been tossed in by her captor Buffalo Bill.

A terrifying moment, to be sure, in a movie filled to the brink with them. And that alone might've been enough to inspire this week's edition of "Beauty Vs. Beast," but if you add on the second season finale of NBC's series Hannibal just aired this past week (please tell me we've got some fans up in here - it's blowing everything else on TV out of the water right now) along with the fact that last week was Brooke Smith's birthday (love her) and it's Ted "Buffalo Bill" Levine's birthday in two days, and we've smack-dab in a cannibal maelstrom. What a delicious place to be!

Instead of having her face off against one of the killers it seemed best to leave Clarice Starling out of this competition - partially because she'd clearly be the easy winner, but moreso because the film itself uses the over-the-top grotesquerie of Bill as a mask to deflect us from Hannibal's true face. Are we fooled? Do Hannibal's manners trump Bill's, uh, dancing skills? Let it be known!

 

You've got until Monday to vote, and to spill some love and chianti out for your picks in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we pit the difficult-to-love ladies of Notes on a Scandal against each other, and y'all told Sheba to find herself another park-bench to sit on, the spot next to Baraba (Judi Dench) was taken. Armondo summed up the thought process it seems like most of us went through in the choosing...

"Sheba is hot and all, but apart from being immoral, she is so superficial and selfish that you cannot help but find her grating. It is like she has never matured and still thinks she is a young girl without nothing to worry about. And she is guilty of her own downfall (though she still thinks herself blameless). Barbara in the other hand is just a sociopath and a weirdo, but she's still aware of the effects of her actions (for better or for worse). So there's that at least."

Monday
May192014

Beauty Vs Beast: To Covet A Heart

JA from MNPP here, with perhaps one of the least cut-and-dry editions of our "Beauty Vs Beast" competition yet -- in honor of Cate Blanchett being awesome at Cannes let us compare and contrast the beauties and the beasts (mostly the beasts) within the two wicked school-teachers at the heart of 2006's Notes on a Scandal.

Let's get our moral compromise on...

 

Well which is it gonna be, folks? The flighty pederast or the cruel closet-case? Choices, choices, choices. And please let us know what your reasons are for choosing what you choose in the comments. It's an up-hill battle loving either of the ladies.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we we were riding in hot on the back of Zac Efron (full stop) ... and Seth Rogen in the comedy-hit Neighbors - where did your loyalties fall? At 60% of the vote we kept it high and tight and Hollywood pretty with Efron, although Seth definitely put up a good fight - he's got surprising stamina, that one. MeIAmMariahTheElusiveChanteuse (aka Greatest Name Ever) captured the crude center of the conundrum:

"My heart is saying Seth, but my hole is saying Zac. So conflicted."

Wednesday
Nov272013

Russell vs. Mansfield: A Guide to Recognizing Your Ja(y)nes

abstew here. Dame Judi Dench returned to theaters this weekend with the Oscar-buzzing Philomena. (She gets Oscar buzz for nearly everything she's in. She even makes it happen with James Bond films!)

I had a teacher that used to say

Ask me my three favorite actresses and the answer is: Judi Dench, Judi Dench, Judi Dench.

And as great as Dame Judi is in the film, Steve Coogan (who also adapted the screenplay) is equally strong as the investigative reporter helping Philomena, Martin Sixsmith. The two play off each other well in a salty, sweet relationship.

There's a scene in the film which is bound to catch the attention of cinephiles...

They enter the convent where Philomena's son was taken from her ('The Sisters of No Mercy,' as Sixsmith snarkly calls it) to investigate what happened. On the wall in the waiting room is an autographed photo of actress Jane Russell. Coogan stares at the picture and when the Sister he's meeting with comes in, he asks, "What's Jayne Mansfield doing here?"

"I think you mean Jane Russell," the Sister corrects him.

They then have an exchange where Sixsmith tries to remember which one is which and ultimately remembers that Jayne Mansfield (not on the wall) is the one who got her head chopped off in a car accident. Which seems to be the only thing people seem to remember about poor Jayne.

But it all made me wonder: How well do you, TFE readers, know your Jane Russells from your Jayne Mansfields? Below are 10 factoids. Try to guess which fact is about Jane Russell and which is about Jayne Mansfield. After guessing, click on the read more at the bottom for the answers!

 

MANSFIELD or RUSSELL? TEN FACTOIDS
Try to guess which fact is about Russell and which is about Mansfield. After guessing, click on the 'read more' at the bottom for the answers!

1. Born in Bryn Mawr, PA with the name Vera Palmer. 

2. Was a Playboy Centerfold in the early years of the magazine and appeared in every February issue of the magazine for 4 consecutive years

3. A censorship debate with the production code about the amount of cleavage displayed in the film delayed the release of her film debut 2 years after it was filmed. It didn't get a wide release until 5 years after it was filmed!

4. Won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer - Female

5. Known for her curvy figure, Bob Hope once joked, "Culture is the ability to describe <this actress> without moving your hands."

The look of disdain on Sophia Loren's face is priceless!

6. Starred in television commercials for the Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra and the 18 hour bra line "For us full-figured gals".

7. Both actresses were each married 3 times and mothers to multiple children, but she is the mother of the Emmy award nominated star of TV's Law and Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay.

8. Formed a gospel singing quartet called The Hollywood Christian Group. Their song, "Do Lord" reached 27 on the Billboard charts.

9. Her signature color was pink. Her Beverly Hills mansion was painted the color and named "The Pink Palace". And long before Mary Kay representatives were doing it, she drove around in a pink Cadillac.

10. Has her feet and hands immortalized in cement in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

And now, a musical break before the answers. It'll be the gayest thing you'll see all day:

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May122012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For the Elderly and Beautiful)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Outsource your elders. Ship them off to India!

Though some media pundits scoffed last weekend when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened for business the same weekend as The Avengers (previously reviewed) it turned out to be a savvy move. Where else were the spandex averse or Downton Abbey addicts to go? (Rather perversely, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel denies Abbey addicts additional showdowns between Lady Crawley and the Dowager Countess; Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith's stories don't intertwine much) In fact, this British retirees in India dramedy should have opened even wider since they had the nation's second best per screen average and could have cracked the top ten with far fewer theaters than the other movies.

But enough about money. Hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) is a dreamer, not a businessman. His family is losing patience with his dream and time is running out for the hotel. It's running out for the guests, too, as they near the end of their lives. The name of Sonny's establishment is actually “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People”. The movie's title lops off those last five words which only proves Sonny's business model's point: he believes that most countries don't care about their elderly so he'll outsource old age. Come to India and live out your autumn years. [More after the jump]

Dev Patel, drinking the hotel's entire coffee budget before each take.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May072012

Monday Monologue: Barbara's Revenge

Dame Judi Dench has been on my mind lately what with the eye condition, a new James Bond film coming and Marigold Hotel in theaters. So herewith an article from 2008. If you only started reading The Film Experience in the past few years, it's new to you! May is also Mental Health Awareness Month so let's appreciate some crazy bitches...

They always let you down in the end."

My contrarian opinion of Dame Judi Dench is that sometimes she phones it in. How many ways can one play the quippy unfazeable grande dame? But in Notes on a Scandal (2006), she's unimproveable. Faced with the atypical character of "Barbara Covett", Dench rises and soars. The film's politics are horrendous: boo hiss --an evil predatory spinster lesbian attempts to destroy a heteronormative marriage! But the actress is magnificent, giving the film a metronome precise drip drip of theatrical malice.

My favorite sequence in the film runs from Barbara's inconsolable grief for her lost feline, through the resulting perceived betrayal by Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), who doesn't have time to console her, to the exquisite sequence when she is confronted with another teacher with amorous feelings for Sheba. She boils with vengeance in mind.

You'd like me to ask Mrs Hart if she's inclined to commit adultery with you? I don't want you to suffer more than is necessary. No one should. I couldn't possibly speak for Mrs. Hart but instinct tells me you might not be her type. 

"She's got a type, then?" is her co-worker Brian's sad response. The film has a few exquisite and small supporting turns and Phil Davis (also terrific as the husband to Vera Drake) is aces in this scene, all befuddled crush turned to shell shock.

Kettle's boiled. Dench likes her tea with bile.

Oh it's no reflection on your attractiveness. My impression is that her preference is for the younger man...surprisingly young; Boys, I'm told. Naturally she doesn't discuss any of this with me but I've been hearing some rather alarming rumors about one in particular.

Playground gossip, staffroom whispers and so on. You might know the boy in question. Ummm... Stephen Connelly."

Brian indicates that her tea is ready.

I think the kettle's boiled.

[V.O.] You say the words and it's done. Easy. Judas had the grace to hang himself. But only according to Matthew, the most sentimental of the apostles. Is this the last night of her old life? I wonder how long my messenger will take?

People like Sheba think they know what it is to be lonely but of the drip drip of long haul no end in sight solitude, they know nothing. What it's like to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the laundrette or to be so chronically untouched that the accidental brush of a bus conductor's hand sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. Of this, Sheba and her like have no clue.

Dench's every line reading is carved out of the tough bark of decades of loneliness and cynicism; if you could cut through Barbara's hardened shell, you'd see disappointment and repression expanding like rings in an ancient tree. As the words escape her, she sharpens them to a lethal point with fermented emotions and curdled wit, wielding them like weapons. Earlier in the film, Barbara refers to herself as a battle axe. For a woman drowning in self-delusion, it's a surprising lucid self-assessment.