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Entries in Judi Dench (19)

Saturday
Feb132016

Valentine's - A Room With a View

Team Experience is celebrating Valentines Day with favorite love scenes. Here's Lynn Lee on an 80s classic

Everyone who loves this film remembers The Kiss.  It’s the moment proper Edwardian girl Lucy Honeychurch (a very young Helena Bonham-Carter), vacationing in Italy, discovers romantic passion for the first time.  She doesn’t know it yet, but the odd free-thinking young man she’s only recently met (Julian Sands) is her soulmate.  He knows it, though.

Besides being (literally) storybook-romantic—a sun-drenched poppy field in Italy! lush soprano aria in the background!—the kiss is also wreathed in comedy, as the film cuts back and forth between Lucy, wending her way uncertainly towards George, and her fussy chaperone Charlotte (Maggie Smith) bonding with another fellow tourist, a hacky romance novelist (Judi Dench), over scandalous love stories before she starts to worry about Lucy.  Meanwhile, the Italian driver who led Lucy to George looks on in amusement at what he has wrought.  He knows what’s up, his own public display of affection having been previously smacked down by these uptight Brits.  But the Kiss will not be denied.

 

It’s also the kiss that keeps on giving for the rest of the movie.  Its memory haunts Lucy during her utter failure of a first kiss with her fiancé, Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis, vying for comic MVP with Maggie Smith), in England.  It reappears again at a critical and exquisitely awkward moment as a passage in a terrible romance novel, penned by none other than Charlotte’s novelist friend, that the clueless Cecil just happens to read out loud to none other than Lucy and George.  The tension that was simmering since George’s reentry into Lucy’s life then comes to full boil, precipitating a chain of events that eventually forces out in the open what Lucy’s been denying for too long: she and George belong together. 

All thanks to one glorious kiss.

Our Valentine's Series
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Before Sunset (2004)
The Painted Veil (2006)
Love Songs (2007)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Beyond the Lights (2014)

 

Friday
Jan012016

Who's Your Favorite Dame?

Imelda Staunton. Photographed by David Rose. [Source]Here's Murtada on his favorite subject; British ladies of a certain age who delight on screen and stage.

Happy New Year! Some Brits usher in the new year celebrating their newly bestowed knighthoods. This year Queen Elizabeth II honors, among others, Idris Elba and David Oyelowo. There are different designations to the honor. For example Imelda Staunton became a CBE i.e. not yet a Dame but well on her way. It’s obvious The Queen hasn’t ventured out to the theater in 2015 or Staunton would be Dame Squared for her triumphant Mama Rose alone.

This year’s newly minted Dames are British TV stalwart Barbara Windsor (EastEnders, the Carry On movies) and Welsh stage veteran Sian Phillips (Daniel Day Lewis’ mother in The Age of Innocence), who was once Mrs. Peter O’Toole.

But when we talk dames we mostly talk about the holy trinity who still have vibrant movie careers: Judi, Maggie and Helen. No last names necessary if you say Dame first. Oscars and other awards, big successes on the boards on both sides of the Atlantic and long thriving careers for all three.

But who is your favorite? To help you decide let’s dig a bit deeper. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep142015

Judi Dench as Paulina in "The Winter's Tale"

Manuel here to talk theater. Well, theater that will be soon coming to a screen near you at least. Did you know Judi Dench, who has been a staple of the London stage for over 50 years (oh to have been in the audience for her Sally Bowles in 1968!) is starring in Kenneth Branagh's mounting of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale this fall?

Now you do! And now we also have the first look at Dench as Paulina. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar062015

Posterized: Judi Dench 

Today marks yet another onscreen reunion of besties & Dames Maggie and Judi: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in limited release (it goes wide next weekend). They shared a dressing room at the Old Vic in the 1950s and they've been tight ever since.

Dame Judi & Dame Maggie in 2014

They're both Oscar Royalty of course, among the most beloved actresses to ever live, but Judi Dench's story is particularly interesting since it took her so long to cross over into full stardom. Long a valued commodity in the UK, America was slow to discover her. Perhaps it started with the international hit and Best Picture nominated A Room With a View (where she & Maggie played spinster friends - they both won BAFTAs for their roles, Maggie in Lead, but only Maggie went on to an Oscar nomination with a demotion to supporting). By the time Judi got her first true lead film role in Her Majesty Mrs Brown, Maggie was already a two-time Oscar winner, with five nominations under her belt. 

So Judi's late life success is a unique story. Let's look at her career since her stateside breakthrough. How many of these 24 Judi Dench films have you seen?

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct222014

Meryl Streep's Set to Sing Off-Key (& Other News)

Manuel here with some Streeptastic news.

Meryl Streep has just signed on to play Florence Foster Jenkins in an upcoming Stephen Frears film. Florence will follow the eponymous protagonist, a New York heiress whose lack of musical talent didn’t stop her from pursuing a career in opera in the early twentieth century. This should be good news for us Streep fans because it means we may get three back-to-back-to-back musically-centered Meryl films in a row. Remember she’s set to play Maria Callas for Mike Nichols’ HBO adaptation of Terence McNally’s Master Class while she’s currently filming Ricky and the Flash, the Diablo Cody-penned Jonathan Demme film about an aging rock-star. More thrillingly, the Frears/Demme/Nichols triple punch is the closest we’ve gotten in a while to Streep committing to working with top-tier directing talent (no offense to David Frankel, Philippa Lloyd and Philip Noyce).

It’s as if she’s been secretly reading TFE where Nat has constantly pointed out Streep’s aversion to working with high calibre directors (give or take a Jonze or an Anderson detour). It’s thrilling stuff even if it’ll continue the “Meryl gets all the roles” narrative that’s both inescapable and inevitable; she is a bankable actress after all.

I didn’t want to just share Meryl’s news (lest we faulted for playing favorites), so let’s play a game of Six Degrees and offer some more news tidbits in the process:

Frears directed Mrs Henderson Presents which is being turned into a musical at the Theatre Royal Bath next summer. That film starred Judi Dench, who is currently filming the Sam Mendes produced The Hollow Crown, a BBC drama that’s been adapting Shakespeare’s history plays. Her co-stars for this concluding entry include Benedict Cumberbatch, Sophie Okonedo (!!) and Sally Hawkins.

Dench starred in another Shakespeare property back in 1968 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with the Queen herself, Helen Mirren. It has just been announced that Mirren's Stephen Daldry-directed play The Audience, a sequel of sorts to her Oscar-winning role, is making its way to Broadway next Spring.

Daldry directed not only Streep but Julianne Moore in The Hours; Moore is currently filming Freeheld alongside Ellen Page. The film, focused as it is on a lesbian couple's struggle to apply for domestic partnership, just found itself frozen out of a filming location (a Catholic school), presumably because of its subject matter.

Moore starred with in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Ryan Gosling, whose new 1970s thriller, The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black, just added Kim Basinger to its cast. Basinger, who we haven’t seen a while, starred in Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter in 1994 with none other than Julia Roberts. Once the reigning queen of romantic comedies, Roberts famously starred in Notting Hill opposite Hugh Grant... who’ll be Meryl’s co-star in Florence.

Phew! That was slightly harder than I thought.

What other renowned film directors would you like to see Streep work with? What other connections between Streep, Mirren, Dench, Moore and Basinger did I miss as I attempted to thread them all together? Are you hoping that in a couple of month’s time we’ll be able to group these women together because they’re all Oscar winners?

Monday
Jan272014

Interview: Joanna Scanlan on 'The Invisible Woman' and Working with Icons

Photo via Beige PlusThere's a wonderful little moment in Notes on a Scandal (2006) in which a well meaning but unwelcome teacher by the name of Sue Hodge advises her fellow schoolteachers (played by Dami Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett), who are struggling with their students to "concern yourself with the gems". I'm shamelessly borrowing that line right now to talk about the British actress who utters it, because she is one.

Joanna Scanlan co-wrote and starred in the BBC series Getting On (now enjoying an American remake) and has played witches, nurses, schoolteachers, and more yet she's largely unknown to American audiences. She's got her best cinematic showcase yet in The Invisible Woman as Catherine Dickens, the neglected depressed wife of the famous writer Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes). Her husband may neglect her and the Oscar conversation did, too (despite its ostensible purpose being to, well, concern itself with the gems) so we're picking up their slack.

She's remarkable in the movie and though the title does not literally refer to her character, we like to think it has a double meaning. The movie business is not a meritocracy but it there's any justice Joanna Scanlan won't be an 'invisible woman' much longer but will be popping up in more roles worthy of her. I eagerly telephoned her to discuss her role in this Oscar nominated picture (Best Costume Design) and her nifty habit of acting opposite true icons like Dench, Fiennes, Pfeiffer, and Blanchett. 

Our conversation is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec102013

Top Ten: The Oldest Best Actress Line-Ups

Statistics show us time and again that Oscar likes his ladies young. In fact 29 is the most common age that leading ladies win Oscars (for comparison's sake only one man under 30 has ever won Best Actor). And yet, as we speed towards the Oscar nominations, barring an extreme long-shot fresh-faced spoiler like an Adèle (20) or a Brie (26), this year's Best Actress Lineup will likely skew incredibly 'vintage'. If the expected five make an historic "all winners lineup" it's going to be the oldest lineup ever. Now, there is some degree of unusual feeling (I share it) that Meryl Streep (64) is vulnerable to a shut-out for her work in August: Osage County -- something that seemed unthinkable even a few months ago -- but even if she doesn't make the shortlist, there's no guarantee it'll be someone at the beginning of their career. Amy Adams (39) and Julia Louis Dreyfus (52) might still triumph over Brie or Adèle for that hotly contested fifth slot.

So let's look at...

The Top Ten Most Mature Best Actress Shortlists

This top ten is actually only nine years long. I'm reserving a spot for 2013. Barring a major upheaval, the 2013 lineup will be our oldest on average ever. Unless Adèle makes it... and even then it'll come close to being the very oldest. A funny thing occurred while researching this: the years I thought of as elderly weren't. I immediately thought of 1950, for example, with those grande dame performances by All About Eve's Bette Davis and Sunset Boulevard's Gloria Swanson (two of the best performances to lose the Oscar) but both of those women were barely 50 (Grande Dame used to start young!) and the rest of the category was young, younger and youngest. I was also wrong about these years which average a touch or a lot younger than I remembered or was expecting: 1960, 1962, 1974, 1990 and 1992.

Runners Up [3-way Tie] With an Average Age of 41.2 years
1997 As Good as It Get's Helen Hunt, the winner, was the median age of 34.
1996 Fargo's Frances McDormand, another median age winner, was 37.
1952 Come Back Little Sheba's Shirley Booth, pictured left and recently discussed, was the oldest at 52 and the winner. (She's still the only woman to win Best Actress during her fifties. Isn't that insane?) Can you guess which years made the list before you click to proceed? Try it silently for fun...

Click to read more ...