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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Kenneth Branagh (10)

Sunday
Mar152015

Review: The New "Cinderella" Is a Real Beauty

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

The Game of Thrones Stark family was fond of the imminent warning "Winter is Coming" but their King of North, actor Richard Madden, doesn't need to worry this time. He's due a much happier Royal ending as the latest charming Prince to hit the movie screens. Winter is most definitely never coming to Kenneth Branagh's luxe adaptation of the most beloved of fairy tales, Cinderella. From its opening vista of a well-to-do country estate, filled with warm yellows and verdant greens and one very happy family, a pleasant merchant and his sunny wife (Ben Chaplin & Hayley Atwell) and their kind daughter Ella (Downton Abbey's Lily James), this Cinderella screams springtime and summer.

Its timing couldn't be better after this particularly long winter.

Spoilers if you're freshly arrived from another universe: Ella's loving parents are not long for this world and after imparting their wisdom and reinforcing her enchanted goodness (yes, she talks to animals), they take turns dying. Lady Tremaine, the stepmother, is introduced inbetween those deaths in clever multi-tasking voiceover courtesy of Fairy Godmother Helena Bonham Carter. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar132015

Posterized: Director Kenneth Branagh

Cinderella reuniteds director Kenneth Branagh with his former star and ex-lover Helena Bonham-Carter (in the fairy godmother role)Though Kenneth Branagh had acted in three movies in the 1980s before his international breakthrough, he arrived as a star in a quite a multihypenate way. His adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V (1989) won him instant celebrity as an actor-writer-director. Here's a fun fact -- all five of his Oscar nominations are in different categories: Actor (Henry V), Supporting Actor (My Week With Marilyn), Director (Henry V), Screenplay (Hamlet), Live-Action Short (Swan Song). People forget this now when they wonder about how easily he won a nomination for playing Oscar's beloved Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn but it was something of a inevitability and a cute narrative. Branagh had been compared to Sir Laurence Olivier right from his supernova start in 1989 since Sir Laurence Olivier was also an actor/director who thrilled modern audiences in his time with interpretations of Shakespeare plays for the movies.

Branagh's movie stardom has long since taken a backseat to his directing work -- in truth it began to dwindle as soon as his magical partnership with Emma Thompson crumbled -- but with his 14th movie, Disney's live action Cinderella (2015) opening today, let's look back at his time in the director's chair through movie posters.

How many of these 14 films have you seen? 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec042014

Thoughts I Had... While Looking at Cate Blanchett's 'Cinderella' Poster

Take it away Margaret...

 

  • If you've got (1) Blanchett looking imperious, or better yet (2) Blanchett looking imperious in a fabulous hat, I'm already sold. I sort of hope the whole movie is just Cate posing with glacial elegance in an increasingly imposing series of chapeaux.
  • Now that she's bagged Oscar #2, the time might just be right for her to try some camped-up villainy. 
         * pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist, pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist *
  • I love Cate as a redhead. Reahhhlly I do.
  • And oh look, It's DAISEH from Downton Abbey! Hi, Daiseh! I stopped watching your show in season 2 but I think it's safe to say whatever Julian Fellowes is doing with you, you deserve better.
  • Merciful heavens, the florals are strong with this one. Is that supposed to be what makes them wicked? A heavy hand with competing patterns?
  • Something about the stepsisters being decked out in those bright shades of pink and yellow makes me think of the Power Rangers. I will now be taking volunteers to write the treatment for a Cinderella/Power Rangers crossover.
  • The Oscar campaign for Most Costume Design 2015 starts now. Our gal Sandy Powell should start drafting gloriously blunt acceptance sound bytes now.
  • Not sure what to make of the March release date. Certainly when a big studio picture with no major competition opens in March it has potential to take off into an enormous hit (à la Eyesore in Wonderland or Oz the Great and Powerful) but by that same token it's often where weaker films get sent when they can't hold up against the blockbusters..

What does this new poster bring to your mind?

Wednesday
Nov192014

Yes No Maybe So: Cinderella (2015)

Disney has been on such a billion dollar roll lately by returning to their roots and trusting in princesses and classic children's literature that we're now getting a live action Cinderella. The trailer dropped today. Are we a Yes, No or Maybe You?

Let's try this trailer on for size after the poster (I'm concerned her head might start spinning around Exorcist style, that neck is seriously uncomfortably swivelled) and the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun212013

Bibbidi Bonhamy Boo ♫

I seriously don't know why casting directors exist anymore because there are apparently only 3 actors for every type of role since famous actors are always cast in exactly the same ways. Need an eccentric older British actress to play someone magical? GET HELENA BONHAM CARTER! 

You've probably already heard that everyone's favorite former Victorian china doll turned black arts ghoul turned Burton Queen will play the Fairy Godmother in the new live action Cinderella. (Thankfully this is NOT a musical. I love Helena but I beg her to stop doing musicals!) Somewhere Johnny Depp is grinning like a cheshire cat as they made a blood pact in the early Aughts to never play anything but cartoon characters again! 

Regardless, she'll be great fun in the role and there is a mild twist to this casting actually. For many years now, The King's Speech aside, Helena has been automatically associated with Demented Wickedness. Unless they rethink the whole story this time she's crossed over to the light!

We haven't discussed this film much beyond the casting of Cate Blanchett as Wicked Stepmother which was something of a surprise (if only because it's been a few years since Cate Blanchett was one of the 4 people who were cast in everything without fail) but I'm curious.

Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Cinderella. Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as the Prince. Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) as Drizella

Kenneth Branagh and his casting director have clearly been watching their tellys since they've pulled from Downton Abbey (twice...and yay on McShera as Drizella!!!) and Game of Thrones (Madden gets a happy ending this time!). Branagh is hit and miss as a director but he started off so strong (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Dead Again are all just spirited joys to watch, aren't they?) that I'm always hoping he'll recapture that. But am I the only one who found Lily James almost unbearbably irritating on Downton Abbey? Let's hope that was just her flighty petulant character confusing me!

How long do you suppose Hollywood's recent fascination with fairy tales is going to last?
And if the expiration date is near, which fairy tale do you hope they rethink / revive / regurgitate soon. 

Tuesday
Dec202011

Linkomaniac

The Film Stage on Marc Webb's approach to the 'untold story' of The Amazing Spider-Man which has been told oh so many times before.
Vulture Star Market Charlize Theron
Coming Soon has a chat with shooting star Tom Hiddleston on War Horse and Midnight in Paris
The Playlist Stellan Skarsgard on getting naked for Lars von Trier for next year's The Nymphomaniac. Another von Trier alum Charlotte Gainsbourg will co-star in what Lars is calling his "porno"... not to be confused with the pornographic moments from The Idiots (incidentally one of the director's very best films though people rarely speak  of it now.) 

Moviefone 25 things you didn't know about Harold & Maude for its 40th anniversary.
The House Next Door picks the worst movie posters of the year.
In Contention interviews Kenneth Branagh on his "dangerously obvious casting" as Sir Laurence Olivier
Cinema Blend promised me a list of best "tiny" performances and then just gave me a list of good supporting performances, some of them in several scenes of their movies, one them third largest role in the movie! I need cameo suggestions, for my own awards, c'mon!!!
The Advocate has a fun list: Most Googled gays and lesbians of 2011. Congratulations to the lot of them.
MNPP The trailer for a trailer for a not prequel sequel Prometheus


Pajiba Dustin hates the Dexter finale on Season 6 (as did I) yet plans to come back for more. This is why TV shows outstay their welcome! Don't do it. Jump ship once the show jumps shark. If people exhibited half the patience they give television to the movies Bela Tarr and Sofia Coppola would have 100 million grossers under their belt ;) Why do people hate on "slow" movies but come back for TV shows week after week when it can sometimes takes 12 hours for something to happen which actually advances the plot? 
Paste 100 Best Twitter accounts of 2011... sadly the movie stars aren't bringing it. Real celebs on the list are mostly music and TV talents but Steve Martin and Diablo Cody richly deserve their places on the list. 
Animation Magazine a new Bill Plympton animated short based on Winsor McCay's "Flying House" is hitting the festival circuit. Maybe we'll hear of it in next year's Oscar discussion?  He's been nominated twice before.
The New York Times wonders what's going with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's late breaking Oscar campaign.  

Finally...
If you'd like to read a piece that is fine though unrelated follow up to Michael's recent "Burning Questions" post about being nominated without precursor support, Erik at Movies.com has been crunching other numbers with the same time frame using the Chicago Film Critics of all things as a major predictor. He also reminds us of those unlucky few leads from the past decade who did NOT go on to Oscar nominations despite having the entire big precursor trifecta BFCA/SAG/GLOBE and they were Cinderella Man's Russell Crowe, Sideways' Paul Giamatti, Lars and the Real Girl's Ryan Gosling and A Mighty Heart's Angelina Jolie. Locks can be broken in other words. Of this year's leading crowd that already has all three I'd say only Tilda Swinton and Leonardo DiCaprio seem vulnerable. That said, I'm not prepared to bet against Leo, biopic leads being crack cocaine to AMPAS. Tilda on the other hand I still wonder about given that it's not an Oscar style film by any stretch of the imagination.

Monday
Oct242011

Next To No Ado About Something... Whedon's Shakespeare?

I woke to some potentially thrilling news this morning. It seems that somewhere before during and/or after The Avengers production Joss Whedon brushed up on his Shakespeare. He's completed principle photography on a movie no one even knew was coming.

Here's the announcement in pictorial form.


I can't make out which actor that is in the photo given the black and white and the goggles and the snorkel but the cast is like manna from Whedonverse heaven.

From Buffy The Vampire Slayer / Angel : Tom Lenk, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Riki Lindhome (well she was only in one episode of Buffy but still...); From Serenity / Firefly: Sean Maher and Captain Tight Pants himself Nathan Fillion (Love); From Dollhouse : Reed Diamond (YES!) and Ashley Johnson ; From The Avengers : Clark Gregg ; From The Cabin in the Woods : Fran Kranz ; And the newbies: Spencer Treat Clark (little Lucius from Gladiator all grown up), Brian McElhaney, Nick Kocher, Emma Bates, Romy Rosemont (from Glee), Paul M Meston, Joshua Zar and Jillian Morgese

"Hey nonny nonny"The ad rather cheekily ends with "based on a play" LOL. If it's the play than Joss has gone and made his own modern Shakespeare, following in the footsteps of... well everybody. But Kenneth Branagh in particular.

The last time Much Ado About Nothing hit the silver screen the year was 1993. The movie opened with a particularly ripe Emma Thompson eating grapes and dreamily reciting "hey nonny" before the film erupted into an uproarious everybody-get-naked! bathing credit sequence because Kenneth Branagh was directing on uppers. We're guessing. That movie is so fun. How will Joss's compare? Good luck to whoever has to follow in Emma's lighter than air but somehow still earthy footsteps (I'm guessing its Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick given their placement on the advertisement). If you ask me Much Ado is Emma's second best big screen performance ever. Given the consistent quality of her work, you'll understand that that's extraordinarily high praise.

But what this really means is that 2012 is shaping up to be the year in which Joss Whedon basically takes over the entire world: The Avengers, which he wrote and directed, hopes to dominate the summer box office; the long delayed 3D horror flick Cabin in the Woods, which he wrote, will finally arrive; he's announced plans to return to the web with an (unrelated) followup to Dr. Horrible; and now this surprise film!

Sigh no more, lady! I've learned to live with the constant regurgitation of Shakespeare but I can't say I wouldn't be blissed out if artists everywhere decided as one great collective mass that they wanted to give the old Bard a rest for a decade whilst they investigated the collected works of Tennessee Williams or Anton Chekhov instead.