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Entries in Kenneth Branagh (6)

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.

Monday
Oct102011

NYFF: "My Week With Marilyn" 

Poor Marilyn. The press hounded her. Fans would tear off pieces of her soul if they could. Co-stars and directors dissed her. Men wouldn't leave her alone (not that she wanted them to). And now Simon Curtis is holding yet another Monroe seance -- her soul will never rest in peace -- with his feature film debut My Week With Marilyn (2011),  a "true" story about the making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).

True must come with quotes. The film is based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, the third assistant director on the "lightest of comedies" directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Can we trust the awestruck account of a young movie dreamer's version of his friendship and quasi-romance with the world's most famous actress? My Week With Marilyn emphatically does despite the amusingly placcid (if repetitive) moonyness with which the talented Eddie Redmayne portrays him, as if he's just as doped up as Marilyn, but much smarter about his cocktails of choice.

"Surprise!" Marilyn escapes with Colin Clark, lowly third assistant directorClark was 23 going on 24 when he met the immortal bombshell while hustling into the movies, landing his first job on a set through the help of his father's connections, despite the fact that the father did not approve of him 'running off to the circus'. The details of Clark's adventure in the movies are both acted out and explained to us in voiceover in the film's inelegant screenplay, which prefers for the characters to state the obvious or speak their psychologies aloud. Sometimes they even speak Marilyn's aloud; in the great transitive powers of true celebrity, everyone on earth is her psycho-therapist. Sometimes this obviousness of speech has comic payoffs (the film works best as a comedic clash between proper British theatrical training and idiot-savant American stardom) and once it even pays off both dramatically and comedically in a sadly funny scene where Colin Clark tells it like it is, succinctly, to Marilyn. He understands Marilyn and Olivier's mirrored goals and prophesies the failure of the movie.

Thought Balloons as dialogue and Michelle's performance after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct062011

Yes, No, Maybe So: "My Week With Marilyn"

Visual information was a long time coming with My Week With Marilyn, but now at last the trailer for the film has arrived giving us a peek at Michelle Williams as Hollywood's most famous blonde bombshell and the story of a diversion with a reporter during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.

Dougray Scott and Michelle Williams as Mr & Mrs Arthur Miller

In the trailer we see lots of Michelle as Marilyn and a pissy Sir Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier. Judi Dench seems starstruck, Dominic Cooper annoyed, and Eddie Redmayne appropriately in over his head as the young man she takes up with.  Let's break it down. Do we wanna see it and why?

Breakdown and full trailer after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun222011

Oscar Whispers: Marilyn & Madonna

I've recently had two brief conversations with people who have seen My Week With Marilyn and Madonna's W.E. respectively. I was happy to have the conversations so closely together because it's always fun to pair Madonna with Marilyn and one doesn't get the opportunity so much anymore. Plus, aren't we all just itchy to see some real Oscar players emerge?

Left to Right: Michelle as Marilyn, Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark (lead), Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, and Dominic Cooper as Milton Greene

Bear in mind that these are singular tossed off opinions and the only opinions that matter in the Oscar race are the ones from the Opinion Makers within the voting ranks (the Julias, the Beattys, the Spielbergs you know the type), and any opinons marked "General Consensus" which take their time to form. The films are also far from release so they probably saw cuts that weren't final.

The friend who saw My Week With Marilyn was pretty cool on it, finding Michelle Williams difficult to adjust to as the blonde bombshell at first but eventually just fine. The film itself was judged to be lightweight. (Though one man's lightweight is another man's "frothy and charming", don'cha know? See: billions of examples through history... and Oscar history) Kenneth Branagh was singled out for praise for a showy spin as Sir Laurence Olivier. That may be worth noting since we all know that Branagh is a big ham and who better to receive that honey-glazed THESPIAN treatment than pompous Olivier?

But what of Judi Dench, I asked? "Better in Jane Eyre" was the only opinion I wrangled there.

Madonna is hands on with Andrea Riseborough's look on "W.E."The reader who saw Madonna's W.E., which looks at the famous affair of Wallis Simpson and Prince through the eyes of a modern woman in an unhappy marriage, really liked the film but she hopes it gets a new ending. High praise went to the costumes (which we'd already suspected would happen since Arianne Phillips is involved), William Orbit's score (interesting! You'll remember that the composer worked on Madonna's greatest CD "Ray of Light"), and Andrea Riseborough as Wallis Simpson who was deemed 'award-worthy' without any qualifiers.

To my surprise she referred to Riseborough as "supporting". I think I had assumed that like Julie & Julia, the obvious recent predecessor in 'two time frames at once, joined by the modern woman's obsession' that it would essentially be a two-hander with Abbie Cornish (in the present) and Riseborough (in the past) both having lead roles. Maybe it is. Everyone seems to have very different ideas these days about what "lead" and "supporting" means.

It's not much. Just some whispering but it's fun to fantasize about future Oscar players while we wait... and wait... and wait. Only 215 days until nominations! Hee.