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Entries in Kenneth Branagh (12)


Why Isn't 'Cinderella' an Oscar Contender?

Glenn here.

You will no doubt have read – or least seen the headlines – that people are saying that Ridley Scott’s The Martian should be taken very, very seriously as a Best Picture contender. I’ve even seen people claiming it could win, which seems awfully bullish given its hastily rising status in Oscar circles is due almost entirely to the film’s overwhelming success at the box office in the face of a glut of underperforming Oscar players like Steve Jobs. But amid this new wind of blockbuster excitement and the snickers at (contractually obligated) Oscar campaigns for other big-budget, uber-successful movies, there’s one film that has so far gone under the radar in the conversation and ought to be taken far more seriously than it likely will be.

Yes, I mean Cinderella... more after the jump

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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. 

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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...]

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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? 

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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?


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...

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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.