Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stoker – review

The schlockier this Hitchcock-inspired gothic nightmare gets, the betterThe South Korean director Park Chan-wook makes an eye-catching English-language debut with his outrageous quasi-remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt. Where … Continue reading

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Oscars protest by visual effects workers over Life of Pi

More than 400 visual effects artists converge on Academy Awards to demand ‘piece of the Pi’ as work dries up

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The Oscar night red carpet has been hit by a protest over the treatment of visual effects artists in the wake of the closure of a high-profile visual effects company that worked on the Oscar-winning hit Life of Pi.

Several hundred people reportedly congregated outside the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles as the stars walked the red carpet, demanding better treatment for the artists who make the spectacular visuals for blockbuster movies possible. The protest was planned after the well-known Rhythm & Hues effects house filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, shortly after winning a Bafta for its work on Life of Pi.

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Song for Marion – review

Paul Andrew Williams made an impressive debut in 2006 with London to Brighton, a brutally realistic crime movie that he followed with a couple of less good but still enjoyable thrillers. With Song for Marion he changes direction, pulling together into a crowd-pleasing, tear-jerking package some elements of Brassed Off, Calendar Girls, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet and TV’s The Choir. Shot around Tyneside and Durham, but with no particular regional feeling, it focuses on the long-married lower-middle-class couple, Marion and Arthur, both well played by Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp.

She’s ebullient, outgoing and terminally ill. He’s gruff, laconic, alienated from their son and incapable of showing his feelings. Moreover, he refuses to join the choir of chirpy, eccentric old folk called the “OAPz”, being organised by a patronising young music teacher (Gemma Arterton). Marion represents the life force (working-class division), Arthur the embodiment of British emotional repression. Everything that follows is as predictable, dreary and proverbial as the weather in Manchester.

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Terence Stamp: five best moments

Kneel before Terence as we pay respect to the actor with a look at five of his most memorable movie scenes Continue reading… Continue reading

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Robert Downey Jr to turn episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror into film

Actor buys rights to Jesse Armstrong’s The Entire History of You, with the aim of producing a science-fiction thriller from TV show Continue reading… Continue reading

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John Kerr obituary

Actor who starred as the troubled pupil in Tea and Sympathy on stage and screen

The actor John Kerr, who has died aged 81, won a Tony award in his first starring role on the Broadway stage, as Tom in Tea and Sympathy in 1953, and subsequently appeared in the 1956 film version directed by Vincente Minnelli. Robert Anderson‘s play, in which a schoolboy “confesses” to his housemaster’s wife that he might be homosexual – only to be seduced out of the notion by the sympathetic listener – was considered so controversial that it was restricted to a “members only” theatrical run in London, and Minnelli’s film received an X certificate, despite modification, notably in the suggestion that the housemaster was gay.

Kerr starred as the boy, although by then he was in his 20s. Born in New York, son of the actors Geoffrey Kerr and June Walker, he had already graduated from Harvard, played in summer stock and made his Broadway debut in 1952 in Bernardine. He made a handsome hero and was superbly matched with Deborah Kerr (no relation) as she dispensed tea and largesse in equal measure. Although the movie was sanitised, the dialogue remained intelligent, the premise timely for the period and the acting exceptional under Minnelli’s elegant guidance.

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Helen Mirren: five best moments

The prime Mirren-ster dazzles in these clips from the actor’s roster of memorable performances. Have we missed any? Continue reading… Continue reading

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Alfred Hitchcock: ‘Psycho was a joke’

In a newly discovered 1964 tape from the BBC archives, the director makes the remarks about his most shocking film. But would he be horrified to find people taking him seriously?It was the film that outraged the censors, terrified the public and prompt… Continue reading

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Groundhog Day: the perfect comedy, for ever

Bill Murray called it ‘probably the best work I’ve done’ and, 20 years after its release, Groundhog Day can still take your breath away. Its original screenwriter Danny Rubin and admirers such as director David O Russell explain its lasting appeal

I am holding for David O Russell, the Oscar-nominated director of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, who has agreed to talk about one of his all-time favourite films: the comic masterpiece Groundhog Day, released in the US 20 years ago this month. (It reached the UK in May 1993.) But the person on the other end of the line doesn’t sound like Russell: it’s more of a shrill whine, the vocal equivalent of nails on a blackboard. Then the penny drops.

“Ryan? It’s Ned! Ned Ryerson! Bing!” After a prolonged chuckle, Russell drops his impersonation of Groundhog Day’s irksome insurance salesman, a minor but intensely memorable character, and explains excitedly that he recently met Andie MacDowell, one of the film’s stars. “She came to a screening of Silver Linings Playbook and I was, like: ‘Oh my God, you were in one of the greatest motion pictures of all time.’ She goes: ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral?’ I said, ‘No, Groundhog Day!’ I would give my left arm to have written that fucking script. It’s the only movie I think of from that period other than the ones by Quentin [Tarantino]. It makes me mad because I would so like to make a film like that. Oh man, I could go on for ever about that movie …”

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