The return of Star Wars: an evil empire in Jedi clothing?
Next month ensure the eagerly awaited arrival of The Force Awakens. A good moment to examine the franchises timeless mass appeal
A long time ago, when everyone was taking day trips to a galaxy far, far away, I decided to stay put on our drab little planet. For months I ignored the blis of the individuals who returned home babbling about the marvels they had witnessed. Eventually my resistance weakened: late in the summer of 1977, I decided to see Star Wars after all. By that stage it wasnt easy. Cultists were attaining multiple return visits, and tickets were scarce. But I managed to buy one for a late-night session in a London cinema, where the mood of contagious excitement erupted every few minutes into whoops and cheers. I was merely there, I sternly told myself, out of culture curiosity. Two hours later I stumbled back into the empty streets, my head reeling as I hummed the fanfare by John Williams a marching through space scored for blaring trumpets and thunderous drums that introduced a wild, unstoppable ride, a rollercoaster of giddy delights. Star Wars “ve earned it” terse, bold title: here was a cosmic carnival, a flaring light show that was violent but mercifully harmless.
I sampled other worlds, peopled by animals belonging to no known species, and I watched a blue planet like our own blow up in a re-enactment of the big bang. I also had a preview of our cybernetic future. People were redefined as digital wraiths, whose data could be loaded on to a disc and disgorged from a machine as flickery holograms. Upsetting traditional hierarchies, two metal servants the burnish, prissy butler C-3PO and his squat companion R2-D2, apparently a dustbin with a brain bossily managed the affairs of their accident-prone masters. I liked this pair so much that I even bought a poster of them, which I pinned up in my college rooms in Oxford, discreetly out of sight of the student to whom I was teaching English literature.
Portman, however, overcame her disdain and accepted the job, and I gradually caught up on DVD with the five episodes Id missed. Now, with the series due to resume when The Force Awakens is released next month, Im obliged to admit that Star Wars is inescapable. The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis recently called it a cradle-to-grave amusement experience, which is literally true. Soon after their emergence from the womb, toddlers can be togged out in romper suits that announce I am a Jedi, or fitted with bibs on which Yoda, resembling a wizened green embryo, deploys his usual back-to-front syntax to demand Feed me you must.
At the other end of life, a Texan cancer patient called Daniel Fleetwood, who in September was given two months to live, campaigned online to be given an early viewing of The Force Awakens , pleading that he was unlikely to survive until its opening date; the movies director, JJ Abrams, granted his wish early in November, and Fleetwood died shortly afterwards. Han Solos Millennium Falcon can whizz through wormholes to emerge in galaxies on the far side of the universe: I hope that the movie eases Fleetwoods journey to his final destination, wherever it may be.
Appearing in instalments throughout the decades, Star Wars has aged with us, and as proof of its longevity the three principal actors from the first cinema goofy, toothy Mark Hamill, sassy Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford with his sly sideways grin will return in wrinklier, more grizzled form in The Force Awakens . The series also narrates the history of the times we have lived through: not only abstruse science fiction, it is political journalism in coded form.
Over the course of the six cinemas( not in chronological order ), a libertarian republic transforms itself into a predatory global empire, much as the United States has done during the last half century. Wed like to avoid imperial entanglements, tells Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi: he is repeating a point first made by George Washington, who in his presidential farewell advised the new country to remain isolated. America kept to itself until 1945, but during the cold war it began to behave like a global bully. In 1983 Ronald Reagan deflected attention from members of the military conceit and commercial rapacity by calling the USSR an evil empire, a phrase borrowed from the synopsis of past events in the early stages of Star Wars . Reagans plan for an aerial shield of rocket deployment platforms had similar origins: it was nicknamed Star Wars because it would supposedly transform nuclear combat into a pyrotechnical blitz to be played out far above us.
When the USSR fell apart, the focus changed. The Star Wars prequels especially Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith , made after 9/11 advise about the curtailment of autonomies in fortified, permanently embattled America. Democracy cant be bothered to put up a fight: Ewan McGregor, playing Obi-Wan Kenobi when young, statements that the senators are merely interested in serving the interests of those who money their campaigns a comment that glances at Washington DC , not the far-flung planet of Coruscant. The sepulchral monarch, who, as personified by Ian McDiarmid, has skin like desiccated parchment and teeth that are lichen-crusted gravestones, virtually quotes George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld when he explains that security and continuing stability are his regimes imperatives. As for The Phantom Menace , the title might serve as a caption for the vial of imaginary anthrax hold back by Colin Powell at the United Nation in 2003 during his speech to rally support for the invasion of Iraq. Star Wars begins by proclaiming Princess Leias determination to restore freedom to the galaxy, though its never clear just what all those twinkling starrings need to be freed from and when we do get a clue, the explanation is dismayingly banal. For citizens of the galactic republic as for those in favour of the Republican party, the sticking point is the iniquity of taxation. Turmoil resumes in The Phantom Menace because trade routes to outlying star systems are being taxed by the greedy trade federation. A pact has to be signed by the commerce guild and the corporate alliance, which are supported by the banking clan( whose representative is a corpse with a clerical collar) and the techno union( which sends a metal leviathan to the negotiations ). Until Lucasfilms sale to Disneyin 2012, Star Wars was distributed by 20 th Century Fox, so its seducing to cast Rupert Murdoch as the baleful megalomaniac monarch, keen to widen his piratical brand of capitalism into all markets. Although the Jedi master played by Samuel L Jackson insists that We are peacekeepers , not soldiers, he unsheathes his lightsaber to keep the airwaves open for the dissemination of American entertainment.
The idea of the Force, central to the fuzzy theology of Star Wars , is disturbingly equivocal. The Jedi think of it as spiritual energy, but the word also entails power, which is colder and more brutal. Star Wars catches both Americas light and dark sides, its naive optimism and its crass, domineering pursuing of earning. Whether we think it good or evil, all of us have been colonised by this empire of images.
Now that CGI effects have become so ingeniously deceptive, its odd to remember the astonishment that Star Wars provoked in 1977. We may be more sophisticated today, but what remains eye-opening about the first three films in the series is the variety of custom-made environments through which they range arid Tatooine, gaseous Bespin with its city in the clouds, or jungly Endor and the virtual zoo of so-called lifeforms they place on display.
Grimsby review- Sacha Baron Cohen’s gags fall flat in cod-Bond caper
1 month ago
The Ali G and Borat creator shows little of his anarchic grandeur in this tame comedy, which is just kept from flatlining by moments of high-impact grossout
Sacha Baron Cohen brings his B-game or maybe even his C-game to this moderate new comedy that basically defeated my attempts to like it.
The film features a lairy football fan from Grimsby with Gallagher-esque hair and position, called Nobby( Baron Cohen ); he discovers that his brother Sebastian( Mark Strong, gamely playing it straight) long-lost in the foster care system, is now a sleek assassin for MI6. Of course the hapless Nobby, along with an entire barmy army of mates, is the only one who can help Strong out after get him into a terrible jam and foil a sinister eugenicist plot to rid an overpopulated world of the working classes.
Steve Coogan once toured a depict called As Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters. Sadly, a less successful character is exactly what Nobby is. There is hardly a sliver of the real anarchic magnificence Baron Cohen proved in Borat, his ruined innocent from Kazakhstan, the satirical punch of his great urban hero Ali G or his Austrian fashion maven Bruno, or even his corrupted Despot from the Middle East. Nobby feelings dated and off-target. Even his northern accent often misses the mark.
For me, the best moment was a bad-taste gag set at a charity event, involving Nobby reacting to some football news just as a child with a terminal illness is brought on stage. Theres also a great line about LinkedIn. But I couldnt help hoping in vain that every line would be that good.
Grimsby has the occasional chuckle and a succession of finely wrought grossout spectaculars which are reasonably entertaining, especially the egregiously yucky elephant bukkake scene, which does deserve an awarding of some kind( perhaps MTVs WTF Moment prize ). Like a kind of high-voltage defibrillator, these touches do keep the movie from flatlining. But with its cod-Bond and mock-action material it carries a weird overall feel, like kids Tv but produced on a lavish scale with added filth. And often theres a worrying hint of late-period Carry On Britfilm sadness.
Nobby himself is a cheerfully outrageous idler and skiver who has a startling way of celebrating football victory with a firework and like Borat, he is the subject of underclass comedy though here slathered with supportive sentimentality. He occupies a bizarre ruining of a hellhole and is utterly happy in a cheekily imagined white-trash world with dozens of children and grandchildren by various partners, the most recent of whom( played by Rebel Wilson) is his devoted love.
Strong, for his part, occupies the entirely different world of the top intelligence officer, but his own lifestyle is of no great interest, and not brought into any sort of meaningful contrast with Nobbys. He merely needs a place to lie low after a hit goes bad, and is forced to settle for grim old Grimsby.
But here he observes to his horror that Nobby has been unable to keep his mouth shut about his brother being a top snoop. The fact is alluded to in the banner strung across the pub for his welcome home party. His cover, once again, is blown. From there, the action soon relocates to South Africa for some of the high-impact disgust humour, the commitment of which I couldnt assist but admire.
There is a string of supporting players dedicated little or nothing to do and no funny lines: Ian McShane and Isla Fisher in mission control; Penelope Cruz as the international woman of mystery; and down the pub in Grimsby there is Johnny Vegas, John Thomson and Ricky Tomlinson. Its possible that they improvised some great stuff which got lost in the edit. They are staggeringly underused in the end product.
Baron Cohens grandeur in character slapstick has created some glorious movies, but the character route is now coming to an end. This unique talent needs to take another direction.
Why Beauty and the Beast isn’t the first Disney movie for LGBT audiences
1 month, 18 days ago
The studio has promised fans its first exclusively gay moment in the live-action fairytale but that betrays a history of covert messages in its animated films
Its unprecedented for a major studio blockbuster, much less a family film, to seek the LGBT audience. Gay spectators seeking mainstream self-identification in the cinema have usually had to settle for winking nuances and allusions, or at the worst, the more oblivious homoeroticism of sundry Michael Bay-style brawnfests. No more, apparently: in an age when a film as overtly queer as Moonlight can win the creation honour of a best painting Oscar, a corporation as large as Disney can also ultimately acknowledge the love that once dared not speak its name.
Well, sort of. A commotion of headlines ranging from the too enthused to the too outraged greeted Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condons announcement in Attitude magazine that the Mouse Houses live-action remake of their 1991 fairytale smash-up would boast the companys first exclusively lesbian moment. The more we heard about this supposedly startling breakthrough, however, the less encouraging it got. Historys first overtly gay Disney character, it turns out, is LeFou, unctuous manservant to preening, hyper-macho scoundrel Gaston an underling who, in Condons words, on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.
An obsequious maid who alternates between worshipping and hopelessly desiring his straight-out master? With a name that translates as madman and has also been used as a gay slur in French? In the reliably exacerbating kind of Josh Gad? Its not exactly the recognition that lesbian viewers have been waiting for, even if the finished cinema dedicates LeFou the most fleeting of clues at future romance with a kindred spirit.
Condon, a homosexual film-maker known for such intelligent queer investigations as Divinities and Ogres and Kinsey, must realise that this is no giant leap forward for on-screen representation, though credit him for stoking the off-screen conversation on the subject. This week has also considered him advancing the hypothesi, allegedly founded by the 1991 films late lyricist Howard Ashman, that the Beasts story functions as a metaphor for Aids: He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a style for the curse to be lifted, Condon explains. The phrasing is wince-inducing its fair to say most people with Aids would prefer not to think of themselves as cursed, or indeed as animals but its a bolder way to queer the material than running a comic-relief subplot around a secondary characters sexuality.
Exclusively gay is a curious turn of phrase , not least when appealing to a community for whom inclusivity has always been a higher priority. One presumes Condons implication is that LeFous passions are unambiguously lesbian , not that theyre identifiable or relatable exclusively to gay spectators. For Disney animation has a long history of LGBT coding, intended and otherwise, that induces Beauty and the Beasts more official lesbian gestures look instead colourless.
Disney may not have awarded a lesbian identity to any of its characters prior to LeFou, but audiences have been doing so for decades. A quick graze of the internet will provide fan theories to feed any hunches youve long felt about the happy-go-lucky companionship of Timon and Pumbaa, and their effective adoption of newborn Simba, in The Lion King or indeed the foppish villainy of the same films Scar, an alpha lion “whos never” detected a mate in the pride. Same goes for Baloo, the nurturing, carefree single bear of The Jungle Book, or the coy, eyelash-batting male skunk who introduces himself to young fawn Bambi with the immortal terms, You can call me Flower if you want to. A few playful Disney animators have even teased us with queer allusions of their own: the character design of Ursula, the vampy, spectacularly tentacled ocean witch of The Little Mermaid, was famously modelled on hotshot drag queen Divine.
Speculating in this way can be superficial, stereotype-dependent fun but doesnt truly get to the essentially queer heart of so many classic Disney narrations, in which socially isolated foreigners yearn either for acceptance or transcendence. Pinocchios dream of being a real boy is a journey of self-actualisation that has inspired many a metaphorical comparison to the coming-out process; the same goes for sweet, sensitive Dumbo, whose chief phase of difference from the rest those enormous ears at first builds him a figure of fun for bullying peers, before it enables him to rise.
Live-shooting with Woody Harrelson at 2am: ‘There’s something about the terror of it I love’
1 month, 22 days ago
In 2002, the star ended up in jail after being chased through London by police. Now hes turning that wild night into a single-take movie starring Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson to be beamed live into cinemas. What could possibly go wrong?
It is almost midnight on Monday evening and Woody Harrelson is presenting me around the situate for his directorial debut, Lost in London. An unused building in the centre of the capital has been hijacked to house assorted places including a club with burlesque trimmings where gold statues hang from the ceiling and a police station complete with cells and interview rooms.
Theres just one problem: Harrelson doesnt seem to know where he is. Hold on, he mumbles. I lost track of what floor were on. Wheres the? His bleariness has always been a considerable part of his charm: that sleepy Texan drawl, that quizzical gaze, half-amazed and half-sceptical. But padding around in tracksuit bottoms and a fleece, his eyes faintly bloodshot, the 55 -year-old actor looks positively somnambulant. He smiles as he recognises his cinematographer, Nigel Willoughby. Nigel, wheres the room where I get booked by the policemen? An affectionate chuckle: Next floor up, Woody.
No wonder Harrelson is dazed. In stimulating Lost in London, he has taken on the biggest challenge of a 32 -year career that has stretched from the sitcom Cheers to Natural Born Killers, from True Detective to the Hunger Game series. Shortly before we gratify, it is announced that he will play Han Solos mentor in a new Star Wars spin-off due next year. But tonight he cant think about anything except why he decided to write, direct and star in a movie about the worst night of his life and then shoot it all in one unbroken 100 -minute take in 14 locatings across London, complete with chase sequences on foot and by car.
So far, so Victoria. But, while Harrelson was inspired by that German reach, which used the one-take, single-camera approach to tell the narrative of a frantic night in Berlin, he also needed to go one better. That cinema is genius, he tells. Its an inspiring work of art. Ours is a different animal. Willoughby explains: It was me who told Woody we had to do it all with one camera. He told, Victoria did that. How can we improve? Harrelson then came up with the idea of blending elements of theatre and film by live streaming Lost in London to cinemas as it is being shot. Im an adrenaline junkie, he grins. Theres something about the terror of it that I love. Its maintaining me up at night.
Though the movie cant claim to be the first to be broadcast as it is being shoot that honour goes to My One Demand by the interactive-art trio Blast Theory, which was transmitted online and to a single cinema in Toronto last year it is certainly the largest-scale project of its kind; it will hit more than 500 screens in the US on Thursday evening and one in central London in the early hours of Friday morning.
Kate Beckinsale:’ Austen’s Lady Susan is like Emma on steroids’
2 months, 18 days ago
Her second partnerships with Whit Stillman in Love& amp; Friendship has brought her the best reviews of her career
Kate Beckinsale has earned the best its further consideration of her career for Love& Friendship, an adaptation of Lady Susan, the remarkably wry and worldly novella Jane Austen wrote as a teen. The cinema, Beckinsales second collaboration with director Whit Stillman and co-star Chlo Sevigny, 18 years after The Last Days of Disco, is a comedy about a brilliant widow hoping to secure a moneyed future for herself and her daughter. Beckinsale, 43, spoke to the Guardian before picking up the Evening Standard best actress award this month.
Did the cinema change your feelings about people becoming ever more cynical as they get older?
We always think of Austen as so poised and elegant; there is a sort of rage underneath that lives in this character, which I really liked find. Its almost like she had to purge that in order to be able to write everything else. She was such a smart female facing all those social constraints, this is why it felt a bit like her running: Right, this is my darknes having a screaming. And then she went: Oh, I shouldnt do that. And set[ the manuscript] in a drawer. There is something more raw about it, which are likely is to do with being younger.
Lady Susan is said to have an uncanny understanding of mens natures. Is that still the key to social success ?
Yes, except that I believe the advent of constantly available porn, which would have frightened Austen, has changed things instead. Its simply more apparent now: mens natures had to be covered up a little more, just as womens did. I would never be able to go on a dating site, ever. I would just be expecting a murderer and a psychotic rapist. However, I do have friends that are on it, and it does seem like there is a sort of loophole for free prostitution that seems to be beneficial to the bloke. Im kind of aware thats happened.
Do women today still have to do a lot of what Lady Susan calls suffering ridiculous manhood?
No. I mean, one of the things the movie does induce you think is: my God, we have come an awfully long way. Plainly, in the light of certain political events this year, one worries those things are a bit more under threat. But “if thats” transposed to a modern define there would be no story. This is a bright woman who would probably be the CEO of a company with a ton of boyfriends. She has operate in that somewhat machiavellian style because society doesnt give her intelligence enough of an outlet.
Why are audiences so drew attention to bitches and bullies?
When we were building it, Whit referenced Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and its a very similar thing: you dont necessarily want to go on holiday with these people, or have them in your family, but its quite thrilling watching them at work.
Is the key to Lady Susans success her absolute confidence?
I think so. I think shes got an perfectly iron-clad self-belief, which I deeply envy. Her nature is unbelievably practical; theres nothing practical about self-doubt and self-loathing and self-torture. She doesnt waste any time doing anything like that. That would be fiction for me. I think we all spend far too much hour doing that.
Why do we?
Partly because were not working in a potato field and worrying our children are going to die of leprosy. Its the luxury of the middle class to have those kinds of things going on, I suppose. And also, we have so much info arriving at us now. Lady Susan would hear what was happening one county over, perhaps, but were panicking about air crashes all over the world and what kind of mosquito might bite us. Our general level of nervousnes is related to how much is going into our little brains.
Which freaks you out most?
Climate change truly bothers me, and it doesnt seem to be quite as pressing to certain politicians as it think it ought to be its pretty terrifying.
Is the real love the friendship?
I think so. The love in the title, which is not the title of the novella, is between Chlos character and mine. It was a really nice thing to revisit that. I was so rotten to her in our earlier movie, whereas this is girls complicit and battling against everything.
Do you think such bonds can be more enduring than romantic love?
I know that my oldest friends are from primary and secondary school and I dont know if I will have a relationship that has lasted or will last as long as that. Im not pressured to find friends physically attractive over several hundred decades, which is a slightly easier thing to sustain. Female friendship in movies is something that you jump at because its not every day that a director, especially a male director, wants to write a movie about pretty complicated women with the kind of love that Whit has. Ive had two characters with him who you wouldnt want to go on a mini-break with, but its so delicious to insure his real pleasure of a prickly female. And its bear out: people have loved this movie and gone to see it a lot. So, there is a place for not just the prostitute , not just the madonna, but this kind of difficult woman. Shes like Emma on steroids.
Is it rare to have a female leading who is older, cleverer and better-looking than the men shes paired opposite?
Not inevitably. I know that it exists, receiving components harder to come by but it hasnt[ happened] so far to me. Im having a wonderful time being the age I am being an actress. Its partly Whit having had the idea for me to do this when I was 22 and doing Last Disco, and him waiting for me to ripen. I didnt know that until recently and I supposed: God, thats genuinely playing the long game. You dont usually find directors patiently waiting for you to age.
Is he waiting for you to ripen further?
Im hoping. Perhaps hes got Miss Havisham in mind.
Did you find the reviews saying you were a revelation and amazingly funny patronising?
I wouldnt tell patronising. I guess people tend to remember the last couple of movies they were aware of your doing. And it depends on whats more important to you: how youre perceived or your experience of your career. Ive done a lot of films that a lot of people havent considered, coupled with films that are a bit outside my convenience zone, actually, which a lot of people have watched or certainly been aware of. And, for me, the ability to be able to kind of flit between genres that shouldnt go together and generally dont has been an incredible privilege. I dont mind pockets of day where people go: Oh, maybe shes a bimbo, because I know Im not.
It genuinely depends how much meaning exists for you in your own experience of it and what youre doing it for. If you were doing it to hear marvellous things about yourself all the time then you would stop immediately when you had a horrible review likely aged about 19. I think its important as relevant actors to have periods where youre not flavour of the month or rewarded every single period you leave your house, because it actually does build you question if its what you really want to do and how you can get better.
I love Leslie and cant wait to build her something fabulous to wear. I dress and support women of all ages and sizes, Siriano told Time in a statement. He subsequently tweeted that “nothing is confirmed, ” but they are meeting and he’d “love” to garment her.
It’s not the first time a celebrity has struggled to find a decorator. Ghostbusters costar Melissa McCarthy told two Oscars ago, she “couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me.”
“I asked five or six decorators very high-level ones who make lots of gowns for people and theyall told no, ” she told Redbook in 2014.
In her recent CFDA Fashion Icon acceptance speech, Beyonc said she had similar conflicts when she was starting out in Destiny’s Child.
“High-end labels didnt genuinely want to dress four black country curvy daughters, and we couldnt afford decorator dress and couture, ” she says. “My mother was repudiated from every showroom in New York.”
Siriano spoke up again about the common issue, tweetingon Wednesday that it “shouldn’t be exceptional to work with brilliant people just because they’re not sample size. Congrats aren’t in order, a change is.”
And in the meantime, designers should take note Jones will not forget this moment.
Hmm what a difference a tweet constructs. Should I name the designers that didn’t look out? Put y’all ass on detonation. You will not get my love later
Paul Dano on acting, love and embarrassing parents: ‘They have way too many pictures of me’
2 months, 24 days ago
Hes known for playing misfits in There Will Be Blood and Little Miss Sunshine now the actor is turning his back on Hollywood to take on Tolstoy
Paul Dano has the kind of body language that speaks before he does. On screen, he is often twisted, lopsided, stooped, crunched or otherwise cramped in such a way that instantaneously and viscerally communicates vulnerability. Off screen, wandering into a coffeehouse in Manhattan, he is mildly diffident, like someone who might try to read a volume while strolling along. Oh my goodness! he tells vaguely as we settle in, and there is something about Danos politeness and thoughtfulness that attains one want to ring to congratulate his mother.
As an actor, the 31 -year-old brings heft to the thinnest of scripts. Dano hasnt had that many leading proportions, but he is, to a certain kind of movie-goer, instantaneously and appreciably recognisable, as John Tibeats in 12 Years A Slave, Eli in There Will Be Blood and, most famously, his almost silent appearance as Dwayne in Little Miss Sunshine all cinemas in which his performance exerts a greater influence than the size of the role. Next month, he plays Pierre Bezukhov in the BBCs six-part, APS1 0m adaptation of War And Peace, a role that, before accepting, Dano put through his customary process of internal questioning in this case, reading the novel for the first time to see if Andrew Daviess script was up to snuff.
It felt like the responsible thing to do, Dano says. And had the scripts not held up after reading the book, which they did, and Andrew did as good a job as I think you can He tails off.
He would have turned it down? Maybe. I wouldve questioned it.
Dano has travelled to Manhattan on the subway from his home in Brooklyn, where he has lived for eight years with his girlfriend, the actor Zoe Kazan( the couple co-starred in Ruby Sparks, which she wrote ). If you had to guess, youd set Dano down as a Brooklynite rather than a animal of Hollywood; he is pale and unbuffed, and his speech is riven with qualifiers. There is something nearly ecclesiastical about his manner hesitating and a little ached, without being unfriendly a deliberation one recognises from his roles. Dano is the master of the small external indicator of vast internal churn, and his characters tend towards the marginal( later in the interview, I stimulate the mistake of using the word weirdos to describe them, which upsets Dano on the basis that his characters are real people to me ). Even his biggest role to date, as Brian Wilson in Love& Mercy, the Beach Boys biopic for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, turned on the contrast between Wilsons fame and acclaim and the critical country of his mental health.
In the opening episode of War And Peace, which co-stars Gillian Anderson, Adrian Edmondson, Greta Scacchi and the reliably excellent Rebecca Front, Dano strolls into the grand ballroom in St Petersburg with a slight stoop, because, as he points out, Bezukhov is meant to be a bigger person than I am; hunching his shoulders connotes, cleverly, a man who doesnt know what to do with his height. Bezukhov is a tricky character for an actor, developing for the purposes of the narrative from awkward ingenue to a human in possession of a huge, unexpected fortune. In preparing for the role, Dano guessed long about what type of gaucheness he was trying to embody. Im more the kind of person who thinks about the room Im walking into before I do, he says. I think[ Pierre] walks into the room and realises hes there, which is kind of awkward at a high society party. Hes not innocent or childlike, but hes less calculating than the people around him. That openness is what attains him different. Its a beautiful quality.
The physical facet is one of the ways into a role Dano most savors. Its always a super-fun component. The question is: where is the energy in this person? Some characters lead from their chest or their head more, or their dick more, or whatever. It might not be something huge and noticeable.
On the evidence of the first episode, it will be a terrific series, although the filming six months through the worst of the winter in Lithuania and Russia was so penalizing that Dano still appears a little traumatised. During the shoot, Kazan came to visit him twice, but there were no visits home and, as a result, Dano felt their own lives stalling. He had never done such a long shoot before most of his movie roles have wrapped in two months and he was shocked at how everything had to be put on hold. Even if its dealing with a bill, or seeing your family, you have to learn to maintain enough life running while working. Its not fun to be away, and its a strange lifestyle. A full detox was necessary afterwards. Ive definitely tried to forget about it, merely to move on.
He looks instantly mortified at having permitted himself to say something that might be construed as ungrateful, and adds: Its also a great escapade , not only the run, but places I might not have gone to, and friends you make.
Dano grew up in Manhattan, on the East Side, and later in the suburbs. The East Side is shorthand for massive banking wealth and, yes, Dano tells, he was raised in one of those ritzy neighbourhoods, but without much money. His papa was a financial consultant, but not the 1% kind, and his mother raised Dano and his sister. We were in a one-bedroom when we lived in Manhattan, in a really nice neighborhood, but we had bunk beds and my parents were in the same room. It was a nice apartment. But to move into a bigger place would have been too expensive, so we went to the suburbiums, an hour away.
It was when they moved out of township that Dano began are active in a community theater, one of many after-school activities; at the time, he would have said that his aim was to become a professional basketball player. After being invited to appear in a regional play in Stanford, Connecticut, he started to go for auditions in New York, and in 1996, aged 12, attained his Broadway debut in a play called Inherit The Wind, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. Im pretty sure I had to save the money, and Im also sure it was not a lot a week. It wasnt like all of a sudden I had a lot of currency.
He did, however, start to get a sense of how a career in acting might run, and how it might go wrong. As Dano began appearing in small roles on TV “hes in” a few episodes of The Sopranos, a single episode of the sitcom Smart Guy and, at persons under the age of 17, won a sizeable part in the movie L.I.E . alongside Brian Cox he started to worry about getting sucked into the celebrity rat race.
Stars welcome Academy move to expel Weinstein over sexual assault claims
3 months ago
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science kickings mogul out over allegations including rape from more than two dozen women
Hollywood superstars have welcomed the expulsion of shamed movie producer Harvey Weinstein from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In an unprecedented move after a special session held in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, the Academy board said:” We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the epoch of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.
” What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in national societies. The committee continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify .”
Among those who supported the decision was actor Mia Farrow, whose son Ronan write a New Yorker article in which three women alleged Weinstein raped them. She tweeted:” Proud of TheAcademy! Harvey Weinstein is out .”
Emmy Rossum, the starring of Shameless, wrote” Amen, the academy !!!” while Hellboy actor Ron Perlman tweeted:” As the states members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science I am proud of their decision to expel Harvey Weinstein .”
Weinstein, 65, faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than two dozen women and three of rape. He has apologized for having” caused a lot of pain” but has forcefully denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. It is believed he is currently in Arizona, receiving “treatment” related to his behavior.
In its 90 -year history, the Academy has expelled merely one other member, and merely because 83 -year-old Carmine Caridi, an actor, transgressed specific written regulations about sharing screener copies of cinemas in 2004. No member has been expelled for unethical or potentially criminal behavior, including figures such as Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson, who have had high-profile sex or domestic assault accusations made against them.
The academy’s 54 -member board of governors needed a two-thirds referendum to trigger an expulsion, according to its bylaws. It voted” well in excess” of that requirement, according to the Academy statement.
The Academy’s UK counterpart, Bafta, suspended Weinstein on Wednesday morning , calling his alleged behavior” completely unacceptable and incompatible with Bafta’s values “.
In an emotional interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Saturday, even Weinstein’s fucking brother advocated his suspension.” I have a brother that’s indefensible and crazy ,” told Bob Weinstein, 62 and an executive at The Weinstein Company( TWC ).” I find myself in a waking nightmare. My brother has caused unconscionable suffering. As a father of three daughters I say this with every bone in my body- I am heartbroken for the women that he has harmed .”
Prior to the decision others were less sure, arguing that pushing Weinstein out might define a difficult precedent.
” For the Academy to treat Harvey as if he is the only creep in the business is wrong ,” Mitchell Block, a member of the short cinemas and feature animation branch, told the Hollywood Reporter .” The problem is far larger than just Mr Weinstein. The silence about the other sociopaths is deafening. I think the Academy should not move hurriedly and take action until it fully understands the scope of the problem and devises a clear policy .”
Weinstein has a complicated relationship with the Academy. On the one hand, according to a Quartz analysis, he is the second most-thanked person in Oscar award speeches over the past quarter-century, just behind Steven Spielberg and tied with God. His movies have been nominated for more than 300 Academy Awards. He won an Oscar himself as producer of the 1999 made Shakespeare in Love.
On the other hand, some Hollywood insiders tell Weinstein was more tolerated than loved- he has long been known for a gruff, abrasive demeanor.” He’s never been an insider with them ,” one anonymous member told Daily Variety .” They’ve never really liked him .”
Many of the Academy rules around award-season lobbying were put in place in response to the type of aggressive campaigns Weinstein was famous for mounting.
The New York Times first reported accusations against Weinstein this month. More than 30 women have now accused the mega-producer of inappropriate sexual behavior, including four who have alleged that he raped them. The most recent rape allegation was levied by performer Rose McGowan on Twitter. In a string of tweets directed at Amazon Studios late on Thursday, she wrote:” HW raped me .”
Police forces-out in the US and the UK are investigating. In a statement issued after the New Yorker detailed allegations of rape, the TWC board said it was ” shocked and dismayed” and” committed to assisting with our full energies in all criminal or other investigations of these alleged acts “.
Annette Bening:’ Women don’t have to do everything’
3 months, 17 days ago
She is the ultimate 21 st century female both on and off the screen. Eve Barlow fulfils Annette Bening in LA to talk about movies, motherhood and her search for meaning
At 11 am on a Friday morning, Studio City in Los Angeles is full of mums. Mums coming out of fingernail salons, mums falling dogs off at day care, mums picking up fresh bread. Outside one deli, a local mum with cropped hair slides in through the front doorway in a camel-coloured overcoat. She moves towards a back kiosk and, complaining of a slight cold, orders chicken noodle soup. She could be any mum, but shes the mum: Annette Bening.
She seems around the 1950 s diner. I love the booths, I love the ambiance, and she smiles, pointing at portraits of stacks of salt beef and rye, I love the pictures of the sandwiches. Its a surprise, perhaps, that such Hollywood royalty can sit at a booth in an unassuming deli without anyone bothering her.
One for the money: the great actors who slummed it in dumb movies
4 months, 5 days ago
Helen Mirrens appearance in the Fast and Furious franchise is a bit of a astound. But virtually every notable actor from Welles to Brando to Blanchett has cashed in an easy paycheque for a mindless franchise or a duffer
Helen Mirrens appearance in Fast and Furious 8 or Fate of the Furious, or whatever you want to call it is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it proves that not even dames of the British empire are impervious to the breathlessly dumb sight of a big-budget, boneheaded franchise. Second, it elevates her to the highest possible rank of actor: Thespians Who Should Be Above This But Arent.
Almost without exception, every great actor has spent at the least some time slumming it in movies that dont accommodate their talent. In fact, you could probably make a highly enjoyable movie marathon out of these appearances. Heres my suggested operating order 😛 TAGEND
Well start with perhaps the most infamous. By this phase, Welless career had spiralled down to the extent that he was primarily famous for his angry, drunk, advert outtakes. His final indignity was playing a planet-eating robot called Unicron in a feature-length toy commercial. However, this raises an important point about slumming actors: although the work is beneath them, the films are often loads of fun to watch. Compare this with any of Michael Bays movies, and Welless Transformers looks like a flat-out masterpiece.
Dench managed to win an Oscar after is available on a cinema for only eight minutes. That movie was not The Chronicles of Riddick, in which she played Dame Judi Dench Who Can Nearly Fly But Not Quite and Also Has a Drapery Over Her Head. Its long, tedious and far too self-regarding for its own good. But, as Fifty Shades Darker ably demonstrated, at least Christian Grey was a fan of the movie. He has a poster of it hanging on his wall.
A film so bad it became the punchline to Breaking Bads best gag, Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium is a prime example of all the bad things that can happen if you hire a renowned actor to star in your stupid movie. Hoffman endows his character with countless infuriating tics and oddities that would have almost definitely been beaten out of him if he wasnt Dustin Hoffman. Future Oscar-winner Natalie Portman didnt do herself any prefers, either. Unbearable.
The narratives about Marlon Brandos antics on the decide of this doomed HG Wells adaptation are much better than the actual cinema. It is said that, rather than learn the lines, Brando simply recurred whatever was dictated to him via an earpiece; a trick that ran awry when the signal was highjacked by a nearby police scanner. He also insisted that his character should intermittently wear a bucket on his head and, although this was vetoed, that he should ultimately reveal himself to be a dolphin. The film is unwatchable.
Now its day for a twofer. This is the plot description from Virtuositys IMDb page: When a virtual reality simulation created using the personalities of multiple serial killers manages to escape into the real world, an ex-cop is tasked with stopping its reign of terror. The cinema, if you can believe it, doesnt even live up to this.( NB: the movies two results have three Oscars between them .)
Caines one for me, one for them attitude towards filmmaking has resulted in a wildly spotty filmography. But his lowest point was the fourth Jaws movie. Roy Scheiders character has died and his( perhaps psychic) widow keeps getting chased about the place by an angry shark with a personal vendetta. Plus, said animal may or may not be controlled by a witch doctor. The movie is partly redeemed by Caines devil-may-care attitude towards its horrible reception. I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible, he once memorably remarked. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.
Supergirl is filled with weirdly mournful performances by performers who all seem fairly close to demise Peter Cooks role is especially sad. And yet it is OToole who takes the biggest hitting. Playing a Kryptonian trapped in the Phantom Zone( who however seems to have access to Bill Beaumonts A Question of Sport sweater collection ), he exudes the air of a trapped circus monkey who wont get any dinner unless he turns up and goes through the motions. Heartbreaking.
John Hurt Dr Turner Tender Loving Care( 1998 )
Technically, Tender Loving Care might not count as a movie, as it never had a theatrical release, but it does stand out as a bizarre outlier on Hurts filmography. The movie is an interactive Hand That Rocks the Cradle-style thriller with the thinnest possible erotic undercurrent. You watch a couple of scenes, then answer an on-screen questionnaire about how it constructed “youre feeling”. Your answers dictate where the movie goes next. Hurts role was to guide spectators through these questionnaires, and then pull an interested face as they entered their answers. The role could easily have been taken by a monkey in a hat.
On the subject of monkeys, heres a film about a crazy orangutan pearl robber and his kooky adventures in a negligently run hotel. You might remember Dunston Checks In as the cinema where an ape dedicates an erotic massage to a middle-aged lady. Or perhaps youll remember it as the film where the same monkey climbs on to a chandelier and flings himself at Faye Dunaway superstar of Bonnie and Clyde, The Arrangement, Chinatown, The Thomas Crown Affair and Network who then topples into a great big cake. This was likely less slummy for Dunaway than Supergirl( in which she also seemed) but, because she looks like she is having fun in this, its still worth throwing on the bonfire.
No matter how prestigious their stage and screen careers, all actors want to work for Steven Spielberg. Even if they end up working with him on a movie where people get attacked by giant ants. Even if that film has a sequence where the hero is catapulted to safety during a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge. Even if, at one point, Shia LaBeouf escapes demise by literally swinging away through the trees like a monkey. This is why Cate Blanchett appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
At this point in his career, Hoffman was a true cinematic heavyweight. He had acted for Todd Solondz, Spike Lee and the Coen friends. He was a favourite of Paul Thomas Anderson and Anthony Minghella. He had just won an Oscar for Capote. He could pick any role he liked, and he chose to be an anonymous baddie in the second-worst Mission: Impossible cinema. It made a small amount of sense, allowing him to chew scenery at full volume for his largest audience yet. But what a weird selection to play second fiddle to Tom Cruises frenzied operating technique.
You could argue that Robert Downey Jr wasnt slumming it by taking a reduced role in a fifth-rate Tim Allen movie. You could argue that, at this point in their own lives, he had scuppered his career so comprehensively that his appearance in this film counted as a kindness on Allens part. Even so, its jarring to see an actor so widely feted hopping around the interior of a courtroom on all fours with his tongue waggling around. Two years later, he would rehabilitate himself as Iron Man, becoming the worlds highest-paid actor in the process. But this performance remains a advising from history about all the bad things that can happen if you take too many drugs.
Let us finish our marathon with an undiluted cavalcade of slumming actors. Tiptoes should have benefited from its murderers row of talent. It stars two-time Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage. It stars two-time London Critics Circle award-winner Kate Beckinsale. It stars two-time Bafta-winner Gary Oldman. It stars Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe-winning Patricia Arquette. It stars Matthew McConaughey, who won 18 awardings in a single year for Dallas Buyers Club. Tiptoes “shouldve been” unstoppable. But it wasnt because it was a weird hybrid of romcom and abortion drama in which Oldman played a dwarf. The whole thing was so offensive that it was never released theatrically in the US.