Diamond Jubilee Celebration: Films About the British Monarchy

As a self-confessed Anglophile, I must say there is a bit of me that has a passing interest in what taking place on the other side of the Atlantic this weekend – Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – a celebration of her 60 years as the head of the United Kingdom and its commonwealth. The American in me always was both fascinated and perplexed by the monarchy. But one must admit – it makes for interesting real-life drama. It is a subject ripe for translation onto the screen.

With that, here in no particular order are a few of my favorite feature films whose subject is the British monarchy.

 

The Young Victoria (2009)

Emily Blunt was stunning as the young Princess (Queen) Victoria. This film exceeded my expectations when I saw it in late 2009.

 

Elizabeth (1998)

This film was a lush, vibrant and MAGNIFICENTLY costumed drama, which earned Cate Blanchett an Academy Award nod for her portrayal of Elizabeth I.

 

The King’s Speech (2010)

Recipient of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Picture, The King’s Speech will probably be the best picture you will see about a speech impediment. Standout performances all around, with a fine turn by the lead actor, Colin Firth.

 

Lady Jane (1986)

Back in the day when Helena Bonham Carter was the “Queen of the Costume Drama” and Cary Elwes was not in Saw, this is a part of the Tudor story that is gripping and tragic.

 

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

Featuring Charles Laughton at his ribald finest; this is a fictionalized account of the Tudor monarch, but still a very entertaining watch.

For more on the Tudor dynasty check out my previous post titles Tudors on Film.

 

Do you have any favorite monarchy-related films?

Happy Birthday Audrey!

Today marks the 83rd birthday of one Audrey Hepburn.

During my early years of becoming a classic film obsessive, for me, Audrey Hepburn became (and remains) the embodiment of old-school Hollywood grace and glamour. I made it a point to watch just about everything that she was in.

Off-camera I admired her big heart and her deeds that matched her generosity.

So in a sort ‘tribute’ to her life and career, I would like to list my favorite 5 6 performances (in no particular order).

Breakfast At Tiffany’s – While I do have some problems with the film, her performance in it is absolutely fantastic. And her style … flawless. I especially love the blonde streaks in her hair.

 

Wait Until Dark  – I have previously waxed poetic about this film so I will not go into too many details. But let’s just say it is one intense and well – played film.

 

Roman Holiday  – Well this one is on the list, just because of the classic that it is. Goodness all around; the ingénue at her most ingénue.

 

Funny Face  – It’ Paris in the springtime and it is also a bunch of singing and dancing; what’s not to love. Another display of Hepburn’s trademark style.

 

The Nun’s Story  – A well-paced, subdued performance marks a film with a final scene that remains indelibly etched in my cinematic memory.

 

My Fair Lady  – I just love the music, even if she is not singing.

 

Honorable Mentions: The Children’s Hour, Sabrina

 

Learn more about her career and her life by visiting her Official Website. And be sure to catch TCM today for their birthday tribute marathon to her.

 

iluvcinema’s Take on 2011 in Motion Pictures

In these, the waning days of 2011, I decided to take a moment and reflect on the year that was in the world of motion pictures. Here in no particular order are some of the highs and lows:

(1) Battle: Los Angeles vs. Battle: South London

This is no contest – South London hands down! Thanks to the gem of a film Attack the Block. Sure the kids are not trained thesps, the budget was low and the aliens are basically fur balls with LED fangs, but they will win out every time to having Ne-Yo in my company of soldiers.

 

(2) Silence is Golden (and potentially Oscar-bound)

The Artist has captured hearts and minds the world-wide. It is a magical transport to a time and place too soon forgotten.

 

(3) The Last Time I Saw Paris

Was at the cinema. Sure I went to Paris this summer, but the Paris of Woody Allen‘s imagination in the absolutely gorgeous Midnight in Paris was an experience that left a huge smile on my face.

 

(4) A Girl Walks Into a Bar …

… and I walk out. This Straight to YouTube feature (we are told the first of its kind) really bored me with its very self-aware level of quirk and supposed sharp, quick and witty dialogue.  But maybe that is the point, some people like that type of stuff. I am just not one of them.

 

(5) Year of The Fassbender (even GQ Magazine thinks so)

I think at the time of publishing this I would have seen just about every film that he had a principle role in: Jane Eyre, X-Men First Class, Shame and A Dangerous Method. He is getting all sorts of buzz, nominations and awards from his performance in Shame – yeah. And he does not seem to be slowing down in 2012. Worthy particular mention is the release of the hotly anticipated sci-fi horror Prometheus (directed by Ridley Scott).

 

(6) Superhero Schmuper-Hero

I am pretty much over superhero/comic book adaptations at this point. Things have gotten so that in 2011 when it was announced that we have two reboots of what we were told were already reboots (Superman and Spider Man) I was less than thrilled. Granted, I liked X-Men First Class and Captain America (but skipped Thor) and will probably skip a few that come along in 2012.

 

(7) So Long Dear Friends

I will not attempt to go through the list of all of those that were lost in world of cinema, so I will defer to the lovely and haunting tribute that TCM has put together in memory of ….

 

(8) Reading is Fundamental(ly) Rewarding

Readers this year were rewarded for their loyalty with some quality movies being released that are based on beloved books. This is one reason that Harry Potter, The Help, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, among others, occupy precious space on my bookshelf / Kindle Fire.

But I guess there is always an exception that breaks the rule:

Something Borrowed

 

(9) Who Knew? Ladies, We Can Be Funny Too!

Maybe the response to Bridesmaids was an overreaction due to the drivel that has  been  shoveled at us and called ‘comedy for ladies.’ And maybe it was not. I went to this film by myself and laughed quite a lot. Well done, Kristen Wiig and co! Let’s just hope that we do not have any downwind derivative comedies of a similar ilk (who am I kidding, eh)?

 

(10) Potter-ing is such Sweet Sorrow

What an epic end to a film and book franchise that I came to so late but wholeheartedly loved (insert sad face).

 

 

(11) And last but not least …

To all my faithful and loyal readers/commenters who have made it a pleasure this year for me to post my thoughts and reactions from the world of cinema.  Your voices have made this part of my life very rewarding and for that I sincerely thank you.

 

 

Quick Monday Morning Fix

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a glorious weekend.

Just thought I would jolt your brain with a little Monday morning ‘pick me up’ – by way of a Forum post I saw on Total Film magazine’s website.

The question asked is Have you ever walked out of a movie? It is a tried and true question to ask any cinema-goer and is sure to elicit a wonderful and varied response.

I will get the ball rolling with my response: I have actually not walked out of a film – ever. Although there was that coulda-shoulda-woulda moment with Armageddon. About 10-15 minutes in I just about gave up the will to live (okay that is a massive exaggeration).  A combination of confusion over Bruce Willis’ accent, overuse of the sweeping shot and a general lack of interest in the characters left me with a desire to call time on this movie. But due in large part to the fact that I was responsible for a group of summer campers, I had to soldier on and sit through the film. I think I amused myself by dozing off a few times.

Enough about me, how about you? This should get the old gray matter going!

Coming to a (TV) Screen Near You (Whitechapel)

For the record, I am an unabashed ‘fan’ of the mystery surrounding the Whitechapel Murders involving the infamous, still unidentified “Jack The Ripper.” Well saying ‘fan’ may be a bit of a stretch. I have read several novels and short stories (including the fantastic Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper, written by Robert Bloch in 1943). In fact, a seminal childhood memories is of my grammar school friend reading this story to me over the phone one Friday afternoon. This was probably the moment which sparked my “Jack the Ripper” interest.

More recently on a trip to London, me and my friends stopped by the Sherlock Holmes Museum and among other forms of kitsch and paraphernalia, there was a sweet collection of bits related to the crimes committed in 1888.

This fascination goes beyond the printed page and jumps on to the silver screen. Among my favorite ‘Ripper-themed’ films are:

  • The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1923) dir by Hitchcock
  • The Lodger (1944) starring George Sanders and Merle Oberon
  • Man in the Attic (1953) starring Jack Palance
  • Time After Time (1979) starring Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen
  • From Hell (2001) based on the Alan Moore graphic novel and directed by the Hughes Brothers. Starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham and Ian Holm

So you are probably wondering where this all leading. While watching Law and Order: UK  as I do on Wednesday evenings, there was a preview for a ‘new’ series coming to BBC America. It is called Whitechapel  and it is premiering here in the States on October 26th.

The plot is pretty basic – in modern day London, there is a killer on the loose whose M.O. mirrors that of the Victorian-era serial murderer. Here are the opening credits.

So what do you think? Is this something that you are interesting in watching this?

Words to Inspire (courtesy of Charles Chaplin)

I was watching The Great Dictator last night and was moved (again) by this lovely speech.

(Update 1/8/2012) For those who may not know, here is a synopsis of the movie provided by the Criterion Collection website:

SYNOPSIS: In his controversial masterpiece The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin offers both a cutting caricature of Adolf Hitler and a sly tweaking of his own comic persona. Chaplin, in his first pure talkie, brings his sublime physicality to two roles: the cruel yet clownish “Tomainian” dictator and the kindly Jewish barber who is mistaken for him. Featuring Jack Oakie and Paulette Goddard in stellar supporting turns, The Great Dictator, boldly going after the fascist leader before the U.S.’s official entry into World War II, is an audacious amalgam of politics and slapstick that culminates in Chaplin’s famously impassioned speech.

Enjoy!

Golden Globe Nominations are Out!

From the Hollywood Foreign Press Association:

http://www.goldenglobes.org/nominations/

Commentary to follow.

Top Bromances of all Time

This is taken directly from WENN news (via the Internet Movie Database):

butch
Butch and Sundance … greatest bromance of all

Butch & Sundance Top Bromance Poll

Paul Newman and Robert Redford have topped a new Internet poll listing the top 10 Movie Bromances of all time.

The pair’s Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid roles beat Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs, portrayed by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, on RoddysRockinReviews.com’s online countdown.

Naming Newman and Redford’s portrayals number one, the website claims Butch and Sundance are the “Bromance of Bromances,” adding, “When things in their wild world goes awry the two have so much devotion to each other that they face their imminent doom together without even blinking.”

Point Break’s Bodhi and Johnny Utah, played by Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, Star Trek’s Spock and Captain Kirk and Top Gun’s Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Iceman (Val Kilmer) also make the new top 10.

Personally, I could not agree more!  Butch and Sundance is one of my favorites all-time.

What do you think?  Did the public get it right?  What other bromances did the pollsters miss?

Happy Belated Birthday Bill Holden!

holden-as-sefton1

William Holden as Sefton in "Stalag 17" (1953)

April 17th (Friday) marked William Holden’s 91st birthday.  As someone who is admittedly a fan but also admitting to not seeing films such as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Network (1976) to their completion, here in no particular order are a list of what I feel are some notable Holden performances:

Picnic (1955) – the Cinemascope/Technicolor combination makes this film feel like a big sweeping epic.  Which is strange since is hails from a stage show, which  in general tend to be more confined. It just looks like a “big” picture. While I do not think that this is the best of Holden’s performances, I still enjoyed the picture.  A great part of my reservation stems from the fact that while Holden’s Hal Carter is a bit world-weary (much list the actor in real life) there is an immaturity in Hal that Holden does not seem to be able to capture.  It truly is a compliment to the fact that by this time in his life Holden himself appeared to be a man who “got it” and would not live under such delusions.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) – one of his finer performances.  As much as we are taken in by the bravura performance of Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond, Holden performance is a perfect foil with its nonchalant indifference to the glare of Hollywood.  No wonder he received his first Oscar nomination!

Apartment for Peggy (1947) – this such a cute movie especially for slow afternoon.  Truly diverting and pleasure to watch.

Our Town (1940) – I watched this movie again the other night on late-night public television.  I think this film is especially noted for a fine turn from pre-WWII Holden.  When referencing his performance, the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther in his June 14, 1940 review stated, “William Holden plays the boy with a clean and refreshing youthfulness.”  Among the awards bestowed upon this film: “10 Best Films” – 1940 New York Times; “10 Best Films” – 1940 Film Daily; Best Acting – 1940 National Board of Review (Martha Scott and William Holden).  In addition it was nominated in the following categories:  1940 Oscars – Best Actress (Martha Scott); Best Black and White Art Direction (Lewis Rachmil); Best Score and Original Score (Aaron Copland); Best Picture; Best Sound (Thomas T. Moulton); 1940 National Board of Review for Best Picture.

Stalag 17 (1953) – my personal fave and by sheer coincidence Holden’s Award-winning performance as Sefton, a cynical, self-serving POW who ends up being our hero by film’s end.

For those who are interested in learning about the life of William Holden the actor and the man, I recommend Bob Thomas’ Golden Boy:  the Untold Story of William Holden is a very good biography.  It tells the story straight without too many salacious details.