British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the surfaces of his stories and characters. So it's especially intriguing to see him take on a biopic about the enigmatic American poet Emily Dickinson. Like her writing, the film has a moody, dry exterior that conceals a fiendishly sharp wit. It's also an unusually smart film, combining emotional resonance with brainy conversation, even as it moves at a glacial pace.
It's set in 19th century Massachusetts, where Emily (young Emma Bell, then Cynthia Nixon) grows up in a fiercely religious household. But then, everyone in this community is devout to the point of distraction, and no one knows what to do about Emily's unusually outspoken thoughts. The way she speaks about her faith horrifies her parents (Keith Carradine and Joanna Bacon), even though they raised Emily and her siblings Vinnie and Austin (Jennifer Ehle and Duncan Duff) to think for themselves. As Emily begins publishing her poems anonymously, she also challenges the role of women in this society, where they're expected to be little more than decoration. So it's no wonder that the plain-speaking new arrival Vryling (Catherine Bailey) catches her attention.
The film covers the final decades in Emily's life, punctuating scenes with her evocative, often disturbing poetry. Davies keeps the period details crisp and unfussy, using period photographs to great effect, such as in the striking sequence that traces the American Civil War. That said, the Dickinson family's life seems like little more than a sequence of nasty diseases and personal conflicts, which isn't easy to stick with. Thankfully, Nixon brings an alertness to Emily that catches the imagination, and her connection with Ehle's Vinnie is lively and engaging. These two women are inquisitive and sharp, in stark contrast to the gloomy people around them.
Continue reading: A Quiet Passion Review
Nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson might be well known now for her classic catalogue of work, but when she was alive she was elusive to most. As much as she was always a bright, intelligent and well-behaved child, as she grew older she disappointed her father Edward by refusing to marry or give herself to the church. Instead, she preferred her own company; shutting herself inside and becoming so reclusive and reluctant of guests that she was noticed by many. She shared few friendships in her lifetime, and even those she had - like that with sister-in-law Susan Gilbert - were wrought with pain and uncertainty. She was the victim of a number of bereavements in her lifetime, experiences that would have a massive effect on her health and her later popular literary work.
Continue: A Quiet Passion Trailer
They were just two of many celebrities taking part in the Fishlove campaign against over-fishing, and the images will be made into a range of posters.
Emma Thompson and Mark Rylance and other stars are taking part in an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of overfishing. Nothing unusual about that, you might think, until you see the photos from the campaign, featuring the celebrities posing nude with fish.
The Fishlove campaign is aimed at persuading diners to choose less well-known fish such as spratt and herring in order to protect cod and bream stocks.
Ginger and Rosa are teenage girls in the '60s and have vowed to always be the very best of friends. Together they skip school, do each other's hair and talk about everything from politics to the latest teen magazine articles. Both of them lead difficult home lives, with Rosa struggling without a father figure in her life and Ginger's mother tied to the four walls of their home while her activist father fights against the Cold War. Both are wishing to rebel against their dull lives in search of adventure and fulfilling their dreams. However, as the threat of a nuclear apocalypse draws near, the girls are divided by the paths they choose to take; Ginger wants to follow in her father's footsteps and protest against the bomb threat, determined to stay alive, while Rosa just wants to spend time with boys and live the life she has now rather than worry about the furture. Unfortunately, it's Ginger's father Roland that she takes an interest in which only looks to cause more problems. As Ginger seeks the help and guidance from two gay men (both named Mark) and an American poet named Bella, plenty of relationships look set to fall apart and the conflict closest to home becomes the biggest threat in their lives.
'Ginger and Rosa' is a coming-of-age drama about the opportunity ridden world of the sixties directed and written by Sally Potter ('The Man Who Cried', 'The Tango Lesson', 'Orlando').
Starring: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Alice Englert, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Alessandro Nivola, Jodhi May, Oliver Milburn, Greg Bennett, Andrew Hawley, Richard Strange, Matt Hookings, Marcus Shakesheff,
Director: Sally Potter
Even though this British mystery-drama is rather too creepy for its own good, it gives Rampling yet another superb character to sink her teeth into. She's working with her son, writer-director Southcombe, who reveals the plots secrets very slowly, manipulating the audience by withholding key details and misleading us with red herrings. But Rampling makes it gripping.
She plays the eponymous Anna, who is trying to get her life back on track after the end of her marriage. Living with her single-mum daughter (Atwell), Anna attends speed-dating events to meet men, and one night goes home with George (Brown), who turns up dead in the morning. Police detective Bernie (Byrne) connects Anna to the death and secretly gets to know her without telling her that she's a suspect. Meanwhile, Bernie's colleague Kevin (Marsan) follows the trail to a mother and son (May and Deacon). And as clues begin to emerge, Anna starts to remember what happened that fateful night.
Southcombe cleverly creates an eerie tone that often makes this feel like a horror movie. So before he gives us any real details about what's going on here, we already know that something very nasty is involved. The problem is that he dribbles the truth to us so slowly that we lose interest in the plot long before the actual revelations. Which makes it all feel like a cheat when he pulls the rug out, since the filmmaker has been lying to us all along.
Continue reading: I, Anna Review
An extraordinary cast lifts this grim British drama into something watchable, even if the script ultimately gives up trying to make any sense. The main problem is that the story is very badly fragmented, but it still captures a vivid sense of how it felt to grow up in 1962 Britain. And the actors give performances that bring the characters to life even in scenes that are somewhat melodramatic.
Ginger and Rosa (Fanning and Englert) are inseparable 16-year-olds who were born in the same hospital on the same day. As they both ponder the horrific possibilities of the Cold War, their reactions begin to diverge, perhaps their first disagreement ever. Ginger's parents (Hendricks and Nivola) are liberal-minded and about to separate yet again, so she takes a militant approach to stopping nuclear annihilation. Rosa lives with her deeply religious single mother (May) and believes that the only thing to do is pray about it. But the thing that drives a real wedge between the girls is Ginger's suspicion that her dad might be having an affair with Rosa.
In the early scenes, Potter establishes the girls as imaginative friends with free spirits who do everything together. Then the plot begins to take increasingly dark twists and turns, leading to a series of awkward or downright horrible confrontations that are freaky and emotional but also thoroughly mawkish. There's a lot of glowering and weeping on display from everyone on-screen. Fortunately Fanning and newcomer Englert maintain a loose honesty in their performances that helps carry us through the difficult moments. And the starry supporting cast is terrific.
Continue reading: Ginger And Rosa Review
When he's commissioned to paint a local militia group in 1642 Amsterdam, Rembrandt (Freeman) has premonitions of trouble, but goes ahead and creates a fiercely untraditional painting that reveals rather too many secrets about the musketeers depicted in it. While painting it, his sparky wife (Birthistle) gives birth to his son, but becomes seriously ill in the process, eventually causing him to turn to the family nurses (Holmes and May) for company. And when complete, the portrait, The Night Watch, has drastic repercussions on his career.
Continue reading: Nightwatching Review
Director Terrence Davies took a chance casting "The X-Files'" Gillian Anderson as the devastated heroine in his adaptation of "The House of Mirth," Edith Wharton's corset opera of turn-of-the-Century social politics.
But in her first 20 seconds on screen -- speaking in deliciously eloquent dialogue and looking stunning in plumed hats with veils, fur collared dresses, brooches and a parasol -- she erases any and all memory of Agent Scully, the TV alter-ego you probably thought would haunt the actress for the rest of her career.
A drawing room drama about the whispered politics and wily business of marriage in New York high society, the film is about a beautiful young socialite whose life becomes hampered with scandal, in part because she can't reconcile her heart with the fact that she must marry well to maintain her station.
Continue reading: The House Of Mirth Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...
Nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson might be well known now for her classic catalogue of...
Ginger and Rosa are teenage girls in the '60s and have vowed to always be...
Even though this British mystery-drama is rather too creepy for its own good, it gives...
An extraordinary cast lifts this grim British drama into something watchable, even if the script...
As visually fascinating as anything Greenaway has done, this film's narrative is so convoluted that...
Over here in America, it seems we just cannot get enough of the gentle shenanigans...
Draw near and bear witness to Gillian Anderson, a very successful television actress (The X...
Director Terrence Davies took a chance casting "The X-Files'" Gillian Anderson as the devastated heroine...