The actress previously stated her character would be too old to take part in a big screen version of the period drama.
Dame Maggie Smith has reportedly signed on to take part in the heavily rumoured ‘Downton Abbey’ film. While a movie version of the series has not yet been confirmed, Smith’s fellow cast member Michael Fox has said that the veteran actress will be taking part in a big screen adaptation.
Is ‘Downton Abbey’ the movie, really happening?
Speaking to MailOnline Fox, who played Andy Parker, said that Smith’s involvement was crucial to the film. “She elevates it to something else, because she is such a legend and a national treasure,” he said.
Continue reading: Has Dame Maggie Smith Signed On For A 'Downton Abbey' Film?
Earlier in the evening Kimmel announced the ‘Maggie Smith’ rule, which states you must be present to win.
Dame Maggie Smith won her fourth Emmy award last night and once again the British actress failed to turn up to collect her trophy. It was the ninth time Smith had been nominated for an award at the annual ceremony and she’s never once made an appearance. But this year host Jimmy Kimmel wasn't going to let her get away with it.
Maggie Smith has had nine Emmy nominations and four wins, yet she’s never attended a ceremony
During his opening monologue Kimmel called out the ‘Downton Abbey’ actress for her perceived lack of interest in the Emmy awards. “This year there's a new rule,” he began. “For the first time ever, you must be present to win. If we call your name and you're not here to accept, the Emmy goes to the next name on the list. It's called the Maggie Smith rule.”
Check out their Kiss Cam tribute.
'Downton Abbey' star Maggie Smith became the luckiest woman at the BAFTAS (and possibly in Britain) this weekend when she received a great big Valentine's kiss off none other than Oscar favourite Leonardo Dicaprio, following his Best Leading Actor win for 'The Revenant'.
Maggie Smith is one lucky lady
With the BAFTAs landing on Valentine's Day this year, organisers decided to set up a Kiss Cam to celebrate, like they have at sporting events. And to Maggie's surprise, the camera landed on her and Leo who was seated behind her, prompting him to lean forwards and plant a tender peck on her blushing cheek as host Stephen Fry announced their names. Adorably, the actress promptly appeared to return the kiss.
Continue reading: Leonardo DiCaprio Is Maggie Smith's BAFTA Valentine
There's just too much choice this year.
We don't want to advocate spending Christmas in front of the telly as opposed to catching up with your family, but it'll be hard to resist with the array of entertainment on offer during the holidays. Record everything if you must, but definitely don't miss out.
The Doctor and River Song meet again
What show: 'Doctor Who'
Who stars: Peter Capaldi, Alex Kingston
Which channel: BBC One
What time: 5.15pm Christmas Day
What it's about: All we know so far is that the Doctor is alone now that Clara's dead, though apparently not for long because he's about to bump into his elusive wife River Song, who has a mission of her own she really needs his help with.
Continue reading: From Doctor Who To Downton Abbey: Here's Your UK Christmas TV Schedule
The veteran actress admits that it was a comfortable change from 'Downton Abbey'.
Maggie Smith returns to her stage roots in her new movie The Lady in the Van, reprising the role she played in Alan Bennett's play, based on his real-life experience with Mary Shepherd, a homeless woman who parked her van in his London driveway and stayed for 15 years.
Smith was comfortable in her new role
And Smith is enjoying the chance to sink her teeth into such a juicy role. "After all these years, I am known more for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey than anything I've ever done," she says. "It goes to show that you have to always be prepared for anything."
Continue reading: The Lady In The Van Lets Maggie Smith Revisit An Old Role
Maggie Smith couldn't be more perfect for the title role in this film if it were written for her. But the most astounding thing about this story is that it's true, an event from playwright-screenwriter Alan Bennett's own life. The film cleverly plays with the idea of a writer telling his own story. And it also gives Smith an unforgettable role in a movie that's both entertaining and sharply pointed.
It happened in 1970 Camden, as neighbours worried about a homeless woman parking her van in front of their houses. She turns out to be Mary Shepard (Smith), and resident Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) offers to let her park her van in his driveway for a few months. She stayed there for 15 years, during which Alan refuses to pry into Mary's personal life and she turns a blind eye to the steady flow of young gentleman callers at his door. Even so, over the years Alan learns some details about Mary's past as a musician, ambulance driver and nun, and that she became homeless because she was on the run from the police.
Bennett takes a cheeky approach to the script, writing two versions of himself: one who lives his life and one who writes about it. The interaction between the two is cleverly played by Jennings and directed with offhanded hilarity by Hytner, who shot the movie in the actual street and house where the events took place. Jennings also adds some emotional interest in Alan's relationship with his mother (Gwen Taylor), who ironically has to move into a nursing home. Opposite him, Smith is as magnetic as ever, reeling off each pithy one-liner with impeccable timing. The role may not seem like much of a stretch, but she delivers it with a prickly mix of attitude and humour, plus a strong undercurrent of pathos.
Continue reading: The Lady In The Van Review
Fans are joining #TeamEdith, after the Crawley sister was once again done out of her happy ending.
Yes there’s still a Christmas special to come, but after six series on ITV, ‘Downton Abbey’ ended its run last night, with a surprise wedding and a suicide attempt. But while Lady Mary Crawley got what she wanted (as usual), her younger sister Edith was denied her own happy ending, leaving some viewers furious.
After six seasons ‘Downton Abbey’ has ended on ITV.
During the episode unlucky in love Edith had her chances of happiness stolen, when sister Mary ruined her relationship by revealing details of her secret love child to fiancé the Marquess of Hexham, Bertie Pelham. But while Edith faced a lifetime of loneliness, all was okay for Mary, as she wed Henry Talbot.
Cinderella premieres as 45 Years wins two prizes at Berlin Film Festival, sequels premiere in London and Los Angeles, Julia Roberts cries on-set and trailers arrive for films starring Adam Scott, Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Hunnam...
The Berlin Film Festival wrapped up last weekend after the premiere for Disney's new live-action version of Cinderella, and stars Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Lily James and Richard Madden, plus director Kenneth Branagh were all on hand for the event.
We're getting ready to head back to 'Downton Abbey' but what does season five have in store?
Everyone’s favourite period drama of manners, ‘Downton Abbey’ is heading back to our screens for a fifth season. If you’re in the UK the wait isn't too long with the season premiere set for this autumn, but things are slightly more frustrating for the drama’s loyal US fanbase who’ll have to wait until January 4th for the new episodes. But it’s not all bad news, this week the cast and executive producer Gareth Neame have given away some exciting new details about the fifth season, which looks to be as drama packed as ever. So to ease your ‘Downton Abbey’ wait, here’s everything we know so far about season five.
Magge Smith is back again as Violet Crawley
1. The Dowager Countess will take center stage
Continue reading: Everything We Know So Far About ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5
Last night's SAG awards evened out the odds for the upcoming Oscars.
The Screen Actor Guild Awards are one of the biggest industry events during awards season and the one of the early indicators for Oscar trends. So, when Lupita Nyong’o won the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting role (aka Supporting Actress) over Jennifer Lawrence, the world of film took note. Earlier this month, Lawrence beat Nyong’o in the corresponding category at the Golden Globes, but this sets their chances pretty much on par.
The tables turned as Nyong'o beat Lawrence in the Supporting Actress category.
Something else was made clear last night: the main contenders this January are David O’Russel’s American Hustle and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Each film ended the night with one award, but Hustle received the top honor for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Continue reading: Lupita Nyong'o, "American Hustle" Dominate SAG Awards 2014
The period drama is back for a fourth season.
Downton Abbey has finally returned to television for a fourth season meaning Sunday nights are once again sorted for fans of the meaty period drama. The ITV1 show failed to scoop any awards, apart from 'Outstanding Music Composition,' at last night's Emmy Awards but this didn't prevent record viewing ratings - 10.5m viewers - tuning back into the trials, tribulations, romances, deaths and dramas of the fictional estate.
Michelle Dockery Excels In Her Portrayal Of A Widow.
The new season's first episode picks up in 1922, six months after the last left off; Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is still very much in mourning for her husband, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) who was killed in a car crash. Britain's post-war boom has receded to government cuts and widespread unemployment. Though the inhabitants of Downton Abbey may be less affected by the harsh reality of the economy compared to the public, the first episode serves to only highlight the class differences between the servants and their masters at the time.
Continue reading: 'Downton Abbey' Consoles Emmy Loss With 10.5m Tune-In To New Series
The Emmy Award nominations were revealed yesterday (Thursday 11th July). Breaking Bad; House of Cards; Modern Family; Game of Thrones and Mad Men all received multiple nominations. Netflix made history by becoming the first internet network to be nominated for a number of awards.
The Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced yesterday (Thursday 18th July). The nomination ceremony was presented by Kate Mara and Aaron Paul via a live video stream on the Emmy's website.
Kate Mara at the Vanity Fair and Juicy Couture's Celebration of 2013 in L.A.
Netflix has managed to triumph with nominations for their shows: House of Cards; Hemlock Grove and Arrested Development. The company are developing this aspect of their business, which is proving hugely popular and profitable. The future does seem bright for the company which announced it was expanding into its 64th country. It also seems likely their awards over the next few years will increase especially with recent praise of Orange is the New Black.
Continue reading: Primetime Emmy Awards 2013: How Accurate Were Nomination Predictions?
The award-winning actor will appear in the Christmas special of the hit series, following on from the fourth season
Paul Giamatti will become the next American actor to appear in the hugely successful British period drama Downton Abbey, with the American Splendour actor set to appear as a maverick American playboy during the upcoming fourth season of the show.
Giamatti will appear in the Christmas special airing this December, which will follow on directly from the upcoming fourth season of the hit costume drama. He will play Harold, the life-loving brother of Elizabeth McGovern's Cora, and the son of Shirley Maclaine's Martha. MacLaine will also be reprising her role for the Christmas special.
Downton Abbey will be back at the beginning of next year, with a Christmas special also planned.
After the surprise ending of series three, many were left wondering whether or not the hugely successful period drama Downton Abbey would be come back at all, but there's good news to all you Downton fans out there because a fourth series is imminent, and it will be back on PBS on 5 January 2014.
Downton executive producer Rebecca Eaton revealed the good news today in an official statement, revealing the airing date of the new series and adding that it will run for eight weeks. She also added the most of the show's original cast will be back too, including Shirley MacLaine, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle, adding that there will be a number of new actors joining the established cast too.
Hugh Bonneville, Sophie McShera, Phyllis Logan, Julian Fellowes, Lily James and co. of the established Downton order
Continue reading: Downton Abbey Will Return To PBS In January 2014
The updated cast means more drama, more intrigue and, well, more names to remember.
Downton Abbey is going to get a whole lot more complicated and interesting, with the addition of a host of cast members, including Gary Carr. Carr will play the period drama’s first black character, the charismatic jazz singer Jack Ross. The rest of the new cast-members’ names were also an exciting announcement, since the list includes stars like Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter, all joining the show for its fourth season.
Carnival Films’ Managing Director, Gareth Neame, said the following about the character of Jack Ross: “We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to Downton Abbey. His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in Series Four”.
We’re sure the viewers are excited as well, but we’ll all have to wait a while longer for the series to return with its next eight episodes later this year, as well as the highly anticipated Christmas special, of course. The new cast members will be joining Downton veterans Shirley McLaine Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter. It’ll probably enhance the show’s dynamic, of course, but we can’t help asking… how are we supposed to memorise every tidbit of intrigue between so many characters?
Double Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman has, at the age of 75, finally switched to directing. While many were surprised it had taken him so long, others were distinctly apprehensive about what Hoffman may offer. As the reviews roll in it appears that Quartet is a light hearted delight and that Hoffman has triumphed.
As well an A-lister as a director, Hoffman brought in some of Britain's best loved actors and actresses. Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Sheridan Smith and Tom Courtenay star in a sweet story set in an home for elderly and retired musicians. When an old star turns up, a group in the home attempt to get her to perform again in their quartet, but with old romances and a worn ego to get in the way, it's a struggle for them to persuade her.
Rolling Stone puts Hoffman's skill down to his long career, saying he "directs with elegance" and describes the movie as "flushed with humor and tenderness." Likewise, USA Today was also impressed by the veteran actor's directorial skill: "Hoffman directs with elegance, allowing the denizens to be dignified, as well as adorable. We get a strong sense of each major character."
Continue reading: Dustin Hoffmans' Directorial Debut, 'Quartet', How Did He Do?
British screen icon Dame Maggie Smith did not attend the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills on Sunday (January 13, 2013) though fended off stiff competition to win Best Supporting Actress in a TV drama. Dame Maggie built on her 2012 Emmy Awards win by taking the prize for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Violet, the Dowager Countless in ITV's much-loved Downton Abbey. She was also nominated for Best Actress in the film category for the well-received Quartet.
Smith did not attend the Emmy Awards last year and is rarely spotted at awards' ceremonies despite her prestigious career. However, she did collect the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Legacy Award from actor Christopher Plummer at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel back in September. At the Globes, Smith lost out to Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) category, though beat the likes of Hayden Panettiere and Sofia Vergara to the Best Supporting Actress gong for Downton Abbey.
It was a rather successful night for British stars, with Damian Lewis taking the Best Actor in a Television Drama award for Homeland. He beat Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Boardwalk Empire's Steve Buscemi, The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels and Mad Men's Jon Hamm in one of the evening's toughest-to-call categories. "I'd like to dedicate this to my mum, looking down on me bursting with pride telling everyone around her how well her son is doing in acting," Lewis said in his acceptance speech. It was a strong night for Homeland, which took Best Drama Series and saw its lead star Claire Danes win Best Actress.
Continue reading: Enigmatic Maggie Smith Stays Away From The Golden Globes (Still Wins)
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Golden Globes on Sunday (January 13, 2013) and will no doubt bring a touch of Saturday Night Live to one of Hollywood's glitziest evenings. The close friends decided to host the event because - according to Fey - it's "a very kind of sloppy, loud party, and that seemed like our kind of thing." Indeed, it's going to be so sloppy that the hosts have devised their very own drinking game for Sunday drinkers to enjoy.
The Globes is traditionally more raucous than the Oscars. Basically, the organizers want to invite the most famous people available, stick them into a room together and ply them with champagne. Things happen. Mickey Rourke usually gives something his middle finger, Ricky Gervais makes an inappropriate joke as Johnny Depp looks on disapprovingly, despite being in on the joke. Anyway, Fey and Poehler are of the opinion that if they can have a party, then so can we! The pair explained the rules of their drinking game while in conversation with the Hollywood Reporter. So here goes:
-Drink any time an actress cries in a speech
Continue reading: Tina Fey And Amy Poehler's Golden Globes Drinking Game 2013!
Very little of the criticism levied at Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, Quartet, are serious. Largely because it's not a particularly serious film. The whole thing is lighthearted fun, behaving like a bit of a playground for the above-middle-age cast and director, all of whom who have enjoyed successful careers and don't necessarily need to push themselves in anything dark and mysterious.
Quartet is the story of a quartet of ageing musicians, living in a home together. In their younger days they had performed together, and they would like to again. Starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith as support. Reviews have been fairly average so far.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave it a desultory 2/5 stars saying that it "is stale, lifeless and often weirdly humourless," but praising Sheridan Smith, who he says "actually steals the film, just a little, with a quietly affecting final speech."
Season three of Downton Abbey premieres on PBS this Sunday (January 6, 2013), with the arrival of silver-screen icon Shirley Maclaine. The Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress plays Martha Levinson in the best-loved period drama, and is set to go head-to-head with the stoic Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.
MacLaine - perhaps best known for The Apartment and Terms of Endearment - explained to the New York Times how she prepared to act alongside Smith. "I thought the best course of action in going toe-to-toe with Maggie would be a sense of American expressive feeling," she explained. In one upcoming scene, MacLaine's character serenades Smith, "I told her I was going to sing it, and first she said to me, [genteel Maggie Smith voice] 'You know, dear, when you do that, I'm going to fall off the chair.' I said, 'OK.' And then she said, 'No, I think not. I think I'll fall asleep.' I said, 'OK, that's good, too.' And then she said, 'No, I think I will cry.' I said, I don't know what you'd do that for, but whatever. What she did instead was flirt back. [Laughs] I was so surprised."
Legendary actress MacLaine was married to businessman Steve Parker until 1982, though revealed to Oprah Winfrey in 2011 that she had an open relationship with her husband. Smith has been married on two occasions, to actor Robert Stephens and playwright Beverly Cross, and she and MacLaine compared notes on past lovers on the Downton Set. "We sat and we reminisced about life and lovers and the business and directors," said MacLaine, adding, "That was really interesting and so much fun.When we were doing a press conference here, someone asked me if I had known Maggie before. And I said, 'Oh, yes, we were lovers in another life.' [Laughs] I don't know where that came from."
For his directing debut, Dustin Hoffman takes no chances, filling the screen with gifted actors who are working from an intelligent script. So even if it's essentially a rather flimsy little drama that never really stretches the talented cast, there's plenty to like along the way. And Hoffman makes sure that we enjoy ourselves, inserting some sparky humour and a bit of romantic comedy to keep us smiling.
It takes place in a stately home for retired British musicians, which is planning its annual fundraising gala. Then iconic soprano Joan (Smith) arrives, and the gala's diva-like director (Gambon) decides to reunite the quartet known for a famed performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. The other three have long been residents: womanising Wilf (Connolly) and ditzy Cissy (Collins) are up for it, but Reggie (Courtenay) has never recovered after his marriage to Jean failed decades ago. Of course, everyone connives to get Jean and Reggie to talk to each other, but getting Jean to come out of retirement to sing again is an even more daunting task.
Aside from the central theme of second chances, there isn't much to this film beyond watching a group of superb veteran actors have a lot of fun on screen together. As the swishy ringleader, Gambon camps it up hilariously, even as everyone else ignores him. Connolly gleefully chomps on Wilf's innuendo-filled dialogue, and Collins radiates warmth. While Sheridan Smith surprises with a strong turn as the doctor in residence. This leaves Smith and Courtenay with the script's only meaty scenes, and they make finding the raw honesty in these wounded people look easy.
Continue reading: Quartet Review
2012 was another brilliant year when it came to Christmas on the box. As well as some seminal family movies, both old and new, December's festive comedy, sci-fi and drama TV brought us much cheer throughout the holiday season making the couch our favourite place in the world in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Here are our highlights still available to watch on BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Channel 5 online.
Doctor Who: The Snowmen
Season 3 of Downton Abbey is about to hit PBS in the USA on Sunday and so far, Michelle Obama has managed to keep her sneak-peek at the new series under her hat but the footnote at the bottom of Hitfix.com’s review suggests that social media sites have probably provided quite a few spoilers for US audiences. Unless America’s citizens have been living a net-free life since the series aired in the UK, it’s inevitable that they’ll have stumbled upon some of the storylines. The disgruntled Hitfix blogger Alan Sepinwall writes that “Twitter has already spoiled plenty for the non-torrenting American audience; let's leave it at that,” imploring the site’s users not to add to the gossip.
That said, Sepinwall is hardly a fan of the show, concluding that he needs to “simply accept” that, after three seasons of writing about it, it simply isn’t the show for him. It’s not all bad news for Downton, as season three is considered to be an improvement on the previous two series.
The highlight for many Americans, of course, will be the presence of Shirley Maclaine, who appears in the role of Martha Levinson, the American mother of Lady Cora (played by Elizabeth McGovern). the time that she shares onscreen with Maggie Smith, particularly, provides some of the highlights of the series.
It's not all that rare to find a British television show nominated at the Golden Globes, both The Tudors and Cranford enjoyed their days in the sun in 2008 and 2009, but Americans really do love a British period drama, so this year sees Downton Abbey receiving three nominations, for Best Drama, Best Actress (Michelle Dockery) and Best Supporting Actress (Dame Maggie Smith), which really is an extraordinary achievement.
Some of the cast members joined the BBC to speak about their delight regarding the nomination. Joanne Froggat, better known as Anna Bates 'nee Smith', expressed her gratitude to the Globes, saying that "to have that kind of recognition from our American peers is wonderful... it's exciting!"
"We've now joined high table," said Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, the head of Downton Abbey, "and we're now being considered alongside these great other dramas that have excited the nation and we're thrilled that us from over seas have managed to fit in." Adding, "It's wonderful because when we're filming in Highclere castle... on a freezing February day in the mud, it's nice to know that sometimes it's worth it."
Continue reading: Downton Abbey's Cast Enjoys Golden Globe Nominations
The Golden Globes are one of the biggest film and television awards in the world. Winning an award from them will almost always top the C.V.s of anyone involved in film. 2012 has been one of the best years in film for a long time, with many films being deemed 'instant classics'. Although, of course, that's said every year, with just a quick glance at the calibre of performances, narrative and cinematography this year it's easy to see why it's being said.
2012's nominations were revealed today with few surprises. The favourites during speculation included Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and they haven't failed to impress in the Globes' nominations. Lincoln's set to be a big winner with seven nominations, while Argo has 5 nominations, Zero Dark Thirty has 4 and The Master has 3. All four, except The Master, are also in the running for Best Motion Picture, competing alongside Ang Lee's Life of Pi and Quentin Tarantino's re-envisioning of a slave narrative, Django Unchained.
Tarantino's film received 5 nominations, which included two in the category for Best Supporting Performance by an Actor, for Christoph Waltz and Leonardo Dicaprio, which proves to us that it's more than worth the watch. Best Director nominations mirrors the Best Motion Picture, and include Ben Affleck (Argo), Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), which is no surprise really.
Continue reading: The Golden Globes Nominations, No Surprises For A Great Year Of Film
In the run-up to the Oscars, the movie industry pays special attention to the smaller awards nominations, for indicators as to what to expect at the big event. So far, it’s looking good for Lincoln, the new Steven Spielberg biopic about President Abraham Lincoln. With the title role played by Daniel Day Lewis and a supporting cast featuring Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon Levitt and James Spader, there has been an ‘Oscars-buzz’ around this movie for some time now. And that buzz just got a little more deafening with the release of the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards nominations.
Unsurprisingly, Daniel Day Lewis is up for best actor, reports Los Angeles Times, with Sally Field getting the nod for best supporting actress and best supporting actor for Tommy Lee Jones. Lincoln is joined by Silver Linings Playbook (starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence) and Les Miserables, which gets a tips for best ensemble, with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman leading the cast, there.
Dame Maggie Smith is the real star of this year’s announcement, though, landing more nominations than any other actor. She’s been acknowledged not only for her cinematic appearance in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but also for her small screen work on Downton Abbey, the British series that has really made waves in the USA.
ITV's flagship period Drama, Dowton Abbey, aired it's season finale last night, and was viewed by a massive 10.7m people, making it easily the highest rated drama of the year, reports The Daily Mail.
Sunday night at 9pm has become a no fly zone for anything other than 'watching Downton' in the U.K. It has captured Britain's hearts, and in doing so, has become one of the most popular dramas of all time. Last night saw the last episode of season 3, which was watched by a mammoth 10.7m people, but it's not single episode figures that excite the channels, rather a consistent viewing average, and Downton can boast that for sure; actors like Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville help to pull in a very respectable 9.7 million viewers throughout the series. Compare that to the BBC's Call The Midwife and Sherlock, and Downton outperforms them by 2m and 2.7m respectively.
While the show's success knows no bounds, one key aspect is starting to get noticed: the homogenous level of white Caucasian characters. Many historical purists might point to inaccuracies of including a multicultural cast, but it's something that creator Julian Fellowes has considered. Talking in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said "Oh I think that's rather a good idea. You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. The show certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period."
Continue reading: Downton Abbey Series 3 Finale Pulls In Record Viewing Figures
Seven retirees meet at the airport as they move to Rajasthan to retire in a newly restored hotel. Evelyn (Dench) is financially strapped due to her late husband's debts. Muriel (Smith) is getting a faster, cheaper hip replacement.
Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Wilton) can't afford to retire in Britain. Graham (Wilkinson) has unfinished business in India. And Norman and Madge (Pickup and Imrie) are both single and looking for love. But manager Sonny (Patel) has slightly exaggerated the hotel's facilities.
Continue reading: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review
Muriel, Evelyn and Jean are just a few of a group of British retirees who decide to travel to India to stay at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. After viewing the hotel's website, they are won over by how luxurious the hotel is and are soon on the first flight out of the UK.
Continue: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer
Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's Horcruxes - dark magical objects that help the user gain immortality. Having found and destroyed one Horcrux - a locket belonging to Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin - the three friends travel from Ron's older brother Bill Weasley's house by the sea to the wizarding bank, Gringotts and then to Hogwarts to look for the final remaining Horcruxes.
During the Blitz in London, posh children Cyril and Celia (Vlahos and Taylor-Ritson) are sent to stay with their aunt, Mrs Green (Gyllenhaal), on her farm. While she awaits news of her soldier husband, she struggles to manage her three rambunctious kids (Butterfield, Woods and Steer), pay her bills, fend off her financially desperate brother-in-law (Ifans) and keep the dotty local shopkeeper (Smith) from doing something dangerous. The person she needs is clearly Nanny McPhee (Thompson), who arrives with several stern-but-magical tricks up her sleeve.
Continue reading: Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang Review
It's gotten to the point where the quality of the films don't really matter: Now I feel like I'm committed to the whole Harry Potter series. I've reviewed the first five now, so by golly, I'm going to stick it out and finish the lot... even though I still can't bring myself to read any of the books. As always, consider yourself warned that I don't know the intricate backstory developed over thousands of pages in J.K. Rowling's writing. And really, I'm happy to keep it that way.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continues in the tradition of following another year at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry, where Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has faced nothing but grueling struggle after grueling struggle. His most recent year (Goblet of Fire) saw a friend get killed by his nemesis, the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who's gaining more power every day and giving Harry severe nightmares. With few exceptions, his friends have largely abandoned him, and the new term comes with even more headaches in the form of Dolores Umbridge (the perfect Imelda Staunton), sent from the Ministry of Magic to teach the defense from the dark arts class and eventually taking over the school as an iron-fisted, fun-crushing bureaucrat.
After much pottering about (ha ha!), the film finally finds its groove as Umbridge goes too far, refusing to teach magic in the classroom, instead preferring to rely on theoretical knowledge so the students can pass their year-end standardized tests. With Voldemort approaching (this guy is always just around the corner), Harry becomes more nervous that he will be unable to defend himself, finally recruiting a handful of students to his cause to teach them what he knows about magical combat. Together they prepare for the day when they know they'll have to use those skills. (In case you haven't seen any of the first four movies, rest assured it isn't far off: This end-of-movie showdown between Harry and the forces of evil has almost become a cliché that pans out every single time.)
Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Review
Tea with Mussolini focuses on the life of a boy named Luca, who is director Franco Zefferelli's alter ego. In Florence 1935, young Luca's mother is dead, and he is an orphan. Although Lucas wealthy father lives near by, he has no time for children. The father's English secretary Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright) sees the unjust way Luca is being raised in the orphanage. As a result she takes him in. Along with Mary's group of English tea time friends known as The Scorpioni, Luca is taught many things. He learns to appreciate art through the nutty, yet lovable artist Arabella (Dame Judi Dench). He learns of Shakespeare and culture from his guardian Mary, and learns how to behave as a gentleman through the other members of The Scorpioni.
Continue reading: Tea With Mussolini Review
Rambling through its first 30 minutes with no real direction, The First Wives Club eventually turns into a story about three old friends who want to exact vengeance on their wayward ex-husbands. Elise (Hawn) is an aging movie star, obsessed, as most aging movie stars are, about her looks. Brenda (Midler) is a bitter ex-housewife who loves her son and bemoans her lack of funds to support him -- and hasn't changed her hair since 1969. Annie (Keaton) is basically a middle-aged version of Annie Hall, only now she has a lesbian daughter and an intrusive mother, and Woody Allen is nowhere to be seen.
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Welcome back, Potter.
The beloved Harry Potter returns to screens, a scant year after his most debut, with the film version of book two in the unfathomably popular Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, while the Potter-obsessed will likely find few faults with the film, this sequel captures much less of the original's magic. (And while I've not read the books, I understand the same can be said for the second novel as well.)
Secrets finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) back at home with his Muggle family on summer vacation, locked in his room (though no longer under the stairs). Before long, Harry is set to return to Hogwarts -- despite the insistence from his uncle that he is no longer allowed to study magic. But a daring prison break, courtesy of the Weasley family -- including Harry's best bud Ron (Rupert Grint), gets Harry back to school, despite the meddling of a Yoda-like "house elf" named Dobby (very obvious CG). The masochistic Dobby tries to convince Harry that his life is in danger if he returns to Hogwarts -- though in reality his life appears more in danger due to Dobby's "helpful" meddling.
Harry of course does return to Hogwarts, where all his familiar experiences await him. Hermione (Emma Watson) is still the class brain. Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is still the school clown. Snape (Alan Rickman) is still Snape. The new additions to the cast include a new Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a narcissistic wizard with questionable ability, as well as the father of Harry's platinum blonde archrival Malfoy, Lucius (Jason Isaacs).
While the cast is still in fine form (the exception being a shockingly haggard Richard Harris as headmaster Dumbledore; Harris died a few weeks before the film's release), it's the story that is decidedly lacking in this episode. The titular Chamber of Secrets is a legendary room inside Hogwarts fabled to hold a menacing creature. It can only be opened, we're told, by an heir to the Slytherin family. When a mysterious message appears on the Hogwarts walls in blood, Harry begins hearing hissing voices, and students begin to turn up paralyzed. It appears the Chamber of Secrets has been opened -- and suspicions fall on Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) as the heir. Or is it Harry?
What follows is another nearly-three hours of exposition as Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to crack this riddle, Nancy Drew-style, while the body count at Hogwarts keeps rising. Mercilessly padded, the movie drags us through ages of all-too-familiar territory: a Quidditch match ends predictably; spells go awry; the trio works on a potion together; one-note characters appear only to say their line and soon exit the story. Finally, invariably first-on-the-scene Harry coincidentally discovers a blank diary -- it's amazing how much coincidence drives the plot -- that leads him on a circuitous path to discover the Chamber, just in time for a final showdown with what looks astonishingly like a miniature-golf hazard.
Jeez, I'm bored just writing about it. So much of Secrets is so unnecessary that my audience was way ahead of the circuitous yet ultimately very simplistic story. Kids spent the three hours running up and down the aisles -- only their parents had the fortitude to stay with the plot. That said, this installment is much funnier than the original, and it has a bit more of a grown-up sentiment to it. Still, it's going to take more than an ominous voice in the walls and a flying car to keep even the most patient adults interested in a three-hour movie.
Chamber of Secrets is enjoyable for many of its stretches, and it's unfortunate that director Chris Columbus (giving up the reins for episode 3) didn't take more chances with the source material, excising the many irrelevant parts and adding in a bit of his own vision. As such, we have a movie that plays out in fits and starts of fun alternating with boredom. Sad to say, the kids will probably want to leave midway through this one and ask you to replay the original on DVD when you get home. Poor Harry, when we see you again (in two years' time), I hope you'll have regained a bit of your magic.
As with Potter #1, the film comes to DVD in an exhaustive and impressive two-disc package, headlined by one of the most aggressive 6.1 channel audio tracks I've ever had the privilege to hear on DVD. This film thankfully makes it much easier to find the deleted/extended scenes, all of which are well worth checking out and add a bit of depth and flavor to an otherwise so-so movie. There are also tons of games for the kids and a few interviews for the adults, including one with J.K. Rowling.
Try putting right down the middle of the course.
In his second big-screen outing, adolescent wizard Harry Potter is blessed with enough cinematic magic to overcome several of the very same problems that left last year's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" feeling a little protracted and rambling.
Sure "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" spends twice as much screen time on atmosphere and adventure scenes than on plot and character. But this time around every episode seems relevant, which is a vast improvement over last year's film, bloated as it was with Quidditch matches and monster moments that didn't advance the plot one iota.
Returning director Chris Columbus retains the enchanted ambiance as Harry heads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his second year of instruction in the black arts. But nothing is ever easy for our young hero, as unseen forces seem to be conspiring against him -- not the least of which is some kind of elusive beast that's loose in Hogwarts' halls, turning students to stone.
Continue reading: Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets Review
Harry Potter is growing up, and so is his movie franchise.Under the tutelage of a new director -- Alfonso Cuarón, known for both children's fare (the 1995 remake of "A Little Princess") and an edgy, insightfully soulful, sex-charged teen road-trip flick ("Y Tu Mama, Tambien") -- the boy wizard has graduated from the world of kiddie movie spectacles with tie-in toys.
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is a film in which depth of character, cunning humor and hair-raising chills come shining through the visual blitzkrieg of special effects -- which are also magnificently improved over the series first two installments. Case in point: a half-horse, half-eagle creature called a Hippogriff that gives "Lord of the Rings'" Gollum a run for his money as the most life-like CGI creation in cinema history.
Beyond just its detailed feathers (which fluff when it shakes) or its golden eyes (which bore holes in the screen with obstinate personality), this winged equine's every movement, from its canter to its peck, is a studied yet natural, amazingly fluid amalgam of the two beasts that were combined to create it.
Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Review
Overly self-indulgent director Chris Columbus could have cut out the entire middle hour of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and if you hadn't read the popular children's book, you'd never know the difference.
A good 70 percent of the picture consists of showy set pieces that don't service the plot (which we'll get to in a minute) so much as obligingly recreate unrelated passages that would be missed by the boy wizard's enthusiastic and possessive fan base had they been omitted.
One 10-minute episode is spent watching a sport called Quidditch, sort of a flying-broom version of field hockey with more than one puck and incredibly intricate rules that go largely unexplained. It's a lot like the pod race scene in "The Phantom Menace" -- irrelevant but spirited -- although with 1/10th the special effects budget. (Oh, that blatant blue-screening!)
Continue reading: Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone Review
Date of birth
28th December, 1934
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