Florence Foster Jenkins was never what you might call a 'naturally' talented opera singer, however she had a remarkable talent for entertaining crowds. Most opera singers are trained from a young age but without her father's help (which he refused) Florence was unable to raise the funds to support her dream.
After her father's death, Florence found herself heir to enough money to begin a quest to fulfil her dream. She set up her own club and became a member of many social groups. Her live shows became renowned but she would never make her appearances public. Each of her shows had a strict guest list, with Florence deciding exactly who would get the tickets.
With the help of her husband St. Clair Bayfield, in 1944 at the age of 76, Florence finally decided that it was time to take up a new challenge and perform to her biggest crowd to date at Carnegie Hall.
'Philomena' is one of the best British movies of the year.
Don't laugh. We're serious. Stephen Frears' new movie Philomena, based on the investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, could well figure in the behemoth that is the American movie awards season following stunning reviews in its homeland this week.
It stars Oscar-winner Judi Dench as the title character, a mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock, something her Irish-Catholiccommunity didn't take kindly to. The child was given away for adoption to the United States and Philomena was forced to sign a doctrine promising she would not look for him. Years later, she meets Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to set off on a journey to find her long-lost son.
Continue reading: BAFTA Bound, But Could 'Philomena' Feature At The Oscars?
The Judi Dench and Steve Coogan-starrer is being roundly praised as a wonderful piece of British cinema
Philomena stars Judi Dench as Philomena Lee in the movie adaptation of Martin Sixsmith's 2009 novel The Lost Children of Philomena Lee. Co-starring Steve Coogan as Sixsmith, the film is an emotionally moving and shocking true story that follows Sixsmith's journey to help find Philomena's lost children. Handled masterfully by The Queen director Stephen Frears, the film has been universally praised for its sensitive tone and lighthearted comic relief, with the performances from the two stars also being singled out for wide praise.
Dench and Coogan give an acting masterclass in Philomena
Having just been sacked from his job as a government spin doctor, Sixsmith is sent by his editor to do a "human interest story," an idea he at first resents, until he comes across the elderly Philomena Lee. We and Sixsmith soon discover that Lee was sent to a Catholic home for unmarried mothers in the 1950's, where she gave birth to her son, who she was forced to give up for adoption by the zealous nuns running the home.
Continue reading: Critics Agree, 'Philomena' Is A "Serious" Comedy That Needs To Be Seen
Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong - the first image.
The first look at Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears's untitled biopic has rolled out online, showing the young American actor tearing through a likely French street in his recognisable Postal Service colours.
Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears' Untitled Project
Foster - who recently starred opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Kill Your Darlings - leads the cast as drug cheat Armstrong, while Chris O'Dowd plays journalist David Walsh. There's even an appearance from Jesse Plemons who Breaking Bad fans will recognise as Todd.
Continue reading: First Look: Ben Foster As Lance Armstrong, What Do We Think? [Picture]
The critics have enjoyed Coogan's detour into drama
Steve Coogan is known for his seminal character: Alan Partridge. He even mocked the disparity of popularity between his work with a live show entitled ‘Steve Coogan Live - As Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters.'
With such a well-known character, indeed, Partridge is one of the U.K’s most popular comedy creations; it’s difficult to break free of the comedy mould. Especially when you’ve just been all over the big screen in a comedy feature. But Coogan was striving for something more than making people laugh.
Continue reading: The Dramatic Side Of Steve Coogan In 'Philomena'
Stephen Frears remains confident he arrived at the correct Palme d'Or winner in 2007.
What it's like to sit on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival and have the power to present the director of the very best movie with the prestigious Palme d'Or? This year, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz bring a touch of Hollywood A-list glamor to the event and will spent 10 days in darkened screening rooms debating each of the movies in competition.
British director Stephen Fears headed the jury in 2007, when he and his team chose Romanian movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days as the Palme d'Or winner ahead of the Coen's No Country For Old Men, David Fincher's Zodiac, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. "They were very anti-American, the jury. But I kept saying that American films are watched all over the world. This cut no ice with a few bolshy women on the jury," Frears told the BBC ahead of the Festival this week, "I don't know, you try and behave sensibly. I hear all those stories about people manipulating things, but there didn't seem to be any of that. There were no orders from above - nobody tried to interfere, but there were a few basic rules which you had to follow," he added.
Sitting in a darkened room and watching the very best movies of the year before anyone else sounds pretty fantastic right? "...you're terrified of is going to sleep," said Frears, "...so I had coffee brought to me to stay awake - it was manageable. I didn't write notes but I had a friend with me and she and I would discuss the film afterwards." On whether he still recognised that he had chosen the best movie in competition, Frears was unequivocal, saying, "Oh yes, it was a wonderful, original film. I'm sure it benefitted from winning, it was a very accessible film. I'm sure if you spoke to distributors, I'm sure they would say Michael Haneke's film [2012 Palme d'Or and Oscar-winner] Amour has done really well."
Kind of a disappointing showing this week folks, best hold on for those Christmas heartwarmers, or, if you’re one of the 56 people left on the globe that haven’t seen Skyfall, that’s probably still showing…
Hyde Park On Hudson has been touted by many as Bill Murray’s next stab at Oscar success. However, the movie itself has hardly received glowing reviews. Directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and also starring Laura Linney and Olivia Williams, Hyde Park on Hudson tells the story of Franklin D Roosevelt and his love affair with his distant cousin, Margaret Stuckley. The ‘action’ takes place over a weekend in 1939, when the King & Queen of England visited upstate New York.
Murray’s performance has been hailed as a masterpiece and there have been mutterings of Oscar contention, but it seems that Murray is a jewel in a pretty shabby crown, here. He may carry the film, but it’s clear that it’s a deadweight. Bill will have to keep his fingers crossed that the Academy award voters can stay awake through the historical drama long enough to appreciate his performance.
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