Tag Archives: Naomi Watts

OPHELIA GETS THE LEAD ROLE : TEN DOUBLE PASSES

One of the world’s greatest dramas is turned on its head through a bold and new perspective in OPHELIA.

Set in medieval Denmark and spoken in a modern tongue with a poetic twist, it recalibrates the classic Shakespearean tragedy of “Hamlet” so that its unspoken, complex heroine may share her own story.

Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) takes centre stage as Queen Gertrude’s (Naomi Watts) most trusted lady-in-waiting. Beautiful
and intelligent, she soon captures the attention of the handsome Prince Hamlet (George MacKay) and a forbidden
love blossoms.

As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart from within and Ophelia must decide between her true love or her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.

OPHELIA opens nationally on Thursday August 1. Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to give away. 

To enter the draw email editor,sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with Ophelia Promotion in the subject heading. Please provide your postal address. Winners will be advised by email. 

 

 

While We’re Young

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in While We're Young
Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in While We’re Young

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG, Noah Baumbach’s comedic mid-life crisis film rotates around a bromance between Josh, a mid forties documentary maker and film lecturer played by Ben Stiller, and his new buddy, the cool mid twenties student Jamie, played by Adam Driver.

Baumbach has been praised for insight into the generation gap between Generation X and the rise of the Millennials. The lead actors, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried, aim to portray this well. Yet the setting, storyline and characters tend to constrain any genuine character development The characters are stereotypical, white and privileged.

They have expensive New York apartments,  there are ‘mommy-and-me’ music lessons for mothers and babies, hip-hop classes and black-tie dinners. Jamie demonstrates privileged narcissism and manipulative behaviours and this is forgiven because he is just being young. Continue reading While We’re Young

Michael Keaton’s Star Turn As Birdman

Michael Keaton delivers a great performance as Birdman in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's new film
Michael Keaton delivers a great performance as Birdman

Sixty three year old actor, Michael Keaton delivers an artistic triumph with the best ever performance of his long, long acting career,

BIRDMAN is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that is unique on many levels. No matter what you may or may not subjectively take away each time from watching this film, it is one of the best films of the last twelve months, an honest-to-goodness delight which improves with each viewing. Michael Keaton delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in his best role since starring as Tim Burton’s BATMAN in 1989 and 1992. Continue reading Michael Keaton’s Star Turn As Birdman

St. Vincent

St Vincent busts a move
Bill Murray plays a troubled but compassionate Vietnam Vet in Ted Melfi’s new film VINCENT

It’s not rocket surgery is just one of the delightful malapropisms dropped by Daka, the pregnant prostitute and proxy paramour of the title character in ST. VINCENT, a decidedly feel good film for the festive season.

The roots of the story of ST. VINCENT were inspired by a life-altering moment in writer/director/producer Ted Melfi’s own life. When his older brother passed away seven years ago at the age of thirty-eight, he went to the funeral and realized his eleven year-old niece had nowhere to go. Melfi and his wife quickly decided to adopt her and move her from a small, rural town in Tennessee to where they lived in Sherman Oaks, California.

Once enrolled in Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Melfi’s niece received a homework assignment with the following prompt: Find the Catholic saint that inspires you, and find someone in your real life that mimics the qualities of that saint. She picked St. William of Rochester, who is the Patron Saint of Adopted Children, and selected Melfi as the match.

A much moved Melfi realized that here was the perfect idea for a movie. Instead of characters like himself and his niece though, he wanted to use an old curmudgeonly guy who’d lost his will to live and a young boy.

Pitch perfecting casting has Bill Murray playing Vincent, a Vietnam vet whose anti avuncular veneer is a protective shell against the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune. In the opening scene Murray gives a pissed perfect performance, which is at once both comic and pathetic.

Unsummoned, into his life comes Maggie and her son, Oliver. They have just moved in next door to his crumbling, ramshackle Brooklyn abode, a move necessitated by a bitter domestic separation. Both Maggie and Vincent need to earn money and so a deal is struck, whereby Vincent will babysit Oliver while Maggie goes out to make a crust.

Mr. Miyagi he aint, but Vincent embarks on giving young Oliver a twist of life lessons that is as practical and enriching as they are reckless and inappropriate.

The canonisation of the curmudgeon courts catastrophe when it coasts too close to the shores of sentimentality but such calamity is avoided by the dark comedy of the writing, the deft direction and the heart of the performances.

Jaeden Lieberher shines as Oliver, the bullied, over-protected runt who blossoms under Vincent’s grass roots tutelage.

Marvellous to see Melissa McCarthy eschewing her loud and proud fat chick persona and inhabiting a real character, yet still delivering one of the zinger lines in the movie.

Naomi Watts is sensational as the no bullshit Bratislav, Daka, who comforts and cares for Vincent while simultaneously mashing the English language into hilarious contortions.

Nice work too from Chris O’Dowd as a Catholic cleric with an ecumenical sense of humour and Terence Howard as a fairly benign standover merchant for a local gambling syndicate.

There’s a rough charm to ST. VINCENT, from its honest characterisations to the seldom seen setting of ungentrified Brooklyn. A cinematic blessing for the holiday season.

THE LAST IMPRESSARIO

Second Image
Archival photo of Michael White with one of his celebrity friends, Jack Nicholson

THE LAST IMPRESSARIO is a documentary about “the most famous man you have never heard of,” the theatre producer Michael White. Michael was responsible for Oh! Calcutta!, A Chorus Line, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Joseph & The Technicolour Dreamcoat, Annie, and The Comic Strip Presents.

This warm tribute is a tale full of fascinating details of life in London’s swinging sixties and the numerous artistic, professional and personal relationships with fascinating people who were drawn to Michael’s vibrant and fun loving personality. Numerous people tell us about being in awe of his achievements and his popularity. We learn of this second hand and do not experience this ourselves as he is now a frail, elderly man. Some of the people sharing their impressions of Michael are Kate Moss, Yoko Ono, John Cleese, Bill Oddie, Naomi Watts, the American director John Waters, Barry Humphries, Anna Wintour, Rachel Ward and Jim Sharman.

Gracie Otto met Michael by chance in Cannes 2010 and was drawn to this character that numerous high profile performers, arts and entertainment people would approach at the exclusive industry parties. So began the journey of bringing his fascinating and untold story to screen, which led her to travel to 6 countries over 3 years, interviewing 70 people, including the man himself.

Across his 50 year career Michael has produced 101 stage productions and 27 films. A prolific London theatre and film impresario, playboy, gambler, bon vivant and friend of the rich and famous, he is now in his late 70’s. He is renowned for breaking the next big thing, including fostering Australian talent such as Greta Scacchi, Rachel Ward, Naomi Watts, Meryl Tankard and Barry Humphries, to name a few. White brought Yoko Ono to Britain, introduced dance pioneers Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch to the wider world and made Vogue editor Anna Wintour to pay attention to Kate Moss.

This is an celebrity studded film covering the highs and spectacular lows of Michael’s career.There is plenty of archival footage and evocative photographs of the rich and famous including David Bowie, Jack Nicholson, Prince Charles, Koo Stark, Mick Jagger, Maggie Thatcher, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jim Sharman, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul McCartney give glimpses into Michael’s life.

My only reservation with the film is with its celebrity focus how well do we really get to know the man behind the legend?!  We only seem to see certain aspects of him.

THE LAST IMPRESSARIO  screened at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival and is on limited release from 26th June. For more about The Last Impresario, visit http://www.thelastimpresario.com/

DIANA

DIANA- movie

This intense biopic directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel concentrates on the last two years of Diana’s life after she divorced from Prince Charles , specifically on her relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan , providing details about how the Princess and Khan met. We also learn various details about her relationship with Dodi Fayed.

Most people over a certain age will remember where they were when they heard the news about Diana and Dodi’s death. The movie begins on that fatal August night in Paris, 1997, : there is an ominous pause and almost turn back before her entering the lift – and then  flashes back a couple of years to  show her troubled,  stormy  affair with the handsome Pakistani heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews).

Diana, by then separated from Charles for three years, struggles to keep this private and personable man away from the microscopic flashbulb glare and analysis  in which she has lived her entire adult life. She disguises herself in a black wig to go out on dates with Hasnat, becoming virtually unrecognisable. She hides him under a blanket in the car home, (although obvious to the security guards at the Palace ), she even visits his large extended family back in Pakistan. Their relationship unravels because, as Khan keeps reminding us, she’s “the most famous woman in the world” – and the mad, relentless paparazzi won’t give her a moment’s peace.

In this film the Diana myth and legend is continued, – we see how the ‘Queen of Hearts’ was a very lonely and stressed woman. We see Diana try to establish strategies to deal with the incessant media attention yet she creates a maelstrom of events that spiral out of control, and even ignores her advisors.

In the preparations for her TV interview with Martin Bashir, (the famous ‘there are three of us in this marriage’ interview ) we see her rehearsing using the bathroom mirror. Later, she contacts her tame photographer to snatch exclusive shots of herself on Dodi’s yacht, the strongest indication of the Russian Roulette she played with Fleet Street : she despised the excessive attention, and yet simultaneously craved it . Dodi, by the way , is presented in this movie  as a rebound fling intended to make Hasnat jealous . There are some amazing scenes on Fayed’s oversized luxury liner.

Naomi Watts as Diana is sensational; giving a luminous, multi layered performance as the iconic ,fragile princess who only wanted to be loved and accepted. We see examples of her humanitarian work (her anti- landmines  campaigning, visiting hospitals , charity fundraising). She has the accent and the coy , head tilted look down pat and is stunning in some of the dresses . We also see her attempt to cook, her swearing…

Her entourage is only rather superficially shown: Geraldine James is a masseuse who is virtually a therapist , Juliet Stevenson plays an older friend who rescues  her from misery and crisis  in the small hours , and Douglas Hodge plays her butler Paul Burrell  .Charles Edwards is excellent as her much put upon assistant Patrick Jephson.

Sydney gets a mention as Diana was here to deliver a keynote speech for the Victor Chang foundation .But things go wrong and we see Diana’s fights with Khan over her trying to ‘help’ him. He has a vocation as a surgeon and is a very private man.

Naveen Andrews as Khan gives a magnificent performance as a man unexpectedly catapulted into a whirlwind of events he can’t control His world collides with Diana’s and makes their relationship too difficult.

Could they have actually lived happily together? Would his family have accepted her? Diana tries to do good and help people, Khan saves lives with his work as a doctor. But would he be able to continue his work if they married? We see things from both Diana’s and Khan’s point of view. While she is presented as a very loving mother we see very little of Princes William and Harry, and nothing of Charles.

There is a great use of intimate close-ups and also wonderful panoramic shots, including those of Kensington Palace. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, popular and French romantic songs.

An interesting if a little flawed bio-pic, one suspects that the real Diana is yet to be revealed.

DIANA THE MOVIE premiered in Sydney on September 19. The running time is 113 minutes.