Monday, September 1, 2014

Colin Firth creates magic with Woody

Magic in the Moonlight (PG)
3.5 stars
Colin Firth, Emma Stone

Firth creates magic with Woody

If Woody Allen had filmed his latest bonbon in black and white, as he's done on several other occasions (Manhattan, Stardust Memories, The Purple Rose of Cairo) it might be mistaken for a movie that was actually made during Hollywood's Golden Age.

Its main setting is a sumptuous spread on the Riviera, characters linger in drawing rooms and gardens engaged in witty exchanges, lovers speed along winding cliff-side roads overlooking the Mediterranean and Colin Firth plays a magician who dresses up as a Chinaman, replete with stringy moustache and pulled-back eyes.

Of course, we have seen all this tongue-in-cheek nostalgia before in Allen movies. But Magic in the Moonlight feels the most insistently old-fashioned work in memory, so much so it doesn't take too much imagination to see Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles (it's the closest he has come to making a screwball comedy).

What Magic in the Moonlight lacks in originality - some have complained it's so familiar as to be redundant, right down to the Allen obsession with death and the meaningless of existence - it makes up for in polish, wit, a lightness of touch and, most of all, exuberant, nicely judged performances.

Where once Allen's male stars did a pale imitation of himself, more recent stand-ins are their own men, with Firth throwing off his signature stammering Englishmen to play an acid- tongued egotist and world-class misanthrope who both infuriates and charms with his every biting putdown ("Autographs are for morons," Firth's magician Stanley Crawford tells a fan of his on-stage alter-ego Wei Ling Soo).

Stanley is so disparaging of mankind's need for belief in the afterlife that he has a lucrative sideline exposing mediums as frauds, using his knowledge of chicanery to save the weak- minded from being fleeced (Harry Houdini also moonlighted as a debunker of mystics).

When Stanley is approached by an old friend to unmask a young woman named Sophie (Emma Stone), who has entranced a wealthy American widow living in the South of France by claiming to be able to communicate with her late husband, he is there in a flash, his mental tools sharpened and at the ready.

However, Sophie is no pushover. She quickly sees through Stanley's guise and eventually plucks from the air his deepest secrets - Stone has fun mimicking the melodramatic arm-waving antics of movie mediums - shaking his firm believe that nothing exists beyond the grave.

Indeed, Sophie unlocks him from the prison of his own cynicism, releasing him to more fully embrace the here and now, which he claims is the only reality we know. Of course, love blossoms in this F. Scott Fitzgerald-ish playground for the rich and famous, or something like it, as Sophie's big smile and vivacity causes Stanley to question his relationship to his more eminently suitable fiance.

It could be claimed that Firth is too old for Stone (and that Allen is revealing his own dubious fixations) but they are lovely together.

Indeed, the mismatch in ages actually feels right for the period when such disparities were commonplace.


Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Carell signal lift-off for Oscar's Best Actor category

By Kristopher Tapley  

Best Actor Oscar race heats up in Telluride

TELLURIDE — If you asked me to pick between the three commanding, sure-fire awards-contending lead actor performances on display at this year's Telluride Film Festival, I'd have a break down. Yet that's just what Academy voters will surely be asked to do in a few months' time, with added pressure in the form of whoever fills out the rest of the competitive category.

In "Birdman," Michael Keaton may well end up putting forth the most compelling case for a win. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but some things are just patently obvious. Keaton is resurrected by this film, a tried-and-true narrative that we just saw play out last year with Matthew McConaughey. More than that, he's revealing shades of a character that will no doubt connect with actors, presenting the very id of a soul desperate to perform but hamstrung and even quarantined by the realities of the "business" of "show business."

In "The Imitation Game," Benedict Cumberbatch delivers his career-best work in a biopic that is sure to find Academy love and adoration across the board. "Birdman" certainly left a crater, but Morten Tyldum's film feels very much like the breakout of the festival. It's on everyone's lips and I've overheard more than a few compare the experience to the "King's Speech" coming out of 2010. And a lot of that stems from the undeniable layers Cumberbatch exhibits in his performance as ill-fated computer pioneer Alan Turing, finding graceful emotional notes amid the otherwise eccentric playground of the film's subject.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Things I Need To Buy Right Now: The Tom Hiddleston Coloring Book

August 31, 2014

A Look At The Tom Hiddleston Coloring Book, 'Colour Me Good Tom Hiddleston' I Love Mel

Or should I say “colouring book”.

You guys are familiar with the magical work of Mel Simone Elliott, aka I Love Mel, right? She’s the lady who has brought us the Ryan Gosling coloring book, the Color Me Swoon coloring book featuring hot dudes and even the Benedict Cumberbatch one.

Well now she’s back with her latest book, Colour Me Good Tom Hiddleston. Yes, you can now color Tom Hiddleston. And oh my god, the artwork is awesome.

My personal favorite is Tom dressed as his character from War Horselooking longingly at the blank page next to it with the words, “Draw Tom a horse to love” on it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

'Downton Abbey' Season 5: The First Trailer, With Passion And Fire (spoilers)

Neil Midgley
August 30, 2014

A surprise tonight from ITV in Britain.

Before the season opener of The X Factor – still a very big event in the British television calendar, and all the more so since Simon Cowell returns to the judging panel tonight for the first time in four years – ITV ‘premiered’ the trailer for the upcoming season 5 of Downton Abbey:

The trailer confirms some of what’s already been reported – such as the impending fire that burns through the great house itself – and teases forbidden passions and new characters (such as the guest roles for Richard E Grant and Anna Chancellor).

And it features the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) delivering the chilling line: ‘Our grandchild is about to be stolen from us forever.’ Does he mean Sybbie or George? Or is this perhaps an even more explosive scene, when he has discovered Edith’s secret?

(photo) Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch spotted with mystery brunette enjoying Secret Cinema and theatre

Aug 30, 2014 22:30
By Simon Boyle

Benedict Cumberbatch with his new friend

Sherlock star star Benedict Cumberbatch appears to be off the market - sparking horror amongst his legion of adoring female fans.

The actor has been spotted out in London twice this week with a mystery brunette, enjoying a play at the National Theatre and checking out a screening of Back To The Future at London’s latest fad Secret Cinema.

And the news has prompted uproar amongst his surprisingly obsessed female following - who imaginatively like to label themselves “Cumberbitches” - who quickly began spreading the news between themselves.

I’m told the star was even spotted dancing with his new squeeze as they enjoyed the movie at the Olympic Park in east London, where they were also joined by his Sherlock co-star Louise Brearley - known to fans of the show as Molly Hooper.

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