Ignore the sexism if you can, and revel in a world of palatial flats where everyone adores the prime minister, says Guardian columnist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
By: Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
What is it about Love Actually? Richard Curtis’s ensemble Yuletide schmaltz-fest came out 16 years ago, and yet whether you adore it or despise it – for this has never been a film to provoke milquetoast emotions – you can’t deny that it remains a cultural touchstone.
The Christmas-centric plot facilitates the film’s annual exhumation by the sort of earmuff-sporting crowd who get excited about the switch to red Styrofoam cups in high street coffee chains, duly followed by its summary dissection by a bunch of misanthropic pseudo-nihilist killjoys whose concept of festive filmic fun is limited to watching the snowy bits in Andrei Rublev. No one comes out of this grudge match well. As I read on a desk once, the darkest parts of hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral conflict, maintain their neutrality (it was attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, but it seems it’s actually Dan Brown).
Surely, you are thinking, it’s just a Christmas movie? You are wrong. It isn’t just a Christmas movie. It is the Christmas movie that devours all other Christmas movies. Continue reading →
When the actor Emma Thompson left the forthcoming animated film Luck last month while it was still in production, it was done without public fanfare, and was only confirmed when film-industry publications such as Variety magazine picked up on it. Now Thompson has put herself firmly above the MeToo parapet with the publication publishing her incendiary letter of resignation addressed to the film’s backers, Skydance Media, one of Hollywood’s most prestigious studios.
It was known that Thompson was unhappy with the arrival in January of former head of Pixar John Lasseter as the new head of Skydance Animation. But the letter goes into extraordinary detail about her disquiet over the appointment of a studio executive whose downfall had been one of the key landmarks of the Me Too and Times Up campaigns.The move was immediately hailed by activists. Melissa Silverstein, founder and publisher of the website Women and Hollywood tweeted: “This is more than an open letter — Thompson has issued a rallying cry. We hope others with power and privilege will join Thompson in speaking out about abuses of power and those who enable that toxic behavior.” [ . . . ]
Despite its hey-nonny-nonny reputation, Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy, written during a time of immense social upheaval, has sharp edges. Or at least it does in this modern-dress version by director Christine Edzard, which makes it into a thinly veiled commentary on the inequalities of post-Thatcherite Britain. Arden becomes a cardboard city in London’s Docklands, while the “court” from which Rosalind (Emma Croft) and co are expelled is a glitzy bank. Heavy-handed but thought-provoking.
. 19. Julius Caesar (1953)
Marlon Brando as Mark Antony.It may be a little too plush and self-satisfied, but Joseph L Mankiewicz’s golden-age Hollywood version of the tragedy some Americans regard as their own has stood the test of time. Perhaps its most impressive aspect is the cast: John Gielgud, James Mason, Deborah Kerr, Louis Calhern. Marlon Brando’s blazing turn as Antony (“Lend me your ears”) is so riveting that you almost forget Roland Barthes wrote an entire essay mocking the wigs. [ . . . ]
“The way in which I frame my past,” says Emma Thompson, sitting in her cool Manhattan hotel room on a sweltering late-summer day, “is always changing.” And yet some things stay the same. The poise, intelligence, and warmth of the British actress’s breakout early-’90s work in Howards End and The Remains of the Day has never diminished, and radiates throughout her performances in The Children Act, an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel that’s in U.S. theaters September 14 (and on DirecTV now), and as Goneril — opposite her old sparring partner Anthony Hopkins — in King Lear (streaming on Amazon Prime Video beginning September 28). Such consistent excellence is a rare thing, and as its purveyor knows, worth enjoying. “I don’t think,” says Thompson, a bawdier conversationalist than some of her screen roles might suggest, “that I have ever enjoyed being alive as much as I do now.”
Your character in The Children Act is in a marriage where the couple’s love evolves in a way that isn’t usually shown in film. Did portraying that make you think about how your own view of love has changed?
Absolutely. What we see in the film is the relationship between my character and Stan’s [Stanley Tucci’s] crumbling, and then a new one starts to grow. Which is what happens in all long-term relationships. Or if it doesn’t, someone’s in denial.
Hidden within Nobel winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel is a powerful critique of neoliberalism
t the end of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Stevens, the former butler whose reminiscences constitute the entire plot of the novel, wonders what kind of dignity is to be salvaged from his life.
Stevens is an indelible narrator because he is in the business of convincing himself, over and over again, that his life has significance, that he is a consummate professional, a loyal butler, one of great standing. Underneath the voice lies the tremulous undercurrent of his shattered self: feelings of shame, heartbreak, worthlessness. Continue reading →