Jim Broadbent

Dead On Time

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. He’s only directed three films, including the new sci-fi rom-com About Time, but Richard Curtis has been a well-known screenwriter for a few decades. When we think of a Curtis movie, we don’t just consider his popular directorial debut, Love Actually (and nobody here thinks of Pirate Radio, aka The Boat That Rocked). We think of Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He also wrote The Girl in the Cafe and one of the best episodes of Doctor Who (“Vincent and the Doctor”), and he co-scripted Bridget Jones’s Diary and its sequel, as well as War Horse. Plus he co-created Blackadder and Mr. Bean, both with regular collaborator Rowan Atkinson. Curtis and Atkinson met at Oxford through the famed Experimental Theatre Club before breaking out as members of the legendary Oxford Revue. Quickly they got into radio and TV comedy, and while they were beginning work on the first series of Blackadder (then The Black Adder) they also made their first film together, Dead On Time. Directed by Lyndall Hobbs (who went on to direct Back to the Beach and no films since), it’s a very smart and very funny take on an easy, familiar premise with an easy, familiar endpoint. Atkinson plays a man who is told he has only half an hour to […]

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Le Week-End

It’s not that Nick and Meg Burrows are looking for an easy fix (though, returning to the site of their honeymoon for a romantic weekend away may indicate that’s very much the case), but that the long-married (and apparently long-suffering) couple are looking for anything to mix up their stale marriage. Paris sounds like as good a place as any, and why not go for a nostalgia-fueled romp in a city that, even without personal baggage, comes complete with all the romance one could ever wish to find? Though it’s clear from the start of Roger Michell’s Le Week-End that there are bigger problems afoot in the union of Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) than general annoyances may indicate, the trick of the film is to navigate the sort of issues that come with being married for thirty years without coming across as shrill or overwrought. Most of the time, Michell and his two very talented stars are able to do that, and Le Week-End switches between comfortable humor and biting revelations with ease, all bolstered by the charm and beauty of Paris. And yet Hanif Kureishi’s script doesn’t put as much faith in the trio as it should, loading down the film’s final third with wacky supporting characters and over-the-top confessions.

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Le Weekend

If I’ve learned anything from the movies, it’s that you go to Paris when you’re in love or when you need to remind yourself why you fell in love in the first place. In Roger Michell‘s Le Week-end,  older married couple Nick and Meg (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) take their anniversary to do just that: visit the city of lights and rekindle their long romance. But as the trailer shows, sometimes being in love is hard when it’s been about 30 years and your spouse is grumpy old man and you want to go sightseeing. Or a fussy woman who wants to walk everywhere, and you just want to read the paper in peace, dammit. Fortunately,  meeting up with old friend Jeff Goldblum kicks things back into gear, and seeing his vivavious, fulfilling life inspires them to reignite that spark. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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Closed Circuit

If recent spy thrillers (and, ahem, Fast Six) have taught us anything, it’s that nefarious people in positions of power are always able to access government-run closed circuit videos for their own means. But what if it’s the actual government that’s collecting tape like a geeky collector at a neighborhood flea market? That’s the question (sort of, not really at all) at the heart of John Crowley‘s Closed Circuit. The film sounds like a relatively straightforward thriller (albeit one with a stellar cast that includes Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Julia Stiles, and Jim Broadbent) with some added sex appeal. Oh, and also this closed circuit thing. Bana and Hall star as lawyers (and ex-lovers) who get tasked with defending a man accused of a terrorist act that left many dead (he allegedly rigged a bus with explosives and set it off in a crowded area). It seems like a relatively thankless gig, but they soon discover that their client may in fact have been set up as a double agent by their own government, until everything went terribly wrong. Also? Again? Still something about CCTV. Who wants to place bets on how long it takes Bana and Hall to break into some video vault? Make sure your webcam is off first, and check out the first trailer for Closed Circuit after the break.

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The Best Damn Oscar Blog

If you can find a review of Cloud Atlas that doesn’t use the word “ambition,” I will give you a quarter. Everyone is talking about the sheer grandiosity of the project, an adaptation of a book that has been called “unfilmable.” More than simply the most obvious talking point, the movie’s vast scope is also a major point of division between critics. Those that love it seem to praise its ambition most of all, while its detractors claim that the Wachowski Starship and Tom Tykwer bit off far more than they could chew. I would argue for the latter, that while there are many excellent individual moments spread across Cloud Atlas’s six stories, the larger endeavor often gets bogged down in its own scope. However, that might mean nothing at all for its Oscar chances. Cloud Atlas is a great example of a group we might call “lesser epics.” These films tell broad, temporally extensive narratives that take up many years, distant locales, and well over two hours of screen time. They are often period pieces with meticulous detailing, gorgeous landscapes, and the occasional stunning special effects. Yet for whatever reason they don’t come quite come together in the end and they rarely make much money. At the end of the day, however, their ambition is often deemed enough on its own to garner a smattering of Oscar nominations. Cloud Atlas is nothing if not ambitious, but is that enough to impress the Academy?

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Cloud Atlas Review

Editor’s note: Cloud Atlas finally arrives in theaters today, so please dive deep into it with this review, first published as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage on October 3, 2012. It starts with an old, scarred, and obviously hard-lived man sitting near a campfire speaking to the audience, and it ends with the same scarred old man concluding his story at that same campfire talking to a group of children about past adventures. As the credits start to roll, it evokes a nostalgia that you may have just sat through the kind of immersive and imaginative tale that you wish you could recall all the details to tell it to your children exactly as it was told to you. All that was missing was a stick and a bag of marshmallows. In between these comforting bookends is a story that transcends time, tonal cohesiveness, or convention of almost any kind. Cloud Atlas an elaborate, beautiful, and ever-growing spiderweb of human causality and inter-connectivity that’s woven together by themes that support an idea that we are never unbound from one another or a purpose. Your life is not necessarily your own as you are tied to others in your time, others who came before you, and those who will come long after. What you do is what will define you and will determine the living conditions of those who follow. What you do may seem insignificant, or irrelevant to the plan at large, but most everything matters – and if […]

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Film, like any art at its core, can be like philosophy in its pursuit of things not easily quantified. With Cloud Atlas it’s easy to say that Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer came together to make a film which spans time periods and geographical locations (some as far away as the edge of the galaxy) to show that as tiny as each of our lives are, they are still interconnected threads that shape things to come. Cloud Atlas is the definition of epic. In the beginning, we see Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) at a typewriter, narrating his work saying, “I know that you’re tired of flashbacks and flash forwards. However,…” in a playfully pleasant way of apologizing for its misgivings. Then, the sprawling, era and personality-jumping film opens up to grow into something massive and wonderful. Don’t worry about the flashbacks, Mr. Cavendish.

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The novels of David Mitchell are densely layered affairs concerned with a complicated multitude of characters facing big and complex issues. Or so I hear. His novel Cloud Atlas is a favorite of many, but even those who would love to see a film version have been adamant that such an endeavor would be a foolish and fruitless undertaking. That opinion didn’t change when Tom Tykwer and Andy & Lana Wachowski announced they had written a screenplay and were looking for funding and distribution. It wavered slightly when the casting announcements started rolling in, but it otherwise stayed steadfast. But now the first official trailer has dropped, and while the possibility of a disaster remains it looks like these three writer/directors have accomplished something amazing. Will it live up to the novel? Who knows, but there’s no doubting anymore that they’ve accomplished something audacious and wonderful here. Check out the extended trailer below (courtesy of Cinema Blend).

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An old woman enters a small corner shop in London for milk and finds herself shuffled about, ignored and treated like just another no-name pensioner. What the clerk and other customers don’t know though is that this elderly lady in a head scarf, glasses and overcoat is actually their former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She played an integral role in the shaping of the Western world due to her policies and length of time in office, and was at one time as reviled as she was revered. The Iron Lady is similar in that the film’s outward impression is far removed from the inner truth. The film should be, and by all accounts is meant to be, a look at the fascinating and historical life and times of the UK’s first and only female Prime Minister. But instead, the movie lets all of that fall by the wayside as it focuses on Thatcher as an old woman struggling to let go of her dead husband. Meryl Streep (and the film’s make-up department) brings the historical figure to life with an amazing and expressive performance, but it’s wasted on a film more interested in lost love and the onset of dementia than it is in telling an engaging and relevant story.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr looks at his list of New Year’s resolutions. However, since he was a little drunk when he wrote them and his handwriting is sloppy, he thinks it reads to “exorcise more” instead of “exercise more.” So, he hops a plane to Rome and sneaks out to the theater late at night to check out the latest first-of-the-year release, The Devil Inside. After waking up from a quick nap in the theater as a result, Kevin heads back to the states to catch some last-minute award films in limited release.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Most Christmas films are too often saddled with the same basic plotlines and tropes – “new” takes on A Christmas Carol or a focus on dysfunctional families gathering for the holiday or something about locating the perfect present – but few of those spins on the genre can match the magic of the good ol’ “but just how does Santa do it?” plot. How does Santa Claus make it around the world in just one night to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, with only a sled and eight reindeer to aid in his journey? Well, according to Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas, he doesn’t. At least not anymore. In Arthur Christmas, Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham (who, strangely enough, also scripted this year’s Arthur remake) imagine a traditional Santa-Claus-at-the-North-Pole concept, but one that’s been turned on its head by the influx and influence of new technology. Santa and Mrs. Santa’s (Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, giving the film some real British brio) eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has revitalized the way that Christmas is done at the North Pole, while youngest Arthur (James McAvoy) is still pleased as Christmas punch to keep doing things in the old style. Steve has outfitted each elf with a HOHO (an elf smart phone named after an acronym too fun to spoil here), while Arthur spends his days as a Mail Agent who is most happy to write back (with pen and paper and everything!) to each boy and girl […]

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Is there really any doubt? With Meryl Streep‘s consistent successes and the added bonus of a win for The King’s Speech last year, all that The Iron Lady has to do is prove that it’s not a carbon copy with a female in the lead to make Academy voters happy. There’s a shot in the new UK trailer for the film where Streep, as former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, stands tall with her chest out and her chin held out in the air. It’s followed immediately by a somber shot where she hangs her head low while seated in the shadows. I can only assume that the film will focus on both aspects of her life, the trials and triumphs, the personal and the political. She’s joined by the brilliant Jim Broadbent, and the whole basket of crumpets was directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, Macbeth). It’s a gorgeous trailer. Check it out for yourself:

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Here’s a fun fact: Prior to 2001′s releases of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, fantasy movies were frequently silly, low-budget shlockfests that actors only wanted to make so they could eat something other than whatever they scraped from under their fridge for another month. (For the record, I am told that this lifestyle — I like to call it Underfridging — is good for bolstering your immune system. On the other hand, high potential for scurvy. Your call.) And since the Harry Potter series has spanned eight films and employed every single actor in Britain at least once (twice in the case of Warwick Davis), you know there’s a treasure trove of painfully cheesy fantasy movies lurking in their collective resumes. Let’s take a look at some of them!

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The Wachowskis made news when they signed one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Tom Hanks, for their next feature Cloud Atlas. Hanks is kind of a brand name in the moviemaking business, and has been for quite a number of years now; so he’s not really known for taking chances. The Wachowskis, on the other hand, are pretty much known exclusively for taking chances. Everything they have done so far has been weird, experimental, and up in its own head. The other name involved in the development of this project, Tom Tykwer, is pretty off the wall as well. He’s the guy who made Run Lola Run. And the source material for this new film, a David Mitchell novel also named “Cloud Atlas,” is no exception. It tells six different stories, each taking place in different times and places, but involving characters who are recognized as being the same people, or reincarnations of each other, or something. Basically what I’m driving at is that everyone signing on to this film will have to take on multiple roles, so if the Wachowskis want to pull this off, they’re going to have to get some great actors. Thankfully, so far they have. In addition to having Hanks in the lead role, Cloud Atlas continues to add an impressive list of accomplished actors in supporting positions. Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, and Ben Whishaw had already been announced for key roles, and now when presenting the film to potential buyers and […]

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Culture Warrior

Famed British filmmaker Mike Leigh recently received his fifth screenwriting nomination for Another Year. Another Oscar nomination for a highly celebrated filmmaker should be surprising to no one except, in this special case, for the fact that precisely zero of Leigh’s nominated films actually use screenplays. Leigh’s films are constructed through a painstaking and long-term process of creating characters and scenarios with his cast and creative team. His films aren’t improvised in the sense of, say, a Christopher Guest film, where a basic framework exists and actors are allowed to ad-lib and play with(in) that paradigm. Leigh’s films are instead created from the outset through an involved collaborative process. Leigh’s regular team of actors bring to each individual film their construction of a character from scratch. Details arise eventually through this collaboration, and the final work projected onscreen is the end result of a long selection of various possibilities. The only reason Leigh’s films even qualify for screenwriting awards is because of the written script that Leigh creates after the end product has been made. The physical screenplay, in this case, is nothing more than a transcription written after the fact, or a record of a much larger event (whose details are largely unknown to the audience). While Leigh is the sole nominee for Another Year, the creation of the script (or, in this case, the transcript) is just as indebted to the creative efforts of other individuals involved. Stars Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville are, in a sense, just […]

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Christmas has come and gone, but a late present (like the melted chocolate Santa in the toe of your stocking) has been delivered a year early. Arthur Christmas doesn’t come out until November 2011, but he’s here with an elven friend of his to turn your attention away from Santa’s giant flying UFO that’s hovering above your head. The film is a partnership between Aardman and Sony, and it boasts a fantastic vocal cast. James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, and Ashley Jensen. One thing is for sure: Santa is British. The question is how he manages to get all those presents to all those kids. Enter that giant spacecraft, a million-strong elf slave army, and some funny physics, and this film seeks to provide at least one explanation. See the trailer for yourself after the jump:

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Meryl Streep Margaret Thatcher

Meryl Streep is in talks to re-team with Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd for Thatcher, a biopic of the former British prime minister. The movie will center on Thatcher’s attempts to save her career in the 17 days leading up the Falklands War in 1982. She was also, for those who don’t follow history, the only woman to ever hold the post of Prime Minister in Britain’s history.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and (500) Days of Summer.

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Harry Potter and the Massive Amount of New Pics

I will be the first to tell you that I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books. So I have no idea what is going on beyond the most recently released film. But what I can tell you from all of the promotional materials that I’ve seen is that this new film looks dark.

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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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