`Pretty Woman a Pygmalion for the 90s
Los Angeles 23 March 1990. Following right on his bid to regain a place in the firmament with Internal Affairs, Richard Gere stars as an elegant millionaire asset-stripper in Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman. It should prove to be the big one. However, more notably, the movie introduces leggy, auburn-haired Julia Roberts (sister of Eric) as a hooker hired by Gere, who takes her on longer-term than intended and makes a lady of her. Not since Audrey Hepburn has there been such a stunning debut. A Cinderella-cum-Pygmalion tale for the 90s, the film is witty, romantic and delightful. And watch out for Hector Elizondo.
Garbo the legend has really gone
New York 15 April 1990 Garbo, perhaps the greatest of all female screen legends, is no more. The reclusive star died aged 84 in a New York hospital earlier today. It was Mauritz Stiller, the Swedish director and her mentor, who gave Greta Gustafsson the name of Garbo before he cast her in The Atonement of Gosta Berling (1924). In 1925 he accompanied her to Hollywood and MGM, where he realised his dream of creating a “sophisticated, scornful and superior” woman, but “warm and vulnerable” beneath the glittering surface. After stunning silent screen vehicles, the moment came when MgGM trumpeted that “Garbo Talks!” in Anna Christie (1930), She displayed her maturing ability as tragic heroines in Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935) and Camille(1937)
`Goodfellas` an electrifying and troubling mafia masterpiece.
New York 19 September 1990. Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a long violent and enthralling interweaving of biography (the real-life tale of Henry Hill, who grew to manhood in the mafia, and eventually ratted on his former associates), social observation and black comedy. The superb cast includes some of the best New York character actors: Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco (as Hill’s JAP wife), and Joe Pesci, who turns in a remarkably realistic ,
performance, most menacing when he feigns anger with Hill (Ray Liotta) and when he guns down a young man who has insulted him. A commendably restrained Robert De Niro, in his sixth collaboration with Scorsese, is only the second lead as Hill’s mentor, but makes his usual impact.
`Silence of the Lambs` a tour de force.
New York 14 February 1991. “Believe me, you don’t want Hannibal Lecter inside your head,” rookie FBI agent Jodie Foster is warned in The Silence of the Lambs. But Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal”, a once eminent psychiatrist turned serial killer, as
Brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is bound to stay inside audiences’ heads. Tautly directed by Jonathan Demme, this gripping and eerie psychological thriller largely manages to avoid sensationalism. The best scenes are the confrontations between the caged Hopkins and Foster, she regarding him with morbid fascination and he unblinkingly plays an intricate game of cat and mouse.
Susan and Geena a great pair in a road movie
New York 24 May 1991. Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, scripted by Callie Khouri as a right-on variation of Butch Cassidy and Sundance, may or may not be a feminist manifesto for the 90’s. But it kis an opportunity, brilliantly seized, for Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis to exchange a beguiling mix of womanly wisecracks and emotion as bosom buddies, on the lam from abusive men and the law in a liberating misadventure of crime and self-discovery. Few men who wish to be well thought of will dare to demur as angry women around them cheer on Thelma and Louise, violently hilariously, and movingly take charge.
France, U.S. And China divide lion’s share
Venice 14 September 1991 The televised awards ceremony at the close of the 48th Venice Film Festival was held on a temporary platform set up in St. Mark’s Square, on which stood a huge wooden Golden Lion. The actual Golden Lion, made of gilded bronze, was awarded to the Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov for Urga, (Close to Eden), a visually stunning film from the USSR made mostly with French money. It is an enjoyable boisterous folk comedy set on the Mongolian Steppes, with a simple birth control message. The Silver Lion was shared by three
pictures from different corners of the world: Philippe Garrel’s poetic J’entends plus la guitare from France; Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern, a remarkable tale of female rivalry from China, and Terry Gilliam’s haunting The Fisher King, from the U.S. This last is set in contemporary New York, but adopts a medieval quest theme, with two down-and-outs (Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams) as modern knight and his fool. Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, in which 20-year-old River Phoenix won the best actor prize for his poignant portrait of a lonely, narcoleptic gay hustler, is tenuously based on Shakespeare's Henry IV plays. Great Britain’s Tilda Swinton won the best actress award.
Disney’s latest film a treat for all ages.
Hollywood 17 November 1991 It took Walt Disney studios 30 years to venture back into the territory of the classic fairy tale with The Little Mermaid. Its success convinced Walt’s heirs to put even more effort and money into Beauty and the Beast. Derived from the story by Madame Leprince de Beaumont, the animated feature is a throwback in the best sense of the word - its
melodious score alone is reminiscent of the golden age of musicals - but it is also very much a product of the 90s. For example, the ballroom sequence features the first computer-generated colour background to be both animated and fully dimensional. The characters have both depth, especially the gutsy Belle and the poignant beast.
Clean sweep for `Silence of the Lambs`
Los Angeles 30 March 1992. Following directly on the year of the “Wolves”, this was the year of the “Lambs”, The Silence of the Lambs, to be exact, which won five of the main awards including Best Film. It was a popular
winner especially the Best Actor prize, which was presented to Anthony Hopkins, even though he was the third British star in succession to win it (after Daniel Day Lewis and Jeremy Irons), and the role was, strictly speaking, a supporting one. But his few scenes as Dr. Hannibal the Cannibal” Lecter were so powerful and unsettling, that he dominated the whole film. His co-star Jodie Foster (Best Actress) in her most mature roll as an FBI agent seeking his help in tracing a serial killer, revealed toughness without attempting to hide the characters sensitivity.
`Reservoir Dogs` is a bravura bloodbath
New York 23 October 1992. Directorial debuts don’t come much more sensationally than that of writer and director Quentin Tarantino. Reservoir Dogs, is sickenly violent, appallingly funny and
Arrestingly accomplished - clearly the work of a movie brat intelligently versed in Scorsese, Hong Kong action flicks and pulp fiction. A testosterone-heavy ensemble headed by Harvey Keitel are the Dogs, a team of professional thieves assembled for a job. The cleverly constructed script begins at the aftermath of their bungled heist,l flashing back and forth between the hoods’ individual recollections and their present efforts to unmask the informer in their midst. Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth score in brutal moments
Australian talents in `Strictly Ballroom`
London 16 October 1992 From Australia comes the years most irresistible and joyous film. Strictly Ballroom,. Adored at the Cannes Festival and garlanded with eight awards
In its own country, the movie started life as an improvised stage production in Oz, co-written by Baz Luhruman. He has now made his film directing debut with it - so successfully, that it can only be a matter of time before he joins the international film-making scene. The story concerns a young ballroom dancer (Paul Mercurio) with ambitions to become champion. His unorthodox approach, however, incenses the conventional ballroom dancing establishment, his partner departs, and he ends up with a seemingly plain novice (Tara Morice).
Academy Award choices run the gamut.
Hollywood 30 March 1993. Clint Eastwood after 30 years in the movie business, has finally gained his first Oscar as Best Director for the Best Picture, Unforgiven, This `revisionist` Western is striking for its willingness to confront the effects of violence and for the characters’ realisation of their own mortality. It took 25 years and eight nominations for Al Pacino to be honoured with a Best Actor prize as the embittered blind ex-army colonel in Scent of a Woman, Pacino was completely convincing as a blind man, shifting seamlessly from comedy to pathos. The Best Actress Award went to Emma Thompson for her nicely shaded performance as Margaret Schlegel in Howard’s End, one of the most subtle and least showy winners The surprise of the evening was the Best Supporting Actress winner, the hardly known Mariissa Tomei for her hilarious gum-chewing motor-mechanic in My Cousin Vinny. In contrast, the Best Supporting Actor recipient was veteran Gene Hackman, the brutal sheriff in Unforgiven.
A triumph of technology for Steven Spielberg
New York 11 June 1993. Steven Spielberg’s uncanny insight into what the public, especially the young, will flock to, has continued unabated with Jurassic Park, which looks like topping even his earlier commercial triumphs.
The tale of an entrepreneur who develops genetically produced dinosaurs to place in the world’s most fantastic adventure park, lends itself to animatronic and special effects wizardry. The excitement builds when the Tyrannosaurus Rex and other prehistoric monsters run amok, terrorising some visiting scientists and two little kids. Though it might frighten some younger children in the audience, older ones and adults will thrill to the extraordinary lifelike creatures, created by the Matsushita workshops.
Sudden and terrible death of River Phoenix.
Los Angeles 1 November 1993. River Phoenix died yesterday after collapsing on the sidewalk outside of the west Hollywood nightclub owned by his friend Johnny Depp. He had been drinking heavily while on drugs.
His brother Leaf, who was with him, called an ambulance, but it was too late. What shocked and surprised fans most was that the actor was known to be a vegetarian teetotaller. Although he was only 22 he seemed much younger, as if he were strongly resisting the coming of manhood. He had little of the show-business ambition of his contemporaries.
Chen Kaige’s `Concubine` seduces the West
New York 15 October 1993. Banned in its native China, Chen Kaige’s beguiling Farewell My Concubine, having changed its country of origin to Hong Kong,l is now showing successfully in America. Kaige’s fifth film is a sumptuously detailed panorama of Chinese history seen through the eyes of two dedicated star actors in the Peking Opera. Cheng Dieyi and Dluan Xialou are ‘inextricably linked from 1925, a time of warlords’ rule, to the Japanese invasion, the rise of communism and the Cultural Revolution. The unrequited love that Dieyi has for Xialou is mirrored in their nightly performance of a traditional opera that gives the film its title, with Xialou as the King, and Dieyi as the self-sacrificing concubine. When Xialou marries his real-life concubine, tragedy ensues. Kaige uses the relationship to develop themes rarely explored in Chinese cinema such as homosexuality, and the individuals plight in a society given over to the masses.
`The Remains of the Day` proves a winner
London 12 November 1993. The latest Merchant-Ivory offering, The Remains of the Day, was adapted from Anglo-Japanese writer Kazuo Ishigura’’s prize-winning novel about an English butler and his ambiguous relationships with his employer and housekeeper. The film carries all the hallmarks audiences expect from James Ivory.
`Schindlers List` a triumphant personal journey
New York 16 December 1993. Steven Spielberg has made a radical departure from popular escapist entertainment, putting himself on the line with Schindler’s List. Himself a Jew, a personal concern with his peoples history and a desire to help
ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten, resulted in the film. There were some problems at the start, when the World Jewish Congress forbade him to shoot inside the Auschwitz death camp, though they allowed him to build a replica outside the main gates. The 185 minute film is based on Thomas Keneally’s novel about Oskar Schindler, the real-life German businessman who rescued more than a thousand Jews from the gas chambers by employing them in his munitions factory. Schindler, a Nazi, learned how to manipulate the corrupt and cruel system to his own purposes.
Controversial IRA drama opens in London
London 11 February 1994. There is no more controversial subject in Great Britain than the situation in Northern Ireland, and the activities of the IRA.It was therefore extremely bold of Jim Sheridan, the Irish director of My Left Foot, to bring in In the Name of The Father, to the screen. But although this compelling drama attacks the British judicial system over wrongfully convicting the Guildford Four - these men imprisoned for many years for pub bombings, it focuses particularly on one poignant father-son relationship. Daniel Day Lewis, again revealing his wide acting range, is Gerry Conlon, the troubled Belfast youth, whose father Pete Postlethwaite) is also imprisoned when he comes to his son’s aid.
Spielberg’s 20-year Oscar wait is over
Los Angeles 21 March 1994. Steven Spielberg must have been wondering what he had to do to win one of the top Academy Awards in 20 years of trying. Evidently the answer was to make Schindler’s List, though only a cynic would suggest that in choosing the subject of the Holocaust, he had the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars in mind. The long (185 minute) and ambitious black-and-white movie was one of the hottest favourites ever to enter the Oscars race. To add to Spielberg’s satisfaction, Schindler’s List garnered a further five awards, for art direction, cinematography, editing and screenplay adaptation. In his restrained rendering of the story of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who rescued more than a thousand Jews from the gas chambers, Spielberg has probably come closer than most directors to filming the impossible.
Temporary life after death for Brandon Lee.
Los Angeles 11 May 1994. Bruce Lee’s son Brandon tragically killed last year in a shooting accident on the set of The Crow, is a handsome and brooding presence in the film, a certain hit. A dark avenger fantasy from a comic, it is, despite a cartoon-ish script, a sombre, exciting and visually stunning story of, ironically, a murdered
Rock star who returns from the dead to settle the score. The film was completed with the latest in sophisticated digital com positing techniques, creating new scenes from available footage whose death at 28 adds to the macabre lure.
Wedding circuit makes star of bachelor boy.
London 14 May 1994.It is extremely rare for a British film to reach no. ! At the U.S. Box-office and also arrive in England on the back of an American triumph. Four Weddings and a Funeral, made on a budget of just £3 million, is an immensely charming romantic comedy, which took Richard Curtis three years to write, and director
Mike Newall 36 days to shoot. The very “Englishness” of the picture has been an asset in the U.S. But so too is the strikingly handsome Hugh Grant delightful in the part that has made him a star. The film’s title sums up the episodic tale of a accident-prone young man
Not-so-dumb Jim Carey brings a £7 million laugh
Los Angeles 27 January 1995. Following his hat-trick of blockkbusters that started 12 months ago with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, took in The Mask,
And culminated in Dumb and Dumber which has hit the $100 million mark in its first 43 days
Of release, the industry is dubbing the actor with the cosmic grin “Cash and Carey”. Peter Farrelly’s Dumb and Dumber the latest vehicle for the unstoppable Jim, is scatalogically inspired and unapologetic in its celebration of stupidity. The goofy, good-natured road movie is driven by the infectious chemistry of Carey, who seems to have cornered the market in wholesome zanieness. Carey moved to the movie capital in 1981, playing zesty bit parts.
Oscar’s 67th year in a century of moving pictures.
Los Angeles 28 March 1995. Although coinciding with the international fervour for the 100 years of cinema, last night’s Oscar ceremony disappointed. All the usual suspects were present, and the Academy’s Arthur Hiller made a welcome plea for film preservation in light of funding cuts, but the only surprise was TV’s David Letterman replacing Tinseltown’s Billy Crystal to underwhelm as MC. Best Picture winner Forrest Gump, also crediting Robert Zemeckis as Best Director, but it is hard to swallow the second win in a row for Tom Hanks in view of the quality competition. He accepted the trophy with another embarrassingly tearful display. Jessica Lange’s anticipated Best Actress Oscar for the barely seen Blue Sky, the late Tony Richardson’s last film made three years ago, was well deserved.
There can be few Academy Awards ceremonies to present as many undeserving losers as this year witnessed. Indeed, the difficulty of choosing between British Nigel Hawthorne’s unhappy monarch in The Madness of King George, a portrayal of depth and distinction, and John Travolta’s striking Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, combining casual thuggery with unnerving niceness, might account for the favouring of Hanks - and there was always a chance that the marvellously aged-in-the-wood Paul Newman would steal away with Best Actor for Nobody’s Fool. The Shawshank Redemption got less than its due: at least the splendid Tim Robbins could have expected joint nomination with his co-star Morgan Freeman, who lost the Best Supporting Oscar to to Landau. Relief that Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction which, in another year, could have swept the board, at least won for its screenplay.
OSCARS (ACADEMY AWARDS)
1990 - Best Film - Driving Miss Daisy, Best Actor - Daniel Day Lewis (My Left Foot), Best Actress - Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy)
1991 - Best Film - Dances with Wolves, Best Actor - Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortunes), Best Actress - Kathy Bates (Misery)
1992 - Best Film - The Silence of the Lambs, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins (Silence...Lambs), Best Actress - Jodie Foster (Silence ... Lambs)
1993 - Best Film - Unforgiven, Best Actor - Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), Best Actress - Emma Thompson (Howard’s End)
1994 - Best Film - Schindler’s List, Best Actor - Tom Hanks (Philadelphia), Best Actress - Holly Hunter (The Piano)
1995 - Best Film - Forrest Gump, Best Actor - Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Best Actress - Jessica Lange - (Blue Sky)
Paris 20 March. Brigitte Bardot’s lawyer, Maitre Gilles Dreyfus, has categorically denied rumours that his client is planning to play Elana Ceausescu the wife of the powerful Romanian dictator.
London May 2. Parkfield Picture’s The Krays, an East End-thugland movie directed by Peter Medak made a forceful first week entry in the capital with a box-office gross of £61134.
Hollywood 22 August. Paramount’s romantic thriller Ghost has overtaken the $100 million mark in only 39 days of domestic release and looks set to outdistance the summers biggest blockbusters Dick Tracy and Die Hard II
Recent deaths: Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo, Sammy Davis Jr., Rex Harrison
Hollywood 4 January. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has announced that a record high of 37 countries have submitted entries for the foreign film Oscar category this year.
New York 13 January. According to movie magazine Premiere three couples paid the sum of $14000 to have breakfast at Tiffanys with Audrey Hepburn, the allusion being to the 1961 film by Blake Edwards. The money will go to UNICEF for which Miss Hepburn is a roving ambassador and tireless fundraiser.
Hollywood 5 April. Ex-producer Julia Phillips, once one of Hollywood’s brightest stars (she was the first woman producer to win a Best Picture Oscar), before her drug habit sent her on a downward spiral, is enjoying the sweet taste of revenge. Her autobiographical bestseller, already in its fourth printing after barely a month on the shelf, has been raising temperatures in Tinseltown with its biting disclosures of le tout Hollywood.
Los Angeles 6 October. Elizabeth Taylor has married for the eighth time. Her new husband, Larry Fortenski, is a builder whom she met while undergoing treatment for alcoholism. The wedding took place at Michael Jackson’s ranch.
Recent deaths: David Lean, Lee Remick, Fred McMurray, Gene Tierney, Yves Montand.
New York 6 January. British director Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet, was named best film of the year yesterday, by The National Society of Film Critics. Best Actor went to River Phoenix for his performance as the family-seeking gay hustler in My Own Private Idaho, while best actress was won by Alison Steadman for Life is Sweet. Krzysztof Kielsowski’s The Double Life of Veronique was voted best foreign film and Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning won best documentary.
London 13 February. Dirk Bogarde was knighted today at Buckingham Palace. Bogarde said it was”A great surprise and a great honour” as he left England for France 22 years ago, never expecting to return. In 1982 he was made a Chevalier de l’ordre des Lettres.
New York 14 September. Bill Cosby is America’s top-paid entertainer. His expected $98 million in earnings for 1991-92 combined knocks the teeny-bop sensations New Kids on the Block off the top spot.
New York 6 November. A U.N. Agency is sending a delegation of Writers Guild of America members to visit refugee camps in Somalia, Kenya, Croatia and Bosnia with the hope of generating scripts which will convey the immense gravity of the situation in these war-torn and troubled zones.
Recent deaths: Vilma Banky, Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Perkins, Dana Andrews.
Los Angeles 30 April. Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures Distribution today announced a deal by which they acquire Miramax Films, America’s leading distributor of Arthouse films. Founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, it will become an autonomous division of Buena Vista continuing to distribute films under its own label.
New York 7 June. After a long series of acrimonious court hearings, the custody battle between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow has come to an end. The judge has decided in Mia’s favour: Dylan, Moses and Satchel will remain with their mother.
Hollywood 19 July. Despite the growing anxiety in the industry about dwindling profits, six major studios, Fox Inc, Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and Universal, are spending $1 billion to turn their studios into high-tech production palaces of the future in the biggest Hollywood building boom since the advent of sound.
Los Angeles 5 December. President Clinton set aside his prepared speech at a Democratic Party fund-raiser here last night and made an impassioned plea to the five hundred entertainment industry guests to be more sensitive to the impact of popular culture on young people growing up without jobs or a stable family life.
New York 15 December. Vivien Leigh’s Oscar for Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind was auctioned off at Southeby’s sale today and fetched a massive $510,000 from an anonymous telephone bidder.
Recent deaths: Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Stewart Granger, Vincent Price, River Phoenix, Don Ameche, Myrna Loy
Hollywood 4 March. Jack Nicholson last night became the 22nd and youngest recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. A second award, given to Elizabeth Taylor, makes her only the fourth woman to receive the honour, following Lillian Gish, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck. Miss Taylor, who has made 54 films, now devotes her time to campaigning for AIDS research.
Los Angeles 28 March. Lana Turner, who was diagnosed as having throat cancer two years ago,is due to be discharged today from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre where she has been undergoing tests.
London 19 May. Ex-Beatle George Harrison has sold his production company, HandMade Films, to Paragon Entertainments of Toronto for $8.5 million cash. Among HandMade’s biggest hits were Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa.
London 5 June. For the first time in years, Britain’s two major studios Pinewood and Shepperton, are playing host to Hollywood features. Shooting has begun on Mary Reilly, starring Julia Roberts, Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd will be underway next month, and Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein is al;ready in post-production at Shepperton. The favourable pound to dollar exchange rate has fuelled this welcome trend.
London 20 June. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1991), still awaiting British censor approval for video release, has re-entered the UK’s top 10. Box-office receipts here are now almost triple those of the U.S.
Los Angeles 28 August. Shock announcement of the year: Disney Supremo Jeffrey Katzenberg has quit the studio amid acrimony.
New York 28 November.The National Endowment for the Arts, suffering financial cuts, is withdrawing all funds for the preservation of film. The decision affects thousands of films and millions of feet of newsreel footage.
Hollywood 1 February. The Walt Disney Co. Yesterday announced a revamped version of Fantasia, to comprise four segments of the original 1940 classic plus five new segments. Release is planned for 1998 but, meanwhile, according to Disney executives, 100,000 New Yorkers will catch a preview glimpse in June of the latest animated musical, Pocahontas, to be shown on four eight-storey-tall screens on the Great Lawn in Central Park.
Los Angeles 13 February Martin Scorsese’s Casino, a 70’s mob tale starring Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone has been completed in Las Vegas after an indulgent 100-day shoot. However this was less than half the time taken on Kevin Jackson’s troubled Waterworld, still in production. The budget for this 26th century aquatic adventure starring Kevin Costner is nearing an unworldly £175 million.
California 24 February. With over a decade elapsed since his Star Wars trilogy, producer, director and technology wizard George Lucas is taking a year off to write a three part sequel to the series. Lucas may have to sell part or all of his empire, including the Industrial Light and Magic Company, said to be worth $350 million, to finance the state-of-the-art technology needed to realise his vision.
Los Angeles 7 March. The Walt Disney Co. Yesterday announce record-breaking sales in excess of 20 million copies of the video of The Lion King. The film has so far grossed a stratospheric $740 million in theatres worldwide.
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