Monday, December 29, 2008

We wish you a merry Chri...BIRTHDAY!!!

First and foremost...

Good wishes, happy returns and plenteous felicitations to Jennifer Ehle, who according to various netly sources celebrates her birthday today!

In keeping with the traditional forward/backward thinking that goes on at this time of year, a small stocking's worth of pieces new and old follows.

For useful information
  • Potential Oscar and the Pink Lady attendees might find it helpful to visit the French Institute Alliance Francaise site for the latest details of the play's New York run. It appears that all performances will take place Fridays to Sundays, with two shows on Saturdays. The original text by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, 'Oscar and the Lady in Pink', is available from Amazon (UK) among other places.

For quality

  • See the Telegraph's interview with Tom Stoppard from 2002, in the days when The Coast of Utopia was on in London and Sir Tom was only 65.
For film reviews and thoughts
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune bestows 3.5 stars on Pride and Glory, calling it 'savage yet moving'.
  • For something more substantial see Filmmaker Magazine's extended piece with Glory director Gavin O'Connor.
  • Alternatively, new public Pride and Glory views are being aired over at Amazon:
[...] I thought this was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time that wasn't an action or special effects driven movie. Ed Norton does a great job and Jon Voight is back with a great performance. The cast is top notch ... It is about 2 hours long but it is full of enough good dialogue and drama that it didn't really bother me. No holes here. Just a good drama done right. [...]
and:
[...] I did really like this movie. ... It's really just another good cop/bad cop New York movie, but the acting makes it a must watch. ... I recommend Pride and Glory. [...]
For fun
  • The Mail's Tom Kelly revisits the subject of the Darcy/lake filming stunt with brief quotage from the man himself (who apparently nearly turned the role down - unbearable thought indeed!)
For a bit of miscellany
  • A quick reminder that Radio Free Albemuth, in which Ms Harris plays Light Angel, will be released sometime in 2009. The whereabouts or indeed existence of The Yankee King (originally set for a March 09 release) remains a mystery until further notice. Last but not least, eBayers might be interested in a signed 1964 copy of John Ehle's The Land Breakers.


Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reminders and Reviews

Hi everyone! Since there are limited things to post about this week, I thought it would be a good time to compile a list of important upcoming events before mentioning a few more reviews of Pride and Glory.
  • Dec 29: Firstly and most importantly, Jennifer Ehle will turn 30 + 9 next Monday! We all wish her a very happy birthday and a healthy and happy New Year in advance.


  • Jan 16 - Feb 1: For those of you who live in the New York area (or who have the means of getting there), be sure to start the New Year off right by going to see Rosemary Harris reprise her role(s) in Oscar and the Pink Lady at Florence Gould Hall. Playbill has all the deets.


  • Jan 27: On the one-year anniversary of The Russell Girl's airing, Pride and Glory will be released on DVD (Region 1), and we will have three options to choose from when making our purchases. Option number one is the single disc edition which includes both the widescreen and full screen versions of the film. The second option is the two-disc Special Edition featuring the documentary The Source of Pride, and the third option is the Blu-ray version, which includes the same features as the Special Edition. All three can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com.


  • March 2: Quickly following the Region 1 release of Pride and Glory is the Region 2 release, which can also be pre-ordered at Amazon.co.uk.


  • March 9: While the Region 2 DVD of Before the Rains was formerly scheduled to be released on Dec 26, it looks like it will not become available until the spring. Patience is a virtue.

Pride and Glory continues to make its way around the globe (see IMDB for release dates), prompting more critics and fans to add their two cents to the review bucket. Their two cents greatly resemble those that have come before them.

  • South Africa's Mail & Guardian Online claims that the movie is a seat-sticker:
    [...] Pride and Glory is cinematically aware of the rough, snowed-under streets and cityscapes. Simultaneously raw and tender, alternately slow and fast-paced, it comes out as a grimy, somewhat truthful portrayal of the streets and the cops who prowl them. Although it runs at just more than two hours the action is gritty and arresting enough to keep you stuck to your seat.
  • Channel NewsAsia thought the film was "just your average cop flick," giving it three out of five stars, but happily, the quality of the performances did not go unrecognized:
    [...] The script and story fails the acting prowess available and undermines the great performances put in by Norton, Jon Voight as the patriarch and Jennifer Ehle as the sick sister-in-law. [...]
  • Steve Vineberg of The Christian Century, like many others, regrets that the characters and plotlines involving Abby Tierney & co. were not developed further:
    [...] It's a shame the film doesn't develop the women: Megan, who suspects what Jimmy's into but keeps it to herself; Abby (Jennifer Ehle), Frank's wife; and Maureen (Leslie Denniston), the mother of the family. Ehle is a talented actress, but her character is defined by the cancer that's eating away at her, a subplot that adds more weight to the film than it needs. Denniston has a lovely moment with Voight when she slides a glass of whiskey out of his hands without making a big deal out of it. Her deft, practiced handling of his drinking makes us want to see more about how this couple interacts—but that's all we get. [...]
  • The bloggers have weighed in, too. Ivantypes thought it was "a great cop film with a comfortable balance between action and drama." A Nutshell Review, on the other hand, felt the movie lacked the "it" factor: "That doesn't mean that it's a bad film, but lacked that particular x-factor in making it memorable."

Lastly, here is a book you might like to add to your collection: Theatre World: Volume 63 2006-2007. It's a pictorial and statistical record of the theater season, featuring The Coast of Utopia, and it's available at Amazon.com.

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A JE Snr special (+ newsly items)

First things first, we wish cartloads of happy returns to John Ehle, who celebrates his birthday today! We thought this would be an apt time to draw attention to some of his achievements (of the literary variety at least) followed by a reminder of how you can lay your fine eyes on them.



#1: THE JOURNEY OF AUGUST KING

  • What's the story?

It is 1815, and a North Carolina farmer heading home for the winter discovers a young slave girl and must decide whether to illegally help her gain freedom.

  • Adaptations?

Yes! It was turned (by John Ehle) into a 1995 film starring Thandie Newton and Sam Waterston no less. Britishers may have seen it broadcast in the last fortnight.

  • Is it good?

Apparently so. One viewer has written the following:

[...] I loved this movie. ... The Conflict and journey August faces reminds me a bit of the conversion of Francis of Assisi. It poses a question, "how much would you give, and how far would you go?" If you want a movie that will boost your hope, this is a movie for that. ... It has excellent immersion ... I think it is one of the best stories told in film. [...]
Meanwhile, all four Amazonian reviews of the book are extremely laudatory and furnish the full 5 stars - a story repeated in 10 of the 12 reviews of the film. The convinced and the yet-to-be-convinced should all take a peek.
  • Wow! They are good reviews. Ok, I want to read it / see it. Where do I get hold of it?

Amazon have the book, the film, and if you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, the poster.

#2: THE LAND BREAKERS
  • What's the story?
Set in 1779, 'The Land Breakers' follows young Mooney and Imy Wright deep into the Appalachian wilderness where they become the first white pioneers to settle deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina. What ensues during these six years is an often violent struggle: first merely to survive and then to create a viable settlement, some human community that might last. For in this stark mountain fastness, each of the important characters-male and female alike-is seeking two things: family and community.
  • Adaptations?
Not that we're aware of.
  • Is it good?
Seems to be. The first line of the first Amazon review is:
[...] This is the first Ehle book I've read and I can say categorically that he richly deserves every award won, and more. [...]
See that link for seven variations on that theme. The book also led Harper Lee to call John Ehle 'our foremost writer of historical fiction'. (See the product description for evidence). The New York Times said in 1964 that the book had 'a rare degree of greatness'.
  • How can I get hold of it?
Very easily, via Amazon.

#3: THE WINTER PEOPLE
  • What's the story?
[...] While sitting in her 150-year-old cabin in the mountains of North Carolina at the beginning of the Depression, Collie Wright sees furtive figures emerging from the woods on a chilly, near-winter evening. The figures turn out to be clockmaker Wayland Jackson, a widower on his way to Tennessee to seek work, and his 12-year-old daughter, Paula. ... Collie allows them to stay the night, and Jackson is immediately taken with her. But she is an unmarried woman with a newborn baby and dark secrets. ... Jackson stays to build a clock tower for the community and to court Collie. But the father of Collie's child, a wild young man from a mountain clan long in conflict with her family, soon returns to claim his rights, and a violent showdown forces Collie into the most painful decision of her life. [...]
  • Adapted?

Yes, in 1989. Stars Kurt Russell.

  • Is it good?
No one has written an Amazon review, but based on the quality of the others, it looks like quite a safe bet.
  • Where can I get it?
Three guesses. (The book/the film)

#4: TRAIL OF TEARS: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CHEROKEE NATION
  • That sounds like a large book. What's the story?
As it sounds really. 'The moving, searing story of the betrayal and brutal dispossession of the Cherokee Nation', quotes Amazon.
  • Adaptations?
We don't think so. But please correct us if you know otherwise.
  • Is it good?
New York Newsday called it a 'beautifully written and emotionally mature book . . . a must'. There are a few Amazonian nays, but these are outweighed by a majority of comprehensive and almost top-notch yays.

The first paragraph of one is particularly nice:
[...] John Ehle, a native son of North Carolina, has dedicated most of his life toward using his pen to bring to life the rich history of his birthstate. With Trail of Tears, he has succeeded again where so many others, in this day and age of political correctness and historical revisionism, have failed. Ehle's work is factually rich, it is obvious Mr. Ehle spent many hours in archives thoroughly researching the book's subject matter. The book's narrative structure is compelling, focusing on the role of several prominent families within the Cherokee Nation to animate the hierarchical structure of Cherokee society and the stratification of power therein. [...]
  • I want to part with roubles in exchange for this book. To whom do I give them?
How about Amazon?
  • I want to find out more about John Ehle. Where do I go?
You may want to check out our past posts which have the label 'John Ehle'. See the list on the right. Alternatively, the rest of the internet has a (few!) links. First, see Mr Ehle's page on publisher Press 53 for short but trustworthy info (and that lovely photo of Mr Ehle with the adorable-looking Joe Pye).

Alternatively see NC Writers or Wiki. John Ehle has written seventeen books altogether - eleven fiction and six non-fiction.

Other Posterly Business
  • Good news here today too. Theatermania announce that Oscar and the Pink Lady (see past posts) will begin a New York run next month. If you did not get a chance to see Rosemary Harris' one-woman performance in San Diego or New Jersey, head down to the Florence Gould Hall between January 16 and February 1st 2009.
  • Colin Farrell speaks to XPress about Pride and Glory, and describes the story as follows:

[...] A multiple murder has taken place on both sides of the law. Four officers have fallen in a raid that’s gone horribly wrong. There is basically a massacre at the start of the film. There’s an investigation and we find out that a few of the cops are dirty. It tears a family apart. By the end there is too much going on for each character. In fact, there are absolute consequences for everything that you see in the film. For every action that is taken there is a definite reaction. The consequences are very painful. [...]

  • BroadwayWorld and Playbill announce new projects for Martha Plimpton and David Harbour respectively.
  • Lastly, below is a rather nice photograph we have come across from Holocaust (1978), starring Rosemary Harris.









Saturday, December 06, 2008

Pride and Glory. DVD. January 27.



If last week's amount of news was like a cargo-laden ship, today's is more like a small and largely empty dinghy. Still, the few worthy mentionables follow.

Firstly - reviews. Further to previous Pride and Glory evaluations, one blogger considered the film 'solid', 'long' and 'great' (bar the ending), while an unenthusiastic other nevertheless lists some 'selling points':

[...] Voight, Norton, Emmerich and Farrell are ably supported. Jennifer Ehle is convincing and appropriately upsetting as Francis Jr's cancer-stricken wife Abby, while John Ortiz gives a tragic soul to the disgraced Sandy. Amid the many cliches...are scenes you definitely haven't seen. [...]

Top news-wise is the announcement that Pride and Glory will be available on DVD from January 27th. (See MovieWeb, the DVD Times, High Def Disk News and the HD Room). According to the above, one can choose from a single disc/film only option, and a snazzy two-disc special edition including a 'making of' featurette entitled Source of Glory. Amazon will release the film in Region 2 on March 2nd and pre-ordering for that is available now.

Lastly, earning a place in Theatermania's top ten theatre-related reads for the festive season is the 2007 edition of The Coast of Utopia. The (rather convincing) attempt at enticement is as follows:
[...] In the preface to the 2007 American Edition of The Coast of Utopia, Tom Stoppard's epic trilogy about 19th-Century Russian intelligentsia, the author writes, "I wish I'd written it this way first time round, but I didn't know enough then." Whether or not you've read the original text, Stoppard's engaging and thoughtful play is not one to be missed. Stoppard has a true gift for revealing the human side of the great thinkers that are the subject of his plays without losing sight of their intellectual achievements. [...]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bringing divaliciousness to set

Have we had enough Jennifer Ehle quotage this week? I think not. Let's have some more. First, Brightcove have another red carpet video from the New York premiere of Pride and Glory. Jennifer Ehle appears twice, responding to questions about the Glory boys and divaliciousness.

Second is some Rains multimedia from AVS (unfindable but possibly an oldie from the first half of 08). In it, Ms Ehle again appears twice, talking about why the film reminds her of film noir and Hitchcock. Lastly, Starpulse have an interview (minus Ms Ehle) that we appear to have missed from the TIFF.

The remaining hickeldy pickle of relevancies follow.
  • Following the Pride and Glory hype in South Africa, the Times speak to Colin Farrell about the film and being a father.

  • The South African approach coverage of the film from a slightly different angle, saying:
[...] Pride and Glory pumps out so much testosterone that audience members of all genders will leave with hairier chests. But this gritty police saga is masterfully made, and cleverly told, so it might well be worth the cost of a wax. [...]
Another yay comes from The Hollywood News, which goes so far as to say 'this is probably 2008's strongest ensemble outside of The Dark Knight', considering its rich performances to 'more than make up' for its lack of originality. Reviewer Adam Mast goes on to explain:
[...] What really gives this film an emotional wallop is it's attention to character detail. Each character in Pride and Glory has something to lose, particularly Emmerich's Francis Tierney, a man who not only stands to lose credibility and respect, but also his sickly wife (played brilliantly by an effective Jennifer Ehle). [...]
Also receiving the thumbs up is the oft-criticised ending:
[...] Pride and Glory took a good thirty minutes to really get going, but once it did, I was completely sucked in. This is a testament to the stellar performances and Gavin O'Connor's strong direction. Even a somewhat unexpected brawl scene in the final act of the movie manages to work. It's silly and not entirely realistic, but it lends a certain Irish charm to the proceedings. Pride and Glory is solid entertainment, with much to recommend it. [...]
  • On the flipside, blogger The Mad Hatter was about as happy with the film as his name suggests, while The Film Street Journal have more harsh words. Avion Newspaper's James Willingham goes for some rhyming ('Pride and Glory is very gory') and despite not considering the film anything special, he does identify 'some rather brilliant acting':
[...] Under Gavin O'Conner's (sic) direction the film has several scenes where emotional trauma is prevalent and causes the audience to understand just what's at stake: the reputation of the glorious NYPD. [...]
  • Ben Johnson at Artipot makes some neutral observations about the film, only moving away from this to predict that Pride and Glory 'should catch the public mood and draw the audience'.

  • Movie Waffle evidently got bored with ordinary yay/nay comments and twice ponder the subject of Jennifer Ehle's head. They say:
[...] Yes, there will be women in this movie. One of them will even have cancer. But this is a man’s film. If men are at home with their wives it’s because the bars are closed. If a woman gets a line it’s because the man needs to be reminded of something. Witness Jennifer Ehle – shaving her head for what she doubtless thought would be more than a two scene role – telling Noah Emmerich: “I need you to be that man”, and Emmerich nodding, thinking perhaps: “She shaved her head for this?” [...]
Then later:
[...] It may be me, but I could swear (Norton) looks envious when he hugs Jennifer Ehle at the family Christmas, thinking perhaps: 'Why didn’t I get to shave my head?' [...]
While we're on the subject, Glory release dates are now up (on IMDb) for Germany, Austria, Brazil, Australia, Sweden and Norway.
  • Elsewhere regarding reviews, Zola's Movie Pics gave Before the Rains 3 stars, and justifies that score thus:
[...] The story and location were equally magical. ... I think Rahul Bose gives the strongest performance as he tries to obey his people yet still hang on to his dream of modern prosperity. The soundtrack is very soothing and aids in setting the stage. [...]
  • After a far lengthier evaluation, CHUD give a (very precise) 7.3 out of 10, explaining how the film successfully demolished their preconceptions, but without also (seemingly) swaying too far into 'yay' territory. The thoughts given are honest and to the point:

[...] Before the Rains is not a great movie, but it is definitely a good movie, one that uses its budget and its cast well, and one that has a solid, if strangely old-fashioned, script. ...

[The film] has no big flaws. It gets in there, tells a story, then gets out of the way. It’s not sappy, long, or “pretentious.” On the other hand, it’s nothing uniquely moving, either. ... If you have an interest in period films or in India, definitely check this out; if not, well, see it anyway, but there’s no need to hurry. [...]

The reviewers also include an honest (and somewhat amusing) note about what the extras consist of:

[...] There’s a feature-length commentary with Roache and director Santosh Sivan, who cover such groundbreaking topics as what filming was like that day, how much they enjoyed working with each other, and what an honor it was to finally meet John Standing.

It’s not bad, and if you like the film enough to buy it, you’ll definitely like the commentary enough to hear it. The commentary is the only real feature, but that’s no big deal. The DVD has everything it needs, and the movie looks and sounds quite good. [...]

Disagreeing with the above is The Oxford Times, which makes numerous not-so-nice lexical choices despite calling the film 'worthy' and mentioning 'a willing cast and breathtaking locale'. Lastly, a note to Brits that Amazon is releasing Before the Rains in Region 2 on December 26.
  • For members of Coast of Utopia Anonymous, the New York Observer talk to a blonde Mia Barron about her current role as Hillary Clinton, and about how to convince people called Jack to let you be part of their nine-hour productions:
[...] Bent on joining the cast, she implored director Jack O'Brien to consider casting her. "When I heard they were doing that, I thought, oh my God, I would do anything to be in that in any capacity," she said. "I was actually doing a play at the time that overlapped a little with the Utopia rehearsals. I just wrote Jack O'Brien a letter and I explained how much I wanted to be involved and sort of begged him to work around me." Mr. O'Brien did, assigning Ms. Barron small parts throughout the trilogy and as Martha Plimpton's understudy. [...]
  • Related to that, as we haven't had a Stoppardian-related piece for a while, About Last Night have written a medium-sized report relating to Sir Tom.

  • In the realm of newspapers, the Scotsman theorise on how the current economic crisis is causing people to watch chihuahuas instead of cops on film, while the Guardian exhume a short piece about Uncle Vanya from 1963, making reference to someone beginning with R.

  • Next, if you're wondering what a less angry/scary version of Pride and Glory might look like, see the Italian trailer. Finally, if the upcoming festive season is making anyone want to throw some roubles at worthy causes, among BC/EFA's featured selection this month is The PLAYBILL® Broadway Yearbook 2006-2007. Judging by the product description, the hardcover book should include among its delights a chapter on The Coast of Utopia and a headshot of Jennifer Ehle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A very special treat

Hello all, sincere apologies, and apologies the apologies are becoming more regular than posts at the moment! Rest assured that the posterly irregularity is only temporary and due to unavoidable hecticity which we will try and work through as soon as possible.

We'll have a general round up later in the week, but for now (thanks to a kind and observant reader) we have a little gem which passed us by earlier in the month. It is a piece from the Sunday Telegraph's Seven magazine from November 9, in which Ms Ehle describes - with characteristic loveliness - what her perfect Sunday would consist of. We don't yet have the link but will of course let you know if we locate it. Enjoy!

My Perfect Sunday - Jennifer Ehle (actress)

[...] I’d get up between six and seven, which is when my son George (who's five-and-a-half) normally wakes me. We'd go downstairs together, before anyone else was up. We have seven hens, so we'd go and let the girls out. They have a big run which they can walk around in, but we try to give them complete freedom in the field while we're out there with them. We live in the country, two hours outside Manhattan. New York is a great place, but I couldn't live in a city full-time now. When you find your natural habitat in life it's really hard to leave it.

At the weekend we often have friends and my parents to stay. It's our best way of seeing them all. Generally, people don't seem to rouse themselves until mid-morning, and my friend Martha and I have fallen into a routine where she makes them all breakfast. If it's winter, we have a fire going in the kitchen and one in the living-room, and everyone drinks coffee and chats. I get filled in on what happened the night before, after I went to bed.

I have these fantasies of having a big Sunday lunch, so on an ideal day I'd roast a couple of chickens for us. Usually, though, everyone has eaten breakfast not too long ago and so instead, I try to do a meal on Friday night when they all arrive. This summer we had friends staying in tents on our field, which was really lovely. On 4 July, we all went for an after-lunch walk, down to a river we have below our house. Our friend Pedro had us all swimming in it, which was wonderful because we've lived there for seven years and have never done that before. It was like he'd built us a pool. The day was incredibly hot, so it was heavenly.

In the evening, it's that delicious thing of having the place back to ourselves. I like to go outside with my son and put the chickens to bed and look at the shape of the moon. When he was younger, he used to play what he called 'chicken piano'. He'd stand by the roost and touch each hen in turn, they'd all be sleepy, and each one would make a different sound.

When George is in bed, it's lovely to sit with my husband and watch nonsense on the television, or sit by the fire and play cards and backgammon. I'd probably go up to bed around 9.30. If it really was my ideal Sunday, we would have woken up in the spring, had autumn for the morning (with its crisp air), summer for the afternoon and winter in the evening. [...]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Has but four scenes

Greetings all!

Just before we get stuck into today's Pride and Glory bundle, a quick hope that you are all having a pleasant Sunday (or Monday) and a jubilatory bon anniversaire to Martha Plimpton, who is very very young today.

Now, on with the latest:

Refusing to budge from the do-you-mind-if-we-don't-watch-it category today (to put it mildly!) we have Ireland's The Munster Express, America's A Fort Made of Books, India's the Hindustan Times, and Rediff, also from India (who despite believing in the artistic excellence of the film's actors still refer to it as 'Fake and Gory').

Moving along the spectrum and bridging the gap between the nays and the yays is The Sakaal Times, or more specifically Jennifer Ehle. After listing a number of negatives, the publication concedes that 'Abby Tierney (Jennifer Ehle) ... draws our sympathy to a certain extent.'

Even further up, there are some good-quality yays to counteract the nays. Johnson Thomas at DNA India says Jennifer Ehle (as Abby) is 'heart-wrenchingly sincere', while Cosmic Film Trigger refuses to be swayed by many of the shots hitherto fired in the film's direction:
[...] In this film, it's true that nothing presented is particularly original and much of it has been seen many times before. Having said that, there is something undeniably poignant about this production and all the formulaic measures lose out to a gripping, intense cop drama that shows the perils of institutionalized violence and how easily corruption can come to the fore. [...]
The actors are also championed:
[...] The performances in this film are all uniformly excellent. Jennifer Ehle has but four scenes but she demonstrates a resolve that is as refreshing as it is difficult to contemplate. [...]
Elsewhere, the UK reviews are continuing to battle it out for most bizarre way of voicing a nay. The Sun (predicting the confusion that will arise from the pieces of Spanish dialogue) is alone in using simple language to explain its position. Others go for food analogies (The Daily Telegraph finding the film 'lumpy', The FT 'overcooked'), while the Daily Mail likens the film (in one of its nicer comments) to 'a peculiarly accident-prone building site'.

All is not lost however. Indicating the existence of some all-important public yays is Suze from Derbyshire, who politely takes on one of the tabloids above by responding thus:

[...] I went to see this film today with some trepidation due to many pretty negative reviews, both from UK and US critics. I thoroughly enjoyed it - it didn't seem like a 2 hour+ film in length to me. I agree that Colin Farrell unfortunately came over as pretty one dimensional - his reason for going bad was fairly unconvincing but I thought both Edward Norton and Noah Emmerich were outstanding. Critics seem to forget that we mere cinema goers don't walk in with an encyclopaedic knowledge of films, preparing to compare every film in the same genre. I enjoyed this film for itself - not in comparison to anything else remotely similar. I just hope people aren't put off from going to see it and giving it a chance. [...]

Thankfully, some reviewers are also as happy as Suze. In a refreshing bout of positivity, the North Wales Pioneer use the words 'powerhouse', 'example', 'acting' and 'of' in the same sentence, and conclude that Pride and Glory is 'certainly one of the most engaging performance movies to come out this year'.

Still more lay a few nice comments, but leave their harsh ones poking through. The Times Online talks of 'gritty' performances, but then claims the film comes 'from the “tough cops shouting at each other” school of drama', thus leaving the page's only redeeming quality to be the picture of Colin Firth sitting alongside the review.

Restoring the equilibrium again is blogger John at Cultural Affairs. Like an American Suze, he acknowledges the nays with the yays - but urges us to take our behinds off to view Pride and Glory anyway:
[...] I enjoyed it but it has this 'you seen it before' feeling while watching it. It's loaded with cliches that you see on TV cop shows but I think this movie rises above them. ...

There are better cop movies but you won't go wrong if you like this cast that includes Jennifer Ehle (of Pride & Prejudice fame) in a brief but touching performance as Noah's dying wife urging him to do the right thing. [...]
The next scheduled releases are in Iceland (November 21) and the Netherlands, Belgium and France in the first week of December.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catch up

Many apologies for last week's last of posticity, everyone! The blog was forced to take an unintended vacation due to blogger time issues. A couple of important events took place in the meantime.

On Monday evening (Nov 10), Jennifer Ehle was one of the presenters at the 24th Annual Artios Awards, a ceremony which honors excellence in casting. She can be seen (looking lovely in red) at WireImage and GettyImages, and, if you have a magnifying glass, at PatrickMcMullen.com. (Search for "Jennifer Ehle" in all cases.) This last site has photos from previous events that I don't recall seeing before, so be sure to check those out as well.

The other newsworthy event is that Pride and Glory made its way to the UK on November 7. According to The Guardian, the film did well at the box office during its opening weekend:
[...] In fact, the prize went to New York cop thriller Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, which debuted at No 5 with £396,691 from 258 screens. [...]

What follows is an Ehle-centric sample of the UK reviews, which (you'll notice) bear many striking similarities to the US reviews:
  • Anthony Quinn of The Independent feels that the movie is on the hackneyed side, but the acting sets it apart. Moreover, he says Norton and Farrell are “fine,” but he asserts that “Emmerich and his ailing wife (a shaven-headed Jennifer Ehle) are considerably more than that.”
  • The Evening Standard's Derek Malcolm basically concurs and notes:
    [...] O’Connor paints a dark, dank and gloom-ridden view of New York and his actors, who include the excellent Jennifer Ehle, notable as Francis’s cancer-stricken wife, are certainly no slouches. [...]
  • In a discussion of the film's tragic flaw, Stella Papamichael of Digital Spy comments on the underutilization of Ms Ehle's talent:
    [...] Arguably, the fatal flaw is that O'Connor doesn't stick closely enough with Jimmy, to let the story unravel through his eyes and give us the luxury of a few surprises along the way. Instead there are dead-end detours into All The President's Men territory as the editor of The New York Post gets a whiff of the stink, a maudlin sub-plot involving Jennifer Ehle (wasted) as Tierney's cancer-ridden sister, and scenes of a loopy Colin Farrell threatening to iron a baby's face. [...]

Even more catching up

Last week, Michael Kabel reviewed the film for BlueMovieReviews. Like many others, he thought Noah Emmerich and Jennifer Ehle's scenes brought the movie a much-needed breath of fresh (acting) air:

[...] One thin sliver of beauty arrives about halfway through, when Francis presents his dying wife with a Gaelic band promising “love eternal.” It’s a sweet scene, played expertly and without bathos by Emmerich and actress Jennifer Ehle, that detracts from the rote events happening elsewhere in the plot. In fact, coupled with a later scene of Francis defusing a hostage situation, you might wish the movie was about Francis and starred Emmerich’s perfectly-tuned performance, instead of Norton’s and Farrell’s faux macho histrionics. Emmerich (The Truman Show, Beautiful Girls) has made a career of playing non confrontational beta male types; his performance here is a revealing breath of fresh, unmannered air. [...]

Be sure to check out the comments after the review.

Finally, The Optimist at the Two Gays and a Movie blog is also quite complimentary of Jennifer Ehle's performance:

[...] Ehle is exceptionally moving as the dying mother undergoing chemotherapy, who remains strong for her husband, but shows in a poignant scene how devastating it is for her to have to be taken from her child. [...]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pick 'n' Mix!

We start with a more manageable number of Pride and Glory reviews this week, and while not quite all of them make an appearance below, points raised are largely representative of the remainder. According to IMDb, the film is now out in Greece, Israel and Italy and is scheduled for release in the UK on Friday. Enjoy!

Scrumptious centre, unscrumptious coating
  • John M. Urbancich of the The Plain Dealer laments that Pride and Glory's cast - including a 'superb Jennifer Ehle' and an 'always terrific Jon Voight' - cannot rescue the film from 'guilt by familiarity'.

  • Gary Thompson from the Philadelphia Daily News considers the iron scene to be one step too far. However, despite claiming that other members of the genre outweigh the film, Thompson admits there is 'nothing wrong' with Pride and Glory's performances.

  • The Scotsman wins the award for most hilarious partial nay, likening Pride and Glory (on account of its apparent superfluity) to 'a sixth toe or another Madonna tour'. But after an even ouchier moment - 'it's just The Departed without the Oscar winners' - some plus points are mentioned, with the film being considered 'watchable', the actors hailed as well-suited, and Ms Ehle being described as 'bald but improbably radiant'.

  • Paralleling this in places, Carol Cling at Lonokenews thinks the film barely keeps its head above water. But, after diagnosing 'a serious case of subplot-itis', Cling praises actor John Ortiz and a 'wonderful [Jennifer] Ehle, almost unrecognizable from her days in...Pride and Prejudice' who 'delivers a few wrenching moments'.

  • Over at Greenville News, the reader reviews are as mixed as those from the professionals, with comments ranging from 'an entertaining and worthy view' on the one hand to a one-starred suggestion of a not-so-nice name change on the other.

  • More substantive thoughts return with Matthew Fox at the Paso Robles Press, who despite giving his fair share of harsh comments notes that 'the scenes between Emmerich and Ehle serve as the most heartfelt in the film'. He also gives high marks to both Jon Voight and John Ortiz.

  • Describing the film as 'a textbook example of what a movie looks like when it is made up of an A+ cast and a D+ script', Chester Carson of the Juneau Empire airs most succintly this frequently raised point. He goes on to give several (non Ehle-related) reasons to warrant his opinion of excellent acting and not-so-excellent writing.

  • At GT Weekly, Lisa Jensen's title instantly reveals her nay stance, but she does refer to 'the lovely Jennifer Ehle' and, echoing the above article, talks of 'an excellent cast who deserved so much more.'

  • It's the same story again from the Newsleader, who say the following:
[...] Acting is the true shining star in this otherwise pedestrian film, with Edward Norton and Jon Voight turning in strong performances, buoyed by a group of minor roles that are handled with skill, regardless of how small. Standouts among them are the relative unknowns John Ortiz as Sandy, one of the crooked cops, and Jennifer Ehle as Francis' wife, Abby. [...]
  • Cut somewhat from the same cloth is The Ithacan Online. After speaking positively about the leads, Hannah Agatston goes on to say:
[...] The other actors in 'Pride and Glory' do a mediocre job of holding the audience’s interest, except for Frannie’s wife, played by Jennifer Ehle, who evokes emotion as she battles with cancer. [...]
It looked delicious...but wasn't
  • Alone in this group is David Adams at 360 Entertaiment, who gives Pride and Glory several hints of praise, before suggesting we rent The Departed instead.

The sour laces

  • There's always one, and this week it is Matt Soergel of The Times-Union, who proves in just two sentences why the 'nay' crown should go to him. Directly behind him however is Alexa Santoro of the Daily Collegian, who ends up bestowing a C+ despite an unutterably scorching first sentence.

That nice one you didn't realise was left

  • In other news, Broadway World reveals that in just a week's time, Jennifer Ehle will be utilising her presenting skills again! She will be one of several guest presenters at the New York part of the 24th Annual Artios Awards, which honour excellence in casting. Exciting stuff! As the website explains:

[...] The awards will be presented at coast-to-coast ceremonies on Monday, November 10th, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and Caroline’s on Broadway in New York. Guest presenters in New York will include Bryan Batt, Jason Biggs, Robert Buckey, Danny Burstein, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher, Gavin Lee, Norm Lewis, Rebecca Luker, Alan Menkin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hunter Parrish, Kristen Schall, Sherie Renee Scott, and Michael Urie, among others. [...]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Emboldened' adjectives

Special Interest
  • First things first, I managed to hunt down another video interview-ette with Jennifer Ehle on the red carpet, this time from the aptly named Buzzine Magazine. Have a look over at YouTube.
  • Tez brought our attention to Esquire's Q&A with Noah Emmerich, in which Mr. Emmerich reveals his favorite on-screen kiss:

    I've had so few on-screen kisses. It's terrible, I've haven't really had a romantic on-screen kiss. So probably my favorite on-screen kiss is this one, in Pride and Glory, which is so not sexy. It's with Jennifer Ehle [whose character is dying of cancer]; she was spectacular in the film, shaved head and everything. So my favorite on-screen kiss would be with a bald woman.

  • And, an interview with Gavin O'Connor at Premiere incites us to say a little prayer to the Movie Gods that the deleted scenes from Pride and Glory will be included on the DVD:

    [Q] A while ago I interviewed Jennifer Ehle for the film Before the Rains, and she mentioned that she had just finished Pride and Glory. Given the nature of the beast, she was worried that her scenes may be cut from the film, despite having shaved her head for the part. Yet, it seems impossible her scenes deleted as she seems to be the moral compass for Frannie.

    [A] There was another scene when she dies. I did end up cutting it from the movie because once I got into the third act, the scene in the bathroom [between Ehle and Noah Emmerich] is really about giving [Emmerich's character Frannie] the motivation to do the right thing. After that, we didn't need to go any further because she lifted Frannie and pushed him toward the light, and that was her purpose in a way.

Review Rhapsody

The Pride and Glory reviews are continuing to arrive by the truckload this week! Normally we try to post most everything we find, but a change of tactics is necessary since it would be pure madness to post them all. I mean, we’re crazy, but not that crazy. So, for the benefit everyone’s mental health, I’ll focus solely on the reviews that specifically mention Jennifer Ehle’s performance. There are, thankfully, plenty of those. And although the reviews run the gamut from positive to mixed to negative to outright painful, they seem to be unanimous in declaring that Jennifer Ehle excels in her part, even if it is too brief. No surprises there!

(FYI - If you're interested in keeping tabs on some of the top critics' reviews, visit Rotten Tomatoes.)

First off, Joan E. Vadeboncoeur of Entertainment finds Pride and Glory to be "long and unsatisfying," but she also asserts that Jennifer Ehle is the best thing in the movie:

[...] Best is Jennifer Ehle, the wife of Emmerich's character, who is dying of cancer. In fact, she emerges with the best acting of the film. [...]

Tim Basham of Paste Magazine sums things up nicely when he says that "Jennifer Ehle gives a small but outstanding performance as Franny’s wife who has terminal cancer."

The Cape Cod Times' Tim Miller claims that the actors carry this film. In particular, he says:

[...] Jennifer Ehle — star of the 1995 version of "Pride and Prejudice" — gives a wrenching performance as Fran's wife, Abby, who's dying of cancer, that's so good it belongs in a much better movie. [...]

While Bailey Henderson of Real Movie News thinks the film is formulaic and particularly dislikes the final 15 minutes, he nevertheless commends the cast for their performances:

[...] The acting cast is includes fine actors like Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, who play Ray and Jimmy respectively. Norton brings his patient tone to his character and Farrell brings his usual fire to the role of Jimmy. Jon Voight delivers one of his better performances in years as the father figure that likes to drink a little too much. Noah Emmerich is also strong in his role as the brother Francis that is in charge of the officers killed in the drug bust gone wrong. As Francis’s cancer-stricken wife, Jennifer Ehle is solid as well and should have been given more scenes to work with. [...]

Likewise, Joshua Starnes from ComingSoon.net states that the performances are what keep the film afloat, and he lauds the authenticity of the scenes between Emmerich and Ehle:

[...] Emmerich's been a decent character for years who rarely gets a major lead role, but he makes the best of this one. It's easy to feel the emotional turmoil he's going through, especially in his scenes with Jennifer Ehle, and it all feels real. [...]

IF Magazine's Abbie Berstein doesn't think that Pride and Glory quite manages to succeed on a "narrative" or "emotional" level, but she still describes Jennifer Ehle as "terrific":

[...] The under-billed Emmerich, who is really the second lead, is intriguing and authentic as a rather ordinary man in an increasingly extraordinary situation and Jennifer Ehle is terrific as his seriously ill wife, though the subplot concerning her character lacks what seems to be intended resonance. [...]

Mal Vincent of The Virginian-Pilot describes Jennifer Ehle as being part of a "sterling ensemble" and later adds:

[...] Marking her return to movies after a too-long absence is Jennifer Ehle in the role of Emmerich's dying wife. She has terminal cancer and, for the role, she has shaved her head. Ehle, the daughter of legendary actress Rosemary Harris, makes her home near Winston-Salem, N.C. She is best known for playing Elizabeth Bennet in television's memorable adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." [...]

(Hmm, I don't believe Mal meant to say that Ms Ehle herself has terminal cancer.)

Though not a fan of the film's 'familiar melodrama' and 'cliched dialogue,' Sarah Granger of the Arizona Reporter concedes that "Jennifer Ehle and Lake Bell make their scenes memorable" even though the "female characters are peripheral" to the story.

Though the people at Thighs Wide Shut *cough* reiterate the cliched-ness of the movie that many have discussed before, they also like the authentic NY setting. More importantly, they mention "Jennifer Ehle's strong turn" as Emmerich's wife, but further explain that it is "a side story lost somewhere between all the gunplay."

Janet Garber and Shelly Hanner from Senior Film Files seem even more frustrated by the relegation of female characters to the background of the story:

[...] The actors are all very capable but are given nothing to do. In fact, actresses Jennifer Ehle, Lake Bell, Carmen Ejogo and Leslie Denniston could just as well have been left out of the movie without jeopardizing the plot one bit. [...]

Seattle PI's Sean Axmaker expresses similar sentiments:

[...] "We protect our own. That's all I know," offers clan patriarch Jon Voight in the way of advice. And that's pretty much the sole conflict of the film, which owes its moral soul to the saintly guidance of Frannie's cancer-ridden wife (Jennifer Ehle). For the rest of the film, the women are sent out of the room for the men to work things out, as if they live in some '50s time warp. [...]

In the realm of Blogdom, Film Intuition's Jen Johans loved the movie and provides a long and thoughtful review. Interestingly, she disagrees with what many have said regarding the 'peripherality' of the female characters:

[...] Additionally, while normally in police movies-- especially in regards to The Departed-- the family and especially women are typically left out of the mix but above all, Pride is a family story and this isn't the case. British actress Jennifer Ehle (most famous for portraying Elizabeth Bennett in the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice opposite Colin Firth) is extraordinarily good in her supporting role as Francis Jr.'s cancer-stricken wife whose quiet dignity and strength inspire her husband to try and set things right before it's too late. [...]

Not Unseldom Drastic is less enthusiastic, but parenthetically states:

[...] (Incidentally, his brother's wife is played by Jennifer Ehle, who is not much present in the movie, but whose performance was impressively wrenching). [...]

In My Movie Reviews, Wes finds that:

[...] The most believable performance comes not from Norton or Farell, or even Voight, but from character actor Noah Emmerich, a familiar face you've seen in many, many films and TV shows. [...] Emmerich's character is the one caught in the middle, and his character is the most shaded and one experiencing the most change, with his wife's (Jennifer Ehle, in a heartbreakingly sad performance) illness. [...]

Furthermore, Wes wishes that more of the film were dedicated to these two characters:

[...] Emmerich and Ehle's story is by far the most palpable and watchable, and the script devotes far less time to it, instead focusing on the brutality of Farell's character or the goodness of Norton's. [...]

Finally, Brian Orndorf of Filmfodder gives the movie a respectable B+ and astutely notes:

[...] Francis Jr. has worked hard to reach a level of authority, only to see his force succumb to the temptations of crime, not to mention nursing a wife (Jennifer Ehle, in a ghostly, heartbreaking performance) stricken with cancer; [...]

Sooo, just to review what has been said, Jennifer Ehle's performance in Pride and Glory is the best, outstanding, wrenching, solid, authentic, terrific, memorable, strong, extraordinarily good, impressively wrenching, heartbreakingly sad, and ghostly heartbreaking. Well done, Ms. Ehle!

Friday, October 24, 2008

U.S. release of Pride and Glory!

Well, we've all been waiting to use the words 'Pride and Glory', 'out' and 'is' in the same sentence for a long time, and now we can, for today the film was finally released in America! To say reviews had been pouring in would be an understatement, so assuming your readershiply consent, the mounds of new pieces will be examined gradually as opposed to being heaped in one go (and thus giving us all an extreme case of linkicitis).

There are however two conclusions that a significant portion of reviews have arrived at: 1) that Pride and Glory's acting outweighs its writing, and 2) that Jennifer Ehle's performance is rather excellent. Being, as we are, completely sane and logical, we will address these conclusions backwards, starting with the evidence accumulated thus far in support of the latter.

THE 'YAYEEE FOR JE' GROUP

  • A. O Scott of The New York Times clearly has feet in both camps regarding the film as a whole, claiming it 'relies a little too much on expository shouting', but admitting however that 'there are nonetheless some fine details and powerful, tense scenes.' Despite criticising Mr Farrell and Mr Norton, Scott praises other actors, going on to say:
[...] The best stuff can be found around the edges of the main family drama, in subplots and in the supporting performances of Shea Whigham, John Ortiz...and Jennifer Ehle (as Frannie’s wife, Abbie [sic] who is dying of cancer). [...]
  • Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune uses different words to come to the same conclusion, describing how the film is 'full of interesting little grace notes' and has an 'excellent' cast, but also 'grows more and more frustrating'. However, he lauds Ms Ehle as being part of one element that improves the film's overall grade:
[...] What works in Pride and Glory? The little things help, such as the way Voight hits his character's degree of drunkenness at a family get-together...or the tenderness Emmerich brings to his scenes with his dying wife, played by the superb Jennifer Ehle. [...]
  • The Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy is much more complimentary from the word go, claiming that Pride and Glory is 'well-paced, well-acted [and] much richer than routine.' But she also continues the above theme, this time using Ms Ehle's performance to illustrate a larger achievement of the film:

[...] The movie is greatly abetted by Jennifer Ehle's turn as Francis Jr.'s wife. Abby is battling cancer and losing the fight. She wears a scarf on her shaved head. She takes an exhausting amount of pills. She sits next to her children's bedside at night watching. She senses her husband's fear at her situation, but also something else gnawing at him.

Too often in cop-family tales, the primary relationships are between cop and quarry, cop and cop. Full of the requisite violence and brotherly angst, Pride and Glory makes delicate, impressive use of wives and mothers. With a couple of dynamic scenes between Abby and Franny, Pride and Glory reminds us how seldom other lives — and other ways of dying — get their due. [...]

  • Bill Goodykoontz of the Battle Creek Enquirer again liked the acting while disliking the writing, explicitly blaming O'Connor and Carnahan and the 'ludicrous, macho-cop posturing' they (according to him) included. Ms Ehle is again however seen as an exception, with Goodykoontz picking out what he sees as a particularly well-done scene:
[...] Francis Jr.'s wife, Abby (Jennifer Ehle), is dying of cancer and serves as a sort of moral compass. She's good in a limited role. A scene in which she looks at her children as they sleep and bursts into tears says so much by saying nothing at all — a rare moment of subtlety in an otherwise paint-by-loud-numbers affair. [...]
  • Continuing the yays is Stephen Shaefer of The Boston Herald, who mentions 'a sublime, bald Jennifer Ehle after praising O'Connor for 'draw[ing] first-rate work from his large cast.' Jeff Simon meanwhile, of The Buffalo News, refers to the sacrifice Ms Ehle made for the role:
[...] [Tierney] is more than a little distracted by a wife (Jennifer Ehle, daughter of actress Rosemary Harris) who is dying of cancer. What that means is that Ehle — nothing if not superb and a serious actress in the family tradition — has shaved her head to simulate the effects of chemotherapy. [...]
  • Like critics before him, Liam Lacey's analysis in The Globe and Mail follows some negative footsteps - 'a talented cast can't dislodge a sense of ho-hum predictability' - and, like others, he speaks most positively about the film's domestic aspects, but does come to an original conclusion:

    [...] Most memorable, in a few brief scenes, is Francis Jr.'s wife, Abby, a young mother who is terminally ill with cancer and clearly too good for this fallen world. She is played by Jennifer Ehle (the radiant Tony-winning actress and star of the nineties BBC series Pride and Prejudice), and she is definitely too good for this movie. [...]

THE GOOD

Out of the reviews that do not mention Ms Ehle specifically, quite a few are firm residents of the 'yay' camp:

  • Rolling Stone describe Pride and Glory as 'probing', considering it to be 'directed with grit and grace', 'sizzling with a subversive subtext', and to include a 'cast of outstanding actors'.
  • Flick Filosopher too, fill their piece with positivity, while interestingly remarking that there 'is something wonderfully old-fashioned about [the film's] sincerity, candidness and muscular integrity.'
  • Lastly, Donald Munro in the Macon Telegraph calls the film 'well-crafted' and 'sharply plotted', considering Norton's performance and O'Connor's 'sprinkling' of 'intense scenes of domesticity' to be the elements that make it unique in the genre.

THE BAD

The film does have its fair share of nays however, although none of them seem to find fault with Ms Ehle's performance. Backing up our point 1 from earlier are four reviewers:
  • Ron Wynn (from the Nashville City Paper) finds the acting 'strong', mentioning 'exciting moments' and 'intense performances' - but regards these points unable to rescue 'what's otherwise a formulaic piece'.
  • Sonny Bunch (The Washington Times) quickly praises the male leads, but gives mainly a 'nay', claiming that 'when Joe Carnahan's name pops up in the opening credits, you know you're in for a rough time.'
  • Performances again are the only thing preventing Rene Rodriguez's nay (Miami Herald) from becoming a very strong nay, whilst James Sanford (Kalamazoo Gazette) says basically the same thing, but illustrates his varied criticisms with a somewhat amusing example - ('the New York City police officers...don't have much use for understatement. When they get bad news, mere tears are not enough: they have to run into a bathroom, smash the mirror and pull the medicine cabinet off the wall.')
  • Lastly is Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, who singles out the film's predictable ending as a problem point.

THE UGLY

  • Carina Chocano's piece for the Los Angeles Times wins the award for the most nay-filled nay so far (although she does mention an intriguing scene with a potato.)

THE CONFUSED

  • Also featuring heavily in the monsoon of reviews are those critics with a foot in both camps. The author of The Sobering Conclusion for example, thought the film 'decent', but unfortunately his vision was clouded by the hand-held camera-opening of the film which made him feel 'queasy' and 'claustrophobic'.


More in due course. In the meantime, a quick reminder that the film's official website is now super spiffy. Take a peek. Go on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pride and Glory: What's the verdict? + a video bonus

First, apologies for missing this little gem, which Janet recently uncovered for us -- When Pride and Glory was at the Toronto Film Festival last month, MoviesOnline interviewed Edward Norton, Noah Emmerich, and the two O'Connor's. While it is an interesting read all around, this bit from director Gavin O'Connor is especially delightful:
[...] So that was a joy to have all those guys and Jennifer Ehle. We both saw Jennifer in a play, The Real Thing, back in 1999 or 2000. When we were doing the script back in 99, when Joe and I wrote it, Greg and I were always talking about Jennifer Ehle to play the part of Abby because we’ve seen her on stage and I was just floored by this woman. Fortunately, we were able to get her in the movie. She’s a gift. She dove right in the process with these guys. It’s a weird thing how√Ę€¦ maybe it’s if your antenna is kind of sensitive, you start pulling in people who have similar sensibility and want to make a film in a similar way. There are actors who just want to get the script, show up, say their lines, and go home. Right? They do. We don’t do that. It’s not about that. [...]
On the review front, it looks like the jury is still out:

  • Peter Martin of Twitch Film can't seem to find enough wonderful things to say about Pride and Glory, waxing lyrical about the performances, the screenplay, and the direction. There are too many great quotables to include here, but his last statement sums things up nicely: "Pride and Glory strikes me as one of the finest dramatic films of the year."

  • In a review at Catholic News, Harold Forbes has some reservations about the amount of violence in the film, but he asserts it is a very worthwhile story. Most importantly, he specifically applauds the performance of a certain actress:
    [...] Ray is tempted to stray from the honorable course, and Francis the younger -- struggling with the burden of wife Abby (Jennifer Ehle in a deeply felt performance) dying of cancer -- must come to terms with some very heavy wrongdoings happening on his watch. His epiphany comes when Abby -- with only scant knowledge of the facts -- tells Francis he needs to be the same honorable man she married if she is to trust him to take care of their children after she dies. [...]
  • Steve Gow of Metro Canada has choosen to single out the performance of Noah Emmerich instead:
    [...] A drama that relies on some intense character work, it's a movie that also fits actors like Norton and Farrell like a glove. More surprising is the stellar performance of relative unknown Emmerich (Little Children) who steals several scenes from his more-famous cinematic brethren as a tortured man who may be ultimately responsible for the scandal. [...]
  • Overall, Katey Rich of Cinema Blend is more critical of the film:
    [...] Some family dynamics work their way into the story, including a weird subplot in which Francis' wife (Jennifer Ehle) is dying of cancer for no reason and a beautifully drunken, tearful toast at Christmas dinner. But for the most part director Gavin O'Connor (who co-wrote the film with Smokin' Aces director Joe Carnahan) sticks to the cop beats, giving some of the most touching scenes and subplots to the minor police characters. [...]
    However, she ultimately concludes that the movie can be enjoyed "for what it is."

  • AP critic Christy Lemire is not at all shy about saying she didn't care for Pride and Glory. Regarding Abby Tierney, she claims: "A subplot involving Francis Jr.'s wife (Jennifer Ehle), who has cancer, feels like an underdeveloped afterthought." In the same vein, Dan Hudak of Faxts News suggests that the female characters are "irrelevant to the story." Going from bad to worse, Robert Wilonsky gets personal in an extremely vexing review at City Pages. Read at your own discretion.

Multimedia

  • Daily Motion has a brief video of red carpet interview-ettes with the cast of Pride and Glory at the NY premiere, though a certain Someone is regretfully left out. A much lengthier interview with Jon Voight can be seen at WoodTV.
  • Aha! I just found another red carpet video from Hollyscoop (which can also be viewed at YouTube), and it does include a certain Someone. Jennifer Ehle and her cast mates answer the question, "Why should we see this movie?" in under 10 seconds. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few little things to start the week with


PREMIERE MULTI...MULTIMEDIA

Most importantly today, Wireimage have three videos from Wednesday's Pride and Glory premiere in New York, with a gem more than compensating for two barely existent others. In it, a radiant Ms Ehle reveals that the already much-mentioned B. A. B. Y is due in March 09. We wish the family again all our love and best wishes.

Further red carpet pictures can be found at Monsters and Critics (numbers 8 and 14 being the best) while Ms Ehle can (just) be glimpsed in the background of Access Hollywood's feature with male cast members (also on YouTube).

A number of other videos fail to feature Ms Ehle but nonetheless provide some nice insights into the film and its actors. Take your pick from AMC TV's testosterone-filled Shootout (with Misters Emmerich, Norton and O'Connor and two male interviewers), AP's chats with Mr Farrell and Mr Norton, and lastly Jon Voight's appearance on CW11 Morning News, viewable via the site's weblog. Slightly less serious conversations with Chris Holley and Lake Bell, were filmed by UGO.

THE WRITTEN WORD

First in the collection of penned reviews and interviewage, Michael Sragow of the Baltimore Sun quotes his conversations with Edward Norton about the films links with Iraq:

[...] We started saying to each other that the institutional lying at the center of Pride and Glory mirrored the crucible the country was going through. What's so fascinating to me about Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or any flash point is that somewhere around it there is a person who surely has deep feelings of loyalty to his fellow soldiers, his unit, his army, his country. Yet he reaches a moment where he says, 'I'm going to distribute a disc with the pictures because they show a corruption of the things we're supposed to be standing for.' For an actor, that's an incredibly interesting tension. [...]
(Sragow also deals with Norton's attitude to films that he is a part of - a subject put most centrally under the spotlight by Stephen Whitty at the Star-Ledger in his lengthy interview with the actor).

We return to evaluation of the film itself with Prairie Miller at Newsblaze, who after describing it as 'a kind of Godfather in blue', finds novelty within the project's oft-tackled genre:

[...] This type of sinister police noir is nothing new, but the story is elevated by the...gritty intensity of the male ensemble chemistry. [...]
She goes on to evaluate that:

[...] though the narrative rife with brutality and cynicism leads down a path that comes together way too over the top to make sense of it all, the journey there stings with the crushing weight of a raw and devastating emotional power. [...]
Elsewhere, despite identifying a problematic ending, the author of Back-Seat Critic thinks the film is 'expertly shot and paced', believing the O'Connors should be 'proud' of their creation. On a similar note, Radar, who consider the writing and direction 'flawless', dismiss any negative appraisals by stating simply, 'it's complicated but great—you should just see it'.

IL PREZZO DELL'ONORE

Next, a reminder (as if you need it) that Pride and Glory arrives in US cinemas in four days' time. The release comes in the middle of the Rome Film Festival, but as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter explain, the run-up to that has not been as smooth as one may have liked. It will be going ahead however, and Pride and Glory's newly created little page informs us that screenings of the film at the event will take place on three consecutive days, from October 28-30.

THAT OTHER FILM

Ensuring we don't forget Before the Rains amid this week's Glory focus, South Africa's Pretoria News sum the film up as 'melodramatic, but beautifully filmed', while contented reviewers mean the movie continues to maintain a score of 4.5/5 over at Amazon.

THE MONDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING

Finally, excellent news on the Rosemary Harris front, in that Courteney Cox's 19 minute short, The Monday Before Thanksgiving, is now completely viewable online (as is a nice little poster). The film is part of Glamour magazine's Reel Moments, a project explained in more detail by the Associated Press/WBZtv:

[...] Reel Moments, now in its fourth year, invites actresses and other women in entertainment to adapt and direct films based on real women's stories. ... Cox showed "The Monday Before Thanksgiving". [She] opened the program by announcing, "I'm available for directing.""I love it," she said in an interview. "I would do it again in a heartbeat." [...]
Cinematical reminds us again of the story and Ms Harris' co-stars:
[..] Courteney Cox's short casts her alongside Laura Dern and Rosemary Harris in the story of a woman who loses her mother right before Thanksgiving. But rather than focus on grief and loss, the short focuses on the the insistence to be coupled and being happy single. [...]
The film premiered with its Reel counterparts on October 14 in Los Angeles. Ms Harris' performance as inspiring-and-accomplished-lady-on-bus, Ms Cotlo, starts 12 minutes in (although the entire film is worthy of your fine eyes). Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Photo Op-timity

Lookie! Here is the much desired "evidence of Jennifer Ehle's growth and health" that I mentioned last time. That is, photos from Pride and Glory's New York premiere can be seen at Getty Images, WireImage, FilmMagic, WENN, Tangled Magazine, and Rex Features, which has some particularly adorable photos of Ms Ehle. (Search for "Jennifer Ehle" at all of the sites.) I've also downloaded some of the pictures into our photo album. Enjoy!

On behalf of the blog team, many congratulations to Ms Ehle!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Screenings + clips, caps, and quotes

First, Special Agent Ann posted at our Chat Extension to let us know that 1) Jennifer Ehle will be attending the New York premiere of Pride and Glory on Wednesday, October 15 and 2) there are free tickets to said premiere! (See the Extension for the details.) Unfortunately, Tez discovered that all of the tickets are gone. That part is disappointing, but on the bright side...Jennifer Ehle + Premiere = Red carpet photos a.k.a. long-awaited "evidence of her [continued] growth and health."

Tickets to the premiere may be unattainable, but if you live in the Washington D.C. area, you can win a pass to see an advanced screening of Pride and Glory (the date has not been specified). All you have to do is be one of the first 40 people to leave a comment at Reel Screening - Pride and Glory. Include your name and the answer to this question: What or who is the "Pride and Glory" of your life? See FilmGordon for further instructions. As of now, there are 17 spots available, so go to it!

Clips

To help raise awareness of Pride and Glory's upcoming release, Collider.com has posted seven video clips from the movie, courtesy of Warner Brothers. (Before you get your hopes up, none of them feature Ms Ehle.)

Caps

Our photo album is now home to a bunch of screencaps from Before the Rains. They have all been taken from the Linus Roache Livejournal community, where many additional (i.e. non-Jennifer Ehle) caps can also be seen.

Quotes
  • Many thanks to our precious Blog Mother Tez for calling our attention to the following three links. The first is a piece from Emanuel Levy, which discusses the characters and performances of Pride and Glory's leading actors. (Reader be warned of potential spoilers.) Here is the so-fabulous-you-have-to-read-it-twice part:

    ~Jennifer Ehle~ Abby Tierney's illness turns out to be not only a crucible but also a catalyst for her husband. "One of the ironies about Abby is that even though she has cancer and is in the last stage of her life, in my opinion she is the strongest and most grounded character in the movie," says Emmerich. "In fact, her strength resonates so palpably that it transforms Francis and gives him the strength to be a better man. Their relationship is so beautiful; it's a true love."

    Abby is played by award-winning stage actress Jennifer Ehle, who comments that in coming to terms with her own approaching death, "Abby reminds her husband of his own moral code and lets him know that the most loving thing he can do for her now is to be the man she married and trusts with the lives of their children."

    "Jennifer is an incredibly gifted actress," says Gavin. "She was totally committed to the role. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her again; she's one of the greats."
    One of the greats, indeed! Good to know she's still a 'director's darling.' The article ends with these lovely sentiments from Gavin O'Connor:
    [... ] "Every member of the cast brought so much to their roles," states Gavin. "My attitude has always been that even if an actor is in only one scene, that character has as much value to the story as any of the leads. Every piece of the puzzle means so much because all those pieces accumulate to complete the story. I was so proud of all the actors in the movie because they truly poured themselves into their characters."
  • More of the same plus a bit more can be found at Wild About Movies.

  • The film didn't quite make the grade for critic Emanuel Levy, who gave it a mediocre "C," but Levy also found many things to commend. For example:
    [...] The film's strongest scenes involve the femmes and family gatherings. As Abby Tierney, Francis's terminally ill wife and mother of their young children, Jennifer Ehle is truly heartbreaking. Her illness turns out to be not only a crucible but also a catalyst for directing her husband in the right direction. Though she has cancer (she's already bold) and is in the last stage of her life, Abbey is the saga's strongest and most grounded character, knowing the difference between right and wrong. [...]
  • Regular folks seem to agree that Jennifer Ehle is the yay within the nay - A film blogger thought the movie itself was "dull" but couldn't resist saying: "I must just mention the shaved head of Jennifer Ehle. She had a tiny role but she was amazing and totally without vanity."

Just for fun

  • A bookish blogger has written a thoughtful review of Alpha Male while simultaneously reminding us why we-the-blog exist.

  • Lastly...it has finally happened! I am talking about Meryl Streep Syndrome (MSS) in reverse. Let's hope it spreads and becomes something of an epidemic.
    [...] So I was in the shower, and all of a sudden I was all, OMG. MERYL STREEP GIVES OFF THE JENNIFER EHLE VIBE. [more]