Saturday, September 27, 2008

Invigorating the cop drama

  • Pride and Glory has revamped its official website, and besides looking super spiffy, a new photo of Jennifer Ehle as Abby has been added. Just click on the gallery and flip through the Tierney family album to see it.
  • In his "Fall Movie Preview," Peter Travers of Rolling Stone encourages everyone to see Pride and Glory:
    Director Gavin O'Connor grew up in an Irish family of New York detectives. Maybe that's why his searing police drama feels so lived-in, heartfelt and brutally honest. Edward Norton excels as Ray, the cop caught between an old-school father (Jon Voight), a brother (Noah Emmerich) who looks the other way and a brother-in-law (Colin Farrell) who's lost his moral balance. O'Connor (Tumbleweeds, Miracle), who co-wrote the story with his brother Gregory, invigorates the cop drama, makes it personal again, but for two years his dynamite film has been trapped in the limbo of studio politics and the vagaries of distribution. You now have the chance to see O'Connor's labor of love. Take it.
  • Two more Amazons have joined the ranks of viewers who loved Before the Rains:

    ~ Love It! ~ This movie was amazing... The writing was great, the acting perfect and the directing superb! Linus Roache shines as always. Just remember to look for hidden meanings and always expect the unexpected!

    ~ Beautiful cinematography ~ Before the Rains is an enjoyable movie with everything going for it. Breathtaking visuals complimented with good acting and a strong storyline makes it a winner. There may be some scenes which wouldn't make much sense to a Western mind but I do think the movie is true to it's timeline of India before independence, the fragile Brit-Indian relationship and finally the endless superstitions some of which continue to prevail to this day.

  • Rains was also shown at the Independent South Asian Film Festival in Seattle last night. Don't forget that Pride and Glory will be making its US debut at the Woodstock Film Festival next week (Oct 2).

P.S. You might be amused to know that "Jennifer-Ehle-as-Elizabeth-Bennet" has become an adjective used to describe other actresses:

[...] Miss Maria Dorrillon (an impassioned Laura Doddington) and Lady Mary Raffle (a very Jennifer-Ehle-as-Elizabeth-Bennet Ursula Early) are causing concern for Maria's caretaker Mr Norberry (Michael Burrell) with their wild behaviour, and their flirting and spending. [...] ~

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The 'beauteous' Jennifer Ehle

First of all, a belated happy birthday to Rosemary Harris, who turned 81 years young yesterday. We wish her all the best.

Yesterday was also Day 1 of the ten-day Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK. Some of the 29 events have sold out, but if you fancy promenades, soirees and putting on a bonnet, it is definitely the place to go. If you can't make this year though, despair not - the dates for next year have already been finalised.

On the review table today...

Michael H. Kleinschrodt of The Times-Picayune liked Rains, but would like to have seen even more of it:

[...] Before the Rains features elegant visual details, but the story seems rushed in a film that stretches just past the 90-minute mark. More time for character development would have been welcome. Still, the story is compelling and the performances are moving. [...]
The Winston-Salem Journal (providing a nice still, left) are justifiably proud of their 'native' in their brief summing up of Rains, while the DVD release has prompted a few more thoughts from the public:

The only Blockbuster to comment thus far said the following...

[...] Was a great movie! Kept you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Highly recommended! [...]
There is also a barrage of niceties from Amazonian number 3:

[...] It's exquisite to look at, while actually boasting a plot that moves right along, and stars some gorgeous people giving us a passionate, moving story of a mature interracial love affair. ...
The beauteous Jennifer Ehle turns in a restrained performance as [wife] Laura. ... Rahul Bose turns in a thoughtful performance as TK Neelan, a resident of the local village, caught between his respect for the past [and] the always reliable veteran John Standing is Charles Humphries, a grandee of the local expat English community. ... The beautiful Nandita Das is [also] stunning as Sajani. ...

Add a star if you are a particular fan of the Raj; and, whatever you do, keep the tissues handy. [...]
Similarly, Art and Tea 'really enjoyed' the film:

[...] It was a bit melodramatic but I loved every minute of it. Beautiful to watch. So lush and vivid. [...]

In other areas, a few last Toronto pieces are popping up. The Irish Voice wonder whether 'Pride will earn Glory', summing up some of the not-so-happy past reviews but refusing to take them as gospel. Meanwhile, Premiere found Pride and Glory 'competent' and 'slick' but 'predictable', and the Metro's surprised Steve Gow has placed it top in his 'This Is Going to Suck, But Didn’t' category:

[...] With amazing performances from Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and even Jon Voight, this honest and gripping story about a family of New York City cops who get tied up in a case of corruption was shockingly engaging. [...]

Elsewhere on the web, the CM Lit Fest blog have a nice still of JE Snr reading from his book, Trail of Tears at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, one of two listed appearances made by the author at the event. A reminder that six books of John Ehle's can be purchased on Amazon.

Lastly, did you see Pride and Glory at the TIFF? Have you ordered Before the Rains and are itching to talk about it? Or maybe you haven't seen either, you just want to! Whichever, please feel free to drop into our Forum or Chat Extension. As always, we'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love for Glory / Rains 'a film classic'

Well, Toronto came to an end at the weekend, but chitchat about Pride and Glory did not, and the interim days have seen a slew of belated positivities.
  • Firstly, Brightcove have a complimentary video review by The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Rechtshaffen. His only real criticism is of the title and he sprinkles praise on the film itself.

  • At Collider, Monika Bartyzel gives the impression she expected a hackneyed cop drama but was pleasantly surprised. She also is a fan of the film's female contingent.
[...] [Pride and Glory] contains all that we’ve come to expect from the genre. It is not, however, completely old and tired. A compelling story rests inside the familiarity, breaking out of the weight of cliché and increasing in fervor, pace, and execution. ...
Each moment fuels the journey and accelerates the players towards the inevitable and tragic conclusion, and this is what makes the film. Nothing is superfluous in the film, each person and scene upping the ante and revealing a piece of the story and puzzle. ...
Rather than simply existing as thorns in the men’s sides, or filler for the story, the Tierney wives pull out fundamental aspects of each cop and the rationale and motives for their actions. Their scenes are brief but dramatic, and always purposeful. ... As a quest for the truth, and a film that questions notions of honor and obligation, Gavin O’Connor has hit the nail on the head. [...]
  • Continuing the trend, it's 4 stars and a thumbs up from J. D. MacNamara at CinemaBlend, whose satisfaction comes from the quality of the film's characters:
[...] Pride and Glory succeeds because it grounds itself in fully developed characters who, amidst the violence, greed, dishonor, pride, and glory that comes with bleeding NYPD blue, never waiver in either their morals or motives. ... True to itself, its characters, and the rules set down by O’Connor, Pride and Glory is on the level with cop dramas like The Departed, but possibly even better because it relies less on twists, turns, and things left unsaid. [...]
  • Next, a thank you to Janet for drawing our attention to Richard Corliss' Time review, which while mixed, praises the performances including that of Ms Ehle:
[...] Voight...doesn't make a misstep; Norton executes his usual business of revealing little but threatening plenty; and Ehle, her head shaved as a cancer patient, deftly underplays her function of providing the poignant feminine touch. [...]
  • While we're on the subject, Pop Entertainment have a (potentially already posted, not that I can spy it) Colin Farrell interview from way back in February. Talking about why he thinks Pride and Glory is a 'really strong piece', he says:
[...] Great performances from Voight and Norton, and Jennifer Ehle is amazing. [...]
  • On the 'blink and it's gone' side, John Foote of InContention cites 'some strong performances', but considers the film too familiar, Duane Dudek at the Journal Sentinel says the movie has 'a Mystic River vibe' along with 'the gritty verisimilitude of dirt under your fingernails', while the Irish Times report that Colin Farrell had fans 'screaming in shock' at the film. (They hint however that this was due to its violent nature rather than a lack of quality!)

  • Finally - as the official website now notes, and as those of you receiving a pre-ordered present from the postman today will be aware of - Before the Rains is now out on DVD. This has prompted more thoughts on the film, such as those of the contented Courant. After describing the cinematography as 'gorgeous' and claiming that Rains constitutes 'absorbing, elegant entertainment', they importantly add:
[...] Jennifer Ehle is good as the wife, who is smarter than Moores wants her to be. [...]
Meanwhile, two enthusiastic Amazonians have already gone online to share their thoughts since yesterday's release, granting the film 4 stars and 5 stars respectively:

[...] Beautiful scenery...There is a lot to this movie and yet it is not a complicated plot. ... The movie is a little slow in places, but never boring. Highly recommended. [...]

[...] I've now seen this film a couple of times in the theater. It is, hands down, one of the most beautiful and moving films I've seen in a long time. Linus Roach [sic] is great and Jennifer Ehle is one of my favorite actresses. A really great, film classic! [...]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Acting while bald

We have quite a few items from Toronto, but first, here's a brief interlude into Before the Rains. Don't forget that the film comes out on DVD this Tuesday (September 16) and can be pre-ordered at Amazon. If owning the movie isn't inducement enough (!), has some news that may prove to be an added incentive:
[...] It turns out, there is a commentary track on the DVD -- Lionsgate just wanted to keep it secret, it seems, for mysterious reasons of their own. It features star Linus Roache with director and cinematographer Santosh Sivan chatting about making the film, and it's chock full of the usual semi-gossipy kind of stuff that's fun to hear, such as how Roache and Jennifer Ehle, who plays his wife, had always wanted to work together and here they finally got their chance. They also talk about the strangeness of a director who's also DP and camera operator, and how that can intimidate actors. [...]
Back to Toronto for the scoop on Pride and Glory:

  • In an otherwise "misbegotten" review, FOXNews finds some positive things to say about the film:

    [...] At least the performances and look of the film are very good. Edward Norton and Noah Emmerich are brothers, cop sons of the scene-chewing Jon Voight. Farrell, who threatens the aforementioned baby with an iron, is their cop brother-in-law. Lake Bell, with whom Colin was rumored to be having an affair way back in 2006 when they shot this, is his wife. The otherwise magnificent Jennifer Ehle, whom no one mentioned at Tuesday night’s premiere, played Emmerich’s wife, dying of cancer and acting with a bald head. [...]
  • Screen Daily comes away from the film with a much more favorable impression, as is evidenced by the following quotes:

    [...] A coiling police saga about the clash between family and career loyalties, Pride and Glory is a familiar but taut thriller sparked by a quartet of committed lead performances and the visual acrobatics of stealth camera ace Declan Quinn, who has also just impressed in Rachel Getting Married. [...]

    [...] If Pride does eventually devolve into a hyperbolic windup, it delivers a series of visceral wallops along the way that lift it notches above standard-fare pulp fiction. [...]

    [...] The performances are uniformly fine. Voight invests his patriarchal role with a gravitas that lifts the character above precinct cliché, while Farrell's loose-cannon explosiveness is perfectly balanced against Norton's implosive willfulness. The real star of "Pride and Glory" is ubiquitous cinematographer Declan Quinn, however, whose stalking stalking camera effectively turns the viewer into Ray's silent co-investigator, as it sneaks around corners, peers through window panes and picks up on covert conversations.

    The following bit is slightly more ambiguous, but I assume that by "dreary," the writer means"gloomy" and "depressing" rather than "boring."

    [...] Taut encounters throwing Farrell and his bad-apple cronies into the ring with neighbourhood drug dealers alternate with dreary interpersonal scenarios, depicting the emotional struggles of Francis Jr.'s cancer-beset wife (Ehle) and Ray's futile attempts to win back his estranged spouse(Carmen Ejogo). [...]

  • Awards Daily praises the "intense performance" of Colin Farrell and the "multilayered performance" of Jon Voight, but laments that "too many characters and subplots are not fully developed, like the Jennifer Ehle character who plays Emmerich’s wife and is dying of cancer."

  • Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger labels the movie a "disappointment," and explains, "although Edward Norton's crime drama 'Pride and Glory' held [him] for a while, particularly because of its performances, it seemed to stumble a bit in the third act, and had a confrontation scene that just didn't play." However, he also says, "Jon Voight roared back to life with 'Pride and Glory.'"
  • In a particularly ouchy review, Cinematical claims that the film is unintentionally campy. On the other hand, Blogger Sean gives the movie an 8/10 rating.

  • Edward Norton (acting with a full head of hair and a goatee in this film) has been on the receiving end of myriad questions during his stay in Toronto. Interviews can be found at Reuters Life, The Whig Standard, AFP,, and The Star-Ledger, and a video interview clip can be seen at Reelz Channel.

  • Finally, Rosemary Harris' latest film Is There Anybody There? (also at TIFF) is deemed a "highly agreeable" comedy by The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    All go in Toronto!

    Pride and Glory made its world premiere yesterday (the arrival photos from Getty Images acting as our proof!)

    Various news conference and portrait session photos can be seen at Getty Images, Breitbart and Tangled Magazine (none with Ms Ehle, alas) while Vanessa Farquharson of the National Post gives the 411 on the conference for those of us not able to attend (Colin Farrell was MIA; Gavin O'Connor wore no socks). Gregory Bonnell of the Star has some quotage from Mr Norton.

    There are just a few finds in the review arena thus far, with more no doubt to come.

    Todd McCarthy at Variety is keen to point out this is not a happy film - ( 'the deterministic tragedy is guaranteed to make you more depressed going out than you were going in, even if you were depressed in the first place') - and he largely comments on the storyline.

    [...] O'Connor devotes considerable time to detailing the Tierney family woes: Francis Jr.'s wife, Abby (Jennifer Ehle, with head shaved), is in the final stages of terminal cancer; Ray's about-to-be ex-wife doesn't want him back; and holiday family time is constantly interrupted by emergencies and lowlifes dropping by to bug Jimmy, leaving wives and kids high and dry. [...]

    Time Out Chicago are much more blunt in their evaluation. WorstPreviews though champion the flipside, confidently stating:

    [...] I can tell you that the movie is as good as 'Training Day,' if not better. ... [Gavin O'Connor] will go on to have an amazing career if he keeps pumping out films like "Pride and Glory." [...]

    Thanks to Kate's discovery abilities, you can also view a lovely still of Ms Ehle as Abby at Rope of Silicon. Pride and Glory will be shown again at the TIFF on the 12th (2.45-4.50pm) while tickets for the Woodstock Festival (Oct 1-5) go on sale at noon today.

    Happy festivalling!

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    TIFF Countdown

    The Toronto festivities officially began on Thursday, and only two days remain until Pride and Glory makes its eagerly-anticipated world premiere! If anyone is able to attend, please please please share your (preferably Jennifer Ehle-oriented) thoughts with us. We are not above begging, as you can see!

    In the meantime, an early review from Popjournalism extols the "terrific" leading actors (placing particular emphasis on Norton's "top-notch" performance) and concludes that Pride and Glory is "definitely a film worth checking out." So far so good. [Edit: Oops, this was posted last time. . . apologies.]

    • "Lost in Austen, what's the verdict?" The Austen Blog is in the midst of an engaging discussion regarding the new UK mini-series that Abi mentioned in the previous post. Stop by their blog to find out what Austen fans are saying about the first episode.
    • "Once more out of the breeches!" According to DigiGuide, our beloved Pride and Prejudice is going to be on UKTV GOLD beginning September 13. (Click here to see the schedule.) Don't miss watching it "live" if you can help it.

    You are what you eat, err write

    • There is a fantastic interview with Tom Stoppard at The Guardian, which is (not surprisingly!) full of delicious quotage including this little gem: "You can't help being what you write and writing what you are." He discusses just about everything, and The Coast of Utopia and (sigh) Ivanov are no exceptions. Read on!
    • More Stoppard-ness can be found at The San Francisco Chronicle, and be sure to pop by our Chat Extension to read about a fan's extended experience with Utopia's Natalie Herzen.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    A little pre-TIFFdom torpidity

    On the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival, there are just a few comments on the Pride and Glory front. Firstly, EyeWeekly's short condemnation is more than countered in other places, with Sarah Gopaul from Canada's Popjournalism giving Gavin O'Connor's film a 4/5. She sums up that:

    [...] It doesn’t quite live up to the bar set by 2006’s The Departed, but it definitely holds its own. ... The performances from Norton, Farrell, Emmerich and Voight...are terrific... Norton in particular is top notch in this picture. ... [It is] definitely a film worth checking out. [...]

    Likewise, describe the creation as 'a modern day Serpico' and supplement their modest 3.5 with various nuggets of praise:

    [...] O'Connor takes the standard corrupt cops storyline so often trashed by lesser filmmakers and infuses it with a complex, brash intensity. Though the script hits some rough patches, its story about a family of blue-collar New York City police officers is powered by strong characterization and a surging energy that recalls the best films of Sidney Lumet and Michael Mann. Edward Norton lends a crackling performance as a cop with a conscience, while Colin Farrell revels in sleaze as an officer with blood on his hands (and several other places). All this, plus hypnotizing camera work that captures the Big Apple at its most morally grey. [...]

    In the Blink And You Miss It section, the New York Times talk about the New York setting of a selection of TIFF entries, while the Beeb mention the film as being 'hotly anticipated'.

    In the Loosely Related But Potentially Interesting section, Variety and the Poughkeepsie Journal part with a few more details about the Woodstock Film Festival, while Time Out have a feature on Utopia's David Pittu. Also, Dickien have two-part interview with Radio Free Albemuth writer/director John Alan Simon about the book, the film and the film's distribution status.

    Lastly, if you thought the Pride and Prejudice story was set in concrete, think again. Tonight, ITV begins screening Lost in Austen in the UK - a drama about a girl who one day finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom. After locating a secret door that leads to the Bennet household, the girl enters the household and thus the story, and after attracting the attention of the leading men becomes a potential threat to the traditional version of events. Despite severe enthusiasm in some quarters, the pre-screening thoughts are mixed. The Telegraph give the impression they would infinitely prefer a book.