Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Possession video clips

Vidnet has some clips from Possession, although none of them feature Ms Ehle (apart from the trailer). They include, "Read", "Are you sure", "Thank you", and "Main Trailer"

At Hollywood Jesus there is information on the book, the soundtrack for Possession, and includes a synopsis and review.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Two left feet"

Here's an article written by Baz Bamigboye about the dancing in Pride and Prejudice.

MEANWHILE, I have learned of the two left feet of that other celebrated Darcy, Colin Firth.

When Colin was shooting the 1995 BBC version of Jane Austen's famous tale with Jennifer Ehle, Anna Chancellor, Alison Steadman, Lucy Briers and Emilia Fox, there were occasions when Colin had to dance.

Trouble was, Colin -- a brilliant actor -- had absolutely no sense of rhythm. 'He was hopeless! We had to take him off set and get a choreographer to work with him solidly for an hour,' someone who worked on the film with him told me. 'What we discovered was that once in character as Darcy, he did know how to move, but as Colin Firth he couldn't dance if his life depended on it. It was all psychological.' Sue Birtwistle, who produced the award-winning series, refused to comment, but did tell me that the DVD of Pride And Prejudice continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies annually. Having seen the series again, I think it holds up beautifully. Many of the cast and crew met recently to celebrate the drama's tenth anniversary over cake and champagne at the Century Club in London's Shaftesbury Avenue.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Continuing the Trend

Might as well keep going on the subject of This Year's Love. Here are some tidbits of relevant comments from reviews.

Jonathan Romney says,
The smartest casting, though, is Jennifer Ehle - known until now as a diva of TV heritage drama, here slouching under a mass of blonde dreadlocks and wrapping her cut-glass vowels round an altogether grungier form of angst than she's tackled before.

A reviewer from Casino Avenue appears to be embarrassed to admit that they liked the film.
Special Friend's just called. "There's a TERRIBLE film about Camden on BBC1 right now..." Oh, but it's This Year's Love, and I, erm, liked it then, erm... well, I was young and aspirational then, honest. And I, erm, quite liked Jennifer Ehle in dreadlocks in it... keep it our little secret, eh? Please?

The Radio Times says,
Writer/director David Kane tries hard to evoke the spirit of mid-1990s “Cool Britannia” zeitgeist in this breezy romantic comedy, set in and around London's trendy Camden Lock and bursting with British stars of the future. However, while Catherine McCormack, Douglas Henshall and Dougray Scott deliver spunky, dynamic performances, the episodic script gives them little to work with. Charting three years in the lives of six London dropouts, the film recalls La Ronde with its constant swapping of sexual partners. Sadly, the plot soon becomes yawningly predictable. Kathy Burke's chirpy “fat bird” and Ian Hart's damaged loner come off best, though Jennifer Ehle beggars belief as a dreadlocked single mother.

And finally, some IMDB reviews
"Southern Kross"
The acting is fantastic, particularly Ehle and Burke who are pure class - hilariously funny and powerfully moving. Overall a fun and grungy look into the realities of love in the modern world of London's cultural mix, Camden Town, and also further establishes the Brits as the best producers of Romantic Comedy

Sophie (Jennifer Ehle), the upper class lady living in a down-trodden environment but loath to cut off her ties with her roots, was particularly well played.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Diva Tidbits"

Playbill talks about Nothin' Like a Dame

A host of fabulous talent has been lined up for this year's Nothing Like a Dame concert, which will be held March 6 at 8 PM at the Imperial Theatre. The annual event, which benefits the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actors' Fund of America, is scheduled to include appearances and/or performances by Victoria Clark, Tyne Daly, Lea DeLaria, Bobbie Eakes, Jill Eikenberry, Jennifer Ehle, Maria Friedman, Rosemary Harris, Catherine Hurlin, Jessica Ferretti, Sarah Jones, Lauren Kennedy, LaChanze, Darlene Love, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie O’Donnell, Kelli O’Hara, Brynn Williams and Ruth Williamson. About the upcoming concert, creator Newman recently told me, "We all find it amazing that it's 11 years of providing millions of dollars and, equally important, human help to so many women in what we like to call show business. The show has become a standard fixture on Broadway, with many people having come all 11 years. This year, some of the unusual things are — The Jersey Girls from Jersey Boys will be doing a number of their own, as well as appearances from some of the women from the incoming Wedding Singer and some of the women from the Sweeney Todd revival. Aside from our fabulous list of performers, there will be some surprises. And, I myself, may have some surprises up both my sleeves!" The Imperial Theatre is located at 249 West 45th Street. Tickets — priced $50-$1,000 — are available by calling (212) 840-0770, ext. 268 or by visiting www.BroadwayCares.org.

This Year's Love Review

This review is from Total Film. It receives three stars.

Tattoo artist Danny (Henshall) and fiancée Hannah (McCormack) get married, but not for long: 30minutes into the reception Danny discovers Hannah’s infidelity with the best man and they go their separate ways. Danny hooks up with pub singer Marey (Burke), while Hannah moves in with artist Cameron (Scott), whose own flatmate Liam (Hart) starts going out with New Age single mum Sophie (Ehle)…
The directorial debut from David Kane is one of the most enjoyable of the recent spate of British rom-coms (although the likes of If Only don’t exactly offer the stiffest competition). This Year’s Love is a bittersweet examination of the difficulties of relationships during the late ’90s, incorporating laughter and pathos, joy and heartbreak, at times feeling like a hipper version of a Mike Leigh film.

The humour here relies on a mixture of narrative coincidences, comic events (a tattoo performed on amphetamines; drinking a flaming sambuca) and some pointed one-liners (“You wear stone-washed jeans so you don’t have an opinion,” declares the acerbic Sophie to a hapless Liam).

Having created a group of believable late-twentysomething/early-thirtysomething characters, Kane is rewarded with excellent performances from a talented young British cast. The actors grasp the confusions, contradictions and muddled emotions which dominate their roles. Particularly impressive are Henshall, who combines easy-going charm with a powerful sense of longing, and a dreadlocked Ehle, whose Rodean-educated Sophie masks her troubled past behind a veneer of bossy self-confidence. Kathy Burke is also terrific as the self-aware Marey (“I’m a fat bird who’s expected to be funny”), who possesses incredible dignity and resilience.

Admittedly, some of the soundtrack choices (such as Get It On accompanying a frantic sex scene) lack imagination, and there’s nothing remarkable about the visual style. But Kane makes effective use of his colourful Camden Town locations, successfully juggles his various storylines over the film’s three-year period, and (thankfully) avoids a simplistic resolution

An impressive debut for director David Kane, a sort of British Singles, with Camden Town replacing Seattle. Plausible characterisations, spirited performances and a successful blend of humour and sadness elevate this above your average British rom-com.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Comments policy

With the recent small dramas on the comments, we thought we’d better make clear our policy for acceptable comments on the blog.

Comments on blog posts must be relevant to the post at hand. If you have general criticisms or comments, please make them at the forum. It is registration-free and a more suitable place for lengthy discussions. The rules there are more lax.

Consistent with our policy of warning readers when reviews are negative, we request that you put a warning in your blog comment if it is critical towards Ms Ehle. "*warning: critical*" would suffice. This is not required on the forum.

General criteria for comments on the blog
Unacceptable: posts that will be automatically deleted
  • Discriminatory comments (against people of a certain gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, etc)
  • Defamatory comments
  • Obvious trolling (eg. name-calling, personal attacks, malicious derailing, foul language)
  • Advertising/spam

  • Civil criticism. This means comments that are respectful of others and not merely generalised putting down. A good guide is whether you would make that comment to our/Ms Ehle’s/whoever’s face.

    Write to us at jenniferehle@gmail.com if you believe your comment has been deleted unfairly or if you have any other suggestions, questions or whatever.
  • The Real Thing review snippets

  • Theatremania
    Jennifer Ehle makes Annie an open, fresh-faced woman who, nevertheless, can become steely when she thinks she's being conned--or when she's conning.

  • WPKN
    The British cast offers some fine performances, especially in the two female roles with Sarah Woodward as the calm sophisticated first wife and Jennifer Ehle as the lithe, beautiful Annie.

  • NY Metro mag
    Jennifer Ehle has the right stuff for Annie, but also an odd way of standing around, for which I blame the director, David Leveaux.
  • Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Comments on posts

    This post is deleted pending the drafting of a full comments policy.

    "Sophie, who lives on a barge"

    Here's an excellent review on This Year's Love from Preview Online. Here are the Jennifer Ehle-related bits (includes her own words).

    Sophie could possibly have been born in Camden - the posh bit up towards Regents Park - but she’s now a single mother with an eight-year-old son, living on a barge in rebellion against her parents. She meets up with Liam in the local cyber cafe and has a brief, unsuccessful relationship with him. Then she meets Danny in his women-only tattooing parlour, ‘Pricks and Chicks’, and ends up in bed with him. Last in line is Cameron, whom she introduces to her parents and almost marries - until she ‘connects’ with an aromatherapist called Tarquin.

    Sophie is played by Jennifer Ehle, best known for her TV work in such prestige drama productions as Pride and Prejudice (she played Elizabeth Bennett). But she has also had major film roles in Backbeat (as John Lennon’s wife, Cynthia), Wilde (as Constance) and Rose Troche’s Bedrooms and Hallways (as Sally). She will soon be seen opposite Ralph Fiennes in Istvan Szabo’s A Taste of Sunshine.

    “Sophie is very much trying to find someone to be with without letting them in,” says Ehle. “I think she can’t quite come to terms with the fact that she has to open up in order for that to happen. You get a bit of balance with Cameron towards the end, but she has not relinquished him any kind of control."

    "The script captured a side of London that I hadn’t seen portrayed in a film. It was very urban, sexy and funny. The characters aren’t particularly healthy, and you watch them make mistakes again and again. It’s a comedy of errors."

    “Sophie is a departure for me in that I have recently played a lot of very warm, loving women who stand by their man no matter what. Sophie is very different - she is standing by herself.”

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Random bits

  • Longbourn, Sims-style. This speaks for itself.
  • Autograph on eBay. "British actress" again.
  • This blogger would vote Ms Ehle for an Oscar. Cool.
  • And this French one reckons Keira Knightley was "super as Elizabeth even though nothing could make [her] forget the delicate lips of Jennifer Ehle" (translate it for yourself).
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Countdown to Nothin' Like A Dame

    There's under 14 days until "Nothing Like a Dame"- a charity performance featuring incredible actresses including Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris. Remember, it's March 6th at 8:00pm!

    This is what Broadway Cares has to say about the production:

    Nothing Like a Dame is an annual star-studded gala performance and event featuring women from stage, film, and the performing arts. Net proceeds from this one night only event benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and are earmarked to support the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of the Actors’ Fund of America. “Nothing Like a Dame” is the title lyric of a song from the legendary 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

    The Women’s Health Initiative addresses health issues that impact women in the entertainment industry and provides them with health-related services. Inspired by actor/director Phyllis Newman, a breast cancer survivor, The Women’s Health Initiative was launched in 1996 with the leadership of Broadway Cares. The Initiative provides comprehensive case management services, caring for women with a wide array of health-related concerns, including breast, ovarian, and other cancers; domestic violence; anorexia and bulimia; HIV and AIDS; menopause; substance abuse; Lupus; depression; mental health issues; chronic fatigue syndrome; and osteoporosis.

    The national Initiative promotes healthy living and increased understanding of preventive health measures. The Women’s Health Initiative provides: access to Actors’ Fund’s services, programs and financial assistance; referrals to an extensive network of community-based and medical resources; a women’s resource center; vouchers for free mammograms; health fair participation; and a targeted public outreach campaign.

    Don't forget to purchase your tickets and report back to us with the details!

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Blog trawl

    Haven't had one of those for a while. There a a couple of foreign-language posts, so get Babelfish ready. Most are Pride and Prejudice-related.

  • Raffy reckons that Keira Knightley borrows from Ms Ehle:
    La Knightley sa reggere davvero la scena e da una versione di Lizzy che rispetta la Lizzy del libro, forse in alcuni punti un pò troppo simile a quella di Jennifer Ehle (la Lizzy dello sceneggiato della NBC): tutti quei sorrisi a occhi stretti.....sono molto da Ehle.

    Knightley indeed knows how to resist the scene and gives a version of Lizzy that respects the Lizzy of the book, perhaps in some points a little too similar to that of Jennifer Ehle (the Lizzy of the NBC dramatization): all those smiles with tight eyes.....are very Ehle.

  • And from, er, 马雅可夫斯基的臭虫. Use "Chinese-simp" to translate it. This is all about Ms Ehle as Lizzy, but I can't really make out whether it's positive or negative or what. There is this bit which actually is something like English:
    The Ehle flavor, lies in the five senses. Another schoolmate said "Jennifer Ehle eye really attractive", I thought her eyebrow is more attractive.

  • Some nastier ones. From awakencordy's Livejournal:
    Ehle was an okie dokie kind of a Lizzy, I prefer Keira's performance. Yes, Ehle is a pretty woman, but she was "all smiles" during some parts, and it was not all for the time of the novel, it was her body.. You can feel the rebelness in Keira's vibe, Ehle was so smooth.

    Rebelness? *twitch* There's a malicious one at Any Eventuality. Read at your own risk. I'm serious.
  • At Cacciaguide:
    So the Wright movie is an excellent addition to the Austen filmography, though A&E will remain the gold standard. Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth in the A&E version was charming, brilliant, and just what the author ordered. However, I will be getting the movie tie-in paperback, the one with Keira's face on it.

  • And finally, for something different, a Bedrooms and Hallways review chez Writing of Harlots:
    ...we watched Bedrooms and Hallways, and I fell in love with kinda-queer-mostly-confused-James Purefoy just like everyone else in the history of EVER. As I told damned_colonial, his character was kind of a clueless bastard, but I want one anyway. Also, Hugo Weaving was in this one, as a real estate agent who used his access to strangers's houses to shag his boytoy senseless in increasingly decadent surroundings. And, there was Jennifer Ehle, who I didn't recognize for about ten minutes because she was BLONDE! AUGH! But thumbs up for light and fluffiness and SO MUCH BOYKISSING, thumb gravity for blatant stereotyping, and thumb WTF? for fashion used as a weapon. Ask your Netflix, it comes Sid recommended.
  • Sunday, February 19, 2006

    More belated Valentines stuff

    Pride and Prejudice is 5th in the Hamilton Spectator's "Most romantic movie (or best kiss)" rankings (14/2/06, not online).

    5) Pride and Prejudice, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (1995): Best version of this romantic tale.


    It's behind Out of Africa, Witness, Dirty Dancing and The Notebook, and beats Love Actually, An Affair to Remember, Indiscreet, Truly, Madly, Deeply, and Paper Wedding.

    Unrelatedly, on eBay there's a Paradise Road press kit with nine photos, two of which feature Ms Ehle.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    "Song of Survival"

    Here's an interesting Ebay item (other than the usual ancient magazine, DVD, or VHS)- it's a book written by Helen Colijn called "Song of Survival". It is a true story which inspired Paradise Road.
    The author accounts her own experiences in the Japanese POW camp. It's up for AU$3, or around US$2.21.

    Possession snippets

    Wee tidbits from Possession reviews today. These are just the bits about Ms Ehle because copy-pasting is so strenuous.

  • This one's catty. It's from the Fin Review. These sentences may or may not be connected.

    Possessed by a lesser spirit
    Peter Craven
    Australian Financial Review

    In counterpoint to him there is Ehle and if you are not allergic to her, you will probably think she gives one of her better performances as the poet who sacrifices so much in order to come to terms with her soulmate. The self-conscious pouts and implicit glances in the mirror are still there but Ehle has a kind of monumental quality in her Pre-Raphaelite incarnation, even though it might have been more attractive if a bit bewildering to have Paltrow in both the contemporary and the Victorian roles.

  • And here, she's called British again.

    Americans take possession, but Brits win
    By Margaret Agnew
    (c) 2002 Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News

    What a to-do! Miss Elizabeth Bennet is cheating on Mr Darcy!

    Well, not really, but it's hard to see Jennifer Ehle in period costume, smiling winsomely up at some sideburned man, and not think of her BBCTV Pride and Prejudice role.

    In the film Possession, Ehle plays bisexual Victorian poetess Christabel LaMotte, who falls in love with prominent married poet laureate Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam doing his dashingly-handsome-decent-guy thing), despite the restrictive mores of the era.
    They strike few romantic sparks and create little chemistry. In the battle of American actors versus English actors, Ehle (despite her Bennet-ness) and Northam beat Paltrow and Eckhart hands down.

  • Nice note to end on.

    "Possession' tells tales of love in Victorian, modern times"
    Soren Andersen
    The News Tribune

    Northam is suitably soulful as Ash, but it's Ehle who steals the picture with her quiet warmth and an intriguing brand of enigmatic composure.
  • Friday, February 17, 2006

    River King viewer reviews

    There are a bundle on Amazon. The average rating is 4.5, not bad. Here's one that makes specific mention of Ms Ehle:
    Based on the novel by Alice Hoffman, THE RIVER KING is a little known film that is quite haunting and involving. Edward Burns is wonderful as Abel Grey, a small town policeman investigating the apparent suicide of a young student at the local prep school. John Kapelos effectively plays his not so honest partner. As Burns investigates, evidence suggests that the victim did not kill himself, that he was perhaps murdered.

    The movie is methodically paced and features beautiful Nova Scotia scenery; Burns becomes romantically involved with one of the teachers (a delightful Jennifer Ehle), who is engaged to another stuffy teacher. Rachelle Lefevre as Carla, the victim's best friend, is also very good. THE RIVER KING takes some subtle plot twists, one involving the suicide of his older brother when Abel was a child and this event plays a key part in Burns' investigation. Alternately moody and grim, the movie is nonetheless a very good one, and benefits largely from Burns' strong presence, and a lovely score by Simon Boswell.

    And look at this IMDB thread where her performance in the film is discussed. Warning, the first poster isn't very nice, but the rest are.

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    P&P no.1 romantic movie

    Margena Knutson of the Yakima Herald lists her top 10 romantic movies for valentines day (although I'm a couple of days late on this- banish the thought)

    P&P comes in a whopping first place (although not offically a movie)
    1. "Pride and Prejudice" (1995, PG, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) — Did you think I would forget this master-piece? This A&E version is completely amazing, albeit long. Let me interject here that the longness factor is popular with most girls because the story is incredible, while boredom-inducing to most guys. I can't understand why, though I am a little biased. We all know the story, and it's always a hit, unless you've seen it approximately 942 times like I have, and then ɠwell, it's still a hit.

    Note: The new version with Keira Knightly isn't out on video yet, and it's moderately amazing. However, it could never measure up to the A&E version.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Pride pic

    Click the picture to buy it from eBay. Also from eBay:
  • FHM "100 sexiest women 1996" magazine
  • Design for Living stagebill
  • Vanity Fair 1996
    There are heaps of River King DVDs for sale too, so get your copy and send us your thoughts! Here's a short review from a blog, Paradox Vertigo 2k5:
    The River King - decent suspense thriller about a mysterious drowning death in a small town.Nothing really spectacular- but well told.With Edward Burns and Jennifer Ehle C
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Possession Caps

    Some beautiful screencaps from Possession are at this website. There are 378 in total, and are only ones of Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle.

    Here's a script of Possession from a Jeremy Northam fansite. It must have been an early draft because it's quite different to the movie itself.

    And some more screencaps available here.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Top 10 romantic films

    According to Sharon Kaplan of the LA Daily News, Pride and Prejudice ranks right up there with Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry met Sally as one of the best movies for dates and Valentine's Day.
    "Pride and Prejudice": Jane Austen's classic romantic and humorous tale set in Georgian England proves that love can conquer all - including social class, family scandals and corsets. For my British pound, the BBC miniseries adaptation starring Darcy-incarnate Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet - and clocking in at a whopping 300 minutes - ranks the highest on the romance meter. If your own Mr. Darcy makes it through this, he'll have learned chivalry from the master. And lord knows, a little of that goes a long way.

    Rosemary Harris on cable

    My life so far, starring Rosemary Harris and Colin Firth, is showing this Saturday at 7.25am and 4.10am on Showtime. This is from the Star-Telegram which is in Texas I believe.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Sunshine Costumes

    This article interviews Györgyi Szakács (Costume Designer) about the costumes she designed for Sunshine, and some other works.

    We shot five hours' worth of material for Sunshine and roughly two hours were cut, so among others the leading actress's turn of the century café and promenading dress was left out. I can say in general that the costumes that I so anxiously awaited to see were barely or not at all visible. When I saw the film for the first time I couldn't asses my work realistically - in fact the situation is the same with stage performances too. I instinctively concentrate on, for example, whether a hat is being worn properly or not. Or what a hairdo is like. How the tie was tied. In one of the turn of the century scenes I was very annoyed by the fact that a non top-ranking actor was given a collar from the twenties. Some time always has to elapse before I can really judge a film or marvel it - even with my own work.

    I got hold of the materials and collected original clothes in Hungary - except for maybe four or five costumes that I ordered from Angels in London. I never thought that I had the chance to do this, but then it eventually turned out that they were incredibly expensive and didn't even show up in the film. The Viennese Lambert Hoffer was more of a help, but considering the total amount of ready costumes it was insignificant. Along with Jennifer Ehle's clothes I had nearly all the turn of the century costumes made by the specialists I tend to work with anyway. I can't even say that I set up a large workshop because every single task was performed by someone else.

    Full Article

    Double supporting actress award?

    On this website, the idea bout having a 'combined supporting actress nomination' (Oscar) is raised in relation to Ms Ehle and Ms Harris' performances in Sunshine. The writer disagrees with the concept, but thinks it's 'charming' and 'quirky'. But wouldn't it be nice?

    Alex's Oscar Column
    As of this writing, it doesn't seem that the split factor will play much of a role regarding Ehle and Harris in Sunshine as Paramount Classics is trying to pair them up for a so-called 'combined supporting actress nomination'; naturally, I vehemently object and question the validity of this tactic. (Ehle and Harris are real-life daughter and mother; in Sunshine, they get to play the same character at different stages of her life.) Allow me to point out that the category is entitled "Best Performance By An Actress in A Supporting Role": there's no plurality involved; it's clearly intended for a single performance. I suspect a few voters will buy into Paramount Classics' proposal as a charming, quirky gesture, but frankly hope such nonsense fails to pass. (It's a shame, too, as I understand Ehle's performance is really quite wonderful in the film.)

    Saturday, February 11, 2006


    NEW NEWS from Playbill!

    It will be a starry evening at the Imperial Theatre March 6 when the 11th Annual Nothin' Like a Dame concert is presented to benefit The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of The Actors’ Fund of America.

    Those scheduled to take part in the 8 PM concert include Bebe Neuwirth, Victoria Clark, Tyne Daly, Lea DeLaria, Bobbie Eakes, Jennifer Ehle, Maria Friedman, Rosemary Harris...

    Tickets here, ranging from a mere $50 to $5 000. Full list of participants on the BroadwayCares site.

    It'd be wicked cool if we could have a "reporter" at the event. If you're going and would like to share your experience with us poor old international fans, please let us know at jenniferehle@gmail.com. Don't worry if you're not a writer, excited squeeing is exactly what we want!

    PS. Thanks to Paula for notifying us about this article.

    Gwyneth doesn't find Eckhart smelly

    In this article on Gwyneth Paltrow, she denies the rumour that she finds Aaron Eckhart smelly. (?!). And also talks about her role in Possession. More to the topic, there's a small quote from Ms Ehle.

    "Just a little too perfect"
    Gwyneth Paltrow seems made to play the chilly scholar in 'Possession'
    John Clark, Chronicle Correspondent

    Sunday, August 11, 2002
    As usual, Gwyneth Paltrow looks effortlessly put together. White blouse, long, swaying summer skirt -- a cool gin and tonic. On the surface, she resembles the character she plays in her new movie, "Possession." Even below the surface, it turns out.

    "Basically, she is a woman who is passionate about something, and I know what it is like to feel passionate about something," Paltrow says about her character. "It's just in a different area."

    Directed by Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men") and adapted from the novel by A.S. Byatt, "Possession" follows parallel love stories featuring Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam) and Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle) and a pair of contemporary scholars, Ash expert Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) and LaMotte specialist Maud Bailey (Paltrow). The film cuts back and forth between the two sets of lovers.

    Initially, the true nature of Ash and LaMotte's relationship is a mystery because there is little evidence that they would have ever had one. Michell and Bailey are on a similar footing. But as they crisscross the English countryside, plowing through the poets' previously undiscovered love letters and parsing their poetry, their professional passion turns personal (in a sense, Ash and LaMotte do the courting for them).

    The irony is that while Ash and LaMotte have much more to overcome -- he is married, she is settled in same-sex domesticity, the society they live in is buttoned up tight -- they have an easier time acting on their love for each other than Michell and Bailey do. Victorian propriety is more easily overcome than the modern fear of commitment.

    "It was interesting that the Victorians were free to love," Paltrow says. "They weren't free to talk about it. When you cut back to my story in the film,

    we seem not free to love but we have no rules. I wonder if we have to impose the rules on ourselves to complicate things."

    Paltrow adds, as if to confirm this observation, that she's never been obsessed with someone the same way LaMotte is obsessed with Ash. Whether this is true, she seems ideally cast as Maud, who's chilly, reserved and yet vulnerable and has a safe, unrewarding relationship with another colleague. In fact, she is so perfect for the role that LaBute was initially gun-shy.

    "The only thing about her for me was she was so right, you start second- guessing yourself," LaBute says. "Her description is on the page in the book. And she's had success doing this before. They (the studios) want her. We agree on that. Something must be wrong. It was just that I was not used to it being this easy."

    While Maud is the type of constrained character that Paltrow has played before, the actress projects a different image as a person. As put together as she is, she can also be a bit artless. In fact, in last year's "The Anniversary Party," Paltrow played with this image. Her character, a movie star, tends to gush, much as Paltrow did when she accepted her best-actress Oscar for her love-besotted noblewoman in "Shakespeare in Love."

    "I hadn't seen her for ages and I said, 'You've won an Oscar. How weird is that?' " says Alan Cumming, who, along with Jennifer Jason Leigh, wrote the part in "Anniversary Party" with Paltrow in mind. "And she goes, 'I know, I'm still kind of embarrassed by it.' I said, 'Why?' And she said, 'Did you see my speech?' "

    Paltrow has taken a lot of heat for being Paltrow. Setting aside her unerring fashion sense, she's tall, thin and blond, three strikes against her for anyone who's wanted to be these things and is not. In addition, her parents (director Bruce Paltrow, actress Blythe Danner) are minor showbiz royalty; she was educated at a private school (Spence); she was engaged to Brad Pitt, and she's had relationships with, among others, Ben Affleck and Luke Wilson; and, of course, she's got that Oscar. And, as if this were not enough, she's actually talented, with a particular gift for mimicry.

    "I cannot shape-shift like her," says Ehle, referring to Paltrow's ability to pick up and drop an English accent. And Ehle is an American who lived in England for a dozen years.

    In short, it has all seemed so easy for Paltrow, too easy for some tastes, which may be why commentators and the tabloids jump on her. She finds herself having to deny, for example, the accusation that she found Eckhart smelly, and that she and Madonna are bosom buddies: "When I was in London, people kept saying, 'Are you living with Madonna?' No, we're not roommates. We're following similar paths, what we eat and our yoga and stuff like that."

    She also disputes assertions that she would rather live in London than anyplace else: "As usual, my words have been twisted and there have been lies. I love living in London, I love working there, I love their approach to making art. But I live here, and love it here."

    Paltrow is in the midst of what might described as the second act in her career. The first act, culminating with "Shakespeare," featured her rapid ascent in such films as "Flesh and Bone" (1993), "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994), "Jefferson in Paris" (1995), "Seven" (1995), "Emma" (1996) and "Great Expectations" (1998), all but the last two films in supporting parts. Since the Oscar, with a few exceptions ("Shallow Hal"), Paltrow has been content to play in ensemble pieces, notably "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999) and "The Royal Tennenbaums" (2001). She is not, and never really has been, about carrying a movie, although as LaBute points out, her participation in "Possession" got the project green-lighted. It is to her credit that she keeps looking for such projects rather than donning a cat suit and wielding a bullwhip.

    "I'm just about to turn 30," she says. "I have my whole life ahead of me. I'm very open to whatever comes my way."

    One such project may be "Proof," a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a mentally unstable mathematician's daughter, which she appeared in onstage in London. Miramax picked up the rights to it for her to star in, if they can figure out a way to open it up (it's set in a house). She's also developing a film about wild and crazy poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, usually depicted as feminist icon and brooding misogynist, though Paltrow promises a more even- handed approach. She will star as Plath and is casting about for the right Hughes. New Zealander Christine Jeffs ("Rain") will direct.

    With all of these intriguing projects in the works and the wherewithal to get them made, it might seem as if Paltrow can do anything she wants. But there is a limit, even for her. Her critics tend to forget she's bound by the same forces everyone else is. Tall, thin, blond, connected and talented will only get you so far.

    "Occasionally you feel like you have to do something commercial, because your agent is about to weep from frustration because you haven't," she says. "Obviously I prefer to do the smaller films and the films that have much more artistic integrity, although I had a great time shooting 'Shallow Hal.' There aren't many films made anymore that are sort of highbrow and commercial at the same time. I haven't made money in a year, and I have a whole other year where I'm not going to make any money. So next year I'll have to do something commercial."

    Friday, February 10, 2006


    At long last it's safe to reveal what was in the package we sent to Ms Ehle on behalf of the blog and its readers to thank her for the interview and wish her a happy birthday. It's so late because she'd left the country before it arrived.

    We've been keeping this under our hats to keep it a surprise...oh alright, we just love being mysterious. Anyhow, since this was on everyone's behalf, we thought we'd better let you know what we sent:

  • Card. Cover says "to our favourite actress in the world, you are [ace]!". The ace is a playing card. There's also a photo of a BAFTA with fake lashes glued on. Inside left: our mugs with a note from each of us. Inside right: "Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for everything! From Tina and Chelsea on behalf of our fellow loyal fans from the Blog" and a bunch of roses.
  • Inventory list. Cover says "CARE package inventory". CARE = "(hopefully) Cool (mostly) Aussie Random objEcts". Inside says "Unfortunately we couldn't procure these for you..." with a picture of Pemberley, a backyard with the Old Vic in it, a baby sling, a cellar full of wine, and a giant Starbucks cup. The other side says "...so we got you these instead" with a list of what's in the package and silly comments on them. There's an Aussie theme since we're both from down under.
  • "Gorgeous" moisturiser and "Eau Roma" from Lush. Les pièces de resistance.
  • Tim Tams, chocolate biscuits. Aimed at luring Ms Ehle down under for refills.
  • "Jane Austen - Antipodean Views". A collection of famous Australians and New Zealanders' opinions on Jane. There's a note to Ms Ehle from Susannah Fullerton, an editor of the book and the current president of JASA (I think?).
  • "Dogs of the world" playing cards.
  • Bookmarks with Aussie authors.

    We also ended up getting stuff for the rest of the family since it was around Christmas. It started with something for George, a stuffed kangaroo and socks. Then we thought we'd better thank Rosemary Harris since we sent the parcel through her, so she and Mr Ehle received a box of tea and a card. It seemed too mean to exclude Mr Ryan, so he got "Prince" shaving cream from Lush and a card.

    By the way, "we" here means Chelsea and I. Full interstate collaboration - from planning to making the cards to getting the presents, everything! We had a blast - seriously, we gleefully plotted for yonks. We hope that Ms Ehle and her family enjoy it at least as much as we did creating it.
  • How many ways can you say "more photos"?

    Apologies to all, particularly Chelsea, for dropping the ball a bit lately. Computers be cursed. Anyhow, here's compensation: more photos of Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris sent by Josie. The leafy-background ones are the same as some posted earlier but in a bigger format.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    What do you know?

    More reviews. Possession this time.

    From 'A Movie Parable'
    The tryst between Ash and LaMotte is far more interesting and attention-grabbing than the modern day fumbling attempts at love made by Michell and Bailey. At least the couple in the past were dealing with significant and understandable issues that kept them apart. This made them tragic figures. The modern couple just manage to stumble over their own insecurities and fears. This made them appear foolish.

    The acting is top notch with admirable performances by Paltrow, Eckhart, and Northam. Jennifer Ehle is marvelous as Christabel LaMotte, portraying the reserved manner of a Victorian lady, coupled with the passion of a woman in love, overlaid with the rebellious spirit of a revolutionary. She is wonderful in the complex role.

    From the San Diego Metropolitan
    Director/co-writer Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men"), has assembled a magnificent cast and crew to tell this story. Northam and Ehle are absolutely convincing as the otherwise-engaged Victorians who, knowing that "no mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed," still cannot resist the warmth so generated.

    This film will give "Road to Perdition" a run for the Oscar gold. All four principals are just right in their roles. Nominations should also go to LaBute, cinematographer Jean Yves Escoffier and editor Claire Simpson.

    I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Wilde clip and more

    I found a clip from Wilde on a fansite for Orlando Bloom. Jennifer Ehle is in it for about a mili-second, but still thought it's worth looking at!

    Also, even though there's no behind the scenes featurette on the Sunshine DVD, this is the next best thing. This article talks about the early days in the production of Sunshine and how the idea for the movie arose. The Producer, Robert Lantos, Szabo, and Fiennes talk about the movie.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    I love these reviewers

    Do these excerpts do justice to Jennifer Ehle? They're pretty close. These reviews for The Real Thing are already up on the fansite, but I thought it too good not to bring to your attention again. Besides, there are some nice rehearsal photos from The Real Thing as well. They're from the Donmar Warehouse.

    "Ehle's performance is the most luminous, the most sensitive, the most intelligent and deeply observed of her career. She understands that Annie is the most mature of this quartet, and therefore has the most to lose. Her body moves, at first, as if repressing something and anxious that this should not be observed. It is an English woman's body, voluptuous but diffident, with a sense of dignity and apprehension. Later, in the air of freedom called love, this body relaxes, subtly, quietly, but joyously. This is acting of a very high order: the actress's technique is completely absorbed in a sense of warm, unostentatious life. It is clear from the start that, in any relationship with Henry, Annie will have to be the protector, the kindly one, the sustainer. Max, her husband, also lives in a simpler world, and Lindsay pinpoints precisely the troubled core of a man who is not nearly as resilient as he thinks."

    "Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle do the business for Stoppard at the Donmar.
    And the delectable Miss Ehle - glistening and slippery like her name - plays Annie, the married actress Henry steals from the actor first seen appearing in his own play about jealousy and adultery."

    "There's no doubting the passion which blazes between him and Annie, stunningly well played by Jennifer Ehle - of TV's Pride and Prejudice - with a sleepy sensuality and fierce emotional energy."

    "Jennifer Ehle is also excellent as Annie: she has an extraordinary gift for constantly appearing on the verge of tears yet she retaliates against Henry's suave put-downs with spirit and dignity. Sarah Woodward is cunningly cast as Henry's ex-wife."

    "This review can hardly do justice to Jennifer Ehle's physical appeal. Someone will need to write her a sonnet. But her luminous performance is fascinating for the way it walks a tightrope between smiles and tears without turning cute. As Annie, the actress moving between jusbands, Ehle is eloquent and forceful. Even in her extreme emotional moments, she never loses her resonance."

    "The dramatist subsequently embarks on a love affair with his leading actor's wife, Annie, who is performed with intelligence and passion by the luminous Jennifer Ehle."

    "We see the pain breaking through as he struggles to keep hold of Jennifer Ehle's sultry, restless Annie. It's in the looks, the smiles, the sexual chemistry between them - as fizzy as the pop soundtrack - that the play's status as a thing of great beauty is really confirmed."

    "David Leveaux directs: the only quibbles I have are pedantic - to do with too-modern telephones and the fact that Anna Moffo's recording of "Sempre libera" does not belong in the Toscanini rcording of Traviata/ Maybe Jennifer Ehle looks too young to joke that 22-ish Billy might be her son; but one forgives a lot in the face of Ehle's personal beauty, which is now in its prime. Every iota of body-language, above all facial language, between Annie (the role she plays) and Henry (the man she marries) is riveting. And Ehle's speaking, though less mature, is equally true in feeling."

    "Ehle's vocal precision and air of fierce attention go with her luminous beauty to create an object of love as passionate and real as her lover."

    Total number of times the word "luminous" is used to describe Ms Ehle: 4.
    I wholeheartedly agree.

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Waiting in the Wings

    With no news, and solitary-blogging, I (Chelsea) thought I'd dig into some of Tina's posts. So, sorry Tina ! Besides, it's a great article.
    At age 80, Rosemary Harris is still center stage

    For The Patriot Ledger
    1,389 words
    6 November 1999
    The Patriot Ledger Quincy, MA
    Run of Paper
    Copyright (c) 1999 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

    There's a good reason why "Waiting in the Wings" is not one of Noel Coward's better-known plays, says Rosemary Harris.

    "It requires quite a few expert older actresses, and they're not always available," says Harris, one of the most expert actresses in the American theater. She is co-starring with Lauren Bacall in a new production of the show, opening on Nov. 13 at the Colonial Theater in Boston.

    "Waiting in the Wings," whose cast also includes Fionnula Flanagan, Barnard Hughes, Simon Jones, Dana Ivey and Elizabeth Wilson, is one of many presentations of Coward's work being planned on both sides of the Atlantic in this centennial year of the playwright's birth. The Broadway opening of "Waiting in the Wings" is scheduled for Dec. 16, Coward's birthday.

    Coward, whose writing could be arch and witty, as in the play "Private Lives," or dramatic and heartfelt, as in the film "Brief Encounter," combined those elements in "Waiting in the Wings." About a group of aging actresses living out their final years in an actors home, the play is funny and tender and most of all affectionate.

    Bacall, who has the most box-office clout in the cast, was hired first and had her choice of the two leading roles, said Harris over the phone from New York. The central situation of the play is an ancient feud between two of the home's residents, May Davenport, played by Harris, and Lotta Bainbridge, played by Bacall.

    "It's very clear, really, which one of us is suited to what part. I don't think there was a question. When I was asked to play May Davenport, I immediately said, of course, that's the one I would like to do."

    A somewhat bitter woman who is the most acerbic of the lot, May is also the one who goes through the greatest change in the play.

    Though the 15-member cast does include a couple of parts for 30- somethings, the play is dominated by characters in their 70s. Harris, who's 80, said one of the joys of this production is working with people who have become friends over the years as their careers have progressed together.

    "It's a wonderful company, because almost everybody has worked with everybody else. We've all touched each other at least two or three times, which is grand."

    Though she has never worked with Bacall before, "We've always been friends and always talked about working together. But we never thought it would happen."

    Harris has been performing for more than 60 years, in plays ranging from Coward's lighthearted "Hay Fever" to Chekhov's deeply moving "Uncle Vanya." She has had a rich film career as well, appearing in movies as diverse as Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" and the thriller "The Boys from Brazil." She currently can be seen in the film "My Life So Far." Harris also has performed in numerous television shows, including "Death of a Salesman" and "The Holocaust."

    Harris' career began in her native England. Orphaned at a young age and raised by her grandmother, she originally wanted to be a nurse. But when, at the age of 17, she discovered she was a year too young to begin working in that profession, she decided "to fill in by joining a local stock company that was in my grandmother's little town," Harris said in an accent with only a trace of her British beginnings.

    "I thought I'd see if they needed an extra person. I didn't have any training or anything, but I just applied and asked if I could have an audition. They said, oh, well, we might be able to find you something.

    "Gradually I worked my way into the company, and started playing leading parts. After about a year, when it became time for me to go off and do my nursing, I thought, `I'm having too much fun.' "

    Eventually, Harris came to the United States. She remembers clearly the day in 1952 that she arrived here.

    "It was on the same day that Gertrude Lawrence died. All the theaters were dark that night, and I was very moved. She had been playing in `The King and I' right up to the week before."

    Lawrence comes to mind because her career had been so intertwined with that of Noel Coward, and because there's a character in "Waiting in the Wings," Miss Carrington, who is never seen but whose description by another character leaves no doubt as to the real actress who inspired this creation.

    The tip-off is when someone remarks about Miss Carrington, "She hadn't much of a voice," and another character responds, "She hadn't much of anything really, except magic, but she had a great deal of that."

    When Coward wrote "Waiting in the Wings" in the early 1960s, there weren't many roles for actresses past their prime, explained Harris.

    "Television in England hadn't really got a grip the way it does now. Nowadays, actresses of this inderminate age, even if they can't make it on the stage anymore, because of their memories failing and various things, they're always able to keep their careers going by doing television.

    "But, in the early '60s, that wasn't possible. You either played on the stage or you were out. And Noel Coward in the '60s had some friends who hadn't been working. So, he said, we'll have to rectify that: I'll write a play for you all."

    Since the characters in "Waiting in the Wings" are theater people, the play naturally is wonderfully theatrical, with all the women, at one time or other, taking center stage in grand style.

    Besides making allusions to a couple of real-life performers, Coward based the centerpiece of the plot -- the feud between May and Lotta -- on an actual scandal having to do with two actresses who were in love with the same man, said Harris.

    Retiring to old-age homes supported by private charities is indeed a fact of life for English performers, she said. There, in contrast to the United States, "There is no (union) insurance, no pension. Equity never got organized enough to take money out of actors' salaries."

    In researching their parts, said Harris, some of the cast members visited the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, N.J., and came to realize that the residents were faithfully "represented in this play."

    Appropriately enough, the New York opening of "Waiting in the Wings" will be a benefit for the Actors Fund.

    For this revival, which is being directed by Michael Langham (who directed "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"), the play has undergone some changes by writer and translator Jeremy Sams. A death has been eliminated, an Irish jig has been added, along with a medley of songs in a New Year's Eve scene.

    "And I think they've made the plot between Lotta and May much stronger and deeper," said Harris.

    If "Waiting in the Wings" is an accurate portrayal of the twilight years of some actors, it certainly isn't for the ones in this show. Harris herself remains busy, with much of her time these days spent making movies, a medium she said she thoroughly enjoys. Now living in Winston-Salem, N.C, and married to novelist John Ehle, she also is the mother of an actress, Jennifer Ehle. Not long ago, mother and daughter worked together, with Ralph Fiennes, on a film shot in Budapest called "The Winter People." In the picture, which was shown at last fall's Toronto Film Festival and is waiting for an American distributor, the two women play the same character at different times of her life.

    With her own happy experience as an actor, it never occurred to Harris to discourage her daughter from pursuing a career in show business.

    "But, you know what Noel Coward said, laughed Harris, quoting a song lyric by the playwright, " `Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington. Don't put your daughter on the stage!' "


    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    "Ralph Fiennes beams brilliantly in 'Sunshine' "

    By Susan Stark
    Gannett News Service

    (July 21, 2000) -- Humiliated beyond description, beaten to a pulp, forced to strip naked in front of thousands of his countrymen, a man is strung up on a tree in a Nazi concentration camp courtyard, sprayed with water and left to die in a hideously disfiguring cocoon of ice.

    Movies have put forth uncounted images of Hitler's handiwork, but this one in Sunshine may just be the most piercingly resonant of all.

    Sunshine is a lightly autobiographical film by Hungarian master Istvan Szabo, whose stunningly theatrical film of the Nazi era, Mephisto, earned him the best foreign film Academy Award in 1981. He's a man whose work commends itself to all but those exclusively addicted to movies defined by their chase scenes, special effects or gross humor.

    Passionate in its point of view, sweeping in its perspective, scorchingly intimate in its attention to detail, Sunshine is equally instructive, heartbreaking and encouraging. It views the entire tumultuous, painful history of Europe in the 20th century through one family of Hungarian Jews, across the generations.

    A provincial innkeeper named Sonnenschein (the Sunshine of the title) prospers on the strength of his familial elixir, A Taste of Sunshine. A ruinous fire at the tavern sends his teen-age son to Budapest, carrying the recipe with him. As he matures to manhood, that recipe becomes a passport to a most comfortable life for him, his wife, two sons and his brother's orphaned daughter.

    Szabo's film tracks the gradually rising, precipitously falling fortunes of the Sonnenschein progeny through a century of history devastated first by Germany's Nazism and then by Russia's Communism. It is not a film that pushes a message, political or otherwise. Yet, you come away with a stern prescription: Avoid anything that ends in the letters ISM.

    In a truly monumental performance, Ralph Fiennes plays the three key Sonnenschein males. He is Adam, the shy, severe, scholarly fellow who finds a place in Budapest's highest judicial circles only to be cut down by swelling anti-Semitism; Adam's son, Ignatz, an Olympic gold medalist and national hero for his fencing skills, who collides with Hitler's satanic plan for Jews; and Adam, a child of Auschwitz who embraces Communism with a fervor that offends both reason and conscience.

    With his yearning eyes and sad, tight smile, Fiennes becomes the heart and soul of this film over its liquid three-hour running time.

    In stunning supporting roles, Jennifer Ehle and, as the decades advance, her mother, Rosemary Harris, play the luminously blithe spirit of a cousin who humanizes the Sonnenschein men. Fabulous companies of Hungarian actors add depth and beautifully specified color to other roles.

    Sunshine offers an immensely moving and memorable tour of the century just passed. You come away full of ideas and wonder, full of dread and of hope, as well.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    "Pure Enchantment"

    hI'm surprised this review hasn't been posted yet. It's from Cinetropic, about Possession.

    Pure enchantment ...

    The world of written poetry still endures, though sadly diminished; its power silenced among the pages of collected works and endless volumes of possibilities. Setting its scene in 19th Century Victorian England, an era rich in the advancement of the English language, Possession is a most enlightening testament to the power of poetry. The necessity of hand written correspondence challenged Victorian's to express themselves with a restrained passion defined by their morals and camouflaged in seductive prose. Most significantly, each letter was sent individually without knowing how it would be received or when to expect a reply. There was time for the recipient to pour over the words and ponder their meaning. Often the power of a well-turned phrase was proven more intoxicating than the faint scent of perfume strategically traced upon the stationery.

    Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) is an aggressively American version of a scholar on a fellowship to research the revered Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam). Ash, a 19th Century poet laureate to Queen Victoria, is now celebrated for a collection of rapturous, late-life poems dedicated to his wife. As the story opens in contemporary London, the collection is being placed on exhibition in the British Museum. In the midst of his research, Roland stumbles upon hand written letters tucked into a book recovered from Ash's personal library. The amorous letters allude to the possibility they were written to a secret lover. The discovery is significant since the legend surrounding the poet evolves around his poetic devotion to his wife.

    Roland's obsession with the idea leads him to evidence of Randolph's chance meeting with Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle), a lesser-known Victorian poet of his time. Roland manages an introduction to Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), a brilliant English academic who is a descendant of the LaMotte family and has extensively researched Christabel's life and work. The two embark upon a journey through a trail of hidden letters that takes them across England to the rooms and landscapes that influenced each poet's published works. As the meaning of words written centuries ago leap to life in their original surroundings and context, both a decidedly resigned Roland and aloofly English Maud are swept into the moment by the romance of poetry. Who could possibly resist?

    The film is an admirable adaptation of A.S. Byatt's award winning novel Possession. Neil LaBute took on the formidable task of transforming the rich prose into a visual medium: "It was very hard to find the right balance between the two sets of characters and the two worlds. Possession is about the discovery of tangible things - letters, the past -- but also of things about oneself and how the past can reflect itself upon the present."

    Gwyneth Paltrow is perfectly delightful, as always, playing the English Ice Queen, but it is the Victorian actors who dominate this film inspite of the minority of screen time alloted to them. Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle ignite the screen in a smoldering procession of stylish glimpses into a world where romance was the once the spice of life. Don't miss it ... particularily if you've NEVER read a romance novel.


    Well, sorta. Blogging from the airpot now. Thanks to Chelsea and Mary for looking after the blog and forum during my absence!

    `Tom & Viv' star's happy amid tears
    Philip Wuntch
    Film Critic of The Dallas Morning News
    3 March 1995
    The Dallas Morning News
    (Copyright 1995)

    Rosemary Harris, Oscar-nominated for her poignant performance in Tom & Viv, hopes she can quit crying long enough to attend the March 27 ceremonies.

    Not that she thinks she has "even a prayer of winning the Oscar."

    Speaking by phone from London, she says she just finished rehearsing The Trojan Women, which will open in London next week. Hence, the crying.

    "You know the play, it's all awash with tears," she says, her words falling atop one another in unmistakably patrician tones. "We rehearsed the scene today where Hecuba (her character) learns that one of her sons has been murdered and then watches as her daughter is dragged off into slavery.

    "And now it's 9:30 at night, and I just finished looking at this BBC documentary on Walt Disney that's very unflattering. It's like discovering that every Christmas Eve, Santa Claus sniffed glue before his sleigh ride."

    Despite the trials of the day, Ms. Harris sounds like a very happy person and seems overjoyed at her best-supporting-actress nomination.

    "Oh, but I know I won't win. No, no, no. I don't even have a prayer of winning the Oscar. From the day Bullets Over Broadway was released, everyone knew Dianne Wiest would win. That's a given. I'm thrilled to be nominated, and I'm thrilled Miranda Richardson was nominated (for best actress), and I wish Willem Dafoe had been, too."

    Ms. Richardson plays Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the mercurial rebel who becomes the first wife and staunch supporter of poet T.S. Eliot (Mr. Dafoe). Ms. Haigh-Wood's mood swings, caused by extreme hormonal problems, are cruelly diagnosed as a form of "moral insanity."

    Ms. Harris, a much-lauded stage actress who has made infrequent film appearances, plays her compassionate mother, Rose.

    "There wasn't a great deal of material to be found about Rose. You know, there wasn't a lot written about poor Vivienne until the last decade. That whole part of T.S. Eliot's life was swept under the carpet by his second wife."

    Without much written material to be found, she based her performance on a family photograph taken when Vivienne was 12.

    "Viv had her elbow on Rose's knee, and her expression was one of total trust. Rose looked at her daughter so lovingly. From that photo, I felt there was a very strong mother-daughter bond. Of course, Rose's love was restricted by the times. Women just didn't talk about such things as hormonal imbalance, and the medical establishment was so incredibly conservative and narrow-minded."

    During the 1950s, Ms. Harris met T.S. Eliot when she performed in his play The Confidential Clerk. "He had a very austere face and a stern manner, but he would surprise you with his nice smile. He had married his secretary, and that was exactly what he needed - a wife who would also be an indispensable secretary.

    "He never should have married Vivienne, and he knew it. He was naive and inexperienced and should have just had an affair with her. I thought Willem Dafoe was wonderful. There were times when I really thought he was T.S. Eliot. I'm sorry he's been overlooked. I think that's partly because the screenplay was not sympathetic to him. One day maybe someone will write a version told from his point of view. Being married to Vivienne could not have been easy."

    Ms. Harris has starred opposite virtually every famous British actor and speaks highly of them all. "But I cherish Lord Laurence (Olivier). All these biographies that make him out to be cold and unfeeling - don't believe them. He was in a position to help me, and he did so very generously. He was incredibly generous with many actors."

    She originated the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the Broadway production of A Lion in Winter. Former New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, among others, felt her performance was superior to Katharine Hepburn's in the movie version.

    "Oh, the role was always Katharine Hepburn's," Ms. Harris. "I got it quite by accident, and I was 30 years too young for the part anyway. They wrote the stage role completely with Katharine Hepburn in mind. They begged her to do the play, but Spencer Tracy was not well and her thoughts were only on him. I think he died the following year, and she threw herself into her work and did the movie. But, no, Eleanor will always be Katharine Hepburn's role."

    Although Ms. Harris' name is synonymous with British theater, her home is Winston-Salem, N.C.

    "It's our base camp, anyway. My husband (author John Ehle, whose The Journey of August King is being filmed with Jason Patrick) was born and raised in Asheville, and he likes to write in North Carolina. But, really, we're all over the place. We come home to wash our clothes, you might say. And we have a huge library of books that we keep in Winston-Salem. We read constantly and take whatever books we think we will need.

    "Then, when the time comes, we just put on our backpacks and head to London or New York or wherever the work is. It's a good life."

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Jennifer Ehle's "got the HEAT!"

    The following reviews are about Possession. I think the first reviewer may be taking the poetry thing slightly too far. Except for the words, "heat" and "hotness". Oh, and I'm sure you don't need reminding that Ms Ehle isn't British.
    Where do I begin? There isn’t a thing about this film that’s real, yet I loved it. It was HOT! Paltrow, trotting out that accent that won her an Oscar (but won’t this time no matter how hard she tries), and Eckhart, a LaBute regular who is perhaps best known as the man who asks Julia Roberts for her number in the excellent Erin Brockovich, bring the new hotness as our pair of modern day, star-crossed, commitment-phobic lovers destined to be together. But it’s Ms. Ehle, a British actress with an extensive theatre resume, her hair red like fire from the sun and blood from the vein, who emerges as the one to watch. Like a mistress of the night, she commands your attention and craves your love. She’s got the HEAT! Plus, she plays a lesbian, which I am not endorsing, but it does tend to make her more exotic than someone who plays a character named Maud. I mean, Bea Aruthur had her own sitcom named Maude, but does anyone really think she can stand in the flame and not be consumed?

    While the modern-day lovers may be interesting examples of how dispassionate and insulated we have become over time, watching Ehle's striking strength and intelligence as a woman determined to live for herself and Northam's Ash, wavering between his devotion to his wife, whom he loves, and his growing passion for his intellectual equal, is not only riveting, but also more inspiring as a lesson in how to love.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Wilde passing mentions

    But still worth a read, especially with the severe drought of news. Most reviewers are in agreement that Jennifer Ehle was wonderful in Wilde, but terribly underused.

    I can't imagine anyone other than Jennifer Ehle playing Constance with the same strength and compassion as she does. There's a real
    understanding of her character here and she's given a very essential, very well written role

    San Francisco Chronicle
    He marries a woman who does little but smile and have babies (Jennifer Ehle). But hers is such a winning smile that the viewer can understand his guilt at stepping out on her with men. He gets lucky with his first partner, Robbie Ross (Michael Sheen), a young Canadian who would become a loyal friend

    Steve Rhodes
    With a loyal and affectionate wife named Constance, played sweetly by Jennifer Ehle, he fathers children whom he adores. He is delighted, however, to learn of his desires for relationships, both emotionally and sexually, with men, especially young men. ("I feel like a city that's been under siege for twenty years, and suddenly the gates are thrown open.")

    Apollo Guide
    The acting is excellent. In his walk on the Wilde side, Stephen Frye gives a graceful performance. Equally adept thespians, such as the sadly underused Jennifer Ehle as his tortured and aptly named wife Constance, and the still-radiant Vanessa Redgrave surround Frye

    EFilm Critic
    On the other side of the sexual coin is Wilde's wife, played here by the beautiful Jennifer Ehle, who took all the insults, innuendo and abuse and stuck by Wilde regardless. Hers, along with Wilde himself, is one of the few three dimensional characters in this film, which gets lost in the same dreary petty details of Wilde's homosexual past that the moralists themselves got stuck on back in the day

    Nicks Flick Picks
    In that kind of framework, the power of performances counts for very little, since the script does not allow for any genuine connection with the audience regardless of what a particular actor may exert in his performance. Thus, Stephen Fry's visually perfect Wilde, Michael Sheen's compassionate friend, and Jennifer Ehle's beaming but neglected Constance Wilde (the author's wife) are all stranded with much talent to offer but nowhere to take it.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    P&P Merchandise

    I just discovered (with the help of a message by an IMBD'er on the P&P '95 forum) a bunch of excellent P&P merchandise.
    My favourite: there's a Pride and Prejudice board game for $37.00
    Just how well do you know your Jane Austen? You'll find out once you play this board game based on her most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice. Your favorite characters--paired as couples--are the game pieces here and, true to the story, marriage is the ultimate goal. Players move along the board between Longbourn, Pemberley, Netherfield, Lucas Lodge, and London, collecting tokens and answering questions about both the book and life in Austen's times. The first couple to collect all of their tokens and arrive at the parish church to be married wins! Pride and Prejudice aficionados will get a kick out of this fresh twist on a favorite novel, and first-time Austen readers will find it an excellent way to become familiar with the story and characters.

    There's also a Pride and Prejudice beach towel (?!), a Jane Austen mug, and Jane Austen note cards. There are some P&P sequals for sale as well.

    TRK Bargains

    I've done a search of Ebay bargains for The River King DVDs. These are the best deals I've seen, if you'd rather not pay full price via conventional services.

    There's an auction currently standing at US$2.55- it's had 2 bids already (the seller has no history)

    This one is a 'buy it now'- for US$6.10 with free shipping (only in US)

    From Ebay stores (safer in terms of buying), there's one for US$12.99 plus shipping, and one for US$13.04 plus shipping.