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RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Posted by: Matthew Turner 25/03/2011 @ 11:12
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 98
Films seen this week: Faster, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Fire In Babylon, Insidious

FILM OF THE WEEK: Limitless

RIP Elizabeth Taylor
Like film fans everywhere I was saddened by the death of Elizabeth Taylor this week (and worried that that means we're in for another two big celebrity deaths, but let's not go into the whole They Always Die In Threes thing again right now). Most obituaries and tributes to Taylor described her as the last of the golden-age movie stars or the last of Hollywood's great screen goddesses and I can't really argue with that. She certainly had an extraordinary career, ranging from delightful child performances (she was born in 1932) in the likes of Lassie Come Home (1943) and National Velvet (1944) to performances as a stunningly beautiful teenager in films such as Father of the Bride (1950) and 1951's A Place in the Sun (one of my favourites of her films) and then memorably sultry performances in back-to-back films based on Tennessee Williams plays: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (which gave us possibly the most famous image of her) and Suddenly, Last Summer, which features an extraordinary, genuinely shocking ending that I won't reveal here.

Then there's 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, in which she co-starred with double-husband Richard Burton (readers, she married him twice) and gave an extraordinary performance as a drunken, angry, frustrated wife that somehow seems to stand in for the real-life Burton-Taylor marriage(s) in people's minds. At any rate, all the previously mentioned films are well worth checking out, though it's fair to say she made her fair share of rubbish too.

Still, it's worth having a read of some of the obituaries and reminiscences, most notably this piece by The Telegraph's Tim Robey about her fondness for soft furnishings in her films, this list of 20 Liz Taylor quotes, this list of glowing (and not so glowing, Barry Norman) tributes, this oddly amusing story about her out-living her New York Times obituary writer by six years, this gallery of never-before-seen photos and this picture of her firing a water pistol. RIP, Elizabeth Taylor.

Trailerwatch: Captain America: The First Avenger
Who knew the ViewLondon film blog had such power? There I was, just last week, complaining about the lack of a full-length Captain America trailer and lo and behold, just six days later, the long-awaited full-length trailer is finally released. Unsurprisingly, the trailer focuses heavily on the early part of the film (what we comics nerds like to call “the origin story”), presumably because Captain America doesn't have quite the same familiarity factor enjoyed by the likes of fellow Marvel heroes Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. This means we get quite a lot more of Tommy Lee Jones (as Colonel Chester Phillips) and of Stanley Tucci as super-serum inventor Abraham Erskine, plus we get to hear Dominic Cooper's character addressed as “Mr Stark” (he's playing Tony Stark's dad). More excitingly there's a glimpse of Neal McDonough (recently seen in Desperate Housewives) as Dum-Dum Dugan (he's the one in the bowler hat at 1m59s), which is something of a nod to hardcore comics fans.

The full-length trailer gives a much better indication of the action sequences to come and at least promises plenty of explosions (I like the shot of the car exploding behind Hayley Attwell as she fires a gun). The trailer also has a hint of the by now established “discovering your powers” scene (Evans running) as well as a brief kiss between Evans and Attwell. I have to say, I'm curious to see just how the need for the superhero costume is explained in the film and who comes up with the winged headpiece idea. There's also a hint of more humour in the “That wasn't so bad”/“That was penicillin” exchange between Tucci and Evans. All in all, this is looking very hopeful indeed, although a) let's hope the rumours of reshoots don't indicate a serious problem and b) I still don't like the CGI images of pre-serum Steve Rogers, as his head looks too big for his body.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Only two new entries this week with just Bradley Cooper thriller Limitless and British Hammer Horror Wake Wood making it into the top ten. That said, I'll put in a good word for Dwayne Johnson revenge thriller Faster and Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams is also worth seeing, if only for the caves themselves. Interview-wise, we have a semi-exclusive interview with Jim Loach (director of next week's Oranges and Sunshine) and press conference interviews with the director, producer and stars (Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell) of The Eagle.

Elsewhere, you can still read our exclusive interviews with the cast of Chalet Girl (Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick and Tamsin Egerton), an exclusive interview with Ken Loach and Route Irish star Mark Womack, exclusive interviews with the star and director of Archipelago (Tom Hiddleston and Joanna Hogg respectively) and our round table interview with James Purefoy (for Ironclad.

1. True Grit
2. Submarine
3. Animal Kingdom
4. Unknown
5. Archipelago
6. Chalet Girl
7. Limitless
8. Route Irish
9. Rango
10. Wake Wood

DVD of the Week: Tamara Drewe (out 28th March, RRP £17.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Tamara Drewe, which was one of the best British films of last year and, frankly, deserved to be a bigger hit.
Directed by Stephen Frears and based on the Guardian comic strip by Posy Simmonds (itself based on Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd), the film stars Gemma Arterton as a journalist whose return to her home town in rural Dorset stirs up the locals.

The sharply written script is frequently funny and the film has a terrific ensemble cast that includes Tamsin Grieg, Roger Allam, Dominic Cooper and newcomer Jessica Barden as scene-stealing teenager Jody, whose hormone-ravaged machinations pretty much drive the plot. The film's also beautifully shot and there's a superb score by the brilliantly named Alexandre Desplat. All in all, this is a hugely enjoyable, superbly written and brilliantly acted comedy-drama that's well worth seeking out if you missed it at the cinema.

Extras include: the trailer and a 20 minute “Red Carpet Special” which does at least include a few off-red-carpet interviews and a couple of shots of the comic strip. No commentary though, sadly and no deleted scenes either, though the film itself is highly recommended.

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