CORIOLANUS official poster and report from Empire’s BIG SCREEN event

One of the biggest movie event in the UK just wrapped up last week. My friends Scott Lawlor and Claire Packer were lucky enough to attend the festivities. Click on the link to their respective blogs to read their reports of the event.

Now, one of the panels was Lionsgate Studio, presenting a bunch of movies including Coriolanus. I asked Claire to give me a report on it and she kindly obliged. So here it is below:

From boxing brothers to the legendary Sigmund Freud, the films showcased at the Lionsgate panel at Empire Presents… BIG SCREEN were a very mixed bag. Held at the O2 in London, BIG SCREEN was a three-day event giving film fans the opportunity to see new films, meet the stars and take part in all manner of film-related things. During the event I had my picture taken with C-3PO and R2D2 as well as taking part in a Padawan training session!

But, back to Lionsgate. Included in the trailers and extended footage were Abduction, 50/50, A Dangerous Method, Warrior and Coriolanus. Starring three of my favourite actors, I am very much looking forward to A Dangerous Method. Viggo Mortensen takes on the role of Sigmund Freud while Michael Fassbender is Carl Jung. Keira Knightley plays Sabina, a young woman rumoured to be having an affair with Jung.

Before I put up the report for Coriolanus, first check out the newly-released official poster (literally just hours ago):

Whoa, I guess we definitely can expect tons of mano-a-mano scenes between these two intensely macho Brits… like this bloody knife fight perhaps? I must say I’m a bit nervous about all the gruesome violence that will no doubt fill this film… but I’m still looking forward to it nonetheless.

Ok, back to Claire’s report:

Coriolanus is one to look out for, too. Starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, it is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy. Three lengthy clips from the film were shown at BIG SCREEN. The first one showed some intense scenes of Fiennes – who takes on the titular role – and the army quelling a group of rioting civilians. The second clip showed Fiennes squaring up against his sworn enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler). The final clip saw Fiennes receive the honour of the name ‘Coriolanus’. Among the assembled dignitaries are his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and wife (Jessica Chastain).

Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia

What I failed to mention is that in each of the clips the characters were using Shakespeare’s original words – quite surreal considering it is set in modern day Rome. With this in mind, I would suggest reading up on what Coriolanus is about. I’m an English graduate but have always struggled with understanding Shakespeare!

Apart from the fact that Fiennes was in each one, each clip had something else in common: a sense of brooding and unease. To be honest, I’m not sure how easy it will be to watch – it does hold an R rating. The riot scene was very graphic and in the clip where he square up against Tullus, Fiennes’ shaven head was covered in blood – no doubt someone else’s.

With an all-star cast, Coriolanus is definitely one to keep your eye on. It’ll be out 2nd December 2011 in the USA and 20th January 2012 in the UK.

Report by Claire Packer – Follow Claire on Twitter

Well again thank you Claire for the awesome report! I can’t wait to see this even more now.

So what do you think of Coriolanus and the new poster? Share your thoughts below.

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews of Coriolanus (2011) and Laura (1944)

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic! Today we’ve got two special reviews from two different genres, one is a Shakespearean modern adaptation, straight from its BERLINALE premiere (thank you Vanessa, you lucky gal!) and the other an Otto Preminger’s acclaimed classic noir (Preminger was nominated for Best Director Oscar for this film). In regards to Coriolanus, you’ve probably read some of the more positive reviews I posted here, but my friend has quite a different impression about it. Anyway, read on:

CORIOLANUS (2011) – Berlinale Film Festival review

– by Vanessa Weinert of TheMovieNess

A modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus, this film is set in the Rome of today. It is not the beautiful Rome that is usually seen in movies, but rather the run down parts of the city where broken houses are plastered with graffiti. Grain is sparse and “the people” are on the streets protesting. Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes, who also directed this film) is supposed to be the hero of this city but he despises the people. After long demonstrations, he is banished from Rome and finds refuge with his mortal enemy (Gerard Butler) who he fought with, almost to the death, only months earlier.

It is not surprising that this is one of the lesser known Shakespeare plays. The story is all about war and politics, not people. It is also difficult to get involved with any of the characters: Coriolanus is extremely unlikable, his wife and son are weak and boring, his mother too dominant and controlling and his mortal enemy becomes his close friend without a moments hesitation. This leaves us with “the people” but they are too easily manipulated to be taken seriously.

The mix of the modern setting and the old language didn’t work for me in this movie. I think a total adaptation would have been better. There is a huge focus on media. Cell phones and cameras are constantly seen in shots which seems unnecessary. We get that it’s not 400 B.C. It also felt strange seeing Coriolanus being banished from Rome because that just wouldn’t happen today.

Usually I think Ralph Fiennes is a terrific actor but apparently he needs and outside perspective and directing himself was a bad idea. He is giving a theater performance which just looks over the top and silly on screen. What we end up with are two hours of rage and arrogance, which gets boring pretty quickly. Butler has a surprisingly small role in this movie. He looks amazing (of course) and doesn’t overact like Fiennes does, but he is also in a constant state of fury. Overall there is just too much rage in this film.

With a cast like this it is pretty difficult to make a bad movie but Fiennes unfortunately managed to do so. As much as I wanted to like Coriolanus, it didn’t grab my attention at all. The only reason why anyone should see this movie is Vanessa Redgrave’s performance as Coriolanus’ mother. She brings some beautiful moments into this otherwise dull movie. I am not surprised that plenty of people left the cinema throughout the screening.

2 out of 5 reels

LAURA (1944)

by Vince Caro

I had recently watched Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island – with Leonardo DiCaprio (playing a federal marshal) as a somewhat cheap imitation of Dana Andrews’ famous role of detective McPherson down to the faux New England accent and authoritarian scowl. But in sharp contrast to Dicaprio, Andrews could look relaxed even in the tensest of moments (with the help of a little hand held game). While Shutter Island is a respectable technicolor homage to 40s film noir, I couldn’t help but go back to Otto Preminger’s classic whodunit in all it’s black and white glory.

Laura is unique in that it starts off with the title character already dead – murdered in her apartment by an unknown intruder. The film opens with David Raksin’s haunting and memorable score and we see our first glimpse of the beautiful Laura Hunt (played by the stunning Gene Tierney) – a vanity portrait as the main credits roll. In classic noir fashion, we hear the narration of Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb in an Oscar-nominated performance) setting the tone – announcing Laura has just been murdered and he feels to be the “only human being left in New York”. Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is investigating the murder with a slight suspicion of everyone within Laura’s circle. This includes fiancée Shelby Carpenter (nicely played by Vincent Price) as the disreputable playboy engaged to Laura.

The film begins to gather steam as Waldo offers McPherson recollections of how he and Laura met. These scenes are shown in vivid but dreamlike flashbacks. We see Laura as a young gentle ad artist, who charms Waldo out of his cruel and arrogant demeanor. In effect, McPherson paints a portrait of Laura in his mind – a beautiful, doe-eyed, naïve girl and begins to fall for her. He obsessively continues the investigation until a bizarre twist turns the whole case upside-down.

Dana Andrews & Vincent Price

In almost Rebecca-like fashion, the charms of the deceased Laura Hunt go way beyond the grave. The difference here is that Preminger leaves nothing to the imagination, instead serving us the picturesque Tierney, who I’m convinced is one of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen. It is Tierney that keeps us involved in the picture and Webb providing its weight and legitimacy with his high-brow, curmudgeon and darkly humorous performance. Andrews is our everyman in this picture – hard-nosed, blue-collar and an outsider, somebody we would hope Laura would fall for in the real world. With that said, DiCaprio’s emulation of McPherson is honorable, but I can’t see Laura Hunt falling for it. Too much color perhaps?

4.5 out of 5 reels

Any thoughts about either or both of these films? Do share ’em below in the comments.