Mark Rylance joins ‘Alice in Wonderland’ sequel

Mark Rylance as Hamlet

Mark Rylance is the latest actor to join the upcoming sequel to Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.

The 2010 film, directed by Tim Burton, has already confirmed a return in the sequel for Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen.

Rylance is joining the sequel as the father of The Mad Hatter, despite being only three years older than Johnny Depp.

Mark Rylance is mostly known as a theatre actor, having been Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe from 1995 until 2005. However, he has also completed film work, including playing Thomas Boleyn in 2008s The Other Boleyn Girl.

The current working title, Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass will not see a return for director Tim Burton. Instead, James Bobin, director of The Muppets, will take over directing duties.

Linda Woolverton, who penned the screenplay for the first film, and has recently written Maleficent, will also write the screenplay for the sequel.

As the first film was a mixture of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and the sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1871), we are unsure of what Disney will offer us with the sequel.

As the father of The Mad Hatter is not mentioned in either book, we can presume this screenplay will be an extension of the two books.

The first film, which earned over $1 billion in ticket sales at the box office, will go into production this summer.

Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass is set to be released in the US on 27th May 2016.

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New ‘Pink Panther’ film in the works

The Pink Panther, the film that made a star of Peter Sellers in 1963, is on course to be re-made.

David Silverman and Michael Price, of The Simpson’s fame, are set to direct and write the script. However, unlike the original films, this will focus on the cartoon pink panther character himself.

The character originally appears only in the opening credits, whilst the gem that is targeted for theft in the film is called the pink panther.

But, this latest film will star the character in a non-speaking role, in a mixture of animation and real-life scenes, in a plot that resembles the first film from 1963. The character of Inspector Clouseau isn’t expected to appear in the film, but is likely to be mentioned.

The 1963 original, which starred Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, was co-written and directed by Blake Edwards. The film made a Hollywood star out of Sellers, and led to Edwards and Sellers making four sequels.

Blake Edwards released a sixth film after Peter Sellers death, using a stand in and previously unused footage. However, Sellers’ widow, Lynne Frederick, sued for tarnishing Sellers’ memory, and this ended the Pink Panther series.

There was a Pink Panther film released in 1968, starring Alan Arkin as Clouseau, and another in 1983 with Roger Moore as Clouseau, both without any involvement from Blake Edwards or Peter Sellers, who died in 1980.

Steve Martin has, in 2006 an 2009, played Inspector Clouseau in a reboot of the series. Although commercially panned, both films were box office successes.

MGM are set to helm the project, with Blake Edwards’ widow, actress Julie Andrews, set to produce the film.

Andrews recently said in a statement; “I am delighted that the legacy of Blake’s iconic Pink Panther franchise will continue to grow in its new hybrid form. It is exciting that the quintessential ‘next step’ for our beloved Panther will be enjoyed by a fourth generation of audiences.”

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Orson Welles’ film memorabilia up for auction

Orson Welles youngest daughter is to put items up for auction, all of which she found last years in boxes and trunks, and which contain material from her father’s film career.

Beatrice Welles, speaking from her home in Arizona, has said her father didn’t believe in schooling or academic things, and so she didn’t wish to send the items to a museum, believing her father would be happier with the items ending up with fans and film buffs.

Heritage Auction is handling the memorabilia, and there are approximately 70 items up for auction, including a camera used for home movies, and two scripts from Welles’ 1942 film, The Magnificent Ambersons, which contain different endings, neither or which were used in the film. There are also publicity stills, telegrams, jackets and pages from a script of Citizen Kane.

Although not speculating on how much they expect bidding amounts to reach, Heritage Auction have said they expect the items at the auction to reach decent bid amounts, and continued by saying; “One of the enduring signs of fame is when young people know who someone is – someone who might have passed away decades ago.”

George Orson Welles, born in Wisconsin in 1915, co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in his first film, Citizen Kane, at the age of 26. Citizen Kane is now often described as being one of the greatest films ever made, and he went on to direct 12 more films in his lifetime.

Welles was married three times, including famously to actress Rita Hayworth from 1943 until 1948. He would often clash with studios over their participation in his films, and resented that the studios would often edit his films further when he had finished working on them.

After his death in 1985, Welles was praised for his creative directing style and, in 2002, he was listed as the greatest director of all time in two polls from the British Film Institute, one voted for by critics and the other voted for by directors.

The auction is set to take place on Saturday 26th April 2014.

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Pop Up Cinema: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

In February, I was waiting for a University friend by the tube station at Vauxhall (SW8) when the actor John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Mummy) started walking towards me. As I was standing right next to the tube entrance, I assumed that he was going to walk past me and down the stairs to catch a train; and I was right. I watched him slowly walk down the steps towards the ticket barrier.

After this excitement was over, I meet my friend Rachel, and we headed towards a disused railway arch underneath Vauxhall station. The purpose of our visit to Vauxhall was to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at a pop-up cinema. Vauxhall Village had arranged for eight films to be shown over four days, all romantically themed for Valentine’s Day. The ticketsBreakfast at Tiffany's (5) were just under £8 each and all of the profits went to the London-based homeless charity Thames Reach.

At the pop-up cinema, everyone was given a red blanket and cordless headphones. We were sat in rows of deck chairs, surrounded by romantically themed decorations to remind us that it was Valentine’s season.

We choose to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s because it was a film which neither of us had seen before. This 1961 romantic comedy, directed by Blake Edward, stars Audrey Hepburn as a Holly Golightly. Her character is eccentric and fashionable, living in New York with a passion for Tiffany’s. The film follows Holly’s life after her new neighbour, George Peppard, moves in and becomes intrigued by her lifestyle. This role is now considered to be one of Hepburn’s most memorable, and her black dress, long black gloves and long cigarette holder is now the look that Hepburn is mostly remembered for. The song Moon River is used repeatedly throughout the film, including in a wonderful performance by Hepburn herself. The film certainly has a sense of Sex and the City to it, but only slightly with the ‘fashionable single girl living in New York’ feel about it. But of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s got there first! You will never see anyone more glamorous than Audrey Hepburn in this film. Hepburn has often said that the hardest part about making Breakfast at Tiffany’s was that she is naturally an introvert and had to play an extrovert, but in which she does an excellent job. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is such a wonderful film, that I went out and brought the DVD the week after I had seen it.

The pop-up cinema was a great experience, and knowing that the money went to charity made it all the more better. Vauxhall Village do pop-up screenings at other times throughout the year, so if you are in London, do keep an eye out on their website for other showings. Otherwise, I can highly recommend Breakfast at Tiffany’s to see Audrey Hepburn and New York at their finest.

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Saving Mr. Banks – Fact or Fiction?

If you have seen the latest offering from Disney, Saving Mr. Banks, you may be wondering how much of the film is fact and how much is fiction.

Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and her work with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to turn her children’s book Mary Poppins into a film. Travers was very reluctant to let Disney anywhere near her beloved book, and the film showcases Disney’s struggles with Travers.

It appears that screenwriter Kelly Marcel did slightly alter some of the events for the script. After all, Saving Mr. Banks is a Disney film, and as such, it is slightly more sugar-coated than the truth is.

Here are five facts that Saving Mr. Banks altered or left out.

Warning: Spoilers are contained below!

Disney already owned the rights to Mary Poppins:

As seen in Saving Mr. Banks, P.L. Travers did have script approval, but her tormenting of Walt Disney to refuse him the film rights if Mary Poppins isn’t made exactly to her liking is false. Travers was very adamant that the film include no animation. However, Disney already owned the rights to Mary Poppins when Travers arrived in LA.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite didn’t win Travers round:

Instead, it was Feed the Birds. Although Travers was hard to please, she was reportedly said to have liked Feed the Birds when she first heard it. Disney also was a fan of the song, with it being his favourite song from all of his films. Disney would often ask Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote the music for Mary Poppins, to play the song for him when he was feeling down, and it was also played at his funeral.

The Sherman brothers felt the brunt of Travers wrath:

Disney did not stay around to become friendly with Travers, and instead left the Sherman brothers to deal with Travers and her demands. The scene where Disney and Travers visit Disneyland together is completely fictionalised.

The conversation between Travers and Disney:

Towards the end of the film, when Disney visits Travers in her London home after she has refused the rights to Mary Poppins, we hear Disney tell a story about the trouble he had with his father. This mutual conversation about the issues both Travers and Disney had with their fathers finally convinces Travers to sign over the rights to Mary Poppins. Although this conversation didn’t happen, everything that Disney said about his troubled childhood is true.

Travers did cry at the premiere, but not with tears of joy:

In the film, we see Travers finally cry tears of sadness during the film’s premiere when Mr. Banks is facing losing his job at the bank, and finally tears of joy when the films ends and Travers has finally begun to let go of the sadness from her childhood. However, although Travers did cry during the film’s premiere, they were tears of sadness at how Disney had ruined her beloved book. At the after-party, Travers reportedly hunted down Disney, and told him that the animated sequences in the film defiantly had to be cut. Disney is reported to have calmly responded ‘Pamela, the ship has sailed.’

There are many facts in Saving Mr. Banks that are true, such as Travers having script approval, and her demand that all of the conversations be taped when discussing the film. But, there are also many facts about Travers personal life that are left out, such as the fact that she adopted a son when she was 40, who she had a strained relationship with after he meet his twin brother when he was 17 in a pub, and didn’t know he had a twin or that he was adopted.

Travers reportedly didn’t watch Mary Poppins for twenty years after the premiere, but when she did, she had slightly softened her view on the film, saying that she enjoyed certain sequences (although probably not the animated ones!) and that she liked Julie Andrews playing the role of Mary Poppins.

Although not an entirely true story, Saving Mr. Banks is a film that, although softened, shows P.L. Travers and Walt Disney both fighting to do what they think is best. Although we don’t know what Travers would have made of Saving Mr. Banks, it is likely that perhaps she wouldn’t be too keen on how altered the story is from the truth! Regardless of this, it is still a lovely film addition to the Disney collection, with Emma Thompson doing an excellent job at portraying the demanding P.L. Travers.

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Golden Oldies #5: The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is a very famous film, and probably one that a lot of people have already seen. The film is a mixture of a classic, a musical, a family film and a Christmas film (well, it is shown on TV every Christmas) and also with a bit of history thrown in there aswell – there are Nazis in the film too!

Originally a Broadway musical, this 1965 film stars Julie Andrews as the unruly nun Maria, who is sent to be a governess in a nearby home to seven children. Their widowed father, Captain Von Trapp, played by Christopher Plummer, is strict and often away with his naval duties. Maria brings joy and singing back into the house, whilst Maria and the Captain find themselves becoming more drawn to each other. As Nazism begins to take over Austria, the Captain fears he will be forced to take a position in the German Navy, and a plan to leave Austria is set in motion.

Reading this synopsis of the film, you would be forgiven if you felt that it sounds like one of the cheesiest films ever made – and in some ways, you would be right. Christopher Plummer, in many recent years, has labelled the film ‘the sound of mucus’. However, his brilliant acting ability cannot be denied, and I would say the film is made all the more interesting by his character and acting. Julie Andrews similarly is also excellent in the film, and after her Oscar winning portrayal of Mary Poppins in 1964, taking on a film a year later where, again, she is entrusted with the care of children with a distant father, you could think it was the same role. However, she plays the role in both films very differently, that Maria in The Sound of Music is not the same as Mary Poppins at all.

The supporting cast, including Eleanor Parker as the Baroness, Richard Haydn as Uncle Max and Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess, are also excellent in bringing more to the film than it just being family orientated. Although none of the seven actors playing the von Trapp children became massively famous as adult stars, they also bring their own qualities and personality to the film, making it about more than just Maria and the Captain.

The songs in the film are very catchy, and after watching, you may be singing ‘I am sixteen, going on seventeen’ for days to come! The scenery in the film is also very beautiful, with some amazing views of Salzburg and Austria behind every scene. The film is not entirely accurate (but what film based on true events is?) – one of the von Trapp children later said that, in contrast to the film, their father was warm and loving, whilst Maria was prone to violent rage and anger. Most of the real events of this film also took place in the 1920s, and not the 1930s as depicted. But facts such as this can be over-looked.

Although The Sound of Music is, undeniably, quite a cheesy film, it certainly is a Golden Oldie and has been an American classic for years already. It is reportedly the second most watched film ever, just behind Gone with the Wind. The Sound of Music is a feel-good film that you can put on and enjoy, and it looks set to stay a Golden Oldie for many more years.

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Classic British Films #5: Brazil

‘Brazil’ is a weird film. I can almost guarantee it will be one of the weirdest films you will ever see. Being a film that is co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, you can hardly expect it to be anything but abnormal! Having covered ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ in a previous Classic British Films review, we can now look at a film from one of the Pythons when he established himself as a director.

Set in a futuristic, bureaucratic society, ‘Brazil’ follows Sam Lowry, an ordinary man who is very comfortable with his job and life, whilst everyone around him is striving to improve on everything they have, from their jobs to their looks. Sam dreams every night about the same woman, and after catching a glimpse of her in the real world, he tries to track her down. The society Sam lives in is similar to that of George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four but without a Big Brother figure, and it is presented in a more humorous and dysfunctional fashion. In particular, the society is very reliant on machines which often don’t work.

Sam Lowry is played by Jonathan Pryce, who does a superb job of playing a man trying to live a normal life in an ever advancing and governed world. Pryce has to carry most of the film himself as his is the central character, and apart from the first scene, he is in the film the whole way through. He does an excellent job, and has often said since that ‘Brazil’ is the highlight of his film career. There is also an excellent supporting cast of well-known names, including another Python Michael Palin, Kim Greist, Bob Hoskins, Katherine Helmond and Robert De Niro.

‘Brazil’ is also co-written by the playwright Tom Stoppard, which brings a theatrical feel to the film. If you have seen a Terry Gilliam film before, you will know what his work is like! His films are very crazy with the characters often behaving in unusual manors, with odd-angled camera shots to reflect this. There is a lot of use of close up facial shots and long lens action shots to make the viewer understand the emotions of the characters. That is not to say the film is completely serious, as there are many funny scenes, especially between Pryce and Greist. ‘Brazil’ manages to combine a mixture of drama, humour and romance very well.

When ‘Brazil’ was due for release in 1985, European distribution was handled by 20th Century Fox, whereas US distribution was handled by Universal Pictures. However, the chairman on Universal, Sid Sheinberg, was unhappy with the ending, and wanted it altered. After a lengthy delay, and with the film still un-released in the US, Terry Gilliam released the film himself without studio approval, and won Best Picture at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. This prompted Universal to release the film with 11 minutes cut under Gilliam’s supervision, but with the ending unaltered. Although the film never did very well in the US, it was received with critical acclaim across Europe, and has since become a cult classic. It is now known as one of Terry Gilliam’s best films.

Ultimately, ‘Brazil’ is a satire on society, and has been described as representing everything that Terry Gilliam hates about a bureaucratic world. It is a film with a serious message, but which can also be watched for its humorous qualities. Although Terry Gilliam is a marmite director, and he certainly likes to make films which make the audience think, his main purpose is to entertain, which he certainly does. If you have yet to see a Terry Gilliam film, ‘Brazil’ is the perfect way to start.

Although this film may not seem like a Classic British Film just yet, it is on its way to becoming one. It is already a cult classic, and is often written about as a great British film, which it certainly is. If you want something refreshing to watch which will keep your brain engaged, then ‘Brazil’ will certainly do the job!

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