“The reader deserves an honest opinion. If he doesn’t deserve it, give it to him anyhow.” John Ciardi
“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” Groucho Marx
“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” E.B. White
“It’s a repressive society where you can’t be horrible. I’m not horrible, I’m just honest.” Johnny Rotten
“I think quotes are very dangerous things.” Kate Bush
“Welcome to Cinemascape!” Marshall Julius
Here’s another quote for you, from legendary screen idol Marilyn Monroe, the highest maintenance sex symbol in the history of everything. “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure,” said the movie star who yearned to be an actress, and should probably have thrown in ‘sad’ for good measure. “I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best…”
A stylish, sentimental, star-struck slice of time-travelling wish fulfilment, My Week With Marilyn is a Fifties-set dream of a movie, an exquisitely crafted British drama balanced by equal measures of humour and romance, a true-to-life, behind-the-scenes peek at industry gods at their most human, an intimate, insightful and utterly irresistible gift of a movie from director Simon Curtis, based on two revealing memoirs by late documentarian Colin Clark, The Prince, The Showgirl and Me (1995) and My Week With Marilyn (2000).
Brilliantly cast from top to bottom with immaculate production design and the wonderful plumminess of The King’s Speech, this lovely film stars fresh-faced rising talent Eddie Redmayne as Colin, a doe-eyed, fish-lipped posh boy whose tenacity and family connections earn him a place on the set of Sir Laurence Olivier’s ’57 romcom The Prince and the Showgirl. Directed by and starring the middle-aged Sir Larry, a marvellous, affected actor who longed to be a movie star, this ultimately rather minor film co-starred the luminous and magnetic yet increasingly exasperating and cripplingly apprehensive Marilyn Monroe.
Colin catches Marilyn’s eye and quickly bonds with the Hollywood great, enjoying precious private moments with the complicated actress, helping her through various backstage and personal struggles, coming to know the woman behind the mask, and, although he fancies the pants off wardrobe girl Lucy (Emma Watson), falling hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with the unstoppable force that is M. Monroe.
A bittersweet tale of doomed first love set against the heyday of British cinema, My Week With Marilyn boasts a remarkable performance from Michelle Williams, who perfectly captures the highs and lows, the joys and horrors, the public face and private anguish of Marilyn Monroe, the most famous, and most famously unhappy, actress of all time. Thanks largely to Williams’ humane performance, like Colin, we come to appreciate Monroe as a real person.
Also worthy of note is Kenneth Branagh, the Larry Olivier of today, whose spot-on performance as Sir Laurence, from his clipped tones and cruel barbs to his haughty, impatient manner, is a constant source of amusement. “Trying to teach Marilyn to act,” he barks, “is like trying to teach Urdu to a badger!”
A vast supporting cast add to the many, splendid pleasures of My Week With Marilyn, a film that casts the movie stars of today as the movie stars, moguls and mavens of yesterday, among them Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller and beyond that, the likes of Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, Zoe Wanamaker and Jim Carter. Star-studded, to say the least, and beautifully written too, with lashings of lovely England for good measure, a wonderful, warm-hearted biopic destined for Oscar immortalisation.
Also at the Cinema…
A defiantly upbeat cancer procedural, 50/50 (15) refers to the odds that likeable twentysomething Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has of beating cancer. Focusing on his battle with the disease, as well as his relationships with his crude best mate (Seth Rogen), shallow girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), stressful mum (Anjelica Huston), fledgling shrink (Anna Kendrick) and fellow patients (Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer), the movie can’t help getting you down, because hell, it’s about cancer. But as downers go, it’s one of the best, neither harsh nor relentless, neatly fearless in its approach to a difficult subject, and fairly accomplished in finding humour where you’d think there’d be none. Thumbs up to Gordon-Levitt and director Jonathan Levine. Not so much to Seth Rogen, but hey, you can’t have everything.
A tougher sell than cancer, Moneyball (12A) is a film about baseball, although actually, it has very little baseball in it, and there are significant sweeteners for UK audiences disinterested in arguably the most tedious and incomprehensible game on Earth. The first is Brad Pitt, who, as the maverick, charismatic manager of a two-bit team charms his way through a true, talky plot about trusting statistics over instinct. The second is razor-sharp dialogue by superstar screenwriters Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network). As a timid economist with bold ideas, Jonah Hill is also very good, and plays well off Pitt. Still, it was much too long, dragged in places, and told a story I cared little about. This week, my money’s on Marilyn.