Alan Rickman’s ‘A Little Chaos’ to close TIFF

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By Ray Bennett

The Toronto International Film Festival announced that its closing film will be Alan Rickman’s period romance “A Little Chaos” starring Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenhaerts, which Lionsgate will release in the UK.

The BBC Films production is Rickman’s second feature as director with a cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle and Phyllida Law with music by Peter Gregson. It tells of a female landscape gardener who constructs the grand gardens at Versailles and enters the gilded world of King Louis XIV, played by Rickman.

TIFF, which runs Sept. 4-14, announced a raft of gala screenings including Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner”, which bowed in Cannes where Timothy Spall won the prize as best actor and will be released in the UK by Entertainment One on Oct. 31.

This story appears in Cue Entertainment

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‘The Imitation Game’ to open London film fest

StudioCanal 'The Imitation Game' x575

By Ray Bennett

“The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II code-breaker Alan Turing will be the opening film at the 58th BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 8 with simultaneous showings of the red-carpet event in cinemas across the country.

The drama, directed by Norway’s Morten Tyldum (“Headhunters”) and co-starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, and Charles Dance, and with music by Alexandre Desplat, will have its European Premiere at the event, which runs in partnership with American Express.

That means its World Premiere likely will be at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. StudioCanal will release it in UK cinemas on Nov. 14.

It tells of the enigmatic Turing whose work with the top secret code-breaking team at Bletchley Park in World War II shortened the conflict significantly but whose  private life brought opprobrium from the British establishment.

The European premiere will take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in London with a live cinecast from the red carpet with simultaneous screenings in cinemas across the UK. Director and stars are expected to attend the event.

Versions of this story appear in Event Cinema News and Cue Entertainment

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So long, Gentleman Jim Garner …

James Garner as Maverick x650

By Ray Bennett

Three times I interviewed James Garner, who has died aged 86, once in a long phone call and twice on set in Hollywood, and each time it was because he agreed to talk about someone else.

He told me: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but publicity is something I’ve always shied away from. My attitude is that so long as I’m working, I don’t have to keep poking the name in front of people. I’ve hired press agents for years to say ‘no’.”

The first time we spoke it was in 1979 just before “The Rockford Files” came to an end as a series. He’d done more interviews than he intended to including a big piece in Esquire and he said, “They have just been wonderful to me in all these interviews and it makes a hell of a thing trying to live up to.”

I had to ask: “Are you really as nice as all that?”

He said, “No! I really didn’t want to do that Esquire article after I’d agreed to it because I thought, ‘Oh, my god, you know, the way she’s talking this is going to be a valentine’. I told her: ‘I’m not that nice. I do some naughty things.’ I don’t want any goody-goody two-shoes image, that’s for sure.”

Still, the reason I landed that first interview was to talk about the women he worked with. As his stint in “The Rockford Files” drew to a close, I pestered NBC and Universal to get through to him for an interview. I pitched a story for TV Guide Canada on the women in his professional life, especially his agent and producer Meta Rosenberg, who died on Dec. 30, 2004 aged 89, and writer Juanita Bartlett, who died on Feb. 25 this year aged 86.

When Garner and I spoke on the phone on July 28, 1979, and I thanked him for his time, he said, “Oh, it’s a pleasure. I’m very happy with the subject.” We ran the story on the cover of TV Guide Canada with the headline “Gentleman Jim”.

He said, “I’ve never understood the man/woman thing when it comes to work. I look at people one-on-one and if someone is capable, their sex has nothing to do with it whatsoever. If they’re good, they’re good. If they’re smart, they’re smart and it just never occurs to me that because a person is a woman they should be singled out.”

Two years later, when he returned to his defining role in “Bret Maverick” I visited him on the set to talk about co-stars Stuart Margolin, who started out in “Nichols” and played Angel in “Rockford”, and country music star Ed Bruce, who played Sheriff Tom Guthrie.

Garner was far more interested in speaking about them than he was about himself but over the course of the three conversations we did talk at length about his great movies from “The Great Escape” to “Grand Prix” (pictured below) to “Skin Game” and “The Americanization of Emily”, but more about that another time.

James Garner in 'Grand Prix' x650

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NT Live to screen Young Vic’s ‘Streetcar Named Desire’

NT Live Young Vic 'Streetcar Named Desire' x575

By Ray Bennett

National Theatre Live announced that it will broadcast Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” starring Gillian Anderson as Blanche Dubois live to cinemas in the UK and around the world from the Young Vic Theatre on Sept. 16. Continue reading

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‘Skylight’ breaks records ahead of NT Live screening

NT Live 'Skylight' x575

By Ray Bennett

Stephen Daldry’s production of David Hare’s play “Skylight”, which NT Live will broadcast to cinemas across the UK and around the world on July 17, has become the highest grossing show ever at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End. Continue reading

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Handa Opera’s ‘Madama Butterly’ one night in cinemas

Sydney Opera Madama Butterfly x575

By Ray Bennett

CinemaLive said it will screen the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s production of “Madama Butterfly” in cinemas across the UK and Ireland and around the world for one night only on Thursday Sept, 18. Continue reading

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Monty Python show set to be biggest for Event Cinema

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By Ray Bennett

Picturehouse Entertainment said that its July 20 screening of “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” will be the biggest Event Cinema broadcast yet seen in the UK. Continue reading

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BFI to screen sci-fi spectacular at British Museum

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By Ray Bennett

The BFI has announced a sci-fi film spectacular called “Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder” with classic titles to kick off in the grounds of the British Museum in London on the August bank holiday weekend. Continue reading

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Restored Orson Welles classic set for re-release

Park Circus 'The Lady From Shanghai' Cliff

By Ray Bennett

Park Circus said it will release Orson Welles’s classic 1947 film noir “The Lady From Shanghai” with a new 4K restoration in UK cinemas on July 25.

The exhibitor said the restored Sony Pictures title was “ripe for rediscovery on the big screen” following its world premiere at the 2013 London Film Festival. Continue reading

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When Knowlton Nash became Superman at CBC News

Knowlton Nash TV Guide Canada Jan 6 1979 Cliff Edge

Very sad to see that Knowlton Nash, who had a long career with the CBC and was the face of CBC News for more than a decade, died on May 24. He was 86.

As the TV writer for the Windsor Star in the early 1970s, I often ran into Nash and others in Canada’s TV news community but when I became managing editor of TV Guide in 1979, it was a surprise that any of them noticed let alone sent congratulations on my promotion.

Nash was one of them and he wrote a typically self-deprecating note. After a decade as Director of News and Current Affairs, he controversially had become CBC News chief correspondent and reader of “The National” flagship news program. Continue reading

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