Emma thompson

It’s wholly impossible to look away: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande reviewed

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande stars Emma Thompson as a retired, widowed religious education teacher in her sixties who books sessions with a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) because, for the first time in her life, she would like to experience good sex. Her husband was a roll on, roll off sort of fella, she’s never slept with anyone else and her body, she says, ‘feels like a carcass I’ve been dragging round all these years’. You have to admire her courage. I don’t think I’d even have the courage to book a hotel room for two hours in the afternoon. I’d probably pay for the night so that no

More, please

Late Night is a comedy starring Emma Thompson as a chat-show host in America whose ratings are in decline and who hires her first female writer. This is Molly, who is welcomed by the bank of male writers, not. They initially mistake her for someone who has come to take their food orders and greet her with: ‘I’ll have the soup.’ So it’s that. And then it’s quite a lot more of that, one way or another. And, you know, good. A woman-centred comedy that satirises the white male stronghold on comedy? Count me in! And it does have its terrific moments, plus Thompson is absolutely superb, and clearly having

Trapped in McEwan world

The Children Act is the third Ian McEwan film adaptation in 18 months (after The Child in Time and On Chesil Beach), and if you’re minded to think no amount of Ian McEwan is too much Ian McEwan then you are wrong. This is very Ian McEwan: tasteful, restrained, high-minded, controlled. Once, fine. Twice, fine. But by the third time you will want to take all that tasteful, high-minded, controlled restraint and put a rocket under it. Or at least I did. Directed by Richard Eyre, and adapted by McEwan, the film stars Emma Thompson, who is outstanding, and will keep you gripped to the extent that you can be

Fresh and wild | 31 May 2018

I recently came across a theory of the American poet Delmore Schwartz’s that Hamlet only makes sense if you assume from the beginning that all the characters are drunk. Given Schwartz’s own fondness for booze, this idea perhaps smacks of drunken hyperbole itself. But it certainly sprang to mind while watching BBC2’s King Lear (Monday), where Anthony Hopkins spent quite a lot of the first half swigging enthusiastically from a hipflask. After all, this did appear to explain much of Lear’s behaviour: the constant alternation between belligerence and sentimentality; the combination of self-dramatisation, self-pity and — the way Hopkins played it — self-amusement; and maybe even that initial decision to

The return of Lady Muck

My sainted mum was of untarnished working-class blood — she worked, variously, as a cleaner, factory hand and shop assistant — and like most women of her kind who grew up before the 1960s, she never swore. Not a ‘bitch’, ‘slut’ or ‘slag’ ever passed her lips, though she certainly loathed a lot of women and always had at least two feuds on the go. In her eyes, using words like that would have made her just as bad as the targets of her disapproval. No, her ultimate diss for females she disliked was ‘Lady Muck’. It’s a delightfully descriptive phrase and, having heard a lot from both Emily Thornberry

Ivory towers

Great novels rarely make great movies, but for half a century one director has been showing all the others how it’s done. James Ivory has worked his magic on all sorts of authors, from Kazuo Ishiguro to Henry James, and this week the finest of all his adaptations returns to the big screen. ‘A film that’s almost two and a half hours long, non-stop talking, set in the Edwardian era — who would have thought that would be such a huge success?’ says Ivory, on the phone from his home in upstate New York. Yet somehow, this taciturn director turned a wordy novel by E.M. Forster into a gripping drama.

Got the message?

To cut to the chase, my ten-year-old daughter really liked Beauty and the Beast. And given you’re probably going to be watching this as a child’s plus-one, I’d say hers is the view that matters. Her favourite character was Le Fou, the baddie’s gay sidekick, though I’m not sure she realised. But then the gay scene that Disney’s been making such a fuss about, in which the adorably camp and chubby Josh Gad gives Luke Evans — the fabulous Gaston — a bit of a shoulder massage when they’re relaxing at the inn, honestly isn’t such a big deal. Sorry. This would be a digression, except that there’s been so

A Bridge too far?

Bridget Jones’s Baby is the third outing for our heroine as played by Renée Zellweger, whose cosmetic work to face has received more media attention than the film itself, but we will try to counteract that here. So, on this occasion, Bridget finds herself pregnant but does not know if the father is our old friend, uptight lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, who is not as young and dewy as he was at, say, 32, perhaps because he’s now 56), or the American dating magnate Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey, 50, who may have let himself go a bit, but then he has had three children, so fair’s fair). And now

Newsnight feels the heat over Emma Thompson’s ‘inaccurate’ climate claims

Oh dear. Although BBC presenters tend to shrug off most accusations of bias as nonsense, staff at Newsnight are going to have to rethink their approach when it comes to reporting on climate change. A paper by the BBC Trust has urged the corporation to ensure that ‘presenters are able to confidently challenge misleading/ inaccurate statistical claims made by interviewees’. They go on to cite Emma Thompson’s appearance on Newsnight as an example of when not enough was done to challenge faulty views. In an interview with Emily Maitlis, the Oscar-winning luvvie made statements about climate change: ‘If they [oil companies] take out of the earth all the oil they want to take

Michael Buerk takes a swipe at virtue-signalling luvvies: ‘there’s only so much of the Benedict worldview you can take’

In recent months, a number of luvvies have entered the public debate to give their take on what ‘must be done’ on a number of pressing issues. While Benedict Cumberbatch turned the air blue at the theatre with a ‘f— the politicians‘ rant over the refugee crisis, Emma Thompson recently waded in on the EU referendum by calling Britain a ‘cake-filled misery-laden grey old island‘. Now at last someone is speaking some sense on the issue. Writing in this week’s Radio Times, Michael Buerk, the BBC’s former South Africa correspondent during the end of apartheid, says he has had enough of luvvies — like Benedict and Emma — spouting their

Welcome to Luvvie Island: a haven for virtue-signalling celebrities

It was six months ago this week when Nicola Sturgeon heroically admitted she’d be ‘happy’ to have a refugee move into her detached Glasgow home. That same rousing week last September, we were treated to the vision of Yvette Cooper ‘bravely’ holding up a piece of A4 paper with #refugeeswelcome scrawled on it. As he’s wont to do, Bob Geldof went one further, offering to put up three families in his pile in Kent and another in his London flat. Yet, to date, it seems that not a single refugee has been welcomed through the Chunnel and made it to Nicola’s nest, Casa Cooper or either of Geldoff’s gaffs. One wonders, why

Brothers grim

One of the more obscure winners in recent years of the Berlin film festival’s Golden Bear was a version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by the esteemed Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio. The film, called Caesar Must Die, consisted of prisoners staging the Roman drama in their own high-security jail in Italy. The most dedicated Shakespearean or, indeed, lover of Italian cinema will have found it quite hard to enjoy. It was a tough, depressing watch. But that’s the Berlinale all over. It favours a certain toughness and prides itself on films that engage politically, that are nakedly ‘art’ rather than obviously mainstream. Often it goes out of its way to

Toby Young

Emma Thompson’s wrong, and not just about the EU

At first glance, Emma Thompson’s intervention in the Brexit debate earlier this week didn’t make much sense. Asked at the Berlin Film Festival whether the UK should vote to remain in the EU, she said we’d be ‘mad not to’. She went on to describe Britain as ‘a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’. She added that she ‘just felt European’ and would ‘of course’ vote to remain in the EU. ‘We should be taking down borders, not putting them up,’ she said. I think I get the bit about Britain being ‘rainy’. That’s true, obviously, and some people dislike our islands

Godfrey Bloom puts his foot in it over Emma Thompson row

Yesterday saw a turn in fortune for the Out campaign after Emma Thompson declared her intention to vote to remain in the EU. The Nanny McPhee actress managed to upset those on both sides of the debate when she explained that without Europe, Britain is simply ‘a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island‘. Quite rightly a number of Brexit activists called her out on her negative comments, while even supporters of the In campaign seemed less than thrilled by the declaration. Alas, one Eurosceptic appears to have gone a step too far. Godfrey Bloom — the former Ukip MEP who had to resign from the party after he called female Ukip activists

Toby Young

Emma Thompson is wrong about the EU – and cake

At first glance, Emma Thompson’s intervention in the Brexit debate earlier this week didn’t make much sense. Asked at the Berlin Film Festival whether the UK should vote to remain in the EU, she said we’d be ‘mad not to’. She went on to describe Britain as ‘a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’. She added that she ‘just felt European’ and would ‘of course’ vote to remain in the EU. ‘We should be taking down borders, not putting them up,’ she said. I think I get the bit about Britain being ‘rainy’. That’s true, obviously, and some people dislike our islands

Emma Thompson backs the In campaign: ‘Britain is a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’

David Cameron has been accused of adopting a ‘Project Fear‘ approach as he tries to convince members of the public to remain in the EU. While this tactic has attracted criticism, take heart that the Prime Minister has at least refrained from adopting the Emma Thompson approach of being plain rude. During a press conference for her new film Alone in Berlin, Thompson was asked about the upcoming referendum. At which point the Nanny McPhee actress took a swipe at old Blighty for being a ‘cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’: ‘A tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island.’ As for the right approach to remaining in

Why should we listen to Benedict Cumberbatch on Syrian refugees?

Because I just don’t know what to think about the Syrian refugee crisis — not even after Simon Schama’s powerfully cogent argument on Question Time the other week, where he explained that if you don’t want to house them all in your guest bedroom you’re basically a Nazi — I thought I might pay the scalps a couple of hundred quid or so to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet at the Barbican. Apparently the really exciting bit isn’t anything he does as the Dane but rather Shakespeare’s rarely performed postscript where Hamlet comes back to life in the terrifying form of a preening, hectoring Old Harrovian luvvie to berate the

Amnesty International has pimped itself out

There is no argument fiercer in feminism than the argument about prostitution. Say you want to ban it and the libertarian feminists denounce you as a ‘whorephobe’. Say you want to legalise it, and radical feminists denounce you as the tool of the patriarchy. Inevitably, Amnesty International felt it had to intervene. And, this week, with an equal inevitability, it plumped for the apparently left-wing position of decriminalisation. I say ‘apparently’ because many on the left disagree. My sister paper the Guardian made the telling point that Amnesty’s leftism concealed rich-world prejudices. [Its]suggestion that the trade be decriminalised but not then regulated is particularly far off-beam. Since when did unregulated

Sweeney Plod

The Legend of Barney Thomson is the directorial debut of actor Robert Carlyle, and it’s one of those black comedies about a serial killer in which, as the bodies pile up, plausibility edges closer and closer to the window until it flies out completely. (No. Wait. Come back! I’ll massage your feet!) This wouldn’t, in fact, matter at all if there were something else to hang onto; if the characters were involving, or the story was told with wit, zip and panache, but it just monotonously drones on. The central figure is a barber so I guess you could say this is Sweeney Plod rather than, you know, that other

Blunt and bloody: ENO’s Sweeney Todd reviewed

A wicked deception is sprung in the opening moments of this New York-originated concert staging of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd. The English National Opera orchestra, liberated from the pit, is duly assembled on stage at the London Coliseum; flower arrangements and a Steinway grand add to the formality, and right on cue the conductor and cast, suitably attired in evening wear and with scores in hand, take their places behind a line of music stands. The applause dies and Bryn Terfel turns to the conductor, clears his throat and nods. The whirring ostinato introducing ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ begins — furtively — and Sweeney, of course,