Saturday, September 29, 2007

All Systems Go!

The San Diego Union Tribune's Anne Marie Walsh has written two articles, the first giving some quotage from Ms Harris herself.

On the play as a whole:

[...] It's a wonderful role and there's something about the message – although I don't like that word. There's a philosophy that this book and the play revealed to me, and if people can take that away, I think they will be enriched. [...]

On its lessons about life:

[...] We all take life a little bit for granted when really it's like Oscar says: 'Life isn't a gift; it's a loan.' That's such a wonderful idea. Because none of us know how much time we have left. The decades whiz by. [...]

Also see the article for a detailed description of Ms Harris' theatrical career.

The second relates more to the play, to which it just about gives a thumbs up overall, although the few negative elements are attributed to Schmitt's writing rather than Harris' acting. Walsh mentions the latter's 'cheerful energy' and praises her for being 'game enough to give the script her best shot'.

She also gives us a pretty comprehensive run-through of the story. On the Oscar in the title:

[...] Oscar is the 10-year-old protagonist... a bald leukemia patient who's “quite a handful” as Harris put it. ... He's dying, he knows. But his parents are too heartbroken to speak the truth to him. ...

Though he doesn't believe in God, Oscar agrees to Granny Pink's plan that he should write to God, describing each day of the next 12 as if it were one decade of his life. Schmitt allows Oscar the fantasy of growing up – courtship, a wife, a midlife crisis, old age. [...]
On how this relates to the staged play:

[...] The Pink Lady (aka Granny Pink) is an elderly volunteer at a children's hospital. ... Colorful decals of dinosaurs and elephants march about the white walls and furniture, but do nothing to disguise the fact that this is a place where children suffer and some will die. ... Oscar's experiences are filtered through the voice of Harris' Pink Lady; she recalls and conjures the boy by reading and enacting the letters he wrote to God. [...]

From an acting point of view, this one-woman play seems to require a whole range of abilities; Walsh describes how Harris has to read Oscar's letters using 'multiple voices' and describes how she 'morphs into the little girl Oscar loves' and also becomes 'the doctor with the thick eyebrows'.

She goes on to surmise:

[...] Harris has a great deal of fun acting out Oscar's accounts of Granny Pink's tales of being a championship wrestler, The Incredible Midget. She pumps her fists and does big knee-bends before sending imaginary opponents to the mat. [...]

According to her description of Ms Harris' childhood however, this is not a new concept:

The young Rosemary loved adopting other personas to fool even family members; once, she did dress as a wrestler “in a bathing suit and leggings.”

Last but not least, there are also mentions of the talents of Ms Ehle, the cast of Utopia and working in such an ensemble:

The qualities that have made her one of the most respected actors in the English-speaking theater – a combination of personal radiance, professionalism and versatility – define her accomplished 36-year-old daughter as well. ... Speaking at the Radio City Music Hall's [Tony] ceremony, she shone with affection for the Lincoln Center ensemble of 44 ... that had spent nine months rehearsing and unveiling Tom Stoppard's trilogy...

Harris, who spent happy periods during her long career in such repertory companies, echoed her daughter's sentiments last week. “You become a team player. You become a family when you work on several different plays together like that in a company. In movies and television, that bonding never happens.”
The Los Angeles Times' Patrick Pacheco gives an equally comprehensive account of the play and Ms Harris' career, including more quotage.

On a pre-first preview nightmare:

"I had an anxiety dream the other night. ... I was in the middle of a performance and then all the characters in the play suddenly began coming out from the wings, handing me pieces of paper. And I said to them, 'Sorry, but I don't think you belong here. You know, this isn't helpful.' But they kept coming nonetheless."She laughs and then adds, "Ah, well, if I do forget lines, I just hope people will think, well, it's just some old lady. . . ." [...]

On the play:

I think audiences will find it quite funny, surprisingly so. And I hope they come away with more of an appreciation for living. I know I have just by learning it. This young boy lays it on the line in a very simple and direct manner."

Director Frank Dunlop on Ms Harris:

"Rosemary is not afraid to go too far and risk failure. She has an astonishing ability to be on the knife edge all the time," Dunlop says. "Within seconds, she can move an audience from laughter to tears. She can morph from a senior citizen to a 10-year-old boy. And although it's very serious subject matter -- a kid with inoperable cancer -- Rosemary makes this show about optimism rather than pessimism, about the joys of life rather than its sorrows, without ever dipping into sentimentality."

Again on the 'life' issue that relates to the play:

Life is a gift," she says softly. "As this play says, at first you think it belongs to you, that you'll have life everlasting. Then you think it stinks. It's too short and you almost want to throw it away. Then you realize maybe life isn't a gift after all -- it's just a loan. And you have to earn it in some way, you have to be worthy of deserving it."Harris pauses for a while and then adds with a laugh, "I love that line in the play, 'Any old moron can enjoy life when he's 10 or 20. But when you're a hundred, when you can't move anymore, you need to use your intelligence.' "
  • Regarding Ms Ehle, there are finally some semi-official words confirming casting of her newest project, The Russell Girl. As The Hollywood Reporter report:
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Jennifer Ehle, Tim DeKay and Henry Czerny have been cast opposite Amber Tamblyn in "The Russell Girl," a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS that is entering production in Toronto.

The movie centers on Sarah Russell (Tamblyn), a 23-year-old aspiring medical school student who makes a rare visit to her small hometown to share some important news with her family but instead finds herself attempting to confront her past.

Mastrantonio and DeKay will play her parents, while Ehle and Czerny will play a couple who live across the street from her family.

The article also mentions that an airdate has yet to be decided upon. Playbill also announces the casting but adds no new information.
  • Variety's Eddie Cockrell meanwhile reviews Before the Rains. He is brief and seemingly more laudatory than not:

Largely predictable pic is tastefully designed, superbly photographed, competently acted and almost completely lacking in passion or tension ... the tech package is so clean and crisp, it actually detracts from supposedly raw emotions of the affair.

Last but not least, Contentions' Robert Peach shares a video interview with Mr Jack O'Brien. Essential viewing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

JSC honours Sivan

[...] "I really can't tell which honour I enjoy more - to be praised for my direction or cinematography," said Sivan. "But they're screening two of my most contrasting works as a cinematographer, Mani Ratnam's 'Dil Se' and my own directorial venture 'Navarasa' with Japanese subtitles. Can you believe it?" [...]

Well yes, actually! Indiainteracts also considers if the ovation Sivan received in Toronto for Before the Rains was indicative of the West accepting more of a 'new kind of Bollywood, removed from the song-and-dance tradition'. Sivan however seems to question that image in the first place, saying:

[...] The so-called Bollywood formula has never been the sole trademark for Indian cinema. ... My two films at Toronto were not only very different from the Bollywood formula but also different from each other and also in different languages, English and Kannada. Foreign audiences don't equate Hindi formula films with Indian cinema. [...]
  • On a more theatrical note, tomorrow night is opening night for Rosemary Harris and Oscar and the Pink Lady! Good luck to everyone, especially to the solitary Granny Pink! The play is showing at the Cassius Carter Centre Stage at The Old Globe in San Diego. See Playbill or the above official link for brief info regarding the storyline or the design team. If anyone is planning to go, we would love to hear from you!
  • Also, a reminder that the Lincoln Center version of The Coast of Utopia is being released by Amazon on October 10, for the pretty generous price of $10.20! Here are the nice (albeit brief) things they have to say about it:

Tom Stoppard’s magnificent trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, was the most keenly awaited and successful drama of 2007. Now “Stoppard’s crowning achievement” (David Cote, Time Out New York) has been collected in one volume, with an introduction by the author, and includes the definitive text used during Lincoln Center’s recent celebrated run.

Celebrated indeed. You can pre-order now. Go on, you can afford that many roubles! Here's why: if you were not able to see it, this is probably the closest you can get, and if you were, you spent considerably more than $10 on your ticket/s! One hopes it carries a 'May Cause Nostalgia' warning. And you thought you had just got over it.

  • In Stoppardian news, Caryn James of the New York Times briefly discusses Stoppard Goes Electric, while BroadwayWorld provides some nice Utopia-esque historical background to Rock 'n' Roll in their discussion of the band The Plastic People of the Universe, who - if you happen to be in the vicinity - are performing at 9.30pm tomorrow night (27th) at the Public Theater in NYC. I wonder - nice hearingness or not very nice hearingness?!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lizzy the cross-country runner

  • YahooTV now does list Ms Ehle among the cast of The Russell Girl and lists this brief synopsis:
A woman returns to her small home town to deal with the news that she has leukemia. Once home, she literally comes face-to-face with a unresolved trauma from her past in the form of her old neighbor. Together the two women must finally confront each other and face the tragedy from years ago in order to forge a healthy future.
  • David Hinkley of the New York Daily News considers Jane Austen's appeal in the twenty-first century, praising the ability of her 'chaste' and 'proper' characters to "make Dora the Explorer look like Paris Hilton." Pride and Prejudice's Andrew Davies meanwhile emphasises the physical aspect of Austen:
These are stories about young men and women at a very crucial time in their lives, when they're boiling over with hormones ...[Elizabeth Bennet] runs everywhere... And I think that running everywhere in Jane Austen is a key for being highly sexed, not having enough to do with your body.

Hinkley also mentions that more than one Pride and Prejudice musical is in the works. Slightly worrying thought indeed!

  • If you are in the vicinity of NYC, Playbill announces that Tom Stoppard will be taking part in a Times Talks event on October 26. The talk is entitled Can Art Change the World? and is coinciding with Rock 'n' Roll which is on its way to Broadway. The event is taking place at TheTimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street, Friday 26 October at 6pm. Go to for tickets. Variety lists the play as one of four 'tentpoles' that it thinks will hold up Broadway's 'tent' this season. Lastly on the subject of Sir Tom, Variety's Sam Thielman reviews the three-in-one show Stoppard Goes Electric, the opening of which was so packed "that the house crew had to bring in extra folding chairs." This fact prompted Mr Thielman to advise 'genius Mad Tom' that if he "has written something that he doesn't want staged - a loan application, a grocery list - he should set fire to it, and soon." Sound advice.

  • BroadwayWorld announces that casting for Cymbeline at Lincoln Center is now complete. The project is involving three ex-Utopians - Martha Plimpton, Brian MacDevitt and Adam Dannheisser. Previews begin November 1 at the Vivian Beaumont theater.

  • Mr Crudup meanwhile will be taking part in 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, a benefit performance to be held on October 22 at the American Airlines Theater. See for fascinating details of the mammoth schedule. It sounds unbelievably daunting, although Utopia marathons were surely apt preparations!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy 80th Birthday Rosemary Harris!!!

  • First and foremost, a very happy birthday to the legendary Rosemary Harris who is four scores old today! Ms Harris, we hope you have a wonderful day and wish you our sincerest felicitations! As they might have said in The Coast of Utopia, s dniom razhdjenia!

  • In other news, fancy becoming the next Santosh Sivan by taking an internship with his contemporaries? DNA India gives details of a one-minute film festival being held later in the year, for which entrants send in - you've guessed it - a one-minute film. The winner and runners-up will get the opportunity to work with the 'Bollywood biggies' as a result of this festival which the Before the Rains director himself has a link to:
Here is an opportunity where a miniscule one minute video recording ... can actually earn you an opportunity to work with the likes of Anurag Kashyap, Onir, Hansal Mehta, Pawan Kaul, Ramu Ramanathan and Nishikant Kamat. ... [The portal] also has Sudhir Mishra and Santosh Sivan on its members’ list.

It seems this is a nice, open-to-all competition aiming to discover some hidden talent out there:

The main purpose of the festival is to connect with budding film-makers, ask them to pick up a camera and tell a story. The main criteria to judge a film would be the subject and its final impact on the audience,” says film director Anurag Kashyap.

The icing on the cake is that you don't even need to own a camera:

The festival also makes an attempt to ensure maximum reach among the film enthusiasts, simply because you can shoot your one-minute film on almost anything, right from a cell phone to a digital camera.

The festival will be held from December 1 to December 5, 2007. Visit for full details. In the meantime, get filming!

  • Something else which may be of interest to budding filmmakers is It is a sparse but wonderfully tranquil website presumably either run by Mr Sivan or someone interested in his work.

  • eBay meanwhile has a Utopia soundtrack CD signed by the man himself, Mr Mark Bennett, and vocalist Utopians Felicity LaFortune and David Pittu, if you scandalously never purchased one.

  • Last but not least, Deborah Solomon's interview with Ethan Hawke for the New York Times casually reveals the Utopian's great-uncle was none other than Tennessee Williams! Starpulse meanwhile mentions that Mr Josh Hamilton is among those being directed by Mr Hawke in Things We Want. It is interesting how many ex-Utopians have either deliberately or inadvertently paired off into other projects!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Russell Girl!! Squee!!

Lookie everyone! According to IMDB, Jennifer Ehle is currently filming a new TV movie called The Russell Girl in Toronto, Canada!! IMDB lists Paul Wesley as the only other member of the cast, but according to AceShowbiz:
[Amber Tamblyn] has signed on to star in CBS' upcoming season of "The Russell Girl." The actress and poet is said to have been billed to play a small-town girl who attempts to escape her past by moving to Chicago. She then heading back home and is forced to deal with the tragedy she left behind. Working on the project are Jill Blotevogel who's in hand writing the script, Jeff Bleckner who will give hand to direct, and Brent Shields who will serve as executive producer. Shooting of "The Russell Girl" is set to take place in Toronto beginning on September 4th. It reportedly will air as the second presentation (in February) of the Hallmark Hall of Fame's 57th season. [...]
Variety, Movieweb, Yahoo!TV, and ActressArchives also report that Amber Tamblyn is starring in the movie, though none of them mention Jennifer Ehle. But does!
Blink once, blink twice — downtown Stouffville turned into a small town in Illinois earlier this week for the filming of the TV movie The Russell Girl... Also starring and working in Stouffville were Jennifer Ehle (Possession and Paradise Road) as Lorraine Morrissey, and Canadian actors Henry Czerny (CSI, The Pank Panther and Mission Impossible) as Howard Morrisey, and Max Morrow (Monk and The Brady Bunch in the White House) as Rick Morrissey. Ben Lewis plays Jon Morrissey. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Tim DeKay play Gayle and Phil Russell, the parents of Sarah Russell. Paul Wesley (Law and Order and CSI) plays Evan, Amber’s boyfriend. [...]

According to ACTRAToronto, The Russell Girl will be filming until October 4.

Exciting news, no?!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Powerful, restrained and a delight to watch

First things first - pictures! At getty images you can see four photos of Jennifer Ehle at the TIFF Portrait Session for Before the Rains. (Search for "Jennifer Ehle")

And now on to some reviews:
  • Screen Daily has published a positive review of the film (even if they did repeatedly refer to it as Beyond the Rains. Jeesh.) Here is what they have to say about Jennifer Ehle specifically:
    [...] Linus Roache astutely conveys the blithe charm and moral weakness of his character whilst an underemployed Jennifer Ehle is allowed a few precious moments to assert the decency and concerns of a woman who might otherwise be confined to the roles of loyal wife and mother. [...]
    She still has a knack for turning small roles into something special!
  • Alikhan of The Original Concept recorded his thoughts about the movie, giving it 4.5/5 stars. Here is an excerpt of his review:
    [...] It is a moving film - with powerful performances by the entire cast - and truly a “diamond in the rough”. Roache, as a faulted man - plays his role with honesty and a sense of sensitivity. Bose, as quoted before, is truly the heart of the enterprise - he carries the show on his able shoulders. Das -as the Maid Sajani - once again outdoes herself. Jennifer Ehle is powerful, restrained and a delight to watch on the screen.
    While it is tough to rank this film amongst the others at the Film Festival - it is a powerful film on moral base that deserves a very bright future, whether it be film that lands on Indian Soil, or stays within the Western world. [...]
  • Jen at's TIFF blog thought the film was "pretty good" and was surprised to discover that Jennifer Ehle is not British:
    [...] I went to Before the Rain, which was pretty good, though not a knockout. Set in India in the '30s, it follows a maid who's having an affair with an Englishman, but he tosses her aside once his wife returns from Britain, with drastic results. The strangest part of it was during the Q&A afterwards, when Jennifer Ehle started talking and I realized she's not actually British. Hell, it was just weird seeing her without a corset. [...]
  • Finally, at News Post India, there is an article about Indian cinema at TIFF. Here is the bit about Before the Rains:
    [...] Rahul Bose is representing Sivan's English-language film 'Before The Rains', about a British planter in colonial India who wants to build a road to the hills to commercially tap the spices grown there. He is equally delighted by the response to the Indian film in general and his film in particular. 'Santosh and I got a standing ovation after the first screening of 'Before The Rains'. This was the first time that I was watching the film. And I must say I seldom feel so happy about my films and especially my performance. Fortunately, the feeling is shared here in Toronto,' said Rahul. Writing about Rahul's performance, Canadian
    critic Cameron Bailey said, 'Rahul is the heart of the film'.Commenting on the appreciation that his film is receiving, Sivan said: 'Actually I'm here in Toronto with two films. 'Before The Rains' and also my AIDS film 'Prarambha', which is part of a four-film bouquet. All the four AIDS films have been very well received. As for 'Before The Rains', Rahul, Nandita Das and I are enjoying the attention.' [...]

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Rains" and "Glory"

Before the Rains has two press screenings scheduled for today, so hopefully a lot of reviews & co will follow. In the meantime, here are a couple of things to tide you over:
  • Now Toronto (thanks for the tip, Tez!) has a mixed to positive review of the film:
    An affair between a married English plantation owner (Roache) and a married servant girl (Das) in colonial India highlights the sharp contrasts between the two cultures in this vivid historical drama. When the relationship is revealed, with startling and unexpected consequences for everyone involved, it is the Englishman’s right-hand man and confidante, TK (Rahul Bose), who finds himself most at odds with both his Indian heritage and his new colonial customs. While the story feels at once heartfelt and somewhat passionless, the film is beautifully shot, and in the end it’s the face of TK, a man trapped in a country at a crossroads, that stays with you.
  • Andrew saw Before the Rains on Friday night and posted about it on his blog. *Spoiler alert: he discloses a crucial detail about the plot*
    Needless to say we actually got in to see the movie Before the Rains. There were a lot of Indian women behind us who were super-pumped about being there, so I think the director and some of the actors are a pretty big deal over in India. It turns out that it was the world premiere for the film. The director, producers, and actors were all there. In fact, for some of the actors, it was the first time they had even seen the film. The movie was actually pretty enjoyable--maybe due in large part to the strange feeling of being one of the first people to see it. It was certainly more captivating than most mainstream Hollywood movies that hit major theaters. It was really strange watching the movie, then afterwards seeing the actors up on stage talking about it. ("Hey, didn't we just see that lady shoot herself?"). Apparently the Indian actress Nandita Das (third from the left in my photo) is pretty famous in India. But more importantly, as you all are obviously thinking, is the blonde woman to her left (or on the right side of the poster). That's right. That would be Elizabeth Bennet from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice movie (the one with Colin Firth). The girls I was with were pretty excited about that. Obviously I could have cared less--mostly because I didn't realize this until after they pointed it out to me after we left, at which time I wished I could have gone back to see for myself.
    Read more of Andrew's post to hear about his experience standing in line for rush tickets. Funny story!

At Box Office Mojo, there is a long interview with actor Jon Voight, who talks about Jennifer Ehle's other upcoming film, Pride and Glory.

Box Office Mojo: Are there directors with whom you want to work?

Jon Voight: I'd love to do another Michael Mann movie—I did Ali and Heat—but I'm very fortunate to have worked with the directors I have. I've done a movie we haven't talked about called Pride and Glory with Edward Norton and Colin Farrell and a wonderful ensemble of New York actors and actresses. I haven't seen it but I've heard it's terrific and I sense that it's going to be very gritty, complex and powerful. It's the story of a family of policemen—I don't want to give it away—and the temptation for corruption that exists in police work. It has a classic feel to it—like a family structure story, like Death of a Salesman. There's a tragic aspect and a pretty deep theme. I have very high hopes for it.

Box Office Mojo: Did you enjoy working with Pride and Glory writer and director Gavin O'Connor?

Jon Voight: I did. He was wonderful. He's a very good writer. He directed Miracle. This is darker and more personal and I think it's going to be very strong.

Box Office Mojo: How do you regard Edward Norton as an actor?

Jon Voight: He's extraordinary—a very, very fine actor. I enjoyed working with Colin Farrell too. They're both very bright and very intense. There's a certain kind of acting and energy that I haven't been part of in a while—because they don't make those kinds of films anymore, almost like a Seventies film yet it has a classic structure.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Before the Rains

Before the Rains had its first public screening last night, and it will be shown again on Sunday afternoon.

Director Santosh Sivan discusses the movie at
Meanwhile, Sivan says his film Before The Rains 'explores the turmoil of a man who is torn between two worlds and the choice he makes to gain his own freedom and embrace his true identity.' In perhaps his most challenging role, Rahul Bose [Images] plays a worker in rural Kerala whose life begins to take a dramatic change when he gets to know that the married Englishman is having an affair with a servant. Sivan says characters in the films are 'more grey' than black and white.

As for the lecherous Englishman (Linus Roache), who seduces a tribal woman (Nandita Das), Sivan says: 'I wanted the Englishman to be someone you could understand. Like Bill Clinton [Images].' The grey area in the film, Sivan told Screen International, comes when one of the workers (Bose), who belongs to the same community as Nandita's character, wants to be like an Englishman. 'He has the mentality of an Indian but also wants to be an Englishman!'

Sivan is keeping his fingers crossed, though. Six years ago, he was on the way to Toronto to premiere his second directorial venture, Asoka. But 9/11 spoiled everything. The print didn't reach the festival on time; so press interviews featuring Sivan and Shah Rukh Khan [Images], who had also produced the film apart from playing the lead, were cancelled.

He says just like Asoka, a period film that conveyed the importance of non-violence to the contemporary world, Before The Rains -- which is set in the 1930s -- should connect with our times. 'Just as the darker themes of the story continue to resonate today, I feel that the theme of hope will resonate most strongly with audiences,' he says. explains that the "Hunt for Oscar Contenders" is underway at TIFF and Before the Rains might be an underdog:
The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off Thursday at a time when few, if any, Oscar contenders have emerged so far. Festival director Noah Cowan estimated that this year's lineup contains about 40 movies with Oscar potential, as well as 10 likely candidates for U.S. acquisition and another 10 prestige titles likely to find international buyers.
Underdogs generating buzz include Weingartner's German-language drama "Reclaim Your Brain," Santosh Sivan's culture-clash drama "Before the Rains," Nick Broomfield's Iraq War drama "Battle for Haditha" and McCarthy's "Visitor." The opening-night film, Canadian filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa's Holocaust drama "Fugitive Pieces," has been screening for U.S. buyers since midsummer. [...] reports that Before the Rains will be shown at the 12th Annual Pusan International Film Festival, which will begin on October 4 in South Korea.

Eye Weekly has the first review of the film that I've been able to find, but unfortunately it's not very kind:

It's an old rule: guns, once produced, must be used. So after the first scene of the Kerala-set period piece Before the Rains, when British planter Henry (Linus Roache) presents his village liaison T.K. (Rahul Bose) with a brand new pistol, it's pretty obvious what's going to happen – the only question is to whom. Director Santosh Sivan aims for clammy melodrama – the Psycho car-in-the-swamp kind, where our sympathies become aligned with unsympathetic actions – but the story and its carefully italicized implications are too pat to be properly unnerving. AN
But, Toronto Film Reporter Mohit liked the movie, referring to it as a "great flick" on his blog.

In case you're interested, Variety has published a favorable review of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Rosemary Harris' latest film.

The Firth Sisters have announced the final tally for the Colin Firth Oxfam Birthday Tribute. The grand total was a whopping $7,145.00!! Very impressive! If they can do it, so can we - don't forget to participate in our BC/EFA fundraiser, Every Kopeck Counts.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


The Toronto International Film Festival began its festivities yesterday, and Before the Rains will have it its first public screening on Friday evening!! Here is a super cool poster that Tez got from one of the writers of the film. It has gorgeous colors and a lovely picture of Ms Ehle methinks!

TIFFReviews seems to be a fairly comprehensive site, and hopefully they will post reviews of the movie once it has debuted. They have also compiled a list of links to trailers for 143 of the films showing in Toronto, but Before the Rains is unfortunately not among them. There is, however, a link to a trailer for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Go to Brightcove to watch it and catch two fleeting glimpses of Rosemary Harris. And look for Utopians Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne. Warning: the trailer gives away a lot of the plot!

In his "preview" of Before the Rains, Tom Hall of the Back Row Manifesto dubs the movie "colonial noir":
The issue of imperialism is one of the "big themes" that will be on display this autumn; From the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to films like Micheleange Quay's story of Hatian race consciousness Eat, For This Is My Body (more on this film in a couple of days), the cultural collisions and power relations between the haves and have-nots has always been an inspiration for film artists. Santosh Sivan's Before The Rains, which is having its World Premiere at Toronto, catches the eye for a single sentence in the festival's catalogue;

" A sweeping film full of striking vistas, Before the Rains has the look of a fine period epic, but as it binds its characters tighter and tighter within their dilemmas, it reveals the gears of a good film noir."

A colonial noir? The film that comes to mind immediately is Betrand Tavernier's Coup de Torchon and if Sivan's film comes close to matching the tone of that great classic, I will be thrilled. Obviously, I think Before The Rains promises something much different (particularly the perspectives of his Indian characters in the colonial moment), but as things stand in the world around us, a colonial noir sounds note perfect and a terrific antidote to some of the more literal-minded approaches to the stories of domination in our own times. [...]
He also mentions Jennifer Ehle specifically:
[...] I also have loved Jennifer Ehle since I saw her on Broadway in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing; She is a magical actress, but I have yet to see a film that truly captures her abilities. I was lucky enough to have spent a day at Lincoln Center this past spring, and I saw Ehle again in Stoppard's three-play The Coast Of Utopia marathon and again, she was tremendous. If anyone can capture her prowess, maybe Sivan is the man to do it. Looking forward to this one. [...]
Sameer of BlogTo has provided a list of recommended movies to see at TIFF and Before the Rains has made the cut. (Its poster even made it to the top of the page.) Here is what Sameer has to say about the film:
Before the Rains - One of the most gorgeously shot films in years, Santosh Sivan's newest movie feature some fantastic acting by Nandita Das and Rahul Bose.
BlogTo will be covering the Festival, so we will be keeping a close eye on them for news.

The Indian Express has a nice article about director/cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who talks about his experience making the film:
[...] If not exactly a leap into the unknown, Before the Rains is a testimony to the spirit of adventure that drives Sivan. The basic idea came from the producers. The director decided to set the narrative in Kerala for “it suited adaptation to an Indian context.”

He explains, “Before the Rains is a film that incorporates something I relate to. As a boy I wondered by whom and when those treacherous roads in Kerala’s spice hills were constructed. The film explores the elements that went into the weaving of a road through nature, into the skies.”

That’s par for the course for a filmmaker who revels in blending the universal with the personal and who once dared to stake his all on a megastar-driven vehicle like Asoka, a visually lush but ill-fated epic. “The producers would obviously like to take Before the Rains to the world market,” he says.

“It was great working with talent from different parts of the world,” says Sivan. “A mix of languages were spoken during the shoot. For me, it was especially rewarding to have Malayalam actor Thilakan in a guest role. This was the first time I directed him after shooting him as a cinematographer for Perumthachan (1990).”

The shoot was a breeze. He says, “Rahul (Bose) and Nandita (Das) are at home with foreign productions and sync sound. Since the film is about relationships it was good to have a close-knit atmosphere.” Sivan reveals that Bose plays a character who straddles two worlds—the world of a colonial planter and that of his own. “The film is a study of the turmoil he goes through,” he adds. [...]
There is further quotage from Sivan at TIFF's South Facing Blog:
"My attempts to capture light are based on my experiences with weather the rain, sun, snow and clouds. In Kerala where I grew up monsoons made heavy rains a part of our life. Besides, there was always a presence of water -- Rain, ponds, sea water or the backwaters. My fascination for water in a very indirect way helped me hone my eye for colour and light in visuals and cinematography. [...]
Lastly, Playbill has one more photo of Jennifer Ehle at the opening of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Midsummers and movies and mums, oh my!

First off, lets all give a huge round of applause for Tez!!!! Thank you for everything, T!!!!

A cute photo of Jennifer Ehle in her full park attire at the opening of A Midsummer Night's Dream can be found at New York Magazine. I dig the red sneakers! The same photo can be seen at New York Social Diary (minus the annoying scissors border). There is one more photo of the Utopian trio at Theater Mania and a couple at getty images (search for "Jennifer Ehle"). New York Magazine also has an opening night photo of Martha Plimpton and a quote of her heroic attempt to speak in iambic pentameter offstage: “Methinks you ask a question very bold / I do not know if I have e'er been told a thing such as this / And I can't believe I'm letting you record me / Speaking in this way / Which is so embarrassing.” No pressure there!

At the Toronto International Film Festival site, the screening schedule for Before the Rains has been posted along with a description of the film: (Warning: it includes a few spoilers)
In the south of India in 1937, an Englishman could have his way with the land, the workers and sometimes with the woman of his choosing. Such power could shatter lives, even when exercised by the mildest of men. Acclaimed director and cinematographer Santosh Sivan explores this shock of collision between the forces of will and desire in colonial India.

Henry Moores (Linus Roache) has big plans to establish a spice plantation in Kerala. But his plans require a new road to be cleared through the vast hills, and the money and manpower to do it. To secure the trust of the local villagers, he depends on his right-hand man, T.K. (Rahul Bose). To satisfy his baser needs, he depends on his lover – and house servant – Sajani. Played with fire and intelligence by Nandita Das, Sajani is an irresistible, quicksilver beauty. Their sojourn to collect honey in the forest turns into a charged erotic encounter, but they are witnessed by two local boys – and Sajani has a husband back in her village. How long will it be before her betrayal becomes known?

The risk escalates when Henry’s wife and son arrive from England. Domestic demands rein him in, but Sajani will not be cast aside so easily. Threatened with death in her own village, she presses T.K. for help and Henry for refuge. Henry cannot reveal his infidelity, so he does what any man in his position might have resorted to at the time. Can his power and privilege still protect him?

A sweeping film full of striking vistas, Before the Rains has the look of a fine period epic, but as it binds its characters tighter and tighter within their dilemmas, it reveals the gears of a good film noir. Having made his reputation in Priest, Roache once again excels as a respectable man capable of catastrophic acts. Bose, however, as the local subaltern, is the heart of the film: here is the Indian man navigating all the harsh choices that came with colonization.
It seems that Before the Rains has been acquired by a new production company. According to Newswire, "Producer Robert Lantos, founder and former Chairman/CEO of Alliance Communications Inc., today announced his return to international and domestic film distribution with the formation of two new companies, Maximum Films International and Maximum Film Distribution...Maximum Film International will acquire, promote and sell independent films from around the world for theatrical release." Before the Rains is among the films on its initial slate. Interestingly enough, Robert Lantos was also the producer of Sunshine.

If anyone is planning to go to TIFF, you might want to check out this TIFF Talk blog. Richard seems to know his way around the festival and might be a good source of information.

There is exciting news for those of you on the US West Coast: Rosemary Harris will be starring in Oscar and the Pink Lady at the Old Globe in San Diego, CA from September 22 through November 4. According to Playbill, Oscar and the Pink Lady is a poignant one-woman play that "tells the story of a young hospital patient and his uplifting relationship with a kindly volunteer 'Pink Lady,' whose daily visits provide him with inspiration and hope." The Old Globe calls it "sensitive, heartbreaking, amusing, and ultimately life-affirming." Read more about the production at Theater Mania, BroadwayWorld, or and visit the Old Globe website to order tickets online. (Remember that Utopia director Jack O'Brien has been the artistic director of the Old Globe since 1981.)

Speaking of Rosemary Harris, the Hollywood Reporter has a long article about her new film Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which will make its world premiere at the Deauville Film Festival on September 7 before it heads to the TIFF. (See the TIFF site for the screening schedule and IMDB for international release dates.)

Also, the Spider-Man 3 DVD is now available for pre-order at

The Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual Broadway Flea Market has been scheduled to take place on September 23 in Shubert Alley (NYC). This is one of Broadway Cares most popular events. In addition to the possibility of finding a rare Utopian treasure, you might get the chance to see Amy Irving, who will be among the celebrity booth participants. Check out the official press release at All That Chat to see a list of all the participants. For those of us who cannot attend, we do have the option of participating online through FLEABAY during the month of September. The BC/EFA assures us that the FLEABAY auction will feature "at least 100 items that are typical of our true Broadway Flea Market finds. From authentic costumes to unique opening night gifts, from scripts to rare posters, many items featured are the only ones we have received."

Finally, some loosely related linkage: