Thursday, December 1, 2016


Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
  With Casey Affleck the hot favourite to win both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his role as a troubled janitor in Manchester by the Sea his publicity machine is working overtime to counter old  sexual harassment allegations which are threatening  to upset his awards campaign.
  Affleck has been the leading contender since January’s Sundance Film Festival but scrutiny is growing over two settled claims of inappropriate behavior and unwanted advances on the set of his 2010 directorial effort, I’m Still Here.
  The Wrap reports that some media outlets have asked why so little attention has been paid to them, noting that Affleck has received friendly profiles, but that Nate Parker’s Oscar chances for “Birth of a Nation” were badly wounded by heavy coverage of a rape case in which he was acquitted in 2001. No one is saying the cases are identical: Parker’s was criminal, while Affleck’s was civil. And Parker’s accuser took her own life, years after he was found not guilty.

 In one case filed against Affleck he was accused of calling women “cows,” and producer Amanda White claimed that he constantly discussed his “sexual exploits” during filming and that at one point he directed another crew member to show her his penis, despite her objections. She also alleged that Affleck once attempted to get her to stay in a hotel room with him, and when she said no, he “grabbed her in a hostile manner in an effort to intimidate her into complying.” 
  In the other,  cinematographer Magdelena Gorka said Affleck joked that she should have sex with a camera assistant, and that she once woke up to find Affleck in bed with her wearing a T-shirt and underwear, stroking her back, his berath reeking of alcohol. The actor vehemently denied all of the accusations and counter-sued. 
 A representative for Affleck, 41, who separated from his wife earlier this year, declined to comment on the matter, except to say that the cases were settled to the satisfaction of both parties and the lawsuits were dismissed.
 Affleck’s performance in Manchester by the Sea has been almost universally admired, and represents a leading man return for him since his Oscar-nominated performance in 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
  Several stories pondered whether the disparity in treatment of Affleck and Parker is a matter of race: a fevered obsession over the latter’s rape case immediately overshadowed press surrounding the release of Birth of a Nation.
 Affleck, meanwhile, was honored at the Telluride Film Festival
and the honors keep coming.

Monday, November 21, 2016


with Nicole in Beverly Hills

  During the past year Nicole Kidman tells me, she has had what she describes as "a massive amount of work," both as an actress and a producer.

  But the one thing she wanted more than anything was to accept the offer to star in the Broadway production of the award-winning play Photograph 51 which was such a success for her in London's West End.
   She played Rosalind Franklin, the often overlooked x-ray crystallographer who discovered the double helix structure of DNA while working at King's College London.
Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51 in London's West End
   "It's a great play and a great role and I would have had an amazing time," she says ruefully. "But we had a family meeting and my kids said 'No.' They didn't want to go to New York for four months, and I get it. I'm not a single girl and not a childless woman and I need to bow down to that."
   She has two daughters, Sunday Rose, 8 and five-year-old Faith, with  musician Keith Urban, her husband of ten years.  
   Nicole is her usual friendly self although when we talk at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills about her new movie Lion she is in the middle of a particularly hectic schedule and has taken a brief break from filming Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled, a remake of the 1970 film that starred Clint Eastwood.
     "I was shooting in Louisiana, got on a plane and went straight home to Nashville so I was able to take my kids to school, spend the morning with Keith and then got on another plane to come here to Los Angeles to fulfill my obligation to Lion and then I go straight back to Louisiana again," she says, showing no sign of fatigue or jet lag. 
   In Lion she portrays real-life Australian Susan Brierley who, with her   
husband adopted two Indian boys and raised them in  Hobart, Tasmania.
Nicole Kidman in Lion

    The film is based on the book A Long Way Home by one of the boys, Saroo Brierley (played by Dev Patel) who was adopted after being found on the streets of Calcutta when he was five years old and, 25 years later, with the help of Google Earth, set out to find his real mother in an Indian village, the name of which he could not recall.     

    "When I read the script I didn't know it was a true story and I was still so moved," the 49-year-old actress tells me." I just wanted to be in it.  I hadn’t played an Australian woman like this so it was my way of connecting back to my country. And I loved the message of unconditional love."

    Nicole, who adopted two children with her then-husband Tom Cruise, adds:  "The movie is a love letter to my children who are adopted and it's not about anything other than 'I wanted you  and whatever your journey is, I'm here to love and support you.' That's what I connected to. I wanted to make the film for them.

 "When you are an adoptive mother, of course you think about the birth mother and the birth parents and what it all means and how our lives are intertwined in some way, whether the child chooses to find the birth parents or not. "

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Cotillard and Pitt in Allied
  I would have totally understood if Marion Cotillard had not wanted to talk about Brad Pitt, her co-star in the World War 11 movie Allied.
  After all, she was named by gossips and Internet trolls as being the "other woman" in the breakup of Pitt and Angelina Jolie's marriage, something she and her longtime boyfriend Guillaume Canet strenuously denied.

  But on the contrary, instead of remaining silent she positively gushes with praise and admiration for the actor who plays her lover and then husband in the movie.      

  "An amazing partner who is such an amazing actor," she tells me   when we talk at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. "I was very impressed by his determination and commitment and he's such a good man besides being an amazing actor and he's proved it many times. He's such an open-minded person---kind, down-to-earth and very generous.
With Cotillard in Beverly Hills

   "I've seen almost all his movies and he's so different each time and I've always been really impressed by his work."

  Cotillard, 41, is heavily pregnant with her second child by Canet, the actor and director whom she has been with since 2007. They have a five-year-old son Marcel and their second child is due in the New Year.
  In the World War 11-set Allied she and Pitt have a particularly steamy sex scene in the front seat of a car about which she says: "We rehearsed and created the choreography so we felt comfortable and then you can let it go and be free to act when it comes to actually shooting. We knew exactly what we had to do which made it easier."

 She plays a French resistance fighter who encounters Pitt's intelligence officer in 1942 North Africa where both are on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. They fall in love and are reunited In London, where they marry but find their relationship threatened by suspicion and the pressures of the war.

   Produced by British filmmaker and fellow Chelsea supporter Graham King, Allied was shot  mainly in London, which suited Cotillard just fine.

  "I've been spending a lot of time in London lately and I simply love it," she says. "I've always loved England and the culture of acting and making movies is very strong. It's also close to home  which is something that really counts when you have a family." Then she adds with a laugh: "And I really love the British accent."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


  Who would have thought back in 2000 that Donald Trump would become president of the United States?
Well, the Simpsons did. 
  Trump appeared in an episode called Bart To The Future 16 years ago and was later referenced in another clip called Trumptastic Voyage. 
The iconic cartoon's creator, Matt Groening, said: 'Trump was of course the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time, and that’s still true. It’s beyond satire.' 
Dan Greaney, a writer for the Simpsons also told the Hollywood Reporter that the clip had a dark message behind it. 
He said: 'It was a warning to America. That just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. 
'It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane.’

FOOTNOTE; A $5 bet on the treble of Leicester City winning the Premier League, Britain voting for Brexit and Trump becoming president would have earned a cool $15 million!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


  The Mel Gibson who has emerged from the shadows after a series of scandals forced him into a ten year seclusion is more relaxed, more mellow and certainly more at ease than he was in previous interviews. 
   Gibson, 60, is heading for professional redemption with Hacksaw Ridge, a brutally violent but highly effective combat saga about a man of peace caught up in the inferno of World War 11. It is the first movie he has directed since the bloody and sadistic Apocalypto ten years ago and, as it stands a good chance of awards nominations later this year, it is likely to be the film that marks his re-entry into the heart of the Hollywood film industry. 
   When we met at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills Gibson had a bushy white beard which he continually stroked and twisted.  
    "I can’t wait to cut it off," he says, "but I'm making a film over in Ireland with Sean Penn (The Professor and the Madman) and we have to be in the 1800s. So we are going to look like the 1800s version of ZZ Top." 
   Gibson's problems began when he launched an anti-Semitic sexist rant after being arrested for drunken driving on Pacific Coast Highway in 2006. Then things went from bad to worse:     He was excoriated for the graphic violence in films such as The Passion Of The Christ and Apocalypto and criticised for fathering a daughter by a girlfriend 14 years his junior with whom he began an affair while still married to his wife of nearly 30 years.

  Then, worst of all, were the astonishing, rage-filled audio clips in which he was heard ranting and using racist and misogynist slurs at his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his youngest child, and threatening to murder her. Analysts who heard the leaked telephone conversations said they suggested he had a temperament of emotional violence.

  He later described his outbursts as "the worst moment" of his life saying that what he did "wasn't meant to be public."

  After the outcry that followed he retreated to his church---a devout member of a traditionalist Catholic group, he has built his own church in Malibu where the services are all in Latin. He spent time praying, went to therapy twice a week and attended counselling sessions. 

   "I worked on myself and I feel great," he says now. "And I am glad to be back and I am fortunate. I feel pretty cooled out and stuff doesn’t matter the way it used to. So I feel good and healthy, I have done the work and I feel pretty fit."

  He is romantically involved with equestrian vaulter Rosalind Ross, 34 years his junior, who is pregnant with their first---and Gibson's ninth---child. 

    "Regarding age and relationships, it’s just a number," he says. "We dig each other."