Posts Tagged ‘Ken Russell’

Thespobits: Natasha Richardson and Ron Silver

March 19, 2009

natasha-richardsonNatasha Richardson has been entered into posterity’s log-book as Vanessa Redgrave‘s daughter and Liam Neeson‘s wife. But before becoming domesticated, she carved out an intriguing career for herself that has more than its fair share of things for cultists to get excited about. She essayed Mary Shelley in Ken Russell‘s Gothic, the title roles in Paul Schrader‘s Patty Hearst and Volker Schlondorff‘s The Handmaid’s Tale, and again for Schrader in his head-scratching adaptation of Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers. Richardson brought to the parts a beauty and an enigma that was all her own. Hollywood wasn’ for her, but motherhood apparently was. She leaves behind a grieving husband and two sons. Richardson was 45.

ron-silverWe don’t remember if he turned out to be the killer or not, but Ron Silver‘s performance in Kathryn Bigelow‘s Blue Steel is both sexual and filled with coiled menace. Reading his obituaries, it came as a surprise that he first got his start playing a neighbor in Rhoda. Silver was a smart guy–he got a Masters in Chinese History, and he applied that intelligence to the roles he played, whether it was Alan Dershowitz in Barbet Schroeder‘s Reversal of Fortuneor back-room boy Bruno Gianelli in The West Wing. He also had a considerable passion for whatever cause he supported. Silver is remembered on The Huffington Post by Ben Stiller and Alec Baldwin, among others. He was 62.

Special Delivery: The GPO Film Unit on DVD

March 10, 2009

Ken Russell reviews a DVD box set of works by the GPO Film Unit in today’s Times. The director appears to be a remarkably sober writer for someone who made Ann-Margret wallow in a tub of baked beans and asked Vanessa Redgrave to do unspeakable things with a crucifix. Well, almost unspeakable.

In writing about We Live in Two Worlds, he makes the case that the GPO united a truly unique cast of characters: among them were pioneering animators Len Lye and Norman McLaren, surrealists Humphrey Jennings and Alberto Cavalcanti, the poet W. H. Auden, composer Benjamin Britten, and the zealot John Grierson, who coined the term “documentary” in a review of Robert Flaherty‘s Moana. At work during the Depression producing the images by which modern England would define itself, they collectively cry out for a contemporary British filmmaker to give them the Laissez-passer treatment.