Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were a cinematic match made in heaven. The duo began collaborating on movies in 1939, and worked together off and on for over three decades. Though their films were credited to both as the writers, directors and producers, Powell was more of the director of the two, while Pressburger was the writer. Though their works have been spotlighted by the Criterion collection since they started making laserdiscs, they are the sort of filmmakers that will never be as well known as David Lean or Danny Boyle, but are arguably among the best – if not the best – filmmakers that England ever produced. 1943’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a strong contender for their greatest film. Criterion has just released it on Blu-ray and our review follows after the jump.
It’s not too often you get to interview a living legend, but sitting across from Christopher Plummer in a hotel room in New York City a few weeks ago, I was smiling like a kid on Christmas. That’s because before I understood what a movie was, I had already seen his work, as I grew up watching The Sound of Music with my family every holiday season. And while most eighty year olds might slow down, Plummer has delivered some of his best work these past few years. If you haven’t seen Mike Mills‘ Beginners, Michael Hoffman‘s The Last Station, Terry Gilliam‘s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus or Pixar’s Up (he voices Charles Muntz), I strongly suggest checking them out. I’ll be shocked if Plummer doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar for Beginners.
The reason I got to speak with this great actor is for David Fincher‘s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Plummer plays Henrik Vanger, a wealthy old man who’s been haunted by the disappearance of his beloved niece for the past forty years. As most of you know, Dragon Tattoo is the first in Stieg Larson’s Millennium trilogy and it centers on a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) who’s hired by Vanger to investigate the mysterious disappearance. Rooney Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant young hacker who teams up with Craig. During the interview, Plummer talked about the last few years, acting in films and in the theater, working with Fincher, voicing Charles Muntz in Up, how he almost played Prospero in Michael Powell‘s unrealized adaptation of The Tempest, and a lot more. Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview.
The Brits are best known for Merchant/Ivory-type films – adaptations of classic novels, Shakespeare, class. This is ironic for a number of reasons, perhaps most notably because neither Merchant nor Ivory are British. Though it might be fair to say that a number of the great British directors weren’t sensualists, but even there if you watch the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, there is great passion, and great sensuality. Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus practically drips with under the surface eroticism. Deborah Kerr stars as a nun sent to the Himalayas to start a school, but once there she fights against the environment to stay in control of her fellow nuns and herself. My review of Criterion’s Blu-ray of Black Narcissus after the jump.