Showing posts with label Freddie Highmore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freddie Highmore. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Starz Gains U.S. Rights to WWII-Era Drama, "Close to the Enemy"

Starz to Co-Produce Writer/Director Stephen Poliakoff’s “Close to the Enemy” Original Miniseries

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starz today announced it has secured, via a deal with international distributor all3media International, the exclusive U.S. premium rights to, and will co-produce the six-episode original miniseries “Close to the Enemy,” written and directed by the multi-award winning Stephen Poliakoff (STARZ Original miniseries, "Dancing on the Edge," Glorious 39, The Lost Prince) with Helen Flint (Longford, The Take, Galavant), Hilary Bevan Jones (Roald Dahl's Esio Trot, The Escape Artist) and Colin Callender (Wolf Hall) serving as Executive Producers. “Close To the Enemy” is a Little Island production produced in association with Endor Productions and Playground Entertainment and distributed by all3media International. “Close to the Enemy” is expected to premiere on BBC Two in the UK and STARZ in the U.S. in 2016.

    “We are excited to team up with Little Island, Endor Productions, Playground Entertainment, all3media International and Stephen Poliakoff again as he brings this post-World War II thriller to life in a way our viewers will find extremely compelling”

“We are excited to team up with Little Island, Endor Productions, Playground Entertainment, all3media International and Stephen Poliakoff again as he brings this post-World War II thriller to life in a way our viewers will find extremely compelling,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz.

Stephen Driscoll, SVP Sales, all3media International commented, “We are delighted to announce another significant collaboration with Starz who will release ‘Close to the Enemy’ to their U.S. subscribers in 2016. Stephen Poliakoff and this wonderful cast of actors are creating a thrilling mini-series that will enthrall audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. We look forward to announcing further international deals in the very near future.”

Polly Hill, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, also added, “It is wonderful to welcome Starz and Playground on board. The combination of such talented producers with first-rate track records will ensure audiences from around the globe can enjoy Poliakoff's truly original and compelling new drama series.”

Jim Sturgess (One Day) heads an all-star cast including Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders), Phoebe Fox (Woman in Black 2), August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds), Robert Glenister (Hustle), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall), with Lindsay Duncan (Birdman), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), and Alfred Molina (Love is Strange).

Set in a bomb-damaged London hotel during the aftermath of World War II, “Close to the Enemy” is a thriller that follows British intelligence officer Captain Callum Ferguson (Sturgess), whose last task for the Army is to ensure that a captured German scientist, Dieter (Diehl), hands over secret cutting-edge military technology crucial to national security. Callum employs unorthodox methods in his attempt to convince Dieter to work for the British, developing a friendship with him, which is soon threatened as the German’s involvement in the Nazi war machine may be more than it initially seems.

In the tradition of Stephen Poliakoff’s other work, Callum encounters a number of other characters whose stories all intertwine. These characters include Victor (Highmore), Callum’s younger brother, struggling to deal with psychological trauma caused by his experiences on the frontlines; Harold (Molina), a Foreign Office official who reveals some startling truths about the outbreak of the war; Rachel (Riley), an enchanting Anglophile American engaged to his best friend; Eva (Bassett), a confident American jazz singer who breathes life into the old hotel with her music; and Kathy (Fox), a tough, young woman working for the War Crimes Unit, fighting to bring war criminals who escaped prosecution to justice. All of these characters are trying to rebuild and move forward with their lives in the aftermath of a war that scarred them all so deeply.

Starz acquired U.S. network pay TV and SVOD rights from all3media international who will distribute the series worldwide.

About Starz
Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) is a leading integrated global media and entertainment company with operating units that provide premium subscription video programming on domestic U.S. pay television channels (Starz Networks), global content distribution (Starz Distribution) and animated television and movie production (Starz Animation),

Starz Networks is a leading provider of premium subscription video programming through the flagship STARZ® and ENCORE® pay TV networks which showcase premium original programming and movies to U.S. multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, and telecommunications companies. As of June 30, 2015, STARZ and ENCORE serve a combined 56.8 million subscribers, including 23.5 million at STARZ, and 33.3 million at ENCORE, making them the largest pair of premium flagship channels in the U.S. STARZ® and ENCORE®, along with Starz Networks’ third network MOVIEPLEX®, air more than 1,000 movies monthly across 17 linear networks, complemented by On Demand and authenticated online offerings through STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY. Starz Distribution develops, produces and acquires entertainment content, distributing it to consumers globally on DVD, digital formats and traditional television. Starz Distribution’s home video, digital media and worldwide distribution business units distribute original programming content produced by Starz, as well as entertainment content for itself and third parties. Starz Animation produces animated TV and movie content for studios, networks, distributors and audiences worldwide.

About Playground
Playground was founded in 2012 by Callender, and is committed to producing high quality drama for the screen and the stage bringing together the finest US and UK talent from the worlds of theatre, film, and television. Callender won his first Emmy for the television adaptation of the RSC’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and, as president of HBO Films, was responsible for an unprecedented award-winning slate of movies and mini-series. Playground recently received 8 Emmy nominations for its coproduction with Company Pictures, the six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Jonathan Pryce for BBC and Masterpiece. It also partnered with Charlie Pattinson’s New Pictures on The Missing the eight part thriller for the BBC and Starz. Playground recently wrapped production on the television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser starring Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Starz.

About all3media International
all3media International distributes popular, award-winning TV programmes to over 1,000 broadcasters and media platforms around the world.

The company has been celebrated for producing, marketing and distributing quality, ground-breaking and pioneering shows to global audiences – consistently topping the Broadcast and Televisual annual Indies Surveys and we have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of our growth – twice.

Our catalogue contains over 7,000 hours of content across all genres, with a focus on drama, comedy, factual, entertainment and formats. As well as Britain’s top-selling series Midsomer Murders, our lead dramas include The Missing, Indian Summers, Foyle’s War, Skins, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Hinterland. Factual, entertainment and format bestsellers include Gogglebox, Undercover Boss, The Gadget Show, The Cube, The Only Way is Essex and The Million Second Quiz.

As part of the UK’s leading multi-label studio we partner with UK and international producers – including our own studios – in developing, financing and delivering content and formats.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: Johnny Depp Puts His Foot in "Finding Neverland" (Happy B'day, Johnny Depp)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 249 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Finding Neverland (2004)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
DIRECTOR: Marc Forster
WRITER: David Magee (based upon the play The Man Who was Peter Pan by Allan Knee)
PRODUCERS: Nellie Bellflower and Richard N. Gladstein
EDITOR: Matt Chesse
Academy Award winner

DRAMA with elements of fantasy

Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud, Luke Spill, Ian Hart, and Kelly Macdonald

Finding Neverland is set in London in 1904 and follows dramatist Sir James Matthew (J.M.) Barrie’s (Johnny Depp) creative process and journey in writing the stage drama that would bring Peter Pan, one of the most beloved creations of children’s stories, to life. Barrie’s inspiration begins when he meets a widow, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), and her four young sons: Jack (Joe Prospero), George (Nick), Michael (Luke Spill), and Peter (Freddie Highmore), the one to whom Barrie feels closest. Barrie becomes an intimate friend of Sylvia and the boys, so he visits them often and plays games with the boys.

However, his relationship with the Davies starts ugly rumors in London, according to Barrie’s friend, Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Ian Hart). Barrie’s wife, Mary (Radha Mitchell), is a bit envious of James’ relationship with the Davies, and Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. Emma du Maurier (Julie Christie), thinks Barrie’s relationship with Sylvia is keeping her daughter from getting a new husband. Barrie, of course, remains close with the Davies, even as Sylvia becomes gravely ill. Her sons, who’ve already lost their father, are worried, especially Peter who still feels that his parents lied to him when his father was dying. Still, they all soldier on until Peter Pan premieres at the Duke of York Theatre and changes all their lives.

Although the film and the screenplay’s source (a play by Allan Knee) play loose with history (Sylvia’s husband Arthur was alive and well when Peter Pan premiered and the couple had five sons, although the fifth was born around the time of the play’s premiere), Finding Neverland is a spectacular reinvention of J.M. Barrie’s journey in creating Peter Pan. Both the Peter Pan stage play and subsequent novel are rife with issues of death, eternal youth, boyhood, and the loss of loved ones. Finding Neverland tackles those themes without blinking, yet the film isn’t morbid or peculiar. Director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Magee have the characters navigate their way through the difficult times in life with brave faces.

I’m amazed by the fact that this film avoids easy answers when it comes to dealing with the loss of loved ones and also by the fact that Forster doesn’t turn his story by turning on the water works. Finding Neverland is never sentimental or overly emotional, although that can be a bit of a problem; at times, this film’s mood is too stiff, cold, and formal. Forster, who made the searing 2001 drama Monster’s Ball, makes this film too severe for most of the first half. Early on, Finding Neverland seems to lumber, and this makes the actors come across an amateurs delivering dry, wooden dialogue. Forster’s picture really doesn’t come together until late in the second act.

For all Forster’s trouble with narrative rhythm in this film, he does allow his entire cast to come into their own. Every actor gives a fine performance and contributes something meaningful to the story’s outcome. Johnny Depp’s performance has gotten most of the attention since this film debuted. He shines in his scenes with Julie Christie as Barrie’s wife and with Freddie Highmore as Peter Llewelyn Davies, but his finest moments are the times he quietly and subtly tells the tale of Barrie’s imagination. His eyes are like windows into Barrie’s interior worlds.

When Forster and Magee bring to life Barrie’s imagination for either the characters or the audience to experience, Depp’s face takes on that look of wonder that has captivated audiences in Depp’s collaborations with director Tim Burton, such as Ed Wood or Sleepy Hollow. However, having grown as an actor, Depp makes Barrie a man who still remembers and understands the fears, mysteries, and wonders of childhood without making his Barrie a stereotype such as the childlike man, the man child, or the man with a sense of “childlike wonder.” Depp’s performance carries this movie and makes the essence of Neverland real in Finding Neverland.

7 of 10

2005 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Original Score” (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek); 6 nominations: “Best Picture” (Richard N. Gladstein and Nellie Bellflower), “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Johnny Depp), “Best Adapted Screenplay” (David Magee), “Best Art Direction” (Gemma Jackson-art director and Trisha Edwards-set decorator), “Best Costume Design” (Alexandra Byrne), and “Best Film Editing” (Matt Chesse)

2005 BAFTA Awards: 11 nominations: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film” (Music Jan A.P. Kaczmarek), “Best Cinematography” (Roberto Schaefer), “Best Costume Design’ (Alexandra Byrne), “Best Film” (Richard N. Gladstein and Nellie Bellflower), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Christine Blundell), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Johnny Depp), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Kate Winslet), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Julie Christie), “Best Production Design” (Gemma Jackson), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (David Magee), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Marc Forster)

2005 Golden Globes: 5 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Marc Forster), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Johnny Depp), and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (David Magee)


Friday, March 5, 2010

Review: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Has Big Wow Factor

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 114 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
OPENING DATE: July 15, 2005
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – PG for quirky situations, action and mild language
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
WRITER: John August
PRODUCERS: Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C./A.S.C.
EDITOR: Chris Lebenzon, A.C.E.
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle and Annasophia Robb, James Fox and Julia Winter, with Deep Roy and Christopher Lee, Adam Godley and Jordan Fry, Franziska Troegner and Philip Wiegratz, Blair Dunlop, Liz Smith, Eileen Essell, David Morris, Oscar James, and Danny Elfman (vocals)

Author Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was first translated to the screen in 1971 and entitled, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now, Tim Burton, one of the most vividly imaginative directors of the last two decades, brings the book to the screen again in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie is the most vividly imaginative movie since the Japanese animated film, Spirited Away. If not for a clunky ending, this would be the best film of this calendar year, but as it stands it still is the most beautiful and inventive film of the year to date. Be warned though, this is tasty, but dark, bitter chocolate and might offend lovers of the sweetly, sentimental chocolate of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Charlie Bucket is a poor boy who lives in a rickety, ultra-rundown home with his mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and father (Noah Taylor) and both pairs of grandparents. Charlie is a good-hearted boy, and every night he goes to bed dreaming about what might be inside the great factory he can see outside his window. The factory belongs to the legendary candy maker and chocolatier, Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp). Once upon a time, Charlie’s Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) worked at the Wonka factory; that was before Wonka closed the factory after his employees started selling his candy making secrets to his dastardly rivals. Now, the factory is running again, and Wonka makes a fabulous announcement one day. He will open his factory and reveal all its secrets and magic to five lucky children who find golden tickets hidden inside five randomly selected Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight bars. Charlie finds the final golden ticket and takes Grandpa Joe with him. They meet the highly unconventional Wonka and discover untold wonder inside the bowels of the factory building. Charlie’s generosity, however, will take him a long way with the irregular and quirky Wonka, and he may be the child who wins the biggest prize of all.

To see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the big screen makes one realize the incredible amount of work these filmmakers put into getting this film right. I can’t help but appreciate the effort they went through to make a great fantasy film that would appeal to children as well as adults. Forty live squirrels were trained to create an intricate scene. One man played the Oompa Loompas, the workers who run Wonka’s factory – Deep Roy. He did countless retakes to create the separate routines of the individual Oompas with “motion capture animation” doing the rest of the work in bring the diminutive humans to life. Just those two instances alone make me thankful for what I got in this film.

Production Designer Alex McDowell (Fight Club and Minority Report) combined digital technologies with traditional design and created a magical world that previously could only come alive in the mind of a children’s book illustrator. Simultaneously futuristic and classic fantasy, recalling films as diverse as The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz, McDowell creates an interior world for Wonka’s factory that is as mind-bending as The Matrix and is as dreamlike as The Wizard of Oz. Director of Photography and Oscar winner, Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through It), continually captures incredible flights of the imagination in cinema. Incredibly, he tops his work from earlier this year, Constantine, with Charlie by making the real, the unreal, and the hyper-real seem so tangible and true.

Johnny Depp gives a daring performance that is so weird it could have been a disaster; in fact, the first time he fully appears on screen, his powdery pallor makes him look like Michael Jackson. Dressed in the costumes of Academy Award winner Gabriella Pescucci (The Age of Innocence), Depp is the most dashing weirdo and creep, and he leads both the children in the film and the ones in the audience through a world that is as outlandish and bizarre as he. Depp, however, is the master of creating quirky leading men among the actors of his generation, and he creates another character that begs to be seen.

The rest of the cast is also good, but Freddie Highmore, who co-starred alongside Depp in Finding Neverland, is a born child movie star. When this flick’s other juvenile stars are onscreen, it’s obvious they are stealing time from Freddie’s Charlie. That is one of the few mistakes that screenwriter John August and Burton make. Charlie seems to have to wait too far in the background for too long while the rest of the children are happily dispatched from the tale. Sometimes it seems as if this film is more Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and less Charlie.

Still Burton has made by far his best film since 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, and this phantasmagorical movie reaffirms our faith his ability to create visionaries fables set in storybook worlds. However, Burton’s worlds are darkly mysterious fantasies instead of the brightly, sunny, commercial pap that passes for much of children’s entertainment now. While Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may go way over children’s heads, Tim Burton’s dazzling visions are truly meant for film lovers, and Charlie is a treat for the family audience and a gift for the rest of us who appreciate this god among directors.

8 of 10

2006 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Gabriella Pescucci)

2006 BAFTA Awards: 4 nominations: “Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects” (Nick Davis, Jon Thum, Chas Jarrett, and Joss Williams), “Best Costume Design” (Gabriella Pescucci), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Peter Owen and Ivana Primorac), and “Best Production Design” (Alex McDowell)

2006 Golden Globes: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Johnny Depp)