Category: miscellaneous

2017 European Film Awards

Last night at the EFA (European Film Academy) awards gala in Berlin, Timecode, by Juanjo Giménez won the prize to best short film . See my film notes on Timecode here.

I’ve not been able to see The Square (Spanish title: La Plaza) yet.

The full list of winners at the 30th EFA awards ceremony is:

EUROPEAN FILM: The Square, dir: Ruben Ostlund

EUROPEAN DISCOVERY – PRIX FIPRESCI: Lady Macbeth, dir: William Oldroyd

EUROPEAN COMEDY: The Square, dir: Ruben Östlund

EUROPEAN ACTRESS: Alexandra Borbely, On Body And Soul

EUROPEAN ACTOR: Claes Bang, The Square

EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY: Communion, dir: Anna Zamecka

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR: Ruben Östlund, The Square

EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER: Ruben Östlund, The Square

EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE: Loving Vincent, dirs: Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman

EUROPEAN SHORT FILM: Timecode, dir: Juanjo Gimenez


EUROPEAN COMPOSER: Evgueni & Sacha Galperine, Loveless



EUROPEAN COSTUME DESIGNER: Katarzyna Lewińska, Spoor

EUROPEAN HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTIST: Leendert van Nimwegen, Brimstone

EUROPEAN SOUND DESIGNER: Oriol Tarragó, A Monster Calls




EFA PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD: Stefan Zweig – Farewell To Europe, dir: Maria Schrader

Source: European Film Academy – THE 30TH EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS – 9 December 2017 – Berlin/Germany


Film Notes: Murder on the Orient Express (2017), directed by Kenneth Branagh

US –MT / 114 min / Color / Kingberg Genre, Mark Gordon Company, Scott Free Dir: Kenneth Branagh Pro: Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon, Simon Kinberg, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Hofflund, Michael Schaefer Scr: Michael Green, based on the novel by Agatha Christie Cin: Haris Zambarloukos Mus: Patrick Doyle Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman Synopsis: What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. (Source: metacritic) Release dates: 3 November 2017 (UK and Ireland); 10 November 2017 (USA); 24 November 2017 (Spain) IMDb Rating: 6.8.

MV5BNGFmM2NmYjYtMjAwNy00ZDkzLWI3ZWMtOGZhOTRhYzQwMTA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzU2MzMyNTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_During this week Begoña and I went to see the remake directed by Kenneth Branagh of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express, based on the homonymous novel by Agatha Christie. One might wonder whether this remake was necessary. I guess Michael Green, the screenwriter, answers to this question when he says: ‘We all had the same goal: we wanted to bring it into the modern world without changing what’s essential to it, without altering its soul, so that a contemporary audience can experience it, believe it and be thrilled by it.’ And this is enough for my taste, being myself a great enthusiast of Agatha Christie’s novels. I honestly believe that the film is well made and, although it’s been a long time since I saw Sidney Lumet’s version, I think this new adaptation stands well on a par with the 1974 film. In my view, Sergio at Tipping my Fedora explains it better than I in his blog here.

Production Notes: Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, with its richly drawn characters confined to a luxurious passenger train, taut scenes and crisp dialogue, has fixated audiences since the novel’s debut in 1934. The Times of London wrote upon its publishing, “The little grey cells solve once more the seemingly insoluble. Mrs. Christie makes an improbable tale very real, and keeps her readers enthralled and guessing to the end.”

Readers have been captivated with the mystery, the crime, the story, and the character of Hercule Poirot for generations. The allure of the Orient Express was magnified by Christie’s work, and travellers continue to flock to discover the illustrious compartments and service to this day. Room 411 in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, where Christie allegedly wrote the novel, also remains a popular destination site. There are societies and clubs the world over dedicated to rediscovering Christie’s mysteries, particularly those featuring Hercule Poirot. Why the endless fascination? “Agatha Christie is expert at bringing depth (with economy) to the observation of characters, making them distinct and colourful, but also believable. I think she enjoys the literary dazzle of that, but in the Orient Express, you also have glamour. You have snow. You have elegance and the golden age of romance in travel. And, of course, you have a murder,” says Kenneth Branagh. This film introduces another generation of moviegoers to an enthralling new interpretation of one of the most beloved mysteries of all time. A “who’s who” of celebrated actors and an acclaimed production team up for the journey. With everything Agatha Christie, it all starts with the story. But to make a film, of course, you then need to get the rights to that story – and for producers Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg, that proved to be a near-five-year-long journey. Initially, both men had enquired about the rights separately but soon decided that teaming up would be the best approach. Gordon and Kinberg subsequently partnered with Ridley Scott. Now it was time to commission a script… As a huge admirer of Agatha Christie and long-time collaborator with producer Ridley Scott, screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) was thrilled when he was asked to bring this fabulous story to the screen. Producer Scott, a Christie fan himself, and an admirer of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express, had leapt at the chance to re-explore the book, seeing it a wonderful opportunity to present the author’s work to a modern-day audience. Green agrees. “They’re incredible stories with characters that you want to see more and more of,” says Green. “And if you’re lucky enough to catch an Agatha Christie book or play at the right age, it’s going to stay with you and remain charming in your memory.”

But even as a Christie fan, one story stands out for Green: “I’m very fortunate that my favourite Agatha Christie is, hands down, Murder on the Orient Express. It not only features Poirot, my favourite character of hers, but it’s a story that has a surprising ending, along with the fascinating people you meet along the way. The setting is grand and everything about it makes it stand apart in my memory as the special one.”

Green met with the Christie estate to discuss the project: “We all had the same goal: we wanted to bring it into the modern world without changing what’s essential to it, without altering its soul, so that a contemporary audience can experience it, believe it and be thrilled by it.” (Source: 20th Century Fox)

About Agatha Christie: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, in the south west of England, to an English mother and an American father. She taught herself to read at five years old, and began writing her own poems from a young age. Her education was a combination of informal tutoring at home (mainly by her parents) and teaching establishments in Paris, where she became an accomplished opera singer and pianist. By the age of 18 she was amusing herself with writing short stories, some of which were published in much revised form in the 1930s.

In 1914 Christie became a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay, and when the hospital opened a dispensary, she accepted an offer to work there and completed the examination of the Society of Apothecaries. This sparked a lifelong interest in the use of poisons, which made a huge contribution to her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The murderer’s use of poison was so well described that Christie received an unprecedented honour for a writer of fiction, a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

She was spurred on to write a detective story following a challenge from her elder sister Madge. As there were Belgian refugees in most parts of the English countryside, Torquay being no exception, Christie thought that a Belgian refugee, perhaps a former great Belgian policeman, would make an excellent detective for her first novel. Hercule Poirot was born.

In 1919, Christie gave birth to her first child with husband Archie, a daughter, Rosalind. This was also the year that publisher John Lane contracted her to produce five more books. She went on to be one of the first authors Penguin ever published in paperback. Following the war Christie continued to write and to travel with Archie, including a Grand Tour of the Empire in 1922 during which she learned to surf in South Africa and Hawaii (in fact she became the first British woman to surf). They divorced in 1928, and Christie then fulfilled one of her lifelong ambitions – to travel on the Orient Express to the Middle East. This and future trips are recognized in books such as Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Murder in Mesopotamia, Appointment with Death and They Came to Baghdad, as well as many short stories.

During a trip to the excavations at Ur in 1930, Christie met archaeologist Max Mallowan – the man who became her second husband, and who was fourteen years her Jr.. Their marriage would last forty-six years. She accompanied Max on his annual archaeological expeditions for nearly 30 years. The excursions did nothing to stem the flow of her writing and her book, Come, Tell Me How You Live, published in 1946, wittily describes her early days on digs in Syria with Max.

By 1930, having written several novels and short stories, she had created a new character to act as detective. Miss Jane Marple was an amalgam of several old ladies she used to meet in villages she visited as a child. When she created Miss Marple, Christie did not expect her to become Poirot’s rival, but with The Murder at the Vicarage, Miss Marple’s first outing, it appeared she had produced another popular and enduring character.

In 1971 Christie achieved one of Britain’s highest honours when she was made a Dame of the British Empire. Her last public appearance was at the opening night of the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot. Her verdict? A good adaptation with the minor point that Poirot’s moustaches weren’t luxurious enough.

About the filmmaker: Kenneth Branagh is an acclaimed actor and director whose work across film, television and theatre is underscored by quality, truth and passion. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards®, making him one of the first actors to receive five nominations in five separate categories (Actor, Supporting Actor, Director, Screenplay, and Short Film).

Branagh has directed 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. In addition to being behind the camera, Branagh will also star as ‘Hercule Poirot’ opposite an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dame Judi Dench. The film is slated to be released in November.

Currently, Branagh is in pre-production on Disney’s adaptation of the best-selling children’s series, Artemis Fowl, which follows a young Irish criminal mastermind on a mission to rescue his father. In March 2015, Branagh directed the live-action Cinderella for Disney. The critically acclaimed film, which starred Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham Carter, grossed over $540 million at the global box office. In May 2011, Branagh directed Marvel’s action adventure, Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. The film grossed over $448 million worldwide.

Branagh’s first venture into filmmaking met instant success. His 1989 production of Henry V, which he starred in and directed, won a score of international awards including Academy Award® nominations for Best Actor and Best Director. His previous directing credits include, Dead Again, Peter’s Friends, Much Ado About Nothing, Swan Song, which received an Academy Award® nomination, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hamlet, which received 4 Academy Award® nominations, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, The Magic Flute and Sleuth.

In addition to his work behind the camera, Branagh is also a gifted and well-respected actor. This year, he starred in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed box office hit, Dunkirk. Branagh portrayed ‘Commander Bolton’, a British officer who seeks to evacuate allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, and France surrounded by the German Army during World War II. In 2011, Branagh starred as ‘Sir Laurence Olivier’ in Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn opposite Michelle Williams. The role earned Branagh an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nomination. His additional acting credits include, A Month in the Country, Othello, The Gingerbread Man, Woody Allen’s Celebrity, Alien Love Triangle, Paul Greengrass’s The Theory of Flight, Wild Wild West, Philip Noyce’s Rabbit Proof Fence, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pirate Radio and Valkyrie.

His work on the small screen includes an Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated performance in the BAFTA award winning series Wallander. He has also starred in Shackleton Conspiracy for which he won an Emmy® for Best Actor and earned a Golden Globe® nomination; Warm Springs in which he played FDR and was nominated for an Emmy®, Golden Globe® and a SAG Award.

In addition to his successful career in film and television, Branagh is a distinguished director and actors on the stage. This fall Branagh directed a new production of Hamlet, starring Tom Hiddleston, as a fund-raising venture for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where Branagh is President. Last year, The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company completed its highly regarded and successful inaugural season of Plays at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End. The productions included The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade, All on Her Own, The Painkiller, Red Velvet, Romeo and Juliet, and The Entertainer. The work earned the company a prestigious Olivier Award.

Branagh’s stage work began when he made his West End acting debut in Another Country, which earned him the Olivier Award for “Most Promising Newcomer.” He founded the Renaissance Theatre Company for whom he either starred in or directed Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Hamlet, Look Back in Anger, Uncle Vanya, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coriolanus and The Life of Napoleon. He also wrote the plays Public Enemy and Tell Me Honestly. Numerous stage appearances include Henry V, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His other theatrical endeavours include directing the hit stage comedy THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE which transferred from London’s West End to Broadway where it received a TONY nomination, and five-star performances on the British stage in Richard III, Mamet’s EdmondIvanov, and the new comedy Painkiller in the opening season at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Branagh’s hometown.

Branagh is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he won the Bancroft Gold Medal. He received the prestigious Michael Balcon Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), for outstanding contribution to cinema. He was also knighted for services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II and will receive the freedom of Belfast from its City Council later this year.

The Hollywood Reporter Film Review

Film Notes: The Bookshop (2017) directed by Isabel Coixet

ES–GB–DE  / 110 min / Color / A Contracorriente Films, Diagonal TV, Zephyr Films, ONE TWO Films, Green Films Dir: Isabel Coixet Pro: Jaume Banacolocha, Joan Bas, Adolfo Blanco, Sol Bondy, Chris Curling, Jamila Wenske Scr: Isabel Coixet based on a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald Cin: Jean-Claude Larrieu Mus: Alfonso de Vilallonga Cast: Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Nighy, Honor Kneafsey, James Lance Synopsis: The Bookshop is a sumptuous cinematic adaptation which celebrates Bibliophilia itself. Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name; The Bookshop is set in 1959, Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a free spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop – the first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. Fighting damp, cold and considerable local apathy she struggles to establish herself but soon her fortunes change for the better. By exposing the narrow minded local townsfolk to the best literature of the day including Nabokov’s scandalising Lolita and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she opens their eyes thereby causing a cultural awakening in a town which has not changed for centuries. Her activities bring her a kindred spirit and ally in the figure of Mr Brundish (Bill Nighy) who is himself sick of the town’s stale atmosphere. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), Hardborough’s vengeful, embittered alpha female who is herself a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene. When Florence refuses to bend to Gamart’s will, they begin a struggle not just for the bookshop but for the very heart and soul of the town. (Source: Celsius entertainment) Release Dates: 21 October 2017 (Valladolid International Film Festival); 10 November 2017 (Spain) (Spanish title: ‎‎La librería) IMDb Rating: 6.5. Isabel Coixet’s screenplay, won the Frankfurt Book Fair prize for Best International Literary Adaptation 2017.

1S_BOOKSHOP_FINALIsabel Coixet commented: The Bookshop is the story of a woman whose light, innocence and perseverance pose a threat to the powers that be in a small town plagued with petty schemes and darkness. This is a film about passion, for books and for life.”

This week Begoña and I had occasion to go and see Isabel Coixet’s latest film The Bookshop. It may not be exempt of some defects, but overall I quite enjoyed this film and I truly believe that it is well worth seeing. Particularly if, like me, you are a book lover.

About the filmmaker: Isabel Coixet is one of the most prolific female film directors of contemporary Spain, having directed seven feature-length films since the beginning of her film career in 1988. Her distinct visual style secure the “multifaceted (she directs, writes, produces and acts)” filmmaker’s status as a “auteur”. Isabel started filming when she was given a 8mm camera on the occasion of her First Communion and made her debut in 1988 as a scriptwriter and director in Demasiado Viejo Para Morir Joven. Foreign Films and English features as Things I Never Told You (1996), the international success My life Without You (2003) or Paris, je t’aime (2006) followed over the years. Her work has been honoured with multiple international awards including 5 Goya awards (best documentary for Escuchando al juez Garzón (2011), best documentary for Invisibles (2007), Best Director & Best Screenplay for The Secret Life of Words (2005) and Best Screenplay for My Life without Me (2003). She was also awarded the Lina Mangiacapre Award at Venice Film Festival for the The Secret Life of Words (2005).

EWA Interviews: Isabel Coixet, director of “The Bookshop”

The Bookshop film review at The Hollywood Reporter

OT: William Morris and Company: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain

Begoña and I visited this week the exhibition William Morris and Company: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain, at the Fundación Juan March exhibition hall in  Castelló 77, Madrid. This exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to explore the many faces of the designer, craftsman, retailer, poet, and social agitator William Morris (1834-1896), as well as those of the main figures in the Arts and Crafts movement. This new generation of architects, designers, artists and craftsmen, shared a passionate concern for the harmful effects of industrialization on society, working conditions and traditional British crafts.

Additional details can be found here.

Entry is free and will be open until 21 January 2018; Monday to Saturday and public holidays: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sundays: 10:00 am – 14:00 pm. The exhibition will be closed on 24, 25 and 31 December, and on 1 and 6 January.

For those who, like me, have a limited knowledge on the figure of William Morris further details are available at Wikipedia here,


James Ellroy, Pepe Carvalho Award 2018

1200px-JamesEllroyI forgot to report that last Friday James Ellroy was awarded the Pepe Carvalho Prize 2018, by a jury made up of Carlos Zanón, Antoni Iturbe, Andreu Martín, Rosa Mora, Daniel Vázquez Sallés, Sergio Vila-Sanjuán and Paco Camarasa.

The jury has considered that ‘James Ellroy, for decades and one novel after the other, reinvents and expands the edges of crime fiction towards historical, social and stylistic grounds that are both personal and ambitious. Ellroy is talent, obsession, craft, work and passion. Choral thrillers, sophisticated machinery, as well as torrential, fighting between boxers of dry and accurate blows, exploring the USA imaginary, our sins and the sins of our parents, the violent rubbish of political and economic power: palaces, alleys and sewers.’ (My free translation)

The list of previous winners include: Dennis Lehane (2017), Donna Leon (2016), Alicia Giménez Bartlett (2015), Andrea Camilleri (2014), Maj Sjöwall (2013) , Petros Mártires (2012), Andreu Martín (2011), Ian Rankin (2010), Michael Connelly (2009), PD James (2008), Henning Mankell (2007) and Francisco González Ledesma (2006).

The award ceremony will be held on 1 February in the context of the Crime Fiction Festival BCNegra, which will take place in Barcelona between 29 January and 4 February.

Source: elPeriódico.