Tag Archive: the prestige


The entertainment industry is an incredibly fickle one; one bad movie can see you go from the top of your game to the discard pile as quick as a flash. So it takes incredible determination, talent and motivation to continue on acting for so many years. 65 is usually the age of retirement over here in Britain but here are a few actors who show no signs of slowing down as they get older, just continuing to get better with age.

Robert De Niro – Born: August 17, 1943 – 69 years old.

This man really does need very little introduction. He’s been acting since the 1960’s but really made his name in the 70s with performances in The Godfather trilogy and of course his iconic performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s become associated largely with gangster films but in the last decade or two he’s been slightly less picky with his roles and has taken fun roles rather than the intense ones he used to, as witnessed in Stardust and Meet the Parents. Five releases are slated for this year with more coming in 2014.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Born: 31st December, 1943 – 69 years old.

It’s actually unbelievable that Sir Ben Kingsley was once in English soap opera Coronation Street. Kingsley is often forgotten by mainstream audiences but he is clearly one of the best actors that England have ever produced. He won an Oscar for his role in Ghandi and continues to show his versatility with recent roles in Hugo, Shutter Island and Sexy Beast. Kingsley can now be seen playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Sir Ian McKellen – Born: 25th May, 1939 – 73 years old.

McKellen is a true thespian. It took until the late 80s/early 90s really until McKellen became a certified film star and his career continues to thrive; really, since the turn of the century McKellen has become an actor that all different types of audiences want to see. He has shown off his talents in two iconic roles in particular, Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (a role he has reprised for The Hobbit trilogy), while at the same time continuing to do short films and television work as well.

Jack Nicholson – Born: 22nd April, 1937 – 75 years old.

What is there left to say about Jack Nicholson that hasn’t been said before? He is undoubtedly one of the best actors that has ever worked. That’s just a simple fact of life. He’s been acting since the 1950s and although he is taking longer breaks between work at the minute that doesn’t mean he is getting any worse. Over the years Nicholson has won three (THREE!) Oscars for his work and turned out great performances in the likes of The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman and The Departed. That’s a career well spent.

Morgan Freeman – Born: 1st June, 1937 – 75 years old.

He’s probably the only man in the world that people could just listen to every single day and never get bored. Has Morgan Freeman really ever been young? A lot of Freeman’s work up until the 90s was largely television work but what a decade the 90s became for him: Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en saw Freeman in quite an incredible rise to fame. One that continues thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Robert Redford – Born: 18th August, 1936 – 76 years old.

Redford has slowed down in recent years but he is not only an acclaimed actor but also has been nominated for Oscars for his directing as well (and won). This is a man who starred in some of the most famous films of all time: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s made something of a return to acting in the last couple of years with The Company You Keep (2012), All is Lost (2013) and he is set to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Sir Michael Caine – Born: 14th March, 1933 – 80 years old.

This year, the great actor turned eighty years old. Unbelievable considering the energy and the emotion that he still brings to all of his characters. Michael Caine has a filmography to rival anybody, he really has reached the top of his game and been there for decades as well now! The Italian Job, Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and of course more recently he has become a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige and Inception. A true legend of the acting world.

Christopher Plummer – Born: 13th December, 1929 – 83 years old.

Remember The Sound of Music? One of the most iconic films of all time? Released in 1965? Well Christopher Plummer was in that. And his career is one that seems to have really got better with age and has, in fact, flourished since the beginning of the 21st century. He has recently had roles in A Beautiful Mind, Nicholas Nickleby, National Treasure, Syriana, Up, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and finally won an Oscar in 2012 for his role in Beginners.

These actors are true legends of their profession.

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‘Now You See Me’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013

Stars: Louis Leterrier (director), Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher

Plot: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

It’s a heist movie where the bank robbers are magicians and the detective is played by the Hulk, what more could you want? Now You See Me is obviously going to be compared to The Prestige upon its release and already is being compared on the internet which makes sense, The Prestige was also about magicians and is easily one of my favourite films of all time.

You can’t deny that Now You See Me has a very ‘prestigy’ feel to it; what with the teleporting device, the magicians, the woman trapped in a tank of water and the appearance of Michael Caine but there is enough here to justify that it is a very different type of film. It looks, to me, that Now You See Me is a lot lighter than The Prestige, as it would have to be to gain the box office it must be expecting with a summer release date and a cast full of stars.

I’m already looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trailer very much and Now You See Me looks like a fun film, that fun best summed up by Dave Franco’s half a second of trailer time in which he manages to fit in the trademark Franco smile. Eisenberg’s scene in which he escapes the handcuffs and gets them on to Ruffalo’s character is quick but incredible and it’s good to see they made the EVER so sensible choice of having Morgan Freeman do the voice over for the trailer. Bring on summer 2013!

Bale as a fictional hero on the big screen.

Christian Bale’s acting talents have brought him praise after praise for a number of films including The Fighter, The Prestige and 3:10 to Yuma but in terms of his public image Bale is sometimes dealt a raw deal. In fact, you never really hear much about Bale off screen but one infamous news story took place back in 2008 whilst Bale was filming the largely unsuccessful Terminator Salvation. You may remember that a video was released onto the internet of Bale having an incredible rant at the director of photography after he walked into Bale’s line of sight during a take. This incident was reported all over the world on main news channels and made Christian Bale look like a petulant little brat. When he later apologised for his actions this was kept away from most of the news. Therefore, it is common when people think of Christian Bale nowadays to associate him with this incident and strike him down almost instantly as not a nice person. However, I aim to change that with these news stories that didn’t quite do the rounds as much as the ‘rant’ but should have and should be brought to the forefront of people’s minds to show just what a fantastic character and heart warming person Christian Bale is.

Christian Bale is known for taking his acting very very seriously and has shown it time and again by slimming down radically, to the point of looking really ill, to pull off roles accurately (The Fighter, The Machinist). But Bale seems to have taken the role of Batman to heart and is carrying out all his duties to make people see what a real hero he is. Earlier this year upon the release of The Dark Knight Rises there was a tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. 12 people were killed with a further 58 reportedly injured. These victims were just waiting to see a midnight screening of the third and final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Just a few days later Christian Bale was in Aurora visiting the survivors of the attack. Bale spent a few hours at the hospital where he spoke to victims, doctors and police officers who were among the first to respond to the shooting. These people wanted to see Batman and Christian Bale made sure that they did.

Bale meets Aurora shooting victim.

And now Bale has been at it again, making a young child’s wish come true. Five year old boy Jayden Barber was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer back in 2010 and it was his dream to meet Batman. A Facebook campaign was started by Jayden’s family to try and get Christian Bale to visit his young fan and sure enough, Bale was more than happy to oblige. Christian Bale flew Jayden and his family out to Los Angeles to meet him and he had dinner with the family too. This isn’t something that Bale needed to do but he obviously takes his job seriously and playing Batman he will have become something of a real life hero and a role model and this is a wonderful thing of him to do: making a young boy’s wish come true. And there was more good news for Jayden and his family as they recently found out that the cancer was in remission.

Christian Bale makes a young boy’s wish come true.

Christian Bale isn’t the only big screen hero to have done this recently though as Ron Perlman, famous for playing Hellboy has done the same recently this year. Perlman donned full make-up and costume to visit leukaemia sufferer, six year old Zachary . When asked for what he wished for most Zachary said that he wanted to meet Hellboy and don the make-up himself. Sure enough, Perlman and Spectral Motion made this boy’s wish come true.

Ron Perlman becomes Hellyboy to make a young boy’s wish become reality.

Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius. I love him as a director and a storyteller; every single one of his films, be it Memento, Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy are wonderful masterpieces of cinema and The Prestige is no different. Released in 2006, The Prestige is based on the 1995 novel of the same name written by Christopher Priest, the novel was adapted into a screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.

The Prestige is a very complicated telling of a very complex professional and personal rivalry of two magicians. As young aspiring magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) were friends and colleagues until a trick went wrong and Angier’s wife was killed. Angier blamed Borden for this as he suspects Borden tied an unbreakable knot around his wife’s wrists before a drowning trick. This leads to a rivalry that becomes an obsession for the both of them; each man obsesses with what the other man is doing and how he is doing it, both men sabotaging each other’s tricks in attempts to discredit or even murder their opponents. It is a deadly rivalry revolving around the greatest trick of all time: Borden’s Transported Man.

Jackman and Bale lead the cast brilliantly. Bale is somewhat of an enigma to me where his acting skills are concerned, despite always putting in a solid performance I often feel as if he has more to give and that he is holding something back but as we move forward through The Prestige it becomes clear that Bale is giving his best. Scarlett Johansson is the lead female playing the beautiful assistant to Angier, then Borden, Olivia Wenscombe who becomes both a pawn and a player within their games. I think that Olivia is an example of Nolan not really knowing entirely what to do with female characters as she seems to lack the motivation the two male leads are given and she often comes across as just a lovesick blonde. The remaining supporting cast consists of Michael Caine, Andy Serkis and David Bowie who perform very well as you would expect (maybe not of Bowie but he proves he has a talent for this).

Alfred Borden and Robert Angier are wonderful characters. They are both completely believable and Nolan does a great job of blurring the lines of morality between the two; neither are wholly good or wholly bad and I believe that the audience can choose which side to take (perhaps only after sitting through multiple viewings though). The Prestige is told in a non-linear fashion and shoots back and forth between the present day and the past as the characters attempt to discover each other’s secrets through reading their diaries. The plots then come together and once they do the film really draws to a perfect finale. The final act, or ‘the prestige’, of Nolan’s phenomenal film has more twists than a bag of pretzels, each one being more significant than the last.

The rewatchability factor of The Prestige is right up there. Watching over and over again you see more and more clues that give away the ending which you don’t see the first time round because “you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled”. The whole film is layered in foreshadowing, clue after clue to what the ending is working towards but if you don’t know then you won’t see it coming, you won’t work it out no matter how much you let your mind run wild yet it is so simple.

The Prestige may get forgotten about among Nolan’s works next to the originality of Memento and Inception and the hype around The Dark Knight but seriously, this is a perfect example of a story being told to the best it can be. Nolan proves himself to be a true magician behind the camera with this film carved into his very own magic trick: the Pledge, the Turn and finally, the hardest part of all, the Prestige.

My Rating: 10/10

The Best Actresses Under 30

There seems to be a real buzz around a lot of young actresses in Hollywood at the minute and I think that this is a good thing because I think really talented actresses have been hard to come by over the last decade or so. Here are, in my opinion, the most talented actresses working today under the age of 30.

 

8. Dakota Fanning

At only 18 years old Dakota Fanning has been acting for as long as she has been alive pretty much and for years has been talked about as a great young prospect in Hollywood. Having appeared in films such as Man On Fire, War of the Worlds, Push, Coraline and the Twilight series it is easy to see why.

 

7. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson is probably the biggest name on this list. Having really burst onto the scene in 2003 with Lost In Translation she has gone on to appear in a number of high profile films such as The Prestige, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Iron Man 2 and the third highest grossing film of all time The Avengers.

 

6. Anna Kendrick

Kendrick’s schedule is pretty packed right now with a huge number of projects in the pipeline for this year and the next despite a slow start to her acting career. She has appeared alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in comedy drama 50/50 and alongside George Clooney in the 2009 Oscar nominated Up in the Air.

 

5. Emma Watson

Everyone on the planet can recognise Emma Watson although she is probably best known as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter franchise. She is moving away from that image with something completely different later this year in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and next year’s The Bling Ring.

 

4. Chloe Moretz

At only 15 years old Chloe Moretz is sure to be a star of Hollywood for many years to come. She achieved unanimous praise for her role as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass and went on to appear in (500) Days of Summer, Let Me In and Hugo.

 

3. Emma Stone

Stone is currently appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man as Peter Parker’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. Since making her film debut in Superbad she has had starring roles in Crazy Stupid Love and Easy A as well as a supporting role in The Help and will soon be appearing in The Gangster Squad in which she looks fantastic.

 

2. Jennifer Lawrence

Soon to be one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood Lawrence is currently a star of the new X-men franchise as well as heading up The Hunger Games trilogy. She is one of the youngest women to ever be nominated for the Best Leading Actress Oscar for her performance in Winter’s Bone. She has proven in the short time since bursting on to the scene that she has a large range of skills and is a very versatile actress.

 

1. Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan is a 27 year old English actress who has been the subject of critical acclaim in every field of acting; film, television and broadway. Mulligan first appeared in Pride & Prejudice before going on to appear in a number of television programmes. She has appeared in films such as Never Let Me Go, Brothers, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Public Enemies. I recently saw Mulligan in Drive where she put in a really great performance but it was in An Education where I first saw her and where many other film watchers really took notice of her. An Education is a wonderful British film and Mulligan puts in a golden performance and was rightly nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance as well as winning a BAFTA. Carey Mulligan definitely has a huge career ahead of her.

 

Joel and Ethan Coen are very very recognisable names in the world of film making with almost all of their films achieving critical acclaim, the same can be said of Christopher Nolan and his occasional collaborator, the less famous brother Jonathan Nolan. There is no doubt that these two sets of brothers have a huge talent for film making and I think everyone has at least seen a film by each of them, if not count it among their favourite movies of all time.

The Coens are two of only seven directors to win three Oscars for one film.

The Coen brothers are the seasoned professionals of the two having been making movies since Blood Simple in 1984. Joel and Ethan are a perfect partnership; they write, produce, direct and edit all of their films together and rightly share joint credits in doing so. Their back catalogue of movies includes big hitters such as The Big Lebowski, Fargo, True Grit and No Country For Old Men; there aren’t many directors that can claim to have such a wealth of superb films in their locker.

The year is 1998: enter Christopher Nolan. Nolan first worked with his brother Jonathan on the absolutely fantastic Memento, adapted from Jonathan’s short story. Whilst not working together on every project like the Coen brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have written The Dark Knight (often cited as one of the best films of all time), The Prestige and one of the most anticipated films of this year, The Dark Knight Rises, together. Some might say these films have enough about them to challenge the very best of the Coen brothers themselves.

The working partnership between the two brothers is obviously very different but there is no doubt that all four individuals have a huge love for the cinema and a passion to bring incredible films to huge, happy audiences. The films that the brothers make are also very different in themselves; the Nolan films, aside from Memento, are huge blockbusters with big budgets, whereas the Coen films are smaller scale, more intimate and more character related (something that Christopher Nolan might disagree with but this is my opinion).

The Nolans’ The Dark Knight is considered one of the all time greatest movies.

If we go by the highest accolade in film making, the Academy Awards we would believe that the Coens were the better of the two partnerships, racking up 33 Oscar nominations for their films collectively, winning six of them, including two for screenwriting and one for directing. The films written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have garnered 12 nominations, including two wins. However, with the Nolans having done only three films together it is highly likely that if they continue to work together their Oscar count will rise higher than the Coens’.

In my opinion, the experience that the Coen brothers have over the Nolans gives them the edge and I really believe that they make some of the best movies of our time, True Grit and No Country For Old Men being two of my favourites of theirs. Whilst the Nolans do make terrific films, there is no doubt about that, I feel that they still have a long way to go before being as good as the Coens but if they continue on the road they are on and continue to write films together than I have no doubt that they will surpass the directing duo that currently sits at the top of the tree.

One thing is for sure though, I will continue to enjoy the films made by the Nolans and the Coens for as long as they make movies. Film fans are lucky to have two such magnificent partnerships working today to create absolute works of art.

He is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of the modern world and by the time he eventually retires his name will undoubtedly be up there with the all time true greats of film making. By comic book fans he is thought of as the man who saved Batman from it’s earlier embarrassments in the cinema and Warner Bros. now have him producing Man of Steel, the new Superman movie, in hope that he can bring another hero back from the cinema dead zone. However, Christopher Nolan does have his haters, but why? Is he really THAT good?

Without exception every single one of the feature length films directed by Christopher Nolan has been a critical success. Whether it be the small scale Memento or the huge big budget summer blockbuster that is Inception, Nolan never fails to impress the critics. Nolan has been nominated for three Oscars (one for directing, another two for writing) and despite not yet winning the award he is being recognised by his peers as one of the best directors around.

Nolan’s writing prides itself upon it’s mysteries. Memento was something new, something brilliant. And the mystery was kept going by the fact that the film played out backwards and nobody, not even the main character, knew what was going on. The Prestige had a fantastic shock ending that nobody had predicted upon first watch, yet when watching again it becomes clear that Nolan has left some clues along the way for any viewer intelligent enough to spot them. All the while, Nolan is teaching the arts of a magic trick whilst creating his own in The Prestige at the same time. The essence of mystery is something Nolan followed through with Inception and I think everyone who left the cinema after seeing Inception got confused at least once whilst watching and the ending still causes arguments a couple of years on (even though it is pretty clear what the ending actually is if you look for the clues).

However, one of Nolan’s biggest downfalls is his writing of female characters. This is a criticism that is levelled at the director again and again, upon the release of every one of his films and audiences have a point. The female characters in Nolan’s films have very little purpose but to act as plot devices and have an effect on the main character; in themselves they have little story and virtually no development. Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige is a good example of this and Ariadne in Inception too, along with the women in his Batman films. There really seems no need for them to be there and they add next to nothing to the story. With the inclusion of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises it seems maybe Nolan is trying to prove that he can write a captivating female character to compete with the men of his films.

It has been said that Nolan gets the best out of all the actors he works with, but look at the people he has worked with: Guy Pearce, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, the brilliant Hilary Swank, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine… the list goes on. Point is, every one of the aforementioned actors was already established and thought of as a very good, if not some of the best, performers at the time. Even I could have made a film with Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio and got good performances from them because they are already brilliant actors! Nolan doesn’t seem to challenge himself, but then again, if you can work with the best around then you’re going to do that and who can really blame him.

As briefly mentioned earlier, Christopher Nolan has brought a new life and new energy to an otherwise dead and buried franchise in the form of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the latter being described as one of the best films of all time. It may be a stretch but Nolan could be seen as the saviour of comic book films. Before him, of course, there was already Spider-Man and X-men that had been successful but Nolan showed what successes comic book movies have the potential to be.

Whether you like him or not nobody with a sensible view on movies can argue that Christopher Nolan is not a good director. His films are among the best of modern cinema and he is definitely one of my top three directors of all time. With The Dark Knight Rises coming out this year it seems certain that Nolan is set to rise yet again and receive even more praise as he brings the curtain down on one of the best trilogies of all time.

The hype surrounding this man is definitely justified.