“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is released today in US theaters after a release yesterday in most European countries. An adaptation of the German fairy-tale and the Tchaikovsky ballet, the story signifies the studio’s further attempts to expand their live-action output beyond remakes of their classic cartoons and Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Unfortunately, the reviews have been less than exciting, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 34% and a Metacritic number of 37. Most reviews criticize the lack of an altogether story. The Los Angeles Times writes: “The visual allure of this production is undeniable, but having the nerve to be simple and nice all the way through is, even for Disney, verging on being a lost art.” According to Rolling Stone, the “wretched attempt to turn the famous fairy tale/ballet into a blockbuster gives a bad name to family entertainment. There’s not much positive being written about the actors – Morgan Freeman in paycheck mode and Helen Mirren, reduced to mugging – oh well. Maybe it’s better received among its target audience – children, who do not yet participate in the Tomatometer 🙂
The first-look photo above captures Helen Mirren in all her glory as the famous Russian ruler, Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, aka Catherine II, aka “Catherine the Great.” You can view the picture in full resolution in the photo gallery. HBO has partnered with Sky to produce the four-part limited series, which is currently shooting across Russia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Directed by Philip Martin (who helmed Mirren’s last Emmy-winning performance in “Prime Suspect: The Final Act”) and written by Nigel Williams (who wrote and produced “Elizabeth I,” which won Emmys for both he and Mirren), “Catherine the Great” also stars Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as Grigory Potemkin and Joseph Quinn (“Howards End”) as Paul, Catherine’s son and heir. New cast members have also been announced, including: Gina McKee as Countess Bruce, Catherine’s lifelong friend and confidante; Rory Kinnear as Minister Panin, a skillful politician, advisor and governor to Catherine’s son; Richard Roxburgh as Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine’s former lovers, who helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; Kevin R. McNally as Alexei Orlov, who, with his brother Grigory, helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power; and Sam Palladio as Alexander Vasilichikov, Catherine’s young lover. Focusing on the final years of her three-plus decades in power, “Catherine the Great” is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures and is an HBO/SKY co-production. No release date has been set. Here’s the official synopsis, courtesy HBO:
Set against the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century, the limited series follows Catherine towards the end of her reign during her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together serving as the architects of modern-day Russia.
“The Leisure Seeker” has been released on Blu-Ray earlier this month in Germany and various European countries. I’d recommend it to everyone who enjoys seeing two acting greats – or a film that takes its time to tell a story. While it was running a bit long with 2 hours and its pace is off-putting at times, this is a charming, sometimes funny and otherwise deeply moving story. While it might be missing the brilliant magic of “The Straight Story” or the wit of “Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Leisure Seeker” has its heart at the right place, and a truly outstanding acting duo in Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren, whose Golden Globe nomination for the role was fully deserved. Over 1.500 screencaptures from the Blu-Ray have been added to the photo gallery. Please be aware they might contain spoilers.
Helen Mirren’s latest film “Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built” has been released on Blu-Ray, DVD and on demand in the United States on May 01. I don’t say that about a film too often, and I always try to find the positive in a project – but “Winchester” is just a stupid-ass movie. I wasn’t expecting a history lesson on the Winchester House, but at least something with a bit of a story to it. The film consists of a couple of jump scares that haven’t been effective since the 1990s and long boring tea-hour scenes with Helen and Jason Clarke talking about the supernatural. For a mystery film, there’s nothing mysterious here, and for horror fans, there’s nothing remotely spooky. Maybe it’s just not my genre. At least, let’s hope they had fun filming it. Screencaptures from the Blu-Ray have been added to the photo gallery. “Winchester” is available everywhere on demand.
Helen has had a busy week since Sunday’s Academy Awards. Not only did she pick up L’Oreal’s Women of Worth award in Toronto, Canada – she also continued the promotional tour for “The Leisure Seeker”, which was released in US theaters on Friday. All clips have been added to the video archive while screencaptures can be found in the photo gallery. Enjoy watching!
Video Archive – Talkshows – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2018)
Video Archive – News segments – Entertainment Tonight Canada (2018)
Video Archive – News segments – Breakfast Television Toronto (2018)
Video Archive – News segments – KTLA 5 Morning News (2018)
Video Archive – Miscellaneous – L’Oreal Paris Commercial (2018)
Video Archive – News segments – Jimmy Kimmel Live (2018)