Conductor and composer Lorin Maazel has died at the age of 84. The musician passed away from complications following a bout with pneumonia on Sunday (13Jul14) in Castleton Farms, Virginia.
Maazel was best known for his work as the director of the Vienna State Opera in Austria, the Pittsburgh Symphony in Pennsylvania, the Munich Philharmonic in Germany and the New York Philharmonic.
He also composed his own operas starting with 1984, which was based on the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
In 2009, he founded the Castleton Festival, which showcases new and established opera talent, with his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel.
Lord Of The Rings star Andy Serkis has revamped the horse puppet from the stageshow War Horse for his new performance-capture adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm. The actor-turned-director and film pioneer admits he called on the puppeteers from the hit Broadway show to help him create the character Boxer in his new movie - and the results were initially striking.
He tells The Hollywood Reporter, "We literally took the horse puppet and put markers on it. The performance looked extraordinary, but then we looked at the digitised version, and we noticed that the spine wasn't working as well as it was to the naked eye.
"We had to rethink it and realised it needed a flexible spine. We actually took the puppeteers out of inside the puppet and attached a flexible spine - and it works rather well. You can see every subtle detail of movement."
Actress Kristen Stewart is "terrified" of starring in the upcoming romantic adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 as critics are expecting a classic movie. The Twilight star has signed on to star opposite Warm Bodies actor Nicholas Hoult in futuristic love story Equals, which is a take on the 1956 film based on Orwell's classic novel.
Despite her experience in the popular vampire film franchise, Stewart tells the Associated Press she is wary of the role as movie fans are already predicting the film will be a hit.
She says, "I can't believe I agreed to do it. I'm terrified of it. Though it's a movie with a really basic concept, it's overtly ambitious. It's a love story of epic, epic, epic proportion. I'm scared."
Stewart even confided to director Drake Doremus that she fears she is not up to the task of taking on such a high-profile role, but the Like Crazy filmmaker refused to believe her excuses.
The actress adds, "I trust Drake's process and I know we will do something really natural and real. But I told Drake, 'Don't expect that I am going to be able to do this. It's too hard.' But he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. I've given directors disclaimers before, but never this much."
A radio comedy featuring the voice of British star Benedict Cumberbatch has scored two nominations for the 2014 BBC Audio Drama Awards. Cabin Pressure will compete for the titles of Best Scripted Comedy and Best Scripted Comedy (Studio Audience) at the third annual London prizegiving on 26 January (14).
Other highlights among the nominees include Doctor Who: Dark Eyes, which is shortlisted for Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio drama, and Simon Russell Beale, who has landed a nod for Best Actor in an Audio Drama for his work in Copenhagen.
The veteran thespian will be up against Lee Ross (King David) and Joseph Millson (The Real George Orwell: Jura), while Carly Bawden (The Color of Milk), Christine Bottomley (My Boy) and Marcia Warren (Tony and Rose) will fight for the Best Actress trophy.
Among the nominees for the Best Supporting Actor categories are Shaun Dooley (The Gothic Imagination: Frankenstein), Geoffrey Bretton (Imaginary Boys) and Eastenders soap star Lacey Turner (The One About the Social Worker).
Actor Andy Serkis has promised his adaptation of Animal Farm will use techniques never before seen in the film industry. The Lord Of The Rings star will make his directorial debut with the adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel about a group of farm animals who revolt against their owner and start their own community.
Serkis has now revealed the pioneering methods he is using to portray the talking animals in his movie, telling Screen Daily, "What we're trying to do is fairly unique. It's going to be entirely performance-captured, so rather than photographing real animals and showing them with talking mouths, it will all be generated by the interaction between the actors playing those roles... the physicality and facial expressions of all the animals will come directly from actors' performances."
Atlantic Releasing Corporation
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a movie about the future. It also happens to be a movie about a totalitarian state. So while we're counting down before the release, it might be fun to view some other films about a jackbooted future.
Although there was also a 1956 film based on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four — the novel that defined our thinking about the meaning of totalitarianism — a second British production was released during the year in question.
It was not simply the meta-ness of the release date that added resonance to this particular screen adaptation of the book. By the late 1970s, the high unemployment rate in the U.K. had set the stage for the conservative "rebellion" of Margaret Thatcher. Nestled within this social context, director Michael Radford's rendering of Orwell's dystopia felt a little less like science fiction and more like a meditation on 20th Century realpolitik.
Which is, of course, the best thing about good science fiction: it invariably turns out to be fact.
Rock icon David Bowie has published a list of his favourite reading material and revealed he is a big fan of comic books. The Ashes to Ashes hitmaker has detailed his 'Top 100 Books' in a post on his official website, and the rundown includes classics such as Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence, 1984 by George Orwell, Homer's Iliad, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
But in among the highbrow literature, Bowie shows his humorous side by admitting his love for British children's comic The Beano and satirical magazine Private Eye.
He also loves reading adult comic Viz and 1980s underground mag Raw.
Several scarves stained with the blood of author George Orwell are to go up for auction next month (Oct13). The accessories were around the 1984 writer's neck when he was shot in the throat by a sniper near Barcelona while fighting in the Spanish civil war in 1937.
A colleague saved the bloodstained scarves after the incident and they are expected to sell for up to $1,800 (£1,200) at a Bloomsbury auction in the U.K. in October (13).
A spokesman for the auctioneers says, "To have something that relates to such a significant part of (Orwell's) life is especially unusual. I think it is a really interesting item. George Orwell was such a private person, very few examples of his signatures and photographs exist."
Orwell survived the shooting but died in 1950 after a battle with tuberculosis, aged 46.
You know you like science fiction. You know you like Matt Damon. And you know you're on board with anything that showcases a handsome bald fella. So yes, you're pretty certain you're going to enjoy Neill Blomkamp's newest feature film, Elysium. There's only one thing you're not quite sure about: what the heck "Elysium" actually is.
The movie lends the name — one you might have heard before — to an exclusive utopia floating just beyond the reach of a decaying planet Earth's common man. The titular space station that plays paradisiacal home to political figures, law enforcement officers, and your everyday rich people, denying the benefits of pristine environments and universal healthcare to the working class schmoes confined to the big blue marble. Enter Max (Damon), a reformed criminal inflicted with a lethal dose of radiation poisoning, who vows to snag a spot in one of Elysium's venerated medical facilities before succumbing to his disease. But in order to get there, he'll need to sneak in — courtesy of a border-hopping underground organization led by a crook named, quite appropriately, Spider. And of course, when you ask a favor of a crook, you're bound to find yourself carrying out one or two illicit deeds in the process.
But hospice on Elysium is worth anything for Max. The proverbial "castle in the clouds" seems to represent all of the ideals to which humanity might aspire: safety, prosperity, uniformity, total submission... yeah, it's starting to get a little iffy there, isn't it? Although Elysium is stocked lovingly with the tropes of science-fiction movie classics — everything from pulp works like Total Recall to mainstream blockbusters like Star Wars to uncategorizable masterpieces like 2001: A Space Odyssey — the film is also clearly quite happy to emulate classic literature. In fact, Blomkamp's Elysium takes its name from one of the greatest and most well-known pieces of writing in human history: Homer's Odyssey.
Homer invented the Elysian plain, a temperate kingdom where mankind knew no trouble. In his epic poem, Homer described the mythical land as that "where life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain, but ever does Ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing West Wind that they may give cooling to men." In a word, paradise.
In fact, so potent is the idea of Elysium as a flawless utopia that many classic minds examined it in their own writings: Greek historian Plutarch and Roman poet Virgil were among those to embed the facet into their work. And centuries past Homer's invention of the golden empire, popular culture keeps a stronghold on Elysium as its go-to heaven-on-Earth: fantasy television shows like Doctor Who, Xena Warrior Princess, and Sailor Moon have welcomed references to Elysium, as have movies like the historical fiction epic Gladiator, the comedy Wanderlust, and the spirited extended metaphor Beasts of the Southern Wild.
But instead of recreating the impeccable Elysium developed by Homer, director Blomkamp seems to draw a bit more directly from some more recent works: the novels of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley will jump to mind in the inspection of the rigidly controlled autocracy kept under glass by military figure Delacourt (Jodie Foster). The flawless sheath drawn over a scathing, fear-generated xenophobia is a staple of sci-fi fiction, with 1984 and Brave New World playing generous benefactors to this eager and inventive new twist on the genre.
We see a lot of "new" in Blomkamp's Elysium, though plenty of fun and familiar homages to Orwell and Huxley, to Philip K. Dick and the many cinematic attempts that have been made of his library, to Star Wars and Kubrick, and to Homer. The "perfect world," the heavenly kingdom just out of reach, is something that artists and scholars have dwelled upon for centuries. But Blomkamp proves that there are always new, fresh ways of looking at time-tested ideas.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
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In the two-minute journey that is the trailer for Ari Folman's The Congress, which will premiere on Thursday at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, you're bound to find familiarity with any number of other films. When you realize that actress Robin Wright is playing a fantastical, existentialistic version of herself, you'll think of Being John Malkovich. When you reach the point where the shadows of the Hollywood industry approach Wright with the opportunity to live on eternally as an automated being, you'll remember S1m0ne (well, if you're one of the 18 people who saw S1mone). And when Wright travels quite literally into a realm of animation, living out the impossible in a dazzling and limitless cartoon universe, your mind might go anywhere from Cool World to The Pagemaster. But this movie, ultimately, seems like its own force entirely.
The latest endeavor from filmmaker and documentarian Folman (Waltz with Bashir) seems to grapple with the heavy themes of imagination, show business, and mortality, all while delivering a breathtaking reality that continues to hearken back to cinematic and literary greats: the world screams George Orwell and Philip K. Dick, the visual style a melding of Ralph Bakshi and Sylvain Chomet. But again, there is truly unique life in the The Congress trailer — indisputably worth your attention.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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