The Who guitarist Pete Townshend warned Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair not to court friendships with celebrities ahead of his famous 'Cool Britannia' event in 1997. The U.K.'s current leader David Cameron mimicked Blair's stunt by hosting his own star-studded bash at the Foreign Office in London on Tuesday (01Jul14), welcoming guests including actress Helen Bonham Carter and Townshend's bandmate Roger Daltrey.
However, Townshend, who was not invited to Cameron's event, insists politicians should not seek approval from stars, and reveals he warned Blair against his party plans.
He tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "My advice was: 'Don't let f**king Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher come and talk to you, because as soon as things go a little bit difficult - and as soon as they get their tax bill - they'll drop you like a stone.' Which is exactly what happened."
A Downing Street spokesperson said this week's (beg30Jun14) event, which was also attended by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes among others, was held to mark the creative industry's contribution to the economy.
Artist Saied Dai's painting of British theatre director Sir Jonathan Miller has won this year's (14) Royal Society of Portrait Painters' Changing Faces prize. Portraits entered in this year's competition included those of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, athlete Sir Roger Bannister and actress Tamsin Greig.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair insists he never watches TV and movie portrayals of his career so he can avoid discussing political gossip, according to actor Michael Sheen. The Hollywood star played the former leader onscreen in 2006 movie The Queen and in the 2010 TV drama The Special Relationship, which examines reports Blair struck a deal with his deputy Gordon Brown about the handover of power.
Sheen has met Blair only once, and he is convinced the ex-politician's denial of having watched his work is a convenient way to avoid discussing the storylines.
Sheen tells U.K. talk show Loose Women, "I've met him once... He said he hasn't seen it... Because if he said he's seen it then people will say, 'Well, is it true, is that what happened?' So he says he hasn't seen them."
Rocker Noel Gallagher is adamant he does not regret supporting British politician Tony Blair in the 1990s but hates the infamous photograph of him hobnobbing with the Prime Minister in Downing Street. The former Oasis star was a vocal supporter of Blair when he was the Opposition leader, and the politician returned the favour after sweeping to power in 1997 by inviting Gallagher to a reception at the official Prime Minister's residence.
The photo of the pair talking over a glass of champagne at 10 Downing Street attracted a wave of criticism of Gallagher for mixing with the political elite, and he now admits he rues the moment - but he's adamant he was right to support Blair's bid for election.
Asked if he regrets backing Blair before he became Prime Minister, Gallagher tells New Statesman magazine, "Nah, not really. It was a great time in history. The grip of Thatcherism was being smashed. New Labour had been brilliant in opposition. When Tony Blair spoke, his words seemed to speak to people, young people.
"Call me naive but I felt something - I'm not quite sure what it was, but I felt it all the same. I do regret that picture at No. 10 that night, though... I can still smell the cheese!"
My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields has called on the U.K.'s spy bosses to open top secret files from the 1990s to prove his theory that former Prime Minister Tony Blair secretly orchestrated the 'Britpop' movement. The cult band split in 1997 and did not release any albums during the golden years of 'Cool Britannia' from 1993 onwards, and Shields is glad they were not associated with the cultural phenomenon.
Now he is urging secret service bosses at MI5 to make public their documents from the 1990s as he is convinced Blair, who rose to power on a wave of Britpop-inspired optimism in 1997, was the architect of the entire movement, which features acts like Blur, Oasis and Pulp.
Shields tells British newspaper The Guardian, "Britpop was massively pushed by the government. Someday it would be interesting to read all the MI5 files on Britpop. The wool was pulled right over everyone's eye there."
The daughter of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair was held at gunpoint by two men while walking her dog in London. Kathryn Blair, 25, was out in central London with her boyfriend on Monday (16Sep13) when two men attempted to rob them.
The pair escaped unhurt and nothing was stolen. Police have now launched an investigation, and have linked the men to another attempted robbery earlier in the day.
A statement from Scotland Yard says, "The victims were a man and a woman, the suspects were two males."
A spokesman for the Blairs adds, "Kathryn was with a group of friends. No one was hurt and nothing was stolen."
The incident came just days after Kathryn attended her brother Euan's wedding to Suzanne Ashman in Buckinghamshire, England over the weekend (14-15Sep13).
"We were invited to Labour (party) headquarters to meet Tony Blair and he went, 'So, how's it going?' I was just going on tour and replied, 'It seems to be going alright so far - great crowds' and he went 'Not you. Me'. And I thought 'Give me my f**king money back'." Pop star Lisa Stansfield regretted giving money to Britain's Labour Party after meeting former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair.
Famous faces from the world of showbusiness mixed with royalty and politicians from across the world in London on Wednesday morning (17Apr13) at the ceremonial funeral of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The veteran politician, who passed away on 8 April (13) at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, was remembered during a high-profile memorial service at St. Paul's Cathedral in the British capital attended by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as well as Britain's current Prime Minister David Cameron.
Star guests included Dame Shirley Bassey, actress Joan Collins, entertainer Michael Crawford, Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins and theatre mogul Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. Former U.K. Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major turned out for the occasion, along with former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
Before the service at the famed cathedral, Thatcher's coffin passed through the streets of London on a gun carriage with a full military procession.
Thousands of spectators gathered to watch, and more than 4,000 police officers were deployed as part of strict security measures amid the threat of protests over Thatcher's policies, which continue to divide opinion 23 years after she left office.
Demonstrations along the route of the funeral procession remained mostly peaceful, with campaigners booing and turning their backs on the coffin to show their opinion.
Singer Jenkins addressed the threat of protests in a post on her Twitter.com page before she arrived at the funeral, writing, "For me today is personal not political," while musician Billy Bragg urged campaigners to donate to a good cause instead of disrupting the service, adding, "If you wish to express your feelings about the divisive nature of the Thatcher legacy today, do something positive... Donthatedonate.com."
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.