Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet’

TIFF 2014: Learning to Drive’s Ben Kingsley always a fan favourite at TIFF

00_11_TIFF_Ben-KIngsley_MD_DEAN-1200x750By Richard Crouse – Metro Toronto

Outside the Elgin Theatre premier for his new film Learning to Drive, Sir Ben Kingsley caused quite a stir. He signed autographs, posed for pictures with fans, one of which gushed effusively after he walked away. “He’s my favorite,” she told your reporter excitedly.

When I tell Sir Ben about the enthusiastic fan he smiles broadly.

“If it means that she’s heard the story and it touched her, then I’m delighted,” he says. “The important thing for me is to tell the story. I’m sure I am a storyteller. I’m sure that is the right place for my DNA to be.

“Something happened to me and it stayed with me forever. I was playing Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company and I was walking in open field just outside Stratford Upon Avon. A lovely young woman was on the opposite side of the field and seemed to be walking towards me, so I decided to tack to my right to avoid her feeling that I was intruding on her space. She tacked to her left. In other words, she mirrored me. Then I went the other way and she mirrored me. She was determined to meet me in the middle of this field. Then face-to-face, she said, ‘I saw Hamlet last night. How did you know about me?’ Something [I did] must have gone right in there [he points to his heart], straight through the sternum and I said, ‘I know.’ That’s the connection.

“It never left me. If it means that through storytelling something has been shifted, healed, touched in her, great. Good.”

In the TIFF film Learning to Drive he reunites with his Elegy co-star Patricia Clarkson. She plays Wendy, a divorcee who hires Darwan (Kingsley) to teach her how to drive so she can travel to upstate New York to visit her daughter. As she learns to navigate Manhattan’s mean streets, the pair form a bond, teaching one another about life and love.

“I think in a really beautifully fashioned play or screenplay you have a feeling that the gods look down and say, ‘I’m going to bring you two together,’” says Kingsley. “I love that idea in mythology that the gods look down and send somebody to somebody. It is only through very unfortunate, heartbreaking circumstances that Wendy finds herself in a taxi. Heartbroken. I am driving a heartbroken woman. And I loved in the way, as in all great stories, the little coincidences are the gods guiding and bringing people together for some purpose. Here it is not for a great romance, it is to heal.”

Darwan is the latest in a long list of characters, like Mohandas Gandhi, Itzhak Stern in Schindler’s List and Sexy Beasts’ Don Logan that have surprised Kingsley.

“I don’t know where they are,” Kingsley says about his characters, “if they’re inside me waiting to come out or whether they are outside of me. Are they hunting me or am I hunting them? I don’t know. I love to be surprised by a script and I was very pleased and delighted by the opportunity to play what Patricia Clarkson’s character coins as a ‘good man.’”

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT: 2 STARS. “nothing fancy… and also nothing Clancy.”

jack-ryan-shadow-recruit“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is nothing fancy… and it’s also nothing Clancy.

As the first of the Ryan movies not based on a Tom Clancy novel it feels generic. There is the usual spy story intrigue, exotic locations and tense scenes but what the movie doesn’t have is the ear for dialogue of the other films in the series. When you have a senior CIA agent muttering the line, “This is geopolitics, not couple’s therapy,” it’s hard to know whether this is a satire of spy films or just badly written.

As played by Chris Pine (taking over from Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) CIA field agent Ryan discovers evidence of an upcoming terrorist attack. Leaving his jealous girlfriend (Kiera Knightley) behind, he is sent to Moscow to continue the investigation by Intelligence boss Agent Harper (Kevin Costner).

Dodging bullets and bad guys, he encounters Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also sits in the director’s chair) an evil businessman with a plot to destabilize the global economy and create the “second Great Depression” in the United States.

Remember when Kenneth Branagh used to make movies like “Henry V” and “Hamlet”? I do too, which makes me feel a little empty inside when I watch something like “Shadow Recruit.”

This is a case of a director with no affinity for the material. It’s almost as if this was pieced together by people who had seen a lot of spy movies, but didn’t really understand them.

Like Branagh’s “Thor” movie, the action is muddled and so frenetically edited it’s often hard to see through the flashes of light on the screen to see who is punching who. A little clarity in those sequences would have gone a long way to make up for the ridiculous dialogue and under developed characters.

Branagh plays Cherevin with all the nuance of a Bond villain. He’s ruthless, flamboyantly accented and super smart. Smart enough to bring down the global economy but not smart enough, apparently, to see through Chris Pine’s terrible drunk act near the climax of the film.

Knightley is the movie’s third headliner, but you have to wonder why she would accept a role that gives her little to do except complain and go all moon faced over Ryan.

Then there’s Pine, who heroically anchors the “Star Trek” series but comes off here as a little too bland to play an international man of mystery.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is the first Ryan movie after a twelve-year break. It wasn’t worth the wait.