Ralph Lauren Polo Good Vibrations: New film Hysteria will leave the audience buzzing
Ten years ago, the then 24-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal teamed up with James Spader to make a rather startling film called Secretary, in which a middle-aged Florida lawyer embarked on a sexually dominant relationship with his young secretary. Those drawing the obvious parallels with the current Fifty Shades phenomenon might like to know that Spader's character was even called Mr Grey.
Ten years on, Gyllenhaal appears to be returning to similarly racy territory with Hysteria, a film that chronicles, in semi-fictional style, the Victorian-era invention of the vibrator. But don't be deceived, for while there were several scenes in Secretary that would definitely frighten the horses, there are none in Hysteria. As befits the Victorians, anything that might even faintly shock is hidden away underneath thick, red velvet curtains. Ralph Lauren Polo
The year is 1880 and the progressive young doctor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is struggling to establish himself in London medical circles that aren't quite ready for his radical thoughts on basic hygiene. 'Germ theory is poppycock,' thunders the latest hospital consultant to sack him. Ralph Lauren Polo
And so it is that Dr Granville pre-sents himself at the private clinic of Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), whose plush consulting rooms are full of comfortably-off women of a certain age. All of them, Dr Dalrymple tells the younger man, have been diagnosed with 'hysteria', which he believes to be 'a disorder of the uterus' that can only be relieved by massage. His practice is now so busy, he needs 'a new pair of hands. And with that up go the sleeves, down come the modesty curtains, ralph lauren hoodie cheap Granville is hired and we're off.
'Tally ho,' cries one of his clearly delighted patients as a moment of so-called 'paroxysm' approaches. Another patient, almost inevitably, is a large Italian soprano: ralph lauren short sleeve shirt this is one film that won't be truly over until the fat lady sings. Ralph Lauren Polo
By now, however, it's also apparent that this film hasn't set the creative bar very high. The screenplay by Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer is simplistic and as unfamiliar with subtlety as Tanya Wexler's heavy-handed direction. And, once Gyllenhaal makes her entrance as Charlotte, the more spirited of Dalrymple's daughters, there is also something jarring about the very modern knowingness retro-parachuted into her Victorian lap.
Sheridan Smith as Molly (left) and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Charlotte Dalrymple (right) in Hysteria
'There's a social revolution afoot,' enthuses this energetic social reformer who, when she isn't campaigning for votes for women, works all hours at a home she runs for poor women and their children in the East End. Cross television's Bramwell, in which Jemma Redgrave played a pioneering Victorian woman doctor, with Call The Midwife and you've got a very good idea of the cliches being explored here ?C perhaps unwittingly ?C by what is predominantly a North American creative team. Ralph Lauren Polo
A pleasant but slightly under-powered Dancy continues to labour in the long shadow of Colin Firth (at times, you can almost hear how Firth would have delivered the lines) while the eager Gyllenhaal, her English accent seemingly borrowed wholesale from her Nanny McPhee co-star Emma Thompson, is fun but doesn't have quite enough of the story to make the film her own. And yet Hysteria does just about work as an undemanding, entertaining night out, helped by a fascinating story and good performances from Pryce and Rupert Everett.
The latter has a high old time as a debauched aristocrat with a pioneering interest in electricity, which might just be the answer when poor Granville succumbs to repetitive strain injury. Oh and one last thing: do stay for the closing credits, which are illustrated by an enthralling history of early vibrators.
Another American actress essays a British accent in Now Is Good. This time it's former child star Dakota Fanning, who's now 18 and increasingly determined to show she's all grown up. Or very nearly.Here, in Ol Parker's adaptation of Jenny Downham's bestseller Before I Die, she plays Tessa, a bolshie Brighton teenager who is dying from leukaemia.
Her doting, over-protective father (Paddy Considine) hasn't given up but she is more accepting, refusing to have any more chemotherapy and preferring to concentrate all her efforts on the things she wants to do before she dies.
Her so-called 'bucket list' includes taking drugs, breaking the law and, of course, losing her virginity. So how convenient that handsome Adam (Jeremy Irvine from War Horse) has just moved in next door.
Dakota Fanning plays a young girl dying of leukemia in Now is Good
The doomed young heroine is hardly new territory: My Life Without Me, Restless and, of course, Love Story are just three that spring to mind. And for a while it seems the complacency born of this familiarity, combined with the visible effort Fanning is putting into both her 'naturalistic' performance and her accent, are going to get in the way of our emotional involvement.
But, to her credit, long before the end Fanning had completely won me over and, judging by the loud sniffs around me, most of the rest of the audience, too.
Parker, who directs as well as adapts, imparts a slightly strange sense of place (some scenes are obviously shot in Brighton while others are clearly in London) and milks the big emotional moments in a way that some won't have seen since that 1990 tear-fest Truly, Madly, Deeply. He ralph lauren outlet also throws in an unnecessary subplot about abortion that threatens to make emotional nonsense of the whole thing.
Brad Pitt attends a screening of Killing Them Softly at the Mayfair Hotel in London
But thanks to the quality of Fanning's central performance, the unflinching support from Considine and Irvine and a cameo from Olivia Williams as Tessa's hopelessly bohemian mum, it does all hit home eventually and the tears do flow.
When I saw it in Cannes, I wasn't overly impressed with Andrew Dominik's new gangster film Killing Them Softly, which might have a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini but delivers precious little that we haven't seen many times before.
But after a second viewing, I have to admit it's funnier, in a very dark way, than I initially gave it credit for, a slightly laboured analogy comparing the US banking crisis with the problems of organised crime. There's also an eye-catching performance from Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn as one of two petty criminals stupid enough to rob a mob-controlled poker game. Pitt, sporting slicked-back hair and scary orange-tinted sunglasses, plays Jackie Cogan (the film is based on George V. Higgins's novel Cogan's Trade), the cool enforcer sent in by the syndicate to dispense appropriate justice.
Shot in familiar film noir fashion, Pitt undoubtedly delivers a stylish central turn, but the overall result is extremely violent, extraordinarily wordy and sees Gandolfini, fine actor that he is, royally over-indulged as a washed-up hitman.
Oliver Stone is a hugely experienced director but he makes some basic mistakes with Savages: there isn't a single sympathetic character or, come to that, a winning performance, to help us get through 130 minutes of all-too-familiar, violent California vs Mexico drug-trade action.
Chon (played by Taylor Kitsch, who after John Carter and Battleship is gunning for three stinkers in a row) and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) reputedly grow the best marijuana in California, but they are under pressure to go into business with a vicious Mexican cartel. And when that cartel ups the ante by kidnapping the one woman, O (Blake Lively), whom both men conveniently love, then surely they're going to have to make a deal.
Lively is an undeniably pretty face but her narration is as dull as it is air-headed, neither Kitsch nor Taylor-Johnson come close to being a commanding presence and Benicio Del Toro, playing an oddball psychopath, gives one of the strangest performances you'll see all year. Deliberately comic or comically bad? It's hard to say.
Also showing: An ex-con for a carer and a fearsome fashion icon
French comedy Untouchable (15) may not have Oscar-winner The Artist's cinematic style, but what it lacks in finesse, it makes up for in warmth.
This is an odd-couple comedy about the friendship between a wealthy Parisian quadriplegic, Philippe (Francois Cluzet), and a black ex-con from the housing estates, Driss (Omar Sy, a TV comedian who beat The Artist's Jean Dujardin to win France's C'sar for Best Actor).
Against all advice from prissy staff, the introverted Philippe, injured in a paragliding accident, takes a shine to Driss's zest for life and hires him to be his carer.
No Artist: Untouchable stars Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy and is still worth a watch despite failing to quite live up to the other French film this year
The story is based on a real-life memoir and it is played very much as a comedy, giving Cluzet's performance a beautiful softness that's very un-Hollywood (where the film will shortly be remade).
The film is less assured when trying to force any social issues, such as contrasting Driss's economic handicap with the physical impairments of Philippe. The various subplots somewhat hamper the movie, which is at its considerable best when the two leads are together.
A mention must also go to the well-chosen music ?C featuring Earth, Wind and Fire and a score by Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi.
Diana Vreeland was a redoubtable figure in 20th Century fashion, a fearsome editor of Vogue magazine and a vibrant personality on the New York scene.
The documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (PG) is a tribute based on taped conversations between Diana (pronounced Dee-ah-nah) and celebrated author George Plimpton, so it relies heavily on archive and anecdote to remain as lively as its subject.
The film somewhat strains to reflect her colourful but privileged life as indicative of the female experience of the last century.
Throughout the roaring Twenties, Mrs Vreeland made New York her social whirl, spending the nights dancing in Harlem. Eventually, she landed a social column in Harper's Bazaar and not long after discovered a model named Betty Perske ?C whose front cover shot led to her quickly becoming Lauren Bacall.
Another of her models, the actress Anjelica Huston, recalls: 'She made it OK ralph lauren short sleeve shirts for a woman to look outlandish.'
Vreeland's motto? 'A new dress gets you nowhere ?C it's the life you're living in that dress that counts.' A lesson for us all, and one attractively delivered.
Two 'Brits in peril' films appear this week. In Tower Block (15) HH, Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey and Ralph Brown are among the last residents in a crumbling high rise being brutally shot at from a neighbouring roof by a crazed sniper. There's a neat idea lurking in this film but it becomes less interesting and less tense with every victim ralph lauren womens sweater it picks off.
Inbred (15) H can boast probably the year's most indelicate title but little else, as a group of young offenders from Leeds are held hostage in a remote Yorkshire village of sniggering, toothy, cannibalistic yeomen.
The film's title could well refer to its own unhappy blend of Deliverance, Straw Dogs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Wicker Man and a dozen other backwoods horrors, only with more 'ee by gums' thrown in.