‘All Is True’ Trailer: Kenneth Branagh Plays Shakespeare With Judi Dench

A late entry into a crowded Oscar season, Branagh’s latest reveals a dramatic and little known period in the playwright’s final years.

Sony Pictures Classics has released the first trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s latest directorial effort, “All Is True,” a star-studded biopic set during William Shakespeare’s twilight years. Branagh undergoes a wild transformation to play the immortal scribe, donning a prosthetic nose and his signature goatee. The director has enlisted Dame Judi Dench to play Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, and Sir Ian McKellen will dramatize one of the playwright’s most notable patrons, the Earl of Southampton Henry Wriothesley.

Per the official synopsis: “The year is 1613, Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.”

Shakespeare’s uncertain final years have long preoccupied Branagh, who always wanted to explore this critical forgotten period. “All Is True” is the first dramatic screenplay from comedy writer Ben Elton, who has written for many British TV shows, including “Blackadder,” “The Young Ones,” and more recently the Shakespeare parody “Upstart Crow.”

Judi Dench recently announced she would be joining the cast of Tom Hooper’s “Cats,” a screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s mega-hit musical, based on the poems of T.S. Eliot.

Sony Pictures Classics will give “All Is True” an Oscar-qualifying one-week engagement at Los Angeles’ Laemmle Monica Film Center beginning Dec. 21.

Check out the trailer below.

‘Shakespeare in Love’ at 20: From Troubled Development to Oscar History

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It’s the 20th anniversary of “Shakespeare in Love,” which premiered in New York on Dec. 3, 1998, defying expectations and making Oscar history. On Oct. 23, 1992, Variety reported that Universal and Savoy Pictures had “indefinitely shelved” the $20 million production with Julia Roberts and director Ed Zwick when Daniel Day-Lewis dropped out. It went […]

Sky Atlantic Dates ‘Tin Star’ S2; A+E Networks Hires Int’l Scripted Exec; BIFAs To Fete Judi Dench – Global Briefs

British pay-TV giant Sky has dated the second season of Tim Roth-fronted drama Tin Star. Sky Atlantic will launch the forthcoming run of the Kudos-produced series on January 24 2019. The second season of the show, which also aired on Amazon in the U.S….

British pay-TV giant Sky has dated the second season of Tim Roth-fronted drama Tin Star. Sky Atlantic will launch the forthcoming run of the Kudos-produced series on January 24 2019. The second season of the show, which also aired on Amazon in the U.S., comes after Roth's Police Chief Jim Worth and his family were left destroyed by the chaos of season one. It picks up with the anarchic and unlikely hero, cut off in the remote Rockies wilderness with his grieving and…

Judi Dench to Be Honored at British Independent Film Awards

Judi Dench will receive the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution to British film at the upcoming British International Film Awards. Dench joins an illustrious list of former winners of the award, which is in its 17th year, including Daniel…

Judi Dench will receive the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution to British film at the upcoming British International Film Awards. Dench joins an illustrious list of former winners of the award, which is in its 17th year, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julie Walters, John Hurt and Emma Thompson. Last year’s recipient […]

British Independent Film Awards: Judi Dench Honored With Richard Harris Award

Previous honorees include Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter.

Dame Judi Dench has another feather to add to her cap, as she has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Richard Harris Award by the British Independent Film Awards. Bestowed upon performers for “outstanding contribution by an actor to British film,” the award was first established 17 years ago. Previous honorees include Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julie Walters, John Hurt, and Emma Thompson.

“Dangerous on stage, on screen and apparently behind the wheel of a car, Dame Judi Dench and Richard Harris have a lot in common!” said Jarred Harris, whose father the award is named for. “We are delighted that she has agreed to accept this award. Dame Judi has stolen every scene she has ever been in, and stolen our hearts along the way. Although she hates being called a national treasure and prefers to be thought of as a jobbing actor, she is undeniably both the standard bearer and the gold standard for British Actors.”

“It has been my absolute privilege to spend almost 60 years working in the British film industry, one of the most vibrant and creative homes for filmmakers in the world,” Dench said in a statement. “To be recognised with this award, which bears the name of the great Richard Harris and counts some of my favourite actors and actresses amongst its past recipients is a source of deep pride and a very special honour.”

This year’s ceremony, the 21st, takes place on Sunday, December 2 in London. “The Favourite” leads all films with 13 nominations, including Best British Independent Film. Joining it in that race are “American Animals,” “Beast,” “Disobedience,” and “You Were Never Really Here.”

Sony Classics Buys Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare Drama ‘All Is True’

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to the historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final ye…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to the historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh portrays the playwright with Dench as his wife Anne, while McKellen plays the Earl of […]

Kenneth Branagh’s William Shakespeare Movie ‘All Is True’ Lands at Sony Classics

Sony Pictures Classics acquired worldwide rights to “All Is True,” a drama directed by Kenneth Branagh about the final years in the life of William Shakespeare, the company announced Tuesday.

The original screenplay from writer Ben Elton reveals a dramatic and little known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh stars as Shakespeare alongside Judi Dench as his wife, Anne, and Ian McKellen as the Earl of Southampton.

“All Is True” will have a one-week year-end awards qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 21, followed by an official film release in 2019.

Also Read: Armie Hammer to Join Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’ Adaptation

Read the official description below:

The year is 1613. Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.

“All Is True” is produced by Tamar Thomas and Ted Gagliano. Executive producers are Judy Hofflund, Matt Jenkins, Becca Kovacik and Laura Berwick.

“We have known and worked with Ken for 25 years. We  feel this is a movie he was destined to make. He conjures up for us the depth and dramatic richness of a character about whom we have always been fascinated,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. What we have seen has confirmed our excitement to plan a qualifying run at the end of this year and to open the movie fully in the new year. We believe audiences will embrace the freshness of ‘All Is True.’”

Also Read: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Movie Review: Kenneth Branagh Only Has Eyes for Himself

“All Is True” marks screenwriter Elton’s first original drama.

The film also features the talents of production designer James Merifield, director of photography Zac Nicholson, costume designer Michael O’Connor, hair and makeup designer Vanessa Whitem, editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, casting directors Lucy Bevan and Emily Brockmann and composer Patrick Doyle.

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Sony Pictures Classics acquired worldwide rights to “All Is True,” a drama directed by Kenneth Branagh about the final years in the life of William Shakespeare, the company announced Tuesday.

The original screenplay from writer Ben Elton reveals a dramatic and little known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh stars as Shakespeare alongside Judi Dench as his wife, Anne, and Ian McKellen as the Earl of Southampton.

“All Is True” will have a one-week year-end awards qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 21, followed by an official film release in 2019.

Read the official description below:

The year is 1613. Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.

“All Is True” is produced by Tamar Thomas and Ted Gagliano. Executive producers are Judy Hofflund, Matt Jenkins, Becca Kovacik and Laura Berwick.

“We have known and worked with Ken for 25 years. We  feel this is a movie he was destined to make. He conjures up for us the depth and dramatic richness of a character about whom we have always been fascinated,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. What we have seen has confirmed our excitement to plan a qualifying run at the end of this year and to open the movie fully in the new year. We believe audiences will embrace the freshness of ‘All Is True.'”

“All Is True” marks screenwriter Elton’s first original drama.

The film also features the talents of production designer James Merifield, director of photography Zac Nicholson, costume designer Michael O’Connor, hair and makeup designer Vanessa Whitem, editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, casting directors Lucy Bevan and Emily Brockmann and composer Patrick Doyle.

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From Judi Dench to Taylor Swift, Here’s Every A-Lister Tom Hooper Has Herded Like Cats Into Doing ‘Cats’

A primer to refresh your memory, all alone in the moonlight.

It seems every day, some bigger and more exciting talent joins “Cats,” Tom Hooper’s forthcoming screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical. Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the musical is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history, and the sixth longest-running West End show. Hooper directed the “The King’s Speech,” which won best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards, as well as 2012’s “Les Misérables” adaptation. With help from “Billy Elliot” screenwriter Lee Hall, Hooper will attempt to bring “Cats” to the screen.

Here is a breakdown of the A-list talent already signed onto the project, and a look at their musical theater backgrounds and singing chops.

Jennifer Hudson, Grizabella

Although Hudson’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” didn’t quite reach the hair-raising heights of Jennifer Holliday’s, the original Effie White in “Dreamgirls,” nobody ever could, and she was still pretty darn good. The only former “American Idol” finalist to win an Oscar, Hudson certainly has the acting and singing chops to take on the musical’s iconic song, “Memory.” The previously glamorous cat who has fallen on hard times was immortalized by Elaine Paige in the 1981 West End debut, and re-interpreted by Betty Buckley for Broadway. Barbra Streisand also recorded a chart-topping version of the power ballad, giving Hudson another set of big shoes to fill.

Idris Elba, Macavity

With this new project, Idris Elba seems dead set on proving how far he has come from playing Stringer Bell, the chilling right-hand-man-turned-kingpin in HBO’s “The Wire.” Macavity may be the musical’s undisputed villain, but he still wears a leotard and eye make-up, although it remains to be seen how loyal Hooper will stay to John Napier’s Tony Award-winning costume design. In between “The Wire” becoming a cult classic and those James Bond rumors that just won’t quit, Elba had a thriving R & B career back in his hometown of London. Here he is, under the moniker “Driis,” serenading a woman’s “Private Garden.”

Dame Judi Dench, Deuteronomy

A little gender-swapping may be the first indication that Hooper could bring some fresh life to the long-running musical. Though the dame seems to have axed “Old” from his title, M herself has signed on to play Deuteronomy, the Jellicle leader is kidnapped and held hostage by the devious Macavity. Though notoriously shy about her singing voice, Dench received warm reviews when she played Sally Bowles in the 1968 West End production of “Cabaret.” Dench was originally cast to play Grizabella in the West End debut of “Cats,” but snapped her achilles tendon in rehearsals, and the role went to Elaine Paige. Here she is singing “Send in the Clowns,” by Stephen Sondheim.

Taylor Swift, TBD

Obviously, we know Taylor Swift can sing (even if Beyoncé did have one of the best videos of all time). The better question to ask of Nashville’s favorite country princess may be, can she dance? Although Swift’s role in “Cats” has not yet been announced, Hooper said he wants to meet the singer before deciding, “Cats” is a dance-heavy musical for all the characters. Tay-Tay’s moves are almost comically derided, and there are a seemingly unlimited number of video compilations to explain why. Here she is, dancing like she’s extremely 22, and teasing the the kind of choreography we can expect.

James Corden, TBD

The late-night host began his career in the theater, but generally favored plays over musicals. With guest appearances from Adele, Paul McCartney, and Michelle Obama, his duets on “Carpool Karaoke” have become such a strong brand on its own, the mini-franchise has eclipsed everything else from “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” For a taste of how Corden sings when he’s also acting, we can look to Rob Marshall’s 2014 screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s beloved classic, “Into the Woods.” Here he appears as The Baker, singing “It Takes Two” with Emily Blunt, who played The Baker’s Wife.

Ian McKellen, TBD

Though clues about Sir Ian’s singing chops are scant, he delivers a master class in Broadway belting with his famous “You Shall Not Pass” line from “The Fellowship of the Ring.” If he gives Lloyd Webber’s music half as much gusto, he should be good.

Judi Dench Joins Star-Studded ‘Cats’ Movie

Judi Dench has joined the cast of Universal Pictures and Working Title’s film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats.” Dench was set to play Grizabella in the original West End production in 1981, but she snapped her Achilles T…

Judi Dench has joined the cast of Universal Pictures and Working Title’s film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats.” Dench was set to play Grizabella in the original West End production in 1981, but she snapped her Achilles Tendon shortly before previews began and had to withdraw from the show. The project is based […]

Judi Dench Is Latest Addition to ‘Cats’ Cast

Judi Dench is the latest addition to the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” which will be released by Universal Pictures.

Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, and Idris Elba have also been cast for the film, which is set for release on December 20, 2019.

It’s a long time coming for Dench, as she was set to play Grizabella in the original 1981 West End production but had to bow out after suffering an Achilles injury shortly before previews.

Also Read: Idris Elba to Join Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift in Universal’s ‘Cats’ Adaptation

Tom Hooper is directing the film and co-writing with Lee Hall. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Hooper, as well as fellow “Les Misérables” producer Debra Hayward–who brought the idea to Working Title. Lloyd Webber will be an executive producer with Steven Spielberg and Angela Morrison.

Dench will also be seen in Disney’s adaptation of “Artemis Fowl,” which will also be released in 2019. She is represented by Julian Belfrage Associates.

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Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden and Ian McKellen Join ‘Cats’ Musical Movie

Judi Dench is the latest addition to the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” which will be released by Universal Pictures.

Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, and Idris Elba have also been cast for the film, which is set for release on December 20, 2019.

It’s a long time coming for Dench, as she was set to play Grizabella in the original 1981 West End production but had to bow out after suffering an Achilles injury shortly before previews.

Tom Hooper is directing the film and co-writing with Lee Hall. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Hooper, as well as fellow “Les Misérables” producer Debra Hayward–who brought the idea to Working Title. Lloyd Webber will be an executive producer with Steven Spielberg and Angela Morrison.

Dench will also be seen in Disney’s adaptation of “Artemis Fowl,” which will also be released in 2019. She is represented by Julian Belfrage Associates.

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Judi Dench Set To Pounce On ‘Cats’

EXCLUSIVE: Judi Dench, the seven-time Oscar nominee and winner for Shakespeare In Love, is set to play Deuteronomy in Tom Hooper’s Universal-Working Title adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.
Interesting fact: Dench was origina…

EXCLUSIVE: Judi Dench, the seven-time Oscar nominee and winner for Shakespeare In Love, is set to play Deuteronomy in Tom Hooper’s Universal-Working Title adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. Interesting fact: Dench was originally set to play Grizabella in the original West End production in 1981, but she snapped her Achilles’ tendon shortly before previews began and had to withdraw from the show. In the original, the Jellicle’s leader Old Deuteronomy…

Judi Dench Defends ‘Good Friend’ Kevin Spacey, ‘Can’t Approve’ of Him Being Cut From Roles

Dame Judi Dench is defending her “good friend” Kevin Spacey and doesn’t agree with the fact that he was cut from “All the Money in the World” due to sexual misconduct allegations against him.

“I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact — whatever he has done — that you then start to cut him out of films,” Dench said at a film festival in Spain, according to the BBC. Christopher Plummer reshot the scenes in which Spacey formerly starred as John Paul Getty.

“Are we to go back throughout history now and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or has broken the law, or has committed some kind of offense, are they always going to be cut out?” she asked. “Are we going to exclude them from our history? I don’t know about any of the conditions of it, but nevertheless I think he is, and was, a most wonderful actor … and a good friend.”

Also Read: Kevin Spacey Accuser Andy Holtzman: ‘I Want Him to Get Well’

Dench also recalled a time when Spacey was an “inestimable comfort” when she filmed 2001’s “The Shipping News” with the actor and her husband had died. “He cheered me up and kept and kept going.”

Most recently, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office decided that Spacey wouldn’t face charges stemming from accusations that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance in 1992 due to the statute of limitations. In August, the district attorney’s office announced that it was looking into a second sexual assault case against Spacey, following an initial case presented to the office in April.

In November 2017, Spacey was accused of assaulting “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14. Since then, Spacey’s charitable foundation has shut down operations, and London’s Old Vic Theatre, which Spacey served at as artistic director, opened a confidential hotline for anyone who says they were abused by Spacey to report their incidents.

Also Read: New Kevin Spacey Case Under Review by LA District Attorney

Multiple other men have since accused him of sexual assault and misconduct during the #MeToo movement. He was fired from his lead role on “House of Cards” and his most recent film, “Billionaire Boys Club,” bombed at the box office, with a $618 opening weekend — Spacey’s career low. Spacey responded to Rapp’s account but has since remained silent over the other accusations.

According to Variety, Dench also spoke about the Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement, calling it an “extraordinary moment of change.”

“And there are many more parts for women, which is very good indeed, and long may that go on,” she added.

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Dame Judi Dench is defending her “good friend” Kevin Spacey and doesn’t agree with the fact that he was cut from “All the Money in the World” due to sexual misconduct allegations against him.

“I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact — whatever he has done — that you then start to cut him out of films,” Dench said at a film festival in Spain, according to the BBC. Christopher Plummer reshot the scenes in which Spacey formerly starred as John Paul Getty.

“Are we to go back throughout history now and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or has broken the law, or has committed some kind of offense, are they always going to be cut out?” she asked. “Are we going to exclude them from our history? I don’t know about any of the conditions of it, but nevertheless I think he is, and was, a most wonderful actor … and a good friend.”

Dench also recalled a time when Spacey was an “inestimable comfort” when she filmed 2001’s “The Shipping News” with the actor and her husband had died. “He cheered me up and kept and kept going.”

Most recently, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office decided that Spacey wouldn’t face charges stemming from accusations that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance in 1992 due to the statute of limitations. In August, the district attorney’s office announced that it was looking into a second sexual assault case against Spacey, following an initial case presented to the office in April.

In November 2017, Spacey was accused of assaulting “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14. Since then, Spacey’s charitable foundation has shut down operations, and London’s Old Vic Theatre, which Spacey served at as artistic director, opened a confidential hotline for anyone who says they were abused by Spacey to report their incidents.

Multiple other men have since accused him of sexual assault and misconduct during the #MeToo movement. He was fired from his lead role on “House of Cards” and his most recent film, “Billionaire Boys Club,” bombed at the box office, with a $618 opening weekend — Spacey’s career low. Spacey responded to Rapp’s account but has since remained silent over the other accusations.

According to Variety, Dench also spoke about the Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement, calling it an “extraordinary moment of change.”

“And there are many more parts for women, which is very good indeed, and long may that go on,” she added.

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LA District Attorney Nixes Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Charge; Another Case Still Under Review

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Judi Dench Doesn’t Approve of Actors Like Kevin Spacey Being Edited Out of Movies Because of Their Behavior

Dench referred to Spacey as a “wonderful actor” and a “good friend” during an appearance at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Judi Dench spoke fondly of Kevin Spacey during a press conference at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (via Variety). The actress remembered performing with Spacey in Lasse Hallström’s 2001 drama “The Shipping News.” Dench had just lost her husband prior to production and she remembered Spacey being an “inestimable comfort” on set. Dench then spoke out against some of the fallout that Spacey faced after being accused by several men of sexual harassment and abuse.

“I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact that — whatever he has done — that you then start to cut him out of the films,” Dench said. “Are we to do what happened when he was replaced with Christopher Plummer? Are we to do that throughout history? Are we to go back throughout history and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or who has broken the law, or who has committed some kind of offense, are they always going to be cut out? Are we going to extrude them from our history? I don’t know.”

Ridley Scott famously replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer in his kidnapping drama “All the Money in the World.” Scott had finished production at the time the allegations against Spacey started being made public, so he got the cast and crew together to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes from scratch with Plummer in Spacey’s role. Plummer ended up landing an Oscar nomination.

“I don’t know about the conditions of it, but nevertheless he is, and was, a most wonderful actor,” Dench said, also referring to the actor as a “good friend.” “I can’t imagine what he is doing.”

Dench was at San Sebastian to receive the festival’s highest honor, the Donostia Award. Her new film, “Red Joan,” is also screening at the festival. Head over to Variety to read more highlights from Dench’s press conference.

Judi Dench Talks About ‘Good Friend’ Kevin Spacey, James Bond at San Sebastian Fest

In Spain to receive the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival’s highest award for an individual and to promote her latest feature, “Red Joan,” Judi Dench didn’t shy away Tuesday from bringing up a name that many now prefer to avoid….

In Spain to receive the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival’s highest award for an individual and to promote her latest feature, “Red Joan,” Judi Dench didn’t shy away Tuesday from bringing up a name that many now prefer to avoid. Asked at a packed press conference if there were any particularly memorable moments in her career […]

‘Tea with the Dames’ Film Review: Enjoy an Entertaining Eavesdrop on Four Living Legends

A consistently hilarious 90-minute chat that could have gone on for twice as long (or, ideally, a weekly television series) without ever feeling like too much of a good thing, “Tea With the Dames,” from director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”), is as cozy and satisfying as its title suggests.

Simply, it consists of Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Eileen Atkins gathering together at Plowright’s home and talking, and the verbal volleying, interruptions, sentence-finishing, and anecdotal confirmation of a 60-plus year friendship between the four only lags when the participants themselves look into the camera to tell the filmmakers that they’re tired. (Smith: “They did tell you how old we are, didn’t they?”)

Bracketed by theater-based vocal warm-up exercises, with all four women rapidly repeating chants such as “red lorry yellow lorry” (and a closing-credits attempt at a tongue twister that won’t be spoiled here), the conversation follows a loosely chronological trajectory — Atkins shares stories of her earliest years dancing with an institution known as The K.Y. School and her childhood confusion regarding why so many people found that name funny — and then digresses at random whenever one of the women remembers a particularly pointed anecdote.

Watch Video: Tracey Ullman Channels Judi Dench, Maggie Smith on HBO Series

When Atkins moves on to the subject of playing Cleopatra and not feeling like she had the courage to tackle the role, Dench jumps in to relate her own experience with the character. “I just remember people laughing openly,” she deadpans, before remembering that she also asked if they really wanted “a menopausal dwarf” in the part. Cleopatra prompts acerbic commentary from Smith about the late Alan Bates’ envy for the role, as well a discussion of Shakespeare and naturalistic acting, with Plowright bemoaning the downsizing of the playwright’s language, chiding contemporary actors who insert “pauses anywhere they like, and uh, uh, uh…”

Memories of the 1960s ricochet between Dench and Atkins, the former announcing, “We swung early,” and the latter confirming, “You and I didn’t need the 60s,” which segues into memories of protesting Vietnam in Trafalgar Square and watching Vanessa Redgrave get arrested.

Also Read: Judi Dench’s Period Spy Thriller ‘Red Joan’ Picked Up by IFC Films

Stage nerves (“Fear is petrol,” states Dench), difficult men (notably Lord Laurence Olivier, Plowright’s late husband, of whom Smith says, “I was more nervous of your husband than the critics. Everybody was. We were terrified.”), raising children, remembering only the bad reviews, the female beauty standards of the entertainment business, the unique situation of being offered the title of “Dame,” and the challenges of film acting versus stage work all come in for dissection.

Smith recounts her time with the late Alan Rickman on “Harry Potter” soundstages, delivering reaction shots opposite thin air as the teenage cast members were being tutored or set up for another shot in a different location. She also confesses to never having watched “Downton Abbey” and despising the large hats of period films as “…the heaviest things in the world. I wore one that was the Albert Hall.”

All four are rankled by the subject of aging and death (Dench: “F–k off, Roger!”), quick to joke about “having three good eyes between” them, but somewhat aghast upon learning that fellow veteran actress Miriam Margolyes has already planned her funeral.

Also Read: 13 Things We Learned About Dame Judi Dench at Her Santa Barbara Tribute

There are, admittedly, cinematic limitations of a frame in which four people sit and talk, so Michell’s team curates a generous helping of archival footage. Home movies, personal photographs, and 50-year-old television clips — 1968 Dench in bright green body makeup for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a sight to behold — make for thrilling punctuation to an already charming conversation.

That charm, the vitality of “Tea With the Dames,” is a product of lifelong friendships and a relaxed comfort the four women share. Michell captures the actors in what may be a somewhat artificial environment, but one in which they speak more openly than we’re used to hearing — casually, but also truthfully, in a manner that tends to be tamped down in more formal interview or press-junket settings. We feel lucky to be eavesdropping, learning which one is most likely to self-deprecate (a toss-up between Dench and Atkins) and who’s the saltiest (Smith, but you probably guessed that already).

Now, about that tea. It plays a far smaller role than expected, as the title of the film was changed from the original “Nothing Like a Dame” to ingratiate itself to the curiously twee version of anglophilia that exists in the United States, the one that centers around Merchant-Ivory films, teapots, and those Albert Hall-sized hats. These dames, perhaps unsurprisingly, are most happily served when the filmmakers break out a bottle of champagne, prompting Smith to demonstrate why she was cast as the Dowager Countess of Downton: “Why didn’t anyone think of that a few hours ago?”



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A consistently hilarious 90-minute chat that could have gone on for twice as long (or, ideally, a weekly television series) without ever feeling like too much of a good thing, “Tea With the Dames,” from director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”), is as cozy and satisfying as its title suggests.

Simply, it consists of Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Eileen Atkins gathering together at Plowright’s home and talking, and the verbal volleying, interruptions, sentence-finishing, and anecdotal confirmation of a 60-plus year friendship between the four only lags when the participants themselves look into the camera to tell the filmmakers that they’re tired. (Smith: “They did tell you how old we are, didn’t they?”)

Bracketed by theater-based vocal warm-up exercises, with all four women rapidly repeating chants such as “red lorry yellow lorry” (and a closing-credits attempt at a tongue twister that won’t be spoiled here), the conversation follows a loosely chronological trajectory — Atkins shares stories of her earliest years dancing with an institution known as The K.Y. School and her childhood confusion regarding why so many people found that name funny — and then digresses at random whenever one of the women remembers a particularly pointed anecdote.

When Atkins moves on to the subject of playing Cleopatra and not feeling like she had the courage to tackle the role, Dench jumps in to relate her own experience with the character. “I just remember people laughing openly,” she deadpans, before remembering that she also asked if they really wanted “a menopausal dwarf” in the part. Cleopatra prompts acerbic commentary from Smith about the late Alan Bates’ envy for the role, as well a discussion of Shakespeare and naturalistic acting, with Plowright bemoaning the downsizing of the playwright’s language, chiding contemporary actors who insert “pauses anywhere they like, and uh, uh, uh…”

Memories of the 1960s ricochet between Dench and Atkins, the former announcing, “We swung early,” and the latter confirming, “You and I didn’t need the 60s,” which segues into memories of protesting Vietnam in Trafalgar Square and watching Vanessa Redgrave get arrested.

Stage nerves (“Fear is petrol,” states Dench), difficult men (notably Lord Laurence Olivier, Plowright’s late husband, of whom Smith says, “I was more nervous of your husband than the critics. Everybody was. We were terrified.”), raising children, remembering only the bad reviews, the female beauty standards of the entertainment business, the unique situation of being offered the title of “Dame,” and the challenges of film acting versus stage work all come in for dissection.

Smith recounts her time with the late Alan Rickman on “Harry Potter” soundstages, delivering reaction shots opposite thin air as the teenage cast members were being tutored or set up for another shot in a different location. She also confesses to never having watched “Downton Abbey” and despising the large hats of period films as “…the heaviest things in the world. I wore one that was the Albert Hall.”

All four are rankled by the subject of aging and death (Dench: “F–k off, Roger!”), quick to joke about “having three good eyes between” them, but somewhat aghast upon learning that fellow veteran actress Miriam Margolyes has already planned her funeral.

There are, admittedly, cinematic limitations of a frame in which four people sit and talk, so Michell’s team curates a generous helping of archival footage. Home movies, personal photographs, and 50-year-old television clips — 1968 Dench in bright green body makeup for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a sight to behold — make for thrilling punctuation to an already charming conversation.

That charm, the vitality of “Tea With the Dames,” is a product of lifelong friendships and a relaxed comfort the four women share. Michell captures the actors in what may be a somewhat artificial environment, but one in which they speak more openly than we’re used to hearing — casually, but also truthfully, in a manner that tends to be tamped down in more formal interview or press-junket settings. We feel lucky to be eavesdropping, learning which one is most likely to self-deprecate (a toss-up between Dench and Atkins) and who’s the saltiest (Smith, but you probably guessed that already).

Now, about that tea. It plays a far smaller role than expected, as the title of the film was changed from the original “Nothing Like a Dame” to ingratiate itself to the curiously twee version of anglophilia that exists in the United States, the one that centers around Merchant-Ivory films, teapots, and those Albert Hall-sized hats. These dames, perhaps unsurprisingly, are most happily served when the filmmakers break out a bottle of champagne, prompting Smith to demonstrate why she was cast as the Dowager Countess of Downton: “Why didn’t anyone think of that a few hours ago?”

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Film Reviews: ‘Tea With the Dames’

There are some films that deliver with such literal-minded generosity on the promise of their titles that all you can do in response is applaud, and in that respect — if no other — “Tea With the Dames” is the new “Snakes on a Plane.&#…

There are some films that deliver with such literal-minded generosity on the promise of their titles that all you can do in response is applaud, and in that respect — if no other — “Tea With the Dames” is the new “Snakes on a Plane.” Roger Michell’s documentary offers dames (a thespian quartet of them, […]

Judi Dench’s Period Spy Thriller ‘Red Joan’ Picked Up by IFC Films

IFC Films has acquired domestic rights to Judi Dench’s period spy thriller “Red Joan,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap. IFC Films is planning to release “Red Joan” theatrically in 2019.

Loosely inspired by the biography of British KGB agent Melita Norwood, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday and is directed by Trevor Nunn. The film also stars Sophie Cookson. “Red Joan” was written by Lindsay Shapero (“Royal Wives at War”) based on Jennie Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name.

“Red Joan” features Dench as Joan Stanley, a retired scientist living in a London suburb who is arrested for crimes committed many years ago. We flash back to 1938, and young Joan (Sophie Cookson) is a new student at Cambridge, where a chance encounter with Sonya (Tereza Srbova), an alluring fellow student, draws her into a circle of politicized youths supporting the Republicans in Spain and the Soviet dream of a classless society. Joan falls for Sonya’s brother Leo (Tom Hughes), a dashing idealist in search of adventure. When the Second World War begins, Joan goes to work for Max (Stephen Campbell Moore) at a top-secret British intelligence project of great interest to Leo. Joan is soon facing several difficult choices: between national loyalties, between belief systems, between men. Somewhere in all this, she will also discover her tremendous potential.

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Oscar-winning producer David Parfitt (“Shakespeare in Love”) produced for Trademark Films. Ivan Mactaggart (“My Week with Marilyn”) of Cambridge Picture Company and Alice Dawson (“The Party”) co-produced.

The acquisition for “Red Joan” was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, exec VP of acquisitions and production at IFC Films, and Embankment Films on behalf of Nunn.

Variety first reported the news.

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IFC Films has acquired domestic rights to Judi Dench’s period spy thriller “Red Joan,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap. IFC Films is planning to release “Red Joan” theatrically in 2019.

Loosely inspired by the biography of British KGB agent Melita Norwood, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday and is directed by Trevor Nunn. The film also stars Sophie Cookson. “Red Joan” was written by Lindsay Shapero (“Royal Wives at War”) based on Jennie Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name.

“Red Joan” features Dench as Joan Stanley, a retired scientist living in a London suburb who is arrested for crimes committed many years ago. We flash back to 1938, and young Joan (Sophie Cookson) is a new student at Cambridge, where a chance encounter with Sonya (Tereza Srbova), an alluring fellow student, draws her into a circle of politicized youths supporting the Republicans in Spain and the Soviet dream of a classless society. Joan falls for Sonya’s brother Leo (Tom Hughes), a dashing idealist in search of adventure. When the Second World War begins, Joan goes to work for Max (Stephen Campbell Moore) at a top-secret British intelligence project of great interest to Leo. Joan is soon facing several difficult choices: between national loyalties, between belief systems, between men. Somewhere in all this, she will also discover her tremendous potential.

Oscar-winning producer David Parfitt (“Shakespeare in Love”) produced for Trademark Films. Ivan Mactaggart (“My Week with Marilyn”) of Cambridge Picture Company and Alice Dawson (“The Party”) co-produced.

The acquisition for “Red Joan” was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, exec VP of acquisitions and production at IFC Films, and Embankment Films on behalf of Nunn.

Variety first reported the news.

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Judi Dench to Receive the Zurich Film Festival Golden Icon Award

Judi Dench will be honored with the Golden Icon award at the Zurich Film Festival. Dench will be the festival to collect the award and to present her new movie, “Red Joan.” A longstanding star of stage and screen, Dench’s film credits include “Victoria…

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Red Joan’

Trevor Nunn is not the first director to accrue both a glorious stage résumé and a paltry, pedestrian screen one. Still, given the talent involved, it’s disappointing that “Red Joan” does so little to change that — his first theatrical feature since a …

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Judi Dench to Receive Donostia Award at 66th San Sebastián Festival

San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF) has announced that the third of this year’s Donostia Awards will go to famed British actress Judi Dench. Other recipients this year are Japanese TV and filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda and American actor, dir…

San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF) has announced that the third of this year’s Donostia Awards will go to famed British actress Judi Dench. Other recipients this year are Japanese TV and filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda and American actor, director, producer Danny DeVito. Dench will receive the award in a ceremony held Tuesday Sept 25th, held […]

Film News Roundup: Production Starts on Eddie Izzard-Judi Dench’s ‘Six Minutes to Midnight’

In today’s film news roundup, production starts on “Six Minutes to Midnight,” Artists for Change launches with “Lost Girls: Angie’s Story” and Sundance names five docs for its Edit and Story lab. PRODUCTION START Pro…

In today’s film news roundup, production starts on “Six Minutes to Midnight,” Artists for Change launches with “Lost Girls: Angie’s Story” and Sundance names five docs for its Edit and Story lab. PRODUCTION START Production has launched in the U.K. on the period thriller “Six Minutes To Midnight,” starring Eddie Izzard and Judi Dench. The […]