Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy in “Living,” a Nominee for Two Oscars

Bill Nighy is perhaps best-known to international audiences for his memorable performance as washed-up pop singer Billy Mack in Love Actually (2003), which won him a BAFTA for best supporting actor. He has also appeared in the “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” films and has won numerous acting awards in a long career that goes back to the 1970s.

This year, Bill Nighy has been nominated for Best Actor in his film “Living” and he will have to compete against newcomer Austin Bishop (“Elvis”), Irish actor Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inishirin”), Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), and Paul Mescal in “Aftersun.”

“Living” is a loose adaptation/remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” (aka “To Live“), a post-World War II drama about a Tokyo bureaucrat who goes on a similar journey after a terminal diagnosis of gastric cancer. Here, the Japanese setting has been traded for fifties London and Bill Nighy as Mr. Williams is the head of one of the many departments and bureaucracies that governments form. So often, the workers in such bureaucracies, become bogged down in it all. The screenplay’s term is “the sheer grind of it all.” The screenplay here was written by Kazuo Ishigero, based on the original Ikira Kurosawa work “Ikiru,” and is also nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nighy has been giving us convincing portraits of men whose chief desire (as with Mr. Williams) was to “be a gentleman” for years, but he also has run the gamut from zombies to alcoholic singers. It is perhaps ironic that Nighy in this role has been dubbed “Mr. Zombie” by the only female staffer, Aimee Lou Wood as Margaret, because he has, in fact, often been cast as a zombie.

In this particular film, however, it is the shock of his terminal diagnosis that reveals to the aging bureaucrat just how he has lost the joy of living. You just know that, in the time that he has left, he will attempt to regain his lust for life. As he says, “I remember what it was like to be alive like that.” As Miss Harris (Margaret, portrayed by Aimee Lou Wood) describes zombies, “they’re sort of dead, but not dead.” Margaret has quite a few nick names for her co-workers, including, “the hoverer” and “the confused chimney,” most of which have to do with the shuffling of papers by her co-workers, without any real progress.

Stacks of paperwork in each employee’s in/out basket show that they are busy, but what they seem to be busiest doing is giving regular Londoners the run-around—especially a group of neighborhood women who are dead set on getting a new playground. Alex Sharp as new employee Mr. Wakeling is ultimately someone who absorbs the life lesson that Williams, in his final weeks, attempts to share. He begins trying to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  The boss who will succeed Mr. Williams, however, Mr Middleton (Adrian Rawlins) remains set in cement and, while talking a good game about progress, completely misses the point of the lesson that Mr. Williams’ last few months of life were meant to illuminate.

Another theme handled very delicately deals with the difficulty of a parent in communicating with the younger generation. When Williams learns of his approaching death, he wants to confide in his son, Michael (Barney Fishwick). He even practices what he will say in the hall mirror. Still, he cannot breach the gulf between them; Michael is just as tongue-tied and helpless at really communicating with his father, as Michael’s wife browbeats him about talking to his dad concerning Nigh’s platonic friendship with Aimee Lou Wood as Margaret Harris. In the fifties setting, an old man befriending a much younger colleague who is female is simply not done. Everyone assumes the worst, and the son and daughter-in-law want to put a halt to gossip. The film very accurately reflects how times have changed since the fifties in society. Nighy, at 73, certainly has the necessarily lengthy career to have seen these changes.

The film, directed by Oliver Hermanus, is elegantly old-fashioned.  I mean that in all the best ways. The score, by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch swells with the full orchestration of olden days in this 1 hour and 42 minute movie.  The cinematography by Jamie Ramsay is spot-on and all of the supporting players are excellent in their parts. It should be noted that the script is also Oscar nominated as Best Adapted Screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro. There’s a definite feeling of a beginning, a middle, and an end and we even get a life lesson that we all should take to heart. To me, the other film that seems old-fashioned in this good way is “A Man Called Otto” with Tom Hanks. I don’t agree that there is a “merging” of films like “A Fistful of Dollars,” derived from  their Japanese source.

I found it interesting reading that Ishiguro had wanted to script a remake of the Akira Kurosawa film for years and was only able to pitch it to Bill Nighy (whom he always viewed as the actor best suited to play the role of Mr. Williams) when he and his wife ended up sharing a cab with Nighy after a party. Nighy had never seen “Ikiru,” but once he watched it, he enthusiastically signed on to the project. He now approaches the pinnacle of an acting career—a possible Oscar win.

The front-runner to win the Oscar for Best Actor is “The Whale’s” Brendan Fraser. The five-minute ovation at Cannes and his come-back story, not to mention his superb acting, will be hard to beat, but the confined sets for “The Whale” and the depressing subject matter might give other veteran actors a chance. Colin Farrell, for instance, has also gone many years without a vehicle worthy of his talent. Only “Elvis’” Austin Bishop is a break-through performance. Which of the three veteran nominees—-Nighy, Farrell, or Fraser—is likely to take home the statuette in March? We’ll all have to watch to find out. (And, of course, to make sure that nobody gets clocked unnecessarily during the broadcast.) The fifth and final nominee, Paul Mescal in “Aftersun,” barely has a shot.

Here’s an interesting quote from Bill Nighy about awards, in general, uttered in 2007 when the Golden Globes honored him: “I used to think that prizes were demeaning and divisive until I got one, and now they seem sort of meaningful and real.”




“The Man Who Fell to Earth” Is Spectacular Showtime Series

It is Saturday, June 4th, and I am pondering what late-night viewing I will watch as my spouse slumbers beside me.

Usually, I scroll through the movies, but recently I have been watching “The Man Who Fell to Earth” on Showtime.

They premiered “The Man Who Fell to Earth” at SXSW in Austin and I signed up to go, but they were showing it within the Convention Center. I have learned (the hard way) that getting to and from the Convention Center during SXSW is no day at the beach. They barricade off the area, so a cab is not an option and the last few times I journeyed down there when SXSW was actually underway I had to hire a pedicab guy to make it from the panel I wanted to hear (horror movies from Bloomhouse Pictures) to the Paramount for the afternoon showing.

So, sadly, I missed the SXSW premiere of this new series, led by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney) but I was impressed by her former series that originated with the “Silence of the Lambs” film and agent Clarice Starling. Here is what IMDB tells us about Jenny Lumet: Jenny Lumet was born on February 2, 1967 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Rachel Getting Married (2008), The Mummy (2017) and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022). She has been married to Alexander Weinstein since May 2, 2007. They have one child. She was previously married to Bobby Cannavale.

IMDB also gives us this Jenny Lumet quote about writing, in general: “I suppose that there are writers that say, ‘I write what I write and if people get it, great, if they don’t, whatever.’ “But I don’t feel that way. I feel very passionate about making connections with people. I want very much to be heard.”

With “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the writers (Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman) have revamped a movie from 1976 that originally starred David Bowie. I still remember sitting in the darkened theater marveling at how well David Bowie fit the role of an alien.

Here are the actors involved in the series:

As you look over the pictures above, you may know that Chiwetel Ejiofor is better-known to U.S. audiences for his role in “Twelve Years A Slave” where he portrayed Solomon Northrup. He was Oscar-nominated for that role and he is astounding in this role. One of the chief aspects of this visitor from another planet is that he consumes voluminous amounts of water and has encased himself in what he calls “a skin suit” to better blend in and resemble humans.
Naomie Harris was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2017’s “Moonlight,” but has appeared in both “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in 2021 and as Moneypenny in 2021’s “No Time to Die.”
Clarke Peters portrays Jusin Falls’ (Naomie Harris’) father and her daughter is portrayed by Annelle Olalaye. Both are good, but kudos to the leads: Ejiofor and Harris.
Another recognizable face was that of Jimmi Simpson as Spencer Clay. At first, I could not place where I knew him from, until I thought back to his many appearances on “West World” as William from 2016 to 2020.
Bill Nighy as Thomas Newton, the scientist who left behind plans that could save not only a foreign planet but our own planet was also a recognizable actor from his appearance in “Love, Actually.”
This is a thinking man’s series and it helps if you pay close attention to the discussions of theoretical physics and our own world’s chance of being destroyed by the year 2030 by the same sorts of crises that afflict that of our hero, who has journeyed to Earth to try to save his own planet and his own countrymen.
The special effects are, well, special—one could justifiably say “spectacular”—and the acting is great. I look forward to each new episode each night and recommend that you sample it, if you want to find a good new series.

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