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: vanessa redgrave

Famous Faces I Have Photographed

One question I am investigating is whether more people check my blog on weekends than on week days. [Or whether anyone ever checks it at all.]

I have no real “topic,” other than the Quora question asked of me tonight, which was: “Have you ever met any famous Hollywood actresses?”

Well, come on, now. I review film and attend Red Carpet events prepared to ask a question or two and take some shots with my trusty Nikon. How would I NOT occasionally meet a famous actor/actress?

So, the answer is, “Yes, I have met some famous actresses.”

Rather than list them, I’m going to show you a few of the pictures I’ve taken over the years, as I was meeting them. All of the pictures are mine and all rights are reserved.

Those that you see with “Texas Hall of Fame” behind them include  Oscar-winner (for “Misery”) Kathy Bates, one of the co-stars of television’s “Grace & Frankie” sit-com (whose name escapes me), and Marc Maron with his then romantic partner. Director Lynn Shelton, who tragically died in May of 2020. This photo was taken not long before her death.

Then there is Carey Mulligan, clutching a microphone, before she was Oscar-nominated (for the 2nd time) for “Promising Young Woman.” This was taken in Chicago as she did promotion for Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife,” which had Jake Gyllenhaal, wildfires and a largely incomprehensible plot.

Kathleen Turner (“Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Romancing the Stone”) was taken at the retirement party for Michael Kutza, who founded the Chicago International Film Festival, upon his retirement.





Kathleen Turner

Vera Farmiga, from 2009’s “Up in the Air” opposite George Clooney and television’s “Bates Motel.

Mandy Moore at SXSW with “This Is Us” when it premiered there.

Vanessa Redgrave, appearing in Chicago with her directorial debut, the documentary “Sea Sorrow.”

Geraldine Chaplin, a judge at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Viola Davis

Helen Hunt, when she appeared in Chicago promoting “The Sessions” with John Hawke.

Actress/Director Rebecca Hall in 2021, appearing on behalf of “Passing” in Chicago.

This is either Lana or Lilly Wachowski, one half of the brothers who are now sisters, who directed “Cloud Atlas,” among other films.


Vanessa Redgrave Receives Visionary Award at the 53rd Annual Chicago International Film Festival on October 16, 2017

Vanessa Redgrave and Producer son Carlo Nero arrive for her acceptance of the Visionary Award at the 53rd Annual Chicago International Film Festival.

Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most honored actresses of her generation. Now 80, she has been Oscar-nominated six times (winning for Best Supporting Actress in “Julia” in 1977) and may be the only British actress to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, a BAFTA, an Olivier, a Cannes award, a Golden Globe award and an award from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

Redgrave and her 48-year-old son, Carlo Nero, who also functioned as producer on “Sea Sorrow,” Redgrave’s first directorial effort, were present in Chicago at the 53rd Annual International Film Festival both to show the audience their heartbreaking film about the refugee crisis in Europe and to receive a special Visionary Award.

Those who have followed Redgrave’s storied career will know that she has always been a passionate and outspoken proponent for many causes (she is currently a UN Goodwill Ambassador). In 1978 there was a lot of controversy after her Oscar acceptance speech, amidst criticism of her involvement in the Arab cause after her work on “The Palestinian.” Wikipedia notes that, “The scandal of her awards speech (at the Oscars) and the negative press it occasioned had a destructive effect on her acting opportunities that would last for years to come.”

Now, Ms. Redgrave, with the help of other right-minded folk, has made a documentary about the plight of those fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and other countries and arriving in Europe. Appearing in the film in addition to the testimony of actual refugees are fellow actors Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes.

On the Red Carpet on Monday, October 16th, before her film was shown, I was able to speak with Redgrave about her early career and the topic of the current refugee crisis. The Festival has been showing the 1966 film “Blow-Up,” directed by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Redgrave and David Hemmings. The film was an international sensation more than 50 years ago, as it chronicled the story of a high-fashion photographer in sixties Swinging London whose camera might have captured a murder during a photo shoot in a park with an enigmatic beauty (Redgrave).

The film remains an art cinema landmark and a time capsule of the counter-cultural moment. When asked whether she remembered the sensation it created in 1966, she answered, at first, “Not really, no.”
She went on to say this about that classic film in response to questions:

Q1: “Blow-Up” was such a breakthrough in visual filmmaking. (It was said, at the time, that Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director, even dyed the grass for the park shoot greener than it would normally have been.) Do you remember the reaction to the film?

A1: I don’t remember. It was a huge excitement as an actress to work for Michelangelo Antonioni, to act for him and to learn what he was seeing. His approach was completely unlike the Anglo-American approach. And he was also very reassuring. He was sitting offscreen during the camerawork. At one point, the cameraman asked something about a scene and Michelangelo. said: “Don’t worry. She’ll either be able to do it or she can’t.” He didn’t know I could speak Italian, so I understood, and I thought, “Well, that’s reassuring.” I relaxed immediately and thought, ‘Well, at least he isn’t going to be mad.’”

Q2: What do you think causes the roots of fear about immigrants amongst other nations?


watch?v=U-WRhouNVmY”>http://www,youtube.com/watch?v=U-WRhouNVmYA2: “A lot of has to do with media propaganda. Remember the media is owned by certain individuals.” Son Carlo interjected, “A lot of the public has been poisoned by media articles, effectively making refugees out to be rats and it’s a disgrace that this can happen in the 21st century. And this is mainstream, mainstream media.”

Q3: There was a quote in the Palme D’Or winning film “The Square” that said, “How much inhumanity must we experience before we exercise our humanity?” Perhaps you saw it at Cannes. Comments?

A3: We must challenge our governments to act. Right now, these children are here and all alone. I don’t understand how governments can fail to act. Redgrave’s film “Sea Sorrow”, which I will comment on separately, gives the legal grounding for protecting refugees, in general, and refugee children, in particular.)

Q4: So, having been in the film industry for over 50 years, what did you learn about yourself directing this film?

A4: I learned that there was still so much I still had to try and learn. We had to work against the clock. We had to get it ready as soon as we could. It was the kindness of technicians who helped us that allowed that to happen. We had a lot of support making the film. We didn’t have a lot of money and we couldn’t have done it without a lot of generous assistance from others in the film industry who helped us (mentions Ralph Fiennes and Emma Thompson, both of whom appear.)

Both Vanessa (Redgrave) and her 48-year-old son Carlo Nero were gracious in answering questions fully At the end of our brief talk, before the movie began, she mentioned that they “might have an important meeting coming up in Rome soon,” without elaborating on that enigmatic statement.

Amanda Seyfried (from “Big Love”) Carries “Letters to Juliet”

amanda-seyfriedIn the film Letters to Juliet, Amanda Seyfried (see previous article on Associated Content) comes of age as the bride rather than always the bridesmaid. Cast in most films as the best friend, Seyfried portrays Sophie Hall, a young “New Yorker” fact checker who travels to Italy with her boyfriend (Gail Garcia Bernal) and finds true love. The true love she finds is not her boyfriend, however, as any veteran moviegoer will suspect is going to be the case.

The title refers to the practice begun by Ettore Solimani in 1937 of replying to the love letters for advice left at the Juliet memorial in Verona, Italy. As many as 7,000 letters come in, and, in real life, twelve secretaries answer them. (2 are men). It’s even possible to send them by e-mail at [email protected] or to snail mail them addressed to “Juliet, Verona, Italy.”

In the film, Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried) and her soon-to-be husband Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) take a “pre-honeymoon” trip to Italy, since Victor is soon going to be opening a restaurant in New York City. Victor is the kind of fiancée who seems like he has serious ADHD or some other ailment that renders you overly effusive. No matter what the comment, he would exclaim as though it was the Second Coming. He was very irritating after about 10 minutes. One wondered what Sophie’s character found so charming about him, especially since his workaholic tendencies immediately manifested and he was off to this wine auction or that vineyard, leaving Sophie to amuse herself in gorgeous Italian locations like Siena, Tuscany, Soave, and Verona, where Sophie follows the girl gathering the letters to Juliet and discovers the fact-checkers (reduced in number for the film version, and all female).

As luck would have it, Sophie also discovers a letter long-hidden behind a loose brick, which turns out to be from Claire Smith (Vanessa Redgrave) of England. Sophie answers Claire’s letter, which is 50 years old, and Claire and her grandson Charlie, whom she raised, come to Verona looking for a love of Claire’s life whom she knew when 15.

One of the flaws in the film occurs when Sophie is asked by the letter-writers if she is the English translator, since all of them seem to speak perfect English. Another is trying to pass Vanessa Redgrave off as being 65, when she is actually 73. Redgrave is more than equal to the task of portraying Claire, being the only actress to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, at Cannes, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors’ Guild Award, but she does not appear to be 65 years young. Her grandson, Charlie, as played by Christopher Egan, who resembles a younger Ryan Philippe may look good, but he moves gracelessly and has about as much charm as a pet goldfish.

If Victor was annoying in his effervescence, Charlie is equally as unlikable in his cold fish British way. There is even a line when Charlie says of his Grandmother Claire, who raised him,  “She took the angry obnoxious young man I was and turned me into the simply unpleasant type I am today.” I couldn’t have said it better, and I’m still wondering why Sophie, with her double major from Brown with a minor in Latin, her writing talent, and her good sense didn’t dump both of these Lotharios.

The thing that makes the film fascinating is watching Vanessa Redgrave reunited with Franco Nero, her real-life husband since 2006. Since most of the film from the point that Claire and Charlie show up involves Sophie riding with them to find the love of Claire’s young life, whom she lost 50 years ago (should have made it more like 60 years ago), we know that eventually that individual will be found. The fact that it is Franco Nero, now a handsome, well-preserved 69 years young, just makes the film ring truer.

A little history:  Vanessa Redgrave was married to Director Tony Richardson from 1962 until 1967, but he left her for French actress Jeanne Moreau. Vanessa met Franco Nero while playing Queen Guinevere in 1967’s “Camelot” and the two produced a son, Carlo Gabriel Nero. However, their paths drifted apart, and Vanessa Redgrave was with Timothy Dalton (of the ’87 and ’89 James Bond films “License to Kill” and “The Living Daylights” from 1971 through 1986.) It was only after 37 years, in their case, that Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero rediscovered their great romance and married on New Year’s Eve of 2006. In fact, it was Franco Nero who gave away the recently departed Natasha Richardson when she married Liam Neeson.

It is perfect casting to have the two reunited lovers played by two real-life reunited lovers when lines like, “People want to believe in love” and “I didn’t know that true love had an expiration date” resound throughout the film, courtesy of screenwriters Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan.  Gary Winick directed the film and Ellen Barkin was one of the film’s producers.

For me, the gorgeous scenery, very reminiscent of Diane Lane’s “Under the Tuscan Sun” or Keanu Reeves’ film “A Walk in the Clouds,” was a great treat, and the female leads were fine (although I do have the previously noted comment about Redgrave trying to play 65.) However, both of the male leads were lacking. Hugh Dancey was originally supposed to play the Victor lead, and I’d never seen Christopher Egan, who plays Charlie, before. Not only does Charlie come off as stiff and unlikeable throughout, there is almost no reason to believe that the two will fall madly in love, when they have only one chaste love scene.

The use of “Love Story” (Taylor Swift) in one park scene is great for music selection and the phrases, “When we’re speaking about love, it’s never too late’ and “If what you felt then was true love, why shouldn’t it be true now?” will probably spice up some high school reunions this season. The main reason to see the film, however, is the scenery and the performance by Amanda Seyfried,  finally coming into her own as a leading lady.

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