28 thoughts on “MCM: Kenneth Branagh

  1. He is my ideal historical costume boyfriend. Except for breaking up with Emma Thompson — took me a long time to forgive him for that. I figure Wild Wild West was his penance. That’s SUCH a shitty movie. Yes, I’ve seen it (twice, bec. I re-watched it recently for Snark Week). His Southern American accent is atrocious, which is weird bec. his standard American accent in Dead Again is perfect. But every other one of these films is fantastic, & Kenneth is totally on my free-pass list :)

        1. I do! He was one of my first serious screen idols. And SUCH a hunk in Frankenstein… I have seen that film a dozen or more times. :-)

  2. I LOL’d at that first pic and went, “Aww, look at ikkle Colin Firth!”

    I haven’t seen several of these. I should.

    MWWM is one of those movies where… I could not get the original actors out of my head enough to enjoy new actors playing them. I think the lack of impersonations got to me — Kenneth looks and sounds NOTHING like Olivier, so that threw me. I was also disappointed to reach the Vivien Leigh scenes and Julia Ormond (whom I usually adore) also didn’t bother to sound or act anything like Vivien. I should watch it again, though; I think my expectations led to comparisons that became unfavorable, whereas now knowing no one bothers to throw in any impersonations would let me enjoy it as a period piece.

    I think it’s a lot harder to play someone people KNOW, and have heard or seen for themselves. That’s why Cate Blanchett’s Katherine Hepburn blew me away.

    / rambling thoughts

    1. I’ll be reviewing My Week With Marilyn at some point, but yeah… I found Branagh’s & Ormond’s impressions of Olivier & Leigh rather lacking. At least with Branagh, there was a hint of Olivier, only because he’s basically been role playing Olivier for the last 30 years of his life in one form or another, but Ormond’s Leigh just was so flat and weirdly utilized.

      That said, I did enjoy Michelle Williams’ Marilyn. I thought she did a great job showing how MM could just turn it on and off like a faucet, so you never really knew what version of herself was authentic. Was it the free spirited Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Was it the drugged up ball of self-hatred and anxiety? Was it the ditzy blonde? The charmer? Was she just the world’s greatest manipulator?

      And the costumes were fantastic. I was seriously impressed with the level of detail they went to reproduce Marilyn’s gowns that I was convinced they actually used the originals until I read that they were all made for the film.

      1. I felt the movie misfired, but I agree that Michelle Williams was magnificent. It probably also helped that, not being a fan of Marilyn, I haven’t seen her in many things, so I had nothing to compare her performance to. And yes, the costumes ARE gorgeous.

  3. Can one day all the Shakespeare films, his movies with Emma and I agree Wild Wild West was his penance. It was his worst film. I will have to see Month in Country for content as well as Ken and Colin.
    Just rewatched My Week with Marilyn. He got Larry to a Tee. Whole cast was stellar. With the possible exception of Ormond as Ms Leigh. Her talent, Vivien’s, was great and beauty as well. She and Ms Monroe were undefeated as actresses. Marilyn due to ‘dumb blonde’ act and Ms Leigh due to her jawdropping beauty and marrying Olivier.
    BTW Ken was in Harry Potter and you didn’t include it. Gilderoy Lockhart was…

    1. We dither on the Harry Potter films — we’re huge fans, but they’re technically modern films (set in the contemporary era) & of course fantasy too. Except for the upcoming Magical Beasts & Where to Find them, which is firmly set in 1920s New York City!

      (Side note: I love Gilderoy Lockhart & my husband wants to cosplay him *squee*)

      1. Apparently Hugh Grant was first choice for that role, but he was busy, and Ken got it. I think Ken did a better job than Hugh ever could have. He’s ten times the actor.

  4. He was so good as a Nazi in Swing Kids and the Final Solution. And I loved his FDR in Warm Springs!

    1. I left off the two Nazi roles of his mainly because neither of them were great costume flicks. Great flicks in general, sure, but costume-wise? Not so much.

  5. Branagh and Thompson certainly brought out the best in each other — and probably the worst. I believe she had her own ambitions as a director, which certainly would add fuel to the fire. I don’t see how any relationship lasts in Hollywood when people spend months in hothouse situations with each other, trying to find love and passion. It’s almost inevitable that some of it carries over when the cameras stop rolling.

  6. ‘Shackleton’ and ‘Swing Kids’ both deserve a mention. Having lived in LA, I’m fairly immune to celebrities, but I must admit that Branagh has a remarkable charisma. I think every woman’s knees started to buckle when he walked into the room. He was astounding in his charm.

    1. I freakin’ LOVE Shackleton! Branagh was spectacular in that TV movie, & it was just a really well-made story. (Also, having been to Antarctica, I have a thing for the golden age of polar exploration, so yay for two worlds colliding!).

    2. Like I said above, I left off “Swing Kids” because the costumes were meh. The movie was absolutely fantastic, but costume-wise? Not a lot there to discuss.

      Same with “Shakleton”. You gotta admit that the costuming was not exactly a compelling reason to watch the film.

      I have a feeling we’re going to get the same sort of reaction when we leave off “The Revenant” for Leo Di Caprio. :P

  7. Fun fact, I do blame this man for my love of Shakespeare and for finding a purpose in my purpose-less teenage life (Really really weird how I connected with his Henry V, probs even saved my life- yeah I was at a really awful point of it when I first watched the movie)
    So if I ever meet him, I shall need to give him a hug.

  8. He was my first love and the only male to receive the “Tiger Beat” treatment in my life. I had that same sultry photo of the pair from Frankenstein adorning my teenage bedroom closet door, not to mention my posters and other clippings from Entertainment Weekly. Henry V was indeed an awakening for my fifteen-year-old self. From it my love of Shakespeare and my general Anglophile-ness was born. I remember trying to find ANYTHING Branagh among the catalogs of the pre-Netflix video clubs in order to feed my obsession. And I never had this feeling duplicated with another. Oh, young love…

  9. Ken was one of my first- my first being Frank Langella, after he was in Dracula in 1979. Oh. My, God. (insert copious drool.) I adored Ken, and when Frankenstein came out, I dragged my then-boyfriend to see it. And he freaked out of me because of the gore- he loved slasher movies and stuff, but the gore in Frankenstein was much more immediate, with context, and felt more real. He was mad at me for quite awhile after that. But he went with me to see Ken’s Hamlet, and liked it.

    Ken has been superceded though, by another Shakespearean- David Tennant. I LOVED him as the Tenth Doctor, but I also saw his Hamlet. And bought a copy. It was AMAZING. And a copy of Spies of Warsaw, and Escape Artist, Casanova, and I have watched his Richard II over and over and over. They’re bringing it to New York next month- If I could afford tickets and plane fare, I’d BE THERE. Oh God, I’d so be there. (He was also in The Last September, along with Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith. And I saw him in Recovery, which was heartbreaking and I don’t know if I could watch it again. Secret Smile had him as the villain, and it was pretty sick. He’s really good at the dark side. And The Politician’s Husband was also very hard to watch. So yeah, basically I watch anything I can get my hands on with him in it… Sexiest Scot EVAR.)

    1. Ohhhh YESSSSS!! Kenneth followed by David in anything from Shakespeare to contemporary drama. Oh how I loved them both!! 😙

  10. It could be argued that “Conspiracy” is a costume flick because it takes place in a time period other than the present and clothing details differ not only in style and cut but the attitude about the way clothing was worn. Certainly all the uniforms can be considered costumes.

    1. Indeed, the costumes were done by Rosalind Ebbutt who’s won a BAFTA and was nominated for an EMMY for Emma (Romola Garai version). She’s worked on Foyle’s War, Downton Abbey, etc.. While not a costume drama, it is a period piece in which the costumes *do* matter.

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