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Michael Lonsdale obituary | Film

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Although he appeared in several English-language blockbusters, Michael Lonsdale, who has died aged 89, was an indispensable part of French cinema for well over half a century. He had roles in more than 180 films and television shows, in addition to working in the theatre. He won a César for his role in Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men, 2010), as one of a group of Trappist monks living in rural Algeria. “I’d vowed never to accept another role as a priest,” Lonsdale said, “but I couldn’t resist playing this wonderful, generous character.”

It was Orson Welles who first cast Lonsdale as a priest, in The Trial (1962). “We only shot for one night, but he must have done 20 takes for my scene. Welles was incredibly nice and every few minutes, he would keep asking me: ‘Are you happy, Mr Lonsdale?’ Of course, I was thrilled.”

But Lonsdale’s real breakthrough came in 1968 in two François Truffaut films. In La Mariée Etait en Noir (The Bride Wore Black), he was a pompous politician, one of five men on whom Jeanne Moreau wreaks revenge for killing her husband on the church steps after their wedding. In Baisers Volés (Stolen Kisses), Lonsdale was the obnoxious owner of a shoe shop who hires a detective (Jean-Pierre Léaud) to work in his store to find out why his employees hate him.

Lonsdale’s dry delivery and his ability to get to the core of a character almost immediately suited the stylised characterisations and deconstructed narratives of Marguerite Duras. He first appeared under her direction in Détruire Dit-Elle (Destroy, She Said, 1969) as an enigmatic German Jew, one of the few guests at a hotel in a forest.

A few years later, Lonsdale was cast in Duras’ India Song (1975) as the lugubrious French vice-consul in the India of the 1930s who turns a blind eye to the numerous affairs engaged in by his pampered wife (Delphine Seyrig). “It’s my favourite role,” Lonsdale said. He also performed in and directed plays by Duras on the Paris stage and, among many others, by Samuel Beckett, another favourite writer.

In contrast, he gained wide international exposure in Fred Zinnemann’s The Day of the Jackal (1973), as the cool master policeman in charge of tracking down the lone would-be assassin (Edward Fox); and in Moonraker (1979), the 11th and most expensive of the James Bond films to date. Lonsdale portrayed Hugo Drax, the suave villain who plans to nerve-gas the world and rule over the community of genetically perfect astronauts with whom he will repopulate it. When 007 (Roger Moore) visits his castle, Drax says: “Look after Mr Bond. See that some harm comes to him.”

Lonsdale was born in Paris, to an English father, Edward Lonsdale-Crouch, an army officer, and a French-Irish mother, Simone Béraud, and spent much of his childhood in London and the Channel Islands. When Michael was eight, his family relocated to Casablanca in Morocco, where his father planned to set up a business.

“Then the war broke out and we were stuck in North Africa,” Lonsdale recalled. “It was there that my love for the cinema was born, thanks to the American soldiers who arrived in 1942. My parents became friends with the officers and they brought me along to see all the great movies by John Ford, George Cukor, Howard Hawks. I even saw Casablanca in Casablanca. It was amusing to see Hollywood’s idea of Morocco.”

In 1947, Lonsdale went to Paris to study painting, but soon decided to switch to acting to “overcome my shyness”. He took classes with Tania Balachova at the Vieux Colombier theatre, whose classes followed some of the Stanislavskian methods used by the Actors Studio in New York. Among his fellow students there were Seyrig, Laurent Terzieff, Stéphane Audran and Jean-Louis Trintignant. In his 2016 memoir Le Dictionnaire de Ma Vie, Lonsdale said he had fallen for Seyrig: “It was her or nothing, and that’s why at 85 I’m still unmarried.”




Michael Lonsdale during the shooting of the The Day of the Jackal, 1973, in which he played the French detective Claude Lebel.



Michael Lonsdale during the shooting of the The Day of the Jackal, 1973, in which he played the French detective Claude Lebel. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Around that time, he changed his first name to Michel, “Because the French had trouble pronouncing Michael” (though it reappeared on film credits), and converted to Catholicism.

After a number of bits in commercial French films, he started to get bigger parts in the early60s, mainly thanks to Jean-Pierre Mocky, who cast him in five features as an archetypal bourgeois, bringing out Lonsdale’s deadpan humour. The first, and most widely distributed abroad, was Snobs! (1962), an iconoclastic comedy in which Lonsdale played one of four unscrupulous directors of a milk co-operative vying to fill the post of president, after the incumbent is drowned in a vat of milk.

During the 70s, arguably the most fruitful decade of Lonsdale’s career, he was fortunate to work for some of the best directors around in a range of small but striking roles: he was a possibly paedophile priest in Louis Malle’s Le Souffle au Coeur (Murmurs of the Heart, 1971); a lustful theatre director in Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 (1974); a world-weary doctor in Alain Resnais’ Stavisky (1974) and, in Luis Buñuel’s Le Fantôme de la Liberté (The Phantom of Liberty, 1974), a “respectable” man who invites four monks to witness his being whipped.

Lonsdale was also seen in what could be called avant-garde erotica, playing a judge investigating a girl’s murder in Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir (Successive Slidings of Pleasure, 1974), and as a man who tells his friends a story about his early days as a Peeping Tom in Jean Eustache’s Une Sale Histoire (A Dirty Story, 1977). “I like to be where no one expects me to be,” Lonsdale explained.

He also made three films with Joseph Losey: Galileo (1975), based on the Brecht play, in which he played the intellectual Cardinal Barberini, who gradually discards his liberal views as he takes on the robes to become Pope Urban VIII; The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), which revealed him as a smooth gangster; and Mr Klein (1976), in which he was rather creepy as a cuckolded lawyer.

Lonsdale continued to appear in diverse films, including a few Hollywood movies, such as John Frankenheimer’s The Holcroft Covenant (1985), as the softly spoken Swiss accountant dealing with Michael Caine’s tainted inheritance, and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he was the quizzical abbot who believes the devil is at work in his monastery.

Although the quantity of films he made was not reduced, the quality was. Among the exceptions were The Tribulations of Balthazar Kober (1988), the final film by the Polish director Wojciech Has, in which Lonsdale played a wise philosopher; and two James Ivory films, The Remains of the Day (1993), as a French statesman with blisters on his feet, and Jefferson in Paris (1995), as Louis XVI.

He was back to priestly robes as the Inquisitor General in Miloš Forman’s period soap opera Goya’s Ghosts (2006), and in Nicolas Klotz’s Heartbeat Detector (2007) he was the chief executive of a large company who locks himself away in his office for hours on end and sits alone listening to Schubert in the back seat of his parked car.

In the latter part of his career, the grey-bearded Lonsdale lent gravitas to whatever part he played, including Theon, the head of the library in Alexandria, in Agora (2009), directed by Alejandro Amenábar, the leader of a mosque in occupied Paris in Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Free Men (2011), and the title role of Manoel de Oliveira’s O Gebo e a Sombra (Gebo and the Shadow, 2012).

Michael Lonsdale (Michael Edward Lonsdale-Crouch), actor, born 24 May 1931; died 21 September 2020

Ronald Bergan died earlier this year

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Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact

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Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!

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American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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