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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Interview With 'Woman in Gold' Director Simon Curtis Shows He Is Worth Weight in Platinum

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The exciting aspects of speaking with film and television director Simon Curtis, whose numerous projects included the recently reviewed Blu-ray version of "Woman in Gold," included that the sense that this talented and successful man shared the same perspective as your reviewer.

The only disappointment regarding our telephone conversation was that 15 minutes was allocated for a discussion that could have lasted hours.

Historic Reality

The observation that many projects, including the 2011 film "My Week With Marilyn" and the 2007-09 British drama series "Cranford," that Curtis has helmed were historic dramas prompted asking whether that genre particularly appealed to him. He very politely initially reminded me that he also worked on many projects set in contemporary times.

Curtis added that he liked good stories and that "many good stories are about the past." He graciously did not mention "Marilyn" or "Gold" but cited "The Imitation Game" and
"Argo" as examples of good recent films based on actual events.

Citing the "terrifying" development that Warner Brothers had a three-year timeline for releasing superhero films, Curtis further stated that "there is a crisis in fiction today." That comment supported the decision of that genuine auteur to look to actual events for material. One exception regarding that sentiment was that Curtis highly praised the recent film "Birdman." An awesome aspect of that was informing him of the '60s "Birdman" cartoon and doing a horrible version of the "BIRDMAN!" call.

(This post belatedly (and coincidentally) running on the opening weekend of the Marvel film "Ant-Man" supports the view expressed above.)

These observations led to my sharing that friends in the pre-reality show '80s stated that they did not watch television because their friends were more interesting than the people om television. Curtis responded that people enjoyed criticizing reality shows but stated that they were more interesting than current scripted series.

Good as 'Gold'

The above discussed elements further prompted Curtis to enthusiastically express the sentiment that "I am ecstatic to be having this conversation at a time that 'Woman in Gold' has been in the theaters for 14 weeks." He further described this film as "a love letter to America's policy of immigration" and more generally as "a great American story."

The shared bases for the above sentiments included the primary "Gold" character Maria being a young woman when she fled Nazi-occupied Austria and having the United States Supreme Court consider the merits of her case to recover possession of the titular portrait of her aunt.

This topic led to discussing the involvement of the family of the real-life Maria in making "Gold.' The story of the son of Maria crying while watching Helen Mirren portray his mother was known. Learning that the grandson of Maria made a very moving speech at the premiere of the film awesomely added to "behind-the-scenes" knowledge.

On a more general level, Curtis stated "we were very lucky that Helen and [co-star] Ryan [Reynolds] got along so well."

"Indian Summers"

The conversation concluded with discussing the television series "Indian Summers," which is the latest project of Curtis. He shared that the PBS "Masterpiece" will aptly begin airing episodes of that program about the final days of British rule in India in September.

Golden Rule

The insights of Curtis show that well-presented reality has a place in popular entertainment so long as 15 minutes of fame is not the objective.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding this post is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.