quartet film

Uta no Prince Sama: Maji Love Legend Star Vol. 6

Quiz no Prince Sama: STARISH [end] / Batsu Game (1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8)

New interview with The Telegraph (I posted the entire article for those without access)

‘Edgar Wright could have fired me and got Michael Caine instead’: Kevin Spacey on loss, life and Baby Driver

By Robbie Collin, Film Critic

1 July 2017 • 7:00am

Kevin Spacey is a man who knows when to get on his bike. Take the morning of our interview, a balmy Wednesday in June on which central London is even more than usually snarled with traffic. In transit to our meeting place – a chic West End hotel – he abandons his taxi and leaps on a rental bicycle, or so I’m told by a neatly dressed man with a moustache and clipboard whose job entails keeping abreast of Spacey’s movements, for today at least.

Minutes later, Spacey glides in sweat-free and bang on time, despite having made an iced latte pit stop en route. Smiling hungrily, and dressed in a sharp navy blazer, striped tie and chinos, he looks like a crocodile disguised as a Rotarian. But as he slouches into an armchair and amiably lobs the screwed-up wrapper of his drinking straw towards a wastepaper basket in the corner – a near miss – I start to wonder if my wary first impression was entirely fair.

It was certainly swayed by the fact that Spacey’s career is currently in the sixth fruitful year of its death-dealing control freak phase, a character type at which the 57-year-old actor has proved remarkably adept. First came his three-month stint as Richard III at the Old Vic – a production of the Shakespeare play, directed by Sam Mendes, that was called the crowning glory of his 11-year creative directorship at the London theatre.

Next came six seasons of Netflix’s glossily rancorous political serial House of Cards, in which Spacey plays President Frank Underwood – a character whose original incarnation, in a series of novels by the British author and Conservative peer Michael Dobbs, was partly inspired by Richard III and Macbeth. And this week, we have the first film Spacey shot since leaving the Old Vic in 2015: Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, a car-chase thriller in which he plays Doc, the dark mind and barbed tongue behind a madcap Atlanta bank-robbing crew. It’s a role, like those other two, that turns on the classic Spacey bark/bite conundrum: you think his character can’t possibly be as scary as he sounds, and then he actually gets to work.

There were hints of that in his performance in The Usual Suspects, too: the first in a quartet of towering film roles that made his reputation and won him two Academy Awards in five years flat. (The others were Se7en, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty.)

This kind of actor-audience tension reminds Spacey of Shakespeare – a lot does – and specifically, the way theatre-goers around the world reacted when, as a raging Richard III, he directly addressed members of the audience while pouring out his nefarious schemes. (The theatrical technique was adopted by House of Cards, to similarly chilling ends.)

“In 12 different theatres in 12 different cities around the world, I was looking into the audience’s eyes and seeing the same extraordinary reaction everywhere: ‘This is so awesome, I’m in on it, I’m a co-conspirator!’” he recalls. “And they kept totally supporting him, right up until the moment they find out he murdered the kids. Then when I looked at them it was like, ‘Oh, f—,’” he beams.

Spacey sets about his work with a steely resolve and says his sense of purpose has redoubled following the deaths of a number of close friends, not least the actor Tim Pigott-Smith, in April of this year, and the theatre director Howard Davies last October, both of whom worked with Spacey on the 1999 Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh.

He says he’s spent the last year-and-a-half “working with a whole series of experts, doctors and others, because I have watched, over the last six years, colleagues and friends of mine drop dead at 52, or 56, or 65. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get one of the five things that men over 50 are getting, but maybe you can hold it off until your 80s or your 90s. So I’m working on extending my life and not shortening it.”

For one thing, he still has so much to do. He’s written letters asking directors he admires – Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Wong Kar-wai – to bear him in mind for future roles. (“I keep opening the paper and reading that Woody Allen’s doing a film with Alec Baldwin,” he mock-splutters.) He wants to find a new creative director-like role that will “advance [his] love and appreciation of theatre” – another Old Vic gig, essentially – albeit “with the caveat that I don’t want to run a building again.”

Then this tantalising prospect: “I have a gigantic project for television,” he says. “Once House of Cards is finished. This is a very specific project that will be the next big thing I do.” He declines to elaborate, so I ask if it will reunite him with David Fincher, the director who, along with the playwright Beau Willimon, helped bring House of Cards to Netflix. “It is not a Fincher production,” he replies. “It’s mine.”

There is also his ongoing mission to open up theatre to a younger, broader crowd. At the Old Vic he relentlessly raised funds to keep the theatre running without public subsidy, while simultaneously fighting to bring its productions to new audiences – specifically, youngsters who wouldn’t have otherwise wandered through its doors.

In fact, he’s just returned to England from New York, and a restaging of his penultimate Old Vic production – David W. Rintels’ intimate one-man show Clarence Darrow, about the American civil rights lawyer – in a 23,000-seater tennis stadium in Queens, designed to bring in a crowd for whom Broadway is alien turf. Critics didn’t exactly take to the idea, with the New York Times branding the exercise a “folly”. But for Spacey, the bragging rights are in the numbers: 200 student tickets sold every night, and a further 250 given away free to 18 to 25-year-olds. “And yes, my producers don’t like me, but in the end we still make a profit,” he says, lacing the word “like” with pure venom. “We just don’t make as big a profit.”

This nose-thumbing single-mindedness considered, it’s perhaps surprising that Spacey enjoyed working on Baby Driver as much as he did. The film is so tightly choreographed – most scenes unfold in snappy sync with a musical accompaniment – that Spacey had to act out entire scenes with an earpiece keeping time, to ensure his every line and gesture fell on the beat.

“Let me put it this way,” he says. “Every time you work with a director, you have something to lose and something to gain. Some directors, when you’re doing a play, like to get up on their feet on day one and block the first act, and you’re like, ‘I don’t f—ing know who I’m playing yet, let alone why they would walk from here to there.’ And others sit down at a table and you spend a week examining Shakespeare before anyone gets on their feet.”

What did he have to lose on Baby Driver? “I could have been fired and Edgar could have got in Michael Caine instead,” he deadpans. Spacey is an accurate and merciless mimic – see YouTube for details – and says he would sometimes drop into the British actor’s accent on set, “just to make Edgar smile.”

He does this throughout our conversation too: reminiscences of Ian McKellen’s Widow Twankey at the Old Vic’s Christmas pantomime, for example, come with a note-perfect impersonation attached. In fact, interviewing Spacey often feels as if you’re in the front row for a one-man show of his devising. He doesn’t converse so much as monologue, and adjusts his tone and posture with a slinky precision while moving from one point to the next. And when he talks about losing Pigott-Smith and Davies, his words are so tender, and his delivery so wrong-footingly serene, I find myself welling up.

It’s not that you feel that Spacey is being insincere so much as suspect that for him, this might be what sincerity is. Perhaps it’s an up-close-and-personal version of Diderot’s paradox of the actor: you can either convincingly express an emotion or feel it for real, but never both at once.

While hosting the Tony Awards a few weeks ago, Spacey joked about the long-running rumours around his sexuality – but again, at a cautious remove. During the opening skit he dragged up as Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard, and trilled a line from the musical – “I’m coming out!” – before hurriedly backtracking, to laughter from the crowd.

Spacey doesn’t talk publicly about his personal life, perhaps after being burned by a 1997 magazine interview that heavily insinuated he was gay. Given his long-standing decision not to discuss any of this, did he feel odd joking about it on the stage of an awards show?

“I really don’t think that anything isn’t a subject for comedy,” he shrugs. “In many ways, political correctness has made comedy really difficult. We were just trying to have fun, and poking fun at oneself as much as anyone else. I said pretty early on that I was not interested in turning the evening into a political opportunity, and I wanted to do things that would be surprising and different.” He mentions another gag, about the Hillary Clinton email scandal, which many might have thought his long-standing friendship with her husband, might have precluded: again, not so.

If we can’t make fun of ourselves and others, and even people we might agree with versus people we don’t agree with, then I don’t think that’s good for comedy.”

One of his inspirations in life, he says, has been Jack Lemmon. The two met when Spacey was a timid 13-year-old – the youngest of three siblings – at an acting workshop in Los Angeles. Lemmon was “an idol” – someone he’d marveled at on countless cinema trips with his mother Kathleen Ann, who instilled her own love of classic films and theatre in her youngest son.

Spacey recalls the older man laying a hand on his shoulder after the class and telling him: “You’re a born actor, and you should go to New York and study this, because you were meant to do this with your life.” The advice took. At 19, Spacey was accepted by the Juilliard School, and in his mid-20s, he was cast opposite Lemmon in a Broadway production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, as the elder actor’s son. During rehearsals, he told him the story of their first meeting when he was 13. Lemmon remembered every detail.

Spacey describes Lemmon, who died in 2001, as a “father figure” (his actual father Thomas, a technical writer and frustrated novelist, passed away in 1994). He lost his mother to a brain tumour in 2003.

The shy teen who got that vital dose of Lemmon aid more than four decades ago may be long gone, but Spacey remembers him well – along with the precise point, two years later, when he fully understood what acting was.

“Something shifted,” he explains, during a school production of All My Sons, the Arthur Miller play. Before then he’d primarily enjoyed acting because it put him at the centre of attention, but as he stood on stage, the 15-year-old realised the faces in front of him – parents, classmates, strangers – weren’t actually looking at him, Kevin Spacey, at all.

“I realised they were responding to the character I was playing,” he says. “That it wasn’t about me.”

Teenage Girls Are Fucking Awesome

Today Jessica Rudd published a- frankly bizarre- piece as part of her regular blog for the Brisbane Times. She spoke about how a pharmacist in her mid forties was rude to her Grandmother and that we should treat older people with more respect. However for some unknown reason the first half of the piece seems to be making fun of some teenagers she saw in a DVD store.

Jess makes fun of a teenage girl, emphasising her use of slang and is surprised when the young woman has ‘excellent taste’ because she enjoyed the film Quartet. She ensures she mentions the ‘faux hawk’ of the girl’s friend, that her ‘cuticles were coloured with pink and yellow highlighters’ and ‘her midriff festooned with temporary tattoos’.

Unfortunately this is only too common occurrence in the media, the shaming of young women. The stereotype of the dumb teenage girl who only cares about clothes and boys is tired and overused.

You know what? Young women can wear midriff tops and say ‘oh my god’ and crush on celebrities and still be human beings who are capable of critical thinking and intelligent conversation. I’m incredibly sick of young women’s language and fashion choices being the sole focus of their representation in the media.

I’m constantly astounded by teenage girls and how incredible they are. Take Tavi Gevinson who at the age of twelve started a fashion blog which has now become Rookie Mag, a place for articles on pop culture and feminism. What about Malala Yousafzai, who stood up to the Taliban on education for girls? There’s Nicole Maines, a trans* activist who took her school to court for not allowing her to use the girls bathroom. Bundat Mununggurr, a young Yolngu woman who is campaigning for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people. And who could forget the Year 9 girls of Newton High, who questioned Prime Minister Abbott on his policies so well he had to ask ‘for a bloke’s question’ because he was uncomfortable.

This is only a very small list of the amazing things teenage girls are doing. Yet the focus is still on their texting slang, their clothes, and assumptions that they’re oversexed and uneducated. And every time someone like Jess Rudd makes judgemental observations about teenage girls, it dismisses all the good that they’re doing and reinforces the stereotype.

To all the teenage girls out there: I was you not so long ago. You amaze me with your intellect, your humour, your passion. I am in awe of you. You are fucking awesome.

A Thank You to The Hunger Games Film Team

Having spent the last decade in Panem, it’s time to move on to other lands. But before I do, I’d like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone associated with the film franchise. I’m thrilled with how this quartet of films, which I find both faithful to the books and innovative in its own right, has been brought to life on the screen.  

In an earlier letter I credited director Gary Ross for his wonderful rendering of the first book, but now I turn to Francis Lawrence who has so amazingly helmed the rest of the franchise.  Creating three big budget films in three years, that’s a feat in itself. But I doubt many could do it with his incredible visual style, edge-of-your-seat action sequences, and hardcore commitment to difficult themes. Thank you, Francis, for showing up, for staying, for always hearing me out, for your unfailing good nature, and for bringing your remarkable talent to these films.

Billy Ray, Gary Ross, Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Danny Strong and Peter Craig, gifted writers all, thank you for sharing your pens, brains, and wealth of experience as we transformed three books into four scripts. A screenplay is a very different animal than a novel, and it was a pleasure and an education to work with you and watch you weave your magic.

There’s no Hunger Games without Katniss. I hoped for someone good enough, and I got someone who exceeded all my expectations. Jennifer Lawrence, your emotional depth, luminous presence, and sheer power carry this story and I will always be grateful to you for opening the door and allowing it to come into your life. And for the rest of the cast, if I had a chance, who would I replace in these films? No one. I don’t think there’s a weak link in the chain, and what an exquisite chain it is. I still can’t believe half of you came on board. You blow me away with your ability to bring out the humanity of these characters from under outlandish wigs, while fighting lizard mutts, pumped with tracker jacker serum, waging war and so much more. Thank you for volunteering for the Games and inhabiting these characters with such texture, color, humor and pain.  

Much thanks to our masterful Production Designer Phil Messina and the many top-notch designers who signed on. It has been a delight to watch you fashion and expand the world of Panem, whether by hand-crafted or computer-based means. From the excess of the Capitol to the claustrophobic hive of District 13 to the violent scenes of civil war, you have taken the ball and run with it in fabulously detailed and thoughtful ways, grounding the fantastical, and fusing disparate elements into a cohesive reality. And to composer James Newton Howard for his moving and evocative scoring of the franchise, which so hauntingly reflects the heart of the story.

For my producers, Nina Jacobson of Color Force, who was there from the beginning, and Jon Kilik, who joined us soon after, thank you both for bringing your dedication, energy, and many talents to this huge project. I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am to you and the excellent team at Lionsgate for protecting the work, for not swerving away from the harder moments, and for allowing the themes and narrative of the books to play out as originally conceived. And sincere appreciation to Tim Palen for his brilliant marketing campaign, Julie Fontaine for her stellar PR, and the entire gang at Lionsgate for tirelessly presenting the franchise to a global audience.

Thousands of people have worked on these films in a myriad of ways, prepping, shooting, in post production, and promotion. Please, anybody seeing them, take a few moments to watch the credits and acknowledge the enormous collaborative effort that goes into making a franchise.

For me, The Hunger Games Trilogy is part of a larger goal to introduce the ideas of just war theory to young audiences, but how much wider and more varied an audience came with the films, and the credit for that goes to all of you who contributed so much to this project.  

Finally, to all the readers and viewers who have accompanied Katniss on her journey, thank you for playing a role in The Hunger Games, you are truly a vital part of the experience.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!

-Suzanne Collins

god, i hate caitlin moran so much. flames-on-the-side-of-my-face level of hate.

she said she co-wrote raised by wolves with her sister because there are never any fictional depictions of ‘intellectuals living on a council estate’. she’s the only person to ever be a working class intellectual ever!!! totally original!!! just her!!! is she fucking drunk?????????

then i guess i must have imagined the ragged trousered philanthropists, then. the angry young men never happened. joe orton didn’t exist. when the boat comes in was never filmed. samuel selvon was a mirage. proletarian literature was all a fantasy. pat barker doesn’t write about this kind of shit all of the bloody time. we can just forget about ethel carnie holdsworth. john constantine came to me in a dream, as did matthew swfit. (i wish.) nobody wrote the red riding quartet, and no one filmed it, to boot. gene hunt definitely never happened, or sam tyler. being human, one of the only contemporary-set uk series to depict life across the class and race and gender and sexuality spectrum, most certainly was a fever dream i had one time. plan b didn’t tauntingly open his protest song with shostakovich. dizzee rascal isn’t masterfully throwing classism and racism about the london riots back in everyone’s faces. oh, and the bbc definitely didn’t show the hour or peaky blinders in 2013, either. 

it’s just caitlin moran, always, because she’s the specialest cleverest most wonderfulest person ever to live. VOM.

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A Message From Suzanne Collins

A Thank You to The Hunger Games Film Team

Having spent the last decade in Panem, it’s time to move on to other lands.  But before I do, I’d like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone associated with the film franchise.  I’m thrilled with how this quartet of films, which I find both faithful to the books and innovative in its own right, has been brought to life on the screen.  

In an earlier letter I credited director Gary Ross for his wonderful rendering of the first book, but now I turn to Francis Lawrence who has so amazingly helmed the rest of the franchise.  Creating three big budget films in three years, that’s a feat in itself.  But I doubt many could do it with his incredible visual style, edge-of-your-seat action sequences, and hardcore commitment to difficult themes.  Thank you, Francis, for showing up, for staying, for always hearing me out, for your unfailing good nature, and for bringing your remarkable talent to these films.

Billy Ray, Gary Ross, Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Danny Strong and Peter Craig, gifted writers all, thank you for sharing your pens, brains, and wealth of experience as we transformed three books into four scripts.  A screenplay is a very different animal than a novel, and it was a pleasure and an education to work with you and watch you weave your magic.

There’s no Hunger Games without Katniss.  I hoped for someone good enough, and I got someone who exceeded all my expectations.  Jennifer Lawrence, your emotional depth, luminous presence, and sheer power carry this story and I will always be grateful to you for opening the door and allowing it to come into your life.  And for the rest of the cast, if I had a chance, who would I replace in these films?  No one.  I don’t think there’s a weak link in the chain, and what an exquisite chain it is.  I still can’t believe half of you came on board.  You blow me away with your ability to bring out the humanity of these characters from under outlandish wigs, while fighting lizard mutts, pumped with tracker jacker serum, waging war and so much more.  Thank you for volunteering for the Games and inhabiting these characters with such texture, color, humor and pain.  

Much thanks to our masterful Production Designer Phil Messina and the many top-notch designers who signed on.  It has been a delight to watch you fashion and expand the world of Panem, whether by hand-crafted or computer-based means.  From the excess of the Capitol to the claustrophobic hive of District 13 to the violent scenes of civil war, you have taken the ball and run with it in fabulously detailed and thoughtful ways, grounding the fantastical, and fusing disparate elements into a cohesive reality.  And to composer James Newton Howard for his moving and evocative scoring of the franchise, which so hauntingly reflects the heart of the story.

For my producers, Nina Jacobson of Color Force, who was there from the beginning, and Jon Kilik, who joined us soon after, thank you both for bringing your dedication, energy, and many talents to this huge project.  I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am to you and the excellent team at Lionsgate for protecting the work, for not swerving away from the harder moments, and for allowing the themes and narrative of the books to play out as originally conceived.  And sincere appreciation to Tim Palen for his brilliant marketing campaign, Julie Fontaine for her stellar PR, and the entire gang at Lionsgate for tirelessly presenting the franchise to a global audience.

Thousands of people have worked on these films in a myriad of ways, prepping, shooting, in post production, and promotion.   Please, anybody seeing them, take a few moments to watch the credits and acknowledge the enormous collaborative effort that goes into making a franchise.

For me, The Hunger Games Trilogy is part of a larger goal to introduce the ideas of just war theory to young audiences, but how much wider and more varied an audience came with the films, and the credit for that goes to all of you who contributed so much to this project.  

Finally, to all the readers and viewers who have accompanied Katniss on her journey, thank you for playing a role in The Hunger Games, you are truly a vital part of the experience.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Suzanne Collins

Quartet Film Review

I took advantage of being off from classes today, to go see a movie I’d been anticipating since seeing the trailer a few months ago - Quartet. (Not to be confused with A Late Quartet.) It stars one of my favorite actresses, Dame Maggie Smith, along with Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, and Pauline Collins. [trailer here]

It’s a very, very British film, about a group of aging opera singers at quite a fancy retirement home specifically for musicians. I’m not going to go into any more depth about the plot, but I found the film absolutely wonderful, and enjoyed every minute of it. Maggie Smith gave a stunning performance (as always) and it was beautifully art directed too.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

my vote for cacw goes to tony stark being a supporting character by showing all his support for his boyfriend please and thank you

yes

A Thank You to The Hunger Games Film Team

Having spent the last decade in Panem, it’s time to move on to other lands. But before I do, I’d like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone associated with the film franchise. I’m thrilled with how this quartet of films, which I find both faithful to the books and innovative in its own right, has been brought to life on the screen.

In an earlier letter I credited director Gary Ross for his wonderful rendering of the first book, but now I turn to Francis Lawrence who has so amazingly helmed the rest of the franchise. Creating three big budget films in three years, that’s a feat in itself. But I doubt many could do it with his incredible visual style,edge-of-your-seat action sequences, and hardcore commitment to difficult themes. Thank you, Francis, for showing up, for staying, for alway shearing me out, for your unfailing good nature, and for bringing your remarkable talent to these films.

Billy Ray, Gary Ross, Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Danny Strong and Peter Craig, gifted writers all, thank you for sharing your pens, brains, and wealth of experience as we transformed three books into four scripts. A screenplay is a very different animal than a novel, and it was a pleasure and an education to work with you and watch you weave your magic.

There’s no Hunger Games without Katniss. I hoped for someone good enough, and I got someone who exceeded all my expectations. Jennifer Lawrence, your emotional depth, luminous presence, and sheer power carry this story and I will always be grateful to you for opening the door and allowing it to come into your life. And for the rest of the cast, if I had a chance, who would I replace in these films? No one. I don’t think there’s a weak link in the chain, and what an exquisite chain it is. I still can’t believe half of you came onboard. You blow me away with your ability to bring out the humanity of these characters from under outlandish wigs, while fighting lizard mutts,pumped with tracker jacker serum, waging war and so much more. Thank you for volunteering for the Games and inhabiting these characters with such texture, color, humor and pain.  

Much thanks to our masterful Production Designer Phil Messina and the many top-notch designers who signed on. It has been a delight to watch you fashion and expand the world of Panem, whether by hand-crafted or computer-based means. From the excess of the Capitol to the claustrophobic hive of District 13 to the violent scenes of civil war,you have taken the ball and run with it in fabulously detailed and thoughtful ways, grounding the fantastical, and fusing disparate elements into a cohesive reality. And to composer James Newton Howard for his moving and evocative scoring of the franchise, which so hauntingly reflects the heart of the story.

For my producers, Nina Jacobson ofColor Force, who was there from the beginning, and Jon Kilik, who joined us soon after, thank you both for bringing your dedication, energy, and many talents to this huge project. I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am to you and the excellent team at Lionsgate for protecting the work, for not swerving away from the harder moments, and for allowing the themes and narrative of the books to play out as originally conceived. And sincere appreciation to Tim Palen for his brilliant marketing campaign, Julie Fontaine for her stellar PR, and the entire gang at Lionsgate for tirelessly presenting the franchise to a global audience.

Thousands of people have worked on these films in a myriad of ways, prepping, shooting, in post production, and promotion.  Please, anybody seeing them, take a few moments to watch the credits and acknowledge the enormous collaborative effort that goes into making a franchise.

For me, The Hunger Games Trilogy is part of a larger goal to introduce the ideas of just war theory to young audiences, but how much wider and more varied an audience came with the films, and the credit for that goes to all of you who contributed so much to this project.

Finally, to all the readers and viewers who have accompanied Katniss on her journey, thank you for playing a role in The Hunger Games, you are truly a vital part of the experience.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!

—  Suzanne Collins
youtube

Frank Turner - Undeveloped Film (Cosmopolitan Quartet Session)

Well this is even more heartbreaking than the studio verison

A magnificent year for grandes dames like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith

Many of our leading actresses are turning 80 – but age has not withered their box office appeal or ability to tread the boards

By Michael Thornton

7:10AM BST 29 Aug 2014

‘When I was seventeen,” as Frank Sinatra used to sing soulfully, “it was a very good year.” What is it about certain years that usher in a high percentage of extraordinarily charismatic babies destined to amaze and electrify us with their talents, and staying power?

In 1934, was there some magic glitter-dust in the air? If so, it must have been very widely disseminated, for that year has provided us with a thriving generation of spectacular octogenarians, most with eerie links banding them together.

Perhaps it was nature’s reaction to Adolf Hitler becoming the Führer of Germany that August? In answer to his screaming harangues, Hollywood produced the six-year-old Shirley Temple as the most popular star in the world.

By courtesy of 1934, the year of their arrival, two of the greatest actresses in the English language, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, are about to clock up their 80th birthdays without a sign of faltering, in spite of both being challenged in recent years by health problems: Dame Judi through macular degeneration, which now requires helpers to read scripts to her, and Dame Maggie with breast cancer.

Great actresses do not always co-exist in perfect harmony. But “Mags’’ and ’'Jude’’ have always been the greatest of friends. They have also worked together, memorably and felicitously, without stealing each other’s light or thunder, adding their lustre to a number of remarkable films, including E M Forster’s A Room with A View, Tea with Mussolini, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the sequel to which, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is on its way to our screens.

Our most prolific playwright, Alan Bennett, who has created material for Dame Maggie in A Bed Among the Lentils, part of his Talking Heads season, and on stage in The Lady in the Van, and for Dame Judi in Two in Torquay, part of Bennett’s Triple Bill, arrived at his own 80th in May.

An equally distinguished British dramatist, Sir Ronald Harwood, who wrote the play Quartet, in the film version of which Maggie Smith starred in 2012, with Hollywood’s Dustin Hoffman making his directorial debut, also arrives at 80 in November.

Both Smith and Dench are blunt, down-to-earth, no-nonsense characters, not given to prevarication. Who but Dame Maggie, on inspecting bras in Fortnum and Mason in the company of the late Kenneth Williams, would have shrieked aloud: “How much? Cheaper to have ’em off!”.

But Dame Judi, a Quaker, and a piercingly forthright M in the Bond films, does not take kindly to being described as a national treasure: “I don’t like that very much, I’m afraid. That sounds pretty dusty to me. It’s Alan Bennett and I behind glass in some forgotten old cupboard. I don’t like it at all.”

A third great English actress, Dame Eileen Atkins, the equal of Dench and Smith in terms of talent and forthright style, clocked up her 80th birthday in June. She is a close friend of Dame Maggie, and I saw them together on stage in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, in which Atkins displayed nerves of steel. At the climax of one scene, her bracelet suddenly broke, showering the stage with bouncing pearls. Many an actress would have been disconcerted by this mishap, but Atkins kept her cool as impeccably as the character she portrays as Martin Clunes’s aunt, Dr Ruth Ellingham, in television’s Doc Martin. Shading her eyes, as if warding off tiresome sunlight, she bent down and calmly picked up the pearls one by one, receiving a round of admiring applause from the audience.

Atkins, of course, is associated in the public mind with another of this year’s octogenarians, Jean Marsh, who was her co-creator and the star of the massively successful television series Upstairs, Downstairs, in which Marsh brilliantly played the central role of the housemaid Rose Buck. The recent attempt to revive Upstairs, Downstairs was an unhappy experience for both ladies. Atkins disliked the scripts, and it was widely felt that her character, the redoubtable Maud, Lady Holland, was a not very skilful attempt to upstage Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in the rival series Downton Abbey.

Atkins withdrew from Upstairs at the end of the first series, and the domineering Maud had to be killed off. This reportedly upset Jean Marsh, who had returned to her original role as Rose, and who suffered a stroke. The revival was axed, and there were suggestions that, for a time, the long and close friendship of Atkins and Marsh was under some strain.

Another of this year’s thriving octogenarians is the Scottish character actress Annette Crosbie, the long-suffering Margaret Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, and the retired schoolteacher Jessie in the film Calendar Girls. In 1975, she played Queen Victoria in the ITV period drama Edward the Seventh in which she co-starred with Timothy West, who will be 80 in October, and who, in spite of the recent decline in health of his actress wife, Prunella Scales, is still working at full throttle as Stan Carter, the father of the host of the Queen Vic in EastEnders.

Sylvia Syms, the star of countless films since her first, as Dame Anna Neagle’s troubled offspring in My Teenage Daughter, in 1956, was 80 in January. She continues to work, and memorably portrayed the late Queen Mother to Dame Helen Mirren’s Elizabeth II in The Queen, in 2006. But she says: “People who see me in all these films on television think I must have earned a fortune. The truth is very different. For Ice Cold in Alex, I received the glorious sum of £30 a week!” When they filmed Victim, in 1961, Syms was the only British female star brave enough to play opposite Dirk Bogarde as the wife of a homosexual barrister.

This year ushers in a galaxy of 80-year-old superstars. They include Shirley MacLaine, Dame Maggie Smith’s American protagonist in Downton Abbey; Richard Chamberlain, who came to fame as television’s dashing Dr Kildare, but was compelled by studio pressure to remain a closet gay until he bravely came out in his autobiography, Shattered Love, in 2003; Barry Humphries, creator of the immortal Dame Edna Everage; John Standing, still such a fine actor that few people know that he is a baronet; the original ’'sex kitten’’, Brigitte Bardot; and Sophia Loren, who arrives at her 80th birthday on September 20 with her lustrous Italian beauty remarkably unscathed.

But this amazing bunch of survivors have more than longevity going for them. There was a time, not that long ago, when a film like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about an establishment that caters for troubled senior citizens, would have been regarded by film financiers and distributors as “uncommercial” and “not box office”. Yet it earned a cool $135 million worldwide. Now we await the sequel, in which Smith and Dench are joined by the 65-year-old Richard Gere, once the heart-throb hero of Pretty Woman. A further blockbuster is anticipated.

Suddenly it is cool, and no longer unfashionable, to be old. The ancient cinematic bastions of ageism are being systematically dismantled.

The later lyrics of Sinatra’s song – “But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year. And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs” – are being spectacularly rewritten by Dames Judi, Maggie, Eileen and their magnificent band of indestructible contemporaries.