VirtueTV has a report on the London premiere (Nov 2000) of 'Quills' and includes comments from Kate, Rush, Caine, Kaufman, Wright, Warner, Whitelaw. (Real Player required) GO!
May 12: Mr. Showbiz has a page devoted to ‘Quills’ which features links to reviews and bios of the stars.
Excerpt from the DVD review: Geoffrey Rush prowls and preens with the lusty conviction of a male Mae West; he's clearly aware that this is the role of a lifetime, and he squeezes every last drop of dirty innuendo out of his dialogue. Kate Winslet's a little long in the tooth to play a 17-year-old virgin, but in her spirited, vital performance, it's easy to see how she's stolen the affections of both a priest and a pervert. The real Coulmier was actually a 4-foot hunchback, but the smolderingly handsome Joaquin Phoenix expertly captures his tortured, divided heart. Michael Caine's blindly evil doctor is light-years away from the role of the kindly Cider House Rules abortionist for which he won an Oscar last year. Also terrific are Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Malahide, Jane Menelaus (Geoffrey Rush's real-life wife, playing de Sade's betrothed), and a host of British character actors as the asylum inmates.
The Sacramento Bee also has a brief review of the ‘Quills’ DVD/video:
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine
Director: Philip Kaufman
This is maverick filmmaker Kaufman's elegantly madcap tribute to the Marquis de Sade, pornography and free speech. Rush is a marvel as the Marquis. Here's an actor so shameless and so inventive that when he jumps on a long dining table and struts down it, he turns it into a veritable catwalk. You can't keep him -- or the Marquis -- down.
May 11: More reviews of the ‘Quills’ DVD:
From USA Today:
Quills (out of four) (2000, Fox, rated R, $105 range; DVD, $30): No one can accuse the Marquis de Sade of writer's block in Philip Kaufman's admirably fluid adaptation of Doug Wright's Obie-winning play, a movie that triumphs over potentially claustrophobic material. Matter of fact, several scenes deal with fluids, unconventional ones the scandalous Marquis (Oscar-nominated Geoffrey Rush) employs as ink after authorities confiscate quills and other writing instruments in France's Charenton asylum for the insane. Undeniably aimed at specialized audiences and perhaps a tad too schematic, the movie nonetheless mounts a pertinent attack on the frequent hypocrisy of those who'd stifle free speech. Asylum supervisor Abbe de Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix) has allowed the Marquis to write for therapeutic value, but a facility chambermaid (Kate Winslet) is smuggling the sexually scandalous prose out to a publisher. The general populace can't wait to turn the pages, but official France is aghast. Enter Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine), the asylum's newly employed expert in torture devices — an old wrinkly just wed to the hottest innocent in the convent (Amanda Warner). Once she starts reading, her eyes start to roam; suddenly, this cuckold-in-the-making is doling out more severe punishments. Kaufman has directed everything from The Right Stuff to The Unbearable Lightness of Being to the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This movie is more deliriously deviant than any of those as it races toward a mad climactic encounter that, let's just say, makes a strong argument for closed caskets.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Rush received Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award nominations for
his gusty turn as the nefarious writer, the Marquis de Sade, in director Philip
Kaufman's controversial drama, "Quills." Set in the French madhouse
where Sade was sentenced to live, the drama deals with Sade's battle with a
conservative doctor (Michael Caine) who is determined to stop Sade's sexually
explicit writings. Kate Winslet plays the laundry maid who smuggles out his
writings, and Joaquin Phoenix is the asylum's resident priest, who lusts after
The DVD features the wide-screen edition of the film, three better-than-average behind-the-scenes featurettes, talent files, a still-photo gallery and two trailers and TV spots.
Screenwriter Doug Wright, who penned the play on which the film is based, supplies the serviceable commentary. He admits he did a bit of embellishing on the facts. In real life, Winslet's character had an affair with Sade, and the priest was not a handsome young man, but a hunchback approximately 4 feet tall. Wright also points out that he didn't have the rights to the English translations of Sade's work, so he wrote all the "excerpts" from Sade's novels heard in the film.
From the Boston Phoenix:
"Now On Video"
"Quills" -- Philip Kaufman’s screen adaptation of Doug Wright’s Off Broadway play about the Marquis de Sade’s last days in an asylum remains audacious. Opening up his chamber drama, Wright doesn’t stint on the juicy banter and malevolent monologues, but Kaufman chooses too often to underline the obvious. Powdered and wigged like an decrepit fop, Geoffrey Rush brings lip-smacking relish to the marquis, who even under lock and key has enough fancy quills to produce blasphemous accounts of mutilated wives and deflowered nuns. Kate Winslet is the admiring laundress Madeleine, who eats up every naughty word; Michael Caine the cruel doctor who’s been dispatched by Napoleon to stop Sade from writing again. He’s doomed to fail: whispered from cell to cell, the marquis’s final story brings to a boil the simmering brutality in his fellow inmates, and the innocent Madeleine pays the price. As Wright’s play argues, true artistic freedom is dangerous and sometimes comes at a painful personal cost.
May 10: I have transcribed some of 'Quills' screenwriter Doug Wright's interesting commentary from the 'Quills' DVD. Following are a comments about a couple of Kate's memorable scenes. More commentary will be posted periodically. Spoiler alert!
"We were fond of teasing Kate. We told her that in ‘Titanic’ she survived the entire Atlantic Ocean, but in my film she couldn’t even survive the laundry vat. This shot [Abbe finds Madeleine in laundry vat] was extraordinarily difficult to get. We worked ‘til way past midnight to achieve it. There was a giant motor at the base of the vat, which was elevating Kate’s body from beneath. She actually had on snorkeling gear, which she had to lose the moment before she hit the surface. When we saw Joaquin act the scene, we suddenly realized that no amount of machinery could equal the volcanic emotion he brought to the moment. And Phil simplified the sequence, and we got it in one or two takes."
[Abbe’s fantasy] "This sequence was perhaps the most provocative in the film. We had to find a chapel which had been deconsecrated. There was no church that wanted us to film this particular scene on hallowed ground. The set was closed, it was just the cinematographer, Phil, the assistant director, and our two actors to ensure their comfort in what is admittedly a very challenging scene. The studio was obviously quite anxious about the content of this scene, and given Phil’s unprecedented reputation for eroticism in the movies, they were unsure just how extreme the scene would ultimately be. Phil, I think, filmed it quite tastefully. When we were done, he turned to me and said, ‘well, all things considered, given the subject, I think it’s quite discreet.’ I remember saying, ‘Phil, he’s a priest and she’s dead. I think we’re still in trouble.’ There was a point when the studio asked me to cut this sequence from the existing script. They ultimately missed it and asked me to restore it. They felt it actually was the most thematically true scene to Sade’s spirit in the film.
"There was one line in the scene originally. It was something that Kate uttered to Joaquin to give him permission to kiss her. But, I remember before we shot the scene Kate came up to me and said, ‘I wouldn’t want to say a word against your writing, Doug, but I don’t need that line. I can convey that thought with my eyes.’ And I think Miss Winslet can convey virtually any thought with her eyes. She didn’t need my puny words to do it.
..."I think what’s truly subversive about this scene is we watch these two for the entire film, repressing feelings that they have for one another, the tender feelings and erotic ones, and perversely, we want them to get together. We’re rooting for the scene to happen even though we know it’s completely inappropriate."
The ‘Quills’ video/DVD section of the 20th Century Fox site is up today (May 8). GO! (The page takes a while to load.) The site includes a sweepstakes to win a trip to France. Here’s the bio they’ve posted of Kate:
The ravishing young laundress who inspires the affections of both the Marquis De Sade and his priestly captor is played by two-time Academy Award nominee Kate Winslet. After making an auspicious debut in Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures," Winslet came to the fore starring with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman in Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility," garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Then Winslet won hearts all over the world starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the mammoth romantic epic "Titanic." She received both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her performance.
Winslet has also starred with Christopher Eccleston in Michael Winterbottom's screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure" and Kenneth Branagh chose her as his Ophelia in his full-length version of "Hamlet." Following "Titanic," she starred in the more intimate drama "Hideous Kinky," based on Esther Freud's semi-autobiographical story of women caught up in the hippie trail to Morocco. She most recently starred in Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke."
May 8: I found more reviews of the 'Quills' video/DVD:
From the May 11 issue of Entertainment Weekly:
Since Philip Kaufman fashioned himself (Henry & June) an auteur of complicated sexuality, he's found a compatible subject in the Marquis de Sade. Both believe their silly, feverish, unpleasant erotic scenarios to be revolutionary. Rush and Winslet are in fine literary/sensual collusion as the leering nobleman and the freethinking laundress who smuggles his smut to the seedy masses, but Joaquin Phoenix gives a shudderingly bad performance as a titillated priest. Quills is typical Kaufman: lurid and two-dimensional, a heavy brocade tapesty of a film. Grade: C; review by Arion Berger
From The Record:
Quills (Fox) - Surprisingly, director Philip Kaufman offers less decadence in his story of the Marquis de Sade than he did in his portrayal of Henry Miller in Henry & June. Still, this is hardly an after-school special in its presentation of de Sade as a sort of 18th century Larry Flynt.
Geoffrey Rush is justifiable in chewing up the scenery as the imprisoned writer who must use his charm on a nubile chambermaid (Titanic's Kate Winslet) to smuggle his popular erotic tales out of prison where he writes them first in ink, then after they take away his quills, in his own blood and finally, yup, fecal matter.
May 6: The Boston Herald has a review of the DVD:
"Even with few extras, ‘Quills' makes impression on DVD," by Mark A. Perigard
After "Titanic," star Kate Winslet was bombarded with scripts, and the one that attracted her the most was "Quills" (Fox, $29.98, - 3 1/2 stars out of 4 stars, available Tuesday) a "tarted-up" history of the final days of the infamous Marquis de Sade. Even though her part was a co-starring role at best, Winslet felt strongly about the project. So it's she we have to thank, according to screenwriter Doug Wright in his audio commentary, for this marvelous bit of filmmaking that stars Geoffrey Rush as the notorious writer along with Michael Caine and "Gladiator's" Joaquin Phoenix.
Having earned the wrath of Napoleon, de Sade is imprisoned in an asylum for the criminally insane. Laundress Madeleine (Winslet) continues to sneak his work out to underground publishers, and that fuels a conflict that finds de Sade fighting not only a benevolent priest (Phoenix) but also the cruel physician (Caine) in charge of the institution. As his writing utensils are removed, de Sade finds even more creative and visceral ways of expressing himself.
Phoenix gives the best performance of his career as a holy man torn between the warring passions, intrigues and madness surrounding him.
Wright credits director Philip Kaufman here for improving on his play. Wright also provides the best bit of trivia, revealing that Academy Award-nominee Rush not only studied de Sade but also the B-films of Barbara Stanwyck for inspiration for his performance!
The extras on the DVD, regrettably, are rather slight. In addition to the commentary, there's a brief making-of feature and a "facts vs. fiction" section that exposes the historical figures depicted. (The priest played so charismatically by matinee idol Phoenix was actually a 4-foot-tall hunchback.) But "Quills" dares to poke at religion, sexuality and government oppression with humor and style. It also compellingly asks what responsibility an author has for the impact of his writings, a question that still resonates today.
May 5: From The NY Daily News:
QUILLS (Fox, 124 mins., rated R, also on DVD) In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the notorious Marquis de Sade (Oscar nominee Geoffrey Rush), imprisoned in the Charenton asylum as a degenerate, sneaks his erotic manuscripts to a publisher via a cooperative chambermaid (Kate Winslet). There's plenty of talk about kinky sex, but Philip Kaufman's movie is no lusty romp. It's a graceful and moving tribute to the artistic will and an exposure of hypocrisy - the born-to-entertain de Sade, driven to free his readers' minds, is the moral paragon, not the respected and truly sadistic doctor (Michael Caine) who oversees the madhouse and whose personal mission is to destroy the fallen nobleman.
May 4: I found this article about the upcoming DVD release:
"Sharpening Quills: Screenwriter commands the spotlight on DVD commentary," by Al Brumley
Starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine. Directed by Philip Kaufman. Rated R (strong sexual content, violence, language, frontal nudity). 124 min. $29.98. Release date: Tuesday [May 8]
You never know when cool little conjunctions are going to pop up. In the movie Quills, the servant girl Madeleine makes the Marquis de Sade's tales of lust and savagery available to the public by sneaking them out of the asylum in her laundry basket. In real life, Kate Winslet, who plays Madeleine, made Quills possible by plucking it out as her favorite from a pile of scripts she read over a weekend.
That's according to the film's screenwriter, Doug Wright, the Highland Park High School and Yale graduate who contributed a commentary track to the Quills DVD. And let's be honest – the notion of a screenwriter doing a commentary track is enough to make you question the whole concept of DVD technology. Just think of it: two whole hours to complain about how his artistic vision was ruined by that ham-handed director. But Mr. Wright's insights are pleasantly fresh, positive and entertaining. He was confident enough in his work and talent to take suggestions to heart, and without fail he acknowledges on the DVD that those suggestions improved the movie.
Quills presents a fictionalized account of the notorious marquis' life in the Charenton Asylum. Geoffrey Rush plays him with a deliciously evil twinkle in his eye. And Mr. Wright uses the marquis as a springboard for exploring art, its effect on the public and the censors who try to abolish it.
The film was directed by Philip Kaufman with some fairly drastic changes from Mr. Wright's original play (no more dancing body parts, for example). It's a topic as timely today as it was two centuries ago; imagine how Rudy Giuliani would have responded to the marquis' prose. Unfortunately, Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Wright undermined their work with several thinly drawn, one-dimensional characters, most notably Dr. Royer-Collard, played to the evil hilt by Michael Caine. The good doctor has been sent to Charenton by Napoleon to put a stop to the marquis' hot-selling underground pornography. But of course, this merely stokes the Marquis' fire, especially when he learns that the doctor has married a 16-year-old girl. You can pretty much take it from there, with a few ghastly, graphic surprises along the way.
The film's saving grace is Mr. Wright's writing. The script is replete with memorable one-liners, served up beautifully by the talented cast. "This monstrous God of yours?" the marquis says to Abbe Coulmier. "He strung up his very own son like a side of veal. I shudder to think what he'd do to me." Elsewhere, Coulmier says, "Don't flatter yourself, Marquis – you're not the anti-Christ. You're nothing but a malcontent who knows how to spell."
Mr. Wright also uses the commentary track to discuss the history of the marquis (he witnessed about 1,800 beheadings over 35 days while in prison). And the DVD includes three "making-of" featurettes (in one we learn that Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Abbe Coulmier, is a vegan and had to wear pleather clogs), a few historical notes and a picture gallery.
George has informed me that the Region 1 DVD has been released in Greece. He has confirmed the DVD ‘extras’ we have read about, and provides more info:
1) Creating Charenton: Martin Childs talks about how he designed and created Charenton.
2) The Marquis on the Marquee: The whole cast talks about Doug Wright’s screenplay.
3) Dressing the Part: Jacqueline West talks about the costumes and how difficult it was to create them.
4) Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
5) Music Promo Spot
6) Fact and Film
7) Still Gallery of Production Artifacts
8) Commentary by Screenwriter Doug Wright
Thanks for the report, George!
April 17: Thanks to 'Thodamisyd' for this link to a five minute audio interview with Kate about 'Quills'. I have done a transcript:
Interviewer: What was your reaction, Kate, when you were given the script?
Kate: Well, my initial reaction was... I was reading something else at the time, and I was visiting with Jim's parents for the weekend, and Jim's mum had said to me, 'let me read a script. You know, I'd love to just... you know, I'd be fascinated.' I think a lot of people are fascinated to read scripts. And I said, 'well, sure. Well, you know, there's one - Quills - that, you know, everybody's talking about and is meant to be fantastic. So, you know, you could take a look at that, and I'll finish off reading this other thing.' So, she read it in one sitting, and then just came into the room and went, 'oh, my God!' She said, 'it is absolutely outrageous.' And I said, 'Really?!' Dropped the thing I was reading and immediately started thumbing through it. And she was absolutely right. You know, it was outrageous and it was a huge risk, I thought, for this film to, you know, have even been written into a script form, but just brilliant. And I couldn't believe it had been written by a first-time features writer. This, I was so impressed by. And I just loved it and I thought, you know, 'God, what a challenge.' Madeleine was just such a lovely character. And Phil Kaufman was directing it and Geoffrey Rush was playing the Marquis. I mean, there was no way that I wasn't gonna do it.
Interviewer: But you like taking risks, don't you?
Kate: Absolutely! Absolutely. I think it's important to take risks. I mean, life would be, I think, a bit boring if we didn't, and cinema would become boring if those risks weren't taken, you know. I think it's important to do controversial things from time to time and just remind people that, you know, whilst commercial movies are fantastic, you know, these kind of more diverse ones are often just as interesting, if not more so. And it's always been, you know, great fun to me to, you know, to shock and surprise people.
Interviewer: You manage to convey in the film both the innocence and the kind of almost worldliness of this character. I mean, she's very innocent, and yet there is an attraction, isn't there, to de Sade?
Kate: There is. I think she was very intrigued by this man. You know, she's grown up in this lunatic asylum and she's known, you know, lunacy, really, and hell all her life. And yet, she was, you know, a light-hearted, bubbly girl who sort of found excitement in a cardboard box. And I think the Marquis, for her, just offered her something more than what she saw in her day-to-day life - you know, an intelligent, vibrant man who wrote incredible novels. I mean, yes, they were disgusting, but they were, you know, really very, very clever. And I think, you know, that was something that was inspiring to her, and, I think, you know, life changing in a way. And I think, also, she kind of changed his life a little bit, too. She was the only person who would explain to him that even though, you know, his novels were there on the page and utterly outrageous, he needn't confuse that with real life because here was right, and here was wrong, and the two should never, you know, should never meet. And I think she made him question a lot, and question who he was as a person, and certainly made him fall in love with her, I think.
Interviewer: What about working with Geoffrey Rush?
Kate: It was just a dream, an absolute dream. I couldn't believe my luck. I mean, after 'Shine', you know, I think every actor in the world probably wanted to work with him because it was such an incredible performance. And every day was just a joy, it was like a party. You know, he's very naughty, Geoffrey, and he takes great pride in being able to make any actor laugh and collapse into fits of hysterics in the middle of takes. And this was something he would do to me regularly. And at first it sort of annoyed me, and I'd go, 'Geoffrey! You know, look, I'm letting my guard down.' You know, I never laugh, I never laugh on set. I'm never... I'm just getting on with my job. And not so that I'm serious, but, you know, I certainly try not to laugh in the middle of a take. And this would happen all the time, and I'm surprised we even shot entire scenes because the hysteria was quite ridiculous. But, no, he's a wonderful, wonderful actor.
Interviewer: Phil Kaufman says you were the most mature person on the set. What do you think about that?
Kate: I think that's probably true, actually. Well, in a way I did sometimes kind of feel like everybody's mother because, you know, Geoffrey as an actor likes to discuss what his plan is for the next scene. You know, and he likes to ask the actors, 'you know, what do you think? Do you think that's a good idea?' And I like to do that as well, but, you know, it was kind of strange to me that here was this fantastic actor who, as far as I was concerned, would know exactly how to, you know, go about things and would have, you know, his plan set out. And it was exciting to be able to discuss, you know, different ideas and so on. And there was, you know, there was Michael Caine, who's a complete legend, who, you know, again, has this sort of boyish side. And Joaquin, who needed wrapping up in cotton wool from time to time because he'd just get petrified every time he walked on the set and just firmly believed that he really shouldn't be there and that he was the worst actor in the world. And so he needed a lot of sort of nurturing. So, yeah, you could say I was everybody's Florence Nightingale.
Inteviewer: Kate, thanks very much indeed.
Kate: Thank you.
April 12: Kate and Rush are being wooed to re-team; Michael Fleming of Reuters reports:
While indie producers wait for expected SAG waivers that'll keep them in business if a strike occurs, other non-signatory offshore shoots might take place. One in the talking stage is ''The Magician's Wife,'' with ''Red Violin'' helmer Francois Girard directing and Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet being wooed to star.
Week of April 1-7:
'Quills' box office report (per Variety): For the weekend March 23-25, the film took in $55,360 on 54 screens. Domestic gross is $6,954,337; foreign, $9,095,758; total box office take so far is $16,050,095.
Thanks to Celine for translating this recent interview with Kate that appeared in Entrevue!
Since ‘Titanic’ there has been a lot of talk about the beautiful Kate Winslet. Speaking too much about her weight, some forget to say that she is above all very talented. And she proves that in her new film, ‘Quills’.
The Rose in ‘Titanic’ changed her into a star, but she remains very approachable. We have lunch in a pub, the Chesterfield, in London, where the boss had booked for us a quiet spot, sheltered from the paparazzos who pursue her without a break. She talked to me about her scandalous new film, her setbacks with the press about her curves. As far as I’m concerned, in her green cashmere pullover and her black trousers, she is simply charming.
Harold Von Kursk: Tell us about your
new movie ‘Quills’...
Kate Winslet: ‘Quills’ was a very risky plan, because it was a movie about de Sade. Generally, I am amused with a project that can be controversial, indeed wicked, but ‘Quills’ is offensively decadent, provocative. It would have been liked by the Marquis himself!
H.V.K.: In a scene, Joaquin Phoenix makes love to a dead woman and this woman is you!
KW: It was very difficult to act. A guy who has sex with a dead body inside a church, this is necrophilia...
HVK: In ‘Quills’, as in lot of your films, you appear naked. Don't you fear the reactions of people?
KW: No, I don't. I don't like acting nude, but sometimes the nudity is necessary, as in ‘Quills’. I hate those hypocritical American films where the actress has sex almost completely dressed. That's stupid! When you have sex in real life you're nude, so you might as well undress on the screen, too.
HVK: We have written horrible things
about you, when you put on weight during your pregnancy...
KW: It's petty, but the press has always taken a malicious delight in speaking ill of my weight. When I was pregnant they did it a lot. As long as they sell their papers, they don't care to know if they hurt me.
HVK: They have a very different attitude with a man...
KW: When a man puts on weight for a film, they applaud. But if I do... I wouldn't like to have the figure of the ‘typical’ actress. They point at me. Anyway, soon I will lose the weight and they will leave me alone! But I don't think that men love thin women. A guy wants to touch breasts and buttocks!
HVK: This din began after ‘Titanic’?
KW: Yes. I had gone on a diet 'cause
I wanted to be in accordance with the time. So I became thin and miserable; I
was starving. Then I realized that I was torturing myself for nothing and I
permitted myself to eat again. I put weight on.
HVK: Has fame changed your life?
KW: No, I always queue up when I have to pay for something. However, they now offer me better roles and there are some intrusions into my private life. But we can't become famous without any effects on our life.
HVK: Do people recognize you in the street?
KW: No, because people expect to see someone who is fat. They don't know that the camera makes you take on 5 to 10 kg. Have you seen top models? Their legs are thin, and yet, on photos, they seem to be normal!
HVK: Have you already thought of giving up the cinema?
KW: Oh yes, often. Some days I say to myself, ‘give up, you look like a horse, you have the butt of a cow, this job is not for you.' I'm little bit crazy sometimes, maybe. But I get a grip on myself because I love my job.
Week of March 25-31:
Thanks to George for this news from Greece:
'Quills' opened here a week ago on March 23. Got excellent reviews and it's 5th on this week's box office chart.
Thanks to Celine for sending me synopses of more ‘Quills’ reviews from European publications:
Heures: In spite of the
enthusiasm of the actor Geoffrey Rush, the sensuality of Kate Winslet or the
twofold play of Joaquin Phoenix, Quills doesn't convince. But as it deals with
the liberty of expression, that's forbidden to forbid.
From Tempo: Full-blooded, maniac and dangerously free, the marquis played by Geoffrey Rush surpasses a choice quartet. An unexpected success.
From Le Temps: Quills transposes with brilliance all the complexity of discourse and the eroticism of Sade in this story about madness. Wonderfully played by Geoffrey Rush, the Marquis is more than a body, he finds a soul.
A french journalist (Paris Match) defended 'Quills' two weeks before the release in France: "Quills and Chocolat are two American films nominated at the Oscars that reinterpreted our cultural heritage. And they do better than our directors. The Marquis is interpreted by an American pair, Doug Wright and Philip Kaufman. Naked in his jail, or with a wig, this anarchist with his frivolous
quill sparks off shivers. Carried away in the sulfur, we are fascinated, defeated by the power of a direction which is stunning. A rude kick in our refinement.
A Swiss journalist wrote that reviews are divided - either you’ll love it or hate it - but she feels it is a great movie with amazing direction and brilliant acting.
Celine also reports that Quills has ranked #7 on the box office charts in Switzerland for the last two weeks.
Week of March 18-24:
The Contra Costa Times has a about ‘Quills’ costume designer Jacqueline West:
Oscar nominee Jacqueline West ought to be easy to spot coming down the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday night; she'll be the one wearing a corset. The San Pablo resident received her first-ever Academy Award nomination for the costumes she designed for "Quills," director Philip Kaufman's movie about the Marquis de Sade. If you've seen "Quills," and sadly, not enough people have, West is the woman responsible for making Joaquin Phoenix's remarkably sexy, flowing priest's robes, for making best actor-nominee Geoffrey Rush's wild, written-on-the-body suit and for lacing Kate Winslet into that exquisitely beautiful corset.
"Quills" was a turning point in her life, marking the end of her long, successful career as a Bay Area clothing designer -- until recently she had ready-to-wear boutiques in Berkeley and San Francisco, as well as a line for Barneys -- and her ascent into the ranks of Hollywood's most sought-after costume designers...
"I try to costume characters from the inside out," she said. "Your clothes should just reveal your interior. Phil is a great sculptor of characters, and that's where you start with him. He told me he didn't want a costume drama, he wanted the film to look almost contemporary. When we first started talking about the characters we never talked about their clothes," she added. "They almost dressed themselves."
International Box Office report for the weekend of March 15:
‘Quills’ -- Weekend Gross: $1,126,418; Cume Gross: $6,579,989
Mr. Showbiz’ features Kate in their ‘Week in Review Photo Gallery’:
Kate the Great -- British thespian Kate Winslet makes a great entrance in a luscious leather dress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards - without a trace of any extra pounds from her recent pregnancy. And is the leather dress a tribute to the film that got her a SAG nod, the sadistic Quills?
Full coverage of Kate at the Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony, representing ‘Quills’ in a special section -- GO!
sent me an interview that Joaquin Phoenix did while in Paris to promote ‘Quills’:
Interviewer: You were in Europe a lot this year...
Phoenix: Yeah, I spent a lot of time in London for ‘Quills’. In this film I play a priest in Charrenton where the Marquis de Sade, played by Geoffrey Rush, is jailed, and I fall in love with Madeleine, played by Kate Winslet. In a few weeks I'll be in Sweden..
Interviewer: Kissing the ‘Titanic’ star, that was great, I think...
Joaquin: Great! Although, it was only for the movie... But, I remind you that she is married and a mother.
March 16: Amazon.com has updated information about the 'Quills' DVD release, scheduled for May 8. It will include these features:
Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby; Theatrical trailer(s); 3 Featurettes: "Marquis on Marquee," "Creating Charenton," "Dressing the Part"; Commentary by Screenwriter Doug Wright.
March 14: Celine reports from Europe that 'Quills' opens in France next week, and she'll be on the look out for more articles. So far, the French critics haven't been kind to the film. That's probably because there is another recent film about de Sade, which happens to be a French film.
From Studio Magazine: ''Geoffrey Rush clowns around, Kate Winslet plays a frivolous chambermaid and Michael Caine isn't believable as the bad character. We don't know if we must laugh seeing this film or maybe cry.''
From Les Cahiers du Cinema: ''The problem in Quills is that this piece can't be adapted for the big screen. It's too theatrical.''
From Premiere: ''Philip Kaufman brings us an impersonal film.'' Kate's, um, attributes are appreciated, though - ''But we can see Winslet's still lovely and very appreciated bust.'' [LOL]
From Cine Live: ''It's a good film, but something misses.''
March 9: I found a nice review of Quills in an Italian publication. The critic describes the story of the film, and comments that Madeleine/Kate is ''beautiful, sweet and feminine'', that she ''remains the only positive note of that sad final period of his [Marquis'] life'', and that ''their relationship is intense and obsessive…but never degrading.'' Director Philip Kaufman ''explores with acumen and humor'' the mind of the Marquis. The performances are called ''exceptional''.
I also found a review of the film published in Madrid. Excerpts:
'Quills' shows the last days of the Marquis de Sade through the thriller and black comedy, in which the 'fight between love and lust', and between censorship and the unforseable consequences of freedom of expression are reflected. An ironic tone transforms the life of Sade, turning it into a sensual and sinister story…
'Quills' also has Kate Winslet, who interprets Madeleine. After her debut in 'Heavenly Creatures, by Peter Jackson, the actress was honored to work next to Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman in the film 'Sense and Sensibility, by Ang Lee, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress. Later, she carried on next to Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Titanic'.
March 8: While I was at the book store yesterday, I skimmed through the Geoffrey Rush article in the March issue of Movieline Magazine, and noted his comments about Quills:
[On being asked if he was familiar with the Marquis] ''Yeah. I had done 'Marat/Sade' on stage, and when I was at university in the late 60's, Sade was a counterculture icon. When I read Doug Wright's script, I said, 'Wow'. The dialog was so lurid and funny. Still, I thought I was wrong for the part because in the script Sade is in his 70's and weighs over 300 pounds. The age and weight differential didn't seem to bother Kaufman.'' Rush got on well with Kaufman, but the thing that pushed him to commit was hearing that Kate Winslet was interested in playing the literate laundress who trades kisses for pages, which she then smuggles out of the prison. ''Kate's one of those rare creatures who is not afraid of making daring choices,'' says Rush. ''She's created some of the most memorable, classically sculpted performances of her generation. And she's also a movie star. I heard that she'd do it if I did it, and I was honored and flattered by that notion. I responded by saying I'd do it if she did it, and four months later Kate and I and Joaquin Phoenix were shooting in England.''
March 7: Thanks to Moritz for translating this German news item for us:
"Quills - Power of
Obsession": Costume drama with Kate Winslet
"Titanic" star Kate Winslet is now starring in a film, which has been conceptualized in a less crowd-pleasing way.
The director Philip Kaufman ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being") tells the dark story of the notorious Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush), who fights for the freedom of speech and thinking from inside a madhouse. The main focus is on de Sades' character, who inconsiderately manipulates the housemaid Madeleine (Winslet) to be able to publish his manuscripts. Michael Caine stars as de Sades' opponent.
Quills, USA 2000, 123 Min., by Philip Kaufman, with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Sir Michael Caine.
March 7: Variety has an article today about foreign box office:
At the arty end of the market, ''Chocolat'' had handsome debuts in several key markets but ''Quills'' generally isn't resonating with mainstream audiences... Philip Kaufman's ''Quills'' has mustered just $5.3 million in 27 markets, distinguished by Mexico's $1.8 million and Brazil's $715,000. The Geoffrey Rush-Kate Winslet starrer penned a reasonable $273,000 in Australia (including previews) and a soft $84,000 in Spain, and platformed at three cinemas in Italy for a modest $16,000. Fox's picture has done OK in London's West End but flopped in other parts of Blighty.
March 4: The Australian Sun-Herald has a review of Quills in today's issue, containing great words for Kate's performance:
For many viewers, though, the softer emotional heart of the film is Kate Winslet. The Titanic star is the perfect wide-eyed conduit, the guide for modern viewers to this twisted world. When Winslet is off the screen for any length of time, it's noticeable that the film becomes a colder, more distant thing.
Read the entire review
March 4: Quills is one of four films that will be featured on Germany's 'Kinomagazin' today, according to Yahoo! News:
"CinemaxX TV" - das Kinomagazin am Sonntag, 4. März 2001, um 11.05 Uhr; Moderation: Andrea Kempter Themen
* Quills -- Director: Philip Kaufman; Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Sir Michael Caine.
I asked Moritz about this show, and he informs me that it is a weekly movie review program. It includes several clips of films, along with a synopsis and critique. The program will be repeated on Monday. It airs on the ''Pro7'' channel. Quills opens in Germany March 8.
March 3: Costumes from Quills will be on display in San Francisco. From the San Francisco Gate:
Jacqueline West doesn't need Armani to send her a gown to wear to the Oscars. The East Bay designer, nominated for her costumes for "Quills," is whipping up something for herself. It will be dramatic, if not as dramatic as Geoffrey Rush's sixth costume change in the movie. Though that was his birthday suit, West wrote out a label for it, just as she had for all his ensembles. Rehearsing his nude scene, Rush wore her "Change #6" note on his nose. "He said it made him figure out that he should wear his nakedness like a costume."
Since Kate Winslet plays a servant, West decided that her clothes should look like the hand-me-downs of 19th century aristocrats. "Kate's character is sort of a hippie girl of her time. So if someone gave her a corset, instead of putting it on under her frock, she would put it on over it, like Madonna. That was part of her free thinking."
"Quills" director Philip Kaufman discovered West when she was designing clothes for department stores and hired her to do the costumes for "Henry & June." Next she will make over Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon for "The Banger Sisters," about best friends from the '60s who are reunited.
Costumes from "Quills" as well as "Gladiator," "The Patriot" and "Erin Brockovich" go on exhibit starting next Friday at San Francisco's Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Victoria's Secret could get some competition if Julia Roberts' push-up bra from "Erin" winds up next to Winslet's girdle.
March 2: According to Yahoo! News, Kate is featured in 'TV Spielfilm' in Germany. I translated this from the Yahoo! synopsis of the article:
''Winslet - Shock and Enthusiasm for 'Quills'''
On March 8 the film 'Quills' arrives at German cinemas with the British actress Kate Winslet. It concerns the last years of the French writer Marquis de Sade. Winslet, who became world famous with her role in 'Titanic', plays a servant who smuggles the erotic texts of de Sade from a lunatic asylum. The books of the Frenchman de Sade were heavy to bear, said Winslet in an interview published on Wednesday in the magazine 'TV Spielfilm'. She admires, however, de Sade's imagination and because of this mixture she was interested in the role. ''I don't find pornography all that shocking, really, somewhat nasty at the most,'' Winslet said. However, what de Sade came up with was disgusting, she said. [Thanks to Moritz for the translation of Kate's comment!]
March 2: There is a nice full-page ad of Quills in the March issue of Empire Magazine. It includes a mention of Kate's London Film Critics Circle nomination for Best British Actress. The poster pic was used on a white background - crisp and eye-catching.
March 1: A big 'thank you' to Lorissa for scanning the interview with Kate that appears in the current TV Week (Australia). I've posted the article and pics on a . Here's an excerpt (great Kate quote):
''Phil [Kaufman, the director] would come up to me and say, 'You look like a painting,' and I'd tell him to get back behind the camera because I had a job to do,'' she giggles. ''I was lucky to be surrounded by men like Geoffrey, Phil, Michael and Joaquin who were paying me all these compliments, but I'd regularly say to Geoffrey, 'What are you looking at?' because he got a bit carried away with the Marquis' lecherous side at times and had to be told to stand in the corner!''
Feb 25: The BAFTA ceremony has begun, and Geoffrey Rush and Kate were two of the presenters. Rush announced the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Kate presented the Best Director award to (her Sense and Sensibility director) Ang Lee. Quills was up for four awards (Best Actor, Production Design, Costume Design, Make-up/Hair Design), but was not rewarded. Jamie Bell won Best Actor for Billy Elliot; Gladiator won for Production Design; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won for Costume Design; The Grinch won for Best Make-up/Hair.
Ananova Entertainment News reported that Kate was an 'early arrival' at the ceremony:
''Celebrities Roll Up For Awards Evening,'' -- Stars have begun arriving for tonight's Bafta awards. Kate Winslet, Annette Benning, Ioan Gruffud were among the early arrivals at the Orange-sponsored event, closely followed by Rachel Weisz and Culture Secretary Chris Smith. Benning and Weisz are among the presenters at the ceremony hosted by Stephen Fry in London's Leicester Square. Other celebrities who have arrived include Tom Hanks and Jamie Bell as well as Bafta-nominated directors Ridley Scott and Ang Lee. Lee told Ananova he was happy to be at the event and that he is not worried if he wins or not.
This report is from a UK news site:
Ang Lee, Taiwanese director of the Chinese language Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon said: "This is smashing," as he picked up one of the film's many awards. "This really means something special to me, especially getting an award from you," he told Titanic star Kate Winslet, who presented the award. The pair had worked on Sense and Sensibility when she was virtually unknown.
February 20: I had reported here a few days ago that the folks at Fox Searchlight were planning on increasing the screen count, after having received three Academy Award nominations. Thanks to George for the following news:
Fox Searchlight exploited nominations, including a best-thesp nod for Geoffrey Rush, to re-expand ''Quills'' to 201 theaters, a boost of 165. That produced $318,000 in grosses over the weekend to push the film's total to $6.2 million after 13 weeks.
February 18: Bob Ivry, Staff Writer for The Bergen Record (New Jersey) has unveiled his choices for this year's 'Noscars':
The Noscars are our annual celebration of Tinseltown types who didn't get an Oscar nod -- the second team, if you will. Some of them deserve better and didn't get it; some of them deserve obscurity, but we need five nominees to round out the list. They're all here...
Best Supporting Actress: Lupe Ontiveros, ''Chuck & Buck''; Alfre Woodard, ''What's Cooking?''; Kate Winslet, ''Quills''; Michelle Yeoh, ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon''; Zhang Ziyi, ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon''.
Not many folks saw ''Chuck & Buck,'' but everyone who did, it seems, loved the maternal Ontiveros as the mentor of a tweaked man-child. Rent it. Woodard is always terrific -- and so is Winslet -- but these past Oscar nominees were left out this year; Yeoh and Zhang helped elevate "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" past cult status and into the rarefied air of 10 Oscar nominations.
And the Noscar goes to: Lupe Ontiveros.
Ivry also felt Kate deserved a Best Actress nom last year for Holy Smoke (so did I).
February 17: Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Gate has been a 'supporter' of Quills since she saw it at a 'sneak preview' last Spring:
San Francisco director Phil Kaufman and stars Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet traveled to the Berlin Film Festival to showcase "Quills." At a post- screening party, many of the male guests, including a 7-foot transvestite, came dressed as the Marquis de Sade. But not Rush -- he had his fill of powdered wigs, ruffles and brocade suits making the film. His Oscar nomination could result in wider distribution for this deserves-to-be-seen picture.
February 16: E! News Daily aired a clip of Kate kissing Geoffrey Rush at the Quills press conference in Berlin last Saturday! Kate introduced tonight's program by saying (in an American accent), 'It's E Entertainment!'
More captures (thumbnail links to larger pics!) are posted on the ‘Quills At Berlin FF’ page.
Celine has taken the time to translate and send me these items from European publications and TV news programs. Wasn't that nice?!
I've heard some strange questions asked of Kate, but this one 'takes the cake'! From the French TV Canal movie news program Feb 14 - Kate, Rush and Kaufman were shown posing for photos at the 'Quills' press conference in Berlin, and a clip of the film was shown:
The story of de Sade and his thirst for infringement attracted the director Philip Kaufman. 'Quills' comments upon the world of writing, the non-existence of God, the urgency of artistic creation and the rapture, which for the divine Marquis can only be conceived sexually.
Interviewer: 'Can acting be a constant erection?'
Kate Winslet: 'Acting for me is something that I absolutely love… um … And, yeah, you know, when… when it's really exciting and the acting is the best, it can be completely fantastic!'
Geoffrey Rush: 'It's never happened to me at all on stage. I've never felt that good. But it's not a bad analogy. On a good day, if you lose yourself in a creative play, it's as good as sex.'
Later in the program the Academy Award nominations were discussed: 'We'll cross our fingers for Quills and Geoffrey Rush who deserves an Oscar after Shine.'
A French journalist reported from Los Angeles: 'A guy who was married to Emmanuelle Beart and has the same name that a station of the Parisian subway has must only be a great guy.' Geoffrey Rush talks about Daniel Auteuil, who he says is a great actor. He regrets not seeing Auteuil in his latest film 'Sade'. Geoffrey Rush also played the divine Marquis in 'Quills', directed by Philip Kaufman. It's a version that leaves a lot to be desired, but the promotion is worth it to some journalists who spent the evening with the actor. He told them that on the set he and Joaquin Phoenix amused themselves saying lines from Woody Allen films. And that Kate Winslet sent him packing when he put his hands where he shouldn't.
From Tg2 News in Italy about 'Quills':
The pen of scandal, a hymn to freedom and infringement against all kinds of censorship. The title of the film is 'The Pen of Scandal,' 'Quills' in the USA, directed by Philip Kaufman. It aroused a lot of discussion. We have seen it in Berlin. The film tells the story of the Marquis de Sade. This theme was often dealt with by famous directors such as Pasolini and Bunuel. This de Sade is rich, greatly ironic. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine and Kate Winslet, who is a chambermaid captivated by the complex personality of de Sade. A role very far removed from 'Titanic', we asked Kate Winslet, now a young mother. 'That's right. I liked the research,' she admits. 'Playing this character was fascinating. Today de Sade is no longer a taboo but a discovery. The complex universe of the Marquis de Sade is revealed by the pleasure of the imagination. And this is no more forbidden now than it was a long time ago.'
Tgl News on TV RAI in Italy had this item about 'Quills':
You remind her of 'Titanic' with DiCaprio. She is Kate Winslet, very far removed from her romantic character. Winslet is the literary accomplice of the Marquis de Sade in the film 'The Pen of Scandal' by Philip Kaufman. This latest contribution on celluloid has aroused a lot of controversy in the USA because of the controversial and censored person [de Sade]. 'The Pen of Scandal' is one of the surprises shown at the Berlin Film Festival. 'It's without any doubt,' says the beautiful Kate Winslet, 'one of the most difficult and funny movies that I have played in. To read de Sade today confirms the incredible modernism of an author who had discovered ahead of his time the irony of infringement.' The scandal performed by Geoffrey Rush and Michael Caine was defined by the American critics as funny, tender, intriguing, subversive, strange. 'Certainly more of an education, at least in this version, than a lot of the stories offered on screen today,' concludes the pretty actress. 'De Sade is a powerful, unconventional person who transcends time.'
Thanks so much, Celine!!
Previous 'Quills' News
'Quills' Main Page