BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Sidney Flanigan to star in new film14.05.2020
Musician- turned-actress Sidney Flanigan wants to make it very clear that despite coming from a long line of punk rockers, she was not named after a member of The Sex Pistols
Musician- turned-actress Sidney Flanigan wants to make it very clear that despite coming from a long line of punk rockers, she was not named after a member of The Sex Pistols.
The 21-year-old star of the gripping new film Never Rarely Sometimes Always laughed down the phone from her home in South Buffalo when I raised the subject, warning that her mother ‘gets very angry’ if people assume that she was named after the band’s unfortunate bassist, Sid Vicious.
Both her father (from whom she’s estranged) and her grandmother played in punk bands.
But her mother just liked the sound of the name ‘when she heard it on a TV show’, Sidney told me.
Before last January, few outside of Flanigan’s hometown would have worried about what she was called. But director Eliza Hittman’s blistering film has changed all that.
Released via digital download in the UK and Ireland from next Wednesday (May 13), Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the story of Autumn, a 17-year-old from a rural district of Pennsylvania, faced with an unintended and unwanted pregnancy.
The picture won a special jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has been an online success in America, after a cinema release cut short by Covid-19.
Autumn, accompanied by her cousin Skylar (played by Talia Ryder), makes an arduous trip to New York to seek an abortion. The pair encounter medical red tape, predatory men, and are forced to sleep in a bus station.
Flanigan, a singer-songwriter who plays the fiddle and acoustic guitar in a folk-punk band, had been working at a deli when she was offered an audition by Hittman. She declined — having never acted before — but was eventually persuaded to have a chat on Skype with the director.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the story of Autumn, a 17-year-old from a rural district of Pennsylvania, faced with an unintended and unwanted pregnancy
‘Eliza was very clear that she was going to cast who she felt was undeniably right,’ said Adele Romanski, a partner, along with Barry Jenkins (the Oscar-winning film maker of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk) in Pastel Films, which made the movie. (It was helped through development by Rose Garnett, head of BBC Films, who was also a producer.) Abortion is a potent issue globally, Romanski said, and still a divisive one in the U.S.
‘You can never discount that America was founded by Puritans,’ she added when we discussed a scene where a clinician makes Autumn watch an anti-abortion video.
‘That was a sledgehammer moment,’ Jenkins agreed.
When I described Autumn’s actions as ‘impressive for one so young’ Flanigan shot back: ‘I’d call it tragic.’
The film takes its title from another powerful scene, when a Planned Parenthood counsellor arranges a question and answer session, in which Autumn has to choose one of four responses: Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always.
I asked what was going through her mind then. ‘I reached down for what was disturbing for me,’ she said.
She told me that when writing a song she rarely opts for something upbeat. ‘I feel sadness and anger are so much more powerful.’
The picture won a special jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has been an online success in America, after a cinema release cut short by Covid-19
Sidney has a channel on YouTube where she posts her songs and she’s still writing new material and doing self-tapes for auditions.
She’s on hiatus from her most recent job — working as a janitor at a convention centre.
‘Our building is not in use right now,’ she said glumly, though she is getting unemployment benefit ‘so I’m doing all right in that sense’ she added, more optimistically.
And while Never Rarely Sometimes Always may have been deprived of its box office moment, Jenkins pointed out that there was a silver lining.
‘With the entire world frozen at home’ he told me the picture was more readily available to those who might have felt uncomfortable paying for a ticket to see it at the cinema.
‘It’s bittersweet, but it’s available in the privacy of their laptop.’
And under the new rules just announced, it’s also eligible for Oscars.
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Impresario Cameron Mackintosh and Nicholas Allott, the top executive in his organisation, have been talking directly to Government ministers about the crippling effect the lockdown is having on the theatre industry.
The move comes as the Society of London Theatre and others from the stage sector have begun to reveal the devastating extent of the economic impact. Some theatres are worried they might not survive being dark for much longer.
Many arts centres, led by the National Theatre and others, have kept interest in the stage alive by releasing live broadcasts.
New Brassic lark leaves Michelle tickled pink!
David Livingstone, whose Calamity Films produces the show, told me Keegan’s Erin ‘tends to be the one that keeps it in order, but she’s surrounded by fools’
Joe Gilgun’s hit TV comedy drama Brassic was back on the box last night for its second season — with plans already under way for a third.
The show, about a group of working- class misfits, led by Gilgun’s bipolar chancer Vinnie, living in the fictional Lancashire town of Hawley (based on Gilgun’s birthplace of Chorley), returned with its company of regulars including Damien Molony as Vinnie’s best pal Dylan, and Michelle Keegan as Erin, who has a complicated relationship with both men.
Gilgun created the Sky One series with Daniel Brocklehurst. They were due to begin filming their scripts for the third series next month but shooting has been put back until productions are allowed to go before the cameras again.
Brassic has become Sky’s biggest comedy in years. The shenanigans of Vinnie and his ganja-loving reprobate mates — they’re always finding themselves in some sort of peril — are hilariously absurd.
David Livingstone, whose Calamity Films produces the show, told me Keegan’s Erin ‘tends to be the one that keeps it in order, but she’s surrounded by fools’.
He said her role has been ‘beefed up’ for the second series; and there would be even more ‘challenging scenarios’ for her in the third. Poor woman.
‘Joe’s developed the part for her in the most beautiful way,’ Livingstone assured me.
Watch out for…
Damien Chazelle, the Oscar-winning director of La La Land, Whiplash and the much under-rated First Man, who has made the eight-part Netflix series The Eddy, launched on the streaming service today.
It stars Andre Holland (pictured) as a former pianist turned Parisian jazz club owner who’s got money trouble, woman trouble and mobster trouble. In fact, you name it, poor old Elliot Udo (Holland) has got trouble with it.
Even so, you’ve gotta watch it — especially if you have a thing for jazz. Chazelle’s a connoisseur of the art form.
In fact, I first met him at a jazz bar at the Cannes Film Festival. At three o’clock in the morning.
It stars Andre Holland (pictured) as a former pianist turned Parisian jazz club owner who’s got money trouble, woman trouble and mobster trouble. In fact, you name it, poor old Elliot Udo (Holland) has got trouble with it
The Eddy also stars Tahar Rahim, Amandla Stenberg and Joanna Kulig, who was so great in Pawel Pawlikowski’s sublime Cold War.
The excellent soundtrack by Randy Kerber and Glen Ballard is out on Sony today; while the first single — Kiss Me In The Morning, sung with cool verve by Jorja Smith — is already available.
Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart, who star in director George Marshall’s golden age 1939 western Destry Rides Again.
Stewart, in his first western, plays the title character: a wet-behind-the-ears sheriff hired to tame a lawless town.
And Dietrich is on fire as Frenchy, the saloon bar singer who entices the sleepy-eyed lawman with the kind of magical allure you don’t often see in films made in this industrialised era.
The picture’s being released on May 18 on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection. Younger film enthusiasts should give it a go, if only to see what real on-screen chemistry looks like.