Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.


John Hurt – An Actor for All Seasons


Legendary British thespian John Hurt passed away on January 27th, 2017 at the age of 77 years old. Born in a small coal mining town in Derbyshire, England to former actress Phyllis Massey and Anglican Minister and Mathematician Arnould Hurt. An apathetic student, he would later find his true passion was acting. He was admitted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and would make his stage debut in 1962. He only really began to rise to prominence though, with his performance as the conniving Richard Rich in A Man For all Seasons in 1966.

From then on he worked pretty much constantly. Indeed his career which spanned over six decades would include over 120 film roles not to mention dozens of television appearances. Here are a few highlights. In 1976 his performance as English heroin addict Max in Midnight Express for which he won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  In 1979, he played Kane in Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Alien and was nominated for another BAFTA. In 1980, he played the titular character in The Elephant Man and was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and also won—another BAFTA.  In 1984 he played Winston Smith in 1984, which won Best British Film of the Year at the Evening Standard British Film Awards. In 1997, he starred as crusty old civil engineer Chuck Langer in the award winning The Climb. He was creepy wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter franchise, kindly, wise, old Professor Broom in Hellboy, totalitarian fascist leader Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta, and ancient vampire Christopher Marlowe in Only Lovers Left Alive.  

One of his most recent appearances was that of rebel leader and mysterious mentor figure Gilliam in 2013’s Snowpiercer. The last film he was featured in before his death was Jackie alongside Natalie Portman as Father Richard McSorley. But fans will still have another chance to see him as Neville Chamberlain in the upcoming British war drama Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) opposite Gary Oldman and Ben Mendelsohn.

God speed John Hurt. You truly were an Actor for All Seasons.

Top photo from Bigstock: John Hurt attends The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festival on May 25, 2013 in Cannes, France.

High-Rise: Sleek, Stylish but Soulless


As you can see the facial mask simply slips off the skull.

So says surgeon Robert Laing as he performs an autopsy on a schizophrenia’s brain during the first ten minutes of High-Rise.  Yep they really do show him slipping the skin right off the skull and that gives you an idea of the mixture of horror and artistry this movie regularly hits.  High-Rise directed by Ben Wheatley begins with Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston at his sexiest) adjusting to what appears to be a post-apocalyptic Mad Max style dystopia in a concrete high rise.  We flash back three months prior to when Laing moved into the newly constructed tower block which architect Royal (Jeremy Irons) designed specifically to be its own self contained society.  It has its own store, its own fitness center, a pool, and even a rooftop garden complete with a horse where Royal’s wife Ann (Keeley Hawes) plays Shepherdess just like Marie Antoinette.

Of course like any society there are also class stratifications as well. The lower floors house the poorest residents and those with children, like documentary maker Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) and his wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss). The middle floors tend to include the professional classes like Laing and his lover Charlotte (Sienna Miller), while the top floors house Royal and other elites. In case we fail to see the symbolism already they make sure that Laing gets thrown out of a penthouse party where everyone else is dressed like the court of Louis XIV.  The building, Royal explains, is experiencing ‘teething problems’ like frequent power outages and clogged garbage chutes. As these problems escalate pre-existing tensions become ever more violent.

Wheatley isn’t aiming for subtlety here in his adaption of J.G. Ballard’s novel but he certainly delivers great cinematography. The movie often feels like a collection of beautifully photographed vignettes. As a film itself it feels rather well…flat. Because everyone here are stock figures and representations rather than real people you can warm up to. I was reminded a lot of Snowpiercer another visually brilliant allegory about class warfare. While Snowpiercer’s storyline was even more outlandish than High-Rise, I was able to invest in the people on screen, something I did not feel this time around. Ultimately High-Rise the movie feels like its titular structure; stylistically impressive but lacking in a solid foundation.

High-Rise opens nationwide on May 13, 2016.