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BAZ BAMIGOYE: Dame Judi Dench Lets Go Of Her Retirement!

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Dame Judi Dench insists she has absolutely no intention of slowing down at age 86.

‘Retirement is not a word used in my house,’ she told me very firmly when I spoke to her this week about her new film, Belfast.

Dench, one of the few great acting ladies still on the job, took to the red carpet Tuesday night for the gala screening of Kenneth Branagh’s masterful autobiographical film (and contender for the major awards season), set in Northern Ireland in 1969 during the gala screening of the London Film Festival.

In the picture, she plays grandmother to a young boy (11-year-old Jude Hill) whose parents (Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan) struggle to decide whether to stay in Belfast, which is falling into a state of war, or leave. for the safety of life in the UK.

Dench’s scenes with Hill, and Ciaran Hinds as her grandfather husband, are alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.

Dame Judi Dench (pictured at the European premiere of ‘Belfast’) insists she has absolutely no intention of slowing down at age 86

Much of that chemistry was down to her young co-star, she added.

‘Oh, he’s cute, that boy! He was very shy, but not to the extent that he couldn’t play his part. There’s a wonderful, genuine, genuine sweetness about him. He’s a heavenly boy.’

The film was made last year during the pandemic, and while there were always strict safety procedures, she described the feeling of being back on a film set as “glorious.” . .like being suddenly released from a cage’.

Cast and crew worked in bubbles, with everyone masked until they had to say their lines. That was difficult for Dench, given her deteriorating eyesight (she suffers from macular degeneration), although she mostly played the humorous side of it.

“I kept going to the wrong person, having a conversation, and they said, ‘I’m not who you think I am.’

She also admitted to being pulled over a lot about her Northern Irish accent. “I was a naughty girl and didn’t know it well,” she admitted, adding that she was particularly embarrassed as much of her family is from the county (although her mother was born in Dublin).

Dench's scenes with Hill, and Ciaran Hinds as her husband the grandfather, are alternately heartbreaking and hilarious

Dench’s scenes with Hill, and Ciaran Hinds as her husband the grandfather, are alternately heartbreaking and hilarious

Fifteen years ago, when I dared to ask if she’d ever considered giving up the profession, considering how much she’d already accomplished, she nearly barked her denial at me.

And she was just as fierce (“I’m barking back now!”) when I tried the same tack again, wondering if maybe the pandemic had changed her mind on the subject.

She admitted that the Covid crisis had hit her. “I notice your emotions are much rawer,” she said. “It’s the uncertainty of not knowing how to get out.”

But that wasn’t enough to deter her.

‘You’re not retiring, for God’s sake! You might as well fall on a plank and lie down.’ She will soon be working on the film version of Alan Bennett’s play Allelujah!, directed by Richard Eyre.

Dench has already revealed that she can no longer read her lines; so a colleague goes through scripts with her.

“I sent a machine that might make it easier for me to read,” she told me. “It’s a special screen that changes the size and density of the print.”

Actress Judi Dench appears in Kenneth Branagh's autobiographical film (pictured during the film's premiere at the London Film Festival on October 12), set in Northern Ireland in 1969

Actress Judi Dench appears in Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical film (pictured during the film’s premiere at the London Film Festival on October 12), set in Northern Ireland in 1969

But the fact that she continues to act and entertain us despite such obstacles has made her even more beloved (if that’s possible).

When Branagh introduced her to the screening on Tuesday, the audience stood as one and gave her a standing ovation.

And it is clear that director and star form a society of mutual admiration. ‘He was born on the tenth of December, and I was born on the ninth . . . many years apart,” Judi said.

“So maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’re both Sagittarius. I do not know. We have the same sense of humor, that’s for sure.’

When we said goodbye after our conversation, she yelled after me, “Get the flu shot!”

Jamie Dornan appears alongside Judi Dench in Branagh's masterful autobiographical film (and big prize season contender), Belfast

Jamie Dornan appears alongside Judi Dench in Branagh’s masterful autobiographical film (and big prize season contender), Belfast

Denzel Washington had such a good time shooting Joel Coen’s thrilling film about Macbeth alongside Frances McDormand that “the sparks flew,” he told me.

“Frances isn’t playing,” he said. “We’ve done a good job.” It shows.

The production of Apple Original Films/A24, shot in black and white by Bruno Delbonnel, is breathtaking. The supporting cast is also great.

Denzel Washington had such a good time shooting Joel Coen's suspenseful movie of Macbeth alongside Frances McDormand that

Denzel Washington had such a good time shooting Joel Coen’s thrilling film of Macbeth alongside Frances McDormand that “the sparks flew,” he told me

The production of Apple Original Films/A24, shot in black and white by Bruno Delbonnel, is breathtaking.  The supporting cast is great too

The production of Apple Original Films/A24, shot in black and white by Bruno Delbonnel, is breathtaking. The supporting cast is great too

Notable performances by Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Kathryn Hunter, Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins and Harry Melling.

The Tragedy Of Macbeth (to give it its full title) is the closing gala of the BFI London Film Festival. It will be screened on Sunday in the presence of McDormand, Coen and several British cast members.

The Tragedy Of Macbeth (to give it its full title) is the closing gala of the BFI London Film Festival

The Tragedy Of Macbeth (to give it its full title) is the closing gala of the BFI London Film Festival

Lashana Lynch, who plays the super-skilled secret agent Nomi in the blockbuster Bond film No Time To Die, went through a different kind of battle in the film she shot right after the 007 thriller.

The actress stars in the middle section of the screen version of writer Debbie Tucker Green’s scorching play, ear for an eye [sic], which became a much-discussed hit at the Royal Court three years ago.

Lynch was also in that production; play an American psychology student who has a heated debate with her white male professor (played by Demetri Goritsas) about the reasons behind a school shooting.

Lashana Lynch, who plays the super-skilled secret agent Nomi in the blockbuster Bond film No Time To Die, went through a different kind of battle in the film she shot right after the 007 thriller.

Lashana Lynch, who plays the super-skilled secret agent Nomi in the blockbuster Bond film No Time To Die, went through a different kind of battle in the film she shot right after the 007 thriller.

The scenes (with Goritsas also playing his stage role) are among the most intensely powerful I’ve seen on screen this year.

Green’s film (which she also directed) explores what Lynch called “the exact truth black people experience” — and that experience is “trauma.”

She added that what has happened on the streets over the past two years, here and in the United States, “has made it all the more important for us to tell these stories.”

Hats off to the Royal Court, BBC Film and the British Film Institute (with help from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli) for supporting Green and film producer Fiona Lamptey to get the film made.

Lamptey told me that ear for an eye will have its world premiere tomorrow at the London Film Festival, at the National Film Theatre.

It will also be shown on BBC2 that evening; and will be available later on BBC iPlayer.

Hats off to the Royal Court, BBC Film and the British Film Institute (with help from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli) for supporting Green and film producer Fiona Lamptey to get the film made

Hats off to the Royal Court, BBC Film and the British Film Institute (with help from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli) for supporting Green and film producer Fiona Lamptey to get the film made

What an exciting London Film Festival! Tricia Tuttle and her team collected so many exceptional films: The Power Of The Dog, The Lost Daughter, Spencer, The Souvenir: Part II, King Richard, Passing, The Hand Of God, Encounter, The Tender Bar, Mass, Last Night In Soho , The Velvet Underground – and of course Belfast and Macbeth, mentioned elsewhere on these pages.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, which premiered at the London Film Festival

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, which premiered at the London Film Festival

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