Categories A Spy Among Friends Print Media Review

REVIEW: A Spy Among Friends on ITVX

Terrific Cast

by Nick Curtis | Evening Standard | November 25, 2022

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce do an awful lot of stiff-upper-lip acting in ITV’s new espionage drama A Spy Among Friends, the latest to explore the actions of the Cambridge Five, Soviet spies who were at the heart of the British Establishment from the Second World War onwards. Here the focus is on Kim Philby (Pearce) whose treachery was discovered in 1963.

Philby’s great friend and fellow SIS agent Nicholas Elliott was dispatched to Beirut to confront and possibly to detain or “turn” Philby again. Instead, he extracted a partial confession and let Philby abscond to Russia. On screen this tale has bags of atmosphere, period detail and clipped dialogue.

First look photos here

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Categories Music Personal and Family Life Print Media Review

London Jazz Festival Review: Damian Lewis

Four Out of Five Stars

by John Bungey | The Times | November 21, 2022

(★★★★☆)

Jazz in all its forms — from funky to free-form, catchy to headscratchy — enjoyed its 30th annual splurge in the capital with 300-plus festival gigs by assorted stars of the genre — and one gatecrashing film star.

On the final night, a festival debutant with an album out next year wowed the crowd at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill. Quite why the actor Damian Lewis’s show of rocking, rootsy Americana should be part of a jazz festival is anyone’s guess. But his own songs had real flair and if “the acting malarkey”, as he called it, ever fails, his Martin guitar will prove a useful fallback.

Read the rest of the original article at The Times

Categories A Spy Among Friends BFI London Film Festival Print Media Review

Review: A Spy Among Friends – Deadline

Damian Lewis With His Mona Lisa Smirk

by Stephanie Bunbury | Deadline | October 7, 2022

Nothing has quite the same screen allure as a secret world. Espionage is so secret, by definition, that we have to take even its existence as a matter of trust; all we know about what goes on behind the intelligence agencies’ closed doors is what is relayed to us through books, films and series like A Spy Among Friends, based on Ben Macintyre’s book about the British double agent Kim Philby. Presumably, a certain kind of person is drawn to that world where nothing can be let slip outside it. To work for both sides, one must constantly be aware of who said what to whom, who knows what, who saw you where, who remembers you there — that anyone should want that life is a mystery in itself.

A Spy Among Friends – two episodes of which are screening as part of the London Film Festival – reunites Alexander Cary, a writer and producer on the long-running espionage series Homeland, with actor Damian Lewis, who also steps up as an executive producer of the new series. Lewis is best known on both sides of the Atlantic as Homeland’s Nicholas Brody, the Marine Corps sniper imprisoned and possibly “turned” by Al-Qaeda. Here he enters another secret world, but in a very different guise: He plays Nicholas Elliott, an operative with foreign security agency SIS, who also is the closest friend of Philby (Guy Pearce).

Continue reading Review: A Spy Among Friends – Deadline

Categories A Spy Among Friends BFI London Film Festival Print Media Review

Review: A Spy Among Friends – The Telegraph

A Cerebral and Fiendish Remix of the Kim Philby Tale

by Jasper Rees | The Telegraph | October 7, 2022

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce are magnificent in a satisfyingly complex drama which focuses on Philby’s escape to Beirut in 1963.

Nothing illustrated the length of the journey made by Kim Philby from West to East, from British mandarin to Soviet icon, than his funeral. The casket, in the Russian style, was open, enabling his widow to lean in for a final caress of that infamous poker face. (You can watch the footage for yourself in Adam Curtis’s compendious forthcoming BBC series about the death rattle of communism.)

In a sense the lid will never close over the coffin of England’s most notorious traitor. Like other enigmas – see also Albert Speer – the story of a third man with two paymasters and four wives can never be definitively told, the case never closed. Hunting for the real Philby among the false fronts and double lives is like wandering around a maze uncertain if you’re looking for the entrance or the exit. From every new angle glint more questions.

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Categories Keane Print Media Review

Criterion’s Review of Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane [Theatrical Review]

Lewis is an Absolute Revelation: A Gorgeously Urgent Piece of Filmmaking

by Joshua Brunsting | Criterion Cast | August 19, 2022

Now nearly 30 years on from his debut feature, Clean, Shaven, director Lodge Kerrigan has become arguably better known for his TV work (primarily as creator on the TV adaptation of The Girlfriend Experience as well as stints on everything from The Killing to Longmire) than his feature work, with only four features to his name. However, with one in The Criterion Collection and now one the recipient of a breathtaking new restoration from Grasshopper Films, Kerrigan may be on the brink of the reappraisal his career deserves.

Originally released in 2004, Keane stars Damian Lewis as the titular William Keane, a man on the edge of sanity following a terrible tragedy. William has, according to his disturbingly vivid memory, seen his marriage crumble in the wake of the abduction of his daughter six months prior to the start of the film. Trolling New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal in the hopes of replaying the events enough to catch the kidnapper in the act again, William begins to get closer to a woman (Amy Ryan) and more specifically her seven-year-old daughter Kira (Abigail Breslin), culminating in one of the more harrowing and unnerving finales of the early 2000s. With as much a focus on mental instability as seen in his debut film, Kerrigan shines his ever bright light upon the world of mental health once again for this long underrated masterpiece, spearheaded by a career defining lead performance and some stunning cinematography.

Continue reading Criterion’s Review of Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane [Theatrical Review]

Categories Music Personal and Family Life Print Media Review

REVIEW: Damian Lewis Screen Star Celebrates a Mellow Musical Hinterland

Mellow Musical Hinterland

by Stephen Dalton | The Times | August 5, 2022

Photo Cred: Twitter @blavikenbutchr

Not many aspiring musicians get to pack a fancy London club to the rafters with hooting fans at their very first gig, but Damian Lewis did arrive at Omeara with a head start in the fame stakes. The Homeland, Billions and Wolf Hall star had busked around London and France in the embryonic stages of his acting career, more recently giving a few low-key private performances for friends. But during lockdown he began writing songs in earnest in collaboration with the east London-based jazz-pop band Kansas Smitty’s. This was a preview of his debut album, set for release early next year.

Backed by a six-piece band full of Kansas Smitty’s regulars, including the alto saxophonist Giacomo Smith and the guitarist Dave Archer, Lewis opened in full-on Elvis Presley pastiche mode with a retro-flavoured rocker, possibly titled She’s My Little One, yelping his hiccupy vibrato vocal over honking harmonica. But his main musical hinterland was more mellow jukebox Americana, taking in coffee-table blues, laidback country-rock and jaunty big-band jazz crooning, with varying degrees of success.

The 51-year-old actor made his trad-leaning tastes plain with a respectful cover of Neil Young’s radiant midlife love ballad Harvest Moon, which wafted along on heart-twanging pedal steel guitar and woozy honky-tonk piano. He earned hipster connoisseur points with his husky-voiced solo piano rendition of Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings Of Your Love), from the first Tom Waits album, Closing Time.

Only on a handful of numbers did Lewis seem to step outside self-conscious performance mode and stop coming across like an actor playing a musician. That said, he closed on a high with a superb folk-rock track that began as a gently tumbling waltz before building to a crashing, emotionally raw blast. This was the best song of the night, sounding like a lost Jeff Buckley classic in places. More of this passion and swagger could have really lifted this show.

Of course there is a long and ignoble history of actors changing lanes to try out their musical skills in public, only to be rightly laughed off stage. Lewis is no fool; he knows this all too well, which may explain why he peppered this set with self-effacing jokes and humble expressions of gratitude. In fairness, he did not disgrace himself.

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Categories Music Personal and Family Life Print Media Review

REVIEW: Damian Lewis at Omeara

Passionate Debut

by Neil McCormick | The Telegraph | August 4, 2022

“You! Are at … our … very first! Ever! Gig!”

proclaimed Damian Lewis, as commandingly as if delivering Shakespeare with a few Pinteresque pauses.

He played a double agent in Homeland, an insider trader in Billions and an unusually slender Henry VIII in Wolf Hall. But Lewis’s latest and perhaps most personal role is as a soulful singer-songwriter.

The 51-year-old TV and film star took to the tiny stage at the Omeara club in London carrying an acoustic guitar and backed by a six-piece band of jazzy virtuosos playing flowing, intense, sophisticated songs of love and loss.

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