Bernard Rose's mother is the granddaughter of the Earl of Jellicoe. She married his observant Jewish father and subsequently converted to Judaism. Their children were converted in the 1960s.
When a London shtiebl wouldn't accept the conversion of Bernard's older brother, and bar mitvah him, Bernard's dad founded a traditional but not orthodox shul that now has more than 1000 members. Bernard attended synagogue regularly until his Bar Mitzvah. Then he purchased a camera with his bar mitzvah money and two years later won the BBC young filmmakers' contest. He later made MTV videos for such bands as UB40 and the Bronski Beat.
Rose made his feature debut with 1988's Paperhouse. Carlos Xavier writes on Imdb.com: "Haunting first debut feature from British director Bernard Rose. Taken from a fable ("Marianne Dreams") by Catherine Storr, it leaves plenty of other 'original' fantasy works in its wake. Whenever a story deals with dreams and nightmares it is hard to give it the mixture of fable and reality to make it work in film form. Director Rose successfully captures the youthful exuberance that a child's dreams forms with the nightmares that ultimately destroy them. Feverishly scored by Phillip Glass, Rose knows how to use music wisely with expertly timed 'jump out of your seat" moments. Most horror works are very sloppy in this all-important aspect of scaring the audience into not knowing what the next scene will bring. I also like the way he captures the moment of a good scare and never lets it go or falter sluggishly into the next sequence of events. Also, his mastery of object placement within the frame (as in the window-looking-out shots) gives the cinematography an added dimension it would otherwise seem to lack. Only in Europe will you find such ominous looking places as the ones presented here (the lonely house, the fields, coastal towns, watchtower etc.). Rose would follow this film with "Candyman" (1992), a true 'thinking person's' horror gem."
Rose directed 1995's Immortal Beloved and 1997's Anna Karenina. Warner Brothers banned him from the editing of the latter film and "severely butchered" Anna. So in 1999, Rose shot his feature Ivanstxc on a high-definition digital camcorder. He takes on the Hollywood taboo of death. "Everything in Hollywood is designed to deny the reality of our mortality. People get face lifts and they go to the gym, but no one's gotten out alive yet." (Jewish Journal, 6/14/02)
Ivanstxc is based on the true life story of superagent Jay Moloney, who in 1995 was the heir-apparent to Michael Ovitz at CAA. Then Moloney was fired for cocaine addiction.
"The speed with which he had fallen from grace struck me as chilling. He had been like the dauphin who was going to be the new king, yet within a matter of months, he was gone, banished, forgotten, might as well be dead." (JJ, 6/14/02)
On the morning of the first screening of ivansxtc, Rose's CAA agent Adam Krentzman called to say that Moloney had hung himself in a hotel room. He was 35.
Rose says that CAA helped him with the movie, allowing him to film its weekly staff meeting. But after Moloney's death, things changed. Rose says the agency prevented the film from getting a distributor for two years. As a result, he lost his house, car and possessions.
Alex Fitch writes on Imdb.com about ivansxtc: "Ivan is a self confessed 'weekend alcoholic' who 'lives in the fast lane' as he tells his psychiatrist. In nearly any other film we would dislike this character as he takes drugs, has sex with other women behind his girlfriend's back and only seems to care about his status. If I added that he just wants to be loved you might avoid the film altogether, however it is Danny Huston's subtle and involving performance as the lead character that hooks the viewer and keeps you interested. Coming across as a combination of John C. Reilly and Jack Nicholson, Huston is a great character actor and deserves a career as notable as his sister. I'm not a fan of digital video and certainly the lower constrast and flatter cinematograpy here hasn't convinced me of the merits of the medium, but the director has said he wanted the film to look like a documentary and so this approach suits the film. The shots are at least typically well framed and always contain something interesting. This is Rose's second adaptation of Tolstoy following Anna Karenina, and shows the writer holds up well when relocated to the present day. The lead character is apparently also based on Rose's (late) agent which may be why the film is still waiting for a release date. Stylistically the film is most similar to Mike Figgis' Timecode (which also starred Huston) as the performances here were also somewhat improvised but doesn't suffer from the amateur dramatics of that film as the actors in ivansxtc didn't have to keep going for an hour and a half."
Kevin Thomas writes in the LA Times: "Hard-partying with a cornucopia of drugs and beautiful, available women is as old as Hollywood and therefore hardly news, and Hollywood has turned the camera on itself many times before in far more compelling fashion. Huston is splendid, but "ivansxtc" doesn't make the cut."
Barnard says: "When I first saw the results of the new high definition video (HD cam) system there was only one thing to say; from today, film is dead. At last the dream of Welles and Mellies can be realized. A cinema of personal imagination not bullied and battered by corporate troglodytes. Film is dead, long live cinema." (Imdb.com)
Sources: Naomi Pfefferman, Jewish Journal. 6/14/02