Saturday, February 24, 2018

Finding your feet

Director: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, John Sessions, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, Sian Thomas

Rather well to do, Sandra (Imelda Staunton), discovers after thirty odd years of marriage, her retired police commissioner husband has been having an affair with her best friend, Sandra abandons her Surrey home and seeks out the company of older and somewhat estranged sister, Bif (Celia Imrie) who lives in a London Council flat. Sandra gradually begins to face the reality of starting over as well as rediscovering the simple joys of living. Encouraged to join a local seniors’ dance group she socialises with a motley crew of interesting characters all growing old disgracefully. Gradually life in her sister’s council flat begins to pick up and Sandra and Charlie (Timothy Spall), tentatively start a platonic relationship. Charlie’s wife (Sian Thomas) is in the late stages of senile dementia and lives in care facility but Sandra is reluctant to commit to another serious relationship. When the dance group receive a surprise invitation to perform in Rome, life takes over. A sweet mix of humour and pathos merge to leave you with tears rolling down your cheers, so bring a box of tissues.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The 15:17 to Paris

Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Thomas Lennon, Tony Hale.

Based on a true story and starring the actual key people involved. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler play themselves in this dramatic recreation of an attempted hijack on the train from Amsterdam to Paris in 2015. The majority of the movie follows the min characters as they grow up and eventually come to be travelling on the train. It was difficult to work out precisely what the director was trying to achieve with the movie, albeit it is a fitting testament to the bravery of these incidental heroes.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Darkest Hour

Dirctor: Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup

In May 1940, Great Britain was poised to face invasion and capitulation. When Parliament demands the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup), the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winton Churchill (Garry Oldman), , is invited to take over since he is the only man the other parties will support. What follows in a dramatic recreation of Churchill’s early days in office. Far from being popular Churchill’s authority is constantly undermined by Halifax (Stephen Dillane) and Chamberlain, who both prefer a negotiated peace option. Tension rises when The British Expeditionary Force are trapped at Dunkirk and Calais, then America refuses to enter the war, Britain must stand alone against the Nazi tyranny but is Winston Churchill the man to lead the fight. This is a superb drama with Gary Oldman perfect in the role of Winston and gets to the soul of the character capturing his humour, doubts, drunkenness, and moods. In support, Lily James as Churchill's new private secretary, and Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI are sterling, with Kristin Scott Thomas cast perfectly as Clementine, Lady Churchill.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Post

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Meryll Streep, Matthew Rhys, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk

A First Amendment, pot boiler based on actual events tells the story of The Washington Post and how the executive and editor stood up to the White House and published the Pentagon Papers. When rival newspaper, The New York Times are prevented from publishing an exclusive expose of the government and the cover up of the Vietnam War, rivals Washington Post, manage to acquire copies the classified documents. Against all legal and business advice, owner, Kay Graham (Meryll Streep) initially dithers, then eventually gives support to her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) to publish. The ensuing legal battle makes history. Not quite the suspense of All the President's Men, but none the less this is a worthwhile interpretation of modern of history. The two leading actors give sterling performances supported throughout by a strong cast.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Ċ½eljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Samara Weaving, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage
A richly darkly comedic drama which will have you on the end of your seat, reach for your handkerchief, as well as uncontrollable belly laughter, in just under two hours. Frustrated at the apparent incompetence of the local police chief following the brutal murder and rape of her daughter, Mildred (Frances McDormand) decides after seven months, to buy advertising space on three of the town’s three billboards, close to the scene of the crime. The billboards have a connecting message “Raped while dying…And still no arrests? How come, Chief Willoughby?” Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and his racist deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) try at first to persuade her to desist but the lady is not for turning and this only leads to a battle of wills. What follows is a complex story with many sub plots, full of interesting characters and all set in a small town in Missouri. Anger and reconciliation are the themes of this hard-hitting drama and the mood is raw and uncompromising. Like life, it has its funny side too and the actors play their parts well with McDormand and Harrelson at their very best. Look out for Sam Rockwell as Dixon the bigoted dimwit, deputy.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The man who invented Christmas

Director: Bharat Nalluri

Starring: Dan Stephens, Christopher Plumber, Morfydd Clark, Jonathan Pryce, Justin Edwards, Roisin Whelan

Charles Dickens (Dan Stephens) is a young writer who has enjoyed great success with Oliver Twist but has hit a writer’s block. Now in desperate need to recover from several flops and facing impending insolvency, he must come up with a winning idea for his next book. Accompanied with his good-humoured friend and unpaid literary agent, John Forster (Justin Edwards), they endeavour to survive. In a moment of defiant madness, Dickens promises his publisher he will come up with a Christmas book which is six weeks away. Drawing on inspiration from his dark childhood and interweaving them with real-life events, and his dreams and hallucinations, he invents Scrooge (Christopher Plumber), who with a host of characters, help him write A Christmas Carol. This is a charming and watchable Christmas film full of great performances from a sterling cast. A must for all but will interest all Dickens fans for it is full of Easter eggs.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

American Made

Director: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Alejandro Edda, Caleb Landry Jones.

Based loosely on a true story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an adventurer come drug smuggler caught up in the Iran-Contra Scheme of the 70s-80s. The pilot is unwittingly recruited by US dirty trick brigade to ferry ‘cargos’ between the US and the Medellin drug cartel. At a time in history when the lines of good and bad, right and wrong become blurred Seal helps the US Authorities whilst prospering as a smuggler transporting weapons to the guerrillas and in turn bringing back narcotics to the US. Inevitably things fall apart but not before Seal, the family man, tries to deal with the changing events much of which are out of his control. A good performance by Cruise makes this black comedy enjoyable as he portrays a man trying desperately to deal with the absurdity of the situation.