Sunday, December 29, 2013

Philomena

Director: Stephen Frears

Starring: Dame Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

Philomena Lee (Dame Judi Dench) was an innocent young Irish girl in the Fifties whose only mistake was to have unprotected sex. The resultant pregnancy left her disowned by her family and at the mercy of the sisters at the Roscrea convent. Required to work seven days per week in the notorious laundries her son is taken away her never to be seen again. On his 50th birthday she shares her long kept secret with her daughter. Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) plays former BBC journalist and disgraced spin doctor in need of a new project. A chance meeting with Philomena’s daughter brings him an invitation to investigate her mother’s case. Poles apart delve into the past which brings them together as they discover more and more surprises. This is based on a true story, infused with a righteous anger, about the cruelty and injustice at the heart of the Catholic Church. A real cracker of a movie and likely to bring an Oscar nomination for Dench. Coogan who co scripted and co produced the movie gives his best on screen performance (imo) to date. A fantastic piece of storytelling which necessitates watching the movie with a box of paper hankies . You will need them whether you laugh or cry. Well worth seeing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Le Week-end

Director: Roger Michell

Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Judith Davis

Tired academics, Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg Burrows (Lindsay Duncan) are from Birmingham and decide to rekindle their relationship and celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Paris where they spent their honeymoon. As they dine in quaint cafes and browse churches and bookshops, emotional tensions come to a head, and their union seems headed to oblivion. Then by chance they meet an old American friend, Morgan (Jeff Goldblum) who helps them put things in perspective. Supreme performances from Broadbent and Duncan with a great cameo from Goldblum. Well worth seeing this movie.

The Railway Man


Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellen Skarsgard,Tanroh Ishida, Hiroyuki Sanada

An adaptation of the bestselling autobiography by Eric Lomax. Lomax (Colin Firth) as a young officer he was captured and tortured by the Japanese and forced to work on the Burma-Bangkok railway. Many years later still suffering post-traumatic stress disorder he occupies his time singularly as a train enthusiast travelling the county in search of train memorabilia. He meets and falls in love with Patti (Nicole Kiddman) but despite brief happiness his demons soon return. Desperate to help Patti seeks advice from his best friend Finlay the “Uncle’ (Stellen Skarsgard). Reluctantly he tells her what he knows of the ordeal Lomax endured at the hands of the sadistic Takashi Nagase (Tanroh Ishida, as the younger man, and Hiroyuki Sanada as the older character). After Lomax learns that his Japanese tormentor is still alive and working as a tour guide at the site of the memorial to the notorious Burma ‘Death’ Railway; he returns to Thailand to seek final closure. The movie employs lengthy flashback sequences to detail what happened to young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) during the war. Amor Vincit Omnia. Good performances throughout , excellent cinematography, but rather slow in delivery. Take your box of hankies and be prepared for some violent scenes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Her

Director: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams

A science fiction flick concerning lonely romantic, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who lives sometime in the near future in a more perfect world . For solace in Utopia, Theodore engages with OS1, “the first artificially intelligent operating system.” This is a consciousness with a voice of your choice and rapidly evolves personality, as it grows exponentially. Her or Samantha (spoken by Scarlett Johansson) tidies Theodore‘s e-mails, reads a book in two-hundredths of a second, fixes him up on a date, and, when things go bad, has sex talk with him. Theodore and Samantha quickly become entwined as an item and Theodore’s friends appear unfazed. Paul (Chris Pratt) proposes a double date with his girlfriend and Amy (Amy Adams) who is recently separated welcomes Samantha. Catherine (Rooney Mara) his estranged wife finds it all rather distasteful. Not much else happens but the cast do perform rather well in this uturistic comedy. Pure Art House.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Director: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Wiig, Patton Oswalt

A stunningly visual version of the Danny Kay 1947 classic based on the 1939 James Thurber story. Show off effects aside Stiller makes heavy work of the comedy in his attempt to dramatize the life and times of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller). Our hero is an insecure photo researcher at Life magazine who escapes his humdrum existence by imagining himself in swashbuckling situations. Secretly in love with co-worker Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) he would do anything to win her heart. When Mitty is faced with redundancy, he turns his dreams into reality, travelling the globe to find errant photographer (Sean Penn) and the lost negative for the magazine’s final cover. Only then do his far-fetched dreams come true. Very watchable, likable even, beautifully shot but sadly not a patch on the Danny Kaye version.