Sunday, November 29, 2015

Suffragette


Director: Sarah Gavron

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep,Anne-Marie Duff, Natalie Press

Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts, wife, mother and a passive laundry worker in a London sweat shop in 1912. Her friend and co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) is in an abusive relationship but committed suffragette none the less. After she is asked to make representation to Parliamentary Committee on the role of working women she is badly beaten by her husband and timid Maud steps up. Disillusioned by authority and the subsequent violence of the police at demonstrations Maud, at great personal expense, becomes a participant in the radical wing of the Women’s Movement led by Edith (Helena Bonham Carter). Menaced by a police inspector admirably played by Brendan Gleeson, and inspired by Emmeline Pankhurst (a star cameo by Meryl Streep) she and Emily Davison (Natalie Press) decide to bring the Votes for Women campaign to National attention with tragic consequence. Great topic and the fight for women’s emancipation is much neglected in celluloid, but sadly the telling of this tale is bland and consequently (IMO) the opportunity to make a riveting film has been missed. On the positive side this movie deals with radicalisation and is as much a metaphor for todays’ social problems as it is for women’s emancipation.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Love the Coopers

Director: Jessie Nelson

Starring: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde, Jake Lacy, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei

This should have been a Christmas Cracker with a cast to match the goodies at the best Christmas table but what starts with great promise as a family Christmas movie just peters out limply. The weak script, fragmented story lines and sterile performances with one exception, Olivia Wilde (Eleanor), combine to make a painfully predictable cinematic experience. Overlong and wanna be Love Actually, there is just not enough substance despite the rare humorous and insightful moments.




Monday, November 16, 2015

Spectre

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig,Ralph Fiennes,Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Madeleine Swann, Andrew Scott

Bond’s 24 celluloid adventure charts the story of the Bond story as portrayed by Daniel Craig so there is plenty interest for the nerds. Post Skyfall, Bond is now on a secret mission commissioned by M of old (Dame Judi Dench), without the knowledge or permission of his current superior, MI6 director’s M (Ralph Fiennes). As the adventure plays out we see a Bond of old, ruthless assassin and womaniser in search of the mysterious leader of Spectre (Christoph Waltz). The plot thickens in true schoolboy adventure style as our intrepid hero battles Mr Hinx, the horrid henchman (Dave Bautista) ably assisted by Q (Ben Whishaw), Agent Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and an Aston Martin DB10. Lea Seydoux (Madeleine Swann) plays the damsel in distress as Bond and co. track down the baddies and cope with home front changes to the Intelligence Community, driven with the mysterious, C (Andrew Scott) which threaten to destroy his licence to kill. On the whole a watchable Bond movie with some spectacular cinematography but at 148 minutes, overlong.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bridge of Spies


Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Alan Alda, Peter McRobbie, Billy Magnussen, Eve Hewson, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell, Mark Rylance

In this Steven Spielberg's espionage thriller James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an insurance lawyer recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to negotiate a swap of Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) for US pilot (Francis Gary Powers) captured and jailed after his U-2 spy plane was shot down over USSR. The movie is based on real events, and consists of three story strands which are intricately intertwined to make an eminently watchable and highly engrossing film. Hanks’ character is a moral fellow who stoically defends the accused Russian agent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Rylance is excellent in the role and would not be too surprised if he receives a nomination for Best Support. The characters develop a strong bond which holds them and the audience to the finale of the film.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Legend


Director: Brian Helgelan

Starring: David Thewlis , Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton, Tom Hardy, Chazz Palminteri

Yet another bio pic of the Krey twin, Londons’ most notorious hoods from the 60s. Reggie and Ronnie Kray (both played by Tom Hardy) were East End gangster twins that terrorised the Swinging Sixties and almost brought down the UK Government. Reggie the charming rogue and club-owner criminal; and Ronnie a violent unstable paranoid schizophrenic and chief enforcer of the London underworld are both captured by Hardy who makes for compelling viewing on the big screen. The movie is told from the perspective of Francis Shea (Emily Browning), the mousey and vulnerable bride of Reggie Kray.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love and Mercy


Director: Bill Pohlad

Starring: Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, John Cusack, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Banks, Diana Maria Riva

A bio pic of the troubled life of Brian Wilson (Beachboys). The movie cuts back and forth between two very specific periods of Wilson’s life, Wilson’s songwriting heyday of the mid-1960s (Paul Dano) and his time under the control of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) in the mid-1980s (John Cusack). The young Brian has battled with his physically and mentally abusive record producer, father (Bill Camp) to produce some of the best music of the time. Battling substance and alcohol abuse and estranged from the Beachboys he falls under the influence of his psychiatric therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. Kept in a drug filled fugue and misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Wilson barely functions not realizing Landy is manipulating his affairs. By chance Wilson meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) when buying a car and the two develop a close relationship which is tentative at first but grows as she begins to realize the danger the songwriter is in from the Svengali like Landy. Eventually Ledbetter, aided by Brian’s housekeeper, Gloria Ramos (Diana Maria Riva), persuades Carl Wilson to intervene by presenting evidence of Landy’s undue influence. The movie is considered a reasonably accurate rendition of the singer songwriter’s troubled life and whilst not a musical fest it does give key insights to composer brain Wilson. The recording studio scenes with the Wrecking Crew are especially good as they depict the meticulous, inventive brilliance of Wilson at work. Superb casting and Paul Dano gives a fabulous performance as the younger Brian. Look out for the real Brian Wilson singing the title song with the credits.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Age of Adaline


Director: Lee Toland Krieger

Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Anthony Ingruber , Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew, Harrison Ford

After 29 year old widow Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is involved in a car accident and is struck by lightning in 1937, she stops aging. As her daughter Flemming is growing up, it becomes apparent Adaline is not aging. Close encounters with police and FBI agents make Adaline suspicious her secret will be discovered and she goes on the run. Using her independent wealth she is able to move about her San Francisco adopting new identities to hide agelessness. Fearing discovery she avoids emotional detachment until she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman) and starts to question her self-imposed exile from life, love and all its charms. When she meets an old man called William Jones (Harrison Ford), a guest at a 40-year wedding anniversary party, he seems to recognise her. Will Adaline live for ever ? Well you will need to see the movie to find out Good performances in this engaging and feel-good movie which is hard to dislike.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Voices

Director: Marjane Satrapi

Starring: Ryan Reynolds , Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton, Jacki Weaver

A black comedy featuring Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds) as a hallucinogenic serial killer who speaks with his cat, Mr. Whiskers and his dog, Bosco. Although Jerry seeks help from a psychiatrist, Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver) he continues to murder. His personal relationships are in turmoil as he rejects the genuine affection from a sweet shy woman (Anna Kendrick) preferring instead a gorgeous if what disinterested workmate, Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Not for the faint hearted although it does have its lighter moments but best to be avoided and bound to be an art house success.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Director: John Madden

Starring: Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Penelope Wilton, Tamsin Greig, Celia Imrie, Tena Desae, Lillete Dubey, David Strathairn, Shazad Latif, Christy Meyer, Seema Azmi, Rajesh Tailang

Not quite as good as the original but not a bad feel good movie for all that. Same crew, more or less, with a few new faces, back in their Indian eventide retreat. Now 8 months later Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel ) and Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) are keen to expand but in need of investment monies. Off to the US to plead for funding from the cut throat granny farm industry and half promised they will send a hotel inspector incognito to check things out. Meantime back at the Best Marigold Hotel in Jaipur it is life as usual with the old greys getting on with their new lives and awaiting for the impending wedding. Lovely cast make the most of a thinly disguised plot when farce meets Bollywood in this real 50 shades of grey. Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Selma



Director: Ava DuVernay

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Andre Holland, Andrew Young, Omar J. Dorsey, Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Colman Domingo, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth.

A moving rendition of the events in Martin Luther King Jnr’s life which led to the Walk for Freedom in Selma Alabama in 1965. King Jnr (David Oyelowo) is the champion of civil rights but also a man, husband and father. He had to put these matters aside as figure head of the Southern Christian Leadership and its quest for gaining voting rights for black people in the South. This is a well crafted movie and at times almost feels the tension as events lead up to the walk of defiance. The bridge scenes are a mini-masterpieces of tension in which the director makes terrific use of silence to create a sense of fearful anticipation. The supporting performances are spot on with Tim Roth superb as Gov. George Wallace, and Tom Wilkinson the perplexed and willful President Lyndon B Johnson. Not to be missed and probably the best film you will see this year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella

Adapted from a Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons' comic book the story involves aging secret agent, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), one of the elite super-spy unit of gentlemanly spooks (aka Kingsmen) and Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), a juvenile tear away. Harry sees the potential in the street urchin and proceeds to train him to become an expert assassin. In a complex plot, together they try to stop a mad billionaire Valentine’s (Samuel L Jackson) bid for global domination through his zombie creating SIM cards. Pygmalion by another name this is another spy romp full of subtle references to all that has gone before. The movie keeps you entertained throughout if you like that sort of thing and will have appeal to 16 year old boys. Time was a movie like Kingsman would thrive in home entertainment DVDs etc. but I think this one will end up a popular computer game.