27 July 2015

Twelve Monkeys

Twelve Monkeys 1995
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, David Morse, Jon Seda, Christopher Plummer, Carol Florence
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bruce Willis  Moonrise Kingdom, Tears of the Sun, Friends, Sixth Sense, Breakfast of Champions, The Siege, The Fifth Element, Pulp Fiction, Billy Bathgate, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard 1&2, In Country
    • Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life, Inglourious Basterds, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, Babel, Troy, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Friends, Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Meet Joe Black, Seven, True Romance, Thelma and Louise
    • Madeleine Stowe – The Last Mohican
    • David Morse – Dancer in the Dark, The Green Mile, Contact, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Rock, Homicide Life on the Streets, The Indian Runner
    • Jon Seda – Homicide Life on the Streets, Selena, Carlito’s Way
    • Christopher Plummer –  Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Lake House, The Twelve Monkeys, Dolores Claiborne, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
    • Carol Florence – In Her Shoes
  • Why?  Liked it the first time
  • Seen:   Once before. Now 18 July 2015 

       Oh yeah. Terry Gilliam. This might be weirder than I remember.
       Bruce Willis is a prisoner in a grim future in which the small number of surviving humans live underground. He’s sent back to 1996 to find out what caused the pestilence and where the army of the Twelve Monkeys, the ones to spread the pestilence, is.
       He’s sent back to the wrong time. The first time to 1990. The second time to 1917. But the third time he lands in 1996.
       The premise is strong, the story is well constructed. It’s exciting and convincing and it has some of Gilliam’s twisted humour. Brad Pitt’s manic performance is possibly his best.
       What a film. No wonder it’s become a classic.

4 * of 5


The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight 2008
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Based on Book: No
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curnen
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christian Bale – Public Enemies, I’m Not There, Terminator Salvation, Batman Begins, The Prestige, Equilibrium, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Velvet Goldmine, Little Women, Swing Kids, Henry V
    • Michael Caine: Inception, Batman Begins, Harry Brown, Flawless, The Prestige, Children of Men, The Weatherman, Last Orders, Get Carter, The Cider House Rules, Little Voice, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Sleuth (both versions), Alfie
    • Heath Ledger – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, I’m Not There, Brokeback Mountain, The Brothers Grimm, Ned Kelly. The Monster’s Ball, A Knight’s Tale, 10 Things I Hate about You
    • Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, Batman Begins, The Book of Eli, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Léon, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Cillian Murphy:  Transcendence, Inception, Batman Begins, Cold Mountain, Girl with the Pearl Earring, 28 Days Later
    • Aaron Eckhart - The Rum Diary, Rabbit Hole, Conversations with Other Women, The Pledge, Erin Brockovich
    • Maggie Gyllenhaal -  Stranger than Fiction, Paris je t’aime, Sherrybaby, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaption, Riding in Cars with Boys, Donnie Darko, Waterland
    • Monique Gabriela Curnen – Contagion, Half Nelson
    • Morgan Freeman - Transcendence, Oblivion, Invictus, Batman Begins, Gone Baby Gone, The Contract, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Along Came a Spider, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Kiss the Girls, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Glory, Driving Miss Daisy
  •  Why: Christian Bale. Good film.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 10 July 2015 

A gang of wannabe Batmans. A hot-shot new DA romancing Batman’s sweetheart Rachel. The Joker, a really creepy Joker. Lots and lots of technical gadgets.
And generally a heavy story. This is not a feel-good Batman. Our hero has heavy ethical decisions to make and they don’t turn out well. Being a vigilante hero isn’t as much fun as Bruce Wayne might have thought.
As before the cast is excellent. Heath Ledger is especially strong and Maggie Gyllenhaal is more grown-up as Rachel than Katie Holmes (although I liked her too).
It’s a long and sometimes confusing journey and the moral dilemmas continue right to the ending. Which is strong enough to lift it to

4 * of 5




20 July 2015

Wild

Wild 2014
  • Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
  • Based on Book by Cheryl Strayed
  • Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffman
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line, Legally Blonde, Pleasantville
    • Laura Dern: I Am Sam, Citizen Ruth, A Perfect World, Jurassic Park, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet
    • Tom Hiddleston – Thor
    • Gaby Hoffman – Veronica Mars, You Can Count on Me, Black and White, Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, Field of Dreams
  •  Why: recommended by YW
  • Seen: 12 July 2015 with Hal and YW in our read-book-watch-film circle 

Oh, my aching feet! I hope they don’t show the rotten toenails.
Oh no, they just showed the rotten toenails! And she’s right at the edge of a cliff. I hate that! Am I going to have to watch this whole film with my eyes closed?
Fortunately not. I watch all of it.
Cheryl Strayed walks for ninety days on the Pacific Crest Trail to fight her demons – the death of her mother, stricken by cancer at the age of 45 which leads to Cheryl’s downward spiral of heroin and sex abuse and the divorce from the husband she never stopped loving.
The film is true to the book, the screenwriter is a pro – Nick Hornby. Still it doesn’t have the strength of the book. It’s a bit slow at times and I expected and wanted more of the spectacular nature.  Most of the cast is fine but Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon are better than that. They’re perfect for their parts.
Criticism aside, it’s a very strong film.

4* of 5


Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz
  • Director: Edgar Wright
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy, Billie Whitelaw, Peter Wight, Bill Bailey, Timothy Dalton, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Karl Johnson, Ron Cook, David Bradley
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Simon Pegg  Shaun of the Dead, 24 Hour Party People, The World’s End
    • Nick Frost – The Boat that Rocked, Kinky Boots, Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End,
    • Martin Freeman – Fargo, Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually, Black Books, the World’s End
    • Paddy Considine – My Summer of Love, In America, 24 Hour Party People, Born Romantic, The World’s End
    • Bill Bailey – Hustle, Black Books
    • Billie Whitelaw – Wasn’t she in Sex, Chips and Rock’n’Roll?
    • Bill Nighy –  The Second Best Exotic Hotel Marigold, The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold The Harry Potter, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Girl in the Café, The Boat that Rocked, Shaun of the Dead, The Constant Gardener, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Auf Wiedersehn Pet, Kiss Me Kate, Longitude, Fairy Tale a True Story
    • Timothy Dalton – The Tourist, The Lion in Winter, The Living Daylights
    • Jim Broadbent – the Harry Potter films, Filth, Another Year, The Young Victoria, Vera Drake, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy- Turvy, Little Voice, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Richard III, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Black Adder, Brazil
    • Rafe Spall – The Life of Pi, Prometheus, A Good Tear, Shaun of the Dead
    • Karl Johnson – Mr Turner, The Deep Blue Sea, Merlin, Copying Beethoven, Prick Up Your Ears, The Tempest
    • Ron Cook – The Merchant of Venice, The Other Boleyn Girl, 24 Hour Party People, Chocolat, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets and Lies, Black Adder, Richard III, Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, The Merry Wives of Windsor
    • David Bradley - Another Year, Harry Potter, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend, Prick Up Your Ears, A Family at War
  • Why?  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and the rest
  • Seen:   11 July 2015 

       You never know what to expect from this gang but you can count on weird humour.
       Supercop Simon Pegg makes all of his London colleagues look bad so he’s transferred to a lovely village in…the country! Oh horrors! I can definitely commiserate with him in this.
       He arrives. He’s a stickler for rules and regulations. This extremely village-y village is not. They are friendly, gossipy and a bit stupid.
       But oh! What lurks below the idyllic surface?
       Murder most foul.  At last a case for the very capable sergeant. But other crimes, the indifference, downright hostility and ridicule of some of his colleagues, interfere.
       Until the Grim Reaper strikes again. And again.
       It’s a spoof, yes, but it’s funny and quite exciting. The cast is so appealing that it’s even touching at times.
       I’ve always known that village life is bad for you.


3* of 5

Batman Begins

Batman Begins 2005
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Based on Book: No
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson,  Rutger Hauer, Linus Roache, Morgan Freeman
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christian Bale – Public Enemies, I’m Not There, Terminator Salvation, The Prestige, Equilibrium, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Velvet Goldmine, Little Women, Swing Kids, Henry V
    • Michael Caine: Inception, Harry Brown, Flawless, The Prestige, Children of Men, The Weatherman, Last Orders, Get Carter, The Cider House Rules, Little Voice, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Sleuth (both versions), Alfie
    • Liam Neeson – Seraphim Falls, Kingdom of Heaven, Love Actually, Les Misérables, Michael Collins, Rob Roy, Nell, Schindler’s List, Ruby Cairo, Excalibur
    • Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Léon, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Cillian Murphy:  Transcendence, Inception, Cold Mountain, Girl with the Pearl Earring, 28 Days Later
    • Tom Wilkinson - The Lone Ranger, The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold, The Ghost Writer, Valkyria, Michael Clayton, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Girl with the Pearl Earring, Shakespeare in Love, Wilde, The Full Monty, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Sense and Sensibility
    • Rutger Hauer -  Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Blade Runner
    • Linus Roache – a fantastic TV series that I’ve never been able to find again, about WWII
    • Morgan Freeman - Transcendence, Oblivion, Invictus, Gone Baby Gone, The Contract, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Along Came a Spider, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Kiss the Girls, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Glory, Driving Miss Daisy
  • Why: Christian Bale. Good film.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 10 July 2015 

After the generally less than brilliant quartet of Batman films we’ve recently ploughed through I’ve really been looking forward to seeing this one again.
From the very start it’s too exciting and gripping to write while watching. So, see you later.
And…it lives up to expectations and memory.
It’s a real story, of how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. And what a story.  Real characters with some depth. Nuanced and complex good vs evil. Humour. Sophisticated high-tech action.
And what a cast. I love every single one of them. Kindly Tom Wilkinson totally convincing as the ruthless villain. Cute-as-a-bug, tough, don’t-mess-with-me Katie Holmes as Rachel, the childhood sweetheart. Angelic blue-eyed Cillian Murphy as the sleazy bent psychiatrist. Gary Oldman as the family man, earnest, courageous, the only decent cop on the force and just a little dopey. Morgan Freeman as the sardonic genius scientist. Noble Liam Neeson as the creepy opposite of Schindler. Michael Caine as the cheeky butler Alfred – another Alfie. And, oh, gorgeous, tormented Christian Bale - the true and only Batman.
I’m sure there are flaws somewhere – the film, and the whole superhero concept is questionable (but we all love it). But this has to be one of the best of the genre. And the music is great too.

4 ½ * of 5


10 July 2015

The Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea 2011
  • Director: Terence Davies
  • Based on Book: no
  • Cast: Rachel Weisz, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Hiddleston, Karl Johnson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Rachel Weisz – The Fountain, The Constant Gardener, About a Boy, Sunshine
    • Simon Russell Beale: This England, My Week with Marilyn, Hamlet, Orlando
    • Tom Hiddleston – Thor
    • Karl Johnson: Mr Turner, Merlin, Copying Beethoven, Prick Up Your Ears, The Tempest
  •  Why: post-war England
  • Seen: 28 June 2015 

London 1950. A young woman writes a suicide note and turns on the gas.
Flashbacks to a passionate post-war love affair. But not with her much older husband.
Her husband is a sir, her mother-in-law an unbearable snob. The husband finds out about the affair.
The story very slowly emerges with captivating acting and exquisite period settings.
The back-and-forthing in time is confusing but as a whole this low-key smouldering love triangle is riveting.

4* of 5


Batman and Robin

Batman and Robin 1997
  • Director: Joel Schumacher
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O’Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • George Clooney  Gravity, Burn After Reading, Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck, Intolerable Cruelty, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Perfect Storm, O Brother Where Are Thou, The Thin Red Line
    • Uma Thurman – Be Cool, Kill Bill 1&2, Tape, Les Misérables, Gattaca, Beautiful Girls, Pulp Fiction
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger – Terminator et al, Twins, The Running Man
    • Chris O’Donnell – Batman Forever, The Scent of a Woman, Fried Green Tomatoes
    • Alicia Silverstone – Love’s Labour’s Lost
    • Pat Hingle – A Thousand Acres, The Grifters, Norma Rae, TV series
    • Michael Gough – Sleepy Hollow, Nostradamus, The Age of Innocence, Out of Africa, Cymbeline, The Go-Between, Women in Love
  • Why? Finishing the box
  • Seen:  27 June 2015 

Uma Thurman. Fine. But George Clooney as Batman? The mind boggles.
But his first line is funny. ‘That’s why Superman works alone.’
The first five minutes are funnier than the first three movies put together. Batman and Robin on ice skates? Playing hockey with monsters on skates and a massive diamond for a puck?
After that it gets a little wild. I don’t know how the flippancy and family sentimentality work. And in spite of its wildness it really isn’t very interesting.  There are so many stories going on that it’s hard to know what it’s really about.  And those trite one liners wear out their welcome fast.
This is quite awful.
Will it ever end?
It does eventually.
For the first five minutes it gets a star. Another half for Poison Ivy’s costumes and Uma Thurman’s acting. That’s it. The rest is a bust.

1½ * of 5