18 December 2017

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day 1993
  • Director: James Ivory
  • Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Peter Vaughan, Ben Chaplin, Hugh Grant, Timothy Pigott-Smith
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Anthony Hopkins – Thor, Wolfman, Bobby, The Human Stain, Titus, Meet Joe Black, Amistad, Surviving Picasso, Howards End, The Silence of the Lambs, 84 Charing Cross Road, Othello, Elephant Man, The Lion in Winter
    • Emma Thompson – The Love Punch, Beautiful Creatures, Harry Potter, An Education, The Boat that Rocked, Nanny McPhee, Last Chance Harvey, Brideshead Revisited, Stranger than Fiction, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, The Winter Guest, Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Howards End, Dead Again, Impromptu, Henry V, The Fortunes of War, Tutti Frutti
    • Christopher Reeve – The Aviator, Superman
    • James Fox – Downton Abbey, Merlin, The Kid, Sherlock Holmes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Absolute Beginners, Isadora
    • Peter Vaughan – Hotel Splendide, Longitude, Les Misérables, Our Mutual Friend, Brazil, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
    • Ben Chaplin – Birthday Girl, The Thin Red Line
    • Hugh Grant – Music and Lyrics, American Dreamz, Love Actually, About a Boy, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, Sense and Sensibility, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Impromptu
    • Tim Pigott-Smith – Jupiter Ascending, Bletchley Circle, Downton Abbey, Alice in Wonderland, Quantum of Solace, V for Vendetta, Gangs of New York, Henry IV Part One, Measure for Measure
  • Why? Originally, Emma Thompson
  • Seen: Twice before. Now with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group

       If there is anything stuffier than the English aristocracy it’s the English aristocracy’s butler. At least if we can believe all these British series and films. Why do we love them so?
       Well, because of people like Hopkins and, even more so, Thompson.
       Ishiguro’s novel is a masterpiece on many levels, not the least as an analysis of class and British pre-WWII politics.
       Decent, honourable, well-meaning, but amateurs. We all know what happened and we cannot only blame the British aristocrats for the rise of the Nazis and the war. Not only.
       The novel and the film are both fine studies of the subtleties of international politics, of individual psychology, of insidious class and ethnics oppression and complicity, and especially of self-deception. The novel is much subtler and all the stronger for it.
       Should Hopkins and Thompson not have got Oscars and BAFTAs for these roles?

4 ½ * of 5 (we all agreed)

PS They were both nominated for an Academy award, Thompson was nominated for a BAFTA and Hopkins won the BAFTA

La La Land

La La Land 2016
  • Director: Damien Chazelle
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, The United States of Leland
    • Emma Stone – The Help
    • John Legend – he looks so familiar we must have seen him somewhere but I don’t recognise the films he’s been in
  • Why? I like musicals
  • Seen: 8 December 2017      

       Our dear friend B-IS, a professional dancer who has danced in many musicals, recommended this. Since I like Ryan Gosling and musicals and B-IS my expectations are quite high.
       L.A. As in Los Angeles. And la-la. The opening song and dance number is amongst stalled cars on a gridlocked motorway.
       Aspiring actor/playwright Mia is giving up hope after countless auditions but no roles and a dead-end job in a coffee shop. Pianist Sebastian wants his own jazz club but has been cheated by a fraudulent partner and now plays Christmas carols in a bar. Then he’s fired for playing his own music.
       They meet. They fall in love. Didn’t say that coming, did you?
       It’s very Los Angeles-y and Hollywood party-y. An hour or so into the film I still see no Oscar quality.
       This is Hollywood. They both become stars. They go their separate ways. Years go by. They meet again.
       Of course, it won Oscars. It’s about struggling actors/musicians who make it big.
       My expectations? Disappointed. The music is so-so, the voices are so-so, the dancing is so-so, the story is, never mind. It just doesn’t lift. Sorry B-IS and Oscar. We can’t always agree.

2 ½ * of 5 (Hal gave it 3 ½)

4 December 2017

Remember Me

Remember Me 2010
  • Director: Allen Coulter
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emelie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Lena Olin, Pierce Brosnan, Ruby Jerins, Tate Ellington, Martha Plimpton
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Robert Pattinson – Twilight, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • Emelie da Ravin – Public Enemies, Roswell
    • Chris Cooper – August Osage County, The Tempest, My House in Umbria, The Bourne Identity, American Beauty, Matewan
    • Lena Olin – The Reader, The United States of Leland, Chocolat, The Ninth Gate, Romeo Is Bleeding, Picassos äventyr
    • Pierce Brosnan – A Long Way Down, The Love Punch, The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Die Another Day, The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Mars Attacks, Golden Eye
    • Ruby Jerins – Nurse Jackie, Shutter Island
    • Tate Ellington – The Big Bang Theory, The Invention of Lying
    • Martha Plimpton – Fringe, Beautiful Girls, I Shot Andy Warhol, Stanley & Iris, Stars and Bars, The Mosquito Coast
  • Why? I honestly don’t remember. It was probably cheap.
  • Seen: 1 December 2017      

       In 1991 a woman is shot by muggers in the NY subway. Her small daughter witnesses it.
       Ten years later a family gathers for a memorial - heavy smoker/drinker Tyler (Pattinson), anxious fussing mother (Olin), rich nasty ex-husband/dad (Brosnan), 11-year-old Caroline.
       Tyler is a student and poet and a brooder. His friend entices him out for a night of bars and girls. Tyler is involved in a brawl and is arrested by the cop (Cooper) who happens to be the husband of the murdered woman and father to the girl, Ally (de Ravin) who is now in one of Tyler’s University classes.
       It’s kind of complicated. The question is – is it interesting? As I write this it seems pretentious and a bit obnoxious – bad boy poor little rich boy and vulgar sexist roommate. Followed by the somewhat predictable romance between Tyler and Ally. They both have their ghosts, she her murdered mother, he his suicide-committing brother.
       It’s not as good as it thinks it is but it’s not too bad. I’m not a fan of Twilight but Cedric was cool and tragic. In this role Pattinson is OK-ish, de Ravin is OK+ and little sister Jerins is appealing. Olin is criminally wasted in this nothing role; Cooper and Brosnan do well with what they’re given.
       It does get a bit dramatic in the second half but oh, spare me these boring fist fights that directors insist upon!  It goes on too long and then the ending is totally unexpected and doesn’t work at all. It cost the rating half a star.

2 * of 5   

Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?

Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? 1999
  • Director: Peter Hewitt
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Tom Courtney, Michael Legge, Laura Fraser, Stephen Fry, Amanda Root, Lulu, David Thewliss, Matthew Rhys, James Corden, Mark Williams
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Courtney – Unforgotten, Quartet, Flood, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Doctor Zhivago, The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner
    • Laura Fraser – A Knight’s Tale, Titus
    • Stephen Fry – The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Extras, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, Bright Young Things, Gosford Park, Longitude, Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, Peter’s Friends, Black Adder, A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful of Dust
    • Amanda Root – Rose and Maloney, Daniel Deronda
    • Lulu – To Sir with Love
    • David Thewliss – Legend, Macbeth, The Theory of Everything, Harry Potter, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Kingdom of Heaven, The Big Lebowski, Naked, Life Is Sweet
    • Matthew Rhys – Very Annie Mary, Titus
    • Mark Williams – Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Hustle, Merlin, Stardust, Tristram Shandy, Shackleton, Shakespeare in Love, The Prince of Jylland
  • Why? Tom Courtney
  • Seen: Twice before. Now 26 November 2017      

       One good Courtney deserves another. We recently watched The Dresser and we are now very much in the Courtney mood.
       Sheffield teenager Vince (Legge) works in a law office for obnoxious Nesbitt (Thewliss). He is in love with Joanna (Fraser) whose father (Fry) is a pedantic moralistic university professor. Vince’s father Harold (Courtney) lives a placid quiet life with his pipe and his telly. Vince’s mum (Lulu) likes, well, action, nights out, boyfriends.
       Quite normal if eccentric families. Except that Harold’s magic can stop clocks and pacemakers.
       Vince loves disco and fancies himself John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Then he falls for a mysterious punk girl and becomes an avid anarchist.
       Harold is arrested for the mysterious circumstances surrounding the pacemaker deaths. Vince’s boss – who absolutely does not believe in magic – is his solicitor.
       It’s all completely daft. And absolutely… can one use words like this on a self-respecting movie blog??...adorable.
       How can one not love a film with Lulu, Stephen Fry, David Thewliss and Tom Courtney? And Vince and Johanna are sweethearts. How can we have not seen much more of them?
       Do not miss this gem!

4 ½ * of 5   

27 November 2017

The Dresser

The Dresser 1983
  • Director: Peter Yates
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Tom Courtney, Albert Finney, Eileen Atkins
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Courtney – Unforgotten, Quartet, Flood, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Doctor Zhivago, The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner
    • Albert Finney – Skyfall, A Good Year, Big Fish, Erin Brockovich, Breakfast of Champions, Cold Lazarus, Karaoke, Miller’s Crossing, Tom Jones
    • Eileen Atkins – Beautiful Creatures, Upstairs Downstairs, Robin Hood, Last Chance Harvey, Cranford, Cold Mountain, The Hours, Gosford Park, Wit, David Copperfield, Cold Comfort Farm, Wolf, Titus Andronicus
  • Why? a must for theatre lovers
  • Seen: 24 November 2017      

       Coincidentally we’ve been reading and seeing King Lear in the past month so this seemed an appropriate choice for the evening film.
       Sir (Finney) is a renowned Shakespearean actor in war torn England. Norman (Courtney) is his dresser.
       It opens with Sir doing Othello’s dying scene then tyrannising the other actors with insults.
       Sadly, Sir has gone mad. He wanders amongst burning bombed out buildings giving out free tickets to his performances. He rants and rages in the street and ends up in hospital, shouting Macbeth quotes while fighting against the tranquilising injections.
       Norman argues vehemently and campily against cancelling the night’s performance. Sir escapes from the hospital fully determined to go on stage.
       Norman cajoles, jollies and bullies Sir into getting ready for this, his 227th, performance of Lear.
       And indeed, in the midst of air raid sirens and falling bombs, the show does go on.
       Finney is almost unrecognisable but completely convincing. Courtney, as the prissy, limp-wristed, whiskey-nipping self-centred, melodramatic and utterly devoted dresser joins his long-distance runner, his fanatic revolutionary and his many other roles in another stellar performance.

4* of 5   

American Pastoral

American Pastoral 2016
  • Director: Ewan MacGregor
  • Based on the book by Philip Roth. Screenplay by John Romano
  • Cast: Ewan MacGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Peter Riegert, Rupert Evans, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker, Valerie Curry, Hannah Nordberg, David Strathairn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ewan MacGregor – Mortdecai, August Osage County, The Impossible, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Perfect Sense, The Ghost Writer, The Island, Star Wars, Big Fish, Young Adam, Moulin Rouge, Little Voice, Velvet Goldmine, A Life Less Ordinary, Brassed Off, Trainspotting, Shallow Grave
    • Jennifer Connelly – Winter’s Tale, Creation, He’s Just Not that Into You, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Blood Diamond, House of Sand and Fog, A Beautiful Mind, Pollock, Requiem for a Dream
    • Dakota Fanning – The Runaways, War of the Worlds, I Am Sam
    • Peter Riegert – Sopranos, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, MASH
    • Rupert Evans – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Retold), Hellboy
    • Valerie Curry – Veronica Mars
    • Molly Parker – The Road, Six Feet Under, Sunshine
    • David Strathairn – Hotel Marigold 2, The Tempest, The Bourne Ultimatum, Good Night and Good Luck, The Sopranos, A Map of the World, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, LA Confidential, Dolores Claiborne, A League of Their Own, Stars and Bars, Matewan, Silkwood
  • Why? Ewan MacGregor
  • Seen: 19 November 2017 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group      

       We had a very lively discussion about the book. There was much we didn’t quite understand, some we didn’t like but generally we found the novel brilliant. So we’re very curious about the film. How can anyone make a film out of this book?
       The story is very simple. And very complex. The perfect American couple – star athlete Swede and ex-Miss New Jersey Dawn – are wealthy, well-intentioned, liberal, against the Vietnam war, the loving and supportive parents of Merry. But at 16 Merry hates them and their bourgeois values. She’s involved in an anti-war bombing in which a man is killed.
       Merry goes underground. Swede and Dawn must live with the consequences. And wait.
And wonder and grieve. And obsess.
       Why MacGregor chose this particular novel for his feature length directorial debut – or how he dared – I don’t understand but the result is impressive. Changes are made, the complexity it condensed, but the essence is there. He and the writers and the cast have captured the core.
       Read the novel. See the film. Both are flawed. And both powerfully reveal the murderous and manipulative lie of the American dream and American heroes.

4 ½ * of 5   

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner 2014
  • Director: Wes Ball
  • Based on the book by James Dashner
  • Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Li, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Thomas Brodie Sangster – Star Wars, Wolf Hall, Doctor Who, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually
    • Kaya Scodelario – Wuthering Heights, Moon
  • Why? Quite enjoyed the book
  • Seen: 12 November 2017      

       A teenaged boy with no memory has a terrifying ride up an industrial lift, ending up in a kind of boys’ camp called the Glade. He’s told his name will come to him. It does; it’s Thomas. He’s told there’s a new boy sent up every month. He’s told that the massive wall that surrounds them is off-limits. The only ones allowed into the Maze are the Runners.
       The Runners run in the Maze every day, trying to find a way out. But the Maze changes every night.
       It’s a grim, merciless macro-world but the boys have each other.
       The premise is intriguing, the suspense almost unbearable at times.
       Any film with a cast of two dozen boys and one girl already has a few strikes against it and it has some sentimental moments and an over-simplified rebellious hero vs rigid rule-follower but it’s visually impressive and I find myself caring about these kids. Better than expected.

3 * of 5   

6 November 2017


Detachment 2011
  • Director: Tony Kaye
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Sami Gayle, Louis Zorich, Betty Kaye
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Adrien Brody – Cadillac Records, Darjeeling Limited, The Pianist, King Kong, Bread and Roses, Liberty Heights, The Thin Red Line
    • Christina Hendricks – Madmen, Ginger and Rosa
    • Marcia Gay Harden – The Mist, Into the Wild, The Dead Girl, American Dreamz, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Mystic River, Pollack, Meet Joe Black, The First Wives Club, Miller’s Crossing
    • James Caan – Dogville, Misery, Dick Tracy
    • Lucy Liu – Kill Bill 1 & 2, Chicago, Hill Street Blues, The X Files
    • Louis Zorich – Fiddler on the Roof
  • Why? Adrien Brody
  • Seen: 4 November 2017      

       Henry Barthes (Brody) is a substitute high school English teacher. He’s now in a school of underachieving foul-mouthed aggressive students. He’s good with the kids but has serious personal problems, including a dying grandfather and the trauma of his mother’s suicide when he was a child. He tries to help an abused young prostitute Erica (Gayle).
       In an effective mix of cartoon, documentary-like interviews and powerful every-day drama we get glimpses of threatening, demanding parents, teen-agers being torn apart by the vicious gender roles they’re being forced into, teachers who need to cope somehow – or not – with an impossible soul-killing work situation and loveless private lives.
       The acting is superb, all of them. Brody is brilliant, at least as good as in The Pianist. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching films I’ve seen about the demons we all carry, about failing, about not being enough, about trying.

5 * of 5   

Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith 2013
  • Director: Dexter Fletcher
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Jane Horrocks, George Mackay, Kevin Guthrie, Peter Mullan, Freya Mavor, Antonia Thomas, Paul Brannigan
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jane Horrocks – Absolutely Fabulous, Gracie, Born Romantic, Little Voice, Life is Sweet
    • George Mackay – Defiance
    • Kevin Guthrie – Case Histories
    • Peter Mullan – Top of the Lake, Harry Potter, Stone of Destiny, Boy A, Children of Men, Young Adam, The Magdalene Sisters, My Name Is Joe, Trainspotting, Braveheart, Shallow Grave, Riff-Raff
    • Paul Brannigan – The Angel’s Share
  • Why? Jane Horrocks
  • Seen: 29 October 2017      

       Ally and Davy return to Edinburgh from military service in Afghanistan, their friend having lost his legs to a roadside bomb. Davy’s parents Rab and Jean are planning their 25th anniversary party then his dad’s unknown daughter from 24 years ago shows up. Ally proposes to Davy’s sister Liz in front of everybody and she turns him down.  How is all that to live up to the rave reviews of ‘feel-fabulous film of the year’, exuberatingly funny’, ‘soaring delight’, ‘joyous…fun’?
       Well, it is a musical.
       I don’t know what to think. I love musicals, Jane Horrocks and Scotland but the story is lame and sentimental and the characters and relationships conventional to the point of cardboard stereotypes. The songs are by the Proclaimers and though ‘Letter from America’ and ‘500 miles’ are always stirring to hear and work well, the other songs don’t quite hold the film together.
       A bit of a disappointment really. Maybe it’ll be better next time when I know what to expect. And since I’m already planning on watching it again it must be worth

3 * of 5   

King Kong

King Kong 2005
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Naomi Watts – The Impossible, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, 21 Grams, Ned Kelly
    • Jack Black – Be Kind Rewind, Margot at the Wedding, The Holiday, School of Rock, High Fidelity, Cradle Will Rock, Mars Attacks, Dead Man Walking, The X Files
    • Adrien Brody – Cadillac Records, Darjeeling Limited, The Pianist, Bread and Roses, Liberty Heights, The Thin Red Line
    • Jamie Bell – Filth, Snowpiercer, Jane Eyre, The Eagle, Defiance, Jumper, Hallam Foe, Dear Wendy, Undertow, Billy Elliot
    • Thomas Kretschmann – Wanted, Young Victoria, Valkyria, The Pianist, Queen Margot
    • Colin Hanks – Madmen, Roswell
    • Andy Serkis – Star Wars the Force Awakens, The Hobbit, Brighton Rock, Lord of the Rings, Topsy-Turvy, Career Girls, The Prince of Jylland
    • Evan Parke – The Cider House Rules
  • Why? Enjoyed it the first time. Good cast
  • Seen: Once before. Now 28 October 2017      

       It’s time to set the clocks back for winter time which means we need to stay awake an extra hour. Not an easy task for us early birds. This three-hour movie, will it do the job?
       It opens with vivid images of hard times during the Depression in New York. Annie (Watts), an aspiring actor, loses her job when the vaudeville show she is starring in closes. Slick talking Carl (Black) can’t get financing for his film about an exotic hitherto unknown island and his star has pulled out.
       Their paths cross and off they go. With the cops at their heels Carl’s illegally obtained ship sets sail with the reluctant theatre-loving scriptwriter Jack (Brody) trapped on board.
       The script develops, the film-making progresses, love blossoms between Annie and Jack.
       And then… an island, a mysterious monster. This is King Kong, after all.
       I remember liking the original quite a lot. This is a good modernisation. The cast is good, the attention to detail is loving and meticulous.
       It’s an old-fashioned adventure story but Jimmy (Bell) says, ‘It’s not an adventure story, is it?’ and in fact it has a nice touch of existential spooky philosophy.
       But mostly it’s just exciting. Not exciting enough to keep me awake the entire time but almost.

4 * of 5   

31 October 2017

Ginger and Rosa

Ginger and Rosa 2012
  • Director: Sally Potter
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Alice Englert, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Annette Benning
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Elle Fanning – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I Am Sam
    • Christina Hendricks – Madmen
    • Alessandro Nivola – The Darwin Awards, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Face/Off
    • Alice Englert – Beautiful Creatures
    • Timothy Spall – Mr Turner, The Love Punch, Harry Potter, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, My House in Umbria, All or Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Topsy-Turvy, Our Mutual Friend, Hamlet, Spender, Life is Sweet, Gothic, Quadrophenia
    • Oliver Platt – 2012, Frost/Nixon, Bullworth, Benny and Joon, Postcards from the Edge, Working Girl, Married to the Mob
    • Annette Benning – The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, Mars Attacks, Richard III, The Grifters, Postcards from the Edge
  • Why? It sounded good
  • Seen: 22 October 2017      

       Ginger and Rosa are best friends in London in 1962. They share the excitement and fear of boyfriends and the Bomb. Ginger wants to protest against the Bomb, Rosa wants to pray.
       They experiment with smoking, clothes, hitchhiking, politics. They are pitiless in their judgment of their mothers. Rosa is in love with Ginger’s father Roland who has been in prison as a conscientious objector during the war and who weeps when listening to Schubert. Ginger is a poet, a thinker, an observer. She suffers from normal teen-aged angst compounded by intense anxiety over the imminent threat of nuclear war and confused hurt over Rosa’s affair with Roland.
       It’s a quietly intense film about deep, confusing, complex feelings in a world whose complete destruction hovers in the background. It’s not a happy film. Ginger: ‘Happiness is not an option when one knows the world could be blown to bits any minute.’
       In every sense of the words this is a film that shows that the personal is political. It’s powerful with a powerful performance by all, especially young Fenning as Ginger.

4 ½ * of 5   

16 October 2017

Gideon's Daughter

Gideon’s Daughter 2005
  • Director: Stephen Poliakoff
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson, Robert Lindsay, Ronni Ancona, Tom Hardy, Tom Goodman-Hill, Joanna Page
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bill Nighy – Hotel Marigold 1 & 2, The World’s End, About Time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, Doctor Who, The Boat that Rocked, Valkyria, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hot Fuzz, Notes on a Scandal, The Constant Gardener, The Girl in the Café, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Kiss Me Kate, Longitude
    • Emily Blunt – Snow White the Winter’s War, Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, Dan in Real Life, The Jane Austen Book Club, My Summer of Love
    • Miranda Richardson – Testament of Youth, Harry Potter, Young Victoria, Paris je t’aime, Wah-Wah, Absolutely Fabulous, The Hours, Spider, Get Carter, Sleepy Hollow, Black Adder, Kansas City, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Dance with a Stranger
    • Robert Lindsay – Extras, Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Much Ado about Nothing, King Lear, Cymbeline, All’s Well that Ends Well, Twelfth Night
    • Tom Hardy – Legend, Mad Max Fury Road, The Dark Night Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Inception
    • Tom Goodman-Hill – Humans, The Hollow Crown, Case Histories, Hustle, Doctor Who, The Office
    • Joanna Page – Doctor Who, Love Actually, From Hell, Very Annie Mary
  • Why? Bill Nighy
  • Seen: 13 October 2017      

       It seems that Gideon (Nighy) is a PR guru doing huge things like the Queen’s millennium do and celebrity-studded premières while his pale daughter Natasha (Blunt) looks on in boredom. He’s drawn into the crusade of a violent fanatic trying to force the local council into taking the blame for his young son’s death.
       Then it seems that Natasha hates her father and is going to run off to South America.
       Gideon’s image-making services are very much in demand by the rich and powerful. He seeks escape and finds it with Stella (Richardson), the ex-wife of the fanatic, i.e. the mother of the dead boy. She works night at a local supermarket because she can’t bear to go to sleep.
       All of this is being narrated by Sneath (Lindsay) who is dictating his memoirs, in his pyjamas, to a young woman from a secretarial agency.
       What an odd meandering film. The acting is good – I expected nothing less with this cast – and there are some strong emotional moments. Quite a unique film, in fact.

4 * of 5   

Angels Crest

Angels Crest 2011
  • Director: John Crowley
  • Based on the book by Leslie Schwartz
  • Cast: Thomas Dekker, Mira Sorvino, Lynn Collins, Elizabeth McGovern, Kate Walsh
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Mira Sorvino – Lulu on the Bridge, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, Beautiful Girls
    • Lynn Collins – Lake House, Merchant of Venice
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Woman in Gold, Downton Abbey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, If Not for You, Racing for the Moon, Ragtime
    • Kate Walsh – Fargo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Under the Tuscan Sun, The Norm Show, Homicide Life on the Street
  • Why? Elizabeth McGovern
  • Seen: 8 October 2017      

       A little boy disappears from his young father Ethan’s pickup in a wintery mountain forest. The townspeople search. Tensions, conflicts, accusations arise quickly and when the boy is found dead the father is charged with the boy’s death. The townspeople are divided – guilty or not guilty?
       It’s a story of grief, dysfunctional families, estrangements, bitterness, violence – suppressed or almost – loyalty and betrayal.
       There are too many characters to keep straight and too much jumping from one story line to another for the viewer to become really involved. Like all films and books about small isolated towns it makes me feel claustrophobic. It’s very dramatic though and the natural setting – the Rocky Mountains? Alaska? – is sensational.
       And McGovern proves once again that she can put genuine depth into a wide variety of characters, this time as a kind, naïve lesbian, light years away from the Ladies Whatsit in Downton Abbey and Cheerful Weather for the Wedding and the stern judge in the recently seen Woman in Gold.

3 * of 5   

9 October 2017


  • Director: John Crowley
  • Based on the book by Colm Tóibín
  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emery Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Saoirse Ronan – Atonement, Hanna
    • Domhnall Gleeson – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Ex Machina, About Time, Harry Potter, True Grit, Never Let Me Go
    • Julie Walters – The Hollow Crown, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia, One Chance, Becoming Jane, Driving Lessons, Wah-Wah, Canterbury Tales, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot, Titanic Town, Intimate Relations, Prick Up Your Ears, Educating Rita
    • Jim Broadbent – Lady in the Van, Filth, the Harry Potter films, 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
  • Why? Good book, Saoirse Ronan
  • Seen: 7 October 2017 with YW and Hal in our read-book-see-film group      

       Eilis leaves her beloved sister Rose, her mother and her small Irish town and immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950’s.
       Quiet, shy Eilis has a difficult time with small talk and glamour, both of which are demanded of her in Brooklyn. She lives for letters from home. She starts night school to become a bookkeeper and helps her sponsor Father Flood serve Christmas dinner to lonely old Irish labourers who built America but now have nothing. Her homesickness is severe. Then she meets Tony.
       Hal asked, ‘How are they going to make a film of this book? Nothing happens!’
       That’s its strength. The quiet joys and sorrows of immigration, of trying to find a new identity, a new home, of being torn between two worlds, of naivety and being caught up by one’s own cowardly secrets are carried by a strong cast and meticulous period settings and clothing. Ronan is unrecognisable as the young killer spy Hanna but just as good as Eilis. Julie Walters steals the show as the acerbic eccentrically religious warm-hearted boarding house landlady.

3 ½ * of 5   


  • Director: Duncan Jones
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice), Dominique McElligot
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sam Rockwell – Frost/Nixon, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Green Mile, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Dominique McElligot – Not Fade Away
    • Kevin Spacey – The Life of David Gale, The United States of Leland, The Shipping News, Pay It Forward, American Beauty, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Confidential, Seven, The Usual Suspects, Glengarry Glen Ross, Working Girl
  • Why? Liked it the first time
  • Seen: Once before. Now 1 October 2017      

       Sam Bell (Rockwell) has a three-year-contract on a lunar mining base. He’s alone with the kind and understanding computer/robot Gerty (Spacey’s voice) to talk to. He has two weeks left and he’s very edgy. His communication with his wife on Earth is one-way because the communications tower is not functioning.
       He putters about. Time passes slowly. Strange things start happening. Hallucinations or…? Accidents, Gerty becoming evasive…
       Then he discovers an injured man by one of the mines. It seems to be…Sam Bell. There are two of them. One has been there a week. The other, three years minus the two weeks. The new one tells the old one they are clones. The new one tells the old one he’s not going home, his wife isn’t still there, and they probably aren’t the only two clones on the base. The company uses clones because it’s cheaper than training new workers.
       It’s sad, suspenseful, imaginative, believable, disturbing. It’s a quiet gem of a film.

4 * of 5  


  • Director: Michael Grandage
  • Based on the book by A Scott Berg
  • Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Colin Firth – Before I Go to Sleep, The Railway Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Mamma Mia, Then She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually, Girl with the Pearl Earring, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch, The English Patient, Pride and Prejudice
    • Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Hugo, Contagion, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Sleuth, The Holiday, The Aviator, Closer, Alfie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Colm Mountain, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Gattaca, Wilde
    • Nicole Kidman – Before I Go to Sleep, The Railway Man, Rabbit Hole, Nine, Australia, Margot at the Wedding, Fur, Birth, The Interpreter, The Human Stain, Cold Mountain, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, The Others, Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut, Practical Magic, Batman Forever, Billy Bathgate
    • Laura Linney – Jindabyne, Driving Lessons, The Squid and the Whale, Love Actually, Mystic River, Dave
    • Guy Pearce – Prometheus, The King’s Speech, The Road, Factory Girl, A Slipping Down Life, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    • Dominic West – Testament of Youth, The Wire, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Surviving Picasso, Richard III
  • Why? the cast
  • Seen: 29 September 2017      

       For this evening’s film Hal requested something ‘thoughtful’. This one ought to do it.
       1929. Charles Scribner’s Publishing. Perkins (Firth) is asked to read a very thick single-spaced manuscript by someone called Thomas Wolfe.
       Perkins takes it home with him. He seems enthralled by a rather boring text while his daughters and wife flitter about him. Back at the office Wolfe (Law) shows up and is told his book is going to be published. Look Homeward Angel. It becomes a best-seller.
       An odd friendship develops between egocentric, loud-mouthed rather obnoxious Wolfe and straight-laced, reserved patriarch Perkins. Perkins’s wife (Linney) is also an author and actor who is ignored by both Perkins and Wolfe. Wolfe’s mistress Aline Bernstein (Kidman) is bitter and resentful of Perkins for taking over Wolfe, for whom she has given up everything.
       Even with the glimpses into the publishing world of the 1930’s and brief meetings with Fitzgerald and Hemingway and even with this cast, it’s boring. Although when the women start demanding respect it gets a bit more interesting. There is however no pleasure in watching these two male chauvinist megalomaniacs.
       The acting is good and I suppose the film could be called thoughtful but I am not inspired to read Wolfe’s novels.

2 ½ * of 5  

1 October 2017

Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold
  • Director: Simon Curtis
  • Based on E Randal Schoenberg’s memoirs
  • Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce, Henry Goodman, Ben Miles
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Helen Mirren – Shakespeare Live, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Brighton Rock, The Tempest, The Queen, Calendar Girls, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Gosford Park, Last Orders, Some Mother’s Son, Prime Suspect, The Madness of King George, The Prince of Jutland, Mosquito Coast, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Excalibur, As You Like It, O Lucky Man!
    • Daniel Brühl – Inglourious Basterds, The Bourne Ultimatum, Ladies in Lavender, Good-bye Lenin
    • Katie Holmes – Batman Begins
    • Charles Dance – Merlin, Starter for 10, Bleak House, Gosford Park, Hilary & Jackie, Alien 3,
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Downton Abbey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, If Not for You, Racing for the Moon, Ragtime
    • Jonathan Pryce – Wolf Hall, The Merchant of Venice (on stage at the Globe), Under Milkwood, Cranford, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Brothers Grimm, Very Annie Mary, Tomorrow Never Dies, Evita, The Age of Innocence, Glengarry Glen Ross, Brazil, Timon of Athens, Voyage of the Damned
    • Henry Goodman – London Spy, Taking Woodstock, Colour Me Kubrick, Notting Hill, Cold Lazarus, Mary Reilly
    • Ben Miles – The Hollow Crown, Under the Greenwood Tree, V for Vendetta, Hustle, Keep the Aspidistra Flying
  • Why? Helen Mirren, Elizabeth McGovern
  • Seen: 24 September 2017      

       1998. Los Angeles. Maria (Mirren) is at her sister’s funeral.
       Back in time. Maria’s aunt Adele was painted by Gustave Klimt. The painting was stolen by the Nazis. Maria wants it back and talks a young lawyer, Randy (Reynolds) into getting involved. She’s bossy, fussy and imperious.  He’s a struggling, newly unemployed, recently failed lawyer, grandson to the composer Schönberg and married with a baby.
       Maria decides to face her ghosts in the country that murdered her family and returns to Vienna with Randy. Another flashback. Maria and her husband escape from Vienna. It’s very dramatic. More low-key but also dramatic is the battle over the return of Klimt’s ‘Women in Gold’ to Maria. Austria claims it as a national treasure and refuses to give it back.
       Mirren is magnificent as the aging Maria. The glimpses into the chilling 1930’s and cold bureaucracy and patriotism of modern Austria are well done. The film’s weak point is the bland and unconvincing Reynolds as the increasingly obsessed and sensitive lawyer. McGovern and Pryce add almost enough pizzazz to their small roles to make up for it but then it becomes a bit too sentimental in the end.
       Still, it’s an interesting film about an interesting historical phenomenon.
3 ½ * of 5   

John Wick

John Wick 2014
  • Director: Chad Stahelski
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Mikael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Lance Reddick
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Keanu Reeves – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The House by the Lake, A Scanner Darkly, The Matrix Trilogy, Sweet November, The Gift, Feeling Minnesota, A Walk in the Clouds, Johnny Mnomic, Speed, Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dangerous Liaisons
    • Mikael Nyqvist – Luftslottet som sprängdes, Flickan som lekte med elden, Män som hatar kvinnor, Den bästa av mödrar, Grabben i graven bredvid, Reuter & Skoog, Tillsammans
    • Alfie Allen – The Kid, Flashbacks of a Fool, The Other Boleyn Girl, Atonement, Elizabeth
    • Willem Dafoe – Mr Bean’s Holiday, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz, Manderlay, The Aviator, Once upon a Time in Mexico, American Psycho, eXistenZ, Lulu on the Bridge, The English Patient, Wild at Heart, Cry-Baby, Born on the Fourth of July, Mississippi Is Burning, The Last Temptation of Christ, Platoon, Streets of Fire
    • Lance Reddick – Fringe, The Wire, The Siege
  • Why? Keanu Reeves and Mikael Nyqvist
  • Seen: 22 September 2017      

       Sweden was recently saddened by the news that Mikael Nyqvist had died, only 56 years old. He’s greatly missed in the theatre and film world of Sweden. Movies about hitmen are not my favourites (with the exception of Léon) but for Nyqvist’s and Reeves’s sake I want to see this.
       Car thieves, murdered dogs, Russian mafia. Cocky young Iosef (Allen) steals the wrong car and kills the wrong dog, as his father, Mafia leader Viggo (Nyqvist) informs him. John Wick (Reeves), former associate, recently widowed, now enemy, still unbeatable killer.
       It’s all very macho. The only women are a few glimpses of Wick’s beautiful, then dying, then dead wife, and a few seconds of lightly clad nightclub guests, some hookers and a couple of vampy assassins.
       It’s raw and violent and after the 30th or 40th shooting I’m bored to tears. Far from Reeves’s best film, much less Nyqvist’s. Nyqvist does well in this uncharacteristic role and that adds a star or so to the rating. That and some of the photography work. Otherwise, not a good film. Why in the world did they bother with sequels?      

2 * of 5  

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
  • Director: Donald Rice
  • Based on the book by Julia Strachey
  • Cast: Felicity Jones, Luke Treadaway, Elizabeth McGovern, Ellie Kendrick, Zoë Tapper, Joanna Hole, Mackenzie Crook, Fenella Woolgar, Julian Wadham, Barbara Flynn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything, Like Crazy, The Tempest, Brideshead Revisited, Doctor Who
    • Luke Treadaway – Fortitude, The Hollow Crown, Vicious
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Downton Abbey, If Not for You, Racing for the Moon, Ragtime
    • Ellie Kendrick – An Education
    • Zoë Tapper – Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Re-Told, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky
    • Mackenzie Crook – One Chance, Merlin, The Brothers Grimm, Finding Neverland, The Merchant of Venice, The Office
    • Fenella Woolgar – Mr Turner, Case Histories, Doctor Who, Wah-Wah, Vera Drake, Bright Young Things
    • Julian Wadham – Downton Abbey, Wah-Wah, Inspector Lynley, A Touch of Frost, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, The English Patient, The Madness of King George, Middlemarch
    • Barbara Flynn – Cranford, Inspector Lynley, A Family at War
  • Why? Elizabeth McGovern
  • Seen: 15 September 2017      

       For not liking weddings in real life I’ve seen several surprisingly good films about wedding – Margot at the Wedding, Rachel Getting Married and a real favourite Muriel’s Wedding. We’ll soon see if this one can compare. Having Mackenzie Crook in it is a good sign and Felicity Jones isn’t bad either. Even the title is odd enough to be intriguing.
       It starts very Downton Abbey-ish. In the 1930’s on the day of a wedding. The bride Dolly (Jones) is clearly not a happy blushing bride. She is in fact a throwing up and rum-swigging bride hiding in her room.
       There are an awful lot of people in this miniature Downton Abbey mansion, as well as flashbacks. I suppose all will come clear. What soon is clear is that Dolly is marrying the wrong man.
       There isn’t much substance to the story. A lot of dithering people on the wedding day, a lot of golden memories of how Dolly and Joseph (Treadaway), not the husband-to-be, fall in love. One wonders a bit impatiently why she isn’t marrying him.
       McGovern as mother of the bride is not the wise calm Lady Whatsit of Downton Abbey but a rather foolish, not altogether nice, widow. She plays the part well. Sadly Crook has a tiny role, but again, he does it well.
       There are too many people and there isn’t enough happening to be emotionally involving but it’s an enjoyable film and there is a bit of drama towards the end. If it’s not of the same calibre as the three mentioned above I do like watching these actors and there are two more plusses – the wedding itself is off-screen and it rains on the garden party afterwards (I’m so mean).

3 * of 5