2 July 2018

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands
  • Director: Shane Meadows
  • Based on the novel: no
  • Cast: Robert Carlyle, Shirley Henderson, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Ricky Tomlinson, Finn Atkins
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Robert Carlyle – Stargate Universe, Stone of Destiny, 28 weeks Later, Flood, Hitler, Black and White, The World Is Not Enough, The Full Monty, Hamish Macbeth, Carla’s Song, Trainspotting, Go Now, Riff-Raff
    • Shirley Henderson – Filth, Life Suring Wartime, Doctor Who, The Taming of the Shrew Re-told, Harry Potter, Tristram Shandy, 24 Hour Party People, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy-Turvy, Hamish Macbeth, Trainspotting, Rob Roy
    • Rhys Ifans – Harry Potter, The Boat that Rocked, Elizabeth the Golden Age, The Shipping News, Notting Hill
    • Kathy Burke – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky, Elizabeth, Nil by Mouth, Absolutely Fabulous, Sid and Nancy
    • Ricky Tomlinson – Riff-Raff
  • Why? Robert Carlyle
  • Seen: 29 June 2018      

       Jimmy (Carlyle) is watching one of those TV shows where family members are brought together unexpectedly: his sister Carol (Burke) being sung to by her cowboy singer wannabe boyfriend Charlie (Tomlinson), his (Jimmy’s) daughter Marlene (Atkins) and ex-sweetheart Shirley (Henderson) who is being proposed to by current boyfriend Dek (Ifans). We then follow these people in their daily lives. Carol, harried, overweight, bingo-playing, bartending mother of an unclear number of kids. Shirley and Dek declaring their undying love for one another despite the humiliatingly public ‘no’. Pony-tailed Jimmy and friends in Glasgow robbing some …clowns?
       It’s one of these bittersweet, sad-funny British comedies with a cast of all those lovely actors. I’m confused though. Who are we meant to cheer for in this love triangle? Dek, the Good-Hearted Loving Dork, or Jimmy, the Runaway, Charming, Suffering Bad Boy. Me, I vote for Carlyle but they’re both twats. In fact, I vote for Shirley, she should dump them both.
       It’s too much of a cliché love story to take to one’s heart. It’s too silly in the beginning to take seriously in the end. Still, it is Carlyle, Henderson, Burke and Ifans.
       Conclusion: story no, actors yes. Like the movie we watched last night, these actors deserve a better movie.

2 ½ * of 5


Looper 2012
  • Director: Rian Johnson
  • Based on the novel: no
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, 500 Days of Summer, The Miracle at St Ana, The Lookout, Brick, Third Rock from the Sun, 10 Things I Hate about You
    • Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train, The Huntsman Winter’s War, Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, Daniel in Real Life, The Jane Austen Book Club, Gideon’s Daughter, My Summer of Love
    • Bruce Willis – Moonrise Kingdom, Friends, Breakfast of Champions, Armageddon, The Fifth Element, Twelve Monkeys, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, Billy Bathgate, In Country
    • Jeff Daniels – Good Night and Good Luck, The Squid and the Whale, The Hours, Pleasantville, Speed, Terms of Endearment, Ragtime
  • Why? Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And my cousins TA and LB recommend it highly
  • Seen: 29 June 2018      

       Kansas. The year 2044. Time travel has been invented but outlawed. Assassins called loopers tale advantage of that.
       This bodes for confusion. There was a panel discussion on time travel at Fantastika 2018, the Swedish sci-fi/fantasy convention, last weekend but I was busy doing my Shakespeare and Merlin stuff so I missed it. It might have helped here.
       It’s a sordid world with gangsters and mobs and strip clubs. When the loopers have fulfilled their purposes, they are sent back – or is it forward? – to kill their younger – or is it older? – selves.
       Never mind. I’ll go with the flow. Like Shakespeare, it’s not necessary to understand everything. I’ll get the most important stuff.
       Joe (Gordon-Levitt), a looper, gets into trouble and is confronted by his future self (Willis). Shakespeare, it is not. What it is, is another violent macho action thriller. Half an hour in I’m bored and annoyed with the sexist stereotypes.
       Finally, an hour in, Emily Blunt enters the picture. Will that help?
       Some, but this cast deserves a better film. Sorry, cousins TA and LB, we agree on a lot of films but not this one. But because the concept is somewhat interesting, the acting is good, and it has a couple of moments when I care, it gets

2 * of 5 (Hal thought it worked in the end and gave it 3 1/4)

28 May 2018

Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin
  • Director: Vincent Perez
  • Based on the novel by Hans Fallada
  • Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl, Mikael Persbrandt
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Brendan Gleeson – Edge of Tomorrow, In Bruges, Harry Potter, Kingdom of Heaven, Cold Mountain, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, My Life So Far, Butcher Boy, Michael Collins, Braveheart
    • Emma Thompson – The Love Punch, Beautiful Creatures, Brave, The Boat that Rocked, Harry Potter, Nanny McPhee, An Education, Last Chance Harvey, Brideshead Revisited, Stranger than Fiction, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, The Winter Guest, Sense and Sensibility, The Remains of the Day, Much Ado about Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Howards End, Impromptu, Dead Again, Henry V, Fortune’s War, Tutti Frutti
    • Daniel Brühl – Woman in Gold, Inglourios Basterds, Ladies in Lavender, Good-bye Lenin
    • Mikal Persbrandt – The Hobbit, Radioskuggan, Svensson Svensson
  • Why? Emma Thompson
  • Seen: 26 May 2018      

       Germany during the war. France has just been defeated. Otto (Gleeson) and Anna (Thompson) are informed that their only son has been killed in battle. They grieve but life as subjects of the Führer goes on.
       They start distributing cards with texts like ‘The Führer murdered our son, he will murder yours’ and ‘There is no peace in Hitler’s fiendish war machine’ and ‘Hitler and Nazism mean violence’.
       The cards are turned into the police and Inspector Escherich (Brühl) starts looking for the culprit, which he gives the name Hobgoblin. Clues are collected as hundreds of cards are turned into the police. Sadistic SS officer Prall (Persbrandt) beats him bloody and orders him to find the Hobgoblin.
       It’s slow moving but suspenseful in its grimness. It’s a simple story of a simple form of resistance. It probably didn’t make any difference, but it was bravely done.
       Based on a true story.

4 * of 5


Lucy 2014
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Scarlett Johansson – He’s Just Not That into You, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Prestige, The Island, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Manny & Lo
    • Morgan Freeman – Transcendence, Oblivion, The Dark Knight Rises, Invictus, The Dark Knight, Wanted, Gong Baby Gone, Batman Begins, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood, Driving Miss Daisy, and others
    • Amr Waked – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Contagion
  • Why? Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Luc Besson
  • Seen: 25 May 2018      

       Lucy (Johansson), a hard-partying student, is forced into the nightmare situation of being kidnapped into a smuggling ring. A bag of super-meth is operated into her body. When beaten by sadistic guards the bag leaks and the drug seeps into her body, increasing her brain’s capacity.
       Meanwhile Professor Norman (Freeman) lectures, with sensational nature films, on the evolution of human brain capacity. A student asks, ‘What if humans could use 100% of their brain?’ Professor Norman: ‘I have no idea.’
       Super power, super violent Lucy escapes and stalks the world, feeling and remembering everything. Everything. And controls…. everything. She knows this is going to kill her, probably within the next twenty-four hours. She meets up with the professor and the action starts.
       The car chase, the silly vampy high heels and the violence all add up to minus one star but it’s an interesting concept with handsomely visual filming. Johansson and Freeman are always good, and it definitely has the Besson feel.

4 * of 5   

21 May 2018


Rupture 2016
  • Director: Steven Shainberg
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, Lesley Manville, Michael Chiklis, Kerry Bishé, Ari Millen, Percy Hynes White
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Noomi Rapace – Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, Svinalängorna, Luftslottet som sprängdes, Flickan som lekte med elden, Män som hatar kvinnor, Tusenbröder
    • Peter Stormare – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Brothers Grimm, Chocolat, Dancer in the Dark, The Big Lebowski, Fargo
    • Lesley Manville – River, Mister Turner, Another Year, Cranford, Sparkle, Vera Drake, Rose and Maloney, David Copperfield, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets and Lies, Sammie and Rosie Get Laid, Dance with a Stranger
  • Why? Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare
  • Seen: 20 May 2018      

       Single mother Renee (Rapace) and her son are being tailed and filmed and spied on. Then she is kidnapped by a whole gang including Dr Nyman (Manville), and driven far away from Kansas City. She is brought to some kind of hellish lab for experiments. Her captors are not unkind, but she is chained to an operating table beside a tray of scalpels and things. She is told nothing but they all smile and tell her things will be fine. She hears the screams of other prisoners and talks to some of them.
       She has a knife in her boot. Will it do any good? Are they government? Medical researchers? Aliens?
       I think they’re aliens.
       She manages to escape and witnesses other prisoners being tortured, confronted with their worst fears and being told they will be returned home with increased understanding and insight.
       It’s too farfetched to be credible but it’s creepy and rather exciting. And then the ending drags it down, leaving me with the general feeling that despite the good actors the whole film should have been better.

2½ * of 5


Happy-Go-Lucky 2007
  • Director: Mike Leigh
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, Stanley Townsend, Samuel Roukin
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sally Hawkins – The Hollow Crown, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Never Let Me Go, An Education, Little Britain, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky, Vera Drake
    • Eddie Marsan – Their Finest Hour, River, Filth, The World’s End, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Merlin, Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta, Vera Drake, 21 Grams, Gangs of New York
    • Stanley Townsend – The Hollow Crown, Quirke, One Chance, Sherlock, Flawless, Hustle, Inside I’m Dancing, The Libertine
    • Samuel Roukin – The Hollow Crown, The Decoy Bride, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Bright Star
  • Why? Mike Leigh. Good film.
  • Seen: 19 May 2018      

       Knowing Mike Leigh, this isn’t as happy-go-lucky as the title. The starting music is upbeat with Poppy (Hawkins) biking jauntily through London. Even in the face of a grumpy bookshop assistant, a stolen bike, a crowded tube ride she retains her chirpy cheer. Even with the bitter, racist, resentful paranoid driving instructor Scott (Marsan).
       She has endless energy for the kids in the primary school where she works, for partying and boozing with her friends, for dancing the flamenco. She has compassion for the mad tramp she encounters on her way home at night, with the abused boy in her class.
       So it’s not all cherry. She’s not dim. She sees the dark side. And makes her choice.
       This is, after all, Mike Leigh.

4 * of 5

La isla minima (Marshland)

La isla minima (Marshland) 2014
  • Director: Alberto Rodrigeuz
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Neither of them
  • Why? Good reviews.
  • Seen: 18 May 2018      

       Two teenage sisters disappear from their rural Spanish home in the 80’s. Two Madrid cops are given the case, one a Franco supporter, the other a democratic activist.
       The girls’ mutilated sexually abused bodies are found. Murder mysteries/police dramas are not my favourite genre. This one has the usual ingredients: disillusioned cops with health/marriage problems, suspicious characters, misogyny, vicious serial sexual killing of young women, drugs, police brutality, even a car chase.
       Good acting, atmospheric filming of the bleak landscape and Spanish politics lift this just a bit above the banal. But it is still just a cop movie.

2 ½ * of 5