26 May 2014

Notting Hill

Notting Hill 1999
  • Director: Roger Michell
  • Based on a novel: no
  • Cast: Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans, Richard McCabe, James Dreyfus, Dylan Moran, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Henry Goodman, John Shrapnel,  Tim McIinnerny, Gina McKee, Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers, Alec Baldwin (uncredited)
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Hugh Grant -  Music and Lyrics, American Dreamz, Love Actually, About a Boy, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sense and Sensibility, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Remains of the Day, Impromptu
    • Julia Roberts – Closer, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Erin Brockovich, Runaway Bride, Conspiracy Theory, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Michael Collins, Mary Reilly, The Pelican Brief, Hook, Sleeping with the Enemy, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias
    • Rhys Ifans - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, The Boat that Rocked, Elizabeth the Gold Age, The Shipping News
    • Richard McCabe – Wallander, The Constant Gardener
    • James Dreyfus – Colour Me Kubrick, Richard III
    • Dylan Moran – Tristram Shandy, Black Books, Shaun of the Dead
    • Julian Rhind-Tutt – Merlin, Stardust, The River King, To Kill a King, Les Misérables, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, The Madness of King George
    • Henry Goodman – Taking Woodstock, Colour Me Kubrick, Cold Lazarus, Mary Reilly
    • John Shrapnel – Merlin, Elizabeth the Golden Age, Troy, Gladiator, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, Timon of Athens
    • Tim McInnerney – Longitude, Black Adder, Richard III
    • Gina McKee – In the Loop, Atonement, Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, Naked
    • Hugh Bonneville  Downton Abbey, Bonekickers, Daniel Deronda, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
    • Alec Baldwin – The Aviator, State and Main, Glengarry Glen Ross, Prelude to a Kiss, Miami Blues, Great Balls of Fire, Working Girl, Married to the Mafia, Beetlejuice
  • Why? Why not? – just a feel good film. In London.
  • Seen: Once before. Now  May 25, 2014.
London. We’ll be there in three weeks...! Not in Notting Hill though.
If I had a bookshop in Notting Hill, Colin Morgan, Adrian Lester, Kenneth Branagh or Johny Depp are the famous people I’d like to walk in and buy a book and if one of them did I’d be even more of a dork than Hugh Grant.  But not as funny.
Because he is. Hugh Grant. Very funny. Dumb but clever and loveably funny.  As is the whole film.  Flatmate Spike (Ifans) steals every scene he’s in and Dylan Moran of Black Books, (one of the funniest TV series ever) as the grungy shoplifter who denies that he just stuffed a book down his trousers brings a big laugh.
I’ve never quite liked Hugh Grant but every time I must admit that he’s right for the part (Colin Morgan would have been better but he was only thirteen at the time). I’m quite fond of Julia Roberts and I like her here too.
It’s a thoroughly unlikely story. Super famous film star walks into the tiny bookstore of obscure socially inept loser and after a lot of funny and sad complications they work things out. Surprise surprise.
It’s a trifle. But sweet. And funny.
And London. Maybe we’ll get to Notting Hill this time.
3 * of 5

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland 2004
  • Director: Mark Forster
  • Based on play by Allan Knee
  • Cast: Johnny Depp,  Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman,  Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Ian Hart, Kelly Macdonald
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, The Brave, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Kate Winslet – Hamlet, Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Reader, Little Children, Hideous Kinky, Sense and Sensibility, Romance and Cigarettes, The Holiday
    • Julie Christie – Doctor Zhivago, Darling, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Go Between, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Prisoner of Azkaban, Fahrenheit 451, Heaven Can Wait, Petulia, Don’t Look Now, Heat and Dust, Afterglow, Hamlet
    • Dustin Hoffman   Last Chance Harvey, Stranger than Fiction, Moonlight Mile, Hero, Hook, Billy Bathgate, Dick Tracy, Rainman, Tootsie, Kramer vs Kramer, Lenny Bruce, Straw Dogs, Little Big Man, John and Mary, Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate
    • Freddie Highmore - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    • Ian Hart – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Born Romantic, Liam, Longitude, The Butcher Boy, Michael Collins,
    • Kelly Macdonald – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, No Country for Old Men, Nanny NcPhee, Tristram Shandy, The Girl in the Café, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Gosford Park, My Life So Far, Elizabeth, Train Spotting
  • Why? JD. 28th in JD marathon
  • Seen:  Once before. Now: May 24, 2014
 As far from a psychopathic murderer as can be imagined (though he’s a writer in this one too, just like the JD film previously reviewed here) here JD is James M. Barrie, the sweet and mild creator of Peter Pan.
Estranged from his wife, and with his latest play a resounding failure, James Barrie befriends a neighbouring family – a widow with four young sons. Pressured by his agent to write a new play, Barrie is inspired by the boys and the mad idea of Peter Pan takes root.  Amidst malignant rumours of illicit relationships with both mother and children, Barrie perseveres with both friendship and play.
We know what they didn’t. The world fell in love with Peter Pan. So that much is a happy ending. The rest isn’t.
It’s a very sad film really but it’s fun to watch Peter Pan grow into a theatrical play against all odds. It’s not exactly fun to see Julie Christie play a disagreeable tyrant but very moving, and as always, impressive.  Kate Winslet is very good as always and JD does one of his best roles ever. To quote Hal: “In this role he’s not being Johnny Depp.” He was nominated for an Oscar and he should have gotten it but Jamie Foxx in Ray got it (and was worth it too).
By the end of the film I’m sniffling pathetically and can hardly see the TV.

4 * of 5

London to Brighton

London to Brighton 2006
  • Director: Paul Andrew Williams
  • Based on a novel: no
  • Cast: Lorraine Stanley, Georgia Groome, Johnny Harris, Sam Spruell, Alexander Morton
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Harris  The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Atonement
    • Sam Spruell – Defiance, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Alexander Morton – Croupier
  • Why? Recommended by friend LW. After unsuccessful attempts to order it on the net, I found it in a book/DVD box outside a private home in a quiet residential area on our way home from YW’s last week after a read-book-see-film session.  The price: 20 kronor (about £2) to be put in the letter box. Thank you, unknown person! I hope you found the money.
  • Seen:  May 23, 2014.
 When LW had watched Parked on my recommendation (and liked it very much; see her comment on http://rubyjandsmovieblog.blogspot.se/2013/11/parked.html ) she said it reminded her of this, though they’re not much alike.
No, they’re not but I see what she means. This one too is about society’s losers. Here too there is unlikely friendship. And hopelessness. And violence and death.
Kelly is a hooker whose pimp Derek pressures her – pressured himself – into picking up an eleven-year-old runaway, Joanne, and bring her to a rich pedophile. When this encounter ends in violence the client’s son demands revenge. Kelly and Joanne flee to Brighton but Derek is forced to hunt them down.
Parked is very sad because Colin Morgan’s character Cathal is so likeable and doomed. London to Brighton is even grimmer because there are essentially no lighter moments or humour.  Even the relatively happy ending is grim.
Though nobody can match Colin Morgan, the acting here is very strong indeed with young Georgie Groome (she was fourteen at the time the film was made) as Joanne standing out among a cast of strong and complex characters.
Thank you, LW. I’m passing on your recommendation.

4 ½ * of 5

19 May 2014

A Slipping-Down Life

A Slipping-Down Life 1999
  • Director: Toni Kalem
  • Based on the novel by Anne Tyler
  • Cast: Lili Taylor, Guy Pearce, Irma P. Hall, John Hawkes, Veronica Cartwright, Marshall Bell, Shawnee Smith,  Sara Rue
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Lili Taylor  Public Enemies, Six Feet Under, High Fidelity, Ransom, I Shot Andy Warhol, The Addiction, Arizona Dream, Born on the Fourth of July
    • Guy Pearce – The King’s Speech, The Road, Factory Girl,
    • Irma P. Hall – Beloved, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
    • John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone, The Miracle at St. Anna’s, The Perfect Storm
    • Veronica Cartwright  Six Feet Under, Alien
  • Why? Lili Taylor
  • Seen:  Once before. Now May 18, 2014 with Hal and YW in our read-novel-watch-film group
Now I’m confused.  I liked this film the first time, mainly because of Lili Taylor, and when I later discovered it was based on a novel by Anne Tyler I was happy.  I like her novels very much. But somehow I don’t like this one so much.  Her characters are always oddball misfits but warm and likeable.  In this novel Evie and Drum are definitely oddball misfits but not warm or likeable, they’re just kind of duds.
In the film, however, they are warm and likeable.  But not really believable. Granted, the whole premise is hardly believable – Evie carves rock singer Drum’s name in her forehead and they end up getting married, not your standard romantic comedy – but at times she’s too sweet and he’s too loving and the feel-good happy ending, while it makes me feel happy and good, is somewhat of a disappointment. So maybe the book was better after all.  Or maybe not.
I guess you’ll have to read the book and see the film yourself if you want to know.

3 * of 5

PS The music is good