25 August 2014

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland 2010
  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Based on books by Lewis Carroll
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Lindsay Duncan, Geraldine James, Leo Bill, Frances de la Tour and many more voices
  • 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
    • Mia Wasokowska – Jane Eyre, The Kids Are All Right, Defiance
    • Helena Bonham Carter – Les Misérables, Great Expectations, Life’s Too Short, Harry Potter, Toast, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Absolutely Fabulous, Enid, Terminator Salvation, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Conversations with Other Women, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Fight Club, Keep the Aspidistras Flying, Twelfth Night, Frankenstein, Howards End, Hamlet, A Room with a View
    • Alan Rickman – Alice in Wonderland, Snow Cake, Harry Potter 1-8, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Love Actually, Michael Collins, Sense and Sensibility, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. The January Man, Die Hard, Romeo and Juliet
    • Timothy Spall   The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, All or Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Our Mutual Friend, Hamlet, Secrets and Lies, Life is Sweet, Gothic, Quadrophenia
    • Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables, The Dark Knight Rises, Rachel Getting Married, Becoming Jane, Brokeback Mountain, Ella Enchanted
    • Crispin Glover  Dead Man, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Wild at Heart, Racing with the Moon
    • Matt Lucas – Little Britain, Shaun of the Dead
    • Stephen Fry – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Gosford Park, Longiude, Black Adder, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, Peter’s Friends, A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful of Dust
    • Lindsay Duncan – Merlin, Wallander, Under the Tuscan Sun, Prick Up Your Ears
    • Geraldine James – Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, Little Britain, Calendar Girls, White Teeth, Moll Flanders, Gandhi
    • Leo Bill – Becoming Jane, Vera Drake, 28 Days Later, Gosford Park
    • Frances de la Tour – Vicious, Hugo, Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, Love Actually, Cold Lazarus
  • Why? JD. 37st in JD Marathon
  • Seen: Four times before. Now: August 23, 2014.
What an excellent film to be our first seen in Blu-Ray on our new DVD/Blu-Ray player. I’m now convinced – Blu-Ray quality is superior. Cleaner, sharper, crisper, brighter. No, I’ve not been paid to write this.  It’s just true. Lucky for us that a few years ago a group of students gave me a box with the DVD and Blu-Ray of this film.
The film itself – wonderfully visual and bright and colourful (thus the advantages of Blu-Ray). It’s funny and exciting and filled with delightful details. The cast is as terrific as usual in Burton’s films  - except for Hathaway. I’ve liked her in all the other films I’ve seen her in but here her affected hand-waving girlishness is just annoying.
JD with his sweet sad vulnerable madness and a pinch of stirring revolutionary rhetoric does one of his best roles. Helena Bonham-Carter is up to her consistently high standards – she must have so much fun playing all these bitchy roles! – and young Wasikowska is a refreshingly un-cute Alice.
The dash of feminism is fun but Alice as an imperialist merchant setting off to conquer China wasn’t quite the perfect ending for me, knowing as I do of Britain’s coming trade wars against its colonies, but maybe I shouldn’t be bothered. She wasn’t to know, young Alice, and it is a lovely film.

4* of 5         

I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
  • Director: D.J. Caruso
  • Based on novel by Pittacus Lore
  • Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Durand, Jake Abel
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Alex Pettyfer – The Butler
    • Timothy Olyphant   A Life Less Ordinary, The First Wives’ Club
    • Teresa Palmer – December Boys
  • Why? Oh why not? It was a quick exciting read on the four-hour train ride home to Stockholm from Malmö a few years back.
  • Seen:  August 22, 2014.
My expectations on this one are not enormous. It will hopefully be OK Friday evening entertainment.
It starts out really bad.  I hate jet skis and the young hero is way too hunky. I hate California teen beach parties. Does the book really start like this? John is too adult and his mentor Henri is too young. And Sarah is far too pretty. And small town American high school films are not my cup of tea (the exception being Roswell).  As so often gender stereotypes abound and irritate.
But enough grumbling. It’s actually quite OK.  I like the concept. Alien kids – who were destined to save their world from destruction (they failed) are hiding out on Earth but are being killed off one by one by the Mogs, the bad aliens. Really bad.
Sensitive youths with strange powers that must be kept secret pop up frequently in films and TV these days. This is far from the best – nowhere near Roswell or Harry Potter or The Hunger Games or Merlin who all get dozens of stars from me – but I do like this stuff. It has many flaws, this one, but it surpasses expectations. I’ve read two more of the books.  I wonder, will they also be filmed?
Probably not worth more than half a star or so but I am indeed entertained.

2 ½ * of 5

Very Annie Mary

Very Annie Mary 2001
  • Director: Sarah Sugarman
  • Based on novel: No
  • Cast: Rachel Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys, Joanna Page, Rhys Miles Thomas,
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Rachel Griffiths  Six Feet Under, Ned Kelly, Blow, Me Myself and I, Hilary and Jackie, Amy, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Muriel’s Wedding
    • Jonathan Pryce – Cranford, The Brothers Grimm, Pirates of the Caribbean, Evita, Glengarry  Glen Ross, Brazil, Timon of Athens, Voyage of the Damned
    • Ioan Gruffudd – King Arthur, Great Expectations, Titanic, Wilde
    • Matthew Rhys   Titus, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, Elizabeth
    • Joanna Page – Love Actually, From Hell
  • Why? Rachel Griffiths
  • Seen:  Once before. Now August 17, 2014, with friends KJG and JG
Poor Annie Mary.
How do the British do this?  All these absurdly hilarious snifflers about really odd characters played by uniquely British (in this case including Australian) actors?
Annie Mary is a young woman in a small Welsh town where everyone is trying to raise money to send the ailing Bethan to Disneyland, though she doesn’t really want to go.
Poor Annie Mary.  Her Pavarotti-singing, sex-starved father is much admired in the village of Ogw but he’s cruel to her, demeaning her at every turn.  But she really is very Annie Mary, an awkward, stumbling, peculiar loser.  Everything she does turns into a disaster.
I love this film.  I’m really glad I don’t live in this village but I love the unkind Jonathan Pryce - who expresses more without saying a word than most actors do with reams of good lines - and Rachel Griffiths, and their two pathetic characters.
There’s kind of a happy ending.
It’s an obscure film. Try to find it and see it. Highly recommended.

4 ½ * of 5

16 August 2014


Awakenings 1990
  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • Based on the book by Oliver Sacks
  • Cast: Robert de Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, Ruth Nelson, Max von Sydow, Peter Stormare, Mary Alice, Alice Drummond, Dexter Gordon
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Robert de Niro  Stardust, Extras, Flawless, Jackie Brown, Cop Land, Marvin’s Room, Heat, Frankenstein, Stanley and Iris, Brazil, Falling in Love, Deer Hunter, New York New York, 1900, Taxi Driver, Hi Mom!
    • Robin Williams – The Butler, Insomnia, Good Will Hunting, Hamlet, Hook, Fisher King, Dead Again, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, The World According to Garp
    • Julie Kavner – Rhoda
    • John Heard   The Great Debaters, The Sopranos, O, Pollock, The Pelican Brief, Waterland, The Trip to Bountiful, After Hours
    • Penelope Ann Miller – The Artists, Carlito’s Way
    • Max von Sydow –  Utvandrarna, Invandrarna, Nybyggarna, Robin Hood, Shutter Island, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd, Voyage of the Damned, The Exorcist, Vargtimmen
    • Peter Stormare – The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassas, The Brothers Grimm, Dancer in the Dark, The Big Lebowski, Fargo
    • Mary Alice –  The Matrix Trilogy, Sunshine State, Malcolm X
    • Alice Drummond - Ghostbusters
    • Dexter Gordon – Around Midnight
    • Anne Meara – Reality Bites, ALF,and many other TV shows
  • Why? There is Parkinson’s disease in my family.
  • Seen:  Once before. Now August 15, 2014, in memory of Robin Williams
He’s a doctor who has never treated actual patients. He’s done research with earthworms, mostly. He gets a job in a clinic for the chronically ill.  MS. Tourette’s. Parkinson’s.  In 1969.  He can’t even communicate with them.
But he’s the profoundly kind Robin Williams. He has crazy ideas. The other doctors think he’s as crazy as the patients (who aren’t crazy either).  He performs miracles only to see them quickly fall apart.
I’m not going to tell you the story.  If you haven’t seen this film, see it.
It’s powerful. It’s painful to watch.  It’s De Niro’s masterpiece and it’s a classical Williams role.
And it’s so very sad that Robin Williams could not bear to stay with us.

5 * of 5