5 October 2015

Little Voice

Little Voice 1998
  • Director: Mark Herman
  • Based on novel: No
  • Cast: Jane Horrocks, Ewan McGregor, Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Philip Jackson, Annette Badland, Jim Broadbent
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in
    • Jane Horrocks – Absolutely Fabulous, Gracie, Corpse Bride, Born Romantic, Life Is Sweet
    • Ewan McGregor – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Island, Big Fish, Young Adam, Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, Velvet Goldmine, A Life Less Ordinary, Brassed Off, Karaoke, Trainspotting, Shallow Grave
    • Michael Caine – the Batman trilogy, Inception, Sleuth (both versions), The Prestige, Children of Men, The Weather Man, Last Orders, Get Carter, Cider House Rules, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Alfie
    • Brenda Blethyn – Vera, London River, Atonement, Saving Grace, Secrets and Lies, King Lear, Henry VI Part One
    • Philip Jackson – My Week with Marilyn, Brassed Off
    • Annette Badland – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Angels and Insects
    • Jim Broadbent Harry Potter, Filth, Another Year, The Young Victoria, Hot Fuzz, Vera Drake, Nicholas Nickleby, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy-Turvy, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Richard III, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Brazil, Black Adder
  • Why? Jane Horrocks, Ewan McGregor
  • Seen: 3 or 4 times previously. Now 20 September 2015  

Many of you probably think of Jane Horrocks as the absolutely fabulous Bubbles. I associate her with Life Is Sweet and it was for her that I bought this film.
Which is just so good.
LV is a socially inept essentially autistic recluse living with her coarse, fast-living, big mouth mother. LV hides behind her incredibly good singing voice. She can imitate anybody – Marilyn Monroe, Billy Holiday, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey - and she does so in the privacy of her own room.
Billy is a nice shy lad who works with the telephone company. His best friends are his pigeons.
They find each other, but life isn’t easy. She’s discovered by a sleazy nightclub hustler, Michael Caine, who exploits her talent and tramples all over her, eagerly cheered on by her mother.
Michael Caine and Brenda Blethyn are a treat as middle-aged, alcoholic, sex mad degenerates who are both very vulnerable to life’s hard knocks.
Ewan McGregor is a sweetheart and Jane Horrocks, doing her own singing, is simply brilliant.
If you haven’t seen this film, see it!

5 * of 5

Starter for 10

Starter for 10 2006
  • Director: Tom Vaughn
  • Based on novel by David Nicholls
  • Cast: James McAvoy, Catherine Tate, Guy Henry, Dominic Cooper, Rebecca Hall, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Charles Dance, Lyndsay Duncan, Elaine Tan
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction
    • James McAvoy – Filth, Wanted, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Macbeth (Retold), Inside I’m Dancing
    • Catherine Tate – The Catherine Tate Show
    • Guy Henry – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Creation, Wallander, Lost in Austin, Extras, V for Vendetta, Hustle
    • Dominic Cooper – My Week with Marilyn, An Education, Mamma Mia
    • Rebecca Hall – Transcendence, Frost/Nixon
    • Benedict Cumberbatch – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, The Other Boleyn Girl, Atonement, Amazing Grace, To Kill a King
    • Charles Dance – Merlin, Gosford Park, Hilary and Jackie, Michael Collins, Aliens 3
    • Lyndsay Duncan Merlin, Wallander, Richard II (The Hollow Crown), Alice in Wonderland, Lost in Austin, Under the Tuscan Sun, A Life More Ordinary, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prick Up Your Ears
  • Why? James McAvoy
  • Seen: 13 September 2015  

We need a light-weight film. And James McAvoy – a very young James McAvoy – is always good to see.
A teen-age boy wants to know everything so he smart talks his way into a Bristol university, leaving his small town mates behind. In the 80’s. Thatcher’s England. There’s class conflict, music, unhappy love, total nerdy outsiderness. It has the feel of Billy Elliot. It’s not as light-weight as expected which only makes it better. It has a most likable cast.
What a good way to spend a Sunday evening. I love it. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s a gem in its way.

4 * of 4

PS The odd title refers to the questions asked on the University Challenge TV show in which our hero competes, around which the story revolves.

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow 2014
  • Director: Doug Liman
  • Based on novel: No
  • Cast: Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in
    • Emily Blunt – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, Dan in Real Life, The Jane Austin Book Club, My Summer of Love
    • Tom Cruise – Oblivion, Valkyrie, War of the Worlds, Eyes Wide Shut, Jerry Maguire, Interview with the Vampire, A Few Good Men, Born on the Fourth of July, Rain Man
    • Brendan Gleeson – the Harry Potter films, In Bruges, Kingdom of Heaven, The Village, Troy, Cold Mountain, Gangs of New York, Twenty-Eight Days Later, My Life So Far, The Butcher Boy, Michael Collins, Brave Heart, The Snapper
    • Bill Paxton –A Simple Plan, Titanic, Twister, Aliens, Terminator, Streets of Fire
  • Why? Emily Blunt. Sci fi
  • Seen: 11 September 2015  

Aliens have invaded and occupied Europe. A defensive attack is launched from England. Tom Cruise is a reluctant recruit. Emily Blunt is already a heroic warrior who has killed hundreds of aliens. The battle is against giant mechanical spidery creatures.
A quick fierce battle takes place. And then Tom Cruise wakes up and it all starts over again. Replay. All the raw joking, all the contempt of his soldier comrades, the battle – all repeated. And again. And again.
He tries to tell them, warn them. They think he’s mad. Except for Emily Blunt. The same thing is happening to her. Together they try to prepare by repeating, practicing, dying. Lots of times.
It’s somewhat interesting. Tom Cruise is pretty much like he usually is. Emily Blunt isn’t given much to work with. Some of the minor characters are well acted. But it need a spectacular ending to lift it above 1 ¾ *.
It doesn’t get it. Instead it gets worse. A rather feeble film, this one.  It is well made but they shouldn’t have bothered. The story and characters are simply too insubstantial to care about.

1 3/4 * of 5

Lord of the Rings - The Return of the Kings

The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the Kings 2003
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Bernard Hill, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Miranda Otto, Liv Tyler, Robyn Malcolm
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in (most of them were in the Hobbit/Rings movies too):
    • Elijah Wood – The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Everything is Illuminated, Paris je t’aime, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Black and White, The Ice Storm
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Orlando Bloom – the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Extras, Troy, The Lord of the Rings triolgy, Ned Kelly, Wilde
    • Bernard Hill – Wolf Hall, Valkyria, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titanic, Shirley Valentine, Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, Richard III, Gandhi, I Claudius
    • Sean Bean – The Lord of the Rings trilogy, North Country, The Island, Troy, Golden Eye, Equilibrium, Stormy Monday
    • Viggo Mortenson - The Road, A History of Violence, Hidalgo, Lord of the Rings, Twenty-Eight Days, A Perfect Murder, Carlito’s Way, The Indian Runner, Witness, Ruby Cairo
    • Billy Boyd – on stage at the Globe in Macbeth, Stone of Destiny, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    • Liv Tyler – Lonesome Jim, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    • Miranda Otto – The War of the Worlds, The Thin Red Line
    • John Noble – Fringe
    • Brett McKenzie - The Flight of the Conchords
  • Why? Continuing the 6-part marathon
  • Seen: Once before. Now 6 September 2015 

      As before there are impressively beautiful landscapes, some spooky scenery, confusing battles, muddled questions of honour and all that, nasty orcs and pretty horses, fantastic cities and macho heroes. It’s very convenient that all the bad guys are so ugly and the good guys so handsome, otherwise I wouldn’t know who to cheer for.
It’s a surprise to see Fringe’s kindly Walter here as the nasty, power-mad and cowardly steward. Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortenson and Orlando Bloom are always a pleasure to behold.
The film is tediously boring at times, far too long again and as pretentious as ever, but it is often dramatic, scary and spectacular.
It’s nowhere close to Harry Potter or Merlin but it’s likable in its way.

2 3/4* of 5

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything 2014
  • Director: James Marsh
  • Based on the biography by Jane Hawking
  • Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd, Davis Thewliss, Emily Watson, Charlie Cox, Adam Godley, Maxine Peake
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in
    • Eddie Redmayne – Les Misérables, My Week with Marilyn, The Pillars of the Earth, The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Felicity Jones – The Tempest, Brideshead Revisited
    • Harry Lloyd – Wolf Hall, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield
    • David Thewliss – the Harry Potter films, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Kingdom of Heaven, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, The Big Lebowski, Naked, Life is Sweet
    • Emily Watson – Testament of Youth, Wah-Wah, Equilibrium, Punch-Drunk Love, Gosford Park, Cradle Will Rock, Hilary & Jackie, Breaking the Waves
    • Charlie Cox – Downton Abbey, Stone of Destiny, Stardust, The Merchant of Venice
    • Adam Godley – Case Histories, Merlin, Mad Men, Elizabeth the Golden Age, Nanny McPhee, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Love Actually
  • Why? Recommended by YW. Eddie Redmayne. Hawking himself.
  • Seen: 5 September 2015 

      Of course Eddie Redmayne got an Oscar. How could he not? He is terrific.
The film concentrates on Stephen and Jane Hawking’s private life. We see little of his sensational world fame, his brilliance, or the incredible amount of travelling and lecturing he has done, sometimes with Jane’s help, sometime with the help of his students and colleagues and others. A pity, because it’s beyond incredible what Stephen Hawking has accomplished.
The film is quite heart-breaking at times and it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into the life of one of the most famous people of our time.  In the end it’s heart-warming and inspirational.
So many clichés. Sorry. But that’s the kind of film it is. Maybe it’s the kind of life it is. But the film does gloss over the tremendous complexities of the situation and the emotions involved.
It’s a fine effort. For Eddie Redmayne – 5 * of 5. For the film:

3 ½ * of 5