24 January 2017

In This World

In This World 2002
  • Director: Michael Winterbottom
  • Based on book: no, but on reality
  • Cast: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • None of them
  • Why? It sounded good.
  • Seen: 22 January 2017      

       A camp of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, 2002. Enayat and his younger cousin Jamal are handed over, with a load of money, to smugglers with the intention of getting them to London.
       Jamal is a cheerful, affectionate, smart kid who appreciates the beauty of nature and speaks English. Through desert, mountain, sandstorms, in lorries, coaches, through towns and military outposts, they make their way to Iran. Who can they trust?
       They get help from good people. They get taken by bad people.
       The very lack of drama, the calm resigned acceptance of every situation, the stamina and weariness but dogged perseverance of their journey make this quiet semi-documentary film the stuff of quiet every day drama of millions of refugees.
       We’ve seen the news reports. Here we get to know individuals. Two boys. One makes it to London. One doesn’t.
       There are more than 65 million refugees in the world today. Only the tiniest fraction of them come to Europe. https://donate.unhcr.org/int-en/general-eur/?set_country=INT

4 * of 5.  


Jumper 2008
  • Director: Doug Liman
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Diane Lane, Michael Rooker
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Hayden Christensen – Factory Girl, Star Wars II and III, Virgin Suicides
    • Jamie Bell – Filth, Snowpiercer, Jane Eyre, The Eagle, Defiance, Hallam Foe, King Kong, Dear Wendy, Undertow, Billy Elliot
    • Samuel L. Jackson – Inglourious Basterds, 1408, Extras, Kill Bill 2, Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Changing Lanes, Star Wars the Phantom Menace, The Red Violin, The Negotiator, Jackie Brown, Long Kiss Goodnight, A Time to Kill, Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Jurassic Park, Lethal Weapon, Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues, Sea of Love, Do the Right Thing, Coming to America, Ragtime
    • Diane Lane – Man of Steel, Under the Tuscan Sun, The Glass House, The Perfect Storm, Streets of Fire, Rumble Fish
    • Michael Rooker – JFK, Sea of Love, Mississippi Burning, The Fugitive, Light of Day
  • Why? Jamie Bell
  • Seen: Once before. Now 20 January 2017      

       Teenaged David is a bullied loser who suddenly discovers he has the ability to teleport. He’s a jumper. He robs banks, grows up and goes to find his teenage heart throb. Jumper killer Roland (Jackson) is out to get him. Another jumper, Griffin (Bell) observes all this. He’s out to get the jumper killers. He and David become reluctant partners.
       There’s a lot of jumping round the world. It’s all very macho with a weepy damsel. David to Griffin: ‘Save her, kill him and we’re done!’
       It’s a very thin story and the hero is stupid but it’s exciting, sort of. And Jamie Bell is fun to see as a gritty cynical tough guy. But both he and Jackson deserve a better film.

2* of 5   

Ever After

Ever After 1998
  • Director: Andy Tennant
  • Based loosely on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
  • Cast: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Patrick Godfrey, Megan Dodds, Melanie Lynsky, Timothy West, Judy Parfitt, Jeroen Krabbé, Lee Ingleby
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Drew Barrymore  He’s Just Not that Into You, Music and Lyrics, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Riding in Cars with Boys, Donnie Darko, The Wedding Singer, E.T.
    • Anjelica Huston – Darjeeling Limited, Seraphim Falls, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grifters, A Handful of Dust, Prizzi’s Honour, Spinal Tap
    • Dougray Scott – My Week with Marilyn, To Kill a King
    • Patrick Godfrey – Mr Turner, Les Misérables, Remains of the Day, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Clockwise, A Room with a View, Pericles Prince of Tyre
    • Melanie Lynsky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Heavenly Creatures
    • Judy Parfitt – Girl with the Pearl Earring, Wilde, Delores Claiborne
    • Jeroen Krabbé – Immortal Beloved, The Fugitive
    • Lee Ingleby – Mr Turner, Quirke, Hustle, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Why? Originally? I don’t remember. Now, chosen for our read-book-see-film group.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 15 January with Hal and YW.      

       It must be very difficult to cast the role of Cinderella because I’ve never seen a good one. Barrymore is no exception. She is remarkably wrong for this rewritten role as a thinking, outspoken young woman named Danielle. The prince is better. He’s just handsome enough, he longs for freedom and helps hopeless wayfarers, one of whom just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci.
       It’s an altogether livelier version of the fairy tale with a touch of class struggle and feminism. One of the sisters is a loser and therefore quite likeable. The wicked step-mother in Huston’s interpretation is not so much wicked as self-centred, grasping and pitiful, but she overdoes the arched eyebrow and insinuating glances.
       It’s an enjoyable and intelligent version of Cinderella with some complex and credible characters. And what a clever ending with Leonardo saving the day. No fairy godmother necessary!

3 * of 5   

PS Has anyone noticed how much Drew Barrymore looks like Stephen Fry?

Across the Universe

Across the Universe 2007
  • Director: Julie Taymor
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Carpio, Joe Cocker, Bono, Eddie Izzard
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Evan Rachel Wood – The Wrestler
    • Jim Sturgess – Cloud Atlas, The Other Boleyn Girl
    • Joe Anderson – Control, Becoming Jane, Copying Beethoven
    • Eddie Izzard – Valkyria, Romance & Cigarettes, Velvet Goldmine, his shows
  • Why? The Beatles!
  • Seen: 3-4 times previously. Now: 14 January 2017      

       A story woven together from the lyrics of Beatle songs – why didn’t I think of that? Never mind. Taymor did it and what a film it is. Jude, from Liverpool, goes to the US to find his father and finds himself involved in the anti-war movement. There’s a love story as well, surprise, surprise, with Lucy. It’s a good story with a nice mix of Liverpudlian working class and New England Ivy League and Greenwich Village in the 60’s but let’s get to the songs, just a few of the film’s best bits:
  • ‘Let It Be’ sung by a black kid in the midst of the Detroit race riots
  • Joe Cocker and the people of NY doing ‘Come Together’ as Jojo arrives in the city
  • Prudence coming through the bathroom window
  • ‘I Want You’ by the recruiting machine/soldiers out to get Max
  • ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ with strawberry bombs in Vietnam
  • ‘Oh Darling’ as Sadie and Joho break up
  • ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ with a ward of wounded and dying soldiers and a madly dancing priest
  • ‘All You Need Is Love’ on the roof top.

       The psychedelic trips go on too long (though Eddie Izzard as Mr Kite is fun) and Wood is too bland and anonymous to be interesting as Lucy.
       Like Taymor’s two Shakespeare films this one is flawed but powerful and clever. I already want to see it again.
4 ½  * of 5   

15 January 2017

Enemy Mine

Enemy Mine 1985
  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • Based on short story by Barry Longyear
  • Cast: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gosset Jr
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Dennis Quaid – Smart People, American Dreamz, Day After Tomorrow, Far from Heaven, Postcards from the Edge, Great Balls of Fire, Caveman
  • Why? Sounded interesting
  • Seen: 13 January 2017      

       Humans battle Draks (male and female in the same body) in space over resources. Human bomber pilot Willis crash lands on a planet and finds there a Drak. Wills stalks the Drak with intent to kill but the Drak outsmarts him. Willis is stupid, arrogant, irritating and racist. The Drak is smart, funny and more human than the human.
       A spoof? A comedy? A parody? An adventure story? A social commentary?
       The planet is hostile. They have to cooperate to survive and take turns saving each other’s lives, while arguing violently over who started the war and whose fault everything is.
       It turns out that the Drak is pregnant.
       What a strange movie. At moments it has the feel of a 50’s musical (not one of the good ones). At times it’s an anti-racist fable. It’s full of pathetic clichés, badly written lines and bad acting. It has some interesting ideas and takes a few unexpected turns.
       From 0 * at the beginning it seems to have crawled up a bit but it’s far too long and it ends with one of those stupid fist fights that directors can’t seem to resist.

1 ½ * of 5   

Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away
  • Director: David Chase
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: John Magaro, Jack Huston, James Gandolfini, Bella Heathcote, Dominique McElligott
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jack Huston – Factory Girl
    • James Gandolfini – In the Loop, The Sopranos, Romance & Cigarettes, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Get Shorty, True Romance
    • Bella Heathcote  – Dark Shadows
    • William H. Macy – Cake, The Lincoln Lawyer, Bobby, The Cooler, State and Main, Happy Texas, Pleasantville, Boogie Nights, Fargo, The Client, Benny and Joon
  • Why? James Gandolfini, 60’s music
  • Seen: 8 January 2017      

       The assassination of JFK. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bo Diddley on American TV. Aspiring rock groups. Teen angst, unrequited love. Coming back after the first term at college with long hair, enraging the overweight, chain smoking, homophobic racist working class dad. Smoking grass.
       Talk about a walk down memory lane. All those 60’s songs! Flashes of the LPs we all knew and loved. A little Vietnam War. A little civil rights movement. Leadbelly. Burl Ives.
       This is such a cavalcade of 60’s nostalgia that I don’t know what the story is. It’s full of clichés and not terribly interesting. Gandolfini lifts it a bit in his few scenes though he isn’t given much to work with.
       The music is good but then with the E Street Band people involved it bloody well should be.

2 ½ * of 5   

X Men Days of Future Past

X Men: Days of Future Past 2014
  • Director: Bryan Singer
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables, Australia, The Fountain, Kate & Leopold, X Men
    • James McAvoy – Filth, Wanted, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Starter for 10, Shakespeare Retold Macbeth, Inside I’m Dancing, Bright Young Things, White Teeth
    • Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games 1-4, Winter’s Bone
    • Michael Fassbender – Macbeth, Prometheus, Jane Eyre, Inglourious Basterds, Fish Tank, Hunger
    • Halle Berry – Cloud Atlas, Things We Lost in the Fire, Monster’s Ball, X Men, Bulworth, Jungle Fever
    • Ellen Page – Inception, Smart People, Juno
    • Peter Dinklage -  Station Agent, Human Nature
    • Ian McKellan – Vicious, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, Richard III, Six Degrees of Separation, Cold Comfort Farm, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth
    • Patrick Stewart – The Hollow Crown Richard II, Hamlet, Extras, X Men, Star Trek (one of them, I don’t remember which), Excalibur, Hamlet, I Claudius
  • Why? Oh, why not? And James McAvoy is in it
  • Seen: 30 December 2016      

       Oh, how we love our superheroes and supervillains! News flash, people, if we want the world to be saved we have to do it ourselves, from the enemy who doesn’t have superpowers, just money and great skill in the manipulation of people’s fears, and in many cases vast ignorance.
       But let’s pretend that a) watching movies like this can be inspiring and b) they give us rest and entertainment so that we can regain the energy to take up the fight again.
       Fans of the X Men films would probably not find this as confusing as I do but I do sort of remember the first one so some of it makes a sort of sense. Going back in time, to the 70’s to prevent…etc., meeting all the X men (and women) before they were X.
       Too long! Too long!
       But amusing at times, and dramatic. Inspiring? Not in the least. Entertaining? Somewhat. Have I regained energy so that I can fight the fight tomorrow? Hardly.
       But I like James McAvoy.
2 ½  * of 5   

Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep 2014
  • Director: Rowan Joffe
  • Based on book by S J Watson
  • Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Nicole Kidman  The Railway Man, Rabbit Hole, Nine, Australia, Margot at the Wedding, Fur, Cold Mountain, The Human Stain, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut, Practical Magic, Billy Barthgate
    • Colin Firth – Railway Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Genova, Then She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually, Girl with Pearl Earring, My Life So Far, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch, The English Patient
    • Mark Strong – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Eagle, Young Victoria, Robin Hood, Flashbacks of a Fool, Stardust, Sunshine, Sunshine (the other one), Fever Pitch
    • Anne-Marie Duff – Nowhere Boy, Notes on a Scandal, The Magdalena Sisters
  • Why? Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth
  • Seen: 16 December 2016      

       Good title for one who tends to doze off during the Friday evening film. This one ought to keep me awake…
       Christine received severe head injuries in a car crash and every morning she wakes up with no memory of her husband, the loving Ben, or their 14-year-old marriage. Or anything else. Every morning is a blank with no memory of anything, including the previous day.
       Unknown to Ben a neuropsychologist, Dr Nasch, is trying to treat Christine for her amnesia. He has told her it wasn’t an accident. She was attacked and beaten. The doctor tells her to keep a journal. She does, and in it she writes, ‘Don’t trust Ben,’ though she doesn’t remember why.
       We watch as every day flashes of memory come to her – of a friend, Claire, of a child.  Ben tells her Claire left her after the accident. That their son died, eight years old.
       She remembers the attack but was it Ben? Or Dr Nasch? Which one should she fear? Which one should she love? Is the man she wakes up with every morning even her husband Ben?
       It gets quite scary and the acting is good. It’s decent Friday evening fare and I didn’t doze off.
2 ½ * of 5