15/01/19 Filed in: Cinema
This is the bumper season for films as the Academy Awards draw nearer, so it is sometimes difficult to decide what to see. That said, the trailer for Colette was enough to convince that it was one film I wouldn't miss, and in the event I'm happy that I made the right decision. I must admit to knowing very little about this female author, which is an embarrassing admission considering my interest in things French.
We're introduce to Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, with her parents, in their country house. They await the arrival of Willy, the pen name of Henri Gauthier-Villars, a critic cum publisher who's on his way from Paris. All seems normal across the table as they sup tea, but after Willy has left we see Gabrielle, as she is called at this point, go out, with a basket for blackberries, only to meet up with Willy in a barn. We next see the pair as man and wife in Paris.
13/01/19 Filed in: Cinema
This film is a very edgy comedy, with some language that may shock, and an underlying sexual theme that may surprise anyone expecting a run-of-the-mill period drama. The afternoon audience at our local Cineworld comprised mainly older people and it's my guess that quite a few left the cinema having seen a different film to what they expected. Two women actually left part way through.
Olivia Coleman plays Queen Anne, brilliantly, having already received award recognition and probably heading for more. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone play Lady Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail Masham (née Hill), a 'lady' who has fallen on hard times. Both of these supporting roles are equally deserving of recognition. Abigail is Sarah's cousin and was hoping that she could be found a position in at court, not expecting to be consigned to the bottom of the pecking order in the kitchen, where she is badly treated by the other servants.
05/01/19 Filed in: Cinema
My first review for a while after the Christmas break. It was Helen's choice and I knew very little about the film, other than it involved dolls. I hadn't read any reviews, and having since done so it seems that neither the critics nor audiences were very impressed, with some reviews being quite scathing. This could be because of the doll angle, the negative perceptions of cross-dressing or the objectification of the female characters as Barbie dolls.
Disturbingly the film is based on actual events, whereby in 2008 the principal character portrayed in the film, Mark Hogancamp, was beaten and almost killed by a group of five white supremacists who took offence when Hogencamp told them he was a cross-dresser. At the time he was a heavy drinker and said later that admitting to cross-dressing was unwise in the circumstances. After nine days in a coma and 40 days in hospital he was discharged with brain damage and post traumatic stress disorder. Unable to afford therapy, he created his own by building a ⅙ scale model of a Belgian town in his yard, and using dolls to represent himself, as Hogie, and his friends and his attackers. He photographed these dolls in action poses and it was these photographs that eventually brought his story to the attention of a wider audience. There is a Marwencol website and a book with nearly 600 of his images.
15/12/18 Filed in: Cinema
Having made a few appearances in DC films over the last couple of years, Aquaman here gets his own outing in much the same way as Wonder Woman did last year. Will he be equally successful? Well, early box office returns look promising, particularly in China, but not all the critics are ecstatic.
Jason Momoa certainly fills the role splendidly, both in terms of physique and droll humour. Being half fish certainly gives him super powers, such as lifting a submarine and resisting conventional weapons. Plus, of course, swimming like a torpedo. As with Wonder Woman we get the back story. His mother, Atlanna, portrayed by Nicole Kidman, is washed up by a lighthouse and rescued by the keeper, Tom, with whom she then falls in love. Result, Arthur, aka Aquaman. His mother is forced to return to Atlantis in order to protect Tom and Arthur from Atlanteans who are far from pleased by her 'mixed' partnership. But Volko, his mother's loyal advisor, secretly schools Arthur in readiness for his ultimate destiny, as an Atlantean king.
29/11/18 Filed in: Cinema
For us English language viewers this is the second cinema outing for Lisbeth Salander, but it's actually based on the fourth novel that was written by David Lagercrantz after the death of Stieg Larsson, the author of the original trilogy. It's classic Scandi Noir, in fact very noir. Reviews haven't been great but as quite a fan of this genre I enjoyed it.
This time we have Claire Foy in the role of super hacker Lisbeth, who we're introduced to as an avenging vigilante acting on behalf of maltreated women. Foy set out to test herself in this role, being quite a departure from 'The Queen'. This hasn't gone down well with some critics who seem to feel that her previous personas detracted from the necessary total lack of emotion required for the role. Forced to play guardian to a young boy during part of the story certainly tested her otherwise steely instincts. Said boy, August Balder, turns out to be a key player in the unfolding intrigue.
27/11/18 Filed in: Cinema
And so we have the latest incarnation of the folklore that is Robin Hood, but on this occasion it strays far from any story that I am familiar with. As a little boy Robin Hood was one of my heroes. When I wasn't a cowboy I was Robin Hood, complete with my homemade bow and one proper target arrow which was bought for me from a shop in Stamford, where I stayed during the school summer holiday with my aunt. I used to wander around the corner into the grounds of Burghley House, which served quite nicely as Sherwood Forest. I was alone, amusing myself, an art seemingly becoming less evident in the kids of today.
I was brought up with the 1950s TV series, The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Richard Greene, with the signature tune that is still fondly remembered by people of my generation and supporters of Nottingham Forest. This was a basic Robin Hood, with proper longbows and impossible but believable feats of archery, at least for a little boy like me.
25/11/18 Filed in: Cinema
It is interesting to look at the range of opinions about this film, from a five-star accolade from Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian to fairly middling reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. It is in reality the telling of an event in British social history that is sadly overlooked when we educate our children, possibly because it was one of the many less auspicious moments in Britain's past that our jingoistic present would rather forget. But director Mike Leigh is not one to shy away from reminding us of how bad things often were for our forebears.
The film is very matter-of-fact, not indulging in unwarranted added drama. It shows how in those early days of the industrial revolution, while suffering the penury inflicted on them by the corn laws, a hard-pressed people, whose lives were abject misery, were slaughtered during a peaceful demonstration. We see how, with hope in their hearts, a peaceful crowd from Manchester and the neighbouring villages, many dressed in their Sunday best, came to St Peter's Square to listen to the famed orator, Henry Hunt, who addressed them from a cart. Their banners called for reform, universal suffrage, equal representation and, quite simply, love. But the local magistrates and businessmen were appalled, magistrates who wouldn't think twice of imposing the penalty of transportation on petty thieves or, in one case depicted in the film, hanging!
02/11/18 Filed in: Cinema
Bohemian Rhapsody charts the career of Freddie Mercury from an airport baggage handler through to Queen's epic performance at Live Aid in July 1985. I must confess to not knowing a great deal about the artist, other than his and the group's unforgettable songs, which make many of the efforts from today's groups sound very ordinary indeed. From this perspective the film was, for me, an education, even if some of the critics have diminished how the film covered his private life. A big surprise was his relationship with Mary Austin, portrayed as a deep and meaningful heterosexual union. If only that had been enough for him, history would undoubtedly have been written very differently. But it seems he was bisexual, always loving Mary but straying into a homosexual world that in the end was to be his end, when he died of an AIDS related illness in 1991.
28/10/18 Filed in: Amazon Prime
The French excel at producing films depicting life as it's lived, unembellished and full of everyday challenges. In this film we’re introduced to Edith, a textile worker who cherishes her job, quite simply because it gives her life purpose. Her only son now lives in Paris and she resides alone in a rather charming farm house, but what’s charm without company?
When the factory decides to relocate its production to Morocco she has the choice of redundancy, which in her case would result in quite a good severance payment, or relocating to Morocco. Eager to continue working she choses the latter, against the strong advice of the company’s personnel officer.
18/10/18 Filed in: Amazon Prime
It seems that this film was released for television. It has a feel about it of what we used to refer to as a B movie, in those days when you could expect to enjoy two films when you went to the cinema.
Luis is a driver for a security company that transports cash to banks. He's a bit of a lost soul, or paumé as the French reviews say. He has two childhood friends, Sam, a successful lawyer, and Emma, who's also a lawyer. Then one day Luis decides to drive off with a van-full of money, leaving his fellow security guards sitting in the depot. This is out of character, and comes as a shock to his two friends. Embarrassingly so for Sam as it could reflect on his standing at the office, where his boss isn't the most understanding of people.