02/05/19 Filed in: Cinema
After the fantasy of Avengers, back to reality with this very human story of a young Glaswegian country singer who believes that she should really be American, and residing in Nashville. Unfortunately her situation militates against this dream. With two young children, born before she was 18, we first see her being released from prison, where she was sent after being caught throwing drugs over the prison wall. Her mother has been minding her children, and when she returns they seem to be far more inclined to stay with their grandmother than be with their mother.
Jessie Buckley is absolutely superb as Rose-Lynn Harlan, really nailing her wild spirit and belting out the country songs. Julie Walters is equally brilliant as her long-suffering mum, who tries to persuade her daughter to forget the Nashville dream and instead take care of her children. This doesn't get off to a very good start, with her little boy clinging to his grandma as Rose tries to take him and his older sister to her flat.
28/04/19 Filed in: Cinema
Straight off, I must say that I have become a bit disenchanted with the superhero scene. Possibly it's simply a matter of too much of a good thing, or perhaps too much sameness. I certainly haven't seen all the Marvel films that led up to this finale, and it's clear that to appreciate Endgame fully you are better off knowing all that has gone before.
Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and box office receipts support the hype. But God knows how much it cost to have all the superhero actors in one film. It just had to be a success to pay its way, but I guess that they were fairly confident that it would be.
So what did I think? Certainly I had some difficulty knowing where everybody fitted in, and having not seen Infinity War was probably the biggest disadvantage. I could more or less put two and two together and get 3¾, which was good enough to enjoy the film. It's a minute over three hours, but it zips along so you won't probably notice the time. Although that said, a larger than usual number of people popped out during our viewing, presumably for comfort breaks. However, the structure of the film is such that missing a bit in the middle hardly matters. A lot of the first half is scene setting, pulling together the fallout from past events, picking up on the lives of the surviving Avengers, and devising a plot strategy that allows the less fortunate victims of Infinity War to be brought back into play.
29/03/19 Filed in: Cinema
This is a tricky film to review without completely spoiling it for anybody who is yet to see it. From the same stable as Get Out, it has that same unnerving quality about it. Fortunately it's squarely within the realms of horror fantasy rather than potential reality, although there are certain aspects that reflect dystopian possibilities.
It's 1986 and a couple are with their daughter at a Santa Cruz fun fare. The dad is behaving more like the child and while left to watch his daughter, he instead becomes completely absorbed by a 'bash-um' game. The daughter, Adelaide, wanders off, entering a hall of mirrors, while outside a storm brews. The power goes off, and while trying to find her way out she comes face to face with a doppelgänger of herself. We next see her reunited with her parents, but all is not well, as she is not speaking and believed to be traumatised.
22/03/19 Filed in: Cinema
After the hard-to-watch drama of The Escape, described in my previous review, Fisherman's Friends is a delightful tale of how a group of Cornish Fishermen became singing superstars thanks to a stag trip prank that had an unexpected outcome.
Four blokes with more money than sense arrive in the Cornish village of Port Isaac as a stag outing for Henry Montague, whose wealthy father owns a mansion nearby. The locals don't have a very high opinion of outsiders in general, and this quartet were never likely to be a great hit. An early encounter with Alwyn, a young local woman, sets the scene as the blokes meet her car bumper to bumper as they drive the wrong way down a one-way street. But this meeting is an important moment for Danny, one of the group, who immediately takes an interest in Alwyn. Back in her car, Alwyn refers to Danny as a tosser, at which her daughter asks her what's a tosser. Hang on to that as it provides a bit of humour later in the film, a film that is replete with humour and some impressive sea shanties.
20/03/19 Filed in: Amazon rental
This film didn't make it to our local Cineworld and we caught up with it streaming from Amazon. Critical reviews were strong although audiences appear to have been less enthralled. This might be because it's a film that deals with hard reality, effectively documenting the breakup of a marriage. And not a fanciful film marriage, but one that many ordinary people, and perhaps particularly women, can readily identify with. As The Spectator's review put it quite bluntly, 'It will save some marriages — or end others'.
Another reason for my interest is that it stars Gemma Arterton, who also features as one of the executive producers. My first screen encounter with Arterton was in the BBC series Tess of the D'Urbervilles, in which she played the eponymous ingénue. I hadn't read the book, despite its literary fame, and I found the story heartbreaking. Arterton's performance conveyed magnificently how Tess suffered at the hands of a young man who put his station above the feelings of this young woman, whereupon she then falls victim to an even nastier suitor.
16/03/19 Filed in: Cinema
As anyone who follows my reviews probably knows, I have of late become a bit bored with superhero movies. It's a matter of overkill, both in reality and metaphorically. But with no other enticing choice this week, and after hearing Mark Kermode give the film his blessing, off we went to see Brie Larson take on the role of Captain Marvel. Of course, that in itself was probably good reason to go since, Wonder Woman aside, female superheroes are pretty thin on the ground.
The film has been a resounding box office success despite the backlash against Larson, who had the temerity to advocate more diverse film criticism during an interview for the March 2019 edition of British Marie Claire. Citing the 'overwhelming white male representation among film critics' was never going to win her much support with dyed in the wool white males. But I doubt that worried Larson, and it would seem that there are plenty of white males out there who can imagine a world beyond that dominated by one half of the planet's population.
10/03/19 Filed in: Cinema
I really fancied this film from seeing the trailer and wasn't disappointed. But when I read the critics reviews I felt that I must have seen a different film. Some aspects of the plot were ,admittedly, probably a little far-fetched, but like any film it must steer a course between hard reality and dramatic interpretation. The central romance forms the core of the story and it is that that the critics seem most unhappy about. Personally, I saw two people thrown together, both of whom were looking for love and support, and for different reasons both were being denied these essential human needs.
Set in the total destruction of Hamburg at the end of the war, Rachael Morgan arrives to accompany her colonel husband Lewis, who is commanding the British force trying to make sense of the situation following the saturation bombing. He's a thoroughly decent chap, empathising with the German people who are struggling to make a life among the rubble of their city. Many of those around him are far less understanding, the them and us mentality still manifesting itself. Rachael is shocked by what she finds, and becomes more uneasy when they move into a grand house that is requisitioned by the army for Lewis and her. Her disquiet is caused by the presence of the German occupants, a former architect and widower, Stefan Lubert, and his stroppy daughter, Freda, who clearly resents their presence, as well as displaying some troubling characteristics of the Hitler youth.
04/03/19 Filed in: Cinema
Once again we have a film that follows actual events, this time the early life of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who takes on the patriarchal legal system in America after being rebuffed when she tries to enter the legal profession, despite excelling in her studies at both Harvard and Columbia.
Felicity Jones gives us a very credible Ginsburg while Armie Hammer plays her supportive husband, Marty. They are both at Harvard and this amplifies the unfairness of the system, since while Marty is good, Ruth, by his own definition, is head and shoulders above him in ability. He immediately secures a position after his studies, while Ruth, after many failed interviews, takes a post as professor at a Law School. Her young students are treated to an erudite exposition regarding legal bias against women, and this being Vietnam era America, she isn't short of enthusiastic support for her cause.
23/02/19 Filed in: Cinema
Another film that I knew little about before arriving at the cinema, but it has been well reviewed and is strongly considered to be a contender for the Oscars. From Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, here we have another film that explores the depth of human emotions, this time a love story between two young people in Harlem. Life isn't easy in Harlem, and when Tish finds she is pregnant with Fonny's baby, it's far from plain sailing. They are very much in love, and plan to marry, but his bible-quoting mother, along with her daughters, regard Tish as a fallen woman, and say so in no uncertain terms when invited to celebrate the news. Fonny's father puts his wife firmly in her place, very firmly, but it's not a very auspicious start for the young couple. Fortunately Tish's parents are loving and supportive, and when Tish and Fonny finally find a loft, and a landlord who doesn't turn them away because they're black, everything seems to be going to plan.
12/02/19 Filed in: Cinema
Other than having seen the trailer I knew absolutely nothing about this film before we went. So the first surprise was that it follows Shakespeare's life after he wrote his last play, that being after the loss by fire of the famous Globe Theatre in London when a prop cannon misfired. The play on at the time was Henry VIII, with the rather enigmatic alternative title of All IsTrue.
He returns home to his wife, Anne Hathaway of course, and his two daughters, Susanna and Judith. Susanna is married to a puritan and seems to be living quite a miserable life, while Judith is feisty and independent, and constantly at odds with her father. Anne, meanwhile, treats Shakespeare as a guest, given that he has been more or less absent for years. As the guest he's given the 'best bed' in the house, but not with Anne, who has the second best. Anne refers to him as husband. Amazingly we are told that Anne neither reads nor writes, so she is unable to share the works that have made her husband famous.