15/01/20 Filed in: Cinema
This is a film that must be seen at the cinema. It's all about the cinematography, taking what is quite a simple plot and drawing you in because of the completely immersive nature of the filming. It is, quite simply, one continuous shot, and if you take time while watching to ask yourself, 'How did they take that shot', you will realise just how amazing the end result is. This video gives you a flavour of what was involved.
04/01/20 Filed in: Cinema
According to my wife, Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women is a book that all young girls read, although perhaps not so much these days as reading has to some extent gone out of fashion. However, the indications are that around 70% of people who have gone to see this film are women, many of whom no doubt read the novel as their younger selves. It is certainly a women's film but one that men should certainly watch since the dismissive attitudes towards women in the late 19th Century are still evident in certain quarters today.
I had seen a TV adaptation previously so the plot was already familiar, but the film employs the now quite common time shifting approach rather than a pure chronological timeline. This adds to the experience as it provides more context but may confuse if you are not already familiar with the story.
The casting is superb. Saoirse Ronan is the fiercely independent 'I'm never going to marry' Jo, Emma Watson plays the elder and more conventional sister Meg, Florence Pugh is, in her view, the 'downtrodden' Amy and Eliza Scanlen is sweet Beth, the youngest and certainly most likeable of the four. In the mansion across the field we have Timothée Chalamet as Laurie, or to give him his proper name Theodore Laurence, an indulged young man who adores Jo and who is accepted into the sister's intimate theatre group that perform Jo's plays in the attic. Laura Dern is mum, while dad is off fighting in the civil war.
31/12/19 Filed in: Cinema
It’s been savaged by the critics and audience figures aren’t much to shout about, but disregarding these prophets of doom we went to see Cats.
Some people seem to have been spooked by the very fact that humans were dressed as cats while still displaying obvious human physiology. Quite a weird criticism when you think what the CGI special affects have thrown at us over recent years in terms of humanoid distortions. Others simply haven’t enjoyed the film and the fact that it was re-edited shortly after release hasn’t added to its appeal.
So, what did I think? It starts slowly and without an obvious story line. Virtually all the dialogue is sung and given that the inspiration was a book of poems, it’s perhaps not surprising that this literary dialogue with the initially weak story line have not been well received. The story, which does in fact become clearer as we move forward, revolves around Victoria kitten, played absolutely delightfully by Francesca Hayward of the Royal Ballet. Petite, pretty and with a sweet voice to accompany her exquisite dancing, for me she stole the show. There are a number of other big names of course.
31/12/19 Filed in: Cinema
The ninth and if the reports are to be believed the final instalment of the episodic Star Wars saga. It needed to tie up all the loose ends, fill in the gaps and allow us finally to know how Rey fits in to the Skywalker dynasty. So, does it succeed?
Daisy Ridley is back as Rey, as is John Boyega as Finn. The First Order has been reinvigorated by the re-emergence of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine, who dispatches Kylo Ren to kill Rey. There is also an enormous fleet of Star Destroyers destined to eliminate the Resistance once and for all. This is in all respects the final show down.
Rey must ultimately confront Palpatine but to find him she first needs to locate a Sith Wayfinder. With Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO she sets off in the Millennium Falcon and so the adventure begins. Of course, nothing is straightforward in a Star Wars plot and we are treated to a range of exciting encounters, including a new challenge - flying stormtroopers!
13/12/19 Filed in: Cinema
A long film (144 mins) with a story that unwinds at a leisurely pace, which some might find too slow. But it's worth sticking with as each piece of the puzzle slots into place. Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) is a private detective who is on to a big thing, but he's a lot more nervous than usual. Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) and Gilbert Coney (Ethan Suplee) are his backup team as he goes to meet 'some people' in an apartment. Lionel listens in on an open phone line (this is the 1950s) while things are going down, until Frank utters the 'panic' word before being hustled out into a waiting car. Lionel and Gilbert follow in pursuit in a somewhat Laurel and Hardy-ish fashion, but loose them, only to make contact again just as Frank is shot.
Frank doesn't survive but mouths something to Lionel with his last breath, this being the starting point for Lionel to pursue his own investigation into what Frank had become involved with. Lionel suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, aggravated by stress and, as we later see, jazz music. The jazz angle relates to a club that Frank may have visited. Later Lionel discovers a link between the club and a woman community activist, Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who it transpires is at the centre of the intrigue that surrounds his investigation.
04/12/19 Filed in: Cinema
A classic Whodunnit, this film will appeal to all the amateur sleuths among you. Like any good Agatha Christie, all the clues are there. It's just a matter of spotting them.
Renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey commits suicide, or so it seems. That would probably have been the end of things if it wasn't for the fact the investigating detective and his patrolman sidekick weren't accompanied by one Benoit Blanc, a well known private detective. Blanc has been hired by an unknown party who, we assume, suspects foul play.
Harlan's body is discovered the morning after his 85th birthday party, a gathering of the whole family - naturally, as we need plenty of suspects. The following day the somewhat dysfunctional family members are interviewed one by one in classic whodunnit fashion. As things unfold we see that each of them could have a motive for murder. Indeed, nothing is as it first appears, or as it is first recounted. Unusually for this genre we learn who did it quite early in the film but, as you might expect, it ain't that simple.
26/11/19 Filed in: Cinema
Andre Davis is a cop with a reputation of tracking down and taking out cop killers, his father having been killed in the line of duty. At a review panel that clearly is seeking to accuse him of being a bit too keen to use his gun, he respectfully points out that he had never fired the first shot.
We now cut to a couple of thieves, Ray and Michael, war veterans who have been tipped off regarding a stash of cocaine in a restaurant. They know the back-door code so it seems this might be an inside job. The manager of the restaurant is inside, and having 'persuaded' him to reveal where the drugs are they are surprised to find ten times as much cocaine as they expected. They take what they can carry, but as they are making their way to the door the cops arrive. After a ferocious gun battle seven cops are dead and one is on her way to hospital fighting for her life.
Andre is put on the case, the local police captain urging him to find and take out the culprits. He is asked to team up with female officer Frankie Burns from Narcotics, and immediately comes into conflict with two pushy FBI officers, Butcho and Dugan. An early success in locating the getaway car confirms Andre's suspicion that the perpetrators were likely to be in Manhattan. He at this point asks that Manhattan Island be closed down, by closing all 21 bridges. It's not long after midnight and he's given until 5 am to catch the two men before the roads are opened again.
20/11/19 Filed in: Cinema
A film made just for me! In 1966 I was 18, car mad, and driving a Ford Prefect 100E. That will only mean something to people of a certain age with some knowledge of cars, but for anybody else suffice it to say my car was about as far removed from a Ford GT40 as it is possible to imagine. To be fair I hankered more for an E-type or a Triumph TR 4 than a GT40, both equally unrealistic dreams, but the goings on at Le Mans weren't lost on me.
This film relates how Henry Ford II was talked into joining the endurance motor racing scene and, having been rudely rebuffed by Enzo Ferrari when trying to buy into the action, decided to teach the venerable Italian a lesson. But, as Carroll Shelby (of AC Cobra fame) says when approached by a Ford executive, it's not about the money. What's more, Ford wanted to condense what should realistically have been a long term project into a rush job.
Shelby approaches his friend Ken Miles, an Englishman who races on the American circuits. Ken is a first class engineer as well as a proven racer but he has a bit of an attitude problem, seriously upsetting Ford's executive Leo Beebe before being formally introduced to him. He points out all that is wrong with the new Ford Mustang, something Beebe didn't really want to hear. This bad start will haunt Miles throughout the film.
However, after Ford's first outing to Le Mans ends badly, Shelby gets Henry Ford's ear and Miles is on the team.
14/11/19 Filed in: Cinema
This film has received generally good reviews both from critics and audiences. It is indeed a film that draws you in, while at the same time giving you much to think about in trying to understand the central character.
Luce, a given name because his adoptive mother couldn't pronounce his real name, was rescued from a life as a boy soldier in Eritrea by a professional couple, Amy and Peter. Much counselling and a lot of hard work has produced a young man who excels at just about everything. He is the pride of the school and is destined to do great things. So far, so good, but beneath his polished public persona rests a far more troubled young man.
The first cracks in the idyll start to appear when we see that all is not well between Luce and his history teacher, Harriet. Luce, of course, is extremely complimentary towards her, and she apparently so towards him, although one detects an underlying tension. Things become more difficult after Harriet asks the students to write a paper, putting themselves as the voice of a historical character. Luce choses Frantz Fanon, a French West Indian psychiatrist who was a revolutionary and who took a great interest in the psychopathology of colonisation. This alarms Harriet, who decides to check out Luce's locker, where she finds a bag of illegal fireworks.
06/11/19 Filed in: Cinema
This is not so much a film as an indictment of today's Britain. Sorry We Missed You lays bare the consequences of the GIG economy.
Ricky and Abbie Turner are a young couple with two children. The son Sebastian (Seb) is the epitome of an unruly teenager, while the younger daughter, Lisa, watches on as the stresses within the family build. Ricky has moved from one temporary job to another after losing his job as a result of the fallout from the financial crash in 2008. They were on the cusp of buying a new house but now live in a run-down terrace. Abbie is a carer who visits mainly the elderly, her work ethic being to treat the old ladies as if they each of them were her mum. And she is a very caring person. Life isn't easy.
The film starts with Ricky being interviewed for a job as a delivery driver. Self-employed, he feels that he can break out of the rut. He's a grafter and believes that grafting for himself will be much more rewarding than working for somebody. But as the boss at the delivery company spells out the conditions that will apply to Ricky's work with them (he will work with them, NOT for them), we realise that this is going to be a very one-sided partnership. His first problem is transport. The company will loan him a van for £65 a day, but with encouragement from a pal he reasons that it will be better to buy his own van. Unfortunately this means that Abbie must sell her little car, making her job altogether more difficult as she buses from client (she hates that word!) to client.