4 December 2017

Remember Me

Remember Me 2010
  • Director: Allen Coulter
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emelie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Lena Olin, Pierce Brosnan, Ruby Jerins, Tate Ellington, Martha Plimpton
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Robert Pattinson – Twilight, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • Emelie da Ravin – Public Enemies, Roswell
    • Chris Cooper – August Osage County, The Tempest, My House in Umbria, The Bourne Identity, American Beauty, Matewan
    • Lena Olin – The Reader, The United States of Leland, Chocolat, The Ninth Gate, Romeo Is Bleeding, Picassos äventyr
    • Pierce Brosnan – A Long Way Down, The Love Punch, The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Die Another Day, The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Mars Attacks, Golden Eye
    • Ruby Jerins – Nurse Jackie, Shutter Island
    • Tate Ellington – The Big Bang Theory, The Invention of Lying
    • Martha Plimpton – Fringe, Beautiful Girls, I Shot Andy Warhol, Stanley & Iris, Stars and Bars, The Mosquito Coast
  • Why? I honestly don’t remember. It was probably cheap.
  • Seen: 1 December 2017      

       In 1991 a woman is shot by muggers in the NY subway. Her small daughter witnesses it.
       Ten years later a family gathers for a memorial - heavy smoker/drinker Tyler (Pattinson), anxious fussing mother (Olin), rich nasty ex-husband/dad (Brosnan), 11-year-old Caroline.
       Tyler is a student and poet and a brooder. His friend entices him out for a night of bars and girls. Tyler is involved in a brawl and is arrested by the cop (Cooper) who happens to be the husband of the murdered woman and father to the girl, Ally (de Ravin) who is now in one of Tyler’s University classes.
       It’s kind of complicated. The question is – is it interesting? As I write this it seems pretentious and a bit obnoxious – bad boy poor little rich boy and vulgar sexist roommate. Followed by the somewhat predictable romance between Tyler and Ally. They both have their ghosts, she her murdered mother, he his suicide-committing brother.
       It’s not as good as it thinks it is but it’s not too bad. I’m not a fan of Twilight but Cedric was cool and tragic. In this role Pattinson is OK-ish, de Ravin is OK+ and little sister Jerins is appealing. Olin is criminally wasted in this nothing role; Cooper and Brosnan do well with what they’re given.
       It does get a bit dramatic in the second half but oh, spare me these boring fist fights that directors insist upon!  It goes on too long and then the ending is totally unexpected and doesn’t work at all. It cost the rating half a star.

2 * of 5   


Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?

Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? 1999
  • Director: Peter Hewitt
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Tom Courtney, Michael Legge, Laura Fraser, Stephen Fry, Amanda Root, Lulu, David Thewliss, Matthew Rhys, James Corden, Mark Williams
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Courtney – Unforgotten, Quartet, Flood, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Doctor Zhivago, The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner
    • Laura Fraser – A Knight’s Tale, Titus
    • Stephen Fry – The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Extras, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, Bright Young Things, Gosford Park, Longitude, Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, Peter’s Friends, Black Adder, A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful of Dust
    • Amanda Root – Rose and Maloney, Daniel Deronda
    • Lulu – To Sir with Love
    • David Thewliss – Legend, Macbeth, The Theory of Everything, Harry Potter, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Kingdom of Heaven, The Big Lebowski, Naked, Life Is Sweet
    • Matthew Rhys – Very Annie Mary, Titus
    • Mark Williams – Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Hustle, Merlin, Stardust, Tristram Shandy, Shackleton, Shakespeare in Love, The Prince of Jylland
  • Why? Tom Courtney
  • Seen: Twice before. Now 26 November 2017      

       One good Courtney deserves another. We recently watched The Dresser and we are now very much in the Courtney mood.
       Sheffield teenager Vince (Legge) works in a law office for obnoxious Nesbitt (Thewliss). He is in love with Joanna (Fraser) whose father (Fry) is a pedantic moralistic university professor. Vince’s father Harold (Courtney) lives a placid quiet life with his pipe and his telly. Vince’s mum (Lulu) likes, well, action, nights out, boyfriends.
       Quite normal if eccentric families. Except that Harold’s magic can stop clocks and pacemakers.
       Vince loves disco and fancies himself John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Then he falls for a mysterious punk girl and becomes an avid anarchist.
       Harold is arrested for the mysterious circumstances surrounding the pacemaker deaths. Vince’s boss – who absolutely does not believe in magic – is his solicitor.
       It’s all completely daft. And absolutely… can one use words like this on a self-respecting movie blog??...adorable.
       How can one not love a film with Lulu, Stephen Fry, David Thewliss and Tom Courtney? And Vince and Johanna are sweethearts. How can we have not seen much more of them?
       Do not miss this gem!


4 ½ * of 5   


27 November 2017

The Dresser

The Dresser 1983
  • Director: Peter Yates
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Tom Courtney, Albert Finney, Eileen Atkins
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Courtney – Unforgotten, Quartet, Flood, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Doctor Zhivago, The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner
    • Albert Finney – Skyfall, A Good Year, Big Fish, Erin Brockovich, Breakfast of Champions, Cold Lazarus, Karaoke, Miller’s Crossing, Tom Jones
    • Eileen Atkins – Beautiful Creatures, Upstairs Downstairs, Robin Hood, Last Chance Harvey, Cranford, Cold Mountain, The Hours, Gosford Park, Wit, David Copperfield, Cold Comfort Farm, Wolf, Titus Andronicus
  • Why? a must for theatre lovers
  • Seen: 24 November 2017      

       Coincidentally we’ve been reading and seeing King Lear in the past month so this seemed an appropriate choice for the evening film.
       Sir (Finney) is a renowned Shakespearean actor in war torn England. Norman (Courtney) is his dresser.
       It opens with Sir doing Othello’s dying scene then tyrannising the other actors with insults.
       Sadly, Sir has gone mad. He wanders amongst burning bombed out buildings giving out free tickets to his performances. He rants and rages in the street and ends up in hospital, shouting Macbeth quotes while fighting against the tranquilising injections.
       Norman argues vehemently and campily against cancelling the night’s performance. Sir escapes from the hospital fully determined to go on stage.
       Norman cajoles, jollies and bullies Sir into getting ready for this, his 227th, performance of Lear.
       And indeed, in the midst of air raid sirens and falling bombs, the show does go on.
       Finney is almost unrecognisable but completely convincing. Courtney, as the prissy, limp-wristed, whiskey-nipping self-centred, melodramatic and utterly devoted dresser joins his long-distance runner, his fanatic revolutionary and his many other roles in another stellar performance.


4* of 5   


American Pastoral

American Pastoral 2016
  • Director: Ewan MacGregor
  • Based on the book by Philip Roth. Screenplay by John Romano
  • Cast: Ewan MacGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Peter Riegert, Rupert Evans, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker, Valerie Curry, Hannah Nordberg, David Strathairn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ewan MacGregor – Mortdecai, August Osage County, The Impossible, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Perfect Sense, The Ghost Writer, The Island, Star Wars, Big Fish, Young Adam, Moulin Rouge, Little Voice, Velvet Goldmine, A Life Less Ordinary, Brassed Off, Trainspotting, Shallow Grave
    • Jennifer Connelly – Winter’s Tale, Creation, He’s Just Not that Into You, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Blood Diamond, House of Sand and Fog, A Beautiful Mind, Pollock, Requiem for a Dream
    • Dakota Fanning – The Runaways, War of the Worlds, I Am Sam
    • Peter Riegert – Sopranos, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, MASH
    • Rupert Evans – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Retold), Hellboy
    • Valerie Curry – Veronica Mars
    • Molly Parker – The Road, Six Feet Under, Sunshine
    • David Strathairn – Hotel Marigold 2, The Tempest, The Bourne Ultimatum, Good Night and Good Luck, The Sopranos, A Map of the World, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, LA Confidential, Dolores Claiborne, A League of Their Own, Stars and Bars, Matewan, Silkwood
  • Why? Ewan MacGregor
  • Seen: 19 November 2017 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group      

       We had a very lively discussion about the book. There was much we didn’t quite understand, some we didn’t like but generally we found the novel brilliant. So we’re very curious about the film. How can anyone make a film out of this book?
       The story is very simple. And very complex. The perfect American couple – star athlete Swede and ex-Miss New Jersey Dawn – are wealthy, well-intentioned, liberal, against the Vietnam war, the loving and supportive parents of Merry. But at 16 Merry hates them and their bourgeois values. She’s involved in an anti-war bombing in which a man is killed.
       Merry goes underground. Swede and Dawn must live with the consequences. And wait.
And wonder and grieve. And obsess.
       Why MacGregor chose this particular novel for his feature length directorial debut – or how he dared – I don’t understand but the result is impressive. Changes are made, the complexity it condensed, but the essence is there. He and the writers and the cast have captured the core.
       Read the novel. See the film. Both are flawed. And both powerfully reveal the murderous and manipulative lie of the American dream and American heroes.

4 ½ * of 5   


The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner 2014
  • Director: Wes Ball
  • Based on the book by James Dashner
  • Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Li, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Thomas Brodie Sangster – Star Wars, Wolf Hall, Doctor Who, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually
    • Kaya Scodelario – Wuthering Heights, Moon
  • Why? Quite enjoyed the book
  • Seen: 12 November 2017      

       A teenaged boy with no memory has a terrifying ride up an industrial lift, ending up in a kind of boys’ camp called the Glade. He’s told his name will come to him. It does; it’s Thomas. He’s told there’s a new boy sent up every month. He’s told that the massive wall that surrounds them is off-limits. The only ones allowed into the Maze are the Runners.
       The Runners run in the Maze every day, trying to find a way out. But the Maze changes every night.
       It’s a grim, merciless macro-world but the boys have each other.
       The premise is intriguing, the suspense almost unbearable at times.
       Any film with a cast of two dozen boys and one girl already has a few strikes against it and it has some sentimental moments and an over-simplified rebellious hero vs rigid rule-follower but it’s visually impressive and I find myself caring about these kids. Better than expected.

3 * of 5   


6 November 2017

Detachment

Detachment 2011
  • Director: Tony Kaye
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Sami Gayle, Louis Zorich, Betty Kaye
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Adrien Brody – Cadillac Records, Darjeeling Limited, The Pianist, King Kong, Bread and Roses, Liberty Heights, The Thin Red Line
    • Christina Hendricks – Madmen, Ginger and Rosa
    • Marcia Gay Harden – The Mist, Into the Wild, The Dead Girl, American Dreamz, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Mystic River, Pollack, Meet Joe Black, The First Wives Club, Miller’s Crossing
    • James Caan – Dogville, Misery, Dick Tracy
    • Lucy Liu – Kill Bill 1 & 2, Chicago, Hill Street Blues, The X Files
    • Louis Zorich – Fiddler on the Roof
  • Why? Adrien Brody
  • Seen: 4 November 2017      

       Henry Barthes (Brody) is a substitute high school English teacher. He’s now in a school of underachieving foul-mouthed aggressive students. He’s good with the kids but has serious personal problems, including a dying grandfather and the trauma of his mother’s suicide when he was a child. He tries to help an abused young prostitute Erica (Gayle).
       In an effective mix of cartoon, documentary-like interviews and powerful every-day drama we get glimpses of threatening, demanding parents, teen-agers being torn apart by the vicious gender roles they’re being forced into, teachers who need to cope somehow – or not – with an impossible soul-killing work situation and loveless private lives.
       The acting is superb, all of them. Brody is brilliant, at least as good as in The Pianist. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching films I’ve seen about the demons we all carry, about failing, about not being enough, about trying.

5 * of 5   


Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith 2013
  • Director: Dexter Fletcher
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Jane Horrocks, George Mackay, Kevin Guthrie, Peter Mullan, Freya Mavor, Antonia Thomas, Paul Brannigan
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jane Horrocks – Absolutely Fabulous, Gracie, Born Romantic, Little Voice, Life is Sweet
    • George Mackay – Defiance
    • Kevin Guthrie – Case Histories
    • Peter Mullan – Top of the Lake, Harry Potter, Stone of Destiny, Boy A, Children of Men, Young Adam, The Magdalene Sisters, My Name Is Joe, Trainspotting, Braveheart, Shallow Grave, Riff-Raff
    • Paul Brannigan – The Angel’s Share
  • Why? Jane Horrocks
  • Seen: 29 October 2017      

       Ally and Davy return to Edinburgh from military service in Afghanistan, their friend having lost his legs to a roadside bomb. Davy’s parents Rab and Jean are planning their 25th anniversary party then his dad’s unknown daughter from 24 years ago shows up. Ally proposes to Davy’s sister Liz in front of everybody and she turns him down.  How is all that to live up to the rave reviews of ‘feel-fabulous film of the year’, exuberatingly funny’, ‘soaring delight’, ‘joyous…fun’?
       Well, it is a musical.
       I don’t know what to think. I love musicals, Jane Horrocks and Scotland but the story is lame and sentimental and the characters and relationships conventional to the point of cardboard stereotypes. The songs are by the Proclaimers and though ‘Letter from America’ and ‘500 miles’ are always stirring to hear and work well, the other songs don’t quite hold the film together.
       A bit of a disappointment really. Maybe it’ll be better next time when I know what to expect. And since I’m already planning on watching it again it must be worth

3 * of 5