10 February 2017

Lady Jane

Lady Jane 1986
  • Director: Trevor Nunn
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Cary Elwes, John Wood, Michael Horden, Jane Lapotaire, Patrick Stewart
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Helena Bonham Carter – The Lone Ranger, Les Misérables, Great Expectations, Dark Shadows, Life’s Too Short, Harry Potter, Toast, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Enid, Terminator Salvation, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Conversations with Other Women, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Fight Club, Keep the Aspidistras Flying, Twelfth Night, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Howards End, Hamlet, A Room with a View
    • Cary Elwes – Ella Enchanted, The X Files, Cradle Will Rock, Kiss the Girls, Twister
    • John Wood – Chocolat, Longitude, Jane Eyre, The Madness of King George, Orlando
    • Michael Horden – Middlemarch, Cymbeline, Gandhi, King Lear, Ivanhoe, All’s Well that Ends Well, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, How I Won the War, The Yellow Rolls Royce, Cleopatra
    • Jane Lapotaire – Shooting Fish, Surviving Picasso, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra
    • Patrick Stewart – The Hollow Crown Richard II, The X Men Days of Future Past, Hamlet, Extras, X Men, Star Trek (one of them, I don’t remember which), Excalibur, Hamlet, I Claudius
  • Why? HBC and the subject
  • Seen: 29 January 2017      

       Having just read The Children of England by Alison Weir about the three children of Henry VIII it’s fitting to finally watch this film that has been waiting on the shelf for some time.
       When Henry died his heir Edward was nine years old. He was quite a strong king for all that but he inconveniently died at the age of fifteen. He was a fervent protestant and his supporters were determined to keep his fanatically Catholic half-sister Mary from the throne. They chose fifteen-year-old Jane Grey, a shy, scholarly, well-educated girl with cruel, ambitious and manipulative parents.
       But I’m getting ahead of myself.
       The film starts with Jane and Edward being friends, with Jane being warned by Catholic Princess Mary to take care. Some of the intrigues are revealed. Jane is married off to the Duke of Northumberland, the drunken, brawling, stupid Guilford, against her vehement protests, but only after being whipped into submission by her mother. Even her friend the king tells her she must marry Guilford.
       So they marry. Neither is happy about it but then they get to know each other. Maybe he’s not so bad after all. This romantic bit is highly unhistorical. And Guilford was, in reality, hardly the class-conscious revolutionary portrayed here.
       Edward dies and to her horror Jane finds that she has been manipulated into becoming queen.
       She decides to take advantage of it to promote her protestant beliefs but neither the people nor Mary are pleased. Mary raises an army. Jane is queen for nine days. Then Mary is proclaimed queen and Jane is confined to the Tower.
       The movie is too long and far too romantic. Nevertheless, it is quite an interesting portrayal of this short dramatic parenthesis in Tudor history. A very young Bonham Carter is already showing her vast acting skills.
3 * of 5   

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta (2005)
  • Director: James McTeigue
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, Tim Pigott- Smith, Rupert Graves, Roger Allam, Ben Miles, Sinead Cusack, Guy Henry
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Natalie Portman – Thor, Black Swan, The Other Boleyn Girl, Paris je t’aime, Star Wars I-II-III, Closer, Cold Mountain, Anywhere but Here, Mars Attacks!, Léon
    • Hugo Weaving – The Hobbit, Cloud Atlas, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    • John Hurt – Doctor Who, Snowpiercer, Merlin, The Hollow Crown, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter 1-8, Melancholia, Brighton Rock, Manderlay, Dogville, Contact, Dead Man, Roby Roy, King Lear, The Elephant Man, Alien, I Claudius
    • Stephen Rea – The Butcher Boy, Fever Pitch, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire, The Crying Game, Life Is Sweet
    • Stephen Fry – The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Extras, Tristram Shandy, Bright Young Things, Gosford Park, Longitude, Black Adder, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, A Fish Called Wanda
    • Tim Pigott-Smith – Simon Schama’s Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, Quantum of Solace, Gangs of New York, The Remains of the Day, Measure for Measure
    • Rupert Graves – Last Tango in Halifax, Dr Who, Mrs Dalloway, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Intimate Relations, The Madness of King George, A Handful of Dust, A Room with a View
    • Roger Allam – Endeavour, The Lady in the Van, The Tempest (on stage at the Globe and the filmed production of it), Simon Schama’s Shakespeare, The Angel’s Share, The Woman in Black, Pirates of the Caribbean, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, The Catherine Tate Show, The Queen, Tristram Shandy, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone
    • Ben Miles – The Hollow Crown, Under the Greenwood Tree, Hustle, Keep the Aspidistra Flying,
    • Sinead Cusack – Twelfth Night
    • Guy Henry – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2, Creation, Wallander, Lost in Austen, Extras, starter for 10, Hustle, Bright Young Things, Lady Jane
  • Why? a good movie
  • Seen: Once previously. Now 28 January 2017      

       Sadly we have been reached by the news that John Hurt has died. Such a great loss. In his memory we have chosen this film for the evening.
       It starts however with Roger Allam as a fanatic Christian Muslim-hating, homophobic TV celebrity, ‘the Voice of London’…how close to grim reality is that in the mad world of today?
       Evey (Portman) ventures out after curfew in a totalitarian London. She is abused by the police and rescued by a masked hero who is called a terrorist by John Hurt, the dictator. The masked hero calls himself V.
       Evey works as an errand girl for a BBC-like institution and gets caught up in V’s vendetta. V: ‘There’s something terrible wrong with this country. People should not be afraid of their governments.’
       While watching we have to remind ourselves that this is pretend. But the society V is fighting against is chillingly like the one Trump is rapidly creating.
       The cast is from Britain’s elite, the story is intelligent, the dialogue scholarly, the characters complex. And there are a lot of references to Shakespeare. It goes on too long and it’s confusing at times. The lone tortured hero is violently overdone and the love story is unnecessary. The political message won’t really hold up to much scrutiny despite the meticulous set-up. But it’s clever, funny, exciting and grim. The end is very dramatic.
       John Hurt, you do an outstandingly evil dictator. We first saw you as Caligula. But I will remember you most gratefully and affectionately for your Mr Ollivander and Kilgarrah. Thank you.

4 * of 5   

Cockneys vs Zombies

Cockneys vs Zombies 2012
  • Director: Matthias Hoene
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Gary Beadle, Michelle Ryan, Harry Treadaway, Georgia King, Honor Blackman, Alan Ford, Tony Gardner
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Gary Beadle – Hustle, Absolutely Fabulous, Wit, Absolute Beginners
    • Michelle Ryan – Doctor Who, Merlin
    • Harry Treadaway – The Lone Ranger, Fish Tank, Control
    • Georgia King – Vicious, Merlin
    • Honor Blackman – Colour Me Kubrick, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Virgin and the Gypsy, Goldfinger, The Avengers
    • Tony Gardner – Last Tango in Halifax
  • Why? The title
  • Seen: 27 January 2017      

       With a title like that, this has to be a sombre, serious, sober film, like. Intellectual, yeah?
       A small gang of Cockney first-time-ever robbers are going to rob a bank to get money to save their grandfather’s pensioners’ home. The robbery goes badly and hostages are taken. Zombies attack the pensioners but some of them resist, barricading themselves into the kitchen. The East End is sealed off. There are zombies everywhere. Three of our intrepid gangsters set off, fighting the zombies, to rescue granddad and friends.
       As expected. Sombre, serious, sober, intellectual…not. It’s gruesome, gory, bloody and almost funny. And just a little scary. And even sad.
       With some linguistic lessons in Cockney rhyming thrown in. Hurrah for East End Cockney patriotism!
       ‘This is the weirdest day in my life,’ says Katy, bank robber and zombie killer. Oh, really?
       Well, folks, it’s a zombie film. It’s not Shaun of the Dead but it’s quite entertaining.
2 1/3 * of 5   

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