31 August 2015

La Reine Margot

La Reine Margot 1994
  • Director: Patrice Chéreau
  • Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
  • Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Vincent Perez, Virna Lisi, Dominique Blanc
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Isabelle Adjani – Quartet, Nosferatu
    • Daniel Auteuil –  Caché, La fille sur le pont, Jean de Florette 1 & 2,
    • Jean-Hugues Anglade – The Sopranos, Nikita
    • Vincent Perez – The Crow
  • Why? It was cheap. It’s historical and sounded interesting. Worth a try.
  • Seen: 29 August 2015 

       1572, France, war between the Catholics and the Protestants. A marriage is arranged between Henri of Navarre and Catherine de Medici’s daughter Margot. A marriage made in heaven? Hardly.
       It’s very confusing and I can’t keep track of who’s who and what they’re doing or why. It’s very bloody, but then massacres tend to be. This is, after all, the St. Bartholomew Massacre and it’s very graphically portrayed. Six thousand are killed.
       The film is very dramatic and passionate and romantic. My historical knowledge of this period is hazy and it doesn’t get so much clearer but some of the individual stories make a sort of mad sense. One starts to care about the fate of some of the characters but the film does not endear me to religion or royalty. It is not meant to, I assume.
       The acting is top-notch and the production sumptuous. It’s a film well worth seeing.


3 ½ * of 5

The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers 2002
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Bernard Hill, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Miranda Otto, Liv Tyler, Robyn Malcolm
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in (most of them were in the Hobbit/Rings movies too):
    • Elijah Wood  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Everything is Illuminated, Paris je t’aime, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Black and White, The Ice Storm
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Orlando Bloom – the  Pirates of the Caribbean films, Extras, Troy, The Lord of the Rings triolgy, Ned Kelly, Wilde
    • Bernard Hill – Wolf Hall, Valkyria, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titanic, Shirley Valentine, Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, Richard III, Gandhi,  I Claudius
    • Sean Bean – The Lord of the Rings trilogy, North Country, The Island, Troy, Golden Eye, Equilibrium, Stormy Monday
    • Viggo Mortenson - The Road, A History of Violence, Hidalgo, Lord of the Rings, Twenty-Eight Days, A Perfect Murder, Carlito’s Way, The Indian Runner, Witness, Ruby Cairo
    • Billy Boyd – on stage at the Globe in Macbeth, Stone of Destiny, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    • Liv Tyler – Lonesome Jim, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    • Miranda Otto – The War of the Worlds, The Thin Red Line
    • Robyn Malcolm – Top of the Lake
  •  Why? Continuing the 6-part marathon
  • Seen: Once before. Now 28 August 2015 

       More of the same but better. I don’t detect much of a story and it is still pretentious but either I’ve got used to it all or it is actually better. I enjoy it but it’s just too ling. With more stringent editing it would have got 3 ½ * or even 4* but as it is

3* of 5


25 August 2015

American Psycho

American Psycho 2000
  • Director: Mary Harron
  • Based on Book: by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe, Cara Seymour, Guinevere Turner
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christian Bale – Public Enemies, I’m Not There, Terminator Salvation, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Prestige, Equilibrium, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Velvet Goldmine, Little Women, Swing Kids, Henry V
    • Justin Theroux – Six Feet Under, Mulholland Drive, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, I Shot Andy Warhol
    • Josh Lucas – Undertow, A Beautiful Mind, You Can Count on Me
    • Bill Sage – Precious, I Shot Andy Warhol
    • Chloë Sevigny -  Zodiac, Broken Flowers, Manderlay, Dogville
    • Reese Witherspoon – Wild, Walk the Line, Legally Blonde, Pleasantville
    • Samantha Mathis -  Little Women
    • Matt Ross – Good Night and Good Luck, The Aviator, Six Feet Under, Face/Off
    • Jared Leto – Requiem for a Dream, Girl Interrupted, Fight Club, Black and White, The Thin Red Line,
    • Willem Dafoe - Spiderman, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Manderlay, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz,  The Aviator, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, eXistenZ, Lulu on the Bridge, The English Patient, Wild at Heart, Cry Baby, Born on the Fourth of July, Mississippi Is Burning, The Last Temptation of Christ, Dear America, Platoon, Streets of Fire
    • Cara Seymour – An Education, Hotel Rwanda, Gangs of New York, Adaption, Dancer in the Dark, You’ve Got Mail
    • Guinevere Turner - Dogma
  •  Why: Christian Bale, included in a box with Equilibrium, recommended by friend KA
  • Seen: 22 August 2015 

If it weren’t for Christian Bale I wouldn’t watch this. It sounds awful and I’ve not read the book because I tend not to like rich Wall Street yuppie psychotic murderers.
He is definitely a sicko, this guy Patrick. But so are the rest of the Wall Street gang he works and hangs out with. It’s a sick society.
Christian Bale is incredibly good as the gorgeous, narcissistic, charming, vicious, sadistic killer who philosophises about the political and social importance of 80’s pop hits as he tortures and kills his victims. It’s utterly fascinating to watch him fall apart. And realise that nothing is as it seems. Or is it?
Christian Bale’s performance is 5 * of 5 but it’s still about a rich Wall Street psychotic murderer. Not a subject I enjoy, even if it’s some kind of statement on our warped society. So

2 * of 5



The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holme, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Liv Tyler
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in (they were all in the second Hobbit movie too):
    • Elijah Wood  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Everything is Illuminated, Paris je t’aime, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Black and White, The Ice Storm
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Orlando Bloom – the  Pirates of the Caribbean films, Extras, Troy, The Lord of the Rings triolgy, Ned Kelly, Wilde
    • Ian Holm – The Hobbit, Aviator, Day after Tomorrow, From Hell, eXistenZ, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, The Madness of King George, Frankenstein, Kafka, Hamlet, Henry V, Dance with a Stranger, Brazil, Alien, Holocaust, O What a Lovely War
    • Sean Bean – The Lord of the Rings trilogy, North Country, The Island, Troy, Golden Eye, Equilibrium, Stormy Monday
    • Viggo Mortenson - The Road, A History of Violence, Hidalgo, Lord of the Rings, Twenty-Eight Days, A Perfect Murder, Carlito’s Way, The Indian Runner, Witness, Ruby Cairo
    • Billy Boyd – on stage at the Globe in Macbeth, Stone of Destiny, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    • Liv Tyler – Lonesome Jim, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  •  Why? Continuing the 6-part marathon
  • Seen: Once before. Now 21 August 2015 

       Having seen the Hobbit trilogy helps, I think. A generous gin and tonic doesn’t hurt. In any case I quite like the beginning. Well, not the prologue with all the ‘evil’ stuff and racial conflict and battle of ‘free’ vs ‘evil’ and all that simplisticated stuff, but otherwise.
       It’s exciting at times but as in the Hobbit trilogy it’s pretentious and far too long. I seriously miss Martin Freeman and there are a few too many battles, a few too many yucky monsters, a few too many narrow escapes. Some of them are pretty dramatic though, with a funny line or two. For example: ‘Nobody tosses a dwarf!’
       All in all, it’s better than I’d remembered.

2 ½* of 5


17 August 2015

The Hollow Crown - Richard II

The Hollow Crown – Richard II
  • Director: Rupert Goold
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Morrissey, Clémence Poèsy, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hughes, David Bradley, Richard Bremmer, Lucian Msamati, James Purefoy, David Suchet
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ben Whishaw  Skyfall, The Tempest, Bright Star, I’m Not There
    • Rory Kinnear – Sky Fall, Cranford, Quantum of Solace
    • Patrick Stewart – Extras, X-Men, Star Trek (I don’t remember which one), Ex Calibur, I Claudius, Hamlet
    • David Morrissey –  South Riding, Nowhere Boy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Derailed, Born Romantic, Hilary and Jackie, Our Mutual Friend, Waterland
    • Clémence Poèsy – Harry Potter, In Bruges
    • Lindsay Duncan – Merlin, Wallander, Alice in Wonderland, Lost in Austen, Under the Toscan Sun, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prick Up Your Ears
    • Tom Hughes – Dancing on the Edge
    • David Bradley - the Harry Potter films, The World’s End, Another Year, Our Mutual Friend, Prick Up Your Ears
    • Richard Bremmer – Mr Turner, Les Misérables, Control, To Kill a King, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,
    • Lucian Msamati – The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Bureau
    • James Purefoy – A Knight’s Tale, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
    • David Suchet – Great Expectations, A Perfect Murder
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: 15 August 2015 

       Petulant, sensuous, hard, a pretty young king is Richard, a sly viper who surrounds himself with handsome boy sycophants.
       Lavishly and sensuously filmed with a rich variety of castles, warmly coloured interiors, English landscapes and coasts, the film brings Shakespeare’s drama alive.
       It’s a very visual, cinematic film with intense close-ups, dramatic zooms, extreme angles. There are so many powerful images that etch themselves into my senses that I’ll hardly have to see the film again.
       I will though. Hopefully many times more. Even before it’s over I want to see it again. To be mesmerised by Ben Whishaw’s masterly transformation from childish boy king to manipulative magnificence. He plays a narcissistic Richard who is keenly aware of how every nuanced shifting of his eye, every tear, every languid gesture grips and enthrals Bolingbroke, Aumerle and all the others, and us the viewers, because of its absolute honesty.
       The entire cast is superb. I have only one complaint. The overly obvious parallels to Christ are a bit of an over-kill.
       Otherwise it is a splendid interpretation of one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It’s a must-see.


6 * of 7

The Hobbit - the battle of the five armies

The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies 2014
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett (for two seconds), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice only), Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Ian Holme, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in (they were all in the second Hobbit movie too):
    • Martin Freeman  Fargo, The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Benedict Cumberbatch –  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, The Other Boleyn Sister, Atonement, Amazing Grace, To Kill a King
    • Orlando Bloom – the  Pirates of the Caribbean films, Extras, Troy, Lord of the Rings et al, Ned Kelly, Wilde
    • Ian Holm – The Aviator, Day after Tomorrow, From Hell, eXistenZ, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, The Madness of King George, Frankenstein, Kafka, Hamlet, Henry V, Dance with a Stranger, Brazil, Alien, Holocaust, O What a Lovely War
    • Stephen Fry – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Extras, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Longitude, Black Adder, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, Peter’s Friends, A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful of Dust
  • Why? Part of the trilogy
  • Seen: 14 August 2015 

       Elves are taller than dwarves. She’s taller than he is. That must be a cinematic first. And a lovely couple they make.
       It’s quite exciting but why does everyone – well, everyone but nice little Bilbo and nasty sleazy Alfrid – have to be so pretentious and portentous? Why can’t they talk like normal people?
       The film is filled with pretty elves (but sneaky and self-serving), ugly thick-bodied monstrous Orc soldiers, vast treasures, lost kingdoms, honour and pride and heroics.  How tedious. The armies and landscapes are massive. Less is more has evidently not yet been invented.
       But Bilbo is still so endearing, even more so than in the first two films. It’s all visually impressive. The wereworms and warrior pig are cool. And just when the machismo is getting nauseating the women arm themselves and go out to war too. I suppose we must be grateful for small tokens.
       Again Martin Freeman, with the help of Ian McKellan and a few others, save this ponderous heavy handed film from tripping over its own big clumsy feet.
       And it’s quite gripping in the end. Can it be that in spite of everything I’ve grown fond of this trilogy?

Almost 3* of 5


10 August 2015

The English Patient

The English Patient 1996
  • Director: Anthony Minghella
  • Based on Book: by Michael Ondaatje
  • Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Kevin Whately
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Ralph Fiennes – Sky Fall, Harry Potter, Coriolanus, The Reader, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Maid in Manhattan, Sunshine, Spider, Strange Days, The Quiz Show, Schindler’s List, Wuthering Heights
    • Kristin Scott Thomas – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Contre toi, Sarah’s Key, Nowhere Boy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Il y’a longtemps que je t’aime, Keeping Mum, Gosford Park, The English Patient, Angels and Insects, Richard III, A Handful of Dust
    • Juliette Binoche – Paris, Breaking and Entering, Paris je t’aime, Chocolat, Trois couleurs – rouge, Trois couleurs – blanc, Trois couleurs – Bleu, Wuthering Heights, Les amant du Pont-Neuf
    • Willem Dafoe – Spiderman, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Manderlay, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz,  The Aviator, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, eXistenZ, Lulu on the Bridge, Wild at Heart, Cry Baby, Born on the Fourth of July, Mississippi Is Burning, The Last Temptation of Christ, Dear America, Platoon, Streets of Fire
    • Naveen Andrews -  Red Rock West, Twin Peaks, Dead Poets Society
    • Colin Firth – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Genova, Mama Mia, The She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually, Girl with the Pearl Earring, Bridget Jones’ Diary, My Life So Far, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch
    • Julian Wadham -  Downton Abbey, Wah-Wah, Frost, Keep the Aspidistras Flying, The Madness of King George,  Middlemarch
    • Kevin Whately – Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Morse, Shackleton 
  • Why: Wanted to see it again
  • Seen: Once before. Now 8 August 2015 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group

The desert is the most interesting character in the film. It’s beautiful. Mysterious. Magnificent. Eternal. Ever-changing. Deadly.
The rest of the film? I can’t quite get involved in the drama. Much is made of the passion of Katherine and Almasy. Too much. It was the least interesting part of the book.
Not only are the complex and fascinating relationships and backgrounds of Hana, Kip and Caravaggio minimised but also changed for no discernible reason.
It does become gripping towards the end but the all-important connection to the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the last few pages of the book is eliminated from the film, severely dulling the political power of the story. A pity.
The film is good but the novel is so much better.

3 * of 5


The Hobbit: the desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug 2013
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett (for two seconds), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice only), Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Martin Freeman  Fargo, The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Benedict Cumberbatch –  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, The Other Boleyn Sister, Atonement, Amazing Grace, To Kill a King
    • Orlando Bloom – the  Pirates of the Caribbean films, Extras, Troy, Lord of the Rings et al, Ned Kelly, Wilde
    • Mikael Persbrandt – Ett öga rött, Radioskuggan, Svensson Svensson and a lot of scandal headlines in Swedish newspapers
    • Stephen Fry – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Extras, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Longitude, Black Adder, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm, Jeeves and Wooster, Peter’s Friends, A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful of Dust
  • Why? Part of the trilogy
  • Seen: 7 August 2015 

       Just read that the trilogy is being re-released in a longer version.
       Um.
       OK, same lovely cast and beautiful scenery so let’s give it a chance.
       Doom and gloom and dire warnings. Dwarves and orcs and creatures of various kinds. Enchanted forests.
       On the plus side we have: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Stephen Fry, a few more women (even a warrior and one of the major characters), the scenery and stage settings. It’s quite exciting at times. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of humour. There’s even a touch of class conflict with a good-looking revolutionary.
       On the minus side however we have: endless battles, kings and nationalism and it’s essentially boring, though not as boring as the first one. And it’s far too long. They’re going to release a longer one? C’mon!
       But’s what’s this?  A cliff-hanger ending?


2 ½ * of 5

Happiness

Happiness 1998
  • Director: Todd Solondz
  • Based on Book: No
  • Cast: Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Cynthia Stevenson, Louise Lasser, Ben Gazzara, Camryn Mannheim, Jared Harris
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Jane Adams – Little Children, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, You’ve Got Mail
    • Jon Lovitz – Friends, The Wedding Singer, Lethal Weapon, A League of Their Own
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Hunger Games (all of them), The Invention of Lying, The Boat that Rocked, Cold Mountain, Punch Drunk Love, Almost Famous, State and Main, Flawless, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, The Scent of a Woman
    • Dylan Baker –Two Days in New York, Across the Universe, Spider-Man 2, Road to Perdition, Changing Lanes, Requiem for a Dream, The Stars Fell on Henrietta, Life with Mikey, The Last Mohican, The Long Walk Home
    • Lara Flynn Boyle -  Red Rock West, Twin Peaks, Dead Poets Society
    • Cynthia Stevenson – Six Feet Under, Dead Like Me
    • Louise Lasser -  Requiem for a Dream
    • Ben Gazzara – Dogville, The Big Lebowski, Voyage of the Damned, Run for Your Life
    • Camryn Mannheim – Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
    • Jared Harris – Fringe, Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, The Other Boleyn Girl, Igby Goes Down, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, I Shot Andy Warhol, Dead Man, Smoke, The Last Mohican
  • Why: It’s the prequel to another Solondz film that we have. When I’d bought it I realised that we’ve already seen it but that’s OK.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 2 August 2015 

A series of monologues and dialogues between a variety of losers. Broken relationships, violent fantasies – or maybe they’re not all fantasies? – some really bizarre sexual behaviour. A lot of loneliness, failure, dissatisfaction and misunderstanding and betrayal.
All of the characters are connected in some way to three sisters – their parents, spouses, colleagues, neighbours, doormen, students – and they’re each more pathetic and needy than the next.
It’s called a comedy but there wasn’t much to laugh about. Mostly I did a lot of wincing. It’s quite depressing and definitely weird.
I liked it.

3 * of 5


Ellen Foster

Ellen Foster 1997
  • Director: John Erman
  • Based on book: by Kaye Gibbons
  • Cast: Jena Malone, Julie Harris, Ted Levine, Glynnis O’Connor, Deborah Monk, Barbara Garrick, Zeljko Ivankek, Bill Nunn, Amanda Peet, Timothy Olyphant
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Jena Malone – The Hunger Games Catching Fire and Mockingjay, The Soloist, Into the Wild, Cold Mountain, The United States of Leland, Homicide Life on the Streets, Contact
    • Julie Harris -  Voyage of the Damned, Reflections in a Golden Eye, East of Eden, old TV series
    • Ted Levine  Shutter Island, Wild Wild West, Silence of the Lambs, Ironweed
    • Zeljko Ivankek – In Bruges, Manderley, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, Snow Falling on Ceders, Homicide Life on the Streets, Donnie Brasco, The X Files
    • Bill Nunn – Spiderman, Kiss the Girls, Lethal Weapon, Sister Act, Mo’ Better Blues, Do the Right Thing
    • Amanda Peet – 2012, Igby Goes Down, Changing Lanes
    • Timothy Olyphant – I Am Number Four, A Life Less Ordinary, First Wives Club
  • Why: It was cheap and I think a teacher was mentioned
  • Seen: 1 August 2015 

Looking again at the DVD cover I’m afraid this is going to be hopelessly Hallmarkish. American as apple pie and all that. Oh well, I’ll give it a chance.
Precocious tom-boy Ellen has a nasty abusive alcoholic farther, a dying Bible-reading mother and a rich hateful grandmother with black servants in small-town North Carolina. And two aunts who worry about her but don’t want to do anything about it, like take her in.  A black couple whose daughter is Ellen’s best friend would take her in but it’s the 70’s and integration hasn’t gone that far yet.
Then she’s taken in by her favourite teacher and her flower-child husband. Too good to be true. Her evil grandmother gets a court order to take her in for no reason anyone can figure out. The lovely hippie couple send her off with tears in their eyes.
It is indeed hopelessly Hallmarkish.  Maybe my eight-year-old self who loved Pollyanna would have appreciated it. But these days too much sweetness just makes me feel a little ill.

1 ½ * of 5


The Hobbit - an unexpected journey

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey 2012
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Bret McKenzie (two seconds), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice only)
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Martin Freeman  Fargo, The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Ian Holm – The Aviator, Day after Tomorrow, From Hell, eXistenZ, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, The Madness of King George, Frankenstein, Kafka, Hamlet, Henry V, Dance with a Stranger, Brazil, Alien, Holocaust, O What a Lovely War
    • Elijah Wood – Lord of the Rings, Bobby, Paris je t’aime, Everything Is Illuminated, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Black and White
    • Cate Blanchett – Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Heaven, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age
    • Bret McKenzie – The Flight of the Conchords
    • Benedict Cumberbatch –  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, The Other Boleyn Girl, Atonement, Amazing Grace, To Kill a King
  • Why?  It should be seen?
  • Seen:   31 July 2015 

       In the olden days when Tolkien was required reading for hippies I did my duty and ploughed through the books. But I wasn’t a very good hippie and I wasn’t impressed.
       Decades later I gave the film The Lord of the Rings-trilogy a try. They were OK, I guess.
       So why start the whole thing now? Well, we’re done with the Batman films….
       And it’s a fantastic cast.
       Bilbo is remarkably like Lester Nygaard in Fargo. That’s fun.
       Otherwise it’s all a bunch of men setting off on a quest for honour and recovering their kingdom. Or something. A boring, actually distasteful concept, but the Hobbit house is very cool and Bilbo is very appealing.
       Heroes and kings with long beards, big noses, furs and fuzzy horses in magnificent landscapes fight the evil Orcs. There are some wizards, a bit of humour, great bloody battles, cute little hedgehogs, clever sets and props and trolls who speak Cockney.
       It really is terribly long. And not terribly interesting.  I certainly don’t begrudge McKellan and Freeman fame and fortune but they should stick to Vicious and Shakespeare and Fargo and Sherlock.
       Finally. At one hour and twenty-seven minutes a woman appears. Playing a harp. Then another one, playing a flute. And then a few minutes of the Elf Queen in the form of Cate Blanchett. Not that she gets to do much. It’s a very male film.
       The stone giants are a bit cool. As is Gallum. So it has its moments. Not nearly enough though.
       I do long for Harry Potter and Merlin. From which, by the way, much here is plagiarised.


2 * of 5

Out of Season

Out of Season 1975
  • Director: Alan Bridges
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Cliff Robertson, Susan George
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Vanessa Redgrave – Coriolanus, Atonement, Girl Interrupted, The Cradle Will Rock, Lulu on the Bridge, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Howards End, The Ballad of the Sad Café, Playing for Time, Prick Up Your Ears, Oh What a Lovely War, Isadora, Camelot
    • Cliff Robertson -  Spiderman, Charly, old TV series
    • Susan George  Straw Dogs
  • Why: Vanessa Redgrave
  • Seen: 26 July 2015 

Islands of the English coast usually offer interesting films. Hotels on such islands especially so.
Ann (Redgrave) and her daughter Joanna (George) run the hotel. They don’t get on well. Into their tension arrives a guest, Joe Tanner (Robertson). Ah. He and Ann knew each other twenty years ago. The memories are… complicated. They obviously still have feelings for each other.
Ann and Joe resume their love affair. Joanna sets out to make trouble, but they’re quite capable of making trouble for themselves. There’s a lot of bitterness and rancour between them. Among all three of them.
It’s hard to see where the film is going. Or let’s say it’s quite predictable but how far will it go and how will it get there?
It’s an odd film about three odd and not very likeable individuals. It’s dramatic in its way and well-acted. But rather unpleasant.

2 ½ * of 5


3 August 2015

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises 2012
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Based on Book: No
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ann Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Tom Conti
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christian Bale – Public Enemies, I’m Not There, The Dark Knight, Terminator Salvation, Batman Begins, The Prestige, Equilibrium, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Velvet Goldmine, Little Women, Swing Kids, Henry V
    • Michael Caine: Inception, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Harry Brown, Flawless, The Prestige, Children of Men, The Weatherman, Last Orders, Get Carter, The Cider House Rules, Little Voice, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Sleuth (both versions), Alfie
    • Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Book of Eli, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Léon, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Cillian Murphy:  Transcendence, Inception, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Cold Mountain, Girl with the Pearl Earring, 28 Days Later
    • Morgan Freeman - Transcendence, Oblivion, Invictus, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Gone Baby Gone, The Contract, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Along Came a Spider, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Kiss the Girls, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Glory, Driving Miss Daisy
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Third Rock from the Sun, Inception, The Lookout, Miracle at St. Anna, Brick, 10 Things I Hate About You
    • Ann Hathaway – Les Miserables, Rachel Getting Married, Alice in Wonderland, Brokeback Mountain, Becoming Jane, Ella Enchanted
    • Tom Hardy – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Inception
    • Marion Cotillard - Nine, La vie en rose, Inception, Public Enemies, A Good Year
    • Tom Conti – The Tempest, Derailed, Friends, Shirley Valentine
  • Why: Christian Bale. Good trilogy.
  • Seen: 24 July 2015 

The last one. A bit sad. What to see on our Friday evenings after this? But let’s enjoy this one first.
It starts out very James Bond-y with no connection to Batman. But we learn that eight years have passed and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and a cripple in his mansion.
Ann Hathaway is a beautiful criminal, a skilled cat burglar. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hot shot young cop with a tragic childhood and a hero worship for Bruce Wayne and the Batman.
Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are still with us, still loyal to Bruce Wayne, still hopeful that Batman will return. Michael Caine is still loyal, and fearing that Batman will return and Bruce Wayne will be lost.
This is heavy stuff. With heavy emotions. And Batman is a prisoner in hell.
Again, serious moral dilemmas. Interesting political intrigues. We care about the characters.
Oh! The twists the story takes. Wow!
Can it really be over?

4* of 5. Maybe even 4 ½