25 November 2016

The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van 2015
  • Director: Nicholas Hytner
  • Based on book by Alan Bennett
  • Cast: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Alex Jennings, Deborah Findley, Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour, David Calder
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Maggie Smith – My Old Lady, Hotel Marigold 1 and 2, Downton Abbey, the Harry Potter films, The Quartet, Becoming Jane, Keeping Mum, Ladies in Lavender, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Gosford Park, David Copperfield, Tea with Mussolini, The First Wives’ Club, Richard III, Sister Acts 1 and 2, A Room with a View, Quartet (1981), Oh What a Lovely War, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    • Jim Broadbent – Filth, the Harry Potter films, Another Year, The Young Victoria, Vera Drake, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy-Turvy, Little Voice, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Richard III, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Black Adder, Brazil
    • Alex Jennings – Cranford, The Queen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Deborah Findley – Cranford, Jane Eyre
    • Roger Allam – The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Endeavour, The Tempest (on stage and DVD), The Book Thief, The Woman in Black, Shakespeare and the Brits, Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides, Henry IV Parts One and Two, The Queen, V for Vendetta
    • Frances de la Tour – Vicious, Hugo, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, The Book of Eli, Cold Lazarus
    • David Calder – many TV series, The World Is not Enough
  • Why? Maggie Smith
  • Seen: 12 November, 2016 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group      

       Miss Shepherd is a mad, fanatically Catholic, extremely smelly, extremely demanding and nasty old woman who lives in a van. Alan Bennett is a thoroughly kind playwright. She exploits him, and everyone, ruthlessly. She ends up parked in his driveway, outside his house in Camden Town.
       Alan Bennett himself adapted his small gem of a book into this film. There are more characters, more stories, more details, more depth of character and background.
       It’s very funny, very sad, very British and one asks oneself, ‘What would I do?’ I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be as kind as Alan Bennett, though he himself sees his relationship with Miss Shepherd as a failure, a weakness, timidity. The years pass, her exploitation continues relentlessly. He loses patience at times but there she remains.
       The film raises difficult questions about what we as individuals and as a society do with people like Miss Shepherd who make it so difficult to be kind. It’s a credit to us humans that there are so many who are kind anyway.
       Maggie Smith is, as always, magnificent. Alex Jennings is excellent as Alan Bennett. The whole cast is good.

5 * of 5   



The Boat that Rocked

The Boat that Rocked 2009
  • Director: Richard Curtis
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Sturridge, Bill Nighy, Tom Brooke, Rhys Darby, Nick Frost, Katherine Parkinson, Chris O’Dowd, Ike Hamilton, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wisdom, Jack Davenport, Ralph Brown, Rhys Ifans, Talulah Riley, January Jones, Emma Thompson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Hunger Games 1-4, The Invention of Lying, Cold Mountain, Punch-Drunk Love, Almost Famous, State and Main, Flawless, Happiness, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Scent of a Woman
    • Tom Sturridge – Henry VI (The Hollow Crown), Far from the Madding Crowd, Being Julia
    • Bill Nighy – The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold 1 and 2, Harry Potter, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Girl in the Café, The Boat that Rocked, Shaun of the Dead, The Constant Gardener, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Auf Wiedersehn Pet, Kiss Me Kate, Longitude, Fairy Tale a True Story
    • Tom Brooke – Henry V (The Hollow Crown), Young Victoria, Hustle,
    • Rhys Darby – Flight of the Concords
    • Nick Frost – The World’s End, The Huntsman’s Winter War, Hot Fuzz, Kinky Boots, Shaun of the Dead
    • Katherine Parkinson – Humans, Extras
    • Chris O’Dowd – Vera Drake
    • Kenneth Branagh – Wallander, My Week with Marilyn, Valkyria, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Shackleton, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Wild Wild West, Hamlet, Othello, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Much Ado About Nothing, Swing Kids, Dead Again, Henry V, The Fortunes of War
    • Jack Davenport – Pirates of the Caribbean, The Libertine
    • Rhys Ifans – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I, Elizabeth the Golden Age, Shipping News, Human Nature, Notting Hill
    • Talulah Riley – Inception, Doctor Who
    • January Jones – Mad Men, Love Actually
    • Emma Thompson – Beautiful Creatures, Harry Potter, An Education, Last Chance Harvey, Brideshead Revisited, Stranger than Fiction, Nanny McPhee, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, The Winter Guest, Sense and Sensibility, The Remains of the Day, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Howards End, Dead Again, Impromptu, Henry V, The Fortunes of War, Tutti Frutti
  • Why? Kenneth Branagh
  • Seen: Once before. Now 4 November 2016      

       1966. BBC plays less than 45 minutes of rock and pop music a day. Intolerable! Long live Pirate Radio in the Atlantic! Without it Britain would surely not have survived.
       This is the saga of one of the pirate ships, Radio Rock. A boat populated by characters each more misfit than the next. All played by lots of good British (and a couple of American) actors.
       Enter the evil Sir Alister – a smug, tyrannical right-wing politician played by Branagh – who is going to shut them down.
       In fact, I love the BBC, warts and all, and I’m not overly fond of commercial radio. This film has too many silly and often sexist jokes, and the story is basically thin.
       But it is often funny, the characters are generally likeable or enjoyably unlikeable, the actors are great and the music is, well, 60’s music. The 60’s are highly overrated but they did have good music.

3 * of 5   


Shallow Grave

Shallow Grave
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Based on novel: by no
  • Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox, Ken Stott, Keith Allen, Colin McCredie, Gary Lewis
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction
    • Ewan NcGregor – Mortdecai, The Impossible, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Ghost Writer, Stay, Star Wars I-III, Big Fish, Young Adam, Moulin Rouge, Little Voice, Velvet Goldmine, A Life Less Ordinary, Brassed Off, Trainspotting
    • Christopher Eccleston – Fortitude, Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, The Others, eXistenZ, Elizabeth
    • Kerry Fox – Mental, Bright Star, An Angel at My Table
    • Ken Stott – The Hobbit films, The Girl in the Café, Fever Pitch, For Queen and Country, King Lear
    • Keith Allen – Case Histories, 24 Hour Party People, The Others, Train Spotting, Kafka
    • Gary Lewis – Billy Elliot, Case Histories, Merlin, Filth, Gangs of New York, East Is East, My Name Is Joe, Carla’s Song
  • Why? cast and director
  • Seen: once before. Now 28 October 2016 

One of the stranger movies we’ve seen it has nevertheless stayed with me and I’ve been wanting to watch it again for some time. Having just watched Eccleston in his Doctor Who role and thinking it wasn’t right for him (Doctor Who is and always will be David Tennant to me) I’m looking forward to seeing him in a role suited to his admirable acting skills. And I always want to see Ewan McGregor.
Three friends share a flat in Glasgow (and what a flat!) and are looking for a fourth roommate.  They grill their prospective lodger with bizarre and cruel interrogations and reject them all. Until Hugo. They accept him, he moves in and promptly commits suicide. They find him in his room with a suitcase packed with cash.
Juliet (Fox) is a laid-back but professionally cool doctor. David (Eccleston) is a straight-laced trustworthy accountant. Alex (McGregor) is half-mental journalist who talks them into keeping the money.
But they must get rid of the body. Alex insists they should chop it up. In a series of macabre and funny scenes they manage this and life goes on. And then falls apart.
It’s weird, surrealistic, suspenseful and at times scary. It’s a compelling film with compelling performances, especially by the starring trio. The visual effects are suggestive, stark, frantic at times, colourful and dark. It’s a psychological thrill way beyond the ordinary.


4 * of 5


Everything You Want

Everything You Want 2005
  • Director: Ryan Little
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Shiri Appleby, Nick Zano, Alexandra Holden, Orlando Seale
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Shiri Appleby – Roswell
    • Alexandra Holden – Six Feet Under, Sleepy Hollow for 10
  • Why? I have no idea
  • Seen:  21 October 2016      

       There must be a reason I bought this DVD but now I don’t remember at all. None of the names are familiar. So now I’m curious.
       Oh, yes, Liz from Roswell! I’d forgotten her name. That must be why.
       She’s an art student, Abby. There are several other young people. It’s all very American-college-y, which is usually annoying.
       As is this one. Complete with annoying parents, flaky roommate and an obnoxious guy who is no doubt going to replace Abby’s thoroughly nice British boyfriend. Oh, that’s why the boyfriend is so perfect. He doesn’t exist.
       This is an awful movie. I really do not like the obnoxious guy. At 42 minutes, we ask each other if we can endure watching the rest.
       The answer is no. We fast forward to the inevitable ending when the perfect boyfriend tearfully tells her good-bye and real life still-obnoxious guy wins Abby’s love.
       Because I liked Roswell and Liz I won’t give this the 0* this deserves.


1* of 5