11 September 2017

Intimate Relations

Intimate Relations 1996
  • Director: Philip Goodhew
  • Based on book: no but on a true story
  • Cast: Julie Walters, Rupert Graves, Matthew Walker, Laura Sadler, Holly Aird, Les Dennis, Elizabeth McKechnie, Amanda Holden, Nicholas Hoult
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Julie Walters – The Hollow Crown, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia, One Chance, Becoming Jane, Driving Lessons, Wah-Wah, Canterbury Tales, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot, Titanic Town, Intimate Relations, Prick Up Your Ears, Educating Rita
    • Rupert Graves – Sherlock, Last Tango in Halifax, Doctor Who, Wallander, V for Vendetta, Mrs Dalloway, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Madness of King George, A Handful of Dust, The Fortunes of War, A Room with a View
    • Holly Aird – Unforgotten, Fever Pitch
    • Amanda Holden – Britain’s Got Talent, Kiss Me Kate, Curry Nam Nam
    • Nicholas Hoult – Mad Max Fury Road, Wallander, Wah-Wah, About a Boy
  • Why? Julie Walters.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 8 September 2017      

       It’s been a very long time since we first saw this film and I don’t remember what it’s about but I remember been very moved by it and I’ve been looking for it for a long time. Now, finally.
       Frowsy, middle-aged Marjorie with a 13-year-old daughter Joyce and Stanley, a husband who makes unwelcome amorous demands, takes in a lodger, a young sailor, Harold Guppie. She insists he call her Mum.
       But when she comes into his room, and his bed, it’s not a mum she wants to be to him. At first he rejects her then succumbs to her seduction. As time goes by Joyce pursues him too.
       Harold starts to realise what a mess he’s in. He turns nasty, joins the army and gets a new girlfriend.
       Mum doesn’t like that. Pathetically pleading letters mixed with blackmail bring Harold back into the fold.
       What unpleasant, pathetic people. Can this possibly end well for anyone? Of course not.
       From absurd comedy it transforms into absurd tragedy. That’s why I like it. And because of the strong cast as well.

3 ½ * of 5

4 September 2017


Gattaca 1997
  • Director: Andrew Niccol
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Alan Arkin, Loren Dean, Gore Vidal
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ethan Hawke – Before Sunset, Tape, Hamlet, Snow Falling on Cedars, Before Sunrise, Reality Bites, Waterland, Dead Poets Society
    • Uma Thurman – Kill Bill 1 & 2, Hysterical Blindness, Tape, Les Misérables, Beautiful Girls, Pulp Fiction, Dangerous Liaisons,
    • Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Hugo, Contagion, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Sleuth, The Holiday, Breaking and Entering, The Aviator, Closer, Alfie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ
    • Alan Arkin – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Sunshine Cleaning, Little Miss Sunshine, Grosse Pointe Blank, Mother Night, Glengarry Glen Ross, Edward Scissorhands, Catch 22, Wait Until Dark, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming
    • Loren Dean – Billy Bathgate
    • Gore Vidal – Igby Goes Down
  • Why? Interesting subject. Good cast.
  • Seen: Once before. Now 2 September 2017      

       The not-too-distant future, we are told. Solemnly suited men and women – Jerome Morrow (Hawke) and Irene (Thurman) amongst them – enter the space centre Gattaca. Jerome is chosen to take part on a year-long mission to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.
       It’s just that, unlike everyone else at Gattaca, Jerome is genetically In-valid, fated to die young. He’s actually a janitor at the centre, his name is Vincent, he’s a space nerd, and he is now ‘disappeared’, having illegally obtained the genetic identity of the crippled, bitter and alcoholic Vincent Morrow (Law).
       Then the mission director is murdered and Irene is ordered to help with the investigation though she too is genetically engineered (legitimately) and she too wants to go on the mission. She finds an eyelash near the murder scene. Vincent’s. So now he’s a murder suspect.
       It’s an intelligent, suspensefully low-key sci fi detective film. Two problems. It’s maybe a little too low-key though it picks up towards the end. And I wish Thurman’s character had been given less femme fatale-ness and more depth as a scientist. They don’t even give her a surname. Thurman does, of course, a very good acting job with what she’s given. As do they all.
       Third problem. Melodramatic then drawn-out ending.
       But well worth seeing.

3 * of 5 (Hal gave it 4)

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite 2004
  • Director: Jared Hess
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Hayley Duff
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tina Majorino – Veronica Mars
  • Why? Recommended by friends AS and AS.
  • Seen: 1 September 2017      

       For some reason, we got to talking about Idaho and how little one knows about this state. Potatoes. That’s about it for me.
       Oh yes, and My Own Private Idaho. Which led to this recommendation by AS and AS. They promised weird humour. Right. Just our cup of tea.
       Clever beginning credits. Then nerd kid, Napoleon Dynamite himself (Heder). He’s a high school student with frizzy ginger hair, half-closed bespectacled eyes, slack half-open mouth, big nose, big teeth and a petulant, angry, spaced out attitude who draws fantasy worlds. Completely and utterly uncool. And he’s the normal one in this oddest of movies.
       If it’s about anything I haven’t figured it out after half an hour.
       Maybe lost dreams, loneliness, nerdiness, friendship. Cruelty and kindness.
       It makes My Own Private Idaho look like a normal movie, and sorry Idahoans, it does not inspire me to move to Idaho.
       But it is weirdly, strangely…funny? Sweet? Sad? Appealing?
       All of the above.

4 * of 5

28 August 2017

The Last Days of Disco

The Last Days of Disco 1998
  • Director: Whit Stillman
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman, Mackenzie Astin, Matt Keeslar, Robert Sean Leonard
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Chloë Sevigny – Zodiac, Broken Flowers, Manderlay, Dogville, American Psycho, A Map of the World
    • Kate Beckinsale – Absolutely Anything, The Aviator, Serendipity, Shooting Fish, Cold Comfort Farm, Prince of Jutland, Much Ado About Nothing
    • Chris Eigeman – Fringe, Maid in Manhattan, Homicide Life on the Street
    • Robert Sean Leonard – The Painted House, Much Ado About Nothing, Swing Kids, Dead Poets Society
  • Why? Remember it being interesting
  • Seen: Once before. Now 26 August 2017      

       It must be confessed. I have never been to a disco. I have never tried to get into a disco. I have never wanted to go to a disco.
       Twenty minutes into the film, I still don’t want to. Yuppie angst, meaningless talk, bitchy friends, sexual pursuit… but ‘The Tide Is High’ is a good song.
       Next day at work. Lawyers, publishers, advertisers.
       Forty minutes into the film. Is this an allegory on how meaningless and absurd life is? Or just the American yuppie business world of the 80’s? Still, these pathetic young people are appealing in their way. Beckinsale is good as the bitchy friend/roommate/colleague but truthfully, Sevigny creeps me out.
       What it needs to be a really good film is a British cast, a British director and a London setting, but that would probably defeat the purpose and besides, it’s not without interest as it is.

3 * of 5 (Hal gave it 4)

Song for Marion

Song for Marion 2012
  • Director: Paul Andrew Williams
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston, Anne Reid, Orla Hill
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Terence Stamp – Valkyria, Wanted, Dead Fish, Star Wars I, The Limey, The Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert, Superman I & 2, Far From the Madding Crowd, Billy Bud
    • Gemma Arteron – The Girl with All the Gifts, The Boat that Rocked, Quantum of Solace, Lost in Austen
    • Vanessa Redgrave – The Butler, Coriolanus, Atonement, The Pledge, Girl Interrupted, Cradle Will Rock, Lulu on the Bridge, Mrs Dalloway, Wilde, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, House of the Spirits, Howards End, The Ballad of the Sad Café, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Prick Up Your Ears, Playing for Time, Julia, Out of Season, The Devils, Oh What a Lovely War, Isadora, Camelot
    • Anne Reid – Last Tango in Halifax, Doctor Who, Hot Fuzz, Bleak House, Rose and Maloney, Liam
    • Jemima Rooper – What If, Lost in Austen, Kinky Boots
    • Stanley Townsend – The Hollow Crown, Quirke, Sherlock, Happy-Go-Lucky, Hustle, Inside I’m Dancing, The Libertine
  • Why? Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp
  • Seen: 20 August 2017      

       A feel-good film about pensioners who sing. Now that should be just the ticket for this evening. And what a cast.
       Marion (Redgrave) sings in a pensioners’ choir. Her husband Arthur (Stamp) doesn’t approve because it’s too much for her. She’s dying of cancer.
       Not so very feel-good. Depressing is the word. Depressingly realistic.
       OK, she’s going to die. He’s going to discover singing.
       Will I be able to endure this? I need cheering up, not cheering down. Of course, tear-jerkers can be good for the soul so maybe I’ll endure.
       Right. Eighty minutes later. The tears have been jerked and everyone is feeling pretty good.

3 ½ * of 5   


Continuum 2013 (aka I’ll Follow You Down)
  • Director: Richie Mehta
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Gillian Anderson, Rufus Sewell, Haley Joel Osment, Victor Garber, Susanna Fournier
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Gillian Anderson – The Fall, X-Files, War and Peace, Great Expectations, Tristram Shandy
    • Rufus Sewell – The Tourist, The Pillars of the Earth, The Holiday, Paris je t’aime, The Taming of a Shrew, The Knight’s Tale, Hamlet, Cold Comfort Farm, Middlemarch
    • Haley Joel Osment – Pay It Forward, The Sixth Sense
    • Victor Garber – Stargate Universe, Milk, Legally Blond, Titanic, The First Wives Club, Sleepless in Seattle
    • Susanna Fournier – X-Men Days of Future Past
  • Why? Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell
  • Seen: 19 August 2017      

       Loving father and scientist Gabriel (Sewell) leaves wife Marika (Anderson) and son Erol (Osment when the boy grows up) for a conference, to return soon. He doesn’t. He simply disappears.
       Twelve years later, Erol is grown up and a genius. Marika is still mourning. Marika’s father, also a scientist, discovers that Gabriel had found a wormhole to a parallel universe and got stuck there. He asks Erol for help in finding Gabriel and bringing him back. Erol is loath to do it but his mother is falling apart.
       So he does.
       For being a sci fi film this is low-key intensity about relationships with some interesting moral dilemmas.
       The logic is a bit murky - but I suppose wormholes and parallel universes would be - and not completely convincing. But it’s interesting, unspectacularly intelligent and well-acted.

3 * of 5   

19 August 2017


Hanna 2011
  • Director: Joe Wright
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Barden, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemying, Tom Hollander
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
    • Eric Bana – The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Other Boleyn Girl, Troy
    • Cate Blanchett – Cinderella, The Hobbit et al, Robin Hood, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Elizabeth the Golden Age, I’m Not There, Hot Fuzz, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, Little Fish, The Aviator, Lord of the Rings et al, The Shipping News, The Gift, The Man Who Cried, Elizabeth
    • Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey, The Hollow Crown
    • Olivia Williams – The Ghost Writer, An Education, Tara Road, To Kill a King, Born Romantic, Rushmore
    • Jessica Barden – Far from the Madding Crowd
    • Jason Flemyng – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Stardust, From Hell, Rob Roy
    • Tom Hollander – About Time, In the Loop, Valkyria, Elizabeth the Golden Age, Pirates of the Caribbean, A Good Year, The Darwin Awards, The Libertine, Gosford Park, Absolutely Fabulous
  • Why? Liked it the first time
  • Seen: Once before. Now 13 August 2017      

       Hanna is a young girl being raised by her father in an isolated cabin in the Arctic woods. He teachers her to hunt, defend herself against surprise attacks, speak many languages, fight and kill. She says she is ready to leave and assume her new identity.
       When she leaves the hunt will begin. Marissa Wiegler will try to kill her. The father, Erik Heller, is a rogue spy. Wiegler is the head of the CIA.
       Erik leaves first. Soldiers attack the cabin. Hanna is captured and brought in for interrogation. She asks for Marissa Wiegler.
       That’s where Hanna’s training in violence, stealth and fast thinking takes over.
       It’s exciting, futuristic, mysterious, handsomely filmed. Hanna is exceptionally well-played by young Ronan with a fascinating supporting cast. Especially good is Jessica Barden as the cheeky precocious Sophie.
       This is a most unusual spy film. James Bond, eat your heart out.

4 * of 5   

One Chance

One Chance 2013
  • Director: David Frankel
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: James Corden, Alexandra Roach, Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook, Colm Meaney, Jemima Rooper, Stanley Townsend
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • James Corden – The Lady in the Van, Into the Woods, Doctor Who, Starter for 10, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith
    • Alexandra Roach – The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Vicious, Testament of Youth
    • Julie Walters – The Hollow Crown, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia, Becoming Jane, Driving Lessons, Wah-Wah, Canterbury Tales, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot, Titanic Town, Intimate Relations, Prick Up Your Ears, Educating Rita
    • Mackenzie Crook – Merlin, The Brothers Grimm, Finding Neverland, The Merchant of Venice, The Office
    • Colm Meaney – Parked, The Van, The Last Mohican, The Commitments
    • Jemima Rooper – What If, Lost in Austen, Kinky Boots
    • Stanley Townsend – The Hollow Crown, Quirke, Sherlock, Happy-Go-Lucky, Hustle, Inside I’m Dancing, The Libertine
  • Why? Julie Walters
  • Seen: 12 August 2017      

       One critic calls it the next Billy Elliot. I doubt it very much but if it even comes close it’s a winner.
       Wales 1985. A chubby boy, Paul, is obsessed with opera. Singing opera. His working-class mates bully him for it. OK, I’m seeing the Billy Elliotness here.
       2004. Paul grown up. Still living at home. Still obsessed with opera. His mum approves. His dad hates it.
       Paul works in a phone shop. After internet contact for a year with Julz he finally meets her. They get on very well indeed. Sadly she has to leave on the ten o’clock train so does not witness his defiance of the heckling at the local pub. He wins the talent contest and enough prize money to go to an opera school in Venice.
       As we take a tourist journey around Venice Paul prepares to sing for his hero Pavarotti. Who then tells him he’s too nervous to become an opera singer.
       Heart-broken he returns to Wales. And screws things up with Julz too.
       Billy Elliot it is not. Nowhere close. But it’s got its appeal and the cast is likeable. Julie Walters has fun being Julie Walters. Mackenzie Crook steals the show with his semi-sleazy but good-hearted phone shop manager.
       It goes on too long. The title should be ‘Three or Four Chances’. Based on a true story it may be but Billy Elliot is much more believable.

2 ½ * of 5   

6 August 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream (RSC)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC) 1996
  • Director: Adrian Noble
  • Based on Shakespeare
  • Cast: Lindsay Duncan, Alex Jennings, Desmond Barrit, Finbar Lynch, Monica Dolan, Kevin Doyle, Daniel Evans, Emily Raymond
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Lindsay Duncan – Sherlock, About Time, Merlin, Wallander, The Hollow Crown, Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Lost in Austen, Starter for Ten, Under the Tuscan Sun, Prick Up Your Ears
    • Alex Jennings – The Lady in the Van, Cranford, The Queen, Babel
    • Desmond Barrit –  Endeavour
    • Finbar Lynch – The Hollow Crown, To Kill a King
    • Monica Dolan – Wolf Hall, Never Let Me Go, King Lear, Topsy-Turvy
    • Kevin Doyle – Downton Abbey, The Libertine, Auf Wiedersehen Pet
    • Daniel Evans – Les Misérables, Doctor Who, Daniel Deronda
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: Once before. Now 30 July 2017      

       Why the boy watching and listening, through keyholes, under the table, spying on the characters and smiling? Quite unnecessary.
       I like the feisty Hippolyta/Titania (Duncan) and the short-haired Helena (Raymond).
       The tone is whimsical with lots of bubbles and wafting colourful umbrellas and flying motorcycles (pre-Hagrid).
       The best scene is, as so often, the confrontation of the four young lovers in the wood, though in this case on an empty stage with two free-standing doors, one red, the other yellow, through which they pass in and out, slamming them as they fire off their insults at break-neck speed.
       Oberon is stilted and breathy. Bottom is overdone. Some of the production borders on the annoying but much of it is very appealing. Too much is cut from the play, sadly some of the best lines. But Wall and Lion are good at the end.
       A mixed bag.

3 ½ * of 5   

17 July 2017

Absolutely Anything

Absolutely Anything 2015
  • Director: Terry Jones
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ron Riggle, Robert Bathurst, Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, Meera Syal
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Simon Pegg – Star Wars the Force Awakens, The World’s End, Doctor Who, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, 24 Hour Party People
    • Kate Beckinsale – The Aviator, Serendipity, The Last Days of Disco, Shooting Fish, Cold Comfort Farm, Prince of Jutland, Much Ado About Nothing
    • Sanjeev Bhaskar –  Shakespeare Live, Unforgotten, Curry Nam Nam, Notting Hill,
    • Robert Bathurst – Downton Abbey, The Pillars of the Earth, Black Adder
    • Eddie Izzard – Valkyria, Across the Universe, Romance and Cigarettes, Velvet Goldmine, various stand-up sketches
    • Joanna Lumley – Absolutely Fabulous, Ella Enchanted, Cold Comfort Farm, Shirley Valentine, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    • Meera Syal – Shakespeare Live, Curry Nam Nam, Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid,
  • Why? Simon Pegg
  • Seen: 16 July 2017      

       Oh no, there’s a dog in this film! At the risk of getting lots of hate comments, I don’t like dogs and usually avoid dog films like the plague. But the cast is promising and it seems to be sci-fi-ish so maybe there’s hope. And Simon Pegg is usually weird enough to counter the dogness.
       Loser-teacher-failed-author Neil (Pegg) is in love with his neighbour Catherine (Beckinsale), a TV writer who is ordered by her boss (Lumley) to diss good authors.
       Meanwhile the Intergalactic Council (or whatever it’s called, voices of the Monty Python gang) is trying to decide whether or not to destroy the human race. Neil is randomly chosen to be given magical powers to see if he uses them for good or evil. The power? Everything he says comes true. Literally.
       It freaks him out. Like the rest of us, he says a lot of things he doesn’t mean literally. When he realises he can do anything he uses his power for silly selfish reasons. Some of them backfire, some bore him. The Intergalactic Council are not impressed.
       Shaun of the Dead or The World’s End it is not. It is not so much weird as silly. And there’s too much dog. It has its funny moments though and Simon Pegg is endearing.

2 ½ * of 5   

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1999
  • Director: Michael Hoffman
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel, Christian Bale, Dominic West, David Strathairn, Sophie Marceau, Roger Rees, Max Wright, Gregory Jbara, Bill Irwin, Sam Rockwell, Bernard Hill, John Sessions
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Kevin Kline – My Old Lady, A Prairie Home Companion, Wild Wild West, The Ice Storm, Dave, The January Man, Silverado, Sophie’s Choice
    • Michell Pfeiffer – Dark Shadows, Stardust, White Oleander, I Am Sam, A Thousand Acres, To Gillian on her 37th Birthday, Wolf, The Age of Innocence, Love Field, Batman Returns, Frankie and Johnny, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dangerous Liaisons, Married to the Mob, The Witches of Eastwick, Scarface
    • Rupert Everett – Stardust, To Kill a King, Shakespeare in Love, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Madness of King George, Dance with a Stranger
    • Stanley Tucci – Hunger Games 1-4, Fortitude, Swing Vote, Road to Perdition, A Life Less Ordinary, Life During Wartime, The Pelican Brief, Billy Bathgate, Prizzi’s Honor
    • Calista Flockhart – Quiz Show
    • Anna Friel – Our Mutual Friend
    • Christian Bale – The Dark Knight Rises, Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation, The Dark Night, I’m Not There, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Equilibrium, American Psycho, Velvet Goldmine, Little Women, Prince of Jutland, Swing Kids, Henry V
    • Dominic West – Testament of Youth, The Wire, Mona Lisa Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, Star Wars, Surviving Picasso, Richard III
    • David Strathairn – Hotel Marigold 2, The Tempest, Good Night and Good Luck, The Sopranos, A Map of the World, LA Confidential, Mother Night, Dolores Claiborne, A League of Their Own, Stars and Bars, Silkwood
    • Sophie Marceau – Les femmes de l’ombre, The World Is Not Enough, Braveheart
    • Roger Rees – Frida, Nicholas Nickleby
    • Max Wright – ALF, Norm Show, Snow Falling on Cedars, Grumpy Old Men, Reds, Playing for Time
    • Gregory Jbara – Nurse Jackie, Friends
    • Bill Irwin – Rachel Getting Married, Across the Universe, Igby Goes Down, Third Rock from the Sun
    • Sam Rockwell – Moon, Frost/Nixon, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Green Mile
    • Bernard Hill – Wolf Hall, The Kid, Valkyria, Lord of the Rings et al, Titanic, Shirley Valentine, Richard III, Henry VI Parts One, Two and Three, Gandhi, I Claudius, 
    • John Sessions – Legend, Filth, Merchant of Venice, The Gangs of New York, Henry V
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: Two or three times before. Now 15 July 2017      

       Few movies have me smiling from start to finish but this one has. One of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays – by me as well – this version skims over the darker depths of the play to revel in the colourful lavish world of fairies in late 19th century Italy.
       The whole film has a twinkle in its eye. Tucci is a delightful Puck, Kline a sensitive yearning Bottom. The confrontation amongst the four young lovers with one of Shakespeare’s most rapid-fire insult-exchanging scenes, here ending in a mud lake, is hilarious.
       But the stars of the show are the bicycles. Why Hoffman chose this era for the film I don’t know but the bicycles are a stroke of genius.

4½ * of 5   

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts 2016
  • Director: Colm McCarthy
  • Based on the book by M R Carey
  • Cast: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade, Anamaria Marinca
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Gemma Arterton – The Boat that Rocked, Quantum of Solace, Lost in Austen
    • Glenn Close –Mars Attacks!, 101 Dalmatians, Mary Reilly, The House of Spirits, Hook, Meeting Venus,  Sarah Plain and Tall, Hamlet, Reversal of Fortune, Dangerous Liaisons, Jagged Edge, The World According to Garp
    • Paddy Considine – Macbeth, The World’s End, My Summer of Love, In America, 24 Hour Party People, Born Romantic
    • Anamaria Marinca – River, Doctor Who, Wallander
  • Why? Good book
  • Seen: 14 July 2017      

       The book is the Stockholm sci-fi book circle’s choice for August. Hal and I have now read it; we’re very curious about the film.
       In a military barracks, children are locked in cells. When they are taken out to go to school they are chained into wheelchairs, hands, head and feet strapped in while soldiers aim machine guns at them. They are not considered human. They are there as objects for scientific research. Why are these children intelligent, but also ‘hungries’, the mindless living dead infected by the fungus that has killed most of the human race?
       One of the girls, Melanie, is especially intelligent. One of the teachers, Miss Justineau,  regards the children as human and is especially fond of Melanie.
       When the base is attacked by a mob of hungries Melanie, Miss Justineau, hard-core Sgt Parker, another soldier and chief scientist Doctor Caroline Caldwell – who had just been about to dissect Melanie’s brain and who continues to refer to her as ‘the test object’ – escape in a tank.
       In constant danger from hungries, and each other, they do what they must to survive in the dying hostile world around and in London.
       Words like heart-breaking, heart-warming and humane come to mind. As well as incredibly suspenseful.
       Closely adapted to the book in the beginning it strays in the second half but finds its way back in the end. There could not be a better Melanie than young Sennia Nanua, Considine is always good, Arterton does well as Miss Justineau and this is possibly Close’s best role.
       How much one who has not read the book will get of the depth and complexity of the novel is hard to say but with the book fresh in one’s memory it holds together well. Its visual strength makes up somewhat for the severe abridgment of the novel.

4 * of 5   

10 July 2017

The Love Punch

The Love Punch 2013
  • Director: Joel Hopkins
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Marisa Berenson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Emma Thompson – Beautiful Creatures, Harry Potter, Nanny McPhee, The Boat that Rocked, An Education, Last Chance Harvey, Brideshead Revisited, Stranger than Fiction, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, Primary Colours, 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, Fortunes of War, Tutti Frutti
    • Pierce Brosnan – A Long Way Down, The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, James Bond, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!
    • Celia Imrie – Hotel Marigold 1 and 2, Doctor Who, Cranford, Nanny McPhee, Wah-Wah, Calendar Girls, Daniel Deronda, Absolutely Fabulous, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Star Wars the Phantom Menace, Hilary & Jackie, In the Bleak Midwinter, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Upstairs Downstairs
    • Timothy Spall – Mr Turner, Harry Potter, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, My House in Umbria, Nicholas Nickleby, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Topsy-Turvy, Our Mutual Friend, Hamlet, Secret and Lies, Spender, Life is Sweet, Gothic, Quadrophenia
    • Marisa Berenson – Colour Me Kubrick, Playing for Time, Cabaret
  • Why? Emma Thompson
  • Seen: 9 July 2017      

       Friends and family want ex-couple Kate and Richard to get together again. He’s possibly keen, she is not. The pop music at the start indicates a light-weight film ahead and so it is.
       Very bourgeois with golf, villas, a daughter driving her own car off to Uni. Then Richard’s company collapses, just as he retires. There has been a hostile take-over and Richard and Kate’s life savings and pensions are gone.
       Off they go to chase the villain. When he laughs them off and throws them out they decide to steal the diamond, worth tens of millions, that he has bought for his fiancée. Off they go to Cannes.
       Light-weight, slapstick, touristy. What’s enjoyable is seeing Thompson, Brosnan, Imrie and Spall so happily playing wrinkled pensioners (or almost pensioners). It is actually quite a funny spoof of a heist movie. It will win the cast no Oscars and they will not include it on their list of their best films but they seem to be having fun and the film offers an amusing ninety minutes in the company of four superb actors.

2 ½ * of 5   

4 July 2017

Blade Runner

Blade Runner 1987 (1991 version, director’s cut)
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Based on the book by Philip K Dick
  • Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos, M Emmet Walsh, William Sanderson, Brion James
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Harrison Ford – Star Wars the Force Awakens, The Fugitive, Presumed Innocence, Working Girl, The Mosquito Coast, Witness, The Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, American Graffiti
    • Rutger Hauer – Batman Begins, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Dark Knight, Babel
    • Darryl Hannah – Kill Bill 1 & 2, Steel Magnolias, Clan of the Cave Bear
    • Edward James Olmos – Selena, Stand and Deliver, Hill Street Blues
    • M Emmet Walsh – Wild Wild West, X Files, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Romeo &Juliet, Raising Arizona, Silkwood, Alice’s Restaurant
    • William Sanderson – Dharma and Greg, X Files
  • Why? Interesting enough film
  • Seen: Twice before. Now 1 July 2017      

       Thirty-five years. Unloved, they say, when it was released, Blade Runner has become a classic. What I remember is only that it was somewhat interesting but not what it’s about. Something futuristic and chaotic.
       Oh yes, bad robots. In 2019. Oh wow, that’s only two years away. I don’t think we’re in for a robot rebellion, nor do we have any off-world slaves as yet. Why didn’t he make it 2219? Or 2319? Did 2019 really seem so far in the future back then?
       Deckard (Ford) is a Blade Runner, a cop who hunts and kills murderous rebellious robots. Deck himself is a rebel, a macho arrogant loner. I dislike him instantly.
       The robots are indistinguishable from humans. Their memories are fake, implanted.
       It reminds me of Stalker – more colour, more people, gaudy instead of bleak, but stilted and slow, impenetrable and pretentious. For all the drama and romance and violence it’s not very memorable. Which is why I don’t remember it though I’ve seen it twice before.
       But it’s visually aesthetic and the basic premise of robots wanting to be human is a good one. In a few years’ time I’ll probably say, ‘Oh yes. I don’t remember it so well but I remember that there was something somewhat interesting about it.’
       The music is good. But the movie could have been and should have been much better.

2 * of 5   

26 June 2017

The Hole

The Hole 2009
  • Director: Joe Dante
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern, Quinn Lord
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Chris Massoglia – nothing yet
    • Haley Bennett – nothing yet
    • Nathan Gamble – The Dark Knight, Babel
    • Bruce Dern – The Glass House, Coming Home, The King of Marvin Gardens, Silent Running, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, Run for Your Life, The Fugitive, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Marnie
  • Why? Bought this by mistake, thinking it was something else
  • Seen: 24 June 2017      
       Dane is sullen over having to move – once again, this time from Brooklyn – to a new town – small! – and takes it out on his little brother Lucas. His interest is caught by the neighbour girl Julie.
       The three of them find a hole in the cellar floor. A seriously deep and bottomless hole. In the night something comes up out of the hole and scary things start happening.
       Is this a kids’ movie? If I was a kid I’d be really scared. I’m not a kid and I’m scared anyway!
       What a fortunate mistake. A good scary movie. The three kids are believable and likeable. The three young actors are appealing, especially Gamble as Lucas. I hope to see them in other films.

3 * of 5   

Racing with the Moon

Racing with the Moon 1984
  • Director: Richard Benjamin
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Elizabeth McGovern, Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, John Karlen, Rutanya Alda
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sean Penn – The Tree of Life, Milk, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, 21 Grams, Mystic River, Pauly Shore Is Dead, I Am Sam, Before Night Falls, The Thin Red Line, The Game, She’s So Lovely, Dead Man Walking, Carlito’s Way, Shanghai Surprise, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Downton Abbey, If Not for You, Ragtime
    • Nicholas Cage – Matchstick Men, The Family Man, Bringing Out the Dead, Face/Off, The Rock, Red Rock West, Wild at Heart, Moonstruck, Arizona Junior, Peggy Sue Got Married, Rumble Fish, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Why? Elizabeth McGovern, Sean Penn
  • Seen: Once before. Now 23 June 2017      

       Long before she became Mrs Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern was in a very funny sit-com that I believe was called If Not for You. This film is another of her obscure gems. That is, she’s a gem. The film isn’t, if I remember correctly.
       Christmas, 1942, California. Seventeen-year-old Henry (Penn) is a reluctant classical piano player. He prefers jazz. He works in a bowling alley, risking his hands in resetting the pins. He gets into fights with snooty rich kids at the bowling alley.
       He falls for Caddie, the girl who sells movie tickets and works in the public library. Because she lives in a mansion he believes she is rich, but she’s the daughter of the maid.
       They fall in love. What a surprise. It’s not much of a story and the characters aren’t very interesting. Henry’s friend Nicky (Cage) is simply obnoxious. Henry and Nicky are due to ship out with the marines in a few weeks but it’s hard to be worried.
       The film tries but the result is banal, pretentious and clichéd. Young Penn and McGovern rescue it from complete oblivion.

2 * of 5  (Hal gave it 4)

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation 2003
  • Director: Sofia Coppola
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Akiko Takeshita, Catherine Lambert, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bill Murray – Moonrise Kingdom, Darjeeling Limited, Broken Flowers, The Royal Tenenbaums, Hamlet, Cradle Will Rock, Rushmore, Ed Wood, Groundhog Day, What about Bob?, Little Shop of Horrors, Ghostbusters, Tootsie
    • Scarlett Johansson – He’s Just Not That Into You, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Prestige, The Island, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Manny & Lo
    • Giovanni Ribisi – The Rum Diary, Public Enemies, The Dead Girl, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Cold Mountain, Friends, The Gift, Saving Private Ryan, SubUrbia, The X Files
  • Why? Scarlett Johansson
  • Seen: Once before. Now 10 June 2017      

       A prize-winning movie but the first time I saw it I was disappointed. I didn’t understand the hype. Maybe I’ll be more into it this time.
       Tokyo. Weary Bob Harris (Murray) is welcomed by smiling Japanese hotel staff. He’s a famous movie star. Sleepless in his room he gets faxes from his wife about missed birthdays and shelf choices. He’s in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey advert. The Japanese director babbles long-winded instructions. The translator translates a few words.
       Left alone by her hard-working photographer husband (Ribisi), Charlotte (Johansson), a Yale philosophy graduate, wanders around Tokyo. Alone, unhappy and bored.
       Bob and Charlotte are both insomniacs. They meet, finally, in the hotel bar. Several awkward encounters follow.
       It’s all very sensitive about two lost souls in a foreign country. Two lost souls searching for a meaning in their lives.
       It’s always a pleasure to watch Johansson being subtly expressive but what a boring movie. Even the glimpses into modern Japan don’t lift it much. I still don’t get the hype. But it does have a classy tone.
2 * of 5   

What If?

What If? 2013
  • Director: Michael Dawse
  • Based on the play by T.J. Dawe
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Megan Park, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Radcliffe – The Woman in Black, Harry Potter 1-7, December Boys, Extras, David Copperfield
    • Zoe Kazan – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
    • Adam Driver – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Tracks, Inside Llewyn Davis
    • Rafe Spall – The World’s End, Life of Pi, Prometheus, Hot Fuzz, A Good Year, Shaun of the Dead
  • Why? Daniel Radcliffe
  • Seen: 4 June 2017      

       Sometimes we need something lightweight. I’m usually not interested in romantic comedies but one half of the couple is Daniel Radcliffe after all.
       Wallace has been heartbroken and isolated for more than a year and lives with his sister and a little nephew. Chantry is an animator and has a boyfriend. Wallace and Chantry meet at a party neither is enjoying and they connect.
       Chantry and her boyfriend really love each other and have been together for five years. Wallace is not over Megan. So Chantry and Wallace are just friends. They can be just friends, right?
       Well, what do you think?
       It’s very talky and they talk so fast it’s hard to keep up at times. But it’s quite funny with sharp non-mushy dialogue. Predictable but surprisingly likeable.
       Or maybe not so surprisingly.  It is Daniel Radcliffe after all.

3 ½ * of 5   

2 June 2017


Speed 1994
  • Director: Jan de Bont
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Glenn Plummer, Hawthorne James, Carlos Carrasco
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Keanu Reeves – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The House by the Lake, A Scanner Darkly, The Matrix Trilogy, Sweet November, The Gift, Feeling Minnesota, A Walk in the Clouds, Johnny Mnomic, Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dangerous Liaisons
    • Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The House by the Lake, Crash, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Twenty-Eight Days, Practical Magic, While You Were Sleeping
    • Dennis Hopper – Swing Vote, The Night We Called It a Day, EDtv, True Romance, Red Rock West, The Indian Runner, Rumble Fish, Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider
    • Jeff Daniels – Good Night and Good Luck, The Squid and the Whale, The Hours, Pleasantville, Terms of Endearment, Ragtime
    • Joe Morton – X Files, The Astronaut’s Wife, Homicide Life on the Streets, Crossroads
    • Glenn Plummer – Day after Tomorrow, Strange Days, Frankie & Johnny
    • Hawthorne James – Roswell, Hill Street Blues, Amistad, The Doors, The Colour Purple
    • Carlos Carrasco – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
  • Why? Good film
  • Seen: Two or three times previously. Now 28 May 2017

             If memory serves me correctly, this film introduced us to Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. We’ve been fans ever since.
       In the first minute we meet Dennis Hopper, a terrorist demanding $3 mil to release people he’s got trapped in an elevator. Jack (Reeves) to the rescue with partner Harry (Daniels).
       Twenty-two minutes of nail-biting suspense. And that’s before the bus.
       The bus. Dennis Hopper has rigged it so that if the bus goes slower than 50 mph the bomb will explode. No nails left to bite, I move to my knuckles.
       It’s really just one long car chase and completely unbelievable and I hate car chase movies. But Reeves and Bullock are so appealing and it’s just so exciting that I forgive it.

3 * of 5   


Léon 1994
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jean Reno – Avis de mistral (My summer in Provence), Hustle, Les visiteurs, Nikita, Le grand bleu
    • Natalie Portman – Thor, Black Swan, The other Boleyn Girl, Darjeeling Limited, Paris je t’aime, V for Vendetta, Star Wars, Closer, Cold Mountain, Anywhere but Here, Mars Attacks!, Beautiful Girls
    • Gary Oldman – The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, The Dark Knight, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Romeo Is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, State of Grace, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Danny Aiello – The Closer, Do the Right Thing, The January Man, Moonstruck
  • Why? Besson. Oldman. Very good film
  • Seen: Two or three times previously. Now 27 May 2017

             Assassins are not cool. I mean, come on, they kill people for money. That is really not OK.
       Why then is Léon so cool? Must be the round shades and the black coat and the too short trouser legs. And the houseplant. And his friendship with the young Mathilda, the neighbour girl who lives with her drug dealing dad, hooker mum, abusive older sister and beloved little brother.
       Social realism on a high excitement level.
       Pill-popping, poetic, Beethoven-loving, totally insane Gary Oldman murders Mathilda’s family while she’s at the supermarket. Léon takes her in. She finds out he’s a hitman and thinks that’s cool. She offers to do his housekeeping if he teaches her to be a hitman so she can kill the men who killed her brother. Léon says no. A lot of good that does. She may be a little girl but she’s a tough, fast-talking, street smart charmer.
       The film is tender, funny and complex. And exciting.
       Jean Reno is perfect as the vulnerable, ruthless, kind illiterate Léon. Gary Oldman is a brilliant mad villain as only Gary Oldman can be. Young Natalie Portman is incredible in the star-making role.

5 * of 5