12 March 2018

Romeo and Juliet 1968

Romeo and Juliet 1968
  • Director: Franco Zeffirelli
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting, John McEnery, Milo O’Shea, Pat Heywood, Michael York, Bruce Robinson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Olivia Hussey – Ivanhoe,
    • John McEnery – Wallander, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Hamlet, Measure for Measure
    • Milo O’Shea – The Butcher Boy
    • Michael York – Cabaret
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: Three times before. Now 11 March 2018      

       A sensation when it came out in 1968 because of the tender ages of the two leads. When I saw it the first time in 1968 I wasn’t all that impressed, not being a romantic (I’m still not) nor a Shakespeare enthusiast (now I am, to put it mildly.)
       You know the story. You probably know Zeffirelli. A few words will suffice here. Colourful. Lavish. Earnest. Passionate. Sweet.
       Too lavish. Too sweet. Too much detail. Too fast. Too slow. Too much, far too much, cut from the original. Too much added.
       And yet, who can resist Juliet’s giggle? She’s thirteen years old, after all. But she’s also witty, clever, deep, eloquent, sensible, brave and wise beyond her years. Sadly, Zeffirelli has cut many of her best lines but still, Olivia Hussey is a most captivating Juliet. She far outshines the rest of the cast, who are merely acting. Olivia Hussey is Juliet. When she isn’t on the screen it all feels exaggerated. When she is, it’s all just right.
       Olivia Hussey gets 6* of 5. The film, Zeffirelli’s best…

3* of 5

St Trinians 2

  • Directors: Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Talulah Riley, David Tennant, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Jodie Whittaker, Gemma Arterton, Celia Imrie, Toby Jones
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Talulah Riley – The Liability, The Boat that Rocked, Doctor Who
    • David Tennant – Broadchurch, Doctor Who, The Escape Artist, Fright Night, The Decoy Bride, Hamlet, United, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Blackpool, Bright Young Things, Jude, Takin’ over the Asylum
    • Rupert Everett – Stardust, To Kill a King, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare in Love, The Madness of King George, Dance with a Stranger
    • Colin Firth - The Railway Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Genova, Mamma Mia, Genius, Then She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Black Adder, My Life So Far, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch, Circle of Friends
    • Jodie Whittaker – Doctor Who (30 seconds so far!), Broadchurch, Adult Life Skills, The Kid, Cranford
    • Gemma Arterton – Their Finest, The Girl with All the Gifts, A Song for Marion, The Boat that Rocked, Quantum of Solace, Lost in Austin
    • Celie Imrie – Vicious, Hotel Marigold 1 & 2, The Love Punch, Doctor Who, Cranford, Nanny McPhee, Wah-Wah, Calendar Girls, Daniel Deronda, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Hilary and Jackie, In the Bleak Midwinter, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Upstairs Downstairs
    • Toby Jones – Sherlock, The Hunger Games, My Week with Marilyn, Soldier Sailor Tinker Spy, Doctor Who, Creation, Frost/Nixon, The Mist, Amazing Grace, Infamous, Mrs Henderson Presents, Finding Neverland, Ladies in Lavender, Hotel Splendide, Harry Potter, Ever After, Les Misérables, Naked, Orlando
  • Why? David Tennant
  • Seen: 9 March 2018      

       The title Kick Ass Girls 2 is dreadful. The DVD cover looks appallingly silly but what a cast! With DT, CF, JW, GA et al it really has got to be good. Right?
       A pirate ship? 1589? Wha’?! Tennant as evil misogynist Lord Pomfrey??
       Ah, Kick Ass Girls is not the real title! It’s St Trinians 2 The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.
       A girls’ school. Now. Cliques galore. Punks. Spice Girls lookalikes. Heavy metal vamp and her school girl groupies. Posh totties. Meditating flower children. Eco. Bookworms. Goths.
       Then someone is caught on the cameras sneaking into the library (‘I didn’t know we had a library’). One of the ecos has been offered lots of money to fetch a hidden ring. With that one can buy wind mills to power the schools. Or lots of Gucci bags.
       Enter evil Sir Piers Pomfrey (Tennant again), a publicly beloved philanthropist who hangs out with Bono, the queen, Obama, but heads a secret brotherhood devoted to the oppression of women. And he doesn’t take kindly to the girls demanding £100 000 to fetch the ring which has the clue to the treasure.
       So it’s a bling hunt. Pomfrey and his goons want the bling. The girls want the bling. And the girls have everything under control. Or so they think.
       It has about the intellectual level of HELP! It is at least as much fun and the music is almost as good.
       I love watching great actors enjoying making fools of themselves. All the Shakespeare bits raise the whole rating a star. Spoiler! Did you know that Shakespeare was really a girl?

4 * of 5   

5 March 2018

The Liability

  • Director: Craif Viveiros
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Tim Roth, Jack O’Connell, Talulah Riley, Peter Mullen
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tim Roth – To Kill a King, Gridlock’d, Rob Roy, Pulp Fiction, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
    • Jack O’Connell – United, This Is England
    • Talulah Riley – The Boat that Rocked, Doctor Who
    • Peter Mullen – Sunshine on Leith, Top of the Lake, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, Stone of Destiny, Boy A, Children of Men, Young Adam, My Name is Joe, Trainspotting
  • Why? Tim Roth
  • Seen: 3 March 2018

             Adam (O’Connell), a somewhat dim kid, discovers that his gangster step-father (Mullen) is probably also a murderer. This step-father arranges a job for him as a chauffeur to the taciturn Roy (Roth), a hit man. Oh, come on, not another hit man movie!
       Yapp, another hit man movie. And Roy is going to teach young Adam how to be a hit man. Adam finds that it can be a nasty job. In the forest with the dead guy it becomes a royal cock-up. A young woman (Riley), hiking in the woods, sees them but instead of Roy killing her, she runs off with their car.
       It’s absurd, convoluted and very entertaining. Roth’s character is not dissimilar to Rosencrantz (or was it Guildenstern he played?) and Young Adam is not totally unlike Gary Oldman’s Guildenstern (or was it Rosencrantz he played?)
       High praise indeed.

3½ * of 5   

Local Hero

Local Hero 1983
  • Director: Bill Forsyth
  • Based on the novel: no
  • Cast: Peter Reigert, Burt Lancaster, Peter Capaldi, Dennis Lawson, Jenny Seagrove, Jennifer Black
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Peter Reigert – American Pastoral, The Sopranos, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, M*A*S*H
    • Burt Lancaster – Field of Dreams, Atlantic City, 1900, Airport, Seven Days in May, Elmer Gantry, The Unforgiven, The Rainmaker, probably others
    • Peter Capaldi – Doctor Who, World War Z, In the Loop, Modigliani, Shooting Fish, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Dangerous Liaisons
    • Dennis Lawson – Hustle, Perfect Sense, Return of the Jedi, The Empire Strikes Back, Rock Follies, Star Wars
    • Jenny Seagrove – Endeavour
  •  Why? Peter Capaldi
  • Seen: Once before. Now 2 March 2018
             It’s become a classic, but I remember not being completely impressed the first time. Since then we’ve discovered the genius of Peter Capaldi so I’m hoping to like the film more this time.
       Greedy oil company wants to buy a Scottish village, tear it down and build a refinery. Young obnoxious hotshot Mac (Riegert) is sent to deal with it all after being instructed by tycoon star-gazing somewhat loony Happer (Lancaster) to keep an eye on the sky. Once in Scotland Mac gets help from Danny Oldsen (a very young Capaldi), a nerdy gangly awkward endearing gofer.
       Capaldi is adorable, the Scottish landscape is as always spectacular, the one-liners are funny and there is a twisted plot – the locals are not, as one would expect, up in arms defending their village but conniving to get as much money out of the company as possible while Mac and Happer fall in love with the village and want to preserve it as is.
       When I realise that the film is about idiosyncrasies it starts growing on me. It’s worth watching a second time, and probably a third, if only to watch Peter Capaldi run his flappy-arm-stilty-legged run.

3 ½ * of 5

26 February 2018

The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials 2015
  • Director: Wes Ball
  • Based on the novel by James Dashner
  • Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Li, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Roza Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Lily Taylor
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Dylan O’Brien and the other kids – The Maze Runner
    • Thomas Brodie Sangster – Star Wars, Wolf Hall, Doctor Who, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually
    • Kaya Scodelario – Wuthering Heights, Moon
    • Patricia Clarkson – The Maze Runner, Shutter Island, Elegy, Lars and the Real Girl, Good Night and Good Luck, Six Feet Under, Dogville, Station Agent, Far from Heaven, The Pledge, The Green Mile, The Old Man and the Sea
    • Giancarlo Esposito – Rabbit Hole, Sherrybaby, Derailed, Homicide Life on the Street, The Usual Suspects
    • Aiden Gillen – The Dark Knight Rises, The Wire, Some Mother’s Son, Circle of Friends
    • Lily Taylor – Six Feet Under, High Fidelity, A Slipping Down Life, The X Files, I Shot Andy Warhol, The Addiction, Born on the Fourth of July
  • Why? Follow up to The Maze Runner
  • Seen: 24 February 2018

             The Maze Runner was better than expected. I’m doubting that this one will be but we have it, so we’ll give it a try.
       The kids who survived the Maze to discover that they are immune to the virus that has killed nearly everyone and that they are a part of WICKED’s experiment to find a cure are rescued by enemies of WICKED but it is soon clear that these are bad guys in cahoots with WICKED so the kids are still in danger. Whew. If that was a long sentence, just imagine the long opening scenes of the film, followed by a long and dramatic and only slightly believable escape after which they are out of the frying pan into the fire. Ha ha. The Scorch Trials. Get it?
       They flee through a bombed out burnt out city, onto a desert, into the mountains. There is an awful lot of running. Not a lot else actually, except for the yucky zombie creatures called Cranks. Until they meet up with good guys Brenda and Jorge. Or are they bad guys too?
       There was something believable and moving about The Maze Runner. This one lacks credibility, coherence and characters to care about. It has its moments of excitement but as a whole it has little to offer and the moral point they’re trying to make of good turned evil is murky at best.

2- * of 5


Joy 2015
  • Director: David O. Russell
  • Based on the story by Annie Mumulo
  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramírez, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Dascha Polanco, Elizabeth Röhm, Jimmy Jean-Louis
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games 1-4, X-Men Days of Future Past, Winter’s Bone
    • Robert De Niro – Stardust, Extras, Flawless, Cop Land, Marvin’s Room, Heat, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Awakenings, Stanley and Iris, Brazil, New York New York, The Deerhunter, Taxi Driver, 1900, Hi Mom, probably others
    • Edgar Ramírez – The Girl on the Train
    • Bradley Cooper – He’s Just Not that Into You
    • Diane Ladd – 28 Days, Cold Lazarus, Citizen Ruth, Wild at Heart, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Chinatown, The Fugitive
    • Virginia Madsen – Prairie Home Companion, Sideways
    • Isabella Rossellini – Friends, Immortal Beloved, Wild at Heart
  •  Why? Jennifer Lawrence
  • Seen: 23 February 2018      

       ‘Inspired by stories of daring women.’ Well, that sounds promising. Joy’s grandmother Mimi (Ladd) narrates the story. As a child Joy (Lawrence) ‘rejoiced in making things.’ Her mother (Madsen) watches soap operas. Joy grows up and when we see her next she has been married, now divorced with two kids and a job with an airline that demotes her to the night shift. Her ex-husband Tony (Ramírez) lives in the basement. Her father (de Niro) – her parents are divorced – returns and must share the basement with Tony, not happily. They hate each other.
       If it sounds chaotic, that’s because it is. Joy has a terrible life and her mother is still watching the same soap opera. Joy feels like she’s in prison. She asks her childhood friend Jackie (Polanco) what happened to all their dreams.
       Flashbacks: her parents’ divorce, meeting Tony, falling in love, getting married, wedding party ruined by loud-mouth obnoxious father, babies. Shouting matches with Tony, divorce.
       Out of all this mess Joy invents a wonder mop.
       The first half of the film is crazy and fun. The second half bogs down a bit as it turns into business and Hollywood nasty-struggle-but-happy-ending.
       It’s as far from Hunger Games as you can get but Joy does have a bit of the same determination and toughness as Katniss.

3 ½ * of 5 (Hal gives it 4)

19 February 2018


Brave 2012
  • Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell
  • Based on the novel: no
  • Cast (voices): Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connelly, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Kelly Macdonald – Harry Potter, The Decoy Bride, No Country for Old Men, Nanny McPhee, Tristram Shandy, The Girl in the Café, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Finding Neverland, Gosford Park, My Life So Far, Elizabeth, Trainspotting
    • Emma Thompson – The Love Punch, Beautiful Creatures, Harry Potter, The Boat that Rocked, 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, Fortunes of War, Tutti Frutt
    • Billy Connelly – Quartet, X Files I Want to Believe, White Oleander, Third Rock from the Sun, Mrs Brown
    • Robbie Coltrane – Harry Potter, From Hell, Henry V, Black Adder, Tutti Frutti, Absolute Beginners
    • Julie WaltersBrooklyn, The Hollow Crown, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia, Becoming Jane, Driving Lessons, Wah-Wah, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot, Titanic Town, Intimate Relations, Prick Up Your Ears, Educating Rita
  • Why? many good voices
  • Seen: 17 February 2018      

       Merida (Macdonald’s voice) is a Celtic princess with a wild mop of bright red hair, unerring success with the bow and arrow and a burning desire for freedom. Her mother Queen Elinor (Thompson’s voice) insists she behave like a proper princess and that she marry one of the wooing lords. Major protests but the queen prevails. At the gathering of the Four Clans the three first-born sons are presented as rivalling suitors who must compete in games to win Merida’s hand. She cleverly claims to also be first-born, chooses archery for the competition and easily wins her own hand.  Her mother the queen is outraged. Merida runs away and magic starts happening. She meets a witch (Walters’s voice).
       It’s a clever fairy tale with a twist. And those voice cast their very own spell.

3* of 5