16 October 2017

Gideon's Daughter

Gideon’s Daughter 2005
  • Director: Stephen Poliakoff
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson, Robert Lindsay, Ronni Ancona, Tom Hardy, Tom Goodman-Hill, Joanna Page
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bill Nighy – Hotel Marigold 1 & 2, The World’s End, About Time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, Doctor Who, The Boat that Rocked, Valkyria, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hot Fuzz, Notes on a Scandal, The Constant Gardener, The Girl in the Café, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Kiss Me Kate, Longitude
    • Emily Blunt – Snow White the Winter’s War, Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, Dan in Real Life, The Jane Austen Book Club, My Summer of Love
    • Miranda Richardson – Testament of Youth, Harry Potter, Young Victoria, Paris je t’aime, Wah-Wah, Absolutely Fabulous, The Hours, Spider, Get Carter, Sleepy Hollow, Black Adder, Kansas City, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Dance with a Stranger
    • Robert Lindsay – Extras, Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Much Ado about Nothing, King Lear, Cymbeline, All’s Well that Ends Well, Twelfth Night
    • Tom Hardy – Legend, Mad Max Fury Road, The Dark Night Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Inception
    • Tom Goodman-Hill – Humans, The Hollow Crown, Case Histories, Hustle, Doctor Who, The Office
    • Joanna Page – Doctor Who, Love Actually, From Hell, Very Annie Mary
  • Why? Bill Nighy
  • Seen: 13 October 2017      

       It seems that Gideon (Nighy) is a PR guru doing huge things like the Queen’s millennium do and celebrity-studded premières while his pale daughter Natasha (Blunt) looks on in boredom. He’s drawn into the crusade of a violent fanatic trying to force the local council into taking the blame for his young son’s death.
       Then it seems that Natasha hates her father and is going to run off to South America.
       Gideon’s image-making services are very much in demand by the rich and powerful. He seeks escape and finds it with Stella (Richardson), the ex-wife of the fanatic, i.e. the mother of the dead boy. She works night at a local supermarket because she can’t bear to go to sleep.
       All of this is being narrated by Sneath (Lindsay) who is dictating his memoirs, in his pyjamas, to a young woman from a secretarial agency.
       What an odd meandering film. The acting is good – I expected nothing less with this cast – and there are some strong emotional moments. Quite a unique film, in fact.

4 * of 5   


Angels Crest

Angels Crest 2011
  • Director: John Crowley
  • Based on the book by Leslie Schwartz
  • Cast: Thomas Dekker, Mira Sorvino, Lynn Collins, Elizabeth McGovern, Kate Walsh
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Mira Sorvino – Lulu on the Bridge, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, Beautiful Girls
    • Lynn Collins – Lake House, Merchant of Venice
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Woman in Gold, Downton Abbey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, If Not for You, Racing for the Moon, Ragtime
    • Kate Walsh – Fargo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Under the Tuscan Sun, The Norm Show, Homicide Life on the Street
  • Why? Elizabeth McGovern
  • Seen: 8 October 2017      

       A little boy disappears from his young father Ethan’s pickup in a wintery mountain forest. The townspeople search. Tensions, conflicts, accusations arise quickly and when the boy is found dead the father is charged with the boy’s death. The townspeople are divided – guilty or not guilty?
       It’s a story of grief, dysfunctional families, estrangements, bitterness, violence – suppressed or almost – loyalty and betrayal.
       There are too many characters to keep straight and too much jumping from one story line to another for the viewer to become really involved. Like all films and books about small isolated towns it makes me feel claustrophobic. It’s very dramatic though and the natural setting – the Rocky Mountains? Alaska? – is sensational.
       And McGovern proves once again that she can put genuine depth into a wide variety of characters, this time as a kind, naïve lesbian, light years away from the Ladies Whatsit in Downton Abbey and Cheerful Weather for the Wedding and the stern judge in the recently seen Woman in Gold.

3 * of 5   


9 October 2017

Brooklyn

Brooklyn
  • Director: John Crowley
  • Based on the book by Colm Tóibín
  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emery Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Saoirse Ronan – Atonement, Hanna
    • Domhnall Gleeson – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Ex Machina, About Time, Harry Potter, True Grit, Never Let Me Go
    • 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
    • Jim Broadbent – Lady in the Van, 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
  • Why? Good book, Saoirse Ronan
  • Seen: 7 October 2017 with YW and Hal in our read-book-see-film group      

       Eilis leaves her beloved sister Rose, her mother and her small Irish town and immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950’s.
       Quiet, shy Eilis has a difficult time with small talk and glamour, both of which are demanded of her in Brooklyn. She lives for letters from home. She starts night school to become a bookkeeper and helps her sponsor Father Flood serve Christmas dinner to lonely old Irish labourers who built America but now have nothing. Her homesickness is severe. Then she meets Tony.
       Hal asked, ‘How are they going to make a film of this book? Nothing happens!’
       That’s its strength. The quiet joys and sorrows of immigration, of trying to find a new identity, a new home, of being torn between two worlds, of naivety and being caught up by one’s own cowardly secrets are carried by a strong cast and meticulous period settings and clothing. Ronan is unrecognisable as the young killer spy Hanna but just as good as Eilis. Julie Walters steals the show as the acerbic eccentrically religious warm-hearted boarding house landlady.

3 ½ * of 5   



Moon

Moon
  • Director: Duncan Jones
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice), Dominique McElligot
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sam Rockwell – Frost/Nixon, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Green Mile, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Dominique McElligot – Not Fade Away
    • Kevin Spacey – The Life of David Gale, The United States of Leland, The Shipping News, Pay It Forward, American Beauty, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Confidential, Seven, The Usual Suspects, Glengarry Glen Ross, Working Girl
  • Why? Liked it the first time
  • Seen: Once before. Now 1 October 2017      

       Sam Bell (Rockwell) has a three-year-contract on a lunar mining base. He’s alone with the kind and understanding computer/robot Gerty (Spacey’s voice) to talk to. He has two weeks left and he’s very edgy. His communication with his wife on Earth is one-way because the communications tower is not functioning.
       He putters about. Time passes slowly. Strange things start happening. Hallucinations or…? Accidents, Gerty becoming evasive…
       Then he discovers an injured man by one of the mines. It seems to be…Sam Bell. There are two of them. One has been there a week. The other, three years minus the two weeks. The new one tells the old one they are clones. The new one tells the old one he’s not going home, his wife isn’t still there, and they probably aren’t the only two clones on the base. The company uses clones because it’s cheaper than training new workers.
       It’s sad, suspenseful, imaginative, believable, disturbing. It’s a quiet gem of a film.

4 * of 5  


Genius

Genius
  • Director: Michael Grandage
  • Based on the book by A Scott Berg
  • Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Colin Firth – Before I Go to Sleep, The Railway Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Mamma Mia, Then She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually, Girl with the Pearl Earring, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch, The English Patient, Pride and Prejudice
    • Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Hugo, Contagion, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Sleuth, The Holiday, The Aviator, Closer, Alfie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Colm Mountain, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Gattaca, Wilde
    • Nicole Kidman – Before I Go to Sleep, The Railway Man, Rabbit Hole, Nine, Australia, Margot at the Wedding, Fur, Birth, The Interpreter, The Human Stain, Cold Mountain, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, The Others, Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut, Practical Magic, Batman Forever, Billy Bathgate
    • Laura Linney – Jindabyne, Driving Lessons, The Squid and the Whale, Love Actually, Mystic River, Dave
    • Guy Pearce – Prometheus, The King’s Speech, The Road, Factory Girl, A Slipping Down Life, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    • Dominic West – Testament of Youth, The Wire, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Surviving Picasso, Richard III
  • Why? the cast
  • Seen: 29 September 2017      

       For this evening’s film Hal requested something ‘thoughtful’. This one ought to do it.
       1929. Charles Scribner’s Publishing. Perkins (Firth) is asked to read a very thick single-spaced manuscript by someone called Thomas Wolfe.
       Perkins takes it home with him. He seems enthralled by a rather boring text while his daughters and wife flitter about him. Back at the office Wolfe (Law) shows up and is told his book is going to be published. Look Homeward Angel. It becomes a best-seller.
       An odd friendship develops between egocentric, loud-mouthed rather obnoxious Wolfe and straight-laced, reserved patriarch Perkins. Perkins’s wife (Linney) is also an author and actor who is ignored by both Perkins and Wolfe. Wolfe’s mistress Aline Bernstein (Kidman) is bitter and resentful of Perkins for taking over Wolfe, for whom she has given up everything.
       Even with the glimpses into the publishing world of the 1930’s and brief meetings with Fitzgerald and Hemingway and even with this cast, it’s boring. Although when the women start demanding respect it gets a bit more interesting. There is however no pleasure in watching these two male chauvinist megalomaniacs.
       The acting is good and I suppose the film could be called thoughtful but I am not inspired to read Wolfe’s novels.

2 ½ * of 5  


1 October 2017

Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold
  • Director: Simon Curtis
  • Based on E Randal Schoenberg’s memoirs
  • Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce, Henry Goodman, Ben Miles
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Helen Mirren – Shakespeare Live, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Brighton Rock, The Tempest, The Queen, Calendar Girls, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Gosford Park, Last Orders, Some Mother’s Son, Prime Suspect, The Madness of King George, The Prince of Jutland, Mosquito Coast, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Excalibur, As You Like It, O Lucky Man!
    • Daniel Brühl – Inglourious Basterds, The Bourne Ultimatum, Ladies in Lavender, Good-bye Lenin
    • Katie Holmes – Batman Begins
    • Charles Dance – Merlin, Starter for 10, Bleak House, Gosford Park, Hilary & Jackie, Alien 3,
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Downton Abbey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, If Not for You, Racing for the Moon, Ragtime
    • Jonathan Pryce – Wolf Hall, The Merchant of Venice (on stage at the Globe), Under Milkwood, Cranford, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Brothers Grimm, Very Annie Mary, Tomorrow Never Dies, Evita, The Age of Innocence, Glengarry Glen Ross, Brazil, Timon of Athens, Voyage of the Damned
    • Henry Goodman – London Spy, Taking Woodstock, Colour Me Kubrick, Notting Hill, Cold Lazarus, Mary Reilly
    • Ben Miles – The Hollow Crown, Under the Greenwood Tree, V for Vendetta, Hustle, Keep the Aspidistra Flying
  • Why? Helen Mirren, Elizabeth McGovern
  • Seen: 24 September 2017      

       1998. Los Angeles. Maria (Mirren) is at her sister’s funeral.
       Back in time. Maria’s aunt Adele was painted by Gustave Klimt. The painting was stolen by the Nazis. Maria wants it back and talks a young lawyer, Randy (Reynolds) into getting involved. She’s bossy, fussy and imperious.  He’s a struggling, newly unemployed, recently failed lawyer, grandson to the composer Schönberg and married with a baby.
       Maria decides to face her ghosts in the country that murdered her family and returns to Vienna with Randy. Another flashback. Maria and her husband escape from Vienna. It’s very dramatic. More low-key but also dramatic is the battle over the return of Klimt’s ‘Women in Gold’ to Maria. Austria claims it as a national treasure and refuses to give it back.
       Mirren is magnificent as the aging Maria. The glimpses into the chilling 1930’s and cold bureaucracy and patriotism of modern Austria are well done. The film’s weak point is the bland and unconvincing Reynolds as the increasingly obsessed and sensitive lawyer. McGovern and Pryce add almost enough pizzazz to their small roles to make up for it but then it becomes a bit too sentimental in the end.
       Still, it’s an interesting film about an interesting historical phenomenon.
        
3 ½ * of 5   


John Wick

John Wick 2014
  • Director: Chad Stahelski
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Mikael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Lance Reddick
  • 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, Speed, Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dangerous Liaisons
    • Mikael Nyqvist – Luftslottet som sprängdes, Flickan som lekte med elden, Män som hatar kvinnor, Den bästa av mödrar, Grabben i graven bredvid, Reuter & Skoog, Tillsammans
    • Alfie Allen – The Kid, Flashbacks of a Fool, The Other Boleyn Girl, Atonement, Elizabeth
    • Willem Dafoe – Mr Bean’s Holiday, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz, Manderlay, The Aviator, Once upon a Time in Mexico, American Psycho, 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, Platoon, Streets of Fire
    • Lance Reddick – Fringe, The Wire, The Siege
  • Why? Keanu Reeves and Mikael Nyqvist
  • Seen: 22 September 2017      

       Sweden was recently saddened by the news that Mikael Nyqvist had died, only 56 years old. He’s greatly missed in the theatre and film world of Sweden. Movies about hitmen are not my favourites (with the exception of Léon) but for Nyqvist’s and Reeves’s sake I want to see this.
       Car thieves, murdered dogs, Russian mafia. Cocky young Iosef (Allen) steals the wrong car and kills the wrong dog, as his father, Mafia leader Viggo (Nyqvist) informs him. John Wick (Reeves), former associate, recently widowed, now enemy, still unbeatable killer.
       It’s all very macho. The only women are a few glimpses of Wick’s beautiful, then dying, then dead wife, and a few seconds of lightly clad nightclub guests, some hookers and a couple of vampy assassins.
       It’s raw and violent and after the 30th or 40th shooting I’m bored to tears. Far from Reeves’s best film, much less Nyqvist’s. Nyqvist does well in this uncharacteristic role and that adds a star or so to the rating. That and some of the photography work. Otherwise, not a good film. Why in the world did they bother with sequels?      

2 * of 5