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

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

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