11 items from 2013
Among the more heartrending tales in the sorry annals of the twentieth-century Catholic Church is of tens of thousands of “bad” Irish girls virtually enslaved by the good sisters of the Magdalene asylum-cum-laundries. Until those damnable institutions closed forever in 1996, young women worked eight to ten hours, 364 days a year, worn down by taunting lectures on the evils of the flesh and frequent beatings. They were also forced to give up all rights to their out-of-wedlock children. Peter Mullan’s 2003 The Magdalene Sisters was too arty and grueling to get much traction outside Ireland and the U.K., but the new Judi Dench–Steve Coogan vehicle Philomena is just the sort of awards-bait weeper (with laughs) to cross over to a biggish audience. Directed by Stephen Frears from a script by Coogan and Jeff Pope, the movie is overcalculating and occasionally coarse, but it has a gentle spirit. We should »
- David Edelstein
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Oh, this is an angry-making film. This is one small true story within the inhuman real-life horror of the so-called Magdalene laundries run by the Catholic Church in Ireland, which imprisoned and enslaved teenaged girls and young women for the “crimes” of having sex, for being sexually abused or raped, or sometimes even for merely being too pretty. (Asylums for “fallen women” weren’t unique to Ireland, but Ireland turned them into brutal prisons in which women served long terms, and didn’t close the last one until 1996.) There’s little awareness of this other Church abuse scandal »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Steve Coogan is perhaps best known in the UK for his character Alan Partridge, a goofy DJ and TV personality billed as "Norwich's favourite chat show host" on the BBC. Fans of artier film fare will recognize him as the star of Michael Winterbottom's antic-filled biopics "24 Hour Party People" and "The Look of Love," or from the acerbic comedy "The Trip" with Rob Brydon. He's also been in and out of the gossip pages here and in the UK over the years, and was one of many high-profile people whose voicemails were hacked by the "News of the World."
Coogan's latest film, "Philomena," is a radical departure from previous ventures. It's a heartwarming movie about an older Irish woman with a 50-year-old secret; she'd gotten pregnant as a teen and been sent to live in a convent along with other "fallen" girls, where she worked in the convent's laundry »
- Jenni Miller
Catholic Kisses: Frears’ Returns with a Loveable Crowd Pleaser
Just when you thought that Stephen Frears’ latest film, Philomena, would be yet another questionable exercise from the once generally revered auteur, (judging from a recent string of misfires that resulted in his career worst with 2012’s unfathomably awful Lay the Favorite), he switches it up with his best work since The Queen. A crowd pleaser, to be sure, but despite its unavoidable pretense as an awards darling (of which there are bound to be several), a disavowal to wallow in chintzy schmaltz at least makes it deserving of praise in that it’s intelligently written (and based on a true story! Oh my!) and genuinely performed, even if the film is rather visually banal.
The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, a 2009 book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, here portrayed by Steve Coogan, provides the basis for Stephen Frears’ treatment, scripted by Coogan and Jeff Pope. »
- Nicholas Bell
Odd List Ryan Lambie Simon Brew 14 Nov 2013 - 06:19
The overlooked greats of the year 1998 come under the spotlight in our list of its 25 underappreciated movies...
Dominated as it was by the financial success of two giant killer asteroid movies, gross-out comedy hit There's Something About Mary and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, 1998 proved to be an extraordinary year for cinema.
Okay, so history doesn't look back too fondly on Roland Emmerich's mishandled Godzilla remake, and Lethal Weapon 4 was hardly the best buddy-cop flick ever made, despite its handsome profit. But search outside the top-10 grossing films of that year, and you'll find all kinds of spectacular modern classics: Peter Weir's wonderful The Truman Show, John Frankenheimer's rock-solid thriller Ronin, and Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line.
Then there was The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers' sublime comedy that has since become a deserved and oft-quoted cult favourite. »
Philomena is something yearned for and lusted after by film-makers and journalists alike – a really good story. It's a powerful and heartfelt drama, based on a real case, with a sledgehammer emotional punch and a stellar performance from Judi Dench, along with an intelligently judged supporting contribution from Steve Coogan. Yet the film's apparent simplicity and force come to us flavoured with subtle nuances and subtexts, left there by the people who brought this story to the public.
At its centre is a tough-minded, elderly Irish woman, Philomena Lee (Dench), and her battle to find out what happened to the baby boy taken away from her in the 1950s. As a teenage unmarried mother, she had been »
- Peter Bradshaw
If you’re a devout Catholic, or alternatively, just a fan of nuns – it may be worth steering clear of the cinema this weekend, because between the British drama Philomena and Guillaume Nicloux’s The Nun, the church comes under some real scrutiny, in films that challenge tradition and belief, as this French feature paints a somewhat bleak and disquieting picture of life in a convent.
Unlike her two older sisters, Suzanne Simonin’s (Pauline Etienne) parents cannot afford to marry off their daughter, instead forcing her against her will to live at a nunnery. Her agonising life transpires into becoming a tale of three Mother Superiors: the first being a kind-hearted woman who looks out for Suzanne, despite the teenager making reservations towards the church perfectly clear. The second is the vicious Christine (Louise Bourgoin), who subjects the youngster to both mental and physical abuse, while finally we have »
- Stefan Pape
★★★☆☆ The Queen director Stephen Frears' latest offering Philomena (2013), one of a plethora of Oscar hopefuls at this year's BFI London Film Festival, is a heartfelt and nicely poised dramatisation following the true story of Philomena Lee. Its further bolstered by two classy performances from the ever-reliable, but utterly brilliant Judi Dench as the titular heroine, and an effectively restrained turn from Steve Coogan as former BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith. In 1952, Philomena was sent to a Rosecrea convent after falling pregnant. Here, she would give birth to her son, Anthony, who was cared for by the nuns while she worked off her debts.
The convent's nuns subsequently gave away the child to an American couple, whilst Philomena would keep her son's existence a secret for fifty years. The story finally came out when Sixsmith, a disgraced spin doctor, took up the slack and published his 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. »
- CineVue UK
Comedy-drama about scandal of forced adoptions in Irish church, proves critical hit after premiere at Venice film festival
• Read Xan Brooks' review of Philomena
• Watch the trailer for the film
After delighting British cinema audiences with the big-screen debut of Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan could be in line for international recognition at the Venice Film festival. Philomena Philomena has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival as it had its successful world premiere on the Lido. Critics gave it a rousing ovation as it finished and one observer said it was "the best reaction … since The Kings Speech".
The film is the story of an Irish working-class woman called Philomena Lee as she searches for the son who was forcibly removed from her by the nuns running the convent where she had been placed after becoming pregnant. Lee worked in an abbey laundry in Roscrea, »
- Andrew Pulver
A howl of anti-clerical outrage wrapped in a tea cozy, “Philomena” applies amusing banter and a sheen of good taste to the real-life quest of Philomena Lee, an Irishwoman who spent decades searching for the out-of-wedlock son taken from her by Catholic nuns and sold into adoption overseas. Smoothly tooled as an odd-couple vehicle for Judi Dench in the title role and Steve Coogan as Martin Sixsmith, the British journalist who brought Lee’s story to international attention, this smug but effective middlebrow crowdpleaser boasts a sharper set of dentures than most films of its type, shrewdly mining its material for laughs and righteous anger as well as tears. With an awards push for Dench likely in the works, the Weinstein Co. should have no trouble positioning director Stephen Frears’ latest as a sleeper success, certain to rouse audiences not put off by its genteel calculation.
In adapting Sixsmith’s »
- Justin Chang
The Royal Television Society has heaped awards on ITV's Exposure Savile documentary, proving that investigative TV can be a game-changer
Most television is literally forgettable. Every late December, when I come to write pieces about the best of the previous year, my notebooks contain mention of programmes that have left no dent on my recollection or anyone else's. Very rare is the work such as The Good Life, which has outlived its transmission and now, as we reflected sadly this week, another of its stars, Richard Briers.
Last night, the Royal Television Society TV journalism awards honoured another indelible element in a transient medium. Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, screened on 2 October last year, took the prizes for biggest scoop and best UK current affairs programme, while the ITN news coverage of the resulting Savile scandal was given a separate honour. This trio of TV trophies adds »
- Mark Lawson
11 items from 2013
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