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Love & Friendship (2016)
Appalling, dreadful - avoid at all costs
My wife and I rented this film recently, having seen a promising trailer, and a reasonably good IMDb rating. Having now watched the film in its entirety, however, rarely have we ever been so utterly disappointed. I can understand why the IMDb popularity seems to be on a firmly downward trend.
The only positive aspects of this sloppily directed film were the costumes, locations and soundtrack - and OK performances by a couple of actors playing supporting characters, in particular James Fleet. Kate Beckinsale was unconvincing in this role, and Chloe Sevigny's curiously variable accent here was compounded by often mumbled diction. For much of the film, Xavier Samuel appeared to be offering little more than an admittedly pretty accurate imitation of the young Hugh Grant. The story line was disjointed and none of the characters ever really engaged the viewer, and at times the plot appeared to have gaps and non sequiturs - we each wondered if we'd dropped off for short periods, but this unfortunately was not the case.
In many ways this serves as an object lesson in why Jane Austen's meticulously constructed novels are such masterpieces of storytelling - each scene and dialogue fits perfectly like clockwork. We have not had the benefit of reading the novella in question,'Lady Susan', but this film leaves the impression of having been clumsily and carelessly assembled from a series of sketches. Excellent films can be very successfully adapted from little known short stories, for example with The Painted Veil (from Somerset Maugham). This is definitely NOT a good example, and we would advise readers, whether Austen fans or not, to look elsewhere.
The best new family TV drama for many years
Everyone associated with this magnificent production deserve awards - the series is simply superb entertainment on every level. The cast is excellent - although when it started one wanted to see the traditional story of Arthur and Excalibur and Lancelot unfold, the sheer chemistry of the current cast are so enjoyable, that I now dread the demise of King Uther, as Anthony Head is absolutely compelling in this role - by far the best thing I've ever seen him do. Merlin, Arthur, even Richard Wilson as Gaius against all the odds, are all brilliantly cast and played.
In many ways this reminds me of the unexpectedly addictive power of the original Star Trek series when it first appeared - only this is far better acted, far better cast, and far better written.
In my opinion one of the very best new things to hit British TV screens for many many years.
Sensational portrait of a genius
I came across a DVD of this profile of Joni Mitchell by chance browsing through the music video section at HMV in London. I'm delighted that I bought it - apart from Both Sides Now I had not been a particular fan, but having seen this I now have the most profound respect for a true 100% musical genius. Countless clips of unforgettable and deeply touching performances by Joni - beautiful juxtaposition of contextual and biographical episodes - and many many insightful contributions from contemporaries, fellow artists like D Crosby, J Taylor and G Nash, friends (and lovers), and of course from JM herself.
Hope to see some comments from JM fans, as I'd love to hear their views. As a visual profile of this kind, I have seen nothing to better this....
The Namesake (2006)
Beautiful, sensitive film adaptation - award material?
Just returned from seeing the film in London. Both my wife and I had read the novel previously, and have usually been disappointed by adaptations, but this is a truly excellent one which captures the essence. Congratulations to Mira Nair.
Irfan Khan and the exquisite Tabu were both absolutely sensational, and in my humble opinion I believe each delivered award-meriting performances, making the transition from Bollywood to the west with consummate ease. I shall hope to see both featuring in future movies.
Kal Penn was also superb as Gogol. But every aspect was excellent. Would this film be eligible for Best Foreign film Oscar?
Becoming Jane (2007)
Becoming Jane - rather too "becoming" in fact! Pretty, but disappointing.
Anne Hathaway's, performance, and her English pronunciation, was immaculate in this film. She is, however, much too pretty to be at all believable in the role. (Indeed, I seem to recall reading that her sister Cassandra was prettier than Jane, and this was blatantly reversed in the film casting!) In the end, apart from the excellent cameo performances from Ian Richardson, Maggie Smith, and to a lesser extent Julie Walters and James Cromwell, this was little more than a vehicle for Miss Hathaway and the beautiful scenery and interior sequences, and the continued clumsy direct insertion of fragments of Pride and Prejudice became increasingly tiresome....and finally, surely James McAvoy, despite a superb performance otherwise, could have attempted at least the hint of an Irish accent, rather than Scottish! A very disappointing film.
The Good Shepherd (2006)
I enjoyed the Good Shepherd
Have just watched the Good Shepherd (with my wife, who is neither a particular fan of spy thrillers, nor of Matt Damon), and I must say we both enjoyed the whole film, with perhaps a single reservation about the almost total lack of any convincingly discernible evidence of facial ageing with Mr Damon, which was rather disconcerting.
I am stunned by the number of negative comments on the IMDb message boards about the film - this was an excellent, high quality product, with many excellent supporting performances, especially the Russian 'Ulysses', who was a real revelation, and, as ever, Michael Gambon.
Not quite Tinker, Tailor or Smiley's People, I'll admit, but thoroughly deserving an IMDb rating of 7 or over in my humble opinion.
One of the very best for me
CRAZY was an exceptionally powerful and emotional film experience for me. This is an example of just how sublime the medium can be when everything comes together, cast, director, music. This film deserves to be graced with a string of awards and accolades.
I saw it in France with my late teens son, and we were both in tears at the end. I could not recommend more highly. I'd be interested in knowing whether it works in the same way for females, as for us it was a real father and son bonding experience. At times it felt like experiencing an intense poignant flashback experience of the epiphanies and rites of passage of one's own youth, and how we relate to our parents and siblings. A thoroughly uplifting experience.
El hijo de la novia (2001)
Wonderful touching jewel
My wife 'found' this film, of which I hadn't heard, in our local video shop and I'm so delighted she did.
The central performance of Rafael was a tour de force - this actor stands very strong beside the likes of Pacino, and I can imagine him in many of the earlier 'gangster with hidden depth' roles the latter excelled in. He was so believable as the 'godfather' neighbourhood restaurateur. The other principal actors were also brilliant, although in my opinion Eduardo Blanco as the comedic interest overegged and hammed a little too much in a couple of scenes, eg as bogus priest. But that is nitpicking in one of the most memorable romantic films I've ever seen.
I totally agree with one of the reviewers who compared and contrasted to the dreadful film travesty made of 'The Notebook'recently which missed all the buttons around Alzheimers and real people with real believable feelings and reactions. I also agree that while if this product had been American with J Nicholson, etc it would have been a surefire Oscar winner, it would actually have been ruined by the Hollywood treatment...
Thanks you Argentina, and I hope to see much more of Senor Darin before long.
The Notebook (2004)
A film travesty of a touching novel
This is one of the rare times I have read, and deeply enjoyed, a novel shortly before seeing a film adaptation (of which I had not been aware until noticing it in the local video shop). In comparison to the novel, this film was such a disappointment. In my opinion, a travesty.
My wife and I agreed (and that is a fairly rare event in our appraisal of films!) that the casting of all the leading roles, without exception (except Noah's father, who didn't even figure in the novel!), was inappropriate and unsympathetic, and that the special qualities that made this short and economically written book so touching and memorable were lost in the film version. Even the house shown in the film was not all evocative of the one Noah had restored. Above all the descriptions and mood created around Noah on the river at sunrise, and the magical trip leading to the 'bird lake', such powerful images in the book, and of his poetry, were played down to a minimal level.
It was as if the task of adaptation to screen was handed to someone who kept only the title and bare outline of the story and then proceeded to create a different, and vastly inferior and less powerful work.
What a shame The Notebook has not enjoyed a truly sympathetic or sensitive adaptation like The Bridges of Madison County, Enchanted April or even the recent Ladies in Lavender. The power of the novel deserved this. Perhaps a European director (or Clint Eastwood) would have done it more justice.
A missed opportunity.
The Wind in the Willows (1995)
Having now watched various versions of WITW with my 3 year old son, this was undoubtedly the best of the bunch for both of us, as well as being the most faithful adaptation, and captures the very special and very English magic of the book.
Right from the start a warm elegiac mood and feel is achieved, and the voices of the four leading characters are all excellently cast. We especially loved Alan Bennet, who for me made Mole come fully alive for the first time, and manages to very subtly inject real humour into his delivery. Messrs Gambon (Badger) and Mayall (Toad), were also perfect.
A perfect way to spend a cosy Sunday afternoon curled up with young (or indeed not so young) family.