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A film that recalls the days of British colonization at its peak
director Amma Asante brings a welcome light to the book by Susan
Williams (Colour Bar) as adapted by Guy Hibbert. The cast is superb,
the scenery and mood are well captured by cinematographer Sam McCurdy,
and the musical score by Patrick Doyle takes us back to the 40s is a
most appropriate and additive manner.
The year is 1947 and Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) of Bechuanaland (now known as Botswana), in England studying law preparing for his ascendency to the throne as king, meets Ruth Williams Rosamond Pike), a clerk and in a fine romance they fall in love and plan to marry. While they suspect that his uncle (Vusi Kunene), the Regent, would disapprove, nothing prepares them for the diplomatic firestorm and domestic political tumult their defiant love would spark. Now facing a citizenry leery of a white Briton as their Queen, the international opposition is even more unyielding from the British holding their land as a protectorate and fearful of South Africa's racist backlash to this affront to their apartheid domination. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds King Khama and Ruth must struggle to maintain their love and help their people in a land that would become the Republic of Botswana. Ruth's parents (Nicholas Lyndhurst and Anastasia Hille) swear to disown Ruth while her sister (Laura Carmichael) supports the their love and plans. The evil British government officials (Jack Davenport, Jack Lowden, Anton Lesser, et al) ultimately fail in their intent to control Seretse and Ruth in a manner that few of us realized was such a difficult struggle for independence.
This is a film that should be a 'must see' for all, especially now during the harsh racial struggles her and around the globe. Very highly recommended
George Michael is honored in a fine documentary released in October
2017, a film he wrote and directed and supervised about his life in
show business before his death on Christmas Day 2016. The film was
completed under David Austin's direction. As he states in the film,
'Stars are almost always people that want to make up for their own
weaknesses by being loved by the public and I'm no exception to that.'
The movie is a frank and honest account of George Michael's professional life and career. Though the film was made by the man himself, various artists add to the narrative Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, Emmanuelle Alt, Naomi Campbell, Ricky Gervais, Elton John, Liam Gallagher, Cindy Crawford, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Kate Moss Nile Rodgers, James Corden, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
The film highlights conversations with Michael, his crisis with Sony, his 'coming out' as a gay man and finding love with a Brazilian man who subsequently died of AIDS, his driving force to be the best performer and songwriter ever known, his many successful videos and clips from live performances and much, much more.
This is a very beautifully made film, steaming with love from Michael and from his many fans, and filled with information about the positive impact he made on the world. Completely entertaining and a fine tribute to an enormously gifted artist.
'It seems the enemy... it's not what we believe' Director Sofia Coppola
continues to impress as she recreates a well-known novel by Thomas
Cullinan as adapted for the screen by Albert Maltz, Irene Kamp (aka
Grimes Grice) and Coppola herself. Yes, the film was also made in 1971
with Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, but this version is gentler and
more subtle not only because of Coppola's vision but also because of
the impeccable cast she has selected.
Very succinctly, the outline of the tale follows - While imprisoned in a Confederate girls' boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.
But with more atmosphere included the story is an impressive historical setting as realized by designer Anne Ross and captured on atmospheric (if a bit too dark) cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd. And a more insightful synopsis describes this psychological drama about love and betrayal during the Civil War. As the costly American Civil War still rages on, Jane (Angourie Rice) a 12-year-old student of the forgotten Miss Martha Farnsworth's Seminary for Young Ladies in warm and humid Louisiana stumbles upon a gravely wounded Union soldier, John McBurney (Colin Farrell). Taken in to recover from his injuries, the Corporal is imprisoned in a small room inside the mansion, however, before long, the seductive and unwanted guest will manage to take advantage of the female inhabitants' wartime-subdued desires. At first McBurney is met with careful and caring attention by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), Alicia (Elle Fanning), Amy (Oona Lawrence), Marie (Addison Riecke) and Emil (Emma Howard). But McBurney charms them as they nurse him back to health, and his lustful manipulations cause them to spiral into jealous and vengeful rages against him. Feeling trapped, John realizes that his benefactress cannot be trusted with his love or with his life!
The musical scoring by Laura Karpman and Phoenix (with nods to Monteverdi's 'Magnificat') greatly enhances the atmosphere. The story takes unexpected turns and ends rather surprisingly, but it all works well. Recommended
Sebastian Barry's brilliant novel SECRET SCRIPTURE has been transformed
into an eloquent touching film Johnny Ferguson and Director Jim
Sheridan. With moody cinematography by Mikhail Krichman and a musical
score by Brian Byrne (with a lot of help from Beethoven) and a perfect
cast of actors, this radiantly beautiful film should satisfy a large
audience those who love period pieces, Ireland, sweet romance, ad
twists of plot.
Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave) must vacate the soon-to-be demolished mental institution in Roscommon, Ireland that she's called home for over 50 years. The hospital's psychiatrist, Dr. William Grene (Eric Bana) is called in to assess her condition. He finds himself intrigued by Roseanne's seemingly inscrutable rituals and tics, and her fierce attachment to her Bible, which she has over the decades transformed into a palimpsest of scripture, drawings, and cryptic diary entries. As Grene delves deeper into Roseanne's past, we see her as the young woman Rose (Rooney Mara), whose charisma proves seductive. We learn that she moved to Sligo to work in her aunt's café, fell in love with a dashing fighter pilot Michael McNulty (Jack Reynor), and that a local priest Father Gaunt (Theo James) fell tragically in love with her. The elderly Lady Rose is institutionalized because it was rumored that she murdered her only child at childbirth. Dr Grene and a nurse (Susan Lynch) are supportive of Lady Rose as the story unfolds in the most sensitive manner.
There is much to be praised in this film the manner in which the conflict between the Irish and the British altered personal lives and relationships, the horrors of the early 20th century insane asylums, the struggle Catholics priests at times endure with their celibacy vows, and the beauty of Ireland but the cast is so fine that they shine with this material. This is a very fine film.
According to Ken Burns, 'shortsightedness is one of the major human
themes. We live for the moment. No one's willing to do the necessary
rolling up the sleeves until the catastrophe happens.' The massive made
for television epic THE Vietnam WAR is the work of Ken Burns, the
celebrated American documentarian who gradually amassed a considerable
reputation and a devoted audience with a series of reassuringly
traditional meditations on Americana. Burns' works are treasure troves
of archival materials; he skillfully utilizes period music and footage,
photographs, periodicals and ordinary people's correspondence, the
latter often movingly read by seasoned professional actors in a
deliberate attempt to get away from a "Great Man" approach to history.
Like most non-fiction filmmakers, Burns wears many hats on his
projects, often serving as writer, cinematographer, editor and music
director in addition to producing and directing. His co-partner in this
project is the equally impressive Lynn Novick.
The ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, THE Vietnam WAR, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides-Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. THE Vietnam WAR features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era and haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma.
Though especially difficult to watch as a veteran of that war, likely it is as difficult for those whose family members didn't return. The horrendous error made by America in attempting to impose democracy on a country that cared more about living than politics is outlined by both sides Vietnamese and American and to hear the tapes of the Presidents' foul language of hate and pompous superiority and ignorance, disregarding truth and reality for the sake of gaining re-election is devastating. But it should be seen, remembered, digested and become part of our mentality that war is wrong, especially as we continue that same Vietnam War mentality in the Middle East. This series is cathartic and hopefully healing and engaging in altered thinking about man's inhumanity to man.
Director Patty Jenkins knows how to make us appreciate that once tired
cliché of Wonder Woman and in her new feminist viewpoint this Wonder
Woman is indeed a wonder. The screenplay of the DC Comics perennial
favorite comic book heroine was written sensitively by Allan Heinberg
based on the story by Zach Snyder, Allen Heinberg and Jason Fuchs who
remodeled Dr. William Moulton Marston's original creation from 1941!
One of the reasons this version works so well is sharing the origins of Wonder Woman so well: her beginnings as a child ('sculpted from clay by Zeus) being raised by Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Antiope (Robin Wright), and finally flying off to defeat the god of war Ares (whatever happened to Mars?). Gorgeous scenery and terrific special effects offer a springboard to the story that follows.
When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana (Gal Gadot), an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny. In the setting of WW I in Germany the bad guys are Ludendorff (Danny Huston), Sir Patrick (David Thewlis), and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), and Diana's allies are Steve (Chris Pine), Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner). The supporting cast is excellent also.
For once the CGI effects enhance rather than distract (until the final confrontation between Diana and Ares), the musical score (Rupert Greson-Williams) fits the film, and the photography (Michael Jensen) is rather splendid. There is enough pungent anti-war philosophy to make the film sail. This is bound to be followed by a series of more adventures: the public loves DC Comics and in this case the praise is worthy.
A line from this 'movie' sums it up quite well: 'We recognize, examine,
contain, destroy.' Why director Alex Kurtzman agreed to take on this
hodgepodge of a film stretches the imagination. Completely miscast (Tom
Cruise plays Ryan Reynolds) and devoid of plot, this film is a CGI
playtoy that just gets very boring very soon.
Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened in our current day bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension. The funky crew that is out to uncover ancient Egyptian history includes Nick (Tom Cruise) and his silly partner Chris (Jake Johnson) along with the guidance of Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) and a late entrance Dr. Jekyll- no, not kidding - (Russell Crowe). What happens concerns explosions, fire, the undead, vultures, plane crashes, scorpions, bad bugs, and endless caves and water holes. Oh, and there is a dagger missing an important stone and many sidebars of death and eternal life, etc.
Sad to think this 'epic' wasted $125,000,000 and crashed at the box office the latter at least protects us from a possible endless franchise which seems to be the destiny of films that do well no matter the content and degree of sophistication. Pass.
Writer/Director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque, The Girl of Your Dreams,
The Artist and the Model) revives the storyline and characters of The
Girl of Your Dreams and places the tale (and stars from the original)
in a slovenly montage of Span in the time of Franco. It desperately
needs an editor.
Briefly the story relates Penélope Cruz, as the famous movie star Macarena Granada, who flees the glitz and glamour of 1950s Hollywood to return to her roots in Spain where she has signed on to star in an epic film as Queen Isabella of Spain. Some would say it is enough simply to see Penélope Cruz on screen (she remains extraordinarily beautiful), but the story is so overwritten with meaningless side plots that make the very very long film become quite boring.
There are some fine actors involved Mandy Patikin, Clive Revill, Antonio Resines, Ana Belén, Rosa Maria Sardà, Jorge Sanz, Javier Cámara, and an embarrassingly tedious role for Cary Elwes, but the bluster takes over and even the scenery takes second place to the paucity of significant story. Pass.
Marcos Carnevale both adapted the 2011 Olivier Nakache and Eric
Toledano French film The Intouchables and directed this Argentinian
version. That is a daunting task for any one man to reset a French
masterpiece on Argentine soil and make it work. But for the most part
except for die-hard fans of the French original this is a film that
is fresh if a bit over acted. But we must remember that the film is
based on a true story whether told in French or Spanish.
Felipe (Oscar Martinez) a wealthy businessman who has been quadriplegic, due to an accident, is looking for a therapeutic assistant. There are several highly qualified, but he decides to take the assistant of his gardener, Tito (Rodrigo De La Serna), who has decided to resign. Tito needs the money and tolerates the less tasteful aspects of care- giving as the relationship for both men grows strong for quite different reasons. Tito is the only candidate who does not look at Felipe with pity. The supporting staff is excellent especially the secretary/head of household Ivonne (Alejandra Flechner), the beautiful but unavailable Verónica (Carla Peterson), Tito's family (Monica Railo Joaquín Flammini, Rita Pauls) and other potential problems (Franco Masini) who prove to support the change in Tito as he becomes not only an hilarious companion but also a loving support for Felipe.
No, the film does not rise to the heights of INTOUCHABLES, but it has other qualities that are endearing. The one flaw that disrupts the spirit of the film is the overacting of Rodrigo De La Serna: if his antics could be tamed a bit the film would have a more touching result. Beautiful music (classical) enhances the film and the scenery of Argentina is splendid. Light but well worthy of attention.
Director George Bamber and screenwriter David Ozanich have adopted
Robert Rodi's popular 1996 book KEPT BOY, updated it a bit, gather a
fine cast and the result is a well timed gender variation love story
that plays quite well.
Dennis Racine (Jon Paul Phillips) is a handsome young boy-toy of much older interior designer/reality show star Farleigh Nock (Thure Riefenstein) who surrounds himself with beautiful things. Farleigh extracted Dennis from his first year of college to become a kept boy (and we soon discover that the houseboy Javi - Deosick Burney had Dennis' assignment prior!). Dennis is nearing his 30th birthday and Farleigh shocks Dennis with the news that it is time for him to get a job! A new pool boy Jasper (Greg Audino) is hired and Dennis suspects he is a possible replacement. Armed with suspicion and need, Dennis plays to his ambition. Jasper has an uncle Peter (Charles Fathy), a successful painter in Cartagena, Colombia and Farleigh, Dennis, Javi, and Jasper fly there for a visit. Situations heat up in Cartagena and some surprising changes occur changes that are both bittersweet and proof that love conquers all.
KEPT BOY addresses many issues in the gay community and with the quality of actors cast in the various parts (John-Michael Carlton, Toni Cohen, Vivian Lamolli, Ellen Karsten, Carrie Madsen, Tamara Zook, Skyler Bible and Scott Atkinson), the situations become credible and even touching. The film mixes humor, lust, relationships, ageism and dreams with a fine dose of polish.
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