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War of the Worlds (2019)
Clearly not for everyone
Okay. I don't want to put in any spoilers here - so:
It might be clear to you by now that there are a lot of people who really did not enjoy this series at all. You might be one of these people. However, that should not put you off giving this a go. After all, you might be a person similar to me.
What I appreciated:
A beautifully shot (the cinematography is lovely) piece of work, with interesting characters. If you prefer short sharp scenes with loud and obvious character types in your sci fi - then this will not be for you. There are plenty of U.S. made television series and films that are no doubt more to your taste.
If you like to see excellent actors being given the chance to act 'quietly' and powerfully, then you will like this. Again, if you prefer the usual stereotypes this is won't be your kind of show.
If you like your monsters to be huge and loud, forget it. However, the very sound of the creatures here is truly terrifying to me.
Sometimes 'less is more' and so it is. This is a matter of what you like and do not like. And you will know which camp you fall into within the first couple of episodes. So please - make your own mind up.
Creative piece of television.
I just read a review of this entertaining, engaging and creative television series on a Channel 9 web site. In case you come accross it felt compelled to write this so you would not be put off. The criticisms (read after watching for yourself) completely miss the point. There is a subtle subversion here - so please - give it a go. You will either understand what Ryan Murphy is doing with the past and Hollywood or you won't.
Engaging, thought provoking and beautifully filmed and acted. It makes you wonder 'What if?' Wonderful to see older women cast in three dimesional roles. Characters you will love.
Stop reading, settle down comfortably and put it on. Thank you to everyone involved in making it.
Save Me (2018)
If you have not seen this before, I strongly encourage you to give a go. As you can see by some of the negative reviews here this will not be up everyone's street.
The strengths are: Strong three dimensional working class characters (thank you, I appreciated - and recognised - some of the characters here) If you are looking for Cor blimey trousers stereotypical Cock er nees, then this isn't for you. I loved most of these people.
The acting is first class. If you are a lover of English dramas you will recognise most if not all of the faces here - they are magnificent.
The various mise en scene: again fantastic. Apparently they decided to shoot on location rather than use a lot of studio shots - and it shows. People on the estate let the programme makers use their flats to film inside, lending this a genuine feel of someone's home, rather than someone's 'idea' of what a council flat looks like.
There are some absolutely beautiful little 'asides' - watch out for the little boy sitting in a blow up boat in the middle of the ashflelt making up a story to amuse himself. Lovely stuff.
It is gripping, gritty and down right sad at times. Well done to all who contributed.
The Keepers (2017)
Powerful and remarkable documentary making
This is a remarkable documentary. I am not going to talk about it too much (you will notice there is no Spoiler Warning here), because feel strongly that if you are thinking of watching it. Please do.
What you will see unfold before you is both horrifying and deeply moving. The human beings here searching for both truth and acknowledgment are just the most inspiring and brave people. It reminded me of why we (all of us) should never put all of our trust in powerful Institutions. We need to be vigilant. All powerful Institutions have a habit of lying to protect the Institution, rather than those they are supposed to serve.
It brings the news stories of survivors of abuse directly from the news to the personal. It packs one hell of a wallop.
When We Rise (2017)
Powerful, Moving and Inspirational
This is superb. I have just finished watching the entire series and
feel very emotional and moved by the entire experience.
I am a straight woman. So if you are reading about this series and are not a member of the LGBT community, please watch it. The acting is first class throughout, what you may know already as little 'soundbites' from the news and documentaries are given their personal and human context. I was cheering them on all through their struggles the injustices and the protests. I loved these characters and think you might too.
This is an important piece of television for many reasons. Firstly, these are ordinary people doing courageous extraordinary things. There is a lesson there for all of us who care about human rights and equality, regardless of our gender or sexual persuasion. Secondly, in days like these, it reminds all of us just how much of a battle the LGBT community has had to fight (and continues to fight - particularly in certain parts of the World) for respect and equality. A better World does not come from doing nothing. Whether you feel strongly about workers' rights, (which I do), the environment.....you will feel in awe of what these people both had to suffer - and what they have achieved.
Respect! Highly recommended.
A Royal Night Out (2015)
A cartoon night out.
I understand that there is a market for cutesy, escapist films about the imaginary past. Most of us film lovers also appreciate that you adjust and accept the style of film as it begins, however:
Even accounting for these things, this is really awful. The story is so wonderful in and of itself there was a genuine opportunity here to make an earthy, human film about not only Royalty but also the exhilaration felt in London (where the film is set) by people of all backgrounds.
Instead of a moving and witty testament to a remarkable moment and two young princesses who were allowed to rub shoulders with the 'masses' for one night, we get a thoroughly cartoon-ish version of both Londoners and the Royal family. One dimensional characters abound here.
Lazy and a waste of talent and time.
The Brittany Murphy Story (2014)
Do not bother
I stumbled on this film one day and for about thirty minutes was completely spell bound at just how awful it really was. Serious reviewers have made much of the bad wigs - which should tell you everything you need to know! If you are in the right frame of mind you will belly laugh, which seems a very sad state of affairs when you consider this is supposed to be about a young woman who died much too young.
There is one particular scene which is, frankly, bonkers. A better treatment would be put together by a fifteen year old film student.
Look away ladies and gentlemen - nothing to see here.
Grace of Monaco (2014)
Usually, when I watch a film, when it is clearly not my cup of tea, I switch off. The only reason this film gets a three out of ten rating is because, it truly is, mesmerizingly awful. You won't be able to look away, because: 1. There are some seriously good actors here, Tim Roth and Derek Jacobi, Geraldine Summerville, Robert Lyndsay and Nicole Kidman. So watching them all doing their best as it all goes from bad to worse is like watching a car crash. It must have looked so much more compelling in the script yes? 2. The half hearted attempt to make the film as a homage to films that Grace Kelly starred in. (See the nod and the wink when Nicole's Grace drives down the hill - 'To Catch a Thief') There is also the film stock used which is also reminiscent at particular moments of 1950s films. Also, the over wrought music score.
3. By the final penultimate scene when the character 'Grace' (sorry, but it just seems so rude to refer to this creation as Grace Kelly) makes a frankly mawkish and very average speech......you will be dumbstruck.......clearly, we, as the audience, are being poked and nudged to 'feel' great emotion over this moment, as if 'Grace' is making a speech on a par with Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech! Oh dear oh dear.
4. The entire narrative premise is dodgy - no matter how the script tries to hide it, this is basically a tale of a very wealthy principality, a tax haven no less, 'fighting the evil Republic' so they can maintain that position.
It is one of those films where you know you are supposed to be cheer leading for the main character, but it all comes across - to me anyway - as extremely forced. Having watched a few documentaries over the years about Grace Kelly, she sounds like a complex, down to earth woman, not the wispy character we see here.
Make your own mind up ladies and gentlemen, do give it a go, because as I say, it is mesmerizing, just not in the way the film makers hoped.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Emperor's New Clothes?
I have just switched off The Wolf of Wall Street in.....well, shock frankly. After persevering for quite some time, because this is a film directed by Martin Scorcese for goodness sake! So felt it just had to get better any minute NOW.
Unfortunately, it did not. Flabby and self indulgent. This required an excellent editor to step up and shout over the ego's: 'No really fellas......that just goes on and on and on.....keep it sharp!' Just shocked at how appalling this actually is. If this was a couple of guys just out of film school, would the critics have raved about it? Would it get nominated for Awards?
More evidence of the ridiculousness of big award nights.
I have read the reviews here of people who liked this film, and all respect to you. Everything is perception is it not? Where they see 'innovation' I see self indulgence and lack of editorial discipline. See what you think.
The Village (2013)
Remarkable piece of social history
I have just been reading the other reviews here - and like so many other viewers clearly were, I too was moved deeply by this excellent and important piece of television. Important? Well yes, because
This is a piece of period drama which manages to somehow capture the pace of life in a small village during the time frame. Every character is richly realised, from the appalling (the 'shrink') to the ambiguous (the ex -Detective with the war injury).
The central family, as are all of the working people here, are portrayed with respect and humanity, whilst not avoiding the weaknesses of individuals. The drunk husband and father for example. One of my favourite scenes was of the women of the village gossiping in the public baths - perfectly realised.
If you want to see a fresh perspective on the commemorations for World War One - please see this. The final episode, for me, is a poignant reminder of just how much the commemoration of all the dead was not a 'given', but an emotionally powerful battle as to the nature of that commemoration. When Maxine Peake's character stands up and argues that the one moment every year to 'remember' is just another way for those in power to control the way we remember.......welling up just thinking of it actually. Similarly, as a response to Downton Abbey and the 'golden days before the first war', she also states it was not so golden for most people. I know there are many other reviewers here who felt as strongly affected by this as myself.
Trust us - it might be a slower pace than other television, but sit down, switch off the phone and allow this programme to wash - first over you - and then right into you. It will steal your heart and make you reflect, not just on the past, but on the present.
The Conspirator (2010)
Robert Redford, quietly, makes another gem of a film.
This is an excellent film in my estimation.
All of the acting is first class, there is no weak link letting the side down here. All the more remarkable when it is considered that many of the cast are speaking in accents not their own. I am not an North American, but familiar with the accents from numerous films, television programmes and to me, they were faultless. It would be unfair of me to pick any performance out for special mention, they are all perfect.
As a history film / television production / documentary nerd, this does what a retelling of history has the power to do when an intelligent film maker and scriptwriter join forces. It brings something new and moving to an event that you think you already know all about. For example, there can be few people out there who do not know about the assassination of President Lincoln. What really 'got' me at the beginning of the film was the genuine horror I felt watching this event unfold on the screen. The relaxed theatre goers, some sitting watching the production, some gathered in the bar area, clearly happy and enjoying a night out. No doubt with extra joy at the final cessation of the bloodshed of the Civil War.
What else it brings, is no less important in a film about the past. It has direct and powerful reverberations of our present. It was hard to watch the frustration of James McAvoy's character as it slowly dawns on him that 'revenge' and 'anger' does indeed either destroy or weaken the Law and Constitutional Rights of individuals. As the film reveals slowly, we are all diminished when the Rights of individuals are curtailed. I kept thinking about Guantanamo Bay and the slow erosion of individual freedom post September 11th. In this way, regardless of your point of view, the film is very much a meditation on the past and the wars and trials of the past ten or so years.
The sheer brutality of the death penalty is brought home to the viewer, every bit as poignantly as the brutal murder of President Lincoln. It begs questions.
When the final bits of information come up on the screen, the fact that John Surat, tried in a Civil Court (not Military like his mother, Mary) after the initial shock of the President's murder is over, is released after there not being 'sufficient evidence' - it says so much about the danger to individuals when passions are high and people are baying for revenge, rather than justice.
If you enjoy a well acted, thought provoking film, I highly recommend it.
Five Daughters (2010)
As I have confessed before, do have a bit of a 'thing' for UK police dramas - like any little genre in which we become immersed, some are okay, some absolutely awful - and then something like this: VERY VERY GOOD INDEED.
As other reviewers here have pointed out, this is the true story of five young women who were first reported as 'missing' and then found murdered. They also happened to be heroin addicts and prostitutes.
They also happened to be much loved daughters, sisters and friends.
Over the past twenty years there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of films and television programmes made that use the death of women (and it is usually women) as the central foci for a narrative. The camera probes in the obligatory 'on the slab' Forensic Post Mortum - where the 'body' becomes distant, a silent receptacle for the rest of the cast to gravitate.
This television programme deserves 10 out of 10 for resolutely refusing to transform a serial killer narrative into the same old pattern.
We (the viewer) is never EVER allowed to forget that these young women are suffering heroin addiction, rather than some 'life style' choice, rather than some 'dim witted' woman who really should know better. It is explained to us - refusing to let us distance ourselves from the victims.
....and there are plenty of victims here. The grief and stress of the young women trying desperately to change their lives ('I want to stop'), plus the grief and stress of the families who love them. ('She's speaking in that silly accent again.') These are not stupid people, but people caught up in a kind of hell. The acting is uniformly excellent, some of the scenes are so subtle and believable.
This is the first time that a programme dealing with this subject has reduced me to tears. It made me think - long and hard - about my obsession with police drama.
Deeply moving, revealing and a complete subversion of stereotypes of 'working girls' and addiction.
Next time you hear a news report describe a murder victim as a 'prostitute' - call the station and complain. The murder victim is a woman.
Trial & Retribution (1997)
The first few seasons are the best
If you are wondering whether or not to give this a go, then my advice is to always make sure the character of Pat North is in the Cast. Excellent, well rounded character who proves a brilliant foil for (at times) nasty Mike Walker.
While I understand that in 'real life' police are not all good or all bad for that matter, did we really need the appallingly two dimensional - and thoroughly unlikeable - Roisin Connor?
A genuine low point in La Plante's characterisation work, this woman is so awful you want to punch her.......or the script writers. Not believable at all. As the Seasons go on, her character turns more and more into a Panto Villain Cop, if you can imagine this nightmarish vision.
.....and did we really need yet another nasty Irish woman stereotype?
This is a good strong entertaining English cop drama if you like the genre (and I do), but the Pat North years were definitely the best. Those would be a 9 out of 10. Wonderful stuff.
The Thaw (2009)
Do not waste your time
I did persevere for 20 minutes, then just could not stand any more.....
1. Shockingly bad dialogue
2. Cliché upon cliché upon - yep - more cliché. Stroppy teenage daughter, Val Kilmer doing a 'Val Kilmer' ie. Sleepwalking through this role - not that you can blame him. I would need strong sedatives indeed to get through this.
3. I disagree with the reviewer here who thought this was 'left wing' - oh contrare! This is a right wing depiction of the Environmental movement, why else would these people be depicted as such complete eejits? The ideology is in the representation.
Mysteries of film fame Number 1: What precisely happens to some actors? Yes, I know Val Kilmer was never a Robert De Niro, but he was okay wasn't he? Suddenly, his name on the Cast list connotes an instant warning in my brain: 'Ooer - this might be very bad indeed....' and he never disappoints. His ex - wife Joanna Walley is the same. See her name on the Cast list? Probably it is not too good.
Did they have some hard partying years in the later 80s / 90s when their decision making skills went amiss? Did they share a Manager who couldn't read a script? Did they stop caring?
Whatever the answers to this pressing question, I can assure you that any time wasted watching this rubbish you will not get back.
That bad? Sadly yes.
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (2006)
Hfk from Oklohoma, another contributor here, describes seeing this the first time it aired and being a bit underwhelmed, but then seeing it again was really impressed.
I totally agree with this comment!
Have just finished watching it and feel compelled to write a review to encourage anyone to have a look at this, because:
1. Like all first class television, the Prime Suspect series in general picks up on contemporary themes in culture and society and holds them up for us to see them closer. This final Prime Suspect does this so beautifully it will prove a rich source of information for future social historians. When we first meet Jane Tennyson she is a woman up against ingrained sexism in the Police Force, about 40 years old. When this was made (about 1991), it picked up on the generation of women who chose a career over the more traditional life map of marriage and children. Fast forward to 2006 and the ideology of the programme seems to have shifted. The writers almost appear to be punishing the character at times for pursuing a career.
Also, the wonderful interrogation of teenage life in London. People will look back and laugh at the 'innit' speech of the kids here. Also, the over the top excessive use of the new technology: mobile telephones and constant texting. All excellently held up for us to ourselves and our world at the time.
2. The acting is just outstanding. Even the bit parts are spot on here. Helen Mirren's performance here, well, put it this way, several times I muttered: 'What a brave performance' - just incredible. At a time where even young actors are getting botox and 'fillers' and starving themselves into submission, Mirren stares down the camera - and 'stares down' a film and television celebrity culture which insists on a cartoonish perfection. Remarkable.
3. The emotional fall out as this programme goes on is almost unbearable to watch at times. You empathise with these fallible human beings. It says a great deal for the writing that no one here is completely innocent or guilty. It says even more that you care so deeply about them all. Even the Headmaster. It would have been so easy to make him a nasty piece of work wouldn't it? He makes a terrible error of judgement.
4. Which brings me to: 'The Final Act' - the very title holds connotations of a Shakespearian Tragedy......and this final act is a Tragedy. Literally. (A tragic figure for example is brought undone by the fatal flaw in their character) Tennyson and Otley: alcoholism. The Headmaster, a desire to escape his middle aged suburban responsibilities and falling for a student.
5. The thematic threads which link Jane's fondness for Penny and the Headmaster's infatuation for Sallie are beautifully realised. When Penny breaks into Jane's father's house late in the piece and mirrors the earlier scene of a drunk Jane dancing with her police hat on, I just marvelled at it all to be honest. Jane and the Headmaster both look to extreme youth to try and reclaim their own lost, carefree youth.
6. Finally, when so many television programmes constantly show people 'having a relaxing glass of wine' to 'unwind' from the stresses of their job, how refreshing to see alcohol in it's altogether more nasty guise. That hangover at the beginning - I could feel that nausea.
Oh......loved the intertextual reference to Helen Mirren playing The Queen (Elizabeth 2), when she quips: 'Don't call me Ma'am. I'm not the Queen.'
Give it another go if you only saw it in 2006. You will very likely (like a couple of us here) be shocked at just how emotionally wrenching this is to watch.
Beyond the Sea (2004)
You will love or hate this....
....and as you can see by the low 2 out of 10, well, it was not at all my 'bag'.
However, there is clearly an audience for this kind of post modern musical biopic.
Some of you, like me, are not this audience - so if this is the case: Avoid.
I genuinely admire Kevin Spacey, but for me this screams: 'Vanity Project'.
What you get:
Clever dick post modern stuff. The opening scene is Kevin Spacey playing Bobby Darin on stage, who is playing himself in a film biopic. Yep. One of those.
Brenda Blethyn - overacting to blazes doing her Noo Joiysee shtick. Bob Hoskins, an actor I genuinely love, again being made to over act in an American film.
Long musical numbers - Kevin minces it up with the best of them. Bless 'im. He is clearly enjoying himself immensely. Unfortunately, I really REALLY did not enjoy myself watching him enjoying himself.
You will press the fast forward button - A LOT.
I know it is deliberate (the 'calling attention to it's own artifice' of post modernity), but the entire 'stagey' stuff just leaves me colder than a day walking down Southend Pier in February.
If this is your thing - watch and enjoy. Clearly, judging by the reviews here, a lot of people DO like this stuff.
If it isn't - Move away Ladies and Gentlemen, ain't nothing to see here.
Quite awful actually.
Through the eyes of children.
I have not been able to stop thinking about this film since viewing it for the first time yesterday afternoon. Quite remarkable. As always, plenty of reviewers have provided first class descriptions of the actual story already, so I will cut to the chase.
For me this film deals with several themes:
'When I was a child, I thought as a child' (Rudyard Kipling 'If')
It is no accident that the young girls who are the foci of this tale are living in an isolated English boarding school, ON AN ISLAND. This works both literally and metaphorically. The island, named 'Stanley Island' seems to me to have allusions to Miss. G's 'stories' of her travels around the world, particularly her stories of adventures in 'exotic' locales. 'Stanley' was the explorer who, upon meeting up with fellow explorer Livingstone, apparently said: 'Livingstone I presume.' He was also a self - mythologiser and - according to fellow explorer - a brutal racist.
Considering the self mythologising of Miss G. and her eager for information about the World outside of their 'Island' girls, this is entirely appropriate.
Words create truth. Words weave a truth.
While Miss G. tells her stories of her 'travels' and constructs her own World through her words and her audience of young girls, the girls do not yet have the experience or maturity to fully understand just what is going on. To me anyway, right from the beginning, this is a hint of the abuse to come. Children who have been abused, both physically and mentally, often speak much later in life of not having the words to articulate what was going on. The vulnerability of the girls is always there, even in some of the most beautifully filmed scenes - of which there are many.
Look out for the opening scenes where Di and Miss G. are in the rowing boat, Di is clearly smitten by her exotic teacher. The camera shots here tell us a lot. We see Miss G. through the misty eyes of a young, inexperienced, isolated girl - those early scenes of Miss G. are the creation of the girls' idolatry.
Watch how this breaks down. When Fiamma arrives from Spain, a young girl who is well traveled and has experienced life in the wider world, the 'cracks' of the title begin to appear. We start seeing Miss. G through Fiamma's eyes, she looks a bit more 'crazed', a bit more mad.
Also, watch out for the scenes when Miss. G is not in the school grounds - perhaps the most telling scene in the film for me, which genuinely chilled me, was when Miss G goes into the little village to buy a few things. She is talking to herself, distracted and clearly unstable.
This is how you and I would see her.
It is how Fiamma sees her. Her terror is real and totally understandable. She 'sees' clearly the unstable creature Miss G. actually is.
When the girls celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes, drinking and eating a midnight feast, someone is going to be the offering. St. Agnes is the Saint of Virgins. Fiamma, drunk, is led away by Miss G and raped. The young girls, once again knowing something isn't 'quite right' but not having the experience of maturity to articulate in their heads just what is happening.
The victim becomes the pariah, as Di cannot cope with what she has seen her previously adored teacher doing through the 'crack' in the door.
Di - short for Diana - is the Goddess of the Hunt, and she leads the girls through the woods chasing the asthmatic and traumatised Fiamma. Fiamma is the Virgin Martyr.
Di escapes the Island, clutching the map she drew for Fiamma earlier in the film. All of the young girls are victims of abuse to some extent. Their minds have been toyed with and manipulated. What is more, no adult seems to notice - or care.
Probably Miss G as well. We never learn her 'back story' but something has happened to her during her time at the school. When the older teacher points to an old school photograph of her, she also refers to some 'scandal' in her past. She has never left 'the Island' and probably never will. Again, literal and metaphorical.
I heartily recommend this film. It's study of abuse is subtle and all the more horrifying for it. It is a reminder of just how vulnerable we all were as children at school, boarding or day school. Before we had the words and worldliness to articulate the many different kinds of abuses there are in the World.
Harry Brown (2009)
Powerful and moving.
Remember my mum and dad going to see this film when it first came out. Anything to do with Walworth, Bermondsey.....the places they grew up in, draw them wasps to the honey. They said it was good, Michael Caine never better.
That was a couple of years ago and sitting watching this film today was struck by just how much better this film was than I envisaged. For a start:
The cinematography is wonderful at times. The chilling icy blue tones of the film stock made me feel like I was in the North Pole - which is not far short of the mark really. The estate where Michael Caine's character Harry Brown lives is a socially cold and harsh place. Contributors srlawton - 578 - 345144 and g - harrington might recognise what I'm getting at here, but this depiction of Walworth did not so much shock me, but made me so incredibly sad. It took me two attempts to watch it actually.
One of the most telling scenes for me was when Harry goes to his murdered mate's flat, which has been gutted by fire and trashed. Harry looks through the broken window and the camera holds its gaze as he looks out through that hole in the glass. For me it was a moment when he looks out at the place he and his mate called 'home'. While these estates were never posh, thinking back to the 70s when family lived there, they were never like this either. You find yourself thinking with him: 'What the bloody hell has happened here?'
This coupled with the close up of the dripping tap provides images that parallel Harry's life and rising sense of anger and frustration. You know something is going to 'give' - something will 'crack' wide open.
Michael Caine is superb here. I agree with some of the other reviewers who argue this is one of his finest performances. Understated. He reminds me of London men of that generation that I grew up around. So all the more heart breaking. (Again, so much of how we /you/me watch a film is personal isn't it) The scene with the gun runners: 'Is she alright?' Subtle and remarkable performance - kudos to you Mr. Caine!
This is not just a 'vigilante' or 'revenge' film, it goes far deeper than that. It raises questions in your head and made me wish for a better life for people who are stuck in places like this.
The film itself gets 7 out of 10, with an extra point for Michael Caine's performance.
It is rare that I find myself lost for the written word, even rarer that am afraid to write, because can it possible that words will adequately express just how good this is?? Doubt it.
Suzie Miller and The Little Song Bird amongst others here hit the nail firmly on the head. Totally agree with you.
I had read about this production and was looking forwards to seeing it, hoping it would be okay. It was is so much more that that.
No Spoiler because if you have not seen this superb piece of Danish television, walk, run - get a copy.
When the final episode had been viewed I felt an unbelievable sense of pure emotion, not just because of the story (it is no secret that this is about the death of a young woman), not just because I was sad that it was finished, but because I was reminded of what a group of creative, talented human beings can achieve together.
This unfolds beautifully, drawing you in to another World. Everything about it is an example in how to create a three dimensional World in a drama. The acting, from all involved, puts the yearly Oscar Nominations into the joke category that it really is. No weak links here, all deliver award winning performances.
The interlinking worlds of the working class Birk Larsens, the police officers Jan and Sarah Lund, and the political creatures, Troels, Rie and Morten all draw together.
Particularly impressed by Bjarne Henriksen as Theis Birk Larsen, his wife Pernille and their adopted worker Vagn. I think Suzie Miller suggested it was almost like watching a documentary. So true. In fact these scenes which feature the family put me in mind of the best of Ken Loach, working class people as PEOPLE, not stereotypical two dimensional beings.
Kudos to everyone involved - thank you for this!
Sorry to rave so shamelessly, but rarely has a drama series touched me quite so deeply (The first series of Prime Suspect and Cracker spring to mind). It has been emotional.
Intelligent, dark, unrelenting. Can not recommend this highly enough.
The Line of Beauty (2006)
'They've really taken you in haven't they?'
The above quote is from 'The Line of Beauty' - spoken by a character to Nick Guest. As his name suggests, Nick 'thinks' he is a guest of the upper class Feddons, when the line of dialogue 'They've really taken you in haven't they?' is spoken about half way through the series, you probably find yourself mumbling to yourself, as I did: 'Haven't they just....'
Nick is not a guest in the Feddon household. Nick is a Guest. The 'Feddons' are wonderfully named in this tale of 1980s Class and Thatcherism, the allusion to them being the class who 'feed on' was not lost on me. (As in they 'fed on'.......)
And they feed off Nick even while he thinks he has fallen into a heavenly place - all polite but raffish upper class shenanigans, art works, the country pile. Nick is smitten by the 'lines of beauty' that meet his eye everywhere he looks.
All of the contributions on this site have been excellent to read - thank you! I am particularly interested in the links to 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Brideshead Revisited' - the film that kept coming back to me though was 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' - the same awe struck young man, the same love of 'beauty', the same comments on class and money.
The scenes between Nick and the 'perfect servant' (the old retainer!) who keeps her mouth shut and runs the house are priceless. Nick, in these scenes, reminds me of the position of the 19th Century Governess in households. A bit too 'upper' to be included with the rest of the servants (who did not include her) but still a paid member of staff, not family. Considering that Nick begins his tenure in the house 'to keep an eye on Cat' this analogy is not entirely far from the mark. The housekeeper's refusal to be 'matey' with him says it all. At the end when she tells him that right from the start she thought he was 'no good' did you feel hurt for Nick? Well, I did. Despite so many traits that really really made me want to dislike him A LOT! Those traits being: his ability to switch off any critique about ANYTHING as long as he was okay and could swan along with his posh family.
Nick was the Governess to Cat.
Nick was also the 'resident gay man' who schmoozes the Feddon's guests with his charm, including Margaret Thatcher. Tim McInnerny is brilliant as the Tory Gerald Feddon, who, unaccountably, is part of a specific group of Conservative men who loved her 'Strict Nanny' persona. Shudder!
LIke Nick Guest, Margaret Thatcher was the child of a small business owner. So it makes artistic sense that they dance together at the Feddon's party in her honour.
John Lydon made some astute comments when he heard about Elton John being conferred a knighthood, he more or less said that the Upper class always liked a Court Jester to entertain them, a Fool.
Nick Guest, in so many ways, is The Court Jester, or Fool. The extent to which Nick is seen as a servant is in those cataclysmic moments at the end of the third episode. When Gerald Fedden blusters about Nick's 'background' ('as if we would choose you!') Nick has to acknowledge what the viewer has known for some time. Like a servant who has been caught out shagging the Lord's son, he is sent packing 'in disgrace'.
Any young person who was born after about 1985 should see this television series to fully understand to what extent the AIDS virus decimated people, particularly gay men. 'The Line of Beauty' reveals the fear and paranoia surrounding this period very well. The photograph of Leo ravaged by the disease and the shell of his Lebanese / English lover as he walks into the restaurant (all eyes watching, the word 'AIDS' is the elephant in the room) is heartbreaking.
But in the end......my memory of this wonderful piece of television is the tale of a young man who does not even look at the World outside of his gilded cage. (Miners' strike, CND etc)
.....and in the end, my sympathy for the characters is permeated by my anger at people who always think they can look the other way while the world falls apart.
There lies this programmes genius. For me at least.
An Education (2009)
More Austin Powers 1960s World
This film really wants you to like it.
It had all the good P.R. and media exposure. It has the extremely cute Carey Mulligan, who looks a bit like 1. someone you used to know or 2. Photo's of yourself when you were 16 or 17. There will be plenty of viewers out there who will relate to her 'square peg in a round hole' schtick as well. That desperate desire to get out of the 'burbs and into the glamorous world of the City (whether it was / is London, Paris, New York, take your pick.......) where the clubs are open all night and 'Culture' is on offer everywhere you look.
Okay, this sort of sums up the central motif here.
.....and did I say, this film really wants you to like it? Oh yes.
Look, there are clearly lots of people here who loved this film, so if you haven't seen it don't pay me any heed and give it a go.
My overall impressions? Recently I wrote a review of the recent version of 'Brighton Rock' suggesting it's 1960s setting put me in mind of Austin Powers. All surface, no depth.
This is how this film made me feel. Since the 1980s the 1960s have been utilised as a backdrop for so many films and television programmes (all those baby boomers in positions of media power must have something to do with this), that too many of them appear to draw upon such stereotyped clunky versions of the decade - such LAZY interpretations of an entire era - that they have become pastiche. I don't know if it is the film stock being used here and in 'Brighton Rock' or the strange 'stageyness' of the scenes, but look at the odd lighting - no really, have a good look at it. Mmmmm........very odd.
The story here is obvious from the beginning. What really frustrated me about the narrative was (like the lighting) the evasion of darkness.
A married man, in a flash car, picking up a school girl. The parents who are almost throwing their daughter into his arms (bed??)
Seriously Mr. Hornby! I loved the books and films of 'About a Boy'; 'Fever Pitch' and 'High Fidelity' - yes, even the American version of 'High Fidelity'!! They all have a dark edge to them. Something that was needed here.
Okay, she finds out he is married - is his wife the harried mother in the rain at the beginning of the film that Carey's character watches with trepidation? - but it just was not edgy enough. This called out for some sharp interrogation of what was going on here - and it would have been blackly, darkly humorous, rather than cheesy.
....but then, it really really wants you to like it. So it sparkles on, skimming on the plastic, not offending anyone.
Funniest Grace Foley line of dialogue.
This one has it all.
Vicious nuns, convents, twins separated at birth, a handsome young Irish bloke and:
GRACE FOLEY'S FUNNIEST LINE OF DIALOGUE:
To cut a long story short (as Spandau Ballet were keen to say.....), a corpse was found in mid 1960s Soho with blood on his lips - not his. As the team ponder this forensic evidence, Grace intones sagely: 'Vampiric ritual?' Priceless!
There is more than a hint at fairy tale / folk tale motif here. Not least when Magdalene 26 escapes from the castle (the convent) climbing over the wall and jumping into a new life, while her friend sacrifices herself in order for her to break out.
The backdrop of the Magdalene 'homes' for unmarried mothers provides an unrelenting darkness and sense of cruelty which parallels the cruelties inflicted by the Turkish 'gang'. The two sisters are co-joined by this violence. Nasty and dark with a genuinely moving ending.
Did I say Gothic? Well not quite. Although that 'vampire' reference by Grace at the beginning lends itself rather nicely.
Not bad at all.
I agree with Jc-osms on just about everything you have contributed here.
.....and yes, the old 'inter-cop-shop' relationship shenanigans have become a stereotype that I would gladly see less of. Particularly here where the young policewoman who has been 'dumped' by the supposed 'ladies man' of the office appears to be a clumsy attempt at linking the Pro Lifers' extortion and unplanned pregnancy. I say 'clumsy' because it was not necessary to the story - and so often the 'relationship' angle isn't. One of the few police dramas that managed to fully realise an 'in house' relationship with the story lines was probably Trial and Retribution.
But I digress.
I watched it in Australia on Fox UK (and is so often the case, it was already a few years old) and it was broadcast as an all in one programme, don't know if I would've bothered if it was in two parts to be honest.
What made this programme so watchable were the two leads, Hugh Bonneville and Janet McTeer. Now this is the kind of relationship I want to see! They are mates and those scenes at the beginning of Janet McTeer's character knocking back wine while Hugh Bonneville's character falls asleep were just lovely. Mind you, all of the acting is good.
and Yes, Paul 2001 - the actress who plays the working class mum of one of the kidnapped boys shines in this kind of role. There is something completely believable about her. Her name is not listed on the Cast here, so whoever you are: Lovely job!
Whoever wrote her dialogue and dressed her did a spot on job. She reminded me of real people, rather than some of the stereotyped representations of working class people you see all the time. As a Londoner I sometimes shudder at actors attempting to sound 'working class' - it all goes a bit 'Dick Van Dyke' at times doesn't it?! Ha ha ha.
The story line was not bad, dealing with the old chestnut: Does the end ever justify the means? as well as highlighting the hypocrisy of some Pro Life groups.
Watch it for the two leads - they have a genuine chemistry which makes this watchable. They lift this from a five to a six.
Brighton Rock (2010)
Oh dear.....a 1960s Theme Park!
While I had heard nothing but average and - at times - really bad feedback about this film, still could not believe that Graham Greene's original and powerful tale of razor gangs in post war Brighton, with its' rich characters and meditations on Good and Evil / Heaven and Hell, could possibly be THAT bad. Can a film that boasts some excellent character actors really be that dodgy?
They answer to both of these questions is Yes, it can be THAT bad and Yes, even with a good cast, it can be dodgy.
There is something here (and I can't quite put my finger on it) that brought back memories of some English film making from the 1980s, films that weren't that great to begin with and now are almost unwatchable. It is a particular style that screams SURFACE (Post modernity has a lot to answer for) and this does.
Look I realise that comparing a re-make with an original film (or a book to a film for that matter) is a pointless exercise. From my perspective they are different texts which should be judged on their own merits, HOWEVER: it would be remiss of me not to suggest getting a copy of the original 'Brighton Rock' - Hell! (Pardon the pun) Get the Book! Then you will know just how much depth this film chose to omit.
For some reason the entire story has been set in 1964 - and for no reason whatsoever we get to watch lots of extras dressed as Mods and Rockers, although why they bothered when a cut and paste job from Quadrophenia would have done nicely. I was looking out for the Ace Face as the 'Bell Boy' outside the posh Hotel. .....and it is 1960s done very Austin Powers to boot. As I said: post modern surfaces keep bouncing anything that matters off the screen.
Why this was not set in the immediate Post World War 2 era is odd. The characters, the story line all inhabit this earlier period, none of it 'fits' in the 1960s theme park on offer here.
Another reviewer here was spot on with a glaring historical inaccuracy as well: Where Rose lives in the council flat is made to look rundown and shabby, those flats were BRAND NEW at the time the film is set. In fact most of the high rise flats were not built until later in the 1960s. Do a quick Google search and you will find that people were invariably impressed with the shining new kitchens and bathrooms in the council flats when they were first built. Also, at the end when Rose is in the unmarried mothers home - yes I know these places were not nice in England at the time, but they were not the Magdalene laundries of Ireland, which is what the film makers seem to be alluding to.
I did manage to get through it, but did press the fast forward button on several occasions. It managed to be boring, seriously boring.
A good rule of thumb in a film is to see how much direction the Extras got. Watch out for Pinkie grabbing Rose and yanking her down the Pier. Extras do not even look - and people would look, glance or maybe even stare. But no! They just carry on with their 'rhubarb rhubarb' chattiness. It might sound like a minor thing, but it is these 'little things' which contribute to the shallowness of the entire film.
Usually I remember cinematography - there is always something that is amazing, well usually. But I've drawn a blank.
Odd film. Not in a good way.
The Silence (2010)
Well, the trailer looked alright....
Reviewers have already done an excellent job of giving you some idea of the storyline so I'll cut to the chase......as I said: 'Well, the trailer looked alright.....'
and yes, edchin2006 from Canada - I agree with everything you have written here.
When you, me watch a detective drama and actually like this genre, then you already know a certain amount of suspension of belief is often - well nearly always - required, but really.....this one just takes the p***
Look at all the acting chops listed there......think about that - then wonder what on earth was going on to make this so plain irritating. This is not a criticism of the acting, Douglas Henshal (a much underused actor on film and television), Gina McKee (one of the most beautifully subtle actors), Hugh Bonneville (excellent) Dirvla Kirwan and the young Genevieve Barr as Amelia - all do their best here.
I only made it half way through the second episode and just could not stand anymore.
Again, there is horrible reliable cliché and stereotype, for example:
The 'we're all mad!' family home of Jim and Maggie, with Maggie being made to behave for all the world like the mum in 'Bless this House' - I don't know how or why this image of family life is so prevalent at the moment, but someone just stop it. Most of us were lucky enough to grow up in a family home, we also probably visited lots of our mates' homes - so why this 'Bless this House' (hyper- rushing around put upon mum, frankly stupid teenagers.....) nonsense all the time? Why is it on 'TV World' that anyone over the age of 40 acts as if they are ready for the retirement village while anyone younger than 25 is a burke?
The deaf young woman: I am not deaf, but if I was, would probably be ready to throw a brick at the screen if made to watch just one more representation of a deaf person which equates hearing difficulties with being a bit stupid and promiscuous to boot. Come on! As if she would not tell someone what she had seen? As if she would go in the loo at the pub and give a stranger a blow job? As if she would not be encouraged to WRITE DOWN precisely what she remembered (not of the blow job you understand, the murder....) to help the investigation while the memory was fresh. Just not buying it at all.
People who speak in a way that people in day to day life just don't speak. Suspension of disbelief is a lot easier when the characters behave and speak in a believable way. It helps if we like a few of them as well.
This is the second awful police drama I have watched on Foxtel Australia's Crime Month - the other one was 'Case Sensitive' - if you go and read my review of that - then disagree with both my reviews - chances are you will enjoy this. Good luck to you.
.....and judging by some reviews here, if they thought the final episode was a let down, so pleased I pressed STOP as early as I did. Clearly, it just wasn't going to get any better.