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The Lion King (2019)
6/10
Adds nothing and too dark in every way
19 July 2019
My Review - Lion King 6.5 / 10

At the risk of repeating myself and I've said this about the remake of Dumbo ,Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin if a remake of a much beloved and brilliant animation feature doesn't add anything to the original, why make it? Of course I know the answer, especially from the viewpoint of the 21st Century Disney film Empire they bring in huge box office dollars and that's ok I suppose but I wonder what Walt Disney would have thought?

The Walt Disney Studios under Walt always were striving for originality and breakthrough new projects. You only have to look at some of the extra features on Classic Disney DVD's to see how the Animators and technical teams worked expertly and together with Disney to bring something new and exciting to the screen. Unlike Studios today risks were taken like Snow White the first feature length movie cartoon that nearly everyone said would be a financial disaster but that risk saved the Walt Disney Company from bankruptcy.

This Lion King remake features photorealistic CGI animals that look like the real thing so basically it's really another animated feature . Many creative and talented people have put together a pretty fair version of the 1994 original even featuring James Earl Jones repeating his original voice over as Mufasa.

The problem with this version for me was unlike the fabulous 1997 Broadway musical version directed by Julie Taymar which added great songs ,choreography and gave audiences a brand new version which featured spectacular production numbers and amazing puppetry this new film adds nothing .

In fact Director Jon Favreau has made a much darker version and seems to have cut back on the music and the humour. I found many of the scenes too dark visually apart from the beginning and the end it seemed to concentrate on the horrible hyenas and Scar .

I might be wrong but I think very young children would be frightened by this Lion King movie , better to watch the original and best.
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Dark Mon£y (2019– )
7/10
Confronting and disturbing story of the consequences of Parents Selling their Soul to the Devil.
18 July 2019
My Review- Dark Mon£y Rating 7/10

I turned on the news today to hear Kevin Spacey's sexual abuse charges had been withdrawn so it was timely after watching the conclusion of Dark Money last time.

Dark Money is a well acted very disturbing drama about another Me Too situation involving a young boy Isaac played so convincingly and movingly by Max Fincham who while appearing in a Studio Blockbuster is sexually abused by the powerful film Producer and has mobile evidence to prove it .

The most disturbing part of this story is the decision and consequences that Isaac's parents make and no spoilers but one moment you see this mixed race family are in huge debt and living in modest housing the next they are 3 million British pounds richer and living in a mansion.

It made me think of Leaving Neverland ,the even more disturbing Michael Jackson sexual abuse documentary when both sets of parents in one way or another suspected the abuse was occurring but said nothing either due to ignorance or their to promote their child's future career .

Hopefully the ABC might buy this series but with the reduction of funding by the Federal Government I suspect their budget is very limited these days but catch it on DVD or U.K. TV Foxtel.
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Pose (2018– )
9/10
Series 2 continues to deliver
16 July 2019
Pose - Series 1 & 2 is a magical history tour of the late 1980's Pageant Ball scene in New York and makes makes Ru Paul Drag Stars look like a dress up party. Pose is a breakthrough for Trans Gender actors in the fact that all the main transgender characters are actually played by trans actors. The series has a heart and is very emotional at times when depicting the struggle the Gay Community went through during the AIDS plague that wiped out a generation of gifted and wonderful people. It reminds us of the complacency and neglect the Reagan Administration demonstrated during the crises by denying medication and support to the homeless and sick in America. The glamour costumes and music are fantastic and the different houses competing for the coveted trophies are a part of New York culture I didn't know much about . The Transgender "House Mothers" took in so many desperate homeless young GLBT men and women who were given a chance of acceptance and creativity in a world that shunned and rejected their natures.
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Fosse/Verdon (2019)
7/10
Great Broadway Legends - warts and all
16 July 2019
I'm really glad we didn't cancel our Foxtel subscription now that Fox Showcase are screening some terrific mini series simultaneously with the U.S.A

I reviewed this series after one episode so after seeing it all and while still enjoying it I must deduct a rating point mainly for the script which at times makes you dislike Fosse intently while in my opinion minimising Gwen Verdon's contribution to the Broadway stage.

Fosse and Verdon- the tell all (at times tell too much) story of the great Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse and his once wife and lifelong friend the fabulous Broadway dancer and performer who originated the roles of Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity and Roxy Hart In Chicago. The 2 main actors in this series Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell give superb performances and the dance sequences are faultless . My only criticism is that the series seems to dwell too much on Fosse's womanising ,drug dependant and unpleasant personality and not enough on Gwen Verdon's great accomplishments in her career .I would have liked more musical numbers from her other shows like RedHead and especially mention the great tribute that Broadway gave her when she died by dimming all the lights on Broadway and crowning her the Greatest Dancer to ever brighten the Broadway stage but it's really good television.
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Big Little Lies (2017– )
8/10
Series 2 Delivers !
16 July 2019
Series 2 of Big Little Lies - the Desperate Housewives meets Dynasty saga. Series 2 has Meryl Streep ,the actress Trump said was "the most overrated actress in Hollywood "cast as Mary Louise Wright . We all know La Streep can play any role to perfection but I've never seen her play a twin set and pearls benign Grandmother who turns into the mother in law from hell ,who at any cost will find out how her son died and believes her daughter in law Celeste played sublimely by Nicole Kidman to be hiding the truth about her son ,which is true but that's another story. Meryl's character in real life would be certainly a Trump voter and probably high on the Aspberger scale. Big Little Lies is a great tour de force by all the women in this series who bring this project together and as well as being great fiction highlights some very important social issues of our time, especially concerning women, their friendships and their relationships.
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Booksmart (2019)
6/10
Not my genre- A Mad Hatters Teen Party
11 July 2019
My Review- Booksmart 6/10

I find so called Professional movie reviewers opinions can differ enormously to your own and while sometimes a good guide and interesting to read they can lead you astray.

I always say the best movie critic for your particular taste in movies is yourself and I have a very broad taste in movies but American rom comes like Bridesmaids is not one of them.

Booksmart for me was one of those movies until I settled into it when I was debating whether to walk out. It was like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and all the characters were there it truly is a Mad Hatters Tea Party but not as interesting and totally aimed at a teenage audience between the ages of 15 and 20.

Unlike the brilliant 2017 coming of age movie Lady Bird ,which had plenty of humour and teenage angst this movie relies on at times gross Bridesmaids style humour and an ear splitting soundtrack that even overrides one of the most important scenes in the film. If I was a parent of a teenager it would scare the life out of me,especially with the recent drug overdose casualties of huge dance party's.

It's such an American stereotype movie the parents are cardboard comic cutouts the gay male characters are effeminate and I found slightly offensive and the lifestyle is American Dream home ,no one from struggle town in this film and the teenagers depicted are spoilt indulged brats.

After all that criticism I have to say Kaitlin Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly are excellent together and I believed they could be best friends but this movie was just not for me, judge it for yourselves.
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Gentleman Jack (2019– )
10/10
After the final episode : it's a TEN .
7 July 2019
My amended review of Gentleman Jack : Rating 10/10

I've just finished watching the final exhilarating 8th episode of Gentleman Jack on Foxtel and felt because of the excellence of the entire series I've added a point to my previous rating and given this series an unusual for me rating of 10/10.

There are a few reasons in my opinion for a perfect score and the main one is Suranne Jones as the lesbian heroine Anne Lister of the 17th Century who's true story wasn't discovered till her 27 volumes of personal diaries were decoded finally by academic Helena Whitbread in 1983.

Suranne Jones should win every accolade or award she will no doubt be nominated for as her performance is more than outstanding,she inhabits this character and brings her to life in a period historic setting but in a contemporary and totally believable manner as the whole series successfully manages to achieve. I place this series right up there with the original Brideshead Revisited and Downton Abbey and hope there may be perhaps another series.

Special praise for the Creator /Director Sally Wanwright and co directors Sarah Harding and Jennifer Perrott also Art directors Abbie Bellwood ,Richard Downes and Tom Atkins.

This production looks fabulous the costumes by Tom Pye, are beautiful whether their Anne Lister's masculine town and country clothes or the sumptuous gowns worn in the finest homes and courts of Europe.

The entire cast is faultless and the story is a window to history especially the closeted GLBT world and the life and times in England when Queen Victoria who had just been on the throne for 2 years when the story is set. What a pity she couldn't have read the diaries of Anne Lister, she certainly would have had to reluctantly change her opinion that Lesbianism was non existent.
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Amistad (1997)
8/10
A neglected gem and prequel to Lincoln.
6 July 2019
My Review Amistad- Rating 8/10

I missed this gem of a movie in the cinema release but obviously not the only one as it barely made half its $36 million USD production cost World Wide but I'm so glad I've added it to my DVD collection and can appreciate it years later.

In I997 Steven Spielberg Directed and Co Produced Armistad his first production for Fox Searchlight Films.

Based on a true story concerning a group of 53 African slaves who revolt and capture their ship The Amistad and are tricked by their captors who sail them to America where slavery was still legal in 1853 rather than Africa their homeland. They are all put on trial to fight for their freedom and lives while slave traders in Cuba and the young Queen Isabella of Spain in the unusual cast choice of New Zealander Anna Paquin claim that they own this human cargo of misery. Be warned there is violence and cruelty depicted in this film but it's necessary to portray the hideous treatment that their unscrupulous greedy captors inflicted on them.

There's some fine performances in this movie ,especially Anthony Hopkins as the frail old but razor sharp former American President John Quincy Adams ,who reluctantly eventually takes on the slaves final legal bid for freedom to The Supreme Court of The United States. Also great acting from Djimon Hounsou as Cinque the slave leader and Chiwetel Ejiofor in his first movie role as Ensign Covey the African entrepreneur,remember his later well deserved Oscar Nominated role in 12 Years A Slave? I was also impressed with Matthew McConaughey as Roger Sherman Baldwin the young lawyer who proves to be much more than the inexperienced over confident rookie he first appears to be and is so instrumental in the final outcome.

Steven Spielberg is a fine Director who has won 3 Academy Awards and nominated Seven times and I think this much overlooked movie is one of his finest films and almost a Prequel to Lincoln filmed in 2012 and much more applauded than the overlooked but equally compelling Amistad .
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Toy Story 4 (2019)
8/10
Sequels can work when there's Great Talent and Creativity
4 July 2019
My Review Toy Story 4. Rating 8.5

What better remedy for a miserable day than to take myself off to see possibly the last story in one of the most successful movie Franchises of all time.

Toy Story is the 22nd highest-grossing franchise worldwide, the fourth highest-grossing animated franchise, and is among the most critically acclaimed franchises of all time.

The talent and creativity that goes into Toy Story is phenomenal , since the first Toy Story Release in 1995 the creators at Pixar have maintained the high standards of the first film and continued the theme of inclusiveness and community in the 3 sequels.

Nowadays voice overs in animated features get full cast credits attract top names and are paid accordingly unlike the pioneer Disney features animated films like Snow White , Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty and Tom Hanks who has finally handed in Woody's Tin Star said that he was in tears while doing his final lines as his Toy Story character, Woody. The actor, who reprised his role for the last time in Toy Story 4, said ending their almost three-decade run together was a "terrible" feeling.

This Toy Story made me reflect on my favourite childhood toy Crow Shoot and I'm glad that on the occasional wet day I can suspend the reality of Adulthood and return to the innocent and uncomplicated days of my early childhood I highly recommend it to everyone, it's great to take your inner child out for the day.

Can you remember your favourite childhood toy.
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Yesterday (III) (2019)
6/10
Yesterday needed HELP! as it was a Long and Winding Road........
28 June 2019
My Review- Yesterday. I rate it 6.5

A Long and Winding Road that took a few bad turns.

I was really looking forward to go against some of the negative criticism Yesterday is receiving as I liked the original story concept portrayed in the trailers I saw but as often happens the trailer is better than the movie.

Yesterday is an Adult fantasy,a little Faustian ( sell your soul to the devil ) and Sliding Doors ( What if I took the different road) also Aladdin grant me my greatest wish. The trouble for me with this movie basically is the script,it just gets sillier and veers off in all directions until I started to lose interest.

I blame the Director Danny Boyle the story writer Jack Barth and Screenplay writer Richard Curtis ,who wrote great stories and Screenplays for Four Weddings and a Funeral , Bridget Jones Diary and Love Actually but also the horrible recent one for Mama Mia! Here We Go Again,which I notice gets about the same rating on IMBD as Yesterday, which could have been much better.

Yesterday I enjoyed much more than Mama Mia !Here We Go Again ,which also featured Lily James who plays Ellie Appleton in Yesterday .

Himesh Patel ( no relation to Dev Patel) plays Jack Malek a song writer musician who has been trying for years to be appreciated for his talent .

His manager Ellie ,who would like to be more than a friend and manager is the only one that has faith in Jack. Then a 7 second total World black out erases any reference to The Beatles and their music. Jack runs in to a car in the dark on his bike and wakes up in hospital and when it sinks in after searching the web that no one knows any of the Beatles music he decides this is his chance to become famous.

No more spoilers (that's all in the trailers )because I can't rubbish this movie as it's original but flawed and the cast are all very good ,especially Himesh Patel who sings and plays his own guitar while performing the Beatles songs .

Yesterday is worth seeing for the excellent cast and for Beatles music fans plus Ed Sheeran fans ,who plays himself very well and its entertaining and good fun in parts as The Beatles song goes "It Was a Hard Days Night " and the script needed "Help"!
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Fosse/Verdon (2019)
7/10
There's No Business Like Show Business
20 June 2019
Some professional film reviewers like my favourite David Stratton don't review Television productions I think it's a pity especially today when the standard of some television series far exceed some the current offerings at the cinema. This is reflected in the calibre of the actors and production that is evident in series like Fosse and Verdon ,Big Little Lies, Gentleman Jack and Years and Years.

Fosse and Verdon stars Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse one of the most famous Broadway and movie musical choreographers of the 20th Century and the incredibly talented Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon . When Verdon died at 75 in 2000, Broadway's marquee lights dimmed in her honor, and The New York Times coronated her "the best dancer ever to brighten the Broadway stage.

This Tele series covers the great triumphs of both the main characters from the beginning of their passionate and creative relationship . Gwen Verdon became Fosse 'S third wife and this terrific script ( so far anyway ) follows Fosse 's rise as the most sought after Broadway choreographer and director of shows like Pyjama Game ,Dam Yankees ,Cabaret (film) Chicago and his greatest collaboration with wife Gwen Verdon Sweet Charity.

To put it mildly Fosse was a womaniser and in today's Me Too era probably would have been called out for his indiscretions but as depicted so far in this series Verdon and Fosse were a creative force very rarely seen on Broadway and they seemed to roll with the punches.

This FX production,which also made Feud the terrific Bette Davis Joan Crawford series spares no expense to bring to life and recreate the lavish show numbers performed in the lifetime of Fosse and Verdon and the cast is excellent.

I'm still trying to find out if Kelli Barrett who is cast brilliantly as Liza Minnelli does her own singing? ( it's not Liza singing) I suspect she does but even if not her portrayal is amazing ,especially in the Mein Herr number from Cabaret.

There's No Business Like Show Business.
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Years and Years (2019– )
9/10
Chilling near future fiction that sadly is becoming FACT!
19 June 2019
I've just finished watching the final episode of Years and Years a new BBC Tele series that I hope is screened in Australia as I think everyone should see it.

Set in the very very near future from 2019 - 2034 in Manchester U.K. It's a family saga ,about the Lyons family an ordinary middle class family living working and loving in a world where loss of faith in institutions and Government has helped to created a dystopian world of suspicion and apathy.

Created by Stephen Russell Davies OBE better known as Russell T Davies, a Welsh screenwriter and television producer whose works include Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose, The Second Coming, Casanova, the 2005 revival of the BBC One science fiction series Doctor Who, and the trilogy Cucumber, Tofu, and Banana.

It 'S an impressive cast and very much an ensemble piece featuring the wonderful Anne Reid as the family matriarch or just Gran ,Muriel Deacon .

Rory Kinnear and Russell Tovey are the Lyon's brothers and Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook ,a Trumpian or Pauline Hanson like politician who's rise to the top from simple housewife to Prime Minister would seem impossible but for the fact that this scenario has already happened in World Politics today a stand up comedian was elected Prime Minister recently in the Ukraine and of course we have the USA and U.K. examples.

Even if you're not into futuristic movies watch this because it's great quality drama and worth the 6 hours of your time and the finale is startling ,unexpected and Anne Reid's dinner table speech at the finale is one of the greatest moments of Television drama I've seen in years.

The most compelling part of Years and Years is not the amazing technology or inventions or the calamities that occur ,they all are occurring in our world today ,to my mind it's the family and their daily living and how they cope with incredible change and in their modest way triumph over incredible adversity ,much the way many are doing the same in the world of 2019.

Yes, it's alarming ,frightening in parts but very moving and optimistic also,don't miss this one as there are great lessons to be learned from it ,we are so close to fiction becoming fact. I'm going to watch it again very soon in one large chunk as weekly instalments tend to break the continuity.
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Red Joan (2018)
6/10
Flat and fictitious-
11 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Red Joan My Review- 6:10

I think Trevor Nunn should stick to being an English theatre director. Nunn has been the Artistic Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, and, currently, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Alas these qualifications don't automatically transfer well to Cinema direction and in my opinion this is a very average film .

It has a great talented cast including Judi Dench , who as usual gives stature to any movie and a good performance as the aged Joan Stanley who is accused of espionage and giving secret information to Russia that would assist them in being able to process their own Atomic bomb.

Judi Dench' role is important in this story but not the major role ,that is played by Sophie Cookson as young Joan in flashbacks of how this fanciful tale , very loosely based on the true story of Melita Sirnis or Melita Norwood as she was known as when she was unmasked as a spy in 1999.

I've posted a little of the real life story of Melita or Red Joan as I suspected it would have made a much better film .

Perhaps the novel it's based by Jennie Rooney is better but the screenplay written by Lindsay Shapiro didn't impress me at all.

The character Red Joan is based on was a Communist , never migrated to Australia and her stated reasons for her betrayal were entirely different to the films story, she thought Communism was the preferred ideal.

As the information below states this film is another example of taking a story and altering the true facts and padding it with unnecessary fiction and cliches like the obligatory Gay blackmail exposure theme to enable Joan and her husbands escape to Australia.

Like most movies today the credits state that it's based on a true story in this case it just didn't ring true to me and I think if it had had better direction (example Morten Tildum The Imitation Game) and a better believable script eg( Graham Moore & Andrew Hodges Imitation Game) it may have worked.

...................................................................................................

From 1932, Sirnis worked as a secretary with the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. Towards the end of 1935, she married Hilary Nussbaum, who was of Russian descent (he later changed his name to Norwood), a chemistry teacher, teachers' trades union official, and lifelong communist. After the Independent Labour Party (ILP), of which she had become a member earlier in the decade, splintered in 1936, Melita Norwood joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The UK authorities were not aware of her party affiliation until very much later. The previous year, she was recommended to the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB) by Andrew Rothstein, a leading member of the CPGB, and became a full agent in 1937. In the same year, Norwood and her husband purchased a semi-detached house in the south London suburb of Bexleyheath, where they led an apparently unremarkable life together, and where she would live until she was 90.

A committed communist, Norwood said she had gained no material profit from her actions. In a statement Norwood read at the time of her exposure, she said: "I did what I did, not to make money, but to help prevent the defeat of a new system which had, at great cost, given ordinary people food and fares which they could afford, a good education and a health service." While she said she did not generally "agree with spying against one's country", she had hoped her actions would help "Russia to keep abreast of Britain, America and Germany".
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Poms (2019)
7/10
Entertaining feel good movie !
28 May 2019
Poms- my Review Rating 6.5

After seeing Diane Keaton's last romp with the sisters film "Book Club "and loathing it I was reluctant to see another peppy feel good chronologically challenged "women's movie" or men's movie after the horrible recent " Swimming With Men movie" but this was much better ?

I just can't resist Jacki Weaver,possibly Australias most underrated Hollywood export ever who has forged ahead with a fabulous Hollywood career since Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook which earned her 2 Oscar nominations.

I remember her from many stage performances in Australia like Born Yesterday and They're Playing Our Song." We don't often get to see her great sense of comedy.( in fact I remember her as a pop diva on Australian bandstand singing hits like My Boy Lollipop 🍭

In this film which she steals from Diane Keaton with her natural comedic talent she plays Sheryl a heart of gold rough diamond who befriends the sad scared (Want to be left alone Martha ) after she sells up her home and moves to a retirement community to die. They form a cheerleading club Poms and have a lot of fun and connection to other elderly women on the way. Yes it's another Let's Put on a Show and show em movie with a lightweight script but it has some very funny moments .

It's not a film for young people but unlike Book Club if has a heart . Its not a great film a little silly and sentimentality times but we enjoyed it . It certainly doesn't deserve some of the awful reviews I've read about it and as the couple in the lift said after the movie "wasn't it fun? So nice to go to a feel good movie "

and yes it was - Entertaining-
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Rocketman (2019)
9/10
Nearly snuffed out like A Candle In The Wind- This Phoenix Rose Again
25 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Rocketman- My Review 9/10

This movie is a celebration of a talented life saved from the brink of death due to addiction.

It's a joyful romp tinged with drama and sadness and much more like a musical which and I predict it will eventually become a Stage musical.

The musical numbers and fantasy are choreographed beautifully and it's no coincidence that Sir Elton John as Executive Producer and creator of the musical Billy Elliott has assembled a superb cast including the original star of the 2000 film of Billy Elliott Jamie Bell who is outstanding as Elton's music partner Bernie Taupin.

Taren Edgerton, is superb as Elton John and unlike Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody sings all Elton's great hits himself.

Director Dexter Fletcher knows how to make a biography interesting and entertaining without seeming like a documentary.

Dexter Fletcher was bought into finish the troubled Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018 after Bryan Singer was fired. Rocketman is a very different style to Bohemian Rhapsody which had a more documentary feel at times .

The movie 🎥 definitely reminded me of two musicals The Boy from Oz and Billy Elliott,especially the childhood scenes and Matthew Illesley as young Elton is very impressive as is Gemma Jones as Ivy ,Elton's grandmother ,who I'm sure the Grandmother in Billy Elliott is based on ,she has "baggage." The entire cast are impressive,especially Richard Madden who plays Elton's manager / opportunist lover in the dark days of Elton's decline from Addiction.

Lee Hall the scriptwriter, who's previous film scripts include Billy Elliott, Victoria and Abdul and War Horse has managed to portray the great emotion and sadness of Elton's life then contrasts this with the exhilarating climb to stardom in Elton's early career which later turns to betrayal,despair and loneliness when his life is nearly snuffed out by addiction "Like a Candle in the Wind.

We know the ending because Elton John is still very much alive and preparing for his retirement world tour . He has a happy marriage to partner David Furnish and two children Zachary and Elijah.

Nothing like a happy ending ,especially when his mother says in the movie after Elton tells her he is gay that she doesn't care but he'll spend his life never being loved and lonely.
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Aladdin (2019)
6/10
Aladdin or The Will Smith Show?
24 May 2019
My Review- Aladdin I rate 6.5

I really am a sucker for classic Disney films but I think this one like Beauty and the Beast and Dumbo to my mind miss the boat ,possibly because humanising animation classics or trying to bring them up to date adds nothing to the original.

It's a good cast Mena Massoud as Aladdin is engaging as the rascally Aladdin ,Naomi Scott is charming and feisty as Princess Jasmine and has a lovely voice . Will Smith is very talented but at times the whole movie just seems to be the Will Smith show. Will is cast as The Genie and Mariner and just doesn't have the humour and brilliance of Robin Williams or his voice in the original animated classic.

Aladdin has already been humanised in the Broadway musical brilliantly but this is not a film of the musical,perhaps a pity they didn't make it one.

There are only 4 original songs from the musical and one good new song for Naomi Scott to belt out "Speechless " an anthem to transform Princess Jasmine into a modern woman of today ready to take on any man who tries to takes her power away ,which is a good role model for children watching the movie but alas I think they'd be bored by the time it arrives.

There are some very good scenes in Aladdin , like Aladdin's entrance into Agrabah,it's the best entrance into a city since Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra entered Rome and if it's the first time you've seen Aladdin there's lots to like but I hope this is the last version and I also hope and think the new humanised Lion King will be better.

I imagine when Studio executives sit around discussing these hopefully multi million dollar blockbuster remakes that the main requirements discussed are ,let's pour the cash in to get an A list Star and Director plus the latest CGI which I'm beginning to think stands for Costly Graphic Indigestion.

What ever happened to let's do something new and original that hasn't been done to death before ,perhaps the last 2 or 3 poor box office performers from Disney may change their mind. The most successful Disney revisit and not a remake lately has been Mary Poppins Returns,which cost USD 130,000,000to produce and so far World wide has grossed USD349,219,485 it out grossed Dumbo, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ,which barely covered its production cost but I quite enjoyed for it's originality.

I look forward to Lion King with Avengers :Endgame director Jon Favreau and an amazing cast I hope I can give it a 9 or 10 rating.
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Gentleman Jack (2019– )
10/10
Step back Calamity Jane Anne Lister was a real trail blazer. I amended this review after the final episode
20 May 2019
Suranne Jones gives another great performance in Gentleman Jack based on the true story of Anne Lister a trail blazing lesbian who makes Calamity Jane seem like a lady at a flower show.

This 8 part series is beautifully set in West Yorkshire when Anne returns home to her family determined to transform the fading fortunes of her Ancestral home Shibden Hall and find a wife.

Suranne Jones interviewed on a recent Graham Norton show said that Anne Lister's coded diaries were discovered after her death .

As well as her life story when the code was broken her amorous exploits with women , which of course had to be secret were divulged in graphic detail.

This looks like a fascinating series I've just watched episode 1 and look forward to the next 7 instalments . This is a BBC/ HBO series and I hope ABC picks it up for local Australian viewers.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

I've just finished watching the final exhilarating 8th episode of Gentleman Jack on Foxtel and felt because of the excellence of the entire series I've added a point to my previous rating and given this series an unusual for me rating of 10/10.

There are a few reasons in my opinion for a perfect score and the main one is Suranne Jones as the lesbian heroine Anne Lister of the 17th Century who's true story wasn't discovered till her 27 volumes of personal diaries were decoded finally by academic Helena Whitbread in 1983.

Suranne Jones should win every accolade or award she will no doubt be nominated for as her performance is more than outstanding,she inhabits this character and brings her to life in a period historic setting but in a contemporary and totally believable manner as the whole series successfully manages to achieve. I place this series right up there with the original Brideshead Revisited and Downton Abbey and hope there may be perhaps another series.

Great news I just read there will be a Series 2 due to the well deserved success of series one. Special praise for the Creator /Director Sally Wanwright and co directors Sarah Harding and Jennifer Perrott also Art directors Abbie Bellwood ,Richard Downes and Tom Atkins.

This production looks fabulous the costumes by Tom Pye, are beautiful whether their Anne Lister's masculine town and country clothes or the sumptuous gowns worn in the finest homes and courts of Europe.

The entire cast is faultless and the story is a window to history especially the closeted GLBT world and the life and times in England when Queen Victoria who had just been on the throne for 2 years when the story is set. What a pity she couldn't have read the diaries of Anne Lister, she certainly would have had to reluctantly change her opinion that Lesbianism was non existent.
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Gloria Bell (2018)
5/10
Dysfunctional and boring characters the Cats ok
1 May 2019
Unfortunately as much as I admire Julianne Moore , she is a favourite actress of mine and really is the only reason I went to see this movie for but for me even her intelligent and convincing performance could not win me over with this tribute to dysfunctional families.

We all have friends of family members who could be categorised as dysfunctional or just weird or who are always making bad calls regarding their decisions regarding partners or alcohol and drug use. I ask would you really want to watch them screwing up their lives in a movie for an hour and 42 minutes? I don't.

The only character I liked in this film was the persistent cat that eventually got through to Gloria and kept appearing in her apartment trying to win over her affection and attention.

The plot and behaviour of the characters totally lost me after a very interesting start which seemed to go off in all directions .

It's a thumbs down from me and I'll look forward to "Bel Canto "Julianne Moore's next Movie . My recommendation is watch the trailer and read the lyrics to the song Gloria used at the conclusion of the movie or wait for a television release.

Gloria Laura Branigan Gloria, you're always on the run now Running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow I think you've got to slow down before you start to blow it I think you're headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it You really don't remember, was it something that he said? Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria? Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'? If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'? You don't have to answer Leave them hangin' on the line, oh oh oh, calling Gloria Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria) I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria) But you really don't remember, was it something that they said? Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria? A ha...
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The Aftermath (II) (2019)
8/10
Keira Knightly at her best :
29 April 2019
My Review The Aftermath : 8/10

I agree with a movie 🎥 going friend of mine who says Don't take any notice of any bad reviews that this movie has received .

In my opinion The Aftermath is a very good and thought provoking film.

Keira Knightly, often suffers the same bad reception that Nicole Kidman sometime receives and it's not justified because both actresses have given fine performances and this is one of Keira's best.

I'm glad as I didn't think her last role as Colette suited her and like Nicole she sometimes makes bad choices in roles.

This movie is set in Hamburg Germany 🇩🇪 the second largest shipping port in Europe which had more bombs dropped on it than London did in the entirety of World War 2 . The result was a firestorm that killed 42,600 people and nearly destroyed the city. I remember visiting Hamburg about 6 years ago and being so moved by a visit to Nikolaikirche The Church of St NICHOLAS that has been preserved as a charred ruin in commemoration of the fire storm devastation of July 1943 in Operation Gomorrah complete with burnt and scarred gargoyles and blackened stone .

This is the setting of The Aftermath and it's easy to understand the fear and animosity that the surviving German civilians felt toward the conquering allied occupation.

Keira Knightly plays Rachael Morgan a mother mourning the loss of her son killed by German bombs . She arrives in Hamburg to reunite with her husband Lewis Morgan played very effectively by Jason Clark and to occupy a magnificent home and evict its German owners .

The mistrust and hate that Rachael has for the handsome blonde German Alexander Skarsgard cast as Stephen Lubert who also is mourning the death of his wife gradually develops and changes into attraction and an emotional triangle involving both the English and German families .

There's also some other excellent performances by Flora Thiemann as Freda Lubert the troubled daughter of Stephen Lubert and Martin Comptson who plays Burnham a cold and vengeful soldier.

The motives and behaviour of all these characters is easy to understand if taken in context with the turmoil and emotional upheaval of this period after the war when the world was turned upside down and The Aftermath of it affected lives of millions of people for decades to come.

It's a very good film and deserves more good reviews.
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The Chaperone (2018)
9/10
Julian Fellows triumphs again
27 April 2019
Julian Fellows creator of Downton Abbey and 2002 Oscar Winner for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park is a master of storytelling and character development.

The Chaperone is such an interesting insight into the differences in attitudes , judgements and moral and racial prejudices of the early 1920's between 2 American cities Kansas and New York.

I really liked the way Julian Fellows has made The Chaperone Norma the main character rather than her much later famous ward Louise Brooks played beautifully by Haley Lu Richardson , recently also very impressive in Five Feet Apart. The story is seen through the life experience of Norma ,who at first seems uncomplicated and sweet but as the story develops we soon know why Norma's not in Cherryville Kansas anymore .

I think this is the best role I've seen Elizabeth Mc Govern play we're so used to her famous role of Cora Crawley Countess of Grantham that this role as the Chaperone at times very dramatic and other times so touching and intelligent is a refreshing example of this actress and her range.

Louise Brooks went on to become one of the most famous and at times infamous Silent movie Jazz Age Stars and this movie is only a snapshot of Louise before her Hollywood fame. Haley Lu Richardson gives us a glimpse of why her determination and devil may care attitude propelled her to stardom but later sent her crashing to earth and virtual retirement in 1938 until much later her memoir Lulu in Hollywood published in 1982 3 years before she died caused such a renewed interest in her films and talent.

As in previous Julian Fellows productions the attention to detail in costumes sets and direction are faultless .

I really loved this film and thoroughly recommend it.
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7/10
A pleasant surprise and so well acted
12 April 2019
My Review- Five Feet Apart . My rating 7/10

It's really refreshing when you don't know any of the actors in a movie and they impress you with their performances and sincerity.

Haley Lu Richardson I discover I have seen before in Split the James Mc Evoy thriller playing one of the terrified kidnap victims and she was very good in that film also .

This time she co stars as Stella with Cole Bruce as Will and Mouses Arias as Poe a stand out role who gets some great scenes.

This trio of young teenagers all have cystic fibrosis and are undergoing treatment in hospital that can't save them but may give them some extra years of life .

Stella and Will eventually fall in love after a bumpy start to their relationship while Poe is Stella's childhood friend and confidante who happens to be gay and about to turn 18 when the American health system deems that now you're on your own now and must finance your own health treatment.

It's an unusual love story and makes you aware of the plight that people with any disability or infectious or terminal disease go through. In this case they can't touch each other at all hence the title Five Feet Apart because of the risk of deadly infectious bacteria from each other but they still can fall in love and experience all the emotions and senses except touch.

It may sound a depressing film , it's not I found it very uplifting funny in parts sentimental in others and extremely well acted and I'll look out for these 3 young actors in the future.
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8/10
A buried Cinematic treasure and pleasure
11 April 2019
I love discovering lost Cinema treasures and recently listening to a Michael Feinstein interview with acclaimed Hollywood film composer and later Classical orchestra conductor Andre Previn ,who passed away earlier this year I became interested in the 1962 film that Previn composed the score for The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

It intrigues me when a film with such great talent as this one as well as having an Andre Previn score ,which is dramatic and very beautiful in parts also had Vincente Minnelli as Director and a terrific cast headed by Glenn Ford bombed so disastrously . It was a very lavish production estimated to cost U.S. $6.5 million and grossed less than $2 million?

I ordered the soundtrack then found Warner Bros Archive ,who has released so many rare movies on DVD had it in their catalogue,so of course I wanted to see it.

I was so pleasantly surprised to find 4 Horseman is a lost treasure. It's an epic movie 153 minutes long about a wealthy Argentine family split by the allegiance of part of the family to Hitler and the Nazi party and the other members trying to stay neutral.

The playboy son Julio Desnoyers played very effectively I thought ( critics didn't) by Glenn Ford arrives in Paris in 1938 and becomes infatuated with Marguerite Laurier played beautifully by Ingrid Thulin the famous and very beautiful Swedish film actress. Andre Previn's haunting love theme is so beautiful in that classic Golden Years of Hollywood style.

The Apocalypse of course is Hitlers invasion of Paris in May 1940 and the loves and lives that are decimated by war when families have to choose sides some for survival some to be Patriotic and true to their faith in Liberty and freedom.

Vincente Minnelli's sets designs and direction are superb and the costumes by Rene Hubert and Walter Plunkett are beautiful,perhaps a little out of timeline ?

This really is a movie worth a look ,perhaps it failed because of the subject matter or bad reviews ,which it didn't deserve? It wouldn't be the first good movie for bad reviews to kill it off at the box office.

It's perhaps a little dated and perhaps melodramatic for today's standards but so is All About Eve and that's being performed on stage in London at the moment but that's another story.

I'm certainly glad I have an inquisitive mind and very broad taste in movies and movie music because I'm constantly rewarded when I discover buried treasure .
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7/10
Sad movie about Ego and Genius
9 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
My Review - The Happy Prince - 7/10

I have to be honest I can't say I enjoyed this movie as there's not a joyful moment in it but it's very good Cinema and a labour of love and ego by writer,director and star Rupert Everett . This film was ten years in the making while Everett finished the script and found finance and production funding.

After seeing Mapplethorpe the other night ,another biopic of an iconic 20th Century Gay icon ( Oscar just saw 1900 in before his death ) which I think is the better movie the one common thread in both personalities is their shared enormous ego and their genius . It's astonishing to think that it was only 60 years between Mapplethorpe 's great fame and Oscars sad premature death Oscar was 46 and Mapplethorpe was 42.

Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying " The moment is now choose to use your ego instead of Letting it use you."

In both cases I think Wilde and Mapplethorpe's ego was their ultimate destroyer. Emily Watson ,who plays Constance Wilde in the movie says at one point when talking to Edwin Thomas cast as Oscar's one last true friend and past lover Robbie Ross that Oscar destroys everyone who loves him and there's an element of truth in that.

I didn't realise till the end credits that Robbie's ashes are entombed with Oscar . I remember visiting Oscar Wilde's Tomb at Père-Lachaise cemetery and then it was covered with lipstick kisses ,it 's now been cleaned and has a glass barrier to stop this from happening,he's even been robbed of affection after Death.

The inscription on Oscars tomb reads -And alien tears will fill for him Pity's long- broken urn, For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn.

I was very pleased to hear that Bowsie Lord Alfred Douglas played exceptionally well by Irish actor Colin Morgan died in 1942 penniless, he was certainly a shallow and was the prime cause of the ruin and disgrace of Oscar Wilde.

I hope this is the last movie about the life of Oscar Wilde , it's a very good portrayal not at all sympathetic and I'm not certain how accurate? The difference I think in Stephen Fry's interpretation in his film Wilde is it showed the wit and humour and the affection Wilde had for his wife and family after all he wrote the Happy Prince story for his sons in 1888.

Rupert Everett has written ,directed and starred in The Happy Prince ,never a good idea I think as ego has to rule in the end but saying that he had done a good job and just covered the sad last few years of Wilde's absinthe,cocaine soaked years after his torturous trial and cruel imprisonment in Reading Gaol.

Strange to think Oscar Wilde's torment sowed the seeds for Gay Liberation but it wasn't till Stonewall in 1969 when Robert Mapplethorpe was becoming famous that the seeding started to grow and in 72 countries in the world today homosexuality is still criminalised, we can't be complacent.
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Mapplethorpe (2018)
8/10
Matt Smith is superb !
6 April 2019
If this was a mainstream cinema release rather than a Gay film festival movie I suspect Matt Smith would have been included in all the major acting nominees for this years awards. Matt Smit gives an amazing performance as Michael Mapplethorpe the famous art photographer for the late 1960's 1970's.

Of course he was a cultural gay icon and the movie does show his famous male erotic photos as well as the beautiful floral subjects he also photographed. It was the era in New York if promiscuous sex when thousands of men died of AIDS including Mapplethorpe who died in 1989 age 42.

Mapplethorpe says in the movie That he wouldn't reach the age of 50 but he hoped he'd be famous before he dies and he was correct on both counts.

The film won 7 audience awards at International Film Festivals and it's easy to understand why as Director Ondi Timoner and the great supporting cast especially Marianne Rendon as Patti Smith and Brandon Sklenar as Edward Mapplethorpe Roberts brother have contributed to make a very interesting and entertaining movie that should be seen by all just not the GLBTQI audiences.

If male erotic nudity in photography or mild homosexual sexual content offends this movie is not for you but as I watched this film I thought of all explicit heterosexual sexual content in films our community sits through and it made me think if one day so called GLBTQ movies will be shown alongside mainstream movies and therefore gain a much wider audience. I also wondered watching Mapplethorpe if the Art and Photography of that amazing psychedelic era of Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol would be viewed as such valuable masterpieces if created today but I guess it's like saying that if a painter today painted like a renaissance master like Leonard Da Vinci or Michelangelo would we think it old fashioned ? We watched Matt Smith yesterday play another famous Gay cultural icon Christopher Isherwood in his 2011 movie Christopher and His Kind in which he plays another very different gay man and I agree with his stance of defending straight actors who play gay characters as far as I'm concerned it's the best actor to suit the part regardless of sexuality and Matt Smith I think is perfect in this role. Hi see it or catch it on DVD or stream release.
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8/10
Such a clever script and concept-
4 April 2019
What a clever quirky little movie that proves when done well the British succeed where other fail.

No plot or spoilers here as it would ruin the movie but all the performances headed by Bill Nighy as Alan are superb. Bill Nighy plays droll eccentric old men better than anyone I can think of I can't imagine anyone else doing justice to this role. The last time I saw Bill Nighy in a movie was The Bookshop and even though it was not the starring role ,he played an almost Dickensian character he stole that movie

The only thing I'll say about the story is that it's about two families,both have suffered loss and both are bought together by the game of Scrabble.

The supporting cast of Sam Riley as Peter Alan's son and Jenny Agutter ,(out of habit as Sister Jullienne) well and truly in this film plays Margaret touchingly and with great humour ,this is a very funny movie ,almost a comedy but with a lot of pathos Tim McInnerny as Margaret 's droll husband is also very good. Also the rest of the cast Alice Lowe ,as Peters wife and Oliver Sindcup as young Peter are very very good.

Frank Cottrell Boyce ,who wrote screenplays for Goodbye Christopher Columbus ,Railway Man,and Hillary and Jackie among other films and television is one of the most respected writers for the British screen and it's easy to understand why.

I don't know much about director the Carl Hunter but if Sometimes Always Never is an example of his directing I hope to see more of his movies.

Don't miss this one.
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