This film is based on a story written by Lynda La Plante which was originally made as a six part miniseries that was shown on ITV in 1983. It was very popular in the UK at the time and was the start of a successful career in crime shows for the writer. The original series was set in East London and the show started with a security van catching fire in the Kingsway Underpass at Waterloo Bridge. This remake has moved the action to Chicago. The script has been co-written by director Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn, the writer of Gone Girl. It is possible to see connections between the two films. They are both gritty, urban films with intelligent, believable dialogue.
The quality of the writing and directing team shines throughout and they have made Widows into a terse modern thriller. It has the edge of the seat moments, great characters and good plot twists – all the crowd pleasing elements necessary for an entertaining heist movie. It also has components that fix it firmly in todays society, with attention given to both the #metoo and #BlackLivesMatter movements. These actually add to the realism of the storyline and increase your connection with the characters portrayed.
The cast list is impressive too with some big names even in the smaller roles. Robert Duvall delivers a good cameo as a cynical, corrupt retired politician, handing over to his, not yet quite as corrupted, son – a part nicely played by Colin Farrell. Daniel Kaluuya is brilliant as a cold, hard, nasty villain. I hope he gets another best supporting actor nomination for this. The best parts in this film though are for women and all four grab the opportunities with both hands. Elizabeth Debicki is wonderful as Alice, a woman who has been brought up to please men, but gradually realises that she has the ability to have her own voice too. Viola Davis won best supporting actress Oscar a couple of years ago, her performance here must put her in contention for one in a leading role. Veronica is a beautifully written part and she pitches it perfectly.
The cinematography is great. Sean Bobbitt shows us Chicago from many different viewpoints and we are given the sense that it is a city of affluence and poverty, often in close proximity. Without direct words we are shown how short a step it is, from luxury to danger. The soundtrack is by Hans Zimmer and his use of Nina Simone’s Wild is the Wind to underpin a poignant moment is beautifully done.
Widows is so good because it touches on issues like political corruption, racism, sexism, domestic violence, religion and the difficulty of getting babysitters without them being the main thrust of the story. Steve McQueen has done a very good job of making an entertaining, enjoyable, thriller of a heist movie, where the protagonists are believable people with the real world going on in the background.
I enjoyed Arrival, it has a lot of interesting ideas. It took me a little while to adjust, because, having seen the posters of huge alien space ships hovering over major cities, I went in expecting a Hollywood sci-fi special effects blockbuster. This is more of an indie film given a larger than usual budget. Once I had realised that and changed my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story is good, both thought provoking and positive. Normally, I like linear narrative, but on this occasion the oblique storytelling suited the tale and the mood of the movie. The lead character is a little two dimensional, but beautifully acted by Amy Adams. The direction is fantastic, Denis Villeneuve has the confidence to make it very slow and deliberate, unusual in the sci-fi genre. He also had the bravery to open himself to the possibility of ridicule, by showing us the alien ships, showing us the aliens, defining their method of communication. This could have seemed preposterous, but in the end, they seemed believable and, particularly in the case of the writing, even beautiful.
The cinematography is lovely, very clever juxtaposition between the wide open spaces of Montana and the cramped confines of their camp. The soundtrack is exceptional, worthy of listening to even without the accompanying film. Everything about this film is high quality, however, the bang that you get for your buck is much more cerebral than is usual in a Hollywood Sci-fi blockbuster, and you should be aware of that before you decide to go.
Arrival was nominated for 8 Oscars at the 2017 Academy Awards, including best movie, but the only one it won was for achievement in sound editing. It appears in many best of year lists for 2016, topping some of them.
The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 comedy/thriller classic of the British Film Industry. It was Hitchcock’s breakout success and convinced David O. Selznick to offer him a seven feature deal in Hollywood. It was Michael Redgrave’s first movie part. Margaret Lockwood was already a leading lady, but this was her biggest film to date. It is also notable for being the first appearance of Charters and Caldicott a cricket obsessed comedy duo who were very famous throughout the 1940s.
The film was a huge hit, not only in the UK but also in the US, where it won the New York Times award for best film of 1938. The crime/suspense element of the film is very good with a very clever intricate story. The comedy is genuinely funny, the leading couple have great chemistry and their bickering is arch and witty. The supporting characters add to the entertainment, whether its the whimsical humour of Wayne and Radford as Charters and Caldicott, the slapstick of Emile Boreo as the Hotel Manager, or even the awkward situational comedy of “Mr and Mrs” Todhunter.
This movie is almost 80 years old, so there are parts which seem unsophisticated from a modern perspective, but for me, this adds to its charm. I love the opening scene, where the avalanche has delayed the train. To our refined eye, it is patently a set up model, but although we know this, it works perfectly well and sets the stage to start the story.
It is one of the films that contains the traditional Hitchcock cameo, very near the end of the film, he appears on Victoria station. Although he was nominated at the Academy awards, as best director, five times, he never won any of them. So this movie was his only award for best director, he won the New York Times award in 1939. This film is a significant piece of British cinema history as well as being a very enjoyable watch.
This is the Hollywood film adaptation of a hugely successful 2005 Swedish book. It follows a highly regarded 2009 Swedish movie of the same story. It is a brave undertaking to attempt the third retelling of a story that has already been done twice, so well and so recently. However “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” acquits itself admirably – it is different enough to be interesting and stylish enough to be enjoyable.
The film is a thriller and it stars Daniel Craig, so comparisons are inevitable. He says that he worked hard not to be seen as James Bond in this film and the thrills are more psychological than action, but it still comes across as a more thoughtful installment of the 007 genre. If the film company did not want comparisons with that franchise, they should have avoided using the, admittedly very good, opening credits. Once you imagine “What James Bond does on his holidays” at the start, the thought stays with you throughout the film.
I loved Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress and it was well deserved. The original title of the book in Swedish was “Men Who Hate Women” and Lisbeth is almost the woman who exacts revenge. In this version she is quite different from the character written in the book but she manages to keep the same attitude and demeanour. The violence is pretty full-on, but it is an angry and aggressive story, so although I am generally not a fan of shocking brutality in films, there is a good argument here, that it is relevant to the narrative.
The acting throughout is admirable, Stellan Skarsgard is excellent as Martin. The scenery is gorgeous. The cinematography is lovely, this received an Academy Award nomination too.
The film is polished and sleek, beautiful to watch and directed with a cold detachment which adds, both to the climate in which it is set and to the chilling story it relates. It was nominated for five Oscars, it won the one for best film editing.
This is a professional, well made, efficient Hollywood movie. Recommended.
Sense and Sensibility is a good film, but I believe that it is almost false advertising to call it by that name. The story is so changed from the book that, although the characters have the same names and the final result is the same, it is totally unrecognisable in places as the same story. Some quite major characters have been killed off. John Middleton is now a widower and their young child no longer in the story. Lucy Steele’s sister, who blabs the whole story if the illicit engagement, is not in the film. Hugh Grant is far too affable in character for the grumpy Edward Ferrars in the book. Alan Rickman too easily wins Marianne over after her disappointment in Willoughby. In fact, in this film, almost the least charming character is Willoughby, who in the book wins over Marianne, and her mother, by his easy false charm.
The acting is good, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman are very good playing the romantic leads in a costume drama set in the 18th century. Emma Thompson is full of repressed emotion and Kate Winslett is fine as an impulsive teenager falling in love easily and recovering easily. Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie are wonderfully funny as Mr and Mrs Palmer.
There are some great moments of humour, the script has some wonderful lines. It is visually very attractive and there is much to admire in the period detail. A great deal of care and attention went into the making of this film and it shows throughout the movie.
It was nominated for seven Oscars. It won the one for best adapted screenplay. It was hugely popular and led to a revival of sales of Jane Austen’s novels and for these reasons it must be celebrated. I would probably have liked it more had I not read the novel itself so recently.
The film itself is most enjoyable but do go to see it as a Hollywood representation of upper class England in the late 1790s and not as a faithful adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, the book.
I quite like the Star Wars franchise. I see all of them, but there are so many now and they are released in such a weird order that I don’t know whether this was a prequel to the first or the sequel to the third. Whatever it is, it is a very enjoyable stand alone movie.
I watched it in 3D in the I-Max in Waterloo. This is the largest screen in the UK, as they kept telling us, and although that may have enhanced the experience, the special effects are excellent.
Disney have taken over the series, so the aliens have become one level cuter, but this is a war film, so expect battle scenes. It’s not quite The Muppets remake Apocalypse Now, but a few more episodes down the line…. who knows.
I loved the strong female lead, Felicity Jones is great as Jyn. The storyline is simple yet strong, and the whole cast are very engaging. There are some funny moments in the film and the battle scenes had an interesting 1980s retro feel.
It has even been nominated for two Academy Awards, I hope it wins the one for best visual effects, they are very well done.
A very good addition to Star Wars canon.
I am almost loathe to review this because so much has been written about it over the past few weeks, nevertheless here is my two cents worth.
I understand why this movie has had such mixed reviews. The plot has holes, the storyline is unlikely, the dialogue is stilted on occasion, the music is not quite jazz…..
However, I enjoyed its inventiveness, the cinematography is amazing, the soundtrack is pretty and the ending is perfect and touching. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are likeable and fully committed to their roles. Their singing and dancing is good too.
The opening sequence sets the scene well, if you don’t like that, you can leave early, because you won’t like the rest of the film – it has the best dance routine and it lets you know that you are going to touch reality only intermittently.
I particularly loved the complexity of the final scene, a definite homage to “An American in Paris”. This finale was never going to be universally acclaimed and Damien Chazelle must have realised this and decided to go for it anyway. It was a brave decision and this final song gives the film a new depth and intensity.
The good parts of this film are so good that you want to overlook the less good bits. All in all it is one the best films that I have seen in years.
I hope it wins some Academy Awards; definitely best cinematography, probably best original score, possibly even best director and best film.
I really liked this film. I really disliked this film. They say about good art; it invokes strong feelings.
I found the story preachy and two dimensional. There was no suspense and you will foresee the end, before you are five minutes into the film. It made me think of the 1930’s movie “Reefer Madness” or the 1970’s “Go Ask Alice” – remade for the 21st Century.
However….it is very well made. The acting, writing, direction and soundtrack are all very good.
Ellen Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for her part in this and she is wonderful. Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans are very good too. All four characters are beautifully written and we genuinely care about what happens to them. The direction is clever, Darren Aaronofsky illustrates the circuits of addiction elegantly, so it is compelling to watch – even as you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be watching.
Finally, the soundtrack is fantastic. Clint Mansell and The Brodsky Quartet, have created a hypnotic and immersive soundscape that fits perfectly with the mood of this film.
This is a great movie. I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t think it was made for enjoyment, but it is still good art.
This was on at the BFI as part of a Spielberg retrospective. The 450 seat auditorium was full on a Friday night for a 41 year old movie. That fact alone testifies to the strength of this film.
It was my first time seeing it and I was surprised at how well it has stood the test of time. It is a thriller that delivers thrills. It is the first time that I have heard gasps from the audience in a movie theatre in a very long time, the face in the boat is a genuine, jump back in your seat, moment. The character development is good and the script is excellent, it has some very funny moments to lighten the mood. The music is possibly the most famous film score ever and it matches the action perfectly. The only part of the movie that shows its age is the shark itself, but even this is interesting to see from a history of cinema perspective.
Jaws won 3 Academy Awards; editing, score and sound. The only surprise is that it didn’t win more. It regularly appears in lists of all-time best films. Having just seen it, 41 years late, its inclusion in those lists is fully justified.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is light, frothy escapism. The story is an unlikely but likeable tale involving the concierge, played by Ralph Fiennes, aided by the lobby boy, played by Tony Revolori.
It is crammed with famous actors in cameo roles. Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton are particularly memorable, but there are so many others that you could spend the whole movie saying “Oh look! Isn’t that…..”
The jokes are off-beat and sometimes off-colour. The script contains some nice aphorisms and some good one line jokes. The characters are a lovely mixture of smarmy and sharp.
The sets and set pieces are extraordinary and absorbing. It was nominated for 9 Academy awards and best set design was one of those it won. The costumes and the acting are wonderfully camp, it also won Oscars for best make-up and best costume design.
I didn’t find any great universal truths in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” but I smiled for the full hour and a half and that is definitely a recommendation.