Albert Finney

Albert Finney

Albert Finney Quick Links

News Video Film RSS

Skyfall Review


Good
Things get very personal for 007 in this high-quality thriller, which keeps us gripped even if it never gets our pulses racing. This shouldn't be surprising, since the director is Sam Mendes, known for more dramatic movies like American Beauty and Revolutionary Road. And he gives the film a deep gravitas that we're not used to in the Bond franchise, as well as coaxing the cast to darkly introspective performances.

That's not to say the action is lacklustre. The opening sequence in Istanbul is a riotous chase through the city streets, across the rooftops and onto a train rocketing through a mountainous landscape. At the end of this, Bond (Craig) is presumed dead while the baddie gets away with a list of Western spies. As he starts releasing names publicly, things get difficult for MI6 boss M (Dench), who is pressured to resign by a government minister (Fiennes). So when Bond returns, M puts him on the case, sending him to Shanghai, where he stalks a mysterious woman (Marlohe) to Macau and meets the camp villain Silva (Bardem). Back in Britain, Silva leads Bond and M on a nasty cat-and-mouse chase that ends up at Skyfall, Bond's ancestral home in the Highlands.

Unlike the usual Bond baddie, Silva isn't remotely interested in global domination or incredible wealth: he has a very personal score to settle, which means that there's no ticking time-bomb underneath the action. In other words, Bond is fighting to save his life, not the planet. Which makes the film feel oddly smaller than we expect. On the other hand, this also allows the filmmakers and actors to develop the relationships more intriguingly than usual. Most notable is the close connection between Bond and M, played with with edgy subtlety by Craig and Dench while Bardem steals every scene with his witty innuendo.

Other characters are strong as well, including Harris as Bond's spy colleague, Whishaw as the clever gadget-geek Q, and an almost unrecognisable Finney as Bond's oldest friend. And Marlohe stirs in the only hint of sex and mystery. Each adds life and energy to the film, as does a continual stream of references to 50 years of Bond movies. Some of these are subtle (a 1962 Scotch) while others get a laugh (that iconic Aston Martin DB5). And along the way, Mendes laces the personal drama with political intrigue and some spectacularly staged action scenes. It's consistently entertaining, even if it's dark and thoughtful rather than exhilarating and fun.

Rich Cline

Skyfall Trailer


James Bond, the legendary MI6 spy we all know and love, is starting to struggle with his own morality in terms of his government job. A psychiatrist notices his unhealthy associations with bits of his career which puts doubts in his future capability. In addition to that, his trust in his boss M is put to the test as her past starts to creep back up on her. MI6 is then place under threat by a nefarious villain known as Raoul Silva. Though, with 007 questioning his own loyalty to the government, just how far is he willing to go to protect it?

Continue: Skyfall Trailer

The Bourne Legacy Trailer


The CIA is confronted with the consequences of previous events that have taken place involving Jason Bourne. They decide that they must shut down Operation Outcome (the subsequent operation to Operation Treadstone) which will involve the assassination of Outcome agent Aaron Cross and Doctor Stephanie Snyder who helped produce the agents. They must find an escape or be killed.

Continue: The Bourne Legacy Trailer

Skyfall Trailer


James Bond struggles with his career, experiencing lassitude and depression concerning his MI6 role as becomes clear when he is analysed by a government psychiatrist. His allegiance to MI6 chief M is put to the test when secrets from her past come back plague her. The secret service organisation becomes under serious threat and it is safe to assume that villain Raoul Silva is behind it all. How far will agent 007 go this time to eliminate the threat?

Continue: Skyfall Trailer

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead Review


Excellent
At the tender age of 83, director Sidney Lumet opens his latest film with a married couple going at it, doggy-style, in a bedroom full of mirrors. The wife is black-haired and thin while the husband is bulky and stares at the reflection as if it's his only moment of true triumph. In a recent interview, Lumet described the image as the man's idea of "classy"; an act of high-class privilege that the man can only hope to aspire to.

The man in question is Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a pudgy volcano of a corporate hustler with a trophy wife. Gina (Marisa Tomei) fits that role to a T as she spends Andy's money and enjoys mid-day quickies with Andy's brother Hank (Ethan Hawke). Hank's money goes towards his ex-wife (a great Amy Ryan) and daughter while Andy's cash, when not with Gina, is spent on heroin in the très chic twentieth-floor apartment of his dealer in Manhattan. The boys need dough and their bourgeois office jobs aren't keeping it coming in. That's when Andy gets the idea.

Continue reading: Before The Devil Knows You're Dead Review

The Bourne Ultimatum Review


OK
There are actually three screenwriters credited for The Bourne Ultimatum, though it's hard to imagine what exactly they all did to earn their paycheck. "You don't remember anything, do you?" "It's Bourne." "It ends here." [insert car chase] That doesn't mean that this third installment of the popular shaky-cam travelogue spy thriller series doesn't deliver all that it's intended to, and occasionally more, it just means that you're more likely to hear barked-out commands or the sound of squealing tires and shattering glass than two or more actors exchanging full sentences as part of a conversation. This is a film that asks exactly how much traditional storytelling structure can you cleave away and still have a coherent and engaging piece of work? The answer: Nearly all of it.

Coming off last year's abysmally underrated United 93, director Paul Greengrass thankfully returns for his second film in the series about the titular amnesiac CIA-trained assassin (Matt Damon) with identity issues. Although the resulting film is not nearly up to the hard-to-match bar set by the preceding film, The Bourne Supremacy, it's hard to imagine any other director currently working who would be able to keep the relentless pace delivered by Ultimatum. Unfortunately, it's also all too easy to see that the filmmakers and Damon are coasting when they could be soaring.

Continue reading: The Bourne Ultimatum Review

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Review


Good
Serious film buffs are familiar with Britain's so-called "kitchen-sink" dramas, unpleasant little slices of lower-class life shot quickly and on small budgets in the 1950s and '60s. Often starring young actors who would go on to greatness, they're fascinating glimpses into the sooty and generally unpleasant world of post-War England, although it's hard to imagine why working-class moviegoers of the time would have enjoyed seeing their humdrum lives replicated on screen.

Case in point is Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, in which a young and virile Albert Finney stars as Arthur Seaton, a thoroughly disillusioned cynic who toils over a metal lathe in an infernal factory and waits for the weekend, when he heads out for two solid days of drinking and womanizing, hoping Monday never comes.

Continue reading: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Review

Amazing Grace Review


Good
For a film with all the stylistic panache of a BBC period yawner and all the moral ambiguity of an after-school special, Amazing Grace is a surprisingly entertaining political drama. It tells the story of famed British abolitionist William Wilberforce's struggle to end the slave trade in England. Its high-minded earnestness and longsuffering main character will remind movie buffs of another cinematic treatment of British history, A Man for All Seasons, but it's another similarity shared by these two films that sets Amazing Grace apart from all but a few mainstream movies being made today. Amazing Grace, like A Man for All Seasons, is a serious film about religious conviction and the power of individual believers to effect change in a world in need of redemption.

Make no mistake: Amazing Grace is not a complex movie. The good guys are good and the bad guys aren't so much bad as they are yet to become good. Such a simple and optimistic moral vision may seem antiquated to some, but Amazing Grace doesn't apologize for its old-fashioned piety. As the action starts, Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) undergoes a religious conversion. His long-abandoned childhood faith has once again stirred his heart and moved him to commit to doing whatever he can to improve the world. Already a member of Parliament, he asks several of his friends -- including the clergyman John Newton (Albert Finney), who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace" -- if he should continue his political career or move on to a more spiritual pursuit. At all of his friends' urging, Wilberforce chooses politics and not long after takes an unpopular stand on the issue that will dominate his political career thereafter: the slave trade.

Continue reading: Amazing Grace Review

Looker Review


Grim
You gotta love technology. Without technology and the naturally amoral things it does, we'd have no villains in the movies. I mean what's more frightening than extreme rationality? Clones? Oh my! Circuit boards and vacuum tubes? Yikes! According to Michael Crichton's early flick Looker, technology -- in particular, television -- holds us fast in its undeniable sway and there is very little we can do to escape its cold grasp. I guess that's the point in Looker, though it's still a bit unclear.

Albert Finney is a popular plastic surgeon and business is great. Thing is, some of his models start turning up dead and, naturally, there's a conspiracy afoot. One that involves digitized people, high-tech guns (the Lookers of the title or Light Ocular Oriented Kinetic Energetic Responsers), and big business. Susan Dey play Cindy (and doffs every stitch of clothing), a model who wants perfection to get a modeling contract with the ominous sounding Digital Matrix. James Coburn plays the tycoon behind Digital Matrix and like all tycoons he's thoroughly bad.

Continue reading: Looker Review

A Good Year Review


Terrible
Proper casting can make or break a film. A savvy producer knows not to hire Sylvester Stallone for a Shakespearean tragedy. Successful studio heads understand that the charismatic Will Smith is the wrong choice to play a nebbish wallflower incapable of getting the girl. So someone should have objected to the casting of the versatile but intense Russell Crowe in the lively country lark A Good Year.Nothing against Crowe. The talented actor routinely throws himself at challenging roles and rarely plays the same type twice. He has proven he can do a lot on screen, but Year demonstrates with certainty that devilish wit and boyish charm are not the sharpest weapons in his acting arsenal. Crowe is rugged but hardly warm. George Clooney could have owned this project but he'd probably demand the Coen brothers write and direct it.Instead we get Crowe and his frequent collaborator, Ridley Scott (Gladiator), as they attempt to spin Peter Mayle's beloved novel into a dreamy, male-oriented bit of escapism (a colleague called this Under the Tuscan Sun for men, and he's not far off with that assessment).London stock trader Max Skinner (Crowe) sees things in monetary values and hardly finds time to mourn when his uncle Henry (Albert Finney), a father figure, passes away. Being Henry's only known relative, Max inherits the eccentric entrepreneur's fatigued vineyard in the south of France. The prodigal Max returns with the intention to sell, but Marc Klein's adaptation of Mayle's work conspires to keep the number-cruncher on the estate for a week.Unless Year happens to be your first film experience, you're likely to find the outcome of Max's journey astonishingly predictable, so we're meant to enjoy the picturesque ride through France's heavenly countryside. The exquisite setting dresses up the flat, overdone fable of the workaholic reprogrammed to appreciate the good life. The lazy script takes every generic and dreadfully corny step possible, though I'm unfamiliar with the book and thereby unsure whether to blame Klein or Mayle.Scott, for his part, paces Year with the buoyancy of a comedy but neglects to include any funny lines of dialogue. The movie has a tendency to repeat what it considers jokes. Max sings Lance Armstrong's praises every time he passes a pack of French cyclists. At least three characters overreact when they find scorpions in their bedrooms - how hilarious. And I stopped counting spit takes after I reached five.The highlights in this exaggerated travelogue are few and far between. Feisty and sultry Marion Cotillard holds her own as village hottie Fanny Chenal, Max's main motivation for staying near his chateau. Finney appears in flashbacks and speaks only in bite-sized pearls of wisdom. But Year lulls us to sleep as it wallows in the cultural divide (hey, Ridley, get in line behind Borat and Babel), and it systematically insults the French, the English, and Americans... and all audiences in between.In the end, the scenery's about the only thing worth appreciating in this mediocre Year.And my suit... you like?

Two for the Road Review


OK
This bittersweet Audrey Hepburn flick can hardly be described as a classic, but it's a fun road trip nonetheless. The film tells the story of a couple (Hepburn and Albert Finney), together 12 years and facing a relationship crisis. They figure out what went wrong be reminiscing about a decade of trips together -- including the one on which they met and a hilarious one that includes an abrasive family of three. It's not high comedy, nor is it a brilliant drama, but both genres get their due. Watch for the car fire scene, especially.

The Browning Version (1994) Review


Excellent
Smitten with the original Browning Version, and rightly so, Mike Figgis remade the lovely little film in 1994. It's quite a faithful remake, updating it to the present day but leaving virtually all of the story and much of the dialogue intact. In many ways it's unneccesary as a remake -- the original still stands up well -- though Albert Finney is perfectly cast in the role of a hated prep school teacher on his last day on the job... and how that might change, however slightly, before the day is out. Watch both versions together if you can to catch the little nuances that Figgis tweaks and fiddles with, though for God's sake watch a comedy after the double feature is over.

Murder on the Orient Express Review


Excellent
Classic Agatha Christie becomes a near-classic motion picture, as a dozen major stars are trapped on a snowbound train with what appears to be a killer on the loose. It's up to an absurdly made-up Poirot (Albert Finney) to unmask the murderer of a millionaire in this rich whodunit. Beautifully made and full of good one-liners, Ingred Bergman inexplicably won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a relatively forgettable "simple woman." Odd.

Big Fish Review


Good
Tim Burton's Big Fish tells the story about a man, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), whose life is best told in the context of tall-tales and glorified fables. When looking at our own lives, it's easy to see that all of us have a Bloom-type somewhere in our families. You know, the person that's able to take the complexities of life and turn them into the wild fantasies appreciated mostly by the young at heart.

In the film, Bloom's grown son, Will (Billy Crudup) is tired of the imaginative stories his dad has told him since he was young, and decides to only communicate with his mom (Jessica Lange). But, as the elder Bloom approaches the end of his life, Will puts aside his differences and chooses to find the truth behind all the stories in hopes of learning more about his dad. The only way Will knows how to find the answers he seeks is to retell the stories and let us be the judge.

Continue reading: Big Fish Review

Miller's Crossing Review


OK
The Coen brothers went all Clockwork Orangey in their most violent but least ironic picture, Miller's Crossing. It's a relatively run of the mill gangster thriller, though oddly the film has found an intensely loyal audience. (Many even consider it to be the best of the Coens' films.) The story follows a Prohibition era crime boss's aide (Gabriel Byrne), who finds himself trying to keep the peace between his boss and a warring faction. He loves his boss's gal, too.

Continue reading: Miller's Crossing Review

Albert Finney

Albert Finney Quick Links

News Video Film RSS