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Suffragette Review


Based on real events a century ago that still resonate loudly today, this movie takes a cleverly fictionalised angle to explore the suffrage movement, a story that astonishingly has never been put on film before. Screenwriter Abi Morgan's script brings intelligence and honesty to the characters, avoiding cliches to make the political statements as fresh and important today as they were back then. And it's anchored by another solid performance from Carey Mulligan.

She plays Maud, a young woman in 1912 London who has grown up working in a grim laundry, which is where she met her husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw). Then her best friend Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) introduces her to the women's voting rights movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep). And Maud is intrigued, joining with her local chemist's wife Edith (Helena Bonham Carter) for protests and getting involved in civil disobedience. This puts her on the list of offenders followed by a tenacious policeman (Brendan Gleeson), and Sonny finds it very difficult to cope with the embarrassment. So Maud has to make a very tough decision about whether to carry on the fight.

Making the film's main characters working-class heroines was a clever way to draw in modern-day audiences. In real life, the suffragettes were middle-class women who didn't particularly want any of the working class (men or women) to have the vote. But of course, once the movement started, it didn't end there, ultimately extending right through society. And the film cleverly mixes these fictional characters alongside real historical figures to bring the events vividly to life. Mulligan provides the emotional gut punch as an intelligent but uneducated woman who has been abused all her life and is finally standing up for herself. Her scenes with each of the supporting cast have real power, including less sympathetic characters like Whishaw's loving but fearful husband.

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Suffragette Premiere

Alison Owen - London Film Festival Suffragette Premiere held at the Odeon Leicester Square - Arrivals at Odeon Leicester Square - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 7th October 2015

Alison Owen

British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)

Alison Owen - British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) 2014 held at the Royal Opera House - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 16th February 2014

Alison Owen
Alison Owen

"Saving Mr. Banks" - Los Angeles Premiere

Alison Owen - "Saving Mr. Banks" - Los Angeles Premiere At Walt Disney Studios - Burbank, California, United States - Tuesday 10th December 2013

Alison Owen
Alison Owen
Alison Owen
Alison Owen

Saving Mr. Banks Review


This true story only barely avoids becoming sloppily sentimental, thanks to a solid cast and a final act that generates honest emotion. Awash with the Disney spirit, the film breaks free of the marketing machine to recount events that are lively and often very funny, but also manage to be sharply moving. It's the kind of crowd-pleaser that deserves to do well both at the box office and in awards ceremonies.

Set in 1961, it's the story of how Walt Disney (Hanks) finally lures PL Travers (Thompson) to Hollywood to woo her into signing over the film rights to Mary Poppins after some 20 years of pestering. She is equally determined to protect her creation, which is very close to her heart. But she agrees to work with the screenwriter (Whitford) and composers (Schwartzman and Novak) as long as she has veto power. Her demands are crazy ("I don't want the colour red anywhere in the movie!"), but everyone tries to win her over. Eventually Walt realises that he needs to find out exactly why Mary Poppins is so important to her. And that the story is more about Mary's affect on the family's father, Mr Banks, than the children.

Indeed, in parallel flashbacks we see Travers' childhood in rural 1906 Australia, where she lives as a young girl (Buckley) with her lively father (Farrell) and shattered mother (Wilson). Her dad's alcoholism is the driving force of these scenes, which feel like a completely separate film intercut with sunny 1960s Hollywood. But they add weight to Thompson's remarkably detailed performance, which is marvellously withering and hilarious, and also subtly emotional. Her interaction with the buoyant Hanks is sharp and jagged, and the film's nicest scenes are between Travers and her driver, sensitively played by Giamatti.

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Arrivals At The BFI London Film Festival Premiere Of "Saving Mr. Banks" At Leicester Square

Alison Owen - Producer Alison Owen attends the premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks" at the Odeon Leicester Square. Screened at the closing of the 57th BFI London Film Festival. - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 20th October 2013

Alison Owen

Jane Eyre Review

This umpteenth film adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's enduring classic perfectly captures the experience of reading the book. The story and characters envelop us so beautifully that we get lost in the experience.

After being orphaned as a child, Jane (Clarkson) is sent by her selfish aunt (Hawkins) to a grisly boarding school where she's falsely scorned as a liar.

When she leaves at age 18 (now Wasikowska), she works as a governess for the ward (Moore) of the mercurial Rochester (Fassbender), finding friendship with the housekeeper (Dench) and, surprisingly, romance with Rochester. Alas, this doesn't go well, and when she flees she finds solace with rural parson Rivers (Bell) and his sisters (Grainger and Merchant). Surely she deserves some good news.

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The Wedding Of Lily Allen And Sam Cooper

The minister arriving Saturday 11th June 2011 The wedding of Lily Allen and Sam Cooper Cranham, Gloucestershire

The minister arriving

Chatroom Review

There's a great idea here, but this awkward and dated film struggles to bring the cyberspace experience to life in the form of a gritty teen thriller. The result is intriguing but never as scary or emotional as it's trying to be.

William (Johnson) is a troubled rich kid in North London who strains against the success of his novelist mother (Dodds). Obsessed with suicide, he spends his hours in online chatrooms, creating one that attracts four members: equally bored rich kid Eva (Poots), shy and lonely Jim (Beard), needy Emily (Murray) and Mo (Kaluuya), who struggles with unwanted urges. But it soon becomes clear that William is a predator who's out to unsettle and derail everyone around him. Will they catch on soon enough to stop his nefarious plan?

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Tamara Drewe Review

Jaunty and often very funny, this is a spoof of romance novels set in a village where writers go to get away from distractions, only to create their own mischief. Spoofs of spoofs are difficult to pull off, but Frears gives it a good go.

Bestselling author Nicholas (Allam) and his efficient wife Beth (Greig) use their Dorset farm as a writer's retreat, while the goings on in the nearby village provide plenty of inspiration. Especially when notorious journalist Tamara (Arterton) returns to town. Her childhood boyfriend (Evans) is stunned when she falls for posing rocker Ben (Cooper), who's the object of obsession for two local 15-year-old girls (Barden and Christie). Meanwhile, Beth's patience with Nicholas' straying eye is being sorely tested just as a visiting writer (Camp) starts paying her some attention.

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The Other Boleyn Girl Review

If Shakespeare was writing the screenplay for The Other Boleyn Girl, he might have named it Much Ado About Nothing. In truth, a more fitting title would be Much Ado About Something Done Better Dozens of Times Before. The story of how Anne Boleyn seduced Henry VIII into breaking from Rome (and an affair with her sister, Mary) has been the stuff of several cinematic epics. But from the flawed casting choices (two Americans and an Australian play these important British figureheads) to the questionable historical accuracy here, Other is a Harlequin romance with none of the genre's steam or sizzle.

With his Queen unable to bear him a son, Henry VIII (Eric Bana) seeks solace in the beds of local noblewomen. When the Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) learns of this proclivity, he attempts to exploit it for his family's benefit. Calling on brother Sir Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance) and his wife, Lady Elizabeth (Kristin Scott Thomas), they come up with a devious plan. They will invite the King to their estate, and then parade daughter Anne (Natalie Portman) before him. Of course, his Majesty has his own designs, and after a hunting accident, he takes a fancy to the fairer, more compassionate Boleyn girl Mary (Scarlett Johansson). Immediately becoming his concubine, the entire family is whisked off to court. But Anne will not be vanquished, and will do anything to claim her royal reward.

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Sylvia Review

It's always difficult to portray the essence of a historical figure that stands out in the crowd. You either get an over-the-top epic story that nauseates, or a too-simple tale that paints known plot points by numbers without revealing any new subtleties. Sylvia is a case in the latter end of the spectrum, and while it showcases new talents of Gwyneth Paltrow that she doesn't normally get to show off, it leaves the viewer wanting a stronger emotional impact from the infamously suicidal poet.

Directed by Christine Jeffs, whose Rain was a poignant look at a young girl starting to realize her own form of beauty, Sylvia takes us through the tempestuous relationship between Sylvia Plath (Paltrow) and Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig). They meet, quickly mate, his philandering tendencies are revealed, he leaves, she kills herself. The end. Of course, all of this is public knowledge already, so the details of the travails would be what makes or breaks the film, and unfortunately more stock is put into getting the facts right than in creating much interest in them.

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Elizabeth Review

Seeing Elizabeth on the day of the impeachment of President Clinton was a bit strange, but it did put things in perspective.

450 years ago, no one would've thought a thing about a little intern boinking. Today, that's obviously big news, and it should have made the sexual, political, and religious escapades of Elizabeth all the more thrilling.

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Rat Review

Franz Kafka meets Stuart Little in Rat, a presumably witty and clever Irish import that aims a little too high to be kid-friendly and far too low to be of interest to many grown-ups.

Pete Postlethwaite stars as Guinness-swilling Everyman Hubert, who, for no apparent reason, suddenly turns into a large white rat (he was a white man, they say, so it would be ridiculous for him to turn into a black rat!). That's not the point of the film, though -- the point is that no one seems to care very much about Hubert's predicament, staging a series of mundane problems around Hubert's dilemma. The local reporter wants to write a book about Hubert. Hubert gets tossed into a washing machine. Hubert bites his wife's finger. By the time Hubert suddenly turns back into a man again, we've utterly forgotten why we should care about him in the first place.

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Proof (2005) Review

The Broadway hit Proof put playwright David Auburn's name on the map, earned him a shelf full of prizes (from Tony to Pulitzer), and reminded those of us who stopped paying attention that Mary-Louise Parker was a star. A movie adaptation was inevitable, though a drastic mishandling of the material was not.

Familiarity with Auburn's stage presentation may breed contempt for this version, which feels distinctly off-kilter from its first frames. Mysteries that held water longer in the theater instead land like Doc Marten's on a flimsy piece of plywood here. Director John Madden samples a chatty, analytical approach to his literal translation but gets swept up in stagy, awkward, and all-too-deliberate line readings. Much like last year's ill-conceived Phantom of the Opera, this movie has few cinematic qualities that elevate it above a tedious and emotionless play rehearsal shot on location.

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