This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly produced British period movie, but it's far more original than expected. Avoiding pushy sentimentality, the filmmakers go for something that's surprisingly grim, and the messiness of the people and situations makes it feel almost unnervingly real. It may be set in frightfully posh society, where cut-glass accents waft through sun-dappled woodlands, but there are gritty issues swirling through every scene.
It opens in 1941, as Alan and Daphne (Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie) receive word about their son Christopher Robin, who is off fighting in the war. This triggers a flurry of flashbacks for Alan, who is still suffering from trauma after his own service in World War I. He returned from the front determined to stop writing frothy comedies for the stage and screen, and sets out to be more politically aware. After his wife gives birth to Christopher Robin, whom they call Billy, they move to the Sussex countryside. Billy is mainly raised by his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), but as a young boy (Will Tilston) he also spends time with his father in the woods, making up stories about his collection of stuffed animals. These would become the Winnie the Pooh books, and they change the family's life as the public clamours to know the "real" Christopher Robin. So as Billy grows up (now Alex Lawther), he's determined to be his own man.
Director Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn) cleverly weaves the flashbacks to create a vivid sense of Alan's mindset. This of course triggers big emotions, but the filmmaker never wallows in them. Gleeson is superb in the role as a sensitive, creative man with a gentle twinkle in his eye and some very dark shadows deeper inside. In his privileged world, he's not allowed to show emotion, but the actor lets us see inside. Robbie has an even trickier role as the matter-of-fact Daphne, a good-time girl who rejects anything serious ("No blubbing!") but is clearly feeling everything very strongly.
Continue reading: Goodbye Christopher Robin Review
This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based on a Stephen Fry novel, the snappy wit in the dialogue zings with his specific brand of intelligent humour. This keeps the audience entertained as the story plays lightly with ideas of social privilege and deep-seated faith. The film is overcrowded, and the themes are all over the place, but it's often quite funny.
The story is told through the eyes inebriated curmudgeonly writer Ted (Roger Allam), a former poet who has just been sacked as a theatre critic. Thankfully, he has a distraction when he's asked to look into the rumours that his 16-year-old godson David (Tommy Knight) has some sort of mystical healing powers. So he heads to the manor house where David lives with his parents (Matthew Modine and Fiona Shaw) and older brother Simon (Dean Ridge). As Ted tries to get to the bottom of things, he speaks with a local playwright (Tim McInnerny) and his old flame Rebecca (Geraldine Somerville). But it's not easy to keep focussed on his task when he's drinking so much.
The film is very loosely directed by John Jencks (The Fold), which means that the tone is all over the place. Some scenes are played for slapstick value, while others are darkly pointed or intensely emotional. There are also so many characters that it's tricky to work out the connections between them, especially as their constant bickering reveals a labyrinth of past issues, and Ted never stops talking in the voiceover narration. All of this is amusing but noisily chaotic. So it's up to the actors to hold our interest. Allam is reliably entertaining as the likeably smug Ted, and his interaction with each of the others is energetic and sometimes funny. Amid the shameless scene-chompers in the cast, it's Knight who emerges as the most sympathetic figure even though, like everyone else, he's just using other people to get what he wants.
Continue reading: The Hippopotamus Review
While the tone is all wrong, this fantastical version of a momentous year in the life of Grace Kelly is still entertaining, and not just unintentionally. Lavishly designed and heavily fictionalised, the film is anchored by a solid movie-star performance from Nicole Kidman that may miss Kelly's persona but captures an intriguing inner life.
It's set in 1961, five years after Grace (Kidman) left her Oscar-winning career to marry Monaco's Prince Rainier (Tim Roth). Now with two kids, she is still struggling to define her role as a foreign-born princess while considering a return to Hollywood. Meanwhile, France is ominously threatening Monaco with embargoes and more if Rainier doesn't start taxing his population and paying the money to France. Taking advice from her priest friend Tucker (Frank Langella), Grace decides to devote herself to her husband to help solve the crisis. This will require training with an etiquette guru (Derek Jacobi) as well as fending off the in-laws (Geraldine Somerville and Nicholas Farrell). And it may mean that she'll never return to the movies.
The script by producer Arash Amel presents each of Grace's decisions in the most simplistic melodramatic light, as director Olivier Dahan cuts to yet another extreme close-up of Kidman's weeping eyes. The corny approach undermines any chance at real drama, as the filmmakers keep trying to crank up suspense (someone is leaking secrets!) or emotion (the people need a champion!) without building up any meaningful substance. This makes most of the plotting feel rather laughably silly, centred around a painfully dull series of political negotiations.
Continue reading: Grace Of Monaco Review
Grace Kelly is one of the most famous and most beloved Hollywood actresses in the world having won an Academy Award and two Golden Globes among others, and having starred in some of the most exciting films of the fifties. In 1955, her life changes dramatically when she catches the eye of the charming Prince Rainier III of Monaco who is on the lookout for the perfect wife. After three days of meeting, wedding plans begin and the high profile of such an event forces Grace to give up acting. Their marriage is about to be seriously tested, however, as Grace is offered a new screen role and she is itching to get back in front of the cameras. Unfortunately for her, nobody is in agreement with her continuing in film as a bad role could mar her royal reputation.
'Grace Of Monaco' is the dramatic onscreen biography of actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly, who was well-known for appearing in several of Alfred Hitchcock's films. It has been directed by the BAFTA nominated Olivier Dahan ('La Vie en Rose', 'Ghost River', 'Crimson Rivers 2') and written by Arash Amel ('The Expatriate'). The film is set to be released in the UK on June 6th 2014.
Grace Kelly is one of the most loved women of the past 100 years. The former Hollywood star was a favourite of the silver screen, but that was only really the beginning of her journey. When Grace Kelly fell in love with Prince Rainier III of Monaco, her personal life turned into a story that could rival that of a classic fairy tale.
Though not from royal stock, Grace is to many their favourite royal to have lived; beauty, elegance and a gentle and nurturing nature only added to the appeal of Grace throughout the world.
Nicole Kidman now takes on one of her most difficult roles to date and plays the much loved actress. Set in the 1960's whilst her husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, faced invasion by the French over tax disputes, the princess was also facing one of the most turbulent times of her life. Grace of Monaco was directed by Oscar winner Olivier Dahan (La Vie En Rose) and written by relative newcomer Arash Amel.
Colin Clark is an aspiring film maker and his first job upon leaving university is the role of assistant on a new film, called The Prince and The Showgirl. It stars a young Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, the blonde bombshell who shocks with her implications that she sleeps in the nude.
Continue: My Week With Marilyn Trailer
Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's Horcruxes - dark magical objects that help the user gain immortality. Having found and destroyed one Horcrux - a locket belonging to Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin - the three friends travel from Ron's older brother Bill Weasley's house by the sea to the wizarding bank, Gringotts and then to Hogwarts to look for the final remaining Horcruxes.
Just now released on DVD, presumably in the hopes of getting any pop from an interest in Beckinsale thanks to her Pearl Harbor appearance. That's probably not going to do it, but Haunted stands fairly well on its own, a truly creepy slow burn that looks at madness and hints at incest.
Continue reading: Haunted Review
Gosford Park is the name of an English country estate, where, in 1932, a gaggle of royals and wannabes -- including a horde of locals plus a popular British actor and a Charlie Chan-obsessed Hollywood movie producer -- gather to attend a weekend hunting party. Upstairs, it's the usual hoity-toity, drawing room chitter-chatter, while downstairs an army of servants does little but gossip about the visitors above.
Continue reading: Gosford Park Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...
This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...
While the tone is all wrong, this fantastical version of a momentous year in the...
Grace Kelly is one of the most famous and most beloved Hollywood actresses in the...
Grace Kelly is one of the most loved women of the past 100 years. The...
Colin Clark is an aspiring film maker and his first job upon leaving university is...
Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's...
If Robert Altman had been given The Remains of the Day, the end product might...