Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult to understand why. Loosely based on a true story, it's a lively romp set on the edge of Europe during World War II. But after nearly 70 years the material called for a much fresher approach than this rather dull farce. At least the cast is likeable, even if they can't inject much spark into the story.
It's set on the island of Todday, off the west coast of Scotland, where the locals are horrified that their rationed quantity of whisky has run dry. Annoyed that they now have only tea to drink, they get on with their lives. Postmaster Macroon (Gregor Fisher) is preoccupied with the romances his two daughters are carrying on: Catriona (Elle Kendrick) is in love with skittish schoolteacher George (Kevin Guthrie), while Peggy (Naomi Battrick) has just reunited with her returned soldier boyfriend Odd (Sean Biggerstaff). Then a ship runs aground off the shore, and word has it that its cargo hold contains a massive whisky shipment. So the villagers devise a plan to sneak around local military officer Wagget (Eddie Izzard) to salvage the hooch.
All of this plays out as a rather tepid adventure, never cranking up any suspense at all as Wagget is easily outwitted by everyone else on the island. The dual romances play out without even a whiff of lusty zing or dramatic tension. And there's also a political thriller thread involving a stash of important documents, which the script sidelines completely. Instead we get more of the whisky-chugging local minister (James Cosmo) who participates in the hijinks but forbids heist activities on the sabbath. Director MacKinnon stages everything in slapstick style, accompanied by a ludicrously insistent comedy score by Patrick Doyle. But it's never very funny.
Continue reading: Whisky Galore! Review
Victor (Nighy) is an efficient hitman who lives a quiet life that's more than a little obsessive-compulsive. He's been in the business since he was a child, inheriting the job from his late father, and now his mother (Atkins) is pushing him to have a son of his own. His next job is for an art dealer (Everett) who has been double-crossed by con artist Rose (Blunt), but Victor is taken by her breezily shameless methods. He's also interrupted by Tony (Grint), a rootless young guy who shows some skill with a gun.
Continue reading: Wild Target Review
In his bold, brusque re-imagining of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," screenwriter and director Michael Radford ("1984," "Il Postino") has successfully solved one of the play's two inherent impediments -- its insensitive, arguably anti-Semitic caricature of the greedy, vengeful Jewish creditor Shylock, who demands a literal pound of flesh as payment for a defaulted loan.
Applying audacious creative license, Radford has reinvented the character as a tragic and more central figure -- played by no less than Al Pacino -- whose villainy is motivated by a sense of indignation for his treatment at the hands of bigoted gentiles. This "Merchant" is no longer a farce, but a drama thick with implications about the dangers of religious power in society.
Unfortunately, Radford's creativity with the Bard's narrative doesn't extend to renovating the film's weightless, transparently contrived primary plot about Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes), a young man who wishes to woo beautiful heiress Portia (uncommonly lovely Lynn Collins), but fears he hasn't the wealth to make the proper impression. These romantic aspirations lead his merchant-shipper best friend Antonio (Jeremy Irons) to securing the sinister, high-risk loan from Shylock on Bassanio's behalf.
Continue reading: The Merchant Of Venice Review
Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...
This lively British remake of the 1993 French film is an enjoyable if ultimately too-silly...