Audiences looking for a French historical costume drama should look elsewhere, but those who enjoy British period comedies will love it. With a pointed dash of history and politics, this is a silly movie about social status, and it's so well written and played that only cynics won't have a lot of fun with it. Thankfully, the talent both in front of and behind the camera keep the focus on the lively characters, which makes it engaging on a deeper level than expected.
The fictional story is set around real events in 1682 France, as King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) was planning to move his court from Paris to Versailles, a vast palace still under construction. The final project there is the expansive garden, which landscaper Andre (Matthias Schoenaerts) has to complete on deadline and under budget. And everyone is shocked when he hires the little-known Sabine (Kate Winslet) to build an outdoor ballroom and fountain. But he has been smitten with her skill and passion for gardening, and there's also a gently gurgling romantic spark between them as well. The problem is that his high-society wife (Helen McCrory) notices this and sets out to sabotage Sabine's work.
There's not much here that's historically accurate, from the frankly outrageous costumes to the English filming locations and dialogue that buzzes with specifically British humour. But it's so breezy and snappy that all we can do is sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Those who do so may even find some underlying resonance in the discussions of order and chaos in landscape design, as well as the way honesty is like a blast of fresh air in a world constrained by status. Indeed, the film's most memorable scene is a gorgeously written and played chance encounter between Sabine and the King in which they initially don't know who the other is.
Continue reading: A Little Chaos Review
Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet - A variety of celebrities were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'A Little Chaos' which was held at the Odeon cinema in Kensington, London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th April 2015
It may not be very clever, and the plot may be full of holes, but this sequel's clammy atmosphere is so unnerving that it manages to keep us squirming in our seats. Credit has to go to director Tom Harper for making this work, because Jon Croker's script is strung together on the thinnest logic imaginable. Instead, it's the inner lives of the characters combined with the almost ridiculously freaky setting that work to keep the audience in a state of perpetual freak-out. As long as we don't try to make sense of it.
It's set 40 years after the first film, as bombs are falling in 1941 London and schoolteacher Eve (Phoebe Fox) evacuates eight students north away from the threat. Travelling with headmistress Jean (Helen McCrory), they meet charming airman Harry (Jeremy Irvine) on the train. He's headed to a new post near Eel Marsh House, where the children will be living. At the train station, they meet Dr. Rhodes (Adrian Rawlins), who escorts them to the insanely isolated, falling-down wreck of a clearly haunted mansion, cut off from the mainland at high tide. But Eve and Jean get on with making it feel like home, while Harry looks in on them from time to time. Then one of the boys, Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), who hasn't spoken a word since a bomb killed his family, sees a malicious ghost (Leanne Best).
From here things get startlingly nasty. This is definitely not a thriller for pre-teens, like the first film. These children are in genuine peril, and begin to die in pretty ghastly ways, like a slasher movie with victims who are only 10 years old. Much of the worst violence remains off-screen, so Jean amusingly refuses to admit that there's any real problem until things really cut loose. Clever acting touches add to the drama, as Irvine and Fox provide a whiff of doomed romance, McCrory maintains her stiff upper lip just a bit longer than she should, and the kids get to create seriously creepy moments of their own.
Continue reading: The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death Review
BBC Films' 'Bill' is the first cinematic outing for the cast of the hit UK TV series, 'Horrible Histories'.
William Shakespeare has had a fairly difficult transition to the silver screen. Sure, his plays have been made into great film adaptations, but whenever the character is portrayed in movies, things seem to go a bit wrong. Thankfully, this new look at the life of the Great Bard is being made by the comedy troupe behind the BBC's television series 'Horrible Histories' and 'Yonderland'.
Mathew Baynton and Martha Howe-Douglas in 'Bill'
The comedy group have often been hailed as a modern Monty Python, yet more child-friendly. And now, after two celebrated television series, the cast have been unleashed in their first feature film from BBC Films. Filming in iconic UK locations around Yorkshire, the cast and crew shot in York Minster, Skipton Castle, Bolton Castle, Selby Abbey, as well as Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.
A young and ambitious playwright in the time of Queen Elizabeth the 1st makes the travel to London to showcase his wares. The young bard's name? Bill. Young Bill has a play in mind that will one day become the talk of London and, considering how the Queen's personal playwright is far from up to scratch, may even be performed before the Queen herself. But when a group of revolutionaries decide to use the play as the staging point for their plot to kill the Queen, Bill must fight to not only put on a performance to launch his career, but save the audience from assassination. It's all in a day's work for William Shakespeare, however.
Continue: Bill Trailer
In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace, and, throwing aside ideas of conformity, chooses to rearrange some of the garden into something that pleases her. He takes her on with the hopes of updating and adding some life to the traditional gardens, and steadily begins to fall for her. As she finds difficulty integrating into the high society that he is from, he ensures her that, in fact, she is envied by the upper classes for her newness. But when that envy turns into something more, the gardener will have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the garden, their love, and their lives.
Continue: A Little Chaos Trailer
Following the horrifying tale of the young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, and his struggle to sell the eerie Eel Marsh House, the house was left abandoned for many years. The last owner, Alice Drablow, passed away during the Edwardian era, prompting Mr. Kipp's arrival, and the house has stood empty ever since. Fast forward to 1940s London, when The Blitz is in full effect. Eve (Phoebe Fox) is a young school teacher, tasked with looking after a group of evacuated children. As they are moved to the remote and quiet town of Crythin Gifford, where the only building with enough room is the empty, ancient, Eel March House. But, as no one ever heard from Mr. Kipps following his stay at the house, it is soon revealed that something, or someone, still haunts the old house. The spectre of a woman in black.
The gritty drama kicks off on BBC 2 in September
BBC 2 are pulling out all the stops for their upcoming drama, Peaky Blinders, which tells the story of illegal trade in guns, protection and betting in post World War I Birmingham and the titular gang’s attempt to control them.
Peaky Blinders hits TVs this September
The show represents Cillian Murphy’s first major TV role after carving out a solid reputation in film acting. Director Otto Bathurst says his show is “like Blade Runner set in Birmingham in 1919.” We don’t know whether to laugh, cry or rock back and forth with excitement, as that’s quite the statement to make.
Tommy Shelby is the ruthless and dangerous leader of Birmingham's Peaky Blinders gang; a group of criminals known for sewing razorblades into their caps. It's set on the brink of the 1920s following the war, amidst all the problems that post-war life brought - from communist revolutionaries to the start of an ever-growing economic problem. The Shelby family get through the economic crisis their own way; theft, illegal gambling and violence, but just how much is the British government going to put up with? With this kind of lawlessness going on around the streets of Birmingham, the chance of better future for the country looks slim. When Chief Inspector Campbell arrives in the city from Belfast, Tommy begins to wonder if he's finally met his match, though what he's most unprepared for are the dilemmas that the beautiful Grace Burgess will bring.
Continue: Peaky Blinders - Clips
A riveting performance by Helen McCrory holds our attention even if this dramatic thriller suffers from efficient but bland direction and a script that fails to dig very far beneath the surface. The role is a gift for any actress: a strong, intelligent and sexy middle-aged woman. And she's so good that she makes it worth seeing even when the plot becomes rather corny and implausible.
McCrory plays top British aerospace expert Frankie, who is relentlessly pursued by one of her students, the much-younger Algerian Kahil (Oudghiri). Her father (Cranham), a fellow aircraft expert, warns her against falling into a torrid romance, but she can't resist. And soon her colleagues are whispering behind her back that she may be compromising her work on military drone technology by sleeping with a Muslim. This of course puts her back up, but it also sparks some nagging doubts, so she begins to look into Kahil's story. And some irregularities make her wonder if he might be using her for information.
The way the film plays on our own prejudices and fears is very clever, using a hot current issue like military drones. And the plot races along so quickly that we barely have time to register that it's not actually holding water. Small problems (like the fact that a top military contractor wouldn't password-protect her laptop) multiply as the story progresses from a relatively superficial romance into more sinister suspicion and then an all-out political thriller. But since everything is based around suspicions and subterfuge, it begins to look a bit silly.
Continue reading: Flying Blind Review
Sam Mendes must be feeling pretty smug right now. The director of Skyfall, the latest James Bond movie, has scored an impeccable 100% on the Rotten Tomatoes reviews site.
This will make excellent Monday morning news for Mendes, as well as the movie’s stars. The cast list includes Daniel Craig, of course, who plays the lead role, as well as Helen McCrory, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench.
Skyfall has received a resounding round of applause from critics across the board; even the most cynical of movie reviewers seems to have struggled to find any cracks in this latest offering from the Bond franchise. Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote that Skyfall “Feels more seriously connected to real-world concerns than any previous entry, despite the usual outlandish action scenes, glittering settings and larger-than-life characters,” making the movie a credit both to its scriptwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan. Equally, Variety’s Peter Debruge remarked that Skyfall puts the “’intelligence’ in MI6. Skyfall reps a smart, savvy and incredibly satisfying addition to the 007 oeuvre.”
Continue reading: 100% Rating: Is Skyfall The Best Bond Movie Ever?
Date of birth
17th August, 1968