Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with present-day resonance as it explores a relationship that sparks intense social and political fallout. And it's made properly engaging with central roles beautifully played by David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. So it's a shame that the screenplay is so simplistic, failing to generate any momentum in the story with its awkward structure and paper-thin side characters.
It opens in 1947, as Seretse Khama (Oyelowo) has spent 20 years of his life studying in London and is ready to return to Bechuanaland (now Botswana) to take his rightful place as king. But he has fallen in love with white, working-class Englishwoman Ruth (Pike), and they decide to return to Africa together. This causes a crisis for Seretse's uncle Tshkedi (Vusi Kunene), who has been ruling the country while Seretse was away. And there's even more fierce resistance from the British colonial officials (including Jack Davenport and Tom Felton), who refuse to allow the couple to live together in Bechuanaland because a mixed-race marriage undermines the UK's acceptance of South Africa's policy of Apartheid. So they exile Seretse from the country and manipulate the situation to Britain's political benefit. But Ruth stays and fights on.
The film chronicles this astonishing battle with a fascinating attention to detail, although screenwriter Guy Hibbert struggles to avoid repetition as the events shift between Africa and London, leaving main characters off the screen for what turns out to be years at a time. Meanwhile, the British are portrayed as moustache-twirling villains who lie and conspire to undermine the government of Bechuanaland. A bit more complexity might have made the situation compelling on-screen.
Continue reading: A United Kingdom Review
Once upon a time, a handsome, intelligent man fell in love with an equally clever and intelligent woman, the couple married and lived happily ever after. Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama met in Britain in 1947, he was a young man training to be a barrister and she was a clerk working for Lloyds of London.
The pair immediately felt an affinity for one another and courted for a year before Seretse and Ruth married. As well as being an interracial couple, Seretse has a lot more to his past than Ruth ever knew. Seretse is a prince of Bechuanaland and lives a hugely important life in a county that feels a whole world away from the comparatively cosmopolitan London.
Though Ruth and Seretse married - much against the advice of all their peers - apartheid in South Africa, the people of Bechuanaland and the British government all played a part in keeping Sertse from his birth right and went to extreme lengths to have the couple extradited from the country.
Continue: A United Kingdom Trailer
With virtually the same tone as they used in their superhero spoof Kick-Ass, filmmakers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman take another riotously adult approach to pastiche, this time tackling the James Bond genre. Essentially they have made a 007 movie that refuses to tone itself down for the PG-13 audience, indulging in the profanity and excessive violence other films shy away from. So it doesn't really matter if the plot itself isn't quite as rebellious as it pretends to be.
Kingsman is a top-secret spy agency located in a Saville Row tailor, beholden to no corporation or government. Led by Arthur and Merlin (Michael Caine and Mark Strong), these gentlemanly super-agents use the names of the knights of the Round Table. And when one of them dies, they know it's time to get with the times and recruit someone young and hip. So they set up a rigorous school for trainees, with one lucky graduate set to earn a spot at the table. Harry, aka Galahad (Colin Firth), chooses rough East End teen Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as his candidate. The son of a former agent, Eggsy shows considerable promise even if he lacks the expected refinement. Then just before the final selection is made, they discover that mobile phone billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is up to something nefarious. So Eggsy and fellow rookie Roxy (Sophie Cookson) kick into action to figure out what he's up to, and stop him.
Despite constant reminders that "this isn't that kind of movie", it clearly is. Every Bond element is here, including the crazed villain with an elaborate lair and a technically augmented sidekick (Sofia Boutella's vicious blade-footed henchwoman Gazelle). The only difference is that where Bond hints cheekily at violence and sex, Vaughn and Goldman go for it. This film is packed with outrageous, over-the-top carnage and intensely rude dialogue, delivered with relish by the expert cast. Firth, Caine and Strong are terrific at combining tweedy propriety with public schoolboy naughtiness, while Jackson merrily plays around with Valentine's god-complex.
Continue reading: Kingsman: The Secret Service Review
A young teen with an incredible IQ and first-rate academic performance takes the wrong path in life by getting involved in drugs and petty crime. He is caught by police during one dramatic car chase but is released unexpectedly by Secret Service agent Uncle Jack. Jack sees a lot of potential in the kid and introduces him to the world of International Intelligence. Initially impressed by the gadgetry and glamour of the Service, Uncle Jack introduces him to a new division: the Kingsman. There’s a job going for the brightest young adults in the country and Jack wants his new recruit to prove himself against the upper class kids who rival him. It soon becomes clear, though, that the world of Intelligence is not just a fun game when the training starts getting intensely scary.
Continue: Kingsman: The Secret Service Trailer
Liza Minnelli, queen of Broadway and Cabaret, is set to reprise a musical role in the song-driven television show 'Smash', reports the LA Times.
The NBC show revolves around a group of characters in the milieu of theatre, creating new shows on NYC's infamous Broadway. The setting is perfect for Minnelli whose career is based on musical theatre and movies. Robert Greenblatt, the president of NBC Entertainment knows what an honour it is to work with the theatrical veteran. "I had the pleasure of working with Liza when we restored her landmark television special 'Liza With a Z' at Showtime, and to see her artistry up close and personal is a thing to behold." He said, "Liza Minnelli is the essence of a multi-talented, singular show business sensation, particularly for her extraordinary contributions to Broadway... So what could be more fitting than to have her legendary talent on a show that celebrates a world Liza has dazzled for decades?"
Minnelli will perform a duet of an original song alongside the show's character 'Tom', played by Christian Borle. Other names and faces that you may recognise from the show are Debra Messing (Will&Grace), Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean). So far the show has had rave reviews, proving to be the 'Smash' that the title yearns for. Undoubtedly Liza will only add to its success.
Michelle Gomez, Gomez and Jack Davenport - Michelle Gomez and Jack Davenport London, England - World Premiere of 'The Boat That Rocked' held at The Odeon, Leicester Square - arrivals Monday 23rd March 2009
Starting with its unlikely origin as an amusement park ride, the Pirates series quickly mushroomed into a sort of meta-pirate film, a vast and whirligig universe unto itself that drew in every possible nautical cliché and legend possible. Thus the first film concentrated on yo-ho-ho-ing, rum-drinking, and general pirate-y scalawaggery. The second roped in Davy Jones and The Flying Dutchman -- not to mention an excess of secondary characters and familial drama. For the third (but not necessarily last, given the teaser it ends with) entry, the bursting-at-the-seams script tosses in a raging maelstrom, an actual trip to Davy Jones' Locker, and even the sea goddess Calypso. Dead Man's Chest showed that more is not always better, with excess just leading to more excess and a general sense of lethargy -- they were just setting us up for the conclusion and marking time until then. At World's End, however, shows that Hollywood excess, when combined with the right combination of actors and an occasionally smart script, can work out quite nicely, thank you very much.
Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End Review
Most A-list actors and actresses know better than to dip their hand into the forbidden bin. When the barriers break down and a proven talent skims the bin's surface, we endure Cameron Diaz in The Sweetest Thing, Bruce Willis in Mercury Rising, or Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in The Mexican.
Continue reading: The Wedding Date Review
Ingenuity creeps into several scenes of the largely stereotypical chick-flick love comedy "The Wedding Date" -- but all its imagination comes at the wrong end of the creative process. What good is a uniquely photographed dance scene if the characters dancing together are barely two-dimensional?
The plot is pure, predictable sitcom gimmickry: Debra Messing plays a romantically frazzled beauty in her early 30s (not entirely unlike her sitcom role on TVs "Will and Grace") who hires an escort (Dermot Mulroney) to act the part of a besotted boyfriend at her sister's wedding. She hopes to stave off haranguing from her embarrassing, busybody mother (the fabulously uppity Holland Taylor) and stir jealousy in the ex-fiancé who left her at the altar two years before.
Peppered with conventional montage sequences (set to shopworn 1950s girl-group ditties and Shania Twain anthems), and pushed along by overly-staged scenes that defy common sense, the script is clumsy at best. Even though she's anxious about pulling off this stunt, Messing hires Mulroney sight unseen and doesn't concoct a backstory (his occupation, where they met, how long they've been dating) until pulling him into a coat room at the rehearsal dinner in a panic. This despite having a 12-hour cross-Atlantic flight during which they could have been rehearsing their fictional relationship.
Continue reading: The Wedding Date Review
The very idea of a movie based on a Disneyland ride -- let alone such a movie produced by Jerry "Kaboom" Bruckheimer, whose standards of quality extend only to the explosions that substituted for plot in 15 years of imbecilic summer blockbusters -- had me dreading "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" since it was first announced almost two years ago.
But I'm now here to eat every bad word I said in anticipation of this matinee marvel. Exhilarating from beginning to end, vivid with atmosphere, cleverly cliché-mocking, and blessed with two top-notch, over-the-top performances by Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush (I should have trusted these two intrepid actors), it may well be one of the most enjoyable pirate escapades of all time.
Festooned in a three-point hat over gypsy hair, a billowy shirt, kohl-blackened eyes and gold-capped teeth that he thrusts forward as he speaks, Depp stars as Capt. Jack Sparrow, a dirty, flirty, disarmingly dishonest swashbuckler of subtly dubious sexuality (a covert pirate flick custom since the silent era) who sails into a 17th century Caribbean colonial port atop the mast of a rapidly sinking sailboat.
Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl Review
Date of birth
1st March, 1973
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