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This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over just a few pivotal days during the Second World War. It's skilfully written and directed, and anchored by a wonderfully layered performance by Brian Cox. But there's a nagging sense that there's nothing new to see here, mainly because this is such a well-documented and dramatised point in history.
The story takes place over the first few days of June 1944, as the Allied military leaders make final preparations for the D-Day invasion. Due to his lingering trauma over his experiences in WWI, Winston Churchill (Cox) has serious misgivings about the plan, and challenges both the American commander Eisenhower (John Slattery) and senior British officer Montgomery (Julian Wadham). He even makes an appeal to King George (James Purefoy) to intervene. The problem is that he is coming across as a cranky man stuck in the old world, unable to see how warfare has changed in the previous 30 years and reluctant to relinquish control to the next generation. His wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) is also becoming fed up with his ranting and raving, so she sets about trying to make him see reason.
Director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) tells this story in a style similar to The King's Speech, a more revelatory true-life drama that fictionalises backstage conversations. This is an artfully made film, beautifully shot and edited. And Alex von Tunzelmann's script digs deeply into the characters and themes. So it's a bit frustrating that it's impossible to watch the movie without knowing full well whose argument wins the day and how the events will play out. At least the actors make the most of their roles. Cox delivers an awards-worthy performance as a veteran fighter struggling to remain on the sidelines as the battle approaches, continually adding emotional weight to Churchill's towering tirades. Richardson is limited to a series of isolated scenes, but shines as she takes him on.
Continue reading: Churchill Review
A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is enjoyable for its witty performances and sexy intrigue. It's never as sharp as the screenwriters clearly intended it to be, and its tone veers wildly in operatic fashion from cute comedy to lusty romance to very dark violence. But the actors are terrific, and the film catches a clever sense of both the history and the music.
It opens in 1786, as Prague's opera patron Baron Saloka (James Purefoy) begrudgingly agrees to provide the funds to bring Mozart (Aneurin Barnard) to town to conduct the final performance of The Marriage of Figaro. A rampant womaniser who doesn't want competition from the composer, Saloka currently has his eyes on virginal soprano Zuzanna (Morfydd Clark), who has just joined the cast. And he watches in a jealous rage as the married Mozart flirts shamelessly with her, egged on by his friend, the star diva Josefa (Samantha Barks). In response, Saloka arranges a marriage with Zuzanna's parents (Adrian Edmondson and Dervla Kerwin), who are so taken with the baron's wealth and social standing that they ignore the persistent rumours about his violent abuse of every woman he knows.
There's nothing remotely subtle about this film. Saloka's servants visibly quake in his presence, while every woman in town bats her eyelashes at the hot, charismatic Mozart. The dialogue shifts clunkily from witty banter to gloomy foreboding as the plot turns increasingly creepy and menacing. And Saloka's manipulative nastiness can't help but bring to mind Salieri in Milos Forman's 1984 masterpiece Amadeus. This film of course pales in comparison, although it's silly enough to keep us entertained. This is largely due to Barnard's fizzy, energetic performance, which is nicely balanced by the lively charms of both Barks and Clark, whose scenes with Barnard overflow with lusty glee. By contrast, Purefoy is a snarling villain who hates everyone and everything.
Continue reading: Interlude In Prague Review
It's June 1944 and the war has been waging for five long years. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wants to end it once and for all, but the last thing he would ever do is surrender as a nation. Despite the fact that the allied forced are standing at the coast ready for the orders to invade Normandy and take back the parts of Europe that Nazi Germany has taken over, Churchill doesn't want to rush in until he's certain they have the best chance of success. Naturally, the allied military leaders General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery are becoming frustrated with the man's fear of failure - for it is only that that stands in the way of their D-Day victory. But there's a lot more behind this stubborn and volatile human being than most people see; one who does see it is his dedicated wide Clementine who may be the only one who can save him and, in effect, save Europe.
Continue: Churchill Trailer
Naomi Bishop is a senior investment banker who works in the male dominated world of Wall St Finance, and who quickly becomes involved in a world of corruption and scandal. In 'Equity', Bishop misses out on an opportunity for a promotion in her company when it becomes apparent that she miscalculated the IPO's (Initial Public Offering) value and didn't handle the going public news effectively, as a result she needs to prove herself once again. This leads to her courting the promising newcomers in order to get her foot in the door and spot a potential business opportunity.
Continue: Equity Trailer
After a string of award-winning arthouse hits like Kill List and A Field in England, director Ben Wheatley and writer Amy Jump stumble with this adaptation of the 1970s J.G. Ballard novel. The satirical dystopian setting offers buckets of eye-popping visual style, plus outrageously twisted characters the A-list cast have a lot of fun sinking their teeth into. But while the themes are strong, the people on screen are so aggressively loathsome that it's not an easy movie to watch.
It's set in a brutal concrete tower within commuting distance of London, where new resident Robert (Tom Hiddleston) is learning his way around the building's modern, self-contained design. He especially enjoys flirting with his sexy upstairs neighbour Charlotte (Sienna Miller). But the building has a social structure that is creating some serious tension. Wealthy residents like the tower's architect Anthony (Jeremy Irons) live at the top, while economically struggling families like Helen and Richard (Elisabeth Moss and Luke Evans) are closer to the ground, with middle-class families in between. So when the lower floors lose their supply of water and electricity, they revolt against the upper classes, waging all-out war in the hallways.
The political commentary is astute and perhaps even more timely today than it was in 1975, when the novel was written and when the film is set. And each of the characters is full of energy and anger. So it's frustrating that the choppy editing style seems to lose track of people and plot-threads as it shifts around to various angles on the action. This makes all of the violence and sex feel oddly random and excessive, as things get increasingly nasty and each of the people loses the audience's sympathy. Hiddleston has terrific presence, but the film kind of abandons him along the way. While Irons is hamming it up shamelessly, Evans is inexplicably brutal and both Moss and Miller are little more than victims.
Continue reading: High-Rise Review
With a plot so thin that it's barely there, this sleek South African action thriller is surprisingly entertaining simply because the cast is allowed to chomp merrily on the scenery as they try to torment and kill each other. And even though the film's tone is relentless machismo, this is a rare thriller with a female leading character. So there's a bit of attitude and wry humour to undermine the otherwise sadistic violence.
It opens in Cape Town with a ludicrously over-planned bank heist that goes wrong simply because the robbers are all hothead thugs. The gang leader is Alex (Olga Kurylenko), and her clash with one of her cohorts leaves her team in disarray. She's also on the run from Mr. Washington (James Purefoy), the viciously swaggering henchman of top American boss the Senator (Morgan Freeman). It quickly becomes clear that Washington isn't trying to recover the diamonds stolen from the bank vault; he wants a mysterious memory stick instead. After Alex turns to a cohort (Brendan Murray) and a former love-rival (Lee-Anne Summers) for help, she leads Washington on a spectacularly grisly cat and mouse chase across the city.
Cameraman-turned-director Stephen Campanelli certainly knows how to make a movie that looks achingly cool. There isn't a moment when anyone moves or speaks like a normal human being: they strut, pose, shout, leer, scowl and taunt. And of course they all look great doing it. Kurylenko is a steely presence at the centre of the action, with a character intriguing enough to hold the interest even if Campanelli hadn't forced her to do most of her biggest scenes in a state of undress. Purefoy is clearly having a great time deliciously playing with his character's verbose speeches and grisly actions. And even Freeman gets to chew on some scenery in his few scenes.
Continue reading: Momentum Review
Kevin Bacon's The Following is currently one of the hottest shows on TV right now, with audiences lapping up to gorefest that is the new Fox thriller. In a recent interview with Vulture, Bacon's co-star James Purefoy discussed his role and the one scene in particular that has women all over going green with envy.
Purefoy, who plays killer Joe Carroll, questioned why the subject of violence in the media is such a heavily discussed topic, citing Shakespeare's King Lear and Titus Andronicus as some of the most gruesome examples he could think of. He said: "I'm surprised that in a society, in a culture that's been watching violence on film, television, and stage for two and a half thousand years, anyone brings it up anymore."
As for his kiss with Bacon, James took the whole thing very lightheartedly, saying, "Yeah, I just remember his tongue flicking gently into my mouth. So forward of him. And in front of all those people. I thought what we had was private." If that kind of description doesn't get ladies swooning then who knows what will.
Continue reading: Kissing Kevin Bacon: The Following Co-Star James Purefoy Tells All
Solomon Kane is a formidable warrior, brutal and unrelenting destroying anything and everything that stands in his way. However, one day, his decision to pillage a castle with his ruthless army ends up with all except Solomon being easily slaughtered by demons. It is only when he narrowly escapes his soul being taken by the Devil's reaper that he realises that he's doomed to hell unless he renounces his violent ways in exchange for a life of peace. It is not a long lasting decision, however, as he soon finds himself facing another challenge; when mankind is threatened by an invasion of Crowthorns he must choose whether to fight or let the creatures pick of the people of the world one by one - killing some, turning the weak into slaves and the strong into murderers. His choice is easily made when he witnesses the slaughter of a family of puritans he has become close to and the kidnap of their daughter. He will lay down his soul to fight for the right reasons, even when that leads him to face hell for a second time.
'Solomon Kane' is the hellish 16th century based fantasy adventure from the 1896 to 1950s Pulp magazine character created by Robert E. Howard in 1928; a man who is better known for creating the character Conan the Barbarian. It has been adapted and directed by Michael J. Bassett ('Deathwatch', 'Wilderness') and has only just reached US movie theaters.
At the end of the American Civil War, John Carter (Kitsch) is in Arizona looking for gold when a strange artefact in a cave transports him to Mars, known locally as Barsoom. Getting used to the lower gravity is one thing, but he's soon captured by green, 15-foot-tall Tharks, who have four limbs plus tusks on the sides of their faces. He earns the respect of leader Tars Tarkas (Dafoe), but when he rescues Helium's Princess Dejah (Collins), he ends up in the middle of the war between red human kingdoms Helium and Zodanga.
Continue reading: John Carter Review
The latest Jane Austen novel lovingly adapted to film, "Mansfield Park" features a predictably resolute heroine named Fanny Price, a 10-year-old girl from a poor family who is sent to live with wealthy relations at their country estate.
The first thing her aunt says to her is "Let's have a look at you...Well, I'm sure you have other qualities." When her uncle thinks she's out of earshot, he tells his daughters, "she's not your equal," and he insists she live in the servants' wing to prevent her from tempting her male cousins. Nonetheless, young Edmund takes a shine to her and makes her feel at home, which is the beginning of a life-long friendship.
Well, I think we all know where this is going. As witty and wildly engaging as Austen's coy 18th Century romances are, they're nothing if not predictable.
Continue reading: Mansfield Park Review
Date of birth
3rd June, 1964
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This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...
A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...
Naomi Bishop is a senior investment banker who works in the male dominated world of...
After a string of award-winning arthouse hits like Kill List and A Field in England,...
'If only we had enough money to move to a bigger house', an ongoing predicament...
With a plot so thin that it's barely there, this sleek South African action thriller...
Solomon Kane is a formidable warrior, brutal and unrelenting destroying anything and everything that stands...
While trailers make this look like an effects-heavy sci-fi mess, the film is actually a...
Civil War veteran John Carter wakes up in a strange, barren land with no idea...
Turning a rarely dramatised chapter of British history into a riotously grisly romp, this film...