It's no surprise that Mike Leigh would take a distinctly original approach to the celebrity biopic, and this film about 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner is refreshingly unstructured and abrasive. By avoiding the usual formula, Leigh also reinvents the period drama as something almost startlingly realistic, packing the screen with sardonic humour and honest emotions that are extremely complex. And since it's about a painter, the film looks absolutely gorgeous, as Leigh and his ace cinematographer Dick Pope recreate the look of Turner's paintings on-screen.
The film is set in the 1820s, when Turner (Timothy Spall) is a celebrity on the art scene, courting controversy with his visceral landscapes. People either love or hate his work, but his financial success means he can do whatever he wants. Living with his father (Paul Jesson) and loyal housekeeper Hannah (Dorothy Atkinson), Turner openly challenges his critics. But his private life is just as tempestuous. He ignores the two daughters he fathered with Mrs Danby (Ruth Sheen) and has a second incognito life with the widow Sophie Booth (Marion Bailey), calling himself "Mr Mallard". Meanwhile, he continues to push boundaries in his work, challenging the status quo to such an extent that he becomes a joke in social circles.
Spall won the Best Actor award at Cannes for his astonishing performance as the fiercely independent Turner, a man who went to extreme ends to maintain his anarchic lifestyle and produce his distinctive paintings. In one key scene, he straps himself to a ship's mast during a storm so he can better capture the extreme weather in his work. Yes, Turner was a hurricane of a man, brushing off anyone who disparaged his art, including Queen Victoria. And it's no surprise that so few people liked him: Spall plays him believably as monosyllabic grump who growls more than he speaks.
Continue reading: Mr. Turner Review
Everyone is familiar with the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. Cinderella lives a mundane life doing whatever her evil step-mothers tell her to do, and all she dreams of is going to the ball and one day a fairy Godmother makes this wish come true and she lives happily ever after.
In 2015, Cinderella will have a new reimagining via Disney who have previously made a cartoon film, telling the story. This version is going to be live action and will star Lily James (Downton Abbey, Wrath Of The Titans) as Cinderella, Richard Madden (Game Of Thrones, A promise) as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett (The Lord Of The Rings franchise, Hanna) as Lady Tremaine and Helena Bonham Carter (Les Misérables, Fight Club) as The Fairy Godmother. Given the war-driven fantasy works some of these actors have been in (namely Blanchett in Lord Of The Rings and Madden in Game Of Thrones), can we expect an element of this in this new Cinderella film? Probably not, but it should still be a fun film at the very least for both children new to the story, and people who'll remember seeing the previous version.
The film is directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh who you may know best for playing Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets, but he has also had great success directing films. A recent example being 2011's Thor.
Curtis has said he may stop making movies, and on the basis of this film you can kind of see why: he's clearly in a rut. While this romance attempts a bit of magical whimsy, it's the same collection of sassy comedy, romantic drama and sudsy sentimentality that characterised Love Actually and Notting Hill. More troubling is how it presents that same almost offensively slanted view of British society.
The magical element is time travel, as young Tim (Gleeson) learns from his father (Nighy) that the men in his family can flit back along their timelines at will, reliving past events and fixing things where needed. Tim decides this will come in handy as he looks for a wife, and indeed he uses his skill to circle round and round charming American Mary (McAdams) until they fall in love. And over the next several years, as he figures out how to make their life together as amazing as possible, he learns that there are some limitations to this gift.
As always, Curtis gives his characters a fantasy level of wealth that doesn't really make sense. We never see Tim travel back to win the lottery, but there's no other explanation for how he and Mary are able to buy a house in a posh Maida Vale street. And these characters also live in an imagined pocket of London that has no diversity at all, as we never see anyone who isn't white and straight. But then, Tim's idyllic childhood on the Cornish coast isn't exactly believable either, complete with a quirky earth-adoring sister (Wilson) and always-confused uncle (Cordery).
Continue reading: About Time Review
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