Mark Herman

Mark Herman

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Review


Good
In Mark Herman's adaptation of John Boyne's controversial children's bestseller offering a kid's-eye view of Holocaust, the young eight-year-old Bruno (Asa Butterfield) has the wide, blue-eyed innocence of the unprotected. Sheltered and half in a fantasy world, he runs through city streets with his friends, his arms outstretched like wings, gliding untouched through the busy and congested world of adults. Herman bathes these opening scenes in a fantastic fairy-tale burnish, like a golden world ready to be lost.

Bruno shares a family dinner with his loving parents (Vera Farmiga and David Thewlis) and his older sister Gretel (Amber Beattie). With their sparkling British Masterpiece Theatre accents, the family appears as well-scrubbed paragons of British banality. (Even Richard Johnson, that great bastion of British nobility from the epics of the 1960s, is exhumed to appear as the family's Grandpa.) So it comes as a shock when Thewlis dons a German commandant's uniform for a going-away party and Herman quietly reveals that the Dad has been reassigned, taking the family with him. As Dad remarks, "Home is where the family is." In this case, however, home is Auschwitz and Dad is the new camp commandant, who will be supervising the mass exterminations.

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Hope Springs Review


Grim
Not to be confused with Hope Floats, the Hope in Hope Springs is a small town, and the springs in question is a noun.

Hope Springs brings us the direct-to-video story of a U.K. artist (Colin Firth), who recently has been dumped by stuffy fiancee Minnie Driver. He jets to the U.S. to seek solace in the town of Hope, promptly finding the much different, free-spirited Heather Graham as his new muse. It's only a matter of time before Minnie's back in the picture... who will he end up with?

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Little Voice Review


Excellent
Surprisingly powerful despite its cute premise, Horrocks shines as a timid young woman (known as Little Voice) who has the uncanny ability to unerringly reproduce the voice of dozens of great female vocalists (eg. Garland, Bassey, even Marilyn Monroe). Smarmy promoter Caine puts her onstage, where her neurosis only worsens, but not before a few sparkling hours before the crowds.

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Brassed Off Review


Weak
Way over-sentimental British nostalgia piece, Brassed Off tells the charming yet unabsorbing plight of late 1980s/early 1990s coal miners who find their mine being closed down. The refuge they take is in their music, a brass band that goes from wretched to fabulous after the arrival of Fitzgerald, who's (surprise) on the team responsible for shutting down their mine. The triumph-over-adversity fable has been done to death, decade after decade, and Brassed Off has little to add to the genre.

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Mark Herman

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