While cinematic blockbusters tickle the eyes, this film dazzles the soul. This is a remarkably evocative drama that gets deep under the skin, challenging us to see ourselves in a rather outrageous situation that shifts from quietly disturbing drama to unsettling freakiness. It's strikingly written, directed and performed to get into our heads and stay there like few movies do.
The story is set in 1969 in a girls' school located in the lush English countryside, where 16-year-old Lydia (Maisie Williams) and her best pal Abbie (newcomer Florence Pugh) are members of the Alternative School Orchestra. They're also inseparable, carving their undying love into a tree trunk. But once Lydia has sex with a boy, their relationship begins to shift. And when Abbie faints in class, it seems to become contagious. Suddenly girls are collapsing all around the school, much to the consternation of the headmistress (Monica Dolan) and her stern deputy (Greta Scacchi). As the hysteria spreads, Lydia gets increasingly confused by the occult beliefs of her older brother (Joe Cole) and the agoraphobic behaviour of their mother (Maxine Peake). But what she really misses is her childhood connection with Abbie.
Writer-director Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life) lets this play out like a deranged fairy tale in which Lydia's voyage to self-discovery is both wondrous and terrible at the same time. In its vivid exploration of feminine adolescence, the film echoes such classics as Picnic at Hanging Rock or Heavenly Creatures, by way of David Lynch and Nicolas Roeg (whose son Luc is one of the producers here). And the bold, knowing themes are echoed in gorgeously artful cinematography by the great Agnes Godard plus a stunner of a soundtrack by Tracey Thorn. Amid this sumptuous atmosphere, Morley weaves an enigmatic story packed with mystery, revelations and yes, burgeoning sexuality. But even more than this, the film taps in to the earth-mother power girls discover as they emerge into womanhood.
Continue reading: The Falling Review
Maxine Peake - A variety of celebrities were photographed at the premiere gala screening of movie, drama 'The Falling' which was held at the Ham Yard Hotel in London, United Kingdom - Monday 20th April 2015
An unusual point of view prevents this from ever turning into the standard biopic, but it's Eddie Redmayne's staggeringly committed performance as Stephen Hawking that makes the film unmissable. Based on the book by Stephen's wife Jane Hawking, the film uses her perspective to recount the events with their relationship firmly at the centre, which adds a personal angle the audience can engage with. This diverts the attention from Hawking's scientific breakthroughs, but makes the film both energetic and emotionally riveting.
It opens in 1963 when Stephen (Redmayne) is a rising-star at Cambridge, already a genius who thinks far outside the box. But he also has a sharp sense of humour, which makes it easy to see what Jane (Felicity Jones) sees in this brainy black-hole-obsessed geek. Then just as their relationship begins to get serious, he is diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Instead of giving up, Jane marries him and has three kids as Stephen defies the doctor's prognosis. As his physical condition deteriorates, they get help from two people who become unexpectedly close: widowed choir director Jonathan (Charlie Cox) and medical assistant Elaine (Maxine Peake). And even as their marriage comes apart under the pressure, Jane and Stephen remain deeply connected to each other.
Anthony McCarten's script cleverly lets big ideas swirl around each scene without swamping the more human story. The central factor in Stephen and Jane's interaction centres on faith: his in science, hers in God. Stephen continues to seek a theory that will scientifically explain the nature of existence, while Jane catches him out when he takes a leap of faith himself. And the film lets all of this play out through their interaction with a variety of terrific side characters, including Stephen's tutor (David Thewlis), his colleagues (Harry Lloyd and Enzo Cilenti), his father (Simon McBurney) and Jane's mother (Emily Watson). Each performance is packed with telling nuance, while Jones gives the film a textured heart and soul.
Continue reading: The Theory of Everything Review
Watch the eerie trailer below
Shameless and Silk actor Maxine Peake combines with Blake Harrison, known for his goofy character Neil on The Inbetweeners, in ‘Keeping Rosy’ – a tense, low-fi British thriller centred on Charlotte, a career-obsessed workaholic whose work and personal life takes multiple turns for the worst in a matter of hours.
Maxine Peake stars in 'Keeping Rosy'
Having chosen a career in advertising over any semblance of a meaningful personal life, Peake’s character’s life is constantly a fragile balance. ‘Keeping Rosy’ is a film about the tense balance between work and life, focussing on the intense pressure for people to succeed in an increasingly competitive, cut-throat marketplace.
Continue reading: Blake Harrison and Maxine Peake Star In 'Keeping Rosy' [Trailer]
Sleek and tightly constructed, this low-key British horror thriller worms its way under the skin to put us in what feels like an impossible situation. We may not be able to identify with everything the central character does, or each decision she makes, but we squirm at the thought of being in her shoes. And by keeping everything so understated and suggestive, filmmaker Steve Reeves manages to deliver several terrific jolts.
In London, corporate executive Charlotte (Maxine Peake) is having a seriously terrible day. After giving up her personal life for her job, she's bypassed for a big promotion that goes instead to Tom (Sam Hoare), whose wife (Tori Hart) has just had the baby Charlotte has always longed for. After drowning her frustration in alcohol, she goes home to find her surly cleaner Maya (Elisa Lasowski) smoking in her flat and trying to steal a bottle of champagne. But their confrontation takes a dark turn when Charlotte accidentally kills Maya. In a panic, she hides the body. But this only begins a series of major decisions Charlotte must make. She reaches out to her sister Sarah (Christine Bottomley) for help, but things begin to feel a lot more precarious when the smiley Roger (Blake Harrison) turns up.
The title refers to one of Charlotte's most important choices, which is something better discovered in the context of the story. Indeed, the entire movie seems to exist behind Peake's expressive eyes and stony face. She gives Charlotte an uncanny inner life, thinking through the ramifications of every startling twist as if it was part of a major corporate project. It's easy to see why she is so good at her job, although her intelligence also makes some of what she does feel rather contrived. But Peake's considerable screen presence makes it clear that Charlotte is the kind of woman who doesn't accept help from anyone and would rather do even the dirtiest work herself.
Continue reading: Keeping Rosy Review
The BAFTA TV Awards 2014 nominations have been announced - is your favourite show in there somewhere?
The nominations have been announced for this year's BAFTA TV Awards, which will be held on Sunday 18th May. After an outstanding year in television, this year's awards will make for gripping viewing with nominations covering all categories of TV talent. Channel 4's comedy series, The IT Crowd, leads the way with four nominations alongside the broadcaster's chilling crime drama, Southcliffe, according to BAFTA.
Actor Richard Ayoade & Comedy 'The IT Crowd' Could Clean Up At The 2014 TV BAFTAs.
The IT Crowd dominates the best performance in a comedy categories as Richard Ayoade and Chris O'Dowd are each nominated whilst their co-star Katherine Parkinson has been nominated for best female in a comedy and the show's final episode is up for best sitcom.
There's enough charming energy in this loose London music scene comedy to keep us entertained, but the plot drives us round the bend by refusing to go anywhere. Yes, this is one of those achingly British films that pulls the rug out from under its characters (and indeed its audience) every time they're threatened with even a moment of happiness.
Our hero is Dixie (Jonny Owen), who leaves rural Wales when he discovers a band on YouTube that he thinks he can manage into stardom. In London, he discovers that the Premature Congratulations (Michael Sosha, Dylan Edwards, Joel Fry and Curtis Thomson) are four hapless young men who make great music but have barely a whiff of common sense between them. So his efforts to promote them are more difficult than expected, especially since his record-exec childhood friend Horsey (Roger Evans) won't give him the time of day. Then just as Dixie's girlfriend Shell (Vicky McClure) gets fed up with his debt-incurring ways, The Prems suddenly become the hottest unsigned band in London.
Not that Dixie is capable of getting them signed to one of the labels clamouring for them. No, this is one of those movies in which everything goes wrong on cue. Not only does success remain tantalisingly out of reach, but Dixie also has problems with a loan shark (Michael Smiley) and a surly record-shop boss (Martin Freeman). And his father is dying too. These are far too many obstacles for a scruffy little movie, and not one of them feels either relevant or necessary. It's merely Owen the screenwriter torturing Owen the actor. He may be relentlessly charming on-screen, but it's all so contrived that we know it's pointless to care about anything.
Continue reading: Svengali Review
The first showing of Sam Mendes' 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical' has been met with mixed reviews but that didn't stop celebrities from turning out en masse for the premiere after-party (Tuesday 25th June).
The opening night of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: The Musical turned out to be a star studded occasion. The after party pictures show the turnout of celebrities in support of director Sam Mendes, who directed this latest production. Stars included Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Doctor Who side-kick Jenna Louise Coleman and presenter Graham Norton. Other actors present were Maxine Peake (The Village), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Summer Strallen (Land Girls) and Danny Mac (Hollyoaks).
Uma Thurman arriving at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical after party
Also attending was Glee actor Matthew Morrison who truly got into the spirit of the occasion by joyous celebrating his own golden ticket. Morrison was not the only American actor present as Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) made an appearance along with her husband, actor Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and their son James Wilkie Broderick. Both Uma Thurman and singer Sinitta brought along their offspring.
The BBC may have struck gold once again with their fantastic new series The Village gaining mass approval after it was aired this weekend.
The Village, which aired on BBC 1 this Easter Weekend (March 30), has received an almost constant flow of praise since the first episode began to detail the trials and tribulations of a small Derbyshire village at the turn of the 20th century. The show delivers much more high drama than that lousy summarising sentence lets on though, as the BBC may have produced one of it's finest series in recent times with this historical series.
Maxine Peake delivers the goods as the domineering mother of young Bert Middleton
Writer Peter Moffat, the man behind the crime dramas Criminal Justice and Silk, has produced a show that gives it's audience a set of characters that you can instantly sympathise with, or begin to detest already, and by naming the central characters the Middletons (most likely after those Middletons), made them seem almost recognisable without even a glimpse into their back story. The titular Village is place halfway between Manchester and Sheffield in the Derbyshire countryside and although it's central character is not a direct descendant of the future Queen of England, he and his family still have plenty to tell, as it recollects the memories of England’s second-oldest man, 112-year-old Bert Middleton. The first tale to be told on Middleton's life is a love story and also one of technical innovation as the first omnibus to visit the small community arrives down the High Street, carrying the town's newest inhabitant Martha Lane (Charlie Murphy), with whomBert and his brother Joe (Nico Mirallegro) instantly fall for. Grance (Maxine Peake) and John Middleton (John Simm) are the boy's strict, lord of the manor parents.
The filmmakers tell this World War I story beautifully, but they never quite bring it to life as a proper movie. By taking a gently simplistic approach, it never feels like anything new as it deals with the usual topics of battlefield camaraderie, lost innocence and families torn apart by war.
It's set in early 1900s rural Devon, as the Peaceful family's idyllic life comes to an abrupt end when Dad dies. Now Hazel (Peake) and her three sons, Tommo, Charlie and simple-minded Joe (MacKay, O'Connell and Summercorn), must struggle to find enough work to survive. And when the war breaks out, Tommo lies about his age to go off to fight, partly because the girl he loves, Molly (Roach), turns out to be in love with Charlie. So out of guilt, Charlie joins him in the trenches. Which makes both Molly and Hazel worry if either of them will return home.
Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo (War Horse), the film is packed with serious themes that contrast life on a Devon farm with the horrors of battle. The story is framed with scenes of Tommo in a military prison cell, and we have to wait until the end to find out what that's all about, which kind of waters down the impact of the harrowing scenes that come next. This is probably because everything that happens in the meantime reiterates the fact that fate goes where it will, and both good and bad people die in wartime.
Continue reading: Private Peaceful Review
Five guests arrive at the snowy, isolated Cliff Edge Hotel, perched high above a foreboding beach: Elly (Peake) is struggling to come to terms with a past tragedy, Glen (Hilton) is a has-been rocker in need of inspiration, Philip and Sophie (Dempsie and Burley) are on a blind-date weekend, and Wendy (Yates) intends to end it all. Chambermaid Agata (Wendzikowska) takes care of them for the weekend, which doesn't go as any of them planned. This is mainly because each person's isolation is interrupted in ways that will change their lives.
Continue reading: Edge Review