While a microscopic budget and somewhat misguided premise create constant irritations, this British comedy has such a bone-dry sense of humour that it can't help but keep the audience laughing. It's also refreshing that someone is daring to laugh at the European football world, something most fans take far too seriously. Still, this mock-documentary is so thinly set out that it never digs too deep. And with only five actors and no match footage at all, it feels underdeveloped.
This is a fake documentary about a fake version of Manchester United, catching up with five players several years after they attempted to win the triple championship in 2010. As they speak to camera about each pivotal match, they reveal things about themselves. Pretty boy Olly (Jack Donnelly) is clearly less interested in playing football than in creating himself as a brand. Northerner Danny (Ryan Pope) has no idea what to do with all of his money, and still hasn't come to terms with the fact that he's gay. Practical joker Stevo (James Rastall) never has a clue when he's taken a prank too far. German goalkeeper Kurt (Jonathan Broke) thinks his system is flawless, and can't cope when it isn't. And womanising rapper Kwasi (Matthew Avery), who comes from Ghana, can't quite reconcile his Muslim religion with his excessive lifestyle.
It's fairly obvious why these clowns didn't win the triple; what's harder to understand is how they made it to the championship matches at all. Annoyingly, the pivotal moments from each game are only described verbally, and sometimes re-enacted among them. Not having a single frame of match-play is a serious problem for something pretending to be a documentary, but at least the actors give hilariously committed performances, making astute observations and playing off each other with often riotous results. There are also pointed comments from actors playing an obviously corrupt football official (Dana Haqjoo), a bigoted politician (Robery Portall) and a curvaceous assistant (Anouska Mond).
Continue reading: United We Fall Review
Max Lewinsky is a determined police detective who remains bitter about never managing to find and arrest the elusive criminal that is Jacob Sternwood. However, he is in with another chance of victory when Sternwood leaves his hideout in Iceland to return to the streets of London where his son Ruan is lying unconscious in a hospital bed after suffering a near-fatal bullet wound to the stomach during a heist that went wrong. Knowing that Sternwood will attempt to sneak in to the hospital to see his son and also attempt to smuggle him out under the police's nose, Lewinsky pulls out all the stops in the biggest effort of his career to catch this former criminal and reinstate his flawless reputation. However, as they come face to face, the both of them find themselves in the middle of a much bigger scheme and the pair must work together to uncover the shady truth.
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Momentous historical events add a remarkable kick to this fascinating personal drama, which is based on journal entries and firsthand accounts. besides being hugely entertaining, the film also gives Colin Firth yet another meaty role to dive into.
In 1925, Bertie (Firth), the Duke of York, is paralysed with fear when required to speak in public. After unsuccessful treatment for his stammer, his wife Elizabeth (Bonham Carter) locates unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush), an Australian who insists on familiarity even with the royals. But as Bertie begins to make progress, his life takes a dramatic turn when his brother Edward VIII (Pearce) abdicates the throne, leaving Bertie in place as George VI just as war breaks out with Germany. Now the nation really needs to hear his voice.
The sharp, often very witty script has the ring of truth to it, refusing to overplay big events or to create some miracle cinematic cure that sees Bertie rising to inspiring orator status. Even though it's still extremely crowd-pleasing, it's a much more complex story centring on the man behind the stutter, exploring the intimate, difficult journey Bertie must have taken before he was so suddenly thrust into the limelight.
As with last year's A Single Man, Firth invests the role with layered subtext that gives Bertie a fully fledged inner life far beyond the astute screenplay.
It's a beautiful performance that tells us as much with a quiet sigh as it does with a razor-sharp line of dialog. His banter with the excellent Rush is also full of substance, while Bonham Carter not only uncannily captures the Queen Mother's physical presence but also the strength of the woman who, together with her husband, would so bravely lead Britain through the Blitz.
Visually, the film transcends the usual costume-drama approach, with expert direction from Hooper that beautifully plays with perspectives and textures.
Also notable is the way the camera quietly captures expansive backdrops that continually remind us (and Bertie) that there's a whole nation out there waiting for his next word. And along the way, we strongly identify with Bertie, which makes his journey takes both stirring and thrillingly inspiring.
While a microscopic budget and somewhat misguided premise create constant irritations, this British comedy has...
Max Lewinsky is a determined police detective who remains bitter about never managing to find...