Although it takes a breezy, sometimes silly approach to a fragment of a true story, this British period film has enough charm to keep audiences entertained, thanks to its lively cast and ambitious recreation of historical events. Director Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots) may be largely fictionalising what happened to real people on VE Day 70 years ago, but he certainly knows how to have some fun at the same time. And the film has some intriguing things to say about how the world has changed since then.
Victory in Europe was declared on May 8th 1945, and the streets of London filled with disorderly celebrations. Watching all of this from within Buckingham Palace, the teen princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley) are desperate to get out there and mingle with the crowd. Their parents, King George VI and Queen Elzabeth (Rupert Everett and Emily Watson), reluctantly agree to let them leave with two military escorts (Jack Laskey and Jack Gordon). But they soon lose their chaperones in the party atmosphere in The Ritz. The ditzy Margaret heads off into the night visiting a string of parties, while Elizabeth tries to track her down, assisted by a helpful stranger, airman Jack (Jack Reynor), an anti-royalist who has no idea who this young woman actually is.
First of all, it's intriguing to remember that in 1945 people in the streets wouldn't have recognised the princesses, especially since they had essentially been locked out of view for the previous seven years. This is inconceivable now, as is the idea of revellers filling the streets celebrating victory in a war, because no generation since has had a war end on a remotely positive note. These kinds of themes add subtext to what is otherwise a frothy romp punctuated by moments of silly slapstick. Jarrold recreates the evening beautifully on-screen, with a real sense of the club-lined streets of Mayfair, the drug dens of Soho, the flag-waving crowds going wild in Trafalgar Square, and the bombed-out city returning to life.
Continue reading: A Royal Night Out Review
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
Director Mike Leigh has made a new biopic about one of Britains finest landscape artists, J.M.W. Turner. 'Mr Turner' will see key events of Turner's life like the death of his father which had a profound effect on him; as well as the relationships he built such as the one with his housekeeper who loves him, but he underappreciates. The film will tell the story of Turner's legacy which saw him help pioneer landscape painting with his works, helping the style rival history painting.
As well as being skilled at landscape painting, Turner was also known for being well versed in watercolour landscape painting. He was considered an anarchistic character in his life, due acts such as strapping himself to a ship, in order to paint a storm.
The film is directed by Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year, Vera Drake), who's expressed that he wanted to make a film that captures Turner's personality, which Leigh describes as complex and compulsive. 'Mr Turner' is set to be released in the UK on the 31st of October 2014.
Tom and Gerri (Broadbent and Sheen) are a happy middle-aged couple in London with an equally contented 30-year-old son Joe (Maltman). But Gerri's friend Mary (Manville) is another story: single and more a bit desperate, she also has a creeping alcohol problem. While she seems like the perfect fit for Tom's friend Ken (Wight), she instead has her eye on Joe, which becomes a problem when he brings a girlfriend (Fernandez) home. Meanwhile, Tom's brother (Bradley) is struggling with his strained relationship with his surly son (Savage).
Continue reading: Another Year Review
Ruth Sheen Monday 18th October 2010 The 54th Times BFI London Film Festival - 'Another Year' - Premiere - at the Vue in Leicester Square The 54th Times BFI London Film Festival - 'Another Year' - Premiere
Meet Tom and Gerri, a happily married couple who're closer to the end of their life to the start. Another Year is a touching and true-to-life story that explores the meaning of friendships and relationships through all stages of life.
Another Year was written and directed by British film maker Mike Leigh and sees him collaborate with Lesley Manville for the eighth time, his seventh with Jim Broadbent and fifth with Ruth Sheen.
Another Year is released in the UK through Momentum Pictures on November 5th 2010
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Martin Savage, Michele Austin, Philip Davis, Imelda Staunton, Stuart McQuarrie, Eileen Davies, Mary Jo Randle and Ben Roberts
Jamie (Sturgess) is a shy photographer who avoids contact with people because of the large birthmark on his face. Working with his brother (Salinger) and nephew (Treadaway), he longs for a normal life. Then a series of events propels him into a nightmarish new reality in which a demon-like man (Mawle), his young assistant (Mistry) and their intense weapons expert (Marsan) offer him freedom from his scars in exchange for an act of chaos. He also falls in love with a girl (Poesy) who seems too good to be true.
Continue reading: Heartless Review
Vera Drake is no exception to this practice. Set in working-class London in the 1950s, it explores the path of a middle-aged woman who performs illegal abortions to young women in need. Vera (Imelda Staunton) is one of those truly kind-hearted souls who constantly helps out anyone and everyone around her. It's hard to imagine that someone that positive and giving may exist, but her charm and energetic encouragement easily win you over as genuine. She, her husband Stan (Phil Davis), and their two adult children share a cramped but warm apartment together.
Continue reading: Vera Drake Review
All or Nothing earns exactly the same complaints for exactly the same reasons, except instead of one central character there are dozens--so many that the press notes contain an entire list of "Who's Who" so reviewers won't get confused. I suppose the list did help me define each character's role in the story, but the problem isn't that there are too many characters, but that I didn't care about any of them!
Continue reading: All Or Nothing Review