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Life During Wartime Review


Excellent
Solondz takes a sideways approach to this sequel to his 1998 hit Happiness.

With an all-new cast, it feels almost like a jazz riff, playing with the characters and themes and sending them in new directions. And it's both hilarious and clever.

When she realises that her husband (Williams) hasn't overcome his urge to make obscene phone calls, Joy (Henderson) heads to Florida to see her sister Trish (Janney), who has told everyone that her husband Bill (Hinds) has died. But he's actually in prison for abusing a young boy. Trish is now seeing a nice Jewish man (Lerner) and being a bit too honest with her son Timmy (Snyder).

Continue reading: Life During Wartime Review

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day Review


Good
Some film types die out because audiences no longer support them. Others disappear because no one has the talent or skill to successfully resurrect them. The witty, wacky screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s were really nothing more than cultural clashes, the weird and eccentric meshing with the calm and conservative for some humor based class/gender warfare. The new film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day harkens back to those days of ditzy heiresses, silly playboys, and suave leading men. And for the most part, it succeeds.

For Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), London before the war is a cruel and heartless place. Fired from her most recent governess job, she's homeless and penniless. Without a single prospect in sight, her life looks fairly bleak indeed. An overheard referral at an employment agency has her rushing off to the apartment of American actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). When Miss Pettigrew inadvertently helps the bubble headed girl balance the three men in her life -- nightclub owner Nick (Mark Strong), novice producer Phil (Tom Payne), and sensitive pianist Michael (Lee Pace) -- she's hired as a social secretary. Desperate for a part in a West End musical, Delysia will stop at nothing to get her way. During her adventures, Miss Pettigrew meets noted designer Edythe Dubarry (Shirley Henderson). A shared secret between the two will have our heroine trying to patch things up with the fashion maven's boyfriend (Ciaran Hinds) before the day is over.

Continue reading: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day Review

Marie Antoinette Review


Very Good
The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made has the tenderness, vagueness and, ultimately, the sensibility of a fluffy, white cloud in the middle of a blue sky. With two near-perfect films on her resume, 1999's The Virgin Suicides and 2003's majestic Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third film should have been an easy play. Instead, we are given the beguiling Marie Antoinette.

There's the famous Marie-Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst): the one who so insipidly said "Let them eat cake" when learning of the famine and starvation of the French people and the one who had her head cut off and displayed, with ample delight, to the same people she told to eat said cake. Then there's the private Marie Antoinette: the one who was forced into a French marriage (she was Austrian originally) by her brutish mother and who would eventually lose a newborn baby right as her kingdom was crashing down. Coppola seems very confused as to whom she wants to show in Marie Antoinette.

Continue reading: Marie Antoinette Review

Marie Antoinette Review


Very Good
The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made has the tenderness, vagueness and, ultimately, the sensibility of a fluffy, white cloud in the middle of a blue sky. With two near-perfect films on her resume, 1999's The Virgin Suicides and 2003's majestic Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third film should have been an easy play. Instead, we are given the beguiling Marie Antoinette.

There's the famous Marie-Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst): the one who so insipidly said "Let them eat cake" when learning of the famine and starvation of the French people and the one who had her head cut off and displayed, with ample delight, to the same people she told to eat said cake. Then there's the private Marie Antoinette: the one who was forced into a French marriage (she was Austrian originally) by her brutish mother and who would eventually lose a newborn baby right as her kingdom was crashing down. Coppola seems very confused as to whom she wants to show in Marie Antoinette.

Continue reading: Marie Antoinette Review

Wilbur Review


Very Good
Wilbur is about suicide, but at the same time, it's nothing about suicide. Sure, the title character (newcomer Jamie Sives) hangs himself, slits his wrists and, in the movie's first scene, floods his apartment with gas and waits to die. The movie focuses on the power of family bonds and finding oneself. Suicide is treated as a starting point to a movie with a quiet emotional power and depth that lasts long after the plot problems pass and inconsistencies fade.

To prevent further incidents, Wilbur's kindly older brother, Harper (Adrian Rawlins), takes Wilbur in. Harper runs (and lives) in his late father's old Glasgow bookstore. Business is not good. There appear to be just two steady customers: An old man hungry for anything by Kipling, and a pale, whisper-quiet woman named Alice (a very good Shirley Henderson) who trades the books she finds at her depressing hospital job for quick cash.

Continue reading: Wilbur Review

Close Your Eyes Review


OK
Michael Strother's more than just a hypnotherapist, he's also a psychic! And when you hypnotize a police detective who's trying to quit smoking and start seeing her cases in your mind, well, it's big trouble for our hero!

Goran Visnjic's Michael is a troubled soul, having moved from Europe to America and back again in hopes of escaping whatever demons come along with his strange powers. Too bad he keeps flapping his gums about children floating in bodies of water and so on -- obviously the curiosity of those who he prophesying for get a little curious. And so it comes that a detective (Shirley Henderson, not really cut out for this part) blackmails Michael into helping her out on a kidnapping case -- the young girl escaped her tormentors but she hasn't spoken since. Enter the mind reader to get to the bottom of things.

Continue reading: Close Your Eyes Review

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Review


OK
In the last three years, Renée Zellweger has lost all 25 pounds of her Bridget Jones weight, vamped her way through Chicago, chunked up again for Cold Mountain, waifed away for Down with Love, and -- finally -- put all that weight back on for her long-awaited return to the role of an insecure Brit -- one which she swore she'd never perform again.

Well, throw enough money at something and it's bound to change people's minds. In fact, that seems to be the operating assumption for the entirety of this sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, a lackluster follow-up to the mildly enchanting original.

Continue reading: Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Review

Wonderland (2000) Review


OK
The city of London has a million stories, and Wonderland tells just one of them -- well, okay, three. No, five -- five! Six -- eight -- all right, eleven subplots competing for screen time.

At the center are three sisters lookin' for a little love and compassion. Perky Soho waitress Nadia (Gina McKee, Croupier), her hair punked out in cute rabbit ears, indulges in the lonely hearts club of personal ads for Mr. Right, or at least a decent lay. Abrasive, no-nonsense hairdresser Debbie (Shirley Henderson, Topsy-Turvy) settles into a tract of not taking shit from anyone, especially her irresponsible ex, Dan (Ian Hart, Spring Forward). He can barely be counted on for weekend visits to their teenage son (Peter Marfleet). Molly (Molly Parker, Waking the Dead) is very pregnant and needs a little support from her friends, especially when her husband (John Simm) goes through a mid-life career meltdown.

Continue reading: Wonderland (2000) Review

Intermission Review


Very Good
Intermission, a gritty ensemble comedy about a bunch of gritty Irish folk, bears some resemblance to late-nineties indie crimedies like Trainspotting, Go, and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and fans of those movies should certainly check this one out--it's practically made for those "if you liked [that], check out [this]" shelves at the video store.

What Intermission resembles just as handily, though, is an Irish Love Actually, which is to say it's like Love Actually with a lot more drinking and violence. This is unlikely to placate anyone who truly hated Love Actually and, as such, would require something on the order of a soccer riot to feel fully cleansed. But if you (like me) merely thought a few of those charmingly stammering Englishmen could use a good deck, Intermission is the punch-throwing, rock-chucking romantic comedy for you.

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Topsy-Turvy Review


Good
One of my earliest childhood remembrances was watching a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. I thought it was really neat. The costumes and music were amazing and even though I couldn't understand all of what was going on, I was fascinated by how all of these people worked together.

Now 20 years later, while watching another Gilbert and Sullivan performance (of sorts) I am still thinking the same things.

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Dirty Filthy Love Review


Good
I love to laugh at people with mental illnesses as much as the next guy, but watching them have problems with their love life? That's where I draw the line.

But seriously, Dirty Filthy Love is a generally engaging and sometimes funny look at how society's dysfunctionals get by in a world of romance, despite their proclivity to bark like wild dogs. Michael Sheen's Mark has both Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Tourette's Syndrome -- though somehow he made it to the top of the architecture field and landed a gorgeous wife while yelling fuck! tits! at everyone.

Continue reading: Dirty Filthy Love Review

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands Review


Good
Jimmy (Robert Carlyle) is a low-life criminal who abandoned wife and child. It's been three years since he ran out on them and, one morning, he sees wife Shirley (Shirley Henderson) on a TV chat show being proposed to and rejecting her suitor. Sensing that she's moved up some in the world, this provokes him to stage a marital comeback and take advantage of what could be an opportunity. So, he finishes some business with his criminal chums, taking part in a small-time caper and, when it goes wrong, he absconds with the loot.

Meanwhile, downy-voiced, sexy Shirley lives with good-natured, easy going Dek (Rhys Ifans), her suitor on TV, and her daughter Marlene (Finn Atkins) in Dek's house. She and Dek profess their love for each other frequently enough to make you gag, which also makes you wonder why she would turn Dek down on national telly. Could she still feel something for the husband lurking somewhere out there in the badlands of Glasgow?

Continue reading: Once Upon A Time In The Midlands Review

24 Hour Party People Review


Excellent
Like most art forms, music is complimentary, or commentary, for the age in which it is presented. Analogous to painting, the moving image, and literature -- the great arts we all lean on for sympathy and entertainment -- we find ourselves attracted to what we relate to or wish for, and end up with extra propulsion to go forward based on the experience. What better way to get a glimpse of creativity and encouragement to keep pushing forward with it than by presenting it on screen through a charismatic narrator in half-documentary, half-storytelling fashion?

This is exactly what Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People does, depicting the path of the renowned Tony Wilson, who spearheaded names like Joy Division (later to become New Order), groups which are still held as influences to today's musicians. Mixing frenetic plot with a vérité slant, we see the punk and rave movements evolve through the admirably hard-working, but ultimately self-defeating, energy with which Wilson built Factory Records.

Continue reading: 24 Hour Party People Review

Bridget Jones's Diary Review


Good

Whether the feature film version of "Bridget Jones's Diary" -- that exalted, best-selling ode to 30-something single gals -- properly captures the oversized pajamas-and-Haagen Dazs essence of "singleton" romantic vexation, I cannot say.

I am male and I haven't read the book, and either one of these facts excludes me from being a bona fide member of the cult following that has built up around this lovelorn English Everywoman. Everything I know about Bridget's struggles with smoking, men and her weight I have gleaned from friends' enthusiastic reviews of the two Helen Fielding novels, which I'm told are written as diary entries in the heroine's first-person short-hand. (I hear both books are v., v. good.)

But I do consider myself something of an expert on (and an unabashed fan of) winsome romantic comedies, and on that front, I'd have to say this movie is a winner.

Continue reading: Bridget Jones's Diary Review

Topsy Turvy Review


Good

Director Mike Leigh has usurped his subjects' mirthful sense of humor and penchant for prolonged presentation in his new film "Topsy-Turvy," a jaunty, jolly, light-hearted look at the lives of Victorian operetta architects Gilbert and Sullivan.

Like G&S, Leigh delights in garnishments that add color to his characters and to the pliant performances such details inspire.

Leigh's actors are always especially absorbed in their parts because of the way he works -- creating the screenplay in concert with his players during incessant rehearsals -- but in contrast to his downcast-but-hopeful, slice-of-life dramas ("Secrets and Lies," "Career Girls"), this picture radiates a distinct playfulness that is nothing short of contagious.

Continue reading: Topsy Turvy Review

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Review


Terrible

In "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," the "singleton" Everygal neuroses of its titular British sweetheart have gone from endearing to downright insufferable.

Although still played warmly and winningly by the perfectly plus-sized Renee Zellweger, upon the advent of her still-fresh relationship with dashing, adoring, and a tad bit stiff barrister boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget has become an embarrassing bundle of infuriating stock insecurities.

Jealous, suspicious, clingy, marriage-obsessed and irrational, in effect she's the antagonist in this romantic-comedy sequel. The hero is Mark -- whom she landed at the end of 2001's "Bridget Jones's Diary" -- for putting up with the torrent of rampant, relentless sitcom antics that stream unflatteringly and unchecked from the girl's vacillating self-confidence.

Continue reading: Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Review

Shirley Henderson

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Shirley Henderson Movies

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

T2 Trainspotting Trailer

T2 Trainspotting Trailer

Set 20 years after the original movie, we see our favourite once drug-addled Scotsman reunited....

Urban Hymn Trailer

Urban Hymn Trailer

Jamie and Leanne are the best of friends and the two girls find themselves constantly...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

Bridget Jones's Baby Trailer

Bridget Jones's Baby Trailer

Bridget has always known how to get herself into a muddle - catastrophic muddles at...

Tale Of Tales Trailer

Tale Of Tales Trailer

Happily ever after wasn't always the way fairy tales turned out. Sometimes Princesses, Kings, Queens...

Set Fire To The Stars Trailer

Set Fire To The Stars Trailer

New York - the 1950s. A young and aspiring American poet, John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah...

In Secret Movie Review

In Secret Movie Review

Filmmaker Charlie Stratton takes a rather obvious approach to Emile Zola's iconic 1867 novel Therese...

In Secret Trailer

In Secret Trailer

Therese Raquin is a young woman living with her aunt and cousin Camille. One day...

Filth Movie Review

Filth Movie Review

As another full-on Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting did in 1996, this bracingly original movie puts...

Filth Trailer

Filth Trailer

This trailer is only suitable for persons aged 18 or over.Bruce Robertson is a vile,...

Everyday Movie Review

Everyday Movie Review

An impressive cinematic experiment, this film is worth seeing for its big concept and documentary...

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