Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance to dress up and put on a silly show, it's actually all true. And it's hugely entertaining, generating gut-wrenching laughter and some sharply resonant emotions too. It's also a subtle exploration of pop culture, most notably privileged artists and the fact that there's more to stardom than just talent.
Streep shines as Florence, a socialite who hosts lavish parties in 1944 New York with her husband St Clair (Hugh Grant). Both of them are frustrated artists: Florence sees herself as an opera diva, while St Clair never quite made it as an actor. So at her parties, Florence puts on performances for her friends, oblivious to the fact that she's riotously off-key, while St Clair plays the doting husband, protecting her from criticism and hiring talented young pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) as her accompanist. Florence doesn't really mind that St Clair has a woman (Rebecca Ferguson) on the side. But when she books Carnegie Hall to perform a concert for troops returning from Europe, St Clair realises that he can't protect her from a real audience.
Writer Nicholas Martin and director Stephen Frears construct the story beautifully, building up to reveal Florence's voice in a painfully hilarious sequence that's expertly played by Streep, Grant and Helberg. Streep's enjoyment of the role is infectious, and she makes Florence sympathetic by letting us see her yearning to sing. She imagines she sounds like her operatic idols, so can't hear the strangled notes coming from her mouth. And those who don't applaud are laughing so heartily that surely they're just as entertained. Streep's performance soars through the performance scenes, but is just as powerful in the comedy and at moments when Florence is vulnerable and nervous.
Continue reading: Florence Foster Jenkins Review
When the Nazis took over Vienna prior to the Second World War, they stole countless, priceless artefacts. One of these artefacts was the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and an Austrian Holocaust survivor has the perfect claim to it. Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) hires Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a lawyer of Austrian decent, to help her become once again acquainted with the famous painting of her aunt. The problem is, that the painting is held in a Vienna art gallery, and the Austrian government are adamant in keeping the national treasure. Altmann, on the other hand, is desperate to get back what is rightfully hers.
Continue: Woman In Gold - Trailer And Clips
A mopey tone and hole-ridden plot make this romantic drama rather difficult to sit through. Even though the premise has hints of Charlie Kaufman cleverness, nothing is developed properly, and none of the characters ever come to life.
Mia (Whittaker) is jolted out of her quiet life by the suicide of an old woman in her building. After talking to maintenance man Max (Warner), she starts to suspect that the woman was her in the future. What follows is a trip into her past, as she visits herself 10, 20 and 30 years earlier, encountering the love of her life, Ludwig (Scott), a womanising, drug-addicted jazz musician. Can she convince her younger self (Whittaker again, and Barnes at age 10) to avoid him? And what's his connection with her parents (Fox and Slinger)?
The script throws us into time-travel from the start, before establishing characters or relationships, so we never engage with anything. Ludwig is a slimy loser in each period, so why Mia fell for him is a mystery; his charming-musician days were before she was born. And even though these people have been in each others' lives for decades, there's no sense of continuity. As we visit the time periods in reverse order, everyone's always meeting for the first time, which makes no sense.
Whittaker invests Mia with some emotional resonance, even if the screenwriters contrive for her her to miss painfully obvious clues about each coming twist.
Meanwhile, Scott is an ugly mess until we glimpse his swaggering younger self, at which point we finally see him sing (nicely) and play the trumpet (unconvincingly). Warner becomes a kind of mad-haired timekeeper with a magical lift that's perplexingly right where it always needs to be. The rest of the cast members are also only allowed to deploy one characteristic each.
This isn't much more than a soapy melodrama. As things get messier, and Mia must travel further into the past to fix it, there are some laughable anachronisms, head-shaking incongruities and silly plot points (look, a gun!).
And worst of all, it's completely po-faced, without a moment of real-life wit.
So it plays out like a lifeless, inept version of It's a Wonderful Life.
Cockney geezers of the world rejoice as the big screen remake of the seventies police drama The Sweeney is in post-production and will be released in cinemas in mid-September. Ray Winstone stars as Detective Jack Regan whilst Ben Drew, alias rapper Plan B, stars as Detective Sergeant George Carter, the part initially made famous by Dennis Waterman. Despite being parodied numerous times for his tendency to write/perform the theme tunes of may of his shows, Waterman actually didn't write the theme tune to the Sweeney, however no word has been made on whether Shaw (or Waterman) will be making a special appearance on the film's soundtrack.
Continue: The Sweeney Trailer
Mia is walking along the street one day, when she notices shredded photos fluttering to the ground. As she's examining one of them, she hears a loud thud behind her. Turning, she sees the body of an old woman, who has clearly thrown herself from the nearby building - the very building that Mia lives in.
Continue: A Thousand Kisses Deep Trailer
In 1828 Edinburgh, friends William Burke (Pegg) and William Hare (Serkis) realise they can make good money supplying cadavers to world-class surgeon Dr Knox (Wilkinson). But when they can't find a dead body, they kill someone instead. Hare's wife (Hynes) finds out and wants in on it, but Burke can't tell his aspiring actress girlfriend (Fisher) how he makes his living. Meanwhile, Knox is battling a rival surgeon (Curry) for the King's seal. And the local militia captain (Corbett) is closing in.
Continue reading: Burke & Hare Review
A harrowing, soul-searching account of the Holocaust is presented from a very unique perspective in "The Grey Zone," which is based in part on diaries found buried at Auschwitz and the memoirs of Miklos Nyiszli, a Jew who served as the camp's doctor and aided the abominable Josef Mengele in his experiments on prisoners.
The story tells of a 1944 revolt by the "Sonderkommando," a squad of Jewish internees who chose to serve as wardens of the concentration camp's gas chambers and crematoriums in exchange for a few more months of comparatively privileged life. In exchange for their detestable duties, they got larger quarters, fresh bed linens, good food, cigarettes, and the right to loot the belongings of new arrivals.
The selfishness and cowardice of this choice tortures most of the characters in this film, none more so than Hoffman (David Arquette in a rare dramatic and anguished performance), whom we see early on herding naked throngs into the "showers," promising "The sooner you shower, the sooner you'll be reunited with your families." As the doors are closed, the camera slowly creeps in on Arquette, hearing the gas pipes rattle to life and the screams that come moments later.
Continue reading: The Grey Zone Review
"This is one of those avant-garde things, is it?" says a droll, dubious and dying Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) as he sits in an empty theater at the beginning of "De-Lovely," watching his life pass before his eyes on the stage, in a production conducted by an enigmatic, ironic, ethereal director named Gabe (Jonathan Pryce).
The answer to his question is a delighted "yes." This film is an imaginative, deconstructionist, celebratory musical biography woven together from elements of theater, meta-cinema, chamber drama and Porter's own MGM musicals with gratifying -- if deliberately glossy -- results.
Kline opens the picture as a frail but feisty old man (the age makeup is remarkable) who, as he watches his own story unfold, is alternatively tickled ("Oh, look, it's an opening number!"), critical ("He'd never wear that! Change it."), fondly reminiscent and pained by regret. And the actor also plays the younger Porter in the bulk of the picture, which has a merry, dreamlike quality to its stop-and-start interactions with the elderly Porter and his theatrical spirit guide.
Continue reading: De-Lovely Review
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