This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over just a few pivotal days during the Second World War. It's skilfully written and directed, and anchored by a wonderfully layered performance by Brian Cox. But there's a nagging sense that there's nothing new to see here, mainly because this is such a well-documented and dramatised point in history.
The story takes place over the first few days of June 1944, as the Allied military leaders make final preparations for the D-Day invasion. Due to his lingering trauma over his experiences in WWI, Winston Churchill (Cox) has serious misgivings about the plan, and challenges both the American commander Eisenhower (John Slattery) and senior British officer Montgomery (Julian Wadham). He even makes an appeal to King George (James Purefoy) to intervene. The problem is that he is coming across as a cranky man stuck in the old world, unable to see how warfare has changed in the previous 30 years and reluctant to relinquish control to the next generation. His wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) is also becoming fed up with his ranting and raving, so she sets about trying to make him see reason.
Director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) tells this story in a style similar to The King's Speech, a more revelatory true-life drama that fictionalises backstage conversations. This is an artfully made film, beautifully shot and edited. And Alex von Tunzelmann's script digs deeply into the characters and themes. So it's a bit frustrating that it's impossible to watch the movie without knowing full well whose argument wins the day and how the events will play out. At least the actors make the most of their roles. Cox delivers an awards-worthy performance as a veteran fighter struggling to remain on the sidelines as the battle approaches, continually adding emotional weight to Churchill's towering tirades. Richardson is limited to a series of isolated scenes, but shines as she takes him on.
Continue reading: Churchill Review
Queen Victoria was one of the United Kingdom's most loved monarchs. She ruled over her country with dignity and grace though she wasn't a lady to be toyed with. After the death of her beloved husband, Albert, the queen found herself mourning her loss for the rest of her life - famously she wore black for her remaining years. She took solace in her children and continued to be a fine ruler of the country.
After the loss of Albert, few people penetrated the queen's frosty persona, most famously she developed a great friendship with a Scottish servant called John Brown and they remained good friends - some even say lovers - until his death. Once again alone, the queen was only to develop one other significant friendship outside of her close circle.
As the queen was celebrating her Golden Jubilee, she found herself surrounded by kings and queens from around the world but the one person that she genuinely struck up a friendship with was a Muslim waiter called Abul. Though it was entirely frowned upon for the royals to associate with lowly servants, Victoria was never one to follow those rules.
Continue: Victoria And Abdul Trailer
It's June 1944 and the war has been waging for five long years. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wants to end it once and for all, but the last thing he would ever do is surrender as a nation. Despite the fact that the allied forced are standing at the coast ready for the orders to invade Normandy and take back the parts of Europe that Nazi Germany has taken over, Churchill doesn't want to rush in until he's certain they have the best chance of success. Naturally, the allied military leaders General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery are becoming frustrated with the man's fear of failure - for it is only that that stands in the way of their D-Day victory. But there's a lot more behind this stubborn and volatile human being than most people see; one who does see it is his dedicated wide Clementine who may be the only one who can save him and, in effect, save Europe.
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With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic story of a rather odd 9-year-old boy and the adults caught in a twisted vortex around him. Emotive acting helps make the characters come to life, and the story's secrets keep the audience hooked as what's actually happening becomes horrifyingly clear.
Louis Drax (Alden Longworth) has had several close encounters with death in his first nine years. Is he immortal? Or just accident prone? His mother Natalie (Sarah Gadon) protects him fiercely, while his father Peter (Aaron Paul) clearly adores him. So what happened on his birthday, when Peter went missing and Louis ended up in a coma after falling from a cliff? While treating him, Dr Pascal (Jamie Dornan) becomes entangled in the drama of their life. He meets Louis' sardonic therapist (Oliver Platt) and Peter's manic mother (Barbara Hershey), and he also gets perhaps a bit too close to Natalie than he should.
Director Alexandre Aja and writer Max Mingella have a lot of fun stirring in references to Hitchcock films, including the San Francisco setting, switching identities, vertiginous heights and a dangerous blonde. They add so many mysteries and red herrings into the plot that the audience is kept happily off-balance for most of the film, waiting for the other shoes to drop. This means that everything feels somewhat overcooked, complete with fantasies, dreams and even some magic. But this gives the cast a lot to play with. Dornan is his usual charming, seductive self, haplessly wooing Natalie even though he already has a hot wife (McGregor). But then Gadon oozes vulnerable lustiness in her role, so he doesn't have much of a chance. And despite the obvious set-up, Paul creates a surprisingly complex character out of Peter, while Hershey has fun chomping on the scenery.
Continue reading: The 9th Life Of Louis Drax Review
Basic training for the Korean War is tough on a group of young British cadets. It's specifically tough on Bill Rohan (Callum Turner), as their sergeant hates him. The only consoling factor is the trainee nurses school just outside of his basecamp. When he's not trying to woo the nurses in the town, he's sneaking over to their school to see the woman he has fallen in love with. But when the sergeant's prize clock is stolen, Rohan must do everything to save his best friend from court marshalling, catch the girl of his dreams, and prepare for war.
Continue: Queen And Country Trailer
When Margaret Thatcher started out in politics she always aspired to do something great, though just how far she'd take her career was beyond imagination. Having first made her mark in local politics in 1959, Margaret was named MP for the first time.
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This silly little comedy out of the UK offers a simple premise sent against a presumably scandalous backdrop: the world of fetish/S&M clubs. It's all fun and games until Johnny Law comes sniffing around, trying to figure out who's behind the clubs (which meet in secret) and how to prosecute them for, er, something. The government's priggishness seems to revolve around problems with shock treatment being practiced on the slave types. Solution: Hire a young "computer whiz" (in this film, that means a guy who knows how to use a chat room) to "infiltrate" the bondage world and gather evidence against them.
Continue reading: Preaching To The Perverted Review
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'The Great Escape' was released on this day (September 11th) in 1995.
This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...
Queen Victoria was one of the United Kingdom's most loved monarchs. She ruled over her...
With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...
Basic training for the Korean War is tough on a group of young British cadets....
When Margaret Thatcher started out in politics she always aspired to do something great, though...