Tag Archives: Ben Schnetzer


It’s 1984, Joe (played by George MacKay) celebrates his 20th birthday at home in Bromley with his parents. They give him a birthday cake and a gift. But he’s got somewhere else to be so he races out of the house and catches a train to London. He emerges from the station and timidly joins his first Gay Pride march. He meets a group of gay men and their lesbian friend Steph (by Faye Marsay). They nickname him “Bromley” and take him into their fold. The group’s informal leader is Mark (by Ben Schnetzer) who’s never short of a few words and won’t back down from a fight when he feels strongly about a cause. This time, Mark’s heard about the strike involving the National Union of Mineworkers and the difficulties the miners face, seemingly being bullied by the Thatcher government. He sees strong alignment with his own group’s experience being gays and lesbians trying to fit in to society, so he takes up their cause. The group meets at a Soho bookshop run by the eldest in the group, Jonathan (by Dominic West) and his Welsh partner Gethin (by Andrew Scott). They set up “LGSM” – Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners – and start to raise money for the cause. They gain some notoriety then pick out the Welsh village of Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley to be the recipients of their efforts. The group makes contact with village representative, Dai (by Paddy Considine), who invites them to visit the village in person. Some villagers welcome them warmly, but most are not ready for the “gays” and clearly show their displeasure. Undaunted, Mark and LGSM continue to raise funds and awareness of the miners’ situation grows. The villagers are hard to convince and Mark gradually loses faith in his work. Will the villagers eventually see the good in what the group are doing, or will the efforts fall on mostly deaf ears and be wasted? …

This is an entertaining and compelling movie. The script and performances are marvellous thanks to a very strong cast and a well written screenplay. The village characters are wonderful – there are several, but I’d particularly mention Cliff (by Bill Nighy), Sian (by Jessica Gunning) and Hefina (by Imelda Staunton). The “gays” are lovely and the people in the village are portrayed authentically. It’s a very enjoyable movie, with wonderful lines of dialogue, particularly by the Welsh villagers. Several important messages come through too – speak up for what you believe in … be who you are … believe in yourself … loyalty runs deep … It’s inspired by a true story, which makes it even better. The movie is very well regarded and in the 2014 awards season it received the Ghent International Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Film and the Cannes Film Festival Queer Palm award. In the 2015 awards season it received a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. Imelda Staunton received Best Supporting Actress from the British Independent Film Awards, and they awarded Andrew Scott with Best Supporting Actor; the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) awarded it the Dorian Award for LGBTQ Film of the Year and Unsung Film of the Year. Well done everyone.

Made in 2014. Directed by Matthew Warchus

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Movies


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The Book Thief

Liesel Meminger (played by Sophie Nélisse) is a casualty of war. In war-torn Germany during World War 2 she is only 14 years old, when she becomes separated from her mother and brother. She is delivered to the home of Hans Hubermann (by Geoffrey Rush) and his wife Rosa (by Emily Watson) as their adopted daughter. Hans is very gentle with Leisel, but Rosa gives very tough love so Leisel learns very quickly how to steel her feelings against despair and disappointment. Having had very little education due to the war, when she attends the village school she struggles, particularly with literacy. A boy in the village, Rudy Steiner (by Nico Liersch) makes friends with her when he sees she is very new. Hans cares tenderly for Leisel and teaches her to read – from this point on, Leisel finds her joy in the world of books and loses herself in the stories. One day she discovers a vast library in the home of the Mayor and his wife Frau Heinrich (by Kirsten Block) and starts to “borrow” the books. A family friend Max (by Ben Schnetzer), arrives to stay at their home, but he is Jewish so this places huge risk on the family as they must keep him hidden from authorities. Thanks to her love of books, Leisel finds ways to live amongst the trauma and horror in this village during the war and beyond ….

This movie is very nice and Leisel is such a marvellous girl – she evokes a joy in anyone watching who also loves books. The performance by Sophie Nelisse is marvellous and for this work she was awarded with Best Actor wins at the Hollywood Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival and Satellite Awards, no wonder. As Herr and Frau Hermann, the roles played by Geoffrey Rush and particularly Emily Watson are very good too. Emily Watson’s Rosa is such a harridan; she is stoic and stern faced, just marvellous. Geoffrey Rush enmeshes easy but warm tenderness into his gentle character, it’s beautiful to see.  However, for all this, there’s something missing in this movie for me – it could be wonderful, but for me it’s just good. Perhaps it’s that I don’t share the joy of reading that Leisel discovers. It is a dramatization of the novel “The Book Thief” by Markus Zuzak, which is where the narration originates, but to me it’s superfluous – doesn’t add anything either. However, overall it’s quite a good movie.

Made in 2013. Directed by Brian Percival.

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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Movies


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