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Pride

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 Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

One month on from where we left the recently retired Brits in Jaipur, India – we return to see how they are getting on. They’ve settled nicely into “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and into an acceptable routine, where the proprietor, Sonny (by Dev Patel) reads roll call every morning, to check they are all still here (and none has made their final departure during the night). After one or two changes, our roll call checks the wellbeing of each of our residents …

  • Muriel (by Maggie Smith) – a harridan and now sometime-Manager and senior advisor to Sonny.
  • Douglas (by Bill Nighy) now single since his wife Jean returned to Britain without him.
  • Evelyn (by Judi Dench) recently widowed and broke – finding a new life here in Jaipur.
  • Madge (by Celia Imrie) – still trying to keep the good life a part of hers.
  • Norman (by Ronald Pickup) – our perpetual Casanova, with his partner Diana (by Carol Parr)

Our ambitious proprietor, Sonny, is in USA with his senior advisor, Muriel, to gain support and funding for his expansion into his second hotel. His potential funders, Evergreen Hotels, proposes to send an inspector to the Marigold to check it out, so Sonny and Muriel return to Jaipur to await the outcome of the investment decision and prepare for Sonny’s magnificent wedding to his fiancé Sunaina (by Tena Desae). The hotel inspector duly arrives and Sonny falls over himself to show the inspector a good time. Other guests arrive to sample the Marigold’s wonders – American writer, Guy Chambers (by Richard Gere) and dutiful British woman Lavinia (by Tamsin Grieg) seeking a holiday destination for her ageing mother. The Marigold’s guests rub along as best they can, whilst they deal with the health and financial challenges brought on by retirement and ageing. Sonny’s ambition threatens to get in the way of his happiness with Sunaina and their wedding celebrations are put in jeopardy when he is distracted by the needs of his business.  People don’t seem to be able to settle … surely life isn’t meant to be this tricky? 

Just like the first one, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” – I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Jaipur is shown in all its splendour and we also get the pleasure of Mumbai in this movie – it’s spectacularly and beautifully shot in all its remarkable colour and culture.  Once again, the very strong cast are the gems in this simple, but enjoyable story. Douglas, as awkward and down-trodden as ever – is just lovely (beautifully played by Bill Nighy once again) and Judi Dench’s Evelyn is equally great.  It’s hard to choose a favourite character this time – Maggie Smith is just incomparable and wonderful. I thought the addition of Richard Gere as the American Guy Chambers would be terrible, but it’s a great addition.  He is supremely handsome and I love Sonny’s line in the movie “… he’s so good looking, he’s got me questioning my own sexuality!” …  Tena Desae as Sunaina is exotic and totally enchanting. The wonderful celebrations for the Hindu wedding are beautiful and much of this movie is lavishly presented. All performances are excellent and the lovely Dev Patel is once again, verbose in the extreme but always means well. It is one of those typical British movies where the characters just fall over their own awkwardness and you want to grab them by the shoulders and say “just do it!!!” …If you liked the first on, you will enjoy this – it’s good.

Made in 2015. Directed by John Madden.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Movies

 

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About Time

Tim Lake (by Domhnall Gleeson) feels he’s never been any good with getting to know girls … he’s awkward, self-conscious and just hopeless. One day, his dad (by Bill Nighy) shares a family secret with him … all the men in the family can travel back in time and relive any part of their own life they choose. Of course, Tim totally disregards this silly joke of his father’s – until he remembers a particularly disastrous incident recently with a girl at a New Year’s Eve Party, so he decides to give it a try. His second time at the party, thing goes far differently, much better – it works!! Now … what to do with this marvellous capability … of course, get a girlfriend!! Over the next few years, Tim moves from his home in Cornwall to London, gets a job in a law firm and finds himself somewhere to live. His attempts at finding the perfect one true love are fraught with challenges that even his super-power can’t overcome completely … is all lost? Surely the perfect girl is waiting out there somewhere … now, all he has to do is find her ….

This is one of those movies where you find yourself smiling all the way through. It’s a nicely made, British romantic comedy with all the traits of a good story and a quirky but utterly believable modern English family. Tim, himself, is one of a kind – and then we meet Tim’s totally off-beat Dad, played masterfully by Bill Nighy (as if he was made for that role), his utterly bizarre green-fingered Mum by Lindsay Duncan, who’s great; his hyper-active, off the wall sister Kit Kat, by Lydia Wilson; and his totally insane but loveable Uncle D by the wonderful Richard Cordery. The English county of Cornwall and city of London are used well to reflect the clear facets of Tim’s life – his hectic professional life, on dates, out to dinner, at the theatre, parties … that gives way to his most blissful time with his family. Tim’s character is beautifully balanced on screen by Rachel McAdams as Mary – an insecure, frenetic, American girl in London with very righteous, upstanding parents – she’s just believable. Of course, Tim has hapless friends too – the inimitable Rory by Joshua McGuire and Jay, by Will Merrick – to be seen to be believed. Also, we get cameos from Richard E. Grant and the late Richard Griffiths, which are treasures. It’s a nice, feel-good movie – with some lovely messages about life, truth and love. Because it’s by the same director, it’s very “Love Actually”, in a nice warm way. At the 2013 San Sebastián International Film Festival it won the Waki.TV Audience Award for Best European Film – well deserved for Richard Curtis.

Made in 2013. Directed by Richard Curtis.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Movies

 

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Seven recently retired Brits have found that continuing to live in England has become just too expensive, so they have decided to try an alternative – in India. They’ve each discovered a resort that sounds ideal … it promotes itself as “the best exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful)” and they each set out to participate in it. This is an eclectic group …

  • Muriel (played by Maggie Smth) is an open and unashamed racist, but she is also in dire need of a hip replacement which she can’t afford in an English hospital, so she is reluctantly getting it done in Jaipur
  • Married couple Douglas (by Bill Nighy) and Jean (by Penelope Wilton) have lost all their retirement savings because Douglas invested it in their daughter’s start-up business, which is dismally failing
  • Recently widowed Evelyn (by Judi Dench) always trusted her husband to manage things, only to find he left her in significant debt
  • Jaded and exhausted High Court Judge, Graham (by Tom Wilkinson) spent his early years in India and yearns to return
  • Madge (by Celia Imrie) is not ready to give up the good life and would love to find a rich husband
  • Norman (by Ronald Pickup) is a perpetual casanova who’s just lonely and looking for love. 

They all arrive at the Marigold together but each have their own experience in this new, alien, colourful and totally sensory-overloaded world. They discover that the young owner of the Marigold, Sonny (by Dev Patel) has majorly exaggerated the hotel’s amenities and it is really a run-down, set of ruins that is barely habitable.  However, within all this disappointment, the travellers discover that life still brings its surprises, challenges and joys, They also discover that even if their plans don’t quite work out as expected, this doesn’t always mean bad news …..

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The environment of Jaipur is totally ‘in your face’ and chaotic.  The stellar cast are all marvellous and my favourite is Judi Dench’s Evelyn. She is a “take it as it comes” kind of woman now having to find her own way in the world and blossoming as she gains in confidence. I also really enjoyed the hapless Douglas – Bill Nighy’s performance is wonderful. You just want to tell Douglas to “man up and tell that b*** of a wife how miserable she’s making everything!!”. But things do work out very well for Douglas, so that balances out the ledger. All performances are excellent and the lovely Dev Patel is perfect as the charismatic, witty and desperate Sonny – trying so hard to make a silk purse out of the obvious pig’s ear. His girlfriend, Sunaina, is played by the beautiful Tena Desae and she is very good. The movie is uncomplicated and entertaining and the messages are very nice – it’s the kind of movie that you will be watching and suddenly realise you’ve been smiling the whole way through.

Made in 2012.  Directed by John Madden.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Movies

 

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The Girl in the Cafe

Lawrence (played by Bill Nighy) is a gangly, shy, forty-something public servant who works as a researcher for the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the whole, he leads a fairly predictable, steady, conservative and uneventful life. He is busy preparing research and support information as part of a team about to attend a G-8 Summit in Iceland. The Summit will focus on world poverty and develop government policy and initiatives to address it. One day, during the lead-up to the conference, Lawrence is sitting in his regular cafe near his office .. on this day, because it’s crowded, he’s having to share a table with another customer. In his very “British” way, he chats self-consciously with his table-mate. She is Gina (by Kelly Macdonald), a beautiful, but timid, intriguing and much younger woman. They strike up a rapport and Lawrence fumblingly asks to meet her again for dinner – to which she agrees! They meet each other on a couple of occasions and then (somewhat out of character), Lawrence invites Gina to attend the Summit in Reykjavík with him. Once in Iceland, although their association is tentative at first, as they get to know each other a romance sparks between them and they find they have several shared areas of interest. They learn more about each others’ backgrounds, ethics, ideals and beliefs, but then a difficult situation arises when Gina realises more about Lawrence’s work, his colleagues and his career, so she is moved to speak out and act. This disgraces Lawrence and he is summarily sacked, while Gina is instantly banished from the Summit. She departs for England without Lawrence, but is this the end? will this be for the betterment of world poverty – and what about their fledgling relationship?

I really like this movie.  Bill Nighy is just so authentic as the self deprecating and honest Lawrence – he is refreshing and wonderful. The unlikely connection between Lawrence and Gina is actually quite believable and the major issues and politics that inter-weave this plot make the movie well worth seeing.  I like it a lot.

Made in 2005. Directed by David Yates.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Movies

 

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Love Actually

In London in the mid-2000’s, people are trying to keep or find love in their lives and we see that love can come in many forms and can result in a wide range of emotions – elation, passion, fear, disappointment, frustration, heartache and despair. Through a series of linked and delightful scenarios, we watch eight relationships during the hectic month leading up to Christmas. Each features a form of love which is put to the test one way or another and we join the journey towards an outcome of each.

We meet a washed-up pop star (played by Bill Nighy) who is keen for a “come back”, a couple who are stand-in actors for porn movies, a grieving father (by Liam Neeson) who must care for his almost-teen son after the recent death of his wife/mother; a young man convinced love awaits him in Wisconsin (by Kris Marshall), a wedding and early marriage between young lovers (by Kiera Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor), unrequited love (by Andrew Lincoln and Laura Linney), workplace relationships (with Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Heike Makatsch), a new Prime Minister (by Hugh Grant) with an involuntarily coquettish co-worker (by Martine McCutcheon) and a heartbreaking infidelity which eventually results the excitement of early romance and new love (by Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz). Each scenario features a link to another and all eight scenarios make you feel warm inside at one point or another. The ending is a very “feel good” Christmas conclusion.

This is a very nice movie – it features a calvalcade of stars not all mentioned here (including Billy Bob Thornton and Rowan Atkinson) and is highly entertaining – in the style of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary”. All the characters are endearing – Bill Nighy as a loveable buffoon, Billy Bob Thornton is just exquisite in his uncredited role, Emma Thompson does heartbreak that touches your soul, Kris Marshall is simply georgeous, you will want to wrap Andrew Lincoln, Liam Neeson and Colin Firth in your arms to comfort them when you see their characters and Laura Linney performs her frustration and life-long disappointment with real honesty. The script is witty and the emotions are portrayed very well.  It’s just a very nice movie and one of my alltime favourites – enjoy!

Made 2003: Directed by Richard Curtis

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Movies

 

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