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Tag Archives: Carey Mulligan

Suffragette

At the turn of the twentieth century, many women in England are frustrated at being constantly “invisible” or identified as only “his daughter …” or “his wife …” They see that their lives can be different – particularly if they’re allowed to vote – and many feel strongly enough to take action against the “establishment”. Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan) is one such woman. She’s been to the same workhouse every day since she was a child at her mother’s skirts. At thirteen, she started working there herself and she’s put up with constant sexual harassment by her cruel boss ever since. Women learn to “keep quiet and stay in their place”. Emmeline Pankhurst (by Meryl Streep), emerges as a leader of this ripple of discontent as women across the country start to publicly protest so the government will take notice of them. The “women’s suffrage” movement grows – women take part in secret, while men view the whole thing with disdain. Along with others from the area, Maud becomes a disciple of the women’s movement. She faces police brutality when she’s jailed and shame from her husband Sonny, (by Ben Whishaw) as he disowns her for taking a stand – isolating her from her son George (by Adam Michael Dodd). But she strongly believes in her quest for equality and “votes for women”. This story is based on true events during the early days of the feminist movement in England and demonstrates the lengths some women are prepared to go for the cause …

This is an effective and moving drama. As Maud, Carey Mulligan portrays the emotions and challenges of women’s lives during these turbulent times. She cares deeply for her son but the demand for women’s rights cuts deep too, so she struggles with her conflicting emotions and instincts. The hardship of their lives is clear and the ignorant hatred many (including women) in the community have for the suffragettes is palpable. The movie features several strong and entertaining performances – it’s great to see Helena Bonham Carter in the key role of Edith Ellyn. A particularly influential character at the time, she is very well supported here by her husband Hugh (by Finbar Lynch). The story features all the aspects of a good drama – high emotion, deep principles, poverty, hunger strikes, secrets, violence, sexual tension and political intrigue – all told well in a very watchable movie. It reaches its climax when the Suffragettes plan to take non-violent action at a race meeting. Here, the real life drama of 1913 plays out – when 40 year old Emily Davison (by Natalie Press) is tragically and inexplicably struck down by the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. The movie has won several awards for best actor, supporting actors and characterisations.

Made in 2015. Directed by Sarah Gavron.

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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Movies

 

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Far from the Madding Crowd

In Victorian England, Bathsheba Everdene (played by Carey Mulligan) is headstrong and determined to be independent. She works hard, spending winter at her Aunt’s farm until she gets news she has inherited her own. Although she never seeks out male attention, she gets it – from three distinctly different men – Farmer Gabriel Oak (by Matthias Schoenaerts), a down-to-earth and earnest sheep farmer, Mr William Boldwood (by Michael Sheen), a mature wealthy bachelor; and Sergeant Francis Troy (by Tom Sturridge), a reckless and wickedly appealing young soldier. Bathsheba is drawn to each man by an aspect of their personality but in each some parts equally repel her. Try as she might, each time she seems to be making a success of her farm by her own means, life conspires to thwart her. Will she achieve success as Mistress of her farm as an independent woman, but manage to find enduring love too? ….

This movie is quite nice, but it’s not a soaring love story – nor is it a deeply moving drama. It will pass the time for you though. Carey Mulligan is lovely as Bathsheba Everdene – she displays enough gumption to be the headstrong independent Victorian woman, but she brings a nice naivety to the role which is much more appealing than any vulnerability she might have portrayed. The three men, each very evenly played by the supremely handsome Matthias Schoenaerts, solid-as-a-rock Michael Sheen and devilishly naughty Tom Sturridge – are all well cast. The landscape of Dorset is marvellous and Victorian England has never really looked so appealing. As I said, it’s a nice way to spend two hours, but I wouldn’t rave over it. It is the dramatization of the novel “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy.

Made in 2015. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Movies

 

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Inside Llewyn Davis

Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac) is a folk singer. It’s the early 1960’s in Greenwich Village, New York and Llewyn’s trying to scratch out a living with his music. Things had been starting to go well and he’d cut a record with his partner, Mike. But that was short lived and now Llewyn is a starving artist, dossing with friends and trying to keep body and soul together until he gets his big break. Llewyn’s friends are all quickly losing their patience with him as he moves from the sofa at one place to a floor and hopefully a meal at the next. He’s always borrowing money, too – his best friend, Jean (by Carey Mulligan) is sick of his hopeless ways and she’s also his worst critic. She and her boyfriend Jim (by Justin Timberlake) are doing okay at their music, even Troy Nelson (by Stark Sands) and Al Cody (by Adam Driver) are doing alright. But Llewyn just can’t seem to get a break. One day, after an overnight at the Gorfein’s, pet cat Ulysses escapes from their flat and Llewyn spends half the next day chasing the cat until he can return it to the ever-generous and unflappable Mitch Gorfein (by Ethan Phillips) and his doting wife Lillian (by Robin Bartlett). His luck goes from bad to worse when he wears out his welcome with his sister Joy (by Jeanine Serralles) and his useless agent fails him. So he decides to try a new big-time agent Mel Novikoff (by Jerry Grayson) in Chicago and he hitches a ride there with Roland Turner (by John Goodman) and his driver Johnny Five (by Garrett Hedlund). Roland’s a big-shot and spends the next few hundred miles telling Llewyn his endless stories. In Chicago, Llewyn plays for Mr Novikoff and hopes to get a record deal – things can’t get any worse, right?

In this movie, the Coen brothers are back to their wonderful best. Here, the hapless Llewyn Davis just blunders from one possible but insane scenario to the next. All the characters are truly and deliciously Coen-esque and the incidents are presented as only they could portray them. The dead-pan humour is classic Coen and the bizarre personalities just add to the delight of this movie. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s very entertaining. Even if you don’t know at first it’s one of their movies, you will pick up on it once the movie gets going. Good performances abound here – Oscar Isaac is great, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake are funny in their earnestness, John Goodman is outrageous and great and the terrible outcomes of Llewyn’s decisions and hasty actions are just as you’d expect in real life. For their efforts, the Joel and Ethan Coen won the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival – well done.

Made in 2013. Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Movies

 

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Drive

We meet a reticent and deeply intense young man (played by Ryan Gosling) who loves driving – and he’s good at it. He has several jobs … by day, he’s a garage mechanic – and sometimes he’s a Hollywood stunt driver. He sometimes also works evenings – as a getaway car driver. Although he’s good at that – he’s never been caught – he’s getting nervous about this sideline and seems reluctant to get on the wrong side of the law anymore. He has a fascinating and beautiful neighbour, Irene (by Carey Mulligan), and he can’t help his strong feelings towards her. She is involved in a relationship already and she has a child. They form a tentative friendship, but it promises much more. Irene’s partner returns, but he is involved with some shady characters. Our driver cares so much for Irene that he wants to keep her safe so he decides to help her partner rid himself of his problems so she can have a risk-free life. Our driver starts to sort things out, but then things get a little out of control … can he put the brakes on this?

This is a very different movie and Ryan Gosling here is unlike anything I’ve seen him do before. The dialogue is sparse and the director captures much intent in eyes, facial expressions and gestures. That is very well done. Gosling and Mulligan can both do this very well indeed. It’s the kind of movie you are compelled to keep watching – there is some graphic violence, but it is not overdone. The support provided by Albert Brooks and by Bryan Cranston in an unfamiliar role are also very good. It’s different – but good. Well done.

Made in 2011. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Movies

 

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

In the heady days of the early 1990’s in the heart of the financial world – Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) is a mover and a shaker – one of the most successful and ruthless of financial market traders ever to operate out of “The Street”. But this comes to a stunning end when he is found guilty of insider trading and money laundering, then spends the next eight years in prison to consider his mistakes and contemplate his future. In 2001, Gordon is released a “changed man” but by 2008, his daughter Winnie (by Carey Mulligan) is estranged from him. She is a political activist journalist in NYC and is engaged to ambitious junior trader Jake Moore (by Shia Labeouf). Jake hopes Winnie and her father will reconcile, so he contacts Gordon while he is promoting the book he wrote (“Is Greed Good?”) after his release from prison. The global economy is on the brink of crisis and Gordon foretells this while he is speaking on the book circuit. But Gordon’s standing is tarnished, both in the eyes of the financial community and with his own daughter, so his life has a lonely edge these days. To make life a challenge, Jake’s firm collapses during the financial crisis – with the help of rival banker Bretton James (by Josh Brolin) – who also happens to be an old adversary of Gekko’s. So ensues a “tit for tat” story where each man sets out for revenge for the wrongs done to them by the others and become top dog of The Street … no, The World.

This movie is the sequel to the 1987 stunner movie “Wall Street” where we first heard Gordon Gekko utter those famous words – “Greed … is good”.  I understand that reviewers generally feel this sequel is not nearly as good as the original “Wall Street”. Perhaps that’s true, but it is still a good movie. There are several references to the original story throughout the movie, which is fine – and appropriate – and often quite fun. Best of all is the cameo by a key character in the original “Wall Street”, Bud Fox (by Charlie Sheen). There are great performances here – Michael Douglas totally owns the role of Gordon Gekko and I am pleased to say he reprises him in all his cold, heartless and ruthless glory for some sections of the movie, which is marvellous – he shines from the screen in these scenes. His earlier, “Gordon’s found a heart and a conscience” persona is not quite as compelling, but it’s interesting and almost endearing all the same. For me, the other characters are mostly peripheral, but Winnie is performed beautifully by Carey Mulligan. The two other key actors, Josh Brolin and Shia Labeouf play their characters Bretton James and Jake Moore as they need to – and Brolin’s is definitely the stronger of the two performances. Their interractions are fine and their story is easily watchable, but that’s all. Susan Sarandon appears as Jake’s mother, which is a nice touch. All in all, this movie is pretty good and it belongs to Michael Douglas – just as it should.

Made in 2010. Directed by Oliver Stone

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Movies

 

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Shame

Brandon (played by Michael Fassbender) is a New York City executive living with an addiction – to sex. He feeds his addiction daily using other people, the internet and printed material as his sources of gratification. His sister Sissy (by Carey Mullligan), a broken and lost person herself, arrives in his world unannounced and completely turns it upside down. Although his relationship with Sissy is strained, Brandon reluctantly allows her to stay at his apartment, but he finds this very difficult. His life is fraught as he tries to deal with his addiction, keep up appearances to the outside world and satisfy his interminable need (along with keeping his job). We watch as he tries vainly to deal with all the issues in his life and his relationship with his sister.

This is not an erotic or sensual movie, nor is it a whimsical sex romp – it’s a “no holds barred” view of a person trying to live with an addiction. In parts it’s deeply moving and it’s always realistic in its depiction of his life. The sex is primal, an animal act and clearly just a means to an end, there is no emotion and (it seems) very little pleasure in Brandon’s sexual activities – people are not people, they are just bodies and sexual gratification is short-lived, only giving way to the need to fulfill it once again. Dialogue is sparse, but the messages are blunt and clear – you wouldn’t want to have this life. Michael Fassbender’s performance is stunning and Carey Mulligan’s performance as the irritating and needy Sissy is very good indeed.

It’s not what I was expecting and it’s not a good-time movie, but it’s very good indeed.

Made in 2011. Directed by Steve McQueen

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Movies

 

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Never Let Me Go

After a breakthrough in medical science in 1952, things have progressed well and by the 1970’s human life expectancy has reached more than 100 years. To support this longevity in society, Halisham is one of several seemingly “idyllic” and proper English boarding schools that is participating in a National Organ Donor Program to raise and educate an entire community of “very special” children. We meet students Cathy (played by Carey Mulligan), Ruth (by Keira Knightley) and Tommy (by Andrew Garfield) who have lived at the school in a sheltered, highly disciplined and closely controlled life since their birth. When a new teacher Miss Lucy (by Sally Hawkins) arrives at school, she reveals to the children that theirs is a life with a purpose – they have been created and raised as donor humans to provide body parts for the people who need them in the “outside world”.  At first the children are too young to understand the entire scenario and live in a world of stories and fantasy about the school – perpetuated by the staff and the particularly cold-hearted Headmistress (by Charlotte Rampling) – and they have no way to validate what’s true and what isn’t. The children learn that as young adults, each will begin the donation process until their body is no longer able to function with its missing parts and then the donor will achieve “completion”.

This movie is an adaptation of the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and it introduces a fascinating but horrific concept. We watch these three people develop into their young adulthood, trying to understand their feelings for each other and their eventual experiences of donation. Their lives are stark and due to their isolation since birth their relationships are immature and awkward. However, its interesting to watch this sci-fi scenario play out.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Movies

 

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