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Tag Archives: Colin Firth

Gambit

One of the things that Harry Deane (played by Colin Firth) would really like to do is get one over on his abominable boss, Shabandar (by Alan Rickman). Harry’s an art curator and his boss, a supremely rich businessman, is an eccentric bully, fixated on having the best art collection in the world. Up until now, Harry has done everything he can to help Shabandar achieve this, but he’s getting a bit sick of just being the abused workhorse instead of the winner. Along with his trusted companion and art forger, The Major (by Tom Courtenay), Harry devises a scheme to finally achieve his goal and get the better of his appalling boss. Enter beautiful American cowgirl PJ Puznowski (by Cameron Diaz). She has an important role to play in the scheme and after some persuasion agrees to participate – for a fee, of course. So they put the plan into action. PJ flies to London from Texas and everything starts to play out. But – as if we couldn’t guess – things go a little off track for Harry and PJ has to survive on her wits to keep things going. Shabandar takes a shine to her, which works in PJ’s favour, but then she must decide whether the plan’s really worth pursuing. Harry and The Major suddenly see the whole thing teetering on the brink of failure – surely they can’t have come this far only to have to give up on the whole idea?

This movie is quite refreshing. The dry humour is entertaining and the sight gags that are littered all the way through are delightful. Colin Firth is in a different type of role here – it’s unusual to see him do such physical comedy. Also, it’s weird (but good for a change) to see him in a role where he’s quite downtrodden a lot of the time. He brings his best British upper class “Mark Darcy” charm and awkwardness to it which works really well. The screenplay is well written, with witty dialogue and amusing sub-plots. I guess it’s a bit predictable, but it’s still entertaining. As cowgirl PJ Puznowski, Cameron Diaz almost pushes the character too far, but she doesn’t. The performance is good. However, there are some gratuitous “partially clothed” scenes that feature her – there’s no doubt she looks great, but we don’t really need them. Alan Rickman is perfect as the awful, self-centred but sometimes charming Shabandar and it’s great to once again see Stanley Tucci – his role is relatively small, but it’s a worthwhile performance all the same. Cloris Leachman is in this for a short time also, that’s great as I haven’t seen her for ages. The movie is a remake of a 1966 version with Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine. It’s worth noting that this version was written by Joel and Ethan Coen – no wonder it has merit.

Made in 2012. Directed by Michael Hoffman.

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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Magic in the Moonlight

In 1920’s France, Wei Ling Soo is a hit amongst his hoards of adoring fans and his notoriety spreads far and wide. He’s a masterful magician who can make the impossible happen, right before our eyes! Actually, Wei Ling Soo is really only Stanley (played by Colin Firth), a veteran illusionist dressed as a Chinese Imperial Master, who stuns audiences with his amazing, well practised feats and tricks. One day, Stanley’s friend, fellow magician Howard Burkan (by Simon McBurney) tells him of a new sensation doing the rounds of the social set in France. She, Madam Sophie, claims she can read people accurately, tell fortunes, observe the spirit world and bring messages from those passed to people still on the side of the living. Stanley instantly dismisses any notion of her being authentic and is invited to France to check her out and prove she’s a fraud. Once in France, Stanley views Sophie (by Emma Stone) with complete suspicion, but slowly, as he gets to know her he starts to think perhaps he’s wrong after all … how could she possibly know the things she does about him and his life? He finds himself strangely drawn to her … but surely she’s a fake, isn’t she?

This movie is sweet, but not quite entertaining. The French scenery is divine and a wonderful backdrop to the story, so in parts it has its moments, but overall Colin Firth’s performance renders the piece a little unbalanced and tedious. I can only hope that Director Woody Allen instructed him to perform in this weirdly wooden and robotic fashion as I’ve never seen Colin Firth act like this in any other work. Emma Stone is good and it’s great to see Jackie Weaver here as one of Sophie’s “clients”, Mrs Grace Catledge. Others are okay and the story has nice twists, but overall is only average. I may have just missed the point, I guess.

Made in 2014. Directed by Woody Allen.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Movies

 

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The Railway Man

Eric Lomax (played by Colin Firth) has always been a train enthusiast – there’s something about trains that’s fascinated and delighted him ever since he was a boy. In 1942, as a young British soldier (by Jeremy Irvine) stationed in Singapore in World War 2 when it falls to the Japanese, Eric becomes a prisoner of war (along with thousands of others) and is taken to the construction site of the Thai/Burma railway at Kempai. He is forced into hard labour on the railway and endures ongoing torture and deprivation at the hands of the Japanese. At the end of the war, he returns to England and settles in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where he maintains his interest in trains and enjoys his rides on the rails all around the country. One day, completely out of the blue, he meets the love of his life, Patricia Wallace (by Nicole Kidman) on a train journey. They soon marry and are very happy, but Eric’s war experiences have never left him and he struggles with daily life through his flashbacks and trauma. Patti is desperate to help Eric and searches for answers. She seeks out his local army mate, Finlay (by Sam Reid then by Stellen Skarsgard) who was in Thailand with him. He sheds some light on their experiences and gives Patti as much history as he can. He also tells her he’s discovered that that the main perpetrator of Eric’s torture, the young Japanese officer Nagase (by Tanroh Ishida and later by Hiroyuki Sanada), is still alive and working as a tour guide at the Thai/Burma Railway Museum on the very site of Eric’s horrific experiences. What to do?  Should Patti let Eric know about this … what will he do?  Will this make things better or worse for him?

There’s a lot that’s good about this movie based on a true story. The drama is told well and the authenticity of the experience cannot be questioned. But there are some implausible things too – I struggled with the casting of Nicole Kidman as Patti. This does not work at all – is she too young? She is supposed to be a mature aged, experienced woman who’s had twenty years’ nursing experience, but she just seems too young to me – it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story. At first, Colin Firth seems too young as the mature-aged Eric Lomax also – particularly on their wedding day, and it’s difficult to accept him in this role. But that feeling dissipates as you strart to understand more of the story and his experiences. His grey hair seems to disappear on his wedding day, but return for the rest of the story. The performance of Jeremy Irvine as the young Eric Lomax is marvellous – he does very well. Also good are both characters who play Finlay – the younger Sam Reid and the mature Stellan Skarsgård. It is weak in the beginning, but you should stick with it as it does get much better. I found it a little drawn out, but it’s worth hanging out until the end. The very best of it is in the final quarter. Colin Firth does very well here. The screenplay is adapted from the book by Eric Lomax “The Railway Man”, published in 1995. Director, Jonathan Teplitzky, won a SIGNIS Award at the 2013 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Made in 2013. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Movies

 

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Bridget Jones’ Diary

It’s another cold, snowy Christmas in England and Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger) is back home from London for the holidays to see her parents and endure yet another excruciating family Christmas. This year, Bridget’s mum (by Gemma Jones) decides she should match-make the “30-something, but still single” Bridget with her friend’s son, Mark Darcy (by Colin Firth). Both mums love the idea, but at their introduction Mark is just embarrassed and bored and can’t wait to get away. Such is life for our still-single, girl about town, Bridget – an aspiring journalist, working at a London publishers who yearns for a far more exciting social life. She is convinced that “Mr Right is just around the corner waiting for me and this would all be so easily achieved, if only I lost 20 pounds immediately and got the personality of a super-woman ….” – yes – it’s that easy, right? For her New Year’s Resolution, Bridget decides to get things under control once and for all – she starts a diet and starts her diary. She enters her frank daily thoughts into the sympathetic pages and bares her roller-coaster of emotions. Her social life is active, she sees her group of quirky friends Jude, Tom and Shazza (by Shirley Henderson, James Callis and Sally Phillips) regularly and all rolls along – then it suddenly takes a turn for the brighter when her boss, Daniel Cleaver (by Hugh Grant) starts to pay her a lot more attention … she blossoms in this new way of living and it all seems to be going so well – until she runs into the disagreeable Mark Darcy once again, who reminds her of her shortcomings and threatens to foil her happiness …

This is such a lovely movie – the dramatisation of the very popular book by Helen Fielding. Bridget is just like so many of us – insecure, ambitious but unsure, fed up but with marvellous dreams – and just looking for happiness. The girl we meet is so endearingly real – Renee Zellweger famously gained weight to play this role (and spent time to practice a very well performed British accent). For her trouble, she was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for this performance. It is refreshing to see Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver – here he isn’t the bumbling, awkward and inarticulate fellow we have seen elsewhere. Daniel Cleaver is a womanising cad, self-assured, arrogant and far too cocky for his own good. Fans of Colin Firth will enjoy his performance as Mark Darcy – the alignment between this character Darcy and the one he played so well as Mr Darcy in the 1995 award winning television version of “Pride and Prejudice” doesn’t go unnoticed. There is a very attractive and heart-warming thread of intensity to his performance as his feelings towards Bridget are demonstrated through facial expressions and gestures – it will be marvellous for romantics seeing this movie. There is slapstick comedy throughout – sometimes a little overdone for my taste, but overall its a very entertaining and endearing movie and it’s one of my all time favourites

Made in 2001. Directed by Sharon Maguire

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Movies

 

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Valmont

Marquise de Merteuil (played by Annette Bening) is a bored french aristocrat who gets greatest delight when she interferes in the lives of others. She is mentor to Cecile (by Fairuza Balk), the innocent, convent-educated 15 year old daughter of her rich friend, Madame de Tourvel (by Meg Tilly). Unbeknown to Cecile, her mother has promised her in marriage to the fifty-something society gentleman Gercourt (by Jeffrey Jones) and the Marquise must now help her learn about life and prepare for the imminent nuptials. Vicomte de Valmont (by Colin Firth), another bored aristocrat, spends his time womanising around Paris and lazing about as an idle french nobleman. Just for fun, the Marquise conspires with Valmont to bring ridicule on Gercourt by ensuring Cecile is “deflowered” long before the wedding night. The Marquise dares Valmont with the task, but he is far too arrogant to take on such an “easy” target and sets his sights on much bigger challenges. But … as the scheme plays out, emotions run hot, jealousy and revenge take hold, other innocent people get involved and lives are destroyed in the process …

This is the third adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos‘ classic novel “Les Liasons Dangereuses”, which was released only a year after the more famous version “Dangerous Liaisons” by Stephen Frears. Whilst the costumes and styling are far more exquisite in Frears’ version, I find this one a much more enjoyable movie. The characters are more sociable, accessible and watchable. As you would guess by the title, the focus here is on Vicomte de Valmont, rather than the Marquise, which gives the very fresh-faced Colin Firth some great early exposure. The heaving chests, stiff bodices, desperate emotions and ruthless jealous acts are all here and this story is a good one.  The naive and totally innocent Cecile is beautifully played by Fairuza Balk, along with her deep love Danceny (by Henry Thomas). Annette Benning is marvellous as the Marquise, she looks beautiful, her body is great and her demeanour is perfect for this treacherous role – the balance of sweetness, cunning and utter revenge she portrays is very well done.  She is the best here.

Made in 1989. Directed by Milos Forman

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Movies

 

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Fourplay

Ben Greene (played by Mike Binder) has moved to London to work as a comedy writer on a new British television series. He comes well credentialled, having just finished work on a highly successful American comedy.  The new series is “Tedford Gate” and it stars the once-popular American actress Carly Matthews-Portland (by Mariel Hemingway). Carly has recently been re-discovered by a new European audience and she is capitalising on this with her starring role in this new UK series. Carly is also an old friend of Ben’s, but these days she’s married to Allen (by Colin Firth), the producer of the new show. Allen is the archetypal stiff-upper-lipped Englishman, evidenced by his lack of physical prowess and his total inability to demonstrate any kind of emotion. New to London, Ben finds it hard to adjust to his new lifestyle and Carly decides he needs romance in his life. She match-makes him with another television staffer, the delightfully French make-up artist Fiona Delgrazia (by Irene Jacob). Carly is amused and very pleased when her efforts result in Ben falling in love with Fiona, and she with him. As time passes, Carly observes their blossoming relationship but finds herself becoming fascinated by Ben – at the same time, straight-laced Allen is secretly yearning for Fiona. The entire situation comes to a head when Fiona gets some work in Italy, which leads Allen to question his life and where he wants to be. This has a straightforward solution, right? …..

This movie is quite tedious. The love quadrangle is mildly entertaining, but not super funny – it is just too twee for me. The styling is hideous … whoever styled Mariel Hemmingway’s outfits must have hated her – she is dowdy in every scene. At the other end of the style spectrum. Irene Jacob is gloriously chic and displays typically “easy” french classic style every time she appears, she looks wonderful and wears all her clothes with panache. All round, the performances are forced and bland, with one exception – the exquisite characterisation that Stephen Fry provides as Nigel Steele, the therapist. He is too “English” to mention he doesn’t offer marriage counselling, but way too uncomfortable to facilitate any effective sessions. Between his total awkwardness and Colin Firth’s Allen in full behavioural ignorance, these scenes are treasures. Other roles are played by Jack Dee and Christopher Lawford, but wait for television if you really need to see this one.

Made in 2001. Directed by Mike Binder.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 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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