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Burnt

If there’s one thing Chef Adam Jones (played by Bradley Cooper) wants more than anything else in the entire world … it’s another Michelin star. Once he had the world at his feet – two Michelin stars to his name already, head chef in a top French restaurant and an astronomically successful career ahead of him. But his hard-working lifestyle involved hard living too – he cared little for anything except his next exquisite culinary creation, so his friends, his career and his morals all left him … with his reputation following soon after. Now … after two years of drug detox and rehabilitation, he’s back – this time to take London by storm with his own restaurant. But will he be able to break free of his sins of the past – and the people who still have unpaid debts and grudges to settle? … will he finally get that elusive third star?

This movie is not one of Bradley Cooper’s best … the story is basically “a self-absorbed, badly behaved, bratty and selfish Chef tries to build his reputation in a business where he rubs everyone up the wrong way and gets nowhere – but then he eventually grows up” … It’s not the most memorable of movies.  Sienna Miller plays a very talented chef, Helene, which she does well. Emma  Thompson’s character,  therapist Dr Rosshilde, is horrendously awful and the only reason she is there is that the scriptwriter couldn’t find another way to introduce key concepts to the story. Daniel Bruhl’s character, restaurant owner Tony,  at least has a point. For several of the cast though – Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl and Uma Thurman – you will see them far better in other roles.

Made in 2015. Directed by John Wells.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Movies

 

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Saving Mr Banks

Ginty Goff (played by Annie Rose Buckley) is a happy little girl with golden curls and an infectious giggle. She lives a carefree life in Australia with her banker father Travers Goff (by Colin Farrell) and her mother Margaret (by Ruth Wilson). Hers is an idyllic childhood, full of stories, fantasy, games and love. She idolises her father and he, in turn, thinks the world of his daughter. As years pass, Travers’ working life becomes more difficult and he turns to alcohol for comfort. Ginty watches as her father’s world slowly turns in on itself and he first loses his job then his health. When her father is too ill to work, her mother arranges for a Nurse/Governess (by Rachel Griffiths) – she arrives, surrounded by an aura of mystery and magic. Ginty is enchanted by her and as she grows, her childhood memories crystallise into a story which gets published and becomes one of the most loved children’s tales of all time … “Mary Poppins” – under Ginty’s pen name, P. L. Travers. Over several years, “Mrs Travers” (by Emma Thompson) is sought out by Walt Disney. He wants to keep to a promise he made to his own daughters – to have their cherished book created into a movie. But Mrs Travers is reluctant to release her much loved childhood memories into the hands of the Hollywood Movie-makers … to do “heaven knows what …” with her dear Mary Poppins. Try as she might, she puts every barrier she can think of in the way of the movie … but by 1961, her books aren’t quite as popular any more and she is starting to reconsider …. will the real joy in the telling of the story win out after all?

When I watched this movie, I saw something totally different to what I was expecting. I thought I’d see a jolly, happy, colourful, family romp through the songs of “Mary Poppins” set against the backdrop of a lovely family and a “happy ever after” …. but no, I had to look again. This is a drama – Mrs Travers harbours some very deep memories that haunt her, but she doesn’t want to let go of them either – her only connection with her dear father is in the pages of the book she has written.  As Mrs Travers, Emma Thompson is impeccable – that wonderful “British-ness” she brings to the performance is great.  As Walt Disney, Tom Hanks is believable – he usually is authentic in his roles though. Here, his Disney is a positive, family oriented man, but he brings his own life experiences to the story.  It’s great to hear the classic music from the movie once again and the work by the “Sherman Brothers” as they play through some of the memorable songs is really enjoyable. The performance of Paul Giamatti as Ralph, Mrs Travers’ driver in Hollywood, is equally good and I enjoyed Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi also. The long suffering assistant of Walt Disney, Dolly, played by Melanie Paxson is a delight. Overall, it’s a surprisingly good movie – perhaps a little too long, but I can live with that.

Made in 2013. Directed by John Lee Hancock

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Movies

 

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The Love Punch

Richard Jones (played by Pierce Brosnan) has worked long and hard to establish his company and to set up himself and his (now ex-) wife Kate (by Emma Thompson) for their retirement. Although they’re divorced, they are still in regular contact as they share parenting of their two almost grown-up children, Sophie (by Tuppence Middleton) and Tim (by Tim Morton). On the brink of retirement and staring a secure financial future right in the face, Richard is devastated when he realises his retirement fund has been lost in a shonky business transaction. He and Kate confront the perpetrator – young French upstart entrepreneur Garde (by Patrice Cols) but we won’t listen to their pleads. They vow to get the money back and embark on an ambitious plan. But they need help – so they enlist the support of their long-time friends and neighbours Jerry (by Timothy Spall) and Penelope (by Celia Imrie). All they have to do is get to France, sneak into one of the functions held by Garde and his fiancé Manon (by Louise Bourgoin), carry out the plan – then sneak out again. All without a single hitch. Easy ….

This movie sounds good on paper, but … sorry – it falls so far short it’s embarrassing. It may be described as a comedy, but really it’s laughable. The backdrop of Paris and then the south of France is lovely, but forced. The unlikely plot is just silly and the performances reek of “we’re still good – we’re not getting too old for this kind of role …” so the outcome makes them all look cringingly awful. The best performance by a long way is Timothy Spall – he is entertaining as neighbour Jerry who reveals he’s been more than just an ordinary guy in his younger years. However, perhaps it’s in the direction but Pierce Brosnan looks like he’s is trying to pretend he’s still “got it” as a James Bond-type character – but it doesn’t work. Emma Thompson is not good either and her liaison with a younger man as part of the story is just not necessary. The whole thing wraps up so tidily in the end it just becomes tedious. Overall, with this one I’d say, don’t bother.

Made in 2013. Directed by Joel Hopkins

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 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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Sense and Sensibility

In southwest England in the 1790’s, Elinor Dashwood (played by Emma Thompson) and her sister Marianne (by Kate Winslet) are young spinster sisters. Elinor is demure and sensible, whereas Marianne is expressive and passionate. They are both at the right age to marry (although Elinor is getting a little “long in the tooth”) and they spend the Season attending social occasions and greeting gentleman callers in the search for a suitable husband. When their father, Mr Dashwood, dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, so the young women with their mother – the second Mrs Dashwood (by Gemma Jones) – and younger sister Margaret (by Emilie Francois) are pushed out of their home and must rely on the support family for food and shelter. The sisters’ lack of fortune depletes their attractiveness for marriage and the parade of eligible bachelors narrows somewhat. During this upheaval, we meet the dashing but unprincipled Willoughby (by Greg Wise), timid but rich Edward Ferrars (by Hugh Grant) and steady but boring.Colonel Brandon (by Alan Rickman). The girls’ interractions with these gentlemen – all with the clear intent to create partnerships (rather than enjoy romance or love) – are played out over two or three social seasons. Of course, the path to true love doesn’t run smoothly for the sisters and we experience their emotional trials and challenges as they traverse the tricky societal norms, until each finally finds true love, a suitable marriage partner and the promise of happiness ever after.

This movie is a very good period adaptation of Jane Austen’s first novel. It is a delightful story and the characters demonstrate the wonderful dilemmas created by the social rules of the time, coupled with the real emotions that each must find some way to confine in order to achieve social acceptance. The script for this was written by Emma Thompson and she has done a marvellous job as the production has eloquent use of English language and some wonderful banter. Both Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet play their characters beautifully, with subtlety and naturalness. The three key males are very well done. Hugh Grant’s creation of Edward Ferrar’s is particularly heart-warming – he is such a caring and gentle soul (but this seemed to be a common role for him at that stage). Alan Rickman plays his character very straight and dry, which I assume is the way Austen has written him. Willoughby is a rogue and a heart-breaker and Greg Wise is great in this role.  All performances are good and the movie itself is made beautifully.

Made 1995: Directed by Ang Lee

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Movies

 

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An Education

In suburban England in 1961, Jenny (played by Carey Mulligan) is an intelligent and headstrong 16 year old schoolgirl. She lives a very sheltered life and is the only child of strict, conservative parents (by Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour). One day on her way home from school Jenny meets older man David (by Peter Sarsgaard), A relationship develops and Jenny spends more and more of her evenings and weekends with free and easy David, his friend Danny (by Dominic Cooper) and Danny’s girlfriend, Helen (by Rosamund Pike). They enjoy a slice of the good life with regular parties, eating out and society occasions. Jenny is tantalised by this lifestyle and she gradually falls in love with David. During their relationship, David manages to charm Jenny’s parents and convince them he is a good man with honourable intentions. Jenny has happy times for a while, but her grades and behaviour deteriorate, so she has several interactions with her predictably stern headmistress (by Emma Thompson) and she also seeks the counsel of her teacher Miss Stubbs (by Olivia Williams), who is a more steadying and sympathetic support. However, David, Danny and Helen are not particularly nice people and just as Jenny starts to get used to her grown-up lifestyle, things take on a new perspective which turns her world on its head.

In her first movie role, Carey Mulligan is excellent – although she does sometimes seem a little to mature in her thinking and behaviour, to be a girl of only sixteen during those times. Watching the family life depicted here, the behaviour and expectations of the parents is quite apalling by today’s standards, but I think (sadly) that it is right for those times. I enjoyed the drama and the way the conservative world is shown throughout the whole story. The ending of the film delivers the key theme that life experiences all count towards learning and even if you make mistakes, they sometimes turn into memories to be cherished.

Danish director Lone Sherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby have adapted this story is from British journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Movies

 

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