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Tag Archives: Tom Wilkinson

Selma

In 1965 in Alabama, USA, all Dr Martin Luther King Jr (played by David Oyelowo) wants is a simple life, preaching in a small parish, living in a nice house and raising a family with his wife Coretta (by Carmen Ejogo). But issues and intolerable events around him and throughout America can’t be ignored. He visits President Lyndon Johnson (by Tom Wilkinson) at the White House to try to persuade him to change the country’s laws regarding access for African Americans to be able to vote, but the President has other priorities. Dr King finally decides to act against advice and leads a campaign to achieve his deeply held belief to secure equal voting rights for all. He can’t just stand by and do nothing when African Americans in the southern states face horrendous oppression, discrimination and violence every day. He and his followers take a non-violent stance – they stand up to their oppressors and make a deep vow that “no matter what” they will march the 50 miles from Selma to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery, to bring awareness to the issue and show their solidarity.

This is a serious movie about a serious issue. It covers an important three month period in American history. The story is told plainly and honestly, with the full horror of the violence and discrimination of the time clear for all to see. Real news footage from the period is used, which depicts the horrifying violence and jaw-dropping political views of the time in graphic detail. It’s difficult to watch in some places, but needs to be told. In one of the most significant victories for civil rights, Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s epic march from Selma to Montgomery results in determined action by President Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Made in 2014. Directed by Ava DuVernay

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2015 in Movies

 

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Gustave H (played by Ralph Fiennes) is the supremely professional and discrete concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a salubrious establishment in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, well known for its service, opulence and range of eccentric guests. During the difficult years between World Wars 1 and 2, the Hotel is continuing on despite the difficult political times. Gustave has a young protege, Zero Moustafa (played by Tony Revolori, then F. Murray Abraham), who is keen to learn. He hangs on Gustave’s every word and quickly picks up the skills of his trade. After a visit from a particularly long-standing guest with very special service requirements, Gustave gets himself into a spot of bother over a “Boy with an Apple”. He must act on his wits and rely on his trusty colleague, Moustafa, to keep him from even worse trouble, which leads them into a range of sticky situations.

I found this movie a bit hard-going. Yes, it’s great to see all the fabulous well known performers in their curious roles here – and I’m sure they would have had a hugely entertaining time when they made this. However, I didn’t find it hugely entertaining. There are animations, graphics, special costumes and sub-titles to add to the whole feel of the movie, which have been recognised in a range of awards. Ralph Feinnes does play Gustave H. very well and his insistence on utter politeness and protocol in every life situation, regardless of what may be going on around him, is endearing and amusing. As Zero, Tony Revolori is very good. The rest of the totally inter-galactic cast of support stars are okay as they provide their various contributions – some feature much more than others. I didn’t recognise Tilda Swinton, but that’s often the case for me with her work. Overall, it’s okay – perhaps this genre of movie just isn’t for me.

Made in 2014. Directed by Wes Anderson

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Movies

 

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Cassandra’s Dream

Ian (played by Ewan McGregor) is an ambitious cockney lad-about-town with a yearn for big business and big profits, but he only has a small bank balance. His best mate is his brother Terry (by Colin Farrell). Terry’s the same … loves money, works hard, but is a really bad gambler. They are close in age and have virtually spent their entire lives as best friends. One day, after a happy reminiscence of their boyhood days, they decide to pool their money and buy a boat. Terry’s just had a huge win at the track, so they name her “Cassandra’s Dream” after the racehorse. Unfortunately, both boys get a taste for the high life and things get a bit hard when they must find more cash to fund their lavish ways and continue to please their girlfriends Angela (by Hayley Atwell) and Kate (by Sally Hawkins). Then out of the blue their rich Uncle Howard (by Tom Wilkinson) asks for their help on a job with his business colleague Martin Burns (by Philip Davis), which promises a huge payday for the boys … easy money! … problem solved! So the boys agree to do the job, but soon things start to take a turn for the worse ….

This is a solid but unremarkable movie. You could forget that it’s a Woody Allen piece as it doesn’t seem to have the quirky hallmarks or comedy edge that most of his do. It’s more of a television style movie really, but it’s quite easy to watch. The comedy is there, but this as more moral fibre to it – the dynamics of family loyalties, ambition and love. It’s fine, but I’d suggest you wait for it on television.

Made in 2007. Directed by Woody Allen.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Movies

 

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The Debt

It’s the1960’s and Rachel Singer (by Jessica Chastain) is a Mossad agent. She arrives in post-Wall Berlin to carry out a covert operation with fellow agents David (by Sam Worthington) and Stephan (by Marton Csokas). They plan kidnap Dr Dieter Vogel (by Jesper Christensen), the notorious Butcher of Birkenau, who is known for conducting cruel experiments on human subjects. He has been found in Berlin, practicing as an obstetrician under a false name, so they are to kidnap and transport him to Israel to face trial for his cruelties against Jews. Rachel is the most active in this plot and he is successfully captured. However, the plan doesn’t quite work out as expected and a delay in his transportation means he must be held captive at their hideout in Berlin for a while. During his extended imprisonment with them, he becomes agitated and violent – leading to brutal conflicts between him and his captors. Eventually, transport arrives and the party relocates back to Israel where the threesome are heralded as heroes for the capture of this brutal man. Rachel and her associates are viewed with esteem throughout Israel and the world. Several years later, their notoriety resurfaces when Rachel’s journalist daughter, Sarah (by Romi Aboulafia), decides to retell the story in her first novel. At the book launch, Sarah asks Rachel to read from the book, which causes memories of the time to come flooding back. We learn that Rachel and her fellow agents have a secret – and they will do anything to stop it getting out …

Although this movie has been described as a thriller, there is not quite enough in it for me. The interraction between the three young Mossad agents is laboured and although it is clear there are tensions between them due to developing relationships, their chemistry is not strong. To me, the “current day” portion of the story featuring the more mature threesome has much more depth and interest. It is good to see Helen Mirren in a different type of role than usual. She and Tom Wilkinson always put in strong performances and that is true here. The suspense in the story does not really develop fully for me – the kidnap and capture is laboured and almost clumsy. As a movie, I’d say it is okay – it is an adaptation of the 2007 Israeli film “Ha-Hov”. 

Made in 2010.  Directed by John Madden.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Movies

 

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The Conspirator

In the last days of the American Civil War in Washington, Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright) is a single mother who runs a boarding house to earn enough to support her family. One night, President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated and the Vice-President and the Secretary of State are both badly wounded. John Wilkes Booth is the identified assassin and the entire city of Washington is doggedly determined to avenge the life of their President with the capture, trial and punishment of those involved. For several days prior to the shooting, Booth is known to have regularly met with his associates (assumed to be planning the shootings) in the city – at the boarding house run by Mary. Booth has since left town, but in the frenzy to find those responsible, several of his associates are arrested and charged with conspiracy to assassinate the President. Because Mary’s son John was one of Booth’s associates (and he has also deserted), Mary is arrested and charged. Captain Frederick Aiken (played by James McAvoy) is a Civil War hero and a recently graduated lawyer. Frederick strongly believes she is guilty, but his boss Reverdy Johnson (by Tom Wilkinson) believes she deserves a fair trial and he appoints Frederick to defend Mary in the military tribunal. As the trial unfolds, Frederick comes to realise two key things; first – that Mary may actually be innocent and second – that the power players in Washington, including Edwin Stanton (by Kevin Kline) will do anything to ensure the military tribunal convicts the prisoners and they be hanged, whether they are guilty or not.
 
This is a fascinating movie. It is a well made drama and beautifully directed piece of cinematography. The mood consistently brings the tension and futility to the senses and the characters eloquently portray the injustice of the proceedings at every turn. As a bonus, the broader issues bring the true fascination for me … firstly that Frederick Aiken had to accept Mary’s right to a fair trial and put his own beliefs aside to do that successfully; secondly that Mary could be tried as an associate of the guilty party, even though there was a high probability she was not involved; and thirdly that as a result of these proceedings, legislation in the US was introduced to ensure all parties who were arrested for a crime were given the benefit of a fair trial. As with most courtroom dramas, much of the action centres around the politics, legal issues and the determination that justice be served – it is fascinating and enjoyable.
 
Made in 2010. Directed by Robert Redford
 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 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 Ghost Writer

Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (played by Pierce Brosnan) is working with a ghost writer to produce his memoirs. He has chosen an isolated but secure location in Massachusetts to work on this. One day, his ghost writer is on the car ferry travelling towards work, but when the ferry arrives at port his car is left behind – he seems to have fallen overboard. Soon after, back in London, another writer (by Ewan McGregor) is struggling for recognition from his publisher and by chance the PM’s team have arrived to find a new ghost writer for the political memoir. The publishers quickly suggest him (McGregor’s character – he never gets a name) as the new ghost writer, He feels incapable and is tentative, but the job pays well so he reluctantly agrees and travels immediately to America where he meets Lang, his wife Ruth (by Olivia Williams) and his personal assistant Amelia (by Kim Cattrall). He quickly starts to work with Lang. He finds him difficult to soften, but with support from Ruth and Amelia he begins to put the back story together – but then a huge media storm involving Lang erupts. As the story unfolds, the ghost writer realises there is far more to Adam Lang and his political life than he first realised. The tension builds as the writer uncovers a trail of secrets which lead him to conclude the previous ghost writer may have been murdered and that the activities of Lang during his political career are questionable. 

This is a well made thriller (by Roman Polanski) – the landscape for the story is cold and unwelcoming – much like the writer’s experience with his clients. He tries to bring a warmth to the household, which is entertaining – he does a good job. Ewan McGregor’s performance is great. Pierce Brosnan is a very credible PM and the two strong women – Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams are excellent.  It is good to see Tom Wilkinson, James Belushi and Timothy Hutton in this too.  There are enough similarities and pointers to real life that it kept me enthralled to the end.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Movies

 

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