The Children Act (2017)

The Children Act
Director: Richard Eyre
Writer: Ian McEwan
Based on: his own novel
Cast: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead, Rosie Cavaliero, Ben Chaplin
Seen on: 20.9.2018

Plot:
Fiona (Emma Thompson) is a judge who lives for her work. Her husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) has been fully supportive of that – so far. But he doesn’t want things to continue as they are. Fiona can’t deal with that revelation as she’s just taken on a new case about Adam (Fionn Whitehead), a teenager just shy of his 18th birthday refusing a blood transfusion for religious reasons – a transfusion that he needs to survive. Fiona has to decide whether he should be forced to have the transfusion despite his wishes. The only way to speak with him personally is if she visits him in the hospital – a visit that has a profound impact on both her and Adam.

The Children Act is a well-done film that tells an emotional story. It was a good film, but I think my favorite part of watching it were the reactions of the school class who watched it in the cinema with me.

The film poster showing Emma Thompson as a judge in court.
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On Chesil Beach (2017)

On Chesil Beach
Director: Dominic Cooke
Writer: Ian McEwan
Based on: his own novel
Cast: Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson,
Samuel West
Seen on: 5.7.2018

Content note: (sexualized) abuse

Plot:
Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan) come from different backgrounds – Edward being working class and Florence more upper class. That hasn’t kept them from falling in love, though. Now they finally got married and have reached the beach where they’re supposed to spend their honeymoon. But with the wedding night and associated pressures looming over them, they are not really at ease.

On Chesil Beach is pretty much feel bad cinema with sharply observed characters and relationships. It wasn’t quite as depressing as I feared it would be, nor was it as good as I hoped it would be. It is very far from bad, though.

Film poster showing Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan on a beach, looking in opposite directions.
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Solar (Ian McEwan)

Solar is Ian McEwan newest novel.

Plot:
Michael Beard is a phyisicist who has seen his glory days as a young man and is since living off his nobel prize fame. He goes from one failed marriage to the next, while moving through a series of meaningless positions in various projects. But then he gets a chance to call a project into life that works on artificial photosynthesis and could revolutionize the world’s energy household. But the way Beard gets the project going is not exactly legal.

The novel so didn’t work for me. I just didn’t connect with Beard, I didn’t see the humor (that everybody else apparently sees) and I generally struggled to actually finish the book.

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Too long?

So, I found this quote on Papercuts:

Finished “Anna Karenina” finally. Marvelous and all-encompassing, though less marvelous and less all-encompassing (can something be less all-encompassing?) than Proust, and too long, like Mahler’s Ninth. Both Tolstoy and Mahler say little in their leisurely span that can’t be said more tersely — although terser they wouldn’t be Mahler and Tolstoy. Everything’s too long. Webern is too long. This paragraph is too long.

It’s taken from Ned Rorem‘s diary and I love it. [As someone who read Anna Karenina, I can agree that I wouldn’t have minded some shortening. Although, at the time, the length didn’t disturb me as much as the infinite number of typos I found in my version. Never will buy anything from that publisher again.]

Anyway, the article on Papercuts goes on to asking the question, if there were some books which you wished were longer [not without saying that The Dark Knight was too long and bad, something with which I really can not agree]. An interesting question, I think.

They cite Atonement, which was wonderful and I can agree that I would have loved to hear more about Robbie and Cecilia and their love story. But then again, almost all Ian McEwan novels (that I’ve read so far) are too short.

Other books I can think of are

  • J. M. Coetzee‘s Boyhood [which is probably what he has done with Youth, but I haven’t read that one yet]
  • Oscar Wilde‘s Fairy Tales [either by including more tales or by expanding the existing ones. Or both]
  • Neil Gaiman‘s Coraline [although I know that it’s a children’s book and children’s books are supposed to be short(er)]

That’s all I can think of right now. Any books you would like to see longer (or shorter)?

On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan)

You gotta love Ian McEwan. Even though all his novels I’ve read are as disappointed, despairing and devastating/-ed as a small girl, whose lolly just got stolen from the clown who promised to find her parents after she lost them because they were fighting because her puppy got run over. (I’m sorry, that analogy sucks. I was just trying to think of the saddest thing ever and that was all I could come up with.) There are some things that really speak for him. Like…

… his prose, which is just wonderful, fitting and insightful.
… his characters are so real, you can actually see them.
… his sadness, which is never cynical.
… his ability to write a book like On Chesil Beach which has a very thin plot but still manages to surprise you and keep you hooked.
… his addictiveness – his books always leave you begging for more, which makes you extra careful to enjoy what you’re reading.

Do I really have to say more?

Golden Globes – Condensed Version

I thought I’d write about the Golden Globe Winners but I guess I can’t really do that because I haven’t seen most of the films. Then I thought, what the heck, I’m sick at home, I have nothing to do in my Eureka-breaks, I’ll write about it anyway. I’ll just leave out the movies I haven’t seen.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Winner: Atonement
Nominees: Eastern Promises, Atonement

Between the two, it was really hard to decide. Both were extremely good – intelligent, well acted and convincing. Maybe you’ve got to give a little more credit to Atonement, because it’s not only a very good movie but one of the best literary adaptions these last years.

Therefore: decision authorised.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Not this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Winner: –
Nominees: James McAvoy (Atonement), Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Both guys are good actors, but in this case, I’d give Viggo Mortensen the lead because he fit the role better. In Atonement (the book), Robbie is this incredible, breath taking, I-just-look-at-girls-and-they-faint-and-I’m-intelligent-enough-to-get-them-on-their-feet-again-type of guy. James McAvoy, for all his qualities, just doesn’t look the part. Viggo Mortensen on the other hand, is just the right mixture of sleazebag and tough guy for this role.

Therefore: seeing, as they decided for someone else entirely, no comment on the decision.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Winner: –
Nominees: Keira Knightley (Atonement), my shame for still not having seen Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Keira Knightley is a good actress. Personally, I don’t understand why everybody took to her like that and I don’t find her that attractive (but I could say the same thing about Scarlett Johansson, maybe I’m just old-fashioned and don’t understand the beauty ideal right now), but she is not a bad actress. But right now my shame for not having seen Elizabeth: The Golden Age outweighs everything, so I guess it’s my personal winner.

Therefore: I hope Away from Her still makes it to the movies here.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Not this year. (I still want to see all of the nominees.)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Winner: –
Nominees: Amy Adams (Enchanted)

Enchanted was cute, it was really nice and sometimes actually laugh-out-loud-funny. Going so far and giving it an Golden Globe … I’m not sure it deserves that. Well, maybe the chipmunk. And Amy Adams’ enchanted (for a lack of better words) facial expression was just perfect.

Therefore: Only about a month until Sweeney Todd…

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Not this year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Winner: –
Nominees: Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)

This is getting tedious, I haven’t seen almost any movies… and I thought I went to the cinema often… Well. Obviously not often enough. And in the wrong country. Saoirse Ronan was good in Atonement. As about every single thing in this movie was.

Therefore: I’m so looking forward to seeing I’m Not There.

Best Director – Motion Picture / Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Winner: –
Nominees: Joe Wright (Atonement) / Christopher Hampton (Atonement)

Again, this was just a perfect movie. Thank you, Mr. Wright and thank you, Mr. McEwan and Mr. Hampton.

Therefore: Now where did I put Le Scaphandre et le Papillon? I know, I borrowed that book from my mom about 3 years ago.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Winner: –
Nominees: That’s How You Know (Enchanted)

I don’t think the song is that great, but the situation in the movie is really funny. One of the best scenes in the whole film. Still, the song is just a run of the mill pop song.

Therefore: Decision, not to decide for it, authorised.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Winner: Dario Marianelli (Atonement)
Nominees: Dario Marianelli (Atonement), Howard Shore (Eastern Promises)

Another Atonement vs. Eastern Promises situation. Both of these movies didn’t have a soundtrack I wanted to listen to right away (as was the case with Se, Jie for example) but the music didn’t bother me, either. I guess it’s okay that Howard Shore didn’t get another award and Dario Marianelli got his first. Although, personally, I wouldn’t have nominated either film.

Therefore: Decision, from these nominees, authorised.

Best Animated Film

Winner: –
Nominees: The Simpsons Movie

Wow, time just flew by… I wanted to see Ratatouille and I wanted to see Bee Movie. I’m afraid, it’s too late now for the cinema. Guess, I have to wait for the DVDs (or do I?). The Simpsons Movie was great, in any case. But I’m just a sucker for Simpsons…

Therefore: Can’t write now (am entangled in some internet research).

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner: –
Nominees: Se, Jie (Lust, Caution)

Se, Jie was just wonderful. Sad and beautiful. And obviously very dangerous, as K. pointed out. It would have deserved all Golden Globes, not getting any was a big lapse.

Therefore: Decision NOT authorised.

I won’t get into the TV stuff, being nowhere near any country that shows these films and series, it doesn’t make much sense.