Victoria & Abdul (2017)

Victoria & Abdul
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Lee Hall
Based on: Shrabani Basu’s book
Cast: Judi DenchAli FazalTim Pigott-SmithEddie IzzardAdeel AkhtarMichael GambonPaul HigginsOlivia WilliamsFenella WoolgarJulian WadhamRobin SoansRuth McCabeSimon Callow
Seen on: 14.10.2017
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Plot:
As Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) celebrates the 50th year of her reign, two Muslim Indians are chosen to present her with a commemorative coin. One of them is Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Abdul is excited at the chance to visit England and see the Queen, and in his excitement he forgets the most important rule and makes eye-contact with her. Instead of catastrophe, this leads to Victoria striking up a friendship with Abdul who teaches her about India and much more.

Victoria & Abdul left me deeply uncomfortable and its blatant ignorance of colonialism and the power structures involved – despite the topic at hand. That overshadowed everything else for me.

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Re-Watch: Hanna (2011)

Hanna
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Seth LochheadDavid Farr
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom HollanderOlivia WilliamsJessica Barden
Seen on: 18.4.2016
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) grows up with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in complete seclusion. He trains her to be the perfect spy and she grows up knowing that once she leaves her solitary life, she will be hunted down by Marissa (Cate Blanchett). Nevertheless Hanna wants to head out into the world and finally Erik also agrees that she’s ready. So the first thing Hanna does is to head out and try to kill Marissa, before Marissa can kill her.

I was rather disappointed in the film when I saw it the first time – I just didn’t think it lived up to its potential. So I hadn’t planned on watching it again but then it was part of my curriculum at uni and I decided to give it another try. With my expectations dialed down, I was able to enjoy Hanna much more than the first time.

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Man Up (2015)

Man Up
Director: Ben Palmer
Writer: Tess Morris
Cast: Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Olivia Williams, Ophelia Lovibond, Rory Kinnear, Sharon Horgan, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ken Stott
Seen on: 10.8.2015

Plot:
Nancy (Lake Bell) has made herself a promise: she’s going to put herself out there. Well, at least more than she used to, which is not at all. When Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date and she feels an instant connection to him, Nancy decides to just go for it. They spend a great date with each other, but Jack is bound to find out that Nancy isn’t actually Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) – and what then?

Man Up was sweet and funny and exactly what you’d expect and want it to be: a RomCom of the best kind with perfect leads.

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Seventh Son (2014)

Seventh Son
Director: Sergey Bodrov
Writer: Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight
Based on: Joseph Delaney‘s novel The Spook’s Apprentice
Cast: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Antje Traue, Olivia Williams, John DeSantis, Kit Harington, Djimon Hounsou, Kandyse McClure, Luc Roderique, Zahf Paroo
Seen on: 10.03.2015

Plot:
Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a spook, a warrior and warden against the supernatural. But he’s the last of his kind, especially since his latest apprentice (Kit Harington) just met his unfortunate demise at the hands of the evil witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Malkin had been imprisoned for a very long while, but she managed to free herself and plans on taking revenge and get her power back. So Gregory hires himself a new apprentice, Tom (Ben Barnes), and together they will do anything in their power to stop Malkin.

Seventh Son was okay. Not quite as craptastic as I expected, but not good either. It was entertaining enough, but I kept wishing that I was in the film that Julianne Moore was obviously in, but the rest of the cast not so much.

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Maps to the Stars (2014)

Maps to the Stars
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Bruce Wagner
Cast: Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, Sarah Gadon, Olivia Williams, Carrie Fisher

Plot:
Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) just arrived in Hollywood and is chauffeured around by Jerome (Robert Pattinson). But it quickly becomes clear that it isn’t her first time in the city, even if she hasn’t been in a while. She gets a job as an assistant to ageing actress Havana (Julianne Moore) who is obsessed with her mother (Sarah Gadon), also an actress who died at a very young age. For that she is in therapy with Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) whose unconventional methods are also selling pretty well as books. Stafford’s son Benjie (Evan Bird) is a child actor himself and has just been released from rehab, despite being only 13 years old. Now he and his mother Cristina (Olivia Williams) try everything to get his career back on track. But things in Hollywood are treacherous indeed.

Maps to the Stars was an interesting look at Hollywood with a stellar cast. It does make me wonder how much of it is actually realistic (since it is touted as such an honest look at Hollywood) but pushing that aside, it is definitely a smart, engaging film.

maps_to_the_stars

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Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

Hyde Park on Hudson
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Richard Nelson
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams, Elizabeth Marvel

Plot:
Daisy (Laura Linney) lives a quiet life, taking care of her mother. But all that changes when she gets an invitation to visit her cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray), President of the United States of America. They hit it off and quickly become friends, and more. But while FDR is hosting the King (Samuel West) and Queen (Olivia Colman) of England, Daisy has to realize that she is not the only woman in FDR’s life.

This film could have been very great, if the writer and/or the director had been a woman. Or at least able to take a female perspective. Unfortunately, the film completely fails in that regard, which destroyed it in its entirety.

Hyde-Park-on-Hudson

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Anna Karenina (2012)

Anna Karenina
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Tom Stoppard
Based on: Leo Tolstoy‘s novel (which I wrote about very shortly here)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Williams, Holliday Grainger, Emily Watson, Michelle Dockery, Steve Evets, Bill Skarsgard

Plot:
Anna (Keira Knightley) has been married to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law) for quite a while. It’s a marriage of convenience, but one that works quite well. Anna gives all her love to their son and seems content. That is, until she travels to Moscow to reconcile her brother Stiva (Matthew Macfadyen) with his wife Dolly (Kelly Macdonald) on whom he cheated. In Moscow, Anna meets Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), a young count who had been courting Dolly’s sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander), more or less seriously. Anna and Vronsky feel drawn to each other immediately – so much so that Anna basically flees back to St. Petersburg. But Vronsky follows her there, kicking off events that slowly spiral Anna’s life completely out of control.

The movie started and I immediately and irrevocably fell in love with it. And it didn’t disappoint me for one moment. It is a thing of beauty that I could watch over and over again.

Anna-Karenina

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Hanna (2011)

Hanna is the newest movie by Joe Wright, written by Seth Lochhead and David Farr and starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander and Olivia Williams.

Plot:
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) grows up with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in complete seclusion. He trains her to be the perfect spy and she grows up knowing that once she leaves her solitary life, she will be hunted down by Marissa (Cate Blanchett). Nevertheless Hanna wants to head out into the world and finally Erik also agrees that she’s ready. So the first thing Hanna does is to head out and try to kill Marissa, before Marissa can kill her.

Hanna has all the ingredients to be an amazing film. But somehow somwhere something went wrong and the film ended up being not good. It’s not bad per se, but it just doesn’t live up to its potential at all.

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Emma (1996)

[Since I finished reading the novel, I figured that I’d watch the adaptations, too and I decided to start with the films I hadn’t yet seen. So, this is the first one, but there will be more.]

Emma is Diarmuid Lawrence‘ adaptation of Jane Austen‘s novel, starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, Dominic Rowan, Samantha Bond, Olivia Williams and Bernard Hepton.

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Samantha Bond) and Mr Weston (James Hazeldine) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Mark Strong), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Dominic Rowan). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Raymond Coulthard) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

This movie has it hard. It came out in the same year as the more famous Gwyneth Paltrow version and so really doesn’t escape comparison. And mostly, it loses. But only mostly, not entirely.

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An Education (2009)

An Education is the newest movie by Lone Scherfig, written by Nick Hornby and starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Emma Thompson.

Plot:
The 60s. Jenny (Cary Mulligan) is an ambitious student, trying her best to get accepted to Oxford, constantly pushed by her father (Alfred Molina). When one day Jenny meets the charming, but much older David (Peter Sarsgaard) the life she wants to achieve with an Oxford education seems to be at her fingertips. David takes her to concerts, to Paris and shows her the big world. But it soon turns out that David is not all he cracked up to be.

An Education is a wonderful movie – especially the cast is perfect. Unfortunately, the last fifteen, twenty minutes of it, turns it all a little sour. But only a little – it’s still very much worth to see this film.

[SPOILERS]

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