Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) moved to a new neighborhood and he quite like it. Part of the neighborhood is Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a woman living in a van parked in his street. She’s weird, often rough and has issues, but Alan does take a liking to her. So when her existence is threatened because her road is being declared a no parking zone, Alan permits her to park the van in his driveway. What was supposed to be only a temporary solution, turns into a long-term fact and Alan starts to find out more about Mary’s past.
The Lady in the Van was a sweet film, told with a sly sense of humor that keeps the story from turning too dark, even when the realities it faces are harsher. It’s an enjoyable mix, although it stays a little too shallow to use the potential for social criticism it would have.
Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is getting old. His mind starts failing him, but he knows that he still has one last open case that he wants to finish. So from his quite farmhouse, where he lives with the housekeeper Ms Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker), he tries to comb his memory for the clues he missed back then. Curious Roger meanwhile manages to become a kind of confidant for Sherlock as they tend to the bees together and Sherlock tells him everything he remembers about the case.
Mr Holmes wasn’t bad, exactly, but it was pretty boring and rather sexist, so the good parts of the film didn’t really work out for me either.
Death (Roger Allam) tells the story of the Book Thief: Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a young girl who, after the death of her brother, gets dropped off by her mother (Heike Makatsch) with a foster family (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson). While World War II takes Liesel’s surroundings in Bavaria and her foster parents hide a Jew, Max (Ben Schnetzer), in their basement, she and her best friend Rudy (Nico Liersch) are more taken with a little mischief. And Liesel is inexorably drawn to books, even when or maybe especially when she has to steal them.
I really loved the book but unfortunately that did not extend to the film. Weird accents, unfortunate plot changes and quite generally lengths overshadowed the film’s qualities for me.
Robbie (Paul Brannigan) just barely got away with community service after his second conviction. Now he’s trying to get on his feet, supported by his pregnant girlfriend Leonie (Siobhan Reilly) and his parol officer Harry (John Henshaw). But it isn’t easy to find a job in this economy, especially not when you’ve been to prison, have a scar in your face and no real education. And Leonie’s family is giving Robbie a hard time, too. But then Harry takes Robbie to a Whiskey distillery and Robbie discovers his love for it. And when he finds out about a special Whiskey that is to be sold at a high price at an auction, he figures out a way to make some cash quickly – just enough for a fresh start.
Angels’ Share is a movie that suffers from its own marketing. They try to sell it as a comedy – and it is funny, but only sometimes. Instead it’s more about social criticism. That makes it more interesting, but also a little harder to watch – especially if you expect a laugh-fest.
Ewedown is a town in the middle of nowhere in England. In this town live the Hardiments. Nicholas (Roger Allam) is a successful writer, Beth (Tamsin Greig) runs the farm and on said farm, a writer’s retreat. They have if not exactly peace at least a constant routine. When the neighbor’s daughter Tamara (Gemma Arterton) returns after becoming a journalist and having a very advantageuous nose job done, things get shaken up quite a bit though.
I really liked Tamara Drewe. Though it may not be the best thing Stephen Frears has ever done, it was an entertaining, enjoyable romp with a good cast and good writing.