Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Nicholas Martin
Cast: Meryl StreepHugh GrantSimon HelbergRebecca FergusonNina AriandaStanley TownsendAllan CordunerChristian McKayDavid HaigJohn Sessions
Seen on: 30.11.2016

Plot:
Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) loves singing opera and dreams of performing for a big crowd. And since she’s rich, she has the means to make her dreams come true, despite the fact that she can’t actually sing. Her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) is devoted to her and wants to make sure that she’ll be able to perform without being ridiculed. He hires pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg) to practice with her and together the two men form an alliance to get Florence on the stage.

Florence Foster Jenkins didn’t blow me away, but it was a sweet and entertaining film that I enjoyed.

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King Lear

King Lear
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Adrian Scarborough, Anna Maxwell Martin, Olivia Vinall, Kate Fleetwood, Sam Troughton, Tom Brooke, Stanley Townsend

Plot:
King Lear (Simon Russell Beale) is growing old and maybe even feels dementia approaching, so he decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters and their husbands. But he expects a certain amount of flattery for it, which his youngest (and up to this point favorite) daughter Cordelia (Olivia Vinall) is unwilling to give him. Lear takes this as a sign that she doesn’t love him and banishes her. But a feeble king is the opportunity for all kinds of power struggles and soon there is trouble stirring all over.

This production of King Lear practically lives off the monumental performance by Simon Russell Beale. Though the rest isn’t bad either, he just takes center stage and completely dominates it. And maybe he should do that more often because the result is awesome.

kinglear

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Hilde (2009)

Hilde is the story of Hildegard Knef (or Hildegard Neff as she was known for a while), who was an actress and singer. It’s a German movie, starring Heike Makatsch, Dan Stevens and Monica Bleibtreu and it’s directed by Kai Wessel.

Plot:
The movie starts with Knef’s [Heike Makatsch] acceptance into acting school in Nazi Germany. It then chronicles her life and her career up to a concert in the 60s, at the height of her success.

The movie was pretty mediocre, altogether. While I don’t mind having watched it, I don’t think that it’s necessary to see it in the cinema and spend money for it.

hilde

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Portrait

Happy-Go-Lucky goes rather unnoticed, although Mike Leigh is not so unknown and the film really doesn’t deserve it.

Sally Hawkins, who got a Silver Berlin Bear for her performance, plays Poppy, a kind of Pollyanna character. She goes through life laughing and with an amount of energy that would suffice for 3 average people.

Poppy

Poppy

There’s not much plot per se in this movie, Poppy goes out with friends, she takes driving lessons and flamenco lessons, hurts her back, goes out with a guy, works, … So excuse me, for not getting into this.

The first twenty minutes or so, Poppy is nerve grating. My sister saw the movie before me and she told me that she left it with the deep desire to punch something Poppy-shaped. I could perfectly understand that in the beginning. Poppy laughs and is loud, she’s obnoxious and has no sense of fashion whatsoever (and trust me, coming from me that means a lot), she can’t take anything seriously and doesn’t respect personal boundaries. And she’s embarassing.

But then we get to know her. We see Poppy’s bike getting stolen and her reaction to this is incredulity and then she sighs, “I couldn’t even say good bye!” Although this reaction leaves me a little bewildered, it’s also very endearing.
We see Poppy handling trouble and talking about something, which is very important to her and we notice that there is another, different Poppy hidden there.
We see her talking to a homeless guy in what is one of the saddest and most touching scenes in cinema in the past years. [And a terrific performance by Stanley Townsend.]

As the film goes on, Poppy continues to gain depth and I am convinced that beneath all the bubbliness is a very intelligent and not so happy grown woman, who doesn’t want to grow up and uses her quirkiness and childishness to cover that it’s happening, as well as using it as a defence against everything that makes her uncomfortable.

The driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan) is Poppy’s exact opposite – cynical, constantly angry and racist. But what really seperates them, is that Poppy is basically fearless and Scott is afraid of everything. When those two clash, it can’t end well.

Happy-Go-Lucky has an amazing cast, especially of course Sally Hawkins, but also her best friend Zoe played by a really beautiful woman, Alexis Zegerman, and Eddie Marsan. And Mike Leigh manages to work this cast into a funny, beautiful and very kind portrayal of a woman, who is more than she seems to be at first glance.

[deadra said that she’s afraid that she’s Poppy, without as much energy. Which would make me Zoe, and I actually think that that works out.]