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.

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Dangerous Liaisons
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Christopher Hampton
Based on: his play which is in turn based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel
Cast: Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves, Swoosie Kurtz, Mildred Natwick, Peter Capaldi
Seen on: 29.1.2016

Plot:
The Victome de Valmont (John Malkovich) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) are thick as thieves, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Madame de Tourvel (MIchelle Pfeiffer) who is staying at his aunt’s (Mildred Natwick) summer home and who is widely known for her morals and her loyalty to her husband. The Marquise, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just got engaged to the naive Cécile (Uma Thurman) who has spent practically her entire life in a convent. So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cécile.

After having so recently seen the play that was the starting point for the film, I must say that I was very much disappointed by the movie. I thought John Malkovich was miscast and the film never really finds its step. Michelle Pfeiffer is a sparkling star in it, though.

DangerousLiaisons

[SPOILERS] Continue reading

The Program (2015)

The Program
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: David Walsh‘s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee PaceGuillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, Edward Hogg, Denis Ménochet
Seen on: 21.10.2015

Plot:
Journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) is impressed by newcoming cyclist Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster), but Lance’s career doesn’t quite take off. But Lance has the will to win. When he realizes that doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet) has a special program – which consists of doping, among other things – Lance wants in on it. Ferrari declines at first but when Lance loses a lot of weight due to testicular cancer, Ferrari does see a viable candidate in him after all. Lance starts on the program, but Walsh grows suspicious of his incredible success and decided to investigate.

I couldn’t care less about cycling and I think doping is just stupid. These are not exactly the best starting points for watching the film and might explain the lengths I felt in an otherwise excellent movie.

theprogram Continue reading

Philomena (2013)

Philomena
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
Based on: Martin Sixsmith‘s book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Michelle FairleyAnna Maxwell Martin

Plot:
Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is a recently unemployed journalist, looking for a new challenge. When he is approached to write about the story of Philomena (Judi Dench), he is nevertheless hesitant. Philomena, now an old woman, had a child at a very young age (Sophie Kennedy Clark). That son was given away against her will by the nuns she lived with and worked for. And all of Philomena’s attempts to find him again were stonewalled. Since Martin can’t find a better story, he goes along with this one and finds himself very intrigued after a short while.

Philomena’s story is worth telling and the movie is engaging but I did think that it was missing a bit impact. Nevertheless it’s a sweet film with a nice sense of humor and a touching story.

philomena

Continue reading

Tamara Drewe (2010)

Tamara Drewe is Stephen Frears‘ newest film, based on the comics by Posy Simmonds, starring Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans and Tamsin Greig.

Plot:
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.

Continue reading

Chéri (2009)

Chéri is the movie adaptation of the book (and it’s sequel) by Colette. It was directed by Stephen Frears and stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend and Kathy Bates.

Plot:
Belle Epoque in France. The ageing courtesan Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer) just ended her latest relationship and is considering her lifestyle: Is it really still necessary to do her job? What else would she do? It’s at that point that her best friend Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates) facilitates a meeting between Léa and Peloux’s son, Chéri (Rupert Friend). Chéri kind of ambles through life and doesn’t really know what to do with himself. His mother thinks that a relationship between him and Léa should be part of his education. And even though Lea is that much older than Chéri, things seem to work out perfectly.

Chéri surprised me. I didn’t expect much (I seem to have read only the bad reviews) but I got a delightful film with wonderful Wilde-esque dialogue, perfect performances, beautiful costumes and a great score (by Alexandre Desplat). It may not be the movie of the year, but it’s really good.

Continue reading