Love & Friendship (2016)

Love & Friendship
Director: Whit Stillman
Writer: Whit Stillman
Based on: Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, Jenn Murray, Lochlann O’Mearáin, Sophie Radermacher, Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Justin Edwards
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2016

Plot:
Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow with a 16-year-old daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Susan very much enjoys her widowhood and has garnered quite a reputation as a seductress. Her most recent conquest, Mr. Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin), has left her in a bit of a delicate situation, so she retreats to her brother’s (Justin Edwards) estate. Her sister-in-law Catherine Vernon (Emma Greenwell) is not pleased as she suspects Susan’s scheming ways. Catherine’s brother Reginald (Xavier Samuel), on the other hand, is rather intrigued by her, despite the warnings. Susan knows she will have to find good husbands for Frederica and herself to secure their futures, so that’s what she sets her mind to.

Love & Friendship was an utterly delightful film. Funny, romantic and filled with great characters, the film is the novel Jane Austen could have written if she had wanted to spend more time on Lady Susan. I absolutely adored it.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

The Man Who Knew Infinity
Director: Matt Brown
Writer: Matt Brown
Based on: Robert Kanigel‘s biography of Srinivasa Ramanujan
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair, Raghuvir Joshi, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Arundathi Nag, Devika BhiseStephen Fry, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam
Seen on: 19.7.2016

Plot:
Ramanujan (Dev Patel) works as a clerk in India, but his passion lies with mathematics. Unfortunately he finds nobody to listen to his theories and formulas because he doesn’t have any formal education. But then he manages to convince Francis Spring (Stephen Fry) to bring his notebook to England where it reaches G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) and fellow professor Littlewood (Toby Jones) at Cambridge. Hardy in particular is intrigued by the wild talent he sees in Ramanujan and arranges for him to come to the UK. Although he has to leave his wife Janaki (Devika Bhise) behind, Ramanujan can’t let this chance for recognition go and makes his way to England and academia.

The Man Who Knew Infinity covers an interesting story but it is stuck too much in storytelling and filmmaking conventions to leave much of an impression.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Sequel to: Alice in Wonderland
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-CarterSacha Baron CohenRhys Ifans, Matt LucasLindsay DuncanLeo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard ArmitageEd Speleers, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Seen on: 2.6.2016

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is working very hard to keep her father’s shipping company together, but things aren’t going well. Things seem doomed after her mother (Lindsay Duncan) signed over their shares to Alice’ former suitor Hamish (Leo Bill). It is just then that bad news reaches Alice from Wonderland and she sets off there to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who hasn’t been himself. In fact, he seems to have crossed the line into absolute madness, believing firmly that his family isn’t actually dead, but can still be brought back. Reluctantly Alice agrees to help by speaking to Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and trying to get to the chronosphere which would help them clear matters up. But things get more complicated when it becomes obvious that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is also involved.

The first Alice film wasn’t particularly good, though I did enjoy watching that cast in that production design for the most part. That’s why I figured I would give Alice Through the Looking Glass a try as well. Unfortunately, it was even less convincing than the first film.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam BrownOrlando BloomEvangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt, Hugo WeavingChristopher LeeBilly Connolly

Plot:
The dwarves and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) have roused Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Smaug is on his way to lay waste to Laketown. But Bard (Luke Evans) manages to save the town from that fate by killing Smaug. Now the Lonely Mountain can be claimed by Thorin (Richard Armitage), who immediately starts looking for one particular gem – the Arkenstone – and slowly succumbs to dragon sickness. In the meantime various armies start to gather outside the Lonely Mountain, all with a different claim on the treasure and/or the people within.

I thought that the last installment of the movie really was quite disappointing. I mean, neither of the three can live up to The Lord of the Rings anyway, but at least Desolation of Smaug was entertaining. Battle of the Five Armies was too much battle, too little coherence and way too much Alfrid.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam BrownOrlando BloomEvangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt

Plot:
The dwarves and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) have come quite a way under the leadership of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Thorin (Richard Armitage), but they still have a long way ahead of them until they will reach the dragon. As they reach Mirkwood, Gandalf has to leave them and the group soon finds itself in the clutches of the wood elves and King Thranduill (Lee Pace).

I already enjoyed the last Hobbit movie but this was one was even better. The pacing works more smoothly (even if it could have been a little shorter), the characters are awesome as usual and it has brilliant moments (and moments of none-brilliance).

thehobbitdesolationofsmaug

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The Look of Love (2013)

The Look of Love
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: Matt Greenhalgh
Cast: Steve Coogan, Imogen Poots, Anna Friel, Tamsin Egerton, Chris Addison, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Shirley Henderson, Simon Bird, David Walliams, Dara O’Briain

Plot:
Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) makes his money with nightclubs, stripping, erotic dancing – basically women taking their clothes off. And he makes a lot of it, despite the controversy around his job. His wife Jean (Anna Friel) is fully supportive – until Paul leaves her to be with Amber (Tamsin Egerton) and fully enjoy the party lifestyle. While Jean goes to the US with their son, Paul’s daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) wants to follow in Paul’s footsteps as he continues to build his naked women emporium.

The Look of Love has a good cast but it has serious issues with focussing on the story they want to tell. It’s still rather entertaining, but it really didn’t blow me away.

the-look-of-love

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Based on: Arthur Conan Doyle‘s characters
Sequel to: Sherlock Holmes
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan

Plot:
A series of bombings has hit all over Europe, unsettling the political atmosphere so much that war is in the air. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) suspects Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) of instigating the events. Unfortunately at the same time, Sherlock’s best friend and partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is finally getting married to Mary (Kelly Reilly) – and thus about to end their partnership. But Moriarty won’t leave Watson alone, so Holmes has to involve him in this case anyway.

The movie does do some things better than the first one, but overall it dragged a bit and wasn’t quite as satisfying. Nevertheless, I had fun.

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland is the newest movie by Tim Burton, based on the book by Lewis Carroll, starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Helena Bonham-Carter, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall.

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is at a party with her family – actually, it’s her engagement party, only she doesn’t know – when a white rabbit (Michael Sheen) appears to her. Since the rabbit is wearing a waistcoat and a pocket watch, Alice is intrigued. She follows it to Wonderland where she discovers that an old prophecy is waiting just for her.

Even with the Tim Burton bonus and the wonderful cast, I cannot say that this was actually a good movie. I mean, it looked great but that script and that plot and the character CGI…

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Fun for Teens, References for Me

When St. Trinian’s came out here, I figured I had to see it, because of Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and Russell Brand. Plus, it’s always nice to see Lena Headey. I haven’t seen any of the old movies, nor read the book or had any other connection to St. Trinian stuff before. [Just so you know.]

I think it’s mostly a film aimed at teenagers [My teenage sis will love it, I think.] and men who get off on sexy school girls. Which can potentially make for a pretty weird crowd in the theatre.

Gemma Arterton (middle) will be in the next Bond… and she’s definitely a good choice, at least considering sex appeal.

Anyway, the humour was mostly a bit bland, boring so to say… It had the usual jokes. It was nice, but it didn’t leave me rolling on the floor.

Except when Colin Firth and Rupert Everett were seen together and the movie references just flew around.

Ms. Fritton (Rupert Everett): We met in college. It was another time.
Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth): And Another Country.

Or when Geoffrey walks up to Ms. Fritton in his wet white shirt, which was so much more revealing than in Pride and Prejudice. [And while we’re at it, how come Anna Chancellor always gets the Miss Bingley roles?]

Well, summarising, it was nice, had some good scenes, but I just wasn’t the target group.

[SPOILER WARNING FOR MAMMA MIA!, OF ALL THINGS.]

[Oh, and btw, maybe you remember that when I posted about Mamma Mia! there was this comment, where Dee told me that Colin Firth couldn’t possibly be uncomfortable with portraying a gay character because he kisses Rupert Everett in St. Trinian’s. Well, he doesn’t. Sure, they get together in the end, but there’s never more than a hug seen on screen.
Which pissed me off. Seriously, people, I didn’t go to this movie to see them make out (although that would have been an attractive sight), but if you have two guys, who get it on together (regardless if one of them dresses up as or plays a woman or not), show them kissing, just as you would with a heterosexual couple. It is not shocking anymore (or, the people who are still shocked by this, need to be), it’s just plain weird when you have loads of special shoulder squeezes. Really.]

Further Reading:

An Interview with Anna Chancellor

BBC

After months of silence, Stephen Fry finally posted something on his blog again. Yay! It’s a really cool speech about the future of the BBC and also its past and how he grew up with it. Go and read it (but make sure you have the time, it’s pretty long)!

As an example of what you’re missing, if you don’t:

When I was 7 my parents moved house. Well, we all moved house as a family, I don’t mean my parents left me behind, though who would blame them if they had? (…) The week before we moved, the BBC started a new drama, starring William Hartnell. An old man, whose name appeared to be Grandfather or the Doctor, had a police phone box of the kind we saw in the street all the time in those days. It turned out to be a magical and unimaginably wonderful time machine. My brother and I watched this drama in complete amazement. The first ever episode of Doctor Who. I had never been so excited in all my life. A whole week to wait to watch the next instalment. Never have seven days crawled so slowly by, for all that they involved a complicated house move from Buckinghamshire to Norfolk. A week later, in that new house, my brother and I turned on the good old television set in its new sitting room, ready to watch Episode 2. The TV had been damaged in transit and was never to work again. We missed that episode and nothing that has transpired in my life since has ever, or could ever, make up for that terrible, terrible disappointment. There is an empty space inside me that can never be filled. It is amazing neither of us were turned into psychopathic serial killers from that moment.