Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)

Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley lead a fabulous ensemble in the highly entertaining Misbehaviour

“The only other forum in which participants are weighed, measured and publicly examined before being assigned their value is a cattle market”

As far as films set in the world of beauty pageants go, Miss Congeniality will always take some beating but Misbehaviour makes a good stab at joining it on the podium. Director Philippa Lowthorpe and screenwriters Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe nail the Britflick vibes of this true story from the 1970 Miss World competition and how the nascent women’s lib movement managed to hijack it.

It does that with the kind of ensemble cast that makes pretty much every scene of the movie a delight. Lesley Manville! John Heffernan! Amanda Lawrence! Jo Herbert! And with Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley in starring roles, the main thrust of the film is a winner too as it takes a light-hearted look at some very much not light-hearted issues. Continue reading “Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)”

Film Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley all impress in the muted tones of this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go

“Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time”

It is years since I first watched Never Let Me Go and it’s kinda interesting to look back now and see it capturing an early(ish) career moment for three young British actors who all now boast 2 Oscar nominations to their names. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley have all done pretty well for themselves and this film is an interesting, offbeat showcase for them all.

Adapted from the Kazuo Ishiguro novel by Alex Garland, it takes a sci-fi concept and removes all of the futuristic, tech stuff from it, leaving bare a stark tale of humanity. The trio play Kathy, Tommy and Ruth who all attend the same boarding school in an alt-reality Britain where their health and wellbring is being prioritised above all else, but for a grimly chilling purpose. Continue reading “Film Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)”

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage

Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.

Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”

Film Review: Official Secrets (2019)

Keira Knightley is excellent in the all-too-relevant Official Secrets, a film full of theatrical talent 

“Just because you’re the Prime Minister doesn’t mean you can make up your own facts”

I’m not quite sure how I managed to let Official Secrets pass me by late last year, given how thesp-heavy its cast is. Practically every scene is filled with familiar faces of much-loved actors, so getting to catch up with it now was a real pleasure. Based on the book The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War by Marcia & Thomas Mitchell, Gavin Hood’s docudrama is eminently watchable  and a salutary reminder of how far governments are willing to (over)reach in the face of uncomfortable truths.

It is based on the true story of Katharine Gun, a low-level GCHQ employee who leaked a secret memo that exposed the lengths that the US and UK were willing to go to in order to secure backing for their invasion of Iraq in 2003, in the face of the lack of any tangible WMDs. She copies the memo for a media friend, a front-page scoop follows and thus the consequences of breaching the Official Secret Act are brought to bear. Continue reading “Film Review: Official Secrets (2019)”

Lockdown film review: Tulip Fever (2017)

Despite a mostly good cast, Tulip Fever proves a punishingly dull film – not even self-isolation should drive you to this one

“Amsterdam was captivated by a flower”

The signs weren’t good. Tulip Fever was filmed in 2014 but was pushed and pulled around the schedules before it finally surfaced in 2017, notorious producer Harvey Weinstein clearly hoping that some post-production magic would win over reluctant test audiences. Safe to say though, such an amount of chopping and changing does no-one any favours as Justin Chadwick’s film remains punishingly dull. 

Based on Deborah Moggach’s book, with screenplay by Moggach and Tom Stoppard, the story (mainly) centres on Sophia, an orphan whisked out of convent life by a wealthy merchant who wants her essentially as a brood mare, But things ain’t clicking in the bedroom, so Sophia tumbles into an affair with the artist her husband has commissioned to do their portrait. And competing for screentime, tulip mania has hit the Netherlands. Continue reading “Lockdown film review: Tulip Fever (2017)”

DVD Review: Atonement (2007)

“I suppose we should start by reading it”

Atonement was only Joe Wright’s second film but crikey it’s a good’un. Following on from Pride and Prejudice with another literary adaptation was a bold move, especially in taking on such a modern classic as Ian McEwan’s 2001 Booker Prize nominee but with Christopher Hampton on script duties and Wright’s visionary eye at the helm, Atonement is a deliciously gorgeous piece of art.

From Kiera Knightley’s iconic green dress to that epic Dunkirk tracking shot, from a three-fold Briony (Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave) to narrative daring that enriches the whole piece, Atonement is a sumptuous and assured film that has lost none of its charge nearly ten years on. Wright is blessed with a top-notch cast to be sure, but it is his flair that characterises the film’s brilliance. Continue reading “DVD Review: Atonement (2007)”

68th British Academy Film Awards nominations

BAFTA Fellowship
Mike Leigh

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema
BBC Films

Best Film
Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales and Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten Continue reading “68th British Academy Film Awards nominations”