And the award for daftest title of the year goes to: fast-and-loose, science-historical, no-villains, revisionist, bio-pic flim-flammery which is supposedly the battle between Eddison and Westinghouse, but is actually about the battle between Michael Shannon and his period moustache.
Benedict Cumberbatch lends his earnest baritone to yet another real-life ‘sciencist’, rogue businessman and patent-thief Thomas Eddison, in the battle for dominance of AC vs DC current in domestic energy supply. Not exactly Highway to Hell.
Josie Rourke’s unashamed feminist re-focusing of sixteenth century history sees Protestant Elizabeth Tudor and Catholic Mary Stewart duel across the England-Scotland border in the face of not only the patriarchy of the time, but armed rebellion and religious fundamentalism.
Siaorse Ronan again dazzles as Mary, with Margot Robbie de-glam’ed for awards season under false nose and smallpox scars, as the two queens maneuver and struggle to preserve their reigns. Continue Reading
Yorgos Lanthimos’ historical tragi-comedy-drama is notionally the story of two cousins vying for position in the hopelessly corrupt royal court of 1704, Rachel Weiss as the formidable power behind the throne, Lady Marlborough versus her cunning but impoverished cousin Abigail (Emma Stone); both are outshone by Olivia Coleman’s Queen Anne.
In the age of the fop and the dandy, beneath the wigs and brocade, this is royal politics as a blood sport; acerbic, witty, profane, vulgar and strikingly modern.
Thankfully about as far from the likes of John Wick 2 as it’s possible to get, Alicia Vikander swaps Tomb Raiding for Netflix’ seventeenth-century heritage cinema as a Girl With a Pearl Earring in the boom-and-bust era of sub-prime tulip bulb trading. With that and the title, no wonder it sank… Continue Reading
Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky delivers an imaginatively unhinged, Mad Max version of Noah’s Ark in Middle Earth with big Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, State of Play) giving it the full Old Testament, self-righteous, religious zealot treatment. Somehow our Russ makes every role a difficult man to like…
With CGI galore, stone angels, and Ray Winstone as the scenery-chewing Daddy of the Cain Raisers, it’s down to Jennifer Connelly and the kids to steer this portentous Biblical behemoth toward Little Boat on the Judgement Day Prairie; but it’s Emma Watson who quietly steals the entire show. Continue Reading
No spoilers, but when you already know the ‘who’ in the ‘whodunit’, what’s left is the style and the (ahem) execution and whether or not you believe that such a moustache sported by Ken Branagh’s Poirot can even exist. Yes, it’s that much a distraction that even an ‘all star cast’ such as this has trouble competing. Continue Reading
I don’t usually judge movies by the trailers, but if the teaser trailer for the twice-delayed Robin Hood is anything to go by, this could be an even bigger turkey than King Arfur Daley and the Geezers of the Round Table.
We all know (don’t we) that Robin Hood is a composite character based on several Medieval myths; so this production looks to go all-out fairy story reinvention; which is to say a mash-up of Assassin’s Creed and King Arthur, with a script that makes Big Russell’s Robin Hood look like Shakespeare.
Six months out from the release of an unfinished movie, it’s clear we’re not in Nottingham any more, Toto. Continue Reading
Freely adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s Victorian murder-mystery, Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Woman in Black) does her usual schtick in pushing the lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid to the fore in the hunt for a Ripper-like serial killer. To be sure, Victorian London was lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid, but this is yet another provocative Goldman script that wallows with perverse delight and glee in all of that.
If, like me, you spotted the killer in the first five minutes, before the full list of suspects was even revealed, then you’re along for an uncomfortable face-slapping with wet red herrings as Bill Nighy’s dour detective re-imagines the crimes with each of his suspects in Hammer Horror-style melodrama. Continue Reading
Natalie Portman aims for Oscar glory in this bio-slice of Jackie Kennedy, covering the aftermath of the JFK assassination. From socialite to First Lady to widow, Jackie was a famously difficult and challenging character, a Washington outsider, briefly the most famous woman in the world, suddenly cast aside in the moment of her greatest loss.
With an equally difficult, mystery-thriller, jump-cut-flashback structure, jarringly stagey dialogue and a honkingly intrusive score, Pablo Larrain’s movie almost goes out of its way to be as difficult as Jackie herself. Continue Reading
Spielberg’s handsomely mounted, fact-based, Cold War drama reunites him with Tom Hanks as the non-spy sent into the cold. Packed with period atmosphere, a restrained Coen Brothers script delivers tension and humour as Hanks’ character attempts to arrange a prisoner exchange amidst the paranoia, fear and political games of the superpowers. Continue Reading