Showing posts with label Judi Dench. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judi Dench. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 June 2013


Nine is a 2009 movie adaptation of a Broadway musical of the same name which was in turn inspired by Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film, . Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a gifted film maker on the cusp of his fiftieth birthday. Struggling for ideas on the back of a series of flops, he flees to a remote health spa and turns to the women in his life for inspiration. The movie is notable for containing several fleeting performances from some of the most beautiful and talented women in Hollywood as well as Kate Hudson. Although poorly received by critics and a certified box office failure, the movie garnered four Academy Award nominations and in my opinion contains some superb cinematography as well as a couple of great performances.

The main problem with the movie for me is that it isn’t . There are a few scenes, especially those featuring Day-Lewis and Penelope Cruz, which look like shot for shot recreations of Fellini’s masterpiece and these bought back happy memories of watching that movie. During a lot of the other scenes I just wished that I was watching Fellini’s film. The problem with making a movie based on such a well respected source is that you’ve got to make it pretty special to make people want to watch yours instead of the film you’re basing your work on. In the case of Nine, it just made me remember how good is.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Skyfall, the 23rd screen outing for 007 sees Bond tackle the threat of cyber terrorism in a modern world which is very different to that which he first traversed half a century ago. The film, which I’ll open by saying is a lot better than the previous effort Thingy of Whatsit is a return to form for the series and puts Bond back in its place at the centre of the action thriller genre. Having lost a file containing the names of undercover agents, Bond (Daniel Craig) chases down the culprit only to be halted by MI6. Presumed dead, 007 begins to rot while MI6 comes under attack from a man with a score to settle with M (Judi Dench).

The film finds many parallels with its, Britain’s, MI6’s and indeed its central character’s place in the world. They all appear to be past their best, living in a world that has moved on, leaving them behind. Britain, a hundred years past its prime is being kept safe by MI6 whose field agents appear ill equipped to deal with the modern threats of hidden terrorists who wear no uniform and report to no country. Indeed the west itself appears to be losing its grip on the world and this is tackled with the appearance of Shanghai, perhaps this century’s New York. The motif goes further, examining the likes of M and Bond themselves and challenging them to prove that they are still relevant in the twenty-first century.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

My Week with Marilyn

In 1956 the world’s most iconic film star, Marilyn Monroe travelled to England to star in a new romantic comedy, The Prince and the Showgirl alongside famed actor/director Sir Laurence Olivier. Throughout an arduous shoot a young man called Colin Clark who joined the production as third AD kept a diary which became the basis of his memoir and this film. The production took place at a difficult time in the lives of both stars and Clark became very close to Monroe in particular, allowing him to present a rare glimpse into the private life of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

My Week with Marilyn was generally well received upon its release in 2011 and was nominated for seven BAFTAS and two Oscars. I unfortunately missed it on its theatrical release but felt very happy when I caught up with it on DVD. The film is an enjoyable watch with some occasional dark turns which gives an almost unprecedented look into a brief snippet of the life of one of the world’s original mega stars.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Quantum of Solace

"This is about trust. You said you weren't motivated by revenge"

A direct sequel to 2006’s Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace stars Daniel Craig as British Secret Agent James ‘007’ Bond. Following the death of someone close to him Bond sets out to enact revenge while also uncovering a Coup d’├ętat in Bolivia. Enlisting the help of Bolivian Agent Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), Bond travels the globe tracking the environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) who is in fact a member of the secret organisation Quantum, about which little is known. Despite frequent calls for restraint from his boss M (Judi Dench), Bond is unable to control his urge for revenge and ends up with both MI5 and the CIA hot on his tail.

The fact that it’s taken me four years to watch this film may give you some indication as to my indifference when it comes to 007. I used to like watching the Sean Connery and Roger Moore film’s as a child and remember enjoying the Pierce Brosnan Bond when I was growing up but there is something about ‘modern Bond’ which I just don’t get. Nevertheless I gave this a go and here’s what I thought…

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

"Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end."
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a feel good film about a group of British pensioners who forgo to the traditional Rest Home in Eastbourne or Villa in Spain and instead decide to spend their golden years in Jiapur, India in a Hotel run by enthusiastic young Sonny (Dev Patel). The film features a mix of stereotypical middle class pensioners which includes Widow Judi Dench, unhappily married Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton, retired High Court Judge Tom Wilkinson, grumpy, racist Maggie Smith and singletons Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup. Quite a cast!

Upon arriving in India each character copes differently with the culture shock with some settling in as though they’ve lived there all their lives, others trying to experience all the country has to offer and some staying hidden in their rooms in case they see or taste something different to their norm. There are love interests and surprises but on the whole the plot is fairly predictable. It is funny though. I laughed along on multiple occasions with the entirely OAP audience I saw the film with. It is obviously aimed at older cinema goers but can definitely be enjoyed by all age groups.

The cast of The Avengers 4: Vacation

The acting is great across the board but it is Britain’s go to Indian Dev Patel who comes out on top. His character is frantic and funny, caring and loveable. He does a great job by giving the film real heart. His is a great performance. Bill Nighy was also very likeable but he was basically just playing his usual slightly stoned old guy character. Tom Wilkinson showed interesting emotional touches and there was no real weak link, as you’d expect from a cast of this calibre.

India looks and sounds beautiful. While it’s not particularly difficult to fill the screen with beauty and colour when a film is set in India, it still looks fantastic and the music had me tapping along throughout. I could listen to the sitar all day. (Look up Ravi Shankar if you are unfamiliar with Indian music. It. Is. Sublime.)   

Patel playing 'whose a lucky bugger' again with his love interest.

This is a very good film on the whole but there were some problems. Firstly, Judy Dench’s character manages to get a job within a couple of days despite never having had a job before in her life. The film also glossed over the poverty of the country with only a passing mention to the financial and social problems that millions of its citizens face. Maggie Smith’s characters transformation from racist old biddy to zen master/financial whizz seemed a little far fetched and felt a bit too convenient.

Despite these problems, it is a lovely film with plenty to like. Not least the wonderful love stories which feature throughout. It is also very funny and well written and acted and would recommend it to anyone, young or old.