Category Archives: General

Review: Darkest Hour (2017)

Stars: Gary OldmanKristin Scott ThomasStephen DillaneLily James

Director: Joe Wright

The plot:

Darkest hour focuses on the period starting in 1940, when Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is forced to step aside as British Prime Minister and Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is the only choice to step up to the role after a close rival Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) declines the offer.  Facing the imminent threat of invasion  from Hitler’s forces marching across Western Europe, Churchill has to navigate a course to survival against a King who has little faith in him and plotting within his own party after making some unpopular policies and decisions. 

BBC

The cast:

Of course, all the talk is of Gary Oldman and a role most would probably never have imagined him playing.  He’s a good guy for a start, often Oldman has been cast as the sinister bad guy but here he gets to play the other side and he revels in the role.  At first you see the very grumpy and stern man but as the film progresses you see a more human side to the man when his relationship with his wife and secretary are explored a little more closely.  This is where Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James come in, respectively.  They provide an excellent foil to Oldman’s portrayal as Churchill.  Thomas shows a stunning loyalty as his long-suffering wife and although I’m not sure about James overall, her journey from being intimidated by her new superior to trusted confidant is interesting to follow.  Gary Oldman’s performance is rightly winning him the accolades coming his way but it’s worth noting he has an excellent support network around him.  As well as the main cast there’s fantastic support from the likes of Stephen DillaneBen Mendelsohn as King George and Joe Armstrong.

The Atlantic

The film:

Darkest Hour is an excellent film.  Anyone expecting this to be about how the war leading to victory then you might be disappointed.  That said, these events do pave the way for how victory was actually achieved.  The events in this film are told in great detail about how Churchill managed to win round a doubting King and silence his critics, if this hadn’t happened then there would have been no victory.  I can’t comment as to how accurate these events are as history was never my strong point but in terms of story telling based on fact this is an excellent example of how to do it correctly.  Having already illustrated how well a finely chosen cast make the film well-played is matched evenly by some very straight forward direction from Joe Wright.  I really got the feeling that he just allowed the film to flow to the pace of the cast, therefore allowing them to dictate (pardon the pun) how well the film came across.  Given the title, it was in some parts much lighter than I expected with some very amusing little quips and moments that showed a British spirit that, these days, is sadly lacking.  As historical dramas go, and the focus more on the politics than the war itself, Darkest Hour is a fine film.

The Verdict: 4/5 Stars – We will fight them in the cinema

Darkest Hour on IMDb

Darkest Hour Official Website

Advertisements

Review: The Commuter (2018)

Stars: Liam NeesonVera FarmigaPatrick WilsonSam Neill

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

The plot:

Family man and ex cop Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is travelling home on his regular train having been deemed surplus to requirements to his Insurance sales job in the city.  He’s approached by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and told that he can make a quick $100,000 if he identifies an individual also travelling the train.  This is the only information he’s given and just when he thinks he should turn the offer down he’s informed that his family have been taken hostage so he has little choice but to co-operate.  MacCauley has to use all his skills from his time as a cop to identify the other person and then negotiate the safe release of his family.

Time Magazine

The cast:

I wouldn’t say this is a typical Liam Neeson role when, in actual fact, it’s completely a typical role for him.  His on-screen families should come with some sort of health warning,  He’s a great actor, of course, but there’s nothing new for him to do here.  Vera Farmiga turns in a devious yet charming performance as our lead villain.  Patrick Wilson delivers another reliably steady offering as MacCauley’s former partner and best friend whilst I think Sam Neill just had a spare half an hour as his role was not all that demanding.

Variety

The film:

This has probably already been said but The Commuter is Taken on a train to all intents and purposes.  His family are taken and the only real difference is he has to carry out their bidding rather than hunt them down and kill them with his particular sets of skills although they are heavily relying on his set of skills as a cop to get him through the exercise.  The film really lacks an identity of its own and just follows the tried and tested formula that has been known to serve a Liam Neeson action film well in recent years and whilst it isn’t an awful film you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen it all before.  In its defence it’s well enough made and professionally executed but it’s money for old rope when you get down to the bones of it.  The Commuter is a film that gives you what you expect without taking the scenic route and avoids any unnecessary diversions getting in on time at the station.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – Taken on a train

The Commuter on IMDb

The Commuter Official Website

 

 

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Stars: Frances McDormandWoody HarrelsonSam RockwellPeter Dinklage and John Hawkes.

Director: Martin McDonagh

The plot:

Some months after the murder of her daughter and with no arrests or progress of any kind made with the case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) spots three billboards on a disused road just outside of the titular Ebbing, Missouri.  She takes it upon herself to use the boards to shame the Police department, in particular Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), as to why the murder lies unresolved.  Whilst those close to Mildred support her actions the town is divided not least when other circumstances are revealed.  Tensions rise between he townsfolk bringing about tragic consequences.

Vulture

The cast:

Well, where do you start with this excellent cast?  Frances McDormand, as you would expect, leads the line with incredible poise and conviction.  She puts across that she is a woman with a real axe to grind and her frustration at the lack of action by the authorities comes across in every scene.  She delivers her gritty dialogue with a cutting edge that you can actually feel.  In contrast, Woody Harrelson offers the performance of a well-meaning and dedicated Chief of Police carrying a heavy burden but no less sympathetic to Mildred’s case,  It’s a sincere performance and for the early stages of the movie the mutual respect, despite their differences, between Mildred and Willoughby comes across really well.  From the main cast that leaves Sam Rockwell, and what a performance it is.  Given the standards of the rest of the cast and their contributions, to say his is the stand out performance is not an over statement.  As understudy to Willoughby, Rockwell’s Dixon is a troubled soul.  A known racist with unproven allegations of physically abusing people of colour (his words), he takes real issue with Mildred’s actions and those who aid and support her,  I wouldn’t describe it as stealing the show as that wouldn’t be fair to the other cast members, it’s just his was the performance which really grabbed me and left me with that feeling he was the main man here.

There is also superb support from  Peter Dinklage and John Hawkes and a special mention for Samara Weaving who plays the dim-witted nineteen year old bimbo, Penelope; the new girlfriend of Mildred’s abusive ex-husband.  She’s given some great little bursts of dialogue and plays the role to a tee.

Vulture

The film:

The film is marvellous.  I enjoyed it from start to finish.  It’s a great story told with a gritty panache that you rarely get these days.  A superb script and great set of players bring the story to life with impeccable class, it’s just a joy to watch.  Despite the bleak and dark elements involved with the story it is a comedy when all is said and done but it still manages to evoke the emotions of sympathy and detestation towards the characters and the film is able to be able to pull those feelings to their opposites as the tale unfolds.  It may only be January and this may have been on limited release last year but it’s noThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri exaggeration to say this is a contender for the best film this year.  I loved both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and Three Billboards is an excellent addition to those brilliant offerings from the ever impressive writer/director Martin McDonagh.  His ability to tell a story and put it to film in such a consistently impressive fashion proves he is a credit to the film making and I hope he has plenty more to come.

The Verdict: 4/5 Stars – How much talent can one film have?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on IMDb

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Official Website

 

Best Movies 2017

Best Movie:

Blade Runner 2049 – Official Movie Site

Blade Runner 2049

Review here

Best Drama:

detroit.movie

Detroit

Review here

Best Sci-Fi:

Slash Film

War For The Planet of the Apes

Review here

Best Comedy:

The Independent

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Review here

Best British Movie

ComingSoon.net

T2 Trainspotting 2

Review here

Honourable Mentions:

fandango.com

Baby Driver

Review here

Scified

Logan

Review here

IMP Awards

Free Fire

Review here

Thanks to everyone who has visited my reviews and photos this year.  I hope to see you next year.

Happy new year from MMS.