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Posts under ‘On movies’

"Shady Lady" (2012): a brilliant low-key movie

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On movies on 25 January 2014. No comments.

This summer, I saw Shady Lady: Mission accomplished… running on empty at the Chichester Film Festival and thought it marvellous. I nabbed a DVD of the film on my way out, and some others from Fact Not Fiction Films, and settled on a stormy British winter afternoon to be transported to 1943 and the longest range bombing mission ever then attempted, from Darwin, to  Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo, 1300 miles away. More »

"The Railway Man": Oddly unconvincing

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / Mind & body / On movies on 17 January 2014. No comments.

Most middle-aged people with any sense of history have had plenty of opportunities to try to get to grips with the horrors of the Japanese exploitation of their prisoners of war. On the face of it, the extraordinary real-life story of Eric Lomax's journey from victim to forgiveness would have made a wonderful film. But it hasn't, I think…. More »

"Fill The Void" (2012): 4*+ movie, but questions….

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies on 15 January 2014. No comments.

As many reviewers have said, and I think Frank Kermode in the Guardian is about right, this is a richly-involving movie with a decent narrative in which paint-dryer and something close to a domestic thriller are combined. Comparisons with Jane Austen are justified. But there is a question as to political correctness, too… More »

Redford, Hanks and Bullock fight it out alone

Posted by RDN under On movies on 4 January 2014. No comments.

Now we have had Redford, Hanks and Bullock battle it out, alone in a survival capsule. Yes, Sandra Bullock has George Clooney in tow for some of her trip, and Tom Hanks has some Somalis to deal with, and as a sort of company. But Captain Phillips casts the Somalis as a sort of buzzing pestilence, more a plague than a set of personalities; and George Clooney has a presence which is  absently jokey when it isn't positively ghostly. Which is the winner?  More »

"Saving Mr Banks": Disney cubed

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies on 3 January 2014. No comments.

As Victoria Coren noted in her TV documentary, Saving Mr Banks is a moving film, and is so even if one supposes that it Disneyfies the creation of Mary Poppins the film, and probably its real creator Walt Disney and possibly the books on which it is based, and maybe even the books' author. Layer upon layer indeed. More »

"Gravity": *****, all in HD 3D

Posted by RDN under On movies on 8 November 2013. No comments.

This movie has some of the make-do-and-mend of Apollo 13, and much of the interiority of Castaway. It has the great merit of not being sci-fi: it has homelier messages. It is built on a very big scale but you seldom feel it is big or even loud for the sake of it. I thought it amazingly believable. It is also beautiful: the spacecraft's parachute, especially, takes on a life of its own. The garrulous old-timer played by George Clooney is a proper old-style hero, and the sad, tough, clever scientist played by Sandra Bullock hardly ever shrieks or hyper-ventilates. More »

"Le Weekend": a ho-hum *** movie

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies on 31 October 2013. No comments.

I wanted to love Le Weekend. It had been discussed as not being a feel-good rom-com or Gerry-romp (even one as good as The Exotic Marigold Hotel, let alone as bad as Quartet), and wasn't. It seemed likely to not make its middle-aged actresses shriek (as in Mama Mia and It's Complicated), and it didn't. But it was dangerously adolescent anyway…. More »

"Blue Jasmine" & others on the verge of breakdown

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies on 25 October 2013. No comments.

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is a stronger film than most reviewers seem to allow. Indeed, it bears comparison with Girl Most Likely, of which more in a moment. Blue Jasmine has been criticised as being too Woody and not Woody enough. I'd say it is nicely not Woody-self-obsessed, or Woody-neurotic, or Woody-Jewish: it doesn't channel Woody. But it is a convincing and frightening account of a woman's decline, and might have been made by plenty of good directors, or written by plenty of good novelists. It is a particularly American theme, I think. More »

"Hannah Arendt": a fine movie

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies / Politics & campaigns on 23 October 2013. One comment.

This is tricky. I have spent  no  more than half an hour, ever, reading Hannah Arendt and none at all reading about the contemporary reaction to her "banality of evil" pieces in the New Yorker. Nothing daunted, I will risk riffing on the similarities between Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand, partly because they were contemporaries; partly because both are the subject of bio-pics; but mostly because they seem to touch on the same verities. More »

Bob Marley enigmas & two new movies

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies on 27 August 2013. No comments.

Kevin MacDonald's  Marley (2012) and Esther Anderson & Gian Godoy's Bob Marley: The making of a legend (2011) don't really add a lot of new material to the Marley story, I imagine (speaking as an observant fan rather than an informed Marley-sleuth). But the passage of time and advances in two debates – about race and about globalisation – make it easier to discuss the sorts of things which have always lain a little beneath the surface in discussing the man. They would also have forced or encouraged change in Bob Marley himself. More »

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