28th May2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Film)

by timbaros

alice-and-hatter_9908d9eaDisney’s new film ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ hits theaters this weekend and it’s bound to be a huge moneymaker for the studio who is having an excellent year so far.

Disney has 13 movies coming out in 2016, but if 2015 was the studio’s best year ever (‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ sequel were massive hits), 2016 looks to be even brighter and bigger for them.

‘Zootopia,’ ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Captain America:Civil War’ have made, as of May 16th, close to $1 billion each (!!), and they are still raking in money at the box office, with ‘Captain America’ only a few weeks into it’s release. With the release of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ is poised to take in more than the 2010 ‘Alice in Wonderland’ film which peaked at just over $1 billion.

‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ sees the return of the same actors playing the same characters from the 2010 film. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) travels back in time to try to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Along the way she reconnects with her friends including the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Absolem (the late Alan Rickman) the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and of course the Mad Hatter. We’re also treated to a delicious turn by both Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen (and Alice’s sister) and Sacha Baron Cohen (as Time).

Alice has spent several years sailing the high seas (and following in her father’s footsteps). When she returns to London, she is asked (and demanded) to sign away her ship to her ex-boyfriend James (Ed Speelers). When she attends a meeting with him and her mother (Lindsay Duncan), she goes to an upstairs room and steps through a mirror, and through this mirror Alice takes a journey (literally through the looking glass) to Wonderland. It’s here where she sees all of her Wonderland friends, but something is not right with the Mad Hatter. She needs to turn to Time to correct things in the past that will make the Mad Hatter’s life better. Alice ends up taking a device called the Chronosphere, which allows her to travel back in time. She sees ways where she can help the Mad Hatter, but also comes across the events in her own life, which include a lie that she told as a young girl that tragically affected her sister the Red Queen. It’s all told, as expected from Disney, in very visual colors and 3D.

There was no way that anyone could top Tim Burton’s 2010 film, but James Bobbin (‘The Muppets’ and ‘Muppets Most Wanted’) successfully manages to bring the story back to life, with the help of screenwriter Linda Wolverton (who also wrote ‘Alice in Wonderland’). But no film would be as good as this if it were not for the excellent cast. Wasikoska does her bit as Alice as well as she did in the 2010 film, but it’s the addition of Cohen as Time that adds a fun element to the film, where he, and the Red Queen, live literally in time. And it’s Carter as the Red Queen who steals every scene she’s in. With a huge head, and a huge head of hair, and makeup that’s expertly applied on her face to give her a highly unusual look, Carter chews up every scene she is in (and in my opinion it’s an Academy-Award worthy performance, though it’s rare for a performer to receive one in a Disney movie – though Meryl Streep was nominated for ‘Into The Woods’ – but of course it was Streep!). Expect ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ to break the $1 billion ceiling. It will be another hit for Disney, and will keep the studio on track to continue it’s dominance at the box office this year, where they have ‘Finding Dory,’ ‘The BGF,’ and ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ still to come.

12th Oct2015

Suffragette (Film)

by timbaros

110414SH_18307.nefThe plight of the British women who fought for the right to vote is beautifully told in the excellent film ‘Suffragette.’

‘Suffragette’ is told through the eyes Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) in London, 1912. She works in a local factory, the Glass House Laundry in Bethnal Green, is married to fellow factory worker Sonny Watts (Ben Whishaw) and they have a young son. Watts has actually been a part of the factory since she was very young: her mother worked in the same factory and would strap her to her back when she went to work. Her mother died when she was four and Maud started working part-time there at the age of 7. At the age of 12, she started working full-time. She’s now a lead washer where she makes 13 schillings a week (compared to the salary a man is paid for the same job – 19 schillings a week). Watts has also been sexually molested by the hard core boss Norman Taylor (Geoff Bell). One day Watts is asked to accompany another women who’s to speak at Parliament about women’s working conditions and a bill to give women the right to vote. Watts wasn’t supposed to speak, but the other woman, Mrs. Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) had been beaten up and didn’t look presentable, so Watts is thrust into giving the preprepared speech. Watts speaks from her heart, and from her experience, ignoring the script that was written. This lights something within Watts and turns her into an activist. She gets more more disgusted at the lack of women’s rights, and even more so when she sees young factory worker Maggie Miller (Grace Stotter), Violet’s daughter, being groped by Taylor in his office. Taylor is a sexual predator who believe women have no rights, and he tells Watts to ‘leave the vote to us.’

But Watts’ pleas to Parliament are not enough. They say that there is not enough evidence to support the bill. The women rebel in front of the Houses of Parliament; many are thrown to the ground by the police with little regard for the women’s safety. Some, including Watts, and fellow protestor Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter), are sent to jail, where they are humiliatingly stripped naked. But this doesn’t deter them, and this leads to Watts becoming a member of the ever increasing suffragettes – a group of women working full-time to advance the rights of women. The Suffragettes are led by Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) – a woman who has given up her life to further the cause. She’s also in hiding for fear of getting arrested for leading the movement (during those times women had very little rights). Determined police inspector Arthur Steed (Brendan Gleeson) puts the women under surveillance – he won’t let them carry on with their protesting and letter box bombings – he wants them all arrested, especially Pankhurst, and calls the women the “East London ladies.” But Pankhurst rallies the women – she tells them at a gathering in a speech from a balcony “We would rather be lawmakers, not lawbreakers.” The women continue their protesting, even resorting to bombing an M.P.’s house, just to get their message across. But Watts eventually loses more than what she bargained for, but she’s more determined than ever to fight for the cause.

‘Suffragette’ tracks the foot soldiers of the early UK feminist movement, working class women who were forced to go into hiding to pursue equality. They were willing to risk, in their fight, their jobs, homes, families, and for some of them, their lives. And it’s a great movie. The film lies heavily on the shoulders of Mulligan’s portrayal of her character, a fictional character but someone who we route for every step of the way. It’s an unflawed performance that hopefully will see Mulligan receive an Academy Award nomination. Streep, who shares top billing, is only in the film for less than five minutes, but her character’s presence is felt all throughout the movie. Carter is perfectly cast as the local pharmacist and fellow activist, with a husband who supports her every step of the way. Carter is actually the great-granddaughter of Herbert Asquith – the Prime Minister during the time this movie takes place. Director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), working from a script by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady), successfully and beautifully blends in actual footage of the real protestors into the film, in a film that effectively uses dark lighting and unglamorous costumes to set the mood of the times. And while the plot may be familiar (the recent Made in Dagenham follows a similar plotline), ‘Suffragette’ is an important film to highlight what women did to get equal rights. And we have to be reminded that they are still fighting, and in some countries around the world (Saudi Arabia), women still have very little or no rights.