26th Nov2016

A United Kingdom (Film)

by timbaros

thumb-image2The story of an African King who meets and falls in love with a British office worker is told in the middling film A United Kingdom.

Why do I use the term ‘middling’ to describe this film? Because it’ just that – middling – it goes through the motions – it tells a story like someone who is reading a book in monotone voice – there’s not much life or excitement to it.

If it wasn’t for David Oleyowo who plays Seretse Khama, ‘A United Kingdom’ would not be worth the watch. He is electrifying as Khama, a future king of African nation Bechuanaland who, while in London studying in 1947, meets plain and simple office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), and they instantly fall in love (the scene where they set eyes on each other for the first time looks very staged and thereby unrealistic). But their love was not meant to be, Khama’s uncle, who was the king as Khama’s father had passed away, forbade him from marrying this pasty white woman – and she looked nothing like the women from his tribe whom Khama was expected to marry.

But there were not only problems from his side, Ruth’s father was very disappointed in her choice to date, and eventually, a black man – he didn’t approve of the relationship. But this was the least of their worries. The British government stepped in to meddle in their romance – they attempted to prevent the couple from getting married in the church fearing that their marriage would destabilise the British government’s relationship with it’s colonies in Africa. When Khama and his new bride Ruth do go back to Bechuanaland, he then returns back to the UK to get the British government to recognize his marriage, however, they then forbade him from going back to his homeland while Ruth, all alone except for the tribeswomen who eventually came around and accepted her, gives birth to their first child. Their interracial marriage was one of the first for it’s time, and for some reason not many people have heard of this historic relationship until now.

But A United Kingdom, directed by Amma Asante (Belle), tells the story like a playbook. It’s as if each scene was shot just as it was written, then the filmmakers went on to shoot the next scene, while failing miserably to make the scenes look believable and have emotion to them at all. And it’s Pike’s performance that also brings down the movie. She was excellent as the spurned girlfriend in Gone Girl, but as the romantic lead of a very important story about a love affair that almost changed the world, she just can’t carry it. She just doesn’t have the facial emotions nor the likability of a woman that a future king would risk all just because he’s in love with her. This film is based on extraordinary events, but the film itself is in no way extraordinary.

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06th Oct2016

BFI London Film Festival has started (Film)

by timbaros

bfi-london-film-festival-2016This year’s BFI London Film Festival looks to be one of the best in recent memory. The schedule is loaded with lots of must-see films by A-list filmmakers and A-list stars.

Here’s just a small selection of what’s on offer:

20151102-_auk0605_h_color-1mgThe Opening Night Gala on Wednesday October 5th is ‘A United Kingdom.’ David Oyelowo plays Sir Seretse Kharma, an African president who marries a white English woman – it’s a postwar relationship that shocked two continents. Rosamund Pike plays the English woman; the film is directed by Amma Asante (‘Belle’).

‘King Cobra’ is definitely one of the most scandalous films shown at the festival. A young man travels to Los Angeles at the urging of a sleazy gay porn producer (Christian Slater) to be his next star. A parallel story has James Franco as another gay porn producer who is in a relationship with his young male star. There’s lots of skin in this film which is based on the real life story of former gay porn star Brent Corrigan.

A film getting lots of excellent buzz is ‘Moonlight.’ It takes place in Miami in the 1980’s and focuses on one man’s journey through three stages of his life. He’s black and gay, and we witness key moments that made him the man he is. Compelling, with excellent performances all around. Naomie Harris plays his crack-addicted mother.

‘The 13th’ is a documentary that uses archival footage and contemporary interviews to discuss what the American constitution’s 13th amendment means to people of color in this day and age of Black Lives Matter.

la_la_land_dancingExpect ‘La La Land’ to garner lots of acclaim during next year’s awards season. It’s Director Damien Chazelle’s (‘Whiplash’) bitter-sweet love letter to Los Angeles and the golden era of Hollywood musicals, bringing together an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a struggling musician (Ryan Gosling).

‘Manchester by the Sea’ has Casey Affleck giving an indelible performance as Lee, a man whose sparse existence is suddenly ruptured when the death of his brother Joe forces him to return to the hometown he abandoned years ago. Also stars Michelle Williams.

Lupita Nyong'o and Madina Nalwanga star in the triumphant true story QUEEN OF KATWE, directed by Mira Nair.

Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga star in the triumphant true story QUEEN OF KATWE, directed by Mira Nair.

‘The Queen of Katwe’ is based on the true story of young Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi. Despite being unable to read or write, she has a natural aptitude for strategic thinking. Starring Lupita Nyong’o and introducing Madina Nalwanga as Mutesi.

Science fiction film ‘Arrival’ has Amy Adams, alongside scientist Jeremy Renner, as a linguistics professor who is brought into the government to decipher the language when a group of extra-terrestrials make contact. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario).

‘London Town’ is set in 1979 when a bright-eyed teenager attempts to juggle too many responsibilities and falls for a confident punk and together they experience the music scene that’s a whole new world to them.

Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) plays a man who was orphaned in India and brought up by adoptive parents in Australia in ‘Lion.’ He soon discovers the truth about his origins. It’s a real-life story on the life of Saroo Brierly; Nicole Kidman plays his adoptive mother and Rooney Mara plays his girlfriend.

What would happen if a famous and well-known footballer was gay? Well, in ‘The Pass,’ two aspiring Premier League footballers (Russell Tovey and Arinzé Kene) share a passionate night while sharing a hotel room right before a big game, a night which profoundly impacts Tovey’s characters life. Hard-hitting stuff with great performances.

Wonderkind director Xavier Dolan (Lawrence Anyways) presents his latest film ‘It’s Only the End of the World.’ A terminally ill writer returns home to break the news of his debilitating condition to his estranged family. It’s lots of sadness and sorrow – typical of a Dolan movie. With Marion Cottilard.

50805_AA_4609_v2F Academy Award nominee Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow in writer/director Tom Ford’s romantic thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, a Universal Pictures International release. Credit: Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures International

Tom Ford presents his second film (the first was the well-received ‘A Single Man’) with ‘Nocturnal Animals.’ One of the festivals must-see films, the film focuses on Susan (Amy Adams), a glamorous and accomplished Los Angeles gallery director whose current marriage appears to be unravelling, and who fuels her insomnia by reading the manuscript of a disturbing novel – written and sent to her by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Expect lots of lush scenery and fabulous costumes. With Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Sacha_9240.NEF

Sacha_9240.NEF

Oliver Stone directs and Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in ‘Snowden,’ a supercharged political thriller about Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked classified information from the United States National Security Agency in 2013. This film is a dramatic recreation of ‘Citizen Four’ – the documentary about reporter Laura Poitras (played by Melissa Leo) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Pinto) and their many meetings with Snowden.

The Closing Night gala, on Sunday October 16th, is Ben Wheatley’s ‘Free Fire’ (he directed last year’s poorly received ‘High Rise’). It’s the tale of gangsters and guns set in Boston in the 1970’s. A top level cast includes Cillian Murphy and recent Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson.

The 60th BFI London Film Festival will screen a total of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features, including 18 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, and 39 European Premieres. There will also be screenings of 144 short films, including documentary, live action and animated works.

Taking place over 12 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Vue West End and the iconic Odeon Leicester Square; central London venues – BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Picturehouse Central, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Haymarket, Prince Charles Cinema and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – the Ritzy in Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse and Curzon Chelsea. Festival visitors will be able to enjoy a brand new cinema experience with Competition and Strand Galas presented at the new Embankment Garden Cinema, in the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens.
Stars so far confirmed to walk on the red carpet include: Oyelowo, Pike, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls), Casey Affleck, Adams, Tovey, Nyong’o, Renner, Kidman, Patel, Ford and Taylor-Johnson, and Cotillard.
Festival Information & Ticket Booking:

Telephone Bookings: 020 7928 3232 between 10:00 – 20:30
Online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff

In person: BFI Southbank Office: 11:00 – 20:30

THE 60TH BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL IS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AMERICAN EXPRESS®

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16th Mar2015

The Entertainment Website Readers Choice Best in Film

by timbaros

images-346Voting in The Entertainment Website Readers Choice Best in Film ended last week and the readers have spoken. You’ve chosen American Sniper as the Best Film last year. It easily won this category, taking 33% of the vote. Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Whiplash all tied for second.

images-311Eddie Redmayne was the overwhelming choice for Best Actor – taking 50% of the vote in this category – for his performance in The Theory of Everything (which recently won him an Oscar). Ben Affleck for Gone Girl and Jack O’Connell for ’71 (surprisingly) were next.

images-347Rosamund Pike was chosen as your favorite performance by an Actress. The Gone Girl star was the overwhelming favorite in this category. Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Reese Witherspoon for Wild were behind Pike’s win.

JK Simmons took 75% of the best performance by a Supporting Actor vote – the highest percentage of all the winners – for his role in Whiplash. Ethan Hawke was far behind for second place.

There was a three-way tie for Supporting Actress. Recent Oscar winner for Boyhood Patricia Arquette tied with Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game and Emma Stone for Birdman.

Your choice for Best Director was NOT recent Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for Birdman, nor was it critic’s darling Richard Linklater for Boyhood, it was Clint Eastwood for American Sniper. The 84 year-old Eastwood proves that age doesn’t matter and that he’s still on top of his game.

The Lego Movie was chosen as your favorite Animated film.

Thanks to you, the readers, for taking the time to vote. We can’t wait to see your choices next year!

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19th Feb2015

Gone Girl – DVD

by timbaros

Sept. 29, 2014 – Went to a screening of the new Ben Affleck film ‘Gone Girl.’

July 5th, 2012 – Nick Dunne (Affleck) comes home to find a smashed coffee table and a few other things in disarray in his house in St. Louis, Missouri, and there’s no sign of his wife, the beautiful Amy (Rosamund Pike). For some reason, he’s slow to call the authorities and doesn’t even bother to call Amy’s parents. Detective Rhonda Boney (a very good Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) immediately arrive on the scene. The investigation begins.

Flashback to Jan. 8, 2005 – Nick and Amy meet at a party in Manhattan, and instantly fall in love. She calls him her ‘Irish Prince.’ During one sexual encounter they have, he tells her ‘I really like you’ while he has his face in her crotch.

July 5th, 2012 – This is Nick and Amy’s wedding anniversary – 5 years – but there’s no Amy. She’s either missing or dead. There is, however, an envelope with a clue to find the anniversary present she bought for Nick the she left for him in her panty drawer. Meanwhile, Detective Boney puts post-it notes all over the house where evidence is found that may help in determining what happened to Amy. Nick tells the police ‘should I be concerned’ while being questioned in the police station. Unbeknownst to him is that his father is yards away, in the same police station, who had wandered out of his nursing home and was picked up the police. Amy’s parents (Lisa Banes and David Clennon) don’t look too hysterical or upset, but they stand by Nick. Within one day a hotel ballroom is transformed into a findamazingamy.com nerve center. At a press conference the police hold – Nick stands next to a poster of his wife and displays a creepy grin. Is he guilty?

Jan. 8, 2007 – Nick proposes to Amy, two years after they had met. They are happily engaged and soon enough are a married couple, with an amazing sex life. Amy becomes a best-selling children’s book author (Amazing Amy) and Nick continues his work as a writer. Things take a turn for the worse as Nick loses his job and Amy has to lend her parents $1 million from her trust fund as an investment they made has gone sour. It’s not made clear in the movie where the trust fund comes from. And at one point Nick says that his wife has a ‘world class vagina.’

Sept. 23, 2010 – In Ben’s hometown in Missouri, Nick’s mother is very sick with stage 4 breast cancer, so Nick and Amy move there. They rent a large, beautiful two-story house, beautifully furnished within one day of moving in. I wish my movers were that quick.

July 6, 2012 – It turns out that Ben has a mistress – she’s 20-year old student Andie Hardy? (an extremely sexy Emily Ratajkowski, a student at the school where Nick teaches at. And Nick is not able to stay at his home as it is a crime scene – so he stays at his sister Margo’s (Carrie Coon) house, where him and Andy have passionate sex all night. It’s amazing that his sister doesn’t hear them.

Oct. 2, 2011 – Nick’s mother passes away. Nick and Amy fight about having a baby – she wants to have one but he doesn’t. During the fight he hits her and she hits the floor hard, yet she stays with him. Gone Girl is setting in motion Nick’s motive in the disappearance of his wife, making us think he’s guilty. He could possibly be, as he had just increased the life insurance policy on Amy, and they have credit card debt up to here. And Amy did buy him a bar in town, called The Bar, where his sister works at, and he manages.

July 7, 2012 – The investigation into the disappearance of Amy continues.

Gone Girl, at 149 minutes in length, is a film that takes a lot of twists in turns. And it’s told in a timeline – we are given the dates at the bottom of the screen when the series of events take place. But the series of events above is just the first part of the movie. Gone girl is basically told in four story arcs: Nick and Amy’s early relationship and marriage, the time when she goes missing, and two more story arcs that if I mention here would give the plot away. So Gone Girl goes from being a movie about a man who is suspected of murdering his wife into so so so much more. It’s twists and turns will make you dizzy. And Gone Girl takes a turn for the more mysterious after Amy’s diary is found in a furnace in a wooden shack (anniversary five is wood – get it?).

Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, she’s also responsible for the screenplay. It’s been said that the script stays true to the book. So Director David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is responsible for making us believe, or question, Nick’s guilt or innocence, and Amy – is she really the girl next door who happens to be a victim? As I mentioned before, saying anything more would give away the story – so if you read the book you’ll know what happens on Feb. 14, 2012 and the days after July 7th, 2012.

As Gone Girl continues, it veers into Fatal Attraction territory times ten….yes, it’s that kind of movie, and it’s not what you see in previews. So how good is it? I really can’t believe that this film is getting rave reviews – as mentioned above it’s frustrating at how the plot veers from the dramatic and suspenseful to the bizarre and unbelievable. A few things I found wrong with the film: Amy’s parents are so wooden and barely show any emotion when she disappears; Nick’s father is introduced at the police station but then disappears from the rest of the film; there’s a vigil for Amy at a park that looks entirely staged, especially when Andie yells that she is his mistress; and the last 20 minutes of the movie are just preposterous and unbelievable.

Having said that, the performances are extraordinary. Affleck can’t do no wrong. He recently won an Oscar for Argo (as Producer, his second Oscar after his first win for the screenplay of Good Will Hunting). In Gone Girl, his Nick is either very guilty or very innocent, and he plays it for all it’s worth, and as the second half of the movie unfolds, he makes his character unfold in the same way the plot does. It’s a very believable performance. Pike is also very good as Amy. She loves her husband – or does she? Pike, having previously starred in supporting roles, comfortably takes the lead in this film. She’s exposed, in more ways than one. Is she the victim or not?
Boney makes a very effective detective Dickens. All the evidence points to Nick, so why shouldn’t she be pursuing him and following him? Neil Patrick Harris joins the film in the second half as a former boyfriend of Amy’s who is very wealthy and who we are led to believe stalked her and held a candle for her all these years. Harris, star of television’s ‘How I met your mother,’ which is ending it’s run soon, definitely has a film career ahead of him. He’s a bit both creepy and loveable.

Near the end of the film, we are told that ‘When 2 people love each other and can’t make it work, that’s the real tragedy,’ well the real tragedy, for me anyway, is how disappointed I was in this film. At the end, one of the main characters says ‘What were we thinking, what will we do,’ hell I don’t know what the filmmakers were thinking!

Pike has received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

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04th Oct2014

Gone Girl – Film

by timbaros

article-0-1D1EAD4E00000578-216_634x286Sept. 29, 2014 – Went to a screening of the new Ben Affleck film ‘Gone Girl.’

July 5th, 2012 – Nick Dunne (Affleck) comes home to find a smashed coffee table and a few other things in disarray in his house in St. Louis, Missouri, and there’s no sign of his wife, the beautiful Amy (Rosamund Pike). For some reason, he’s slow to call the authorities and doesn’t even bother to call Amy’s parents. Detective Rhonda Boney (a very good Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) immediately arrive on the scene. The investigation begins.

Flashback to Jan. 8, 2005 – Nick and Amy meet at a party in Manhattan, and instantly fall in love. She calls him her ‘Irish Prince.’ During one sexual encounter they have, he tells her ‘I really like you’ while he has his face in her crotch.

July 5th, 2012 – This is Nick and Amy’s wedding anniversary – 5 years – but there’s no Amy. She’s either missing or dead. There is, however, an envelope with a clue to find the anniversary present she bought for Nick the she left for him in her panty drawer. Meanwhile, Detective Boney puts post-it notes all over the house where evidence is found that may help in determining what happened to Amy. Nick tells the police ‘should I be concerned’ while being questioned in the police station. Unbeknownst to him is that his father is yards away, in the same police station, who had wandered out of his nursing home and was picked up the police. Amy’s parents (Lisa Banes and David Clennon) don’t look too hysterical or upset, but they stand by Nick. Within one day a hotel ballroom is transformed into a findamazingamy.com nerve center. At a press conference the police hold – Nick stands next to a poster of his wife and displays a creepy grin. Is he guilty?

Jan. 8, 2007 – Nick proposes to Amy, two years after they had met. They are happily engaged and soon enough are a married couple, with an amazing sex life. Amy becomes a best-selling children’s book author (Amazing Amy) and Nick continues his work as a writer. Things take a turn for the worse as Nick loses his job and Amy has to lend her parents $1 million from her trust fund as an investment they made has gone sour. It’s not made clear in the movie where the trust fund comes from. And at one point Nick says that his wife has a ‘world class vagina.’

Sept. 23, 2010 – In Ben’s hometown in Missouri, Nick’s mother is very sick with stage 4 breast cancer, so Nick and Amy move there. They rent a large, beautiful two-story house, beautifully furnished within one day of moving in. I wish my movers were that quick.

July 6, 2012 – It turns out that Ben has a mistress – she’s 20-year old student Andie Hardy? (an extremely sexy Emily Ratajkowski, a student at the school where Nick teaches at. And Nick is not able to stay at his home as it is a crime scene – so he stays at his sister Margo’s (Carrie Coon) house, where him and Andy have passionate sex all night. It’s amazing that his sister doesn’t hear them.

Oct. 2, 2011 – Nick’s mother passes away. Nick and Amy fight about having a baby – she wants to have one but he doesn’t. During the fight he hits her and she hits the floor hard, yet she stays with him. Gone Girl is setting in motion Nick’s motive in the disappearance of his wife, making us think he’s guilty. He could possibly be, as he had just increased the life insurance policy on Amy, and they have credit card debt up to here. And Amy did buy him a bar in town, called The Bar, where his sister works at, and he manages.

July 7, 2012 – The investigation into the disappearance of Amy continues.

Gone Girl, at 149 minutes in length, is a film that takes a lot of twists in turns. And it’s told in a timeline – we are given the dates at the bottom of the screen when the series of events take place. But the series of events above is just the first part of the movie. Gone girl is basically told in four story arcs: Nick and Amy’s early relationship and marriage, the time when she goes missing, and two more story arcs that if I mention here would give the plot away. So Gone Girl goes from being a movie about a man who is suspected of murdering his wife into so so so much more. It’s twists and turns will make you dizzy. And Gone Girl takes a turn for the more mysterious after Amy’s diary is found in a furnace in a wooden shack (anniversary five is wood – get it?).

Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, she’s also responsible for the screenplay. It’s been said that the script stays true to the book. So Director David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is responsible for making us believe, or question, Nick’s guilt or innocence, and Amy – is she really the girl next door who happens to be a victim? As I mentioned before, saying anything more would give away the story – so if you read the book you’ll know what happens on Feb. 14, 2012 and the days after July 7th, 2012.

As Gone Girl continues, it veers into Fatal Attraction territory times ten….yes, it’s that kind of movie, and it’s not what you see in previews. So how good is it? I really can’t believe that this film is getting rave reviews – as mentioned above it’s frustrating at how the plot veers from the dramatic and suspenseful to the bizarre and unbelievable. A few things I found wrong with the film: Amy’s parents are so wooden and barely show any emotion when she disappears; Nick’s father is introduced at the police station but then disappears from the rest of the film; there’s a vigil for Amy at a park that looks entirely staged, especially when Andie yells that she is his mistress; and the last 20 minutes of the movie are just preposterous and unbelievable.

Having said that, the performances are extraordinary. Affleck can’t do no wrong. He recently won an Oscar for Argo (as Producer, his second Oscar after his first win for the screenplay of Good Will Hunting). In Gone Girl, his Nick is either very guilty or very innocent, and he plays it for all it’s worth, and as the second half of the movie unfolds, he makes his character unfold in the same way the plot does. It’s a very believable performance. Pike is also very good as Amy. She loves her husband – or does she? Pike, having previously starred in supporting roles, comfortably takes the lead in this film. She’s exposed, in more ways than one. Is she the victim or not?
Boney makes a very effective detective Dickens. All the evidence points to Nick, so why shouldn’t she be pursuing him and following him? Neil Patrick Harris joins the film in the second half as a former boyfriend of Amy’s who is very wealthy and who we are led to believe stalked her and held a candle for her all these years. Harris, star of television’s ‘How I met your mother,’ which is ending it’s run soon, definitely has a film career ahead of him. He’s a bit both creepy and loveable.

Near the end of the film, we are told that ‘When 2 people love each other and can’t make it work, that’s the real tragedy,’ well the real tragedy, for me anyway, is how disappointed I was in this film. At the end, one of the main characters says ‘What were we thinking, what will we do,’ hell I don’t know what the filmmakers were thinking!