Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016) Film Review


Well, thank goodness they did a total rewrite and didn’t try to use the most recent Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy, as the basis for this film. This is a book spoiler alert – in the book, Mark Darcy is dead and Bridget is raising their kids alone and is (as always) desperate for a man. It was a good book, but oh so sad! Thank goodness Helen Fielding was on board for creating a whole new story.

Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is single again, having broken up with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) a few years previous, and he found someone else and married. She’s a successful news producer, although still makes typical “Oh, Bridget” mistakes. That would get most people fired on the spot. Suspend that disbelief. She goes off to a weekend camping festival with news presenter and mate Miranda (Sarah Solemani) and bumps into the very hot Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and they have a good old shag. A week later at one of her mate’s kid’s christening (which for some reason is as big a party as a wedding, these people are insanely rich) she bumps into Mark who reveals he is getting divorced and they have a good old shag. Three months later, Bridget finds out she is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. She tells them both and the rest of the film is competition win Bridget over.

It’s great – if you love Bridget Jones and this type of film. All of the old cast are back – Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and then get great surprises like Emma Thompson as the fabulous obstetrician and Neil Pearson as one of Bridget’s colleagues. There is the issue of being all about a woman needing a man to fulfil her, which was always the goal of Bridget and always felt to me a bit disempowering for women. However what works here is that Bridget is successful in her career already and has a fabulous flat and great friends. She doesn’t desperately seek the handsome American as probably would have happened in earlier episodes – in fact, only tracking him down when she needed some info about paternity. My favourite moment was that, even though she loves Mark Darcy and clearly they get along well and love each other, she pushes him away because he is a workaholic. She doesn’t blame him, but just clearly states it didn’t work for her for the ten or so years that they were together and she’s not prepared to go back there. Go Bridget!


I Am Legend vs I Am Legend


I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Oops! I’m back to reading about the end of the world. What a fool I am, yet I seem to be totally addicted. I’ve not yet seen any of the four films based on this novel (The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), I Am Legend (2007) and I Am Omega (2007) This last one was a straight-to-video release and sounds like it could be marvellously dodgy. I will track it down), but thought I’d give the book a go.

Robert Neville is the last man alive, or so he thinks. A virus has attacked the population and essentially turned them all into vampires of a kind. There are some who are still alive and breathing, but slip into a coma during the day, do not eat and search for blood. When they pass away, they remain animate and are more traditional vampires; although, when you’re thinking vampire here, think of a combination of vampire and zombie; not switched on, just staggering about. Neville cannot really understand why he is still alive, and why he is driven to study to find out what has happened and see if he can do anything about it.

It’s a quick read, compelling although, at times, quite repetitive. The character of Neville is very relatable; his drive to continue, his doubts, his high moments and the depths of his despair. And when his situation changes, it gets very exciting. I was exclaiming things aloud I was so surprised.


I Am Legend (2007)

In this version, the virus that caused the vampires was created by virologist Dr Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson in an uncredited role) as a cure for cancer – the sinister results did not come until later. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a military scientist who continues to work on a cure despite his family and everyone he knows no longer around.

I like that it captured the emptiness of Manhattan, and that he has his lovely dog as a companion – there is a dog in the book, but it would have taken a long time to capture that subplot into the film. What I didn’t like is that we never really felt the despair that was beautifully caught in the book – the man, on his own, with little hope. It wasn’t the I Am Legend that I loved in the book, but it was a new I Am Legend to love.

Saving Mr Banks (2013) Film Review


P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) wrote Mary Poppins, and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) wanted to make a film of it. But she hates films and she hates animation and she won’t bear it. However, she is convinced to visit Hollywood and work with a fabulous team (Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak) to turn it into a film. Travers hates every moment of it, from the small talk of her driver, Paul Giamatti, to the food delivered to their workspace. But the experience takes her back to her childhood in rural Australia with her alcoholic father.

Most of the film I loved. I didn’t love the structure all of the time – sometimes the flashbacks were a bit clunky and annoying, but they were so important to the film as a whole. Emma Thompson is always a delight to watch on-screen and I especially loved seeing her interactions with the Hollywood types – especially with Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak trying to impress her. There was some heavy-handed make-up on Tom Hanks to make him look more like Walt Disney, and I felt that wasn’t necessary, however it didn’t bother me as much as it has in other films. And cry? Oh, so much so. And I so do enjoy a cry at a movie!

Saving Mr Banks was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Emma Thompson) and for BAFTAs for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer (Kelly Marcel), Best Leading Actress (Emma Thompson) and Best Costume Design (Daniel Orlandi).


Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Film Review

Stranger than fiction

Harold Crick(Will Ferrell) is an ordinary guy. He works for Internal Revenue and has an ordered and repetitive existence until two things happen; he meets the beautiful baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and he starts to hear a female voice narrating his every move. He doesn’t believe he is crazy, but cannot imagine that he is the creation of author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) or what this could possibly mean for his future.

This is such a beautiful film. The concept is so clever and it is executed to make a wonderful and fabulous film that everyone should see over and over again.

Beautiful Creatures (2013) Film Review


Based on a novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures is a tale of mystery and magic set in the deep south. Lena Duchannes  (Alice Englert) arrives at school in a small town only to tormented by the popular girls of the school for the rumours of her family’s devil-worshipping past.  The bullying is extreme, but Ethan (Aiden Ehrenreich), a young intellectual who wants to escape the small town life, he is intrigued by her. Despite the warnings of her uncle Marcon (Jeremy Irons), he pursues a relationship with her and strange things happen. One of the problems that is coming up is that it is almost Lena’s 16th birthday, and this is when witches (oh, did I mention that? Sorry, they are all magical witched types) find out if they are good or bad. Plus there is a curse. It’s really all too exciting.

I really did not expect to enjoy this film much. I thought there may have been some fun stuff, but I kind of expected the brooding teenage type thing, like all the Twilight things. Delightfully, there is not too much brooding and in fact, there is quite a bit of humour. Some totally unexpected. And then Emma Thompson appears and I am totally won over. It’s still very much a teenage supernatural film, but a good one.

Angels In America (2003) Television Miniseries Review


Angels in America was a six-part mini-series made by HBO in 2003 based on lives affected by the AIDS epidemic of the mid-eighties. Prior Walter (Justin Kirk) is a young, gay man who has started showing symptoms of AIDS. His partner, Lou (Ben Shenkman), is unable to emotionally deal with Prior’s demise and leaves him. Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson) is a Mormon, Republican attorney who is in denial about being gay. His wife, Harper (Mary-Louise Parker), is a Valium addict who veers in and out of reality. Pitt’s boss is Roy Cohn (Al Pacino), an extremely powerful and influential lawyer who is also gay, although keeps it to himself. He also has AIDS.  During his hallucinations Prior sees an angel who urges him to become a prophet.

The mini-series was based on a two-part play written by Tony Kushner. The adaptation of the play to the screen has kept all of the poetry of the play, giving it a feeling of a very-much heightened reality. The cast is absolutely amazing, with additional roles played by Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Wright. The AIDS epidemic is something that needs to be remembered, especially as (at least in Western society) people can live a long time with HIV or AIDS. Everything about this series is extremely beautiful and magnificent. Watch it. I urge you, watch it.

Brave (2012) Film Review


I’m somewhat surprised that this film has been nominated for an Oscar for Animated films, but I guess that depends on how this category is actually judged (besides all of the campaigning and gifts and bribery that apparently gets most of the Oscars winners across the line). The animation itself is fabulous, although it does suffer from making the women far too ridiculously slim and fragile (regardless of what action they are doing) whilst making all of them men extremely ugly and ridiculous looking.

Merida is a princess, the daughter of Scottish King Fergus and his wife Elinor. She is reaching an age where she must be betrothed. There are three main suitors, each more unattractive than the last. Merida has allowed her mother to teach her how to be ladylike so she can be a queen, but at heart, she is a tomboy who would prefer to riding wild through the woods and hunting. Neither she nor her mother will listen to the other’s arguments for what her life should be like, and Merida disappears into the forest where she meets a witch and is given a spell to use on her mother to change her. Problem is, it changes her into a bear (there’s backstory with the king losing his leg to a bear early on) and Merida needs to find a way to change her back within some time frame.

A website I really enjoy is Film Autopsy, by Thomas Caldwell, who also reviews films for the Breakfasters on Melbourne’s Triple R community radio station. I quite enjoyed the film, feeling that the moral lessons are not too heavy handed and that some kind of compromise was made by the end of the film. Of course, everyone is happy ever after, but that goes without saying. So I was very surprised to hear how much he despised the message that the film was sending – that a girl needs to follow the path her parents set for her and not find her own way or there will be trouble. (I’d better go back to the review and see if I am totally misrepresenting him here) I’ve mulled this over for months. I mean, usually, I am the first one to get a bit stroppy about the type of representations of women, so why did I not notice this? After much consideration, I can concede that he has a point, however I have a different take on it.

For me, I don’t like the fact that, as a princess, she has a set path that she must follow, she must marry one of these men, and that is that. By the end (spoiler alert) she has not committed to any of them, however she has conceded that she has responsibilities to her family and her role as a royal. (Insert plenty of anti-monarchy stuff here. It’s needed) However, she tries for the quick fix, and instead of reaching a solution, she makes it much worse and hurts her mother. She must find a way to fix the problem and save herself and her family. In doing so, she finds a different path; one that may satisfy both her and her family.

This, to me, is a good message. There is no quick fix. Anything that is worth anything takes hard work. It’s not told in the best possible way, and it’s not the most effective film. Plus, if this is not the message that is getting through, then perhaps it’s not working.

I’ve no interest in seeing the film again, but it was a long way from being the worst film I’ve endured with small children. An Oscar? Ah, what does that really mean anymore anyway?

Brave won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, the BAFTA for Animated Feature and the Oscar for Animated Feature.