Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) Film Review

I remember hearing about this woman on This American Life some time ago – she could not sing one iota, but contributed hugely to the arts scene in New York and put on shows that would have the audience dying to laugh. There is a recording, and she is appalling. And I’ve always wondered – was it cruelty that people allowed her to be ridiculed like this? Or was it right that she should do what she loved regardless? Were her friends and those around her kind to protect her or cruel to allow her to put herself in such humiliating positions?

This film didn’t help. It’s a good film, with a magnificent performance by Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins, and there are many ways in which I feel that this woman was let down by all those who should have been protecting her – in the same way that we see modern figures like Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse let down by those who should be protecting them. Of course, talent is the big different between these later figures and Jenkins – but nonetheless, they have all been ridiculed in many ways.

I found this a difficult film to enjoy because Jenkins, while ridiculous, seems very inncocent, and it just seemed cruel. But was it? Can someone else please watch it and let me know how they felt?

Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design as well as Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Hugh Grant), Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Meryl Streep) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Simon Helberg). It won a BAFTA for Best Make Up/Hair and was nominated for Best Leading Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Grant) and Best Costume Design.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Film Review


It’s the 1960s and style is kicking around everywhere here – the clothes, the hairstyles, the amazing furniture, the whole kit and kaboodle. There’s a very cool C.I.A. agent, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and a somewhat stilted but very handsome K.G.B. agent, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer – and what a hell of a name he’s got!) who end up working together on a mission – to protect and gain information using sassy and gorgeous Gaby (Alicia Vikander). Then there are the bad guys, most notably the absolutely fabulous Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki -and this is an awesome actress with a fabulous stage presence and I want more of her please, casting agents and directors, note).

It is a beautiful film. It’s is stunning and stylish, cool and fabulous. It’s wasn’t that amazing plot-wise – interesting, but I wasn’t totally engaged. I just felt kind of distant and vague. Strange. Still, I’d recommend a watch, it’s a lot of fun.


Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Film Review


When did I become so cynical and horrible? I used to love this film so much, a story of true love that just takes a while to finally bloom. Now, I see an idiot chasing a terrible woman with no real personality who plays with him like a cat with a small toy.

Okay, so Charles (Hugh Grant) is a man who has had a long string of serious relationships, but laments that none have led him to marriage even as many around him wed. Carrie (Andie MacDowell) is a mysterious American who he immediately falls for despite her having very little personality (quite an achievement since she has some absolutely charming lines, yet still comes across as being boring). And they end up taking this kind-of romance through four weddings and a funeral.

I think it is a very good film, but watching it now I found some of the key parts quite unbelievable and overly convenient. Still, overall I love the characters and the humour and it will still always make me cry. A Lot.


Four Weddings and a Funeral was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Richard Curtis)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) Film Review


For me, the film sequel worked a lot better than the book sequel. Especially the whole Thai prison scene – it actually made a lot more sense that she was in that position than in the book. Well, let’s have a quick summary.

Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) has her man; Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). But she suspects him of having an affair, and after appalling counsel from her so-called-friends and a lack of communication between Bridget and Mark, they split. Then her job is changed so that she needs to travel with Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) to Thailand to record a travel show. Shazza (Sally Phillips) comes with her, but then she is tricked into carrying an item back for the man Shazza has been shagging, and it turns out it is full of drugs. Bridget ends up in jail, only to be rescued once again by Mark Darcy.

It’s not the most awesome. But it’s not the worst. The one thing that drove me insane was the group of friends that Bridget relies on. Even with my fav Jessica Stevenson, they still drove me nuts. That and I know that Mark Darcy is supposed to me a bit emotionally idiotic, but surely he could have done something more about the whole situation.



Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) Film Review

Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is a single thirty-something living in London, desperate to lose weight, stop smoking, reduce her drinking and to find the man of her dreams. But between her friends and family, it seems unlikely that she will make good choices or stick by them. Will she stay with the charming but unreliable Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) or go with the sometimes charming but mostly socially awkward but reliable Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)?

Having recently read the book, I felt this was a darned good interpretation. Renee Zellweger was perfect for Bridget Jones; in fact, all of the casting was perfect. It was a shame to lose Bridget’s love for Colin Firth, though as he was playing Mark Darcy, there was really no way to make this work. Any changes from the book worked well, apart, possibly, from some of the stuff with the three best friends. Personally, I’m quite a fan of all three (Shirley Henderson, Sally Phillips and James Callis) as actors, but found the sycophantic nature of the characters in this flick very annoying. Though I am completely aware that the plot would not have worked had they been much different.


Music and Lyrics (2007) Film Review

Music and lyrics

Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) was a huge pop star in the eighties, but is now just doing some crappy gigs reliving his best times. His manager Chris (Brad Garrett) lands him the deal to write a song for pop star Cora Corman (Haley Bennett), but he can’t write lyrics. Then Sophie (Drew Barrymore) turns up to water the plants in his house (because apparently that’s a job) and she turns out to be fabulous at lyrics and they start working together. And start falling for each other. But she has baggage from her past and things get tricky.

It’s a good romantic comedy. I love both the leads, but felt that Hugh Grant was just playing a crapper version of his About a Boy character and that didn’t work for me. Far too many gags that were clearly gags and not enough heart for my liking. It’s not my top romantic comedy, but it is far from the worst.


Cloud Atlas (2012) Film Review

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 2.25.41 PM

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant. Directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. For many, this list alone would be enough to make it worth seeing Cloud Atlas. For others, it is having read the novel by David Mitchell (I believe it is not that David Mitchell). Still others would have seen the trailer and been amazed at the sheer scale of the project.

I think it is impossible to summarise the plot in any simple fashion. It covers a multitude of characters over time, place, even on different planets. The characters are linked, although it is not always clear how or why. It’s pretty fascinating to see how the story has been created.

I must admit, I started watching expecting that I would hate this film, and hate it a lot. That’s certainly where I started. There were snippets of plot introducing characters but then flitting away before I had the chance to find out much about them. The amount of prosthetic work and make-up was annoying, and I’m not really a massive fan of fantasy as a genre. Once I had committed to disliking the film, a strange thing happened. I started to really like it. A lot. I let go my previous convictions and just enjoyed it for what it was. And it was good. Not brilliant, but a good, solid fantasy film. Though I did wonder about the Hugo Weaving character that was an awful lot like Old Gregg from The Mighty Boosh… anyone who can explain that to me, I’d be greatly appreciative.

As has often happened for me, this has inspired me to read the book, although I think I need some time between watching the film and reading the book.

The Pirates – Band of Misfits! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) Film Review


I’ve been a fan of Aardman Productions since Wallace and Gromit. Or before, even – if you haven’t had a chance to check out Rex the Runt, do. It’s a fairly surreal animation series for adults (well, not specifically – it’s not rude. I just don’t think kids’d like it all that much.) The Pirates is the most recent outing for Aardman, and it certain reaches the same high standard of storytelling.

It follows the Pirate Captain, an affable but not very effective pirate, in his attempt to win the Pirate of the Year Award. He is being helped by a variety of misfit pirates, but they have no chance at beating the other, more impressive pirates. Sailing away, they come across Charles Darwin, who covets the Pirate Captain’s “parrot” Polly, which is actually a dodo. From here is a series of crazy chases and misadventures that takes them to England and meeting Queen Victoria, who covets the dodo like no other.

It’s funny and silly and an excellent film for children. What would be even better would be for it to be a television series. The characters are engaging and silly, and there is the opportunity for some educational content. Well, the possibility – although if Queen Victoria is represented as a madwoman who will go to all lengths to get the Dodo and Charles Darwin as a lonely man desperately seeking love, then perhaps there may be an issue with the educational content.

The Pirates was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature