Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Film Review

I’ve managed to read so very many books (including an intense Agatha Christie period in my teens that led to such intense dreams that I had to back off) and seen so many films, and yet I’ve never done Murder on the Orient Express. I’m so glad, because it meant I could enjoy this without the knowledge of whodunnit or any of that. I can’t say whether this is true to the books, but I can say it’s a hell of a romp.

Hercule Poirot, the world’s most famous detective, is on holiday when he is called to join the passengers on the Orient Express. It’s a strange mx of folks, and when one of them is discovered murdered, he has his work cut out for him.

Being a Christie plot, it is complex with so many twists and turns, it really keeps the viewer on their toes. And being a Kenneth Branagh adaptation, it is beautiful and cheesy and quite overly sentimental. The audience carries the weight of Poirot who is stuck in a realm of loneliness, obliged to travel the globe assisting police in their investigations. It’s a beautiful film with a top cast that is compelling, although I did get a bit bogged down in the Branagh-ness of it all.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) Film Review


Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a war hero who was badly injured rescuing his colleagues, is recruited to the CIA as an analyst. When he is sent to Russia on a mission by handler Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to look into the affairs of Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) things get messy. They only get messier when his wife, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) turns up.

It’s exciting and Jack Ryan is a great character. There was tonnes of action, all the stuff I love. Running and shooting and the like. I even didn’t mind Keira Knightly, though I’m still far from a fan. Wonderful to see Kenneth Branagh back – I haven’t seen him for ages!


My Week with Marilyn (2011) Film Review


Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) starts working for Sir Lawrence Oliver (Kenneth Branagh) on his new film, which, as it happens, stars Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). But Marilyn is a troubled soul, always late, being managed by everyone around her, fed drugs and alcohol. She likes Colin and calls for him whenever she can, but is it help or romance?

It’s one of those films is based on real events, but is so romanticised. I often wonder about Marilyn and all of those troubled celebrities, usually women, who have tragic lives, but are attractive and get terrible advice from people. Those who are treated poorly by the press, who are made out to be flakey, and who end up in positions of some power that allows them to act out. The divas(and whatever is the male equivalent of diva?) who seem to have little respect for those working around them.

It’s a really lovely film. Whether or not it is a real depiction of events doesn’t matter. It’s romantic and quite beautiful and just kind of nice.

My Week with Marilyn was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Michele Williams) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Kenneth Branagh).



Rabbit Proof Fence (1998) Film Review

Rabbit Proof Fence

We Aussies have a fair few things in our past and indeed in our present to be ashamed of. One of them is the Stolen Generation where indigenous Australian children were removed from their families to be trained as servants or, if they were lucky, to have the black bred out of them. Yup, it’s as awful as it sounds. (I am aware similar programs happened in many colonised countries. It’s terrible. And in Australia, was only ended in 1970, my goodness).

Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true story of a few little girls who, after being removed from their family in Western Australia in the 1930s, walked their way home, following the newly constructed fence which spanned the country. It is an amazing story for many reasons, none more that the sheer size of Australia – we got a hell of a large country here. This took place in Western Australia which is totally massive. And these girls were little and alone. Amazing.

The film is fairly simplified, which may be because of the ages of the actors or for the audience it is addressing. The one thing that didn’t come across strongly for me was just how tired these children would be after such a long walk. However, the grief of the women was what got me. That and the clinical and precise way that the Protector of Aborigines (played by Kenneth Branagh) carried out his tasks.


Thor (2011) Film Review


There is a realm, Asgard, where the Norse gods live and rule. They have beaten the Frost Giants from another realm and live safe from them. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the natural successor as leader from his father, Odin  (Anthony Hopkins), but he proves to be too headstrong and cocky to take over. After taking his friends to the other realm to destroy the Frost Giants, Thor is banished to Earth and has his powers removed. There he encounters Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her father Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard) and sidekick Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) who are studying natural phenomenon, including the storm that accompanied Thor’s arrival on Earth. When Thor’s hammer is discovered, the secret government organisation, Shield, step in. Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Thor’s father is in a coma and his half-brother Loki has taken over. A big battle must occur before Thor can regain his powers and return home.

There was way too much other-world stuff for me to appreciate in this film. I was somewhat confused about who was doing what, despite skipping back to watch some sections again two or even three times. Hemsworth was fabulous as Thor, with all of the old-timey talk and generally being strong and handsome, but I found it odd to have Natalie Portman cast as the geeky and idealistic scientist.

The fights were great, even if I was not totally across why they were happening, and it definitely cleared up a bit about what was to come in The Avengers. I think it has potentially set-up a future film to explore the love interest between Thor and Jane, but I won’t be hanging out for that one.

Watch to the end of the credits – there’s a teaser for a future Marvell adventure.