Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Learning to Drive 

Director: Isabelle Coixet
Length: 105 mins

Any film with Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson has got to be good in my book. Sir Ben puts on his Sikh turban to play Darwan, an Indian-born, New York cab driver with an arranged bride about to arrive. With his driving instructor hat on, Darwan gives lessons to Wendy, a writer whose husband has just left her - with no driving licence! Despite dramatic differences in background and world view, teacher and pupil develop a beautiful friendship, in which they discover how much there is to be learned from each other.  This is a charming and uplifting film, beautifully acted, and with the added bonus of a peek into the world of the Sikh!

Really good!

For my full review:

The Martian 

Director: Ridley Scott
Length: 130 mins

Imagine recovering from concussion only to find you are on the planet Mars, and the rest of your astronaut team has shipped out without you, assuming you are dead! This is the fate of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), as he prepares to figure out a way to survive until the next mission arrives four years later. Luckily he's a scientist and a crash-hot botanist, so survival is a possibility! The scenes on Mars are informative, exciting and entertaining, with Watney's constant chat to his video camera generating some  humour. But when the action is back on Earth with NASA scientists on the job, things feel a bit formulaic, and at well over two hours it gets a tad tedious.

Maybe worth a look!

For Bernard Hemingway's full review:

Miss you Already 

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Length: 112 mins

Millie (Toni Collette)  and Jess (Drew Barrymore)  are lifelong friends. At the same time as Jess is desperately trying for a baby with partner Jago, Millie is diagnosed with breast cancer. 
Anything with Toni Collette for me is worth a look, and her performance here doesn't disappoint. The film is strong on the issues surrounding cancer, its treatment, and the effect upon a woman's self-image. There are even strong moments of humour, but at other times the film feels a bit formulaic and mawkish. Didn't stop me shedding a tear or two though!  

Maybe worth a look!

For my full review:


Director: Brian Helgeland
Length: 131mins

The Swinging Sixties in London gave rise to wonderful music, wild fashion, and a pair of notorious gangster twins, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Based upon a true crime story, Legend takes us into the violent world of these two kings of crime. There's a lot of seediness and a bit of nasty violence, but the truly impressive thing here is the performance of Tom Hardy who plays both twins - Reggie, a smooth operator, and Ronnie a psychopathic ticking time bomb.  The "twin" special effects are awesome, and the radical difference between the characters is testament to Hardy's skill. Aussie Emily Browning plays Frances, wife of Reggie. For fans of the gangster genre, it should make for a good watch.  
Worth a look! 
For my full review:


Director:Rebecca Cremona
Length: 101 mins

Some films are simply too important to be missed! Simshar, based on true events, deals with today's ultra-relevant issue of refugee migration. The story of the dispute between Malta and Italy as to who should take the latest boatload of arrivals is set against the personal tragedy of a boating accident involving a local fishing family. The film is beautifully scripted and acted, never feeling forced, and giving us plenty of issues to contemplate upon - family values, over-fishing, Europeans feeling overwhelmed by immigration, compassion - these are just some of the ideas raised by this excellent film that also has its moments of extreme tension, light-heartedness, unbearable heartbreak, and truly heartwarming human connectedness. 

Really good!

For my full review:

And now for an oldie . . . 

To the Wonder (2012)

Director: Terence Malick
Length: 112 mins

An oldie, but unfortunately, for me, not a goodie. With such fine films as The Thin Red Line, and Tree of Life to his name, Malick has made a self-consciously artistic film. While stunning in its cinematography, (winning several awards) it is too arty for its own good. Ben Affleck (Neil)  and Olga Kurylenko (Marina) play lovers who meet in Paris then move to Oklahoma, where it all goes wrong. How many meaningful looks, doe-eyed glances, and child-like prances and twirls can we take from Marina,  not to mention the endless taciturn mumbles and mutterings from Neil. I understand that Malick is trying to capture some visual sense of what love, longing, and sadness look like, but it doesn't work!  

You've got better things to do with your time!

For a full review from Bernard Hemingway (who felt much as I do):

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