Wednesday, 24 August 2016

August 25th- this week:  
David Brent: Life on the Road
Ben Hur
Free State of Jones

A rock n roll comedy, a sword and sandals remake, and a compassionate look at one man's fight for what's right. You can't say there isn't variety in this week's offerings. 

David Brent: Life on the Road
Director: Ricky Gervais
Length: 109 mins

© EOne-  Gervais channels his inner rock star
I was never a watcher of The Office, but I think Ricky Gervais is a major talent (even if he is an acquired taste!). This time his character David Brent is taking a break from his sales rep job to hit the road with a band, (a bunch of hired session musos), doing gigs and chasing stardom. This is funny cringe-worthy stuff, as Brent giggles and snorts his way through sick jokes, ego-driven voice-overs, and sings his own compositions which are almost good, but shoot themselves in the foot with their cheesy, often anachronistic, lyrics. Ageing aspiring rock stars are always fodder for derision, and the clever thing about this is we also feel some compassion for the poor guy, as his tour doesn't go the way he hopes. It's a hoot!

3 - Recommended!
For a full review from Bernard Hemingway:

Ben Hur
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Length: 125 mins

© Paramount -  At least the stars are
good looking! 
Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston), a Jewish prince, is falsely accused of treason by Messala Severus (Tony Kebbell), his adopted brother now an officer in the Roman army. After the destruction of Judah's family, and five years as a galley slave he is hell bent on revenge. What better way to do it than to humiliate Messala by beating him in a chariot race? There are some good things in this film: it's visually impressive and the sequences of the slaves rowing for their lives amid raging battles are viscerally disturbing. Probably that's where the good stuff ends - once the ubiquitous Morgan Freeman appears (sporting the worst hairdo imaginable!) and spouting platitudes, things deteriorate. Towards the film's finale, the director decides to go for broke and throw in all manner of silliness. The famed chariot race starts well and descends into near farce, the story of Jesus (who has been a minor character throughout) takes centre stage, and the film's resolution (of which there are several) is schmaltzy and unbelievable. 

2 - You've got better things to do with your time!
For a full review from Bernard Hemingway:

Free State of Jones
Director: Gary Ross
Length: 139 mins

© StudioCanal - down in the bayou during the Civil War
Matthew McConnaughey just gets better as time goes on. He's seriously impressive as Newt Knight, a deserter from the army during the American Civil War. Hiding out in the swamps with a rag tag bunch of runaway slaves and poor farmers, he leads an armed rebellion against the Confederate soldiers, who are looting, pillaging and destroying the southerners' lives. Knight is a staunch defender of equality and racial integration, and fights fiercely against any exploitation. This is a powerful look at a little known part of American history, with the added twist of the story of Newt's great-grandson, who, in the 1960s was put on trial for a racially mixed marriage. With glorious cinematography of the bayou area, and wonderful performances throughout (especially Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Newt's wife Rachel), this is a fine film, but comes with a warning - the early scenes on the battle field require a strong stomach! 

4 - Wholeheartedly recommended!
For a full review from Bernard Hemingway:

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