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Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

the-butler-poster

This film is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served as a butler in the White House, working for seven Presidents. In this film, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) serves eight Presidents, against a backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, among other famous American events. Quite simply, it is an amazing and moving film, in part due to the uniformly brilliant cast. Forest Whitaker never disappoints, and Oprah Winfrey is superb as his wife Gloria. There are some odd casting choices – I couldn’t imagine John Cusack playing Nixon I heard that he was in that role – but it worked. The film combines one man’s personal journey, walking a fine line between supporting his oldest son, who is determined to fight for equal rights, no matter what the cost; and working at the White House, where such subversiveness is frowned upon. Amongst the Presidents he works for are JFK, the aforementioned Nixon, and Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman). The film shows how the job takes it’s toll on Gaines’s family and causes conflicting ideals in his mind.

I loved it – go watch it, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

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Year of release: 2013

Director: Lee Daniels

Writers: Danny Strong, Wil Haygood

Main cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr, Clarence Williams III, David Oyelowo, Colman Domingo, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, James Marsden

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with-this-ring

In this TV movie, three women attending their friend’s wedding on New Years Eve make a pact that by the same time next year, they will all be married – or at least engaged. Each of them has their own romance dilemma – Trista (Regina Hall) has just hooked up with her ex-boyfriend and everyone but her can see that she is too good for him; Viviane (Jill Scott) is still in love with her ex-boyfriend. They have a son together and she decides that if they can’t make it work out this year, then she is going to give up on him and find someone else; finally, there Amaya (Eve), who is involved with a married man and determined to get him and his wife to split.

I enjoyed the film, largely due to the charisma of the three leads (especially Hall and Scott). Yes, it’s predictable – or at least Trista’s story is – but on a Friday night after a busy week, a romantic comedy with some poignant scenes, is exactly what this viewer needed.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Nzingha Stewart

Writer: Nzingha Stewart

Main cast: Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve, Deion Sanders, Stephen Bishop, Jason George

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kingsmanheader

This is the follow-up to the huge success Kingsman film. Eggsy is now a fully fledged member of the secret agency and in this instalment, has to do battle with an evil drug dealer named Poppy (Julianne Moore). Channing Tatum pops up in a surprisingly funny role, and it’s great to have Mark Strong back as Merlin. As the poster shows, Colin Firth is also back as Harry, involving a rather amusing explanatory back story, and Halle Berry and Elton John (yes, you read that right) provide good support. Elton John is actually pretty hilarious and one of my favourite things about this movie. What really made it for me was having one of my all-time favourite actors, Jeff Bridges play a great (although too small, in my opinion) role.

Just like the last one, the plot is preposterous and entirely unbelievable, but there is so much fun to be had, that I just didn’t mind. The film never takes itself too seriously either which really helps. The reviews of this sequel have been less kind than the reviews of the first film, but if you did enjoy that first one, then I suggest you give this one a try too.

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (comic book), Dave Gibbons (comic book)

Main cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Elton John, Pedro Pascal

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murder_on_blackpool_express

Comical murder mystery featuring a whole host of famous names including Johnny Vegas, Griff Rhys Jones, Nigel Haves, Ursula Stubbs, Mark Heap, Nina Wadia and more. A failing coach tour company take a group of customers on a tour of locations which feature in a famous author’s books – along with the supremely arrogant author himself. Along the way, various members of the team start getting bumped off, and it becomes clear that there is a murderer in their midst…

I really liked this – it was good demanding fun, with lots of laughs and – somewhat surprisingly – some genuine twists and turns which left me in the dark as to who the actual culprit was. Nigel Havers probably stole the show, but Johnny Vegas was also excellent.

If you like British humour, I would definitely recommend this TV movie.

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Simon Delaney

Writer: Jason Cook

Main cast: Kevin Eldon, Nigel Havers, Johnny Vegas, Sian Gibson, Mark Heap, Kimberley Nixon, Sheila Reid, Griff Rhys Jones, Una Stubbs, Nina Wadia, Peter Singh

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Based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterley, which tells the true story of three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. Katherine Johnson is played by Taraji P Henson, Dorothy Vaughan is played by Octavia Spencer and Mary Jackson is play ed by Janelle Monae. The supporting cast includes Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner.

The film shows a still segregated community where these three inspirational ladies have to withstand sexism and racism in what was very much a white man’s environment. The story of the space race itself is prominent obviously, but more interesting for me at least were the individual stories of these three remarkable women. Lots of moments of humour, and plenty of pathos. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Theodore Melfi

Writers: Margot Lee Shetterly (book), Alison Schroeder (screenplay)< Theodore Melfi (screenplay)

Main cast: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst

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murder_ahoy

One of four films featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple – this was actually the last of the films, and was not based on one of Agatha Christie’s stories. As Miss Marple portrayals go, I think Rutherford’s was the least like the Miss Marple in the novels. But it is also the most amusing and entertaining. A member of a Trust for the rehab of young criminals is murdered, and the investigation takes Miss Marple onto the HMS Battledore in the search for the killer. That’s really all you need to know going in, and what ensues is an hour and a half of slightly daft but witty fun.

Margaret Rutherford is loveable, Bud Tingwell as Chief Inspector Craddock is surprisingly dishy and Stringer Davis as Miss Marple’s dear friend Mr Stringer, is highly entertaining. Watch and enjoy!

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Year of release: 1964

Director: George Pollock

Writers: David Pursall. Jack Seddon, Agatha Christie (Miss Marple character)

Main cast: Margaret Rutherford, Stringer Davis, Bud Tingwell, Lionel Jeffries, William Mervyn, Joan Benham, Nicholas Parsons, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Derek Nimmo, Gerald Cross, Norma Foster

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With a cast including Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson, and a script that doesn’t take itself too seriously (or even slightly seriously) this was always going to be a good film, with lots of laughs – not to mention lots of violence and lots of swearing (something to maybe consider if this puts you off).

The Kingsman are a secret spy organisation and Colin Firth is Harry Hart (code name Galahad). The service is looking for a new recruit and Galahad’s nominee is Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a streetwise kid, often in trouble with the police. Eggsy has to pass a series of tests, in a group which consists of upperclass, rich kids, who mostly resent his presence and his success at the tests.

Meanwhile, megalomaniac film producer Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) has a plan to cull the human race in order to save the planet. Accompanied by his sidekick and bodyguard Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) their plan starts to take hold and only the Kingsman can stop it.

I laughed all the way through this film – it’s absolute ridiculousness works somehow because it acknowledges the outrageousness of the plot throughout. The cast are excellent and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves in the roles. If swearing and violence are not off-putting to you and you want to kick back and watch something really funny and action packed, I recommend this film highly.

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Year of release: 2014

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (comic book ‘The Secret Service’), Dave Gibbons (comic book ‘The Secret Service’)

Main cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Samantha Womack, Sophie Cookson

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