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Archive for the ‘TV/Film adaptation reviews’ Category

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This is the second in the Gourmet Detective series of tv movies, starring Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns, and which are based on the books of Peter King.

In this instalment, the titular detective Henry Ross once again finds himself teamed with Detective Maggie Price, when they investigate the murder of a journalist at a luxury spa. Naturally there are several possible suspects, and it is up to Henry and Maggie to sift through the evidence and uncover the killer.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Scott Smith

Writers: Peter King (book series), Dawn DeKeyser, Dylan Neal, Becky Southwell

Main cast: Dylan Neal, Brooke Burns, Crystal Lowe, Patrick Sabongui, Stefanie von Pfetten, Devon Weigel, Brendan Penny, Steve Valentine

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Genre: Cosy murder mystery

Highlights: Charming and undemanding fun throughout, chemistry between the two main characters, mystery kept me guessing until the big reveal

Lowlights: None for me, but those who like their films gritty and realistic might want to pass on this one

Overall: Good fun, perfect to unwind on a lazy weekend

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Leona Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck) is in bed with illness when she overhears a telephone conversation between two men planning a murder. Gradually she comes to believe that she is the person they are going to kill and that her husband Henry (Burt Lancaster) is involved.

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Year of release: 1948

Director: Anatole Litvak

Writer: Lucille Fletcher (original radio play and screenplay)

Main cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey, Harold Vermilyea, Leif Erickson, Jimmy Hunt

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Genre: Mystery, thriller, film noir

Highlights: Barbara Stanwyck is fabulous in the main part. I liked the claustrophobic atmosphere of her confinement

Lowlights: The flashback story surrounding Henry is a bit convoluted. I preferred the relationship aspect to the criminal aspect

Overall: An enjoyable film noir, which was a bit convoluted in places, but Stanwyck’s performance is fantastic as always

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This is the third instalment in the cosy ‘Murder She Baked’ mystery series. Melanie Quinn opens a bakery opposite Hannah’s own bakery and the two women become rivals not only in business, but also possibly for policeman Mike’s affections. As viewers of the previous two films will know, Hannah has an unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies and when she discovers Melanie lying murdered, Hannah herself is in the frame for the killing!

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Kristoffer Tabori

Writers: Joanne Fluke (novel), Teena Booth

Main cast: Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison, Barbara Niven, Gabriel Hogan, Michelle Harrison, Roark Critchlow, Anne Marie DeLuise

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Genre: Mystery, cosy murder mystery

Highlights: I finally worked out who was Mike and who was Norman!! (Hannah’s two potential love interests look too alike to me), these films are just generally comforting and undemanding viewing, if entirely unbelievable. Alison Sweeney is eminently likeable.

Lowlights: Entirely unbelievable!!

Overall: If this is a genre you like, then I recommend these films. If you like your films gritty and hard hitting, maybe give these a miss. I will say that I thought this was the best one in the series so far.

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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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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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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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This HBO movies tells the story of John McCain’s political campaign in 2008, in which he lost out on to Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States of America. Specifically it focuses on his running mate Sarah Palin – the reason for the surprise pick, the difficulties McCain’s staff as well as Palin herself faced, and the way the wheel came off the campaign when it became glaringly obvious that she was a bad choice for running mate.

This is in my top ten of all films, which is quite unusual for me, given that it is a political movie and that it focuses on the Republicans (I very much wanted Obama to win, and have a great admiration for the whole Obama family). The stellar cast really make this work – Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt, campaign strategist and advisor; Sarah Paulsen as Nicole Wallace, campaign advisor; Ed Harris as McCain; and – in an absolutely breathtaking performance that never becomes caricature – Julianne Moore as Palin herself.

The film is entertaining, yet uncomfortable viewing at times and utterly compelling throughout.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Jay Roach

Writer: Mark Halperin (book), Danny Strong, John Heilemann

Main cast: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Sarah Paulsen, Ed Harris, Peter MacNicol

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