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image004What’s it all about?

In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Thus was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. born.

Well men. And a woman.

Why did I want to see it?

Well, I actually wasn’t sure that I did. I loved the TV series which I watched at every opportunity when I was a kid. So the idea of a film made me a bit nervous. The cast sounded good, ditto the 1960s setting (as opposed to a reboot set in the present day). But then I saw the trailer and I was put off a bit, but then I heard an interview with Armie Hammer which made it sound fun, so after much dithering (not entirely uncharacteristic) I decided to go, and threw caution to the wind by booking to see it in IMAX. Good call.

What did I think of it?

As I said above, I went in with middling expectations but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was huge fun, fast and exciting with the right balance of humour and gadgets and cold war shenanigans. The cast are really good with that wonderful mix of accents you get when you have an Englishman playing an American, an American playing a Russian and a Swede playing a German. Oh, and Hugh Grant is there being suave. Everyone is very dashing, Rome looks gorgeous and there’s a wonderful female villain doing the usual world domination thing with her own island and a plot about nuclear weapons.

But for me it was all about the clothes. The clothes were truly wonderful. The men (apart from Armie Hammer who was being Russian in turtlenecks and bomber jackets) were in fabulous suits. Henry Cavill in particular knows how to wear a suit well and just looked impossibly handsome. But the women, oh my. Alicia Vikander wears a wonderful selection of sixties dresses and enormous sunglasses and jewellery, and Elizabeth Debicki is dressed entirely in black and white with huge rings and an astonishing selection of necklaces and bracelets. And the make-up – just so glamorous. Irresistible.

So, great clothes, fast cars, fast boats, Vespas, glamorous locations and gentlemen spies. Such a hoot. Who knew Guy Ritchie had it in him. I only missed the ghost of David McCallum’s Kuryakin for about 5 minutes. I really really hope they’ll make a sequel.

MV5BMTcwNzc0ODc5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDI1MTY4NA@@._V1_SY317_CR104,0,214,317_AL_What’s it all about?

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is

an adventure set in the early part of the 20th century and focused on a popular novelist and her dealings with would-be suitors, the cops, monsters, and other distractions.

Well, that’s close I suppose.

Adele is a travel writer and journalist who starts the film off in Egypt seeking the remains of Ramses II’s physician whom she wants bring home to Paris in an attempt to bring her comatose sister back to full health. To assist her in this she intends to work with Professor Esperandieu who will use some form of telepathic contact to tap into the mummy’s knowledge. Unfortunately while he’s testing his theories out he accidentally causes a pterodactyl egg to hatch, causing death and destruction, getting the police involved and apparently scuppering Adele’s plans.

Why did I want to watch it?

The Book God is a fan of the graphic novels on which the film is based and was very keen to see it. I love this sort of thing so was happy to watch it. Also it was described in Empire’s review as “Amelie meets Indiana Jones” and who could resist that?

What did I think of it?

This is huge fun. Adele herself is a wonderful character, entirely in control and kowtowing to no-one, she’s determined and inventive as well as being beautiful and fashionable. Everything she does is driven by her need to fix what’s happened to her sister, for which she feels responsible even though (when we finally find out what actually happened) it was clearly the result of a freak accident.

It’s a very stylish film, as you would expect from Besson, peppered with some incredibly grotesque characters (Matthieu Almaric is unrecognisable as a rival adventurer for example) and with the glory of Paris as background it’s just wonderful to look at.

But the best thing for me are the mummies. Without going too much into the plot in terms of why it happens, in addition to la momie Patmosis (the one Adele brought back from Egypt) a whole host of mummies, led by Ramses himself, end up parading round Paris. Patmosis is possibly my favourite character in the whole film, he is such a delight.

And I think that’s a good word to describe the whole thing. Entertaining, enjoyable and above all fun. I really enjoyed it.

gfbpqlhzvquvsg8exmvpWhat’s it all about?

In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by the ruthless son of a powerful family who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

Dearie me IMDb, that’s mostly nonsense, as we shall discover below….

Why did I want to see it.

Oh c’mon, have you seen the trailer?

So, what’s it really about?

Ok, here goes. Jupiter Jones is the daughter of a Russian mother and an English father who was obsessed with astronomy (hence her name), to the extent that he was killed trying to stop Russian criminal types from stealing his telescope. Jupiter is born on a ship heading for the USA where she basically ends up cleaning toilets for a living. But it turns out that she is the genetic reincarnation of a member of the Abrasax dynasty who are enormously rich and own loads of planets and she is inconveniently in line to inherit a chunk of their wealth including the Earth. So Balem (Eddie Redmayne) tries to have her eliminated to stop that happening, but Channing Tatum (with pixie ears and lots of muscles and fantastic hoverskates) is sent to rescue her by one of the other Abrasax siblings (for his own not immediately clear purpose) and is helped by Sean Bean, though it doesn’t entirely work out as planned.

That’s only the first 40 minutes of a film which is 2 hours and a few minutes long.

What did I think of it?

I seriously loved it. It is totally and utterly potty but it looks so wonderful and everyone plays it so so seriously that you can’t do anything but enjoy it. But why so I hear you ask, many others have said that it is rubbish, tell us more.

They are wrong and here is why:

  • there is genetic splicing – Channing is part wolf, Sean is part bee (really, not kidding)
  • there are enormous spaceships careening across the universe
  • there are proper aliens including (but certainly not limited to) giant lizardy-dragon things with wings and long coats and big guns (they’re not very nice)
  • there is overacting to an extent seldom seen; apart from Eddie R (I will deal with him separately) there is a great deal of pouting and glowering and meaningful glances and flouncing (I’m sure there was flouncing)
  • (almost) everyone is double-crossing (almost) everyone else
  • there is a whole section that takes place in the inter-galactic bureaucracy which makes getting your passport renewed look like a doddle
  • there is a neat Terry Gilliam cameo
  • there are wonderful frocks, I mean really wonderful frocks
  • I like Mila Kunis, I wanted her to survive and she kicks quite a lot of butt though occasionally has to hang around while Channing gets his skates on to save her
  • Mila also does a lot of falling from Very High Buildings; she rarely screams though which is a Good Thing
  • Sean Bean *gasp* doesn’t die in this film (this is not a spoiler it is a public service announcement)

imagesAnd then there is Eddie, bless him. It is important to note that while I was watching Jupiter Ascending Eddie was at the BAFTAs and about to be awarded best actor for The Theory of Everything, well-deserved I’m sure though I haven’t seen the movie yet. Proper acting while playing part of a respected scientist struggling with a degenerative disease. Not flouncing around (told you there was flouncing) in long robes, being languid while barely suppressing rage and jealousy, virtually hissing most of his dialogue except for the occasional screaming fit. He had my favourite line of the film – “I will harvest that planet tomorrow before I let her take it from me” – and was just gloriously over the top in the best pantomime villain tradition. I adored him, he was a delight.

You can probably tell I had a thoroughly enjoyable time watching this. I will be buying it on DVD and will come back to it regularly I think because it is just so crazy.

IMG_0127This is my new favourite film, and that’s all you need to know.

Oh. OK…….

What’s it all about?

Only Lovers Left Alive is the new Jim Jarmusch film and tells the story of

A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

Of course this omits the single most important piece of information. They’re vampires.

But cool vampires, none of your Twilight nonsense here (although (full disclosure) I quite liked Twilight but probably not for the reasons the film makers intended).

Why did I want to see it?

Tilda Swinton. Tom Hiddleston. Vampires. That’s enough, surely?

What did I think of it?

I have been champing at the bit to see this film ever since I first heard about it. Two of my favourite actor types together in a film about vampires, so so excited. But as the time to see it came closer I got a tiny bit nervous that it couldn’t live up to my expectations, especially as some folk had said it was stylish and cool but nothing actually happens, but nope, it turned to to be just as fabulous as I had hoped.

It looks fantastic, flitting backwards and forwards between decaying Detroit and exotic Tangiers. The music is superb, so much so I bought the soundtrack as soon as I could. Tilda (Eve) and Tom (Adam) look great and their relationship is convincing, this great love experienced over time so that even though they live apart they are totally connected. I have admired Tilda since Orlando, and Tom is Loki so not much more to say there.

The supporting cast is equally good, Anton Yelchin as Tom’s fixer (with no idea that he’s dealing with anything other than a reclusive musician), Jeffrey Wright as a corrupt member of the medical profession (because where are you going to get blood if you aren’t in the habit of attacking people) and Mia Wasikowska playing another one of her odd and creepy young woman (see Stoker) as Eve’s younger sister, already known to be trouble (“but that was 87 years ago”) and it’s her actions that require a big change in their lifestyle.

But the real treat in the supporting cast is John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe. Yes, that Christopher Marlowe. Just lovely.

I didn’t expect it to be so funny, or to look so good. I coveted everything Tilda wore, I loved her poise and the whole style of the thing and the central idea that the only way to survive immortality is to have an insatiable curiosity about everything, which makes you so knowledgeable that you can come across as pompous and elitist without really meaning to. But of course reliance on human blood makes you vulnerable and fragile.

I’m gushing now, I can tell.

I adored this and it will be one of those films I will re-watch regularly. Please do give it a try.


528276_571643262866558_174665140_nSo Part 3 of my Gatsby weekend (parts 1 and 2 are covered over on Bride of the Book God) was heading off to see the Baz Luhrman version of The Great Gatsby starring amongst others Leonardo DiCaprio. Before I get on to talking about the film, don’t you just love how IMDB describes the movie?

A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbour.

Not how I would have put it myself.

Anyway, Sunday evening, settled in our seats at our local Odeon, looking forward to what I hoped was going to be a real spectacle. I was going into this with an open mind (I hoped) because I have not yet been able to sit through a whole Luhrman film, not even Romeo+Juliet which you would have thought I would have enjoyed, but there you go.

And for the first 20 or 30 minutes I really thought I was going to hate this film. I disliked the entirely unnecessary framing device, I though Tobey Maguire was all wrong as Nick and overacting as if his life depended on it. I didn’t mind the music and I thought the sets and costumes and all that jazz (forgive the pun) were fantastic. But it wasn’t doing anything for me at all.

Until Mr DiCaprio appeared.

Now I’m sure I’ve said elsewhere that I didn’t really rate Leo until Gangs of New York but since then he has become one of my ones to watch and I always consider going to see his films even if the subject matter doesn’t interest me. And I wasn’t sure about him as Gatsby given that my image of the character has a solid foundation in once Robert Redford from 1974. But I have to say that it was Leo that saved this film for me, his glorious smile and the fact that in the great argument scene in the hotel he really did look like he could kill a man (spoiled rather (as others have mentioned) by Tobey telling us just that in the voiceover). he was entirely believable and I sighed with relief at that point; whatever else happened I had Leo to watch.

In terms of the rest of the film, I’ve dealt with Tobey (who actually got better as the film went on) and the look and feel, but worth noting:

  • Carey Mulligan looked fabulous but Daisy is always a character I’ve had huge problems with
  • as is traditional in movie versions, Jordan is a brunette when the book clearly states she’s a blonde and I have no idea why that bothers me so much but it does
  • Tom was just too obviously loud and shouty and bullying
  • I thought Jason Clarke was an excellent George, a wonderful air of queasy impotence but Isla Fisher was totally miscast as Myrtle – I’ve always seen her as an older, voluptuous, blousy woman; poor Isla looked like she was dressing up in her Mum’s clothes though her performance was fine apart from that.

So all in all it was OK. I think I just don’t like Baz ‘s style and that will always be a barrier. But if it gets more people going back to the book then that’s a good thing.

The Book God and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary at the end of May via the traditional route of a movie and a meal. There wasn’t a huge amount of choice at the time but we had both seen the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman on previous visits so we thought that we would give it a go, and I’m pleased we did because it was actually surprisingly enjoyable.

Yes of course the director couldn’t leave the traditional story alone and so we had a very different take on the huntsman from the one I remember as a child reading the fairy tale, and yes Snow White herself was a bit of a sulky teenager though to be fair you would probably be that way inclined too if you’d been locked up by the woman who had murdered your father and then usurped his throne (though whether the sulkiness was intentional or just a result of the part being played in her usual manner by Kristen Stewart I’m not sure) and yes the dwarves were being played by the obligatory cast of British character actors and didn’t have as much screen time as they should, and there was that fey bit in the middle with the woodland creatures, but there was also much to enjoy, namely:

  • the Huntsman was great, I really like Chris Hemsworth (having seen him in quite a few things recently – Thor, Cabin in the Woods, Avengers Assemble), so much so that I was even prepared to overlook his dodgy Scottish accent – I can be sensitive about that sort of thing being a dodgy Scot myself;
  • nice to see Snow White in a suit of armour getting to grips with sorting it out herself rather than relying on the admittedly cute if a bit vacuous childhood sweetheart of a prince
  • it looked fabulous

But mostly for me it was all about Charlize Theron’s evil queen with her weird brother and her icy blondeness and her fantastic gowns and her general attitude of oozing horribleness (though at one point she seemed to be channelling Madonna in the video for Frozen). I will confess that there was more than one occasion where I actually wanted her to succeed. Of course that wouldn’t do but you know, very clear who was in charge. And what a cool Mirror Mirror.

And since then there has been all the scandal about Snow White and her relationship with the director and breaking R-Patz’s heart to the horror of Twihards everywhere so a bit of added value if you are a gossip fiend like me.

So a fun night out. Not one for the permanent collection but I can see myself being drawn in to watching this again on TV.

I saw this a couple of week’s after The King’s Speech and enjoyed it just as much, though in a totally different way (as you might expect).

This film is totally bonkers. But in a good way.

Natalie Portman is the ballet dancer with the overbearing mother who gets her big break when Winona Ryder’s dancer “retires” and a new version of Swan Lake is planned, with the same dancer expected to play the black and white swans. Natalie’s character can clearly dance the white one but is thought to be too frigid to carry off the sensual black one. Throw in Mila Kunis as an is she/isn’t she rival and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s all going to end in tears.

I loved it. I wasn’t sure at first (and the Book God was the same), it’s kind of slow at the beginning but you really get drawn in to Natalie’s obsession, madness, paranoia or whatever you want to call it and I was desperate to know how far things were going to go. It’s wonderfully over the top and creepy and totally and utterly mad.

The experience of watching this was very interesting, the audience was a mix of  teenage girls (some of whom exhibited astonishing levels of stupidity in the foyer but at least they shut up in the screening), couples of various ages and a lot of older women presumably attracted by the ballet (which I thought was very well done, by the way). Within the first twenty minutes one of the couples walked out (probably because the lad hadn’t wanted to be there in the first place), followed by some of the older ladies who suddenly twigged that this was not your average ballet film, then a young woman who was taken ill during the film. None of this was too distracting.

I winced a couple of times, jumped at least once and spent ages with the Book God over dinner trying to work out WTF it was all about. At the time I didn’t think I would want to see it again but the more I think about it the more I do; I want to see if you can tell what’s coming.

Not for everyone, but I thought it was brill.

So, the Book God was out having dinner with friends and I was mooching about the house with Chinese food and a fizzy drink (not champagne, sadly) looking for something engaging to watch while he was out, preferably something that we wouldn’t have watched together, and I remembered that I had recorded The September Issue and decided that was just the ticket.

Which it was.

I’m very fond of documentaries, and this is a doozy, being about the conception, design, pulling together and publishing of the September 2007 edition of American Vogue, always the most important and traditionally biggest issue because of the Autumn/Winter collections. And lots and lots of adverts showing really pretty and largely unaffordable (by me anyway) things.

I adored this so much, I was totally enthralled from the get go. It’s (not an original observation by any means – it says so on the DVD cover so it must be true) the real-life Devil Wears Prada (which I haven’t seen yet, nor have I read the book even though I’ve got it somewhere, but now absolutely must do one or other or both). Anna Wintour is everything I thought she would be, aloof but almost certainly a darned fine editor with a very clear vision. But the star for me (as for so many others who watched this I’m sure) was Grace Coddington, a wonderful English former model (and when I say former we are talking late 1950s, early 1960’s) who has an equally strong vision and an  astonishing resemblance to Elizabeth I. She was absolutely fab and the only one with the gumption to hold her own against Ms Wintour.

I was absolutely the target audience for this – I subscribe to (albeit British) Vogue; it’s one of the great treats of my month and I don’t accept  the view that high fashion is necessarily shallow. I am after all a woman who can measure life-defining moments by the handbags I bought to mark them. I have Prada shoes. I have my pride and joy – a Vivienne Westwood handbag which will be one of the few things I will grab should I have to rush out of the house in case of fire. So sitting for 90 minutes or so watching very lucky women handling racks of totally gorgeous clothes (which, being a short wide person, I will never be able to wear in this lifetime) was an absolute joy.

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

I’ll stop gushing now…….

cheribannerSo Lea de Lonval is a courtesan heading towards the end of her career, as it were, when she decides (or is possibly manipulated into) taking on the son of a friend and former colleague to bring him up to scratch (as it were again – this is all very delicate you know). Fred is 19 and known as Cheri; he’s beautiful, sullen, superficial and you know that it’s all going to end badly. Cheri has to marry, and the change in their circumstances exposes how they really feel about each other…

What I loved about the movie = it looks abosultely gorgeous, turn-of-the-last-century France so frocks and shoes and jewellery and hair and bitchiness and witticisms – just my cup of tea; Michelle Pfeiffer is one of my favourite actresses; I’ve never really seen the attraction of Rupert Friend before but on this showing I’m beginning to see what I might have been missing; the sex scenes are very tasteful.

What I didn’t like about the movie = well, I’m not sure how to describe it, and I think it’s as much to do with Colette as the film, but it has a lot of surface glamour and wit but I wasn’t wholly moved by the tragic elements. I wasn’t entirely sold on the narration either, but again that grew on me. But you know, it’s so sumptuously lovely that I’ll probably buy the DVD.

Rating stuff = 15 – contains moderate sex and sex references (it’s about a courtesan for goodness sake, of course it does)

Tissue count = none , but there should have been, this is a tragic love story after all

Safety cushion = not necessary

I was lucky enough to see this at the BFI South Bank in London, and the film was followed by a brief but very entertaining q&a session with Stephen Frears (director) and Christopher Hampton (screenwriter). The issue of the narration was tackled, and Frears seemed himself to feel that it might have been better if delivered by a woman.

I know this review may seem a bit like damning with faint praise but this was a lovely costume drama and I will be watching it again.