Posts Tagged ‘Downton Abbey’

A varied month with debut features, sequels, a soft reboot of a franchise, a TV spinoff and a concert movie.  Here are the contenders for movie of the month: 

Roger Waters, Us + Them – Essentially a concert firm made up mainly of Pink Floyd material.  A sensational audiovisual show with a political edge.  The juxtaposition of proactive images with the timeless lyrics makes a strong statement about the UK and US governments, the refugee crisis, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Worth seeing for the music alone, but it has so much more to say. Roger Waters, Us + Them

Joker –  The clown prince of crime as you have never seen him before.  Joaquin Phoenix is excellent, the film is better than the backlash would have you believe, but not as flawless as early reviews suggested.  I really liked it but didn’t love it. joker

It: Chapter II – The first movie was excellent, part two had excellent early reviews but poor word of mouth.  I liked it, it is creepy without being scary.  The adult cast are excellent in the own right, and at following on from the kids in the first film.  It could have benefited from a tighter edit.  It Chapter II

Downton Abbey – I have seen a few episodes of the TV show but didn’t watch it religiously, as such I kind of knew what to expect, and that is exactly what you get.  Well shot, and well acted, not massively cinematic, but passed the time harmlessly.  Fans of the show will probably love it.  Downton Abbey

The Day Shall Come – Nearly ten years after his first film, Four Lions, satirist/agent provocateur Chris Morris returns with his second film.  A naive, impoverished, and deluded preacher is manipulated into an arms deal by the FBI so they can arrest him as a terrorist to improve their conviction rates.  An absurdist satirical comedy that while fictional in itself, the tagline and the opening caption says: Based On a Hundred True Stories. Lacking both the levels of heart and humour of Four Lions, it is still a compelling if frightening watch.  Marchánt Davis is funny, compelling and confident in what is amazingly his movie debut, I expect to see a lot more from him in the future.The Day Shall Come

Zombieland: Double Tap – Ten years after the first movie, the original quartet are back. Very much the same again: the plot is thin, and only there to link a series of set-pieces together.  However there are plenty of funny moments from the always watchable returning cast with Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch making excellent additions. Zombieland Double Tap

Official Secrets – True story of Katharine Gun, the whistleblower who leaked information to the press in the build-up to the  2003 invasion of Iraq.  A little on the nose, with a little too much of characters explaining the plot, but an enjoyable film with an import story to tell.  Keira Knightley is excellent, as are the supporting cast including Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, and Matt Smith.  Rhys Ifans appears to be in a different film playing an over the top character, I am led to believe it is an acurate portrayal. Official Secrets

Terminator: Dark Fate – Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in yet another Terminator, but this time Linda Hamilton returns to the franchise for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).  Thanks to the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, the plot kind of works with the other films.  The story returns to the plot of the first two movies of Terminators chasing someone, and a protector also sent from future trying to save them.  It is notable that there are essentially three female leads, Hamilton, along with Mackenzie Davis, and Natalia Reyes.  All three are really good, but the script can’t decide who the lead is and sometimes suffers.  Schwarzenegger is used well, but Gabriel Luna lacks the menace of Robert Patrick from T2, or Schwarzenegger in the original film. Terminator Dark Fate

The Peanut Butter Falcon – A young man with Down syndrome is forced to live in an old people’s home, as the state doesn’t know where else to put him.  He escapes and begins an adventure akin to a modern day Mark Twain character.  Zack Gottsagen who like his character has Down syndrome is a compelling leading man, and is supported by an ever reliable Dakota Johnson, and Shia LaBeouf who again reminds us that he is a really good actor and his dalliance with Michael Bay movies was just a blip. The Peanut Butter Falcon

Luce – Saved from a warzone in Eritrea and adopted by a middleclass couple, Luce is an all-star student.  A dedicated teacher suspects there is more going on with Luce than his parents and the faculty see.  The brilliance of the film is in its subtly, it doesn’t answer many of the questions it asks.Luce

The Last Black Man in San Francisco – Jimmie, a young black man spends his spare time returning to his grandfathers old house to maintain it, against the wishes of the current owners.  When they are forced to move out, Jimmie sees his opportunity to reclaim what he believes is his birthright.  Low on plot and deliberately paced, it is a slow and mournful lament.  There is a lot more going on under the surface than a movie about gentrification.  Amazingly it is the feature debut from director Joe Talbot.The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Many people will expect my movie of the month to be Joker, its good, but not quite good enough.  The Peanut Butter Falcon, Luce, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco are all contenders, but the film that has stayed with me is the first one I saw this month:  Roger Waters, Us + Them:Roger Waters, Us + Them Poster

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As I listened to the radio on my drive to work on Monday a news story got me thinking. Reporting on the previous nights Primetime Emmys the main topic of conversation was the lack of British success. Those expecting a Downton Abbey landslide were disappointed, personally I was more disappointed at the lack of recognition for Luther (that received four nominations in 2012) but that’s a different conversation. The thing that interested me was two of the winning programs:Downton Abbey

American political drama House of Cards is based on the BBC miniseries of the same name from the early 90’s famous for introducing the phrase: “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.” Like the original series has been described as examining issues of ambition, power, and corruption in the vein of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Richard III. Unlike the original that was made screened on the BBC, the American version was made by independent production company MRC (Media Rights Capital) and most interestingly premiered on Netflix after outbidding HBO, Showtime and AMC. It is also available via Apple’s iTunes and Apple TV services.House of Cards

It has been reported that Steven Soderbergh and Michael Douglas had first discussed a Liberace Biopic as far back as 2000 during the production of Traffic. When they finally came up with an angle for the story they struggled to secure funding, Soderbergh claiming Hollywood studios found it “too gay.” Eventually they HBO Films stumped up $23million and Behind the Candelabra was made. While it received a UK cinema release in America it premiered on HBO.Behind the Candelabra

These programs may not seem that significant in the greater scheme of film and television, but when you think about it they represent the biggest change in the media’s for a long time. What they boil down to, is a film premiering on TV and a TV show premiering online. Made for television movies are nothing new, but with A list stars and directors it has a different feel to it. As for the online world Amazon/Lovefilm have already got in on the act with their own programs. In future are companies like these going to use TV shows rather than their film content to win customers?

 I would still rather watch movies on the big screen of the cinema and a laptop computer is the only device I have capable of streaming TV and films. This is why I am not the main target audience for either of these changes, but I will still be watching them with interest.

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