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Late Night (2019)
Late Night (2019)
2019 | Comedy, Drama
Late Night is a well-written comedy about a non-white female hired to add diversity to the writing staff of a late night talk show. Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson showing the comic skills developed during her university days as Hugh Laurie's girlfriend) is a older sophisticated woman who hosts a show whose audience is dying off, literally in some cases and figuratively. If things do not improve, she will no longer be host of her eponymous talk show. So, in an unexpected but obvious hiring decision, Molly Patel is hired to join the writing staff. At first, seen as an interloper with little comedy or writing experience, Molly uses her Mindy Kaling charm to win over her co-workers and her boss. As Katherine starts to see a way to take advantage of her uniqueness and the youth of Molly, she challenges the status quo of late night.
The movie is charming. The characters are developed and not cardboard cutouts of caricatures thanks to the writing, Max Casella, Reid Scott, Denis O'Hare, Hugh Dancy, Amy Ryan, and John Lithgow have backstories and motivations. However, the movie never really goes after the boys' club landscape that late night television inhabits nor does it go after the concept of diversity hires. It simply turns Molly into some sprite who sprinkles enthusiasm into the mundane lives of the people she encounters. Late Night also begins the campaign for John Lithgow as this year's Best Supporting Actor, Not for this role as the mentor for Molly's transformation to strong woman and devoted husband of Katherine who learns the meaning of karma, but for his role later this year as Roger Ailes.
  
Dolittle (2020)
Dolittle (2020)
2020 | Adventure
The new Universal Studios movie Dr. Dolittle stars Robert Downey Jr as Dr. Dolittle, Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen as Dr. Mudfly, Emma Thompson as Poly, Jessie Buckley as Queen Victoria, and a host of other well-known stars as the voices of the animals, including John Cena, Ralph Fiennes and Selna Gomez. Dolittle is directed by Stephen Gaghan
Dr. Dolittle is a charming movie.

The audience is taken on a wonderful adventure across oceans and far away kingdoms in search of a magical cure for young Queen Victoria.

Robert Downey Jr. does a phenomenal job in portraying Dr. Dolittle. He plays the role with emotion and charm. His life has been sad since the passing of his wife, and he secludes himself with the only beings he wants to have contact with, his animal menagerie. He is interrupted in his solitude by a request from the palace to find a cure for young Queen Victoria who has been poisoned.

Dr. Dolittle and his animal menagerie set off on an epic adventure to hunt down the one thing that might save the Queen, the sap from a tree that Dolittles late wife has been researching. On the way, they must get around the nefarious Dr. Blair Mudfly, and Rassouli the king of pirates.

Younger viewers are sure to be kept engaged, as the movie is fast paced and they will not have the chance to be bored. The audience are sure to be pleased with the vitality and humor that each role brings to the film.
The movie is perfect for families to view together and everyone will enjoy it.
  
Last Christmas (2019)
Last Christmas (2019)
2019 | Comedy, Romance
London, looking beautiful (0 more)
Unfunny and forced comedy (0 more)
Alas, Christmas
Oh Dear! Now I wouldn't go as far as saying I had "high hopes" for this film, but as a real fan of the goo-fest that is "Love Actually" I at least thought this might fill some seasonal void in the run up to the festive season. "Best Christmas film of the decade!!" screams the marketing. Er... no.

This review will be spoiler free.

The plot: Kate (Emilia Clarke) is an immigrant from the former-Yugoslavia now living in London. She has a dead-end job working for "Santa" (Michelle Yeoh) in a Christmas shop in Covent Garden. She is perennially lubricated both with drink and other bodily fluids thanks to her hedonistic lifestyle. And she really likes George Michael.

But life just seems vacuous and to have no purpose for her anymore. Her composure is not helped by her mother (Emma Thompson) constantly fussing about her health, since Kate has only recently recovered from a serious illness.

Dropping into her life then comes Tom (Henry Golding). Smartly dressed and calmly reassuring, Tom seems to have the potential to start turning Kate's life around. But is she prepared to listen?

There are startling similarities here with Phoebe Waller-Bridge's triumphant tribute to hedonistic 30-something sex-addicted females everywhere.... "Fleabag". Kate is similarly louche, hopping from bed to bed in a heartbeat. She has a dysfunctional family and - most strikingly - she has a particularly difficult relationship with her high-achieving sister. This is not helped by a remarkable similarity between the actress playing Marta (Lydia Leonard ) and Fleabag's Clare (Sian Clifford). But whereas Fleabag is both brilliantly written, heart-rending and hilarious, this simply is not.

There were a total of two laughs in the movie for me. Period. Both were lines delivered by Emma Thompson, and if you've seen the film you probably know the ones. Now, I'm aware that Thompson co-wrote the script and she is, of course, a national acting treasure. But here the script is clunky and all of the "comic" scenes are so laboured and forced that they land like leaden weights.

And some of it makes no sense whatsoever. There is some strange Danish sauerkraut salesman (Peter Mygind) with a crush on "Santa". He suddenly appears in the shop acting like some escaped mental patient. When he first appears, acting bizarrely, you think, "oh, there must be some fascinating backstory between these two - a murky past they are trying to rekindle". But no! This is the first time they have EVER met? It's completely bonkers!

Much was made of this being Michelle Yeoh's "first comedy". Sorry, but if she proves anything here it is that she is not a comic actress.

Emilia Clarke is still looking to land in a decent mainstream role outside "Game of Thrones", after a failed Terminator sequel, a half-decent weepie ("Me Before You") and the commercial failure that was "Solo". Here she certainly looks curvaciously cute as the Christmas elf. But unfortunately cute can't save her from the car-crash of a script.

Similarly Henry Golding is well-dressed eye-candy for the ladies, almost doing a re-tread of his cool and laid-back character from the excellent "Crazy Rich Asians". Without the same need to be "zany", he fairs slightly better from the script. But again, this feels like one to shuffle into a quiet corner of his CV.

What can I say that's even remotely good about this? Three things:

1) London. It looks glorious, decked out in lights like some chocolate-box-cover cum tourist-board publicity shot. London is one of the most photogenic cities on the planet, and I could relate to Tom's mantra to "look up" and see all of the architectural quirks and foibles that exist around every corner in that wonderful city;
2) The payoff. Exactly when you get the payoff will depend on how much you know going in (if you've managed to avoid the trailer... continue to avoid it!) and how attentive you are. There's an "aha!" moment. And it's nicely played out.
3) There's a topical xenophobic Brexit angle, that's a little clumsy in the exposition but - in my view - is good for the telling.

This is a movie desperately trying to blend "Love Actually" with another Christmas classic (no... not "Die Hard"... but to say more would introduce spoilers!) But in my view it misses badly.

The director is Paul Feig, famous for "Bridesmaids" and "Spy" and infamous for the female "Ghostbusters" reboot.

There are clearly lovers of this film. At the time of writing it has made an impressive $51M on its $25M budget. But I went with another three cinema-goers from my family, all of differing ages and sentiments: and we all universally agreed on the rating for this one.

(For the graphical review, please check out One Mann's Movies here - https://bob-the-movie-man.com/2019/11/25/one-manns-movies-film-review-last-christmas-2019/ . Thanks).
  
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
2017 | Fantasy, Musical, Romance
Whenever I was asked who my favorite Disney prince was, I’d answer, without hesitation, “The Beast.”

Friends would look at me askance and ask, “The Beast? Really?”

And I’d simply reply, “Have you not seen his library?”

I also claim Belle as my favorite Disney princess. As a bookworm, Beauty and the Beast gave me a princess I could relate to. Sure, I had just graduated from high school the year before the animated film – not really the demographic Disney was catering to. But when I first watched Belle’s introductory scene, as she made her way through the village with her nose buried in a book while the townfolk sang of her “odd” behavior, I felt l the corners of my lips rise on their own, in a smile of recognition.

Sure, it also may have been because of the clever lyrics of the late Howard Ashman and the wondrous melodies of Alan Menken in that first song alone, but Belle quickly me over not only with her joy for stories and spirit of adventure, but also with her brave spirit.

Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale told many times over and Disney’s live-action version follows the animated classic closely with some variation and additional scenes and few more songs. Like the animated film, it’s sweepingly romantic and just as enchanting. What the audience may struggle with is that Emma Watson’s Belle is not as…well, animated as the animated Belle. She brings a solemnity to the role, and as singing talent goes, while she is no Paige O’Hara, she can sing.

Luke Evans makes a menacingly handsome Gaston and his big number, with his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) is an entertaining high point that cements Gaston’s position as my favorite villain. Dan Stevens brought a bit more humanity to Beast, and with a heartbreaking song of his own, his despair is more keenly felt in this movie. But I have to admit, I prefer Josh Groban’s version of Beast’s solo, which you do get to hear if you sit through the credits.

Lumière the candelabra and Cogsworth the clock were brought to life with great voice work Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, respectively. Emma Thompson voiced Mrs. Potts perfectly. I don’t know if it was her voice, the theme song or the ballroom dance scene that provoked an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, but the captivating combination literally brought tears to my eyes. Kevin Kline, who played Belle’s father, Maurice, Stanley Tucci, and Broadway great Audra McDonald round out a solid supporting cast.

As a huge fan of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, I didn’t believe a live-action version could improve on the beloved, timeless classic. But just like with the animated film, it was truly the songs that made the movie, and the music does it again for the live-action film, making it a memorable, magical treat for young and old alike.
  
Nanny McPhee (2006)
Nanny McPhee (2006)
2006 | Comedy, Family
6
7.4 (17 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Story: Nanny McPhee starts when widow Mr Brown (Firth) is struggling to keep a nanny to care for his seven children led by the oldest Simon (Brodie-Sangster) who has always planned to push the nanny away with schemes that will leave them in terror. Reaching the end of his potential candidates, Mr Brown is drawn to a mystical Nanny McPhee (Thompson).

Nanny McPhee uses different methods to get the children in order, using her magic, with the warning When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. Can the children be put into order before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is a magical nanny that comes when families need her most, she uses the magic to push the children into following her rules, letting them learn from their mistakes unlike any previous nanny. Mr Brown is the widowed father of seven that runs a funeral parlour, he has become distant from his children because of the added pressure of needing to find a new wife as h is clearly stricken with the grief in his life. Evangeline is the help around the house, she is learning from the children in a way that sees her being one of the only adults that can get through to them. Simon is the oldest child that plans what the rest get up to, he needs to learn the biggest lessons as the others will look up to him most.

Performances – Emma Thompson is wonderful choice as Nanny McPhee, she always has your attention on screen no matter what she is teaching. Colin Firth is a great choice in this role, he has the fatherly side down and a man that needs to find love. Kelly Macdonald works well in the maid role in the film bring a calm to the chaos the children usually have. Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the lead of the children stars shows that he was one of Britain’s best at the time.

Story – The story follows a widow that must find a new wife within a month, but is struggle to make sure his children have a nanny after they have chased the rest out of town, a magical nanny comes along to save the day and teach the children a lesson. This story does tackle adult themes like grief and learning to communicate with your family after a tragic loss. We don’t overly focus on the serious side of the film because this is meant to be a kids movie, which is fine, which does pose the question just why would somebody have seven kids and not be able to control them. We do get to through the usual life lessons that the children must learn without being anything special.

Comedy/Fantasy – The comedy in the film usually falls into the slightly more immature level which is more for the children audience, the fantasy comes from just how Nanny McPhee operates.

Settings – The film is set in the house that Mr Brown lives in with his children, it shows that he is in the upper class in the time they are living in.

Special Effects – The effects come from how Nanny McPhee pulls her magic to make the life better for the children.


Scene of the Movie – The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Overly childish jokes.

Final Thoughts – This is a simple enjoyable family fantasy film that can be enjoyed by the whole family, it doesn’t bring anything new, but it doesn’t break anything too.

 

Overall: Fantasy film 101.
  
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
2010 | Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi
7
6.7 (12 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Story: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang starts as we meet mother Isabel (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family home and raise her three children, while her husband is away at war, adding to her pressure is her brother-in-law Phil (Ifans) that is looking to get money and two cousins added to the family that are used to the luxury life.

When Isabel starts struggling, she gets the call from Nanny McPhee (Thompson) who offers to help put the children back in line with her magic. The children must learn to work together to help the farm stay in the right hands.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is the magical nanny that comes to family’s when they are in need of support, she has come to this family in their time of need to help teach them how to be together in one of the most difficult times in their lives, the war, she brings her rules like before as she looks to bring the best out in the people. Isabel is the mother of the three that is trying to run and farm and work, her husband is at war, with the uncertainty of whether he will be returning. She doesn’t want help, but must accept it to keep the pressures of her life away from her children. Phil is the brother-in-law to Isabel, he has created his own gambling debts and wants the farm to clear the debts, he will do anything to get what he needs. Mrs Docherty is the boss of Isabel and family friend, she isn’t quite all there which makes her character come off funnier than she should. The children do come from different worlds which does see them clash in the time of conflict.

Performances – Emma Thompson does continue to enjoy playing this role which she handles with ease. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets to play the role well through the film, which shows us just how difficult a position her character is in. Rhys Ifans does everything you would imagine in the comedy role in the film, while Maggie Smith also adds plenty of comedy through the film.

Story – The story here follows a mother that takes over the family farm with her husband away at war, with money running low and the stress of life getting to her, that gets help from Nanny McPhee. The story here easily becomes a much more serious one because we are dealing with children that are being separated from their parents during war, where they don’t know if their family will be together once the war is over. This story does have a very different tone to the first one, one that does feel real, even though it does seem slightly stranger for Nanny McPhee to be here, this time around. The story here is more entertaining than the original which is always a good thing.

Comedy/Fantasy – The comedy in the film does hit better than the first film, most of it comes from the arguments which feel funnier, the fantasy in the film does work too, which ends up blending with the comedy involved.

Settings – The film is mostly set within one farm which does show us just how much trouble the family will be facing in their time of need.

Special Effects – The effects here are the biggest step back sadly because we can see the CGI moments looking completely out of place.


Scene of the Movie – Connection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The CGI.

Final Thoughts – This is a great sequel that does have a strong story to cover up the weaker CGI being used in the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful sequel.
  
Men in Black International (2019)
Men in Black International (2019)
2019 | Action, Sci-Fi
A complete waste of time
Aside from Avengers Endgame, 2019 is shaping up to be pretty disappointing when it comes to blockbuster movies. Godzilla received a bit of a panning from the critics (although I personally quite liked it), then Dark Phoenix took an even bigger hit in the reviews, which I completely agree with. And now we have a sequel that nobody asked for, to a movie which has already had a couple of fairly average sequels, which has also received a wave of early bad reviews this week. To be honest, the trailer for Men In Black International certainly looked a bit....meh. A bunch of random stuff happening, no real indication of any plot, some annoying looking CGI aliens and an attempt to just coast off the back of having Thor and Valkyrie reunited on screen. I still remember how memorable the original trailer for the 1997 MIB movie was when it featured in cinemas - the shades, the guns, the aliens, the massive flying saucer crash landing in front of a cool looking Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. This trailer had none of that wow factor, but I went in, hopeful as always that the reviews were wrong.

The movie begins in 2016, with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) as they ascend the Eiffel Tower, interrupting a man who is about to propose to his partner, before saving the world from an incoming alien race called The Hive. Then we jump back 20 years into the past to a family who are disturbed one night by a cute little alien in their back garden. As the young daughter, Molly, hides the alien in her bedroom, she looks out of her window to see her parents as they are neuralysed by a couple of Men in Black.

Back in present day, Molly (Tessa Thompson) is now all grown up, but hasn't forgotten that eventful night. While working in a call centre, she uses her computer to connect to satellite equipment in order to track alien landings and therefore try and gain access to the Men in Black, and hopefully get a job with them. Eventually finding her way into their headquarters, she is recruited by Agent O (Emma Thompson) and sent on her first mission, where she partners up with Agent H. The pair get caught up in a mission involving an assassinated alien VIP and some kind of super weapon. And, as the title of the movie suggests, plenty of international travel, as we switch between New York, London, Paris and Marrakesh.

The problem is, whereas the original Men in Black boasted a lot of humour, along with some great visual gags and action and a great double act, in the form of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this movie does nothing to successfully recapture any of that. As much as I love Chris Hemsworth, I felt that he was the worst thing about this movie. Somebody simply thought they'd take the character of Thor and try to have that for the entire movie, but without making him funny, heroic or even that likeable in the process. As with Dark Phoenix recently, a great cast is let down by an awful script, with any attempts at humour or entertainment falling completely flat.

Elsewhere, the fun and wacky inventiveness behind the different alien species in the original movie is completely absent here. Apart from some interesting and formidable twin villains, there's a fairly wasted role for Rebecca Ferguson as a three armed ex lover of Agent H. Otherwise, the main alien throughout the movie is just an annoying little CGI character.

To be fair, there are a couple of fun action sequences and some nice visuals, but overall this is just a completely forgettable and unnecessary movie. Here's hoping that Toy Story 4 will finally bring us a worthy blockbuster when it opens later this week.
  
The Children Act (2018)
The Children Act (2018)
2018 | Drama
9
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci in a movie together... yeeeees. Get me a ticket immediately. Based on a book by Ian McEwan, and no of course I haven't read it. I was exoecting something run of the mill, good, but nothing with a wow factor. I certainly wasn't expecting to be having to stiffle sobs and tears.

The heart breaking story really does get you caught up. Watching Fiona's hard and logical exterior break is really something to behold. How I wasn't blind from the tears when she started performing their song at the recital I will never know. Although, full disclosure, at that point I was leaning on my hands with my cardigan sleeves firmly wedged under the rims of my glasses.

Having never really had any faith, or certainly never any that I would have been so conflicted over, I can't say how accurate a portrayal it was, but it felt traumatisingly real.

As a smaller release this was allocated one of the dinky screens that has about 120 seats. A third of the seats were taken, and I'm going to make wild assumptions now, I would guess that they were all in book groups.

To go off-piste a bit... I mentioned in a previous post that I feel like it's the adults that cause the most disturbance at the cinema. This showing would prove my point. At the beginning I couldn't hear the ads over the noise of the 30 odd people at the time (and they were very odd) talking so loud. I have been to quieter bars.

That was followed up by two people moving seats after the film started, and when the couple next to them started rustling a sweet bag the guy told them to stop as it was annoying him... Don't have the cheek to lecture people when you shouldn't even be sitting there. Random annoying people is something you have to suck up. I bitch about it on Twitter, not to the actual people. When you buy a ticket you're basically checking the box that says "if I end up next to a monster, so be it." I'm super passive aggressive when it comes to people like that, I can almost guarantee that in the same situation I would have missed the rest of the film because I'd be sitting there staring at him as I rustled the bag deliberately for the next two hours.

The moral of this story is don't be a dick to people about something that is expected in the cinema... because you might be sitting next to me.
  
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
2013 | Comedy, Drama
One of the greatest Disney classics, “Mary Poppins” has a unique history on its long journey from the page to the silver screen. In “Saving Mr. Banks”, the twenty year battle between Walt Disney and the notoriously difficult author is told in a touching and gripping tale.

Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney who after making a promise to his daughters to bring their beloved Mary Poppins books to life embarks on a frustrating battle with author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), that lasts twenty years.

Faced with financial need following a lack of published materials, Travers reluctantly agrees to travel from her home in London to meet with Disney to discuss signing over the rights to her beloved character. Travers is a very abrupt individual who has no problem speaking her mind and is not one to spare feelings with her cutting and direct barbs.

Travers has little love for animation, Disneyland, or the whimsy that accompanies all things Disney and is terrified that her beloved Mary Poppins will be turned into some silly and childish film, hence her reluctance to sign over the theatrical rights.

Over the two weeks of her visit to California, Walt, and the talented Sherman Brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) endure her icy behavior, harsh criticisms and intolerance for their work and efforts. Travers is horrified with everything from their casting choices to the inclusion of music and many aspects of the script and look of the characters.

Undaunted, Walt and company press on in the face of overwhelming adversity and unending opposition from Travers and slowly but surely make progress in appeasing Travers as they bring the film closer and closer to fruition.

What follows is a very moving, funny and enjoyable tale that is powered by outstanding performances by the two leads and the very strong supporting cast, especially that of Paul Giamatti who plays a driver named Ralph who has to endure the venom of Travers has he drives her around during her stay.

The film does a good job of showing what Travers endured as a child thanks to her alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), and how her experiences with his struggles helped form the woman she was to become.

While aspects of the true story have been softened somewhat in the final act from what happened in reality, the film is very honest and effective.

Many of the memorable classic songs from the movie appear in the film but are done in a very natural way as they are introduced to viewers as they are being introduced to the characters in the film.

While some aspects of the film may be a little darker than people would come to expect from a Disney movie, the film is a very enjoyable experience that is not to be missed.

http://sknr.net/2013/12/13/saving-mr-banks/
  
Brave (2012)
Brave (2012)
2012 | Animation, Comedy, Family
The digital wizards at Pixar have an incredible dossier of Academy award-winning animated films. Their latest film “Brave“, is a prime example of the bold new direction for the company behind such classics as “Finding Nemo“, “Toy Story“, “The Incredible’s“, and “Monsters, Inc.” just to name a few. This time out Scotland provides the setting for the animation masters to weave their magic, and they do in a splendid 3-D feast of sight, sound, and color that captures the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

For Princess Merida (Kelly Madonald), life is filled with joy and frustration. As the daughter to King Fergus (Billy Connolly), and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), she has to walk a fine line between the duties and expectation of her mother and her freewheeling lifestyle of daring and adventure. The young Princess is content to ride through the countryside astride her horse Angus, and perfect her already admirable archery skills.

When Merida learns that her parents have summoned the other major clans so that a worthy suitor can be chosen, Merida rebels openly at their plan and causes great embarrassment to her family during a competition. In a fit of rebellious anger, Merida rides into the woods, and comes upon a witch who promises to create for the young princess a spell that will forever change her destiny. Although not done out of malice, the spell has some on expected consequences that threatens the future of the kingdom as well as the safety of Merida’s family.

The film has some outstanding performances, not the least of which is Connolly, who was an absolute delight whenever his character was on screen. Supporting work by Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane complement the leads well. Since my mother is a Scot, I am all-too-familiar with not only the history but culture of Scotland. I had been concerned when I first heard the project that it would play up on certain stereotypes and miss the true complexity and splendor of Scotland and its people, as well as it’s extremely rich history which is filled with numerous technical and literary achievements over the centuries.

Thankfully my concerns were allayed very early in the film not simply because of the amazing visual detail of the movie but also because of the lovable but quirky characters. The writers and animators managed to capture the very nature of the people and the culture, which is no easy thing in an animated film. Kudos for the casting of the mostly Scottish cast who played their roles with relish. I can honestly say hearing King Fergus address the clans brought to mind my aunts, uncles and cousins thanks to the distinct Scottish brogue. I especially liked the fact that when conflict erupted (of course) amongst even the best of friends, there are some very clever ways that laughs were gained without turning the characters into buffoons or being overly cute.

While the film plays it fairly safe with the story, Pixar’s first female heroine gives us a very fun and enjoyable tale that offers something for the entire family without talking down to the audience or having to resort to crude humor. A few scenes may be a bit intense for youngsters and while it will not be cited for any technological breakthroughs Brave, nonetheless, is highly entertaining.