Tag Archives: Colin Firth


A crazy man insisting he’s a genius wanders into Max’s office. He’s ranting, he’s raving, he doesn’t know that Max (Colin Firth) is already under his spell, has already been reading his manuscript, enthralled. And when Tom (Jude Law) learns that Max is on board, he can’t quite believe it – no other publisher has found his work worthwhile. Max is the first to take him seriously.

It turns out that Tom is Tom Wolfe and Max is editor to the greatest literary minds of the genius-leadtime, counting F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) among his authors. They’re all jealous of each other, of course, all big egos with weighty demands on Max’s time, and skill.  This movie will make you feel as though editors do not get paid nearly enough. It might also question just who is the Genius referred to in the title – is it the brilliant writer, or is the man editing his writing so that it may appear brilliant to others? Certainly Max is good at spotting talent, but also at shaping it.

Not everyone is grateful, however. Max’s wife Louise (Laura Linney) feels neglected. Tom’s wife Aline feels even worse: she feels replaced. Aline (Nicole Kidman) isn’t even properly his wife – she left her husband and her children just as they were grown to be with Tom and feel needed by him. She supported him for years as he wrote feverishly, as the rejection letters piled up around them. But now that his work has found a home, and an audience, he doesn’t need her as much, and she knows it. She is obsolete, and she warns Max that he may soon be the same.

The real meat of the story is the relationship between writer and editor, the ugly push and genius-official-trailer-14960-largepull necessary to hone a manuscript into a masterpiece. Max Perkins has an excellent track record but still prefers to hide behind an editor’s anonymity, still grapples with the fear of having “deformed” someone’s work.


Colin Firth never sets a foot wrong, so it’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why this movie isn’t great. I suppose if I had just the one word it would be: superficial. I suppose it must be a great headache to make writing and editing, two very quiet, solitary activities, seem cinematic, and I can tell you that director Michael Grandage has not found the way to make them seem otherwise. Firth is fatherly, Law is petulant, Linney saintly though ill-serviced by the script, Kidman downright unhinged. It just never really gels. After more than 100 minutes, I was left thinking: is that it? The story is sufficiently interesting that I will look up the book upon which it is based, not because the movie left me wanting more, but because it left me needing more, which is never a good sign.



Bridget Jones’s Baby

My biggest problem with the Bridget Jones series has always been with Bridget herself. I find her a bit insufferable. She’s whiny and vacuous and quite self-absorbed. I think she’s supposed to be relatable, but I always find her an insult to women everywhere. However, with both of my dreamboats Colin Firth and Hugh Grant on board, I couldn’t help but succumb to Bridget and her wanton ways.

In this newest incarnation, Hugh Grant is dead, and his cavernously-bridget-jones-gallery-01inadequate replacement is Patrick Dumpsey. I am very firmly NOT aboard the McDreamy train. I am on the station platform, eyebrow cocked, arms crossed, unamused ember in my eye, willing it to just get on with it already. Good riddance. The only thing I’ve known him from is Can’t Buy Me Love, and I’ve not been induced to rectify that. Still, I was unprepared for how astoundingly bad Dumpsey is in Bridget Jones’s Baby. Dear god. He’s really, really bad.

Bridget Jones, luckily, is a little more tolerable. Older now, she’s less obsessive about her weight (though this might be attributed to Renee Zellweger’s refusal to gain weight for the role), and accordingly more focused on her age. But 15-bridget-jones-baby_w529_h352she’s also got a nice social life and a good job, so she feels more well-rounded and less pathetic. Well done, feminism! And she isn’t whining and pining over two men, either. This time she’s chosen both, laid them both, and wound up pregnant. Who’s the daddy?

In a way it doesn’t matter. Bridget is 43 now, and more mature. She’s not man-hunting, she’s content to be by herself, to parent by herself. This message isn’t exactly served by the love fantasy it constantly alludes to. Firth’s character, actually called “Mr. Darcy” is every bit the prototypical Pride & Prejudice hero. Dumpsey gets a Cinderella storyline and does his best Prince Charming impression. Austen vs Disney: who would you choose? Bridget is as maddeningly flip-floppy as ever, but never mind. The real love story here is between Bridget and her baby, which is possibly the first thing this trilogy really gets right.


Weekend Round-Up

Project_Almanac_posterProject Almanac – I have mixed feelings about this one. I wasn’t bored by it, but the story is thin. I like the championing of the inventor, but I disliked the very trite time-travel routine, where the same costs and benefits are explored here as have been elsewhere a thousand times before. The kids are likeable enough but you know what? Enough with the “found footage” thing. It’s done. Let’s drop it.

colin-firth-alan-rickman-and-a-lion-feature-in-first-posters-for-gambitGambit – A movie with Colin Firth and Alan Rickman AND Stanley Tucci you want to like. But can you? It’s a remake, written by the Coen brothers, about an art thief who recruits ditzy Cameron Diaz to pull  a fast one on his boss – and then dares to be surprised when it doesn’t quite get pulled off as planned. Firth is solid and has great comic timing but Diaz exists on a level so far beneath him it’s not fair to either. I have the feeling Firth was hoping for The Big Lebowski but ended up in The Ladykillers. Better luck next time, y’all.

San Andreas – The three Assholes who went to see this together are also the same three Assholes planning a trip to shitty, shaky San Francisco next month. Oh sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Lots of wine, we heard, those weird, slopy streets, and just a beautiful coastal drive away from LA. San Andreas is not exactly a boon to tourism. Made it seem a little sanandreasreckless to travel there (let alone live there), in fact. But we survived the movie and as of this time have not cancelled our plane tickets, mostly because Sean couldn’t find the number. I watched this movie totally stressed out, from start to finish. Is there a plot to this thing? I have no idea. WATCH OUT FOR THAT FIRE! Is there good acting in this thing? I don’t know, does dodging debris count? WATCH OUT FOR THAT FLYING CRUISE SHIP! It was a disaster movie so jam-packed with disaster that some leaked out the sides. It keeps you so busy racing from one near-death experience to another that you never have time to question the holes in the movie, because every hole is filled with exploding glass – in 3D!

Dear Zachary: A Letter to his Son About his Father – In 2001, Andrew Bagby was brutally dearzacharymurdered. Soon after, his girlfriend, the prime suspect, announces she’s pregnant and Bagby’s bereaved parents have to interact with their son’s killer in order to gain any visitation with the grandson who looks just like him. This is a documentary Kurt Kuenne who isn’t a particularly talented documentarian, but who was Bagby’s best friend. This is a tribute to his friend, and also to the parents who went to great lengths to make a life for a grandchild born out of tragedy. I was prepared for this one to hurt my heart, but I wasn’t quite as prepared as I needed to be. Check it out on Netflix.

Aloha – Cameron Crowe’s greatest offense is being too successful too early in his career. Does this stand up to Almost Famous? No, it doesn’t. And not many movies would. But would people be giving Aloha as hard a time if it were written and directed by anyone else? This film is imperfect. It drags in places (but has flashes of brilliance to prop things up) and it tries to involve too many, which takes away from the central story, which is the one we’ve put our butts in the ALOHA-Movie-Reviewseats to see. Emma Stone plays Jennifer Lawrence opposite Bradley Cooper (what is it about Bradley Cooper, by the way, that his characters are constantly romancing women he could have fathered?). Anyway, he plays this deeply flawed individual and she plays so pert and perfect you want to punch her right in the googly eyes. But you’re supposed to root for them I think, even though Rachel McAdams makes a tantalizing (and age appropriate, while still being younger) alternative. They exchange some witty banter, some banal banter, look at an atrocious toe, and induce Billy Murray into a dance scene. It’s not a cohesive movie by a long shot, but nor is it as bad as the critics will tell you.  The story wants to be more than it is. The movie is beautiful but straight-forward. There’s very little art here. What we have in abundance is white people, puzzlingly, since it’s set in Hawaii, where the census tells us they’re relatively rare and Hollywood tells if you squint hard enough, George Clooney passes for Hawaiian.

goingclearGoing Clear – The more I learn, the less I understand. I didn’t learn anything new (in fact, nothing that’s not on the Wikipedia page), and I think they went a little soft on the former members they interviewed. Has anyone else seen this?

Kingsman: The Secret Service

It’s possible that director Matthew Vaughn cast Colin Firth just because the man looks damn finekingsman-the-secret-service-official-trailer-colin-firth-samuel-l-jackson1 in a suit. A whole clothing line was conceived for this film, which actually does hinge on refined bespoke menswear.

While in France, I saw this movie advertised as a cross between James Bond and Quentin Tarantino. Watching the film, the James Bond references slap you in the face – the martinis (gin, stirred for ten seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth), the gadgets, the weaponized body parts! And while it’s not quite a spoof, it’s definitely subversive. Colin Firth is a Kingsman, one of many gentlemen spies who teach the uncouth of the world lessons in manners while being blood-Kingsmen2-645x370lustfully unmannered themselves. He will beat you to a pulp, but he will do so with his couture umbrella. Which is possibly where the Tarantino flavour seeps in – not just in the casting of Firth, who took home an Oscar for his portrayal of a King, but was sent by Vaughn to a gym for 6 months, equipped with a signet ring\hand grenade, and unleashed on the world as an action star to take notice of – but in Firth’s character itself, “tea and testosterone” they’re calling it, a razor-sharp dichotomy you won’t be able to take your eyes off of. Nor should you – Vaughn dives right into the action, and that’s where he stays.

gazelleIs this a good movie? Having just wrapped up Oscar season, it’s hard to say a resounding yes. But it IS an awful lot of fun. It’s gleefully violent, unapologetically politically incorrect, and often seems to make a joke out of itself (not all of them land but there was a lot of laughter from the surprisingly hearty Kanata audience). Sam Jackson as the supervillain, lisping away as he takes over the world, is brilliant. He and Firth are having fun. And the young street punk recruited by Firth – played by newcomer Taron Egerton – who must compete with more conventional types to win a kingsman-secret-service-stillspot on the elite spy team brings not only a nice juxtaposition but yet another excuse for non-stop action. Vaughn has plenty of other movies to his credit (Layer Cake and Kick Ass) but this is the one he was born to direct, finally melding gangsters with superheroes and coming up with something all his own.

This movie is definitely not fit for grandma, nor for gentlemen. It’s an energetic bloodbath. It’s exuberantly excessive in its ultraviolence, stylishly brutal, an extravagant killfest. And it’s a massacre to which you’ll enjoy having a front-row seat.

Railway Man

Meet Colin Firth. Actually, for the next 108 minutes, you can call him Eric Lomax. He likes trains. colinfirthonatrainHe uses his vast train knowledge to woo women. On trains. He’s a man after Matt’s own heart. Matt likes trains. But wait! Just when you think you know where this movie is going, it turns from a movie about a guy who loves trains “a train enthusiast” he calls himself, into Unbroken, with slightly more trains.

the-railway-man08Like Unbroken, Railway Man is based on a true story. Unlike it, this guy turns out to be pretty broken (although if we’re being honest, so did the guy in Unbroken…yes, they’re very brave during the war, but they go home really sick and deal with their crap for the rest of their lives). During the rest of Lomax’s life, he failed to really deal with the flashbacks and the PTSD symptoms so when he meets Nicole Kidman (call her Patti) and marries her in quick succession, she’s pretty surprised by his violent dreams and his sobs and his emotional distance. He won’t talk about what’s happened to him, but whatever it is, it’s killing him. Patti goes to his friend and fellow vet to hear the story – how they were captured and lived in a Japanese camp as slaves, building their railway under horrid conditions. Lomax was singled out for all kinds of abuse, and it turns out that all these years later, his captor and abuser is still alive.

The abuse we witness through flashbacks is disturbing and disgusting, but it’s also presented to railwaymanus in a rather understated fashion. Because the movie is halved by into two time periods, “during the war” and “after”, we don’t get much (or enough) of either. It turns out be so similar to Unbroken (which I saw first, though this one preceded it in theatres) that it’s basically just the British version – with trains (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Before I Go To Sleep

Nicole Kidman plays a woman who wakes up peacefully in bed with her husband (Colin Firth), only she has no memory of him, or how she got there, or, come to think of it, of the past several years. Turns out, she’s had an accident that stops her from making any new memories, so every time she sleeps, she wipes out the day before and wakes up a stranger in her own body.BIGTS-0408-0758.tiff

The most embarrassing thing about this movie is that I’d forgotten I’d already seen it. It’s bad news to watch a movie about an amnesiac and not realize you’re actually rewatching it.

Anyway, it sounds, on paper, a lot like 50 First Dates, except things aren’t as rosy for Nicole as they were for Drew. There are holes in her story that even someone with a brain injury can see through, so there’s a little Momento mixed in, just for fun. A mysterious doctor and a friend from her past show up to help her solve the question mark, but she can’t be sure who to trust, beforebannerand neither can you. The brain trauma thing is kind of overused for such a rare disease, but it does put the viewer on equal footing with our poor, disoriented heroine. Her confusion makes for an unreliable narrator if ever there was one and so the who-dunnit unravels in darkness for her like it does for us.

The genre is tired and this one’s not adding much to the mix. It feels like it’s taken a page from sleep-plasticGone Girl, but lacks Fincher’s balls with the follow-through. The story demands more of our attention while actually deserving less. It does silly, unforgivable things like using the old “I have something important to tell you, but not over the phone!” and even worse, the old, “I’m being attacked and fear for my life but won’t yell for help.” Plus, director Rowan Joffe has these little tells, like constantly showing us a close-up of Kidman’s blood-shot eyes, that get annoying real quick. It’s a thriller that’s so banal and (ironically) forgettable, I accidentally watched it twice.


Magic in the Moonlight

Colin Firth plays magician Wei Ling Soo (aka Stanley) brought in to a wealthy family’s home to debunk Emma Stone’s Sophie, a beautiful young medium who Stanley is sure is a swindler.Magic-in-the-Moonlight-onesheet

I want to say that Woody Allen films have been pretty hit or miss with me lately, only I can’t think of any hits. Last year’s Blue Jasmine cast an admittedly stellar Cate Blanchett but other than a great performance, I’m not sure the movie really did anything for me. I was similarly unmoved by Midnight in Paris. His movies for the past  couple of decades have been lighter and less ambitious (not to mention white-washed). This one, as a rom-com, is standard formula, but it does start off with some really great questions of belief. Stanley is a rational man who believes only in what his (5) senses can tell him. The convincing and bewitching young psychic have him doubting his entire existence, and for the first time, he’s feeling happy about life.

Magic in the Moonlight has some great dialogue, which Allen is known for, but also some heavy-handed expository stuff, which I find unforgivable. Allen’s motto of late seems to be quantity over innovation. He’s a very productive writer\director, but what is he presenting that is new? What he shoots is beautiful, but also predictable and safe.

Colin Firth is the Cate Blanchett of this movie, he makes it worth watching. The romantic nature barely concealed under disdain and haughtiness and a dash of intellectualism. Swoon. Emma Stone I was less sure of. I asked Sean, is she very bad in this, or is she always this bad, or is she pretending to be this bad? We weren’t sure. But I was pretty sure that I felt a little creeped out to see Colin Firth kiss her. Now why is that?

Emma Stone, the actress, is 26. But Emma Stone looks quite young and is playing quite young in this film. Hollywood makes no bones about pairing ingenues with daddy types, and either way, I am definitely on team Colin. He could tongue me any day he pleased even though at age 54, he is older than my mother.

So here it is. At what point does what we know about a morally corrupt artist taint the art that he produces? My repulsion to the kiss was not a conscious reaction to Woody Allen: film maker and child molester. But clearly these are serious allegations and so how do we feel when he continues to work out his neuroticism and sexual dysfunction on-screen? I’m not saying that art is confession (although it sometimes is), but I’m wondering at the correspondence between the characters he writes and the crimes we hear about in the newspapers. It’s troubling. Criticism must be within context. A movie written and directed by Woody Allen cannot be considered as wholly detached from Woody Allen the man.  His female characters are never well-developed, and the men in his movies, including ones he’s played himself, are very often emotionally stunted, and almost always chasing after some uncomfortably young tail.

So how do we watch Woody Allen movies going forward? Or should we not?

Love Actually

I’ve actually started packing away my copy of Love Actually with my Christmas decorations every year, which limits my viewing of it to just once, annually. This is a necessary precaution because it’s way too easy for me to get swept away in this movie.Love_Actually_movie

It feels like the ultimate romantic movie, possibly because in this movie Hugh Grant AND Colin Firth both get the girl. But for every frenzied makeout session, there’s also a cold, awkward peck on the cheek. Your heart breaks as much as it soars. There’s grand gestures, and well thought-out lingerie, slow dancing cheek to cheek, and enough first kisses to charm even the more cynical hearts.

But for me, this movie excels not in its romantic tropes, but in the darker corners. You don’t need this movie to tell you that Emma Thompson is superb, but it does confirm it. The scene when she’s in the bedroom, having just unwrapped Joni Mitchell instead of jewelry, is moving and real. Only a few moments (and even fewer tears) are devoted to her broken heart and we watch her pull herself back together to give her children a smiling, overbright Christmas. Only an extended hug for brother David belies just how much she’s hurting. This movie happens to take place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and while the magic of the season seems to heighten the romantic aspects, and give courage to those who need it, it also highlights the loneliness, the forced joviality, the false cheer.

There’s probably some sort of personality test about which couple your root for in this movie, but I must confess, I also adore the non-romantic-couple bits: the sweet and silly bromance between Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and his fat manager, the sacrifice of Sarah (Laura Linney) for her institutionalized brother, the shared grief and renewed bond between Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his young stepson.

I’ve been watching this movie for a decade and I still squeal at all my favourite parts: the papier-mache lobster head, the Rowan Atkinson gift wrapping, the Beatles sendoff, Hugh Grant dancing unselfconsciously, the falling in love by subtitles between Jamie and Aurelia, Martin Freeman warming up his hands for “the nipples,” Rick Grimes taking a break from zombies. This movie has it all, and I’ve certainly heard it criticized for being over-stuffed, but personally I wouldn’t know which subplot to cut. Sure it’s self-indulgent, but watching this movie every year is a gift I give myself.



The assholes will be reviewing their favourite holiday movies all December long, so stay tuned!