Tag Archives: Emilia Clarke

Last Christmas

Emma Thompson writes a holiday rom-com inspired by the music of George Michael? Can. Not. Compute.

Kate (Emilia Clarke), having recently recovered from a major illness, is sort of spinning her wheels in life. A weekend job she took in a year-round Christmas store has turned into a permanent position. Singing at auditions isn’t bringing her joy. She avoids going home because her overbearing mother Petra (Emma Thompson) is a piece of work and maybe wishes Kate was still sick. She’s just going through the motions, sowing some oats, not being a very good friend or daughter or sister or employee. Not being very good to herself. Still, she’s a little embarrassed that her negligence resulted into a break-in at the store. Her boss, Santa (Michelle Yeoh), has a brusque exterior but is decent and kind at heart. This is your wake up call, Kate, even if she doesn’t yet know how to answer it.

Around this time, two mysterious men show up in or around the store: one for Santa, and one for Kate. Kate is curious about Tom (Henry Golding) but not overly attracted to him. Still, they start spending a lot of time together, and he grows on her, not least of all because he’s someone she can confide in. He listens to her, wants the best for her, helps her restart her life. He’s the perfect guy, basically, with a whimsy to him and an irresistible smile.

You might say the trailers are a bit misleading but we should have known that Emma Thompson (who came up with the story along with husband Greg Wise and co-wrote the script with Bryony Kimmings) wouldn’t be responsible for a run-of-the-mill rom-com. If you divorce yourself from the concept, I think you’ll find the film is actually pretty worthwhile. And can we just have a moment of appreciation for cinematographer John Schwartzman who seems to have lit a movie entirely with Christmas lights? Magnifique!

I straddled a line with this movie – I hate to do Christmassy things too early in the ‘season’ – for me, Christmas doesn’t really start until December 7th, and I don’t like to do anything much before December 1st. Of course, having this site forces me to watch holiday movies far in advance of that, so I’ve only just seen Last Christmas despite its November 8th release (of course, wait too long and it may no longer be in theatres). It didn’t fill me with the Christmas spirit, though that’s not offered as a criticism – it did satisfy me as a movie-goer. Talented actors play flawed characters who don’t normally populate romantic films, yet they still deserve their happy endings. Small bits of politics are kneaded artfully into the dough. But even if the batter tastes familiar, this ain’t no cookie-cutter Christmas movie.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

SoloThey pulled it off! Despite the director change and the “creative differences” and the reshoots, Solo: A Star Wars Story is not only a coherent film, it’s a film that lives up to the legacy of the best Star Wars character, hands down: that loveable scoundrel, Han Solo.

Solo is a prequel done right. We get to see those legendary events referred to in the original trilogy, which is what you’d expect. But what you can’t count on, and what Solo delivers, it that those moments live up to the hype AND  fit into a grand adventure that doesn’t feel like a dull connect-the-dots exercise the same way Episodes 1-3 did. Clearly, Lawrence Kasdan should have been writing all the Star Wars films. The script for Solo is a masterful work by Kasdan and his son Jon. The elder Kasdan has stated this was his last Star Wars script, which makes me sad mainly because that feels like the final nail in Han’s coffin.

At least we will always have Solo. While Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t exactly channel Harrison Ford, his take on Han is a credible version of the charming smuggler we know and love.  Woody Harrelson is solid (as always) as Han’s mentor, and Emilia Clarke adds a lot as Han’s childhood sweetheart, but it’s Donald Glover who steals the show as a note-perfect Lando Calrissian (and kudos to both Glover and the Kasdans for maintaining Lando’s hard-A spin on Han’s name). Here’s hoping that rumoured Lando spinoff gets greenlit soon. Lando’s so much cooler than the bumbling Boba Fett, whose spinoff is already in production!

Don’t been dissuaded by the (relatively) poor box office results. Solo: A Star Wars Story is a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon and a great way to spend an afternoon at the movies, which is, after all, what the original Star Wars aspired to be.

Me Before You(thanasia)

We saw this movie against our wills. It was part of a double bill we had no interest in seeing but it was at the drive-in on the warmest, most starry, most perfect drive-in night of the year, and it couldn’t be helped.

The premise: a young woman named Lou (Emilia Clarke) goes to work at a castle, caring for a recently quadriplegic man, Will (Sam Claflin). Cut down in the prime of his life and 635906306787211507-XXX-ME-BEFORE-YOUunable to accept his new limitations and circumstances, Will is surly and depressed. It makes for an unpleasant work environment for Lou but her financial desperation keep her hanging on, just barely, and that’s BEFORE she finds out he’s wickedly suicidal. Will’s in favour of going to Switzerland for end of life treatment now that life’s rather small and joyless, but he’s promised his parents six months, so he’s gritting his teeth as he suffers through them. Lou’s going to save him of course, with her quirk and her chattiness and her colourful penchant for terrible shoes, even if she has to make him fall in love with her to do it.

First of all, this felt very much like a poor man’s rip off of The Intouchables, in which another unlikely friendship blossoms between quadriplegic and caregiver, also marked by a disparity between social class. But I’d heard that Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart were set for that particular  (unnecessary) remake (read: lazy Americans hate subtitles!). I guess this one justifies itself by having a predictable and pedestrian romantic twist that even the dude’s mother (Janet McTeer!) sees coming from a mile away, even without help from her turret. Because again: they live in a freaking castle. It’s a good thing that disabled people Emilia-Clarke-and-Sam-Claflin-in-Me-Before-Youare always so ridiculously wealthy. Life might actually look a little bleak without the tricked out vans, front row orchestra seats, fully accommodated living spaces, round the clock care, and even accessible tropical travel destinations. It kind of makes you wonder whether these poverty-stricken caregivers are falling in love with their patient, or with their patient’s lifestyle. And in this movie at least, Will truly does not have anything to give but his money. He’s just an angry guy in a chair.

And his tissue-thin character isn’t even the worst. Lou is played over-exuberantly by Emilia Clarke in such a way that I just wanted to hold her down, knee on neck, and wax those damn eyebrows off. I usually love a big juicy eyebrow but watching hers jump all over her face like not one but two hungry caterpillars were performing a pixi-stix-fuelled ballet made me want to lob a bug bomb at the screen and call it a night. Her tone was completely wrong for the film and as much as Will was a grump unworthy of love, I think she’d be even less of an attractive mate, particularly to someone who can’t get away. Luckily, if you begin to feel queasy about the whole Cinderella\sugar daddy in a wheel chair “plot”, you can distract yourself with the many swelling ballads obnoxiously shoved into the movie willy-nilly. Worst movie music ever? You decide, but I will say this: this is a two-Ed-Sheeran-songs kind of movie. That’s probably enough said.

So now we can get to the meat: the disabled community HATES this movie. Will wants to die because life as he knew it is over, and they feel like that’s a pretty horrible attitude to me_before_you_lowresproject onto the world, and they’re not wrong. Is this a disability snuff film? Disabled lives are worth living, and many are living well. However, living with a disability and living with pain are not the same. I live with both, and am extremely glad that I live in a place where I have the “right” to die. It’s not in my immediate plans, but some days just knowing I have that option is all that gets me out of bed. When the pain is bad, I know that I can end my suffering when I choose, and that gives me strength. If you think love conquers all, then you’ve never walked a mile in my shoes. Pain conquers all. Pain is bigger than the whole world.

Disabled people are people: they should be respected and portrayed fairly in TV and film as part of our diverse world. And it’s a really sad commentary when the only time they’re included in the conversation is when they’re being presented like this, the object of an impossible romance and too big a burden to live. But the right to die is about dignity. Whether Will (or anyone) decides euthanasia is the right thing for them or not, it’s a deeply personal decision, and maybe it’s time the rest of us stop judging.

Terminator: Genisys

There were already a lot of strikes against this movie and then to add insult to injury, I had to double check the “correct” spelling of Genisys.  The agony this movie is inflicting on me seems endless.  And with that, I have tipped my hand as to how this review is going to end.

Terminator: Genisys is a complete mess, which sadly has been a recurring theme for this franchise over the last 20 years.  So in that regard, I can understand why rebooting it makes sense, particularly since the original Judgment Day was in 1997, so when that came and went it made the franchise feel a little dated.

But the way they handled the reboot just trampled all over the first two films, which I still consider to be two of the best sci-fi movies of all time (with the second one being one of my all-time favourite movies period, having seen it at least 25 times because when 14-year-old me was in a hotel for a swim meet one weekend, I figured out how to watch pay-per-view for free, so had this movie on repeat every minute I was in the room).  I’m not even sure if I need to be careful with the big twist, since James Cameron spoiled it for me repeatedly in Cineplex’s pre-show.

Without even referring specifically to it I may still give it away.  My complaint is simple: somehow someone decided that a good plot twist would be to do something to one of the franchise’s main characters that renders every movie to date, including this one, totally irrelevant.  I have no idea why that ever seemed like a good plan.  Sure, it makes it easy to put a new timeline in place going forward, but even if that was the plan, the movie fails as a reboot because the ending leaves us with no momentum whatsoever and no reason to anticipate the next movie in the series (if there even is one after this debacle).

I often complain about reboots and, in particular, rehashes of origin stories as a reboot mechanism.  Well, this reboot mechanism is worse.  And that has me really shaking my head in disbelief, that somehow they found a way to be worse than the lazy reboots, because it seems they did really try with this one.  Unfortunately, it’s just so misguided and so unfaithful to what has come before that it offends me.  It brings me almost to the level of hatred I had for the Star Wars prequels.  Terminator and Terminator 2 were movies I absolutely loved as a teenager and basically, this movie is the equivalent of Skynet sending a robot back to 1991 to repeatedly punch me in the groin while I was watching T2 for the first time, thereby changing the course of history and preventing me from ever liking it.  And this time, the robots won.

I’m not even giving this a rating.  I’m too angry.