Tag Archives: rosamund pike

What We Did On Our Holiday

Abi and Doug take their kids on a little holiday to Scotland where grandpa Gordie is celebrating a big birthday – and possibly his last. It’s the cancer, you see, which is why Abi and Doug are determined to keep a wee little secret from his dad: they’re divorcing. Have been acrimoniously separated for quite some time. So of course they’ll have to enlist their three precious children into this lying scheme of theirs, and of course that’s not going to be easy. The eldest child is just starting to think that lying is wrong, and being forced to lie by the people who have always taught you not to is just a little hypocritical. The two littler ones are just straight up liabilities. So this is going to be a fun holiday!

I clicked on this because I saw Rosamund Pike plays Abi (and David Tennant her ex-husband) but was most pleased to find Billy Connolly playing grandpa Gordie. He brings such a unique energy to things, I was immediately swept off my feet. And this MV5BMTc0Mjg1OTAxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzgxNjYwNjE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_is not exactly an excellent movie. But Connolly is pretty much everything you could ask for and more, and the kid actors are a goddamn delight. They’re mouthy and disarming – the kind that completely enchant you, unless they’re yours. But they’re not, so you can sit back while your own are in bed and watch their antics, guilt-free. Because oh yes, there will be antics. It’s a silly little film that, in the end, I enjoyed quite thoroughly. It’s a notch above a time-waster; a movie that doesn’t need to be seen with any pressing urgency but if you come across it randomly you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, as I did.

Billy Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer right before filming began. He kept that to himself. He has stepped out of the spotlight since and his health is failing; he shocked people with his altered appearance when he made time to do a Red Nose video for charity earlier this year. I can’t quite bear to contemplate a world with Connolly in it. If you’re a fan of his, maybe watch this movie now, while the memories are still good.

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A United Kingdom

In the late 1940s, Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland is studying law in Britain to help prepare for his eventual ascension to the throne back home. As the fates would have it, while he’s there he meets and falls in love with a clerk, Ruth Williams, and they plan to marry. One slight hitch: she is a white woman. He is a black African prince. Hard screen_shot_20160825_at_4.36.44_pm_1.png.CROP.cq5dam_web_1280_1280_png.pngto say who their love most angers: her family, his constituents, or the status quo. Interracial marriage wasn’t exactly popular in 1940s England, and her whiteness isn’t even the whole problem: her social status is far beneath that of a prince. But they marry anyway, anticipating disapproval, unprepared for the reality of the diplomatic firestorm and political tumult their marriage would actually entail. His right to the throne is threatened, as is her life. He is threatened with exile, she with ostracism. Still, they persist in their love, not just of each other, but for the people of the new Republic of Botswana.

Director Amma Asante did the film Belle, which I truly loved. In this movie you can feel how earnestly she strove for realism: the real home of Ruth & Seretse was used. Their grandson makes a brief appearance. Botswanans were invited to be cast as extras, with 3000 showing up for the first day of filming! The real hospital where Ruth gave birth is used. And the singing  during a pivotal scene in which Ruth finally gains a measure of acceptable from the tribe’s women, that was spontaneous and beautiful.

 

head-2-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqLCkbV0Cud8CVjQLblQrpKnudqrdmUogVvFNupiOyznIDavid Oyelow and Rosamund Pike play the lead roles and you couldn’t ask for a better acted movie. Oyelow is dignified as this humble prince, Pike strong and heart-breaking. They help strike a balance between the passion of their love and the stark reality of apartheid. It would be easy for one of these plot lines to swallow the other, but Asante manages float above it, entangling both, as would have been the case in real life.

It’s an inspiring forgotten story, tastefully and thoughtfully made, but for me, it just failed to really engage. Such a soaring story should really stir you up in the watching, but I found it a bit boring, the story telling too conventional. It’s still a worthy watch for knowledge’s sake alone, but it lacked a true spark.

 

Gone Girl

Gone Girl is director David Fincher’s most successful film to date and most people are familiar with it and, if you’re not, the less you know the better so I will skip the usual plot summary.

Despite Golden Globe nominations for best actress, screenplay, director, and original score, only actress Rosamund Pike walked away with a shot at an Oscar. Her best actress nomination makes sense, especially this year where the pool of strong female lead performances seems more shallow than it was over the last few years. We get to know Amazing Amy mostly through flashbacks and Pike’s eyes and haunting narration suggest she’s got secrets and we really want to find out what happened to her.

gone girl review

The fact that Gone Girl works so well though has a lot to do with Ben Affleck, who plays Amy’s husband. The press has picked on Ben almost as much as they did his Gone Girl character. It’s probably partly because he’s made more than his share of shitty movies. He also has this way about him though. He’s a charming enough guy but often can’t seem to help seeming insincere. Maybe it’s his, as Amy puts it, “villainous chin”. Or maybe it’s just hard to seem sincere under   a media microscope, where your every gesture is examined for signs of insincerity. Either way, he knows what it’s like to be bullied by the press and he seems to draw on that experience to deliver probably his best performance so far. Ben’s public life serves Gone Girl just as well as Michael Keaton’s did Birdman. Even that famous smugness of his works. His character’s a nice guy but we’re not always sure we believe him, as much as we’d like to. The way Affleck and Pike play it, we’re never quite sure what the truth is.

For another asshole’s point of view, click here.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Simon Pegg plays a psychiatrist who just burns out. One day he’s fine and the next he’s lost patience with his patients’ whining, with his hum-drum relationship, with his life in general and cannot shake that faux-naive question right there in the title of the movie: is he happy?

hectorhappinessSo off he goes, without really doing much self-examination, to “find” happiness, because maybe it’s hiding in China! He’s going to Eat, Pray, Love himself around the world (or, you know, pit stops in Africa and America, which is pretty much the world, right?) having crazy adventures and learning lessons (and just in case you missed those lessons, which are always stated clearly, they’re also written down AND illustrated! Stick, meet head).

I sort of liked the premise of this movie, because, spoiler alert: most of the Assholes (the exception being Sean) are also therapists, and what mental health professional doesn’t wonder about some magic formula for happiness? But none of us have ever gone on a worldwide treasure hunt for it, and I feel I could have saved Hector a lot of frequent flyer miles if only I could tell him: happiness is a choice you make right here at home.

But anyway. Hector’s not really trying to save his patients from unhappiness, he’s trying to heal himself (he just may not know it). So he must encounter lots of heavy-handed obstacles and predictably overcome them (with banners of terrible self-help platitudes earned like badges), and then mawkishly relive them just to drive the point home.

The movie is well-cast: Simon Pegg is affable, Rosamund Pike is fairly ill-used, the wonderful Toni Collette pops up all too briefly, Christopher Plummer provides some laughs late in the film, and Stellan Skarsgard, whom I love without ever understanding why, provides a bit of a counter-balance to Hector’s gung-ho naiveté. But none of these people can save the movie from itself, or from its patronizing tone.