Tag: Great Britain

The Queen

August 1st, 2014 — 6:53pm

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The Queen-nf- As Americans we never quite understood how and why the British people hold their royal family in such esteem. Also, while being full grown adult at the time of the auto accident that claimed the life of Princess Diana, who was by then divorced from Prince Charles, we never understood why there was such a big deal about her funeral. Well, this more or less docudrama focuses on both of these subjects. Thanks to the screenplay by Peter Morgan and the direction David Frears, plus the outstanding acting by Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth and Michael Sheen, as newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair, we are treated to a sophisticated exploration of inner workings of the royal court and what is purported be an accurate rendition of the complicated feeling of all the players in this drama. A fascinating story unravels, which shows the Queen and the royal family with the exception of Prince Charles, reluctant to make a big deal, a royal funeral or any public statements about the sudden tragic death of Diana. Whereas the people of Great Britain and eventually people around the world who were taken up with her life style and her many charitable good deeds were very much affected and were drawn to follow her funeral and participate in the grieving, the royal family felt that she was no longer royalty and there should be just a private funeral. Actual film clips of the large numbers of tearful people in the streets and many inundating the outside of Buckingham Palace with flowers were shown. Blair appreciates the importance to the British people to grieve this loss and realized the mistake that the Queen was making by staying in her country home, not returning to Buckingham Palace and raising the flag at half mast. At one point he even detected a growing sentiment that could lead to the British people wanting to perhaps even remove the monarchy, which they had revered for hundred of years. He tried to counsel the Queen and she responds. In another source we found information that reported that the writer Peter Morgan reconstructed the events of the week after the death of Princess Diana through extensive interviews with many unnamed sources close to the real Prime Minister and the royal family. Many of these sources were able to corroborate the accounts of others, giving Morgan enough information to imagine the intervening scenes, which were portrayed in the movie. Helen Mirren was at her best in this film and won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Actress. The film itself won the most coveted award of an Academy Award Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year. But perhaps the highest compliment for Ms. Mirren was the observation by the writer Mr. Morgan that, by the end of production, crewmembers who had been accustomed to slouching or relaxing when they addressed her were standing straight up and respectfully folding their hands behind their backs. She was the Queen. (2006)


Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

The Iron Lady

January 22nd, 2012 — 6:42pm



The Iron Lady- rm-  An alternate name for this movie might be Margaret Thatcher meets Golden Pond but more about that a little later. The take away story of this movie is that Meryl Streep turned in an unbelievable performance as the famed British Prime Minister. The strength, character and the obstinacy of this woman during the height of her career comes across as most authentic as did her  sensitivity, vulnerability and reminiscences in her twilight years.  Streep once again establishes herself as one of the outstanding actresses of our time (in this case helped somewhat by a great makeup job as she ages.) The movie shows the development of the conservative philosophy of Thatcher as the young daughter of a grocer who then with an Oxford education carries forth her social and political beliefs as she becomes a Member of Parliament. We get a sense of  her determination not to be deterred as she takes her place in what is essentially an old boy’s club. The movie drops the audience in the middle of the exciting British  history as we see Thatcher stand up for her philosophical view on economic issues such as trying to balance the budget which triggered violent responses by the masses of people who felt they were being treated unfairly. We see her make the decision to go to war against Argentina in the Falkland Island incident with the loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives although nothing substantial but Britain’s pride was at stake. Certainly these depictions are quite timely as they reflect the political debate going on now as the United States Conservative and Tea Party movements demand balanced financial budgets at the expense taking away services to the needy. The movie also reminds us of the split among various factions on how our own military should react. The movie was at it’s best when it showed Thatcher carrying out her conservative philosophy and dealing with the consequences of it. We wish we could have seen more of this. Instead, a good part of the storyline dealt with the vehicle of viewing Thatcher as an older woman with memory problems who is grieving the death of her husband (Jim Broadbent) and having hallucinatory visions of him.  She is also having flashbacks of her relationship with him and her early life. It is always an unhappy story when a person’s mind fails them in later life and that certainly can happen to anyone. We don’t see how such a sad occurrence was relevant to Thatcher’s story, whether it was actually true and what was the purpose of emphasizing this in the film. There also is a vague suggestion that her dedication to her career has somehow made her distant from her children. If the writer (Abi Morgan) and director (Phyllida Lloyd) were trying to make a point about how this actually happened in Thatcher’s life, this should have been more clearly delineated. While we believe the story leaves something to be desired, the performance by Streep makes the movie quite worthwhile. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, History


March 17th, 2011 — 7:43pm


Cracks sp- The title of this movie according Juno Temple, one of the stars of it who was at our screening, comes from South African slang meaning “crushes” such as being enamored with someone. The movie is set in the 1930s on a small island, which is part of Great Britain where there is a girl’s boarding school. The girls who seem to be of high school age are formed in teams and one of the teacher leaders is beautiful Miss G ( Eva Green who was a James Bond girl in previous movie ). The girls seem to idolize Miss G who tells them stories of her travels and encourages them they can do anything they set their mind to do. Di ( Juno Temple) is one of the more accomplished young girls and is a leader of the group, is a great swimmer and diver  and prime follower of Miss G. Along comes a new girl sent to the island by her Spanish aristocrat family  to join the school and their group. Fiamma (Maria Valverde) is beautiful, intelligent and an  even better diver (symbolic of her great skills). She is worldly and has traveled in ways that Miss G has only imagined. The dynamics of the relationship between teacher and the girls is dramatically changed and the meaning of “cracks” comes to a boiling point. On this magnificent island that gives you the feeling of everything being the same for so many years, we have a contrast of confusion and turmoil in these young women. The question that we have is will this interesting and powerful story grab and hold the audience. We found ourselves pondering that question, rather than empathizing and being taken up by the movie. Juno Temple who spoke with our audience after the film, related how first time Director Jordon Scott (daughter of Ridley Scott) had the actresses playing the students write an essay of what they imagined was their own back story which they read to each other so they would understand their characters. Perhaps one of the problems was that we as the audience were not in on this background. This may be why we found the  characters to be  somewhat “cardboard like”  and stereotypical. While they were quite different, we didn’t know them as individuals. In the end, nothing will ever be the same but we are not really sure why. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Pirate Radio

September 8th, 2010 — 1:00am

Pirate Radio* * *
Pirate Radio
– nf – This is just the type of movie we don’t mind having missed in the movie theatre and then catching at home on the couch while we eat our favorite treat.

It is a feel good movie that is fun to watch. We are introduced to the premise in the opening as we are told that in the year 1966 British Rock and Roll is on the music scene scene …but no one in Great Britain was allowed to listen to it on the radio…even though approximately half of the people there, 25 million people, were listening to it on sea going pirate radio stations. Then we are introduced to a great ensemble of characters who are the DJs on this boat Rock Radio floating in the North Sea and beaming music back to Great Britain. The movie grows on you as you get to know the personalities on the boat and a few little subplots- the most significant one being that the British government is planning to shut them down. The DJs reflect the exuberance and rebelliousness of the music of the time. There is a great soundtrack throughout the film which matches the mood of the events being depicted. The acting was excellent by mostly British actors with a standout performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman . It was written and directed by Richard Curtis who also did Four Weddings and A Funeral. Billed as a comedy, we found it a charming film which will touch a nostalgic button in many rock and roll fans. (2009)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance

Dear Frankie

January 16th, 2010 — 2:58am

Dear Frankie* * *
Dear Frankie
– nf – This is one of those British films that takes about five minutes for us to get used to the accents and understand what they are saying. Although, it turns out that Frankie one of the main characters in the movie, a charming 9 or 10-year-old boy doesn’t say any words as he is deaf. We learn that this was the result of his father beating him as a small child. Mother and child along with grandmother have kept on the move in Scotland so father will never find them. Mother played by Emily Mortimer has a touching, loving, very close relationship with Frankie and has created a story for him that his father is away at sea. She secretly writes letters to him and intercepts her son’s outgoing mail so she really is also hearing his “voice” about his feeling and observations of life. Frankie although very bright in school is chided by his schoolmates. When the boat on which the father is supposed to be sailing is noted to be coming into port, the mother, who is quite lonely herself decides that she needs to present a man as Frankie’s father for him to briefly meet. She arranges for a stranger, sensitively played by Gerald Butler, to be the father for one day before he goes off to sea again. Needless to say, intertwined with lovely scenes of “father and son” and sometimes mother, especially at the stark but beautiful Scottish seaside, there are some complications. First time director Shona Auerbach has cast her characters very well and captured the emotional relationships between them. The story is somewhat drawn out and simplistic but the acting was excellent. (2004)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Romance

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