Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Casanova (2005)

In Amazing, based on novel, BBC, feel good, hilarious, period drama, Recommendation, romantic, series on 21/09/2011 at 7:50 pm

David Tennant charms and flirts your pants off on in this 3-part BBC miniseries. At last, Casanova is full of cheek and naughtiness and is only tragic where it serves the story’s purpose. It’s a proper bit of fiction in the sense that this series isn’t forcedly trying to make legend took like fact. Instead, it’s focused entirely on the charming and talented cast.

Peter O’Toole is the old Casanova who makes the young and curious girls he’s telling his life story to blush. His younger self, Tennant, befriends Henriette (Laura Fraser), a girl perhaps even cheekier than himself. Their adoration for each other can never become more than that because she must marry Grimani (Rupert Penry-Jones), thus Casanova’s adventures continue.

BBC’s Casanova is a delicious and feisty watch. Have fun.

Here’s a clip for lack of a proper trailer. The first minute or two will give you enough of an impression.


Bouquet of Barbed Wire (2010)

In Amazing, based on novel, Recommendation, Review, series on 18/09/2011 at 6:36 pm

This is a stunning ITV adaptation of the 1969  Andrea Newman novel about a family torn apart by deceit. The 1976 series was immensely successful – but although I haven’t seen all of it, I doubt that it has the timelessness to survive. Some series should never be re-made, like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Brideshead Revisited, but this tale needed re-telling.

The heart shredding, subtly played out thriller-drama revolves around daughter Prue (the incredibly talented Imogen Poots), her questionable lover Gavin (Tom Riley) and Prue’s father Peter (Trevor Eve) who has a problem with the lad from the start. Mother Cassandra (Hermione Norris) doesn’t, which gets her thrown into situations beyond her control. Father and daughter have an intense and loving relationship which is naturally disrupted by the newcomer – but is daddy overreacting, or is he actually right about Gavin? The story in itself is incredibly strong, but much credit goes to the creators and the actors for never making any of it soppy, melodramatic or overstated.The cast is so well balanced – Gavin being just charming and attractive enough to get away with what he does, and Prue smart and mature yet impressionable.

Without wanting to give away anything to ruin your experience I can say that this is a true tribute to good drama. Absolutely baffling, confounding, amazing and enjoyable.



Happy Go Lucky (2008)

In Amazing, feel good, film, Recommendation on 17/09/2011 at 3:45 pm

This is without a doubt one of my favourite Mike Leigh films. Sally Hawkins seems to be put on this Earth to play Poppy, and indeed won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for it. Poppy is a happy go lucky, slightly quirky North London primary school teacher. Her unbridled optimism is contagious to most, and deadly frightening to some others, her driving instructor (Eddy Marsan) in particular. Poppy effortlessly opens your eyes to a world that hardly any of us dare to see – something director Mike Leigh seems to achieve in all his films. But mostly, Poppy’s story is very charming and funny. This film is a kick up the behinds for the nasty and unreasonably cynical in this world.



Charlotte Gray (2001)

In Amazing, based on novel, film, period drama, Recommendation, romantic, war on 15/09/2011 at 6:36 pm

It’s WWII and the Scottish Charlotte Gray (Cate Blanchett) falls desperately in love with a destined war hero: RAF pilot Peter Gregory (Rupert Penry-Jones) – who then disappears somewhere in France. She decides to join a secret resistance movement in order to go find him – and thus the real adventure begins.

This adaptation of the 1999 Sebastian Faulks novel is a perfect Saturday night in war-spy-thriller-romance. Besides the given that Cate Blanchett can do little wrong in my eyes (well, apart from that dreadful production Babel) and everyone is wearing clothes I desperately want to have / make all men around me wear, this film is probably my best school example of a Very Good Story. It pleasantly mixes all the ingredients that make stories interesting: danger, hope, love, desperation, deceit, moral and courage – and then asks why individuals even bother to risk their lives for others in wars.

Eden Lake (2008)

In Horror, Recommendation, Review on 06/09/2011 at 10:48 pm

First of all, don’t even watch the trailer if you’re squeamish. Second, it may not look like it in the beginning, but this horror turned out to be surprisingly good and is much worth the watch. Oh- and one more thing: if you’re going camping in the near future, do yourself a favour and watch something else. Please.

So I’m not a horror pundit at all, but I very much believe that a good film has nothing at all to do with its genre. I did have to elbow my way through the beginning, where Michael Fassbender does a truly spectacular job at being a shite actor for some reason. His character Steve and girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly) are going on a camping trip on Eden Lake. Here, the dialogue is soppy and the acting is unconvincing, which is a shame because you kind of need to ‘feel the love’ between the two for the disaster to kick in later on.

But, the story does make up for the dramatical glitches. Eden Lake is a very unlikely story, not because of any nightmarish fantasy monsters, but because the enemies are rather average teenagers. Teenagers with a messy background, bottled up frustrations, a big scary dog and a charismatic albeit very aggressive leader in the shape of  Brett (Jack O’Connell). The teens are the stars of this movie, beyond doubt – and O’Connell really makes it work. He plays the ultimate baddie – yes- but he remains so very human. He doesn’t go psycho murderer with an axe on you and still does very very VERY bad things (which I won’t tell you about right now) and gets others to do them too. Now that is where this film is pretty unique.

Also, without spoiling anything for anyone, I can say that the final half hour makes this film as good as it is. The tension build-up is absolutely amazing.




Fingersmith (2005)

In Amazing, based on novel, BBC, Crime, LGTB, period drama, Recommendation, series on 06/09/2011 at 6:54 pm

This is a truly ingenious piece of writing by the talented Sarah Waters. Fortunately, the BBC did a mini-series so good it had me jumping up from my comfy sofa, exclaiming enthused cheers several times. I hadn’t read the book yet, mind, so every twist and turn taken was a surprise. But: if you have read it, watch it anyway. I do think it’s that well done.

Fingersmith (slang for thief) is set in 19th century Dickensian London and tells the tale of the unfortunate orphan girl Sue (Sally Hawkins), who is made to thieve to earn her keep. The deceitful and tawdry conman Richard ‘Gentleman’ Rivers (Rupert Evans) comes up with a scam to trick the beautiful Lady Maud Lilly (Elaine Cassidy) out of her money – and Sue must be part of the plan.

This plan naturally goes tits up in several ways (quite literally). Kudos to the starry and very convincing cast – and, to any lad harbouring the misconception that every period drama must be a chick-flick: this one isn’t. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.