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Posts Tagged ‘London’

Forget Me Not (2010)

In Amazing, film, Recommendation, Review, romantic on 17/03/2014 at 9:27 pm

This film plunges you into the lives of two strangers in London. A 24 hour meeting that could tie them together indefinitely or be a fleeting encounter – which it will be is as unclear to them as it is to you.

Whiskey and pills. Romance, perhaps. Sometimes tragic but more often visceral, Forget Me Not is a beautiful love story that doesn’t try anything too hard: it seems to just be. Eve (Genevieve O’Reilly)- beautiful barmaid recently returned from travelling and determined to take life more seriously – meets Will (Tobias Menzies) – attractive but tortured singer-songwriter who lives across the road from the pub. Proximity facilitates their encounter, but everything that follows is a peculiar (metaphorical) dance through London like only slightly awkward strangers who are fairly attracted to each other can do.

This doesn’t sound like I’m selling it, but it’s very good. Especially recommended as a romantic film option for those who otherwise avoid them.

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Mr Selfridge (2013)

In feel good, new, period drama, Rant, Review, romantic, series on 14/01/2013 at 7:06 pm

ITV attempted to create lots of flurry around its latest grand period production in an attempt to recreate the rather more accidental success of Downton Abbey. Mr Selfridge however, is destined to fail due to some spectacularly horrendous acting by protagonist Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge, tedious dialogue and an utterly predictable plot.

The drama tells the story of how Harry Selfridge was a visionary noveau capitalist in his time and how his ideas flourished despite being radical and unconventional. Interesting in itself, were it not that the BBC did exactly the same thing (minus the real name) in The Paradise. Even the main characters and how they fit in the story are a crafty copy: Mr Selfridge has exactly the same ideas, doubts and charisma as John Moray in The Paradise, only being more annoying due to the empty dialogue and bad acting. There is the ‘simple’ shop girl with unlikely talents and the same character traits. There’s the story of a wife and a new charming outsider. It’s mostly fluff and flirtation, but no mystery or any sort of magic.

The London setting is lovely though, and the rest of the cast is very capable (a.o. Zoë Tapper, Samuel West, Pippa Haywood) , making Mr Selfridge just about watchable – but nothing more.

Skyfall (2012)

In Amazing, Crime, film, Giggles, Recommendation, Review, Spy on 22/11/2012 at 8:14 pm

However raving the reviews and my Twitter feed have been over Skyfall, the last thing I expected was to be blown away by a Bond film. I’d given up on them a long time ago and my memory of them involves images of mostly, cheesy sex scenes. It’s safe to say that Bond just wasn’t my kinda spy.

So, surprise surprise: Skyfall is amazing! All the truly stunning fast paced action scenes aside, this film is actually very well written. The characters are great, the dialogue is witty and the story is about more than baddies and shagging for a change. Bond and M’s relationship is pivotal in Skyfall, and they both refreshingly become real people because of it. And it was about bloody time M (Dame Judi Dench, of course) played a big part in a Bond film. Better late then never.

Daniel Craig is easily my favourite Bond, not because I like him that much as an actor, but perhaps because he’s not as slick as the others. In Skyfall he’s not the most likeable of figures, and he’s obviously somewhat damaged, leaving room for the viewer to make him a real person with worries and things like that. Perhaps the greatest addition to the Bond saga is the new Q, in the shape of the talented and pleasantly captivating Ben Wishaw.  I hope they hang on to him for a bit. Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory is another nice surprise.

Skyfall’s villain Silva (Javier Bardem) is a beautiful character, and I’d expect nothing less from Bardem. He’s subtle, sly, sympathetic, charming and absolutely ruthless. But he isn’t ruthless without reason, that would make a very dull baddie. He’s been wronged, and as a viewer you can’t help but be a tiny bit on his side, sometimes.

Another big star in Skyfall is, quite deservedly, London. After a glorious summer thanks to the London 2012 Olympics and everybody’s love for the metropolis having been wildly rekindled, it’s as if much of Skyfall being set in London is meant to be, and oh, how they’ve made the city shine. The cherry on top being the befitting theme song by London’s very own Adele, of course.

Skyfall is a better Bond film than any other I’ve seen. But it’s still a Bond film, meaning it’s outrageously over-the-top in its heroics and action sequences. There’s only one way I believe you can get away with this without making a complete twat film in my view, and that’s with a giant sense of humour. And that’s just what they did. Mr director Sam Mendes: well done.

The trailer is a bit shit. Sorry.

Never Never (2000)

In Recommendation, Review, series on 11/09/2012 at 12:38 pm

This two-part Channel 4 council estate drama pivots around John Parlour (John Simm) and Jo Weller (Sophie Okonedo). John tricks people into getting loans they can’t afford on a London council estate where only few have jobs or even a bank account. Jo, one of the residents, is knee-deep in debt and struggles to provide for her two young kids. And then everything changes.

Never Never, a story written by acclaimed playwright Tony Marchant, is essentially about good people doing bad things and vice versa. It’s free from any sort of class judgement that might put you off, elegantly letting people be people. Good tension throughout is created by the “will John become a good person with morals and stuff” question – which is, as it should, left unanswered (because stuff just isn’t that black/white, is it?). There’s also great acting (oh yes, Ruth Sheen is in it too, you know, one of Mike Leigh‘s favourites), this acting supported by the good writing, allowing for heaps of emotions left unspoken yet blatantly obviously present.

Even if the narrative is sometimes predictable to seasoned fiction readers and viewers, this production is essentially too in-your-face-honest and charming to disagree with it. That, and John Simm is just a bit too good to do anything wrong, innit.

link to clip: http://www.myspace.com/video/simmfan/never-never-john-parlour-clip-with-john-simm-sophie-okonedo/38040102

Call the Midwife (2012)

In BBC, new, period drama, Recommendation, Review, series on 28/02/2012 at 10:13 pm

Don’t really care for watching a series about midwifery and babies? No, me neither.

This is an exception, though. One of those exceptions that led me to starting this blog in the first place: it transcends its genre (historical drama) and its theme (midwifery) with striking ease. Call the Midwife is a perfectly subtle, meaningful and very charming story about (mainly two) women who happen to be midwives London’s East End in the 1950s.

The young middle-class innocent new midwife Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) starts work in one of the poorest and filthiest areas of London and she’s soon confronted with what poverty looks and smells like. This is just after WWII and the east of the city is still in ruins. These midwives provide life-saving care for the poor and are the beginning of what the NHS is now. It’s also the 1950s of course, and this drama nicely handles all the questions around the position of women as well as class without rubbing it in your face in any sort of annoying way.

It ticks all the boxes on engaging writing, good acting, brilliant production design and originality. Also look out for the voice of  Vanessa Redgrave and a great performance from (in her first more serious role) Miranda Hart.

 

 

 

 

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.