Showing posts with label Show Film First. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Show Film First. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Movie review - Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson was one of the movies on my must-see list when I whizzed up to London for a film preview day hosted by ShowFilmFirst.

Why? Firstly because it stars the brilliant Bill Murray as legendary US president Franklin D Roosevelt and secondly because the director is Roger Mitchell, of Notting Hill fame.

Most of the action focuses on the real-life visit by George VI and his wife Elizabeth to Hyde Park (Roosevelt’s summer residence on the banks of the Hudson River) in June 1939. With the storm clouds gathering over Europe and Britain preparing for war, the king was keen to ask for the president’s support.

The royals, however, are like fish out of water as they observe the comings and goings of the presidential household. Olivia Colman gives an impressive performance as Elizabeth, determined at all costs to keep a sense of decorum, worried that her husband is being laughed at and horrified that they will be expected to eat hot dogs during a picnic in the woods. Samuel West has the tough task of following in Colin Firth’s footsteps as George VI but manages it with aplomb (although every time he appeared on screen I couldn’t help thinking he looked exactly like Chancellor George Osborne).

The emotional heart of the film is Roosevelt’s relationship with his shy distant cousin Daisy, played by Laura Linney. Daisy is summoned to Hyde Park to keep Roosevelt company – and she quickly obliges. The pair begin a passionate affair, unperturbed by the numerous other women in the president’s complicated life – his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams), his domineering mother (Elizabeth Wilson) and his assistant Missy (Elizabeth Marvel).

Hyde Park on Hudson is beautiful to look at and Bill Murray gives a fine performance as the charismatic, wheelchair-bound Roosevelt. But to my mind The Ink Spots’ I Don’t Want to Set the World on Firepart of the soundtrack, just about sums up this movie. What could have been a powerful film turns into one that is merely enjoyable - no more than that.

Hyde Park on Hudson (certificate 12A) is released in the UK on Friday February 1.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The film of The Help is an out and out winner

My favourite books are the ones that make me laugh, make me cry and make me think.

I reckon the same rule can be applied to films – which is why The Help, the new film based on Kathryn Stockett’s tale of life in the American Deep South during the 1960s, is an out and out winner.

Stockett’s book, which chronicles the story of a group of black maids who look after the children of white southern families in Mississippi, spent 103 weeks on the bestseller list in the US and in three years has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.

Film director Tate Taylor, Stockett’s best friend at school, spotted its potential and bought the film rights before the book was even published.

The Help is told from the viewpoints of three women. Two of them are maids, Aibileen, a wise and stoical black woman in her 50s who’s brought up 17 children of white women, and her feisty friend Minny, who extracts hilarious revenge on her racist employer. The third is Skeeter, a wealthy young white girl who desperately wants to be a writer. The trio form an unlikely friendship when Aibileen and Minnie agree to help Skeeter write a controversial book about the maids and their lives – a book that shakes the insular community they live in to the core.

It’s a controversial subject, and while some critics have slated the film for “sugar-coating” the civil rights struggle, it’s got heart and it mostly works. Viola Davis, as Aibileen, and newcomer Octavia Spencer, as Minny, have both been mentioned as likely Oscar contenders, as has Emma Stone as the sparky Skeeter. I managed not to cry till the scene where Aibileen is forced to say goodbye to a little girl she has looked after since she was a baby, exhorting her as always to remember she is “smart,” she is “kind” and she is “intelligent.” Then I couldn't stop.

Despite its flaws, The Help manages to be deeply moving, poignant and funny at the same time. Yes, it simplifies a violent era of modern history, but it’s a powerful, beautifully shot movie - and definitely worth seeing.

The Help, certificate 12A, opens on October 26.

PS: The preview I attended was organised by ShowFilmFirst - so thanks to them.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...