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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby (Directed by: Sharon Maguire; Written by: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson)


Bridget's focus on single life and her career is interrupted when she finds herself pregnant; however, there is one slight hitch... she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of the baby's father.

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Shirley Henderson, Ben Willbond, Colin Firth, William Joseph Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Ed Sheeran, Jessica Hynes, Emma Thompson, Celia Imrie

Why I loved this film: It was consistently funny and also moving from start to finish. The audience in the cinema were laughing throughout.
The plot is well known (from the title and movie poster if nothing else) but essentially Bridget Jones still has two guys fighting over her, only this time Patrick Dempsey takes over for Hugh Grant.
It has a very strong cast, Emma Thompson in particular is a wonderful addition as Bridget's obstetrician, and the scenes at the TV station are very amusing.
I cannot understand why so many people are trashing this film as I found it to be very entertaining and enjoyable. Of course, you have to see the first Bridget Jones films in order to understand it, or at least have read the books, but I can tell you that it is worth the experience and does not feel like any other sequel.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins (Directed by Stephen Frears; Written by Nicholas Martin)


Florence Foster Jenkins always wanted to be a concert pianist and play Carnegie Hall. An injury in her youth deterred that dream. So she sets out to sing her way to Carnegie Hall knowing the only way to get there would be 'Practice Practice Practice'. Her husband supports her venture and the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins playing Carnegie Hall becomes a truly historic event.


Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend


Why I loved this film: The trailers would lead you to believe that it is a hilarious comedy about an old crazy woman who dreams of being a singer despite being tone-deaf. There are elements of that, of course, but there so is much more to it.
Do not get me wrong, there are a fair few funny moments, especially the first time we hear Jenkins screeching wildly, while we watch McMoon desperately trying to contain his laughter. This success is partially due to Nicholas Martin's organic and genuine screenplay, but mostly down to great casting. Simon Helberg is fantastic as the competent and camp young pianist, and Hugh Grant gives his best performance in years as Jenkins' devoted husband. But the movie belongs to Meryl Streep, who once again proves that nothing is beyond her. Each word she smoothly speaks, or screams, feels like her own as she embodies 'the world's worst singer'.
Technically, this movie is also impressive. The 1940s mis-en-scene is brilliant, from the outrageous outfits to the elegant decor and old-fashioned automobiles that inhabit wartime New York. The cinematography and editing keep the film moving (physically and emotionally), but Stephen Frears is the true genius, taking a story which could have been boring and turning it into something so amazing!
Frears has taken a sad, gentle, tender story and made it surprisingly feel-good, fun and enjoyable without shying away from the melancholy.

Time of Death (Mark Billingham)

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up. But this is a place where dangerous truths lie buried. When family man Stephen Bates is arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates' wife - an old school friend of Helen's - who is living under siege and convinced of her husband's innocence. As a decomposing body is found, the police believe they have their murderer, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk... and a merciless killer.

Quote: "Well, I think you can describe what he's done as evil... but I think the people that do this stuff are just greedy or twisted or sick in the head. Not sure 'evil' is the right word. Not sure it does us any favours. If it helps, I don't really believe people are naturally good either."

Why this book speaks to me: It is always a pleasure to read another crime episode from the magical and elegant handwriting style of Mark Billingham. This is English crime at its best, well researched, intelligent, informative, with strong characters who aptly display their strengths and weaknesses for all to see. There are no quick solutions here but a story that unfolds like the petals of a rose about to reveal one shocking truth.
I love the relaxed and unpretentious style of Billingham and how he expertly portrays Thorne as a loner with very few friends apart from the somewhat colourful police pathologist Phil Hendricks. It was good to see that Hendricks once again became a central pivot as the story evolved, and his unconventional appearance and lifestyle acted in sharp contrast to the conservative Thorne.
Here, there are secrets to be revealed and a relationship tested to the extreme in a great example of modern British crime fiction. I highly recommend it.