Fab Feb Films

Bill Nighy. Just love him. His oft tremulous demeanour, tics and twitches have been the highlight of many a movie and television show for me. There’s the wonderful ‘Girl in the Cafe’ and ‘Gideon’s Daughter’ with the latter. And who can forget him his marvellous opening to proceedings in ‘Love Actually’. There’s his burnt out rock star in ‘Still Crazy’ and I relished him in ‘Wild Target’, ‘Best Marigold Hotel’ and 2018’s ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’. And later in March I’ll have the pleasure of seeing him again with Annette Benning in ‘Hope Gap’.

In ‘Emma’ he was again marvellous. He didn’t do much except fret about pesky draughts, but he did it magnificently. Without Bill I might not have been tempted to see yet another film adaptation of a Jane Austin novel, but with him featuring and Katie winning some tickets, off I went to Eastlands with two beautiful ladies either side. And I had a ball with it. Anna Taylor Joy was indeed a joy as the eponymous heroine, meddling her way through other people’s lives and forgetting about her own. She was surrounded by a fabulous supporting cast including, besides Bill, the wonderful Miranda Hart and Rupert Graves. This treat also saw the emergence of Johnny Flynn onto our collective radars as a tuneful George Knightley. Better known in the UK as a musician, he did some warbling in ‘Emma’ and has already a fine list of well-received albums to his name. He next appears as Bowie in ‘Stardust’.

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Not to be confused with Sorentino’s deliciously sensual treat, ‘The New Pope’, on SBSonDemand, ‘The Two Popes’, on Netflix, is equally worth taking in, being another highlight of summer’s last month. As with the other Academy Ward nominees from this platform, this offering shines on the small screen. How could it not with the acting chops of the great Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, both the receivers of Oscar nods. The former plays the dour Pope Benedict, whilst the latter the far more shiny Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis. The film tells of the negotiations and conversations between the two as Benedict prepares to step down. Essentially he is symbolic of the tortuous past of the institution he represents when there is somewhat of a yearning for a new broom. We get a glimpse into the background of the charismatic newbie who, in the past, had a fractious relationship with the generals and the church during Argentina’s dark days. He professes a love, as well, for soccer and ABBA. And he’s such a contrast to the Germanic Benny, but what began as a standoff in negotiations ends up as a grudging friendship – or so the movie would have it. Please do not be put off by the fact that little of what the movie portrays actually happened. In the hands of gifted writer Anthony McCarten (‘The Theory of Everything’, ‘The Darkest Hour’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’) this is easily the equal of the bracketed.

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If you’re a fan of the ABC’s ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ series on the box you will enjoy it’s big sister in the cinemas. ‘Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears’ has received a mixed and underwhelming response from the critics, but is ablaze where it counts – at the box office. It certainly has its faults, but it’s light, trite, fluffy and much fun. And it’s good seeing both Johns, Waters and Stanton, strut their venerable selves around in the frolic.

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Clint Eastwood is a legend and still going strong at 93. His latest, ‘Richard Jewell’, has had some strong notices, but also raised some controversy – as well as having a mixed response at the box office. Paul Walter Hauser is exceptional as the hero/villain of the Atlanta Olympic’s bombing – and he’s assisted by a competent supporting cast. Katy Bates gives a strong performance as the mother drawn into the mess her stay-at-home, dim, nerdy and over-weight son has inadvertently drawn her into. Sam Rockwell fares well as yet another down-at-heel shambolic lawyer who rises to greatness when his moment of fame comes around. It’s basically a tale of trial by media, all adding up to a pretty griping yarn. The issue lies with the over-the-top portrayal by Olivia Wilde of a press reporter. She broke the story of Jewell as the man who she accused of, not only saved many lives, but was in fact responsible for the device’s placement under some stands in the first place. She uses her body to worm the information out of a rather dim, square jawed detective (who better than John Hamm for such a role?) Only problem for Eastwood was that the real life, but now deceased, newshound, Kathy Scruggs, was nothing like her in her professionalism. Her nearest and dearest were understandably upset at the besmirching of her name. If you can cut the renowned director some slack for this, it is a saga worth seeing.

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Some cool days bought summer to an end with my final movie’s greyness matching the skies outside the State. It was based on John Lethlean’s best-selling novel with a Tourette suffering private eye, Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) at its core. The actor drove the production of this feature, responsible for moving the time frame from the 90s back to the 50s. Surrounded by quality off-siders in the telling, including Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin, it’s a hard-boiled tale of a lowly investigator up against big city corruption. Norton is outstanding, but who’d have thought his tics and squawks would make for perfect scatting in harmony with a jazz band? ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ shines despite the gloomy world the gumshoe inhabits and it’s well worth your time when it appears on a platform near you.

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So farewell to the old month and hello to the new. I wonder what treats lie in store for me, at the movies, up ahead, coronavirus permitting!

Trailer for ‘Emma’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsOwj0PR5Sk

Trailer for ‘The Two Popes’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5OhkFY1PQE

Trailer for ‘Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ1JC9ue8Y8

Trailer for Richard Jewell = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSMxBLlA8qY

Trailer for ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fru8IkuDp_k

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