Tag Archives: Bill Nighy

Rapid Review: Their Finest

Their_Finest

Set in Britain during the Second World War, Their Finest centres on a young woman named Catrin (Gemma Arterton) who is hired to write morale boosting films for the Ministry of Information.

It’s hard to define this film into one category, it’s a behind the scenes drama with some comedic elements and insights into the way women’s roles were changing during this period. Small moments of sexism are all in a normal working day for Catrin as she hired to write ‘slop’ (women’s dialogue). Rather than this being an ‘issue’ film these elements are woven naturally into the story and it’s a fascinating insight into the work behind these propaganda and moral boosting films. I can imagine there are scenes that scriptwriters are all too familiar with such as producers making changes to the script or finding out their American lead (Jake Lacey) can’t act. These scenes are much more engaging than the sub plot with Catrin’s artist husband (Jack Houston) which feels a bit by the numbers.

Director Lone Scherfig brings the 40’s to life without hitting us over the heads with it, and captures the confusion and panic of living through the Blitz whilst its characters have to get on with everyday matters like finding work. She also brings out the best from her cast. Arterton is a sympathetic and likeable lead who can easily go between comedy and drama and has good chemistry with Sam Clafin as her co-writer Tom Buckley, who is sometimes infuriated and also infatuated with Catrin. As always Bill Nighy is great as an actor who still wants to be cast as the handsome lead despite his age. He steals scenes with his comedic one liners but is also poignant in some of the more sombre scenes.

Rating 4/5 – a great British drama that’s a welcome relief for anyone who wants a break from the blockbusters

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Pride

There’s nothing like a hatred of Maggie Thatcher to bring people together! And lots of people, particularly in the 80s did not have a good word to say about her. Pride attempts to tell the story of two groups of people who made a stand against Thatcher. But does this make for a good movie?

In 1984, England, noting the similarities between the way Margaret Thatcher and the police treated the miners and gay people, Mark Ashton a young gay man, decides to form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) support group and raise money for the miners. The miners though aren’t so willing to accept money from them except for one small Welsh community in Onllwyn. Spurred on by this unlikely alliance LGSM are determined to keep on helping the miners, although they face discrimination and hostility in their attempts to do so.

I didn’t know anything about the LGSM before this film, so personally I found this movie to be interesting and engaging on a number of levels. It’s also one of those British Comedy/period drama that Britain does well in. Just get an established set of British actors, a bit of class division politics, prejudice and some ‘hilarious’ misunderstandings. Sometimes this can mean the film has an overly familiar amount of tropes and clichés seen in these movies. However its one that is told well, with a fantastic British cast (new and familiar) playing both members of LGSM and the community members of Onllwyn. Ben Schnetzer is particularly good as the determined Mark, and he is ably supported by the rest of the cast which includes Paddy Considine and Bill Nighly.

It manages to pull at my heart-strings more than once and sensitively handles the struggles that both the gay community and the miners felt at the time. I may have even had a little tear in my eye near the end. Most of the time the film manages to keep a fine line between emotional and sentimental although the moment when the ladies of Onllwyn spontaneously stand up one by one and start singing is a bit too twee for my taste.

I for one found the jokes about Thatcher to be hilarious, however for die-hard Tories (that’s the Conservative party for anyone outside the UK), the constant Thatcher baiting may be off-putting. I was brought up in a Labour household so I’ve heard much worse!

Rating 4/5 – a funny, heartwarming film with a great British cast

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About Time

Richard Curtis films tend to fall into the love it or hate it categories. So I have to be honest about how I feel. I love his films! Yes they may be cheesy at times but if I know a film is written or directed by Curtis I’m probably going to love it (The Boat that Rocked aside-although it did have a great soundtrack). So as you can imagine I was very excited about seeing About Time, but how does it fare?

About Time follows Tim (Domhall Gleeson) who finds out on his twenty-first birthday that the men in his family can travel back in time. He decides to use this new-found ability to help him get a girlfriend, which is easier said then done. However when he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) his luck looks like it’s about to change. However time travel can be a complicated matter not only for his love life but also when it comes to the tough choices he must make about his family.

What surprised me most about this film is that the trailers didn’t give away everything about the plot. Yes a lot of it is about Tim and Mary but there’s also a substantial time spent on how Tim uses his time traveling ability to affect his family and friends and what the consequences of those actions are. By focusing on how time travel affects Tim’s life in general makes for a much more effective and in fact emotional film then if it was just spent on Tim’s pursuit of Mary.

That is not to say the love story isn’t good, it is. I was expecting it to be about Tim meeting Mary over and over again but although there is a bit of that in there (as Tim accidentally erases their first meeting and has to fix it), the majority of time is spent on their actual relationship. We see Tim and Mary beyond their first meeting and honeymoon stage, we see them grow older and having to deal with grown up issues. Throughout it all they remain a sweet couple that you can imagine being friends with. McAdams and Gleeson spark off each other well and its enjoyable watching them together as a couple.

As you can imagine with a Richard Curtis film there is a great supporting cast, with Bill Nighy as Tim’s father who explains all about the family secret, Tom Hollander as Tim’s angry playwright friend Harry, and Lindsay Duncan as Tim’s brilliantly blunt mother to name a few.

About Time has some great joke and a wonderful humour throughout the film. But is also has some surprisingly emotional elements to the film and something to say about how we live life in general, living every day but perhaps not savouring the day as we should. I also have to say how amazing Gleeson is in the lead role, hilarious in the funny moments but also able to nail the serious points in the film when needed.

If you’re one of those people who hate Richard Curtis films there’s probably not much I can say to convince you to go and see About Time. However if you’re open to the idea that maybe there is more to Curtis then Love Actually and a bumbling Hugh Grant then give About Time a go, and you may find yourself surprisingly moved by this tale of one family with an amazing secret.

Rating 4/5-I laughed, I cried and I definitely recommend you see it.

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