When shopgirl Therese (Rooney Mara) meets the glamorous Carol (Cate Blanchett) sparks fly between them. But this is New York in the early 1950s and they face many obstacles in their way, not least Carol’s impending divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler).
I went into this film thinking it would be more similar to other films based on novelist Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers. Carol (based on Highsmith’s book The Price of Salt) is more of a romantic drama, although there is some tension in regards to the secret love between the women, leaving the audience to wonder if they will be discovered and what the consquences would be if they are.
Perhaps as Carol was so hyped up on it’s release, having watched it now I didn’t feel as passionate about the movie as others have. Having said that it’s a fine film with excellent performances by Blanchett and Mara, both deserving of their Oscar noms. Director Todd Haynes is good at highlighting little moments of intamcy like the touching of hands as being significant, and dangerous steps in their relationship.
Rating 3.5/5 – a class act with Blanchett and Mara at their best
I admit I have a soft spot for fairy tales, Disney and Disney Princesses. Following the recent foray into re-working classic fairy tales with films such as Maleficent and Into The Woods, we now get a more traditional story in the form of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. But can a modern audience be captured by the magic of an overly familiar tale?
Ella (Lily James) is a young, beautiful and kind girl who lives with her father. Years after her mother passed away her father decides to remarry. Unfortunately the woman he chooses to marry, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) treats Ella badly and encourages Ella’s stepsisters Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) to do the same. After her father dies her Stepmother’s behavior worsens. After a ball is arranged at the castle in hopes of finding Prince “Kit” Charming (Richard Madden) a wife, Ella hopes she may be able to attend. But with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters in the way, can Cinderella find a way to go to the ball?
So the big twist with this version of Cinderella is that there is no big twist. There’s no knowing winks to the audience, no post-modern take on events, no cynical asides. It’s actually refreshing to see a fairy tale be told straight and feel sincere instead of feeling like everyone is making fun of the story. The beginning starts off rather slow as we meet Ella’s nauseatingly happy parent. But as soon as tragedy strikes the film soon picks up.
It helps that the film is handsomely made by Kenneth Branagh and the film looks lovely on every level. The costumes, in particular the ones worn by Blanchett are gorgeous. Branagh has also cast the film well with Blanchett stealing most of the scenes as the evil Stepmother. Her daughters also provide great comic relief with their hideous personality and fashion sense. Branagh also has a likeable Ella in Lily James. James’ Ella is kind, likeable and amusingly odd in places-such as when she speaks to animals as though they can understand each other. Ok Fairy Tales aren’t known for their great Feminism values but Ella does gets moments where she quietly defies her stepmother and stands up for what’s right, even if it means sacrificing what she truly wants. Her romance with Madden’s “Kit”, who in this version she meets before the ball, is also rather sweet.
Yes it is ridiculous that they love each other after meeting only once, but as “Kit” later says to his father it’s no more ridiculous than him being expected to pick a bride he’s met for the first time at the ball. And no more ridiculous than a pumpkin and mice being transformed into a carriage and horses. Sometimes you just have to go with the ridiculous, and the magic of a good old fairy tale.
Rating 4/5 – a fine family fairy tale with warmth and humour
And now the end is near…finally! One children’s book has been spread out across three films and now the last installment is here. Can Jackson prove his critics wrong (i.e me) and show us that splitting the The Hobbit into three films was worth it?
After Smaug cause chaos and destruction over the Laketown, the aftermath has potential to cause just as much carnage. With the Dwarfs held up in the Lonely Mountain and keeping all the gold for themselves they find themselves up against armies determined to have their share of the gold. But with Thorin going mad from the gold can he come to his senses in time to stop all out war?
When The Lord of The Rings Trilogy came to an end in 2003 I was excited and sad to see the franchise come to an end. With The Hobbit it’s more a sense of relief that it’s finally over. That’s not to say this last installment is bad or that the trilogy as a whole has been bad. It’s just that, as with the other two movies, there is a lot of filler and padding in this film that feels like it’s there for no reason. When it’s released on DVD I would like to see-rather than the deleted scenes we normally get-an edit of all three movies into one lean movie, cutting out the hours of filler and make it the one movie it should have been in the first place.
As ever the cast gamely give their all. Martin Freeman often feels like he’s being sidelined in a movie where he’s the title character but he’s still as effective as ever as Bilbo. Richard Armitage seems to be enjoying going full on gold mad as Thorin. While not essential its nicely nostalgic to see Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee reprise their roles again, and it will be sad to see the last of Ian McKellen as the always excellent Gandalf. While I don’t always buy the relationship with Turiel (Evangeline Lily) and Kili (Aidan Turner)- considering they are declaring their love after spending about a day in total together-they at least bring some emotion to the proceedings, Lily in particular promoting her anguish well.
Rating 3/5 – a good if not particularly outstanding farewell to Middle Earth
P.S Merry Christmas everyone, hope you all have a lovely holiday!