Film review: Great Expectations (cert.12a)

5 Dec

Well on hearing that there was to be yet another version of the Charles Dickens book Great Expectations brought to our screens, I immediately thought, why does the world need this again when there are so many books in the world. However, the production directed by Mike Newell drew me in enough for an enjoyable evening.

This telling of the story of orphan Pip who we first meet as he encounters the terrifying escaped convict Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes)in a graveyard one day, is handled well. Fiennes plays subtly a character away from his usual middle class type.

The young Pip grows up in hardship in a life punctuated by trips to the mansion house as the enforced entertainment of the manipulative Miss Havisham and the adopted daughter Estella he secretly adores. Helena Bonham Carter gives a lighter touch to Miss Havisham than some of the more recent harsher embodiments.

Pip (Jeremy Irvine) is enabled, by a mysterious benefactor, to live a life of luxury in London when he grows up. It’s a world for him surrounded by velvet-wearing sparring glamorous youths.

Again, he encounters and falls for Estella (Holliday Grainger) who has been brought up by Miss Havisham to be cruel to men. His life is then thrown into turmoil by an unexpected visitor. Jeremy Irvine plays a pretty self-absorbed Pip who irritates a little though not necessarily a bad thing. Holliday is suitably beguiling. Newell gives us a very colourful version of this well-known story.

Film review: Silver Linings Playbook, (cert.15)

23 Nov

If you’re looking for a romantic comedy that breaks a few rules, you’d find it hard to do better than the David O’Russell directed movie Silver Linings Playbook based on the novel by Matthew Quick.

After incarceration for beating up a fellow teacher for having an affair with his wife, Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has bi-polar is back in the community and living with his parents. He has an obsession with making amends and reconnecting with his ex-wife but is hampered by the restraining order that prevents him from getting in touch with her. Life is a little difficult to adjust to again with his father (Robert De Niro) also being immersed in his love of American Football.

Pat’s introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) at a dinner party. Her husband has died and she’s suffering depression. The interaction between the two who become friends is captivating as their reactions are symptomatic of their mental states. Tiffany agrees to contact his wife on his behalf if he’ll be her partner in a dance competition. Though Tiffany is falling for him, he still pines for his ex-wife.

Some knowledge of the rules of American football might help you in this movie but not understanding it doesn’t take away from being gripped by the main leads and the absorbing storyline.

Film review: Liberal Arts (cert. 12A)

6 Oct

There’s a time when you look back on past elements of your life and wish that you could revisit them. Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) is torn by this kind of dilemma in the film he wrote and directed himself Liberal Arts.

Jesse, a man in his mid-thirties who has just suffered a relationship break-up, is invited by one of his favourite ex university professors Professor Hoberg (Richard Jenkins) to his retirement party. While there, he encounters a young student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) who he clicks with and ends up corresponding with in the old-fashioned way – letters and the occasional visit. He also comes across another of his previous lecturers, quirky and grouchy Professor Judith Fairfield (Allison Janey) and two young male students, the surreal Nat (Zac Effron) and stressed genius Dean (John Magaro).

From this short visit, he finds that his life take a turn. He finds himself exploring the changed ways of the younger generation, struggling with whether he should enter an age-gap relationship and witnessing the torments of his now retired professor.

The film handles its themes of expected behaviours at different times of your life with skill and doesn’t necessarily travel down the obvious routes. There’s also an element of humour in its quiet delivery. You find yourself thinking about what you would do in the situations it throws up. Radnor, seen in the television show How I Met Your Mother, makes a likeable lead and has crafted a very watchable movie.

This film is released now in the UK. Rating: 8 out of 10

I love a showstopping hat

2 Oct


My thoughts have turned to covering my hair with a hat given the wet weather lately. When I heard that milliner Philip Treacy had a catwalk of black models showcase his Spring/Summer 2013 collection at London Fashion Week wearing Michael Jackson’s vintage outfits, I just had to take a look. How glorious his creations are too!

Film review: Untouchable (cert.15)

21 Sep

When Driss (Omar Sy), an unemployed, ex-offender attends a job interview to be the carer for wealthy quadriplegic Philippe (Francois Cluzet), he only wants to tick off a box and doesn’t want the role. However, Philippe spots in him someone who won’t give him pity. Driss finds himself with the job and living in a mansion.

The French film directed and written by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano after they saw a documentary ten years ago about the people they based the story on, is quite a gem. Driss starts to get the hand of all he needs to do as a carer for a man who cannot use his arms and legs, all with a certain charm and innocence. Philippe is at the same time energised and motivated by this person with an alternative perspective on life.

Sy lights up the screen with a captivating performance and Cluzet draws us into his insecurities while being limited in how he can express his anxieties. There are times when the troubles of Driss at the lower end of French society and difficulties within his own family can seem a little stereotyped but as it’s based on real people, you give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s also a film with loads of humour. I left the screening enraptured by the movie. I hope it also re-ignites a love of the excellent music of Earth Wind & Fire, which was featured in the film. The film is out today in the UK. Rating: 9 out of 10

London Fashion Week: Mary Katrantzou is (nearly) all symmetry to me

17 Sep

As I watched Mary Katrantzou’s show for Spring/Summer 2013, I couldn’t help but think of postage stamp edging and jigsaw puzzles. She has some wonderful symmetrical patterns within her fabrics. Dresses and trousers often floated out to create an A-line shape. The top halves of the outfits were very modest, generous in cut and high necked in most cases, except for the occasional strapless number. Most dresses also covered the knees. A couple of metallic offerings, including a trouser suit, stood out from the attractive creamy, pastels and black collection.

London Fashion Week: Sass & Bide’s angle for 2013

15 Sep

Well London Fashion Week is here and the first day included a show by Sass & Bide, the fashion label designed by Australians Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke.

There’s an angular feel to the outfits this time whether they’re long and floaty or short and structured. The pair have included sharp shoulders, plunging v-necklines and folding to develop the theme.

Apart from white, the brightest colour they include is white. The collection works together for nights out basking in luxury.