Is Anybody There? (2008)

May 15, 2009

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I haven’t been able to get on here for a while- in fact it’s been a week since I saw Is Anybody There? and Goldfinger– which poses a bit of a problem.  My Goldfinger notes were about two paragraphs in and I’ve just tossed them off so that I can get to this film.  It’s not like I need notes to remember that particular film.  With Is Anybody There? I could have done with notes at the time, this is far from a memorable film.

So you’ve got Michael Caine as an ageing, retired magician (he seems to like films about conjuring these days) and young Bill Milner from the lovely Son Of Rambow as- guess what- a geeky outsider kid and they strike up a friendship and teach one another about life and love.  That’s right, they strike up the kind of friendship that is really unusual except in films where they’re ten-a-penny.  It looks quite nice; shot in a fuzzy, vaguely lo-fi, slightly off-kilter and- I suppose- quite trendy way.  There are a couple of good performances- I especially liked Anne-Marie Duff as Bill Milner’s mother- and some nice cameos from a couple of top-notch old players (Leslie Phillips, Peter Vaughan, Mavis from Coronation Street, Elizabeth Spriggs and Sylvia Sims).  And so I liked it for that.

But because it’s formulaic and a bit obvious and determinedly bittersweet I didn’t even remember it a week later, rendering these notes redundant, so it’s sort of okay but a poor utilisation of the superb talents on show. 4/10

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The Queen (2006)

March 3, 2009

I didn’t enjoy this at all.  It was arid and joyless and unengaging.  I found myself thinking, to my shame, that Mirren played her role excellently as did Sheen but I just didn’t care about any of it.  The premise of the film is actually really interesting, though, so I can’t put my finger on what went wrong.   Probably a combination of the dull and turgid dialogue (accurate though it doubtless is) and the styling of the film.  The actual footage used may well give the film an authenticity, but it also highlights the fact that this is a dramatisation and compromises the whole premise.

Interestingly I read Alastair Campbell’s diaries last year and the most vivid chapters concern this period.  The Queen chimes almost exactly with events as Campbell described them meaning that either he is spot on or that, as the only published diaries of one of the prominent players at the time, they are the main source.  If so, they’re far more interesting to read than see- even if the film does offer a better insight from the Monarch’s perspective.

I was also really distracted by Dudley Smith from L.A. Confidential playing Prince Philip (badly).  Mind you any distractions were welcome by the time he appeared.  The only bright spot was Blair’s famous hand-kiss gaffe making it on screen.  Oh I’m bored just writing about it.  2/10, two marks for the performances.  A real wasted opportunity.

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