January 15th, 2018

I saw Darkest Hour a couple weeks ago and for me it was an excellent companion piece with Dunkirk.   The film starring the ever-excellent Gary Oldman, outlines the political and war time struggles for the British during May 1940.  Hitler has moved aggressively into Belgium and threatening France.   Former PM Chamberlain sits as a leader of a Party where the opposition demands new leadership.   The obvious first choice to them is Viscount Halifax, which was unknown to me.  The next choice was Winston Churchill.   There are intriguing elements going on where the TV series The Crown Season 1 fits in as well.   The King who is good friends with Halifax isn’t really ready to plunge back into another war.   The US sits on the sidelines, with their own commitments not to enter another war, while France is utterly useless.  The history is well known, but the thoughts, feelings and mood are less so.  This movie’s strength, and the strength of the excellent supporting cast is conveying that feeling about the uncertainty and fear about potentially being invaded.  Oldman earns his Golden Gobe, and likely his Oscar here well.  He didn’t put on the weight for the role, but the make up is never a distraction.   He plays politics well too by publicly supporting the allies in mainland Europe who for the most part turtled when Hitler’s tanks came rolling in.   This is a very good film.  See it knowing about what happens in Dunkirk.  Together they form the strength in a time where fear and trepidation were in abundant supply.   If you wish to add a third excellent film for the time, you can add The Imitation Game.

I finished watching the second season of The Crown.  Claire Foy will be missed in the title role of The Crown. There will be a Season 3, but they will use older actors in it.  She is simply excellent here at showing on her face what goes through her entire being.  The pressures of her position, not only as a sovereign but as a Wife and a Mother.  Matt Smith plays Phillip and he really shines in these ending episodes as well.  For him, the episode about he and Charles attending the same rugged school are outlined, and despite the Queen’s protests to protect her “different” son, Phillip is steadfast.   As a husband, it would be difficult if you had “the Crown” argument thrown in your face every time you had an opinion that didn’t align with hers.   The other excellent episode is that with Jackie Kennedy, where you see some of the dynamics which may or not hold true to life during a Presidential visit to Buckingham Palace.  It also coincides with some political turmoil in Ghana.   Once again, Foy plays the part so well.   Will people who don’t care for the Monarchy like this or have any interest in it?  I can’t say.   Perhaps they don’t care for well acted and written stories about people during challenging times.   From the Abdication of the Crown up until early 1960s, you see many different times.
I have started GLOW, as Alison Brie was nominated in her role.  This is a series about the starting of the cheesey and sexist Lady Wresting.  It’s quite funny, and Brie plays a part of a struggling actor just trying to pay the bills and get work.   It is lighter entertainment.
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January 2, 2017 – New Years edition

The title “Lion” will be misleading for this Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture.   Dev Patel is nominated for his work as well.  A couple of times when I was watching I paused and thought about the title and then just let the story envelop me.  Here is a recent story from 1986, and into today which in many ways is a good companion piece to previous Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire.   The story is a simple one.   Young boy in India accompanies older brother for some work, and then gets separated from him at a train station.   He boards another empty train looking for him and becomes lost.   I give away nothing by saying that he eventually is adopted by a couple in Australia and then later to seeks his real family.

The performances are all very good, and notably by the little boy who gets lost.   His eyes are so full of life, and he has a resilience which allows him to overcome many obstacles thrown his way.   His adult persona played Dev Patel is also very good as he struggles with his memories and trying to figure out how to find his past.
This is a story about families, adoption, brothers, and struggle.  Yet again I am reminded of the blessed life and upbringing we have in Canada and the West.   1986 is not ancient history.  The little boy lived in squalor and mother was a labourer who moved rocks.  Rocks.
You care about these people.  All of them, and they take you on a worthwhile journey that is something you will talk about when it is done.  It is another Golden Globe drama nominee that I am pleased to have seen.  Hell or High Water was another.
Have a fabulous 2017 one and all.
Rob
P.S> on the home watching front, I have been catching up on Game of Thrones, now in Season 5.  The twists and turns here, and no particular loyalty to keeping characters you like alive makes this fun watching.    Also I have watched 6 episodes of Westworld, which has been good as well.   Well cast with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood you have robots in an adult amusement park waking up to their reality from the Crichton book made into a film with Yul Brenner long ago.  Christopher Nolan’s brother is involved.  I did thoroughly enjoy The Crown about Queen Elizabeth.