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  • Susan May

What's on at the movies 25th August 2016?


 


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Early response has been fantastic and I'm just waiting to hear what my rabid reader's think once they've finished. I'm nervously biting down my fingernails waiting.


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BEN-HUR ✪✪ Opens August 23

Who didn't love the original 1959 Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston? This is a weak copy of the original and while straight after seeing the film I gave it a pass. By the next day, I'm feeling less generous. Directed by Russian Timur Bekmambetov I should have known before I even saw the film it was going to be ill-conceived and barely a B film. He had a hand in production or direction of some films that landed on the bottom of my yearly lists of worst films ... like the real bottom. One of his films The Darkest Hour (my 2012 review here) was extraordinary in the poor quality of the CGI and direction and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wasn't much better.

The first forty minutes is a complete yawn-fest while he attempts to set up the characters. If you can't do that in ten minutes then you have a problem with your script. It does improve once Ben-Hur is taken captive and the action heats up a little and it gets a move along. But then enters Morgan Freeman channelling Whoopi Goldberg in the hair department and we are all down hill from there into an attempt at Hollywood blockbuster treatment without the bang for your buck.

The Darkest HourIt's not the worst film I've seen this year. So this means Bekmamabetov is improving. I did suggest everyone send money to his scriptwriter so he could attentscreenwriter's school and learn something of value. It seems that perhaps Bekmambetov received some of the money and learned a couple of things (not a lot, but a couple). Why the studios keep giving him money and reasonable actors to make these messy films is beyond me. Go see it if you don't believe me, but I'd wait for video so you can fast forward past the boring bits and Morgan Freeman. That hair is ridiculous and I hate to say this but Jesus in this is pretty awful, too.


Film Blurb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but an encounter with Jesus leads him to the Crucifixion, where he discovers forgiveness and finds redemption.


DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD ✪✪✪ Opens August 23

I was a great fan of the UK version of the office so you count me as looking forward to this film. While I did find parts really funny, laugh-out loud funny, by about half way through I'd begun to feel uncomfortable. The character created by Ricky Gervais is someone we've all met, albeit his is mostly more over the top than average as he's supposedly playing to a reality show camera crew.

However, more than a decade on from the original UK series of three seasons ending in 2003, (not to be confused with the US series starring Steve Carrell), and the idea of laughing at someone and revelling in their self-obsession just feels kind of wrong.


In the film, David Brent spends all his retirement savings in funding an ill-conceived, last ditch effort at becoming a rock star and scoring a recording contract. It's an amusing set up, but as time goes on and he funnels more money into the ridiculous tour and his band talk about how much they dislike him and won't even allow him to travel on the tour bus he has paid for, you really start to feel terribly sorry for the guy.


As the credits came up, my husband, thirteen-year-old son, and I all agreed we felt a little depressed having watched his exploits. The film does have a quasi-happy ending, but by then we are feeling so sad for the guy and anyone in real life like him, it just doesn't feel like enough. And has he really learned anything from his experience.

It certainly may appeal to some , and may actually be a brilliant commentary on life and our incessant desire to be loved and appreciated, but I was feeling too sorry and sad to ponder it further.


Film Blurb

Now working as a rep selling cleaning (and ladies personal hygiene) products up and down the country, David Brent hasn't given up his dream of becoming a rock star - or more specifically, singer/songwriter for fledgling rock band 'Foregone Conclusion'. As he assembles a group of mercenary session musicians, a talented sidekick for street cred and an overpriced yet underwhelmed tour manager, he embarks upon a self-financed UK tour coming to a venue near every major city near you.


FREE STATE OF JONES ✪✪✪ Opens August 25

Free State of Jones is a powerful, epic film about an interesting historical event of which I had no knowledge. Matthew McConaughey, as usual, delivers a great performance, but its not enough to make this film a must-see.


I would have preferred to watch it as a mini-series and sit comfortably on my couch. The ending felt a little rushed and the sixties period insert of the court trial showing us that nothing much has changed in the attitudes to racial discrimination just didn’t work and muddied the story. I think the film would have been tighter and shorter, (shorter would have been much better) if they had left that out.


The Americans do seem a touch crazy. First they have a civil war killing their own countrymen. Then they have a civil war within a civil war. Some strange ideals. Please no offence meant to my wonderful American friends.

Film Blurb

Directed by four-time Oscar (R) nominee Gary Ross and starring Oscar (R) winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.


HITCHCOCK TRUFFAUT ✪✪✪ ½ Opened August 18