Movie Review – Official Secrets

TL;DR – A powerful exploration of what happens when all the institutions that are meant to protect us from abuse of power fail   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Official Secrets. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

There are films that are perfectly timed in their release, sometimes it is the world shifting around you, sometimes you get lucky and just so happen to be shining a light on something that is about to come to the foreground, and sometimes it is always good to be reminded of speaking truth to power. Well, today we get a film that does all three of those as it explores the absolute mess that was the justifications for the Iraq War. A mess that America, UK, Australia, and others found themselves in through no one’s fault but their own.

So to set the scene, in 2003 the world was on the cusp of war as America in the wake of September 11 has set its sights on a new foe Iraq. Not happy to just sit and wait for the weapon inspectors to do their jobs, they were placing enormous pressure on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution allowing the war. As this is happening, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) was working in the UK’s signal intelligence agency GCHQ as a translator, when she receives a memo from her superiors asking them to support NSA efforts to pressure UNSC diplomates to vote for the war. As this goes against her job and is quite possibly illegal, she takes a copy of the memo and gives it to a trusted friend to see if it is as bad as she thought it was, and well it was.

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TV Review – Criminal (UK) Season 1

TL;DR – This is an interesting concept, with some powerful performances, but I am not sure three episodes was enough time to really show it off.  

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Criminal (UK). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Netflix as the premier multi-national streaming juggernaut (for the time being) has been doing a lot of experimenting in recent years. With Black Mirror: Bandersnatch they gave the world a choose your own adventure in cinematic form and with Ultimate Beastmaster they produced different versions for each of the countries participating. Well today we get to take a look at the next experiment with Criminal a series that produced four different versions for France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. Well today we are going to take a look at the UK version to see how this experiment works out.

To set the scene, we open in on DI Natalie Hobbs’ (Katherine Kelly) team as they begin an interview with the suspect of a murder. For you see her team are experts in interrogation, so they are used when there is a time crunch or a serious case that needs their attention. The first of these involves a doctor (David Tennant) that is accused of molesting and then murdering his step-daughter. The interview has been going for hours and time is running out because if they can’t find some way to get him to crack he could walk free. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Downton Abbey (2019)

TL;DR – This is sort of the cinematic equivalent of sitting down under a doona in your PJs eating ice cream while vegging out on some TV. Perfectly pleasant and even enjoyable in places, but with not really any substance with it.    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Downton Abbey. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

Well, I am going to get something out of the way right from the start, I have not watched a single episode of Downton Abbey before today. I, of course, know what it is and also thanks to the internet and the enormous fan following it has, I know most of the main plot points but it never interested me to hunt down the DVDs. I say this so if you are a fan of the show you can put my critiques in context, however, I am mostly writing this for those like me who have never seen it before and may get brought along for what is billed as the cinematic event of the year.

So to set the scene, it has been two years since the series finished off and life at Downton is moving on at its usual pace, but no one could be prepared for the letter that is making its way through the Royal Mail system all the way from London. For you see King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be spending the night at Downton as part of their Yorkshire tour. Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) rush to get the house ready, but there are more problems on the horizon and I am not just talking about the boiler kicking it in.

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Movie Review – Anima (2019)

TL;DR – A 15-minute musical experiment that smashes the music of  Thom Yorke with the sensibilities of Paul Thomas Anderson   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Anima (2019). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

This has been the year of the experimental music video/film hybrid, we have gotten the narrative version with Guava Island, the absurd with Bash Brothers, and the documentary hybrid with HΘMΣCΘMING. Well, today we continue this genre with a collaboration between director Paul Thomas Anderson noted for more visually stylistic films like Phantom Thread and Thom Yorke one of the main voices behind Radiohead. If you are a fan of Thom or Paul then I assume that combination instantly got your attention, and if you are not this is only 15 minutes so check it out anyway.

So to set the scene, we are on a train and a lady (Dajana Roncione) leaves her lunchbox behind and a man (Thom Yorke) takes it for himself only for things to get weird. Well, that is about it, as it is only 15 minutes there is not a whole lot more to say other than it is quite a ride.

The first thing I want to talk about is the choreography from Damien Jalet which is one of the three core things that makes this one of the most interesting things I have seen so far this year. There is a flow to the movement, but also a precision that is a really interesting blend. There is a lot of group performances that gives this an organic feel, but also the sharp movements are also otherworldly. Which does sort of fit the theme as anima is referring to the soul. To be honest, I am also always a sucker for the movement that lines up with the beat of the music.

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Movie Review – God’s Own Country (2017)

TL;DR – Much like the Yorkshire Moors that is filmed on, this is a film that is both harsh and yet filled with moments of beauty   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

God's Own Country. Image Credit: British Film Institute.

Review

My family originally came from Yorkshire, so when I spot a film set in the region I always give it a watch to try and connect with my past. Well, I am not sure what I expected when I loaded up God’s Own Country, but what I got was a film that was both frank and also a little optimistic in a world of bleakness.

So to set the scene, Johnny lives and works on a farm with his father Martin (Ian Hart), and his grandmother Deirdre (Gemma Jones). He spends all day grafting on the farm and all night in the local town drinking. Wake up, chuck out the contents of his stomach and repeat. Most of his friends have gone off to university, however, because his dad had a stroke and can’t work the farm like he used to, Johnny has to step up and take all that pressure. Given some issues, Martin calls in some help, as they are about to go into calving season, and Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) a Romanian farmhand takes the job. There is instant tension between the two because Johnny sees Gheorghe has a manifestation of his failure but he needs the help.

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Movie Review – Rocketman

TL;DR – It is a film of great character moments, wonderful music, and an interesting story of someone going from low to high to low and then back again. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Rocketman. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Review


It looks like it is going to be the decade of cinematic superheroes and also of the musical biopic. Especially a musical biopic of a seminal rock superstar from England that took the globe by storm only to discover a world full of drugs and dodgy management. Given they have been so far Oscar gold and have made bank at the box office we are sure to get a couple of these and today we look at one that is taking the standard biopic and twisting it up.

So to set the scene, we open with Elton John (Taron Egerton) exploding through a door in full orange sequined devil glory. You expect him to be doing a grand entrance into a stadium, but instead we soon find out that he is at group theory session when the first question was asked “what was your childhood like?” and we drop through the floor back to the 1950s when a young Reggie (Matthew Illesley) lived with his mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard), grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) and occasionally his father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) when he comes back from the army. Elton says he had a happy childhood, but we soon find out there is a difference between what Elton says and reality.

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Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

TL;DR – This is a film with two halves, the beautiful story of a family coming together in the face of a crisis with the help of Mary Poppins, but also a story about how it is individuals and not big corporations that are bad … from Disney … umm  

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Mary Poppins Returns . Image Credit: Disney.

Review

Mary Poppins is a movie that is quite dear to me. When I was a child it was one of those films that we would watch as a family on a Saturday night. I honestly I was not really all that on board with the remake/sequel hybrid film all the trailers seemed to imply that we were about to get. As well as this, I am starting to get a little tired of Disney’s ‘Weaponised Nostalgia Era’.  Well, that is what I thought walking in, but then a wave of joy enveloped my life leaving a smile on my face and tears rolling down my face.  

So to set the scene, it has been a number of years since the first film and the Banks’ children have grown up. Michael (Ben Whishaw) is, well was, a painter, who married and had three lovely children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) before his wife tragically died. This has understandably sent ripples through the family, made all the worse when there is a knock on the door and we discover that the bank is foreclosing on the house because Michael has fallen behind paying back a loan, the same bank his father helped run, and the same bank he currently works for. Well, the whole family, including his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) helps to look for their father’s shares in the bank in the last ditch effort in saving the house, when who should appear at the end of a kite, none other than Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) herself.

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