Tag Archives: Michael Gambon

Fortitude

When we last saw Sarah Lund, she and her jumper were on the way to Iceland. Whatever else you might say about Sky’s Fortitude, we now know they have arrived, in some kind of Ice Land. Actually, not the jumper. There appears to be a jumper embargo for Sofie Gråbøl this time round.

As Governor of Fortitude, the strangest fantasy Nordic outpost you could imagine, she is a little disappointing. Though not as disappointing as many of the others. I suppose it’s what you get when Americans jump on a bandwagon that has already left, and mostly also arrived. They write what they admire, or at least what they hope will win them viewers, but which they know very little about. They seem to know the Nordic countries and their peoples much like fans of The Killing and Borgen reckon themselves to be fluent in Danish.

Fortitude

It was beautifully filmed, and they have an interesting collection of actors, ready to pretend – or not – to be Nordics. Some are, and are acting in their non-native English. Most of the others are native English speakers, but not in the slightest Scandinavian. There is sex, and drinking, and saunas. We ‘know’ this is the way of us Scandis. And it is, but perhaps not quite like this.

I almost liked the detective from the Met in London, American though he was. Can’t say I liked any of the other characters. It is possible to like both criminals and stupid people; just not these ones. Michael Gambon’s old and drunken cancer sufferer was perhaps the closest to feeling real, which I put down to Michael being a terrific actor.

When I wasn’t wincing, I found I couldn’t get Virus au Paradis out of my head. I do hope it’s not bird flu, or mammoth flu. With a bit of luck all the gruesomeness will be mere crime and human greed, with a bit of stupidity thrown in.

I don’t know whether I want to watch more of Fortitude. I have no curiosity regarding the what or the why or the who, and because I didn’t like them much, I won’t even want to visit an old friend, even one who is boring. But we’ll see how I feel next week.

(Actually, a few brownie points to Richard Dormer for being more of an obnoxious Danish policeman than most Danes.)

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Paddington

Paddington

It’s a fun concept to have the Earl from Downton fighting Mrs Coulter over a bear, with some assistance from the Doctor. Paddington was lovely. I’d heard he would be, but you still want to make sure.

Going to see Paddington was our New Year’s Eve treat, and it was (shock, horror) our first cinema outing after moving. We will be back soon again, and as the car parking has been paid until tomorrow lunch time, perhaps we should hurry.

I don’t know the book about Paddington as well as I ought to, but on the plus side that meant I didn’t have to sit there wondering why they left things out or why they put new things in. It was all rather sweet, and I now feel I have a deeper understanding of the background to the marmalade.

The bear jokes were funny and obvious, and so much better for it. ‘Bear left!’

There is something deliciously scary having Nicole Kidman looking like a sweet, young thing, and being so truly bad. And Hugh Bonneville didn’t really have to alter his Downton personality. The Earl would also disapprove of a bear moving in, until he saw the light and changed his mind and started loving the bear.

Mrs Brown was perfectly cast, and I’d love for Sally Hawkins to be my mummy, too. London looked great (if fairly romantically portrayed), and little Paddington was a charming young man. Bear, sorry.

Peter Capaldi was fantastic, and I’m only pointing that out because I’ve not seen him in much. And when I move to London, I’ll go and live in that street, too. Please?

Paddington

Quartet

We need a couple of feelgood films every year, and it is clear that Quartet is intended to be one of them. It has all you need except perhaps for Judi Dench. And maybe actors who are believable singers.

Quartet

Had this film been about almost any former career than opera singing, I’d have bought it straightaway. Billy Connolly plays himself, more or less. Maggie Smith does too. Herself, not Mr Connolly. Pauline Collins is lovely and scatterbrained and Tom Courtenay charmingly restrained and gentlemanlike. But I don’t see retired opera singers in any of them.

The music is lovely and the singing – done by others – is fine. The setting is suitably English countryside and stately home for American viewers. The actors are a treat to watch and listen to. Michael Gambon looks wonderful in a dressing gown. The concept of a retirement home for ancient musicians is a fantastic one, albeit also rather unlikely.

But as in many films, these elderly dears are not so very elderly. Would they really be in a home? Wilf has a stick (walking kind) but moves in such a sprightly fashion I don’t reckon Billy Connolly knows what it means to really need a stick. As for Maggie Smith’s character needing a new hip…

Quartet

The film would have been spot on had this been about truly old and normal inmates in a home. But that would have been less glamorous.

To me the great unknown here is the film’s director, Dustin Hoffman. I’m not sure he was able to squeeze enough out of the grand cast he assembled. They could all do so much more than simply walk – nimbly – around, being themselves. Although that is of course a lot of fun.

(I suspected the supporting actors were the real deal, and the credits told us who every single one of them used to be.)

There will be a Bafta preview of Quartet at Cornerhouse on Wednesday 12th December at 18.10, followed by Q & A with Tom Courtenay and Billy Connolly.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2

Snape

The wait was shorter than it seemed. We went for the first local screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 to get in before school ended for the day and especially to avoid the end of term.

The cinema had actually been screening the other Harry Potter films in the days leading up to The Day, which is good for people needing reminding, or even for the unlikely person who has never bothered but who has suddenly seen the light and wants to join in, however belatedly. I could have done with it myself as far as part 1 was concerned. Barely remembered how far we’d got or what had happened.

Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ollivander

It didn’t even feel too much as if we began in the middle, for a film that began in the middle. Dobby is dead and Harry is sad. And determined to get going with the remaining Horcruxes. More Polyjuice to get into Gringotts, and Hermione as a polite Bellatrix was a sight to see. Not so sure about Harry’s face-dive into Snapes’s memories, but it was necessary for the plot.

Neville

Harry and Ron and Hermione do a good enough job, but the winner of both book and film has to be Neville Longbottom. Who’d have thought he’d turn out so well? Maggie Smith as McGonagall is also a sight for sore eyes, along with her comfortable Scottish accent. I know I shouldn’t make too much of a relatively small part, but I’m just so grateful she survived. Maggie Smith, I mean. After the first film I had this sudden witchy premonition that someone wasn’t going to make it, and the faces that flashed before me were hers and Richard Harris’s.

It’s actually a major feat that they could make so many films with child actors and have them ‘all’ there at the end. I know one or two have fallen by the wayside, but other than that it’s worked well. Thought Crabbe had had a colour change, but he appears to have been written out.

Ginny and Mr Weasley

I was surprisingly touched by the deaths, which is more remarkable for them not really happening on screen. We see everyone dead afterwards. I’d almost go so far as to say that not enough is made of those deaths. Could be they want to skirt the issue in order not to upset young viewers, but you could easily miss quite how many dear ones perish.

But I suspect that’s not why the Retired Children’s Librarian had read in her paper that ‘people will be sad’. I think they meant ‘what will we all do now that Harry Potter is over?’ Yes, what will we do? This kind of thing is never coming back.

(Photos © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc)

King Colin

The King’s Speech is the kind of film you want to watch again as soon as the credits roll. It’s not often that happens to me.

What I want to know is if King George VI was as interesting in real life as he seemed in the film, or if it was Colin Firth? I’ve gone from having no particular interest in the good King to thinking he really was quite fun, and can’t help but compare him to his descendants.

In fact, I’ve been surrounded by royals for a week or two. Just finished reading about Richard III and all the people surrounding him, including iffy bishops. I thought the George VI bishop was pretty iffy too. And the abdication was covered as recently as last week in Upstairs Downstairs, so I’ve had two Wallis Simpsons to contend with. The film one was better.

It’s one thing to know the King stammered and suffered in public. It’s another to witness how it actually was to be him. Trying every cure or doctor you can think of is familiar to many of us, whatever the problem. The Duchess of York seems to have been determined to help him, although I wonder if much of what was in the film was true.

Fun, though, and it makes you like both of them. The Duchess sitting on the Duke (to help with the breathing?) was amusing. Watching both of them doing things they’d never done before, like using a lift, is illuminating. Having to borrow a shilling to bet.

Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

Seeing Lionel Logue and how he worked was wonderful. It may have come as a shock that he was no doctor, but it goes to prove that neither titles nor official qualifications mean that someone is any good at what they do.

The swearing was priceless, and so was the singing. I’ll never hear that tune again without thinking of George VI.

Seeing the reactions of the Duke and Duchess to Lionel’s ‘common’ ways of treating them as people was lovely. Royals need some resistance, I believe.

Finding out what might well have caused the stammering was heart rending and the cruelty to children shocking. It looked as if our current Queen had a slightly better start in life.

The plot is so simple that you can barely write about it: King stammers. King eventually receives decent treatment. King can speak in public. But there’s so much more to this film.

Helena Bonham Carter and Colin Firth in The King's Speech

I will have to see it again, soon. Annoyed it’s not even out yet, but grateful we were able to catch a preview at the weekend. It’s definitely a ‘buy the DVD immediately’ kind of film. The more immediate the better.

The big shark in the sky

It lost a little bit of momentum some time around the third quarter. Otherwise Doctor Who was pretty refreshing after too much Christmas food. Was it just that we’ve been missing him, or did they try harder this time? The Christmas Carol theme was hardly original, but worked quite well.

Michael Gambon, Matt Smith and Laurence Belcher

Amy in her police uniform and Rory as an old Roman was slightly odd, especially on board a spaceship, but seeing them in ‘clothes past’ almost made sense. And Michael Gambon is always good.

Matt Smith continues to put a smile on our faces, and his instant time travelling was fun and at times almost impossible to keep up with. Dashing back for the pin code was a good one.

Katherine Jenkins

If they are going to cast singers in the Christmas episodes, Katherine Jenkins was a much better choice than many, and her singing (it was ‘bleak midwinter’, wasn’t it?) was magical. The first song in particular worked so well, both for the shark and for us. Slightly strange to have her use the screwdriver as a microphone, but odder things have been known to happen.

Suitably romantic, suitably sweet little boy, and suitably literary Dickensian plot. According to Son it was a better Christmas Who than most. I agree.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1

We were afraid it’d turn into one of those occasions when we just never get there; what with so many things conspiring against us and deciding they were more important than the new Harry Potter film. But hardy as we are, Daughter and I, we crawled out of bed for the early Sunday screening, three weeks into the HP season.

I don’t think we’ve ever been this late before.

The HP films have been an uneven lot, but I can safely say I liked this one. Unfinished though it was. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Voldemort had won. (He hasn’t, has he?)

Robbie Coltrane and Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc

People die. Not so many in part one, so more of the fun will have been saved for next time. I don’t care much for the snake. S’cuse me, Nagini. A little bit on the hungry side for my comfort.

Nice scenery, with plenty of Geology for the student next to me. Some silly romance stuff. A Mr Darcy moment (he’s still too young for us to lust after!).

If it weren’t for the fact that Hermione should be not pretty, I have to admit to having been won over by Emma Watson, and it’s not something I say lightly. Rupert Grint on the other hand…

I need a handbag like Hermione’s. And I love the tent, even if I couldn’t cram it into that handbag. That girl can really pack. Oh, it’s magic? Never mind, she can still pack, and she knows what will come in handy.

Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

That tedious Polyjuice from book two certainly comes into its own here, disgusting though it is. Daughter enjoyed the film as a film, but had to go and point out quite how many changes they’ve done and how some things aren’t even in the book! Fancy that. Luckily I only read the book once, so I don’t recall every minutest detail, making me ever so tolerant.

I think I would like to re-read all seven books. So if Emma Watson could Polyjuice me some extra time over Christmas? Thank you.

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

Am still very fond of the Phelps twins, i.e. Fred and George, and that will end in tears. I know. Also find Evanna Lynch really successfully flaky as Luna. Slightly disconcerting to have the Queen Mother – aka Helena Bonham Carter – as the beautifully menacing Bellatrix.

I’m all for them having divided the last book into two films. It’d be mad not to have done so. But I would have liked to have access to both parts within a shorter period of time. We finished on a (sort of) cliffhanger of a different kind than what you get in proper series of books/films.

(This post co-published with Bookwitch.)

(Photos © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.)