Darkest Hour

There was a time when I would repeatedly watch the repeat episodes of “World at War”, until I got fed up with the Allies’ failures.  Norway, France, Singapore, North Africa, Dieppe, Anzio.
The interview that stuck was from episode 2 by Jock Colville, a civil servant, who explained how Chamberlain, Halifax and Churchill met in the Cabinet Room and Chamberlain asked Churchill if he saw any reason why a Lord couldn’t be Prime Minister and Churchill just stared out of the window, cos he knew it was a trap.  Screenshot (816) ab0466h wiki Norway debate
In the same episode, Boothby explained the “Norway debate” and how in essence, many MPs had been frustrated with Chamberlain not wanting to take the war with the Nazis.  Labour played a key role in pushing the issue once the problems with the British operation in Norway had been grasped, despite Churchill putting up a big defence of his operation in the debate.  They pushed for a vote and too many Conservatives did not support Chamberlain.

darkest hour commons debatechurchill vchurchill with mps
So the dramatic start “Darkest Hour“, with Churchill not attending the “Norway debate” was annoying, and the film kept taking these kind of liberties.
Fighting over the leadership after Churchill had been made P.M., the military chiefs having no plan on the Dunkirk evacuation, the King giving Churchill the backbone to carry on refusing to make a deal with the Nazis, Churchill holding a focus group in a London Underground carriage, Churchill meeting with MPs in a large stairwell, Chamberlain wiping his forehead being taken for a signal..
Regarding the history, one example of the criticism – by The National Review.
I never doubted Gary Oldman as Churchill, or his interpretation of Churchill as a sparkier character than other clichéd portrayals of him as miserable.
But in this movie, politicians are quick to dispute, rather than talking things through.

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Molly’s Game

“Why are you in this on your own?”

A movie that shows gambling and gamblers, celebrities and specialist bankers, managers who abuse and parents who drive childen too hard, and mobsters in a bad light.
What’s not to like?
And Molly Bloom‘s story is extraordinary.
From national champion contender to waitress and PA, to game runner to counsel to gamblers and finance underwriter.
But the pressure becomes too much, she takes drugs so she can cover all the bases, she gives up on some of her standards and breaks the law to be able to finance the losses from defaulting gamblers.  Other standards she keeps – no pimping and no betrayals of the secrets she’s learnt.
All this is hung around her discussions with her lawyer as she faces prosecution from the FBI, who want her secrets as well as her conviction.
Aaron Sorkin – famous screenwriter, including of the witty dialogue of “The West Wing” – directs for the first time.
But with Molly doing so much of it on her own, the movie need lots of narration to explain what’s happening , including how financing poker games works.
Result: it’s quite hard work to take it all in.
(Although the Guardian doesn’t agree.)

The Death of Stalin

I could laugh at “In the Thick of it” cos having met Alastair Campbell, I could always see it as one step away from reality.
The trailer makes the “The Death of Stalin” look and sound like a great laugh, but the actual fully movie is not so jolly stuff cos it all looks and feels too real and the early scenes show people being taken away and show people being shot.
Not saying it shouldn’t have been made (unlike Peter Hitchens) or that the film is wrong; just saying it’s harder to laugh – not so much a black comedy as just black (or even bleak).
Now I’ve had to read up about what happened (and watched a 60’s American documentary on YouTube).  Yes, the story is different in significant parts from the actual history (takes place in a week instead of months), but it still felt real.
Maybe when I see it a second time, I’ll be able to laugh with the film more.

My Fair Lady

171023S My Fair Lady ab0230h Screenshot (701)
An excellent production by the Nottingham Operatic Society.
If only cos I figured Henry Higgins was played better than Rex Harrison achieved – although he did get an Oscar.
Listening to the overture at the beginning and you remember how powerful many of the songs are; and thanks to Youtube, you remember all the controversies around the movie – Julie Andrews dropped, Rex Harrison not singing and Audrey Hepburn not being allowed to sing.
But the musical does suffer from the songs towards the end being spoken rather than sang, and the nonsense of Eliza standing up for herself only to return and commit without the romance she so wanted to be shown earlier.  “Where’s my slippers?” indeed.
For all that, a good night out, being entertained by people who hold down other jobs for a living.

Left Lion review – “What does Eliza see in him?”

Pride and Prejudice

Rapid cramming on the story by watching videos on youtube in preparation for this production, where the story is adapted for Nottingham Playhouse by comedian Sara Pascoe.   Backed up by defences of the women characters’ priorities cos they were victims of society mores.  And a quick hint of how men manipulate and betray today.
I wonder if a more relevant contemporary theme might have been that people still focus on the importance of marriage, and spend a lot on the wedding days, when the divorce rate is how it is.