Ladies in Lavender

Sad story of 2 sisters who’ve lost in love and whose yearnings are stirred by the rescue of a young man washed up on the beach. Further frustration for a widower doctor who develops a crush on a young woman painter enjoying the Cornish seaside.
Performed in Oswestry by Attfield Theatre company who care for the arts, on an excellent set.


Can you ever forgive me?

Based on a true story and showing the chaos and the failure and criminal activity means I find it hard to smile. Oh dear. I wonder if the plea speech to the judge was real as it felt, cos that’s when the story gets its soul.
(3 stars; e:4, s:3, p:4; Guardian review – 5 stars; Wiki entry.)

Green Book

A film from Dreamworks and even though it is inspired by a true story, it has no compunction in focussing on sentimentality and entertainment. And hugely enjoyable it is too. Go see!
Green Book hits targets about racial prejudice, homophobic prejudice and class differences in 1962 in the United States, especially in the Deep South.
(4 stars; e:5, s:4, p:3; the Guardian reviews can’t get over the lack of credibility of the story – 3 stars).
Even if the intent of “If Beale Street could talk” and the points made were of more import, it is striking how it missed the chance to do it as engagingly as Green Book.

If Beale Street could talk

I should have liked “If Beale Street could talk” a lot more than I did.
How I’ve yearned for scenes in film that take more time when the exchanges are taking place.
Makes salutary points about how racism in 70s USA could lead to huge injustice.
And it’s nominated for Oscars.
And I have a James Baldwin poster on the wall.
And the critics like it (Observer – 5 stars).

Some tremendous scenes. Yet it dragged.
There was too much time in-between the exchanges. Often filled with a fascination with smoking – the sound of cigarette paper burning and how cigarette smoke rolls through the air.
And the sound balance (you might say mix) was wrong – the music between the exchanges was too loud; some of the noises given undue significance (one example – I saw people in the cinema distracted by a sound effect coming out through the middle left speaker).
Making the film distracting and tiresome, and it didn’t need to be this way.
Some quibbles about editorial judgement too – the would-be grandmother reduced to gibbering as she left.
(2 stars; e:3, s:4, p:2).
(Hearing the alternative to our national anthem over the credits was interesting – such a shame the words are as stuffy as they are – “’tis of thee”.)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Funny and entertaining cartoon (until another of those movie fighting finales which bores cos the hero almost wins, then looks to be absolutely finished, and then recovers to win – yawn).
The earlier action sequences are also too fast to follow.
But I had no idea of all these other spiders, each introduced with a similar sequence – my favourite, Peni Parker – and I didn’t even know about Kingpin.
(I’d say go see, but it was released 2 months ago.)
I wonder why I even care about Spiderman, or Batman?
Batman is easy – the TV series from the sixties (and the theme tune). Especially when Batman keeps preaching about how villains can change. But the films, with their darker tone, have paled with time. And the finales are often tiresome.
Spiderman is the sixties cartoon tv series, that theme tune and that story of the spider biting. But the films, with their darker tone, have paled with time. And the finales are often tiresome.
And I’ve never been interested in the films that bring the various superheroes together.
So it was great to see this animated film with its lighter tone, with 6 stories of how they were each bitten by radioactive spiders.
But it still had a tiresome finale.

(4 stars; e:4, s:4, p:4; wiki entry; Guardian review)

A Private War

A special nationwide showing of “A Private War”, a biopic of Marie Colvin, a war correspondent who wrote now famous stories about war in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
A heavy drinker, who lost an eye during a night-time mission, and suffered post-trauma stress disorder, the film explores this “private war” and why she should be remembered for reporting wars and revealing new truths about the conflicts she saw.
The film uses people from the war zones to give added impact to the extras action and behaviour in the scenes. Another passages interleaves her final TV interview with CNN, with the anchor wishing she’ll “be as safe as you can be”.
The movie is disturbing because it shows the heroine being a bit odd, and making decisions that put herself and others at risk (oh, and the dialogue occasionally clunks.).
The movie often questions the value of what’s she was doing.
Yet this is a serious and heavy movie that deserves to be seen, and makes clear that Assad was cruelly killing his own people in the city of Homs (when he was claiming to be attacking armed insurgents).
But what is it that can make us tune out when such matters are reported? A refusal to believe any report cos we can’t be being offered the whole story? That journalists are not respected? Or, indeed, The Sunday Times?
Don’t know, but I wish now that I’d known more then about Marie Colvin.

(4 stars; e:3; s:4; p:5; Wiki entry; reviews from others still to come.)


I’d misunderstood what Vice was going to be. The trailers suggested it might be a comedy but in the showing I attended, it didn’t trigger laughs, and I’m not sure it was a satire. It was rather a full on collection of episodes from Vice President Dick Cheney’s life that was a clear criticism, indeed attack, of what he’d done and that most particularly he had more power than any other VP.

The film’s bias is made plain, and attacked, during the film’s own credits! “It’s just a liberal film” says a focus group member, followed by a rebuttal “It’s all the facts”. Sweet touch, but adds to the critics’ main complaint about the movie, the style used to make big points changes. Makes you realise how good “Nixon” was.

But the films makes powerful points (and a presentation on why people charge the USA with founding ISIS – sorry, if I’ve missed others).
And why not? Enabling biased public broadcasting was wrong for the USA, and USA’s approach to the Middle East did encourage fundamentalism and Cheney made that worse.
So what’s wrong with other points made? Drawing on points made by other critics –
Rumsfeld and Cheney were not vapid on political values; they both studied politics;
– the second Iraq war in presented in isolation from the first Iraq war (triggered by an invasion of Kuwait); no mention of how Hussain took 13 years in not allowing full and proper chemical weapons investigations and whilst showing the numbers killed in the second war, does not mention the numbers who died through Saddam Hussain’s economic sanctions on his own people.

Another “go see” movie cos of its content. But a but surprised I’m not able to mark it higher.
And the challenge would be, why don’t the attack films and the satires do more damage to their intended targets? (In the UK, “Have I Got News for You”; in the USA, “Saturday Night Live”: and have they developed politics, or diminished it?)
Is it really so hard to put movies together that celebrate government and the politics that signal a free society?
(3 stars; e:4, s:4, p:3; Guardian review; Wiki entry;).