The Finest hours

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This is a real life disaster movie based on the true story of coastguard Bernie Webber. The film is set in 1952 during a severe storm out at sea. We follow Webber a man who has recently found love and is a stickler for rules and regulations. No matter how pointless the rule is he has to stick by it. An example of this iss when he has to ask the captain about getting married. Which is generally seen as a courtesy rather than a must. People laugh at his ways and they question his masculinity, but this is most certainly a brave man.

The storm brings about 40-60 feet waves. The sea terrifies me and excites me at the same time. The power is extraordinary especially when you think a wave can crush large buildings. The sea on that night tore two ships in half and killed a number of its crew. The main concentration is on one particular ship called The Pendleton. The Pendleton has been ripped in half leaving the back (apologies for the nontechnical term) afloat. There are 33 of the crew left who start to squabble over how to escape this disaster. A man who knows the boat inside out takes charge and comes up with a brilliant idea to buy them more time for rescuers to come.

Webber and his crew of 4 are sent out in a little lifeboat. It’s seen as a suicide mission against such big waves. Most refuse to do it and some suggest that Webber should pretend to get lost and come back. Webber and his crew are courageous men and go out determined to bring back the crew. This is a mission where rules go out the window.

The performances give great credit to those involved. Chris Pine is brilliant as Webber against his usual action hero role. Here he plays a shy man, often nervous who has a great deal of courage and bravery. I think this is his best performance to date. Casey Affleck plays Sybert who takes charge of the sinking vessel, he too does well showing that he can play socially awkward parts. Holliday Grainger plays Miriam, Webbers girlfriend who is strong and determined. She is not someone to mess with and clearly loves her soon to be husband dearly. This is a great part for her and she performs well as the strongest and most outspoken of all involved.

The film made me wince as the waves came crashing down. You feel the tension as time passes and hope diminishes. You put yourself in their shoes and think how you would react in such a situation. It is surely an event that would live with you for the rest of your life.

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8/10

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Trumbo

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This type of film gets me really excited as it covers the Golden Era of cinema. It also has a just cause and a political stance to reckon with.

Trumbo is the name of one of the 10 screen writers that were black listed during the 1950’s because they were outspoken communist. America was going into the cold war with Russia and communist sympathisers were criminalised for their views. Trumbo was one of the most successful screen writers of the time so the impact that was felt was big on Hollywood. This is a man who wrote Roman Holiday, Spartacus and the Brave One amongst many others.

The story follows Trumbo closely and how he interacts with his fellow blacklisted writers. There is a juxtaposition in relation to Trumbos political beliefs and the wealth that he has accumulated through writing. Trumbo wants to remain rich and this causes issues with other writers. Also the fact that he can afford to lose where as others would lose their homes and family chasing a political cause. This leads to many heated debates. There are also those from the acting circle that will leak the names of those involved in order to save their drowning careers.

We see the impact on Trumbos family particularly when he has to work hour after hour trying to write scripts for low budget Hollywood films. He has to do this because no one else will hire him. He has to write Oscar winning screenplays under Pseudonyms. The strain on the family is huge as they all play their part in delivering plays to different directors. His fight almost costs him his family and career.

This is a great film! There is a lot of old Hollywood footage which makes the film feel very authentic. Bryan Cranston is brilliant as Trumbo and gets the speech pattern exactly right. Elle Fanning who plays his daughter is also very good and really shows us how hard it was for the family, she is very much like her father in fighting for a just cause. This causes a great deal of conflict. There are numerous actors taking on the parts of the old Hollywood stars. We have Kirk Douglass, Edward G Robinson, John Wayne and many more.

Helen Mirren plays the villain perfectly. She plays Hedda Hopper who publicises those that are communist and does everything she can to ruin their careers. Hollywood will be a communist free industry. She is particularly spiteful and this is shown when she puts extreme pressure on film makers such as Louis B Mayer. It was great to see her as a villain.

It’s hard to believe the impact that communism had on America. How close to Nuclear war America came during the Cuban Misile crisis. You can understand their fear but it was born out of ignorance. These people weren’t terrorists they were just people who wanted a fair society for all.

This is definitely a film to watch and I think it should have got more notice. It sounds like a very grim topic, but there are many funny lines and comedic scenes. Bryan Cranston should definitely picked up a few awards.

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8/10

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A Bigger Splash

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I didn’t know what to expect with this film. I went because I could and it had a fairly decent rating. I only had the flimsiest idea of what it was about, but sometimes films like this are the ones you enjoy most.

It is the story of a female Rock star who is adored and admired. She us set up as almost like a punk rock star of the 70’s, full of glam. She is re-cooperating in the sun after having surgery on her throat. She is with her partner and they are enjoying the time to themselves away from the public. They don’t need to get dressed, they can make love in the pool and take in the sun. They can enjoy all their time doing absolutely nothing.

This is interrupted by an old friend and his new 17 year old daughter. He was the rock stars lover and producer. He is a man full of energy and life. He is a man who cannot do anything by halves and lives to extremes. He takes drugs, alcohol, sex, Sun, money, people.. he has no shame. He speaks at a million miles and hour without taking a breath. Very few people get to talk when he is around. His new daughter, one that he only discovered a year ago is full of disdain, attitude and full of herself. There has clearly been some pain in her life.

The rock star has chosen the complete opposite to her former love. Her now boyfriend is very bland and full of melancholy. There is a great deal of tension between all of them. The rock star still wants to have fun, but knows that her old lovers fun is destructive and unkind.

There is a great deal of nudity both male and female. You see Ralph Feinnes completely naked and you see a great deal of Dakota Johnson. Tilda Swinton is seen topless on a great many occasions which is usual for her and Matthias Schoenaerts is also seen very scantily clad. This is a brave move as men are very rarely seen completely naked on film. There is a great deal of sexual tension between each character  even father and daughter. Daughter has her eyes and claws ready for the rock stars melancholy filled man.

The film flows along for some time until the main event happens. Very little time is spent on this and its not very well thought out. This to me is such a shame because it could have made an average film into a very good one.

The performances keep the story going. Fiennes is brilliant as the former lover. He drives you mad with his energy. He is the kind of guy that walks into work all full of joy when the rest of you are struggling to keep awake. You do see a sad side to him, however, brought about by the unrequited love he still holds for his rock star.

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Tilda Swinton can only speak through a whisper throughout the film. She still manages to perform very well and it adds to the pain she feels as she battles her feelings for her now lover and her former. She still yearns for the excitement but knows it could end her career.

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Dakota Johnson is miscast as a teenage daughter. I have a feeling that we will see a great deal of her naked body from now on. I hope it doesn’t reduce her chances at good roles in film. You do not really see her acting talent until the end, which is a real shame.

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Matthias Schoenaerts doesn’t have much to work with apart from a frown. He plays a very boring part. You never really reach the depths of why he is so melancholy. You learn how far the sadness takes him, but it is never truly explained or shown. Again you see his acting talent surface at the end.

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The film needed to be shorter at the beginning which would have increased the tension. The event could have been developed further and could have really made for a good film. The performances are good, but the story doesn’t match.

6/10

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Tom Hardy

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I wrote last about Alec Guiness being the man of many faces and characters. I now bring you a man who also has great skill in taking on many different parts and particularly voices.

I have seen Tom Hardy in a quite a few films over the last few years. Most of the characters he plays are completely different. He can play the action hero like in Inception and Mad Max, The villain like in Batman, The Revenant and legend. He has used his English accent, a Welsh accent, American accent. Russian accent and more. You can’t categorise him for certain roles as he can perform well in so many.

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I loved the Batman trilogy and part of the enjoyment of Batman is seeing the great villains he is up against. The size Tom Hardy grew too is truly terrifying. He is unrecognisable with the mask and shaved head. The voice is so chilling and unique. This was an enemy with brains and brawn. Tom was a great choice for the role.

One of my favourite roles is rather mundane. The film Locke a film of a car journey. It is made by a man who has to see a lady at the hospital who is giving birth to his baby. He is married, however, and has to break the news to his wife. On top of that his actions are about to lose him his job. During the drive he instructs his foreman on how to pull off the biggest concrete drop in Europe. You see this man’s turmoil as he tries to put things right. Tom Hardy is the only character seen and he is able to hold the viewers attention the whole time. This all done with a Welsh accent.

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In the recent film legend he is able to play two parts one of Reggie Kray and the other his twin brother Ronnie. I think this could have been seen as a gimmick, but it really works as he plays the two very different brothers. This is done with a strong East London accent.

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He has played a Russian in the story of a Russian war hero who works his way up through the Stalin regime. He soon falls from grace and then back up. This is a great story and is strengthened by another great performance.

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An iconic character such as Mad Max is a tough role to play. Mel Gibson is Mad Max, but the new version is absolutely stunning. You forget that Mel Gibson isn’t in it and although this isn’t a scene stealer from Mr Hardy it is still a very good performance. This is such a spectacular film in terms of imagination and cinematography that most stars would be second best.

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We now have another brilliant performance in The Revenant. He again plays a villain this time with a southern American accent. This is a stunning film and Tom’s character is disgustingly horrid. You really start to hate him by the end of the film. This is in great contrast to the spectacular and beautiful scenery. Tom adored by many women is truly ugly in this film.

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Tom has come a long way since inception where he played a role amongst a group set against amazing special effects. Tom is now a star and can hold the screen on his very own.

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I think we are watching a very special talent on our screens at the moment.

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About Time

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About Time

This is one of my favourite films from the last few years!

The main character can travel back in time, but only to points of his own life. This is hereditary as his father could do the same.

Where would I go?

I would definitely go back to see my Dad and work tirelessly to get him to change his ways.

I would go back to playing cricket with him as a little boy.

I’d love to go back and eat his scrumptious stew and mash.

I would go back and see my Grandad and walk hand in hand with him from school.

I would go back to a time where we laughed until we had tears in our eyes.

Would I go back to the day of the crash and avoid that car? I probably wouldn’t. I think some things are just meant to be.

I think the biggest advantage would be to see those that are no longer here. I am not one to look back, I generally look forward to what’s next.

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The very best!

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I can’t remember the first time I saw Alec Guiness on the Tv? I’m not entirely sure what film it was either, but I do know that I was mesmerized by his acting. Kind Hearts and Coronets is one of my favourite films of all time. I read that when asked if he wanted to play 4 of the Dascoyne family he replied “Why not 8?” Despite being in his 30’s he managed to play characters of all ages. He made it look so very easy. That calm voice made you feel at ease.

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He was very British and played the British man very well. He was lucky to be around at a time when British film was doing well. The Ealing comedies were brilliantly funny and he was well known for starring in them. The lady killers is another film he excels in. That famous scene where he introduces himself to the old dear who soon becomes his landlady is iconic. Peter Sellers is also involved but is outshone by Alec Guiness. The lavender Hill Mob is another fabulous performance and quintessentially British.

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A very early part was Mr Pocket along side John Mills in Great Expectations. This was one of the best adaptations of a Dickens novel. All that know me, know how much I love a Dickens novel. He plays the very lively upper class fellow who rooms with Pip and teaches him how to be a gentlemen. He also played the best Fagin on screen, taking the part back to its Jewish roots. He was extremely scary in David Leans adaptation. The make up and prosthetics made him unrecognizable. These two films are British classics.

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We then have the masterpiece that is Bridge Over the River Kwai where he plays Colonel Nicholson a colonel who oversees the building of the Japanese railway during WW2. This again is a quintessentially British part and very patriotic. The scenes where he is held and punished in the oven for days on end show an actor at his very best. The power that comes from this film is very rarely seen today. You never see Alec Guiness you only ever see the character. For this he won his first Oscar.

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He played a number of roles under David Leans direction and again they were masterpieces. An actor with films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Zhivago on his filmography shows you how a great he was. He was the master of disguise.

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We see him as British, but he could play many parts. A part he played so well was of an old Indian man called Godbole in a passage to India. This could have been awful and comedic, but it really worked in a very good film.

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He was also well known for he his theatre work. I love film, but there is nothing like a great performance at the theatre. He was seen as one of the greatest alongside the likes of Lawrence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Guilgud. To be so accomplished on screen and on the stage is extremely rare today. It takes a lot to get it right there and then and not to have the security of having another take to sit on.

I find it a shame that so many see Alec Guiness’ face and only see Obi Wan Kenobi. He was again great as the Jedi, but most of his films were far superior to Star Wars. Fortunately he lived a comfortable life off the back of Star Wars and he was grateful for that although he wasn’t the films biggest fan.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this great man and I hope I have encouraged you to see beyond Star wars and watch the many other great films.

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Favourite Actors

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This is a list of my favourite actors. I will write about each one over the coming weeks. I may add some?

Alec Guiness
John Mills
Lawrence Olivier
Kirk Douglas
Gregory Peck
Fred Astaire
Robert Mitchum
Tom Hanks
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Hardy
Christian Bale
Robert Dinero
Al Pacino
Domnhall Gleeson
Cary Grant
James Stewart
James Cagney
James Dean
Bruce Lee
Charlton Heston
Robin Williams

Who are your favourite actors?

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