Phyillda Lloyd’s recent ‘biopic’ of Margaret Thatcher staring Meryl Streep has come under scrutiny for taking the politics out of Thatcher’s conservative government choosing to focus on her rise to power. As a film ‘The Iron Lady’ is a structural and narrative mess, but regardless of your politics the film is worth watching for Streep’s extraordinary performance.
I’m one of ‘Blair’s children’, my political knowledge is largely confined to episodes of ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘The Thick of It’; my understanding of Thatcher and her polarisation comes from what is essentially popular left-wing satire. I would have liked to have seen more politics, both the good and the bad, I would have liked to have seen what made her so popular with the voting public despite the strikes and union opposition. The moment that was seen as her betrayal by those key cabinet members was too brief, why were her closest advisers determined to bring her down? Prominent Tories have gone on record saying that it’s too soon to make a film about Thatcher and I would agree, if the film had been about Thatcher.
Last year channel 4 showed a drama about Mo Molem, played movingly and brilliantly by Julie Walters, that is the type of film I want to see about Thatcher. The politics do matter as it’s clear that Thatcher’s politics were what defined and polarised her for a generation.
Guy Ritche’s last Holmesian offering won the sceptics over and found a place with modern blockbuster loving audiences. Moving Holmes away from the cerebral and placing him as an eccentric pugilist Victorian James Bond allowed Ritcihe to satisfy his core fan base whilst avoiding many of the criticisms that have befallen previous attempts to bring Holmes to the big screen. His Holmes and Watson inhabited that special cinematic ‘bromantic’ world where they could exchange barbs, clothes and other things that would have previously been labelled homoerotic. Robert Downey Jr makes for a delightfully eccentric and built Holmes, it’s entirely believable that his Holmes is equally at home fighting his way through crowds of thugs and a good game of chess. Jude Law played long-suffering ex-Army doctor remarkably well (periodically disappearing limp aside).
This time round Ritche (and screenwriters Michele & Kieran Mulroney) have tried to give us a more conventional Holmesian mystery, which unfortunately doesn’t work in this established formula. To complain that a Sherlock Holmes film has too much Holmes might be contradictory for a long-time Holmesian but in this instance that extra added Holmes feels more like an afterthought. The set pieces are as brilliantly zany as the last and the stunts just as impressive but the core mystery is to throw away with the solution coming in a bink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that is far too key to treat so flippantly.
Stephen Fry gives us bizarrely buffoonish Mycroft who acts more as comic relief than the man who “is the British government […] the most indispensable man in the country.” (BRU) Presumably his reinvention as a nudist in an era that has become the byline for prudish British stuffiness is a device to show just how out of the ordinary the Holmes brothers are and that Mycroft is just as, if not, weirder than Sherlock. Noomi Rapace’s character finds herself sidelined and very quickly reduced to setting up one of the major gags and it feels very much a waste of her and her character, perhaps they’re planning to develop her further in a later film. Where Rapace’s character suffers, Mary (Kelly Reilly) is elevated to codebreaker and plays an integral part in the final solution. Jared Harris makes for a refreshingly young Moriarty and his confrontation with Downey Jr is clever but overplayed.
None of these criticisms stop it from being an enjoyable film, it might be narrative mess and rely too much on overplayed gags but the pacing is fast, the editing flash and the score is as brilliant as the last. The film is a fun romp and hopefully they’ll return the original format for the inevitable third instalment.
(re-post from an older version of my blog)
Directed by Terry Gilliam; written by Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam.
“Who are the TIME BANDITS? Where do they come from and how much do they cost?
They are timeless yet always late; immortal; yet destructible; capable of intergalactic, inter-cosmic travel, yet unable to tie their own shoelaces.
Six cheeky dwarves steal a precious map showing a series of time holes scattered across the universe enabling them to travel back in time. Whilst visiting the past, they cause havoc and rob famous historical figures of their riches in the process.
Watching from afar is the Evil Genius, who will stop at nothing to get his hands on their map for his own evil purpose. With 11 year old Kevin in tow, a great time travelling adventure ensues, full of superb make believe characters and very famous faces!”
(re-post from an older version of my blog)
Directed by Tony Mitchell, written by Justin Bodle and Matthew Cope; staring Robert Carlyle, Tom Courtenay, Jessalyn Gilsig and David Suchet.
“Timely yet terrifying, FLOOD predicts the unthinkable. Could this be the capital’s last 24 hours?
When a raging storm coincides with high tide, it unleashes a colossal tidal surge which travels mercilessly down England’s East Coast and into the River Thames. Overwhelming the Barrier, torrents of water pour into London. The lives of millions of people are at stake. Top marine engineer, Rob Morrison and his feather Leonard rush to the aid of his ex-wife and Barrier expert, Sam to try to save a city on the brink of annihilation.”