Churchill is set at a crucial point in history
Actors seem to be lining up to play the wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill. John Lithgow has won awards for playing him in the TV series The Crown, and now Brian Cox delivers an award-worthy performance in the film Churchill, which is set over the week preceding the D-Day invasion in 1944.
Actor Brian Cox as Winston Churchill
"You don't get many better roles than Winston Churchill," Cox admits. "He's a great character, a very alive character. He's got so many aspects to him - the baby, the statesman, the clown. But he was also vulnerable. That's what I love about this film. It's his vulnerability, it's not the great rhetorical Churchill."
Continue reading: Brian Cox Relished Playing A Frail, Vulnerable Churchill
This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over just a few pivotal days during the Second World War. It's skilfully written and directed, and anchored by a wonderfully layered performance by Brian Cox. But there's a nagging sense that there's nothing new to see here, mainly because this is such a well-documented and dramatised point in history.
The story takes place over the first few days of June 1944, as the Allied military leaders make final preparations for the D-Day invasion. Due to his lingering trauma over his experiences in WWI, Winston Churchill (Cox) has serious misgivings about the plan, and challenges both the American commander Eisenhower (John Slattery) and senior British officer Montgomery (Julian Wadham). He even makes an appeal to King George (James Purefoy) to intervene. The problem is that he is coming across as a cranky man stuck in the old world, unable to see how warfare has changed in the previous 30 years and reluctant to relinquish control to the next generation. His wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) is also becoming fed up with his ranting and raving, so she sets about trying to make him see reason.
Director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) tells this story in a style similar to The King's Speech, a more revelatory true-life drama that fictionalises backstage conversations. This is an artfully made film, beautifully shot and edited. And Alex von Tunzelmann's script digs deeply into the characters and themes. So it's a bit frustrating that it's impossible to watch the movie without knowing full well whose argument wins the day and how the events will play out. At least the actors make the most of their roles. Cox delivers an awards-worthy performance as a veteran fighter struggling to remain on the sidelines as the battle approaches, continually adding emotional weight to Churchill's towering tirades. Richardson is limited to a series of isolated scenes, but shines as she takes him on.
Continue reading: Churchill Review
It's June 1944 and the war has been waging for five long years. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wants to end it once and for all, but the last thing he would ever do is surrender as a nation. Despite the fact that the allied forced are standing at the coast ready for the orders to invade Normandy and take back the parts of Europe that Nazi Germany has taken over, Churchill doesn't want to rush in until he's certain they have the best chance of success. Naturally, the allied military leaders General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery are becoming frustrated with the man's fear of failure - for it is only that that stands in the way of their D-Day victory. But there's a lot more behind this stubborn and volatile human being than most people see; one who does see it is his dedicated wide Clementine who may be the only one who can save him and, in effect, save Europe.
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Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life to the full regardless of your age. As a colourful national treasure of an actor (think Richard Burton crossed with Ian McKellan), Cox storms through this film with personality and energy. And in his interaction with his costars, the filmmakers make some important points with offhanded charm.
Cox plays Sir Michael Gifford, a Shakespearean icon forced into retirement by Parkinson's. Living on his isolated country estate, he clashes continually with his daughter Sophia (Emilia Fox) and his assistant Milly (Anna Chancellor) about how he should live, dismissing a series of carers they have hired for him. Then the Hungarian Dorottya (Coco Konig) arrives, cracking through his bluster with her sharp intelligence, blunt compassion and her own experience performing Shakespeare's plays back home. She also conspires with him to attend a critics' ceremony at which he's being given a life achievement award. Sophia thinks he's not up to attending, so Dorottya turns to Milly and Michael's trusty driver Joseph (Karl Johnson) for help.
The simplicity of the plot helps the film avoid the usual pitfalls of these kinds of movies. There aren't any villains here (Sophia is just unusually concerned), and there's no romantic nonsense between Michael and Dorottya. The central message isn't revolutionary (people who are old or infirm shouldn't be hidden from society), and the plot never goes anywhere unexpected. But in the characters, the film finds a powerful resonance. It's funny, smart and utterly charming. And the cast deliver beautifully off-handed performances. Newcomer Konig nicely underplays Dorottya, which makes her strikingly likeable, especially as her own subplot about applying to acting school gurgles quietly in the background. Chancellor and Fox find intriguing textures in their roles, which are more complex than expected.
Continue reading: The Carer Review
The comedy will also star Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.
Joseph Fiennes has been cast as Michael Jackson in one of the most bizarre-sounding TV shows of all time. According to The Guardian, Fiennes will play the King of Pop in a one-off special for Sky Arts which dramatises a road trip he allegedly took alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, following 9/11.
Joseph Fiennes has been cast as Michael Jackson.
Details of the most unbelievable road trip of all time were first reported by Vanity Fair in 2011. According to the story, Jackson was playing two concerts at Madison Square Garden on September 7th and 10th and had invited two of his idols, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.
Continue reading: Joseph Fiennes Cast As Michael Jackson In 9/11 Road Trip Comedy
If you could change absolutely anything in the world, what would it be? This is the ultimate question that Neil Clarke finds himself faced with when he wakes up with the ability to become whoever he wants to be, have whatever he wants and make the impossible very easily possible. Little does he know that this is a test set up by some disgruntled extra-terrestrial lifeforms, who have given the following ultimatum: use this ultimate power for good, or watch the Earth burn. Unfortunately, Neil has a lot of things in his own life that he would like to change, let alone important things in the rest of the world. He wishes for an easier life, to be more attractive and to win the heart of his neighbour Catherine. But, as Spider-Man once said, with great power comes great responsibility, so if he is thinking of making some big changes, he ought to make sure he's really thought them through first.
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In 1982, Earth created a time capsule of popular culture from the era, and sent it into space in order to establish contact with extra-terrestrial life. Somehow, an ancient race of alien lifeforms that have never had any other contact with mankind did not understand the meaning of the 'message'. They especially take offence to the inclusion of 'Pac Man' and 'Donkey Kong', and assemble an army of pixelated, murderous 1980s video game characters and send them back to Earth to destroy the humans. With the world on the brink of destruction by a giant 'Pac Man', mankind has just one hope: a hodgepodge collection of retro gamers, using their old techniques to defeat the greatest video game boss of all time.
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With its heart in the right place, this charming British football drama overcomes a script that frequently drifts into sentimentality and corny plotting. But the story is involving, and the cast is particularly good. So even though it has a tendency to drift into cuteness, a fresh sense of humour and sympathetic characters help build up a swell of honest emotion as it approaches the final whistle.
It's set in 1984 Manchester, where the legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby (Brian Cox) is still haunted by the Munich plane crash in 1958 that took the lives of several of his dream-team players. In search of something to give meaning to his retirement years, he runs across a street-smart 10-year-old named Georgie (Jack Smith), who has his own issues. Georgie lives with his working-class single mum Erica (Natascha McElhone), who worries about his future and leaps at the chance of a scholarship to send him to a posh private school. Georgie isn't thrilled about studying for the entrance exam with snooty professor Farquar (Toby Stephens); he'd rather be out kicking a ball with his friends, and is secretly plotting to enter a youth competition with them. But they need an adult sponsor, so Matt and his friend Bob (Philip Jackson) agree to take them on. And the kids have no idea that they're being trained by a national icon.
Director David Scheinmann shoots the film with sundrenched charm, grounding the goofier moments by encouraging the cast to give deeply felt performances. At the centre, Cox and Jackson are an entertaining double act as old pals kickstarting their lives by taking on this young team overflowing with raw talent but no discipline. McElhone is essentially playing the standard movie mother who's too busy with the pressures of everyday life to notice much of anything that her tearaway son is doing, but she gives the role a sharp emotional centre. Stephens has more trouble in his rather wacky role, which drifts from callous nastiness to physical slapstick.
Continue reading: Believe Review
Ryan is a former soldier who finds himself in the back of a truck with a young boy who's been kidnapped. He has no idea how he got there but he resolves to help the boy find a way out. After he does that, however, he strangely only has a little under ten minutes before he loses consciousness again, but he must use his brief bursts of life to find out what is happening to him. When he discovers that he is part of an extremely unethical experiment that aims to find a way to control the ever increasing population through mind control, he sets out to meet his own puppeteer Dr. Langham. It isn't long, though, before the professor's merciless son Harkin Langham gets involved, and Ryan finds himself fighting not only for his autonomy, but for his very life too.
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With a premise that feels almost Inception-like, this brainy thriller plays around with memories in ways that continually shift the story and draw us in. The ending feels somewhat rushed, but the journey there is riveting and sometimes thoroughly unnerving, while a strong cast adds layers of interest.
In a near future, psychic detectives help solve crimes and cold cases by exploring people's memories. Although John (Mark Strong) lost his job when his own past tragedy intruded on his work at Mindscape, a top memory detective agency run by Sebastian (Brian Cox). Months later, Sebastian thinks John is ready to return to work, so assigns him a simple case to help the troubled 16-year-old Anna (Taissa Farmiga), whose mother and stepdad (Reeves and Dillane) are worried that she won't eat. Or maybe they're the problem. As John investigates her past memories, he begins to realise that she's an unusually smart and perceptive young woman.
Spanish filmmaker Jorge Dorado shot primarily in Barcelona, so the movie has an intriguingly European sheen, even though it's set in Middle America. Everything is insinuating and suspicious, twisting standard horror movie tricks in new ways that are both freaky and fascinating. Images of red roses and running water abound, with scenes photographed in familiar ways that make watching this film almost feel like an extended deja vu experience. In other words, this is a thoroughly entertaining nightmare that brings up tension and continually wrong-foots us about what's real and what isn't.
Continue reading: Anna Review
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