William Nicholson

William Nicholson

William Nicholson Quick Links

News Film RSS

Breathe Review

Excellent

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's also a lot more complex than expected. For his directing debut, Andy Serkis recounts the life of a man who is so genuinely inspirational that he never needs to crank up the sentimentality. Characters burst with personality, and the events unfold with some unexpected complications that make the movie strikingly edgy. It also, of course, looks gorgeous.

 

This is the story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), who travels to Kenya in 1958 with his pregnant wife Diana (Claire Foy) on tea-plantation business and is stricken with polio, paralysed from the neck down and needing a ventilator to breathe. They move back to England, where Robin gets increasingly annoyed by his life in hospital. So he convinces Diana to take him home, against the doctors' advice, and gets his inventor pal Teddy (Hugh Bonneville) to design a chair with a built-in respirator so he can get out and about. This is a revolution for him, and he becomes an advocate in helping severely disabled people like him find independence from hospital care so they can life their lives.

Continue reading: Breathe Review

Everest Review

Good

With visually stunning imagery and a solid A-list cast, this film just about transcends its oddly uninvolving story. Based on true events, the scenes are harrowing and emotive, but spreading the story among an ensemble obscured by mountaineering gear and snowstorms makes it difficult to engage with anyone. And the plot-strands that do find emotional resonance feel like they've been manipulated.

In the early 1990s, companies began selling Everest expeditions to wealthy clients, and by the spring of 1996 there were 20 teams of climbers jostling for position on the slopes of the world's highest peak. Kiwi guide Rob (Jason Clarke) opts for a cautious approach with his team, which includes impatient Texan Beck (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon (Michael Kelly) and the nervous Doug (John Hawkes), who only just failed to reach the summit on his previous attempt. Rob's base camp manager Helen (Emily Watson) keeps everything running smoothly and, since the mountain is so overcrowded, Rob coordinates the climb with a rival guide (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his team. On the day of the final ascent, the skies are clear, but delays along the way and an approaching storm threaten the climbers.

Since the is a true story, it's clear from the start that some of these people won't make it home. And Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur lays on the emotion thickly, with an overly pushy-majestic score by Dario Marianelli and several sentimental phone calls home. Rob's wife is played by Keira Knightley, and you can almost hear the ominous chord when she reveals that she's pregnant. A bit subtler is Beck's interaction with his wife, played with insinuating bitterness by the always terrific Robin Wright. Meanwhile, Clarke's sensitive leader and Brolin's bullheaded alpha male contrast nicely with Gyllenhaal's cool dude, while Sam Worthington is almost lost in the shuffle as a friend who's climbing a neighbouring peak.

Continue reading: Everest Review

Unbroken Review


Excellent

With a true story that's almost hard to believe, this inspiring biographical drama is made with attention to detail and a remarkable resistance to sentiment. And strong acting helps bring the characters to life, even if everything feels a little too carefully staged. But it's the real-life aspect that grabs the attention, and a central figure who's a remarkable example of the indomitable human spirit. The film also marks an auspicious step forward for Angelina Jolie as a director, telling a big story without giving in to the usual sappy moviemaking pitfalls.

Son of Italian immigrants, Louie Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) grew up in 1920s Southern California and by the time he hit his teens is on the way to becoming a criminal. But his brother Pete (Alex Russell) helps him channel his energy to running instead, and his natural skill make him a local champion as well as an American record-holder at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When the war breaks out, he enlists and serves as a bombardier in the Pacific, surviving a plane crash before later going down at sea and drifting with two colleagues (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock) for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese. From here he endures a horrific stint in a prisoner of war camp, taunted by the cruel commandant everyone calls The Bird (Miyavi), who takes particular notice of Louie simply because he refuses to break.

Jolie assembles the film as a big-budget epic, with massive set pieces as the plot cycles through several outrageous episodes before settling in on the prison years. Cinematographer Roger Deakins carefully contrasts Louie's sunny California youth with the much starker visit to Nazi Germany and the astoundingly bleak Japanese prison camp, with those endless days baking at sea in the middle. So the film looks terrific, drawing us into each chapter in Louie's story while building a sense of momentum. It's not quite as complex as it looks; Louie's darker moments feel a bit superficial. But O'Connell adds some weight to each scene, offering a kick of emotion as well as the charisma that convinces the men around him to draw inspiration from his tenacity.

Continue reading: Unbroken Review

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Review


Very Good

Based on his autobiography, this film is clearly designed to be the definitive film about Nelson Mandela. And it tells his remarkable story with skill, tracing his life from 25 to 75 while touching on why he's perhaps the most important figure of the past century. So it's no wonder that the film feels far too constructed and polished.

It starts in his Xhosa village birthplace, then follows Nelson (Elba) to Johannesburg in the 1940s as a sparky young lawyer with a loving wife (Pheto) and children. But the vicious injustice of Apartheid gets under his skin, and as he starts speaking out and taking action, his marriage falls apart. South Africa's government responds to protests by cracking down even further, so Nelson's African National Congress turns to violence. As a result, its leaders are sentenced to hard labour on Robben Island. Now married to the outspoken Winnie (Harris) with two more daughters, Nelson is sent away for life. But he refuses to let bitterness gain a foothold, and devises a way for the nation to peacefully transition into democracy.

Mandela's legacy lies in his wisdom and open-mindedness, avoiding a bloodbath by seeking reconciliation rather than revenge. And these themes play an important role in Nicholson's script, which of course has to condense the events drastically, even for a two-and-a-half hour movie. But all of the key moments are here, and even if the film sometimes feels like it's racing through them, there's plenty of subtext for the actors to grab hold of.

Continue reading: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Review

Long Walk To Freedom: Idris Elba As Nelson Mandela Is Favourite For Oscar [Trailer]


Idris Elba Nelson Mandela Guillermo Del Toro Naomie Harris William Nicholson Harvey Weinstein

Idris Elba is the man to beat the 2014 Academy Awards for his portrayal of South African President Nelson Mandela, according to the bookmakers, anyway. Elba's star has risen in recent years thanks to BBC series Luther, rumors of the James Bond role and a role in Guillermo Del Toro's latest blockbuster Pacific Rim.

Idris Elba Nelson MandelaNaomie Harris
Idris Elba [L] as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris [R] as Winnie Mandela

The first trailer for upcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - from The Other Boleyn Girl director Justin Chadwick - rolled out online this week and features a startling, if limited, first look at Hackney-born Elba's performance "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. People learn to hate. They can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart," goes the spine-tingling voiceover as Mandela moves across the valley. It appears Elba - wearing Mandela's signature yellow shirt - has got the President's poise down to a tee.

Continue reading: Long Walk To Freedom: Idris Elba As Nelson Mandela Is Favourite For Oscar [Trailer]

Les Miserables Review


Excellent

Starting at full-emotion and never wavering for a moment, this huge movie adaptation of the long-running stage musical wears us out with its relentlessly epic approach. OK, so neither the musical nor Victor Hugo's source novel could be accused of being understated, but director Hooper (The King's Speech) never even tries to find a moment of quiet feeling here. The result is thrillingly moving, making the most of the soaring anthems that fill the show. But it's also pretty overwhelming.

The story starts in 1815 as convict Jean Valjean (Jackman) finishes 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. His parole officer Javert (Crowe) vows to keep an eye on him, but Valjean slips away and, after a redemptive encounter with a priest, eventually reinvents himself as an upstanding businessman. He tries to help fallen woman Fantine (Hathaway), rescuing her daughter Cosette (Allen, then Seyfried) from her greedy foster parents (Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter). Years later, Valjean and Cosette move to Paris, where a young revolutionary (Redmayne) falls for Cosette just as the 1832 student uprisings break out. And Javert is still determined to recapture Valjean.

Hooper maintains the play's operatic style, in which the dialog is sung-through in between the big numbers. And we're talking about massively emotional power ballads here, performed to wrenching effect. Hathaway's one-take rendition of I Dreamed a Dream is the kind of breathtaking scene that wins Oscars. Jackman's voice wavers and cracks beautifully as he holds the story together. Marks delivers a belting version of the soulful On My Own. Redmayne nearly steals the show with his soaring tenor voice and wonderful acting chops. Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter provide some raucously overwrought comical relief. And Crowe gets away with Javert's big musical moments because he has the acting power to back up his oddly thin voice.

Continue reading: Les Miserables Review

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Review


OK
Of the more than 15 sequels already released this year, Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age is by no means the most unnecessary (that remains a three-way tie between Evan Almighty, Rush Hour 3, and Are We Done Yet?), though it could be considered the most improbable.

For one thing, historical costume dramas rarely spawn second chapters, particularly ones that struggle to make back their production budgets. Kapur's critically acclaimed original Elizabeth earned multiple Oscar nominations but was largely overshadowed (at the ceremony and in the public eye) by John Madden's opposing Golden Age tryst Shakespeare in Love.

Continue reading: Elizabeth: The Golden Age Review

William Nicholson

William Nicholson Quick Links

News Film RSS
Advertisement

Occupation

Filmmaker


Suggested

Paloma Faith - Better Than This Video

Paloma Faith - Better Than This Video

With her fifth studio album 'Infinite Things' set to be released later this year, Paloma Faith unveils a music video for her newest song 'Better Than...

Toots and the Maytals: Their seven most iconic tunes

Toots and the Maytals: Their seven most iconic tunes

Remembering the iconic Toots Hibbert (1942-2020).

Album of the Week: Blur's The Great Escape turns 25

Album of the Week: Blur's The Great Escape turns 25

'The Great Escape' was released on this day (September 11th) in 1995.

WE ARE CHAOS - Marilyn Manson Album Review

WE ARE CHAOS - Marilyn Manson Album Review

We were actually quite excited about Marilyn Manson's WE ARE CHAOS. The question is whether or not we were sorely disappointed...

Advertisement
Say No To Suicide: The greats we lost but will never forget

Say No To Suicide: The greats we lost but will never forget

World Suicide Prevention Day is the day to remember some of the world's greatest artists.

Six reasons why we'll never stop loving The Rolling Stones

Six reasons why we'll never stop loving The Rolling Stones

Few bands reach the legendary status of of the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world.

Stormzy - Superheroes Video

Stormzy - Superheroes Video

With his forthcoming album 'Heavy is the Head' set for release this December, Stormzy has dropped an animated video for a new single entitled...

How Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's 'WAP' became the most political song of 2020

How Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's 'WAP' became the most political song of 2020

It's time to start letting women be empowered by their sexual attitudes.

Advertisement

William Nicholson Movies

Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

Everest Movie Review

Everest Movie Review

With visually stunning imagery and a solid A-list cast, this film just about transcends its...

Unbroken Movie Review

Unbroken Movie Review

With a true story that's almost hard to believe, this inspiring biographical drama is made...

Advertisement
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Movie Review

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Movie Review

Based on his autobiography, this film is clearly designed to be the definitive film about...

Les Miserables Movie Review

Les Miserables Movie Review

Starting at full-emotion and never wavering for a moment, this huge movie adaptation of the...

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Review

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Review

Of the more than 15 sequels already released this year, Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews