Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Brown Findlay’

Our Own Private World

The Guernsey Literary &

Potato Peel Pie Society

Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Lily James, Glen Powell, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Brown Findlay, Nicolo Pasetti

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has to be one of the longest names for a film ever. Yet despite its convoluted title is a richly rewarding film directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

At the centre of this extraordinary tale set during and immediately after World War II in London and in Guernsey is a remarkable performance by British star Lily James as writer Juliet Ashton who discovers that the population of Guernsey have so immensely courageous World War stories to tell during the German occupation of this island.

In fact, not only did they survive the war, the close knit community even formed a literary and potato peel pie society – a private world whereby a small group of book lovers could discuss English literature from Shakespeare to the Bronte sisters over an extraordinary dish a potato peel pie, made without butter or cream.

In the midst of the private literary society is a mystery which Juliet Ashton uncovers about one of Guernsey’s more infamous residents Elizabeth McKenna wonderfully played with daring bravado by Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay (Victor Frankenstein).

Members of this private literary society include the dashing pig farmer Dawsey Adams played by Dutch heartthrob Michiel Huisman from Game of Thrones fame, Amelia Maugery played by Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Eben Ramsey played by Oscar nominee Tom Courtenay (The Golden Compass, Nicholas Nickleby, Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser).

Juliet’s extravagant and confident American boyfriend is played by Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Expendables 3), by what really makes The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so fascinating is the layered historical story it tells about the inhabitants of the Channel Islands during the German Occupation.

Without giving the story away, this is a richly rewarding British war film held together by a strong classically trained cast, superbly directed by Mike Newell.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing for lovers of uniquely British historical war films.

The Lazarus Conversion

Victor Frankenstein

victor_frankenstein_ver2

Director: Paul McGuigan

Cast: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Freddie Fox, Charles Dance, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Bronson Webb, Callum Turner, Daniel Mays

Lovers of the Victorian Gothic should watch the brilliant combination of James McAvoy (Last King of Scotland, Atonement) and Daniel Radcliffe (Kill Your Darlings) as the budding medical duo, Frankenstein and his faithful assistant Igor in Scottish director Paul McGuigan’s period thriller Victor Frankenstein.

The action starts off in the outskirts of 19th century Victorian London at Barnaby’s Circus where Dr Frankenstein first glimpses the nameless hunchback as a circus clown, cruelly treated and vilified, until a moment in the performance when the beautiful trapeze artist Lorelei falls off her swing above a crowd of shocked spectators.  Naturally Frankenstein and the hunchback rush to her rescue.

The delusional Frankenstein assists Igor in escaping the circus and brings him back to his cavernous laboratory where he is hell bent on recreating life from stolen animal parts curtesy of the London Zoo. Frankenstein names the hunchback Igor and after a very muscular scene in which he drains the fluid from Igor back and urges him to wear a brace to straighten his posture. Igor is initially taken in by the passionate Frankenstein although he soon realizes that his new found friend is slightly obsessed, delusional and not to mention reckless.

After a failed experiment at the Chiswick Hospital in which Frankenstein attempts to revive an ape like creature much to everyone’s horror, the potential of what they are trying to achieve is recognized by the wealthy and aristocratic Finnegan played with relish by Freddie Fox (The Riot Club).

Despite being admonished by his father Dr Frankenstein, a brief cameo by Charles Dance, for his reckless medical experiments as well as being chased by a determined God-fearing detective Inspector Turpin played by Andrew Scott (Spectre), Victor Frankenstein proceeds with his determined quest to recreate human life using the Lazarus conversion, an electrical method of reviving a reconstructed being and bringing it to life. This would be the hideous and dreaded monster.

Igor in the meantime is flirting with the gorgeous Lorelei played by Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay, and in a very theatrical scene takes her to a lavish Victorian ball, yet he is drawn back to rescuing Frankenstein from his obsessive and dangerous behaviour.

victor_frankenstein

The film’s climax moves to a Castle in the dramatic Scottish Highlands, where the final preparations for the revival of Frankenstein’s monster is to take place with much assistance from the creepy Finnegan and huge amounts of electricity.

Victor Frankenstein is not a superb film, but a fun filled revival of the Victorian Gothic genre in the same vein as The Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt although not quite as scary.

The costumes designed by Jany Temime who also did Spectre are brilliantly done as well as the inventive production design by Eve Stewart, recreating 19th century London in a similar fashion to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.

The combination of Radcliffe and McAvoy as mad doctors is a stroke of genius and their onscreen adventures make Victor Frankenstein an enjoyable Victorian action thriller. This is recommended viewing for those that like a bit of dark horror, an intriguing tale told from Igor’s perspective which adds sympathy to the overall image of Frankenstein as more than just a deranged doctor with a God complex.

 

Raising Debauchery to an Art Form

The Riot Club

riot_club

Director: Lone Scherfig

Cast: Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Matthew Beard, Sam Claflin, Freddie Fox, Holliday Grainger, Natalie Dormer, Samuel West, Tom Hollander, Tony Way, Julian Wadham

Based on Laura Wade’s play Posh and with the skillful direction of Danish film maker Lone Scherfig (An Education), The Riot Club assembles a cast of the next generation of British thespians from Oscar winner Jeremy Iron’s son Max Irons as well as Edward Fox’s son Freddie Fox along with the dashing Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Holliday Grainger (Great Expectations) in a truly brilliant diatribe about the hidden debauchery of the aristocracy.

What makes The Riot Club even more brilliant is Scherfig’s superb use of tension in the film as the second half really does raise debauchery and menace to an art form, with horrific consequences.

The Riot Club focuses on a privileged group of Oxford freshman who form a secret society, a sort of uninhabited Lord of the Flies style gathering in which the ten member group have to outdo each other in decadence, bravado and more significantly stamina, something most young men are extremely competitive about.

With the taglines of Filthy, Rich, Spoilt, Rotten, The Riot Club truly does show the terrible side of young and obnoxious men behaving extremely badly from trashing University dorm rooms to the disgusting initiation procedures a young man will go through to belong to this elite and secretive club.

This is hazing at its worst along with the cunning and knowing ability which shines through especially in the second half of this film, that no matter how disgusting or debauched their activities get, The Riot Club will manage to get away with it, relatively unscathed. In this privileged aristocratic circle, money truly does buy them everything except in this case decency and consideration for their fellow man.

The Riot Club is disturbing at the best of times, captivating and utterly debauched and aptly directed by Scherfig who as a female director superbly shows how the pack mentality in men can lead to the most heinous of acts. Audiences should watch out for cameo’s from rising Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer as a high class escort as well as an excellent performance by Holliday Grainger as Miles Richards’s (Max Irons) girlfriend Lauren who does not come from the aristocracy and whose merchant background is used as a weapon to humiliate her when she is mistakenly called to the raucous dinner at an old English pub outside Oxford, where literally all hell breaks out.

It’s at this dinner, making up the exceptional second half of the film, that the Riot Club really live up to their horrendous reputation with copious amounts of heavy drinking and drug taking which fuels these aristocrats libido and aggression.

The Riot Club shows off the menacing side of the posh British upper classes and also the exclusivity of the landed gentry who think that despite their actions they are continually above the law because of the vast wealth. Highly recommended viewing but not for those easily offended.

 

 

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