Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Lumley’

Reinventing Sandra

Finding Your Feet

Director: Richard Loncraine

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, John Sessions, David Hayman, Phoebe Nicholls

Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) plays Sandra in the British comedy Finding your Feet directed by Richard III and Wimbledon director Richard Loncraine.

Sandra discovers during her husband’s retirement party that he has been having an affair for five years which sends her on a journey of self-discovery as she gradually shrugs off the snobbery of her former life and moves in with her hippie older sister Bif played by Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Cure for Wellness).

Bif leads a completely unconventional life with the help of her friend Charlie played by British star Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and soon the pair introduce the uptight Sandra to dance classes and a flash mob dance contest in Piccadilly Circus to create awareness for the aged.

With the able assistance of Bif’s hilarious friend Jackie wonderfully played by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, Sandra soon takes up dancing and discovers an entirely different world made all the more charming by the blossoming courtship with Charlie as they wonder down Oxford Street to see the Christmas Lights.

Finding your Feet is a truly delightful British comedy set mainly in London and also in Rome, which adds to the glamour of the film, held together by superb performances by Imelda Staunton and Celia Imrie who play sisters rediscovering their sibling relationship after years of estrangement.

Highly recommended for audiences that enjoyed such films as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tea with Mussolini and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Finding Your Feet proves that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and discover romance again.

Finding your Feet gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is a charming British comedy with a sufficient dash of poignancy to satisfy the tastes of more mature audiences.

 

Living the Dream is the Best Revenge

Absolutely Fabulous

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Director: Mandie Fletcher

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Julia Sawahla, Gwendoline Christie, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Joan Collins, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson

Living the dream is the best revenge sweetie darlings especially when you apparently kill supermodel and party waif Kate Moss. Yes Patsy and Edina are back!

Its director Mandie Fletcher’s full screen film version of the hit BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous featuring the notorious Patsy superbly played by Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Edina based on a hilarious screenplay by Jennifer Saunders who plays her in the film.

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Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious, making lots of smart references to current and past British pop culture from celebrities (look out for guest appearances by Graham Norton, Suki Waterhouse), to Technology to Fashion. Set in London, Patsy and Edina find themselves fresh out of Bolly (Champagne, darlings) and realize that their credit cards have been cut up, an oblique reference to the global recession, so naturally they have to go out and earn a living.

Edina has written a book and Patsy is still apparently running a Fashion house although it’s actually the foul-mouthed and handbag flinging Magda, a brilliant and vicious cameo by veteran actress Kathy Burke, who is really calling the shots.

At a bizarre and incredibly oversubscribed launch party for some new Fashion House, Edina accidentally bumps Kate Moss into the icy Thames River and arch PR rival Claudia Bing, garishly played by Celia Imrie, lays the blame for the supermodels apparent demise on Edina and of course Patsy – it’s guilty by association, sweetie darlings! Audiences should look out for cameos by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Joan Collins of Dynasty fame.

The London fashion world plunges into a media frenzy as everyone darlings, including the gay boys and Gwendoline Christie go into mourning. Edina is vilified on Twitter, she even complains to her straight laced daughter Saffy, wonderfully played by Julia Sawahla, that she is a pariah.

Saffy asks “Do you know what a pariah is mother?” Edina answers: “Yes darling it’s a fish”.

Even designer Stella McCartney throws a brick threw their Holland Park window, and then Patsy and Edina realize after much vodka and drugs, that its best to go on the run. To where sweetie darlings?

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Cannes, on the French Riviera where everyone is a foreign yet glamourous criminal. Naturally darlings! The second half of Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious. Soon the French police track the infamous pair down to a villa belonging to the wealthiest dowager on the Riviera.

Meanwhile back in London, French designer Jean-Paul Gautier is strolling by the Thames and who should emerge from the river, still looking gorgeous, Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and cigarette in the other?

Whilst Patsy and Edina constantly lose the plot, so does the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, but nevertheless it is still a hilarious fun-filled romp, paying homage to the successful and long running TV show which became a massive BBC hit.

Absolutely Fabulous is not everyone’s glass of Bolly darlings.

Like similar transformations of 30 minute hit TV series into 90 minute films namely Entourage and Sex and the City, Absolutely Fabulous, the movie will only really appeal to those that faithfully followed the TV series and are naturally knowledgeable about current British pop culture. Nevertheless, sweetie darlings, it’s still light hearted and bloody good fun!

 

Heir Apparent

Me Before You

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Director: Thea Sharrock

Cast: Sam Claflin, Emilia Clarke, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Stephen Peacocke, Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Joanna Lumley, Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Lewis, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Lily Travers

Jojo Moyes’s heart-breaking romantic novel Me Before You was a hit among ladies book clubs around the English speaking world and possibly beyond. So it was inevitable that a big screen version of the celebrated novel should appear. Stage director turned film director Thea Sharrock does a reasonably good job of directing the film version with help from the author who also wrote the screenplay.

It also helps that the two main leads, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are so likable in this film, otherwise Me Before You would never have worked. Ironically both actors are known for appearing in big franchise movies and TV shows. Claflin for his role in the Hunger Games trilogy and more surprisingly Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of Queen of Dragons in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Joining the cast is another Game of Thrones star, British character actor Charles Dance (White Mischief) who plays Will Traynor’s father Stephen and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as his mother Camilla.

#LiveBoldly

Me Before You centres on the tragic but fascinating tale of a wealthy corporate raider Will Traynor who is completely paralysed in a freak motorbike accident in central London. The once athletic and daredevil Traynor in the prime of his life has his mobility completed shattered and lands up becoming a quadriplegic. A devastating blow for his upper class affluent parents who see him as eventually inheriting the family estate which includes a castle.

On the other end of the economic scale, is the quirky and fun Louisa Clark who we first glimpse working as a waitress in a tea shop in a small town in England. Clark as she becomes known in the film, is superbly portrayed by Emilia Clarke, a positive and big hearted girl who soon becomes the carer of the selfish and arrogant Will Traynor who is sullen and angry at life’s cruellest blow.

What transpires in Me Before You is a remarkable love story without the desire of two young people who are both caught at pivotal points in their lives. The emotional arc of the film rests on how both Will and Clarke grow through their shared time together despite the dreaded intention of Will to consider euthanasia in a remote Swiss clinic.

Me Before You is a tearjerker of note, a heartfelt romantic drama which will certainly not leave a dry eye in the house. The film is ably assisted by some nuanced turns by a range of supporting actors including Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle as Louisa’s father Brendan Clark and the handsome physiotherapist Nathan played by Stephen Peacocke (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

Naturally as Will’s parents Camilla and Stephen, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance do a superb job of both conveying emotional support and regret at the terrible fate which has happened to their only son, the heir apparent to the Traynor fortune.

However, Me Before You really belongs to Emilia Clarke who lights up every scene with her delightful sensitivity as she portrays Louisa Clark to perfection, the carer that ultimately falls in love with her patient.

This beautifully shot romance is highly recommended viewing, a lighter more British version of Julian Schnabel’s superb film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Audiences should look out for a brief but amusing cameo by Joanna Lumley as she channels Patsy from Ab Fab in a touching wedding scene.

 

Scorsese’s Satyricon

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Shea Wingham

The much anticipated explosive new film about Wall Street Stock broker Jordan Belfort by acclaimed director Martin Scorsese is an orgy of drugs, hedonism and consumerism held tightly together by one of the best on screen performances that Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby) has ever given. The Wolf of Wall Street can best be described as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street highballing on crack and speed with large amounts of sex, swearing and swindling thrown in.

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The three hour film about the rise and fall of one of Wall Street’s most notoriously decadent stockbrokers is fascinating, bizarre, crude and highly entertaining. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s sleazy and salacious Satyricon, a drug fuelled  hedonistic journey into the heart of America’s consumerism, while ripping to shreds its number one bastion Rampant Capitalism. For according to Belfort there is no nobility in poverty.

Audiences meet Belfort when he is a young would be stockbroker as he arrives off the bus on Wall Street soon to be taken in by the foul-mouthed cocaine sniffing chest thumping mentor Mark Hanna an expertly played cameo by Matthew McConnaughey.

Belfort after the Stock Exchange crash of 1989, goes into penny shares in a two bit stock brokerage in Long Island, where he revolutionizes the bunch of weirdo pot selling brokers into a serious blue chip Wall Street company rebranding it as Stratton Oakmont. Soon Belfort motivates his entire team to sell penny shares (those companies that cannot afford to be listed on NASDAQ) to the very rich, and after much cavorting and convincing, earns huge amounts of cash where the brokerage becomes a literal madhouse of drugs, greed and absolute debauchery.

With the help of his wing man Donny, a brilliant performance by Jonah Hill of Moneyball fame, Belfort catapults Stratton Oakmont into a serious stock brokerage to rival Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and the late Lehman Brothers in New York whilst at the same time committing serious securities fraud with imaginary IPO’s.

At the heart of The Wolf of Wall Street is a story about corruption, unrelenting drug addiction, rampant sex and partying, a frenetically paced tour de force of the arc of an absolute sinner energetically played by DiCaprio who is in virtually every scene of the film. Memorable scenes include his blond wife Naomi (a wonderful turn by newcomer Margot Robbie of the TV series Pan Am) walking in on a gay orgy in their plush Manhattan apartment, a bizarre incident with Belfort driving his white Ferrari from the Country Club while literally dazed on sleeping pills, a luxury yacht riding massive Mediterranean waves en route to Monaco, a sex-crazed air hostess humping trip in first class to Switzerland and that’s just to name some of the few crazy episodes in The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese’s film is a sublime Satyricon meshing elements of Casino, Shutter Island and The Departed proving that he is a consummate director and cinematic visionary.

Belfort’s eventual downfall comes at the hand of  conservative securities agent Patrick Denham played by Kyle Chandler (Super 8) but not before he has moved large parts of his vast fortune off shore to a Swiss Bank account with the help of a slimy banker Saurel seductively played by Jean Dujardin of The Artist and Naomi’s British aunt Emma played by Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley who utters the immortal line “I have lived through the Sixties”.

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Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is frenetic, shocking and superbly acted by DiCaprio along with an incisive script by Terence Winter, a tour-de-force of a film, a reason to love the art of cinema. A highly recommended montage on the destructive nature of greed and addiction, The Wolf is not for sensitive viewers, but packs a powerful punch held together by an Oscar worthy performance by DiCaprio whose rousing motivational trading floor speeches are the stuff of cinematic legends. After all if you can sell a pen, then you are a salesman…

Avoiding the Grey Panthers

Late Bloomers

 

Sharing a wonderfully bitter-sweet moment in the bath

Cast: William Hurt, Isabella Rossellini, Simon Callow, Nicholas Farrell and Joanna Lumley

Director: Julie  Gavras

Late Bloomers directed by Julie Gavras,  seen at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival in July 2011 is a shy perceptive tale about a middle-aged couple, Adam and Mary in London, who are fairly successful yet have inevitably lost touch with each other to such point that they engage in brief affairs to reignite the dormant love that that once cherished. William Hurt always so brilliantly reticent as the semi shy architect who is losing touch with his own potential is pared against the diva of semi-independent cinema Isabella Rossellini who for once takes on a starring role and is suitably anguished as a woman who realizes that the world has moved much faster than she can imagine.

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Ironic for Rossellini the once the gorgeous model for French fashion house Lancome, who has come a long way from her heady debut in David Lynch’s weird and slightly uncompromising tour de force in Blue Velvet and has appeared alongside Meryl Streep in the 90’s satire on plastic surgery Death Becomes Her and more recently as the mother to the anguished Joaquin Phoenix in the Brooklyn based Jewish drama Two Lovers.

William Hurt one of my favourite actors, ever since he appeared in Hector Babenco’s brilliant Kiss of the Spiderwoman is beautifully cast in Late Bloomers as the aging architect who is unwilling to accept the inevitability of early retirement, and in doing so surrounds himself with a batch of young ambitious architects for one of his new projects, the construction of a museum.

Rossellini and Hurt make a fine pair as a couple on the verge of retirement and have to find ways to rediscover the love they once shared for each other. Comic moments are provided by their three thirty something children who decide that a parental intervention is necessary to recapture the love their semi-retired parents once shared.

Suitable foils for Hurt’s melancholic performance is the delightful Simon Callow, seldom seen on film since the collapse of the highly collaborative Merchant Ivory films.  Mary’s confidante is played with relish by Joanna Lumley ex (AbFab) who also happens to be the leader of the Grey Panthers, senior citizens’ rights and activities group. A wonderful moment  in the film is when Adam suitably horrified at the prospect of the Grey Panthers invited by the unsuspecting Mary descend on his home, makes a hasty retreat to his office for refuge and a brief reinvention with youth is part of the charm and delight of Late Bloomers.

Late Bloomers is a quirky comedy about a successful yet aberrant couple whose marriage is near disaster only to be saved by the onset of a funeral, to bring all concerned back to the reality of life, commitment and death and will definitely appeal to viewers within the fifty plus age group.

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