Posts Tagged ‘Janet McTeer’

The Exiled King

The Exception

Director: David Leveaux

Cast: Jai Courtney, Lily James, Christopher Plummer, Janet McTeer, Eddie Marsan, Ben Daniels, Anton Lesser, Mark Dexter

After its packed South African premiere at the 38th Durban International Film Festival, http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/ The Exception is a riveting World War II drama told from the German perspective.

Set in Holland in 1940, German soldier Stefan Brandt played with bravado by Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard) is sent to guard the exiled king Wilhelm II wonderfully played by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners).

At the end of World War One when the allies defeated Germany, besides the harsh reparations placed on the defeated nation, one of the conditions of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was that the reigning German monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II be stripped of his royal title and sent to live in exile in Utrecht, Holland.

British director David Leveaux assembles a fantastic cast in this interesting film also starring Lily James (Baby Driver, Cinderella) as a sexually provocative Dutch maid Mieke de Jong who quickly falls in love with the handsome and tough Brandt and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife, Princess Hermine who is desperately hoping that her exiled husband will have his monarchy restored even though Germany has entered the Third Reich under the ruthless Nazi’s who have started World War II.

Eddie Marsan (Their Finest, Happy Go Lucky, Concussion) appears as the creepy Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, in a brief yet comical scene stealer.

As a historical film, The Exception is a watchable tale, filled with intrigue, sexual conquest and lost dreams although its relevance will be lost on a mostly English speaking audience and also because most of the cast are British, Canadian or Australian actors playing German characters. If audiences want authenticity they should watch the excellent 2015 German film, The People vs. Fritz Bauer, which also premiered at #DIFF2017 http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/ as part of the German Film Focus.

Nevertheless, as a World War II thriller which deviates from the usual Allied scenario, The Exception is enjoyable in the same vein as director Mark Herman’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

What does stand out in The Exception, are the fine performances of Christopher Plummer and Janet McTeer but sadly their acting will probably be overlooked in the 2018 Oscar race.

Concisely written with an engaging plot, The Exception gets a film rating of 7.5 out 10 and was an impressive film to be screened at the Durban International Film Festival, attracting a full cinema house.

Recommended viewing for audiences that prefer a provocative World War Two thriller from the perspective of the so-called enemy.

 

Heir Apparent

Me Before You

me_before_you

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.

 

57th Golden Globe Awards

The 57th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 23rd January 2000 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

american_beauty

Best Film Drama – American Beauty

 hurricane

Best Actor Drama – Denzel Washington – The Hurricane

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Best Actress Drama – Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry

man_on_the_moon

Best Actor Musical/Comedy – Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon

tumbleweeds

Best Actress Musical/Comedy – Janet McTeer – Tumbleweeds

toy_story_two

Best Film Musical/Comedy – Toy Story 2

magnolia_ver2

Best Supporting Actor – Tom Cruise – Magnolia

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Best Supporting Actress – Angelina Jolie – Girl, Interrupted

Best Director – Sam Mendes – American Beauty

all_about_my_mother

Best Foreign Language Film – All About My Mother (Spain)

Dublin Dreams Disguised

Albert Nobbs

We are all disguised as ourselves

We are all disguised as ourselves

Directed by Rodrigo Garcia (son of Colombian Magic Realist author Gabriel Garcia Marquez) the extraordinary film Albert Nobbs see Glenn Close play the title role along with an equally impressive performance by Janet McTeer as the mysterious painter Hubert Page. Both Glenn Close and Janet McTeer give startlingly brilliant performances as Nobbs and Page respectively and deservedly garnered a 2012 Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Close and Supporting Actress for McTeer.

The central tenet of Albert Nobbs is that of woman being disguised as men so that they can survive economically in 19th century Ireland and is set in the plush Dublin hotel Morrison’s with Mrs Baker being the hotel owner, played with a dramatic panache by Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine). Nobbs as a waiter has aspirations of owning his own tobacconist shop and when he meets the brash painter Mr Page who show him that despite their disguise, they can achieve their dreams. Mr Page even shares a home with his ‘wife’ Kathleen and shows Nobbs that the possibilities are endlessly disguised.

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At a time when homosexuality was reviled and Oscar Wilde would soon be sentenced to two years hard labour in 1895 for sodomy after the public exposure of his affair with Lord Alfred `Bosie’ Douglas by Bosie’s father the vile Marques of Queensberry as elegantly told in the 1997 film Wilde, Albert Nobbs shows a different side of homosexuality, lesbian women who cannot be themselves financially, sexually and socially especially in 19th century Europe and have to disguise themselves as men in order to survive.

All the extraordinary complex relationships which the Morrison’s Hotel have are gradually revealed as the film progresses and even the one so called traditional relationship between Helen, the Hotel maid played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids are Alright, Jane Eyre) who falls for the charms of the rough boiler maker Joe played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson(Anna Karenina, Savages) is steeped in deceit and disloyalty. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers makes a brief appearance as Viscount Yarrell whose preferences when staying at Morrison’s is for inter leading doors to his male lover in the adjoining suite.

At the centre of Albert Nobbs, director Garcia really emphasizes the plight of women, whether they are abandoned by an ambitious lover after becoming pregnant or having to disguise themselves as men to survive financially in a patriarchal society which stifled any form of female freedom, not to mention lesbian women who have to hide their homosexuality behind a mask of conformity even if that means dressing as a man.

Albert Nobbs is a brilliantly told film featuring a superb performance by the ever versatile Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons) as a gaunt and cautious waiter saving up his pennies to one day fulfil his dreams, and how those dreams through a series of events are tragically thwarted leaving a rather unusual scenario by the films close. This is an exceptional and thought-provoking period film, commenting not just on the period of the late 19th century but on the costumes which define the characters and the disguises people hide behind in order to survive and how those disguises define who they are.

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