Silver Screen

My personal views (excuse the pun) of films old and new. Often my review will not be on my first viewing of a movie, which is usually for enjoyment.  And, since I watch movies for enjoyment as my primary purpose then, like my occasional book reviews, my comments will tend to be subjective and perhaps more favourable, rather than completely objective, as they will be of films I have chosen to see.

For my full review of any film, click on its title or image.

The Lady In The Van

As the film itself says, a mostly true story, cleverly told. The Lady In The Van is about a man, writer Alan Bennett, who finds an unexpected bond, I hesitate to say friendship, between himself and a somewhat disreputable seeming Miss Shepherd, who he let park her van in his driveway for 15 years.

It was Alan Bennett himself who wrote the film, which was directed by Nicholas Hytner. Bennett was played by Alex Jennings, ably supported by such as Frances de la Tour and Jim Broadbent, amongst others. Maggie Smith of course played the title character, Miss Shepherd, in a part that might have been written especially for her.



Noah is, as far as I am aware, director Darren Aronofsky’s first foray into dramatising for the big screen a story from The Bible. It stars Russell Crowe in the title role, with fine support from his co-stars including Emma Watson, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah.

I’ve read the book and I’ve seen the film and the film Noah is nothing like the book. Ok, so I haven’t actually read the whole Bible but I have read the passage in Genesis that tells us the story of Noah. The film is not much like the book, it is however clearly inspired by the book.

Those who have read at least a little of The Holy Bible will surely know the story of Noah. I suspect though that a great many of teenagers and younger in 2014 might not know the biblical account, so that to them the movie will be just another Hollywood film, with a good story to tell, or should that be sell.


There are over 30 films based on the Cinderella story, of which I would imagine the most well known and probably liked to be the 1950 Disney cartoon classic. Of the Cinderella films I have seen that has been my favourite, until I watched the 2015 live action telling of the classic fairy tale, again from Disney’s studios.

The Story of Aschenputtel, from the collected works by the brothers Grimm, will probably be better known to most readers as Cinderella, however the original story, without the darker elements introduced by the Grimms, is by Charles Perrault, in the 17th century. Kenneth Brannagh’s direction refreshingly does not stray too far from Perraults original.

August Rush

Evan is growing up in Walden County Home for Boys, in New York, never having known his parents but believing always that one day he will find them. It is a belief not shared by the other young residents of the home about their parents, and which makes Evan an outsider within the home. He doesn’t fit in but he does have an extraordinary talent for music. Not just for playing but for composing too. It is as if he can feel the music of the world, of life and has found a way to let others in hear what he hears naturally.

Running away from the boys home at 11 years of age, it is this musical gift that helps Evan to survive the big, bad New York City. Unfortunately it is that same gift that helps get him into trouble along the way…


The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

In the second marigold film (you can see my review of the first film here), it was nice to see the sparkling original cast return to be re-united, with the exception of Tom Wilkinson whose character, former judge Graham Dashwood, met his demise in the first movie. Equally welcome was the bigger role given to Lillete Dubey, who deserved the additional screen time she was given in this film, reprising her role as Mrs Kapoor, Sonny’s mother.

The hotel is now up and running as a successful business, with its loyal clientèle and Sonny’s fiancée Sunaina having joined the staff. Sonny’s plans to expand the business with another establishment do not, predictably, go smoothly …


Pale Rider

In a movie made in 1953, a man rode in to a one horse town and helped a subsistance farmer, his family and group of homesteaders stand up to the local cattle baron who wants to take over there land. He persuades the farmers to band together and stand up for themselves and then at the finale’ of the film he fights a duel with a gunman hired by the rancher. He win’s of course and rides off into the sunset with the young boy calling after him. The movie was Shane with the eponymous lead role played by Alan Ladd, as the gunfighter trying to put his past behind him.

Now move the action to a gold miners village, where poor miners pan for gold by hand and just about scratch a living with a huge corporation breathing down their necks …


Les Miserables

LesMisThe main storyline is of Jean Valjean, a prisoner released after serving his time who had originally ben jailed for stealing a loaf of bread because his family was starving, and how he makes good after his initial release from prison. There are a number of twists and turns in this main storyline, which I will not relate here so as not to spoil it for anyone who has not seen it. Suffice it to say that the story does not always go in the anticipated direction.

The film will, in some people, raise a few emotions and there might be a few tears too …


The Kings Speech

KS1.jpgThis was not a film I would probably have chosen to see, nor would I have paid to see it at the cinema or bought the DVD. I saw it for the first time because our Lent Home Group chose a study based on The Kings Speech, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. After having seen it, I was very glad I did.

It Tells the story of Prince Albert (Bertie) who was to became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I should perhaps start by saying that I had not read the book, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, on which the film is based, at the time I wrote this review.

What have sheltered widow Evelyn, retired civil servant Douglas and his wife Jean, former judge, Graham, ageing, prejudiced, housekeeper Muriel who needs a new hip, would be casanova Norman and husband hunter Madge all got in common? With such a diverse group you would think not much, aside from all choosing to retire to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the elderly and the beautiful, on the outskirts of Jaipur, India.


True Grit, The Remake.

322786_695Mattie Ross, a teenager with a head for figures goes in search of the man who murdered her father, a nere-do-well called, amongst other names that he uses, Tom Cheyney. Mattie hires the services of an ageing reprobate, US Marshall Rooster Cogburn to take her into the Indian Nation Territory in search of her father’s killer, who is hiding out there. They are joined, somewhat to their initial irritation, by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, who has his own ulterior motive for wanting Cheyney. This mismatched trio find danger, surprises and, eventually, mutual respect too, with Mattie ‘winning her spurs’.


About Time

This is a funny, touching and warm hearted film from director Richard Curtis, who previously directed Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’s Diary, neither of which I was too struck on but I really enjoyed About Time. That I wasn’t keen on those previous films is no reflection on Curtis, who I recognise as a talented director, they just didn’t happen t be films in my favoured style; About Time is.

Although time travel is important to the story the film is not about that, the time travel scenes being over almost in the blink of an eye, About Time is essentially a human tale of life, love and loss and how these things might change for good or ill as a consequence of time travel.


The Iron Lady

iron-lady-posterMargaret Hilda Thatcher’s story is told in flashback, a kind of film making I don’t usually favour but for The Iron Lady it did seem to be appropriate.

Meryl Streep, as the eponymous Iron Lady, Margaret Hilda Thatcher was surprisingly good, and believable in the part, at least to me as someone who lived through her era of power. It is no spoiler to say that the movie is as much about Margaret the person, as it is about Margaret the politician …

“It used to be about trying to do something.
Now it’s about trying to be someone.”



If you like fast paced action movies and thrillers, then Quartet is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer something gentler and warmer, where the laughs come from the situations and the acting, and from a fine script , you will almost certainly enjoy the warmth and humour of this story of four singers in their twilight years. The humour in the film can be subtle in places and even a little wicked.

Dr. Lucy Cogan: We have the chair lift, which will be much easier for you.
Jean: What do I do when I get to the top, ski down?


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