Welcome to the first of my monthly posts about films. We are keen film buffs and like to get our hands on the newest titles to watch at home. Finding films we can both watch is a challenge. I don't like shoot-em-ups, most costume dramas, anything with swords / round tables / Jedi / Bruce Willis and J doesn't like sub-titles, real-life dramas/ anything upsetting/ zombies or anything by Lars Von Trier.
Here's this month's top picks.
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep is normally a bit hit and miss as far as I'm concerned but she hits the spot in this film about Margaret Thatcher, and her BAFTA was well deserved. The film however is a little less successful. I loathed Mrs T and everything she stood for, and in my opinion history will not be kind to her. There was a huge emphasis in the film on her frailty and wandering mind. Maybe it was supposed to counterbalance her ambition and aggression when she was PM, but even I felt it was a bit sad and unnecessary. With the exception of Sir Geoffrey Howe (Anthony Head) it was impossible to tell who any of the cabinet were. I kept wanting them to refer to each other by name. Jim Broadbent didn't make a very realistic Dennis either. He was.....Jim Broadbent. Score: Gail's Gherkins - 5 out of 10.
J and I watched this at the weekend and were left unimpressed. Based on the David Nicholls' book about a doomed "romance," the film-makers made the mistake of casting an American (to garner the big bucks in the US) as Em. Now when I read the book, Em struck me as being feisty, independent and eccentric in her dress. In the film, Ann Hathaway is first shown with big glasses - the usual device to make an actress look "plain" - and then occasionally in clumpy shoes. But she soon morphs as expected into Ann Hathaway, glossy and limpid eyed. And her accent! Sometimes she had a go at a northern accent but mostly she sounded like a US actress putting on a posh British accent. At the point the film ended, I was astonished the two characters had even had the time of day for each other. I imagine the director thought the same, because we then had a succession of gooey scenes showing them laughing together and so on, as if to convince us they did have chemistry.
Gail's Gherkins: 4 out of 10.
The Big Year
I hadn't heard of this one or seen anything about it, but it's great fun. Three bird watchers (Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black) compete with each other to get the highest number of bird sightings on their "big year." There's nothing new or striking about this film - it's just amiable and warm hearted. Gail's Gherkins: 8 out of 10
I Don't Know How She Does It
Sarah Jessica Parker is the successful career woman and hapless mum in this film based on the novel by Allison Pearson. It starts off with one of the best scenes from the book, Helen "distressing" a bought pie so she can pass it off as home-made at her daughter's school's cake sale. Unfortunately it was one of the highlights of the film. Pierce Brosnan seems uncomfortable in his role as would-be seducer, and I'm sure the film tones down the nature of the flirtation between him and Helen. It's all one-sided in the film, although in the novel I'm sure Helen was flirting back. Christina Hendricks is given a strange role in the film as an occasional narrator. Tepid. Gail's Gherkins: 5 out of 10
After the Waterfall
Air New Zealand offered an eclectric selection of films and I watched this film from New Zealand. It told of the break up of a family after a couple's daughter was abducted near a waterfall. Very bleak but beautifully observed. A pity we don't get to see more films from New Zealand. Gail's Gherkins: 8 out of 10
Friends with Benefits
We enjoyed this - a modern, realistic and contemporary portrayal of a young couple's attempt to be "friends with benefits." There was one snag for me, Justin Timberlake - I just don't find him believable as an actor, but the gorgeous Mila Kunis (left) outweighed that. There are a couple of laugh out loud moments. Gail's Gherkins: 7 out of 10