REVIEW: TWO WEEKS NOTICE

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Hugh Grant (Cloud Atlas)
Alicia Witt (Vanilla Sky)
Francie Swift (Vamp)
Dana Ivey (The Addams Family)
Robert Klein (How To Lose A Guy in 10 days)
Heather Burns (Bewitched)
David Haig (My Boy Jack)
Katheryn Winnick (Vikings)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)

Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is a liberal lawyer who specializes in environmental law in New York City. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is an arrogant billionaire real estate tycoon who has almost everything and knows almost nothing. Lucy’s hard work and devotion to others contrast sharply with George’s world-weary recklessness and greed. Lucy meets George in an attempt to stop the destruction of the Coney Island community center from her childhood. He attempts to hire her to replace his old Chief Counsel, Amber. She knows of his playboy tendencies, but he promises to protect the community center if she works for him.She soon finds that what he really requires is advice in all aspects of his life. She becomes his indispensable aide, and he calls her for every little thing. She finally gets fed up with the situation and gives him her two weeks’ notice of resignation after he sends her a message of an “emergency” while she is at her friend’s wedding, since the emergency is, as she finds out, that he is unable to choose what to wear to an event. He is deeply troubled by her resignation and tries to convince her to stay. He also tries to block her from getting any other jobs, as an attempt to make her stay. He finally gives in and has her train her replacement, the attractive and flirtatious June Carver (Alicia Witt), before she quits. Lucy then becomes jealous of June before she leaves.Lucy finds out that the community center is going to be knocked down and argues with George. She arrives at his hotel and finds June and George in his apartment in lingerie during their game of “strip chess”. George sees that Lucy is hurt and she leaves. He confronts her the next day, he last day, saying that she must have feelings from what she saw the other night. Lucy, still upset about the community center, claims that George promised her the community center and that she didn’t promise to sleep with him. George says hurtful things to Lucy until he leaves.After she’s gone, George realizes that his time with her has really changed him, as he keeps the promise he made to her in the beginning even if it means it costs his company millions. Meanwhile, in her new job, Lucy is missing him terribly. He goes in search for her, and they confess their feelings for each other. The movie ends with Lucy ordering take out in her apartment with George making jokes about the size of the apartment. Usually when she orders and is asked how many, Lucy replies, “one,” but this time, with a silly smile, Lucy replies, “This is for two.”The script, by director Marc Lawrence, has its share of lame one-liners, but it keeps a steady, merry tempo that distracts from the film’s shortcomings at least somewhat while focusing on its key strengths, Bullock and Grant. Lawrence’s direction is similarly solid. This is one film that makes a serious point of being goofy and glamorous all at once, and it works. A decent enough film for a rainy Saturday.

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy

REVIEW: AMERICAN DREAMZ

 

CAST

Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
Dennis Quiad (Movie 43)
Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Mandy Moore (A Walk To Remember)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls)
Sam Golzari (21)
Seth Meyers (The Interview)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Noureen Dewulf (Anger Management)
Adam Busch (Buffy)
Judy Greer (Jurassic world)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)

On the morning after his re-election, US President Joseph Staton (Dennis Quaid) decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. This starts him down a slippery slope. He begins reading obsessively, reexamining his “black-and-white” view of the world in a more “gray-seeming” way, and holing up in his bedroom in his pajamas. Frightened by the President’s apparent nervous breakdown, his Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the television ratings juggernaut (and the President’s personal favorite), the weekly talent show American Dreamz, a show similar in format to the modern-day American Idol. America cannot seem to get enough of American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), ever on the lookout for the next insta-celebrity. His latest crop of hopefuls includes Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), a conniving steel magnolia with a devoted, dopey veteran boyfriend William Williams (Chris Klein), and Omer Obeidi (Sam Golzari).

Because Omer’s mother died in the Middle East in an American attack, he joined a group of jihadists. He was an actor in an instruction film for terrorists, but he was too clumsy, and his interest in show tunes was frowned upon. Therefore, he was sent to the U.S. to await further instructions, but the leaders expected they could not use him. He moved to Southern California to live with his extended family there, including his effeminate cousin Iqbal (Tony Yalda) and Shazzy (Noureen DeWulf). Iqbal hoped to be selected to participate in American Dreamz, but in a misunderstanding, Omer was selected instead. Iqbal becomes angered by this at first but later agrees to help Omer win and makes himself his manager.

Omer’s terrorist organization now sees an opportunity: Omer is instructed to make it to the finale, and kill the President in a suicide attack. He succeeds in getting to the finale. Security is bypassed by assembling the bomb after the security check, in the toilet, from small parts smuggled in (the smaller pieces of explosive are disguised as chewing gum). Omer agrees, but changes his mind and disposes of the bomb in the trash can.

Sally is the other finalist. Earlier in the film, she had dumped William because she believed that her life would’ve gone nowhere if she still had him for a boyfriend and that he’d only drag her down. This drove William to join the army, only to be wounded in Iraq and sent back to the U.S. For the purpose of the show and at the insistence of her agent, Chet Krogl (Seth Meyers), Sally has to pretend that she still loves William. On the eve of the American Dreamz finale, William proposes to Sally, which she rejects until Chet decides to boost Sally’s popularity and chances of winning the show by asking William to do the proposal on air. However, William witnesses Sally having sex with Martin, and is furious. When he throws out the engagement ring, he finds the bomb Omer tossed in the trash can. He then comes out on stage and threatens to detonate it. While the other people evacuate, William starts singing and Martin, who refuses to let go of the camera, films it. As William reaches the end of the song, he detonates the bomb by walking into the camera, killing both himself and Martin. The film then cuts to shots of people dialing up their cell phones to vote in for the winner. It is eventually revealed that William Williams was voted the surprise winner of American Dreamz.

The epilogue reveals what each of the characters went on to do after the end of last season. Omer went on to become a successful star of his own Broadway revue, where he is shown performing a scene from the musical Grease. The President makes his wife his new Chief of Staff. And Sally Kendoo becomes the new host of American Dreamz.

American Dreamz is for audiences who can laugh at themselves and the culture they are apart of. This is a film that people will either love or hate and there will only be a few in between. It’s not a movie for those who are easily offended or see the world as something that shouldn’t be made fun of. It’s a satire in its finest form.

REVIEW: CLOUD ATLAS

 

CAST

Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can)
Halle berry (X-Men)
Jim Broadbent (Paddington)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Hugh Grant (American Dreamz)
Jim Sturgess (21)
Doona Bae (Sense8)
Ben Whishaw (Spectre)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Xun Zhou (The Message)
David Gyasi (Containment)

Tribesman Zachry Bailey recounts stories to his grandchildren on an extra-terrestrial Earth colony.Cloud AtlasPacific Islands, 1849

Adam Ewing, an American lawyer, has come to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business arrangement with Reverend Horrox and his father-in-law. In Horrox’s plantation, he witnesses the whipping of a Moriori slave, Autua, who later stows away on the ship. Autua confronts Ewing and convinces him to advocate for Autua to join the crew as a free man. Dr Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it is the cure for a parasitic worm, to steal Ewing’s valuables. As Goose administers the fatal dose, Autua saves Ewing. Returning to the United States, Ewing and his wife Tilda denounce her father’s complicity in slavery and leave to join the abolition movement.

Cloud AtlasCambridge/Edinburgh, 1936

Robert Frobisher, a young English composer, finds work as an amanuensis to aging composer Vyvyan Ayrs, allowing Frobisher the time and inspiration to compose his own masterpiece, “The Cloud Atlas Sextet”. Frobisher begins reading Ewing’s journal, which he has found with the latter portion missing, among the books at Ayrs’s mansion. Ayrs demands credit for “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” and threatens to expose Frobisher’s homosexuality if he refuses. Frobisher shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he uses the name Ewing. He finishes “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” and commits suicide with a gun just before his lover Rufus Sixsmith arrives.

CLOUD ATLASSan Francisco, 1973

Journalist Luisa Rey meets an older Rufus Sixsmith, now a nuclear physicist. Sixsmith tips off Rey to a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by Lloyd Hooks, but is killed by Hooks’s hitman, Bill Smoke, before he can give her a report that proves it. Rey finds Frobisher’s letters to Sixsmith and tracks down a vinyl recording of Frobisher’s “Cloud Atlas Sextet”. Isaac Sachs, another scientist at the power plant, passes her a copy of Sixsmith’s report. Smoke kills Sachs by blowing up his plane and runs Rey’s car off a bridge. She escapes but the report is destroyed. With help from the plant’s head of security, Joe Napier, Rey evades another attempt on her life, which results in Smoke’s death. With another copy of the report obtained from Sixsmith’s niece, she exposes the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil company executives, who are indicted as a result.cloud-atlas-9

London, 2012

Sixty-five-year-old publisher Timothy Cavendish reaps a windfall when Dermot Hoggins, the gangster author of Knuckle Sandwich, murders a critic who gave the novel a harsh review, generating huge sales. When Hoggins’s brothers threaten Cavendish’s life for Hoggins’s share of the profits, Cavendish asks for help from his wealthy brother, Denholme, who tells him to hide at Aurora House. On the way there, Cavendish reads a manuscript of a novel based on Luisa Rey’s story, and recalls his relationship with a woman named Ursula. He visits the house where she lived with her parents and discovers that she still lives there. Believing Aurora House is a hotel, Timothy signs papers “voluntarily” committing himself; in fact, Aurora House is a nursing home (in Ayrs’s old mansion). Denholme reveals to Timothy that he sent him there as revenge for Timothy’s affair with Denholme’s wife Georgette. The head nurse, Noakes, is abusive, and contact with the outside world is denied. Cavendish escapes with three other residents. He resumes his relationship with Ursula and writes a screenplay of his experience.

2144-waitresses-soap

Neo Seoul, 2144

Sonmi-451 is a “fabricant”, a human cloned for slave labor, living as a server at a fast food restaurant in a dystopian South Korea. She is exposed to ideas of rebellion by another fabricant and friend, Yoona-939. After witnessing Yoona being killed for rebelling, Sonmi is rescued from captivity by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a rebel. He exposes Sonmi to the larger world, including the banned writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and a film version of Timothy Cavendish’s “ghastly ordeal”. They are found and Sonmi is captured. Hae-Joo rescues her, introduces her to the leader of the rebel movement, and shows her that clones are not freed at the end of their contract but killed and recycled into food for other clones. Sonmi makes a public broadcast of her story and manifesto. The authorities intervene to halt the broadcast; Hae-Joo is killed in the firefight and Sonmi is recaptured. After recounting her story to an archivist, she is executed.cloud_atlas_-_behind_the_scenes_featurette

Big Isle (Hawaii), 106 winters after the Fall (2321)

Zachry Bailey lives in a primitive post-apocalyptic society called the Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii.[13] The Valley tribesmen worship Sonmi-451; their sacred text is taken from the broadcast of her manifesto. Zachry is plagued by visions of a demonic figure called Old Georgie, who urges him to give in to his fears. Zachry, his brother-in-law Adam, and his nephew are attacked by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. Zachry runs into hiding and his companions are murdered. His village is visited by Meronym, a member of the Prescients, an advanced society using the last remnants of high technology. Meronym’s mission is to find a remote communication station on Mauna Sol and send a message to Earth’s off-world colonies. Catkin, Zachry’s niece, falls sick, and in exchange for saving her, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym to the station, where Meronym reveals the true story of Sonmi-451. Returning, Zachry finds his tribe slaughtered by the Kona. He kills the sleeping Kona chief and rescues Catkin, and Meronym saves them both from the returning Kona and is in turn saved by Zachry. Zachry and Catkin join Meronym and the Prescients as their ship leaves Big Island.cloud-atlas-tom-hanks-halle-berryI understand that this movie won’t be to everybody’s liking but if you want to watch a unique, beautiful piece of epic storytelling then I highly recommend Cloud Atlas.

REVIEW: THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

CAST

Henry Cavill (Man of Steel)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
Luca Calvani (When In Rome)

In 1963, professional thief-turned CIA agent Napoleon Solo extracts Gaby Teller, daughter of Dr. Udo Teller, an alleged Nazi scientist-turned United States collaborator at the end of World War II, from East Berlin, evading KGB operative Illya Kuryakin. He later reports to his superior, Sanders, who reveals that Gaby’s maternal uncle Rudi works in a shipping company owned by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra, a wealthy Nazi sympathizing couple who intend to use Teller to build their own private nuclear weapon and give it to lingering Nazi elements. Due to the potentially world-ending nature of this crisis, the CIA and KGB have reluctantly teamed up, and Solo and Kuryakin are ordered to stop the Vinciguerras from succeeding, with both men secretly assigned to steal Udo Teller’s research for their respective governments.

The trio travels to Rome, where Gaby and Kuryakin reluctantly pose as an engaged couple, and Solo pretends to be an antiquities dealer. Solo deduces they are being monitored and instructs Kuryakin not to defend himself from muggers so as to preserve this cover. Despite their hostilities towards each other, Kuryakin heeds his advice and does not react when his father’s prized watch is stolen. Later, at an auto racing event promoted by the Vinciguerras, Solo and Gaby flirt with Victoria and Alexander, respectively, in order to lure out information about Teller. Meanwhile Kuryakin acquires evidence the Vinciguerras were recently exposed to radiation, indicating that their weapon is near completion.

Solo and Kuryakin begrudgingly join forces to break into a Vinciguerra shipping yard, in which they find traces of uranium. After accidentally setting off the alarm, they escape into the water only to find their way blocked. During the ensuing scuffle with the guards, Kuryakin nearly drowns in the waters but Solo escapes, only to surprise himself by returning to save Kuryakin. Although a suspicious Victoria pursues them with her henchmen, Solo and Kuryakin manage to slip past into their own rooms undetected, and Victoria and Solo spend the night together. The following day, Gaby meets with Rudi and Alexander to discuss a job, but unexpectedly betrays Kuryakin and Solo to them, forcing Kuryakin to escape, while Solo is drugged and captured by Victoria and taken to a nearby warehouse to be tortured in an electric chair by Rudi, who is revealed as an infamous Nazi torturer. Solo is saved by Kuryakin, who straps Rudi into the electric chair, in order to intimidate him into talking. Rudi reveals that the weapon is hidden in an island fortress, where Gaby has been reunited with her father, which is where Solo and Kuryakin head off to, with Rudi unintentionally being burnt alive due to the electric chair malfunctioning. To protect Gaby, Dr. Teller pretends to resume work on the weapon, which has a tracking system left over from when the warhead was non-nuclear, so that a second missile can home in on it for added impact, but although Gaby attempts to help her father escape and sabotage the warhead. Victoria quickly sees through this deception, and has Alexander imprison Gaby, as an extra incentive for Dr. Teller. Teller quickly adds the finishing touches to the bomb, but is then shot in the head by Victoria as soon as he does.

Meanwhile, Solo and Kuryakin are approached by Alexander Waverly, a high-ranking MI6 operative who flies them on a Westland Wessex to HMS Ark Royal (R09) and reveals that Gaby is an undercover agent under his employment. He and his Special Boat Service commandos help Solo and Kuryakin infiltrate the Vinciguerras’ compound. Alexander Vinciguerra attempts to escape with Gaby and the warhead, but is intercepted and Alexander is killed by the duo. Solo secretly retrieves the disc with Teller’s research, but the warhead Vinciguerra was taking with him was the non-nuclear secondary missile, allowing Victoria to leave undetected on another boat with the real warhead. By Gaby’s suggestion, having heard the weapon system explained, Solo is able to contact Victoria via radio and keep her on the line long enough for Waverly to locate her and launch the homing missile, simultaneously destroying the nuclear weapon and the boat, apparently taking Victoria with it.

Afterwards, Kuryakin confronts Solo in his hotel room, intending to kill him and steal the disc for the Soviet Union, but changes his mind when Solo produces Kuryakin’s father’s stolen watch, which he had retrieved. The two instead choose to share a drink on the terrace and burn the contents of the disk, so as to not give either of their countries the upper hand in the arms race. They then reunite with Gaby and Waverly, who reveals that the trio has been reassigned to a new international organization under his command. He then announces a new mission to Istanbul under their new codename: U.N.C.L.E..Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it for anyone who enjoys spy movies, or action/comedies.

REVIEW: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Peter Vaughn (Game of Thrones)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
John Haycraft (Chancer)
Lena Headey (Dredd)

courage_reeveIn 1950s post-war Britain, Mr Stevens, the butler of Darlington Hall, receives a letter from Miss Kenton, a recently divorced former co-worker employed as the housekeeper some twenty years earlier. Lord Darlington has died a broken man, his reputation destroyed after he was exposed as a Nazi sympathizer, and his stately country manor has been sold to a retired United States Congressman, Mr Lewis. Stevens is granted permission to borrow his Daimler, and he sets off to the West Country to meet Kenton.south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370
The film flashes back to Kenton’s arrival as housekeeper in the 1930s. The ever efficient Stevens manages the household well, taking great pride in his profession, and his dedication is fully displayed when, while his father lies dying, he steadfastly continues his duties. Kenton also proves to be a valuable servant, and she is equally efficient and strong-willed, but also warmer and less repressed. Relations between the two eventually warm, and it becomes clear that she has feelings for him, yet despite their proximity and shared purpose, Stevens’ detachment remains unchanged. Eventually, she forms a relationship with a former co-worker and leaves the house prior to the outbreak of World War II. Before she resigns, Stevens finds her crying in frustration, but the only response he can muster is to call her attention to a neglected domestic task.
significant-others-jennifer-garner-elizabeth-mitchell-scott-bairstow-eion-bailey-michael-weatherly-dvdbash-wordpress03Meanwhile, the hall is regularly frequented by politicians of the interwar period, and many of Lord Darlington’s guests are like-minded British and European aristocrats, with the exception of Congressman Lewis. Darlington later also meets Prime Minister Chamberlain and the German Ambassador, and uses his influence to try and broker a policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, based on his belief that Germany had been unfairly treated by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. In the midst of these events, one day Darlington suddenly requests that two newly appointed German-Jewish maids, both refugees, should be dismissed. Stevens carries out the command, and Kenton threatens resignation in protest, but she is too timid to do so.
intro-emma-5En route to meeting Kenton, when asked about his former employer, Stevens at first denies having served or even met him, but later admits to having served and respected him. He meets Kenton (now Mrs Benn), and they reminisce, but she declines Stevens’ offer to return to Darlington Hall, wishing instead to remain near her pregnant daughter. After the meeting, Kenton is emotional, while Stevens is still unable to demonstrate any feeling. Back in Darlington Hall, Lewis asks Stevens if he remembers much of the old days, to which Stevens replies that he was too busy serving. Symbolically, a pigeon then becomes trapped in the hall, and the two men eventually free it, leaving both Stevens and Darlington Hall far behind.
family-guy-christmas-santa-choke-peter-s15e09-how-the-griffin-stole-christmas-simpsons-son-of-zornAn all-round first-rate cinematic experience, Remains of the Day is one of those pictures that lingers in the mind long after the credits pass. A must see.

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LOVE ACTUALLY

CAST
Hugh Grant (About a Boy)
Martine McCutcheon (Eastenders)
Liam Neeson (Batman begins)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Sienna Guillory (Resiendet Evil 2)
Emma Thompson (junior)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead)
Keira Knightley (King Arthur)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones)
Alan Rickman (Dogma)
Rodrigo Santoro (Lost)
Billy Bob Thornton (Eagle Eye)
Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English)
January Jones (X-Men: First Class)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
The film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David’s voiceover also relates that all the messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the ‘love stories’ of many people:
Billy Mack and Joe
With the help of his longtime manager Joe (Gregor Fisher), rock and roll legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records a Christmas variation of The Troggs’ classic hit “Love Is All Around”. Although he thinks the record is terrible, Mack promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. The song does go to number one; after briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy discerns that Joe is in need of affection and suggests that he and Joe celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn.
Juliet, Peter, and Mark
Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) get married in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), the best man. He promises no funny business on their wedding day, but as they walk down the aisle as husband and wife, a singer, choir and band appear performing “All You Need Is Love”. Both Juliet and Peter believe that Mark dislikes her to the point that, when she has a favour to ask, Peter warns his best friend to be nice. Mark avoids seeing her so he will not have to show her his taped version of her wedding, but she stops by one day with a snack hoping to get him to warm to her. She confesses that she knows they are not close, but asks him to give her a chance. When asked to show her the tape, he feigns ignorance of where it is, but Juliet quickly finds it after only a brief search. She pops it in and at first is happy to see a decent shot of her in her wedding dress as the professionals messed theirs up. As the video continues, she sees it’s focused only on her and it causes her to stop talking. Left in an uncomfortable silence, Mark can only blurt out that he acts that way for ‘self-preservation’ before running out and leaving her alone. On Christmas Eve, the doorbell rings at Juliet and Peter’s house. She runs down and opens the door, only to find Mark, carrying a boom box playing Christmas songs and large cue cards. The first one tells her to tell her husband that it’s carol singers. One by one, the cards confess his love for her. Then he walks away. Juliet runs after him to give him a quick, innocent kiss and runs back inside.
Jamie and Aurélia
Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) is pushed to Juliet and Peter’s wedding by his girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) as she feigns illness. He returns between the ceremony and the reception to check on her. Finding his brother there, at first he believes his explanation, but the reality is revealed when she yells down to his brother that she wants to have sex a few more times before Jamie comes back. Crushed by this, Jamie withdraws to his French cottage where he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz) who speaks only her native tongue. Despite their inability to communicate, they have similar personalities and become attached to each other. When Jamie returns to England, he realises he is in love with Aurélia and begins learning Portuguese. He returns to France to find her and ends up walking through town, gathering people as they walk to her job at a restaurant. In his broken Portuguese he declares his love for her and proposes. She responds, “Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer” in broken English as the crowd erupts in applause.
Harry, Karen, and Mia
Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency; Mia (Heike Makatsch) is his new secretary. Harry is comfortably married to his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson), who stays home to raise their children. Harry becomes increasingly aroused by Mia’s overtly sexual comments and actions at the office and does nothing to dissuade her. At the company Christmas party held at Mark’s gallery, he not only inquires if Mark is her boyfriend, but dances closely with her. While at the shops, he calls Mia to find out what she wants for Christmas and ends up almost caught by his wife purchasing an expensive necklace from the jewellery department thanks to the salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson). Later on, Karen discovers the necklace in Harry’s coat pocket and happily assumes it is a gift for her. When he hands her a similarly shaped box to open on Christmas Eve, she is heartbroken to find it is a Joni Mitchell CD instead and struggles to hide her pain from her husband and children. She realises that the necklace was for someone else and asks him what he would do if he was her and if the supposed affair is just sex or more than sex (love). When he sees the harm he’s done to his wife, he is truly sorry and calls himself a fool. She responds that not only has he made a mockery of their marriage but of her and the way she chose to live her life.
David and Natalie
Karen’s brother, David (Hugh Grant), is the recently elected Prime Minister. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street and from the moment they meet, there is a spark that David continuously admonishes himself for. One day, while meeting with the U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton), they run into Natalie and the president makes some inappropriate comments to David about Natalie’s body. Later, David walks in on Natalie serving tea and biscuits to the president, and it appears that something untoward is happening. Natalie seems ashamed, but the President has a sly grin on his face. Due to this, when he gives his political speech, David is uncharacteristically assertive while taking a stand against the President’s intimidating policies. Finding that his relationship with Natalie has become strained and a distraction, David has her moved to another job. However, he is spurred to action on Christmas Eve when he finds a Christmas card from Natalie declaring that she is his and no one else’s. After a hilarious door to door search of her street, he comes across Mia, who informs him that Natalie lives next door. The entire family is on their way out the door to a multi-school Christmas play and he offers to drive them so he can talk to her. After Natalie sneaks him in to the school, he runs into his heartbroken sister who believes he is there for his niece and nephew. As the two try to keep from being seen and watch the show from backstage, they finally kiss. All their hiding was for nothing because as the curtain rises, they are seen kissing by everyone.
Daniel, Sam, Joanna, and Carol
Daniel (Liam Neeson), Karen’s friend, mourns the recent death of his wife Joanna, as he tries to raise his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) alone. Sam has fallen for an American classmate, also named Joanna (Olivia Olson), and, after discussion with his stepfather, decides to learn the drums so that he can accompany her in the big finale for their school’s Christmas pageant (the same one that Natalie’s nephew and Karen and Harry’s children are in). After Sam feels that he missed his chance to make an impression on her, Daniel convinces Sam that he must go catch Joanna, who is returning to the US, at the airport that night and show her how he feels, lest he regret it for his whole life. Sam runs away from the airport security and says hi to Joanna, who then kisses him on the cheek. Meanwhile, Daniel, who previously mentioned admiring supermodel Claudia Schiffer, meets Carol, played by Schiffer, the parent of another of Sam’s school mates.
Sarah, Karl, and Michael
Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at Juliet and Peter’s wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. She is an American who works at Harry’s graphic design company and has been in love for years with the company’s creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). For unknown reasons they admire one another from afar, but neither is willing to make the first move. They finally connect at the Christmas party and he drives her home. They kiss but before more could occur, they are interrupted by her mentally ill brother, Michael, phoning from his residence in a mental care facility. Sarah and Karl’s evening tryst is aborted and Karl leaves. On Christmas Eve both are working late and, when Karl wishes her good night, he tries to say more but cannot and only wishes her Merry Christmas. As he leaves, Michael phones and she spends the night with him, sharing her Christmas scarf.
Colin, Tony, and the American girls
After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and Nancy (Julia Davis), the caterer at Juliet and Peter’s wedding, Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to America and find love there, convinced that his Britishness will be an asset to him in a foreign country. Landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Colin meets Stacey (Ivana Miličević), Jeannie (January Jones), and Carol-Anne (Elisha Cuthbert), three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent and invite him to stay at their home, where they are joined by roommate Harriet (Shannon Elizabeth).
John and Judy
John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are professional body doubles for films. They meet for the sex scenes in a film for which Tony is a production assistant. John tells Judy that “It is nice to have someone [he] can just chat to.” While the two are perfectly comfortable being naked and simulating sex on-set, they are shy and tentative off-set. Carefully pursuing a relationship, they attend the Christmas pageant (involving David and Natalie, Harry and Karen’s children, Daniel and Sam, et al.) at the local school with John’s brother.
Rufus
Rufus, played by Rowan Atkinson, is the jewellery salesman, whose obsessive attention to gift-wrapping nearly results in Harry being caught buying a necklace for Mia by Karen. Also, it is his distraction of staff at the airport which allows Sam to sneak through to see Joanna. In the director and cast commentary, it is revealed that Rufus was originally supposed to be a Christmas angel; however, this was dropped from the final script.
Epilogue
The epilogue is set one month later; the relationships of the characters have continued to evolve. Billy arrives with a gorgeous groupie in tow, and confirms to Joe that his hit song has launched his successful comeback. Juliet, Peter, and Mark arrive together to meet Jamie and his new bride, Aurélia. Karen and the kids greet Harry, but Karen’s reaction suggests that they are struggling to move past his indiscretion. Sam greets Joanna, who has returned with her mother from America, and Daniel is joined by his new girlfriend Carol and her son. Newlyweds John and Judy, heading off to their honeymoon, run into Tony who is awaiting Colin as he returns from America. Colin returns with the gorgeous Harriet and her sister Carla (Denise Richards) who greets Tony with a hug and a kiss. Natalie aggressively welcomes David back from his flight in view of the press, indicating that their relationship is now public. These scenes dissolve into footage of actual arrivals at Heathrow Airport, as the screen is divided into an increasing number of smaller segments which form the shape of a heart, as The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” plays on.
the film is a bit over the top, a bit exaggerated, but it still works perfectly, has the perfect balance of humour and seriousness, and is one that I would see again