REVIEW: THE REWRITE

Starring

Hugh Grant (Paddington 2)
Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: Far From Home)
Bella Heathcote (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
Allison Janney (Mom)
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Aja Naomi King (The Upside)
Karen Pittman (The Bourne Legacy)
Caroline Aaron (21 Jump Street)
Olivia Luccardi (It Follows)
Maggie Geha (Gotham)

Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in The Rewrite (2014)Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) is a divorced, washed-up screenwriter whose only successful work was Paradise Misplaced, which won the Best Screenplay Award fifteen years ago. Desperate and low on funds after a prolonged period of unsuccessful pitching, he reluctantly takes up a job teaching screenwriting at Binghamton University in upstate New York.Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in The Rewrite (2014)Things do not go well for Keith in the beginning; he unintentionally insults fellow professor Mary Weldon (Allison Janney) with his awkward sense of humor; he strikes up a brief relationship with student Karen Gabney (Bella Heathcote) which turns sour quickly. Keith also does not believe in the concept of teaching and is uninterested in his job, as exemplified by his selecting students for his class based on appearance and dismissing them for a month.Marisa Tomei and Steven Kaplan in The Rewrite (2014)After being overtly contested by a resentful Karen about his competence, Keith starts to devote more time and effort to coaching his students and helping them discover their passion and improve their writing; he especially finds great potential in Clem Ronson (Steven Kaplan), a sickly and socially awkward nerd, whose script quickly garners the interest of Keith’s agent, Elle. Keith also forms a bond with mature student Holly Carpenter (Marisa Tomei), a single mother of two who is in a steady but dull relationship. The two of them often disagree on their perspectives on life, where Keith believes that nothing will salvage his stagnant career or mend his relationship with his estranged son Alex, whereas Holly maintains an optimistic outlook on life and believes that with effort, talents can be developed and problems can be solved. Despite their differences, Keith finds enlightenment in Holly’s advice and makes the first move in contacting Alex.Hugh Grant in The Rewrite (2014)However, Keith’s situation worsens when his outline for Paradise Misplaced II gets rejected and he faces expulsion from the school after his short-lived relationship with Karen is exposed. In deep despair, Keith gets into an argument with Holly and decides to leave the school. As a last parting gesture, he accompanies Clem to Manhattan to meet with some Hollywood film producers. Halfway through the meeting, Keith realizes how he has impacted his students and, leaving a newly empowered Clem to resume the meeting by himself, he heads back to Binghamton to save his job — which he manages to do with a heartfelt conversation with Professor Weldon. In a revelation of his renewed perspective, Keith expresses admiration for Holly’s perseverance in life and confesses his love for her. He also declines Elle’s invitation to return to Hollywood, as he has decided to stay in Binghamton to teach and write a screenplay based on his experience there; and he tells Elle not to call during class hours. Keith is welcomed back by his students and reconciles with Karen. The film ends with Keith’s phone flashing with a voicemail from Alex.Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in The Rewrite (2014)The movie is light but good hearted and Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei et all make it very worth watching.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: PADDINGTON 2

 

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Madeleine Harris (The White Queen)
Hugh Grant (About A Boy)
Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Ben Miller (Johnny English)
Jessica Hynes (Burke and Hare)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Eileen Atkins (Wild Target)
Richard Ayoade (The Watch)

Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, having settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, has become popular in his community, offering people emotional support in various ways. To purchase a unique pop-up book of London in Samuel Gruber’s antique shop for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington performs several odd jobs and saves his wages, but the book is stolen. Paddington gives chase, but the culprit escapes, and Paddington is framed and arrested. Although Mr Gruber and the Browns do not believe that Paddington stole the book, with no evidence that the thief existed, Paddington is wrongfully convicted and jailed. The thief soon returns home, and is revealed to be Phoenix Buchanan, an egotistical actor who lives opposite the Browns.Paddington 2 (2017)Whilst in prison, Paddington befriends many of the inmates, including the short-tempered chef Nuckles, who hires Paddington, impressed by his marmalade sandwich recipe. The Browns work to clear Paddington’s name, putting up sketches of the thief. Buchanan begins using the pop-up book to locate a series of clues within London’s famous landmarks, which he believes will unveil the location of a secret treasure. During their efforts to prove Paddington’s innocence, the Browns encounter a fortune teller who informs them that the stolen book leads to the hidden fortune of the original author.Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin in Paddington 2 (2017)With Paddington inside, the prison is a much livelier place, but Paddington struggles to remain positive when the Browns are unable to prove his innocence. Becoming convinced that Buchanan is the culprit, the Browns look for the stolen book inside his house. They find a secret attic where Buchanan’s various costumes are stashed, as well as the book itself. Before they can act further, Buchanan returns home and suspects something is wrong. Meanwhile, the Browns have missed a prison visit with Paddington, causing Paddington to believe that the Browns have forgotten all about him.Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington soon takes part in a prison break alongside several other inmates, including Nuckles, who promises to aid in proving his innocence but promptly abandons the idea in order to leave the country as a free man, inviting Paddington to come with him. Paddington refuses and, whilst roaming the streets and avoiding the police, uses a public telephone to contact the Browns, who assert that Buchanan is the real culprit. To catch him, they arrange to meet at Paddington Station, where a train carrying the supposed location of the hidden fortune is due to leave shortly.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington reaches the station and makes it onto the train just as it leaves – the Browns begin their pursuit in another steam train at the opposite platform. When caught up, Henry Brown and Mrs. Bird board the other train and confront Buchanan, who overwhelms them and makes good his initial escape. Paddington is left stranded in the train’s rear carriage which Buchanan severs the coupling for, leaving it to crash into a nearby river. Mary Brown tries to rescue Paddington but struggles to open the locked carriage; she is soon assisted by Nuckles and the other inmates, who have a change of heart and decide to help Paddington as promised. Eventually, Henry knocks out Buchanan just as he tries to access the so called treasure, and he is promptly taken into custody.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, now declared innocent, becomes very ill after the events, slipping into a short three day coma yet recovering well once waking up on Aunt Lucy’s birthday. With the book taken in as evidence by the police, Paddington is left disappointed that he was unable to get Lucy a present as promised, though soon discovers the Browns, with the help of various other people in the neighborhood, made sure Lucy could come to London and see it for herself. When answering the door to her, Paddington rushes up and hugs her, wishing her a happy birthday. Meanwhile, Buchanan is sentenced to ten years in prison. Six months later, he is shown to be putting his history as a performer to further use, hosting shows for the inmates and providing entertainment throughout the building.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see 100 minutes of family friendly fun that isn’t either sickly sweet or too dark for youngsters and still thoroughly watchable to adults too. Great fun and a worthy sequel to one of the best British films in recent years.

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: 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)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
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)
Ivana Milicevic (Paycheck)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie)
Denise Richards (Starship Troopers)
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
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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