REVIEW: THE AWAKENING

CAST

Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Dominic West (300)
Imelda Staunton (Paddington)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (Game of Thrones)
Lucy Cohu (Cape Wrath)
John Shrapnel (Troy)
Shaun Dooley (Gunpowder)
Joseph Mawle (Ripper Street)
Anastasia Hille (The Hole)

Rebecca Hall and Dominic West in The Awakening (2011)In 1921, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is a published author who works with the police to debunk supernatural hoaxes and thus to expose charlatans. It is revealed that she lost her lover in the war, and that she “hunts” ghosts in an attempt to see if it is possible to bring him back. She receives a visit from Robert Mallory (Dominic West), a teacher from a boys’ boarding school in Cumbria which had been a private home until twenty years earlier. Robert explains that there have been sightings of the ghost of a child at the school, and that such a sighting might have been the cause of the recent death of a pupil. Although Florence initially refuses to help Robert investigate, his concern for the children – whom he describes as being almost like orphans – at the boarding school causes her to change her mind, since she is an orphan herself. At the school she meets Maud (Imelda Staunton), the housekeeper, who tells Florence that she has read her books. After she conducts an investigation on her first night at the school, Florence comes to the conclusion that the sightings are the result of a prank, as two pupils had bullied a third into dressing as a ghost. With regards to the recent death, one of the teachers admits that he had forced the deceased pupil to stand outside the school in order to “man up” after he claimed to have seen the ghost, thus scaring the young boy and causing him to have a fatal asthma attack. The school then closes for half-term with the only occupants being Florence, Robert, Maud, and Tom (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), a pupil whose parents live in India.Rebecca Hall in The Awakening (2011)Her job done, Florence prepares to leave. Down at the lake she drops her cigarette case, which belonged to her lover. As she reaches for it, a hand reaches for her from the water. She steadies herself, but then allows herself to fall into the lake. Robert rescues her; although Florence assures them it was an accident, he and Maud become concerned about her mental health. Indeed, Florence decides to remain at the school. After chasing what she believes to be the ghost, she sees an apparition of a man with a shotgun, who appears to shoot her. She also hears a child calling “Mowa Zee,” which she tells Tom was the nickname some Africans gave to her after she was rescued from the lion that orphaned her as a child. After growing closer, Florence and Robert have sex. But Edward Judd (Joseph Mawle), the grounds keeper who has a grudge against Robert for being a war hero, becomes jealous and attempts to rape Florence in the woods. Assisted by a supernatural apparition, she kills Judd in self-defence. She then returns to the school and tells Robert, who leaves to bury Judd and thus to cover up the incident. Florence asks Robert not to tell Tom what happened, but Robert tells her that there are no children at the school.Rebecca Hall in The Awakening (2011)Florence then realizes that Tom is the ghost that is haunting the school. Buried memories begin to surface, and she remembers that her family lived at the boarding school when it was a home. As a child, she watched her father murder her mother with a shotgun before he attempted to kill her too. Florence hid inside the walls of the house as her father pursued her, calling out for his “little Mousy.” Aiming for her, her father instead killed Tom, who is revealed to have been his illegitimate son. Her father then killed himself while Florence watched. Traumatized, Florence had replaced these memories with memories of a childhood in Africa. Back in the present, Florence learns that Robert can see the ghosts of his friends who died in the war, and she comes to the conclusion that ghosts reveal themselves to those who are very lonely. She also learns that Maud was her nanny as a child, as well as the mother of Tom. Maud explains that she arranged for Florence to come to the school in the first place because Tom missed her. Maud then poisons herself and Florence, intending for their ghosts to join Tom. Florence tells Tom that her soul will not rest if she dies now, so Tom brings her medicine.TheAwakeningEXTSHOTThe following scene shows Florence walking throughout the school. She passes by several adults on her way out, but none notice her. Florence catches up to Robert and shares a cigarette with him. Florence explains that being unable to see ghosts anymore is not the same as forgetting them. She then asks Robert to tell their driver to pull up to the end of the drive since she has always enjoyed the walk, and that she will see him on Saturday. The couple exchange a kiss, and Robert watches her walk away.hero_EB20120829REVIEWS120829977ARHaunting cinematography, a strong cast and a story line which supports both suspense and character depth, enable this film to stand alongside “the orphanage” and “the Others” rather than being shadowed by them.

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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.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Marc Wootton (Nativity)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Eva Longoria (Over Her Dead Body)
Ramona Marquez (Outnumbered)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Jane Horrocks (Little Voice)
Sanjeev Bhaskar (Notting Hill)
Iain McKee (The Parole Officer)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Dominic West (The Affair)

On Christmas Eve, hundreds of Christmas elves helm the command centre of Santa Claus’ mile-wide, ultra-high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. The current Santa (Malcolm) and the Christmas elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by thousands more elves, under the command of Malcolm’s militaristic eldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter at mission control underneath the North Pole. Meanwhile, his younger son – the clumsy, fearful yet enthusiastic Arthur – devotedly answers the letters to Santa. During one of the delivery operations in Germany a child wakes up and almost sees Malcolm; in the tense escape operation, a Christmas elf aboard the S-1 inadvertently leans on a button, causing a present to fall from the supply line and go unnoticed.Having completed his 70th mission, Malcolm is portrayed as far past his prime and whose role in field operations now is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, he is held in high esteem, and delivers a congratulatory speech to the enraptured elves. Malcolm announces he looks forward to his 71st, much to the frustration of heir-apparent Steve, who had prepared to succeed his father as Santa at the conclusion of this mission. During their family Christmas dinner, Arthur’s suggestion for the family to play a board game degenerates into a tense quarrel between Malcolm and Steve, while Malcolm’s father and predecessor Grandsanta, bored by retirement, resentfully criticises their over-modernization. After Grandsanta knocks the board off the table, Steve’s PDA (a high tech device named a ‘HOHO’) flashes and he leaves the table in a hurry. Later, their father shares with his wife Margaret his grave doubts about his self-identity should he retire.Arthur follows Steve, and the two learn that a Christmas elf named Bryony found the missed present – a wrapped bicycle for a little girl in England called Gwen, to whose letter Arthur had personally responded. Arthur alerts his father, who is at a loss as to how to handle the situation; Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error whose correction can wait a few days, citing this year’s Christmas as the most successful in history. Grandsanta on the other hand, on learning of the dire situation, proposes delivering the gift using Eve, his old wooden sleigh, and the great-great-grandchildren of the original eight reindeer, forcefully whisking away a reluctant Arthur and a stowaway Bryony. In the process the three get lost in three different continents, lose several of their reindeer, and land in danger several times, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident. Through all this, Arthur eventually learns, to his compounding disappointment, that Grandsanta’s true motive is to fulfill his ego, Steve refuses to help them out of petty resentment and possibility of his brother being made hero overshadowing his work, and that his own father has gone to bed, apparently content even though a present was not delivered.Finally, stranded in Cuba after losing the sleigh and the remaining reindeer, Arthur renews his sense of purpose: that it all comes down to having presents delivered, regardless of how it is done and who did it. With Grandsanta’s and Bryony’s help, he manages to recover the sleigh. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumours of the neglected delivery and the Clauses’ unthinkable indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Malcolm, Margaret, and Steve take the high-tech sleigh-craft to deliver a superior present… albeit to the wrong child.Arthur and his party manage to reach England, but lose the remaining reindeer; furthermore a US Predator drone scrambled by Chief De Silva of UNFITA intercepts and opens fire on the sleigh believing them to be aliens. Grandsanta sacrifices the sleigh, while Arthur and Bryony to parachute to the ground. Ultimately with Margaret and Bryony’s help, all the male Clauses arrive at Gwen’s house before she awakens, only to have all but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that only Arthur truly cares about the girl’s feelings, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Malcolm gives Arthur the honour and Steve, recognizing his own shortcomings, forfeits his supposed birthright and acknowledges his brother’s worthiness to take up the mantle. In a fitting conclusion, Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before he vanishes up into the S-1.With the crisis resolved, Malcolm goes into a happy retirement with Margaret; he also becomes Grandsanta’s much-desired new companion and plays Arthur’s board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as the Chief Operating Officer of the North Pole, while Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Packing, Pacific Division. In a nod to traditionalism once neglected, the high-tech S-1 is re-christened EVIE in honour of Grandsanta’s old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer – led by the original eight, all of whom managed to return home safely via innate navigational abilities. Finally, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise in the proper spirit as the new Santa.Everything you would wish from a Chistmassy film. Strong story and lovely ideas about Father Christmas and the challenge of delivering a present to every child. A great family movie.

 

 

REVIEW: PADDINGTON

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Madeleine Harris (The White Queen)
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Matt Lucas (Alice In Wonderland)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas

In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, British geographer Montgomery Clyde happens upon a previously unknown species of bear. He is about to shoot it to take back a specimen to England when another bear playfully takes his gun away. He learns that this family of bears is intelligent and can learn English, and that they have a deep appetite for marmalade. He names them Lucy and Pastuzo. As he departs, he throws his hat to Pastuzo and tells the bears that they are always welcome should they wish to go to London.Several years later, the two bears are living in harmony with their nephew when an earthquake strikes their home, forcing them to seek shelter underground. Distracted and upset at the loss of his home, Pastuzo is unable to reach the shelter in time. He is presumed dead, with his hat being found the next day by his nephew. Aunt Lucy encourages her nephew to go and find solace in London, and stows him away on a cargo ship, after which she says she will move into the Home for Retired Bears.The young bear reaches London, but fails to find a home. He is taken in briefly by the Brown family. Mary Brown, the mother and a story illustrator, names him Paddington, after the station where they found him. Henry Brown, the father and a devoted risk analyst, who doesn’t believe a word of why he’s here, is adamant that Paddington stay only one night while they find a place for him to live permanently. Paddington causes a series of accidents across the house, further isolating himself from the Browns.Paddington thinks he can find a home with the explorer who found his aunt and uncle, but does not know his name. Mrs. Brown takes Paddington to Mr. Gruber, an antique shop owner who discovers that the hat bears the stamp of the Geographers Guild, but the Guild says that it never sent a member to explore darkest Peru. With the help of Mr. Brown, who refuses to let the family help him, Paddington infiltrates the Geographers Guild archives and discovers an expedition to Peru was undertaken by Montgomery Clyde. He uses the city’s phone books to track the addresses of all the “M Clyde”s in London.Meanwhile, the sadistic museum taxidermist Director Millicent Clyde, later revealed to be the explorer’s daughter, captures, kills, and stuffs exotic animals to house in the Natural History Museum. When she becomes aware of Paddington, she immediately sets out to hunt him down. The Brown family departs for the day, leaving Paddington home alone. Scheming with the Browns’ nosy neighbor Mr. Curry who is in love with her, Millicent sneaks in and attempts to capture Paddington; he manages to defend himself, but inadvertently starts a fire in the kitchen in the process. Disbelieving Paddington’s statement of Millicent’s capture attempt, the Browns, mainly Henry, state that he must move into a new home as soon as possible.Feeling unwanted at the Browns, Paddington leaves and attempts to track down Montgomery Clyde himself. He finally locates the house, only to learn that Clyde passed away years ago, and that Millicent resents her father for losing his job and membership with the museum; out of a change of heart, he refused to bring a valuable Peruvian bear specimen home, even though it would have made his family wealthy. Millicent is determined to succeed where her father failed and capture a Peruvian bear so she can become rich and famous herself. She tranquilizes Paddington and prepares to stuff him, but when Mr. Curry discovers her true intentions, he informs the Brown family and they rush to save Paddington. They rescue him, and Paddington subdues Millicent by throwing at her a marmalade sandwich his uncle left in his hat for emergencies, which attracts a huge flock of pigeons, distracting her, as family relative and housekeeper Mrs. Bird opens a roof hatch and inadvertently pushes her off the roof, trapping her on a flagpole.In the aftermath, the Browns adopt Paddington into their family and Millicent is sentenced to community service at the petting zoo her father opened after he lost his job. Paddington writes to Aunt Lucy saying he is happy and has finally found a home.Paddington is truly hilarious and heart-warming with a story that is so rich and compelling. And I would recommend Paddington to anyone.

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: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

CAST

Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron man)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin)
Simon Callow (Amadeus)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
Colin Firth (Love Actually)
Mark Williams (Harry Potter)
Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)

In 1593 London, William Shakespeare is a sometime player in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and poor playwright for Philip Henslowe, owner of The Rose Theatre. Shakespeare is working on a new comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Suffering from writer’s block, he has barely begun the play, but starts auditioning players. Viola de Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, who has seen Shakespeare’s plays at court, disguises herself as “Thomas Kent” to audition, then runs away. Shakespeare pursues Kent to Viola’s house and leaves a note with the nurse, asking Thomas Kent to begin rehearsals at the Rose. He sneaks into the house with the minstrels playing that night at the ball, where her parents are arranging her betrothal to Lord Wessex, an impoverished aristocrat. While dancing with Viola, Shakespeare is struck speechless, and after being forcibly ejected by Wessex, uses Thomas Kent as a go-between to woo her. Wessex also asks Will’s name, to which he replies that he is Christopher Marlowe.When he discovers her true identity, they begin a secret affair. Inspired by her, Shakespeare writes quickly, with help from his friend and rival playwright Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, completely transforming the play into what will become Romeo and Juliet. Then, Viola is summoned to court to receive approval for her proposed marriage to Lord Wessex. Shakespeare accompanies her, disguised as her female cousin. There, he persuades Wessex to wager £50 that a play can capture the true nature of love, the exact amount Shakespeare requires to buy a share in the Chamberlain’s Men. Queen Elizabeth I declares that she will judge the matter when the occasion arises.

When Richard Burbage, owner of the Curtain, finds out that Shakespeare has cheated him out of both money and the play, he goes to the Rose Theatre with his Curtain Theatre Company and starts a brawl. The Rose Theatre company drives Burbage and his company out and then celebrate at the local pub.

Viola is appalled when she learns Shakespeare is married, albeit separated from his wife, and she realises she cannot escape her duty to marry Wessex. Will discovers that Marlowe is dead, and thinks he is to blame. Lord Wessex suspects an affair between Shakespeare and his bride-to-be. Because Wessex thinks that Will is Kit Marlowe, he approves of Kit’s death, and tells Viola the news. It is later learned that Marlowe had been killed in an accident. Viola finds out that Will is still alive, and declares her love for him.

When Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, is informed there is a woman player at The Rose, he closes the theatre for breaking the ban on women. Viola’s identity is exposed, leaving them without a stage or lead actor, until Richard Burbage offers them his theatre. Shakespeare takes the role of Romeo, with a boy actor as Juliet. Following her wedding, Viola learns that the play will be performed that day, and runs away to the Curtain. Planning to watch with the crowd, Viola overhears that the boy playing Juliet cannot perform, and offers to replace him. While she plays Juliet to Shakespeare’s Romeo, the audience is enthralled, despite the tragic ending, until Master Tilney arrives to arrest everyone for indecency due to Viola’s presence.

But the Queen is in attendance and restrains Tilney, instead asserting that Kent’s resemblance to a woman is, indeed, remarkable. However, even a queen is powerless to end a lawful marriage, and she orders Kent to “fetch” Viola because she must sail with Wessex to the Colony of Virginia. The Queen also tells Wessex, who followed Viola to the theatre, that Romeo and Juliet has won the bet for Shakespeare, and has Kent deliver his £50 with instructions to write something “a little more cheerful next time, for Twelfth Night”.

Viola and Shakespeare say their goodbyes, and he vows to immortalise her, as he imagines the beginnings of Twelfth Night, imagining her as a castaway disguised as a man after a voyage to a strange land.

Stoppard certainly knows what he’s about: The plot is delightful and the references elegant, clever parodies if you spot them or inconspicuous parts of the plot if you don’t. And the references are on all levels: to Shakespeares plays, his unknown life and the many theories that have been made about it, and his writer and actor collegues Will’s muse is Violet, played wonderfully by Gwyneth Paltrow, who shows off in this film her finest acting to date and credibly pulls off the tricky task of being both an object of poetic inspiration and a genuine, down-to-earth human being.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Fracture)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Frances de la Tour (Hugo)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Camelot)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)

The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, addresses the wizarding media, stating that the Ministry will remain strong even as Lord Voldemort gains strength. Harry, Ron and Hermione prepare for a journey to find and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes, with Harry watching the Dursleys depart and Hermione wiping her parents’ memories of her.

Severus Snape arrives at Malfoy Manor to inform Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters of Harry’s impending departure from No. 4 Privet Drive. Voldemort commandeers Lucius Malfoy’s wand, as Voldemort’s own wand cannot be used to kill Harry, because the wands are “twins.”

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix gather at Privet Drive and escort Harry to safety, using Polyjuice Potion to create six decoy Harrys out of everyone else. During their flight to the Weasley family home at the Burrow, all are ambushed by Death Eaters. They kill Mad-Eye Moody and Harry’s owl, Hedwig, injure George Weasley, and knock out Hagrid. This forces Harry to take over and drive his flying motorbike while fighting Voldemort. In the process, destroying some power lines that causes a blackout to the city. After arriving at the Burrow, Harry has a vision of the wand-maker Ollivander being tormented by Voldemort, who claims that Ollivander had lied to him. Ollivander claimed that the only way Voldemort could kill Harry was by using another person’s wand.

Scrimgeour arrives at the Burrow with Albus Dumbledore’s Will and distributes three items to Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron receives Dumbledore’s Deluminator, Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry the first Golden Snitch that he ever caught in a Quidditch match. Scrimgeour reveals that Harry was also bequeathed the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. The minister states, though, that the sword was not Dumbledore’s to pass on and, in any case, is missing.

Next, the Death Eaters assassinate Scrimgeour and replace him with their puppet Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse, under the influence of the Imperius curse, begins persecuting Muggle-born witches and wizards. Then the Minister disrupts the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, by sending a patronus charm to tell everyone what they did and attack them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron Disapparate to London and find sanctuary at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. There they discover that the “R.A.B.” from the false Horcrux locket is Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. Kreacher, the Black’s house-elf, tells them that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real locket. Kreacher and Dobby apprehend Fletcher, who reveals that the locket is in the possession of Dolores Umbridge. Under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry. In the courtroom, Umbridge is interrogating a Muggle-born witch and threatens her, which enrages Harry, who says to her “You’re lying, Dolores. And one mustn’t tell lies.” He then stuns her and Hermione successfully retrieves the locket. The trio escape from the Dementors by fleeing into the wilderness after accidentally revealing the location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Yaxley, a Death Eater.

Unable to destroy the Horcrux, they take turns wearing it to dilute its malignant power. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort interrogating Gregorovitch, a renowned wand-maker, who claims that a teenage boy had once stolen the legendary Elder Wand from his shop. While Ron wears the locket, he is overcome by his negative feelings and after arguing with Harry, he leaves, upsetting Hermione. Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit Harry’s parents’ graves and the house where they were killed. Next Harry and Hermoine visit Bathilda Bagshot, who they believe has the Sword of Gryffindor, which they deduce can destroy Horcruxes. They are surprised by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, who has been possessing her corpse. Hermione accidentally breaks Harry’s wand as they escape into the Forest of Dean. Hermione is able to identify the mysterious thief seen in Harry’s vision as Gellert Grindelwald.

When evening falls, Harry sees a Patronus in the form of a doe which leads him to a frozen pond. Gryffindor’s sword lies beneath the pond’s ice. Harry breaks the ice and jumps in to reach the sword. The locket around his neck attempts to strangle him, but Ron arrives to rescue Harry. Despite the soul inside the locket attacking both of them, Ron manages to destroy it with the Sword of Gryffindor. Hermione is angry with Ron at first but then reconciles with him.

The trio then visit Xenophilius Lovegood to learn about a symbol seen several times on their journey. He tells them that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Lovegood betrays them to the Death Eaters in an effort to have his kidnapped daughter returned.

The trio escape into the wilderness once more, but Snatchers appear and chase them. Harry has a vision of Voldemort learning from Grindelwald that the Elder Wand lies with Dumbledore in his grave. They are then captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange imprisons Harry and Ron in a cellar, in which they discover Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook the goblin. Bellatrix tortures Hermione for information on how they got the sword of Gryffindor. After Dobby apparates in the cellar to save them, and incapacitates Peter Pettigrew, a short battle ensues; Harry duels and disarms Draco Malfoy. Narcissa Malfoy’s wand is taken by Dobby who says “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf. And Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends.” Dobby is killed by Bellatrix right after he helps Harry and the other captives escape. Meanwhile, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand.You know that this will end in a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is, whetting your appetite to devour Part 2 , just so to witness how the film franchise of our generation will fittingly conclude.