REVIEW: THE BANKER

Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, Nicholas Hoult, and Anthony Mackie in The Banker (2020)

Starring

Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War)
Nicholas Hoult (Dark Phoenix)
Nia Long (47 Meters Down: Uncaged)
Scott Daniel Johnson (Raising Dion)
Taylor Black (Dynasty)
Michael Harney (A Star Is Born)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil)
Jessie Usher (Sgaft)
Gregory Alan Williams (Brightburn)
Rhoda Griffis (Runaway Jury)

 

Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, Nicholas Hoult, and Anthony Mackie in The Banker (2020)Though an original idea in film certainly helps grow the medium out of the sequel/remake doldrums, not every movie has to break new ground in the way it tells its story. Sometimes traditional, A-B-C storytelling about something interesting and/or truthful can still inspire those who are watching. And inspiration, not innovation, is AppleTV+’s The Banker’s primary goal.Directed by Goerge Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) with considerable confidence (aided, no doubt, by Apple’s limitless checkbook), The Banker aims to not only transport the audience to another time but teach them a lesson as well. The tried-and-true traditional storytelling techniques thus make it more of a fun, expected ride rather than a preachy history lesson.The Banker centers around Bernard Garrett played with stoic seriousness by the usual live-wire Anthony Mackie. Garrett is a mathematical genius with the will and desire to apply said genius to the real estate world. There is only one problem: it’s the 1950s in America and Garrett is black. Even in Los Angeles, away from his rundown, segregated hometown in Texas, Garrett experiences the ingrained racism the United States has to offer. Even in his most brilliant suits and despite his calm, academic demeanor, buying white properties in LA becomes an endless battle. But after teaming up with the enigmatic Joe Morris (Samuel L Jackson), a successful black businessman who owns dozens of properties, Garrett decides to use white family friend and mathematical novice Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to be the public figurehead for business deals in LA, with Morris and Garrett acting as silent partners so the white residents of their buildings don’t know any different. It leads to a decade of successful real estate purchases in which Garrett and Morris become co-owners of hundreds of buildings in white-only areas, including the tallest commercial building in LA.But when Garrett wants to move back to Texas to help the black community acquire property, they realize the only way to successfully infiltrate the much more racist market is to own a bank. Thus Garrett and Morris’ clever scheme of using Steiner as a front for their business dealings takes on new challenges. For real estate is a cinch for Garrett and Morris but what do they know of banking? With everyone from local bigots to the federal government swirling around potential bank deals, Garrett is about to come across the biggest challenge of his life. As mentioned before, The Banker doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to presentation. It tells a very straightforward story and allows the cast to do the heavy lifting. Mackie is particularly good playing against type. Most popular as the wise-cracking sidekick to Captain America, Mackie’s somewhat forgotten dramatic chops get a refresher course as his straight man routine carries the film. Garrett’s no-nonsense nature and simmering passion is what gives the film its dramatic core. But it is also his quiet confidence that keeps the film measured; there is no room for melodrama here.z3t2cwzm1m341Mackie playing against type allows Samuel L Jackson to be more like himself as the charismatic foil to Garrett. Jackson, now in his 70s, is still as engaging and exciting to watch as ever and his cool guy routine isn’t out of place in this serious drama. Backing up the two leads is the always likable Nicholas Hoult as real estate/banking rookie Steiner and Nia Long as Garrett’s wife Eunice, who stands by her man with pride and fortitude, sometimes steering the action herself. Effortlessly transporting the audience to ’50s/’60s California and Texas, Apple’s considerable funds allow for the production design and costume design to perform a total transformation of the physical setting. Though their might be a little too much polish to make this feel like a lived-in environment, the seduction of shots of full city streets with period-specific cars and top of the line suits and dresses makes for engaging, if not beautiful, cinema.OIg1ybNRegardless of how it looks though, The Banker relies on what it says about our culture to carry the day and the film succeeds in speaking truth to power. Not only is the story inspiring for what occurred in the past, but it can serve as an example of how to move forward as well. In today’s society, where tribalism is becoming more and more acute and politics so polarizing, the dehumanization of entire groups can become all too real. The Banker shows that it isn’t the color of our skin or the money in our pockets that drives us but our own internal passion and industriousness. With brainpower and positivity comes results and, as Variety reported, the filmmakers “stand by the film and “its positive message of empowerment”.”5cnDFp6It is that dedication to empowerment that allows superb casting and production design to simply stand as icing on the cake. The Banker looks good but it feels good too. And upon its release, you should go out and watch it.

REVIEW: X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX

Starring

James McAvoy (Split)
Michael Fassbender (Shame)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Nicholas Hoult ((The Favourite)
Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones)
Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One)
Alexandra Shipp (Shaft)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Jessica Chastain (IT: Chapter Two)
Ato Essandoh (Garden State)
Andrew Stehlin (King Kong)
Scott Shepherd (Jason Bourne)
Brian d’Arcy James (First Man)
Halston Sage (The Orville)
Lamar Johnson (Kings)
Summer Fontana (THe Originals)
Hannah Emily Anderson (Jigsaw)

Jennifer Lawrence in Dark Phoenix (2019)In 1975, eight-year-old Jean Grey and her parents get into a car accident that kills her mother. Shortly afterward, Professor Charles Xavier takes her to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.Jessica Chastain and Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)In 1992, nine years after the worldwide chaos caused by En Sabah Nur, the X-Men are seen as heroes by the public. The President summons them for assistance during a crisis and responds to a distress signal from the space shuttle Endeavour, which is critically damaged by a solar flare-like energy during the STS-49 mission. While the X-Men save all of the astronauts, Jean is stranded and is struck by the energy which she absorbs into her body to save the X-Men’s aircraft from destruction. Jean survives the event and her psychic powers are greatly amplified as a result, but they become uncontrollable and she accidentally unleashes her power on the mutants celebrating at Xavier’s school.Jennifer Lawrence and Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)It is revealed that Xavier had placed mental walls in Jean’s mind as a little girl to protect her psychic mind from experiencing trauma. These mental walls are destroyed by Jean’s enhanced power and the trauma slowly returns, resulting in her being full of desire, rage, and pain. She then travels to her childhood hometown after finding out that her father is still alive and learned that he abandoned her. Jean recovers her complete memory of the car accident and remembers that she had inadvertently caused it rendering her mother unconscious at the wheel with her telepathy, which causes her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. The X-Men arrive and attempt to take Jean home but she injures Quicksilver and accidentally kills Mystique before flying away.Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)Jean travels to the mutant refugee island of Genosha to seek assistance from Magneto in controlling her rage, but is turned away by Erik after she engages in combat with U.S. military forces tasked with her arrest. Jean meets Vuk, the leader of a shape-shifting alien race known as the D’Bari, who explains to her that she has been possessed by a force of cosmic power which wiped out the D’Bari home planet years ago. The power had consumed all those it came across until it was drawn to Jean. Meanwhile, Hank McCoy (Beast), mad with grief by Raven’s death, allies with Erik and the mutant refugees in an attempt to kill Jean in New York City and avenge Raven.Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)Upon learning of Erik’s plan, the X-Men try to stop him and his faction of mutants. As they battle, Erik manages to enter the building and confront Jean, only to fall to her amplified powers. Xavier then enters the building with Nightcrawler. Jean attacks them until Xavier convinces her to read his memories—allowing her personality to resurface. Feeling remorseful, Jean offers to let Vuk take the force from her; however, it is revealed that doing so would kill Jean, as well as revealing that Vuk also intends to use the force to conquer Earth. Xavier and Scott are able to prevent Vuk from fully absorbing the force from Jean, though Jean loses consciousness from the ordeal. Troops sent by the U.S. government, who use stun weapons and power-inhibiting collars, attack and subdue both mutant factions, who are placed on a train headed towards a containment facility.Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)On the train, a remorseful Xavier admits to a seething Hank that the latter was right in his earlier accusations of violating Jean’s mind. The train is attacked by Vuk and her D’Bari forces. When the soldiers are overpowered by the shape-shifters, the mutants are freed from their restraints to combat the threat. The mutants deal with most of the D’Bari attackers, but Vuk arrives and heads for Jean, defeating each mutant who attempts to stop her. Xavier confers with Jean within his mind, allowing Jean to gain control of her power. After forgiving Xavier, Jean saves the mutants from Vuk’s attacks and the ensuing train wreck before proceeding to easily disintegrate the remaining D’Bari when they attack her. Vuk once again attempts to drain Jean of the force, but Jean takes Vuk into outer space, retakes the power that Vuk had received earlier, and then kills her. Jean then disappears in a burst of energy in the form of a phoenix.Jessica Chastain in Dark Phoenix (2019)In the aftermath of the incident, Xavier’s school is renamed the “Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters”, and Hank becomes their new dean with Xavier having retired after decades of fighting for mutant rights. While settling himself in Paris, Xavier is reunited with Erik and reluctantly agrees to play a game of chess with him. As they start playing, a flaming phoenix appears in the sky.Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)This movie is NOT a masterpiece nor is it the best X-men movie,  But if all you want is a decent enjoyable theater experience where you can momentarily forget a somewhat uneventful life and focus on some effective PG-13 fantasy, then Dark Phoenix won’t be a bad recommendation

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: WARM BODIES

CAST

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Teresa Palmer (The Grudge 2)
Rob Corddry (Old School)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours 1 & 2)
Analeigh Tipton (The Green Hornet)
Cory Hardrict (Battle: Los Angeles)
John Malkovich (Red)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)

About eight years after a zombie apocalypse, R, a zombie, spends his days wandering around an airport which is now filled with hordes of his fellow undead, including his best friend M. R and M achieve rudimentary communication with grunts and moans and occasional near-words. As a zombie, R constantly craves human flesh, especially brains, as he is able to “feel alive” through the victims’ memories he experiences when he eats them.While R and a pack of zombies are out hunting for food, they encounter Julie Grigio and a group of her friends, who were sent out by Julie’s father from a heavily fortified, walled-off human enclave in a nearby city to recover medical supplies from abandoned buildings. R sees Julie and is drawn to her. After being shot in the chest by Julie’s boyfriend, Perry, R kills him while Julie is distracted, and eats his brain, giving R his thoughts and memories, making his attraction to Julie even stronger. He rescues Julie from the rest of the pack by wiping some zombie blood on her face, masking her scent, and takes her back to an airplane he resides in at the airport to keep her safe.Julie is initially terrified of R, and suspicious of his intentions. Julie starts to trust R after he rescues her during a failed escape attempt and finds her some food. R insists that Julie has to stay with him for a few days until he deems it safe enough for her to leave. The two bond, listening to LP records and playing games to kill the time, causing R to slowly begin to come to life. After a few days, Julie gets restless, and tries to return home, yet attracts swarms of zombies, requiring R to rescue her. After fending off a group of zombies, including M, who is confused by R’s actions, R decides it is time to return her to the human enclave.On the way, R reveals to Julie that he was the one that killed Perry, which prompts her to abandon him and return to her home alone. R begins to make his way back to the airport, heartbroken. He then sees that M and other zombies are also beginning to show signs of life, making all of them targets for the Boneys – skeletal zombies who, having lost all traces of their humanity, have shed their flesh and prey on anything with a heartbeat. R and M lead a group to the human enclave, where R sneaks inside the wall. There, he finds Julie and meets her friend Nora, who is initially shocked. When R reveals that the other corpses have also been coming back to life, the three of them attempt to tell Colonel Grigio, Julie’s father and leader of the survivors. Colonel Grigio, however, refuses to believe corpses can change and threatens to kill R, stopping only when Nora pulls a gun on him. Julie and R escape to a baseball stadium where the rest of R’s group is waiting, but soon find themselves under attack by a horde of Boneys.While M and his gang of zombies square off against the Boneys, Julie and R run, but find themselves trapped. Taking the only escape route, R jumps with Julie into a pool far below, shielding her from the impact. After Julie pulls R from the bottom of the pool, they kiss. Colonel Grigio arrives and shoots R in the shoulder without warning. Julie attempts to persuade him that R has changed, when she notices that he is bleeding from his wound – revealing that he has completely revived and is human once more. The humans and zombies combine forces and kill most of the Boneys while the rest die off from starvation and the zombies slowly assimilate into human society. The film ends with a now fully alive R and Julie watching a wall surrounding the city being demolished, signifying the end of the apocalypse.As well as having great characters, Warm Bodies is also really well paced. The plot is extremely interesting, with us getting to know R and his way of life to begin with. It doesn’t take much time for him to run into Julie though and from there, the film only gets better. As the two characters get to know each other, their characters really come to life… literally in R’s case. It was lovely to see the character development here through two people getting to know each other and what they enjoy. Overall, Warm Bodies is a fantastic movie adaptation of one of my favourite young adult books.

REVIEW: TOLKIEN

Starring

Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)
Lily Collins (MIrror Mirror)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Derek Jacobi (Tomb Raider)
Anthony Boyle (The Lost City of Z)
Patrick Gibson (Neverland)
Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk)
Craig Roberts (Kill Your Friends)
Pam Ferris (Children of Men)
Laura Donnelly (Dread)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Snowman)
Owen Teale (Game of Thrones)
Harry Gilby (Just Charlie)
Mimi Keene (Sex Education)

Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien (2019)As young children being raised by a single mother, Tolkien and his brother receive help from a local priest who must relocate them from their home to small apartments in Birmingham due to financial hardships. Their mother is supportive and loving, filling her sons’ minds with narrated stories of adventure and mystery which she recites by the fireplace at night to the boys. She is ill, however, and one day on return from school, Tolkien finds his mother slumped in her chair in an unusual position and upon touching her shoulder, discovers that his mother has died. The local priest returns again to try to find a local home or orphanage that will take the boys in.Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in Tolkien (2019)A kindly rich woman is found in town who will support Tolkien and his brother with room and board while they continue their childhood education. There, Tolkien meets Edith Bratt, who lives in the same home into which he has been adopted and who loves music. She and Tolkien bond as friends because of their mutual passion for music, and the two attend local concerts and musical events.Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in Tolkien (2019)When he is sent to school, J. R. R. Tolkien befriends a group of three fellow students, with whom he finds inspiration and courage. Their bond of fellowship grows with the years, as they experience life together. Meanwhile, Tolkien continues his relationship with Edith, with whom he falls in love. When the priest who has been supporting Tolkien finds out about their affair, he reminds Tolkien that she is not a Roman Catholic. He further states that as Tolkien’s legal guardian after the death of Tolkien’s mother, he forbids Tolkien from having a relationship with Edith until Tolkien is 21 years of age. The news is devastating to Tolkien, though he does not want to lose his financial aid from the priest without which he would be forced to withdraw from college.When WWI breaks out, the four friends all enlist for military service. The consequences of their loyal military service is devastating to them. Two of the friends die, and one is handicapped by shell shock and is no longer functional after the war due to his mental incapacity. Tolkien himself is gravely injured, though he is evacuated to hospital in England, and he remains unconscious for many weeks. When he awakens, he finds that Edith has been faithfully attending him on a daily basis while he has been in hospital never leaving his side. Deeply moved by her loyalty to him, Tolkien proposes marriage to her as his only true love. The two survive to older age when Tolkien becomes a professor at his old school teaching the young students now enrolled in his classes.Tolkien works well as a film showing the early years of the life of the titular writer. The actors nail their performances, and Tolkien fans will have a good time with it, despite some pacing problems. However, it doesn’t really offer enough for non-fans to get into the film, so it would likely be boring to anyone not interested in Tolkien or his work. Otherwise, it’s a good depiction of the life of one of the greatest writers ever.

REVIEW: JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

CAST

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class)
Eleanor Tomlinson (The White Queen)
Stanley Tucci (The LVoely Bones)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes)
Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Tandi Wright (Power Rangers SPD)

In the Kingdom of Cloister, Jack, a young farm boy, is fascinated by the legend of Erik, an ancient king who defeated an army of invading giants from a realm in the sky by controlling them with a magical crown. At the same time, Princess Isabelle becomes fascinated with the same legend.Ten years later, Jack goes into town to sell his horse to support his uncle’s farm. There, Jack spots Isabelle and becomes enamored with her after defending her honor from a group of hooligans. Meanwhile, Lord Roderick returns to his study, only to find that a monk has robbed him. The monk offers Jack some magic beans he stole from Roderick as collateral for Jack’s horse. Back at the castle, Isabelle quarrels with her father King Brahmwell as she wants to explore the kingdom, but he wants her to stay and marry Roderick. Likewise, Jack’s uncle scolds him for being foolish before throwing the beans on the floor and leaving the house.Determined to be free, Isabelle sneaks out of the castle and seeks shelter from the rain in Jack’s house. As it rains, one of the beans takes root and grows into a massive beanstalk that carries the house and Isabelle into the sky as Jack falls to the ground. Jack, Roderick, and Roderick’s attendant Wicke volunteer to join the king’s knights, led by Elmont and his second in-command, Crawe, and climb the beanstalk in search of Isabelle. As they climb, Roderick and Wicke cut the safety rope, intentionally killing some of the knights. At the top, they discover the giants’ realm and decide to split into two groups: one with Jack, Elmont, and Crawe, and the other including Roderick and Wicke, but not before Roderick forcibly takes the remaining beans from Jack (although Jack manages to save one for himself).Jack’s group is trapped by a giant, who takes everyone prisoner except Jack. Meanwhile, Roderick’s group encounters two other giants; one eats Wicke, but before the other can do the same to Roderick, Roderick dons the magic crown. Jack follows the giant to their stronghold, where the two-headed giant leader, Fallon, has killed Crawe. Jack finds Isabelle and Elmont imprisoned there. As the giants prepare to kill their remaining prisoners, Roderick walks in and enslaves the giants with the crown. He tells the giants they will attack Cloister at dawn and gives them permission to eat Isabelle and Elmont. Jack rescues Isabelle and Elmont as one of the giants prepares to cook Elmont as a pig-in-a-blanket. The trio makes for the beanstalk, where Jack causes the giant guarding the beanstalk to fall off the realm’s edge. Seeing the giant’s body, Brahmwell orders the beanstalk cut down to avoid an invasion by the giants.Jack and Isabelle head down the beanstalk, while Elmont stays to confront Roderick. Elmont kills Roderick, but Fallon takes the crown before Elmont can claim it, and Elmont is forced to escape down the beanstalk. Jack, Isabelle, and Elmont all survive the fall after the beanstalk is cut down. As everyone returns home, Jack warns that the giants are using Roderick’s beans to create beanstalks to descend down to Earth and attack Cloister. The giants chase Jack, Isabelle, and Brahmwell into the castle, where Elmont fills the moat with oil and sets it on fire. Fallon falls in the moat and breaks into the castle from below. As the siege continues, Fallon captures Jack and Isabelle, but Jack throws the final bean down Fallon’s throat, causing a beanstalk to rip apart his body. Jack takes the crown and sends the giants back to their realm. Jack and Isabelle marry and tell the story of the giants to their children. As time passes, the magic crown is crafted into St Edward’s Crown and is secured in the Tower of London.This was a lot better than I was expecting, so that was quite a pleasant surprise.  I was prepared to make an early exit from watching the retelling of another favourite fairy tale. But it was actually done very well, with a wonderfully impressive CGI beanstalk and superb giants. All in all, it was a very enjoyable film to watch.

 

REVIEW: BAD LAND: ROAD TO FURY (aka THE YOUNG ONES)

CAST

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In)
Robert Hobbs (District 9)
Aimee Mullins (Stranger Things)
Alex McGregor (Searchers)

In a post-drought apocalypse United States, people kill for water. Ernest Holm lives with his son Jerome and daughter Mary in their small townhouse and field. His wife has been involved in an accident earlier and is now permanently hospitalized in a facility where she can walk while wired to a special frame. While everyone else has left the area, Ernest and his family remain, as Ernest believes that the land will grow once more if only there is irrigation. Ernest gets water for his family by delivering supplies to the “water men” who extract water from deep wells through a government deal. When his mule breaks its legs and he has to kill it, Ernest goes to Sam Lever’s auction house and buys a robotic carrier machine called Simulit Shadow (“Sim”) to replace it, beating the offers of Flem Lever, Sam’s son, a young, troubled man who has been seeing Mary without Ernest’s consent.One morning, Ernest finds the Sim is missing, and he goes looking for it. When he gets to the water men, he is accused of stealing their supplies. He finds Flem transporting the stolen supplies with the Sim; Flem plans to sell them at the border. Ernest takes Flem captive, ties him to the machine, and aims to take the supplies back to the water men. When they stop due to dehydration, Flem convinces Ernest to rehydrate with the liquor they are transporting. Wanting to escape, Flem throws a stone at Ernest’s head and frames the machine for Ernest’s death. Flem marries Mary after helping the family obtain illegal irrigation from the water men, thus saving their farm, which was originally Flem’s father’s. But after finding out Ernest had overwhelming debts to repay to a bank, which is now going to repossess the farm, Flem tricks his friend Robbie into selling his baby behind his wife’s back. Robbie is killed and the Sim is lost in an altercation with the buyers. However, the machine returns limping and mangled to its manufacturer, who resides in a city across the border. The owner, Calvin Hooyman, reaches Jerome at the Holm residence via CB radio, informing him about the machine.Jerome crosses the border with the help of Anna, a girl who lives with the “settlers”, people fighting back against the government’s regulations and considered terrorists. Jerome meets Calvin, who gives the repaired Sim back to him, and shows Jerome how the machine’s laser sensor behaves like a rudimentary video recorder. Jerome plays the recording and finds the truth about Ernest’s death. Arriving home before Flem, Jerome questions him as to how the machine found its way home, since Flem claimed to have sold it in order to repay the debt. Flem’s lies only infuriate Jerome more, but at first he takes no action. Instead, he lures Flem out in the desert by posing as Robbie via radio and letters, ultimately causing Flem to fall into a pit trap and break his legs. As Flem cries for help, Jerome, who has been secretly following him, comes at the pit’s mouth. Flem realizes that Jerome knows about what happened to Ernest. He tries to elicit Jerome’s mercy, but Jerome coldly shoots him in the head. Jerome ultimately decides to withhold these events and the circumstances of Ernest’s death from Mary, who is pregnant with Flem’s child. Brother and sister remain in the house, planning to bring their mother there from the hospital now that they can pay for her brace wires, and wishing the baby will be a girl. A gritty film, it’s a futuristic dust bowl tale as grim as Grapes of Wrath. It’s memorable and keeps your attention, while portraying Sci-Fi in a very believable way. The mix of poverty and high technology, the extremes of the haves and have-nots, and water shortages in the US, amplifies the current state of a society as all good sci-fi films do.

REVIEW: THE FAVOURITE

Starring

Olivia Coleman (The Iron Lady)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Joe Alwyn (Mary Queen of Scots)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
James Smith (Boomers)
Wilson Radjou-Pujalte (The Witcher)

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)It is 1708, and the recently formed Kingdom of Great Britain is at war with France. Queen Anne is in frail health; she shows little interest in governing, preferring activities such as racing ducks and playing with her 17 rabbits, one for each of the children she has lost. Her confidante, adviser, and furtive lover Sarah Churchill, effectively rules the country through her influence over the Queen. Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined by Robert Harley (who was later created, in May 1711, The 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer), the Leader of the Opposition, who, as a landowner, argues against a doubling of property taxes proposed in order to fund the war.Abigail Hill, Sarah’s impoverished younger cousin, arrives in search of employment. Abigail’s standing is tainted by her father, who gambled her away in a game of whist. Abigail is forced to do menial work as a scullery maid in the palace, but, after seeing the Queen’s gout, she forages for herbs and applies them to the Queen’s inflamed legs. Sarah has her whipped for her presumptuousness, but relents and makes her lady of the bedchamber after she realises the herbs have helped the Queen. Harley asks Abigail to spy on Sarah and the Queen, hoping to circumvent Sarah’s authority. Abigail witnesses Sarah and the Queen having sex.Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)With Sarah focused on the war effort, Abigail kindles a friendship with Anne, which becomes sexual. Sarah becomes aware of Abigail’s machinations and attempts to have her sent away. Abigail drugs Sarah’s tea, causing her to fall off her horse and be dragged on the ground unconscious. Sarah awakens in a brothel, battered from the fall. Anne, thinking that Sarah has abandoned her to make her jealous, takes Abigail into her favour. She allows her to marry Samuel, 1st Baron Masham, reinstating Abigail’s noble standing.Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite (2018)When Sarah returns to court, she issues an ultimatum to Anne: send Abigail away, or Sarah will disclose her correspondence with Anne that details their sexual relationship. She tells Anne that Abigail does not love her, and merely flatters her. Sarah burns the letters in regret, but Anne sends her away from court. When Abigail, now promoted to Keeper of the Privy Purse, presents what she claims is evidence that Sarah had been embezzling money, Anne exiles Sarah and her husband from Britain.THE FAVOURITEWhile lounging in the Queen’s chamber, Abigail abuses one of Anne’s rabbits by deliberately pressing down on its neck with her shoe. Anne, now very sick, is awakened by the animal’s distress cry. She forces herself out of bed and orders Abigail to massage her legs, as if she were a servant, while gradually bearing down on Abigail’s head with her hand.the-favourite-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000There are three compelling reasons to see this – Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. They go full force into this 18th-century world. Its a wickedly ridiculous and dirty dark comedy that only Yorgos Lanthimos could make with a brilliant whip-smart script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Weisz vs Stone is a master class in acting, and Colman holds the Crown. Showcasing just how devoted one is for love (or power) but if it is truly worth the cost. If you didn’t like The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you may not like this movie. While it is Yorgos’ most commercial movie yet, it is still very much his style.