25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: I GIVE IT A YEAR

CAST

Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Rafe Spall (The World’s End)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Minnie Driver (Ella Enchanted)
Jason Flemyng (Layer Cake)
Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady)
Jane Asher (Runners)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)

Ambitious high-flyer Nat (Rose Byrne) and struggling writer Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love at first sight at a party. After seven months together they decide to marry. The film highlights their struggles during their first year of marriage, switching back and forth from flashbacks of the year’s action to a marriage-guidance counselor’s office. Their wedding goes as planned despite many friends’ comments that the marriage will not last, an embarrassing best-man’s speech, and a coughing priest. When Nat returns to work after the honeymoon, she’s embarrassed when Josh calls her in the office—on speakerphone in front of her colleagues—to tell her she is sexy and that he misses her, causing her to abruptly hang up on him. Later, the two meet with their solicitor to discuss how to handle medical crises (last wishes). Nat becomes annoyed when Josh, knowing she would be late, admitted that he deliberately told her the wrong time, causing her to turn up early.The couple throw a dinner party to use their wedding gifts. Some of their differences are highlighted when they talk about their honeymoon in Morocco: Nat didn’t enjoy the leather museum; Josh remembers it as interesting. When the topic changes to Josh’s former flame, Chloe (Anna Faris), Nat discovers that the two never officially broke up when Chloe departed to Africa for four years. In the kitchen Chloe apologizes to Nat for not realising she didn’t know. The women talk about the constrictions of marriage. Nat’s sister Naomi has issues with her own husband’s annoying habits. Josh’s best man Danny asks Chloe out but is rebuffed.The following day, Nat and her work-colleagues make fun of their new client, Guy Harrap (Simon Baker), the new owner of a bleach company. They believe he will be a stereotypical American who thinks the British are “quaint”. They do not realize that their client has been sitting right there in the same café. Before the meeting, one colleague steals Nat’s wedding ring, believing that the account will have a better chance of success if she appears single. During the meeting, Guy deliberately fulfils their expectations of him: speaking in a brash American way, asking for high-fives and casual fist-bumps, asking Nat to repeat certain words he finds amusing and doing a crude Austin Powers impression. Then when they focus on business talk, he switches to his true self, embarrassing the women for their earlier stereotyping. As he and Nat exit the boardroom, she apologizes for their misjudgment of him, and he says they should get better acquainted for the sake of the account. Feeling the attraction between them, she struggles with telling him she’s married, then ends up leaving without telling him.Josh talks to Chloe about his book while she’s working at a charity office. He invites her to dinner because Nat’s going to a work party that night. Chloe declines, saying she’s going out with her work-colleague Charlie, whom she’s been dating. The scene returns to the marriage-guidance counsellor’s office as the two explain that the realities of marriage do not live up to the fairytale expectation they both had. Unable to focus on his writing, Josh sits at home watching television while Nat’s out jogging. At work, Nat receives a large bouquet of roses from Guy. The couple bicker over domestic issues; Josh leaving the toilet seat up, Nat’s inability to sing the right words to popular songs and their different definitions of the rubbish bin being full. Guy shows Nat around one of the factories he owns, where one of his longest-serving workers expresses approval of her as a potential wife for him. Guy explains that he basically grew up in the factory during his childhood summers. Nat comments that she’s not the marrying type, still unable to tell Guy she’s married.Nat tries to discourage Josh from accompanying her to a work party, but he is determined, irritating her. At the party, he makes a fool of himself with embarrassing dancing and standing next to a poster he can joke about during the night. When he approaches Nat while she’s talking with Guy, she still doesn’t reveal that he is her husband and Guy attempts to shake him off, assuming he’s an unwanted menace. Guy asks her to dinner and Nat declines. Incredibly annoyed at Josh for embarrassing her at the party, she heads home without him. Meanwhile, Chloe and Charlie attend a boring dinner party, then leave early to adjourn to Charlie’s apartment. As they kiss on the bed, Chloe’s colleague Alexandra joins them and Chloe finds herself in an awkward threesome. Feeling too silly to continue, Chloe eventually leaves. The next morning she calls Josh to tell him about it, and he soon turns up at her apartment with coffee and her favourite sweets to cheer her up.Chloe and Josh then go Christmas-shopping. Josh wants to get casserole dishes for Nat but Chloe laughs that this is not a present for a wife and she must help him; they end up at a lingerie shop with Josh uncomfortably trying to make conversation with the shop assistant amongst the shop’s expensive contents. Chloe tries on a lingerie set, and asks Josh what he thinks of it. They end up kissing in the dressing room, although both are embarrassed about it afterwards. Josh ends up buying the lingerie. When Nat meets with Guy at his hotel to discuss their business deal, she rebuffs his attempts to get her into his room. He mentions that he has booked a conference room down the hall, but when Nat enters she finds a romantic dinner complete with doves and a violinist. When Guy makes advances, she finally blurts out that she’s married and can’t leave her husband because it would destroy him, and finally storms out.Guy chases after Nat and they bump into Chloe and Josh on the street. After some initial awkward exchanges, Josh suggests that Chloe and Guy get together and they agree on a double date. Back to the present in the counsellor’s office: Nat explains that they hit a low point around the Christmas period, commenting that her husband’s family are weird—in particular his mother. Josh retaliates that Nat’s family were not overly friendly towards him. The scene shifts to a Christmas family reunion at Nat’s parents’, where a series of embarrassing incidents revolving around Josh occur. Josh unwittingly but clumsily offends Nat’s grandmother during a game of charades, Nat’s father makes him sleep on the upper deck of a bunk bed of a young female relative, and Nat’s parents giving Josh a pair of books titled How to Be a Successful Writer and How to Stop Wasting Your Life. At the end of the visit, while leaving her parents’ house, Nat confronts Naomi about why she stays with her husband as they clearly hate each other. Naomi says that they both “embrace the hatred” and that is what marriage is about. Even though she admits there could be something better out there for her, she ultimately loves her husband.Nat and Josh have a conversation about his suggestion of Chloe dating Guy. The two talk about the prospects of both of them as romantic interests. The four meet for dinner, and spend the evening playing pool. Chloe and Guy seem to hit it off, happily competing against Nat and Josh. Nat becomes more frustrated with Josh’s clumsy and patronising attempt to teach her how to play properly, as well as with her growing jealousy towards Chloe, who can play well. They leave the bar, and Nat asks Guy to talk about packaging details, intending to meet Josh back at their flat afterwards. Chloe and Josh depart together, while Nat and Guy go the other direction. After a moment, Nat passionately kisses Guy, resulting in the ripping of the underwear bought for her by Josh.Meanwhile, Josh attempts to discourage Chloe’s attraction to Guy, and she admits she is and has always been still in love with him, lamenting that Josh never stopped her from leaving and insisting that their current circumstances are impossible, that they cannot see each other anymore. When Nat returns home, she and Josh talk about their relationship. After nine months they decide to get help instead of giving up on their marriage. This leads us back to the counsellor’s office, who ultimately advises them to try to make it to the one-year marker. The couple then put up with each other’s quirks over the next few months, eventually making it to their anniversary. Nat brings out the same expensive lingerie for the special occasion, and struggles to do it up because of two broken hooks, remembering the circumstances in which they were broken—her with Guy. Josh meanwhile leaves the flat, telling Nat he’s remembered he has to do something and that he will meet her at the restaurant. He races to Chloe’s apartment, only to find that she is heading off in a cab with Guy, whom she embraces lovingly. Nat contemplates phoning Guy, but then decides to go to the restaurant, where her friends and family are there waiting to surprise the couple. After failing to contact Josh, Nat sits down. She discovers that their friends didn’t think her marriage would last. Josh makes it to the restaurant party, and tells Nat that he thinks she is the perfect wife, just not for him. He asks her for a divorce and she immediately and delightedly agrees. The couple rejoice at the situation, and immediately leave the party one after the other.Meanwhile, Guy and Chloe are at the railway station waiting to go to Paris on a romantic trip. Josh finds them and professes his love for Chloe. When it’s discovered that he split up with Nat, the two are shocked. Nat appears behind Josh, who awkwardly assumed he is the one she wants to speak to, but it turns out she was there for Guy. After a short exchange they happily discuss how perfect Guy and Chloe are for them. In the end, Chloe and Guy mutually break up. Nat ends up kissing Guy and Chloe shares a kiss with Josh.I really enjoyed this movie! It’s a laugh-out-loud romcom, which is genuinely unconventional. It is awkward in all the right places. This movie is clearly making fun of mainstream romcoms. Definitely worth checking out.

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)

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.

REVIEW: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

CAST

Bill Murray (Lost In Translation)
Laura Linney (Sully)
Samuel West (Van Helsing)
Olivia Coleman (Hot Fuzz)
Elizabeth Marvel (A Most Violent Year)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Elizabeth Wilson (Catch-22)
Andrew Havill (Dad’s Army)
Martin McDougall (Green Zone)

Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)In spring 1939, Sara Delano, the mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt, asks his sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley to visit the ill President of the United States at their country estate in Hyde Park, New York. Although Daisy and Roosevelt had not seen each other for years, the distant relatives form a romantic relationship, and Roosevelt often asks Daisy to visit Hyde Park when he stays with his mother. Daisy becomes one of the several women close to Roosevelt, including Sara; Missy LeHand, the president’s secretary; and Eleanor, the president’s wife. Despite his power, the president is often unable to control the other women; the quiet, shy Daisy is his confidante, and he tells her that Top Cottage will be their shared refuge after his presidency.In June 1939, King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visit the United States, during which they stay with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park. The British hope that the visit will improve the chances of American support during the future war with Germany. George—who is king because his brother Edward VIII abdicated—is nervous, because of the importance of the visit, because he stutters, and because of having to eat a hot dog for the first time at a picnic in his honor. Roosevelt reassures George by citing his own inability to walk, and observes that others do not see their handicaps because “it’s not what they want to see”. The president tells the king that he hopes to overcome Americans’ reluctance to help Britain.Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)The night the king and queen arrive, Daisy discovers LeHand is having an affair with Roosevelt. LeHand tells a shocked Daisy that their respective relationships with the president are not his only ones, mentioning Dorothy Schiff and Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, and that Daisy must accept sharing Roosevelt with other women. At the picnic the next day the king successfully eats a hot dog for a photo op, and Daisy, in a voiceover, states that the visit helped the two countries form a Special Relationship. Daisy rejects Roosevelt’s requests to see her until he calls on her in person; they reconcile, and Daisy accepts her role as one of the president’s mistresses. As years pass, Daisy watches Roosevelt become frail as a wartime leader; nonetheless everyone, she says, “still [looked] to him, still seeing whatever it was they wanted to see”.Bill Murray and Laura Linney in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)Hyde Park on Hudson had its moments. I liked seeing King George VI eat hotdogs, the Queen smoke cigarettes, and FDR go swimming in a turn of the century bathing suit. However this film could have been so much better. It felt like Nelson forgot about his own plot. The gaps he left were huge and left me wondering why there were so many lose ends. The script needs to be beefed up and full cooked. There’s still pink in this meat.

 

REVIEW: HOT FUZZ

CAST
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Nick Frost (Paul)
Matin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Stuart Wilson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Jim Broadbent (Gangs of New York)
Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Stephen Merchant (The Big Bang Theory)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Lucy Punch (Into The Woods)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Olivia Coleman (The Favourite)
Bill Bailey (Chalet Girl)
Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man)
Alice Lowe (Prevenge)
David Bradley (The World’s End)
Steve Coogan (Philomena)
Peter Jackson (King Kong)
Police Constable Nicholas Angel, a high-achieving member of the Metropolitan Police Service, is promoted to Sergeant but it comes with being transferred to the village of Sandford, Gloucestershire, for being too good at his job while making his colleagues look bad by comparison due to his skills. Angel finds the town is generally devoid of any crime, with its local Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) helping to keep the peace as everyone prepares for the “Village of the Year” award contest. Angel finds minor instances of disorderly conduct, during which he confiscates a shed full of unlicensed fire arms including a naval mine, pursues an escaped swan, and arrests a drunk driver who turns out to be his new partner PC Danny Butterman, the son of town chief Inspector, Frank Butterman.
Just as Sgt. Angel begins to despair at Sandford’s apparent tranquility, the town is struck by a series of deaths. Angel begins to suspect a serial killer is afoot and that the murders are linked, although Danny seems more concerned with discussing his love of action and buddy cop films. Furthermore, the rest of the police force refuse to believe the deaths were deliberate and pass them off as mere accidents. Eventually, Angel’s investigations lead him to accuse the local supermarket manager, NWA member Simon Skinner, of the murders, but is rebuffed when Skinner’s alibi is backed up by video footage. Dejected, Angel considers the possibility of more than one killer being involved, but after this idea is shot down by Inspector Butterman, he returns home. As he opens his door, though, Angel is attacked by a cloaked figure, who turns out to be an employee at Skinner’s supermarket. Angel subdues the man, then impersonates him over a walkie-talkie to discover Skinner’s whereabouts.
Arriving at a meeting of the Sandford NWA, Angel confronts the group and tries to arrest them. They confess they are collectively carrying out the murders of any residents who could cause Sandford not to be crowned Village of the Year. Inspector Butterman then reveals himself to be the leader of the group, explaining that he is motivated by the memory of his late wife Irene, who committed suicide after her efforts to win that title were foiled by a group of “gypsies”. Upon hearing this, the Sergeant is forced to flee, but he becomes trapped in a crypt where he discovers the bodies of the NWA’s ill-fated victims. It seems that Angel is about to be caught, when Danny suddenly appears and stabs him, causing the Sergeant to lose consciousness. He awakens in Danny’s car, where the younger Butterman reveals he only faked Angel’s murder to cover his escape. Danny begs his partner to leave Sandford for his own safety.
Initially Angel plans to follow Danny’s wishes, but has a change of heart en route to London when he notices some of Danny’s favourite films for sale at a service station. He proceeds to return to Sandford, arms himself with the previously confiscated guns, and reunites with Danny. After a firefight with NWA townsfolk, the two policemen rally their fellow officers and besiege Skinner’s supermarket, eventually forcing Skinner to flee. Angel and Danny give chase, catching up to Skinner in the village’s miniature scale-model town and confronting both him and the elder Butterman, in turn. Sgt. Angel and Danny finally succeed in arresting them, after a fist fight and a swan-induced car crash.
Some time later, Angel declines a request to return to his job on the London force to remain in Sandford. As he and the other police officers process paperwork related to their recent activities, the last NWA member at liberty, Prof. Weaver, bursts into the station and attempts to kill Sgt. Angel. As the officers attempt to disarm him, he stumbles into the confiscated sea mine and triggers it. Angel and the others manage to survive the ensuing explosion which destroys the station. One year later, Angel and Danny are in charge of the Sandford Police as Inspector and Sergeant, respectively.
The film certainly keeps you entertained and interested. Its a sort of who-dunnit with a funny twist. If you love British humour, you will probably like this movie.