The Death of Stalin has bee created by Armando Iannucci and David Schneider. You can expect the foul language and biting dark humour of Iannucci’s various television projects for which he is famous.
A large cast of recognisable actors inhabit the characters at the top of Russians political and military hierarchy. These include Jason Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambour, Michael Palin and Paul Whitehouse.
The events before and after the death of Stalin are treated as a pantomime of opposing ambitions, jealousy and incompetence. However, custard pies are replaced by copious numbers of executions. Running in parallel are stories of families torn open by divisions, massacres and exploitation.
On top of this is the paranoid fear of Stalin that is ingrained into the population, from politicians to musicians and housekeepers who looked after him. This is made believable by not making the actors adopt stereotypical Russian accents. Their natural voices are used to great effect to portray the mix of regions they came from within Russia. It also makes the cacophony of arguing voices easier to follow.
In our age of less than conventional politicians, it is only too easy to suspect the events as shown in this film, may be underplaying the reality of what really happened when Stalin died.
This is a well made political satire. Four out of five stars awarded.
You certainly get value for money from Blade Runner 2049, running at 2 hours 44 minutes.
Fortunately the director has filled that time to great advantage. Weaving a complex and compelling tale, this story is set in same dystopian world of the original Blade Runner.
If you liked the original, this film answers many of the questions raised by the first.
Ryan Goslings performance is very good, encapsulating his character very well. It has to be said that the film only comes to life towards the latter part when Harrison Ford appears.
If you haven’t seen or did not like the original, I fear this would not impress you and probably leave you wondering why you bothered.
I would strongly recommend seeing the original first if you have not already done so or just to refresh your memory.
So this is a good, possibly great and definitely cult movie.
As a fan, it gets 4 stars out of five from me.
This is the dramatized biography of Christopher Robin Milne, son of the author Alan Milne and inspiration for the Winnie The Poo books.
A total of five actors are employed to portray Christopher, from baby to adult. The casting director did a good job in selecting actors with sufficient resemblance to convince the audience of the continuity.
These boys, in turn, produce incredible performances, giving a vivid insight into a dysfunctional family from the child’s viewpoint.
The film also provides a terrifying insight into middle class family life during the inter-war period.
But the heart of the story is how fame and fortune, being forced on a young person, when all they want is the love of their parents, can produce very unhappy adults.
I was struck by the thought as I watched that this film was an allegory for the many young stars of today who ‘go bad’ as adolescents.
This film carries a PG certificate but I would say it is certainly not a film for young children.
It may even leave adults reading Winnie the Poo in a different light.
The full 5 out of five for this emotional rollercoaster.
This is the second film of the Kingsman franchise, and on this form, not the last.
Yes it’s time to release our 14-year-old selves and suspend disbelief for 141 minutes in our busy lives.
The writers’, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan, have created another rip-roaring, rooting-tooting extravaganza that keeps the viewer riveted to their seats. The fantastic soundtrack matches the action brilliantly, raising your pulse rate over and over again.
A great cast, obviously enjoying their chance to overact like crazy, do a fine job of representing their comic-book characters perfectly.
I would especially highlight the two animal actors, both puppy dogs, who are used to great emotional effect.
I doubt there will be any major prizes for this film but you will be awarded with a very enjoyable piece of entertainment.
The full 5 out of five stars for this piece of glorious hokum.
Judy Dench makes a triumphant return to her portrayal of Queen Victoria (see Mr and Mrs Brown) as she approaches the end of her life. Dressed in perpetual mourning for Prince Albert, and perhaps also the loss of John Brown, her life is less than stimulating. The arrival of an Indian servant, Abdul Karim, at Court, triggers this story.
Based on a true story (almost) and the recently discovered journal of Abdul, the Director and Dame Judy give us a delightful and yet sad story of love, intrigue and betrayal. There are several laugh out loud scenes, many based on the Queens sharp tongue.
Filmed with great attention to detail and in beautiful surroundings, this is also a delight for the eye.
A special mention for Eddie Izzard, as Bertie, Prince of Wales. He is totally convincing in this supporting role and I hope he is recognised for it at the BAFTAs.
I did feel that some of the supporting characters were rather cartoonish or stereotypical flunkies.
For that reason, I give 4 out of five stars to Victoria and Abdul.
The Limehouse Golem has a great deal going for it.
It is based on the novel by Peter Ackroyd and then turned into a tight, witty and gripping script by Jane Goldman.
Bill Nighy takes the male lead. He delivers an excellent, gripping performance of a gentle but tortured soul in a harsh world.
Olivia Cooke as the protagonist also gives a fine portrayal, mixing light and dark, truth and lies with a fine touch.
Do not be misled by the Golem in the title. This is neither a horror story nor fantasy. It is a drama based on the reality of Victorian East London just prior to the reign of Jack the Ripper.
Those who have enjoyed the TV series ‘Ripper Street’ will be well satisfied by this tale. Fans of Mr Nighy will be delighted with his return to top form.
One of the best films this summer, well deserving of 5 out of five stars.
This is a comedy crime caper story set around the American motor sports world. Sounds exciting but sadly there is minimal car racing involved.
It draws on the idea that stupid and ignorant people, trying to do something complicated, is a legitimate type of humour. I found is shallow and without merit.
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play brothers. One is a disabled veteran, the other is down at heel and struggling to maintain access to his child.
Carrying the story is an experienced criminal, almost unidentifiable as Daniel Craig, using a strange Appalachian accent and bleach blond hair.
The plot is pleasingly complex and contains some good twists and surprises.
However, the overall experience is not as good as one might have expected from this cast.
As crime thrillers go, this is not The Sting but more like a poor Dukes of Hazzard.
A disappointing 2 out of five stars.