Lady Macbeth ***

First let me explain that this is not Shakespeare but an adaptation of a novel ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk’ in which the author, Nikolai Leskov, likens his central character to the Scottish Queen.

This is a BBC Films produced period drama set in the 19th century in an unspecified location. Northumberland lends its desolate coastline and countryside to the movie. This creates a feel of isolation, menace and loneliness that is fundamental to the story’s mood.

Lady MacbethThe actress, Florence Pugh, conveys these emotions vividly while remaining appearing calm and scheming. A great cast of largely unknown actors surrounds Pugh. They portray very unpleasant men and non-supportive women drawing out our sympathy for the Pugh character.
However this is not a film I fell in love with. Its long periods of silence left me confused at time. I am sure this is a great piece of story telling but not my cup of tea.

NB.   Warnings for language, rough sex and violence are attached by the BBFC.

I give this 3 out of five.
On limited release at some cinemas.

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Their Finest ***

This film fits nicely into the uniquely British domestic light weigh rom-com that we make so well but never achieve greatness. The sort of film that will become a staple of wet Sunday afternoons. A familiar friend that does not offend, threaten or disappoint.

It is sTheir finestet in the early years of WW2 and centred on the Government Film Unit. A haphazard group of characters sharing their ups & downs, tragedy & success.

The familiar cast of British talent is lead by Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy give convincing performances but not their finest. Bill Nighy does his excellent Bill Nighy performance.

A rather disappointed 3 out of five stars.

Denial ****

Denial is another excellent BBC Films offering, following on from The Viceroys House earlier this year.

Denial.jpg

This is a classic legal drama set in the London High Court just a few years ago. Rachel Weisz leads the excellent British cast with Timothy Spall as the cultured, suave but evil villain.

The trial centres on the Holocaust and the abuse free speech to challenge the truth. It explores our legal system with its idiosyncrasies. I didn’t know, for example, that in libel cases you are ‘guilty till proved innocent’, unlike the law in the US. I hope I have understood this correctly.

I found this to be a real treat for the brain being entertaining, informative and moving film.

I give Denial 4 stars out of five.

Fast & Furious 8 ****

This is the latest in the long running franchise based around baddies turned goodies lead by Vin Diesel.

It maintains the vitality of its predecessors but does not change what the fans like, action, cars and loud explosions. There is nothing threatening for the viewer such as remorse, compassion, blood or anything really new.

If you are already a fan these films and similar, including the Clarkson era Top Gear then I am sure you will enjoy it.

Personally my internal 14-year-old spirit was very content when I left the cinema.

I am happy to give this film 4 out of five.

Ghost in the Shell ***

This is a science fiction tale set in a dystopian future against a landscape that will be familiar to fans of Blade Runner. It has none of the optimism of a Star Trek film or humour found in Guardians of the Galaxy.Ghost in the Sh

It occupies the small universe of Japanese Manga novels. The original animated film wasvery true to the artistic vision of the novel and this live/CGI edition brings the flat page imagery to life is stunning detail.

This does not necessarily clarify the complex narrative. This may well appeal to the game playing community or Sci-Fi addicts, indeed I found it much better that others had led me to expect.

The film has been given a 12A certificate, but I would not expect children would get bored quite quickly.

The narrow appeal must mean I cn only give it 3 out of five stars.

Showing over the Easter period.Ghost in the Sh

Beauty and the Beast *****

Having been absent for a couple of weeks and deprived of my movie fix, I was seriously looking forward to seeing Beauty and the Beast.

Would I be disappointed?

Could it posBeauty and the Beastsibly live up to the magic I remembered from the animated version?

Phew – it is actually better.

The story is told robustly, with richly embroidered characters that you soon come to care about or wish to hiss like the pantomime baddie they are.

Within 30 seconds to the start, my foot started moving to the music and did not stop till I left the cinema, something La La Land totally failed to achieve.

The animation and background artists have produced a beautiful world that you can believe to be 18th century France.

Most important of all, the cast are all first cast, both human, animated and CGI.

Emma Watson gives a convincing performance and sings beautifully.

Disney also includes plenty of adult pleasing lines and reflect modern society in very funny and appropriate ways. I cannot say how or when, after all this is a No Spoiler Review

Kong: Skull Island *****

Something strange has happened with this version of Kong.

MV5BMTUwMzI5ODEwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAzNjI2MDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Normally when a remake borrows from other films it becomes an unsatisfying tasteless hodgepodge.

This film borrows heavily from the original 1933 King Kong.

Apocalypse Now inspires some great images almost shot for shot.

As in Star Trek, all the red shirts die, and so on.

But, it is all woven together with love, respect and passion by the filmmakers that it really works.

Add to this a much more 21st century heroic ending for the star of the film, without getting sentimental about it, results in an excellent piece of hokum.

Most of all it reminds us that the biggest monster of all is the one wearing cloth.

How could anybody not like this film?

The full 5 out of five from me.