Finding Your Feet ****

Finding your feet is a lovely little film, in the English tradition of light domestic stories told with emotion and humour.

Full of British TV and Film stars, most notably Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, David Hayman, Celia Imrie, and Joanna Lumley.

It is produced and directed by even more of our great British talented people, including those behind the wonderful A Street Cat Named Bob just last year.

The plot encompasses loss in many forms and also survival from those losses.  It also features the best death scene ever, certainly the way I would like to go.

It is told with great kindness for the characters.  There are no big villains, although some are very cruel by their unthinking actions, eventually to be saved.

Happy endings for every character; a feeling of having been hugged for the audience.

I can imagine watching this film again at home over Christmas in front of a warm fire with cosy slippers and a nice glass of sherry.

A well earned 4 out of 5 stars.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle *****

Many of you will fondly remember the 1996 Jumanji film, starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst. You can rest assured that the new chapter of Jumanji will not tarnish those memories but add another set of family memories.Jumanji 1

The story picks up on the Jumanji Box that contained the original board game and what happened to it since 1996.

The writers have come up with a believable fantasy that whisks you back to the game with tremendous passion, humour and originality.

The four adult actors, Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan, give fantastic portrayals of juveniles thrust into adulthood and coming of age.

Indeed, I would claim that these are probably the best performances they have ever given.

This is far and away the best family film of the season, if not the year.

I would go so far as to say, this beats the pants off Star Wars (and I am an avid Star Wars fan).

So for my best family film of 2017, the full 5 stars out of five.

The Man Who Invented Christmas *****

This is a beautiful little film about how and why our most cherished author, Charles Dickens, came to write A Christmas Carol.

The cast consists of a large ensemble of top British acting talents. The script is sharp, humorous without descending into farce and very entertaining.

It does not take a straight biographical narrative but turns the story into an allegory, in the style of Dickens himself.

The fearful side of early 19th century London life is well represented, while at the same time; the viewers’ sympathetic and nostalgic emotions are gently stirred to a crescendo at the climax of the story.

I predict this film will become a staple television entertainment of Christmases yet to come, just as the Christmas Carol itself has.

First class family entertainment so 5 stars out of five for this seasonal treat.

Thor: Ragnarok *****

The latest offering from the Marvel universe, Thor Ragnarok, sees the return of Thor, as brought to life by Chris Hemsworth.

Aimed at the 12-year-old audience, the violence is almost bloodless and profanities are kept to the mild end of the spectrum. Layered on top of this is a plethora of adult targeted jokes and characterisations that should keep most grownups laughing.

In this story Thor faces two different baddies. The first is Cate Blanchett as Thor’s very bad, big sister Hela. The second is Jeff Goldblum as possibly the funniest and campest dictator in cinema history.

I felt rather sorry for Ms Blanchett, great actor as she is, because Goldblum dominates the story with a far richer and funnier part.

The action sequences are very impressive as is normal now, but for once, the script is equally good, blending the various story lines smoothly, while keeping the plot moving and maintaining the very funny humour.

I laughed out loud frequently and left the cinema feeling refreshed and happy.

I can’t expect much more than that from any film.

The result is therefore 5 out of five stars for this outstanding superhero tale.

Logan Lucky **

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.

maxresdefaultThe 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.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream *****

This is the first of an occasional series of live theatre reviews.

Guildford is lucky to be the home of the Guildford Shakespeare Company (@GuildfordBard).  They are famous for its summer outdoor productions and using unusual venues at other times of the heat.

June saw their first outdoor offering, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The location is in the ancient quarry, Racks Close, just 200 meters from the High Street.  This offers multiple natural stages for the action.

The cast gave us a fabulously reimagined story, set in and around the Dennis Fire Engine factory in the mid sixties, while retaining the Bards original text.

Sadly this show is now closed but, The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs 14-29 July, University of Law Gardens, Guildford.  Get these hot tickets before they are all gone.

I give the Guildford Shakespeare Company my full 5 stars out of five.

#guildfordbard, @guildfordbard

Despicable Me 3

Despicable Me 3The makers of the Minions franchise are to be congratulated on the forth film which has maintained the incredible standards set in the earlier films.

The now familiar Gru household faces a number of domestic and financial changes that drive the various plots with speed, excitement and great humour

The inevitable fart jokes are still funny and the ‘for the parents’ jokes are subtle and witty.

Plenty of fun for the whole family.

I rather hope the series is rested now for a few years to give room for growth and reinvigoration of the series. It would be fascinating to see the cute little girls as rebellious teenagers and Gru’s reaction.

I therefore award it a very well earned 4 stars out of five