The Death of Stalin ****

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 MV5BMTcxMDc1NjcyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDU0NDYxMzI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_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.

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Blade Runner 2049 ****

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.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle *****

This is the second film of the Kingsman franchise, and on this form, not the last.

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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.

The Limehouse Golem *****​

The Limehouse Golem has a great deal going for it.

Limehouse Golem

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.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard *****

Starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a rip-roaring high adventure set in the UK and Holland.

It is full of gun fights, explosions and enormous body count, all delivered in the familiar overblown style of such stories and punctuated by the inevitable expletives so associated with Jackson.

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It sits happily alongside many other similar films such as London Has Fallen and all the Mission Impossible stories.

What elevates this above the other movies is the performance, humour and chemistry between the two lead actors.

They appear to have had a ball making this film and it comes through the screen to the audience.

A great laughter and destruction festival, not to be taken seriously but enjoyed for what it is.

I left the cinema with a sense of satisfaction and a broad smile on my face.

The full 5 out of five stars for this excellent film.

The Dark Tower **

This film is based on the final book in Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series.

We are presented with the good guy Roland (Idris Elba) and the bad guy Walter (Matthew McConaughey) ready-made.  There is no real character building attempted so making it difficult to cheer for the hero or boo the baddie.

Neither appears to be totally good or evil, other than wanting to kill each other and destroy or protect The Dark Tower.

UnknownAll we know of this tower is that it is at the centre of everything.

Into this mix comes a troubled boy who has visions of The Dark Tower etc.

This is then all mixed together in a recipe of Sci-fi, Western and Coming of Age genres to produce a very bland, soggy bottomed, sponge of a film.

With little of Stephen King’s trademark horror or complexity, it has clearly been diluted to get a 12A certificate.

I hope the younger audience members will get more from it than I did, even be inspired to read the original stories.

Could easily have been a lot better. Shame.

Just 2 out of five stars this time.

Atomic Blonde ***

A film for adults during the school holidays is always welcome and this one does not by-and-large disappoint.

A spy thriller set at the end of the cold war makes a rich environment for fast paced violent action, peppered with some bare flesh and ‘adult cuddles’ that will sit well with Bond fans. Atomic Blonde There are also enough twists and turns in the plot to keep Le Carré readers happy.

But that is also where the problem lays.

The first hour and thirty minutes give a really good film worth 4 stars if not five.

However, as we reach the climax, it all gets so confusing.

I lost the plot completely.  Call me Confused of Guildford.

It must have taken me a good couple of hours of replaying the scenes in my head to work out who was as the good, the bad and the ugly.  I think I understand now, but I could still be wrong.

If you do see this film, I suspect you may get the ending far sooner than your humble writer.

For that reason alone I give this film 3 out of five stars.