Category Archives: Movies 2018

Movie: On Chesil Beach

This film is taken from Ian McEwans novella, which ran to only 160 odd pages. From memory, it was an excruciating painful book to read, full of silences and the lack of language. I was left with a feeling of the small tragedy and pathos of it all.

That novella has been padded for this film, and everywhere the padding is, it veers off course. Even though Ian McEwan himself was involved in the production of the film, the ending is just awful and all I could do was look at the prosthetics and think about how implausible the whole scenario was.  Despite excellent acting from the wonderful Saoirse Ronan, the film’s a bit of a slow dud.

My rating: 2.5/5 (or may be 3 once I get over my annoyance at the ending)

Movie: Summer 1993


This film, set in Catalonia and directed by Carla Simon, is autobiographical, telling the story of six-year old Frida whose mother has died. She is sent to live with her uncle and his wife and young daughter in the countryside, even though she is very close to a single aunt who remains in the city.  The young actress Laia Artigas is excellent, capturing both the deep sadness and passivity of a young bereaved child, and the joy of just being alive and feeling loved. The film is very much taken from the child’s point of view, and yet you can so easily empathize with the uncle’s wife who has most of the care of her husband’s niece; with the aunt who loves Frida so much, and with the grandparents who are now so distant. The movie is in Catalan with subtitles, and it’s a very quiet film where things move very slowly, with a sense of impending danger.  The sadness at the end snuck up on me -just as it did the characters in the film- and I found myself crying again when telling my husband about it.

My rating: 4.5/5

Movie: The Wife


Glenn Close is absolutely brilliant in this film as the wife of a Nobel-Prize winning writer. He is receiving plaudits for his body of literature while she, as a once-aspiring writer, has been at his side. She glowers with barely-repressed anger and disdain at her philandering, egotistical husband, and while the film is a bit predictable, it’s a pleasure to watch Close’s performance. The overwhelmingly-female audience with whom I watched it groaned and audibly hissed at times. The casting of the young and older wife character was sensitive,and it was not hard to accept that the older actress was playing the same character as the younger one.  Glenn Close herself was beautiful and complex.  Loved it.

My rating: 5/5

Movie: Mary Shelley

It’s the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and so there’s been quite a bit about both the book and its author around this year.  This film, directed by Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour looks at Mary Shelley as daughter, sister and partner as well as writer. I liked the way that it emphasized the importance of Shelley’s impoverished father William Godwin and mother Mary Wollstonecraft as intellectuals, although their radicalism was downplayed. The film finishes on rather a high note with the publication of the second edition, although it could have extended even further where the loss and poverty of Shelley’s life became even more tragic.  However, while mentally cheering inside, I don’t know that I actually buy the suggestion that the book was written as Shelley’s jab at the two monstrous men in her life, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron (who is particularly creepy in the this film.) Elle Fanning is luminous, and it’s beautifully staged.

My rating: 3.5 stars (of 5)

Movie: The Bookshop

I think that all keen readers have a secret fantasy to own a bookshop, don’t they? (Until they think about the economics of the book industry, the presence of e-books and the competition of supermarkets, that is.)  So, like the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a feel-good movie for booklovers.  Bill Nighy plays his usual gruff but loveable older man (who becomes more attractive the older he and I both become) and Emily Mortimer plays a sweet, wounded thing who doesn’t deserve such bastardry. The foreshadowing is clunky and so the ending is thoroughly predictable.  But it’s a pleasant little thing, that makes you feel like popping into a bookshop to buy a book on the way home.

My rating: 3 stars.

Movie: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Somehow or other this book slipped past me, even though I now find that lots of people have read it.  It’s a satisfying little love story, nicely self-contained, with a strong feel-good factor. I must confess that I knew nothing about Guerney’s World War II history. And what book-lover couldn’t enjoy a film about other people who love books?

My rating: 3.5 stars

Movie: The Post

[Actually, I saw this film two months ago and forgot to post this review.  I often refer back to this blog when I can’t remember whether I’ve seen a film or not, so here goes…a review of a film that’s no longer screening]

This movie has both the big heavy hitters: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks who of course make acting look so simple that it barely seems as if they are acting. Having said that, I didn’t recognize Tom Hanks at first, so he was playing someone other than Tom Hanks.  It is, of course, the story of Katharine Graham’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, the forerunner to Watergate (to my shame, I wasn’t completely sure that they were two separate events).

The Smithsonian Mag has an interesting article about the authenticity of the film. They point out that Graham wasn’t quite as innocent and untried as the film suggests, because she had been running the paper for eight years previously.  They also point out that Graham was strongly involved in the decision to publish the Watergate papers too, even though she is almost expunged completely in All the President’s Men.

The film is produced by Steven Spielberg, who can be relied on to over-egg the pudding and he does it here too, with music so intrusive and such a wave of feel-good-ness at the end that it almost felt like a parody.

I found myself wondering whether it had been written post-Trump, as so many of the themes (freedom of the press, influence of the government, women) are so relevant right this minute. Apparently, the Smithsonian Mag article claims, the film rights were sold a week before the 2016 election.

The film underlines the importance of the press – a paid, professional, independent press. It made me feel a little smug and self-righteous but also proud that I continue to subscribe to several newspapers (even though I have a love-hate relationship with them all at one stage or another.)  I also feel a little frisson of pride that the Unitarian Universalist publishing arm, Beacon Press, was involved in the very risky act of publishing the first full edition of the Papers. You can read more about it here.

Movie: The Chess Player

<p><a href=”″>THE CHESS PLAYER – Trailer with English subtitles</a> from <a href=”″>Latido Films</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Well,  I can’t embed it so you’ll just have to follow the link to the trailer. I saw this as part of the Spanish Film Festival, in amongst what seemed to be a whole lot of comedies that did not attract me in the least.  I enjoyed it, but it felt a bit like ‘Dr Zhivago’ meets ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ . It seemed rather dated in its narrative, as if it had stepped out of the 1970s, but it was beautifully filmed.

I was able to follow the Spanish relatively well, but thank God for subtitles!




Movie: The Shape of Water

I loved this movie.  Old-fashioned and wistful, heart-warming, with very bad baddies and enough magic realism to make you smile. I’ve heard it likened to a cross between ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which rings true to me.

My rating: 5 out of 5.

Movie: I, Tonya

I really enjoyed this.  It’s filmed as a mockumentary and it places competing narratives against each other. After seeing the film, we watched ‘Tonya Harding: The Price of Gold” which is available on SBS On Demand.  I’m really glad that we went from the movie re-enactment to the documentary and not the other way round.  Margot Robbie was excellent, as was Allison Janney who played her chilling mother.  The documentary was actually the source inspiration for the film, and seeing them almost side-by-side, yo realize just how well Robbie picks up on Harding’s brittleness.  The film gives more weight to the domestic and emotional violence that was wrought all round.

Really good.

My rating: 5 stars.