Very much an over-60s film, this Argentian movie looks at a long-term marriage that breaks up after the only son leaves home. Like all good comedies, it has a bit of an edge to it, as these middle aged characters negotiate Tindr, Instagram and the complexities of pulling apart two lives that have become integrated after years of marriage. I guess you’d call it a rom-com, which is not my normal fare, but I really enjoyed it.
Spanish with English subtitles
My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Usually I rail and rant when a film ostensibly ‘based on a true story’ makes changes, but I didn’t feel this way with this film. ‘Red Joan’ is based on the true story of Melita Norwood, who used her position as secretary at the innocuous-sounding Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association to pass nuclear secrets to Russia. The film has shifted the action to Cambridge University, and made ‘Joan’ a brilliant student, rather than a secretary. But in this case, I didn’t mind. It’s usually the most dramatic scene of the film that prompts the most egregious truestory-to-film changes, and in this case it’s the scene of an elderly woman giving a press conference in her garden. There was a fidelity both to this event and the impetus behind it, so if the producers decided to go for Cambridge scenery and a bit of a feminist nudge, that’s okay with me. Judy Dench doesn’t appear much in the film, which is a series of present day/ flashback sequences, and really the film belongs more to Sophie Cookson, who plays the young Joan. The two actresses are well cast because it didn’t strain credulity to believe that they were playing the same character.
My rating: 4 stars.
Chela and Chiquita are a lesbian couple who have lived for decades in Chela’s crumbling family home. When Chiquita is sent to jail for fraud, Chela continues living in the home, selling off furniture and paintings, and gradually carving out her own life without the enveloping presence of Chiquita, who is far more gregarious and assertive. Set in Paraguay and spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, it’s a good exploration of power within a relationship, and the slow flowering of independence and identity in middle age.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
I was rather disappointed in this film. It felt like a clunky, poorly-written stage show, with buffoonish parodies of the villains. It was a very wordy film, probably because much of the speechifying was taken from the orations at the time and, as one of the characters says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. Many of the working-class characters felt like parodies- as if they were in a Monty Python movie.
However, it wasn’t all bad. The approach towards the protesters was more nuanced, picking up on the differences of political strategy and levels of education, and the tension leading up to the Peterloo massacre was well held. It was odd that there was no explanation of the fall-out from the massacre – perhaps because only 18 died? – and the consequences were political in terms of more repression, which doesn’t fit well into a “what happened next” paragraph?
I think I just expected more from a director of Mike Leigh’s stature.
My rating: 3/5
Counting up on Wikipedia, Nicole Kidman’s filmography comes out at more than 60 movies. She can be forgiven, then, for the occasional dud. But Destroyer isn’t a dud, and she is brilliant. Told in present day, where Kidman plays haggard, dysfunctional cop Erin Bell, the film flashes back where she plays that same cop some 30 years earlier, operating undercover in a gang that holds up a bank with tragic consequences. There’s a fair bit of violence in the film, both in the present day and flashback sequences, and rather too much of ‘old’ Kidman staring impassively at the camera. The makeup is excellent, as ‘young’ Kidman doesn’t look all that different to how she looked 30 years ago in her early films. Certainly, there’s little of the cool sophistication of many of the characters she tends to play now.
My rating: 4 stars
The adult children of a middle-aged couple are shocked when their mother dies mysteriously in the kitchen of their suburban home. The son-in-law suspects that the father has killed her, and the daughters are faced with the dilemma of supporting their surviving parent as the accusations mount up. It’s described as a thriller, but I saw it more as a family drama, although the end was pretty graphic.
The movie is subtitled in English (even though the trailer is not), but the Spanish wasn’t too fast.
Manual Lopez-Vidal is a politician who has been on the take for years, and it has funded his affluent, elite lifestyle. Now that he is about to be exposed, he is determined to bring everyone else down with him. At first a political movie, it takes on the aspect of a thriller as incriminating flashdrives are sought, found and handed on, and the closing scenes on a television set reminded me a bit of ‘The Hour’ as the tension rises.
Just as well it’s subtitled- I could barely catch a thing.