Random Triple Bill

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, folks, the real life and proper work got in the way for a while. But I'm off today because Storm Ophelia is bearing down on us, so work has magnanimously given us the day off so we can cower at home under the bedsheets. So that give me a chance to bash out a few reviews of some stuff I've watched recently. Like this random triple bill.

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014) is a worthy, if slightly dull account of how physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) overcame debilitating motor neurone disease to become a world-renowned scientist, helped in no small part by the devotion and sacrifices of his wife (Felicity Jones). Redmayne is simply fantastic here, winning a richly-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his convincing portrayal, while Jones does good work opposite him. However, beyond those performances, it's a fairly formulaic and sanitized biopic which never dares to tackle some of the more unsavoury aspects of Hawking's persona. To paraphrase the man himself, its a brief overlong history of time Hawking.

Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, 2012) is a documentary which explores how different people can take different meanings from a film, in this case Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. So five individuals explain how the film is actually about (i) the genocide of Native Americans (ii) the faked Moon landings (iii) the Holocaust (iv) the Minotaur (v) a metaphor for mind-control, interpretations which range from interesting to deluded to inventive to wrong. These theories are presented in a slightly gimmicky manner which uses clips from the film, some of which are doctored, and we never actually see the people offering these opinions which would have been nice. It's not essential viewing, but it is interesting to consider how story is in the eye of the beholder. By the way, you might think this is a review of a film, but it's actually a treatise on the Bay of Pigs fiasco. You just need to look for the clues....

Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg, 2015) is a disappointingly flat adaptation of the classic Thomas Hardy tale. Carey Mulligan is perfectly fine as Bathsheba, the strong-willed, independent woman who is being courted by three different suitors: stolid farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts), rakish soldier (Tom Sturridge) and prosperous, older bachelor (Michael Sheen). But the direction is pedestrian and there's little to invest us in the fates of these characters. To paraphrase Bathsheba, we have good acting and we have handsome production, but we have no need for this insipid film. Read the book instead. Or at least Brodie's notes on it.

Right, I'm off to the storm shelter with my canned goods and a few DVDs, See you on the other side.

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