3 August 2018.
THE CHILDREN ACT (My Lady) ****
This film is an elegant, mature balancing act of sorts. One that will have you enthralled by its passionate reserve, a decidedly British trait, while it juggles moral questions and emotional issues. Public responsibility versus personal anguish. And Richard Eyre, the renowned English theater and TV director, with such excellent films as “Iris” and “Notes on a Scandal” to his credit, has done a brilliant job of bringing Ian McEwan’s intricate novel to the big screen.
A distinguished London High Court judge, beautifully played by Emma Thompson, is so involved with her sensitive cases on family law and ethics that she has neglected her own family life. Her American husband (a fine Stanley Tucci) tries to salvage their marriage, but she retracts further into her work. Her latest case concerns a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who is refusing a crucial blood transfusion because of his religious beliefs. She must decide to rule for his life or his beliefs. She must also face the consequences of an honest admission by her desperate husband. And so she goes to talk to the young boy at his hospital bed.
This is adult drama at its very best, intelligently written, perfectly acted (an early Oscar thought for Thompson?), expertly filmed. You come out of it a puzzled, somewhat pained, but maybe better person…
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT ***1/2
For a complete turnabout, run to this movie and don’t ask why or how, just flow with the action! And glory be, this is action as we’ve never seen, even from the intrepid Tom Cruise, who is brilliant at performing his own dare-devil stunts and upping the thrills in each successive ‘Mission’ film. Forget the chases in “Bullitt”, the Bond films or whatever other blockbuster. Here is the ultimate, done with smarts and fun with the old ‘Mission’ crew, including the amusing Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames as Cruise’s trusty sidekicks.
Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie is back, putting it all together with panache and taking the Mission Impossible gang around the world chasing nuclear threats from a group called the Apostles.
Good for you Tom, for proving those Cruise-haters wrong once again with this breathtaking turn among your more serious works such as, “Born on the 4th of July”, “The Color of Money”, “Rainman”, “Jerry Maguire”, “A Few Good Men”, “The Last Samurai”, “Magnolia”, etc, etc…
It’s been 37 years of an ascending career – that is talent plus staying-power – Bravo!
UNDER THE TREE * (Icelandic)
I have always lauded Icelandic films (“Of Horses and Men”, “Rams”, “Woman at War”) for they have a social context with a tender heart under an austere exterior, often with a quirky sense of humor.
But this one is a gruesome exception, for it is all about the horror of living life stupidly. And it is a constant stream of bitter, nasty ideas and actions that escalate throughout the film, culminating in a sickening conclusion.
This tale of neighbors who are at loggerheads over a tree which casts too much shade on one of their gardens has too many negatives against it. Let’s start with the dull cinematography that casts a greyish haze over the whole film. It almost feels as though you need a cataract operation. Then there are the three different story lines that create one family misery after the other, which makes it a frustrating spiral of hate and resentment. And the whole fiasco is too obvious and mundane in its torpid atmosphere.
You will end up wondering why you bought tickets to this slow, emotional torture. So don’t.
BLOCKERS (Parental Guidance) –
More brain-numbing, lowest common-denominator garbage out of Hollywood. And made for whom? Adolescent, millennials, adults? Do any of us need to be salivating at stupid, below-the-belt ‘humor’ that presumes to titillate by constantly referring to genitals in crass language? Or by showing supposedly ‘caring’ (idiotic) parents chasing their kids around on Prom night, to keep them from getting into ‘trouble’…?!?
Since when has Prom night become the banner moment for the de-flowering of the whole teenage population? Or is it just Hollywood putting these trash ideas into our kids’ heads??
We live in sordid, troubled times….
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.