The Theory of Everything – Blu-ray Review

The Theory of Everything 2

Film
Despite my long-held admiration for Felicity Jones and endless praise for the film I somehow managed to miss The Theory of Everything when it was in cinemas. Perhaps I was annoyed at having to share Jones with the rest of the general public or, more likely, nobody wanted to go and see the film with me knowing that I’d be slack-jawed throughout.

The Theory of Everything follows the romance of Stephen and Jane Hawking (Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones) from their first meeting at University and through their marriage as Stephen slowly becomes more and more dependant on Jane thanks to the onset of motor neurone disease. Tellingly most coverage of the film has focussed on the acting; to some degree on Jones’ performance as the ever-burdened wife but mostly on Redmayne and his brutal portrayal of a man slowly losing control of his body.

The praise for Redmayne is certainly well deserved as he audibly and physically transforms himself throughout the film from a sprightly young student to a wheelchair-bound professor. Most importantly what Redmayne manages to do is maintain the spark and personality that is such a vital part of the real Stephen Hawking. While he may end the film sitting almost immobile in a wheelchair Redmayne’s Stephen never loses his energy. Alongside Redmayne Jones brilliantly plays a woman not just dealing with raising two young children while coping with a demanding husband, but also shows the pain of a deeply religious woman whose husband does not respect her beliefs.

Together Redmayne and Jones portray a couple deeply in love who find their relationship straining when one loses their physical capabilities and the other struggles to find the emotional strength to carry on. Neither are passed off as saints as they both show signs of selfishness and weakness as their love for one another stumbles. It should definitely be noted that this is not a film about a science but a film about love. And while we’re at it, as a great narrator once said, this is not a love story; this is a story about love.

The film is undoubtedly moving and is as good as it is simply because of its strong lead performances; failing to truly wow with its script or direction. As I look back on the film I find I am left with a sense that some of the less loving emotions between Jane and Stephen may have been watered down. Their marriage was far from perfect, understandably considering the circumstances, and the lack of real anger in an otherwise emotionally open film felt suspect. Luckily the actors are skilled enough to distract you from second guessing while you watch the film itself.

These quibbles aside The Theory of Everything is a great showcase for two young British talents, though I suspect they have better films left in their careers. A film worth watching, just maybe not worth watching twice.

(But only just)
The Theory of Everything 1

Extras
This being a period British film looking at people and emotions rather than explosions and special effects the extras on the Blu-ray are limited. What you get are a good number of deleted scenes and a brief documentary Becoming the Hawkings focussing on Redmayne and Jones preparing for their roles.

As far as I can tell the DVD has no special features. The horror!

The Theory of Everything is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

The Invisible Woman – Film Review

The Invisible Woman - Felicity Jones

When watching a romantic drama you are well within your rights to expect the film to deliver two things; both romance and drama. Sadly The Invisible Woman does not satisfy in either of these departments as alas Felicity Jones has returned to films that aren’t quite good enough.

Ralph Fiennes is following up his perfectly fine directorial debut Coriolanus with a period drama about Charles Dickens (played by Fiennes) and his young mistress Nelly (Felicity Jones). Nelly is the invisible woman of the title as her relationship with Dickens is one that is both formally arranged and kept a secret. As a director Fiennes adapts well to the change of pace as The Invisible Woman adopts a much lighter, quieter, and subtler tone to Coriolanus and Ralph is more than capable of coaxing fantastic performances from his cast including, but not limited to, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Hollander, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Sadly the one actor Fiennes fails to properly shepherd is himself. Much as in Coriolanus his performance feels all too stagey and over the top. Fiennes’ Dickens is a bounding man filled with silliness and joy but I could never quite shake the feeling that I was watching a performance rather than a real character. Fiennes’ acting was on display for all to see like seeing a giant zip going down the back of his costume. There is no denying that Ralph Fiennes is a fine actor but when it comes to directing himself on-screen I have so far found him a little too unrestrained and theatrical.

The Invisible Woman - Ralph Fiennes Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones in contrast is fantastic (of course I would say that). Her performance is one of subtlety and nuance which is often stomped out by Fiennes pantomiming around by her side. The film’s strongest moments come in its framing scenes in which an older Nelly is looking back on the affair as she faces moving on with her life. Dickens is now referred to as merely a family friend rather than the greatest love of her life. Jones’ stoney gaze as she walks along a beach contemplating her future and her past is a masterclass in understated performance that Fiennes should spend some time considering.

Back in the period of Nelly’s relationship with Dickens things unravel and the film fails to convince. I never really felt a spark between the pair of supposed lovers and their relationship felt cold and dispassionate as a result. While you could see on the surface why Dickens might be physically attracted to Nelly and she to his stature and confidence they never interacted enough to give one another to fall head over heels in love. We are supposed to believe in a love strong enough for Nelly’s mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) to allow the affair, and for Dickens to betray his wife (a brilliantly rejected and dejected Joanna Scanlan), but frankly it all seemed like they were getting a little carried away.

Without a romance to believe in and no real drama considering everybody pretty much OK-ed the affair, we are left with just a collection of fine performances, one overacting director, and a lot of wigs and bonnets. Not without its merits The Invisible Woman is another case of a good premise going unfulfilled.

The Invisible Woman is in selected UK cinemas on 7th February and is released nationwide on 21st February.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

Evolution of a Rumour: A Guide to Online Journalism

Movies News Headlines - Page 1 - Digital Spy

Filling a film news site isn’t hard. Every day you will be sent dozens of press releases which are ready to be regurgitated as content and lots of brands will email asking to pay you so that they can write articles for your site in exchange for all-important links. And at the end of the day if you run out of sponsored posts, glorified press releases, and competitions you can always just make up a rumour, makes vague references to sources, and post it as if it were fact.

I have been following the casting rumours for Fifty Shades of Grey with vague interest ever since Felicity Jones had her name thrown into the mix by fans of the books. We are fans of Jones here at Mild Concern and the thought of her appearing in what was potentially soft-core porn was as exciting as it was worrying. All the speculation ended earlier this week when it was announced that Dakota Johnson would be taking the role and I could stop fretting about it or giving bizarre interviews to anyone.

Then yesterday I was lured back in by the following headline on Digital Spy:

Felicity Jones turned down 50 Shades of Grey over full frontal nudity?

“How interesting,” I thought. “Allow me to read their exclusive interview with Felicity Jones on the matter.” How naive. The question mark in the title should have been a dead giveaway. Instead the article simply stated that she “is said to have objected to the movie’s scenes of full frontal nudity”. They do not go on to elaborate as to who said this or where they got the story from. The article then goes on to discuss random details about the film and ends with a slideshow of images of Dakota Johnson. The content of the article relating to their fabricated bit of news was so small I felt the need to represent the article as a whole in a pie chart:

Digital Spy Chart

Annoyed I ranted on Twitter and got on with my day until coming across a similar article on the Metro website:

Felicity Jones turned down Fifty Shades of Grey Anastastia Steele role over full frontal nudity?

Such a familiar headline! I wonder where they got their information from? The Metro were good enough to pad out the story they may or may not have found on Digital Spy as they included a brief quote from their interview with Jones in which she said “It all depends on the film-maker and script, just like any other job.” So they have a direct quote from the actress… in which she says nothing to support the story. Their chart of relevant content in their article is slightly more favourable:

Metro Chart

Before the day was out the “story” was on multiple sites, none with a source, but all littered with question marks and words like “reportedly”, “apparently”, and “sources say”. Perez Hilton ran the non-story with the following charming image:

Perez Hilton

The only story I read which cited a source was The Fan Carpet which regurgitated the story but included the phrase “according to The Wrap“. As is the case when I’m in an investigative mood I couldn’t not follow the trail and scoured The Wrap for the source of this story. And there it was. It was not in an article about Felicity Jones but a broader piece on the actors who are actually in the film:

Inside Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson’s ‘50 Shades of Grey’ Casting: Chemistry Tests to the Dotted Line

The vital piece of the article that mentions our favourite actress goes as follows: “Make no mistake, several young actresses turned down the role of Anastasia due to the full frontal nudity it requires, including Felicity Jones.” Look how minuscule Felicity Jones was in this article:

The Wrap Chart

One passing mention to the fact that she turned down the role (unconfirmed) and that it may have been due to the nudity (unconfirmed) and numerous other sites claim this as a lead story and clog the internet by reporting it as news.

All that from a passing comment. And now we’re involved too!

So don’t worry about reporting actual film news, just make it up, infer it from someone else, and make sure you use a question mark so that you can’t be sued for libel. Have fun!

A Short Note on Jesse Pavelka’s Buff Bod

Jesse Pavelka

As readers of EntertainmentWise will already know I recently trundled down to the entertainment site’s offices to discuss casting rumours surrounding the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The interview was originally filmed but has since surfaced without the footage included – the fact that I arrived sweaty, windswept, and with no idea what to do with my face when it wasn’t talking may have contributed to this decision.

Regardless the interview was good fun and gave me an insight into what it is like for the people I interview. The write up of my thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey casting rumours can be read over at the EntertainmentWise site.

Well, almost. This particular paragraph raised an eyebrow or two:

Ouch! Instead Tim is favouring a much less known star, model Jesse Pavelka. The US fitness expert is well known for his buff bod, which Tim reckons is a definite plus for the role: “As a model he would be attractive and willing to do probably anything to get this role. He’s a blank slate, you can apply any character you like to him.”

I am not denying Pavelka his buff bod, though it’s not a phrase I’ve used before (I once called someone a “dish” and that didn’t feel right for anyone involved), but he is not my favourite to play Christian Grey. My personal favourite, if (and when) forced to pick one, is Matt Bomer. Why? Because he can actually act and last year had all my female friends rushing to lust over him in Magic Mike.

As for Matt Bomer’s buff bod… he’s the one on the right:

As for the Felicity Jones plug… OBVIOUSLY that was me. I am nothing if not determined and persistent.

Spider-Man, With This Casting You’re Really Spoiling Us

Felicity JonesPaul Giamatti

Mild Concern was founded because on the 11th January 2010 I felt the need to say 73 words about the fact that Spider-Man was being rebooted. Since then the film gained the director of (500) Days of Summer (one of the films I most often force other people to watch) Marc Webb and the sexy young acting talents of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. The resulting film was… well… better than its predecessor and certainly seemed to be setting up for something we haven’t seen before. Admittedly I watched half of the film on a pirated DVD bought from a Turkish market which stopped playing halfway through so perhaps I am not the best judge.

All this aside there are new rumours that joining Amazing Spider-Man 2 are character actor extraordinaire Paul Giamatti and the one and only Felicity Jones – a woman for whom this blog acts as a temple as we wait patiently for her to make a five-star film. Giamatti is said to be playing The Rhino, not just any old rhino, while Jones has no confirmed role beyond attractive young lady who will win an Oscar one day even if I have to make her one myself.

This is exciting news if true and will mean that I will actually go and see Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the cinema and not be a Korsan Kaan which is what I have translated as the Turkish version of a Knock-off Nigel. You’re welcome Turkish Anti-Piracy Committee.