Hyde Park on Hudson is a little confused about what makes for an interesting film. It is convinced that we want to watch a romance between FDR (Bill Murray) and an annoying woman (Laura Linney) rather than enjoy the social awkwardness when King Bertie (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) come to stay. The story of this momentous visit from British royals is for some reason told through the eyes of FDR’s mistress who is mercifully absent from many of the scenes surrounding the visit. Linney’s Daisy is most fawning or crying over FDR – loitering around like a wet blanket with nothing better to do than hang around looking needy as FDR’s wife (Olivia Williams) looks on with all the contempt I myself was feeling.
Murray gives a routinely robust performance as FDR managing to be amusing without ever trying too hard. He plays a warm president with a slight weakness for women and an effortless charm. In contrast the royal couple are a socially awkward pair experiencing culture shock in their first trip to America. It helps that The King’s Speech has made us familiar with this pair but the never less than perfect Colman and the not-quite-Colin-Firth West play a stiff but friendly couple with a fear of hot dogs and a humanising vulnerability. These three combined with Williams make for a curious double date as the two couples gradually feel one another out and gradually become friends.
This could have easily been a very enjoyable, if slightly lightweight, period drama about international relations. There is plenty of meat here for a film dealing with a similar mix of humour and historical importance as The King’s Speech with which Hyde Park on Hudson would have made a perfect double bill. However… Laura Linney’s character stops this from happening. Whenever the film shift to focus on her dull affair with FDR the film veers away from anything interesting and ends up an inconsistent mess.
Hyde Park on Hudson is a promising film that has been sat on by Laura Linney. The film has been left flat and deformed and is no longer fit for use. What a waste.
While we are clearly all film connoisseurs here at Mild Concern and watch all films regardless of their outward appearance and marketing, sometimes seeing a certain bunch of actors in a trailer gets me all excited. (see Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
To give you an insight into how my brain reacts to this sort of trailer, and the general inane chatter I have to put up with all day long from inside my own head, I have broken down my thought process while watching the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson, embedded below.
My reaction to the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson can be broken down as follows:
0:12 – Laura Linney! She’s normally really good in things (and I once saw her making out in Piccadilly Circus). Let’s hope this isn’t one of her annoying roles. 0:16 – Who’s that? I don’t recognise the voice. 0:20 – Bill Murray! I love him in every single film he’s done. 0:26 – Wow, he really doesn’t sound like Bill Murray. I will hopefully get over this soon. 0:40 – Was that Olivia Colman? It probably wasn’t but wouldn’t it be great if it was? 0:49 – King of England? I guess this is King Colin Firth. This is what you get for choosing Geography over History. 0:56 – Olivia Williams too! She was great even in Dollhouse. 1:00 – Nice fake teeth you’re wearing Olivia Williams. 1:04 – It certainly sounds like Olivia Colman. (At this point I start to look up the film on IMDb) 1:14 – It is Olivia Colman. I love Olivia Colman! (And IMDb gets closed) 1:25 – Fantastic awkward wave, very Roger & Val. 1:36 – I like cocktails. 1:40 – “Based on True Events” means I might actually learn something about history. Fantastic. 2:08 – I wonder what Bill Murray was Oscar nominated for?* 2:10 – Bill Murray and Olivia Colman in the same car. Amazing. 2:12 – I wonder what Laura Linney was Oscar nominated for? Presumably not Love Actually.** 2:23 – Excellent use of the film’s title in dialogue. Kudos. 2:29 – When is soon?
* Lost in Translation, of course.
** The Savages, Kinsey and You Can Count on Me. Steady on Linney.
Now is Good stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a teenager diagnosed with leukaemia who is determined to make the most of her remaining life by compiling a list of experiences she doesn’t want to miss out on. This is a film about grief, fear, seizing the day, and falling in love with your attractive neighbour Adam.
If this sounds familiar you’re probably thinking of the Gus Van Sant film from last year called Restless. This starred Mia Wasikowska as a terminally ill girl who falls in love with a nice young man. The main difference appears to be that Now is Good will be 50% less irritating due to its lack of silly hats, Japanese kamikaze pilot ghosts, and young people gate crashing funerals.
Now is Good is also British (hurrah), written by Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel writer), and stars Paddy Considine (brilliant), Olivia Williams (amazing) and Kaya Scodelario (hot*). Bring it on.
Now is Good will arrive in UK cinemas on 25th May.
I’ve approached this post many times since seeing Hanna a few weeks back, but have struggled to successfully review Joe Wright’s latest film, a fast paced actioner about a young girl raised as a killing machine and set the task of assassinating an intelligence agent. The film is such a mash-up of styles and genres that I am going to have to review it in pieces and then as a whole.
Here are the pieces:
The beginning is essentially Leon in a forest, as a well-meaning European takes care of a girl and teaches her his best skill: killing. This is done well and sets an off-kilter tone to the film. Good stuff.
I say a well-meaning European but Eric Bana’s accent is very hard to place and is a bit distracting. Bad stuff.
An early chase scene is shot in such a dynamic way and edited with fantastic kaleidoscopic energy that it felt like a music video, not least because of the score provided by The Chemical Brothers. This from the director of Atonement? Amazing stuff.
Cate Blanchett plays more a caricature than a character as Marissa the intelligence agent both hunting and being hunted by Hanna. Think more the white witch from Narnia than Scully. Although the hair… Alright stuff.
On her travels to kill Marissa and reunite with her father, Hanna comes across a bohemian British family on holiday. Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams are the comedy middle class parents who find Hanna’s independence charming, while Jessica Barden is the snobby daughter who befriends Hanna and brings one of the films touching moments. For fun and heart: Good stuff.
On two separate occasions Hanna manages to stumble upon locals of the various countries she visits engaging in spontaneous group singing that perfectly reflects the local culture. It’s a bit too ideal. Mediocre stuff.
Tom Hollander plays a suitably creepy European sex club owner who for some reason doubles as a suitably creepy bounty hunter, happy to torture his way to finding Hanna for Marissa. Odd stuff.
Towards the end there is a pretty lame plot twist that you see coming early on. Disappointing stuff.
What made me love Atonement was a single shot that involved hundred of extras, a long beach and a skillful camera work. Hanna has a couple of these shots, not quite as impressive but each its own technical marvel. Awesome stuff.
Finally it should be said that Saoirse Ronan is amazing as the deadly but naïve girl who is utterly selfless and will kill you as soon as kiss you. Brilliant stuff.
So Hanna is filled with stuff of varying levels of quality. Joe Wright is certainly talented and is breaking new ground for himself but lacks consistency within the one film. Quite satisfyingly (from a linguistic point of view) his directing style flits between Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, at one moment moving his camera in a controlled and understated fashion and the next he whips and cuts like he’s scared of losing your attention.
This is precisely what is wrong with Hanna, while the film has plenty of good stuff it doesn’t all gel into a coherent film. Joe Wright has got two jigsaws mixed up and the pieces may look like they go together but on closer inspection don’t quite fit.