I did not know that Charles Dickens ditched his wife of a gazillion years, the mother of his ten kids, for an 18 year old actress called Ellen Ternan. While this would be gleeful tabloid fodder in 2014 (if not the cause of something of a spectacular Max Clifford-esque fall from grace), in the Victorian era, it was shrugged off with a hodgepodge of lies and, well yes, enforced invisibility for the poor girl.
Ralph Fiennes’s intimate portrait of the odd couple is a lovely, sumptuous period piece but I didn’t like it much – not for its adultery, not for its glum Victorian hypocrisy, but especially not for the perplexing, sulky, sour-faced, dullness of Miss Nelly, the teen-not-bride. She’s played here (by Felicity Jones) as so utterly grim and relentlessly gloomy, that I didn’t really get into it, to be honest.
Coriolanus is the grim tale of a war-hardened hero who’s forced to play the charming “people’s politician” – a role for which he’s disastrously ill-equipped. Undermined in this uncomfortable, pandering role by two scheming tribunes, and, to be honest, by his own pride, he’s cast out of Rome, where he ultimately joins forces with Rome’s sworn enemy.
Through my relationship with beloved Film in Serbia, Coriolanus is the project I’ve probably had most proactive interest in as a Film Commissioner in recent years. It’s taken a long, long time for me to get to see it, but finally here it is, in all its war-torn glory……….
So is it any good? Well, true, it’s not the easiest of Shakespeare’s plays. It is instead rather densely political, and the characters are all rather manipulative and unredeemingly unlikeable (Vanessa Redgrave is vicious as his monstrous mother). But the cast is excellent, the cinematography is truly first class, and the decaying Serbian locations look suitably war torn. I even liked the real-life news footage of the storming of parliament during the overthrow of Milosevic, which paints an uneasy portrait of a nation in turmoil. So: good? yes. Great? maybe not quite, but not through lack of trying.
The title says it all, really: Aussie Brickie Sam Worthington spends an entire movie stuck on a ledge, twenty-something floors up and on the outside of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. Elizabeth Banks is the cop who has to talk him down, Ed Harris the corrupt businessman that Sam’s trying to nab in the most unlikely of manners. And yet, given the static scenario of the title, it works, quite surprisingly – a kind of poor man’s Inside Man, but one that works nonetheless.
New York looks great from up on that ledge, and the Roosevelt – chosen because the producer shot the so-so chiller 1408 there, but perhaps more famous for Ralph Fiennes’ romcom (seriously!) Maid in Manhattan – gets some pretty enviable screen-time.