Tag Archives: Derek Jacobi

Henry V: Branagh and the Bard

THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF A KING WHO DEFIED THE ODDS TO PROVE HIMSELF A MAN.  When I was a teenager, maybe this was around 1990, my class was treated to a performance of Shakespeare’s ”Hamlet”. It was not a bad production; the young leading actors went on to have successful careers. But we were an … Continue reading Henry V: Branagh and the Bard

Murder on the Orient Express

EVERYONE IS A SUSPECT.  In 1934, famous detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) finds himself on the Orient Express where a notorious businessman (Johnny Depp) is murdered. Another star-studded version of Agatha Christie’s most famous mystery is similar to the slightly superior 1974 movie and has no new twists to offer. Which is probably a good … Continue reading Murder on the Orient Express


This adaptation of the old fairy tale was made by Disney and is heavily inspired by their 1950 animated version. The story of the orphaned girl (Lily James) who is mistreated by her wicked stepmother (Cate Blanchett), but gets a magical shot at wooing Prince Charming is girlishly romantic and fun for kids. Handsomely mounted, … Continue reading Cinderella

Grace of Monaco

THE GREATEST ROLE GRACE KELLY WOULD EVER PLAY. In 1963, at a time when France is challenging Monaco’s sovereignty, Princess Grace (Nicole Kidman) is offered to return to Hollywood for a lead role in a Hitchcock movie. After delays, public protests from Monaco’s royal family and signs of disapproval from the film’s distributors came this … Continue reading Grace of Monaco

My Week with Marilyn

Young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) gets a foot inside a British movie studio just in time to witness the chaos behind Laurence Olivier’s new film project, which partners him with Marilyn Monroe. A very entertaining, sweet and elegant look behind the scenes of the making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) where two icons … Continue reading My Week with Marilyn


WAS SHAKESPEARE A FRAUD? At the end of the Elizabethan era, the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) hires a playwright called Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to act as his front, hoping to use his own plays as a political weapon. A labor of love for Roland Emmerich that nevertheless turns out much like his previous … Continue reading Anonymous

The Odessa File

A GRIPPING PUZZLE OF PURSUIT AND ESCAPE. In 1963, German reporter Peter Miller (Jon Voight) becomes involved in the search for a brutal concentration camp commander who disappeared after WWII with help from ODESSA, a network of former SS men. ODESSA may really have existed, and the “Butcher of Riga” certainly did (he was found and arrested a few years … Continue reading The Odessa File

The King’s Speech: Royal Pains

IT TAKES LEADERSHIP TO CONFRONT A NATION’S FEAR. IT TAKES FRIENDSHIP TO CONQUER YOUR OWN.   After watching this brilliant drama, I knew I had to consult YouTube for the speech King George VI made after Britain’s declaration of war against Germany. Sometimes, historical events portrayed in films absurdly seem a bit small in comparison … Continue reading The King’s Speech: Royal Pains

Underworld: Evolution

After the climactic showdown of the first film, Selene and Michael (Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman) are on the run, but one of the vampire elders (Tony Curran) is awakened and starts hunting them. Our heroes have another monster to battle, another physical link to those days when their ancestors first clashed. Neither the story, its background … Continue reading Underworld: Evolution

I, Claudius: Fool, Biographer, Emperor

LET ALL THE POISONS THAT LURK IN THE MUD HATCH OUT. One thing is certain. The years may fly by in this adaptation of Robert Graves’s books on the first four Julio-Claudian emperors, but when 77 years have passed very little has changed. Augustus became Emperor in part because of the murder of Julius Caesar … Continue reading I, Claudius: Fool, Biographer, Emperor

The Gathering Storm

GERMANY WAS ARMING ITSELF FOR WAR. BUT THEY DIDN’T COUNT ON ONE MAN. During the 1930s, Winston Churchill experienced some of his most depressing years as a politician; it looked as if his career was over. He kept talking about how Germany’s new leaders were preparing for war and that Britain was in grave danger, … Continue reading The Gathering Storm

Gladiator: Best Kind of War Porn

WHAT WE DO IN LIFE ECHOES IN ETERNITY.   Gladiator is one of those films that opened as early as May, without all that much fanfare, and then kept building until the Oscars many months later where it went on to win the Best Picture award. That is a rare thing these days among Oscar winners, … Continue reading Gladiator: Best Kind of War Porn