Tag Archives: Ian Holm

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

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

THE DEFINING CHAPTER.  The dragon Smaug flies to Esgaroth to destroy the town, but greater challenges await in the shape of a coming battle for Lonely Mountain. The final part of this trilogy is the shortest film Peter Jackson ever made about the Middle-Earth, but maybe that’s because it is so completely dominated by that … Continue reading The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

1066: The Conquest We Never See Onscreen

I recently finished a book called “The Norman Conquest” by Marc Morris, a riveting account of the most famous invasion of what is now the British Isles, one that changed England’s history fundamentally. I didn’t know much about this period. As a school kid, I had been made to understand that the Battle of Hastings … Continue reading 1066: The Conquest We Never See Onscreen

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

FROM THE SMALLEST BEGINNINGS COME THE GREATEST LEGENDS. Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) convinces a hobbit, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), to join his party of 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim a treasure that was stolen by a mighty dragon. Set sixty years before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson’s grand return to … Continue reading The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

S.O.S. Titanic

When this TV production premiered, two decades had passed since Titanic (1953) and A Night to Remember (1958), two prominent films that chronicled the “unsinkable” ship’s demise in 1912. Director William Hale’s TV movie came on the heels of the 1970s disaster movie trend, but never resorts to the genre’s cheapest tricks. The cast is … Continue reading S.O.S. Titanic

A Life Less Ordinary

A COMEDY FOR ANYONE WHO’S EVER BEEN IN DANGER… OF FALLING IN LOVE. Robert Lewis (Ewan McGregor) loses his job as a janitor and kidnaps the boss’s daughter (Cameron Diaz); two fallen angels (Holly Hunter, Delroy Lindo) try to make them fall in love. Director Danny Boyle followed his superior Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1996) with something entirely different, … Continue reading A Life Less Ordinary

Holocaust: Building the Will to Fight

  One of the most famous and highly respected of the Holocaust survivors, Elie Wiesel, was not a fan of this classic NBC miniseries. In his view, it was “untrue, offensive and cheap”. I guess it had to be to anyone who actually went through those horrors. In light of subsequent films like Schindler’s List (1993), Holocaust now also seems a … Continue reading Holocaust: Building the Will to Fight

The Madness of King George

HIS MAJESTY WAS ALL POWERFUL AND ALL KNOWING. BUT HE WASN’T QUITE ALL THERE. In 1788, King George III of England (Nigel Hawthorne) starts acting peculiarly for no obvious reason and his son, Prince George (Rupert Everett), conspires to have him dethroned. First-time director Nicholas Hytner knows his way around the theater, but successfully turns the play into … Continue reading The Madness of King George

Chariots of Fire: For God and Honor

THIS IS THE STORY OF TWO MEN WHO RUN… NOT TO RUN… BUT TO PROVE SOMETHING TO THE WORLD. THEY WILL SACRIFICE ANYTHING TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS… EXCEPT THEIR HONOR.   I have taken up running recently and discovered that it is easy to get hooked. It’s tough in the beginning but some days is … Continue reading Chariots of Fire: For God and Honor

Ratatouille: The Little Chef That Could

HE’S DYING TO BECOME A CHEF. In creating the concept for Ratatouille, director Brad Bird got help from Thomas Keller, a distinguished chef. He advised the director on what goes on in the busy kitchen of a successful, classy restaurant and also had a few culinary tips up his sleeve, including the design of the ratatouille … Continue reading Ratatouille: The Little Chef That Could

Strangers With Candy

HIGH SCHOOL IS DIFFICULT… FOR A 47-YEAR-OLD EX-CON JUNKIE CRACK WHORE. 47-year-old ex-con Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) promises her comatose dad (Dan Hedaya) to go back to high school. That’s the plot and fans of the original TV show (which ran from 1999-2000) will recognize it. One has to wonder why they didn’t try to … Continue reading Strangers With Candy

From Hell: The Ripper Unmasked (Again)

ONLY THE LEGEND WILL SURVIVE. When I was 16 years old, I wrote a paper on Jack the Ripper. I suspect my teacher worried about my choice of subject, but this was before the age of Columbine and she allowed me to proceed. I started reading Donald Rumbelow’s brilliant book “The Complete Jack the Ripper” … Continue reading From Hell: The Ripper Unmasked (Again)

March or Die

THE FOREIGN LEGION! ONLY THE DESPERATE JOINED. ONLY THE LUCKY ONES SURVIVED.  Shortly after WWI, major Foster (Gene Hackman) returns to the French Foreign Legion in Morocco with new recruits; their assignment stirs up trouble with Arab tribes. Oddly enough, this is not the tale of how the Legion valiantly fought the Germans (even though … Continue reading March or Die