Paddington 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: GPaddington 2

Directed by: Paul King

Produced by: David Heyman

Written by: Paul King and Simon Farnaby

‘Paddington Bear’ created by: Michael Bond

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi with Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington.

Sans nephew and not having seen the original Paddington (2014) – well, only bits on the cable TV that I caught watching with a patient at (my other life) work; both of us agreeing the film looking surprisingly good and Paddington The Bear textured and lovely: I wasn’t sure what to expect with Paddington 2.

But when a premier ends with applause from the audience and finding a grin on my face with added moments of laughing-out-loud, you know you’re on to a winner.

‘Stop that stunning sister!’ Yells Barry (Simon Farnaby – also co-writer!), the vice deputy security guard of St Paul’s Cathedral, as the villain-of-many-disguises, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) escapes capture disguised as a nun.

There’s something about that British humour here that just tickles.  And Hugh Grant cast as the has-been actor (now famous for starring in dog commercials) is hilarious.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2 is the sequel to the hugely successful 2014 Paddington – a world wide hit and the most successful non-US family film of all time.

Based on the children’s books written by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 is a fitting tribute to Bond who passed away this year aged 91.

Producer David Heyman has re-united the Paddington team with Paul King at the forefront as director and co-writer – and they’ve all brought their A-game.

From the delightful costumes from designer Lindy Hemming (seriously, I spent half the movie laughing at Phoenix-the-villain’s outfits, socks pulled to knees over breeches included) to the intricacies of the set surprising and clever (production designer Gary Williamson) reminiscent of the Harry Potter movies but with the bright lights of a carnival and a jail shown like a stage set with the jungle of Peru growing through the floor boards.

And of course, Paddington – the texture of his fur making him appear so realistic.Paddington 2

Yet, the story did have glaring holes that is so incredibly un-realistic with the movie about Paddington unjustly being incarcerated for stealing a pop-up book from an antique store for 10 years: really?!

But this is a kid’s movie and when the pop-up book rises to fill the screen and to have Paddington running through the scenes of the book’s pages, any thought of unreality is overwhelmed with wonder.

And there’s some beautiful characters here – the film isn’t all about Paddington.

There’s Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson a personal favourite actor of mine), the shaggy dog, the Brown family and the neighbours living on the same street who all have their own story, used not just as a backstory for Paddington, but to also circle back into the film making each character worthwhile and needed giving that satisfying feeling of completeness while adding a layer to the themes of acceptance and finding the good in everyone you meet.

I’m still grinning replaying the moments, even if I’m not a fan of marmalade.

 

Live by Night

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+Live by Night

Director / Screenwriter / Producer: Ben Affleck

Based on a novel written by: Dennis Lehane

Director of Photography: Robert Richardson

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Matthew Maher, Miguel J. Pimentel, Max Casella.

Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a man recently home from WWI.  After seeing so much wasted bloodshed, he refuses to believe in a system that applies no value to the people it governs.

The son of Boston’s Deputy Superintendent, Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson), a good cop and a cop who loves his son, Joe goes about life without regard for the law.  He robs banks and falls in love with a gangster’s Molly, Emma Gould (Sienna Miller).  Joe wants to be free.  And he is free, until the Italian Mafia decide they want the Irishman on their side. 

Live by Night isn’t one of those gangster revenge films full of sociopaths and relentless shoot-outs.  This is a film shown beautifully through the authentic setting of those 1920s streets of Boston and the vast skies reflected in the snake-like curving rivers of Miami. 

It took a while but I was eventually absorbed by this story based on a novel written by Dennis Lehane (winner of the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Novel of the Year).  The screenplay written by Ben Affleck has the benefit of well-thought characters and a ring of truth about the era: Prohibition and the underground rum trade in Tampa, racism, the fight for the American Dream.  But what is The Dream?  Girls, money, power, love?  Freedom?

There was a complexity here.  This is a story about a man who wants to survive.  But not at any price, not while there’s still a piece of heaven here on earth. 

With an adaptation of a novel, it’s not easy to convey all without glossing over moments that would have been given more depth in the text.  Although each character was portrayed so the fierceness, evil and beauty was shown in the dialogue, some extra seconds of those facial expressions would have conveyed more. 

Offsetting the lack of depth was the beautiful camera work by Robert Richardson, giving access to the film through the depiction of setting.

I imagine it must have been difficult for Ben Affleck to act and direct in the same film.  To be the one to portray what you have written, to show the vision of the story must be a hard task.  And it shows.  Ben being the least impressive actor in the film.  I’m not saying his acting was bad, I’m just saying it wasn’t as believable as the performance of say, Sienna Miller or Matthew Maher (as RD Pruitt).  Thankfully, the rest of the cast are phenomenal, given direction by the screenwriter, Ben.  A headful, I know.  And a hint into the space that is Ben Affleck.  What an achievement. 

Overall, Live by Night is one of those quiet movies that creeps up on you, a slow absorption into the point-of-view of Joe that doesn’t smack you in the face because that’s not in his psychological make-up: ‘I don’t want to be a gangster.  I stopped kissing rings a long time ago.’

A sometimes bland film but a cracker of a story.

Products from Amazon.com