Darkest Hour

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: PGDarkest Hour

Directed by: Joe Wright

Written by: Anthony McCarten

Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten, Lisa Bruce, Douglas Urbanski

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup and Ben Mendelsohn.

Set over the course of four weeks in 1940, Darkest Hour is based on the true story of Winston Churchill and the immense burden he carried as newly-appointed Prime Minister when Nazi Germany invaded Western Europe.

It’s a critical time in history.  A decision must be made to either fight in another world war against all odds, the Germans surrounding the entire British army on the shores of Dunkirk – or to negotiate with a madman.

The fight on Dunkirk is fresh in the minds of film enthusiasts after the recent release of Christopher Nolan’s memorable, ‘not-a-war movie’, Dunkirk.

Darkest Hour shows a different version of WWII, focussing on the same time in history yet here the story unfolds not on the ground – the soldiers dodging bullets or falling into the icy waters – here, we follow the men making the decisions and observe the politics and strategies of war held behind closed doors.  And with Churchill, sometimes the most important conversation taken on the telephone behind the door of the lavatory.

Darkest Hour is based on the beginnings of WWII, yes, but the story is about the man – Winston Churchill and all his flaws.  A man who has never taken the tube (well, only once during the strikes), a man whose wife (Kristen Scott Thomas) finds him intolerable but loves him anyway.  And no matter his power or position will always know him as, Piggy.Darkest Hour

Churchill never gives up, and it’s precisely his flaws that give him the strength to succeed.

Gary Oldman is every bit deserving of his recent Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.  See his acceptance speech here.

As Winston Churchill, Oldman’s barely recognisable as he embraces the part and becomes every bit the British Prime Minister affecting all the required mannerisms of the mumbling, alcoholic, cigar smoking, yet brilliant mind and oration of the man.

Ben Mendelsohn finally gets to be the good guy, here as King George VI.  Not the regal performance of Colin Firth in, The King’s Speech (2010) but suiting the tone of the film better with the gritty human nature of the characters used for amusement amongst all the seriousness of the story.Darkest Hour

And there’s not many tricks here – director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina) keeping any effects subtle with a sometimes lofty birds-eye-view to convey the overall feeling of politicians seeing the population as small parts to be manuvered for the greater good.

Mostly, this is a character-driven film, focussing on the dialogue and emotion of those who discuss the fortunes of thousands of lives.  We, as an audience, get a window into the world of Churchill as he weighs the cost; to ultimately decide no cost is too much – there is only perseverance to fight until the very end.

So, for all Churchill’s flaws, we are shown true grit and the character required when the world ceases to make sense.  And can the man speak!  The real pleasure of the film watching Churchill use his words to win over a nation, his famous speeches delivered by the believable performance of Gary Oldman.

Would I watch the film again?  Probably not.  This isn’t a thriller that keeps you on the edge, this is a stirring education and insight into just how close we came to losing our freedom.

Baby Driver

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA 15+Baby Driver

Written and Directed by: Edgar Wright

Produced by: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx.

If you’re going to open a film with a car chase, there’s nothing better than synchronising the action to, The John Spencer Blues Explosion.

Now this band brings back some memories – not burn-outs or car chases but I did manage to maroon my VC Commodore on a boulder out on a backroad near Byron Bay.  What a road trip; the music in the tape deck including the, John Spencer.  So, I was already grinning when the opening of Baby Driver exploded onto the screen.

What I didn’t expect was the huge part the sound track played in this film.  Almost to the point of being a musical with the stylised drama and overacting that somehow fit because all the moves were in time to some cool track.  See sound track here…

Obviously the film’s about a driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort).  Who’s managed to get himself into the debt of a criminal mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey) who puts crews together to do jobs like rob banks – any Job that requires a driver, Baby gets called.  And like his name there’s something sweet about the guy.

Baby Driver is an interesting blend with this sweetness potentially turning the film into cheese.  But director and screenwriter Edgar Wright has replicated the same tone of comedy and romance and music as his previous films (think, Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013)) but then adding action, reining in all the elements so one didn’t take over from the other but instead complimented: the romance being the motivation; the action creating adrenaline; the comedy for that bit of relief…  Along with camera shots completely in tune with the soundtrack to make a very entertaining film that felt different because of that tone of sweet.

And the love story added a nice touch.  From an absolute kick arse driver opening up to the most amazing car chases I’ve seen on screen to the love Baby finds with the waitress, Debora who dreams of, ‘heading west on 20 in a car I can’t afford, with a plan I don’t have’.

It’s a match made in heaven.

And I really liked the cast here – the character, Baby, needing a strong, likable performance from Ansel Elgort to get away with those dance moves which he did when he could make cars dance the same way.  And Lily James as Debora (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)) reminded me of the late Brittany Murphy which made me a little sad.

I loved seeing Jon Hamm as the bad arse Buddy.  And Kevin Spacey as the master criminal, added a little grounding.

With initial concern about the title, Baby Driver (I mean, what the?!  Baby?!  How cheesy is that!), I get the tone after seeing the film: that 50s vibe coming through with the setting of the diner and Debora the waitress wearing those old-style outfits with a classic openness of character you’d expect from earlier times with no cynicism in sight.  I get it.

So, not the action/thriller I was expecting, instead, Baby Driver’s kinda cool, without being slick.

Products from Amazon.com