Murder on the Orient Express

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Directed by: Kenneth BranaghMurder On The Orient Express

Written by:  Agatha Christie (novel), Michael Green (screenplay)

Produced by: Kenneth Branagh, Winston Azzopardi

Starring:  Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Kenneth Branagh, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp.

‘My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world’.

So simple and yet so effective, the line introducing the mastermind detective, takes the audience on a journey back in time. When travelling was still rough and dangerous, and the Orient Express became a showcase of luxury and comfort.

Regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest achievements, the famous tale has been told many times before so you could say spoiler time has elapsed.Murder On The Orient Express

The most renowned adaptation may have been Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-winning film in 1974, but there was also a TV series in the early 2000’s starring Alfred Molina.

The novel, readily available since first published  in 1934, is one of my all-time favourites. So, not only did I know what I was getting myself into but how it ended. Literally. And there is a high chance you are in the same position I was. But you know what? Don’t let that stop you.

The film’s cast includes two Oscar winners: Judi Dench and Penélope Cruz; and four Oscar nominees: Kenneth Branagh, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp. I could not turn down the opportunity to see such an incredible cast coming together and I was not disappointed as they delivered such intricate characters effortlessly.Murder On The Orient Express

When you have a great story and a great team of actors, there is only one thing that may make or break a project: the director. But not many people can handle directing, producing and acting like Kenneth Branagh.

The audience can feel how, just like at the Orient Express, every detail has been accounted for. There is no room for error and the result is a visually-appealing adaption that is a joy to the senses.

This is Kenneth Branagh’s second movie to be shot on 65mm film. The first was Hamlet (1996). After 21 years, Branagh decided to use this film format once again because, according to his own words, he felt inspired by some independent movies he had been watching. Mostly, films by Michael Haneke.

I love train journeys and I did some research about the Orient Express as I was writing this review. Apparently, there was one actual murder on The Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and murdered by Karl Strasser, who pushed her out of the moving train, one year after Agatha Christie’s book was published.

The original Orient Express route (from October 4, 1883) was from Paris to Giurgiu (Romania) but shortened as the years went by. The real Orient Express disappeared from European timetables in 2009, a ‘victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines’.

The Brothers Grimsby

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Director: Louis LeterrierThe Brothers Grimsby

Screenplay by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston

Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynhan, Phil Johnston

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Isla Fisher and Babourey Sidibe.

A spy action comedy.

I’m not saying it’s one of Sacha’s best (I mean, Borat was a revelation), but Grimsby is definitely worth a giggle, a cringe and an outright laugh.  Yes, his humour is crude and extremely un-PC.  But it can also be very dry and very un-PC!  And that’s why I found myself sniggering through-out the film.

Even though he’s got his football, hotlips girlfriend and 11 kids, Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) still misses his long lost brother, Sebastion (Mark Strong).  Finally tracking him down, Nobby finds out his brother is a spy on a mission and Sebastion finds Nobby to be his idiot but ever-loving brother.  Together, nothing can stand in their way, except perhaps for Nobby… and the people of Grimsby giving away their location… and a few randy elephants.

Nobby is the definite focus of the narrative and humour.  Dawn, Nobby’s girlfriend (played by Rebel Wilson) gets a few farts in.  It’s interesting how Rebel is inherently funny in this film, similar to Sacha.  Just the expressions on the face are funny.  I mean, Nobby showing his – I love you brother, face is hilarious.

But why-oh-why did I find Daniel Radcliff (the character, not the actual actor) contracting AIDS the funniest part of the film?!

There is a particular style to the Cohen franchise.  And even through it wasn’t his best, Cohen has created a spy action film, thrown a load of cash at it and mixed it with his humour.  And yes, I was left with a grin on my face.

Not gold but bloody entertaining.