Film Review: THE GOOD LIAR (USA 2019) ***

The Good Liar Poster
Trailer

Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.

Director:

Bill Condon

Writers:

Jeffrey HatcherNicholas Searle (novel)

Nothing but excellence can be expected from GODS AND MONSTERS and THE FIFTH ESTATE director Bill Condon and British heavyweights Helen Mirren (Oscar winner for THE QUEEN) and Sir Ian McKellen(Two-time Oscar nominee),  But what is lacking here is a somewhat lack of surprise.

Before venturing out for the film screening, I was hypothesizing the film’s plot.  Con man McKellen entices Mirren for a date and aims at stealing all her money.  McKellen falls for Mirren while she discovers the truth and ends up milking McKellen instead for all his worth.  Not all of the above is true for the movie, but a fair portion is, and it is a good guess, from just watching the film’s trailer.

When the film begins, the audience sees the pub date between two who have met using ‘computer services’.  They immediately confess they honour the truth though each are superb liars, fooling notably each other, but the audience as well.  This is the more fun part of the script.  Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions.  And Roy means to take it all.

  From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride.  But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.

The quite too incredible to be believed story is based on a widely acclaimed novel by Nolas Seattle adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Hatcher who also penned MR. HOLMES also directed by Condon.

The supporting cast fare well.  Russell Tovey (THE HISTORY BOYS and QUANTICO) plays the supposedly grandson of Betty while the excellent Jim Carter last seen in DOWNTON ABBEY plays Roy’s friend and conman.

The script’s story takes the audience back to World War II Germany where credibility becomes the issue where background on the real Roy Courtney is dumped on the audience.  The film also contains some brief nudity but a quite a bit of violence.  The struggle between Roy and Betty at the film’s climax is rather laughable and could have been due eliminated.

A few continuity problems exist, that many might not be aware of.  One segment has Roy enter the London Underground through Piccadilly Circus station.  Once inside, the tube walls indicate Charing Cross Station.

THE GOOD LIAR ends up a cheesy thriller, with some really nasty bits – not entirely boring but lacking more solid substance.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5563334/videoplayer/vi1183235865?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Film Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (BELLE ET LA BETE) (USA 2017) ****

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beautyandthebeast.jpgDirector: Bill Condon
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline

Review by Gilbert Seah

Right after two blockbuster films LOGAN and KONG: SKULL ISLAND with lots of killings and dead bodies, comes the musical family fantasy animation/live action to sober audiences back to sugar sweetness.

Having no desire to see a musical live-action Disney re-make of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the film proves to be a surprise where magic, music and romance can still charm the hell out of a hardened audience.

It is still the same story, based on the French fairy tale novel BELLE ET LA BETE by Barbot de Villeneuve, most would be familiar with A handsome selfish price is cursed by an enchantress to be a beast forever unless he is saved by falling in love (both ways) before the last petal of her rose falls.

Belle (Emma Watson) is the young woman who is taken prisoner by the Beast in his castle in exchange for the freedom of her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and she learns to look beyond the Beast’s exterior to recognize the true heart and soul of the human Prince within. Meanwhile, a hunter named Gaston (Luke Evans) is on the loose to take Belle for himself and later intends to hunt down the Beast at any cost. He riles up the villagers (FRANKENSTEIN style) to invade the castle, burn it to the ground and slaughter the beast. Belle eventually falls in love with Beast and they waltz together in the grand ballroom to the famous Beauty and he Beast song. Romantics in the audience should have lots of Kleenex handy – especially when Beast utters the tear-jerking line to Belle: “You came back!”

Great pains have been taken to make the film look like a fairy tale. The French village of Villeneuve in the film looks something right out of a fairy tale story book. Belle even sings in the morning, just as Snow White sang to the birds in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. There is the icy cold winter surrounding the beast’s castle (like the snow and ice in FROZEN) and the talking tea-pot, cup, candlesticks and clock as in the original animated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Watson is perfect as Belle, the beauty but the film’s impressive cast includes stars Emma Thompson (she gets to sing a line of the famous song), Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor.

Gay audiences should be pleased with the gay content in the openly gay director, Bill Condon’s (GODS AND MONSTERS, two TWILIGHT films) film. Josh Gad plays Gaston’s gay sidekick, LeFou (obvious to all except to Gaston) who sings and prances about to no end. During the fight at the Beast’s castle, one of the invaders is given a ‘pretty bad boy make-over’ and he is last seen dancing with LeFou in the grand closing dance scene.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is more a musical than LA LA LAND with most of the songs being memorable and catchy. See it! You will not be disappointed!

Interesting fact: the animated version cost $25 million while this live-action cost $160 million to make.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvW_L8sTu5E

 

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Happy Birthday: Bill Condon

billcondon.jpgBill Condon

Born: October 22, 1955 in New York City, New York, USA

[on Julian Assange, the central character in his film ‘The Fifth Estate’] He’s clever. He conflates anything that might be critical of him as an attack on WikiLeaks. But he may be surprised at how even-handed a portrait it is. Nobody set out to make some kind of hit job. We want to understand what makes him tick. I came to admire him in many ways.

 

 

THE TWILIGHT SAGA BREAKING DAWN PART 1
dir. Bill Condon
Stars:
Kristen Stewart
Robert Pattinson
MOVIE POSTERTHE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2
dir. Bill Condon
MOVIE POSTERDREAMGIRLS
2006
dir. Bill Condon
Stars:
Beyonce
Jamie Foxx
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