Film Review: LATE NIGHT (USA 2019) ***

Late Night Poster

A late-night talk-show host suspects that she may soon lose her long-running show.


Nisha Ganatra


Mindy Kaling (screenplay by)

The timely talk-show host comedy LATE NIGHT earns a double boost from being selected to headline the Toronto Inside Out Gay and Lesbian Film Festival’s Closing Night Gala as well as having the fortune to have Academy Award British actress Emma Thompson star as the legendary talk-show host Katherine Newbury.

The script has been widely publicized as being written by Indian comedian Mindy Kaling, one fo the most well known and respected TV and film personalities.  In her script, she gets to offer her take on feminine and minority issues.  Though her script is by no means perfect, it has good moments, is earnest and also occasionally quite funny.

The film centres on American talk-show host, British born Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), a pioneer in her field.  The only woman ever to have a long-running program on late night, she keeps her writers’ room on a short leash ― and all male, and all white male at that.  But when her ratings plummet and she finally realizes that she but not her show is going to be axed, she starts taking notice and action, and oddly enough, inappropriate action.  She is accused of being a “woman who hates women,” Katherine puts gender equality on her to-do list and impulsively hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling herself), a chemical plant efficiency expert from suburban Pennsylvania, as the first and only female on her writing staff.

The film swings into Molly’s character.  Molly is the underdog with lots of criticism but with few solutions.  When Katherine fingers her out to express her views, she is upset that a newbie can find fault her but offer little in terms of answers,

When rumours begin swirling that Katherine is being replaced by a younger, hipper male host, Daniel Tennant (Ike Barinholtz), she demands that the writers make her funny and relevant again. This is when Molly makes her mark while running at the same times, loggerheads with Katherine.  The film plays like a romantic comedy between Katherine and Molly, the two fighting and then respecting each other.

At its best, the script shows the strength of diversity and women at the work place.  The success of Katherine in what is normally a male occupation says a lot.  Most of the real late night talk show hosts at present are men – so networks should take notice.  The Katherine character is fashioned a bit around the Ellen Degeneres personality and similarities (like Katherine’s remarks) exist.  The restraint of putting a lid on a romantic subplot pays off too.  There is a little romance brewing but just enough to make Molly a vulnerable character.  The script shows  the female crying a well.  (Molly cries behind her desk in one scene after being humiliated by Katherine).  

On the negative side, all the males are depicted as second class idiots.  All of Katherine’s white males writers are bumbling no-brainers.  The role of Katherine’s husband (John Lithgow) is over-written and over sympathetic.  The males also cannot keep a decent relationship going.

Kaling’s script also seems over eager to please.  It is clear enough that LATE NIGHT is supposed to be a feel-good movie but at times, when the music comes crescendo-ing over the dialogue to steer how the audience to feel, it all seems a bit too much.

Thompson delivers a winning performance, regardless and Kaling tries hard in her role which basically her film of her own.

LATE NIGHT is still entertaining despite its over eagerness to please, the film aided by Thompson’s and Kaling’s otherwise working chemistry.


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE CHILDREN ACT (UK 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Children Act Poster
As her marriage to Jack (Stanley Tucci) founders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) has a life-changing decision to make at work – should she force a teenage boy, Adam (… See full summary »


Richard Eyre


Ian McEwan


Fionn WhiteheadEmma ThompsonStanley Tucci

THE CHILDREN ACT, based on the Booker prize winning novel by Ian McEwan and adapted by him, is a part courtroom drama part marriage crisis involving a London high court Judge, a super-efficient no-nonsense Fiona Maye (Twice Oscar Winner Emma Thompson).

As her marriage founders, she is taking on the ruling of a case involving a Jehovah Witness boy, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead). He is in hospital, and in need of a blood transfusion, which he refuses on religious grounds. His parents (Ben Chaplin and Eileen Walsh) feel the same.

Her ruling of the case will not be revealed in this review (for the sake of spoiling a key plot point) but it is safe to say that Maye makes an exception to the rule by making a personal visit to the hospital to speak to Adam before ruling on the case. THE CHILDREN ACT questions the audience’s stand on the morality issue, but not so much as the drama of the film.

The film also ends, quite brilliantly with an open instead of a closed ending as in the book Regardless, THE CHILDREN ACT is a meticulously crafted film, extreme well acted and written.

Trailer: (unavailable at time of writing)



Happy Birthday: Emma Thompson

emmathompson.jpgHappy Birthday actor Emma Thompson

Born: April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London, England, UK

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang Movie PosterNanny McPhee and the Big Bang
dir. Susanna White
Emma Thompson
Maggie Gyllenhaal

dir.James Ivory
Helena Bonham Carter

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHERIn the Name of the Father
dir. Jim Sheridan
Daniel Day-Lewis

dir. David Yates

Love ActuallyLove Actually
dir. Richard Curtis
Hugh Grant
Bill Nighy

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Gary Oldman

Stranger Than Fiction
dir. Marc Forster
Will Ferrell
Maggie Gyllenhaal

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIXHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
dir. David Yates
Daniel Radcliffe
Harry Melling

dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
Will Smith
Tommy Lee Jones

dir. Mark Andrews
Brenda Chapman
Kelly Macdonald
Billy Connolly

dir. John Lee Hancock
Emma Thompson
Tom Hanks

dir. Richard LaGravenese
Alice Englert
Viola Davis

Movie Review: THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (UK/Canada 2015) ****

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legendofbarneybaTHE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (UK/Canada 2015) ****
Directed by Robert Carlyle

Starring: Robery Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone

Review by Gilbert Seah

The film THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON arrives with zero fanfare but is a film that should be taken seriously. A film that could be alternatively titled THE DEMON BARBER OF GLASGOW, the film is based on the book “The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson” by Douglas Lindsay. The film begins when barber Barney accidentally scissors to death his boss, Wullie (Stephen McCole) in the barber shop that leads to another death, thus classifying him a serial killer. Barney becomes a Scots Sweeney Todd with several inept Glaswegian cops on his case.

The film takes quite a while to get a solid footing. The first third of the film muddles around with little humour, ingenuity or direction (and those unable to decipher the Scots accent might leave the cinema) but Carlyle slickly gets the action in gear and keeps the film moving during the next 2/3 of the film, leading it to a climatic mother/son confrontation and a Mexican stand-off. But the main plot of the reason Barney Thomson becomes a legend is still in effect, a comical farce that finally succeeds.

For a film entered on grisly murders that include chopping up of body parts, the film is free from violence. But the film is not without queasy scenes that include a severed penis and other assorted boy parts bundled up for the Royal Mail. The language is also particularly foul, especially the words coming out of Barney’s mother, oddly called Cemolina (Emma Thompson).

Three strong British actors headline the film. Carlyle himself, Thompson and Ray Winstone are thee actors I would pay serious money to see on screen. Thompson who is barely two years older than Carlyle, plays Barney’s mother with all the wicked relish she can muster. Her make-up by Oscar Winner Mark Coulier makes her look the part. Hissing out most of her lines with a fag always hanging from her mouth, this is Thompson the complete opposite, not the Thompson HOWARD’S END audiences know. The funniest part has her dipping biscuit dropping into her tea and then remarking: “I now have to fish it out with my spoon.” The mother/son confrontation in which she reveals how much she has done for him, including providing him dolly mixtures when he was a kid is priceless.

Carlyle is a Scots actor best known for his role in Danny Boyle’s TRAINSPOTTING. Carlyle’s debut directorial feature has the occasional feel of a Coen Brothers film (BLOOD SIMPLE, RAISING ARIZONA), but Carlyle who has worked with great English directors like Ken Loach (RIFF-RAFF, CARLA’S SONG), Boyle (TRAINSPOTTING) and Shane Meadows (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS) and the influences of the three directors are evident here. The atmosphere of small town mentality of Meadows is the most obvious.

THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON opened at the Cineplex Yonge and Dundas Toronto last week and continues with an added opening at the Carlton Cinemas. The film arrived with zero publicity and no press screenings, the only reason I can think due to is the film’s macabre nature. But this is a awesome little gem, that is a must-see!

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