Film Review: THE AFTERMATH (UK/USA/Germany 2018) ***

The Aftermath Poster
Trailer

Post World War II, a British colonel and his wife are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German who previously owned the house.

Director:

James Kent

A few years ago, a sprawling war romance TESTAMENT OF YOUTH captured the heart and awed moviegoers.  Its acclaimed director, James Kent  has understandably been handpicked for another war themed romantic drama entitled THE AFTERMATH.  THE AFTERMATH is based on the novel of the same name by Rhidian Brook.  It should be noted that the novel was written after Brook’s screenplay was commissioned by one of the producers, BLADE RUNNER’s Ridley Scott.  The script is written by Joe Shrapnel and Ana Waterhouse.

The story is set in postwar Germany in 1945.  The film begins with an aerial scanning in black and white of a war torn city that is revealed to be Hamburg of 1945.  It is later stated that more bombs landed in Hamburg one day than all the bombings in London.  

Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arrives in the ruins of Hamburg in the dead of winter, to be reunited with her husband, Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke), a colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city.  Germans in Hamburg are angry as evident in the violent protests around the city.  Many of the more determined citizens are willing to sacrifice their lives to do away with the British.  But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an unexpected decision:  they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owner, a German widower, a past architect, Stefan Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled daughter, Freda.   It does not take genius to guess that Rachel will start a tempestuous affair with the architect.  In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal. 

The film is clear to emphasize the differences in the attractiveness of both men, Morgan and Lubert.  Morgan is ruffled, disheveled and makes frequent comments angering Rachel.  Even Morgan’s military uniform is not smart or pressed but wrinkled.  This is compared with Lubert’s attire.  Lubert is always shown smartly dressed, always wearing a shirt and tie even at leisure in the house.  His immaculate white sweater (who wears a white sweater to a dirty cottage in the middle of winter?) in the cottage scene looks ridiculous.

All actors carry their eclectic roles well.  Knightley is British and Clarke, Australian has proven he can carry other non-Australian roles well.  He was excellent as Ted Kennedy in CHAPPAQUIDDICK  and is more than in apt in this role that demands more from him than required from the other actors. Swede Skarsgard has the distinguished German look and is sufficiently hunky to sweep any married woman of their feet.

The production design is worthy mention from the vehicles to the interior setting of the architect’s  stunning residence.  The period atmosphere with cinematography by Franz Lustig is worth the film’s price of admission.

Kent’s film ends up as a sprawling romantic drama that could have been more effective if the film emphasized certain parts instead of playing everything with uniform importance.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPv3e2FZOgo

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TIFF 2018 Movie Review: COLETTE (UK 2018)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Colette Poster
Trailer

Colette is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.

Writers:

Richard Glatzer (screenplay by), Wash Westmoreland (screenplay by) |2 more credits »

COLETTE tells the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley), celebrated French writer and gay icon, not the average early-20th-century woman.
  The film follows her rise to fame while her writing credit is stolen by her husband.  One cannot help but side with Colette against her obnoxious and cowardly husband, Willy (Dominic West) but the script makes him a too easy target to hate.  Knightley prances about as if she is the best actress o the planet playing Colette, even more so giving the impression that it is just such a huge thing when she bears her breast in a scene onstage.
  Giving the impression of being totally staged and manipulative, the film gets more monotonous during the second half when it could have become more exciting. 

 

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Film Review: COLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016)

collateralbeauty_movie_poster.jpgCOLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016) **
Directed by David Frankel

Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley

Review by Gilbert Seah

The subject of coping with death has been dealt in dozens of ways in films. In the recent ARRIVAL, the death of Amy Adam’s daughter is tied into the main plot of alien arrival. This worked. In another space film GRAVITY, the Sandra Bullock character is given the grief of a dead child to humanize her character. The ploy did not work and the story looked totally fake. In the recent praised MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Casey Affleck’s character comes to terns with death in a gut-wrenching emotional tale of redemption. In David Frankel’s COLLATERAL BEAUTY based on a script by Allan Roeb, Will Smith’s character finally accepts his daughter’s death with all the sugar coating of all the Christmas cakes in a pastry shop. Despite attempts to make the story believable, COLLATERAL BEAUTY is plain horrid!

When the trailer for COLLATERAL BEAUTY first appeared on the internet, Guardian Magazine came out with an article heralding the arrival of the worst movie of 2016. And understandably so! The trailer showed Will Smith as a man grieving the death of his daughter by writing letters to Death, Time and Love. Scenes that follow show the personifications of these abstractions with Smith speaking to each of them, played by Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore and Keira Knightley respectively. The music and mood are sloppy sweet sugary, especially catered for Christmas. Who would want to watch such Hollywood bulls***? There is one word for all this, in the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge – HUMBUG!

But the film is not all that bad. The reason that Death, Time and Love are in the story, actors playing the parts, is to fool Howard Inlet (Smith) so that he can be deemed mentally unfit to hold on to his shares and thus prevent his firm from being sold. So three employees, who have worked with Howard since the incident of his daughter’s death, Whit (Edward Norton), Simon (Michael Pena) and Claire (Kate Winslet) plot the scheme. But this not not mean that the film is all that good either.

Director Frankel who directed THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA knows how to set up scenes. The first 10 minutes of PRADA when Meryl Streep, the no-nonsense head of the Prada office strides in – to the total disarray of all the other scattering employees is one unforgettable, beautifully executed scene. There are a few of these in COLLATERAL BEAUTY, like the confrontation scene between Howard and Time on the subway train, but the individual set-ups do not work on the whole. The metaphor of the falling dominoes is used to the maximum of a ridiculous three times. The film eventually settles to boredom as it is hard to care for characters made so unbelievable.

It is a complete waste to see Oscar Winners Winslet and Mirren in this silly story. Mirren does bring a bit of dignity into this nonsense but she must be laughing her head off, off screen.

The film partly works when it pokes fun at the credibly of the story. When Howard looks shocked at the sudden appearance of Death, Time and Love, the shock looks genuine – probably because of genuine disbelief. The film is the worst when Howard pines over his dead daughter – the worst of the worst has him watching a video of him playing with her, when she was still alive in a park, and shouting… “Daddy, daddy!” If this scene was not so obviously manipulative, it might have jerked a tear or two from a few of an innocent audience.

There is a twist in the plot at the end which makes no sense to the whole story of what Howard is going through.

Christmas brings along good films – Oscar contenders. But it also brings the worst of Hollywood films – COLLATERAL BEAUTY being one of them.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isQ5Ycie73U

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Happy Birthday: Keira Knightley (March 26)

Happy Birthday to actress Keira Knightley.

See reviews of her best films:

MOVIE POSTERSEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
dir. Lorene Scafaria
Cast:
Steve Carell

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARLPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
2003
dir. Gore Verbinski

Pride and PrejudicePride & Prejudice
2005
dir. Joe Wright
Starring
Keira Knightley
Judi Dench

The JacketThe Jacket
2005
dir. John Maybury
starring
Adrien Brody
Knightley

ATONEMENTAtonement
2007
dir. Joe Wright
Starring
Knightley
James McAvoy

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's ChestPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2006
dir. Gore Verbinski

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN AT WORLD'S ENDPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2007
dir. Gore Verbinski
Starring
Johnny Deep
Knightley

the duchessThe Duchess
2008
dir. Saul Dibb
Starring
Knightley
Ralph Fiennes

MOVIE POSTERANNA KARENINA
2012
dir. Joe Wright
Stars:
Keira Knightley
Jude Law

MOVIE POSTER A DANGEROUS METHOD
dir. David Cronenberg
Stars:
Michael Fassbender
Keira Knightley