A Movie A Day #45: Captives (1994, directed by Angela Pope)


captives

Rachel Clifford (Julia Ormond) is a dentist who has just divorced her unfaithful husband, Simon (Peter Capaldi).  Feeling directionless, Rachel shocks her posh friends by getting a part-time job as the dentist at Wadsworth Prison, the toughest and most notorious prison in Britain.  While most of the inmates in the all-male prison harass and proposition the attractive Rachel, she forms an unlikely friendship with Phil (Tim Roth), a sensitive inmate who is doing time for killing his previous girlfriend.  Phil and Rachel are both captives, Phil of the legal system and Rachel of her upper class existence.  With Phil getting weekly day releases so that he can take computer classes, he and Rachel become lovers outside of the prison walls.  When prison kingpin Tower (Colin Salmon) finds out about their affair, he attempts to blackmail both of them.

A British film which I don’t think ever got much attention in the U.S., Captives is a romantic drama that works because Julia Ormond and Tim Roth both give good performances and share a spark of passion.  Captives is one of the few films that could actually make a hookup in a public restroom seem romantic.  It’s just too bad that, after such a strong start, the movie gets bogged down in melodrama during the final twenty minutes.

A Movie A Day #28: Scandal (1989, directed by Michael Caton-Jones)


scandal-posterLondon.  1961.  Doctor Stephen Ward (played by John Hurt) is an artist and an osteopath.  He counts among his patients some of the most distinguished men and women in British society, including the Minister of War, John Profumo (Ian McKellen).  After meeting two young dancers, Christine Keeler (Joanne Whalley) and Mandy Rice-Davies (Bridget Fonda), Stephen becomes their mentor, the Henry Higgins to their Eliza Doolittle.

Under Stephen’s watchful eye, both Christine and Mandy are soon having affairs with some  of the most powerful members of Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government.  Christine becomes the mistress of both Profumo and KGB agent, Yevgeny Ivanov (Jeroen Krabbe), along with maintaining off-and-on relationships with drug dealer Johnny Edgecombe (played by singer Roland Gift) and musician Lucky Gordon (Leon Herbert).

When a disagreement leads to Johnny slashing Lucky’s face and then getting arrested for firing a gun at Stephen’s flat, the public learns the details of Christine’s affair with Profumo.  With the scandal rocking the British government, Stephen is a convenient scapegoat and soon finds himself on trial, charged with making a living off of “immoral earnings.”

Based on the real life scandal that led to the eventual fall of Harold Macmillan’s government, Scandal is remarkably faithful to the facts of the Profumo Affair, even if it did leave out some of the more interesting allegations.  (For instance, no mention is made of an alleged encounter between Mandy Rice-Davies and President Kennedy.)  Though it may seem tame by today’s standards, when Scandal was first released in 1989, it was considered to be something of a scandal itself and it initially got an X rating when it was released in the United States.  (The scandal over Scandal is one of the things that led to the MPAA adopting the NC-17 rating to distinguish between films for adults and “adult” films.  Of course, it didn’t work as a potential NC-17 still carries the same stigma as the X rating did.)

scandal

Scandal holds up well as both a recreation of London on the verge of the sexual revolution and a look at contrast between private and public mores.  Both Joanne Whalley and Bridget Fonda are excellent in the roles of Christine and Mandy.  Fonda gets to deliver the most famous line of the whole Profumo Affair when Mandy is told that Lord Astor has denied having had an affair with her.  “He would, wouldn’t he?” she says.  After I watched Scandal last night, I did some checking and I discovered that Bridget Fonda has not made a film since 2002.  She is missed.

Not surprisingly, Scandal‘s best performance comes from John Hurt, who plays Stephen Ward as a naive and well-meaning social butterfly who ultimately gets in over his head and pays a steep price for trusting that his friends would remain his friends.  Scandal is just one of many movies that proves what a great talent was lost when the world lost John Hurt.

RIP.

SCANDAL, John Hurt, 1989

Film Review: Eddie the Eagle (dir by Dexter Fletcher)


 

eddie_the_eagle_poster

Hi, everyone!

So. I’m guessing, after what happened last night, some of our readers might need something to cheer them up.  If you’re a regular reader of this site, I’m going to imagine that you love movies.  And, in your moment of uncertainty or whatever, you might want to watch a movie.  And, of course, you’re asking yourself, “What does Lisa think I should watch?”

Well, I’ll be honest.  My cinematic tastes tend to be rather dark.  I like horror movies.  I like movies with sad endings.  I love brutal satire.  I love movies that attack their audience and that dare you to look away.  So, I might not be the best person to ask…

But you know what?

There actually is a movie that I can recommend to anyone who needs to be cheered up this week.  Eddie the Eagle, which came out way back in February, is exactly the type of movie that you would expect an arthouse snob like me to dismiss.  It’s a feel-good sports movie, one that is based on a true story but which also features a lot of composite characters and manufactured drama.  No, Eddie the Eagle is perhaps not the type of film that you would expect me to enjoy but, when I finally got around to watching it a few days ago, I absolutely loved it!

Eddie the Eagle tells the story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a somewhat eccentric Englishman who dreams of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite the fact that he’s not all that athletically inclined.  When he’s turned down for a spot on the Olympic skiing team, Eddie decides to try to go to the Olympics as a ski jumper.  Working to Eddie’s advantage is the fact that there are no other English ski jumpers.  (We’re told that it’s been over 60 years since the UK even sent a ski jumper to the Olympics.)  In theory, Eddie should be able to qualify for the Olympic team just by showing up.  Working to Eddie’s disadvantage is the fact that the snooty British Olympic officials don’t want him to represent the UK in the Olympics.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Eddie has no experience as a ski jumper and only a few months to learn how to do it.  And, if Eddie makes any mistakes during one of his jumps, he could easily be severely injured or perhaps even die.

Most people would probably just give up and find something practical to do with their life but not Eddie!  Eddie has a dream and he’s going to achieve it, no matter what.  Fortunately, Eddie finds a coach.  Alcoholic Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) used to be a champion ski jumper but he’s spent the last few years drinking and being bitter.  At first, Bronson doesn’t want anything to do with Eddie but eventually, Eddie wins him over with his sincerity and his refusal to give up.  As Eddie explains to Bronson, he doesn’t care whether or not he wins a medal.  He just wants to compete…

And really, it shouldn’t work.  I should be complaining about how shamelessly manipulative this movie is.  I should be making fun of the fact that it features almost every sports film cliché imaginable.  But dammit, it’s such a sweet movie!  Director Dexter Fletcher does a great job filming Eddie’s jumps (often times from his point of view) and Taron Egerton is so charmingly odd in the role that you can’t help but cheer whenever Eddie manages to land without crippling himself.  Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman does a good job of grounding the movie in reality (which makes it all the more ironic that, unlike Egerton, Jackman is playing a fictional character).  Add to that, this film features a somewhat random Christopher Walken cameo!  Seriously, you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “This is a good movie but I just wish Christopher Walken was here…” and then suddenly …. THERE’S CHRISTOPHER WALKEN!

Eddie the Eagle is a sweet and sincere burst of positivity.  It’s the perfect antidote to 2016!