Show mobile navShow mobile nav

 

At The Movies

 

 

 

 

Florence Foster Jenkins

★★★★★

Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg

‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ is a story that revolves around a wealthy socialite ­ Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep ) ­ who fancies herself an opera diva. The fact that she doesn’t possess a single talented bone in her body does not appear to dissuade her at all. So deluded is Jenkins’ belief in her own talents that she is more than willing to share it with an audience; much to the dismay of her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant). But instead of giving her the hard truths and breaking her heart in the process he decides to play along and fulfil her dreams. This naturally means screening the audience, paying off critics for favourable reviews and ensuring that the supporting cast around her keep their shock, dismay and utter horror on the inside and off their I think it’s fair to say that by this point we’ve come to expect nothing but excellence from Meryl Streep and she does not disappoint this time around either. Her representation of Florence Foster Jenkins as a somewhat odd, gentle and assuredly delusional (at least when it comes to her own artistic merits) wealthy patron of the arts is endearing. Jenkins was undoubtedly a terrible singer with no redeeming qualities, but Streep plays her as a woman who is genuinely enamoured with the arts and wants nothing more than to express that love to the world through her own performances…to everyone else’s dismay. At no point do you get the sense that Jenkins was self-aggrandising or narcissistic, but rather someone who was unaware of their own limitations; unawareness that was in no small part encouraged and perpetuated for various reasons by the people around her.

Hugh Grant was very good as the flawed but sincerely dedicated husband St Clair Bayfield. Grant presents a character who despite his faults cares deeply for his wife. Bayfield goes through great lengths and great expense to preserve his wife’s dignity, confidence and overall wellbeing. It seems there was no price too big for his partner’s happiness. It was nice to see Grant in a bigger role again and no longer playing the floppy haired charmingly bumbling Englishman that the audience has come to associate him with.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a simple, funny and touching story about a woman who dreamt of being more than she could ever be and the people around her who went out of their way to create and support that dream. It’s a nice change of pace from the loud doom and gloom scenarios presented by superhero, action and disaster films that seem to be everywhere these days. It’s one of those films you can take your mom to and still have a fun time yourself.

This is definitely worth the price of admission

 

Reviewed by Andrew Fisun

florence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son of Saul

★★★

Director: László Nemes

Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Jerzy Walczak

Son of Saul is a difficult movie to watch, and I mean that both figuratively and literally…but first let me tell you more about the film.

Son of Saul is a low budget Hungarian movie made by first time director László Nemes.  The film has been the darling of the festival circuit for the last year having won an Oscar, Golden Globe and the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes to mention but a few of its accolades.  In other words it’s fair to say that a lot of people held this film in high regard.
The story revolves around Saul, a Jewish prisoner at the Aushwitz concentration camp during World War 2.  Saul is a Sonderkommando – a group of prisoners who help the Germans carry out the murders at the camp in exchange for a brief extension of their own lives.  The film begins when Saul discovers the body of a boy who he believes to be his son, and the plot revolves around his attempts to find a Rabbi who can bury the boy properly.
To be sure, this is a powerful movie but there are two aspects to look at – the subject matter and film itself.  Obviously Holocaust movies deal with a tragic and monstrous part of human history – it’s imporatant we never forget the Holocaust and in that respect this film should be seen by as many people as possible.  But on the other hand I’ll be the first to admit that this film isn’t easy to watch because of the way it’s been made.  The film has been shot in an entirely unique way – the camera stays almost entirely on a close up of Saul with a shallow focus so that every that isn’t directly in front of him remains blurred.  Occasionally the camera will change when another character becomes integral to the story but for at least 90% of the film we see the world through frustratingly blurry eyes.
And this is what I mean when I say the film is hard to watch.  Of course a film about mass murder is difficult to watch (the guy sitting next to me cried the whole way through) but the entire film is also headache inducing when watching it on the big screen.  Don’t get me wrong – I understand that there is artistic merit to the way this film is shot.  The horrors of what is happening stays on the periphery so we can focus on a single person, a single cog in the mass murder machine around him, but putting my arthouse beret aside for one minute it does get frustrating to watch a film shot entirely like this.
Let me put it this way – this film is very ‘arthouse’.  There will be plenty of self proclaimed film experts who will tell you that this is the greatest film they’ve ever seen, and maybe for them it is.  But if you are a person who watches movies to be entertained rather than challenged then this isn’t the film for you
Obviously it goes without saying that this is not a date movie, in fact it’s not even a particularly enjoyable movie to watch but it is an important movie and it deserves to be seen.  It’s tell an important story and it puts the viewer in a horrific place that only those who were there could ever understand.  It’s the closest a film has come to portraying the inner workings of a Nazi concentration camp… which begs the question – why keep it all out of focus?
saul

 

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *