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Stan & Ollie (2018)

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I thought you’d retired.
No, we’re-we’re...
we’re getting older, but we’re not done yet.

Simply nostalgia. “Stan & Ollie” is a trip to a bygone era when I was a little boy. When I returned from school on Friday afternoon, I threw my schoolbag somewhere in a corner and turned on the television. Then I changed the channel (in those days it meant getting up and pressing a button) to ARD (or ZDF? I can’t remember) to watch “Schweinchen Dick”. And after that, there were always black and white films with Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel & Hardy. I can safely say that this was the highlight of the week. Something I was looking forward to, after a whole week at school. And with this movie about the legendary “Stan & Ollie” I was once again that little kid who sat on the sofa, dangling his legs and staring enthusiastically at the TV.

 

 

The resemblance is stunning.

I’ll immediately start with the most eye-catching aspect of this film. The two actors Steve Coogan (Stan Laurel) and John C. Reilly (Oliver Hardy) look a lot like this famous duo. It was as if these two clowns were back alive and kicking. And although a lot has changed in terms of humor, it’s still immensely funny to see the blundering of Stan and Ollie once again. And according to the film, in real life, Laurel and Hardy were also such a disaster causing hilarious moments in every situation. Just watch how Stan is struggling with his luggage as he tries to reach the reception desk in a small hotel in England. Even though a younger audience will say this is just old-fashioned and bland humor, I still couldn’t resist laughing about it a bit. Well, it must have something to do with age.

 

 

A last tour through the UK.

The basis of the film is a tour through England and Ireland. The glorious film period of Stan and Ollie is on the verge of dying. No one is interested anymore in their silly and crazy pranks. And to get a movie production house interested in producing one more movie (because the two already reached a blessed age) with them, a tour through the UK is set up. The start of this tour looked like the demise of this comic duo. They have to spend the night in second-class hotels. And not many people show up. A clear example of past glory. In short, alleged success eluded, even though their performances were an example of routinely put together sketches.

 

 

The wives arrive.

It is only when the wives of Stan and Ollie, Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) and the Russian Ida Kitaeva Laurel (Nina Arianda), cross the ocean to join them in the U.K., that the tensions rise. Old wounds about a missed opportunity are reopened. And it’s abundantly clear the two women can’t get along very well. The two comedians are inseparable. They sometimes look like an old, married couple who tolerate each other’s faults and shortcomings. The funny thing is that in real life the roles were divided differently. In the movies, Stan was the klutz and a dumb guy who didn’t know what was going on half of the time. In reality, Stan was in charge and he was the one who wasn’t afraid to speak up when it came to contracts and gages. He was also the one who came up with new sketches and wrote it down in detail. And he continued to do so even after Ollie died.

 

 

Their famous last dance was touching.

Stan and Ollie were masters in the processing of subtleties. The details made it funny. And many (such as Tommy Cooper, Benny Hill, and Mr. Bean) used it in their work. “Stan & Ollie” was an extremely funny movie in many ways. But it was also extremely sad at the same time. There’s a fine line between a smile and a tear in this movie. The last performance of these icons of the silent movie in the end (although it was medically irresponsible for Ollie), was the perfect ending. A farewell dance of a famous and brilliant duo. Unparalleled in the history of comic film.

 

My rating 8/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Drama

Retro Review | ‘All is lost’ – Starring Robert Redford

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Normally I start a review with a quote from the film in question. That’s a bit difficult in this case since “All is lost” lacks any conversation. The only thing that would qualify is a frustrated cry of the famous F-word. For the rest it is just sloshing water, creaking wood, noise of hitting ropes, and lots of rain and falling water, you hear throughout the film. I can understand his frustration, because how the hell is it possible to have a collision between your pleasure boat and a container on that immeasurable ocean while doing an afternoon nap?

 

All is lost

 

It’s difficult to call this movie unnerving exciting. I dare to say that it was dead boring after a certain time. The only decision I took after watching this film is that I’ll never set foot on such a boat and float around on the ocean with nothing but water around you as far as you can look. And in the worst case, not only around you, but also down at you.

 

All is lost

 

Robert Redford, the icon of the white screen, had to carry the complete movie. He was, after all, the only living figure in this wet movie. Besides an unidentified hand at the last moment. No idea what RR‘s name was. Besides, there is a total lack of background information about his character. Except that we know where exactly he is sailing. I can’t complain about his acting performance because this was sometimes astounding. The only thing that amazed me was how stoically calm he was the whole time. A damn container makes a leak, no electricity or radio, a storm that shows up, the whole boat turns upside down, he hits his head against an iron pole, the boat is sinking, the lifeboat ends up in a storm, also turns upside down and then it catches fire … but does he keep a straight face? Yes sir! He’s a paragon of utmost restraint. I found this a bit exaggerated because I certainly would need a spare box of diapers in those circumstances!

 

All is lost

 

The explanation might be that he’s an experienced sailor. Yet this experienced sailor had to read a  handbook on how to determine his position using the stars. And apparently, he never used a sextant before. There were times when it was so predictable. I said at one time it wouldn’t surprise me if “Jaws” would suddenly show up. Afterward, they wandered around his dinghy. And that his boat could sink at any moment, could not stop him to crawl aboard a second time. And of course the second time it went down.

 

All is lost

 

The movie itself wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t very entertaining either. And sailing seems to be a dull affair after all. The end was cheesy and followed the well known Hollywood guidelines. For me, the end would have gained enormously in strength, if at that ultimate moment RR wants to grasp the saving hand, he’d be dragged down by a great white shark. But that is too exaggerated and would be enormously ironic.

 

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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Adventure

Enola Holmes | Very Much Worth A Watch

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Enola Holmes [Netflix]

‘Enola Holmes’ is one of those films that confirms my belief that I will never make a serious film critic. There will no doubt be people who will review this film pointing out the number of flaws, from the inaccurate backdrops to the overtly political messages (BLM and Feminism are all over this film, which personally made me love it more), but none of that concerns me. I thought it was terrific fun and enjoyed it immensely.

I watched this with my 12-year-old daughter who is probably slap bang in the demographic target audience of this film, and like me, she loved it. What is clear is that this is a career goal vehicle for star and producer Millie Bobby Brown, who is allowed to show off her considerable comic timing, her tough as nails action abilities and demonstrate an emotional side she has shown so well previously in three years of ‘Stranger Things,’ and you know what it works. She is a completely enchanting screen presence from the moment we meet her as she clumsily, comedically struggles to ride a bike across a field.

The constant breaking of the 4th wall with narrations and knowing winks to the camera may grate on a few, but I thought it added to the charm of the whole piece, nobody is taking this too seriously, and that surely is the point. Henry Cavill comes in as older brother Sherlock in casting that probably helped get the film made, with Cavill turning up occasionally as the reassuring presence in Enola’s life, but is generally given very little to do. Likewise, Helena Bonham Carter is a touch of familiarity but is sparsely used. The subplot involving the darker side of Bonham Carter’s Eudoria’s disappearance isn’t fully explored and is one of the lower aspects of the film.

The film itself isn’t all slapstick, sweetness and light, Burn Gorman’s Linthorn is at the top end of sinister as a hired hitman who would have served as an equally terrifying adversary in one of older brother Sherlock’s adventures, and Sam Claflin has great fun as moustache-twirling “nasty” older brother Mycroft Holmes.

The film lags a little in the middle third which after the breakneck pace of the opening act is to be somewhat expected but picks up sufficiently for a more than satisfying conclusion.

Like most child stars, the true test is when that child becomes an adult, and Millie Bobby Brown has proved here that she has the presence and personality to be able to have a long and varied career. Only time will tell of course, but if nothing else this is a film that can be enjoyed for years to come. Great fun all round.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder  and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH and read some more of my film blogs on dominicholder.wordpress.com/

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