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Drama

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

Tribeca Film Festival | ‘7 Days’ – A Sweet Rom-com To Keep You Going

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We’ve reached the point now where the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns we’ve faced over the past year are starting to become backdrops for films, and perhaps it’s not something we want to re-live and it’s not something we’re desperate to revisit, but 7 Days has a really touching and moving story at its centre and when you look past the coronavirus, it’s a really compelling story and makes for a good film.

At the start of the film, we meet Ravi (played by Karan Soni, best known for playing Dopinder in Deadpool) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan- Blockers, The Broken Hearts Gallery). The two have been set up by their old-fashioned Indian parents and are on a pre-arranged date. The two of them have absolutely nothing in common and the whole afternoon is very awkward for them both. But then the COVID outbreak gets worse and Ravi must spend the next few days at Rita’s place as he can’t get a car or a hotel. We soon witness the unlikely bond that forms as the two spend their days together despite being very different people.

7 Days marks Roshan Sethi’s directorial debut and he does a great job here. Not only does he capture so well what it’s like to live, and to love, in the time of COVID but the film, which was also co-written by Sethi, is really funny and leaves you feeling good which is exactly what you want after having lived through the last year.

The film’s quite short as it is with a runtime of just 86 minutes but even so, it does feel very long. Whether that’s because there’s only really two characters that we’re seeing for almost an hour and a half, or if it’s because it takes place almost entirely in one location, it does drag a bit. The two characters seem like polar opposites as we discover Rita drinking beer and eating leftover chicken for breakfast despite claiming to be a vegetarian and not drinking and at times the film feels like it’s almost running out of things to do with these characters that at first seem so far away from each other and the film does feel quite long despite its rather short runtime.

But on the whole, 7 Days manages to get the tone between comedy and drama just right with lots of funny lines but also just the right amount of heartfelt and poignant moments. The film is bookended by short video clips of real-life Indian couples talking about their marriages and how they met, and the two main characters discuss these two viewpoints of a more orthodox arranged marriage versus love marriages and the film does a really good job of presenting them both to us equally.

7 Days works well and manages to avoid being a depressing film about the pandemic, in part due to the really good performances from Soni and Viswanathan and the wonderful chemistry the two have, but also due to the really good script by Sethi and Soni. And whilst we will doubtlessly see more movies set during this time, 7 Days is a sweet rom-com to keep you going.

★★★☆☆

7 Days premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Drama

Supernova | A Powerful And Touching Film Worth Seeing

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Get the tissues ready because Supernova is a real tear-jerker. It’s one of those films that right from the very first moment you know it’s going to hit you right in the feels. And Supernova expertly gets that blend right between sadness and hope to the point that the film is an excellent well-rounded film that has real emotion and isn’t just a complete sucker punch to the gut.

Sam (played by Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are partners of 20 years and are travelling around the Lake District in their old RV. The thing is that two years ago, Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Over the course of their journey, they encounter friends and family and their ideas for the future clash as secrets are revealed, really testing their love for each other in a way that they’ve never experienced before. It’s a really devastating film about love and about loss too but it’s incredibly powerful.

For the first half of the film, there’s quite little actually about Tusker’s dementia and instead, writer/director Harry Macqueen decides to show us just how strong the love between the two is and we see that they’ve both put their careers on hold at this difficult point in their lives. Sam was a musician and Tusker a writer but they’ve both been unable to continue with these with everything they’re going through. But we see the incredible love that these two people have for each other.

This is, in part, down to the phenomenal performances from both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. And that’s what really takes this film up a notch to be an excellent film. Firth and Tucci are both outstanding and give some of their best performances of their careers. The film is entirely driven by their remarkable performances and everything else helps to compliment that to create a really moving film. The cinematography is really beautiful- as you’d expect- with the gorgeous Lake District as the backdrop for film and there are some really lovely wide shots of the incredible scenery in Supernova.

For the majority of the film, the writing is really good too, however, there are a few instances where it doesn’t quite feel like what a real person would say in that situation in the moment. Instead, it sounds like the sort of thing a writer would have written- which of course it is, but because of how touching and powerful it is, and because of how well Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are delivering these lines it doesn’t stand out too much.

Supernova is a very emotional film, particularly when you consider the meaning behind the title. Director Harry Macqueen says that “a supernova is the massive explosion event at the end of the evolution of a star”. “For me this has always been representative of Tusker himself- a man who shines bright in all he does, brings light and laughter to almost every situation and is, of course, dying. It’s quite literal in that regard, really; he knows his final chapter is just around the corner.”

Supernova is a film that’s worth seeing, even if that’s just to see Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci giving career-best performances but there’s so much more to the film as it explores the sophisticated, mature themes of love and loss. Just make sure to take some tissues, or maybe even a bucket, to collect your tears.

★★★★☆

Supernova is released in UK cinemas on June 25th.

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Action

Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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Genre:

Action, adventure, drama

Release Date:

November 5, 2021

Director:

Chloé Zhao

Cast:

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot Summary:

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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