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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/

FILM RATING

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4 year old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

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‘The Dead Don’t Hurt’ Review | The Unforgiving Frontier: A Tender Exploration of Romance, Revenge, and Redemption

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This review was made possible by watching an early preview thanks to Escapes supported by the BFI and the National Lottery for organising free nationwide screenings designed to encourage everyone to rediscover the joys of independent cinema alongside Signature Entertainment for providing an advance screener.

In a cinematic landscape dominated by flashier, more ostentatious productions, “The Dead Don’t Hurt” is a refreshing reminder that sometimes the most powerful stories are the ones that unfold with quiet intensity and conviction. Viggo Mortensen’s Passion Project is a masterclass in storytelling, weaving a complex tapestry of romance, revenge, and redemption that will leave you breathless. The film burrows deep into the human psyche, excavating the complexities of love, resilience, and the unyielding pursuit of justice. This poignant Western, set against the unforgiving backdrop of the American frontier in the 1860s, is a tender exploration of star-crossed lovers Vicky Krieps and Mortensen himself, whose chemistry is electric.

Vivienne Le Coudy (Vicky Krieps) is a fiercely independent woman who embarks on a relationship with Danish immigrant Holger Olsen (Viggo Mortensen). After meeting Olsen in San Francisco, she agrees to travel with him to his home near the quiet town of Elk Flats, Nevada, where they start a life together. The outbreak of the Civil War separates them when Olsen makes a fateful decision to fight for the Union. This leaves Vivienne to fend for herself in a place controlled by corrupt Mayor Rudolph Schiller (Danny Huston) and his unscrupulous business partner, powerful rancher Alfred Jeffries (Garret Dillahunt). Alfred’s violent, wayward son Weston (Solly McLeod) aggressively pursues Vivienne, who is determined to resist his unwanted advances. When Olsen returns from the war, he and Vivienne must confront and make peace with the person each has become. Both a tragic love story and a nuanced depiction of the conflict between revenge and forgiveness, The Dead Don’t Hurt is a portrait of a passionate woman determined to stand up for herself in an unforgiving world dominated by ruthless men.

The film’s narrative is a deliberate departure from traditional Western tropes, opting instead for a non-linear, flashback-driven approach that masterfully weaves together the past and present. This structural experimentation pays off handsomely, as throughout I was treated to a rich tapestry of emotions and events that unfold with quiet assurance. 

Signature Entertainment

In his feature directing debut, “Falling” (2020), Mortensen demonstrated his versatility as a performer by taking on the complex role of a gay man grappling with the care of his ailing, bigoted father. Now, with “The Dead Don’t Hurt” ” inspired by an image of his mother, Mortensen crafted a narrative that drew upon the medieval adventure stories of his childhood. The film, “The Dead Don’t Hurt,” is a testament to his ability to reimagine the Western genre, injecting new life into its conventions while remaining faithful to its core.

However, what truly sets “The Dead Don’t Hurt” apart is its thoughtful exploration of themes that are still all too relevant today. He employs a historical narrative to tackle pressing contemporary issues as Mortensen’s script delves into the complexities of immigrant relationships, the ongoing struggles of gender-based violence and the struggle for identity and agency in a world dominated by men. These are weighty topics, with themes of innate human evil, white privilege, and the unyielding perseverance of women in the face of adversity are timely and thought-provoking. Mortensen’s vision is refreshingly uncompromising, refusing to shy away from the harsh realities of life in this era.

Signature Entertainment

Through the character of Vivienne, Mortensen masterfully explores the tension between assimilation and cultural heritage, as she navigates her life as an American settler while proudly embracing her French-Canadian roots. This poignant portrayal is underscored by Vivienne’s nostalgic reminiscences of her mother’s stories about Joan of Arc, a symbol of female empowerment and nonconformity that resonates deeply with Vivienne’s quest for self-discovery.

At the heart of this magnificent film is Vicky Krieps, whose performance as Vivienne is nothing short of phenomenal. Her portrayal of a feisty, resilient woman determined to stand up for herself in an unforgiving world is nothing short of remarkable. “The Dead Don’t Hurt” is a story about Vivienne, a fiercely independent French-Canadian florist, played by Krieps with breathtaking nuance. Her character’s indomitable spirit shines brightly throughout the film, as she navigates the treacherous terrain of a male-dominated society with unwavering determination. Mortensen’s performance as Holger Olsen, her Danish-born carpenter love interest, is equally impressive, imbuing his character with quiet strength and vulnerability. Their romance blossoms in a tender, slow-burning dance that will leave you rooting for them.

Krieps’ performance truly steals the spotlight. Her Vivienne is a beacon of hope and resilience, shining brightly in the darkest of times. Her character’s love for Olsen is authentic and tender, making their romance all the more heart-wrenching when confronted with the cruel realities of their world.

Signature Entertainment

With its wide-open vistas and 19th-century setting, The Dead Don’t Hurt has the look of a classic western. The film is stunning, capturing the rugged beauty of the American frontier in the 1860s. The score, composed by Mortensen himself, is equally impressive, adding depth and emotion to the narrative without ever overpowering it. But it’s not just the visuals that make “The Dead Don’t Hurt” stand out – it’s the attention to detail, the care with which every aspect of the film has been crafted. From the costumes to the production design, every element feels carefully considered and deliberate. Throughout, the film was primarily captured on location in the picturesque town of Durango, Mexico, a renowned hub for Western productions since the 1960s and ’70s. In collaboration with cinematographer Marcel Zyskind, production designers Jason Clarke and Carol Spier, and costume designer Anne Dixon, who had all previously worked on Falling, Mortensen drew upon his extensive knowledge of Westerns to shape the visual aesthetic of the drama.

The film’s extensive shooting schedule also took crews to the breathtaking landscapes of Eastern Canada, where the rugged terrain and untamed wilderness provided an ideal backdrop for the story. Additionally, the production team ventured to Western Canada, where the majestic mountains and sprawling valleys served as a dramatic canvas for the narrative’s unfolding events.

Signature Entertainment

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ultimately, “The Dead Don’t Hurt” is a testament to the power of love and human connection in the face of adversity whilst also being a masterclass in emotional depth and nuanced storytelling. It’s a bittersweet Western that will leave you breathless and moved to tears. With its soaring score, exquisite cinematography, and outstanding performances from its leads, this film is an absolute must-see for anyone who loves cinema, It’s an instant classic western that deserves to be seen on the big scree.

Signature Entertainment presents “The Dead Don’t Hurt” exclusively in Cinemas from Friday 7th June

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‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Review | A New Generation Rises

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“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a breathtaking continuation of its predecessor, evolving deeper into the reimagined world established in the previous trilogy. Caesar’s (the venerable leader whose memory still looms large over this burgeoning saga) legacy expands in a manner that draws parallels to our very own and how his actions are used for both noble and nefarious purposes. Situated approximately three centuries after the tumultuous events of “War for the Planet of the Apes,” this standalone entry serves as both a homage to its predecessors and a bold new beginning for the franchise. 

Director Wes Ball breathes new life into this world set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

In the absence of Caesar, Noa (Owen Teague) assumes the central role, shouldering the responsibility of ushering in a new era. Noa’s character is meticulously crafted, exhibiting a nuanced balance of reverence for Caesar’s principles and a bold willingness to question and re-evaluate them. Teague’s multifaceted portrayal of Noa is crucial to the narrative, as his reinterpretation of Caesar’s seminal mantra – modifying the phrase from “Apes together strong” to “No, together strong,” with humanity incorporated – establishes the philosophical, biblical and ideological foundation for the trilogy’s future development. Noa is our guide through this new era and evolution, ultimately becoming the heart of this new chapter. He’s a kind and resolute young ape. Forced by circumstances to defend his home, the Eagle Clan, Noa embarks on a journey of self-discovery during which he wrestles with who to trust and must draw upon his inner strength along the way. Throughout his journey Noa encounters feral human Mae (Freya Allan) and perhaps my favourite character the orangutan Raka (Peter Macon). 

© 20th Century Studios.

As a lifelong fan and enthusiast of the Planet of the Apes franchise, I have always been fascinated by its recent modern trilogy, helmed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise) and Matt Reeves (Dawn/War). My admiration for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes specifically is particularly noteworthy, making it a daunting task for any subsequent director to follow in their footsteps. Wes Ball, known for his work on the Maze Runner trilogy, was announced to take the reins of the franchise. Initially, I adopted a cautious approach, eager to witness his take on the series. With “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes”, Ball has not only met but exceeded my expectations, delivering a cinematic coming-of-age journey that transcends. This film is not only a worthy continuation of the franchise but also a profound exploration of complex themes, including family, community, trust, and cooperation, which resonated deeply. 

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a stunning visual achievement, showcasing WETA’s unparalleled mastery of digital effects. The team’s impressive craftsmanship effortlessly goes beyond the boundaries of CGI, rendering the apes as photo-realistic as possible as these captivating characters will leave you fully invested in their world. The meticulous attention to detail in their movement, facial expressions, lip movements, and fur is particularly noteworthy thanks to the visual effects artists and the actors who embody and perform as these characters through motion/performance capture, adding to the overall sense of authenticity and immersion. Furthermore, the film’s ambitious scope, and world-building delve deeper into the complex society of ape civilisation than ever before in the Planet of the Apes franchise, which is a testament to the filmmakers’ vision and dedication to pushing the boundaries of storytelling. 

© 20th Century Studios.

Screenwriter Josh Friedman brings such an impressive portfolio to the table which includes notable collaborations with Steven Speilberg, the latest being James Cameron on the Avatar franchise. Now he brings his expertise from the Na’vi to the Apes, taking the time to craft such nuanced relationships between these characters and their setting whether that would be the Eagle Clan’s homestead or Proximus Caesar’s kingdom. Skillfully he blends elements of the previous entries such as War’s horseback road-trip dynamic mixed with the intricate character arcs, motivations, and conflict from Dawn. But this being a new era for the franchise, Friedman introduces fresh concepts and ideas as the film delves deep into the fraught dynamics between humans and apes, refusing to simplify the multifaceted layers of conflict and coexistence that define their interactions. This commitment to maintaining the tension provides a rich soil for character growth and development and ensures that the general audience and die-hard fans remain invested in the journey of both species.

The addition of renowned actor Andy Serkis as a special consultant has yielded impressive results, as the new cast bring such a fresh yet faithful interpretation to the iconic franchise. While we acknowledge the pioneering work of the original cast, including Serkis, Karin Konoval, and Terry Notary, in their groundbreaking performances as Caesar, Maurice, and Rocket, it is undeniable that their absence is deeply felt. However, Owen Teague’s masterful portrayal of the lead character, Noa, infused with a sense of soulful sensitivity, helps to bridge the gap. Teague’s nuanced performance skillfully captures the complexity of the character’s personality, doubts, and perceptions of his world while still maintaining the essential essence of Caesar’s intelligence and goodness. Noa is on the cusp of a pivotal coming-of-age bonding ceremony, but as he embarks on his perilous quest, Noa finds an unlikely ally in Raka (Peter Macon), a wise and aged orangutan who follows the teachings of Caesar and shares with him the storied history of the first Elder’s leadership. 

© 20th Century Studios.

Peter Macon stands out in this role, becoming, in my eyes, a scene-stealer. Raka clings to the ideals of peace and coexistence embraced by Caesar. With unwavering hope, he seeks to impart Caesar’s wisdom to Noa and preserve Caesar’s legacy for a new generation. Unfortunately, the teachings in question have been increasingly misinterpreted and distorted to justify and condone behaviours that would be unacceptable to Caesar. Notwithstanding this, Macon’s performance is noteworthy for its humour, sincerity, and thought-provoking impact on the character of Noa, portrayed by Teague.

Kevin Durand delivers a majestic wonderful performance as the main antagonist, who is feared by all. Proximus Caesar is a force to be reckoned with. With his bloodshot eyes and imposing demeanour, the new ruler of the Ape Kingdom seeks to secure dominance by appropriating human knowledge and technology, ensuring the continued supremacy of his kind. Proximus is formidable alongside his army. 

While Mae, the film’s central human character, may initially seem to conform to a traditional damsel-in-distress archetype, Freya Allan’s nuanced performance reveals a more complex and multifaceted individual. In her breakout cinematic role, Allan brings depth and richness to Mae’s character, which defies simplistic categorisation. As the story unfolds, Mae’s intentions become increasingly ambiguous, leaving the audience questioning her motivations and allegiances. Allan’s portrayal of Mae is marked by a subtle interplay of trustworthiness and cunning, which keeps the viewer in a state of uncertainty, mirroring the protagonist’s own conflicted emotions and assumptions. This masterful balance of traits not only adds depth to the narrative but also fosters a sense of emotional resonance and psychological complexity.

© 20th Century Studios.

What sets “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” apart as a sequel is its innovative approach to the narrative of its predecessor. The film reimagines the original story as a deeply ingrained mythological framework, imbuing it with a sense of reverence and significance. The passage of time has erased the specific details of human history, leaving behind only remnants of decay and rebirth. However, when Noa is confronted with competing visions of the past and the world beyond his community, the void left by this forgotten history becomes a palpable character in its own right.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the film is a visual feast for the eyes, it also has a substantial amount of heart, making it a complete cinematic experience. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” left me yearning for more, eager to see where the story will take us next in this magnificent world. The film also resonated with me long after the credits rolled, which is a testament to the power of storytelling and visual artistry and a must-see for fans of the franchise. 20th Century Studios must invest heavily in this world, as Ball’s thoughtful dramatic approach and the detailed, nuanced motion-capture performances create a rich tapestry of personalities and backstories. These carefully crafted histories serve as the foundation for a thrilling new trilogy that builds tension and suspense as the stakes escalate, culminating in heart-pumping action sequences that are both physically and emotionally resonant.

TOGETHER STRONG

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‘Lassie: A New Adventure’ Review | A Nostalgic Canine Caper

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If one is of a certain generation, they may fondly recall the weekly anticipation of witnessing the escapades of Lassie on the small and big screens within the comfort of their home. The audience followed the canine’s daring missions with earnest enthusiasm. In an exciting development, Lassie makes a triumphant return to the silver screen on the 3rd of May exclusively to Vue Cinemas, just in time for the forthcoming bank holiday weekend. ‘Lassie: A New Adventure’ showcases the beloved collie once again venturing forth to uphold justice and restore order. This latest instalment marks the continuation of the cherished franchise, building upon the resounding success of ‘Lassie Comes Home, released in 2020. The film serves as an ideal opportunity for parents to introduce their children to a timeless hero, evoking nostalgic sentiments from their childhoods, including mine. 

During the school summer holidays, Flo faces the dilemma of leaving his beloved Lassie behind to accompany his family on a trip to Gran Canaria. Instead, he opts to spend his vacation at his Aunt Cosima’s farm in South Tyrol, where he bonds with her Jack Russell Terrier, Pippa, and her foster children, Kleo and Henri. As the group settles in, they become privy to a troubling trend of missing pedigree dogs in the vicinity. Initially presumed to be mere runaways, the situation takes a dire turn when Pippa goes missing from the farm. Thus begins a suspenseful narrative, as Lassie’s detective instincts are put to the test in a race against time to uncover the truth behind the disappearances, rescue Pippa, and thwart the nefarious dognapping scheme.

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

“Lassie: A New Adventure” brings back the cherished Collie heroine in a heartwarming tale that captures the essence of family, friendship, and loyalty. Director Hanno Olderdissen masterfully guides the cast through a picturesque adventure in the Deutsche countryside, where Lassie, played by the talented Bandit, teams up with her young companions to outsmart these dognappers led by the menacing Delphine, portrayed brilliantly by Maike Jüttendonk and her partner Dustin portrayed by Dennis Mojen 

This engaging Canine Caper explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance, underscored by the endearing bond between Flo and Lassie. Nico Marischka shines once again as Flo, Lassie’s faithful owner, while the supporting cast members add depth and charm to the story. The film stays true to the classic Lassie formula, offering familiar tropes and heartwarming moments that will resonate with fans of the franchise. While the plot may follow a predictable path, the film’s emphasis on timeless values and the enduring bond between humans and animals is where it truly shines. The film’s blend of heartwarming moments and thrilling escapades keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, as the protagonists navigate the challenges before them.

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Olderdissen and writer Andreas Cordes skillfully blend nostalgia with contemporary storytelling in “Lassie, A New Adventure,” resulting in a film that is both heartwarming and captivating for viewers of all ages transporting audiences into Lassie’s world, where messages of courage and compassion shine through amidst challenges. The film’s emphasis on family values and the unbreakable bond between humans and animals strikes a chord with audiences of all ages.

Lassie’s overall tone is undeniably feel-good, providing an enjoyable viewing experience, particularly for younger audiences. While the film may be perceived as quaint and old-fashioned by more media-saturated viewers, this very aspect adds to its charm, evoking a sense of classic adventure akin to Enid Blyton’s beloved Famous Five series. The colour palette and cinematography contribute to the film’s whimsical, storybook-like aesthetic, creating a nostalgic atmosphere.

Since her inception in Eric Knight’s 1943 novel “Lassie Come Home,” the iconic Collie heroine has continued to resonate with audiences, proving to be a timeless and beloved character. Additionally, the subplot involving Gerhardt at the Grand Hotel Sternberg adds depth to the narrative, showcasing themes of self-discovery and unexpected connections. 

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

It is worth noting that the film is officially titled “Lassie – Ein Neues Abenteuer,” indicating its origin as a German production that has been dubbed into English for broader accessibility.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, “Lassie, A New Adventure” offers a delightful cinematic experience that harkens back to classic storytelling, replete with endearing characters and a heartwarming message whilst serving as a delightful tribute to a beloved classic. Its blend of nostalgia and contemporary elements makes it a charming and memorable viewing choice for families and fans of timeless tales. 

Lassie: A New Adventure is now unleashed exclusively to Vue Cinemas

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