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Wednesday, 18 Jan 2012, 17:09


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Weekly film review by: Vincent Camilleri


“My Week With Marilyn" 

Michelle Williams Marilyn Monroe
Eddie Redmayne Colin Clarke
Kenneth Branagh Sir Lawrence Olivier
Julia Ormond Vivien Leigh
Judi Dench Dame Sybil Thorndike
Emma Watson Lucy

Directed by Simon Curtis

Running time: 99 minutes

Back in 1960 Marilyn Monroe won a Golden Globe as Best Actress in the Music/Comedy category for her performance in Billy Wilder’s cult comedy Some Like it Hot. Last Sunday, Michelle Williams won her Golden Globe in the same category for delivering an amazing portrayal of the Blonde Bombshell in a feature film focused on a particular period in her dramatic life.

My Week With Marilyn is taken from a diary kept by Colin Clark whose fascination with cinema and strong determination earned him a job as third assistant director to Sir Lawrence Olivier who was starring in, and directing, The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957. In his diary published with the title “The Prince, The Showgirl and Me” Mr Clark revealed his brief romantic affair with Marilyn Monroe, the world’s most glamorous star, her behaviour on the set while filming at London’s Pinewood Studios and her difficult working relationship with Sir Lawrence Olivier. One of Colin Clark’s jobs was to chaperone Marilyn and to see that she is always on the set and ready for filming on time. The first was as pleasant as the second was practically impossible.

Against a’ film in a film’ background peopled by stars like Sir Lawrence Olivier, played by Kenneth Branagh, who was acclaimed as Olivier’s rightful Shakespearean heir, his wife, the suspicious Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond) and Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench), director Simon Curtis tells the story of Marilyn’s vulnerability, insecurity and instability as they were discovered by Colin Clark during the intimate moments he shared with Marilyn. We see her triumphal arrival in London with her third and last husband Arthur Miller meeting the press and the fans with her characteristic poses, pouts and quips. Colin Clark (Eddy Redmayne) who at that time was dating a shy wardrobe girl Lucy - the first character played by Emma Watson after the end of her run in the Harry Potter series - falls head over heels for the star when Arthur Miller, unable to keep up with Marilyn’s emotional breakdowns, leaves her alone in London to continue writing in Paris. Colin is there at her beck and call, a shoulder to cry on and, as she admitted to him, to become the only real date she had since she was 13.

The success of this emotional drama rests on the terrific performance delivered by Michelle Williams. Apart from her uncanny resemblance, enhanced by perfect make up, to Marilyn, her acting evokes her as she is remembered in her screen persona and the deeply troubled private person behind the Monroe myth. Her scenes with Kenneth Branagh where she appears on the set for the first time and remains tongue tied, when she fluffs her lines and when she finally gets it right are impeccable. Michelle Williams reveals all the star’s repressed emotions and pain in her happy, stolen meetings with Clark such as when she speaks about the pictures at her bedside table. One is of her mother who she fondly remembers when had given her a small white piano when she was a child and the other one, Abraham Lincoln’s portrait who she says he could pass as her father who in the absence of the real one she never knew, Trying to coax her back on the set when, to Olivier’s desperation, she refused to appear for two days, Colin tells her. “It's agony because he's a great actor who wants to be a film star, and you're a film star who wants to be a great actress. This film won't help either of you.” It did. It brought the best out of Marilyn who went on to win the Golden Globe with Some Like It Hot and Sir Laurence Olivier continued with success his brilliant career on stage.

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Emil Hirsch Sean
Olivia Thirlby Natalie
Max Minghella Ben
Rachael Taylor Anne

Directed by Chris Gorak

Running time: 89 minutes

Sean (Emil Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), two young American Internet hotshots are in Moscow to conclude a big business deal on their latest product. They are rudely and crudely cut off by a ruthless competitor who tells them that he had beaten them to it and they can go back to where they came from. To drown their sorrows they hit on a Moscow club where they chat up two American tourists Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Suddenly the lights go off but it is not just the usual short power cut. The power supply has been taken over by aliens who invade the planet in the form of electric waves – later we learn that they are micro -waves only visible at night.

The expected panic hits and the plucky four young Americans find themselves in a post apocalyptic Moscow having to dodge the bursts of lethal electric microwaves for their survival. The story is so predictable that it only takes a few minutes before one starts guessing who is going to be micro waved and pulverised first. The good horse that delivers Computer Generated Images is flogged to death with repetitive and irritating scenes and renders this very shallow film as nothing more than a video game fit for an amusement arcade.

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Brad Pitt Billy Bean
Jonah Hill Peter Brand
Peter Seymour Hoffman Art Howe

Directed by Benet Miller

Running time: 133 minutes

Moneyball is based on the true story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) – once a would-be baseball superstar who, stung by the failure to live up to expectations on the field, turned his fiercely competitive nature to management. Heading into the 2002 season, Billy faces a dismal situation: his small-market Oakland A’s have lost their star players (again) to big market clubs (and their enormous salaries) and is left to rebuild his team and compete with a third of their payroll. Driven to win, Billy takes on the system by challenging the fundamental tenants of the game. He looks outside of baseball, to the dismissed theories of Bill James, and hires Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a brainy, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist. Together they take on conventional wisdom with a willingness to re-examine everything and armed with computer driven statistical analysis long ignored by the baseball establishment. They reach imagination-defying conclusions and go after players overlooked and dismissed by the rest of baseball for being too odd, too old, too injured or too much trouble, but who all have key skills that are universally undervalued. As Billy and Peter forge forward, their new methods and roster of misfits rile the old guard, the media, the fans, and their own field manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who refuses to cooperate. Ultimately this experiment will lead not only to a change in the way the game is played, but to an outcome that would leave Billy with a new understanding that transcends the game and delivers him to a new place.

(Production Notes Columbia Pictures)

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“The Big Year”

Steve Martin Stu Preissler
Jack Black Brad Harris
Owen Wilson Kenny Bostick

Directed by David Franken

Running time: 100 mins

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads: three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams. Their big year takes them on a cross-country journey of wild and life-changing adventures.

Everyone is searching for something – and Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), Brad Harris (Jack Black) and Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) are determined to not only find their “something,” but to be the very best at it. Like this intrepid, continent-trotting trio, most of us dream about being at the top – whether it be as the supreme athlete, the best-selling author, or maybe the award-winning artist. It can be anything, but ideally it’s something you’re passionate about.
For Stu, Brad and Kenny, that means being the world’s greatest….birder.

In The Big Year an extraordinary race becomes a transformative journey for wealthy industrialist Stu, computer code-writer Brad, and successful contractor Kenny, who race across the continent on a Big Year, a whirlwind competition to see who can spot the most species of birds in North America within one calendar year.

(Production notes 20th Century Fox)

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Top Ten Films in Malta
11 - 17 January 2012


22 DECEMBER 2010 TO 20 DECEMBER, 2011

  1. The Smurfs (3D) SPR Animation / Adventure / Comedy U 10.08.11
  2. Johnny English Reborn Universal Adventure / Comedy / Thriller PG 07.10.11
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D) WDS Action / Adventure / Fantasy PG 18.05.11
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 W.Bros Adventure / Drama / Fantasy PG 15.07.11
  5. The Hangover Part II W.Bros Comedy 16 01.06.11
  6. Fast and Furious Five Universal Action / Crime / Thriller 12 27.04.11
  7. Meet The Parents: Little Fockers Paramount Comedy 12 22.12.10
  8. The Devil's Double Icon Biography / Drama 18 31.08.11
  9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3D) Paramount Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi PG 29.06.11
  10. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 E-One Adventure / Drama / Fantasy 12 18.11.11
  11. Gulliver's Travels (3D) TCF Adventure / Comedy / Fantasy U 29.12.10
  12. Kung Fu Panda 2 (3D) Paramount Animation / Action / Adventure U 15.06.11
  13. Zookeeper SPR Comedy / Family / Romance U 29.07.11
  14. The King's Speech (2D / 35mm) Momentum Biography / Drama / History 12 23.02.11
  15. Rio (3D) TCF Animation / Adventure / Comedy U 13.04.11
  16. Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son TCF Comedy PG 02.03.11
  17. Thor (3D) TCF Action / Adventure / Fantasy PG 04.05.11
  18. Tangled (3D) WDS Animation / Comedy / Family U 28.01.11
  19. Mr. Popper's Penguins TCF Comedy / Family U 17.08.11
  20. Cars 2 (3D) WDS Animation / Adventure / Comedy U 22.07.11
With acknowledgements to KRS Film Distributors Ltd.

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