Friday 22 November 2019
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler

Real Life Becomes Art, an Oscar Worthy Heroine, Margot Robbie as Flopsy, Ropes and Romance, So Much Sex, Horror and Spectacle

Clint Eastwood was intrigued by the real-life American heroes, two ex-military and one civilian whose fast reaction scotched the August 21st, 2015 terrorist attack on Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris. Eastwood decided against using big name actors, and that the real-life heroes would be more convincing and emotional. So he hired Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler to play themselves and re-enact what happened that day. The 15:17 to Paris takes us inside their histories to find what shaped such bravery, the attack and aftermath. Extra piquancy was achieved by shooting key scenes in the real locations in Paris and the Netherlands. The trio was honoured with the French Knights of the Legion of Honour; they won multiple US military medals and visited the White House. The mighty Eastwood is a soldier too, at 88 years of age he is looking at his next projects.

Chilean transgender actor Daniela Vega grabs us by the heart and doesn’t let go in Sebastián Lelio’s Oscar-nominated film A Fantastic Woman. Marina is a waitress and torch singer who’s had a tough transition, enduring prejudice and hatred in the conservative social climate of her country. She falls in love with Orlando, a divorced older man, played by Francisco Reyes, who loves her back. They envision long, happy lives together; he encourages her to bring out her true nature and loves all of her. Marina believes she’s finally found peace. But tragically, Orlando collapses and dies along with their bright future. Marina’s cast aside by his ex-wife, family and authorities who make it plain that she is persona non grata; she’s judged, disdained and tossed aside but the miracle is that she carries on, true to herself, knowing she experienced love. It is the ultimate love story and the ability to love oneself. Vega’s stellar performance, her natural expressiveness, dignity, and authenticity carry the movie to a higher plane.

Will Gluck’s film adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s story Peter Rabbit is an all ages live action and animated adventure starring the naughty but brilliant rodent kids love. But this one isn’t just for kids, there’s plenty of rapid wit to go around. And what a cast! Take a gander – Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, Sia and the voices of Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, the great Margot Robbie and James Cordon as Peter Rabbit. Peter’s at war with new neighbour Mr. McGregor who hates rabbits. Mr. Mac meets Peter’s friend Bea, an animal lover who tries to teach him the joys of nature, he pretends to accept the rabbits to win her heart. It all gets very complicated. Funny, fun to look at and spirited stuff, this.  Oh and Robbie, Debicki and Ridley play Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. Cute alert!

The third and allegedly final entry into the ropes ‘n’ romance soap is here. Fifty Shades Freed finds our ubiquitous cardboard naughties, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Grey in the early days of what appears to be a blissful marriage. However serenity eludes them as a figure from the past returns with trouble in mind. The filmmakers take a different tack, adding a stalking subplot that morphs into action adventure with high-speed car chases and a BIG surprise. It’s the least they could do considering we’ve endured four hours plus of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan living the one-note modern executive / small town innocent bondage life. But I can’t say it’s a brilliant or original fleshing out and so I’ll say it for all of us, over and out.

Watch this instead! 

Fifty Shades of Corden with Jamie Dornan

James introduces Fifty Shades star Jamie Dornan to a whole new world of pleasure in his own unique playroom.Watch The Late Late Show with James Corden weeknights at 12:37 AM ET/11:37 PM CT, only on CBS.

Posted by The Late Late Show with James Corden on Wednesday, February 7, 2018

More sex now, in Permission, a strange tale starring Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall, two Brits as Manhattanites who play with fire and get burned. Hall feels she’s holding him back from outside sexual experiences she believes he wants. Neither has experienced anyone else as they started dating in school. But its ten years later, they’re not married and she’s feeling guilty so she makes a proposal, permission to have sex whenever the opportunity arises with whomever and she’ll do the same. They see each other hook up with causal dates and it’s extremely awkward but they carry on because he thinks he’s doing what she wants him to do. It’s a bit squirm-inducing when he asks her if her causal lover is bigger than he is, you know, deathless prose. Hall looks like she didn’t mean to make the film but at least Jason Sudeikis appears for a few moments.

Andy Serkis produced Netflix’ The Ritual, a horror adventure set in a remote winter mountainscape where a group of English college friends has reunited for a wee hike. Rafe Spall and Downton Abbey’s Robert-James Collier, Arsher Ali and Sam Troughton plan to commemorate their murdered friend who was meant to join them for a mountaintop ceremony. When one of them breaks his ankle, they decide to take a shortcut through a heavily forested area to the clear area beyond instead of the long journey around. First mistake. Figures in the woods, vicious attacks, diminishing foods supplies and freezing temperatures force them to move fast and that is a mistake too. They bcome ensnared in a Norse mythological nightmare related to their friend’s death.  Confusion and fear endanger them almost as much as the weirdos thy discover living in the woods. Good wintery fun if you’re sitting in a nice warm, safe theatre.

Entanglement directed by Jason James stars Vancouver’s Thomas Middleditch from HBO’s Silicon Valley, Jess Weixler and Diana Bang and it is the most slacker film you may ever see. Ben, a newly divorced 30-something is mid-suicide attempt when he decides to answer the front door. He receives a package, collapses and wakes up in hospital. He learns he had a sister, a baby adopted by his parents and given up when his mother discovered she was pregnant with him. Ben sets out to find her believing knowing she will fill in all the gaps of his early life and he’ll finally be whole and happy.  He finds her, they connect, ride bikes and walk in the meadow where they’re greeted by cartoon deer. Strange things happen and a crisis arises concerning who she is and suddenly life isn’t worth living. There is an uncomfortable truth here about coping and the willingness to help yourself.

Model and actor Kevin Sorbo directs his first feature film, the Christian themed Let There BeLight which is a far cry from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He plays an alcoholic atheist whose near-death experience in a car accident leads him to conversion to Christianity. Sorbo’s post TV career has included charitable work and roles in religious-themed films. He’s written two books “True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life“ and ”Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids”. He’s still cute.

Jeff Malmberg and Christina Shellen’s Spettacolo looks at a decades old annual tradition in the Tuscan village of Monticchiello – population 136 – as locals stage an original outdoor play about their lives and the events of the past year. Stunning archival footage shows the villagers performing when Nazis invade and hold the citizens at gunpoint. The town was assumed (correctly) to be an anti-fascist enclave but they were spared when a German-born resident pleaded for their lives. Present day difficulties are explored like the failing local economy, politics, the fate of the town, and the country itself. However, the times are a-changin’ and the play may be on its last legs.  It is a remarkably difficult process wrangling the ideas and shaping them into something meaningful.  Recently, young people aren’t interested, the founders are dying, and there is less passion for it. This doc becomes a record of what could soon be a lost social art.

The sixth annual Toronto Black Film Festival gets underway February 14 and runs to the 19 offering an international selection of films as part of Black History Month.  TBFF features five world premieres, two international premieres, two North-American premieres and 21 Canadian Premieres, 60 films from 20 countries, including United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Germany, South Africa, France, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Denmark, Barbados, Haiti, Brazil, Congo, Canada, U.S.A. and more. The Toronto Black Film Festival promotes diversity off and on screen and gives minorities a voice.  The 2018 Black History Month Series kicks off with Nancy Buirski’s acclaimed The Rape of Recy Taylor and closes with the South African film Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu.  Other events include the TBFF Black Market, a panel discussion with filmmakers, a masterclass with film producers, a tribute and workshop with Emmy-winning Casting Director Robi ReedQ & A with the cast of the film Service to Man, a children’s film festival, after parties, late night live performances, exotic food, storytelling and activities for youngsters and more. Check the website for details.

Wildsound’s Best of Romance Short Film Festival takes place Valentine’s Day evening at the Carlton Cinema featuring seven of “the best romantic short films from around the world today, from Canada, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, and the USA. Tickets are free or pay what you like to cover the cinema costs. Titles, photos, synopses and ticket info available at

by @annebrodie

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