December 22, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Peter Glenville) (1964) Henry II raises his Saxon friend to Archbishop against his friend’s very advice and then asks: who will rid me of him?  Adapted from the Anouilh play, this is terrific, brilliantly shot and souped-up by Richard Burton as Becket and Peter O’Toole as the King.  Burton captures the saint’s worldliness and stoic integrity that seduced and then baffled his monarch; O’Toole makes Henry authentic, likeable yet murderous.  

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The Apartment

December 22, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Billy Wilder) (1960) David Shipman (“The Great Movie Stars” 1982) wrote the best thumbnail review for this: “bitter-sweet, tragical-comical, sordid and sad”.  Jack Lemmon gives an immortal performance as the heel who finds his spine in the last reel, an insurance schmuck who lets superiors use his handily located apartment for sexual rendezvous, till he falls in love with Big Boss Fred MacMurray’s latest conquest. Only when midnight chimes on New Year’s Eve does she realize she loves him back.  Features great, authentic playing by MacMurray as the ogre (Mr Sheldrake), a lovely turn by Shirley MacLaine as the…

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 (dir. Richard Attenborough) (1993) “We read to know we are not alone”…so we appreciate the intellectual tug of love between lonely but accomplished Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis of Magdalen College, Oxford and lonely precocious poet Joy Gresham (“the Jewish Christian Communist American”) in this simple, sad and beautiful film, easily Attenborough’s best (and a lot shorter than his Oscar acceptance speech for Gandhi, or so it seems). William Nicholson adapted his earlier TV and film scripts with additions based in part on the lovely book by Joy’s son, Douglas (“Lenten Lands”) and the script is wondrous – tasteful, literate and…

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Begin Again

December 12, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. John Carney) (2013) A slight, Star-is-Born vignette features thick slices of schmaltz, yet manages to say something genuine about the contemporary creative process. Gal with wafer-crisp lungs is taken on by down-at-heel Svengali – sweetness prevails but not necessarily as predicted. Keira Knightley shows considerably more charm than she did through the entire ‘Pirates’ franchise; Mark Ruffalo underacts to shaggy advantage; James Corden is everyone’s kind older brother. TVC’s favourite bits: I) Keira’s lover returns from L.A. and plays her his new song, whereupon she instantly apprehends he has fallen for another; II) Ruffalo drops his still respected business…

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December 11, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. J M McDonagh) (2014) This is Craggy Island without the laughs, a richly human ‘who-will-do-it’ as Brendan Gleeson, the village catholic priest, struggles with his faith in the wake of a confessional death threat. Paul Byrnes in the Sydney Morning Herald well described Gleeson’s role as “the one good man in a town of jackals” – the relentless vitriol and mockery spat at him by various village types is matched by their own astonishing, preternatural candour – no feelings are spared in this story. The whole tone reflects an Irish ambivalence vis-à-vis organized religion, its utility and its scars….

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