I just read the news that Billy Drago has died aged 73. He was an excellent actor who excelled as villains in movies and television. I’ll most remember him for his role in The Untouchables and as the demon of fear in Charmed. We’ll miss you Billy and it’s sad you’ve left us. But at least you’ll be remembered.
I’m loving being back in the blogging game. More content is to come and I will do my hardest to catch up with everyone. Don’t worry, you’ll see me around.
This review that follows will be a first for me on this site. It will be the first review of a documentary and what a great one to start with. It’s Nothing Like a Dame, which has us in the company of the great women of stage and screen.
In the English countryside, we meet with icons Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins. All of them Dames and acting greats. They are conversing and reminiscing at the country house of Plowright, that she owned with her late husband Laurence Olivier. And boy is it entertaining to see them all together and in fine form. With careers spanning decades, there is no shortage of conversation here. It’s such a simple idea of watching these four wonderful ladies reflecting on life and their careers, which are extremely eventful.
Director Roger Michell keeps things low key and lets the ladies do their thing. This in turn brings out wonderfully natural results as Michell doesn’t feel the need to be flashy to be seen as good. He knows that the strength of these four dames is all he needs for this compelling documentary. I seriously want to see this quartet in another movie together. It would be a complete riot and so enjoyable. You can feel their friendship and years of experience are strong and full of energy and wisdom. They are by turns funny, irreverent, classy and humorous, with plenty of time for deep reflection on life and family. Hearing them speak about family has a certain poignancy to it. You can see the humanity of their situations and even though they are famous, they are still very much down to Earth in the grand scope of things. They’ve all seen a lot and experienced a lot too and it definitly shows their resilience. And Maggie Smith is on point with her acerbic wit, that is matched by Judi Dench( just check out her reaction to a medical worker treating her like just another old biddy). The other ladies round out this luminous quartet with grace, honesty and good humour. No one is more important than the other, it’s a celebration of them all. Whether together or apart, I could watch these ladies do anything. The quartet is marvellous; serenely bouncing off one another with memories and wisecracks. You just have to bathe in their anecdotes that run the gamut from happy to sad. Many areas are bound to bring some feelings of tears, mainly the fact that Plowright’s vision is failing and she occasionally looses track of conversation. But she still remains as strong as an ox and dispenses kindly wisdom to all. As all the ladies say, age is just a number.
I wholeheartedly recommend this documentary to anyone who enjoys watching actors reflect and fans of these amazing women.
A horror drama with ethical and provocative questions at its core, The Girl with All the Gifts finds new life in the zombie horror genre with fine acting, scares and a surprising intelligence.
Some time in the future, most of mankind has been overrun by a virulent fungal disease that turns the sufferer into a flesh craving zombie. These people are known as “hungries” by others. In a secret underground army base, a second generation of these creatures in the form of young children are taught. Unlike their savage relatives, these kids can think and learn, but also have a craving for flesh. Humans have a certain blocker gel that masks the smell of human flesh, but that is still no long term guarantee. The story mainly focuses on one such child known as Melanie( Sennia Nanua), who is immensely gifted, polite and eager to learn. The growling Sergeant Parks( Paddy Considine) keeps things running in a brusque way, while head scientist Dr. Caroline Caldwell( Glenn Close)experiments on the zombie children in a search for a cure to the disease. Although most see the children as just mere monsters, teacher Helen Justineau( Gemma Arterton) treats them with respect and compassion which puts her in opposition with both. Just as Dr. Caldwell is making some breakthrough, the facility is attacked by hungries. In the confusion, Melanie, Justineau, Caldwell and Parks survive and head for what they hope will be safety. But as tensions mount and Melanie is fought over, it becomes clear that there is no easy answer to what’s going on. But is Melanie the salvation of destruction of mankind in the grand scheme of things? And just how long is she to be trusted as the world around her crumbles and slips into a worse state than it already is?
Colm McCarthy is a director who clearly wants to bring that something different to the zombie horror sub genre. And that he does with this film that is both eerily tense and reflective on thematic material. I like how things start out mysterious and gradually we begin to understand the horrifying vision of the future. And once it hits the half an hour mark, intensity reigns and the pace quickens considerably backing up the horror credentials. One can make successful parallels with 28 Days Later and with good reason, for both are exemplary entries into zombie horror with more on its mind than just action and blood. Not that there isn’t action or blood as is envisioned in kinetic style and blood soaked horror, like the standout sequence of the hungries attaching the facility with a ferocity akin to a war movie. These events sit nicely along with the deeper thematic value of the piece. Considering The Girl with All the Gifts wasn’t made with the biggest budget, it never shows as it’s a gorgeously and hauntingly visual film. This extends particularly to its version of London, one in which overgrown plant life has taken over like a vicious jungle of vines that will prove fatal to those who can’t survive. And lets just say there is plenty of meat to chew over( pardon the pun.) The battle between good and evil is blurred considerably and admirably. No one is clear cut bad or good, least of all the eponymous Girl who is a mixture of both. The Girl with All the Gifts asks us to feel sympathy for her but like most of the characters, keep a certain sense of worry about her true nature and whether it’s just a matter of fate that she becomes rabid. In fact, there’s a certain tragedy attached to Melanie. You witness that she wishes to be like everyone else but is cursed from it, Some might say some of it is typical zombie fare and while there are going to be some cliched moments in here( no one said it was flawless), but what the film accomplishes is something with more heart and smarts than your average flick in this genre. A shimmering and reverberating score should rightfully be praised. It hums and throbs with an alarming intensity and haunting aura.
As the titular Girl, Sennia Nanua is a revelation in her first main role. For such a young actress acting alongside more seasoned co-stars, Nanua shows no sign of nerves and turns in a layered performance that is at once sympathetic and menacing. And what a cast it is. Gemma Arterton, of pleasing, warm face and expressive eyes, beautifully portrays the teacher who treats her charges as if they were just average children. In her eyes, although they are dangerous, they still matter and it is a fine.y judged, emotional performance from Gemma Arterton. Glenn Close( a superb actress of the highest order) is once more on amazing form as the ruthlessly determined scientist who seems heartless but possesses some care within her. Close doesn’t make her a villain and although she’s questionable as a character, it’s that flawed nature that Close gets across so well. Paddy Considine is on hand for sarcastic, aggressive lines and action as the skilled soldier navigating a crew of at odds survivors through a hellish London.
A chilling, thrilling but also deep examination of moral dilemmas set against a world gone mad, The Girl with All the Gifts discovers inventive and astute ways to blend post-apocalyptic horror and sensitive drama about ethical and ambiguous questions on humanity, science and the complex link between good and evil.
Over the last year, my work on here has been sporadic. That’s because my focus has been elsewhere with personal things and sometimes a feeling of lethargy. But now I’ve taken stock of things and am going to be properly back. I know I’ve said this before, but this time I mean it. I’m back and wanting to review and converse. I promise to catch up with everyone’s blogs too.