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Posts Tagged ‘Eddie Izzard’

Judi Dench, Ali Fazal

“VICTORIA AND ABDUL”  My rating: B-  

112 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Dame Judi Dench — who won an Academy Award for portraying one British monarch (Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love”) and was nominated for playing another (Victoria in “Mrs. Brown”) — now goes for the trifecta with “Victoria and Abdul.”

Stephen Frear’s comic costume drama finds Dench once again in the glum mourning clothes of Queen Victoria, this time late in the monarch’s reign.

As you’d expect, this great actress eats up the screen, in the process compensating for a screenplay that isn’t exactly sure what it wants  to say.

This Victoria remains the isolated, lonely widow who in “Mrs. Brown” found companionship (and perhaps chaste romance) with her Scottish gamekeeper.  But now, several years down the road, she’s  getting a bit dotty. Dozing off at state dinners is  standard operating procedure. And she’s a voraciously fast diner, posing a problem for others who are expected to stop chewing when she does.

Victoria’s advisers and hangers on (played by a Who’s Who of Brit thesps like Michael Gambon, Tim Piggot-Smith and Olivia Williams)  are running the show in her intellectual absence. The  Queen’s influence is  limited to picking menus.

Based on a little-known historical incident,“Victoria and Abdul” centers on the arrival in court of Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), one of the Queen’s Indian subjects who prior to this has been a humble clerk in a prison.

Abdul is tapped to represent India at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee not because of his standing but because of his, er, standing — he’s a lanky fellow and clueless British officials reason that a tall man will look better presenting Her Majesty with a rare and precious gold coin from the subcontinent.

What nobody counts on is that the old gal will look into Abdul’s Omar-Sharif eyes and strike up a remarkable friendship, one that revitalizes Victoria’s mental faculties, sharpens her interest in affairs of state and threatens the status quo of the royal household.

(more…)

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Eddie Izzard

“WHISKEY GALORE”  My rating: C+

98 minutes | No MPAA rating

Fueled by whimsey, a genuine feel for Scottish village life and cast with a small army of familiar Brit character actors, “Whiskey Galore” wants to capture some of the droll charm of “Local Hero” or “The Englishman Who Went  Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.”

But something’s missing.

This remake of 1949’s “Whiskey Galore” (regarded by many as a classic English comedy) looks good and, thanks to a soundtrack of Celtic folk music, sounds good.

But once the initial charm wears off — about 20 minutes in — the picture (Peter McDougall wrote it; Gilles McKinnon directed) bogs down in a sort of desultory sameness.

World War II has bypassed the tiny Scottish island of Todday, where life goes on pretty much as it has for the last century. But the war is about to hit Todday where it hurts.

“The island is dry,” solemnly announces the publican as he pours the last of his stock of whiskey.

“It’s been a terrible war,” laments one old barfly who exits the pub, lies down on the cobblestones and promptly expires from lack of drink. Before long every citizen wears a hangdog expression and is snapping at his fellows.

“It’s the whiskey drought,” someone explains. (more…)

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