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Posts Tagged ‘Imelda Staunton’

“DOWNTON ABBEY” My rating: B+ 

122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Feature film spinoffs of successful TV series have an iffy track record (“Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Absolutely Fabulous”), but the folks at “Downton Abbey” have done it right.

The new “Downton Abbey” movie is an astonishingly effective piece of work, one that hits all the notes that made the TV show so successful and then adds a couple of new ones.

Will the movie make sense to anyone who wasn’t glued to PBS on Sunday nights?  Well, maybe, but the real pleasure here comes from continuing our relationships with characters we already know inside out.  It’s like a family reunion…only you actually like hanging with this family.

Writer Julian Fellowes, who created the series and scripted most of its episodes, provides a screenplay that gives almost every member of the huge cast at least one memorable moment and effortlessly balances multiple story threads.

Director Michael Engler deftly handles the pacing and the impressive technical production (he’s in charge of the actors, too but since most of these players have been doing their characters for the better part of a decade, how much coaching could they have required?).

The plot? Well, there are a dozen of them, but the overriding one has the King and Queen visiting Downton. It’s like when the FBI takes over a local murder investigation…Their Majesties’ arrogant retainers invade the Abbey, relegating the resident staff to observer status.  But not for long, thanks to machinations that come off as a more genteel iteration of “Revenge of the Nerds.”

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Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton

“FINDING YOUR FEET” My rating: C 

111 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

I won’t say I hated “Finding Your Feet,”  the most recent in a string of films (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “The Hero”) depicting love amongst the geriatric set.

But I just barely tolerated it.

Despite a solid cast of veteran British thesps — Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, John  Sessions — the latest film from director Richard Loncraine (“Brimstone & Treacle,” “Richard III,” “My House in Umbria”) shamelessly panders to its blue-haired target audience. In its own way it’s as derivative and contrived as a Frankie and Annette beach party movie — except you don’t want to see this cast in bikinis.

Sandra (Staunton) is stunned to discover that Mike, her titled husband of 40 years, has been having an affair for nearly that entire time. So it’s splitsville, not only from Mike but from Sandra’s privileged, cash-intensive (and politically conservative) lifestyle.

On the rebound she washes up at the door of her estranged sister, Bif (Imrie), a septuagenarian hippie whose life of adventure and close friendships are diametrically opposed to Sandra’s stunted outlook.

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