Posts Tagged ‘Keira Knightley’

Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

“MISBEHAVIOUR” My rating: B-

106 minutes | No MPAA rating

It’s got a killer cast and a stirring inspired-by-headlines story to tell.

Yet Philippa Lowthorpe’s “Misbehaviour” only really kicks in during the closing credits, when through archival photos we get the stories of what happened to its real-life characters “after” the movie ends.

The subject here is the Miss World beauty pageant of 1970, when a staid institution was knocked on its ear by a rising tide of feminism and Third World influences.

Rebecca Frayne’s screenplay begins with Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley), a British mother and graduate student, being sucked into the world of “radical” feminism through her unexpected friendship with Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley), a gleeful vandal who specializes in spray-paint sloganeering.

Despite her initial misgivings, her traditionalist mother (“Downton Abbey’s” Phyllis Logan) and her own responsibilities as a mom, Sally becomes a convert to the cause.  It helps that she’s had humiliating  run-ins with male-centric academia. Before long the other women are regarding her as a leader.

Sally, Jo and their comrades decide to disrupt the Miss World competition, a London-based event much beloved by the British public.

One of “Misbehaviour’s” many plot threads (“Mis-Behaviour” as in “Miss World”…get it?) centers on the married couple Eric and Julia Morley (Rhys Ifans and Keeley Hawes), operators of the pageant.  He’s a guy who dispassionately analyzes a young woman’s physical attributes like a health inspector examining a side of beef; she’s a bit more attuned to the needs of modern women, but still committed to the family business.

Another plot involves the famous Hollywood  comedian Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear with convincing fake nose and a not-very-convincing impersonation), who is hired as this year’s emcee.  He is accompanied to his country of birth by his wife Dolores (Lesley Manville), who wearily tolerates his rampant philandering.

And then there are the contestants.  1970 was a memorable year for the pageant, and not only because of the feminist shenanigans that turned the live TV broadcast into a chaotic fiasco.


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Keira Knightley


111 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There are moments when “Official Secrets” doesn’t seem to know just whose story it is telling; others when the dialogue sounds more like speechifying than regular conversation.

Still, there’s something so vital about the material it covers — the British government’s complicity in the Bush White House’s half-assed plan to invade Iraq — that Gavin Hood’s fact-based docudrama demands to be seen.

In 2003 Katharine Gun, an analyst with Her Majesty’s spy service, received an unexpected email.  In this message — also received by all of her co-workers — the American CIA urged everyone to be on the lookout for dirt that could be used to force recalcitrant members of the United Nations Security Council into voting for a US/British invasion of Iraq.

Gun was both surprised that she received the email — her regular gig was translating intercepted Chinese telephone communications — and appalled that the Yanks and her own people were so nonchalantly encouraging the entire apparatus of British intelligence to participate in a blackmail scheme for the purpose of rushing into an unjust war.

So she surreptitiously copied the email and gave it to an anti-war activist friend, who passed it on to a newspaper reporter, who with his colleagues spent months verifying the truth of the communication.

Eventually the story was published, but not without some unexpected blowback.  Before it hit the printed page, an unsuspecting editor ran the copy through Spell Check, which changed all the American spellings in the CIA email to British, thus leading to accusations that this was a British-generated fake document.

Spell Check strikes again.

As scripted by Hood, Gregory Bernstein and Sara Bernstein (from Marcia Mitchell and Thomas  Mitchell’s book The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War), “Official Secrets” is essentially a procedural docudrama populated by an A-list British cast.


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Dominic West, Keira Knightley

“COLETTE” My rating: B  

111 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It would be easy enough to pigeonhole “Colette” as a bit of feminist backlash against male privilege and arrogance.

After all, the real-life tale of Nobel Prize-winning author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette reads like a cautionary manifesto. Her earliest literary triumphs were published under the name of her husband; it wasn’t until she broke sales records and began to resent her anonymity that she laid claim to her work (though it took a court battle).

Writer/director Wash Westmoreland (“Quinceanera,” “Still Alice”) and his collaborator Richard Glatzer focus their film on the marriage of young Sidonie (Keira Knightly) to roue-about-town Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West), an older fellow who under the pen name Willy edits a variety of publications.

Henry  is a womanizer, a big spender, an inveterate gambler, and he isn’t above sticking his own name on the pieces he has struggling writers churn out for his magazines. He flirts constantly with women and bankruptcy, yet manages always to live way beyond his means.

As “Colette” begins our heroine is a country girl, pretty but untested in the ways of the big city.  Henry, an army buddy of her father, visits frequently and initiates an affair with the teenager; ere long they’re married and living in Paris where she gets a quick education in sex, society and her husband’s brigandish approach to letters and commerce.


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everestmaxresdefault“EVEREST” My rating: B 

121 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Very few of us have the skill, the will or the financial wherewithal to tackle Earth’s tallest peak.

After watching “Everest,” though, don’t be surprised if you feel as if you’ve been to the top of the world, where the human form is ill-prepared to survive at the cruising altitude of a 747.

Based on the disastrous day in 1996 when Mount Everest claimed the lives of eight climbers — the same tragedy described in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book “Into Thin Air” and a 1998 IMAX documentary — the film eschews Hollywood hokum for a [hugely] realistic depiction of what happened.

The first hour focuses on New Zealander Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), operator of a commercial guide service,  as over a month he prepares a party of clients for an expedition up the mountain.

Most of the customers are like Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a Texas businessman with pockets deep enough to handle the $65,000 Hall charges for a climb. They’re middle-aged, wealthy men of commerce determined to push themselves to the limit before age interferes.

An exception is Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a working-class guy who failed to reach the summit on an earlier attempt. This will be his last chance … and Hall has given him a discount so that he can afford this climb.

The film’s second hour is the ascent itself, which found most of the party going all the way up, only to be ravaged by a fierce storm on the way down.

Written by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy and directed by Baltasar Kormakur, “Everest” features a star-heavy cast.

Among the familiar faces  behind bushy beards are Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer, aka “Mr. Mountain Madness,” a rival guide who joins forces with Hall because the mountain is so crowded with 20 expeditions. Michael Kelly plays Krakauer, the well-known outdoor writer who was a member of the team. Sam Worthington is a fellow climber helpless to effect a rescue.


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Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz

Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz

“LAGGIES”  My rating: D+

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Every filmmaker is allowed a few career missteps.

Lynn Shelton seems to have spent all hers on just one movie.

“Laggies” is…what? An unfunny comedy?  An uninvolving drama?

Whatever it is, it wastes what looks like a dream cast on a script so wretched you’ve got to wonder what all these talented people possibly saw in it.

Shelton is the indie phenom who seemed on the verge of greatness with her 2011 release “Your Sister’s Sister,” a comedy about two sisters’ relationships with the same man marked by long, real-time conversations.

Perhaps we should have taken heed when her last effort, 2013’s “Touchy Feely,” vanished without so much as a whimper.

The screenplay from first-timer Andrea Seigel centers on Megan (Keira Knightley), who a decade after high school is still adrift.

Her friends have spouses, kids and careers. Megan’s job is waving a sign to attract drivers to her dad’s tax preparation business.


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Kiera Knightley, Mark Ruffalo in "Begin Again"

Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo in “Begin Again”

“BEGIN AGAIN” My rating: B (Opening July 2 at the Glenwood Arts)

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Begin Again” is only half the movie that “Once” is.

But it should still be enough to jump start the career of filmmaker John Carney.

“Once,” of course, was Carney’s 2006 art house hit about a tentative romance between a Dublin street busker and a Polish immigrant. This mini-budget wonder, largely improvised and featuring an astounding soundtrack written by the two “stars” (Glenn Hansard, Marketa Irglova), introduced the Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly.” It was a new kind of intimate musical, and a bittersweet romance of epic proportions. (It has gone on to become a hit on Broadway).

But the ensuing years have not been kind to writer/director Carney, who used his newfound fame to make two instantly forgettable features: the clumsy visitor-from-another-planet comedy “Zonad” (2008), which was released in the US only on home video, and the supernatural thriller “The Rafters” (2012), which as far as I can tell has been seen by practically no one.

Which brings us to “Begin Again,” an effort to recapture some of the magic of “Once.”

It’s about music. It’s about love.

And it’s actually not bad.


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Chris Pine as the new Jack Ryan

Chris Pine as the new Jack Ryan

“JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT” My rating: C (Opens wide on January 17)

105 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has always been the anti-Bond, a CIA agent who balances a normal family life with adventures that carry a torn-from-the-headlines aroma.

No luscious babes. No super villain with a high-tech lair disguised as a volcano.

Actually, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” might have benefitted from a super villain or a luscious babe or two. This latest attempt to reboot the franchise (previous

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

Jack Ryans include Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and, most notably, Harrison Ford) is a competent but fairly sedate affair. Whether it will jump-start the series is up to the ticket buyers…I’m not terribly hopeful.

Chris Pine, fresh from his other gig as a young James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” universe, is our new Jack Ryan. We meet him studying economics in London in 2001. After 9-11 he enlists in the Marines, is shot down in Afghanistan, paralyzed with a spinal injury, and undergoes a long rehab which not only gets him back on his feet but into the bed of his med-student therapist, Cathy (Keira Knightley).

This all happens in the first 10 minutes.

While still recuperating at Walter Reed he’s recruited by CIA spookmaster Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), who gets Jack a job in a big Wall Street firm from

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner

which he can covertly look for funding channels for terrorist groups. If he were married to Cathy, Jack could tell her of his real job, but since they’re only living together, he can’t. This puts a strain on their relationship.

Jack’s study of international financing raises alarms of a plot from within Russia to destroy the U.S. economy with a combined terrorist attack and world-wide sell-off of American securities that would make the dollar worthless.

So Jack is off to Moscow to confront one of those newly-minted Russian billionaires, Viktor Cherevin (a thin-lipped Kenneth Branagh), who carries an old Cold War grudge against the Yanks and wants to elevate Mother Russia to her rightful place at the top of the international food chain.


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