Movies reviewed this week: Florence Foster Jenkins, The Space Between Us, The LEGO Batman Movie and Kong: Skunk Island (Starring: Tom Hiddleston)
Florence Foster Jenkins
America’s First Lady of film will have shrugged off her recent spat with the new US president.
With this, she has notched up her 20th (count ‘em) Oscar nomination, which trumps everyone else in film history by a mile.
It’s another real-life character for Streep, and after revelling in playing witches in recent years (in Into The Woods or The Iron Lady), Hollywood’s finest is at the top of her game.
Florence Foster Jenkins is a rich, popular society hostess and philanthropist in 1940s war-time New York.
But rather than simply helping to fund opera recitals, she thinks, as a frustrated musician, that she should be performing them herself. The trouble is she can’t sing (to put it mildly) and her loving but raffish second husband Bayfield (Grant) hasn’t the heart to tell her the truth. As for her friends, it’s a case of the “the emperor’s new clothes”. But when the deluded Florence privately makes a record, it finds its way onto the deck of a radio DJ and becomes a hit with listeners (who think it’s played for laughs).
Emboldened, the diva of din sets her sights on taking the Carnegie Hall stage.
With Streep’s brilliantly nuanced performance, we don’t know whether to laugh at Florence, pity her, like or dislike her.
Grant is also superb; he does rakish debonair as no other current actor can and could almost give Christopher Walken a run for his money in the dance department.
This comedy-drama is a hoot (quite literally) in places. And as Grant reminds us, quoting Beethoven: “A few wrong notes may be forgiven; singing without feeling cannot.” See and enjoy.
Review by Kevin McIndoe
The Space Between Us
After landing on Mars, one of a team of astronauts reveals she is pregnant. When she dies after giving birth (and without naming the father), Gardner’s extraordinary life begins. When Gardner (Asa Butterfield) turns 16, he has only met 14 people in his life. When he finally gets the chance to go to Earth, he meets the streetwise Tulsa (Britt Robertson) and ends up on a path of self-discovery. It’s an adventure that throws up more than the usual trials and tribulations facing any teenager. Pretty soon, Gardner discovers that life on Earth is not all it’s cracked up to be. Good but not Earth-shattering.
The LEGO Batman Movie
After a hard day’s work as a superhero, Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) returns to his lair to kick back and microwave some lobster. Once again, The Joker and his motley crew of cohorts have made Gotham rank with grime and crime so the caped crusader has his work cut out yet again. He also has the responsibility of raising a boy he has adopted (no prizes for guessing who this becomes). In this, his adventures come with series of powerful sequences and a pulsating hip-hop soundtrack; and all from a plastic brick. Marvellous. Ralph Fiennes voices Alfred and Zach Galifianakis, The Joker. An enjoyable romp, but not for very young children.
Kong: Skull Island
When a 1970s team of mismatched explorers come together for a mission on an uncharted Pacific island, you just know it’s not going to end well. Their leader James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a former British SAS Captain, has some issues while US army colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is feeling vengeful after the Vietnam War. When they step ashore, they unwittingly become unwelcome visitors on a primordial and dangerous place, the residents of which are not exactly heavenly creatures, to say the least. And they are presided over by the supposedly mythic King of the Apes. A watchable reboot of the King Kong franchise.
Oman Release Date: March 9