Tag Archives: Tom Hollander

Dr. Easy (2013, Jason Groves, Chris Harding and Richard Kenworthy)

Dr. Easy is definitely well made. It’s unclear if directors Groves, Harding and Kenworthy are competent on their own but together they can make a decent looking little picture.

But they raise a lot of obvious questions with Easy and ignore them.

It’s a future story with a robot medic going in to handle an armed gunman. Oh, wait, there’s the first question. Is the robot really there to help the gunman or the police? The police stand down to the medic. All the filmmakers needed was to give the main cop, played by Alex Macqueen, a line of dialogue. Except there aren’t any other speaking cops (a cost issue?) and Macqueen only barks orders.

It’s possible the directors intend this question (and others) to make the viewer think, but why bother? Easy is a seven minute short about robots; it’s incapable of offering a reward worth that extra work.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jason Groves, Chris Harding and Richard Kenworthy; screenplay by Groves, Harding and Kenworthy, based on a novel by Matthew De Abaitua; director of photography, Barry Ackroyd; edited by Dominic Leung; production designer, Agnieszka Debska; produced by Ally Gipps.

Starring Tom Hollander (Michael), Geraldine James (Dr. Easy) and Alex Macqueen (Superintendent).


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In the Loop (2009, Armando Iannucci)

In the Loop is a spin-off of a British show… I didn’t know about that connection when I watched it. I guess it doesn’t matter, since In the Loop is–apparently–something of a prequel. The show’s called “The Thick of It,” for those interested.

Now, where to start.

In the Loop is, without being specific with names, about the rush to the Iraq war in 2003. As an anti-war film, it’s probably the most effective one I’ve seen about that war, because it portrays the people behind it as self-serving and callow. It’s hilarious. It’s also rather depressing when one realizes the state of government, but it’s definitely funny.

As really funny–and here’s where In the Loop gets a lot of laughs–is a Scotsman swearing. The film opens with Peter Capaldi and this torrent of obscenities just starts rushing from him. A lot of his particular insults are well-written, but it’s Capaldi’s performance–that accent–is still the most important part.

He’s not really the lead in the film, but the film doesn’t really have one so maybe he’s the closest it does have.

It sort of opens and closes with Chris Addison’s career, but he’s so unlikable after a certain point, it’s hard to call him a protagonist.

The best performances are from David Rasche (a standout), Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy (another standout) and Steve Coogan.

It’s great.

But it’s sad the British cast Americans better than Hollywood.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Armando Iannucci; written by Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche; director of photography, Jamie Cairney; edited by Anthony Boys and Billy Sneddon; music by Adam Ilhan; production designer, Christina Casali; produced by Kevin Loader and Adam Tandy; released by Optimum Releasing.

Starring Anna Chlumsky (Liza Weld), Chris Addison (Toby Wright), David Rasche (Linton Barwick), Gina McKee (Judy Molloy), James Gandolfini (Lt. Gen. George Miller), Mimi Kennedy (Karen Clark), Olivia Poulet (Suzy), Peter Capaldi (Malcolm Tucker), Steve Coogan (Paul Michaelson), Tom Hollander (Simon Foster) and Zach Woods (Chad).


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Piccadilly Jim (2004, John McCay)

Not too long ago, I used to get excited when good actors would make movies together. They didn’t have to be great movies, Barbet Schroeder could have directed them or Sandra Bullock could have starred in them–I’m fairly certain this period was known as the 1990s. It’s taken me three years to see Piccadilly Jim, which never got a domestic release, so it’s not as far out of the 1990s as it could be. It’s an absurd comedy, using an overblown emphasis on the popular conceptions of the 1930s to attempt to endear itself on the audience. Essentially, it’s the same concept as Radioland Murders, only successful. It’s successful for a few reasons. I’ll get the least exciting ones out of the way. First, the scope. Whether it’s London or New York of the 1930s, the scope is wonderful. There’s some extra-glossy, CG-enhanced scenery, but mostly it’s interiors. McKay does it beautifully. It’s exploitative, how interesting he makes the film look. It’s probably to distract from how confusing it is to understand and how unbelievable it is. Second, the script. Julian Fellowes essentially takes a Marx Brothers movie, removes the Marx Brothers, removes the songs, changes the focus to the young couple in trouble and runs with it. He assigns the Marx Brothers’s tasks to the young couple, it’s an interesting way of doing it and it works. Of course, it might have worked that way in the source material. I don’t know.

Now, the gushy part. While Piccadilly Jim is not the finest exhibit of Sam Rockwell’s acting abilities, it’s fun. He’s funny, he immediately engages the viewer. It probably was not a hard role, but he does it perfectly. Frances O’Connor, who’s constantly appearing and disappearing from cinema–rather frustratingly–is fantastic. Watching her and Rockwell together, the verbal sparing, the rapid-fire back and forths, it’s wonderful. Her role ought to be impossible, because it’s so absurd, but she really makes it work. The other great performance is Tom Wilkinson. He and Rockwell as father and son is great to watch, because it’s probably Rockwell’s talent at something besides being charming in an odd way comes through. The only disappointing performance–Allison Janney is fine but nothing spectacular–is Brenda Blethyn. O’Connor plays an American and she’s great, but Blethyn seems like she’s uncomfortable doing it (odd, Piccadilly Jim‘s a British with Americans playing Americans and British playing Americans and whatever, never mind). She’s not having any fun. It might be the constraints of the character, but it’s Brenda Blethyn. She’s usually outstanding.

I wasn’t expecting much from Piccadilly Jim because it never got the U.S. release and, in an interview at the time, Rockwell didn’t seem very excited about it. But it really reminded me, movies can be fun and intelligent and good without necessarily being great. The sad thing, of course, is in the 1990s, Piccadilly Jim was closer to the norm than not.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by John McCay; screenplay by Julian Fellowes, from the novel by P.G. Wodehouse; director of photography, Andrew Dunn; edited by David Freeman; music by Adrian Johnston; production designer, Amanda McArthur; produced by Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin and Andrew Hauptman; released by United International Pictures.

Starring Sam Rockwell (Jim Crocker), Frances O’Connor (Ann Chester), Tom Wilkinson (Bingley Crocker), Brenda Blethyn (Nesta Pett), Allison Janney (Eugenia Crocker), Austin Pendleton (Peter Pett), Hugh Bonneville (Lord Wisbeach), Tom Hollander (Willie Partridge), Geoffrey Palmer (Bayliss), Rupert Simonian (Ogden Ford) and Kevin Eldon (Wizzy).


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