Archives for posts with tag: charles dance

“Spunky, badly-dressed woman teaches well-heeled man how to feel” is my least favorite genre of film, because for some reason I’m not sure it’s better to run roughshod over other people’s lives even if you do it with a smile and dumb tights.

This one is even worse than usual.

In a MV5BMTQ2NjE4NDE2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwNDE5NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_twist of fate, posh banker Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) wisely doesn’t take his motorcycle to work in the rain, and is hit by someone else and paralyzed. He moves back in with his parents in a tiny town, and of course his girlfriend leaves him for his best friend. He lets himself get scruffy and gets his kicks by doing a “My Left Foot” bit to unsuspecting strangers. You suspect he may have been kind of a douche all along.

His mother Camilla (Janet McTeer) is at her wits’ end, and hires as a companion a local young woman, Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke). She has just lost her job in a café, where she is relentlessly sweet to the little old ladies who eat there. Her family is short on money, but she has an inexhaustible supply of perfectly coordinated, whimsically bright outfits, including innumerably flashy pairs of Mary Janes. Naturally, despite her humble background and her father’s unemployment and her sister’s single motherhood, she approaches all problems with boundless, uncomprehending optimism. Her boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis, of Neville Longbottom + puberty = surprise fame) is a runner, and cartoonishly dense, of course.

Well, you know how this goes. Will’s parents (Charles Dance is his father) don’t know how to cope with their son’s pain and despair, because they’re rich and don’t know how to love, and are willing to take him to Dignitas after a period of adjustment. Lou, though–she and her good attitude can work wonders! Between that blind glee and the broad shoulders of the Australian physio Nate (Stephen Peacocke), they paint the town red. They even go to the ex-girlfriend’s wedding together, and have a great time. Joanna Lumley is there, for thirty seconds.

But here’s the kicker: even working-class sincerity and butterfly hair clips might not cure paraplegia. And it’s really not appealing to watch Lou lecture Will about how selfish he is when she refuses to listen to him, ever. It’s gross, in fact.

Also: women? You can have a personality and even be generous and caring while still having a grasp of reality and maybe owning a grey dress or a black pair of shoes.

Director: Thea Sharrock
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes
Score: 1/5

Yeah, yeah, TV movie, whatever. Also, I didn’t think Going Postal was one of Terry Pratchett’s best, so I’m not going to evaluate the screen version on its fidelity to the original because a) I don’t remember, and b) I don’t care.

So…on the Discworld, which is an amazing universe that you should investigate at the earliest opportunity, there is a city called Ankh-Morpork, which is sort of modelled on Victorian London if there had been magic and wizards instead of TB and Chartists. It’s filthy, it’s bustling, it’s corrupt, it’s fascinating.

In this city, there is a man called Moist von Lipwig (Jeff from “Coupling”), and he is a con man. He is caught, and Lord Vetinari (played by Charles Dance and if you thought Tywin Lannister was devious and arachnid, you are a naïve fool) offers him the chance between death and re-opening the Post Office. Inexplicably he goes for the latter and gets entangled in various plots involving new technology (the clacks, a telegraph analogue), an attractive lady with a cigarette holder (Claire Foy), and golems.

As a movie it is eminently watchable. All of the actors are unexpectedly real (and don’t phone it in), the effects are almost all fine, and the world-building is surprisingly good. There’s a lot of ambient Discworld stuff that’s well executed even though it’s not strictly necessary. As an adaptation I also think it succeeds. It gets the Pratchett spirit to an extent I did not anticipate. The kookiness could easily have veered into irritating territory, but instead it was note-perfect.

Stray observations:

  • The banshee is terrible. Not sure why, since it was the only thing that really fell flat. The vampire was fine; the golems weren’t how I pictured them, but they weren’t bad.
  • Having seen Claire Foy first in eleven hours of Little Dorrit, it’s weird to see her as anything else. At least here she’s not shagging any Nazis.
  • Tamsin Greig! As usual amazing! Go watch “Green Wing” and “Black Books.” Immediately.
  • My biggest problem: Angua is too scary. You’re not supposed to be able to tell she’s a werewolf by looking. That would sort of defeat the purpose.

Director: Jon Jones
Rating: PG, maybe?
Length: 185 min.
Score: 3/5. I enjoyed it but I’m not exactly proud.