Archives for posts with tag: richard coyle

You know who was pretty interesting? Wallis Simpson, and also the Duke of Windsor. I’d watch a movie about them. I thought this was a movie about them. I question the choice of putting out a movie about the Duke of Windsor just after The King’s Speech, but, well, whatever, Madonna.

This movie was, however, only sort of about the titular W. and E. Instead, there was an asinine framing device: Wally (Abbie Cornish, and so named because her mother was obsessed with Mrs. Simpson, and also apparently cruel and deranged) desperately wants to have a baby; her husband William (Jeff from “Coupling”) does not. Wally’s coping mechanism is to haunt the sale of the Windsors’ estate at Sotheby’s and flirt with Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), a security guard. Intermittently Mrs. Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) will appear in Wally’s imagination to give her advice.

I submit, my dear, that if you need advice on your life plans, that Wallis Simpson may not be the place to turn.

In and around all this garbage is an abbreviated account of the romance between Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales &c. (James D’Arcy). The angle, though, is purported to be new: everyone knows what Edward VIII gave up to marry an American divorcée, but what, the film asks, did Wallis give up to marry Edward? The film doesn’t answer this question satisfactorily, and even if it did, the answer is still “not a kingdom” and “who cares?”

Riseborough and D’Arcy show fairly well, but the convoluted drama of Wally-William-Evgeni just embarrasses the actors involved. Bertie (to become George VI) is relegated back to the role of a clumsy stutterer whose wife speaks for him in all things, presumably in the interests of making his brother look more dashing. It sort of works, but you feel manipulated. This is the problem with the whole movie, in fact: you get what it’s doing, but it’s so heavy-handed that you lose interest.

Stray notes:

  • In case you were wondering, ladies, this movie clears up any doubts: if you can get pregnant, you are a worthwhile human being.

Director: Madonna
Rating: R
Length: 119 min.
Score: 2/5.

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.