Archives for posts with tag: shaun evans

This movie is both painfully earnest and technically bad. It’s like somebody tried to make The Young Victoria from the other side of empire but had never heard anyone have a conversation or seen a movie. The pacing is atrocious, the dialogue is heavy on exposition and light on verisimilitude, and the message clocks you in the face.

Now, lack of subtlety would be all right if it weren’t incoherent and a little insulting. Admittedly few people are particularly familiar with the circumstances around the annexation of Hawai’i. Clunky speeches and cartoonishly evil nutcases are not the answer. Historical movies exist, even movies about colonial shenanigans. Take cues from a good one; they don’t have to consist entirely of awkward monologues. And if you want to emphasize Ka’iulani’s political boldness, spend less time on her romantic life.

The storyline, such as it is, is fairly classic. Hawai’i is facing American domination, and the young princess (Q’Orianka Kilcher) finds herself being educated in England with MV5BMTY2NDcwNjM2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTE4ODE0Mw@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_a friend of her father’s, Theophilus Davies (Julian Glover, who presumably had poker debts). He has a son, Clive (Shaun Evans), and a daughter, Alice (Tamzin Merchant). Clive serves the excellent purpose of falling in love with Ka’iulani, standing up for her to comically stilted snobs, and then funking it when life gets tricky. Alice is there as a contrast to everyone else in England, who is horrible. Letters come at the most opportune of moments, people find their voices just when they’re about to be shouted down, Ka’iulani is so candid and kindly that people just don’t know how to deal with her… It’s like a storybook written by a moron. A sincere, well-meaning moron.

The cast does its best with the material, but that isn’t a lot. So much is left on the table–Ka’iulani died less than a year after the annexation, presumably of heartbreak. Why not include that, for real emotional weight, rather than the silly teenage soppiness? Why not spend more time with her splendid aunt, the Queen (Leo Anderson Akana)? Why not address how she’s spent most of the film away from Hawai’i, and how that might be complicated?

Director: Marc Forby
Rating: PG
Length: 97 minutes
Score: 1/5

There are at least three movies called Sparkle, and this is almost certainly the least well known. And justifiably so. For one thing, there’s absolutely no reason to call it “Sparkle.” For another, it is tripe.

Well, that’s not entirely fair. It’s actually often rather sweet, and it’s quiet enough that you’re not too fussed about the improbabilities. But it is also essentially a light take on The Graduate, and that’s hard to do for a range of excellent reasons.

Sam (Shaun Evans) is a waiter somewhere in the north of England. He has a terrible haircut and prominent ribs. His mother, Jill (Lesley Manville), is a slightly delusional singer of the never-was variety. She’s close enough to real that it’s touchingly sad. Sam does not have a father. One night, Vince (Bob Hoskins) comes into the restaurant where Sam works, and MV5BMTQ5NDg2MDI2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQ0NzkwMzE@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_perhaps because Jill notices his father having a stroke before anyone else does, Jill and Sam end up moving to London and putting up in a flat Vince owns.

So Sam gets to be a waiter in London! And that’s the end.

Haha, no, obviously not. He’s passing out cocktails at some party run by Sheila (Stockard Channing), and sleeps his way into being her personal assistant. Her hair is glorious; her accent is execrable. She has no edibles in her flat besides Cheerios and Moët. Her parties are apparently good, though, and at the next one, Sam meets a politically active young woman whose name is Kate (Amanda Ryan, who slots into this part just as well as she did as Holly Dartie in The Forsyte Saga, which is impressive).

Now, because you’ve seen a movie, you know that Kate is Sheila’s daughter, but Sam doesn’t know he’s in a movie, so he doesn’t realize this. There will be bumps on this road, but on the way you meet Kate’s uncle Tony (Anthony Head) and his boyfriend, Jill finds love, and Sam steals a stuffed dolphin.

Could be worse, and you get to see Anthony Head do dolphin impressions, so.

Director: Tom Hunsinger, Neil Hunter
Rating: M? ish?
Length: 100 minutes
Score: 2/5

If the spirit–or the internet–moves you to investigate Benedict Cumberbatch’s back catalogue, I don’t recommend this entry. [NB I was investigating Shaun Evans’s back catalogue, and so I’m not embarrassed.] This is the sort of movie in which everything is shot in poor lighting and nothing makes sense, in the name of verisimilitude. Probably in the name of realness, actually; verisimilitude isn’t a verisimilitudinous word. At any rate, prepare yourself for shots of wedding rings and stained glass in close up. This is deep.

Dawn (Claire Foy) and David (Mr. Cumberbatch) are married, have recently moved back to his childhood home in the country, and are trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. His brother Nick (Mr. Evans) arrives unannounced, with a penchant for petty larceny and an untreated case of PTSD. You will be shocked to learn that Dawn and David’s marriage starts to fall apart, but it’s not really for the reasons you’d expect or believe. People have kept secrets, people do rotten things, yadda yadda yadda.

But here’s the thing: you don’t care. You feel sorry for Nick, but his PTSD is played exclusively and reductively for pity. He’s just a wounded animal, and everyone treats him like an incontinent child. Dawn and David are ostensibly very much in love, but they mostly just mope and look bitter; David particularly is a cipher with occasional flashes of unlikely, exaggerated emotion. Motivations in general are barely sketched in, which is not what I’d call good story-telling. Dawn is the main character, I suppose, but things just happen to her, for no particular reason, and her own actions have no rationale. We cannot see into her head; still less into anyone else’s. It’s profoundly unsatisfying.

This is exactly the sort of semi-verité that everyone makes all the time now, and it’s slightly worse than all the rest. If you want your life to be made a misery, with a blue filter over the camera, inexplicable shouting, and unpleasant squalid love scenes, go ahead and watch this, but otherwise…

Director: D R Hood
Rating: R?
Length: 85 minutes
Score: 2/5. And probably only 1/5 if I hadn’t got to watch Claire Foy chuck an egg at somebody.

Twitter blurb: Wreckers: Baby-crazy pair lives in country; man’s brother shows up with PTSD and all explodes. Don’t keep hens or secrets, or sing in choirs.