The Dig


Viewed – 17 August 2021 Netflix

I’ve always been an admirer of actor Ralph Fiennes … with his often chameleon-like performances enriching many a movie. This gentle and meaningful drama set in 1939 on the eve of World War II has him as quietly spoken archeologist Basil, who is hired by ‘lady of the manor’ Edith (Carey Mulligan) who wants him to dig up some prominent mounds existing on her land. This leads to an incredible discovery.

Based on a true story this was an effective drama. Mulligan who I enjoyed in Promising Young Woman is again very good, as is Feinnes in an understated but convincing turn. The bond the unlikely friends form is quite captivating, especially as the story evolves. The backdrop of the archeological find is also fascinating, especially if you have even a passing interest in history. Also, the threat of the war starting is quite unnerving and portrayed realistically. It was the character bits that made this though, not just with the two leads, and the story proves moving and absorbing, despite a laid back tone.

Director Simon Stone has delivered an authentic and fascinating drama that wisely focuses on character as much as an historical discovery, and along with some attractive cinematography that showcases the English countryside and a moving story – I came away rather affected by this.

Verdict: Recommended

Promising Young Woman


Viewed – 07 August 2021 online rental

I love going into a movie blind. Not knowing anything about it other than seeing it keep popping up in my YouTube feed. I also like female lead stories, and so I settled down to this with anticipation. Telling the tale of Cassie, a drop out medical student who by day works in a cafe and by night frequents clubs pretending to be drunk just to see if once again some scum bag will try to take advantage of her. However, when she finally appears to have met Mr Right, a tragic past that has haunted her, rears its head once again.

Me Too…?

Carey Mulligan, an actress I’m not overly familiar with, eats up the screen as the bitter and vengeful Cassie. The scenes where she tracks down and manipulates figures from her past are highly entertaining. It’s fun watching and waiting for who will be next and where the story will go. Ryan, the love interest also proves interesting, especially with how he plays off Cassie’s cautious personality to show he’s not the same as ‘those guys’. This all leads to a gut-punch of a twist that truly left my jaw dropped.

Shame then that the ending relies so heavily on certain things falling perfectly into place, which as it turns out is utterly implausible. This kind of ruins what is otherwise a really good movie, with memorable moments, a great soundtrack and a great turn from Mulligan. For all it’s other merits then, I’d still say give this a watch.

Verdict: Good

The Great Gatsby


Viewed – 21 May 2013  Cinema

Going into this, I had quite clear expectations.  From a director such as Baz Luhrmann (William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) I knew I would get something visually dazzling, highly theatrical and bursting to the seems with larger-than-life costumes and characters   It’s kinda his calling card.  Yet as a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio also, I had expectations of another memorable performance from one of the best in the business.

GatsbyPic1

This tells the tale of wall street worker Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) who moves into a house located next door to famed playboy Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), an almost legendary figure in New York during the 1920s who rarely appears in public and hosts numerous dazzling parties for the locales.  Yet the reality behind the myth intrigues and so Carraway befriends the reclusive billionaire and attempts to help him with a little problem with a long-lost love, who just happens to be Carraway’s cousin.

From the start, this is a stunning movie to just sit back and take in … imagination, set design, gorgeous visuals and a fantastic use of modern music rejigged to a 20’s jazz soundtrack (Beyonce’s Crazy In Love?) … showcases Luhrmann playing at full throttle.  At the heart of the spectacle however is a simple story of love, obsession and a little bit of mystery.  Initially I found it hard to get to grips with, so awash with the sheer visual overload, that concentrating on the story was difficult.  Thankfully things settle down with solid, complex turns from both  DiCaprio and Maguire.  Add to this a sultry Carey Mulligan and an enjoyably boo-hiss Joel Edgerton ... and this proved an often surprising and enjoyable tale, with strong echoes of Citizen Kane.  I think considering DiCaprio’s array of quality performances over the years, this came across more old-fashioned, screen idol than serious acting, and in some ways the movie was guilty of a too much Hollywood glitz to take completely serious.  Often Maguire’s wide-eyed goofy-grin made him look like a rabbit caught in the headlights, and with such reliance on green-screen – it was sometimes like a fantasy movie without the dragons or wizards.  Not helped by the fact sometimes actors didn’t look like they were really ‘there’, which they obviously wasn’t.

As it stands though this is a treat for fans of truly interesting looking movies, the kind that deserve the big screen treatment, not because of action sequences but because each shot looks like an oil painting – something Luhrmann has always been an artist at.  Beyond this however is an absorbing but not quite so amazing story, with decent rather than ‘wow’ performances – but either way, still deserves your attention.

Verdict:  4 /5