Paul Anderson is an Arts broadcaster, radio presenter, producer and journalist. He’s known for work on BBC 6 Music, Xfm, Capital as well as hosting his own one-hour film show ‘At The Movies’ on Smooth Radio. Paul is also a member of the London Film Critic’s Circle. Follow him on Twitter @afilmguy.
If you’ve watched any of the Bond movies directed by Sam Mendes, then you’ll know the opening scenes which can last nearly ten minutes before the opening credits, are things of beauty and wonder. The man has an eye. So, don’t be surprised when dipping your toe into this hard-hitting World War One drama if you find yourself completely immersed. Partly based on Mendes own grandfather’s experience, it is a fictional account of two young soldiers Blake played by Dean-Charles Chapman and Schofield by George MacKay who are asked by their commanding officer Colin Firth to deliver a message to Benedict Cumberbatch a colonel about to attack the Hindenburg Line. The message is to abort the attack as thousands of British troops are likely to be slaughtered; including Blake’s older brother. So, that’s the story but it’s the look that will take you breath away the cinematographer is Roger Deakins who has worked with Mendes four times and is known for his brilliance in filming continuously in one shot. The effects are invisible, and it is a technical masterpiece but 1917 has heart and soul and two young brave and earnest lead actors.
It is also not a typical war movie, more of an ode to the fallen and the score by Mendes regular collaborator Thomas Newman emphasises the surreal nature of parts of the film and the futility of war. And don’t worry no rats were injured during the making of the film.
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD: PG
Stuffed full of stars this is the tale of Copperfield’s life as told by him. Armando Iannucci has written with his long-time collaborator Simon Blackwell, a beautiful tale of being down and falling on hard times only to rise again several times over. Dev Patel plays Copperfield, who gets called various names throughout until he eventually has the courage to own up to his own. All your favourite characters are here including Peter Capaldi as McCawber, Ben Wishaw as Uriah Heap and Tilda Swinton is sublime as Betsy Trotwood; and a film stealing turn from Hugh Laurie as her companion Mr Dick. The language and dialogue are rich and wonderful as you’d expect from both Charles Dickens and Armando Iannucci. The characters are fully rounded an in turns likeable and despicable. There is cruelty and class snobbery and at the heart of the film a generous spirit and good soul depicted by Dev Patel. Some might say it’s a bold move to have Dev Patel in the lead role and also spotlight the diversity of the cast. It’s just brilliant casting all round, right people in the right characters. Iannucci has written brilliantly for women here too and in my view has improved on the Dickens original.
Don’t expect arch satire or establishment bashing, well not in addition to what Dickens may have implied, this is Iannucci in full on good spirt, bringing joy to the soul.