There is something visceral and immediate when I see Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy. It forces me to smile and watching her usually causes a right laugh. In her latest film The Boss, she plays financial manager, queen pin and motivational speaker Michelle Darnell, ‘the 37th richest woman in the US’, who gets taken down for insider trading by a jealous ex played to eerie, almost Prince-like perfection by Games of Thrones great Peter Dinklage. Once released from a minimum-security prison, the realisation of her rock-bottom life hits her like a weight, and she has to turn to her ex-personal assistant Claire, played by Veronica Mars alum Kristen Bell, for some major recuperation and aide. In a rather Troop Beverly Hills-like scenario, Michelle pulls herself up from the bootstraps and corners Claire into a deal using her family’s brownie recipe and BOOM! Darnell’s Darlings is born. There is a comic timing that is so spot-on in some instances and at others, not fully fleshed-out, but we still get the jokes. McCarthy’s husband and creative partner Ben Falcone is the director of the film, and he has created a nuanced version of his and his wife’s best performances, but while it often hits low, it hits hard; and despite the formulaic US-American character, there is no doubt that Melissa McCarthy has hit a wonderful stride in her mid-40s and there is not a stop in sight. Not mad at all! ###-1/2
Oh….the Queen. Last week, she caused a bit of a stir in the UK for declaring how frightfully rude the Chinese leaders had been to the British Ambassadors when greeting them at a recent State affair. Lord knows when the Queen speaks, people eavesdrop, and perhaps that’s what the director Julian Jarrold wanted to do with this film. Best known for the practically impeccable Kinky Boots (2005), he is back now with his most recent effort, A Royal Night Out. The film is a genteel venture in the same vein as some of his previous work, though with nary a word on the fact that they have just come out of an atrocious war, the film depicts a fictionalised interpretation of a royal escape for then Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Margaret (the fantastic Bel Powley and the film’s singular shining actor!) who go out and about one night for a wee celebration as the country is now in rebuild mode. The thing is…the screenplay is just a tad weak if you ask me, and there seems to be an incongruent feeling running at times throughout the film, as if little context were made for the princesses' lives during the war or for those of the countrymen in grand fete beside them; at these times in the film, the actors seem to not really know what to say or do next…interesting. Rupert Everett and the always nice-to-see Imelda Staunton play King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum, respectively, and while great, are not much in the film. Still, if light and whimsical is your fancy in regards to historical fiction, you could do much worse than this nice, little romp. ###
Lastly, in our two-part reviews this weekend, we have the latest reinterpretation of the classic Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. At first, Sophie Barthes’s film plays like a wannabe French New Wave film, something like what critics used to call “le cinema du papa.” You may feel like you could lose yourself in its rhythmic lull, but alas, when a French masterpiece is made with mostly American and Brit actors faking bad, French-tinged accents (or not, who cares you know?…a la Kevin Costner in 1991’s Robin Hood), something starts to feel off and false rather quickly. The scenery is spectacular and helps to keep the lure tantalising for awhile. By the end, we’re watching Mia Wasikowska play an Emma Bovary that’s grounded in the real—in the sounds and colour of her world, in its material limitations and splendours and with its drab take on middle-class life with her overly-responsible and somewhat annoying hubby Charles, played here by non-Frenchie Henry Lloyd Hughes…no wonder the cheating…surely I jest. Alas, though the film certainly has its moments, it plays like an off-Broadway, off-West End production that someone decided to film. Honestly, I quite preferred the last modernised version of the film, released a couple of months back called Gemma Bovary. Somewhere, I hope Flaubert is not too stricken by the immense attention being paid to his magnum opus. ###
May we meet again come Monday afternoon, all. Have a great weekend!