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- Jimmy's Hall
- Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Belle 3 stars
Captain Sir John Lindsay brings his illegitimate, mixed race daughter Dido to England and entrusts the child to his aristocratic uncle, Lord Mansfield. The Lord allows Dido to stay as a constant companion to her cousin, Elizabeth. The girls blossom and Lady Elizabeth seeks a wealthy husband. Meanwhile, Dido must remain behind closed doors at important social gatherings. Her head is turned by idealistic lawyer John Davinier, who is involved in a pivotal court case about the slave trade in England.
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastMatthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sam Reid, Tom Wilkinson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sarah Gadon.
- DirectorAmma Asante.
- WriterMisan Sagay.
- Duration104 mins
- Official sitewww.belle-themovie.com
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but when that beauty defies the social mores of a prejudiced era, it must be cherished in secret. Belle is the enchanting dramatisation of a true story of fortitude across racial and class divides at a time when pompous men of privilege were vociferously debating the end of slavery in England.
The high-profile case at the centre of the debate concerned the crew of a ship called the Zong, who had thrown dozens of slaves overboard because they claimed they did not have enough supplies for the duration of the voyage. When the ship reached port, the Zong's Liverpool-based owners demanded compensation for the lost slaves but insurers refused to honour the claim.
The subsequent trial posed uncomfortable questions about the monetary value of human life. Inspired by an 18th-century painting commissioned by William Murray, who was then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Amma Asante's handsome period piece illuminates the debate and some of the characters, whose lives intersected at this historical crossroads.
Captain Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) brings his illegitimate, mixed race daughter Dido (Lauren Julien-Box) to England and entrusts the child to his aristocratic uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) while he returns to sea. Lord Mansfield's wife (Emily Watson) is opposed to the plan but he permits Dido to stay, allowing his great-niece to become a constant companion to her cousin, Elizabeth (Cara Jenkins).
The girls blossom and Lady Elizabeth (now played by Sarah Gadon) prepares to seek a wealthy husband. "Elizabeth must secure her bread and butter," Lord Mansfield reminds his wife. Dido (now played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is afforded certain privileges by her lineage but she must remain behind closed doors at important social gatherings.
Oliver Ashford (James Norton), the handsome offspring of Lord and Lady Ashford (Alex Jennings, Miranda Richardson) is a potential love match for Elizabeth but he is more interested in Dido. However, Dido's head is turned by idealistic lawyer John Davinier (Sam Reid), who is heavily involved in the Zong case and opens her eyes to the barbarism of slavery.
Elegantly scripted by Misan Sagay, Belle is a beautifully crafted companion piece to 12 Years A Slave that traverses a moral maze through British eyes and reminds us that we have blood on our hands too.
The ensemble cast delivers excellent performances, particularly Mbatha-Raw, who possesses beauty and vulnerability on camera. She catalyses smouldering screen chemistry with Reid, and Wilkinson brings pomp and circumstance to his pivotal role as a man with the power to chip away at the foundations of the legal firmament.
Dramatic momentum steadily builds to Lord Mansfield's deliberation on the Zong case, watched intently by Dido and Davinier. Like them, we're spellbound by his ruling.
Jimmy's Hall 3 stars
After several years in America where he witnessed the ravages of the depression, Irish communist leader Jimmy Gralton returns to 1930s County Leitrim to grieve for his recently deceased brother and help his mother with the upkeep of the family farm. The local children have nowhere to play so they implore Jimmy to re-open the Pearse-Connolly Hall. By re-opening the doors to the hall, Jimmy re-ignites tensions with the church represented by the vociferous parish priest, Father Sheridan.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastBarry Ward, Brian F O'Byrne, Andrew Scott, Jim Norton, Simone Kirby.
- DirectorKen Loach.
- WriterPaul Laverty.
- Duration109 mins
- Official site
- Release30/05/2014 (selected cinemas)
Ken Loach's impassioned historical biopic, scripted by regular collaborator Paul Laverty, premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival to lukewarm reviews. After several years in America where he witnessed the ravages of the depression, Irish communist leader Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward) returns to 1930s County Leitrim to grieve for his recently deceased brother and help his mother with the upkeep of the family farm. The local children have nowhere to play or channel their energy so they implore Jimmy to re-open the Pearse-Connolly Hall, named in honour of two fallen leaders of the 1916 Easter rising. By re-opening the doors to the hall, Jimmy re-ignites tensions with the church represented by the vociferous parish priest, Father Sheridan (Jim Norton). He also fans the flames of a dormant romance with local woman Oonagh (Simone Kirby), to whom his heart has always belonged.
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return 2 stars
Dorothy Gale wakes in Kansas. A giant tornado has devastated the local community and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are reluctantly preparing to move on rather than rebuild. Back in Oz, where time unfolds much quicker than in our world, The Jester, devious brother of the Wicked Witch of the West, is upholding villainous family values by attempting to enslave the entire kingdom. Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion summon Dorothy back to Oz using a rainbow mover in order to spearhead a rebellion.
- GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Family, Family, Fantasy, Musical
- CastHugh Dancy, Lea Michele, Sir Patrick Stewart, James Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short.
- DirectorDan St Pierre, Will Finn.
- WriterRandi Barnes, Adam Balsam.
- Duration88 mins
- Official sitewww.legendsofozmovie.com
- Release23/05/2014 (selected cinemas)
At the end of the classic 1939 musical The Wizard Of Oz, based on a novel by L Frank Baum, Dorothy Gale clicks the heels of her ruby slippers three times and chants, "There's no place like home", in order to return to sepia-toned Kansas. At the time, cinema audiences didn't fall completely under the spell of Victor Fleming's ambitious and costly fantasy but decades of television repeats have elevated the adventures of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion in our affections.
A jolly jaunt up the Yellow Brick Road has become an annual ritual for many families, especially at Christmas, when grown men choke back tears of happiness as Judy Garland trills the Oscar-winning song Over The Rainbow.
Various spin-off TV series and films, and adaptations of Baum's myriad sequels to The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, have failed to recapture the magic and sense of wonder of Fleming's version. Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return joins that far from illustrious list.
Co-directed by Will Finn and Daniel St Pierre, this computer-animated musical is a direct sequel to the 1939 film, returning the plucky heroine and her pooch Toto to the enchanted realm in order to thwart a megalomaniacal new villain.
Dorothy Gale (voiced by Lea Michele) wakes in Kansas. A giant tornado has devastated the local community and Aunt Em (Tacey Adams) and Uncle Henry (Michael Krawic) are reluctantly preparing to move on rather than rebuild. Back in Oz, where time unfolds much quicker than in our world, The Jester (Martin Short), devious brother of the Wicked Witch of the West, is upholding villainous family values by attempting to enslave the entire kingdom.
Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Cowardly Lion (Jim Belushi) summon Dorothy back to Oz using a rainbow mover in order to spearhead a rebellion. The heroine journeys towards the Emerald City in the company of new friends including Wiser The Owl (Oliver Platt), Tugg the Treeboat (Patrick Stewart), dashing soldier Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy) and the China Doll Princess (Megan Hilty), who takes one look at Dorothy and quips, "So this is the little girl who vanquishes witches? I thought she'd be taller."
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return is neither fun-filled nor magical, punctuating the heroine's odyssey with songs composed by Academy Award nominated singer/songwriter Bryan Adams, which run the gamut of insipid empowerment ballads and up-tempo calls to arms. Michele is a chirpy yet bland central character and supporting vocal performances are similarly forgettable.
Directors Finn and St Pierre competently bolt together action sequences and musical numbers but there's no discernible brio or imagination. Animation harks from a bygone era when humans were doll-like figures with a strange sheen and large eyes. There's still no place like the 1939 film.