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Mary Queen of Scots review : a beautiful display of shining stars – both in cast and in costume

Set 500 years in the past, how does Mary Queen of Scots translate to modern audiences?

K.T Simpson

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Director:

Josie Rourke

Cast:

Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce

Run time:

125 mins

Rating:

I think we can all agree that history is one fickle mistress, difficult to understand and open to some serious interpretation. A film set in the 1500s isn’t going to be one we all resonate with, and it’s almost impossible to judge the historical accuracy of it – especially when all we have is (admittedly amazing) portraits of the key players.

“Mary Queen of Scots” takes us back to 1569, addressing the conflict between Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) and cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) and their two countries. Upon Mary’s arrival back to Scotland, she intends to reclaim her rightful throne from Elizabeth, and the conflict becomes a bloody battle of marriage, childbirth, murder, rebellion, betrayal and deceit.

Robbie is a rising star in Hollywood, and though she shines as the Queen of England, Ronan is the real star of as Mary Queen of Scots. The young actress delivers difficult dialogue and intense scenes that while interesting, no one can really relate to. But that is the beauty of a historical film, as I’m sure there’s only so many Hollywood staple rom-coms we can sit through.

Let’s be real here, times were insanely different 500 years ago, so the language and conflicts can be difficult to get your head around, especially if you’re not already familiar with the events of the time. If you’re going in blind, it’s simple enough to work out what’s going on, but even I will admit it took me a while. Language aside, the costumes in “Mary Queen of Scots” are phenomenally done, and there’s not a rogue Apple Watch in sight. Props to the Costume Design department for the incredible job (pun absolutely intended).

The film has been criticized for historical inaccuracies, but really a movie needs the Hollywood treatment to succeed on the big screen. I also find it hard to believe that anyone would have any clue the exact words that were said back in the day, but rather know the basic “plot” – of which has been adapted into “Mary Queen of Scots”.

Apart from the leading ladies, the film has an impressive supporting cast. David Tennant stars as John Knox, a Protestant cleric, and leads a revolution, and both Jack Lowden and Joe Alwyn do a fantastic job as love interests for the Queens. Guy Pearce also excels as William Cecil, advisor to Queen Elizabeth.

Director Josie Rourke has done a beautiful job of bringing this story to screen, and her meticulous detail is very noticeable.

“Mary Queen of Scots” is a beautiful display of shining stars – both in cast and in costume. It’s a nice break away from the Hollywood formula, and whether it’s 100% accurate or not – it’s still a nice little history lesson and a glimpse into life in the 1500s. I’ll stay in the 21st century, thanks.

Film Reviews

Dragged Across Concrete review : Gibson is back!

Will have Gibson’s fans demanding a new “Lethal Weapon” film immediately

Caffeinated Clint

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Some filmmakers are quite content keeping the dial set at an effective but unwavering 1 or 2, but S.Craig Zahler doesn’t believe in cranking anything into gear that isn’t turned all the way up.
Like his precious two films (“Bone Tomahawk”, “Brawl in Cell Block H”), it’s not easy to cool after Zahler’s newest.

“Dragged Across Concrete” is the type of sweat-inducing, white-knuckle chin-drooper that not even the securest of celluloid split air systems can quench. This thing clams up the skin, dries up the throat and jettisons the heart rate … and by golly, you’ll love it for it.

Gibson and Vaughan play overzealous cops – the former, the more grizzled and senior – who got suspended from the force due to what they see as an absurd leak from the “entertainment media” or “news”.

In order to get the compensation they feel they deserve, Ridgeman – whose wife has MS and daughter has been assaulted numerous times in their rough neighborhood – and Lurasetti decide to snatch the loot from a ruthless mobster and his team of bank-robbers.

With heart-stopping story drifts, shockingly realistic violence and ticker-pausing suspense, “Dragged Across Concrete” is a film that even the most detached and pessimistic of film-fan will be swept up in.

With so many of today’s action-thrillers spoonfeeding their audience like a tot midway through an episode of “Sesame Street”, it’s refreshing to see a movie that asks the audiences to connect the dots, lets actions speak more often than words, and doesn’t succumb to the projected, habitual Hollywood-style ending.

This is also a film where nothing – and no one – is black and white. While not nearly as nasty as the sadistic villains of the piece, Gibson and Vaughn’s coppers also aren’t Boy Scouts. Constantly cutting corners, not necessarily looking out for the greater good and too anxious and concerned with their own concerns to be role models to a city (or, in Gibson’s case, a daughter), these are two men out to look out for themselves.

Acting-wise, there’s no undercooked spots in the dish. Gibson, in particular, is pitch-perfect for the role of the bushed, over-it cop who, at times, resembles a forlorn Harry Callahan and at other times, an older, less chirpy take on (his “Lethal Weapon” character) Martin Riggs. Just seeing Gibson back, firing on all cylinders, both performance-wise and in a physical sense, will have fans demanding a new “Lethal Weapon” film immediately. He’s still got it – he just hasn’t been in anything this good in a while, so it’s been hard to know.

Vaughn, as the ‘straight’ sidekick, is conventionally good too — but particularly so in his chatty scenes with Gibson, of which there are some absolute corkers.

The supporting cast – which includes Don Johnson, Jennifer Carpenter and Michael Jai White – are all doing fine work here, but they’ve far less scene numbers to impress than the anchors.

Zahler seems to be taking his cue from some of the gritty, unapologetic pot boilers of the ‘70s – even, Walter Hill’s ‘90s looter-thriller “Trespass” – and the wave of crime novels that preceded them. There are big, long chunks of dialogue about nothing that would normally work better in a paperback than they would on film, and there’s grotesque blood-splattering kills that you’d normally only get in on Eli Roth retrospective reel, but with Zahler’s smart and unpredictable screenplay and carefully played performances by the leads, the nontraditional elements blend into the world of “Dragged Across Concrete” effortlessly.

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Film Reviews

Us review : a hell of a night at the movies

The latest from “Get Out” director Jordan Peele

Mike Smith

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It used to be that, when I thought of Jordan Peele, I thought of his character, Raffi, the baseball player who used to over congratulate his teammates by yelling “Slap Ass!” and whacking them on the backside. Then he won an Oscar. Which means when I sat down to watch Peele’s newest creation, “Us,” my expectations had been raised. And, wow, was I not disappointed. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, Peele has created a new horror masterpiece.

1986. A time of movies on VHS tapes and Hands Across America (which I actually participated in). It’s a beautiful night on the boardwalk as little Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) and her parents take a stroll. Her mother excuses herself, reminding her husband to watch the little girl. He doesn’t and the little girl wanders down to the beach, where she enters a house of mirrors.

Not the best place to lose yourself.

There is so much I want to tell you about this film, but to do so would spoil one hell of a night at the movies. Like his Oscar-winning debut film, “Get Out,” Peele has found a way to combine drama, humor and horror in such a perfect way that I found myself, literally, on the edge of my seat during the screening. I haven’t done that since I was 16 and snuck into a re-issue of “The Exorcist.”

To even go into slight detail about the performances would be a major spoiler so I will just say that, like “Get Out,” Peele has assembled an amazing cast with much to do and many ways to do it. Peele’s direction is fluid, keeping the story moving at an almost breakneck pace. During the end credits he thanks many of the filmmakers he admires, including Steven Spielberg, whose work obviously influenced some of the shots in the film. And, if I could, I’d give the film an extra star for dressing one of the characters in a JAWS shirt!

Don’t walk, run to the theatre to see “Us.” And be prepared to run some more!

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Film Reviews

The Dirt review : fast-paced and not suitable for children

Get the Jack Daniels and skinny jeans at the ready!

K.T Simpson

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If you’ve read “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” by Neil Strauss, or even if you know anything about Mötley Crüe, you know you’re in for a wild ride with Netflix’s “The Dirt” – the comedy-drama biopic based on the aforementioned book. And a mere 5 minutes in, you’ll know that this film isn’t going to sugar-coat anything, with happenings that are probably too inappropriate to even mention in a film review beginning the story.

“The Dirt” introduces us to the backstory of Mötley Crüe, and through the trials and tribulations of their fast-moving career. With success comes tragedy, and the band generally spend more money on drugs than most of us will ever see in our lifetime – which ultimately makes them a little bit (read: a lot) unlikeable. But such is the story of how the glam metal band found fame in the ‘80s, where music comes second to partying and groupies.

Honestly, nothing is off limits for Mötley Crüe and “The Dirt” shows it. No girl is off limits – regardless if you’re already in a relationship or if it’s the partner of someone else in the band – no drug is unobtainable, and no hotel room will ever be the same when the band has something to do with it.

Casting-wise, “The Dirt” nails it. Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx is the standout, depicting the troubled life of an abandoned teen who finds solace in music and way too much heroin – and a cocktail of other drugs and alcohol. Supported by Colson Baker aka Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, and Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, the group bounce off each other very well and are a believable representation of Mötley Crüe.

As with any hour-and-a-half biopic about a decade of events, there’s simply not enough time to touch upon everything important about Mötley Crüe and their individual stories. As such, the film feels like it rushes through a lot, and is mostly focused on the antics the boys get up to, rather than the creation of the music that we all know so well.

Director Jeff Tremaine is also responsible for the “Jackass” movies, and that really shows through “The Dirt” in its direction style. It’s fast-paced and at time feels a little out of its depth – however coincidentally representing the band to an absolute T.

While you may have mixed opinions on each band member, you have to hand it to them for perseverance and for setting a new precedent with glam metal – and music in general. “The Dirt” really finds its material in their bad-boy antics, but what we really want to see is the suspended spinning drum kit and the pyro-technics that support their live show. If you want to see the latter, then perhaps track down one of their live DVDs and watch that. Ultimately, “The Dirt” wants you to see the nitty gritty, the cocaine snorting, the uninhibited sex, the family tragedies, and the arguments.

What I can promise you, however, is that you will want to blast “Dr Feelgood” at top volume in your living room, and swig some Jack Daniels straight from the bottle – or at least put a respectable size shot of it with some Coke in a glass, we are adults afterall.

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