Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Darkest Hour (2017)

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and is a fictionalised account of his early days as Prime Minister, as Nazi Germany swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat Great Britain during World War II, leading to friction at the highest levels of government.

My Opinion:

I’m not a history buff. It was always one of my least favorite subjects in school. I wonder why? I just always found it boring. I like fictional stories set in the future. We were all wankers in the past. Of course, we’re even bigger wankers now so… I guess there’s not much hope for the future anyway.

But I liked this movie far more than I was expecting. Gary Oldman is probably the biggest reason. He’s brilliant! Give him the damn Oscar, Academy!!! And the story was intense. Okay, I’m no history buff but I at least have a very basic knowledge of WWII. I can’t imagine living in the UK during that time. I didn’t know just how intense it became during the “Darkest Hour”, though. UK kids should be watching this movie (mine did). They should have a better understanding of British history than they probably do. In my defense, I grew up in America so the only real focus in my history lessons was, of course, ‘Murrica. F*^k yeah!

Back to Oldman. Ahhh, he’s so good! To be fair, I can’t say I know much about Churchill’s look & voice. All I know is that it did NOT feel like I was watching Gary Oldman. I do like watching movies where actors play real life people but I always feel like I’m watching that actor playing make-believe. Like anyone Tom Hanks plays… He’s a good actor but I feel like I’m watching Hanks playing a role the entire time. You don’t have to suspend disbelief when it comes to Oldman and that’s what I love. I like movies & stories more than the actors themselves. I want to fully buy into the characters. Oldman has always been a true chameleon, though, as mentioned in My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies post (which I’ve just updated to add Darkest Hour). If he doesn’t win the Oscar this year, the Academy can go f*^k itself (Okay, I say this a lot. The winners often piss me off).

The WWII story itself held my attention the whole time (it helps when you have very little knowledge of what happened). I actually finally watched The King’s Speech after seeing this and it was interesting to see some of the same events from the King’s perspective instead of Churchill’s (That’s a good movie too, by the way – Not sure why I never wanted to watch it). Now I’m just waiting for Dunkirk to show up on Netflix or Prime and that will fill in my gaps in knowledge on that, which is a big part of Darkest Hour. What would I do without pretty movies giving me nice, glossy history lessons?!

WWII history aside, though, Darkest Hour also shows Churchill’s relationships with various people and this is what I most care about in movies. We see him with his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), his young secretary (Lily James), and the King (Ben Mendelsohn, not Colin Firth), as well as many other political dudes (but the first three are the main focus). His interactions with the two women were especially good & gave you more insight into Churchill as a person instead of just as a Prime Minister.

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit despite not being big on historical films and highly recommend it to anyone who loved Dunkirk. It makes no sense to watch that one without watching this one as well. As for me, I just find Christopher Nolan overrated so that’s my excuse for waiting for that one to show up on one of my movie services…

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Nowhere Boy (2009) Review

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Nowhere Boy (2009)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood (Sam Taylor-Johnson now)

Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Anne-Marie Duff
Kristin Scott Thomas

(How many names do each of these people need??)

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his guardian aunt and his mother, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles. The film is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird.

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My Opinion:

First of all – I love The Beatles. Well, not things like I Want To Hold Your Hand so much – more like Norwegian Wood & Dear Prudence. Actually, I did My Top Five Beatles Songs HERE (think they’ve changed a bit since).

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I like a lot of music but never know that much about the band members. Same goes for actors – I don’t like knowing TOO much of their real lives because I don’t want to have that affect how I may feel about their music or movies. I mean, Tom Cruise movies are ruined for me for life – no matter how serious the role, I just see him jumping around on a couch. Stay slightly mysterious, famous people! Like in the old days before Twitter & stuff – We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of every day. And, FFS, don’t do a reality show!

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Um, where was I? Oh yeah – The Beatles! As much as I know & love their music, I know very little about their personal lives. I couldn’t tell you how accurate Nowhere Boy is but, wow – Lennon apparently had a pretty heartbreaking childhood. I knew none of that. I guess it goes to show that those with difficult lives really are often the most creative people. Why is that? People must have it too easy these days since most music sucks now.

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Maybe I should actually talk about the movie?? First of all, it was a little hard to buy into as Aaron Taylor-Johnson looks nothing whatsoever like John Lennon. His performance was fine but I just never really felt like I was watching a young John Lennon. Even more odd was Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul McCartney. Wait. What? That kid from Love Actually & Nanny McPhee?! Yeah, that one. Look at him:

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Huh? You’re Paul McCartney in this?

So it took me a while to get into this film but, maybe halfway through, I decided to just go with it and I ended up thinking it was a very interesting story and not too bad of a movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, although maybe hard to picture as John Lennon, was at least believable as a troubled & lonely boy who’d been abandoned by his irresponsible mother (Anne-Marie Duff) and raised by his stern aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas).

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Both women give very good performances and are what helped to sell the movie to me overall. But they’re also not famous people like Lennon – I suppose it’s very difficult to portray someone so well known to the world so I’ve maybe been a little harsh on Taylor-Johnson (I’m sick of typing Taylor-Johnson! I believe he wasn’t yet married to the director when making this so was just Johnson but he’s more famous now as Kick-Ass Taylor-Johnson so I better use the Taylor too). It’s a good insight into Lennon’s early life & what made him who he was. I don’t know if I’d recommend the film to everyone, though. It doesn’t focus on the music at all since it’s just showing us Lennon’s upbringing so don’t expect some music documentary – It won’t suddenly make you a fan of The Beatles music if you aren’t already. If you like a decent real life drama or are the slightest bit interested in knowing a little about Lennon’s early life, I’d recommend it. If you’re the world’s biggest Beatles expert, I have no idea if you’d love this or hate it because I don’t know how accurate it all is. (Sorry – What a wishy washy review! No one reads these things anyway, right?) 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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