Currently browsing the "Rupert Friend" tag.

Review: The Death of Stalin

If you saw In the Loop, you know what you’re in for in Armando Iannucci’s latest political satire — dark, hilarious, and sometimes creepy. As the title announces, the film is about the death of the ruthless dictator in 1953, though that only takes up a few minutes at the beginning. What it’s really about is the political wrangling that begins before he’s even left this world. There are three men vying to be the new Soviet leader: Stalin’s second-in-command, the idiot Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the ambitious Party chief Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the truly sick secret police chief Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale). Malenkov didn’t have a chance, but Khrushchev and Beria would stop at nothing. The film is adapted from a comic book telling of the story, and everything that happens has a darkly absurd quality. And even though it’s based in reality, I’m sure the actual men were never as hilarious as they appear in this telling.

Chéri

I heard about Chéri when it was around, but being in small town USA, it was only here for an instant and I missed it. Fortunately, it is now on DVD and it is a great chick flick, especially for women over 35. 50+ and still ravishing, Michelle Pfeiffer is lovely playing Léa, a courtesan of a certain age in Belle Époque Paris. Rupert Friend (Albert in The Young Victoria) plays Chéri, the 19-year-old son of one of Léa’s old courtesan rivals (Kathy Bates). He has known and loved Léa since childhood, and when his mother needs someone to talk to him about his directionless life, she calls Léa.

The Young Victoria

To look at The Young Victoria for historical accuracy would be the wrong way to approach it. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) admits to taking dramatic license in many places for effect. And it is effective as a coming of age love story set inside that gilded cage known as the British monarchy. The story begins with 17 year-old Victoria a heartbeat away from being crowned Queen, as her mother, the scheming Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), along with her power hungry advisor (Mark Strong) attempt to set up a regency thereby taking power themselves until she is 25. (Mark Strong is also the villain in Sherlock Holmes, set in the same time period. Hmmm.) They control her every move, making someone walk her up and down the stairs, deciding what she can and cannot read, making sure that she is kept away from her uncle the King, everything designed to dominate her. But she is strong enough to resist them, though she falls instead under the control of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.