November 24, 2014

Movie Review – Stretch

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Stretch Review Logo Movie Review   Stretch

- Summary -

Director :  Joe Carnahan
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Patrick Wilson, Chris Pine, Brooklyn Decker, Ed Helms, Jessica Alba, James Badge Dale, Ben Bray, Matthew Willig, Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff, Norman Reedus.
Approx Running Time :   94 Minutes
Synopsis: A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals.
What we think :  Finally, the movie I’ve waited Joe Carnahan to direct for ages (well, since The A Team) – amped up, violent, crass, obscene and utterly hilarious, Stretch is a rocket ride of laughs and fun from start to finish. Patrick Wilson’s “everyman” persona (one he perfected in films like Lakeview Terrace and, to an extent, in Watchmen) suits his character to perfection, and alongside a hilarious Ed Helms, an insane Chris Pine, and a gorgeous Jessica Alba, tilts from one moments of lively insanity to the next with a sense of reckless abandon. Fast and funny, Stretch delivers.

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One limousine ride you won’t forget.

I’ve been a fan of Joe Carnahan since he made Smokin’ Aces. I’ve waited for him to direct a film like Smokin’ Aces again for ages, and although The A Team came close to the same gut-punch ferocity, it was tempered with a pleasant sheen of commercialized integrity that neutered a lot of potential “hard” violence. Thankfully, Stretch sees Carnahan really return to that adult-focused action comedy mode, and unlike The Grey, or even The A Team, thunders it’s way through a diverting, if entirely implausible, routine of hard-partying, drugs, guns, brawls, money and cars. It’s top-flight junk cinema, the kind of film left behind by focus groups and committees, destined for cult status as a beer-n-pizza favorite, and as such, strays from traditional pathways and heads off into some pretty wild tangents. Not all of it works, but as a whole, it’s entirely entertaining.

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November 22, 2014

Is Hollywood’s Awards Season Too Long?

Filed under: Opinion — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Is Hollywoods Awards Season Too Long Logo Is Hollywoods Awards Season Too Long?

Every year, bloggers and media companies around the world spend months talking about, examining and dissecting every nuance of what has become Hollywood’s “Awards Season”, a time of the year which usually kicks off around November and lasts through until the Oscars, in Late February or early March. For an industry that’s awfully self-involved most of the time anyway, one could argue that a five month season of back-slapping and handshakes is probably not long enough, but since the Academy’s Governor’s Ball took place only the other week and the Oscars themselves not until February 22nd, it’s time to ask: is Hollywood’s Awards Season too long?

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November 21, 2014

Vale – Mike Nichols

Filed under: Obituary — Rodney Twelftree @ 11:52 am
mikenichols  120530205508 720x479 Vale   Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols – 1931-2014

Legendary American film director Mike Nichols, who helmed such classics as The Graduate, Silkwood and Working Girl, has passed away.

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Movie Review – Open Windows

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Open Windows Review Logo Movie Review   Open Windows

- Summary -

Director :   Nacho Vigalondo
Year Of Release :  2014
Principal Cast :  Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell, Nacho Vigalonda, Ivan Gonzalez, Scott Weinberg, Trevante Rhodes.
Approx Running Time :   100 Minutes
Synopsis:   A web-obsessed fanboy and the female object of his fascination are driven to desperate measures by an omniscient, and malevolent, voice commanding them to do horrible things.
What we think :  An interesting premise unravels faster than trying to stop internet piracy, as Open Windows’ web-based scenario becomes a series of convoluted, incomprehensible, ridiculously insane plot twists that lack motivation, lack a sense of threat, and ultimately, lack cohesion. Open Windows is like a popup that you can’t close. Reboot the machine and start again.

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Outside of his career as a hobbit for Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood has made some interesting career choices. Grand Piano, as well as Sin City, Maniac, Bobby, and the voice of Mumble in the Happy Feet franchise, have given Wood an oeuvre to be considerably more intellectual than stuff like Deep Impact, The Faculty and Flipper. No doubt the script for Open Windows wet Wood’s whistle for another ballpark-knocking venture into obscure, avante guarde film-making, and I guess as an outside observer the premise would have snagged my attention as well, but it’s just a shame that Open Windows is as silly as it turns out, because it’s in no way Wood’s fault. It’s a “found footage” film of sorts, told entirely through the vision of Wood’s character’s computer monitor, which, aside from having the ability to display a gazillion windows at once, also has some truly dynamite connection capacity. Wood, together with former porn starlet Sasha Grey (who, if I’m spoiling this review a little, actually isn’t that bad an actress, all things considered) and the voice of Neil Maskell (imagine a British version of the Scream franchise’s iconic phone voice) deliver some nice performances, but can’t elevate the material, which I’m sad to say spends more time being stupid and making all kinds of wrong decisions, than it does eliciting fear, thrills or tension.

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November 19, 2014

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

22 Jump Street Review Logo Movie Review   22 Jump Street

- Summary -

Director :   Phil Lord + Christopher Miller
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens, Wyatt Russell, Jillian Bell, Jimmy Tatro, Nick Offerman, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Marc Evan Jackson, Queen Latifah, Richard Grieco, Patton Oswalt, Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Seth Rogen.
Approx Running Time :  110 Minutes
Synopsis:   The boys are back.
What we think :  Fast-paced, razor sharp writing, and dead-on performances by Tatum and Hill, make 22 Jump Street not only a terrific film, but a terrific sequel that actually surpasses the original. I laughed my ass off watching this, so much so I think I’ll have to watch it again (and soon) to catch stuff I missed the first time. A blast from start to finish.

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“Do it exactly the same as before.”

Good sequels don’t come along often. When they do, you really need to enjoy them, because they’re a rare breed indeed. 22 Jump Street is exactly that kind of sequel, a film that not only matches the original film’s sense of fun and energy, but goes one step further and improves upon it. The fact it’s yet another bona fide hit for directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who helmed not only the original film, but also Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie, keeps their track record for hit movies on point. Reteaming with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, whose bromance in the first film sold it to audiences, Lord and Miller again craft a clever, self-parody of the television show this film is spawned from, filled with some truly wonderful humor – the “Benjamin Hill Center For Film Studies”, for example – and a sense of the sublime. It also has plenty of heart, and that’s what anchors this film’s silly-putty humor to the screen; Hill and Tatum have a real chemistry together, the kind of chemistry missing from a lot of buddy-comedy films these days.

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November 18, 2014

Mark Wahlberg to Star In The Gambler

Filed under: Film - General — Rodney Twelftree @ 9:07 pm

the gambler poster mark wahlberg Mark Wahlberg to Star In The Gambler

Mark Wahlberg will return to our screens once again in yet another remake on 10th November. Casino remake The Gambler pays tribute to the 1974 original, directed by Karel Reisz and starring James Caan.

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November 17, 2014

Movie Review – Lucy

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Lucy Review Logo Movie Review   Lucy

- Summary -

Director :  Luc Besson
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpeth.
Approx Running Time :   89 Minutes
Synopsis:   After a bag of illegal drugs opens inside her body, a drug mule suddenly acquires the ability to use more and more of her brain’s capacity, exponentially enhancing her abilities.
What we think :   Style and style and style, Lucy’s European-slash-Asian flavor adds spice to Luc Besson’s action thriller, which sees Scarlett Johansson playing the blonde bombshell heroine of this fantastical allegory of the human experience. Mix a few parts The Professional, one part Tarantino, and a whole lump of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey at the very end, and you have a damn entertaining movie that asks as many questions as it hypothetically answers. A blast from start to finish.

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Welcome back, Mr Besson.

I guess if you’re going to have a character in your film whose sole purpose it is is to explain to the audience whatever scientific gobbledy-gook you’re trying to spout, Morgan Freeman is as good a choice as any. Lucy, the brain bending semi-science-fiction action thriller from Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, and ugh The Family), sees Scarlett Johansson given the entirety of her brain to use, rather than the more established “10%” the rest of us use. It should be noted that the science behind this theory is utterly preposterous, yet the idea that we only use a small portion of our brain’s true capacity persists, perhaps in part through the science fiction subculture of which Lucy is now a part. Regardless of the truth behind the science, Lucy tells a damn good story, and tells it well, and remains defiantly entertaining in spite of any arguments about the factual accuracy behind the premise, so even if you don’t believe humans use all their brain capacity, I think you’ll still have a fun, silly good time enjoying ScarJo bounce about Taipei and Paris staring into the sky at all the pretty things only she can see.

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November 14, 2014

Movie Review – A Walk Among The Tombstones

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

A Walk Among The Tombstones Review Logo Movie Review   A Walk Among The Tombstones

- Summary -

Director :  Scott Frank
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :   Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Boyd Holbrook, Maurice Compte, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Sebastian Roche, Olafur Darri Olafsson, David Harbour, Adam David Thompson, Laura Birn, Razane Jammal, Danielle Rose Russell, Natia Dune, Marielle Heller, Eric Nelsen.
Approx Running Time :   113 Minutes
Synopsis:   A former NY Detective and recovering alcoholic becomes involved with locating the identity and whereabouts of two lunatics who are hunting, kidnapping and extorting the city’s drug bosses and their families.
What we think :  Stylish, malevolent thriller delivers one of Neeson’s more commendable roles in recent years, and has vastly eerie echoes of David Fincher’s Zodiac, a film Scott Frank obviously has a lot of love for. …Tombstones is sl0w-burn chills, a few minor scares, and plenty of Neeson’s haggard, haunted visage scoping the dark underbelly of New York City. Filled with unlikeable characters, a oppressive tone and a decidedly low-key approach from Frank and DP Mihai Malaimaire Jr, A Walk Among The Tombstones is definitively dark and haunting, and a much better film for it.

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Throughout its long, often dark history, the city of New York has remained a magnet for writers and film-makers hoping to carve a little piece of that mosaic of human existence for themselves; a city not all that long ago was wracked with crime and hostility, something now thankfully on the wane (at least since 9/11, I think), New York’s instant-genre-icon status, for either cataclysmic blockbuster, bubbly romantic comedy, or – as is with A Walk Among The Tombstones – a seedy, oily crime kill-thriller, makes it the perfect setting for almost any story people want to tell. Set during the Y2K era, the hard-nosed detective story I was expecting soon gives way for a more bloody, messy, violence-fueled story of personal redemption and emerging from the darkness. Based on Lawrence Block’s novel of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones sees everyone’s favorite aging action star, Liam Neeson, step into the gun-totin’ shoes of our eponymous hero (or anti-hero), who is forced to take a personal journey through his own guilt and moral ambiguity as he seeks a redemptive conclusion to his “retirement” from the Force (yeah, he’s an ex cop) after a botched takedown of a trio of killers back in the 80’s.While Neeson’s carved himself a decent career path since Taken made him a bona fide screen action hero, a few of his efforts of late have met with a fair amount of critical savagery – Taken 2, in particular, deserved it – so it remained to be seen if the Irishman’s lucky turn as an aging heroic figurehead would continue or collapse as he stepped out among the “tombstones” of New York, the massive skyscrapers and rain-soaked streets of urban decay. Is this Walk one to savor, or would you be best served sticking Taken back in the DVD player instead?

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November 12, 2014

Movie Review – Purge, The: Anarchy

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

The Purge Anarchy Review Logo Movie Review   Purge, The: Anarchy

- Summary -

Director :   James DeMonaco
Year Of Release : 2014
Principal Cast :  Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Michael K Williams, Justina Machado, John Beasley, Jack Conley, Noel Gugliemi, Castullo Guerra, Edwin Hodge.
Approx Running Time :   103 Minutes
Synopsis:  It’s Purge night again, and traditional friends and acquaintances suddenly become enemies as America cleanses itself through violence. A band of refugees from the carnage attempt to cross the city and escape death.
What we think :  With a larger scale than the original, Anarchy reprises the odious Purge narrative that stretches the moral outrage well past breaking point. Any attempt at social examination is lost between the bullets and the screams, although I will say that if you enjoyed the first movie, this one will achieve similar results. The no-name cast stumble with the “acting”, but James DeMonaco’s direction is stylish, brisk and effective. Anarchy ain’t a classic, but it’s a worthwhile follow-up.

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Perhaps we’re not far from this.

The breakdown of social order is a continual political and community threat – riots, looting and general disorder by the populace is usually, swiftly brought under control by the government of the day, be it through police or military actions. After all, the safety of the general population shouldn’t be brought into question by an unruly few, right? The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to the 2013 thriller The Purge, a film I thought was pretty average (at best), seeks to widen the scope of the low-budget original by parlaying a small cabal of refugees from America’s favorite violent evening into the urban landscape, where shadows loom larger, the terrain mostly unfamiliar, and the villains a lot more technologically advanced. As with the previous film, Anarchy seeks to purvey itself as an examination of a violent society run amok, to determine what makes people do the horrible things they do, although in keeping with the Purge franchise’s more salacious underpinnings, the subtext is lost beneath a layer of noise and fury. Admittedly, I did enjoy this one a little more than the original, mainly because the narrative attempts to deliver more story arcs than previously, but does this extra enjoyment make Anarchy a film you should make your way to watching? Are Anarchy’s anarchic overtones an investment in emotional entertainment, or is the violent excess too thinly plotted to overcome the flaws?

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November 10, 2014

Road To The Oscars: The Governors Awards 2014

Filed under: Awards Season,The Oscars — Rodney Twelftree @ 8:23 am

Governors Ball Logo Road To The Oscars: The Governors Awards  2014

On November 8th, 2014, the 6th Annual Governors Awards were held, at the Highland Center in Los Angeles. The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences holds the ceremony each year to honor those who have given extraordinary service to the Academy in one form or another.

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Movie Review – Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Sin City A Dame To Kill For Review Logo Movie Review   Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

- Summary -

Director :   Robert Rodriguez + Frank Miller
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Stacey Keach, Jamie King, Christopher Lloyd, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Meloni, Juno Temple, Marton Csokas, Jude Cicollela, Julia Gardner, Lady Gaga, Alexa Vega, Patricia Vonne.
Approx Running Time :   94 Minutes
Synopsis:   Oh, I don’t know. Guns, women, violence and hard-boiled noir scripting; Sin City 2 reprises a lot of the style and material of Frank Miller’s acclaimed comic book saga. If that’s not enough to entice you, this film will offer little to sway you.
What we think :   Amidst the gore, violence and dispiriting narrative inanity, Eva Green shows us her boobs. Come to think of it, so does Rosario Dawson. Joshn Brolin, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson kick heads. Robert Rodriguez’ misogyny knows no bounds here, as Sin City’s hyper-stylized aesthetic and green-screen fantasmagorica provides a tapestry of glorified sexuality, masculine vengeance and ultimately undemanding shoot-em-up that leaves all but the most hardened fan satisfied. A Dame To Kill For delivers mild entertainment but, after all’s said and done, other than a quick perv there’s little here to remember.

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Eva Green’s Boobs. That is all.

A Dame To Kill For feels more like a highlight reel for a bunch of famous actors than an actual film. Told in the exact same style as Robert Rodriguez’ and Frank Miller’s Sin City (2005), the sequel once more plumbs the depths of human depravity, revenge, sex and violence as a plethora of Hollywood’s A-listers snag bit-parts in the latest soupcon of pulp noir fiction dreamed up by comic book maestro Frank Miller. Sin City’s blast of fresh air approach to the genre, comic book movie mixed with cutting edge technology, and a visual aesthetic that slammed audiences for six, making a sequel an event to savor – if it ever arrived. Nearly a decade later, A Dame To Kill For’s familiar black-and-white look and hot-blooded narrative soaks up the screen, audience favor, and momentary attention in the chase for more misogyny and violence. Watching talent like Jessica Alba, Eva Green, and Rosario Dawson slut themselves up for a story so mildly diverting is either disappointing or voyeuristic – or both – and as much as Rodriguez and Co deliver a ribald, raunchy, rip-roaring action flick, in the end things just don’t work like they should. Perhaps it’s a film that proves the old adage: you can’t go back.

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November 9, 2014

From The Editor – 9.11.2014

Filed under: From the Editor — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

November 9 2014 From The Editor   9.11.2014

Morning folks! Happy Sunday! Hope I find you in good spirits today, as we slowly gather momentum for the run up to Christmas.

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November 7, 2014

Vale – Renee Asherson

Filed under: Obituary — Rodney Twelftree @ 2:48 pm
renee asherson Vale   Renee Asherson

Renee Asherson – 1915-2014

English stage, television and film actress Renee Asherson has passed away.

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Movie Review – King Kong (1976)

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

King Kong 1976 Review Logo Movie Review   King Kong (1976)

- Summary -

Director :   John Guillermin
Year Of Release :   1976
Principal Cast :  Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Lauter, Julius Harris, Ed O’Halloran, Dennis Fimple, Jorge Moreno, Mario Gallo, Sid Conrad, Corbin Bernsen.
Approx Running Time :   134 Minutes
Synopsis:   A Big Oil exec travels to a mysterious island in search of the next big fuel discovery, only to find the island inhabited by an enormous ape. Seeing an opportunity to make a fortune, he transports the ape back to show in New York City. Naturally (because this is a movie) things don’t go according to plan.
What we think :   While it has dated horribly in terms of the spectacle’s technical merits, and the costumes, and the musical score, the 1976 Kong is still an entertaining package for the majority of its time on the screen. Although hindered by a glacial opening act, and a befuddling performance by an apparently intoxicated Jessica Lange (in her screen debut), the film still retains a sense of fun and adventure mixed with its utterly obvious statements about big business, greed, and the environmental destruction occurring on a daily basis. About an hour or so longer than the original, while telling almost the exact same story beat-for-beat, but nowhere near as contorted as Peter Jackson’s 2005 effort, the ’76 Kong is worth a look for a time-capsule for “blockbuster” entertainment before the term was even coined.

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Yeah, if I was an ape I’d still want a peek at Lange’s boobies.

It’s a brave film-maker who dares remake – or even sequelize – a classic Hollywood film, and King Kong was such an iconic entry into the canon that even the very thought of remaking it teetered on sacrilege. So super-producer Dino De Laurentiis’ attempt to remake the story no doubt caused fans of the original some slight palpitations. The remake of King Kong, released by Paramount in 1976, features some fairly decent visual effects, and some big-budget effort on behalf of the the production to out-do Merian C Cooper’s original black-n-white adventure. Twice as long as the original Kong, and yet still telling the same story (almost beat-for-beat), director John Guillerman (The Towering Inferno, Death On The Nile, Sheena, and the eventual sequel to this movie, King Kong Lives) stages the action with a more modern acuity and a truly 1970’s blockbusting sense of epic thrills. Led by a hippie-looking Jeff Bridges, a conniving Charles Grodin (chewing the scenery with relish), and a truly bizarre performance by Jessica Lange, King Kong’s 1976 iteration isn’t entirely a “should never have been made” cause, and remains a fairly fun, effortlessly zany cinematic effort.

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November 5, 2014

Movie Review – Grace Of Monaco

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Grace Of Monaco Review Logo Movie Review   Grace Of Monaco

- Summary -

Director :  Olivier Dahan
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Milo Ventimiglia, Derek Jacobi, Paz Vega, Geraldine Sommerville, Robert Lindsay, Nicholas Farrell, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Jeanne Balibar, Yves Jaques, Olivier Rabourdin, Flora Nicholson, Andre Penvern.
Approx Running Time :  103 Minutes
Synopsis:   Former Hollywood star, now a member of European royalty, Princess Grace Kelly has a crisis of marriage to Prince Rainier III, and considers returning to the movies as the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s latest film project.
What we think :    Stately, decidedly stifled, although beautifully shot and lovingly rendered on the screen, Grace Of Monaco seems neutered by the period it’s conveying at the expense of the emotional depth of the characters. Kidman looks as regal as Kelly always did, but she’s unable to really inhabit the character due to a clunky, insufferable screenplay by Arash Amel, most of which is a snapshot of trailer-worthy catch-cries and lip-service fantasy-esque melodrama; the film’s captivating setting and silk-stocking-filtered cinematography can’t diffuse the iniquities of the story.

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Grace Kelly has remained a defining Hollywood icon, even now some several decades after her death in a car accident in 1982. The ultimate real-life fairy story – a Hollywood star meeting Monaco’s Prince Rainier III, giving away a lucrative and popular career on the screen for a life of actual royalty rather than manufactured glory – has a moment to shine in this, Grace of Monaco, a heavily fictionalized account of a moment of the life of Grace Kelly when her marriage to Rainier was severely strained, as was Rainer trying to deflect a variety of political and social demands by the French of Monaco. Led by Nicole Kidman and surrounded by a bevy of ace acting talent, a biopic on a pivotal moment in the life of one of the industry’s greatest success stories, you’d think such a potent combo (combined with the utterly fabulous setting of Monaco itself!) would provide the film with a hefty amount of quality; it’s something of a shame that Grace Of Monaco does not equal the sum of its admittedly splendid parts.

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