In a post-cataclysmic world, humanity survives in a small utopian society which is peaceful and content, but colourless and deprived of emotions. With his coming of age, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned a role as Receiver of Memory and instructed by the Giver (Jeff Bridges), who telepathically shares with him all the memories from the ancient time in order to give him the wisdom necessary to advise the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) in her decisions. With this knowledge comes the realization that this seemingly perfect society is in no way morally better than the previous one: citizens are drugged into conformity and when they become less useful or rebellious they are “released to the Elsewhere”, i.e. murdered by lethal injection! To justify their authoritarian ways, the Chief Elder says “When people have the freedom to chose, they chose wrong every single time” — true, but at least they have the freedom to be wrong! By reaching the distant borders of the community, the hero wants to reset the society in hope for a better future (and to save the woman he loves, Fiona (Odeya Rush)). Based on Lois Lowry's young adult novel, this science-fiction movie succeeds, with a relatively small budget ($25 millions), to create an entertaining and thought-provoking story, making us ponder the moral values of our society. Even if it’s a little reminscient of Logan’s Run, this is an excellent movie well worth watching.
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This British drama TV series depicts the reign of Queen Victoria from her accession (after the death of her uncle William IV) to her mariage with Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and the birth of her first child (also named Victoria). It was produced by ITV in the UK and will premiere on PBS’s Masterpiece next week. In a way, it is very similar to the series The Crown that depicts the early reign of Queen Elisabeth II. It is quite interesting to see all the politics and trials that play out around the English monarchy at such an important time in history (the Victorian era was particularly characterized by the industrial revolution and the development of railways). It’s also funny that there is so much German blood (from the House of Hanover and the House of Saxe-Coburg) in the British monarchy, and it created quite a stir at the time. But I must admit that what first caught my attention is the fact that the title role is played by Jenna Coleman (who has also interpreted Clara Oswald, one of the best companions in the new Doctor Who TV series, but also acted in Julian Fellowes’ Titanic and in Dancing on the Edge). Also starring is Rufus Sewell, who plays Victoria’s counsel and Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. I also liked the haunting music theme. I really cannot resist a British historical drama, even less a very good one. Don’t miss it!
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This is a two-part mini-series (although it feels more like a TV movie cut in two) produced by ITV in the UK and starring Joanne Froggatt (Anna in Downton Abbey). It will be shown on PBS’s Masterpiece later this year. Inspired by David Wilson’s book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain's First Female Serial Killer, it tells the sordid story of Mary Ann Cotton, a black widow who poisoned three of her four husbands as well as eleven of her thirteen children in order to collect insurance money and survive the harsh conditions women had to endure in nineteenth century England. You can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. A good period drama as it is often the case with Brit TV. Recommended.
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Eye in the Sky
An interesting movie showing, from the British point of view, all the procedures and decisions behind a drone strike in Somalia, as well as the moral questions it raises. If you could eliminate three top wanted terrorists as well as two suicide bombers preparing for an eminent attack that could kill up to eighty civilians, would you do it even if it meant probably killing one innocent girl? The collateral damage question is always a difficult choice between two evils. In a way, nothing much happens in this movie as the story is told almost in real time. Everything is in the debate, which makes it clearly a political movie. But is it an apology of war or a critic of the politicians inaptitude? Maybe both? Interesting indeed!
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A Ghost of a Chance
Emi (Eri Fukatsu) is a lawyer whose client is accused of murdering his wife. But he couldn’t have done it since the night of the murder he was pined down in his hotel room by a ghost! What sort of defence can you build when your only witness is the ghost of a samurai? You manage to make him testify, of course! A funny japanese movie just as I like them, with a great line-up of actors (Toshiyuki Nishida, Hiroshi Abe, Kiichi Nakai, Koichi Sato, Takayuki Kinoshita, Yūko Takeuchi, Tadanobu Asano, etc.)!
I stumbled on this movie while watching TV Japan — a New-York based Japanese language channel operated by NHK Cosmomedia America and broadcasting a compilation of the best programming from the top Japanese networks and studios, including news and entertainment programs such as movies, dramas, variety shows, anime, sporting events, etc. (and available in Canada thanks to Bell Fibe TV!). I am glad that they show movies subtitled in english once in while.
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Maud (Carey Mulligan) works in an industrial laundry house and gets involved by chance in the suffragette movement. Participating in illegal protests causes her to be outcast by her husband, which in turn drives her even further into political activism. Protests become more and more violent with property damages and bombings, hunger strikes when they were jailed, but it fails to really attract attention since the government controls the press… Until one woman, Emily Davison, is killed on a race track in front of the king. In 1928, women’s rights were finally recognized in Britain. But it took fifteen years to get there and the movie doesn’t show how Maud managed to survive during that time (if she could). Meryl Streep has a brief cameo as one of the movement’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s unbelievable to see how bad were women’s living and working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For that, it’s an interesting movie but I found it was lacking passion.
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