#336/ 365 – ‘My Week with Marilyn’ – 99 mins
Cinema Challenge #124 / 115
It’s 1956, and youthful Oxford graduate Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) lands a lowly job on the British set of ‘The Sleeping Prince’. It’s directed by the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who also stars opposite Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), who is then at the height of her fame. Marilyn’s new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), has to make a brief trip to Paris. So Clark gets the chance to spend a week introducing one of the world’s greatest film stars to the joys of ordinary British life. Freed from the pressures of work and celebrity, Marilyn begins to open up about her own life and experiences.
“My Week with Marilyn” features an who’s-who of Britain’s finest. Kenneth Branagh relishes the chance to perform like the unforgettable thespian Laurence Olivier and as many a scene stealing moment in an incredible performance. Dame Judi Dench is her usually wonderful self as Dame Sybil Thorndike who sits on the 1956 set of light comedy ‘The Sleeping Prince’ or as it’s finally to be known, ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ giving out wisdom advice to all. Eddie Redmayne is solid as bedazzled as the well-connected young man. But the film’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of Michelle Williams portraying Marilyn Monroe and whilst she tremendously humanizes the playfulness, flirtatiousness and vulnerability of the iconic screen legend – she cannot completely deliver on this impossible task as Monroe was unique and one-of-a kind.
As history, you would call My Week with Marilyn somewhat suspect. From Colin Clark’s perspective the romance which is more infatuation comes across as too self-serving to be accepted as fact. Does this mar the film? No not at all, because as minor character study, some crisp cinematography and the strong acting, director Simon Curtis serves up sweet, funny and charming movie of a beloved icon.
#337/ 365 – ‘Toy Story 3’ (2010) – 103 mins
IMDb Challenge #212 / 250 – Ranked #26 – Lovefilm
As their owner Andy prepares to depart for college, his loyal toys find themselves in daycare where untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice. So, it’s all for one and one for all as they join Barbie’s counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear to plan their great escape.
When Pixar released ‘Toy Story’ back in 1995 they created a whole new ball game in animated movies with their sophistication in graphics plus along with their unique talent of rich but simple storytelling they have never failed to deliver with each new release they bring us every year and I am glad to say that winning formula that was so evident in Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, WALL-E and UP is in Woody’s and Buzz latest adventure for all to see.
All the original gang are back Woody, Buzz, Daisy and along with some great new Toys with the pick of the bunch being Ken (Michael Keaton) of Ken and Barbie fame who is in many of the films scene stealers, one being when he hilariously tries on his entire wardrobe to a version of ‘Freak Out’ and all the time protesting he “is not a girls toy!”, The other great new character is Lots-o-Huggin’ Bear excellently voiced by Ned Beatty.
What director Lee Unkirch does so greatly is give Toy Story 3 incredible pacing and with equally as much heart as John Lasseter did with the first two Toy Story outings, the truth is Pixar along with all their other films directs this movie together. In terms of the digital animation Pixar have pushed boundaries once again to impressive new heights and the short film ‘Day and Night’ that precedes the main feature, as some of the most beautifully drawn and realistic animation I’ve ever seen from the studio.
So roll the last 15 minutes of the film and just like UP’S opening 10 minutes Pixar will defiantly play with your emotions and pull your heartstrings as all the gang say a fond farewell in what is surely but sadly the last Toy Story outing and brings a perfect trilogy to an end.
Whilst Toy Story 3 doesn’t offer anything new in terms of originality, it makes itself a masterclass of a movie because as with many of their productions Pixar have re-created that Walt Disney magical method of story telling and is one that many other animated films could do well to follow.