Woman in Gold

Whilst researching some films for a project at work I came across Woman in Gold with Dame Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.  Turns out it was downloaded on our Apple TV so I had a little gander of it last night.

Woman in Gold is about the story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish Austrian woman who fled to the US during World War Two.  Her family had been successful business owners in Vienna during the early part of the 20th century.  Her aunt Adele had been painted by Gustav Klimt and the painting, along with other artworks, were looted by the Nazis in the 1930s.  The painting is know as Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted in 1907.  You’ll recognise the painting.  It’s pretty famous.

The film follows the relationship of Mirren as Maria Altmann and Reynolds as her lawyer Randy Schoenberg.  It has a similar feel to the relationship between Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench in Philomena,  That slightly oddball but warm relationship between an older woman and a young man who is reaching a difficult pass in his life.  I like it.  It helps a difficult and often emotional subject matter to be tackled with humour and warmth.

The younger Altmann is played by the brilliant Tatiana Maslany who you probably won’t have seen in Orphan Black.  Shame, as you have missed out.  Woman in Gold reminds us of the lives that people had torn away from them.  It is a tear jerker with softer and funnier sides to it.  Definitely worth a watch.  And it has really made me want to visit this amazingly beautiful painting.

You can rent Woman in Gold from iTunes now and see the painting for real at the Neue Galerie in New York.

Read reviews of the film: Telegraph, Guardian, Variety

Sarah Southern





Philomena premiered at the London Film Festival last night.  It was quite red carpet affair with Dame Judy and Steve Coogan attending.  But it was the presence of Sean Mahon that got me all a flutter.  Sean is a dear friend of mine and I feel as though I have been through the journey of this film with him.  So as he was introduced to the audience at the Odeon West End I could not contain my whoops of excitement.  So, please excuse any sycophantic elements of this review.  But if you can’t praise your friend’s work what really is the point of life?!!

Philomena is the true life story of Philomena Lee.  Growing up in Ireland she lived with her aunt.  Her mother had died when she was 10 and her father sent her and her sister to live with her aunt when Philomena turned 18.  After a night at a local carnival she had a met a boy and had quite a fun time with him.  Sadly, she had fallen pregnant.  She was sent to a convent when she endured a breach birth with no pain relief and then had to work off her debt for 4 years in the laundry.  Not really a fair punishment for her sins.

She gave birth to a son, Anthony.  At 3 he was taken from her.  An American couple came to Ireland to adopt a child.  They ended up taking two.  A little girl and Anthony.  Philomena never got to say goodbye to her son.  For 50 years she kept this a secret from her family.  When she eventually told her own daughter she decided to help her find Anthony.

This is where they meet the journalist and former government spin doctor Martin Sixsmith.  He helped Philomena track down her son in the US.  Anthony has been renamed Michael Hess.  He has established a successful career at a lawyer working for both President Reagan and President Bush Senior.  Sadly he contracted AIDs and died in 1995.  Philomena started her search in 2003.

In all the years that Philomena had tried to find her son the nuns refused to give her any information of his whereabouts and who had adopted him.  Michael had too been searching for his mother.  He had travelled to Ireland and visited the convent he was born in to try and locate his mother.  Again, the nuns did not help him.  The tragedy of a dying man trying to locate his mother and not being helped is such an injustice.

Philomena has a serious story at its heart.  The heartbreak of a young girl who is made to suffer a lifetime of guilt for an evening with a boy at a carnival.  But the film has such warmth and humour at its core that you can go from laughter to tears in one scene.  Dame Judy captures the innocence of Philomena Lee so well.  She is a charming and funny woman who is balanced by Steve Coogan playing Martin Sixsmith who is a much more serious and frustrated character.  Director Stephen Frears said before the film that it was almost a romantic comedy.  And at times it certainly was.  The relationship between Dame Judy and Steve Coogan did have all the hallmarks of a romantic comedy without you ever wanting them to kiss.  Their friendship had a true uniqueness to it.

For me the real highlight was seeing Sean Mahon’s face on screen.  He plays Michael Hess so is viewed in flashbacks throughout.  I guess my only criticism is that he is just not on screen enough!

Philomena comes to cinemas nationwide on 1 November.

Sarah Southern

The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring documents the true story of a group of Hollywood Hills kids obsessed with celebrities and their crime spree.  Using celeb websites like TMZ they’d see when their idols were out of town, look up their addresses online and using Google Maps head to their houses for a bit of ‘shopping’.  What was so amazing was the ease in which they gained entry to these multi million dollar homes.  Paris Hilton kept her key under the mat.

Names have been changed from the kids who really did these crimes.  It is a film, not a documentary, so I guess some artistic license has been used.  The ring leader and instigator of the robberies is Rebecca.  She seems to have no limits.  She’d been kicked out of school.  Has no issue in breaking into cars to steal money so when she befriends Marc suggesting breaking into a fellow pupils house while his family is away doesn’t seem too much of an issue.

After the good haul from the family home they move onto Paris’s house.  Paris is in Vegas for the weekend so they know she won’t be home.  Finding the key under the mat they let themselves in and take a load of cash, clothes, bags and jewellery.  Oh, and some booze from her nightclub room.  It was difficult to decide what shocked me more: the audaciousness of the teens of the facts people have a nightclub room in their homes?

Rebecca and Marc bring their friends Nicki, Chloe and Sam as they target Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Audrina Patridge.  They begin to get a little sloppy.  They are caught on Audrina Patridge’s CCTV.  She then releases this on her website.  As the teens begin to brag of their exploits it is not long before they are caught.

The Bling Ring is based on a Vanity Fair article penned by Nancy Jo Sales called ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins‘.  Sales’s article provides some of the killer lines of the film.  When the ring leader is being questioned by police and he informs her they’ve spoken to the victims she responds ve saying “What did Lindsay (Lohan) say?”.

This Bling Ring gives an amazing insight of what young people care about now.  These celebs have immense wealth yet are their peers.  They are the same age, party in the same clubs, live in the same neighbourhoods and they probably went to the same schools.  Yet these Hollywood startlets have so much wealth and these kids want it.  You almost admire their gumption for just looking everything up online and giving the front door a try.  But then your own moral compass kicks in and the arrogance of these kids makes you relived they were caught.

Reviews of The Bling Ring: Guardian, Telegraph

Sarah Southern

One Direction……

Just wondering how many times I’ll have to take my 6 year old niece to see this????

It is Cowell’s latest offering to feed the One Direction global frenzy.  Directed by Morgan Spurlock (he of Super Size Me fame) it will give an insight into the lives of Harry, Zayn, Liam, Louis and Niall whilst they’re on the road.

My niece  has quite the fascination with One Direction.  For her birthday recently she was showered with One Direction themed gifts.  And yes, I’ll admit I was one of those who joined the One Direction bandwagon: calendar, posters, pens, pencil case, a clock – thankfully the line was drawn at the One Direction duvet cover.  There is something a little odd sleeping with 5 faces staring at you.

But we shouldn’t mind too much about this craze for One Direction.  She has a love of pop music and is keen to search on You Tube for her favourite tunes.  It shows at least she has an interest in music and dance and that can only be a positive.  I did think maybe going to the One Direction gig might be a step too far for someone so young.  No doubt it’s her bed time by the time they come on stage.

Before One Direction she was obsessed with Hairspray.  And before that Mama Mia.  I have now seen both more times that is advised.  But an early love of musicals can only mean a love of other arts as she gets older.  At least that’s what I am hoping for.

Read the Guardian’s review 

Sarah Southern

Behind the Candelabra

Worth seeing for Rob Lowe’s performance alone!

This film is a treat from beginning to end.  Michael Douglas is a perfect Liberace.  Such a shame this did not hit the cinemas in the US and went straight to HBO as he would definitely be in line for an Oscar nod.

Make sure you go see it.

Sarah Southern