Tag Archives: Colin Firth

Baby Mama

Romantic triangle sets up sturdy comedy in ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’

Film Title: Bridget Jones's Baby

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Starring Renèe Zellwegger, Colin Firth & Patrick Dempsey

Directed by Sharon Maguire
Rated R
In theaters Sept. 16, 2016

“How in the hell did I end up here again?” Bridget Jones asks herself as she sits on the couch of her London flat watching the pitiful flicker of a birthday candle in a cupcake remind her that she’s celebrating yet another birthday—number 43—alone.

We might ask the same question: How did Renèe Zellwegger end up in the same place, in the same role, one she hasn’t played in 12 years (since Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), as a character that she launched back in 2001 in a movie originally made from a Helen Felding novel kinda-sorta based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?

Zellwegger received an Oscar nomination for Bridget Jones’s Diary, a delightfully frothy British rom-com, in the title role that captured viewers’ hearts—a plucky, single, working-class lass struggling with her career, her weight, her love life and her tendencies to over-indulge in booze and cigarettes. She chronicled it all in her diary.

Film Title: Bridget Jones's Baby

Bridget and the two possible fathers of her baby: American matchmaking website mogul Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) and British barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)

Now, 15 years down the road, Bridget has moved up—and somewhat on. She’s a producer for a TV news show; she’s managed to corral her figure into something she’s proud to show off. She’s stopped smoking and cut down on the booze. These days she writes on a laptop. But she’s still single, and now more than ever she’s feeling the ticking of her biological clock.

“I’m beginning to think I’ve passed my sexual sell-by date,” she tells one of her co-workers. She refers to her ovaries as “the last barren husks in London.”

But that’s about to change, as you likely surmised by the title of the movie.

Yes, Bridget gets pregnant. But the big question is, who’s the daddy?

Is it her longtime—nearly lifelong—crush, London barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)? Or is it the new American dating-website guru Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey)? As fate would have it, Bridget had “intimate encounters” with them both, just weeks apart. As the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours.

That romantic triangle sets up the sturdy structure of the movie’s comedy, and there are plenty of laughs as Bridget at first tries to keep both Darcy and Qwant in the dark about each other, then resigns herself to telling them both. Original Diary director Sharon Maguire also sets up some hilarious gaffes and snafus in Bridget’s workplace as her personal life begins to intrude—once again—on her career.

Emma Thompson is hilarious as Bridget's no-nonsense OG/GYN.

Emma Thompson is hilarious as Bridget’s no-nonsense OG/GYN.

It’s nice to have the original Diary gang—or most of them—back, including many of the supporting players (like Bridget’s parents and pals). Zellwegger and Firth pick up where they left off, just as their characters do, after more than a decade apart; the absence of Hugh Grant’s caddish Daniel Cleaver, Bridget’s other love from the previous two films, is explained early in the movie, with a dry twist of British wit. Dempsey slides right into his role like a sweet slice of blue-eyed American pie.

And Emma Thompson, who was also one of the screenwriters, shines as a bright comedic charm as Bridget’s no-nonsense OB/GYN. There’s a very cool cameo from Grammy-winning British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

So how did Bridget end up here again? The important thing is the little bundle of joy she leaves with two hours later, and the laughter—and the surprises—along the way.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Super(cool) Spies

‘Kingsman’ makes other spy flicks look old, slow and tame

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Kingsman: The Secret Service

Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson & Michael Caine

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

R

Move over, James Bond—or get blown off the road. Some new supercool spy guys—and gals—have just laid claim to the multiplex, and they make just about everything that came before them look old, slow, tame and even lazy.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on a 2012 Marvel Comics-distributed series, takes the spy game to wildly adventurous, dizzily fun-tastic new heights of both homage and spoofery. Colin Firth, the Oscar-winning British actor best known for his roles in dignified historical dramas (The Kings Speech; A Single Man; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) makes his smashing “action-lead” debut as Harry Hart, the top agent in this international intelligence agency of high-ranking, impeccably dressed, lethally trained gents organized in the mid-1850s as a latter-day Knights of the Round Table to “preserve peace and protect life.”

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Taron Egerton & Colin Firth

Newcomer Taron Egerton is “Eggsy” Unwin, the streetwise London lad whose fate leads him into the ranks of the Kingsman elite. And Samuel L. Jackson plays, well, basically Samuel L. Jackson, as an evil, lisp-y philanthropist billionaire whose altruistic façade hides a super-sinister plan of global domination.

Michael Caine is aboard as the Kingsmen’s top dog; Mark Strong has a key role as his senior officer; and Algerian-born dancer Sofia Boutella makes a memorable impression as the high-hopping villainess Gazelle, who slices and dices foes to ribbons with her razor-sharp prosthetic feet. Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill—of Stars Wars fame—plays a college professor appearance is a bit of an inside joke that will delight readers of the comic book, which featured a character with the actor’s name.

The action is frenetic, super-stylized and sometimes gleefully hyper-violent. During fight scenes and other adrenaline-pumping moments, director Matthew Vaughn (Snatch; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and cinematographer George Richmond keep the camera moving, zooming, sweeping, bobbing and weaving, then speeding up and slowing down the film to increase the visual intensity.

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Sofia Boutella & Samuel L. Jackson

The fan-boy comic-book crowd will lap it up, but mainstream audiences will find plenty to like about Kingsman, too—its nonstop plot is full of cheeky British humor, meta spy-movie satire, and jabs at politics, government, celebrities and everyone’s greed for the latest with-it technology. But be warned: It definitely earns its R rating—especially in its final moments, when it dives into a particularly randy joke. It may be just to cap off its playful naughtiness with a real zinger, or perhaps it’s seeking something more profound, a profane parody statement about how spy movies have always “debased” their female characters.

KSS_JB_D69_06371_rgbSpy movies have also always been about gadgets and secret-agent do-daddery, and here Kingsman goes all-out: Bulletproof umbrellas, exploding cigarette lighters, shiv-toed shoes, holographic eyeglasses, lethal fountain pens, electrocution signet rings. And the suits! When it comes to fashion, the Kingsmen are the coolest cats around—and, in one of the most extensive merchandise marketing tie-ins of any movie ever, almost anything you see onscreen (suits, ties, shoes and—yes—umbrellas) can be purchased in special Kingsman product lines.

See the movie, buy the suit—and get me one of those indestructible umbrellas!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Brutal Bedtime Story

Nicole Kidman’s an amnesiac damsel in distress

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Before I Go To Sleep

Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong

Directed by Rowan Joffè

Rated R

 

“Who are you?” asks Nicole Kidman’s character, Christine, in the opening scene to the man she’s just woken up next to in the bed.

It’s not a particularly unique movie situation—a lot of characters have found themselves in hazy morning-after scenarios. But in Christine’s case, she really, truly has no idea: She has a form of amnesia that makes her wake up every day totally blank about everything that happened the day before—and every day before that.

“You store up information for a day, and when you wake up in the morning, it’s all gone,” her husband of 14 years, Ben (Colin Firth) explains to her, and to us. We also learn, through Ben, that Christine’s memory loss was due to the head trauma of a terrible automobile accident, 10 years ago.

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Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up each day not recognizing the man who repeatedly explains to her he’s her husband (Colin Firth).

But was it? That’s only one of the questions that soon begin to pile up in director Rowan Joffè’s adaptation of British author S.J. Watson’s bestselling psychological thriller. Why doesn’t Christine trust Ben? Why does she have flashbacks of an airport hotel room, a violent assault by a man with a scar, and a woman named Claire? Why does her psychologist, Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), insist on seeing her without Ben’s knowledge, often in his parked car in a damp, underground garage?

Each morning, Christine receives a call from Dr. Nasch, instructing her to retrieve a digital camera from its hiding place in her closet. She watches the recording(s) she’s made on it previously, as her memories painfully, partially begin to rebuild again bit by bit every day. Suspicions mount, secrets are revealed, and things turn out to be different from what they seem—and from what Christine has been led to believe.

To say more would spoil the surprises (although probably not to anyone who’s read the book). But fans of contemporary mystery-suspense thrillers will get a kick out of following the twists and turns, and of cheering on Christine as she struggles to piece together her life from the scattered, shattered shards of her past—not to mention the even greater, bloodier struggle she faces in the movie’s final act.

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Mark Strong plays Christine’s psychologist, Dr. Naish

Kidman has become quite adept in roles that suggest a certain physical frailty and vulnerability, especially when it can be stoked into wounded fury and ferocity. She evokes the audience’s total sympathies as Christine, not only operating in a memory vacuum, starting every day from scratch, but also seemingly being manipulated by those she’s come to trust. Firth and Strong, two terrific actors, only have one brief scene and one snippet of dialogue together, but they weave the tangled, mangled web of dramatic tension from which the entire movie is suspended.

Released just as Hollywood prepares to launch a barrage of box-office fall and winter heavy hitters, Before I Go To Sleep will likely get lost in the shuffle of bigger, flashier movies. It’s a little slow to get going, it sags and drags it bit in the middle, and its heavy-handed ending seems stitched on from a hammy, leftover Nicholas Sparks project. But for anyone who wants a stylish, somewhat brutal, Brit-centric bedtime story about deception, danger and Nicole Kidman in distress, well, sleep tight!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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