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Non-Review Review: Diana

Diana is a rare beast. You have to try very hard to make a biography film that is so perfectly and so calculatedly terrible. Diana isn’t the product of people who don’t care, it’s the product of people who care too much about the cynical market of prestige biography films. As such, with focus-group precision targeting, the film hits what might be the most bitter of sweet spots. It is both toothless and incredibly cynical; manipulative and shallow; vacuous and crammed with unnecessary and irritating detail.

Most damning of all is the way that the film seems perfectly calibrated to fit the public image of the People’s Princess, never bold enough to challenge or explore her work, her life or her legacy. Given how raw the public’s nerves are, even sixteen years after her tragic death, it might have been expecting too much to hope for a provocative or compelling exploration of one of the most iconic figures of the past three decades. However, we might have hoped it would at least be interesting.

It's a minefield...

It’s a minefield…

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Gideon’s Daughter (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

Stephen Poliakoff’s companion piece to Friends and Crocodiles, airing just a month after that original drama film, Gideon’s Daughter feels like it owes a lot to a bunch of fascinating central performances. While Robert Lindsay provides the only on-screen evidence of a link between the two projects, reprising his role as an embittered old writer here, Poliakoff’s two stories are thematically linked, as the author focuses a lot of his frustrations on meaningless celebrity culture. This time, however, he sets the stories in the late nineties, allowing him to explore what he undoubtedly sees as the vulgarity of the millennium celebrations and to subtly examine the national outpouring of grief offer the loss of Princess Diana, while telling a rather simple story of a father and his daughter.

All tied up...

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Non-Review Review: My Little Princess

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

My Little Princess is a deeply disturbing piece of French cinema. It’s very hard to address the topic of the sexual exploitation of children in a way that doesn’t end up feeling exploitative itself. However, despite some moments of melodrama, Eva Ionesco’s creepy and unsettling character exploration is a fairly well-crafted film, one that leaves you feeling just a little bit dirty for even watching it.

Mamma Mia!

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Non-Review Review: The Queen

The middle part of Peter Morgan’s “Blair” trilogy, sitting between The Deal and The Special Relationship, the movie is perhaps better known for its portrayal of the eponymous monarchy than of the controversial British Prime Minister. It’s also a rather wonderful exploration of the British monarchy, and how it struggles to remain in touch with the people that it (nominally, at least) rules, and yet remains heavily insulated from. Taking the death of Princess Diana, perhaps the most trying period in the reign of the current queen, as a jumping-off point, the film wonders what the public expects from their royal family, and how the public and private lives of those born into the family must be balanced.

A skilful portrait...

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