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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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The Very British Mr. Bond: The Habits of Empire & The American Fixation on Bond

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

James Bond is a peculiarly British phenomenon. He’s a charmingly debonaire socialite with great taste in women and suits, but also a coldly professional killer. I’ve had debates on him where I’ve classified him as a gentleman, a sociopath, a sexist, a piece of nostalgia in a tuxedo, one of the last true cinematic heroes and the very distillation of cinematic class – sometimes within the context of the same argument. Why is Bond so fascinating? What makes him so gripping? Is it perhaps the fact that Bond is, in all his personas, so incredibly British?

Is he mostly armless?

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Non-Review Review: The Special Relationship

The third part of Peter Morgan and Michael Sheen’s superb “Tony Blair trilogy” seems perfectly timed. In fact, being honest, I’m surprised that HBO couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm for a small-scale cinematic release, what with Blair’s political memoir A Journey doing the rounds at the moment (I’m working my way through it and it’s probably the best political memoir I’ve read since Churchill). Blair is easily one of the most fascinating political leaders of the last few decades, and Morgan does well to juxtapose him against perhaps his greatest political influence: Bill Clinton. Still, all that being said, and with this reportedly the final part of the trilogy, it might have been best to focuse on his relationship with the leader who most strongly defined his legacy. However, Morgan has admitted time and time again that he simply didn’t want to write Bush. While I’m happy with what we got, it doesn’t exactly feel like a fitting coda.

Bro's before interns accusing you of gross impropriety...

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What’s so special about The Special Relationship?

I got to see the Irish premiere of Alice in Wonderland at the weekend, thanks to boards.ie and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and afterwards there was a Q & A session with Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. Michael Sheen casually remarked that we’d be seeing the last of Peter Morgan’s “Blair trilogy”, The Special Relationship, hitting screens in about mid-July-ish. It’s been on my must-see list for a while – and the Internet Movie Database had a release date in 2011 last time I checked – but I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised at this particular companion in the tradition “Tony Blair and x” double act format. The Deal gave us Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Queen gave us Tony Blair and… well, take a guess. The Special Relationship gives us Tony Blair and a US President. Which one? Dennis Quaid (yes, Dennis Quaid) as Bill Clinton. Yep, that’s not the US President I was thinking of either.

The "Special" Relationship... It even sounds like a bro-mance...

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