Tag Archive: Kenneth Branagh


MY WEEK WITH MARILYN directed by Simon Curtis (UK, 2011)

This movie is based on Colin Clark’s memoir  ‘The Prince, The Showgirl And Me’  and tells the story of what happens when an Eton educated 23 year old toff seeks gainful employment in the glamorous world of movies.

Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne) is so hooked on all things cinematic that he is prepared to do the most menial tasks to get a foot in the door of the industry. He rises from tea boy and gofer to a role as the third assistant to the director on the 1957 film ‘The Prince And The Showgirl’ . This may not seem the most inspiring of jobs but since it involves working at close quarters with Sir Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe he’s not complaining.

Olivier is the archetype luvvie and is played to perfection by Kenneth Branagh – it takes one to know one.   ‘Larry’  is eager to prove that he can translate his theatrical achievements  to the big screen.

Marilyn is not a great actress but as one her American team points out “with tits like that you make allowances”.  Olivier is frequently exasperated with her unreliability and ineptitude (“it’s like teaching Urdu to a badger”) but is forced to concede that despite her lack of training or craft, she shines in front of the camera in a way he can only dream of. Continue reading



THOR – THE MOVIE directed by Kenneth Branagh

"Me, Thor. You, Jane"

Thor is a pretty silly movie but the fact that is was directed by ex-luvvie Kenneth Branagh intrigued me as it obviously did Natalie Portman since she accepted the role of  astrophysicist Jane Foster  without even seeing the script.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is an arrogant hot-headed hunk who must learn some humility before he can inherit the  crown of Asgard or win the heart of the comely damsel.

In the process he has to contend with a scheming half brother and a demanding father, Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins.  He must also learn to wield the mighty hammer Mjolnir in a more appropriate manner if he is to conquer the frost giants.

As far as superhero implements go, the hammer is about as far from a concealed weapon as you can get and a hard object to handle without looking like a contender in an athletics event. Poor Thor does his best on the basis that a good superhero never blames his tools.

The family feud and power play have certain comic book Shakespearean aspects which Hopkins in particular exploits to the full. This might also account for why Branagh decided to direct the movie (that and a hefty financial incentive!)

The most watchable scenes feature  Natalie Portman who, like George Eliot’s Miss Brooke in Middelmarch, demonstrates she has “the kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress”.  Despite her relatively drab wardrobe, she manages to look terrific; all the more irritating to see her swooning over Thor’s pumped up body (check out his workout tips). You’d hope she’d be be more discerning than this.

The best scenes of the movie are when the once mighty Thor is cast down to Earth hammer-less. The contrast  between Asgard and small New Mexico town is played out with some good deadpan humour.

It all ends with Thor gazing longingly down to Earth dreaming of Jane and wondering if he’s done enough to merit a sequel.

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