Tag Archives: michael gambon

JUDY (2019) – My rating: 8.5/10

Judy” is a biographical drama about singer and actress Judy Garland. “Judy” is directed by Rupert Goold and is an adaptation of the Olivier- and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter. The film follows her 1969 arrival in London for a run of sell-out concerts at Talk of the Town.  Judy was an excellent movie that left me wanting more.

The movie opens with Judy Garland (Darci Shaw) at the age of 14 years old, being told by her studio manager, Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery), that she has a gift other girls don’t have. He tells Judy that her singing talent is nearly unmatched as she’s even able to surpass the success of Shirley Temple as a Hollywood child star. The scene then switches to Judy, now in her forties, performing with her two children from her marriage to Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell), who was her third husband. Later, Judy, tired and hungry along with her children, Lorna Luft (Bella Ramsey) and Joey Luft (Lewin Lloyd) go back to their hotel but are turned away because her credit card is no longer valid, resulting in unpaid hotel bills. Because of this, Judy and the children are forced to return home to Luft, who has since divorced her. Judy leaves her children with their father and attends a party where she meets and befriends Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), a nightclub owner. In a flashback to Judy’s teenage years with Mickey Rooney (Gus Barry), who later became her fifth husband, her studio minder interrupts a date to give Judy amphetamines to help control her appetite. The movie returns to 1969, with Judy seeing an agent who tells her that Britain is open to her, but reception in the US has cooled, becoming unworkable due to her growing performance unreliability. Judy decides to embark for the UK, leaving her two children with Luft, which was very difficult for her.

In my time, Judy Garland was a very big deal.  We didn’t know much about her daughter, Liza Minnelli, if anything.  The “Wizard of Oz” made Judy a household name but her singing voice made her a worldwide phenomenon.  “Judy” cleverly depicts the result of her childhood as a pill-popping adult who was still trying to fill the empty void she felt as a child.  Her life was complicated, made that way by the greed of a manager and studio who really cared nothing about Judy Garland.  Her parents were not featured or mentioned.  That says it all.  During the movie, I kept insisting the artist starring as Judy Garland looked familiar but couldn’t put my finger on who she was.  When the credits rolled, I was never so shocked and embarrassed when Renée Zellweger’s name was displayed as the actress playing Judy Garland.  OMG, what a transformation and what a brilliant performance.  If Renée doesn’t get an Oscar nod, I will have lost any semblance of respect I have left for the academy.  “Judy” tells the story of Judy Garland from childhood in the USA to adulthood in London’s UK.   I completely enjoyed the movie which received positive reviews from critics, with major praise drawn towards Zellweger’s performance. As of 23 October 2019, Judy has grossed $19.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $9.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $29 million. I highly recommend “Judy” even though her story is sad, it is well told and the movie is well done. Check It Out!

 

VICTORIA & ABDUL (2017) – My rating 8.5/10

Victoria & Abdul is a British biographical comedy/drama directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall. The film is based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim. This film starts out delightful but turns into a tragic story of hate, and bigotry which totally took me by surprise.  Because I have a thing for period pieces, I was anxious to see Victoria & Abdul which was well told despite being sad.

In the year 1887, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young prison clerk from Agra, India, is instructed to travel to England for Queen Victoria’s (Judi Dench) Golden Jubilee  to present her with a mohur, a gold coin which has been minted as a token of appreciation from British-ruled India.

The Queen, who is lonely and tired of her fawning courtiers, develops an interest in and later a friendship with Abdul. She spends time with him alone, and promotes him to become her Munshi. She asks him to teach her Urdu and the Qur’an. When Victoria discovers that he is married, she invites his wife and mother-in-law to join him in England. They arrive wearing black Burqas, to the consternation of the household.

While Victoria treats Abdul as a son, his preferment is resented by her household and inner circle, including her son Bertie, Prince of Wales (Eddie Izzard) who, upon her death, becomes Edward VII and the Prime Minister (Michael Gambon). The household plots to undermine their relationship, hoping that Abdul will be sent home. When Victoria embarrasses herself by recounting to the court the one-sided account of the Indian Mutiny that Abdul had told her, Victoria’s faith and trust in him are shaken and she decides he must go home. But the following day she changes her mind and asks him to stay. She gives Abdul a bejewelled locket with her photograph.

Victoria’s interest in India grows, and at her Isle of Wight home of Osborne House, she has the Durbar Room built for state functions, elaborately decorated with carvings by Bhai Ram Singh in an intricate style, and with a carpet from Agra. She hangs portraits of Indians in the House. She tells the household that she intends to give Abdul a knighthood.

The Prime Minister is adamant that the royal household must find a way to get rid of Abdul. They research his family background in India, and present Victoria with a dossier to show that his family is more ordinary and poor than Abdul has told her.

Hate and bigotry as well as jealousy runs rampart among the Queen’s staff, especially her son and the Prime Minister.  Since Victoria & Abdul is based on a true story, events are documented but scarce because much of the evidence had been destroyed by her son in order to delete this entire episode from history.  Queen Victoria’s obsession with Abdul tends to define her somewhat insane but she is able to overcome this accusation.  The remainder of Victoria & Abdul is quite interesting and shows a more disturbing character and a lesson in British history and the royal monarchy.  Victoria & Abdul is on DVD and Blu-ray, I highly recommend it.  Check it out.

[Victoria & Abdul was Oscar nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.]