Tag Archives: Richard E. Grant

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (2019) – My rating: 7.5/10

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) is a space-opera and is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga”. This movie was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s production company Bad Robot Productions and was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The Rise of Skywalker follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance’s final stand against Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine. I think I’m a little tired of Star Wars — this one was just ok.

Following a threat of revenge by the revived Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) obtains a Sith Wayfinder, leading him to the uncharted planet Exegol. There, he finds Palpatine, who reveals that he created Snoke (Andy Serkisas) a puppet to control the First Order and lure Kylo to the dark side. Palpatine unveils a secret armada of Star Destroyers and tells Kylo to find and kill Rey (Daisy Ridley), who is continuing her Jedi training under Resistance leader Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) deliver intel from a spy that Palpatine is on Exegol; Rey has learned from Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) notes that a Sith Wayfinder can lead them there. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8, and C-3PO depart in the Millennium Falcon to Pasaana, where Luke’s search for Exegol ended.

While on Pasaana, the group encounters Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who points them to the Wayfinder’s last suspected location. Kylo learns where Rey is through their Force bond and travels there with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. Rey and the others discover the remains of a Jedi hunter named Ochi, his ship, and a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO’s programming forbids him from interpreting. Sensing that Kylo is nearby, Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger; attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Presuming that Chewbacca has been killed, the group escapes on Ochi’s ship.

I’m stopping here to reserve some semblance of integrity and of course, the element of surprise.  This supposedly last Star War film was not as good as some of its predecessors. I found the story rather robotic and cursory, it was all over the place. There were numerous scenes of fighting and often, without merit. The story jumped from subject to subject leaving me desperate for an explanation. Some parts were even a little boring. I think there was too much action to say very little. Despite the uneven flow, the acting was very good and the special effects were absolutely brilliant. Carrie Fisher lives through the age of repurposed unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. I also think I’ve had enough Star Wars, the whole battle between The Force and Emperor Palpatine and his stormtroopers after 43 years is a lovely adventure but is screaming for closure and “The End”. The movie received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the cast performances and visual effects but criticized the story, pacing, and perceived departures from the themes and story of The Last Jedi. It has grossed over $840 million worldwide against a production budget of $275 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2019. You Star War fans, Check It Out!

[STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is Oscar-Nominated for Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects — Totaling 3 Oscar nominations]

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2018) – My rating: 9/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film directed by Marielle Heller.  The screenplay is by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on Lee Israel’s 2008 memoir of the same name. Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the true story of a writer who has fallen on hard times and turns to illegal methods of making ends meet.   This movie has flown way under the radar, as it appears to have been looked on as the book Lee Israel wrote in the movie.  I’m so glad I got to see Can You Ever Forgive Me? it’s truly a block buster in it’s own right.

**** SOME SPOILERS ****

Following the critical and commercial failure of her biography of Estée Lauder, author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is struggling with financial troubles, writer’s block and alcoholism. Because her agent Marjorie (Jane Curtain), is unable to secure Lee with an advance for a new biography, she is forced to find another way to make money.  Lee lugs a ton of heavy books to a pawn shop for books but can only get $2.00 and some nasty attitude for all her effort.  Further, her beloved cat is sick and needs medication.  Lee decides to sell a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to Anna (Dolly Wells), a local book dealer in order to cover her expenses.

While at the library conducting research about Fanny Brice, for a novel she’s planning to write, Lee happens upon an actual letter from Ms. Brice folded in the book. She swipes the letter and offers to sell it to Anna, who can’t give much due to the letter’s lack of interesting content. That’s when Lee begins to forge and sell letters by deceased writers, playwrights and actors, by embellishing them with juicy,  intimate details that command a higher price. Anna, who is a fan of Lee’s writing as an author, attempts to initiate a relationship with her. Lee being very private and unfriendly most of the time, rejects the relationship with Anna.

When one of Lee’s letters written by Noël Coward raises suspicion for its unguarded discussion of his sexuality, she is blacklisted by her buyers. Unable to sell the forgeries herself, she has her new best friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) sell the letters for her. While Lee was away attempting to enhance her forgery business, she trusted Jack to take care of her apartment and her cat. Upon her return, she ends their relationship after finding her apartment trashed and her cat dead.  Later Jack and Lee are served with a court summons by the FBI for forgery.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is based on a true story and presents a nice change and a nice rest from all the action movies.  There are times when you think Lee is going to do something predictable, then surprised when she does something totally opposite.  Although I’ve told much of the story, I’ve also left out much of the story.  Melissa McCarthy has given a fantastic performance if not her best performance.  She is completely believable and convincing as the writer, Lee Israel.  Richard E. Grant was absolutely brilliant as Jack Hock, a friendly gay man with a secret.  I  was thoroughly entertained and learned a thing or two about the world of authentic letter buying.  For me, this movie is what going to the movies is all about.  Excellent story — Brilliant acting — Check It Out!

[Can You Ever Forgive Me? is Oscar nominated for Best:  Actress, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay]