The Movie Waffler New Release Reviews - Hyde Park on Hudson / Verity's Summer / Robot & Frank | The Movie Waffler

New Release Reviews - Hyde Park on Hudson / Verity's Summer / Robot & Frank

Hyde Park on Hudson
Directed by: Roger Michell
Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Olivia Colman
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Murray) welcomes King George (West) and Queen Elizabeth (Colman) of Britain to the title retreat in the summer of 1939. The plan is to use the occasion to garner public support among Americans for Britain, a nation which finds itself on the brink of war with Nazi Germany.
Murray has received much praise in recent years for his performances in indie films like 'Lost in Translation' and 'Broken Flowers' but, frankly, I've always found him a bit one-note. Here, somewhat outside his comfort zone, he's fantastic, managing to embody the character of Roosevelt while maintaining the enigma of the man. It's an impressive cast all round and visually the film is splendid. The script, however, is at times hideous, with an insultingly moronic voice-over forced upon the audience. This is what happens when you hire a playwright, rather than a screenwriter, to tell your story. Literally everything we see on screen is explained either before or after by Linney, as though the film is being simultaneously broadcast over radio. Recently, it seems as though every second major American film features a similarly dumb voice-over. Call me paranoid, but I can't help think this is Hollywood's reaction to the increasingly popular, and incredibly ignorant, phenomenon of viewers texting while "watching" movies. Those of us who venture to the cinema to look at images projected on a screen are the ones who are being left behind.

Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) on IMDb 5.7/10

Verity's Summer
Directed by: Ben Crowe
Starring: Indea Barbe-Willson, James Doherty, Martin McGlade, Nicola Wright, Cristi Hogas
Verity (Barbe-Willson) returns home from boarding school at the start of summer to find her parents' relationship disintegrating. When her father (Doherty) has an encounter with a troubled soldier who once shared a base with him, it brings up some troubled memories of abuses he may have committed while serving  in the military.
Like most low-budget U.K productions, 'Verity's Summer' features some quality acting, particularly from newcomer Barbe-Willson who makes her debut here. Director Crowe's detached style and cinematographer Sara Deane's impressively framed shots provide for interesting visuals but the script holds things back with its forced dialogue and unnecessary minor characters. I feel there is much better to come from the director and his ingenue.


Robot & Frank
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Starring: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard (Voice), Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler
Frank (Langella) is an aging burglar suffering the onset of senility. Worried about him being left alone, his son (Marsden) presents him with a robot to help with household chores and look after Frank's general health. When Frank discovers the robot hasn't been programmed with any sort of moral code, he realizes it may be the ideal partner in crime to rejuvenate his criminal career.
If it were 1986, the plot of 'Robot & Frank' wouldn't seem remotely out of place. In 2013, however, cinema tends to take itself far too seriously for a movie which plays like a melding of 'Short Circuit' and 'On Golden Pond'. Well too bad on 2013 because we need more movies with the simple charm of this one. Despite the ridiculousness of the plot, Langella is a good enough actor to sell it. The scenes between himself and his robotic companion (voiced by Sarsgaard) have a genuine warmth. It may be set in the near future, but 'Robot & Frank' recalls the near past of the eighties with its innocent charm.

Robot & Frank (2012) on IMDb 7.2/10

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