Tag Archive: england

Becoming Churchill

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One of the things that I always find amazing about the movies is the ability of the make-up and special effects crews to create the spectacular from tiny bits of powder and cream and prosthesis skin coverings.

darkest hour oldman churchillI haven’t seen Darkest Hour yet. But it is simply incredible how Gary Oldman goes from looking like himself to Winston Churchill in all of the trailers that I have watched. We follow Churchill as he is elected Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlin. We watch as he tries to keep the country motivated to fight against Hitler’s army that seems unbeatable.

Movie watchers know Oldman from the Harry Potter series as Sirius Black and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as Commissioner Gordon. He is a younger man who is thin and three inches taller than Churchill who was 5’6”.

The make-up used on Oldman made him look older as Churchill was 66 years old during the time period depicted in this movie. Oldman turned 59 during the shooting of the picture.

Maybe it’s me but I sometimes think we have begun to age differently. I know people in their 60s who look younger than I remember my grandparents looking at the same age. I am often told I look ten years younger than I am (for which I am grateful. I don’t care if people are just being nice to me.) When I see Gary Oldman at 59, I think I am seeing a man in his 40s.

Darkest Hour oldmanBut as Churchill. Oldman is jowly. He is heavier and moves differently. Oldman stated he intensely studied Churchill for a year in order to have his moves and quirks, speak patterns and accent. In the end, though, Oldman stated he had to do more than impersonate. He had to interpret the man who brought England through the roughest part of WWII when it looked like the war was about to be lost.

Now that was the challenge. In every clip I have seen, Oldman is Churchill, he embodies all that we have ever known about him. He sounded like Churchill, especially during the “Beaches” speech. I know it is Oldman’s job to be incredible, to capture his subject’s spirit. Not everyone succeeds at the job. But even actors who have portrayed Churchill in the past, including Robert Hardy, have stated that Oldman’s performance is the best so far.

Others must agree for Oldman has won a Golden Globe award for this performance along with nominations for Best Actor from the Screen Actors’ Guild, BAFTA, (British Academy Awards), and the Academy Awards aka the Oscars TM.

churchill-darkest-hourOldman’s performance may be trans-formative but he is supported by other actors, including Kristen Scott Thomas and Ben Mendolsohn, that brings the era to life. Director Joe Wright has been incredible in his past efforts which include Atonement.

Darkest Hour is a movie I am looking forward to seeing, not just because I am a history buff, but because I enjoy high art that is also accessible to anyone and everyone..

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Zombie Love

Family Movie Night

Oh, it is the season for scares. I am noticing more and more Halloween decorations up on houses around the area. Ghosts and pumpkins are hanging from trees. Purple lights are going around windows and doors.

My favorite decoration is a witch who had crashed into the ground and was buried. Haven’t seen that one at night yet but I plan to do so soon.

Last week, I talked about classic scary movies. This week I want to talk about one of the more popular subsets – zombie movies.

I believe that unlike other monsters, zombies seem closest to being like us. Usually the cause of zombiehood is poison, pollution or a virus. One wrong move and you or I could be a zombie. While zombie movies have been made


Picture from IMDb.com


since movies have started, the one that sticks out the most is Night of the Living Dead (1968) directed by George Romero. Set in a graveyard, corpses start rising from graves and they are hungry. We are with a small group of strangers for the entire night as they try various methods of escape.

It is a classic flick that sets up every zombie movie to come. The zombies are created by toxic pollution and they enjoy eating human flesh. Romero would make two more movies in the series, taking until 1985 to complete the last one. The movie would then be remade in 1990 and again in 2006 as a 3D version.


Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil, picture from IMDb.com.


Meanwhile, video games would be developed in which the player is constantly battling against zombies. Resident Evil appears to be the most popular of these games because it became a four-movie series. Mila Jovovich stars as Alice, an amnesia victim who becomes a stunning fighter in a red dress. Fans love the series but as I have not seen it, I cannot really comment.

What I can comment on is 28 Days Later (2002) directed by Danny Boyle. Set in England, the movie focuses on a virus that turns people into anger machines who cannot


Brenden Gleeson, Cillian Murphy and Noamie Harris in 28 Days Later, picture from IMDb.com.


do anything but kill. It stars Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris as survivors who are trying to find others and a safe haven.

The story is well told and the action is constant. There are several stories going here that are terrifying and exhilarating. I believe I had nightmares for a week after this movie but Danny Boyle really knows how to make a movie that makes you think about more than zombies chasing you.


Simon Pegg in Sahun of the Dead, picture from IMDb.com


The last two I want to mention are Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombieland (2009). The former stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as best friends who are trying to save their friends and family from the zombies that have suddenly infiltrated their British town. The movie is serious and humerous in parts. Bill Nighy gives an honest performance as Pegg’s step-father. And yes, this movie gave me nightmares despite the fact I love it. Can’t ever watch it again.


Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, picture from IMDb.com


The same goes for Zombieland starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. People travel around the U.S. trying to find survivors after zombies take over. The opening scene in which Cera details his rules for living in a zombie world is hilarious. The rest of the movie can be poignant and frightening. But it is also filled details that are wonderful to watch. I barely got through it with my oldest son and his girlfriend. This is a great movie.

Next week, I’ll talk about monster movies. Let me know your favorite one.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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