“Their Finest,” taking place in London, is a romantic film focusing on love, loss and war in 1940. It tells the story of how England wanted a propaganda film based on the recent battle in Dunkirk that could be used to inspire a patriotic reaction in England as well as the United States.
The film centers on Catrin Cole, played in moving fashion by Gemma Arterton, who is hired as a screenwriter to try to bring the Dunkirk story to life on the big screen. In the process, she is assigned to work under the supervision of talented and sarcastic screenwriter Tom Buckley, played by Sam Claflin. Though it is clear they are attracted to each other, they made sure that they stayed at arm’s length given that Cole was married.
As our writers try to fashion a story that the English government will accept, the viewer learns what is meant by the phrase frequently appearing on the big screen, “based on a true story.” In other words, while the outline is undoubtedly true, facts frequently have to be changed in the name of making a film that will inspire an audience.
Arterton proves again that she is an accomplished actress who tragically receives little attention. I encourage all of you to hunt down her role as the nasty female lead in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” (2013).
And while most of you won’t immediately recognize Claflin, it is worth remembering his contribution to the three “Hunger Games” films (2013 through 2015), not to mention his fabulous performance as the paralyzed young man who is seeking permission to commit suicide in “Me Before You” (2016). He gives a meaningful performance in “Their Finest” as a young man who was in love with a co-worker yet dedicated to preserving their honor and dignity.
I should also note that this film takes place during the Nazi blitz of England throughout 1940. While a movie crew was trying to piece together a film that took a great deal of time and effort, they were constantly interrupted by bombs that put their lives and other civilians in jeopardy. That was a horrendous time to be alive and working in London, and this magnetic little film puts the audience in the middle of that catastrophic disaster.
Let me close by noting the enchanting performance by Bill Nighy, who plays an egotistical, aging movie star who wants to look good in any movie role that he accepts. In the process, his character finds inner strength as he reaches inside of himself to provide inspiration to colleagues who dance on the edge of having their entire film collapse.
This is a stirring film that forces you to remember the cost of war. Our lovers, like most citizens of London, faced death falling from the sky nearly every day. See the film to see if they are able to survive.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Not all great movies combine entertainment with outrageous good humor, but when they do, you have something special. That is exactly the case with director James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
It is a fitting tribute to this film to say that it exceeds the pleasures of the original. Avoiding the ridiculous undertones found in the “Fast and Furious” films, it has a somber backstory as recently seen in “Logan” that will likely bring a tear to the eye of the most cynical member of the audience.
Once again, Chris Pratt brings Peter Quill/Star-Lord front and center as he leads his wonderful collection of misfits on an adventure to save the universe. However, they quickly run afoul of the Sovereign, an alien race they are trying to protect, when the untrustworthy racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals some sacred batteries they were hired to secure.
Thereafter, they barely save their lives when they crash-land on another planet. It is at this moment that the film captures something special as you watch the enjoyable interaction of multiple characters that will repeatedly charm you regardless of their intentions.
Let’s begin with the convincing performance by Kurt Russell, here playing Ego, Star-Lord’s father. The interaction of father and son will make it easy for you to miss any future family reunions.
In addition, Star-Lord and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) do their best to hide their mutual attraction for each other. Drax (a very funny Dave Bautista) discovers to his distress that his dedication to flaming insults are received as compliments from Mantis (a memorable Pom Klementieff), the right-hand woman for Ego.
Karen Gillan gives an unforgettable performance as Nebula, the twin sister of Gamora who harbors an angry intent to kill her. Vin Diesel provides the voice for Baby Groot, a loveable and frequently confused little creature who is trying to emerge into the adult figure seen in the original film. Watch the film’s closing credits for a glimpse of his future.
Interestingly, Michael Rooker repeatedly commands your attention as he plays Yondu, the alien with very bad teeth. Though he was Star-Lord’s antagonist in the earlier movie, he now comes to our crew’s rescue at a moment you will never forget.
I saw this film at my favorite theater, the IMAX at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. You knew from the opening scene that you were watching an enchanting film.
On top of that, the movie has a great soundtrack flowing from the mixed tapes Star-Lord maintains that contain old rock-and-roll songs from his time on Earth as a kid. Try to tell me you won’t have an emotional response when you listen to Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” during the film’s crushing conclusion.•
• Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.