20th Century Women, The Lego Batman Movie, Fences The Film Review


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20th Century Women, The Lego Batman Movie, Fences

Mark Kermode gives his unique take on the best and worst of the week's film and DVD releases, with Gavin Esler.


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Now on BBC News, it's time for the Film Review.

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Hello and welcome to The Film Review on BBC News.

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To take us through this week's cinema releases is Mark Kermode.

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We have the 20th Century Women, I new film starring Annette Bening. We

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have the Lego Batman movie, which says what it does on the tin. And

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Fences, a major awards contender. Let's start with 20th Century Women

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from Mike Mills. It is an interesting film, set in California.

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Young boy facing an uncertain adulthood, surrounded by strong

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women of different ages, who both inspire and also confound, not least

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his free-spirited mother, brilliantly played by Annette

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Bening. Here is a clip. Thinking that you know

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everything that's going on. No, I just think that, you know,

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having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn

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about the world. ..as happy as you thought you'd be

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when you were my age? You don't ask people

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questions like that. Wondering if you're happy is a great

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shortcut to just being depressed. I already love it, just from that. I

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haven't seen it yet. You are right to do so. It is the horrific film.

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It has terrific performances, partly because they had time to rehearse I

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get to know the characters. These are characters you want to spend

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time in the company. We want to show how their lives work-out. You want

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to know about their lives. The film has texture, you feel like at any

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point the camera could go out of the car, out of the house and into the

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street and the world would be complete around it. It evokes a

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world that is in many ways, lost. It is back to time that now seem so

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distant, but the issues it deals with is contemporary. It is not plot

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driven, it is to do with moments, conversations and relationships. The

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narrative flips back and forward to some extent. I thought it was

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terrific. I started watching it, I knew nothing of what to expect,

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other than it had a great cast. I was drawn into their world and their

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characters. I loved it, I can't wait to see it again, you will love it.

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Will it be disparagingly called women's film? I don't know what that

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means. It used to be a term that was use for popular movies. Because

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females were the majority of the audiences. What they meant was

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something would be successful and a blockbuster. I hope it is the case.

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Anybody could see 20th-century women and get something out of it, it is

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the rhetoric. Same is true of the Lego Batman

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movie. Have you seen it? I am afraid I didn't. It was great. It sounded

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like a stupid idea but it turned out to be very smart and inventive. What

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age group? All age groups, I am in my 50s and I laughed all the way

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through. It is about Lego Batman, a narcissist, and he has to learn to

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have relationships with people, with Robin, his butler, and the Joker,

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who is desperate for him to admit he is a special billing and they have a

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special relationship. And what is great, the visuals are terrific, it

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is incredibly kinetic. I wanted to hold the frame and say stop, there

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are so many jokes in this one frame, they are going pass so fast. It is

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great for all ages, it is funny. Loads of exciting stuff happening on

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the screen. There are jokes about the 60s Batman and the Christopher

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Nolan Batman. You need to see the Lego Movie, because that is terrific

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and better than this. I have a busy weekend ahead of me. The Lego Batman

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movie is tiptop stuff and doesn't let the side down. I am already

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feeling overwhelmed. Let's talk about Fences. I have seen

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the film and now I feel I want to see the play. Denzel Washington

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stars and directs it. Troy is a blue-collar worker and brings home

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his frustrations from his work, from his life. They all come out in the

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home encounters. The film has got four Oscar nominations including

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Best Supporting Actress and here is why.

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You're not listening to me, I'm trying to explain it

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It's not easy for me to admit I've been standing

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I've had 18 years of my life just standing in the same spot as you.

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Don't you think I've ever wanted other things?

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Don't you think I had dreams and hopes?

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Great performances. You have seen the play. So powerful, the play. The

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film feels very staged. There are plays that have been adapted for the

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screen and they feel cinematic. This feels like something that has taken

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the stage play and filmed it. There are slight differences, but it never

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felt like a cinematic endeavour. It felt like great writing, relevant

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issues. The horrific, committed performances. But it didn't take

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flight as a piece of film-making. That is a problem because if you

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take a stage play away from the stage and put it somewhere else, you

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have to to do something to it. You really feel you wish you were seeing

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it live on stage, particularly with the larger speeches. It felt like a

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theatrical production as opposed to a cinematic production. The

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screenplay was written by August Wilson before he died, a great

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playwright. It is different writing for the screen and it is a craft? It

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is different directing that work for the screen. The classic screen

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adaptation of plays, they understand the language of cinema. This is

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clearly a huge reverence from the stage play, and understandably so. I

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just don't think it is as cinematic as it needs to be. Despite the fact

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it is great writing, solid performances and great individual

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moments, but as a piece of cinema, doesn't fly. We are coming up to the

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BAFTAs, so he might win awards for the acting? My feeling is that is

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where its heart resides, they are terrific performances. It feels

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theatrical to me. The best thing out in the cinema at the moment, is Toni

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Erdman. He is terrific, it sounds unlikely, a three-hour German Black

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comedy, written and directed and a standout performance about father,

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daughter estrangement. A father turns up at his daughter's place of

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work pretending to be a life coach, and she cannot get rid of him. It is

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funny and poignant. It is about to be remade starring Jack Nicholson.

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Why? It is perfect as it is, it doesn't need remaking, you will love

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the original. I have seen the trailer and the trailer itself is

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interminable. Does it need to be three hours? I am somebody who

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believes in cutting to the bone, less is more, but in the case of

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Toni Erdman, I would not take anything out. It is that good. Don't

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be put off by the trailer. I was. Don't be, it is not a great trailer.

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OK, only because you have told me. Tell us about the DVD. The Unknown

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Girl. I young Doctor Who fails to open the door to a potential patient

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is then found dead. She has a crisis of conscience and try to find out

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who she is. It was a film, when it was in the cinema, got lukewarm

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reviews. The best thing about DVDs, you can reassess things that was

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overlooked the first time. It is a thriller, but it has a humanist

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heart and is well worth seeing. I don't know it, but that is a good

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recommendation. Mark, thank you very much indeed.

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A quick reminder before we go that you'll find more film news

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and reviews from across the BBC online at bbc.co.uk/markkermode.

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And you can catch up with our previous programmes

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And we mentioned the BAFTAs, let's find out who wins what on Sunday.

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Full coverage from BBC News on the red carpet.

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It is a perfect weekend for watching a movie because it is going to be

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cold and miserable. This picture from Northumberland says it all,

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grey

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