Tag Archive: Simon Russell Beale


Review by C.J. Bunce

A British-led counter-intelligence operation calculated to deceive Nazi Germany during World War II that involved Allied coordination among the likes of Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and British intelligence officer Ian Spelling sounds like the stuff of a suspense-thriller, right?  That’s not quite what you get in this weekend’s direct-to Netflix war movie Operation Mincemeat.  As genre movies go, count this spy movie as purely historical fiction, primarily a mix of the mundane steps of pulling off even the most unlikely–but true–adventures in international trickery with some romance thrown in for the legion of Colin Firth swooners.  Detailing the plot to throw the Axis off the scent of Britain’s invasion and liberation of Sicily using a dead body with faked documents dropped off the coast of Spain, the movie lands in the same league as all the other 21st efforts to re-conjure World War II–its bland, sentimental account doesn’t match the drama of contemporary Hollywood of the 1940s.  But if you like watching your favorite British genre actors chewing up the screen, it’s worth the time.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Hazards of the trade…

It may or may not help you to know that burling is the process of tying up loose ends.  First time director Graham Moore (Oscar-winning writer of The Imitation Game) and Johnathan McClain (Mad Men, Medium, Without a Trace), co-screenplay writer with Moore, come out guns a-blazing in the limited theatrical release The Outfit, now streaming on Peacock.  An exquisite, slow-burning crime drama of deception set in the 1950s, with the then-new FBI technology of planting bugs to trap the Mob, rises to become one of the year’s best films, sure to deliver a second Best Oscar nod come award season for the steady-hand and subtlety of star Mark Rylance.

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A British-led counter-intelligence operation calculated to deceive Nazi Germany during World War II that involved Allied coordination among the likes of Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and British intelligence officer Ian Spelling is getting a new adaptation.  Coming in May, Netflix will premiere the new war movie Operation Mincemeat, detailing a plot to throw the Axis off the scent of Britain’s invasion and liberation of Sicily using a dead body with faked documents dropped off the coast of Spain.  If its sounds familiar it’s because you may have seen the popular 1956 drama The Man Who Never Was starring three-time Oscar nominee Clifton Webb as the key character in the story, Ewen Montagu, who planned and carried out the ruse, and wrote the novel the original film was based upon.

Oscar-winner Colin Firth steps into the lead role this time, joined by an impressive genre star cast including Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series, Star Trek Discovery), Kelly Macdonald (Brave, Harry Potter series), Mark Gattis (Sherlock, Doctor Who), Mark Bonnar (Shetland, Doctor Who), Penelope Wilton (Shaun of the Dead, Doctor Who), Rufus Wright (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Shetland, The Watcher in the Woods, Quantum of Solace), and Johnny Flynn (Emma.) as Ian Fleming.

Here’s the trailer for Netflix’s Operation Mincemeat:

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Hollow Crown banner

I’ve come to the conclusion after watching literally thousands of movies that I don’t like straight drama.  I rarely enjoy it unless there is some genre component to reel me in.  Sometimes even genre actors don’t help, such as Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Darvill in the BBC series Broadchurch.  I don’t go to movies for portrayals of real life, no matter how good the portrayal is supposed to be.  The list of exceptions to my distaste for straight drama is probably pretty large because I am pretty open minded.  The genre hook could be tenuous but it must be there.

Of course the most celebrated dramatist of all time is William Shakespeare.  I love his comedies adapted to screen, particularly Kenneth Branagh’s costume drama Much Ado About Nothing.  I also love the history plays–again, costume drama–and especially the 1990s Henry V–again, Branagh’s version.  The genre hook is easy with his histories–historical fiction.  But take that drama into the present day, such as with Joss Whedon’s 2013 Much Ado About Nothing, and I could hardly be less interested in it.  Even with a bunch of genre actors in the cast.

Whishaw as Richard II

Historical drama in the form of four of Shakespeare’s history plays adapted to screen on the BBC in 2012 begin tomorrow in the States with The Hollow Crown on PBS’s Great Performances.  And better yet, they are staged in the historical period–not contemporary updates–and as a bonus they feature a host of genre actors.

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