THE DUKE (2020, UK, 96m, 12) ****
dist. Pathe UK (UK), Sony Pictures Classics (USA); pr co. Pathe UK / Ingenious Media / Screen Yorkshire / Neon Films; d. Roger Michell; w. Richard Bean, Clive Coleman; pr. Nicky Bentham; ph. Mike Eley (Colour | 2.39:1); m. George Fenton; ed. Kristina Hetherington; pd. Kristian Milsted; ad. Adam Tomlinson.
cast: Jim Broadbent (Kempton Bunton), Helen Mirren (Dorothy Bunton), Fionn Whitehead (Jackie Bunton), Matthew Goode (Jeremy Hutchinson QC), Aimée Kelly (Irene Boslover), Craig Conway (Mr Walker), Simon Hubbard (PC Myton), Jack Bandeira (Kenny Bunton), Heather Craney (Debbie – Clerk of the Court), Cliff Burnett (Wilf), Ashley Kumar (Javid Akram), Charlie Richmond (PO Official 1), James Wilby (Judge Aarvold), John Heffernan (Neddie Cussen), Michael Mather (Eddie), Anna Maxwell Martin (Mrs Gowling), Michael Hodgson (Barry Spence), Richard McCabe (Rab Butler), Andrew Havill (Sir Philip Hendy), Val McLane (Freda).
Delightfully performed story of Kempton Bunton (Broadbent), a 60-year-old taxi driver, who in 1961 stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on the condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. Broadbent is superb as the likeable and funny campaigner whilst Mirren is equally impressive as his long-suffering wife. A subplot involving the death of their teenage daughter a few years earlier adds a level of pathos and gives the characterisations some depth. The court scenes in the film’s final act give Broadbent his moment in the spotlight and are hilarious. 1960s Newcastle is splendidly captured in all its grit and grime by cinematographer Eley and production designer Milsted. This comedy-drama is a fitting final film for director Michell.
2010 (USA, 1984) ***½
Distributor: MGM/UA Entertainment Company; Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Release Date: 7 December 1984 (USA), 5 March 1985 (UK); Filming Dates: 7 February – April 1984; Running Time: 116m; Colour: Metrocolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby (35 mm prints); Film Format: 35mm (70mm blow up); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Peter Hyams; Writer: Peter Hyams (based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke); Producer: Peter Hyams; Associate Producer: Neil A. Machlis, Jonathan A. Zimbert; Director of Photography: Peter Hyams; Music Composer: David Shire; Film Editor: Mia Goldman, James Mitchell; Casting Director: Penny Perry; Production Designer: Albert Brenner; Set Decorator: Rick Simpson; Costumes: Patricia Norris; Make-up: Michael Westmore; Sound: Richard L. Anderson; Special Effects: Henry Millar Jr.; Visual Effects: Richard Edlund.
Cast: Roy Scheider (Dr. Heywood Floyd), John Lithgow (Dr. Walter Curnow), Helen Mirren (Tanya Kirbuk), Bob Balaban (Dr. R. Chandra), Keir Dullea (Dave Bowman), Douglas Rain (HAL 9000 (voice)), Madolyn Smith Osborne (Caroline Floyd), Dana Elcar (Dimitri Moisevitch), Taliesin Jaffe (Christopher Floyd), James McEachin (Victor Milson), Mary Jo Deschanel (Betty Fernandez, Bowman’s Wife), Elya Baskin (Maxim Brajlovsky), Saveliy Kramarov (Dr. Vladimir Rudenko), Oleg Rudnik (Dr. Vasili Orlov), Natasha Shneider (Irina Yakunina), Vladimir Skomarovsky (Yuri Svetlanov), Victor Steinbach (Mikolaj Ternovsky), Jan Tríska (Alexander Kovalev), Larry Carroll (Anchorman on TV), Herta Ware (Jessie Bowman), Cheryl Carter (Nurse), Ron Recasner (Hospital Neurosurgeon), Robert Lesser (Dr. Hirsch), Candice Bergen (SAL 9000 (voice)), Delana Michaels (Commercial Announcer), Gene McGarr (Commercial Announcer).
Synopsis: In this follow-up to 20001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), a joint U.S.-Soviet expedition is sent to Jupiter to learn what happened to the Discovery.
Comment: Well-made and intriguing sequel may lack the visual splendour and mysticism of Kubrick’s original but is nonetheless a worthy follow-up. An excellent cast is led by Scheider and Mirren with a strong role for Lithgow. Visuals are excellent too, from Brenner’s detailed production design to Hyams’ moody photography. The finale may be as baffling as that of the original but does attempt to provide some answers to novelist Clarke’s dense concept.
Long Good Friday, The (1980; UK; Colour; 114m) ∗∗∗∗½ d. John Mackenzie; w. Barrie Keeffe; ph. Phil Meheux; m. Francis Monkman. Cast: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Eddie Constantine, Dave King, Bryan Marshall, Derek Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, George Coulouris, Paul Freeman, P.H. Moriarty, Daragh O’Malley, Alan Ford, Leo Dolan, Patti Love, Olivier Pierre. A prosperous English gangster, is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. British gangster thriller is powered by a charismatic performance from Hoskins and a classy one from Mirren. The tension builds as Hoskins begins to untangle the plot and the finale has one final twist to offer. Only the now dated electronic score by Monkman jars in this otherwise classic genre thriller. First theatrical film role for Pierce Brosnan. 
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (TV) (2006; UK/USA; Colour; 182m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Philip Martin; w. Frank Deasy; ph. Julian Court; m. Nicholas Hooper. Cast: Helen Mirren, Stephen Tompkinson, Laura Greenwood, Eve Best, Gary Lewis, Katy Murphy, Frank Finlay, Tom Bell, Robert Pugh, Brendan Coyle, Robbie Gee, Russell Mabey. Approaching retirement, Jane Tennison investigates the murder of a missing girl. But the cracks soon begin to show as Jane struggles with an alcohol problem and the death of her father. Final installment in the series is a relentlessly downbeat affair. Mirren delivers a superb performance and the production values are excellent and authentic. There is the occasional contrivance and the finale seems rushed after over three hours of twists and turns. But this is still an absorbing last hurrah for one of TV’s great detectives. 
Prime Suspect: The Last Witness (TV) (2003; UK/USA; Colour; 195m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Tom Hooper; w. Peter Berry; ph. Larry Smith; m. Rob Lane. Cast: Helen Mirren, Liam Cunningham, Oleg Menshikov, Ben Miles, Robert Pugh, Mark Strong, Velibor Topic, Barnaby Kay, Tanya Moodie, Rad Lazar, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Olegar Fedoro, Sam Hazeldine, Frank Finlay. Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison’s investigation of the murder of a Bosnian refugee leads her to one, or possibly two, Serbian war criminals determined to silence the last witness to a massacre a decade before. Political intrigue rather than murder mystery is the theme for this installment. The subtext of war crimes committed in Bosnia adds an emotional layer. Mirren continues her excellent run with this character. The camera work is a little too flashy at times, but cannot detract from another absorbing tale. 
Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgement (TV) (1996; UK/USA; Colour; 208m) ∗∗∗∗ pr. Lynn Horsford; d. Phil Davis; w. Guy Andrews; ph. Barry McCann; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Steven Mackintosh, David O’Hara, Marsha Thomason, Ray Emmet Brown, John McArdle, Julia Lane, John Brobbey, David Norman, Gabrielle Reidy. Following an intemperate act at the end of THE SCENT OF DARKNESS, Tennison is assigned to Manchester CID, where she investigates the murder of a drug dealer that she believes was committed by a local gang leader and folk hero known as “The Street”. Excellent installment changes both the locale and the formula and is a battle of wits between cop and villain. Mackintosh and Mirren spark brilliantly in their scenes together. making for riveting viewing that helps us to forgive the rather cliched discovery and standoff finale. 
Prime Suspect: The Scent of Darkness (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 105m) ∗∗∗½ pr. Brian Park; d. Paul Marcus; w. Guy Hibbert; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Fulford, John Benfield, Richard Hawley, Stuart Wilson, Tim Woodward, Stephen Boxer, Stafford Gordon, Joyce Redman, Pip Donaghy, Marc Warren. A series of brutal sex murders disturbingly similar to the pattern of Superintendent Jane Tennison’s first major case leads to the awful suggestion that she may have caught the wrong man the first time. This installment focuses on Tennison’s reaction to the doubts raised and Mirren is excellent as ever as her character descends into paranoia and increasing alcohol dependency as she tries to prove her initial judgement was correct. The wrap up is a little too neat and swift after the investigation takes one wrong turn after another once Tennison is suspended. Otherwise, this is a solid mystery and a nice conclusion to the three movies that made up the fourth series of this consistent cop drama. 
Prime Suspect: Inner Circles (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 102m) ∗∗∗ pr. Paul Marcus; d. Sarah Pia Anderson; w. Eric Deacon, Meredith Oakes; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Jill Baker, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Craig, Richard Hawley, John Benfield, Phillada Sewell, James Laurenson, Thomas Russell, Jonathan Copestake, Anthony Bate, Ralph Arliss, Nick Patrick. Tennison, on loan to another jurisdiction, is sent in to investigate a murder of a country club manager. At first glance, it looks like a fairly obvious sex murder, but the facts suggest otherwise. As Tennison investigates, she uncovers a link to the ongoing situations within the local municipal government, and uncovers a possible political scandal which proves to be much larger and darker than she anticipated. More conventional mystery with familiar sub-plots of corruption and internal politics added to the mix. Whilst the mystery is satisfactorily played out the script feels a little generic and therefore the production lacks the edge of earlier stories in the series. Mirren remains superb though. 
Prime Suspect: The Lost Child (TV) (1995; UK/USA, Colour, 101m) ∗∗∗½ pr. Paul Marcus; d. John Madden; w. Paul Billing; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Beatie Edney, Robert Glenister, Lesley Sharp, Tracy Keating, Richard Hawley, Jack Ellis, David Phelan, Stuart Wilson, John Benfield, Tony Rohr, Mark Bazeley, Chris Brailsford. Supt. Tennison orchestrates a search for an abducted baby, but events take a turn for the worst when personal emotions cause complications. Emotive and dark episode due to its themes of child abduction and paedophilia. Again, the performances are uniformly excellent – notably Glenister as the prime suspect in question. Mirren continues to give a commanding portrayal of her career detective. The hostage resolution is tense and well-staged. Only some heavy-handed posturing in the script detracts from an otherwise excellent mystery drama. 
Prime Suspect 3 (1993; UK; Colour; 207m) ∗∗∗½ pr. Paul Marcus; d. David Drury; w. Lynda La Plante; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Struan Rodger, Mark Strong, Terrence Hardiman, Andrew Woodall, Richard Hawley, Philip Wright, Mark Drewry, John Benfield, Terence Harvey, Ciarán Hinds, Kelly Hunter. Assigned to a Vice squad, Detective Jane Tennison investigates a child murder and discovers a sinister link to the police. Another intricately plotted crime drama in this quality series. It lacks the intensity of the first two stories, but the controversial subject matter and political manoevering helped by excellent performances all round make for another well-made mystery.