Jim Broadbent delights as an irrepressible dreamer who fought tirelessly for the rights of the common man… to watch free television. The Duke is a heartwarming true story of a hilarious British art heist. The film deftly tackles difficult themes of classism, coming to terms with grief, and the indignity of racial slights. A brilliant supporting ensemble, led by the fantastic Helen Mirren, plays a dedicated and frustrated family. Supporting their patriarch’s noble yet incredibly foolish intentions. The Duke is a ray of cinematic light. Everyone will walk out of the theater beaming.
In 1961 Newcastle, England, Kempton Bunton (Broadbent) refuses to pay a TV license to receive the BBC. An honest man who believed the poor were getting fleeced, Bunton went on a public crusade to stop this injustice. He even removed the BBC tube to prevent reception. Kempton’s antics deeply frustrate his stern and hardworking wife, Dorothy (Mirren). She feeds the family as a housemaid while Kempton struggles to stay employed. Both grieve for the tragic loss of their teenage daughter in different ways. Their youngest son, Jackie (Fionn Whitehead), feels his mother is too harsh. He is a willing accomplice to his father’s righteous causes.
Kempton takes umbrage at the British government’s £140,000 payment for a portrait of The Duke of Wellington by the artist Francisco Goya. Lonely pensioners who served in the war couldn’t even afford to watch TV. Kempton tells Dorothy he’s going to London to try and sell his writing. He decides to stop by the National Portrait Gallery. The painting’s theft is headline news. The police are convinced a sophisticated gang of Italian art thieves are the culprit. They ignore anonymous letters demanding public charity for the painting’s return. They change their tune when another letter arrives with evidence as proof. Meanwhile, at the Bunton household, Dorothy wonders why Kempton and Jackie are always wearing gloves in the spare room.
Kempton Bunton is an easy man to root for. His kind demeanor and thoughtfulness went hand in hand with laughable idiosyncrasies. The film opens with Kempton’s trial and then flashes back to the events leading up to court. His barrister, Jeremy Hutchinson (Matthew Good), is taken by Kempton’s personality. But has a serious problem defending him from a lengthy prison sentence. Kempton’s courtroom testimony had me rolling. Broadbent’s straightforward delivery of Kempton’s reasoning is comedic gold.
The familial subplots add a dramatic tinge to the great humor. Dorothy stood by Kempton. They unequivocally love each other. But she doesn’t want any reminders of her departed daughter. Kempton desperately wants to discuss their loss. He writes plays as an outlet for his sorrow. Their remaining children, Jackie and Kenny (Jack Bandiero), the oldest son with a shady girlfriend (Charlotte Spencer), are also affected by Dorothy’s intransigence. The family’s bond is strong. They are working-class people used to hard times. Dorothy’s lack of communication creates dissonance that’s amplified during the trial.
Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Venus) crafts a beautiful film. The Duke is an extraordinary story of family above all. It’s told in a light, airy manner that still manages to be poignant. Michell’s use of split-screen editing, muted colors, and classic footage supports the highly affecting performances. Standing up for what’s right is never easy. Taking ownership of your wrongs, faults, and failures is even more admirable. The world needs men like Kempton Bunton.
The Duke is a production of Pathé, Neon Films, Ingenious Media, and Screen Yorkshire. It will have a North American theatrical release on April 22nd from Sony Pictures Classics.
Choose or Die Ending, Explained: What Happened at the End of the Netflix Horror Movie
This article contains spoilers for the Netflix film Choose or DieSurely by now, people know not to find an old and mysterious game and take a look at how it works; it’s probably going to be cursed. Choose Or Die, the 2022 horror thriller is directed by Toby Meakins and is his feature directorial debut. It is undoubtedly one to remember, with disturbing visuals that will most likely be stuck in our minds for a long time.
The film starts with a mother and teenage son arguing, while the father hides in his room full of old video games. He begins playing an old-school survival video game called CURS>R, and he soon finds that the game affects the surrounding environment; his lights go out when the game asks him if he wants to turn them on or off. Although, things take a nasty turn when the game asks him: “His tongue or her ear? Choose or die!” This is when viewers know that reality is cursed and things are going to get gruesomely interesting. When he leaves the room, he witnesses his wife holding a knife to his son’s mouth, which his tongue is missing from.
Soon after, we meet Kayla (Lola Evans), whose only real friend is tech-obsessed nerd Isaac (Sex Education’s Asa Butterfield). Kayla and Isaac discover a copy of CURS>R, which promises a huge cash reward (from the voice of Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger) to whomever gets through every horrifying level and completes it.
Though it seems to have been decades since the game was released, the phone line available to gamers who are curious about the big prize remains open, and Kayla is soon lured into a frightening world where the video game does not dissapoint with its impossible requests. It forces her to choose how to make others suffer, and she has little choice but to complete CURS>R, even if it means losing the ones closest to her or even her own life. But when the disturbingly gripping movie comes to an end, what does it mean? Here’s the ending explained; do you want to read on? Choose or die.
After Issac and Kayla watch a video of a man in a lab coat explaining that he discovered a curse related to symbols that affect reality (and reveals that he invented the game using the symbols when he was a child), Kayla is told by the computer that she must “beat the boss.” It sends her coordinates for where to go, which brings her to an isolated home in the woods. Hal, the character from the very first scene, as well as his wife and son, are all inside the house.
To conceal his injuries, the son, Gabe, is wearing strange magazine cutouts of a mouth and an eye – totally creepy. Hal is startled when the game sent Kayla to his house. After being forced to play two levels of the videogame (which explains why his son also has one eye missing), he claims that the game promised to leave him alone provided he made and distributed copies. Kayla’s phone buzzes to let her know she’s reached the “boss battle” stage of the game. By this point, viewers may be invested, but also confused on what is going to happen. But it only gets more shocking.
Before making her way to Hal’s house, the man in the video explains a part of the game that we are soon to see in action. When someone (a cursor) uses the symbols against someone else (the cursed), the cursor benefits from the cursed’s suffering (although, this isn’t quite how it is explained to work earlier in the film, but we can roll with it anyway). This is demonstrated later when Hal throws a plate at Kayla’s face and, much to her surprise, she doesn’t get injured; instead, it injures Hal.
So, the damage they do to themselves is actually inflicted onto the other person, so of course they both frantically try to hurt themselves, with some help from the wife and son too. Kayla eventually ends up winning the battle when she drowns herself in the pool, although she does have the viewers holding their breath too, and for a minute we do believe she is dead. Of course, the bad guy loses and Hal chokes on water and dies, and the CURS>R game lets us know it’s “Game Over.”
As Kayla cleverly defeated Hal, she gets a notification where the game now declares her the cursor and in control of CURS>R, essentially meaning she can now curse people. She begins by targeting the drug dealer who is harassing her mother, and when we witness his shocking fate, we also see that Kayla’s injuries heal. Kayla then receives a phone call from the game designer, asking her who will suffer at the hands of the game next, and she makes a badass (and somewhat ethical) move and replies “only people who deserve it.” With that said, we are left to believe that now Kayla will become the ultimate cursor, but this time, using the video game to haunt those “who deserve it,” pointing to a subtle but subversive sociopolitical message.
The ending of Choose Or Die does leave room for a sequel, with plenty of questions that need answering, the main one being, what will be Kayla’s next move? The storyline is clever, assisted by a brilliant cast, and the terrifying visuals add that horror edge that all horror fans love to see.
Following: Why the First Christopher Nolan Movie is One You Should Watch
Christopher Nolan has now become possibly one of the most recognizable directors of our time, with incredible blockbusters like Insomnia, The Dark Night Trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk – all of which has led to his films gaining 11 Academy Awards and 36 nominations. Nolan doesn’t take a break and is even excited about his new release that is set in WWII, about the creation of the atom bomb.
Needless to say, fans of his work are going wild about Oppenheimer and the prospect of another great Nolan movie being released. Although we must not forget that, despite his successful career and his additions to the pantheon of great cinema, it was his feature debut 1998, Following, that kick-started his path to success. While it may have only been the beginning, it is a movie that no one should miss out on.
Following is a mildly experimental neo-noir ’90s movie, which Nolan wrote, produced, edited, directed, and even filmed all himself. The story concerns a young writer in London who follows people to gain inspiration for his novels, although his hobby quickly becomes an obsession that he soon finds has gone further than intended when he fails to keep his distance. So, what makes this 1998 film so captivating and one everyone should see?
Nolan’s objective for the film, which was made on an extremely limited budget, was to explore the aspect of film noir that he enjoys the most: male characters who are defined by the usually cruel behaviors they exhibit. His proposal was risky because of the limited budget; he wanted to film no more than two takes per scene, entirely with natural light, and in affordable locations. He also wanted to work the shoot around the other jobs that his cast and crew had, as well as his own.
Using his often trademark style of non-linear narrative, Following was designed to illustrate both the limitless potential of playing with one’s sense of time and perception and the limitations of its production. The story is scattered with some flashbacks, some out-of-sequence scenes, and brief cuts that leave the audience questioning why these events happened the way they did. The flashbacks and flash-forwards play with your perspective and sense of time; answers become questions again, and yet it is undeniable that this keeps the audience on their toes and ensures that their eyes are glued to the screen. When all the pieces are put back together at the end of the movie, the viewers are able to finally appreciate the great effort that went into creating the movie as well as the aesthetic value of the film.
Neo-noir movies have become significantly more visible in modern cinema and could even be the genre of the decade, so when Nolan’s Following was shot in a noir style, it of course had to add to the growing list of brilliant noir movies. Following has many sharp contrasts and dark gloomy corners, which create an intense atmosphere as the camera lurks around and peers into secret boxes alongside its characters. Really, it fits the mood that is intended for a noir movie perfectly.
Not to mention that it follows a gritty, mind-bending string of events that (of course) Nolan withholds information on, in order to develop tension throughout the film and throw you another curveball. All of this forces you to re-evaluate your assumptions and relationship to the point of view usually taken in films, which are extremely typical characteristics of a noir. In fact, in an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Nolan expressed his view on noir films:
Fans will realize that Following, while a great movie individually, was essentially a blueprint for Nolan’s entire career; it was, after all, only an hour and ten minutes long, significantly shorter than the massive Nolan epics we are used to. It was only the beginning of his work, as his subsequent movies retained certain noir characteristics (thus helping reinvigorate Batman and the superhero movie), and toyed with point of view and perspective.
Following was the movie that began his fascination with non-linear storytelling, which has now become a major recognizable factor in his filmography. This approach has assisted Nolan in giving a fresh look into (or even re-inventing) noir, but we can’t forget where it all started. So, Following is not just Nolan’s feature debut, but a noir masterpiece, and maybe one of the best movies of the ’90s; it’s intense, gloomy, captivating and, frankly, mysterious and mind-boggling. So it feels wrong to be so engaged in his other work, without appreciating that Following influenced and inspired his incredible directorial skills. It should be required viewing for any big Nolan fan.