Life isn’t easy for Phiona Mutesi. She lives in Katwe, one of Uganda’s largest slums; selling corn on the street to support her family. When charismatic teacher, Robert Katende, introduces her to chess, Phiona discovers a natural affinity for the game. Before too long, she’s Katwe’s best player, her skill outstripping that of even her teacher. But how does she balance her newfound passion with her family’s needs? In chess, even a pawn can be transformed into a powerful queen. It’s just a matter of not giving up.
Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, is based on the true story and novel The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor.
During World War II millions of dollars of valuables and art was stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis. Maria Altmann’s family’s collection of prized Gustav Klimt paintings was among them, including a treasured painting of Altmann’s Aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. In the interceding years between the war and theft and the movie-present-day, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became to Austria what the Mona Lisa is to France. Undeterred, Maria is determined to fight for her family’s paintings which she believes to be rightfully hers. She enlists a friend’s son, a young lawyer to take on this juggernaut of a case.
The story is dealt with in good humour and sincerity. I found the interactions between Mirren and Reynold’s characters particularly compelling and layered. This is a drama, but it is with a light touch!
3. “You would enjoy this film if…”
Helen Mirren is marvellous in most things. If you are a fan of her, you will be a fan of this film.
4. “This film made me think…”
A week later, I bought a book on art restitution from the second world war. So interesting.
Wild is the movie adaptation of the book by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl’s life is headed down a destructive path; reckless behaviour, drugs, infidelity and marriage breakdown but she decides she will hike the Pacific Coast Trail alone and use the experience to pull herself together. The timeline jumps around, telling her back-story even as she begins the trek. Her completely inadequate knowledge of hiking becomes apparent very quickly. Initially her adventuress and foolhardy spirit is admirable, but her inexperience is jarring. What I really liked about the film was that when she was out on her own in the wilderness, her reckless choices leading to consequences to be felt by herself alone, there was nobody else there to pick up the pieces, so she had to. It’s hard to sympathise with her character, but I still wanted to see her succeed.
The scenery is amazing and the sequences with no dialogue are pretty powerful. Although these scenes are a feature in the film, Cheryl does cross paths with various people, some who frighten her, encourage her, even some help lighten her load – physically and metaphorically.
3. “You would enjoy this movie if…”
…if you liked Castaway, The Way, Into The Wild.
4. “This series made me think…”
I love the outdoors and need to spend more time wandering there.