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Reviews for November 19th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Directed by David Yates.

Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. After the immortal Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) kills Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy), the Minister for Magic, he rises to power along with his team of Death Eaters all who want to capture and kill Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). Voldemort controls the Ministry of Magic, replaces officials and kills Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) to serve his own purpose of omnipotence. It’s up to Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) to save Harry from the malevolent Death Eaters and to help him find the precious Horcruxes, a.k.a. magic objects, which would change Voldemort into a mortal once and for all. If you’re a Harry Potter fan who’s read all of the books thoroughly, you probably know how the plot gets darker and darker as it progresses into territory that’s almost as chilling as Pan’s Labyrinth. If however, you’ve not read them and only watched the films, you’ll feel very lost as many characters pop in and out of frame without proper introduction or exposition, so please be advised to brush up on your Harry Potter trivia before watching this 1st part of the 7th film in the series. Screenwriter Steve Kloves kicks the dramatic scenes full throttle this time around thereby allowing for the dynamics between Ron, Hermoine and Harry to be fleshed out much more than in any of the other films. One of the most brilliant sequences is an exclusively-animated one where Harry learns about the story of the Deathly Hallows and the significance of a certain emblem. You’ll find a fair share of exhilarating action sequences, but they’re far and few. Director David Yates paces the film a bit unevenly, though, with some dramatic scenes that drag before a faster-paced one that involves chasing. On a purely aesthetic level, not surprisingly, the CGI effects together with the musical score, make-up effects, set designs and even the locations further enrich the film and keep your eyes entertained for the most part. At a running time of 2 hours and 26 minutes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is somewhat unevenly paced and lacks exposition, but there’s no denying its stylish, exquisite production values. Avid Harry Potter fans will be captivated, thrilled and left drooling for Part 2.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens nationwide.
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

Made in Dagenham

Directed by Nigel Cole.

Based on a true story. In Dagenham, England during the 1960’s, one hundred-eighty-seven women who worked at Ford Motor Factory came together to fight for equal pay. One of the workers, Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), attended a meeting with another worker, Connie (Geraldine James), along with union representative Albert (Bob Hoskins), Peter (Rupert Graves), head of Ford’s public relations, Monty (Kenneth Cranham), the union head, and executives of Ford where she learned that the company considers them to be unskilled workers as a justification for paying them a lower salary than men. Rita’s husband, Eddie (Daniel Mays), doesn’t fully support her, especially when she and her co-workers decide to go on strike. Albert does support her, though, along with Lisa (Rosamund Pike), the smart, affluent wife of Peter. It’s interesting to observe the friendship between Rita and Lisa and how their special bond helped to build Rita’s confidence in winning the battle for equal pay. Miranda Richardson briefly shows up in a powerful performance as the tough-as-nails Barbara Castle, the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, who served a pivotal role in helping the women reach their goal. Sure, the end result is predictable, but what truly matters here is the way that the goal had been achieved. Screenwriter William Ivory deftly combines drama with a delightfully light touch that doesn’t allow the plot to become too maudlin or melodramatic for that matter. Take a scene, for instance, where the women picket with a sign that reads “We Want Sex Equality,” but, when folded at a corner, it accidentally reads as “We Want Sex.” You’ll be cheering for those workers after a journalist asks Rita how they will cope if they don’t get what they want, and she replies, “We’re women. Now stop asking such stupid questions.” Sally Hawkins shines here just as much as she did in Happy Go Lucky because she’s one of those actresses who not only has charisma, but also can take any role and breathe life into it. If it weren’t for her convincingly moving and captivating performance, you wouldn’t be able to care about her or root for her for that matter. Director Nigel Cole, who previously directed Saving Grace and Calendar Girls, includes well-chosen music of the era that compliments each scene. The song “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” by Desmond Dekker, ends the film on a very high note and has lyrics that are both relevant and meaningful to the story of these courageous women. At a running time of 1 hour and 53 minutes, Made in Dagenham is uplifting, delightful and inspirational. Sally Hawkins delivers a radiant, genuinely heartfelt performance. Please keep in mind that some of the British accents are a bit thick, though, so, without subtitles, you might have a tough time trying to decipher all of the dialogue unless you’re very familiar with the different British dialects.
Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
Released by Sony Pictures Classics

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