At The Movies: Where The Actors Are

Dateline: June 15, 2000

Here's a look at a number of recent films I saw at the Seattle International Film Festival featuring your favorite British TV actors.

Love's Labours Lost: Mike Leigh veteran Timothy Spall (Outside Edge) has a supporting part in Kenneth Branagh's musical adaptation of the Shakespeare play as the Spanish Don Armado.

Janice Beard 45 WPM: Charming British film about an unconventional Scottish girl (Eileen Walsh) working in a London secretarial pool. She meets a clerk (Rhys Ifans, the roommate from Notting Hill) who plans to use her as a dupe in industrial espionage, but it all ends on a fairly happy note. Patsy Kensit plays her shrill boss.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles: British thriller with Jude Law who plays a serial killer with a bizarre pathology that only Fox Mulder could love (or explain!). But in this case he's pursued by the slightly less clever duo of detectives Timothy Spall and Jack Davenport (Ultraviolet) who completely fail to get their man.

One More Kiss: British film about a terminally ill woman (Valerie Edmond, The Crow Road) who leaves Manhattan to return to the small village she grew up in England. She looks up her old boyfriend, hoping to spend her last days with him, but unfortunately he's now married and runs a restaurant. The resulting reunion puts a strain on his family, as well as the woman's attempt to reconcile with her father.

Passion: Entertaining Australian bio-pic about composer Percy Grainger (Richard Roxburgh) in Britain just before World War I and his relationship with his ultra-clingy mother (Barbara Hershey). Grainger's a pretty screwed up guy, which he's the first to admit, and that includes a fondness for S&M and whippings. He meets what he thinks is the girl of his dreams (Emily Woof, Daylight Robbery) but his inability to separate from his mother dooms his relationship.

Saving Grace: A light-weight British comedy with Brenda Blethyn (Outside Edge), Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly), and Valerie Edmond about a widow (Blethyn) who turns to growing pot in order to pay her off bills left by her philandering dead husband. It's all quite quaint and aimed clearly at the American market that enjoyed The Full Monty, but it tries way too hard to please, and has an over-the-top ending that is just too much.

Solomon and Gaenor: Hunky star Ioan Gruffudd (Hornblower) stars as the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant in pre-WWI Wales who falls in love with a gentile daughter (Nia Roberts) of gruff anti-Semitic Welsh miners. Nominated for an Academy Award, the poignant tale is pretty grim, but Gruffudd confirms his leading man credentials.

A Rumor of Angels: American movie (shot in Nova Scotia) about a young boy who forms a relationship with a crusty widow (Vanessa Redgrave). His mother died in a traffic accident, his absentee dad (Ray Liotta) can't talk to him about it, and he wants nothing to do with his step-mom (Catherine McCormack). But Redgrave confides that her own son died in Vietnam but could communicate with him using Morse code, leading to a climax about the power of faith and coming to grips with the past.

Chicken Run: This Nick Parks' (the "Wallace and Gromit" series) animated movie is going into wide release and features a cornucopia of British voice talent including Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrucks (Absolutely Fabulous), the ubiquitous Timothy Spall (as a rat), Miranda Richardson (Blackadder II), Phil Daniels (Sunnyside Farm), and Imelda Staunton (Is It Legal?).

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