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Last week, I enjoyed the Platinum Jubilee festivities, from afar. Anne shared a tantalizing tidbit about her 3rd great grandfather’s attendance at a school in Guernsey. Heather says that the audiobook The Bank of Goodliness is “a quick, fun listen.” Tina liked two books by English author, Beth O’Leary.
We saw two Kenneth Branagh projects recently, so I thought I’d put them together in one post.
Sir Kenneth Branagh was born in 1960 in Belfast.
Belfast, the 2021 film, was written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. He describes it as his most personal film, which I’m interpreting to mean that it’s loosely autobiographical about his childhood. The setting is 1969 Belfast at the beginning of The Troubles. I didn’t know much about this history, since I was a child, myself, at the time.
What struck me most was how quickly and easily a diverse neighborhood can be set against itself by outside agitation and how few ways that neighborhood can protect itself, even with the best will in the world. Depressing.
But the movie, as a whole, carried enough comedy through the boy, Buddy, and his adventures, that it wasn’t a total downer. Judi Dench, as always, put in a stellar performance as Buddy’s grandmother and provided humor, sadness, courage, and a generosity of spirit that made me want to emulate the character in real life.
I recommend Belfast to learn more about a story that, I suspect, most Americans are as clueless about as I am. Belfast won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, so you know it’s a story well told.
For 2022, we get Death on the Nile, Branagh’s second adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel. Branagh both directed and starred as Hercule Poirot, just as he did in Murder on the Orient Express.
My brain won’t quite accept anyone but David Suchet as Poirot, so I have to think of Branagh’s character as someone completely different who happens to share the same name and an even stranger mustache. With that in mind, I enjoyed the glimpse of backstory and emotion for Branagh’s Poirot.
I liked Death on the Nile more than Murder on the Orient Express. The other actors were better utilized to make this more of an ensemble piece. Both films were stylized and visually stunning in ways that I really enjoyed. According to Wikipedia, Death on the Nile was originally supposed to be filmed, partially, in Morocco. With the pandemic, it was all done in England. That didn’t surprise me much. But it also didn’t bother me that the many exteriors were fake because they looked like idealized versions. This is a fun fantasy version of travel on the Nile.
Have you seen Belfast or Death on the Nile? What did you think?