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Cinema in the Sky

7 March, 2014

London to Boston: a round-up from Ben, and a few words from Stile Antico’s in-flight film critics

“As big travel days go, yesterday was pretty good. We breezed through Terminal 5, British Airways delivered us on time and no one was interrogated by a border officer on arrival. For most of us, the one redeeming feature of being stuck in a tin can for 7+ hours over the Atlantic is the chance to catch up on the latest film releases. Eleanor and Tom were set the task of reviewing a couple of them. Here’s what they had to say…


As someone who last went to the cinema in about 2011, I always make the most of long-haul flights to catch up on what I’ve missed. My record is five films on one flight, but yesterday I had time for a mere three. It was a fairly harrowing experience, since I started with 12 Years A Slave and ended with The Book Thief, with the utterly ridiculous Austenland providing a little respite in between. I was particularly keen to see The Book Thief because I’ve brought the book with me on tour, and I usually find it better to watch a film before reading the book, on the grounds that a good book can more easily win over any preconceived ideas of character and plot than can a good film.

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I’m told the reviews of this film haven’t been great, but I found it very moving, though I could have done without Death’s voiceovers, and the German accents and odd bits of German dialogue. I’ve never understood the logic behind using foreign accents if the dialogue isn’t taking place in the relevant foreign language; I’d always prefer either foreign language with subtitles, or just ordinary English dialogue. Still, that wasn’t enough to destroy a very beautiful story. Now I can get going on the book, which comes highly recommended, and see how it compares…


Forest Whitaker is one of the most enjoyable and nuanced actors to watch onscreen and his performance in ‘The Butler’, full of sensitivity and depth, is one of his greatest yet. Based on a true story, the film charts the African-American civil rights movement of the early to mid-twentieth century told through the eyes and experience of Cecil Gaines (Whitaker), a butler in the White House throughout the tenure of eight US presidents (including one played by Alan Rickman – a very small role for him, it was quite a surprise when he appeared!).

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Talk show doyenne Oprah Winfrey does an admirable job as Gaines’ wife, Gloria, with David Oyelowo delivering a very fine performance as their son, Louis. While, from a distance, the subject matter can appear to broadly share common ground with ’12 Years a Slave’, the central issues of white oppression and racial inequality are dealt with wholly differently and, in my opinion, the narrative in ‘The Butler’ is smoother and less disjointed overall. I very heartily recommend taking the time to see this most moving film, even if just to watch Forest Whitaker’s expert execution of his craft. It gets 8.5 out of 10 from me.

Many miles and films later, the group landed safely on American soil…

“Our luck seemed to be holding out, with bright sunshine and a fresh -1 degree (relatively hot compared to the last few days apparently). We made the short journey to the hotel and found ourselves with a few hours to kill before dinner. Some went to the snow-covered park…

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…and others paid a visit to Burdick’s for the world’s best hot chocolate (sic.).

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We all rounded off the evening with a huge American meal at Joe’s on the lovely Newbury Street. Here’s Matt Howard with a big grin as his order of half a cow arrives (honestly, the photo doesn’t do it justice…).