Tag Archives: Holliday Grainger

“Tulip Fever”



I have learned more about the tulip craze in 17th Century Amsterdam than I ever care to hear about ever again thanks to “Tulip Fever,” a lifeless, insipid mess of a movie. Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz may headline this ill-advised project and while they are proficient, their performances aren’t enough to recommend suffering through this mess.

The film is based on the novel by Deborah Moggach and as is usually the case with intricate books turned into movies, there are just far too many storylines competing for attention within the entrapments of a 90 minute run time. It’s such a convoluted jumble of confusion that at times the plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, and it doesn’t help that almost all of the characters feel paper thin.

Vikander is adept as Sophia, an orphaned girl who is forced into an arranged marriage to a wealthy merchant (Waltz). Unhappy in her emotional prison and unable to conceive an heir for her husband, she finds a confidant in her housemaid Maria (Holliday Grainger). When the lady of the house starts to have a passionate affair with a portrait painter (Dane DeHaan), all hell breaks loose.

There are way too many subplots that throw far too much information at the viewer, from an inept attempt to explain the underground tulip bulb market that ran rampant in the early 1600s, an unconvincing romance storyline with the local fishmonger (Jack O’Connell), scenes of a humorless nun (Judi Dench) tending to her flower garden, a drunk screw-up (Zach Galifianakis) ruining an epic plan after he intervenes to stop someone from beating a donkey, and a slightly pervy underground wannabe gynecologist.

Perhaps if this film had been crafted as a screwball comedy it would’ve been more effective.

The truly unsexy sex scenes notwithstanding, the filmmaking is at least skilled, and plot-wise there’s just enough to keep audiences barely hanging on to discover where the story ultimately goes. “Tulip Fever” is thankfully interspersed with some gorgeous shots of the most lovely flowers and the lavish costume design is an additional feast for the eyes. The movie isn’t bad to look at it, it’s just dull, hollow and ultimately confusing.

“The Finest Hours”



“The Finest Hours” is a classic tale of good old-fashioned heroism. It’s refreshing to see a story where the audience can quickly identify with lead characters who genuinely want to do the right thing and help others in their time of need. These are normal guys living a normal life who find themselves suddenly thrust into an extraordinary situation. They are quietly courageous, not looking for recognition or glory. They are simply doing their job.

This entertaining movie tells the true story of a 1952 Coast Guard rescue off the coast of New England. The inspiring yet slightly corny tone is perfectly paired with the thrilling action sequences (yes, the special effects of savage seas are computer generated but they are still, for the most part, stellar).

The most intense part of the movie comes from watching a group of sailors trapped on a giant oil tanker that has been cut in half due to a killer storm and is gradually sinking. Yes, you read that correctly. The seamen have to come up with creative ways to try to stay afloat – and alive. Chris Pine is fine in his role as a Coast Guard man, but he’s overshadowed by Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner and Holliday Grainger (as the spunky love interest). Casey Affleck isn’t a favorite of mine but here he reminds me of a young Marlo Brando; his masculine, charismatic performance is a standout and the main reason to see this movie.

I was surprised to learn that this wasn’t a faith-based movie because it was dripping with pronounced religious overtones (Disney obviously wants to cash in on that trend). There’s a lot of implied praying, discussions of faith (“it’s not luck”), cleverly placed Bibles, mentions of church and God, and the obligatory scene of the non-believer rudely interrupting a group prayer. (Have to say I agreed with his character: when the crew was standing around praying, he told them that they were wasting their precious time and should instead focus on figuring out a way to get off the ship. Smart man!). The religious references were so over the top that they quickly became off-putting and cost this movie half a star.

“The Finest Hours” is sappy and sentimental yet also manages to be a real nail-biter. The positives far outweigh the negatives here, and this movie is worth seeing. Is it historically accurate? Probably not. But it’s still a fun ride.

Matt was unavailable for review.