Mary and Max (2009)

A sweet, funny Australian animation written and directed by Adam Elliot. Apparently based on the true story of an eight year old Australian girl and her penpal in New York – a man in his mid forties with Asberger’s syndrome.

Max knew nothing about love. It was as foreign to him as scuba diving.

The talented Philip Seymour Hoffman does an excellent job as the voice of Max, with Toni Collette as the voice of Mary Daisy Dinkle. Barry Humphries takes a break from his alter ego Edna Everage to narrate this touching tale.

It has the look of an Aardman film, but for some reason the majority of scenes are a monochrome gunmetal with spot colour – a pompom or a tongue for example. In some ways this matches the sombre tone of the drama – two sad and lonely people for whom flashes of joy are fleeting and elusive.

Fortunately, any feelings of deprivation engendered by this meanness with colour, are compensated by the joyous and amusing script. It gives a sympathetic insight into the experience of those for whom the world is a scary, confusing and threatening place, and offers a lot of wisdom for us all.

Made in Dagenham (2010)

The story of a strike by women at Ford’s Dagenham, UK plant in the late 1970’s.

There’s hardly a face you won’t recognise in this British movie, but Miranda Richardson steals the show as Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Barbara Castle. John Sessions misses the mark as Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and Bob Hoskins as union representative Bernie Passingham (in the film Albert Passingham) is devoid of pace and energy.

The whole movie chugs on too long in what sets out to be a breezy romp through recent history. There’s too much extraneous detail and not enough character development. Consequently there’s no emotional build-up to the women’s triumph. The audience should be punching the air (or at least have goosebumps) at this point in the story.

Better than the last British comedy effort I watched (the dismal Tamara Drewe) but not as entertaining as it could have been.