Sometimes a movie feels less like a cohesive work to be taken on its own merit than something to be picked apart. As a version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest it’s pretty okay, not as consistent or intelligible as the version we saw at the fountain in Piedmont Park, but more intelligible than Prospero’s Books was on VHS. Helen Mirren is wonderful as Prospera, the set design is marvelous and the rest is hit or miss. Too much flailing about before green screens, and I could’ve done without the song. Personnel in decreasing order of goodness:

– Tom Conti as the Richard Jenkins-looking companion of the king

– Alan Cumming and Chris Cooper (I kept thinking he was Sean Bean or some other lord of the rings) as the king’s men, incompetently plotting against him.

– Alfred Molina as the king’s drunken butler

– Ben Whishaw as the sprite Ariel

– Djimon “Digimon” Hounsou as the monster Caliban

– David Strathairn as Shipwrecked King Alonso

– Felicity Jones and Reeve Carney as the Young Lovers (the king’s son and Prospera’s daughter)

– the extras in the shipwreck scene

– Russell Brand as Molina’s companion – he was tolerable for a long time, longer than one would expect, but finally doesn’t belong in this movie or anywhere else.

Remember thrice-oscar-nominated Lasse Hallström? I liked his Gilbert Grape, thought his Cider House was alright, then gave up after Chocolat, but he continues to turn out handsomely-shot romances about people realizing their true calling. Here you’ve got an expat Indian family run by Om Puri opening a restaurant across the street from a fancy/traditional French place run by snooty Helen Mirren. The family’s secret weapon is son Hassan (Manish Dayal of 90210 Remake), who takes a job across the street and becomes Mirren’s secret weapon, offending love interest Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon of Mood Indigo) since he becomes a chef before she does. Everyone is very concerned with getting star ratings from a travel guide (no mention of yelp reviews), and after Hassan earns a second star for Mirren he immediately moves to an ultra-cool place (ignoring the rule we learned from Ratatouille that if a head chef leaves a place it automatically loses a star), but loses his will to live in the cold city. Happy ending: Hassan returns to the countryside to open a French/Indian fusion place with Marguerite.

“I should bloody damn and bloody blast and bugger and bloody flaming bloody well think so!”

Terrific and strange, the kind of thing nobody has done before or since (correction: Potter did it years earlier with his Stand Up Nigel Barton). Grown adults portray a bunch of kids playing in the woods on a particularly traumatic day. Director Brian Gibson would go on to direct Poltergeist II, but writer Dennis Potter (the year after Pennies From Heaven) is what brought me here.

The kids play war games and house, while their parents are off at real wars and houses. They hear alarms from the nearby prison and hide. They misuse pronouns. The boys kill a squirrel then get upset about it. Later, they help to kill another boy, pyro Donald who sets the barn alight then gets trapped inside it.

foreground: Colin Welland, 45, of Kes, also writer of Chariots of Fire. with Michael Elphick, 33, of Withnail & I, star of a long-running series called Boon.

Helen Mirren, 34, between Caligula and The Long Good Friday

Janine Duvitski, 27, appeared in the Frank Langella Dracula and The New World

Colin Jeavons, 50, of a bunch of early 1960’s Dickens miniseries, later Blackeyes and Secret Friends

John Bird, 43, was playing Horace Greeley on a series last year

Not pictured: Robin Ellis, 37, known for a Revolutionary War-era series called Poldark.

I liked Helen Mirren’s dragon dean.

And the hissing vampire sorority, or whatever that was.

Sometimes hard work and following your dreams just isn’t enough.

The Blue Umbrella (2013, Saschka Unseld)

A remake of Paperman using photorealistic umbrellas with cartoon faces!