Director Kenneth Branagh Returns for the Crown


By: Isaac P. Ale
January 25, 2022

belfast Belfast [2021]

Film

You could say Kenneth Branagh has had a pretty solid career. Starting as a classically trained actor out of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (which he is the current President of as of 2015) you wouldn't really anticipate him covering so many genres and mediums on the screen. It is as lengthy as it is impressive.

Then again, when you start your career with directing and starring in multiple Shakespeare projects, including being nominated for Best Director at 29 years old for Henry V, one can surmise that you're indeed "going places."

For the sake of understanding everything that Branagh has done, let's just try- emphasis on try- to list some of them out. I'm going to attempt some chronological order but.. yeah again, attempt.

Starting with various Shakespeare projects (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet), throw in a horror classic (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), a western action-comedy (Wild, Wild, West), voice acting in a classic animated film (The Road to El Dorado), which then led him to a made for TV movie about World War II (Conspiracy) earning him a primetime Emmy award.

Oh that's not the end of the list, that's just everything before 2002.

Continuing, 2002 saw him in Harry Fucking Potter (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), then portraying FDR on HBO (Warm Springs), a Tom Cruise World War II movie (Valkyrie), a Marilyn Monroe drama-bio (My Week With Marilyn), directing a Marvel film (Thor), AND directing a live action remake of a Disney classic (Cinderella), and no not the new Camila Cabello flop (a true-blue Shakespearean tragedy if there's ever been one). All leading to his more recent roles which are some of his best and also most daring.

These include the masterful Christopher Nolan World War II (Branagh is a serious history buff) film Dunkirk, followed by Nolan's more polarizing yet even more so daring epic Tenet. Lastly, just for fun, I'll mention the directing and starring in the Agatha Christie novels turned movies Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, the latter being one of the biggest PR nightmares in the history of film probably.

Obviously, Branagh is a busy guy. Not only is his catalog filled with A+ material but its coverage of every genre and topic under the sun is even more remarkable. Branagh is a lover of film, history, and everything in between and it shows in his execution of his roles and his approaches to these projects. Now we get to see the product of combining all of Branagh's passions with a new venture for him: himself.

belfast3 Belfast [2021]

Belfast is a semi-autobiography-comedy-drama about the very upbringing of Branagh's during rather tumultuous times in Belfast, The Troubles. The Troubles is a name given to something known as "The Northern Ireland conflict", which consisted of a clash between Protestants and Catholics, and lasted for almost 30 years. The conflict itself wasn't strictly religious in nature, but more of a political and nationalist one. Protestants were more commonly loyalists, loyal to the United Kingdom and wanted Northern Ireland to remain in it, whereas traditional Irish Catholics preferred a separation from the United Kingdom to provide a single unified Ireland.

The film focuses on the family of young Buddy (Jude Hill), who by the way is one of the most adorable kids I've ever seen, and his working class Protestant family members. Branagh's ability to have the perspective of a 9 year old boy during the violent sectarian clashes translate to a beautiful and light hearted film about family and a sense of home is the greatest gift this film can give you. The chemistry of the cast is incredible and the performances of Pa (Jamie Dornan), Ma (CaitrĂ­ona Balfe), Pop (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) and Granny (Judi Dench) are spot on. Balfe and Hinds put together some of the more emotional moments within the film with Ma taking on most of the hardship with Pa working in England. Pop gives us some beautifully tender moments about family and not forgetting who you are, where you come from, and how living somewhere different can't possibly change that.

Branagh's direction provides a steady hand and the usage of the black and white coloring, while quite popular this year, is everything but banal. Buddy's love for seeing films with his family, and the films being in color, is the perfect way to transfer the joy and love of film on to the viewer sitting at home or in a theater. These nuances of color and styling have great emotional impact and are highlights in a film such as this, of course Branagh would have that, classic Branagh!

On top of that Van Morrison's score and musical escapades provide the perfect icing on the cake. Filled with scenes of dancing and joy, Van Morrison's music rings through in a way that you yourself want to get up and join Ma and Pa or Buddy jumping around. It's scores and music like this that transport you into the very film you're watching and make it all that much better. That and "Everlasting Love" by The Love Affair, is an undoubted banger and surefire earworm to linger in your thoughts for days after. Well the song and the wonderful dancing scene between Ma and Pa, its all just great. Its great I love it. I'm not crying.

Overall Belfast is a fantastic watch, a heart melting film about family and an ode to Branagh's life to date. But it also touches on matters that are ever pertinent to today: "No matter how far you go, you never forget where you came from."

Froth

As we've shared some time together, I mean you do come here and read these articles (or at least skim them?), you've undoubtedly gotten sick of me talking about snow and skiing. I think I've mentioned it once or twice but of course its the winter time and that's what everyone and their mom is doing right now. If you're not talking about skiing or posting on your instagram did you even go skiing???

Well I didn't post on my instagram but I'll talk about skiing here so its etched into the forever halls of the internet.

I went skiing!

How exciting was that? It was my first day of the season and a great, if not perfect, excuse to have myself a Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale from Deschuted Brewing. Now this is a limited release so if you haven't tried it yet, you better get on it! This is a delicious respite from the cold snow on the mountain and the perfect companion to a cozy night in watching a movie. It has a great copper color to it and looks to have some Amber Ale tendencies to it, some sweetness and a slightly darker color, but this is undeniably a fantastic pale ale. Not too hoppy or bitter but still with a nice pinch in there, but alongside that is a bursting pine flavor with hints of caramel and some nice citrus (most noticed to me was a little grapefruit and orange).

The strong pine and citrus flavors are great accent pieces to not only a great day on the slopes but also a great night on the couch, watching Sir Kenneth Branagh do what he does best, make amazing films.

Red Chair NWPA
Pale Ale - American | 6.2%
Deschutes Brewery
@deschutesbrewery

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