Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Bloody, totally engrossing film about the 1215 siege of Rochester Castle by King John. I was expecting a sort of medieval B-movie, and the film has a rough quality, but this is a surprisingly great film about the punishment King John exacted on his nobles for forcing him to sign the Magna Carta. James Purefoy--who is the real deal for this kind of movie, hands down--stars as a Templar knight who becomes involved in trying to stop John's Danish army from crossing England. Paul Giamatti's turn as John is noble and angry, and the cast is rounded out by Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi, Mackenzie Crook, Jason Flemyng and, to my delight, Vladimir Kulich. This is really worth sitting with if you like medieval action movies. One of the best movies I've seen from 2011, criminally underlooked. **** stars.

Overlong. George Harrison was and remains a fascinating individual, but the first two hours or so are taken up with retelling--yet again--the story of the Beatles. How many times must I hear the story of Beatles? Bad enough there's never been a definitive documentary, not even that Beatles Anthology miniseries; it's all been polished down to a series of familiar anecdotes. The second part is much more interesting. Not bad at all, but the first half is like someone telling you a story you're overly familiar with as a long preamble before getting to the point. *** stars.

I'm surprised and impressed. As a remake, it doesn't seek to outdo or distance itself from the original (superior) film, and as a modern horror flick, it completely embraces what it is. The last thing I needed was another vampire film pretending not to be a vampire film; this one knows it's a monster movie, and even though it goes for the slick action set-ups every movie goes for these days, it stays true to its origins. I dig that. Good performances all around; David Tennant is hilarious as a Peter Criss-style Vegas magician. He needs to be in a lot more movies. He's kind of riffing on his Doctor persona here, but he's fun as hell. ***1/2 stars. Much more than I expected.

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