Religious warfare spilling out onto the streets of a fractured America should be a fantastic draw for the great actors of the early 2000s. It was. Gangs of New York has such a strong cast to it and a great director behind it, Martin Scorsese. It is a bold and brash piece that features all the typical treatises and topics of a period piece that sets the Catholic and Protestant forces against one another on the streets of America. Scorsese is keen to guide that scope with some incredible casting choices and a knack for knowing how to handle that. Smooth the egos, set up the right levels of screentime and capture captivating performances from actors getting to grips with a thick and promising screenplay.
While the works of William Shakespeare are adapted nonchalantly and frequently, few can grip the core of his work and shake it into some formidable or intense creation. Macbeth is not just a constant recurrence, but an obvious choice for adaptation. Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender and now Denzel Washington have taken on the role in the past decade. To pick a favourite is difficult, for The Tragedy of Macbeth is yet another interpretation of historic work. Washington has admitted he only has so much time left to work with the greatest, and this pairing with director Joel Coen is a monumental one, a savage and biting turn for Washington who is usually presented as the hero or troubled lead.
Worldbuilding, as author P.D. James would find with her novel, The Children of Men, is not easy. Difficult it may be to sidestep the usual comparisons to the worlds that would seem similar to a unique idea, The Village does quite well in side-stepping the potential collations and references. It is no surprise that M. Night Shyamalan manages this with ease. Although his Victorian-era-like feature relies on the drab clothing and community spirit of a small village, it is not until the howls and wonders of the fields beyond the hamlet are focused in on that any turn for originality is presented. Lucky for audiences, that is immediate. The low-hanging camera focuses on an elated and embarrassed Adrien Brody, clapping, cheering and soon falling quiet when nobody joins in with his love for the ominous.
Animation is a glorious medium to tell the finest of stories. Its utilisation often preserves magnificent, timeless tales from history far away from us. Beowulf has such integrity and historical beauty to it that any adaptation is doubtless a stranger to the prose and poetry it offers. Still, someone has to do it. Gus Van Sant was the man to bring us the remake of Psycho, surely not because he was passionate about it, but because someone would, inevitably, do it. Why not, then? Do it. Get it out of the way before someone else does. Robert Zemeckis must have thought that when taking on Beowulf as an animated action horror. What a miserable blend. An uncoordinated experience that sees a showcase of horribly defined animation and special effects.
Using the life and media attention Rodney King received, Dark Blue tries desperately to make itself relevant to the real world. Down and out in Los Angeles Eldon Perry (Kurt Russel) may be, it does not stop him from being a hardened, corrupt cop from seeking vindication and personal justice. But he is a good corrupt cop, as opposed to the dastardly ones he looks to take down. When he can be bothered to leave the smoke-filled dive bars, Perry and the characters within Dark Blue are aware of their surroundings and the cultural stance it takes. When utilising such a poignant moment in modern American history, the story needs to make itself and its intentions clear. One of the many issues for Dark Blue, then, is not cutting through the issues its story creates, not just for its narrative, but for the characters it inflicts on an audience.
The sheer joy of watching a somewhat fictionalised rendition of William Wallace cutting through the countryside of Scotland and England depends entirely on how far you can lean into the directing style and acting on display throughout Braveheart. A film riddled with problems from the very beginning, it’s surprising just how much Mel Gibson’s critical darling has to offer. Its inaccuracy aside, Braveheart looks to offer up an adaptation of the life Wallace finds himself leading, a living legend for the people of Scotland and the rebellion that took place against the English lords and kings.
I’ve never seen one director with a filmography that has such varying dips in quality control. Danny Boyle isn’t an interesting auteur or someone that will ever be the absolute favourite of any articulate film fan, but he is good at what he does. His shot compositions are never interesting, especially not in his later career. Still, even in between the redundant Yesterday or the forgettable 127 Hours, Boyle has found the time to craft some films that have been adored by the public, presumably in the case of 28 Days Later this is a coupling of nostalgia, a memorable musical track and the kickstarting of Cillian Murphy’s career. Continue reading 28 Days Later Review