Set in the 18th century A Royal Affair is a romanticised telling of the marriage of Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) and the mentally ill king Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard). The king’s use of whores and excessive drinking leads to the queen (Caroline) to fall in a doomed love affair with the King’s new physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), who uses his close relationship with the king to bring about positive reforms in the country. A Royal Affair is almost seductive in its glorious cinematography (shot by Rasmus Videbæk) and excellent costume and set designs. The performances from the whole cast are terrific, Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Følsgaard in particular. However the passionate romantic aspects (the central part of the story) are not quite as interesting as the political aspects of Struensee‘s rise to power and his backtracking on policies he has made in the past to maintain that power by censoring harmful material that may lead Denmark back into its old ways of government. It does drag out its ending somewhat, but the film so visually brilliant and well told by director Nikolaj Arcel that A Royal Affair is a period drama that almost reaches the heights of The Remains of the Day.
Friday, 29 June 2012
Friday, 22 June 2012
Roman Polanski’s latest production is based on the stage play by Yasmina Reza (entitled God of Carnage) which tells the real time story of the parents attempting to deal with a boy’s attack (under provocation) on another with a stick. The parents agree to meet up in order to resolve the situation, but the evening descends into chaos as each of the four parents bicker among each other. Polanski’s film, set in New York (filmed in Paris for obvious reasons), is excellently acted by the likes of John C. Riley, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet with Waltz being a particular highlight as the rude, and work hampered Alan (who’s constant phone breaks are annoying everyone, including the viewer). Each of the characters has their own flaws and each of their flaws is magnified the longer they stay in the same room. Penelope Longstreet (Foster) is self-righteous and aware of her own self importance, her husband, Michael (Riley), is cynical and negative while Nancy (Winslet) is a phony with a particularly weak stomach. Polanski’s script (co adapted with Yasmina Reza) is full of comic wit and Paweł Edelman’s cinematography captures the claustrophobia of such a meeting, which the longer it goes on adds to the character’s rising blood levels. It becomes clear that the parents are pettier than the kids when it comes to bickering with one another. The contrivances to why Nancy and Alan fail to leave the house despite meaning to on several occasions becomes slightly less believable as time goes on, but it is only a minor nuisance in a exquisitely well acted film. Not his best work, but a fine addition to Polanski's filmography.
Monday, 18 June 2012
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is keeping its doors open for one final weekend as the hotel is soon to be closed down due to poor trade (because of the economy, I guess). There are very few guests staying at the hotel thus presenting the two staff members, Claire and Luke (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy), the opportunity to discover whether the hotel’s ghost stories are true. Ti West’s previous effort before The Innkeepers was the brilliantly tense House of the Devil which worked exceptionally well due the sustained tension throughout and the menacing use of suggestion concerning the horror upstairs. The Innkeepers is similar to The House of the Devil in the sense that it is a slow burning chiller that relies on suggestion and tension rather than actual scares; however it’s not quite on the same level as The House of the Devil. That’s not to say there are no generally good jolts in The Innkeepers, but the moments leading up to the scare are the ones that payoff most successfully. Boosting likeable and engaging central characters The Innkeepers treads along at a slow pace, which some may find frustrating, but others admiring the creepy almost The Shining like elements. The film becomes slightly unstuck as the central characters’ actions become more and more absurd as the film steps further in the conventions of the genre, but Ti West’s film works well as an enjoyable character study (the two central actors share a good chemistry) as well as creepily effective supernatural chiller. Ti West leaves plenty of unanswered questions in the narrative, but makes up for these issues by raising a decent level of sustained tension.
Friday, 8 June 2012
Since his first directorial effort Play Misty For Me Clint Eastwood has had a successful career behind the camera (he won the Best Director Oscar for Unforgiven). Eastwood also made a name for himself playing iconic characters such as Harry Callahan; so the recognition in both directing and acting Eastwood has received makes it difficult to decide whether he was better behind or in front of the camera.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Might be some plot spoilers. People's opinions on plot spoilers differs.
Ridley Scott’s second feature film Alien still remains, after thirty years, one of the greatest horror/science fiction movies ever made, it is the essential haunted house story in which there is no escape from the monster lurking about the tight, claustrophobic hallways. Thirty years on Alien was followed by three sequels, two spin off series (Predator and Alien vs. Predator) and finally Prometheus which Scott claims is not a prequel, but the film is still set in the Aliens franchise’s universe.