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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Kingsley’

Huisman,

Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmer

“THE OTTOMAN LIEUTENANT” My rating: C

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“The Ottoman Lieutenant” flirts with heavy-duty subject matter — the onset of World War I, the origins of the Armenian genocide — but at heart it’s basically a romance novel of no particular distinction.

Lillie (Hera Hilmer) was born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, but she can’t wait to leave her privileged life behind. Against her parents’ wishes she has studied nursing.

Now, after attending a fund-raising lecture by an American MD (Josh Hartnett) operating a clinic in a far-flung region of Turkey, she finds the inspiration to travel across the ocean to dedicate herself to serving the poor of the Anatolia region.

Since the road from Constantinople is unsafe for a lone woman, Lillie is given a military escort, a dashing young lieutenant, Ismail (Michiel Huisman, a Danish actor familiar from the HBO series “Treme” and “Game of Thrones”). After a few close calls she is delivered to the remote clinic, where she is welcomed by Jude, the physician whose speech so inspired her.

A rather less hearty greeting is provided by the cranky and disillusioned Dr. Woodruff (Ben Kingsley), who doubts the usefulness of a moneyed American girl…at least until Lillie proves her worth in the wards and operating room.

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Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale as Rhamses and Moses

Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale as Ramses and Moses

“EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS” My rating: C

150 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” runs for almost 2 1/2 hours — and that still isn’t enough time for it to figure out why it’s here or what it wants to say.

It’s based, of course, on the Old Testament story of the exodus of the captive Hebrews from Egypt, but the filmmakers are obviously ambivalent over matters of faith. Heck, they explain away the story’s supernatural elements as the result of a bump to Moses’ noggin.

This is the second monster-budget biblical epic of the year (it follows Darren Aronofsky’s over-produced and over-thought “Noah”). If Hollywood doesn’t believe, why does it bother?

In a word: spectacle. Scott and his visual wizards pull out the stops to create the thriving Egyptian capital of Memphis, the parting and unparting of the Red Sea, a slam-bang  battle with an invading army.

But on a spiritual and dramatic level “Exodus” is a creaky affair.

Most of us are familiar with Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 “The Ten Commandments,” an alternately silly and awe-inspiring affair. DeMille may have had the dramatic instincts of a snake oil salesman, but he was a fierce believer in his own showmanship, and if you can ignore the absurd emoting, his epic remains ridiculously entertaining.

Scott, on the other hand, delivers a film that is, well, grumpy. For all the f/x wizardly, there’s not much joy or discovery to be had. “Exodus” feels like a paint-by-numbers job assembled by an indifferent committee

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Asa Butterfield as "Hugo"

“HUGO”  My rating: C+ 

127 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

This is a great idea for a movie.

Of course, that’s not the same thing as actually being a great movie.

“Hugo” finds American master Martin Scorsese turning his attention from R-rated mayhem to family-film friendliness.

But he struggles to put himself on a child’s wavelength. “Hugo” is too cerebral, too methodical, too cool in its emotional palette. There’s just not a lot of joy here.

Plenty of eye-popping visual magic, though. The film is Scorsese’s first in 3-D and it looks terrific. The settings and effects are splendid.

Still, this feels more like an elaborate test reel meant to try out visual tricks than a fully-shaped and inhabited drama.

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