Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Joel Edgerton’

Dev Patel

“THE GREEN KNIGHT” My rating: B 

130 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“The Green Knight” is  writer/director David Lowery’s big-screen adaptation of the 500-year-old epic poem (we don’t know the author) “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

As such you might expect a big dose of sword and sorcery and some major-league action/adventure violence.

Think again.  Lowery’s narrative approach has more in common with Robert Bresson’s austere “Lancelot du Lac” than with, say, the atavistic carnage of “Braveheart.”

Here he is attempting cinematically to approximate the experience of reading a long poem from a distant past. In doing so he embraces storytelling that eschews rational explanations and psychological realism. 

And yet “The Green Knight” is not a relic preserved in amber. The film is a visual tour de force thanks to the splendid cinematography of Andrew Droz Palermo (he shot Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” as well as the KC-area lensed documentary “Rich Hill”), the costumes by Malgosia Turnsganza and the production design of Jade Healy.

Periodically Lowery inserts distinctively modern perspectives into this ancient tale. An example: We first meet knight-in-training Gawain (Dev Patel in a true star-making performance) awakening in a whorehouse on Christmas morning.  Actually, he gets a bucket of water in the face, courtesy of his playful  plebian lover (Alicia Vikander).

As he wanders through the bustling bordello in search of his boots, Gawain is teased by other guests and harlots, who kid him about spending more time partying than on his knightly training. The dialogue and camerawork bring a sense of naturalism and everyday immediacy.

Dev Patel

The movie’s distinctively modern moments coexist with a sort of formal pageantry. The result is a film that is overwhelmingly an intellectual/visual experience rather than an emotional one.

“The Green Knight” is probably going to divide audiences into lovers (it’s an overwhelmingly poetic/mystical experience) and haters (too long, too slow, not enough action).

A Yuletide celebration in the court of Gawain’s uncle King Arthur (Sean Harris) and his queen (Kate Dickie) is interrupted by the arrival of the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), a towering figure who appears to be half tree (I was reminded of Groot from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise).  This ominous visitor proposes a contest.  He will receive a blow from any of Arthur’s knights; in a year’s time that knight must seek out the Green Knight and stand to receive the same blow.

Young Gawain, apparently smitten with visions of glory, accepts the challenge and with Arthur’s sword strikes off the visitor’s head.  The Green Knight is nonplussed…he picks up his severed noggin and rides off with a laugh and a reminder that they will meet again next Christmas.

The bulk of the film unfolds on Gawain’s trek north to meet his fate. Along the way he is befriended by a fox (Is it a real animal? A CG effect? Whatever, it’s really convincing).  He is waylaid by a talky peasant (Barry Keoghan) who pilfers the remains of slain soldiers.

He spends a chaste night with a young woman named Winnifred (Erin Kellyman), and shares several days with a Lord (Joel Edgarton) and his cooly seductive wife (Vikander again).

At one point on his wanderings he encounters a migration of fog-enshrouded giants, huge naked hairless figures who might have stepped out of one of the recent “Alien” movies.

“The Green Knight” is jammed with symbolism that will probably be lost on anyone not schooled in medievalism.  Some of the episodes seem arbitrary and pointless.

Much as he did with “A Ghost Story,” Lowery explores alternate realities.  In one instance the camera spins to show Gawain hogtied on the ground, then as a rotting skeleton, and then alive again as he struggles to free himself.

And the last 10 minutes is a sort of “Last Temptation of Christ” fantasy in which Gawain’s mind explores the life he might have had (a life in which he is a mighty king).

At its core this is a tale about a young man who acts impulsively and then must live with the consequences; will Gawain have the inner resolve to submit to the Green Knight’s blade? Or will he bring shame on himself and Arthur’s court?

What’s remarkable about Patel’s performance is that he talks about none of this, but the emotions bubbling beneath the surface are perfectly clear. Sometimes words aren’t necessary.

| Robert W. Butler

Read Full Post »

midmaxresdefault“MIDNIGHT SPECIAL”  My rating: B

112 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

There is almost no element of “Midnight Special” that hasn’t been already thoroughly mined by other science fiction/fantasy films over the last 40 or so years.

And yet through some sort of cinema alchemy writer/director Jeff Nichols makes it all fresh and compelling.

Nichols is the Arkansas auteur of oddball down-home dramas like “Shotgun Stories,” “Take Shelter” and “Mud.” Here he ventures into full-blown genre moviemaking, and for the most part sucks us in and leaves us wanting even more.

The film begins with three individuals on the run. Roy (Michael Shannon), his eight-year-old son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher, the scene-stealing kid from “St. Vincent”), and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are making their way across Texas and into Louisiana in a beat-up car that has more Bondo than paint.

Alton is a strange kid who sits in the back seat wearing sound-damping headphones and blue swimming goggles. Since they travel only at night he uses a flashlight to read a stack of comic books.

Turns out the trio are the object of a massive manhunt, not only by the feds (FBI, CIA, whatever else you got) but by the members of a Texas religious cult with whom Elton has lived for the last two years.

Apparently the kid has had visions which have now become as much a part of the sect as the shapeless sisterwife dresses worn by their womenfolk. Incensed that Elton’s dad has snatched him up, the cult leader (Sam Shepherd) dispatches a couple of heavily-armed members of the congregation (Bill Camp, Scott Haze) to recover the boy in the few days remaining before a prophesized day of judgment.

Nichols’ strength as a storyteller is that he doesn’t drop too much up front. His films are voyages of discovery in which audiences pick up the characters’ backgrounds and info about the plot in dribs and drabs.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

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

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Mary Elizabeth Winstead battles "The Thing"

“THE THING” My rating: C (Opening wide Oct. 14)

103 minutes | MPAA rating: R

We’ve already seen two very good versions of “The Thing” (based on the classic sci-fi/horror story “Who Goes There?”), so anyone making yet a third “Thing” had better bring some new ideas to the table.

In the case of the film opening today, first-time feature director Matthijs van Heijningen and writer Bill Lancaster attempt to stir things up by making our protagonist a woman.

That’s it?  That’s the big twist?

(more…)

Read Full Post »

“WARRIOR” My rating: B (Opening wide on Sept. 11)

139 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

In outline there’s nothing terribly original about “Warrior,” which follows the well-tested dictates of your typical “fight” movie.

You’ve got your training montage. You’ve got your chatty TV sportscasters giving us the blow-by-blow even as we’re watching the bout unfold before our eyes. You’ve got your dramas outside the ring spilling over into the brawl inside the ring.

Happily this melodrama from writer/director Gavin O’Connor tosses in a few welcome changeups. And it’s been so well acted that even the familiar somehow seems fresh.

At heart “Warrior” is the story of a fractured family somehow coming together in the fury of a mixed martial arts tournament.

Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) returns to his blue-collar home town after an absence of nearly 15 years. He’s an angry young man (more…)

Read Full Post »