Archives for posts with tag: keira knightley

From the people who brought you the incomparable Once comes…a very similar and much worse movie. Except this time the personal drama is more convoluted, more irritating, less plausible, and has 100% more Adam Levine, which may not be your thing. It’s not mine.

The story is almost irrelevant, because it’s banal. Record exec has alcohol problem, fall from grace, bad relationship with daughter, meets amazing songwriter who’s about to give up. She, in turn, has been ditched by her rock star boyfriend (but solves the bad daughter relationship problem quick smart!). Fortunately, her friend from back home is inexplicably busking and has an immense amount of recording equipment. So they record an album outside! Epiphanies everywhere! And then Keira Knightley is too authentic to kow-tow to the record people, because what kind of lunatic would ever want to make money out of his talent or passion. It’s almost embarrassing to watch in its pathetic, earnest, pig-headed self-righteousness.

Not one of the actors ever actually inhabits his or her character even a little bit. I learned almost none of their names–it’s just Adam Levine and Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo saying slightly mannered, vacuous pap. Against a backdrop of pretentious acoustic pop songs that are totally indistinguishable from one to the next. These people are cripplingly self-obsessed, and they just spew this self-obsession through the medium of whiny driveling music, in the name of…I’m not sure what.

Stray observations:

  • Adam Levine grows a terrible beard and they make merciless fun of him about it. This might be the best part of the movie, perhaps because James Corden is doing a lot of the talking.
  • All I want is to stop watching movies about man-children. Is this too much to ask?
  • Keira Knightley sings better than you expect, but it’s not great.

Director: John Carney
Rating: R
Length: 104 minutes
Score: 2/5

This movie is definitely shading into “old favorite” territory, but I’m not sure it’s there yet. And I’m quite aware that the 4/5 rating is going to be controversial, because even I can’t really allege in good faith that this movie is actually a fine piece of cinematic art. It is probably, however, the best existing movie about Roman Britain (compare Centurion, or The Eagle, or The Last Legion, all of which are…desperate). And it might have been better if it had just been a movie about Roman Britain, instead of trying to shoe-horn it into an Arthurian mold. But again, it does that wayyy better than The Last Legion did.

It is around 450 CE. The Empire, in the west, is teetering or has teetered its last, depending on whom you ask. Christianity is doing some weird stuff. It still gets super cold in the British Isles. Arthur (Clive Owen) is a battle-hardened Roman soldier, who grew up in Britain and has served there all his life; his mother was a Briton. He leads a band of famous knights from Sarmatia on the Black Sea: Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy), Bors (Ray Winstone), and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson). They spend most of their time keeping blue-painted, trousered people firmly on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall. They want to go home.

But they can’t go home, until they go on One Last Mission. Beyond The Wall.

Complicating matters is an army of invading Saxons, led with hilarious menace by Stellan Skarsgård and Til Schweiger (I have no idea what their characters’ names are). Also then Guinevere (Keira Knightley) shows up with a bow and a shirt made of a surprisingly small amount of string. She lectures Arthur about his loyalties and makes Lancelot feel things. It’s not really clear what, though, because what Lancelot mostly does is stare awkwardly.

And here’s my biggest problem with the movie. If you name people “Arthur,” “Guinevere,” and “Lancelot,” you have to commit to the love triangle. Especially if they’re all stupid hot. That’s one of the key things about Arthur. If you don’t want to do that, name them something else. You had to explain how this dude was Arthur anyway; why not just spend that time telling us about someone entirely new?

Stray observations:

  • Clive Owen was 40 when this came out and Keira Knightley was 19, which is surprising and possibly weird.
  • Lancelot’s two knives are just as hot as Legolas’s two knives, which is very.
  • For some reason this movie commits to caring about the Pelagian heresy, which seems like a weird thing to care about.

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: R
Length: 126 minutes
Score: 4/5

It’s hard to remember how great this movie is, because the sequels were so catastrophic. I’m completist when it comes to DVD collections, but I own only Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man’s Chest. Likewise I will never ever own The Phantom Menace. If I ever get it as a gift I will use it as a coaster.

The only thing about this movie that doesn’t hold up is the animation. The zombie-pirates look a little goofy now, in a way that they didn’t when it came out.

What do I love about it?

  • It never stops. Even when you think you’re going have a slow, serious moment, right after the Interceptor explodes, Orlando Bloom immediately swims across to disabuse you of your misapprehension. This is a movie written by hummingbirds on speed, and it is fantastic.
  • We’re sick of Johnny Depp’s mincing weirdness now, but it’s new in this, and it’s well-deployed and hilarious. If you don’t still cry with laughter about the whole “why is the rum gone?” sequence, you have no joy in your soul. There’ll be no living with her after this, indeed.
  • Orlando Bloom is still super hot, and his air of bewildered self-righteousness is, as always, his best asset. He even gives some good side-eye a few times. And that hat!
  • Norrington really comes into his own in the third movie, with his drunkenness, his hopeless but blameless love of Elizabeth, and his badassery in the face of Davy Jones’s crew. That said, Jack Davenport puts a surprising amount of exasperated verve into a pretty one-note character, and Norrington’s tedium is itself a lesson in drollery. [Side note: I was trying to explain who Jack Davenport is, and began with “He plays Commodore Norrington.” At that point I was cut off by my interlocutor, who started shouting at me that he did not watch as many movies about old boats as I do, because he is a normal human being, and I had to finish, somewhat lamely, “…in Pirates of the Caribbean.” At which point my friend subsided in embarrassment.]
  • Almost all the jokes land. Pintel and Ragetti are amazing (Mackenzie Crook never fails), Royal Navy officers are convincingly stuffy for comic effect, and Geoffrey Rush perfectly walks the tightrope between menace and hilarity. The corset line crashes and burns every time, but, for nearly two and a half hours, the laughs keep coming.

Director: Gore Verbinski
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes
Score: 4/5