This Week in Geek (15-21/05/17)


In theaters: There are those who require adaptations to be faithful to the source material, and then there are those, like me, who appreciate a crazy remix. King Arthur Legend of the Sword is one such remix, more Jack Kirby's Demon than La Morte d'Arthur, and though I wouldn't say it's as good as Guy Ritchie's previous two "remixes" - Sherlock Holmes and Man from UNCLE - it's still gonna go on my list of most underrated films of the year. Obviously crafted to be the first in a series, entirely focused on the part of Arthurian legend when Arthur becomes King, it still works as a one-off, which I guess it will be given its reception. But focusing on how it's not a play-by-play of La Morte is unproductive. This isn't that Arthur. This is rock'n'roll Arthur. Cockney grifter rogue rebel Arthur. Kung fu superhero Arthur. Crisp dialog, slick heist-movie editing, and a grand battle between men and magic. Its only real flaw is how dingy it is (is that in Charlie Hunnam's contract boilerplate? The Lost City of Z was the same); it really needed to be front-lit more. But overall, it was a lot more fun than it had any right to be.

The original Bon Cop Bad Cop was good buddy cop flick that had a fresh-ish take by going after Canadian bilingualism and the Quebec/Canada political/cultural schism. I think Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 is better. We're done with the introductions and we pick up a few years later, the characters' stories having advanced logically and placed them once more in a position to work together. It's still a clash of styles, but also a warm friendship there, and the new story provides plenty of laughs AND touching moments. The funniest bits are probably when they have to cross over into Maine, a hilarious send-up of American attitudes towards Canada and today's border paranoia. Don't take it personally, Yanks ;-). As far as the cop plot goes, there are actually enough twists on the usual formula to keep the more jaded among us entertained, and the humor helps us swallow the silly plot hole at the heart of the criminals' plot. Let me know if this is as fun when you have to read subtitles about half the time.

DVDs: Captain Blood is a relatively serious film for Errol Flynn (his first as leading man), smacking of the historical biopic, even though it's actually based on a novel about an entirely fictional doctor falsely accused of rebellion who eventually turns pirate against the tyranny of King James' England in the Caribbean. In fact, it takes half the length before we get to proper swashbuckling. I minded not at all. Blood's roguish demeanor and verbal sparring with those who consistently wrong him are more than enough to sustain my interest. When we do get to sea, director Michael Curtiz puts his considerable skills to creating ship battles that look realistic and dynamic, though probably fewer sword fights than you'd imagine. Grand spectacle, sure, but Captain Blood is more about an irrepressible personality than it is about action set pieces.

The Coen Brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy is, among other things, a spoof of the rags-to-riches story, melding the sensibilities of Kafka, Capra, and pulp noir. At its best, this is one of those great satires of bureaucracy and corporate brutality, like Brazil and Joe Versus the Volcano, Tim Robbins' naive business graduate getting promoted beyond his station for nefarious purposes, even if divine irony lurks to make the perpetrators regret it. The Coen film this has the most in common with is Barton Fink, but it is in some ways its opposite, and thus possibly the post uplifting and positive of all Coen films. That, more than any strange twist at the end - which is something common to many of the brothers' films - is what fans might find jarring. I'd rather believe it's a spot of welcome sweetness in world of strange and cynical characters. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a lot of fun as fast-talkin' Lois Lane too.

Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of The Outsiders somehow manages to star lots of big stars in their first or nearly first film - Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze... - but it's C. Thomas Howell, who hasn't become as much of a household name, who takes the lead as Ponyboy. The 80s were as in love with the 50s as today's cinema is with the 70s, on account of when filmmakers and audiences grew up, but Coppola fails to make it resonate with me, employing lots of dissolves and what sounds like generic music. Some ropey performances show that everyone has to start somewhere, and I know this is a problem with the book, but pitting Greasers against Socs is just about the most Young Adult nomenclature I could imagine. When the film uses the book's prose, it's to good effect, and I completely respect its then (the book was published in 1967) controversial use of violence, language and family dysfunction, but by 1983, and certainly today, the shine if off that particular apple. Macchio is particularly engaging, but when the story necessarily drifts away from him, so does my attention. I've come off sounding more negative than I intended, but I nevertheless consider the film only okay, especially in relation to Coppola's greatest works.


Tony Laplume said...

Will definitely have to check out Bon Cop Bad Cop 2. Subtitles won't be a problem.


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