Friday Film News

By Rob Last edited 168 months ago
Friday Film News

The big film this week is, without a doubt, Mike Leigh's Vera Drake. After all you know a film must be good when grumpy old Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian calls it "a masterpiece".

Other loving adjectives that Bradshaw chooses to shower on this film include: "masterly", "gripping and fascinating", "stunningly acted and heartwrenchingly moving", and he calls Imelda Staunton's titular role "one of the most moving, haunting performances I have ever seen in the cinema".

Five stars then from Bradshaw, but what about the other broadsheets?

Anthony Quinn at the Independent awards the film four stars and praises Leigh for managing to "forge a compelling drama out of moral goodness."

And in the Times it's another four stars from Wendy Ide:

"It’s clear why actors clamour to work with Leigh — this wrenchingly powerful picture has as its lifeblood the kind of performances that don’t just happen, they have to be lovingly, patiently nurtured."

There's not much left to say after all that, is there really? Apart from maybe: thank God he's British.

As far as the big US release this week, well it has to be Oliver Stone's Alexander. Some critics would argue that Stone has been losing his way for some time now, but somehow he always makes you think that he might just come good with his next offering. Unfortunately, judging by the reviews, Alexander is a bit of a cock up.

Bradshaw slates it in the Guardian giving it just two stars even though it "does at least tackle the nature of male love".

What's weird for Bradshaw though (and most other critics it seems) is the accents:

"Colin Farrell plays [Alexander] with his natural Irish accent rather than all-American or Bardspeak Brit. Very oddly, however, to cover any anomaly, Stone gets Val Kilmer playing his father King Philip to speak with an Irish accent as well, and Jared Leto has to do the same thing playing Alexander's friend Hephaistion. Interestingly, his formidable mother Olympia, played by Angelina Jolie, speaks as if she runs an Italian restaurant."

In the Independent, Ide is pulling no punches, awarding the film just one star and ven descending into fantasies of violence: "as the film hauls itself into its third hour, all sympathy evaporates in favour of the urge to slap the cast and crew." She seems to disagree with Bradshaw on the exact origins of Jolie's character though: "Angelina Jolie, as Alexander’s mother, spends the film draped in snakes and speaking in what sounds like a Transylvanian accent".

Anthony Quinn gives Stone et al two stars in The Times and doesn't have anything to add regarding Jolie's accent. He does manage to make this feeble joke about man-love though:

"How to play the king by day when, with epicene friend Hephaistion (Jared Leto) at his side, he plays the queen by night?"

Finally this week there's a touch of the scary stuff with Michael Keaton in White Noise. This one, at least, divides the critics a little, with both Bradshaw and Quinn hating it ("Spectral messages through the TV? Michael Keaton's face makes him look like someone checking out the weather on Ceefax" says Bradshaw; "Keaton looks less bereaved than puzzled about why he's in such nonsense" says Quinn) but Ide seems to quite like it:

"It’s a nicely creepy premise, and when he’s not hurling the camera about, the director, Geoffrey Sax, does a good job of creating an atmosphere that crackles with menace. The end, however, is something of a letdown."

In film news this week it seems everywhere we look there's Natalie Portman. As well as starring in Closer which opens next week, Portman is rumoured to be starring in the Wachowski brother's adaptation of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta (you can see the first teaser image for the film here).

And if that's not enough Natalie for you then you should try and pick up a copy of this month's Vanity Fair which has Portman and the rest of the Star Wars characters (past and present) on a special pull-out cover.

Elsewhere in Sci-Fi land, it seens the Tripods trilogy has finally found a director. The TV series scared the crap out of us when we were kids so we're expecting big things of this.

Last Updated 07 January 2005