Saturday, January 18, 2020

The King vs. Henry V


Henry V is a 1989 movie by Kenneth Branagh adapted from Shakespeare's play.  The King is a 2019 Netflix film covering the same historical events. 

Henry V had a falling out with his father, so his father Henry IV appointed Henry's younger brother to be the successor to the monarchy, but Henry's younger brother was killed in battle shortly before Henry IV's death and Henry V became king at the age of 26.  He succeeded in conquering France in an ongoing 100-year series of wars between France and England.  But he died at the age of 35 and most of his military victories would later be reversed.

Henry V was a young king.  Kenneth Branagh played him at the age of 39 in the movie adaption of Shakespeare's play

One of Henry V's major was victories was at the Battle of Agincourt.  It was a battle that he should have lost because he was badly outnumbered, but a combination of strategy and weather worked in his favor.   At this battle, it was said that Henry V gave a powerful speech to motivate his men, but history does not record this speech.  Shakespeare wrote a fantastic speech for the play ("We happy few. We band of brothers."), but the movie The King substitutes something less grandiose.   Shakespeare handles the battle by having the actors march offstage and the battle is not shown, and the movie version only shows a bit of the battle.  Instead, the King gives us what feels likes a historical re-creation of the battle.

Whereas the Netflix movie The King seems more historically accurate, the movie Henry V is more fun because it is hard to top Shakespeare.

Rating:  The King:  B.

Rating:  Henry V:  A-.

P.S.  I watched The King the same day I watched 1917.  I failed to notice that Dean-Charles Chapman was in both movies.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Uncut Gems


Adam Sandler plays a jeweler who is also a gambling addict in trouble with the mob, and who can't seem to stop his gambling.  He is a bit of a conman because he has to be to keep at bay all the people who are after him.  He is also unfaithful to his wife with a couple of affairs, so his wife is planning to divorce him.

This is actually a good performance by Adam Sandler, but my problem with the movie is that it is about unpleasant people doing bad things.  In addition, the film is dropping f-bombs literally every five seconds.  I didn't hate the movie from start to finish, because the ending is pretty good, but overall I found the movie to be an unpleasant experience.  I feel the same way about Uncut Gems as I did about American Beauty; there is no way I want to spend two hours with such horrible people.  There is an unpleasant tension as Adam Sandler's character goes from bad to worse. The Guardian said, "Uncut Gems is so stressful it should come with a panic attack warning.  Adam Sandler thriller is brilliant, but watching it is a horrible experience."  I feel the same way.

All the tension in the film does make it somewhat watchable.  I actually considered walking out of the movie, but I wanted to see how the movie ended, so I stayed.  I am glad that I saw the ending because it is the only redeeming part of the movie.

Uncut Gems has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I'm sure that there are some people who think that this movie is brilliant, but it is telling that the audience score is only 51%.

Maybe the movie serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of addiction.

Rating:  C.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

1917


The movie 1917 is likely to be one of the best movies I will see this year.  It follows a pair of World War I soldiers on a time-critical mission to get a message to another unit so as to avoid an attack that will end in disaster.  This is based on a real story told to writer and director Sam Mendes by his grandfather.

The movie is filmed in such a way that it appears to be one continuous shot, except for a couple of obvious breaks.  There are continuous shots that last at least 40 minutes.  The camera follows the soldiers through long trenches, across fields, into farmhouses, rivers, underground bunkers, and troop transports.  This is like another character because I spent the whole movie wondering how on earth did they film this?  It is technically very difficult to have everything properly lit while the camera follows the actors through miles of territory. 

The movie creates a suspense that is perfect.  There is not much direct combat, but the horrible aftermath of combat is everywhere in this movie.  On the journey, the soldiers are constantly passing dead bodies and destruction.  The way the movie is filmed gives it an extra sense of realism.

The movie is rated R for war violence and a few swear words.

Rating: A.



Sunday, January 5, 2020

Knives Out


Knives Out is a mystery whodunit in the spirit of Agatha Cristie, but with quite a few twists, which is a given since it is from director Rian Johnson.  As entertainment, it works really well, although I didn't find it totally believable and I predicted the twist ending.  The movie also tries a little too hard to be a social commentary.

However, Rian Johnson shows that he can make a pretty entertaining movie.

Rating: A-.  My initial thought was to give it a B+, but I did find the movie thoroughly entertaining.   Knives Out has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.