In the wake of Sydney Film Festival we have a strong line-up at the cinema this week. But today especially, the last thing I want to do is sit in a darkened cinema. Anyway, A Royal Affair, the only film I have seen and reviewed from this week, is joined by Snow White and the Huntsman, Brave, Marley and Elena. The Three Stooges is also out, but that looked unbearable. Reviews have not been as bad as expected, however. I am seeing Snow White tomorrow and hope to catch Brave and Elena over the weekend, as well as catching Prometheus again. It feels like so long ago I watched it.
Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes, here are some overviews on this week's releases:
Brave - Merida (Kelly McDonald) is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late. It’s Pixar. I have to see it in a cinema.
Snow White and the Huntsman - In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Charlize Theron) out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) dispatched to kill her. From the trailers I was looking forward to seeing this, but the critical reception has been very mixed.
Marley - Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. Marley is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. I understand it is very good. It should be essential viewing.
A Royal Affair - The film is set at the court of King Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Folsgaard, winner of the Silver Bear at Berlinale for his debut feature performance), a childish, often-vile and mentally unstable individual, and follows the romance that blossoms between his young Queen, Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander, a beautiful 23-year-old actress whose next role is in Anna Karenina), and the appointed royal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen, one of Denmark’s most internationally recognisable actors). Arcel tells the familiar tale very well. It looks stunning and has a moving and satisfying story.
Elena - Winner of Cannes' Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Elena is a gripping, modern twist on the classic noir thriller. Sixty-ish spouses Vladimir and Elena uneasily share his palatial Moscow apartment-he's a still-virile, wealthy businessman; she's his dowdy former nurse who has clearly "married up." Estranged from his own wild-child daughter, Vladimir openly despises his wife's freeloading son and family. But when a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten the dutiful housewife's potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan. Masterfully crafted by award-winning Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (Golden Globe nominee The Return) and featuring evocative, Hitchcockian music by Philip Glass, Elena is a subtly stylish exploration of crime, punishment and human nature. Phillip Glass. I'm there.
Weekly Recommendation: I imagine that Brave, Marley, A Royal Affair and Elena are all worth seeing, but it depends on your taste and the film's accessibility. Marley is only screening at the Chauvel, I believe. Palace Norton Street screens both A Royal Affair and Elena. Even from the trailers, I am convinced that Snow White and the Huntsman looks like it will be dark and thrilling, but the jury is still out on that one. With plenty of choices, and a quiet week next week, if you have energy after the Sydney Film Festival, make the effort to see several of these.