22 Feb 2015

A selection of DVDs

Having just watched episode one of Vikings, (which if you have not watched yet you should) I thought I had better catch up on my blog. 

My lovely lady and I had a night in and watched a few DVDs.  

Calvary (not Cavalry)
Calvary is John McDonagh's new film. He previously wrote and directed The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson.   I really enjoyed the wit and style of The Guard, and when I saw that McDonagh had a new film starring Brendan GleesonChris O'DowdKelly Reilly, and Dylan Moran, I could not wait to watch this new and clever Irish comedy. 

I was horribly horribly wrong! 

Calvary is dark reflection of modern Ireland. The film takes place in a small Irish coastal town, which is plagued by unemployment, and what businesses remain face the threat of foreclosure by the banks. Gleeson plays Father James, a good priest who struggles to hold  his community together as they question the purpose of the Church in modern times. James is also trying to reconnect with his suicidal daughter. On top of all that a man has threatened to kill him in seven days time. 

Gleeson is excellent, and while his journey is bleak it is still a wonderful film. McDonagh may paint a depressing picture of modern Ireland, but it is still a work of love. The film is highlighted by Ireland's natural beauty, and at it's core Calvary is a film of hope.  But only after great sacrifice. 

I completely recommend it, but do not make the same mistake I did, that just because a film stars an ensemble cast of great comedians, that it is a comedy. I suspect that misreading the title was instrumental.

 Magic in the Moonlight

The most recent film by Woody Allen. With the success and acclaim of Midnight in Paris, Allen's new film is set in the roaring Twenties and stars Colin Firth, and Emma Stone. Firth plays an accomplished stage magician who spends his free time unmasking frauds and spiritualists. His friend Howard comes to him with the tale of a young girl (Stone) who Howard believes might be the real thing. Stanley travels to the south of France to investigate this girl before she marries the son of a wealthy American family. 
No Emma I am not jumping in the bloody fountain. 

Stone and Firth carry this film in their performances. Firth follows Allen's frenetic directing style of leading men well, but remains sympathetic. Firth did a really excellent job, and was the perfect choice as Stanley. The scenes are colourful and romantic and Allen uses the beauty of the South of France to every advantage.  

At it's best Magic in the Moonlight is a light and whimsical romantic comedy that is simple fun. I am not really a fan of Allen's films, and I didn't overly enjoy it. But if you are a fan of Woody Allen, you probably find it charming and fun. Certainly after the heavy drama of Calvary, my lady definitely needed a film like this. 

Dracula Untold

This movie is the origin story of the infamous Count Dracula, before he was a vampire he was a prince. But Dracula Untold  is neither a horror nor a historical film.  Luke Evans plays Prince Vlad Tepes who balances the welfare of his people with the demands of The Ottoman Empire. Young Vlad was taken hostage by the Turks, and raised by them until he returns home. This is of course pretty much true. However there are several departures from the real Vlad Tepes history.

But I am not going to discuss the historical inaccuracies because this is not an historical film. What it is is a simple attempt at an origin story. With such an iconic character the creators were really taking a risk with this story, and I don't think it paid off.  The story was average and undeserving of the real
Vlad, and the Count.

The appeal of this film is solely in its cast. Luke Evans outstripped the script and story as the young prince determined to save his people at any cost, and once his shirt was off, his abilities were obvious. Glib comments aside he really was very good. Charles Dance, who is making the most of his time on Game of Thrones, camps it up with an enjoyable performance as the monster. Dominic Cooper as the evil Turkish prince also looks like he is having fun.

As entertainment it was fine, simple movie fun. The cast were good, the action and cgi effects were entertaining. I imagine that devoted fans of history or Dracula might not agree, but over all it was OK Yes the story was average and could have been much better, and Dracula Untold won't win any Oscars, but if you want to just relax and switch off . and it might keep you from having to watch Jack and Jill  which can only be a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Season 3 of Vikings has just started, so good!