Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Monday, 7 November 2011

Review: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights reaches new lows

Director: Andrea Arnold
Screenwriter: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed, based on the novel by Emily Brontë
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Shannon Beer, Solomon Glave and Oliver Milburn
New adaptation of Emily Brontë’s classic novel about frustrated love. When Heathcliffe (Solomon Glave/James Howson) is adopted by the Earnshaw family, he falls into a troubled romance between himself and his foster sister, Cathy (Kaya Scodelario/Shannon Beer).
Running Time: 128m 46s

One wonders whether great stories can be adapted too much; if there is a point where the tale is so deeply ingrained in the public consciousness that it simply cannot survive another retelling. On the other hand, perhaps a story can survive endless tellings and retellings, or that a mark of a truly great narrative is that it does so.

Whatever one’s thoughts on those questions, Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights is a clear attempt to inject new life into the classic Emily Brontë story. More overt racial tensions have been thrown into the storyline with a black Heathcliffe (though given recent events, it may have been more relevant to keep him as a gypsy), and there is a greater emphasis on violence and brutality to both humans and animals than in many other versions of this work. Unfortunately, none of this serves to make a compelling watch.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Review: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Spielberg rediscovers the secret of the great blockbuster

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Daniel Craig
When youthful journalist and adventurer Tintin buys a model ship in a market square, he has no idea what he has gotten himself into. His flat is ransacked, he is kidnapped and he goes on an adventure to discover the mysterious secret of the Haddock’s and the villainous Red Rackham.
Running Time: 106m 47s

There has been something of a muted response to the Steven Spielberg-Peter Jackson’s first adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin. Many have found it to be unengaging and have said that the characters have not really been brought to life, amongst other criticisms.

Whilst some of these complaints are perfectly valid, most of them miss the point. This is a comic book brought to life on the screen, lovingly, effectively and thrillingly. It is not the greatest film that Spielberg has ever made, but it is him very much back on home territory, doing what he does best, and what he produces is a spectacular where what it lacks in real emotional heart is made up for in boys-own thrills.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review: The Ides of March

Friends, Americans, Academy Voters: Lend George your Consideration

Director: George Clooney
Screenwriter: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, based on the play “Farragut North”, by Beau Willimon
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George Clooney and Paul Giamatti
Plot: The Democratic Presidential Primary race is finely poised. Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) holds a delicate lead over his opponent, but it is fragile. Working on his campaign is the young media mind, Stephen Meyers (Gosling), who is idealistic and believes in this candidate. However, he is the focal point for a series of events which will change the shape of the campaign and expose him to dirty tricks, all of which start when he is approached by opposing campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Giamatti), who suggests he changes sides.
Running Time: 100m 46s

One thing you can be sure about with George Clooney is that he is almost certainly going to turn out interesting work. Whatever project he’s connected with, whether as a live actor, writer-director or even just a voice actor, will be worth talking about. Even his last directorial effort, the American-Football-based screwball comedy Leatherheads, had a charm about it and a rich visual feel which was diverting, despite it being a total flop critically and commercially.

Here, he returns to the sort of terrain he was on with his best film, Good Night, and Good Luck. The setting of The Ides of March is political, the atmosphere is serious and the style leans toward the film noir. However, whereas Good Night was about issues as much as it was about character, the story here is one of loyalty and betrayal which just happens to have a political backdrop.