Archive for May 15th, 2010

Screen Cap from Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood'

by Phillip Johnston

     You know the story well: it is a time of tyranny and injustice in 12th century England.  The law is oppressing its people and France has become an imminent threat.  Peasant and nobleman alike have taken a stand on the fields of battle under the leadership of King Richard the Lion Heart, but when their fearless ruler is shot down in battle, the country is plunged into a sea of doubt and desperation. 

     Richard’s thoughtless younger brother John rises to the throne and with his rule comes unfair taxation and shoddy leadership.  “There is no Kingdom without loyalty,” John calls out in an attempt to quell an angered people, a leadership motto that wins him no public acclaim.

     Robin Longstride is one among the angered masses and he has the courage and brawn to stand up and say that in tyranny there can only exist endless failure.  He doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor as much as shoot rhetorical arrows into the heart of injustice.  The masses like that.

     Adding to the conflict is a traitor named Godfrey whose loyalty to King John is all for show.  In one of his first scenes, Godfrey plunges an arrow into the heart of a loyal fellow Englishman.  The dying man cries out, “But you are English!”  “When it suits me,” responds the deep-voiced, balding traitor.  He’s played by Hollywood’s new favorite villainous persona Mark Strong, who you may have seen in Sherlock Holmes and The Young Victoria in a variation on the same role.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2004 113m) DVD1/2

Do you like me now?

p  Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith  d  Laurence Dunmore  w/play  Stephen Jeffreys  ph  Alexander Melman  ed  Jill Bilcock  m  Michael Nyman  art  Ben Van Os

Johnny Depp (John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester), Samantha Morton (Elizabeth Barry), John Malkovich (Charles II), Paul Ritter (Chiffinch), Stanley Townsend (Keown), Francesca Annis (Countess), Rosamund Pike (Elizabeth Malet), Tom Hollander (Etherege), Johnny Vegas (Sackville), Hugh Sachs (Ratcliffe), Jack Davenport (Harris), T.P.McKenna (Black Rod), Clare Higgins (Molly Lescombe), Kelly Reilly (Jane),

Allow me to be frank at the commencement.  You will not like me.  The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled.  You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on.  Ladies, an announcement; I am up for it…all the time.  That is not a boast or an opinion.  It is bone-hard medical fact.  I put it round, you know.  And you will watch me putting it round and sigh for it.”  Well, quite.  How could one introduce the most underrated film of the new millennium without letting its subject do the introduction himself?  To be fair, the film was never likely to be a popular success.  It had received strong initial reaction at the Toronto Film Festival in autumn 2004, yet it stood around on the shelves for a year and was shorn of fifteen minutes running time before making it to commercial screens in late 2005.  Just as its protagonists had told his audience, that they would not like him, the critics merely nodded their consent, and the film got some savage dismissals from many American critics and only a lukewarm reception back home in Blighty.  A select few critics repelled the onslaught and praised the film, and I believe time will prove them right.  (more…)

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