love the story upon which director Nikolaj Arcel based this film. A ROYAL AFFAIR tells the story of King Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) who marries a British princess named Caroline (Alicia Vikander) who then falls in love with the King's royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelson). Struensee is a man of the 18th century Enlightenment and he works with the King and Queen to change things, particularly in the realm of social justice. When the King finds out that his child may not be his but Johann's instead, he takes it out on both his wife and her lover. The cabinet makes changes back to the traditional Danish way of doing things -- the pre-Enlightenment way. But ultimately, things return to the Enlightenment way and Denmark becomes a leader in European politics and the social welfare state. While all of this sounds interesting, the film is edited in such a way as it never seems to end. I would rate it higher if it didn't drag on so.
I enjoyed this film, but not nearly as much as I thought and hoped I would. I found it to be relatively boring, so some of the animated effects were quite good as were the voice-overs. I like the idea of a kid who sees and can talk to dead people, but we have seen it before and seen it done much better. The cast of crazy characters helped, but not enough for me to recommend the film.
What a boring movie. I can't think of a more descriptive adjective that doesn't include cursing. It is soooo boring; then again, most Tom Cruise films are, in my book. But I put my distaste for Cruise aside and tried my hardest to get into this film but to no avail. I guess I understand what the film was about, but who cares? Not I. The film was just too boring. All that money spent on Cruise's salary and special effects should have been spent on a script that actually says something and says it well.
2008's THE CLASS was nominated as Best Foreign Film by our Academy and actually won the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or (apparently unanimously). Was all that praise warranted? Well, I haven't seen the vast majority of films it competed against at Cannes, nor have I seen most of the foreign films nominated for an Oscar that year. However, I found THE CLASS to be a bit overrated but still a very worthwhile film. It shows us various moments in the year of a French provincial school led by an enthusiastic teacher played by François Bégaudeau in a terrific performance. The students -- too numerous to name or identify in another way here -- are also terrific and, as they should, they act and look like students rather than actors playing students. Most films with this setting are inspirational in nature, but THE CLASS is in a, well, in a class by itself (sorry, I couldn't help it). It feels quite real, and I say that as someone who taught though Bégaudeau is playing a high school teacher and I taught college students. Still, it brought back memories -- some fond, some not so fond. THE CLASS has a great script and extraordinary performances, but is it really one of the best films of 2008? Debatable.
A LATE QUARTET is yet another example of how uninteresting and unsatisfactory a film can turn out despite having a very talented cast. Director and co-writer Yaron Zilberman tells the story of a string quartet and the lives of the four players. The great cast? Well, Zilberman has Philip Seymour Hoffman (Robert Gelbart), Christopher Walken (Peter Mitchell), Catherine Keener (Juliette Gelbart), and Mark Ivanir (Daniel Lerner) as the quartet and Imogen Poots (Alexandra Gelbart) as the Gelbart's 19-yo-or-so daughter. Some films about musicians are truly terrific and others truly terrible. A LATE QUARTET falls somewhere in the middle. It's just, well, mediocre. It's not bad, but it's not good. Walken plays the quartet's creator and after 25 years of playing in the quartet, the aging cellist develops Parkinson's disease. The film has a chance to be something wonderful like 1998's HILARY AND JACKIE which studied famed cellist Jaqueline du Pré who suffered from multiple sclerosis. But Zilberman doesn't have great material and the film shows little of Walken and instead veers off into the Gelbarts' marriage woes and Alexandra's affair with the twice-her-age Daniel. It turns into a melodramatic soap where the talented actors have little to work with and so we the audience have little to gain from watching it. The music is good, but there's not enough of it.
Bryan Singer is not an untalented talent, but his latest film falls pretty flat despite a terrific cast including Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, and Stanley Tucci among others. However, the film is not good. Perhaps if it had stayed closer to the original story...perhaps if it had not used soooo much CGI...perhaps if there were better chemistry between Hoult as Jack and Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle, the princess who Jack saves and falls in love with. It seems like half of the film is CGI'd -- all the giants are computer generated -- but not in a good way. The CGI looks like CGI, which defeats the purpose. Singer and his writers and actors try for comedy here and there, but none of it really works. The action sequences are pretty standard and aren't well choreographed or well photographed. If you didn't see it in the theater, you didn't miss anything; and there's no need to see it in your home someday. Pass on this fairy tale.