FILM RE­VIEWS A tar­nished his­tor­i­cal epic

Cate Blanchett re­turns as El­iz­a­beth I, but thanks to lib­er­ties taken with his­tory, her reign is less than golden

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -



THE SE­QUEL strikes back. But in this op­u­lent but dra­mat­i­cally anaemic, his­tor­i­cally du­bi­ous biopic, all that glis­ters is not golden.

Cate Blanchett, re­turns as El­iz­a­beth I, the Vir­gin Queen, the role that earned her an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for 1998’s El­iz­a­beth. Here she is be­set by in­trigue and Catholic as­sas­si­na­tion plots and is ro­man­ti­cally tempted by Wal­ter Raleigh. Ul­ti­mately, she rises above the dis­trac­tions to rally her fight­ing men against the in­vad­ing Span­ish Ar­mada.

The year is 1585. El­iz­a­beth was then 52, but no-one put Blanchett, exquisitely made up, beau­ti­fully gowned and ra­di­ant un­der a se­ries of im­pres­sive wigs, as any older than mid-thir­ties.

His­tory is fur­ther mo­lested by screen­writ­ers William Ni­chol­son and Michael Hirst who have in­vented a ro­man­tic tri­an­gle in­volv­ing the Queen, beau­ti­ful lady-in-wait­ing Bess (Ab­bie Cor­nish) and Clive Owen’s dash­ing Wal­ter Raleigh.

Fac­tual ac­cu­racy is tra­duced even more by the in­ven­tion of a brand-new speech, de­liv­ered, Henry V-style, by El­iz­a­beth to re­place her fa­mous real life ora­tion to her troops.

No mat­ter — di­rec­tor Shekar Ka­phur’s lav­ishly cos­tumed, su­perbly pho­tographed­pagean­tis­cle­arlyaimed at spec­ta­cle-seek­ing movie-go­ers, and on that level, com­ple­mented by Blanchett’s fine, if rather over-the­atri­cal, per­for­mance, it suc­ceeds.



SCREEN­WRITER SCOTT Frank makes an im­pres­sive di­rec­to­rial de­but with this grip­ping, char­ac­ter-led thriller.

For­mer ice-hockey ace Chris (Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt) has been left with only shreds of me­mory af­ter a fa­tal car crash and re­duced to work­ing as a night jan­i­tor in a Kansas City bank and liv­ing with his blind men­tor Lewis (Jeff Daniels). The ac­tion is sparked when he meets for­mer school friend-turned­crim­i­nal Spargo (Matthew Goode) who draws him into a bank rob­bery.

Gor­don-Le­vitt is mag­nif­i­cent as the in­tel­lec­tu­ally-dam­aged young man, bring­ing depth and con­vic­tion into a role that could eas­ily have ended up as a ci­pher. The sup­port­ing per­for­mances also hit home as sus­pense and thrills build up to a mem­o­rable cli­max.



THE AN­I­MATED cof­fin mak­ing its way through the open­ing cred­its sets the unashamedly no-taste tone of this en­ter­tain­ing farce that fol­lows the mem­bers of a deeply dys­func­tional fam­ily as­sem­bling for their pa­tri­arch’s funeral.

Dean Craig’s in­ge­nious screen­play piles up a se­ries of lu­natic events, in­clud­ing peo­ple suf­fer­ing the ef­fects of an il­le­gal hal­lu­cino­gen, the un­veil­ing of a shock­ing se­cret from the dead man’s past and a black­mail­ing midget.

Di­rec­tor Frank Oz briskly con­trols an ex­cel­lent Bri­tish cast, headed by Andy Ny­man and Matthew Macfadyen and ex­tracts plenty of laughs from an en­joy­ably vul­gar show.



HAL­LOWEEN IS ap­pro­pri­ately hal­lowed by this ad­di­tion to cel­lu­loid vam­pire mythol­ogy. The set­ting is small-town Alaska where, dur­ing the epony­mous 30 days when the sun does not shine, a band of grisly vam­pires led by Danny Hus­ton’s Mar­low, de­scend on the luck­less towns­peo­ple who fight back led by sher­iff Eben (Josh Hart­nett).

Di­rec­tor David Slade en­ters into the bloody spirit of things, of­ten ig­nor­ing nar­ra­tive logic in favour of gen­uinely scary set pieces and all-too-re­al­is­tic be­head­ing.

And praise is due to Hus­ton who gives the most en­ter­tain­ing dis­play of un­dead-lum­ber­ing since Boris Karloff played Franken­stein’s mon­ster.



THE SUB­TI­TLE How to Get Mar­ried and Stay Sin­gle neatly sums up Eric Lar­ti­gau’s en­ter­tain­ing French-lan­guage ro­man­tic com­edy which finds hap­pily sin­gle 43-year-old Luis (Alain Cha­bat) pay­ing Emmanuelle (Char­lotte Gains­bourg) to pose as his fi­ancée in or­der to end his fam­ily’s un­end­ing de­mands for him to marry.

If the end­ing is hardly un­pre­dictable, get­ting there is con­sid­er­able fun thanks to a witty screen­play which re­calls all those clas­sic Rock Hud­sonDoris Day come­dies, and per­fectly judged lead­ing per­for­mances.


(12A) BARRY LEVIN­SON has a rare miss as writer and di­rec­tor of a de­press­ingly un­funny com­edy. Robin Wil­liams plays satir­i­cal Amer­i­can TV news­man, Tom Dobbs whose un­likely elec­tion as US Pres­i­dent be­cause of a com­puter-vot­ing-sys­tem glitch pitches the com­edy into a highly un­con­vinc­ing thriller. Dis­ap­point­ing.

Vir­gin Queen Cate Blanchett with courtiers Lau­rence Fox ( left) and Ge­of­frey Rush in El­iz­a­beth: The Golden Age

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