Four Film Reviews

Film: Topper
Released: 1937
Starring:
Carey Grant; ConstanceBennet; Roland Young
Directed by: Norman Z McLoed
Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven OK, but nothing to write home about

Synopsis:
The funloving Kerbys, stockholders in the bank of which henpecked, stuffy Cosmo Topper is president, drive recklessly once too often and become ghosts. In limbo because they’ve never done either good or bad deeds, they decide to try a good one now: rehabilitating Topper. Lovely, flirtatious Marion takes a keen personal interest in the job. Will Topper survive the wrath of jealous ghost George? Will Mrs. Topper find that a scandalous husband isn’t all bad?

Review:
Not Carey Grant’s best work, but his trademark quickfire delivery and wit are all present and correct, making this an enjoyable, if unmemorable, film. A nice way to kill some time on a rainy afternoon, but nothing much to write home about. There are a few laughs to keep things rolling, but, as you’d expect, it’s very dated now. Better to watch His Girl Friday, Arsenic and Old Lace or Bringing Up Baby for Grant at his comedy best.

Film: The Cat’s Meow
Released: 2001
Starring:
Eddie Izzard; Kirsten Dunst; Edward Herman; Cary Elwes
Directed by:
Peter Bogdanovich
Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Very good – well worth a look

Synopsis:
In November of 1924, a mysterious Hollywood death occurred aboard media mogul William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. Included among the famous guests that weekend were, Charlie Chaplin, Hearst’s mistress, starlet Marion Davies, the studio system creator, producer Thomas Ince, and feared gossip columnist, Louella Parsons.

Review:
A stellar cast with strong performances all round.  The plot (based in the most probable sequence of events garnered from the very little that was whispered)  is plausible and everyone puts in a convincing and engaging performance – there’s not a bad one among them, but none of them sparkle in a way that makes this film stand out against other period pieces. Still, well worth a watch if only to see Izzard’s turn as Charlie Chaplin.

Film: Runaway Jury
Released: 2003
Starring:
John Cusack; Gene Hackman; DustinHoffman; Rachel Weisz
Directed by:
Gary Fleder
Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Excellent

Synopsis:
Wendell Rohr is a lawyer taking on the gun lobby. Rankin Fitch is the jury consultant for the Defendants and between them the battle is for the hearts and minds of the jury. But there is someone on the inside. Nicholas Easter is a juror with a girlfriend, Marlee, on the outside. they have a past ….. and their own agenda.

Review:
A film adaptation that is actually as good as the book, despite the changes that are made. The all-star cast put in pitch-perfect performances that make for a gripping and dramatic film from start to finish. The cast all turn in fantastic performances and the direction is tight. The tension builds and builds till the viewer is literally on the edge of the seat waiting for the dramatic flourish that will finish the film. It does not disappoint!

Film: King Arthur
Released: 2004
Starring:
Clive Owen; Ioan Gruffud; Kiera Knightly; Hugh Dancy; Ray Winston
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Very good – well worth a look

Synopsis:
In 400 AD, the Roman Empire extends to Britain and the Romans become impressed with the fight skills of the warrior Sarmatian people, which are spared, but have to send their sons to serve Rome in the cavalry for fifteen years. Only after these services, these knights are free to return home. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have their last mission before achieving their freedom.

Review:
Stong performances from a great cast (even Knightly acquits herself well) in a film that makes the Arthur legend somewhat more believable than the magical myths – if it happened, then this is how it went down.

Clive Owen wouldn’t have been my first choice as Arthur (he wouldn’t have featured on my list at all!), but he proves rather good in the role, giving a commanding performance that holds the attention well. Ioan Gruffud is wonderful as the pragmatic Lancelot, and Ray Winston plays the same gruff character he always does, but he does it well.

A must for fans of the Arthurian legends, if only to complete their collection, but well worth a watch on a rainy afternoon – you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than you thought you would.

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