Screening Room: ‘The Duke’

In 1961, a semi-retired cabbie from the north of England got sick of retirees and war veterans having to pay a tax to watch the BBC. Then he was charged with stealing a Goya portrait from the National Gallery. The Duke is the charming if somewhat thin story about what happened next.

My review ran at Slant:

The Duke starts with Kempton on trail at the Old Bailey and then spools back six months to lay out the fumbling crime and lackadaisical cover-up that led him to court. The planning of the theft itself, involving a ladder and an unlatched bathroom window, is almost incidental to the story and played more for comedy than thrills (in a too-good-to-be-true moment, a shot of the Goya painting being nipped reveals that the inestimably more valuable The Scream was hanging right near it). The screenplay, by Young Marx playwrights Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, is more attentive to the particulars of Kempton’s against-the-grain populism…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Le Week-End’

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan do Paris in 'Le Week-End'
Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan do Paris in ‘Le Week-End’

le-week-end-poster03In the surprisingly spry comedy Le Week-End, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan head to Paris for a romantic anniversary weekend to kickstart their chaotic, verging-on-retirement lives. Things don’t go as planned.

Le Week-End is playing now in a few theaters and should expand more over the next several weeks. My review is at Film Racket:

Like many movies about couples who treat their relationship as a sparring ring, Roger Michell’s Le Week-End dares you to choose sides. Do you plunk down your support for the affable but retiring bookish bloke Nick (Jim Broadbent)? Or do you take the side of the skittery and cat-like Meg (Lindsay Duncan). He pokes at her, she lashes at him. They swoon together in a church, shushed by worshippers not wanting to see that kind of adolescent heat, and battle it out in the street. Sensibilities get lacerated and bank accounts demolished. It makes for an agitated film, one much starker and less forgiving than the cheery trailer promises, but with a few notable fillips of romanticism flashing through…

You can see the trailer here:


As a bonus, here’s the otherworldly cool dance scene from Godard’s 1964 film Band of Outsiders, which features prominently in Le Week-End:

Trailer Park: ‘Cloud Atlas’

It’s something that would have been hard to conceive of just 5-10 years ago. But the filmmaking landscape is now so fractured that apparently even quixotic projects like this are able to line up millions of dollars in funding and movie stars galore.

The hard-to-categorize adaptation of David Mitchell’s mind- and time-twister of a novel Cloud Atlas — which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Keith David, Jim Broadbent, is directed by Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame and written by the Wachowskis (The Matrix) — has been winding its way toward the big screen for a while. Now with an October release date set, the first trailer has been released. This could either be one of those epic disasters of overreach or the kind of thing that leaves people just shattered.

Great, terrible, or mediocre in its final execution, what can be seen in the trailer just takes your breath away: