Napoleon

Posted on November 20, 2023 at 7:06 am

C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, some grisly images, sexual content and brief language
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol
Violence/ Scariness: Very graphic and disturbing images in scenes of battle
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 22, 2023

Copyright 2023 Columbia
Napoleon Bonaparte is one of history’s most consequential figures but you will not understand him or his influence any better after watching Ridley Scott’s almost-three-hour epic. Joaquin Phoenix plays the general-turned emperor-turned exile-turned emperor again and then again turned exile, and Vanessa Kirby plays his wife, Josephine, to whom he wrote sizzling love letters, some included in the film, along with some of the gigantic battles he fought and won and one he lost so resoundingly that its name persists hundreds of years later as a term for career-ending failure.

The press notes for the film tell us that we will see Napoleon’s life “through the prism” of his volatile relationship with Josephine. It does not do either. Phoenix, who makes little effort to change his age or facial expression as the film covers decades, is burdened with some truly terrible dialogue, including what may be this year’s single worst line: “Fate has brought me to this lamb chop.” The legend of Napoleon inspired the name of the psychological syndrome of grandiosity, a supreme, all-encompassing sense of superiority. In this film, that is indicated with comments like, “I admit when I make a mistake. But I never make a mistake.”

As for that prism of the relationship, it does not live up to the love letters. Napoleon seems to be obsessed with Josephine, more about possessing her than being close to her or even considering her feelings in any way. He makes love like he wages battle — it’s about moving fast and destroying the other side.

Josephine’s feelings about Napoleon are more practical. When they meet, her confinement as a political prisoner is so recent her hair has not grown out. She showed her survival skill by escaping the fate of her first husband, who was executed, by getting pregnant. about her survival and then, as he rises in stature, she seems to enjoy the attention and fancy clothes and parties.

The movie careens back and forth between the zoomed-in, intimate but chilly portrayal of the marriage and the zoomed-out epic battle scenes, artfully staged but even with graphic carnage, remote. As the Duke of Wellington, Rupert Everett, arriving well past the two-hour mark, reminds us what a vivid and arresting performance brings to a film.

Director Ridley Scott has promised a four-hour version for streaming, so maybe that will be smoother and do a better job of integrating the different parts of the story. In that case, perhaps it is best to think of this as a very long trailer.

Parents should know that this is an R-rated film with graphic and disturbing images of battles that include guns and swords. As we are told before the closing credits, millions of people were killed, and we see some of the injuries and deaths in very explicit detail. A character is killed offscreen by guillotine, to the approving cheers of a crowd. There are sexual references, including adultery, and very explicit sexual situations. Characters drink and use some strong language.

Family discussion: What were Napoleon’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? Why did the French return to a monarchy?

If you like this, try: the silent Abel Gance classic, “Napoleon”

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Based on a true story Biography Drama Epic/Historical movie review Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews War

Hobbs & Shaw

Posted on August 1, 2019 at 5:30 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extensive action-style peril and violence, chases, explosions, guns, fire, clubs, torture, some injuries and disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: August 2, 2019
Date Released to DVD: November 4, 2019

Copyright Universal 2019
This is the summer movie you’ve been waiting for. “Fast and Furious” spin-off “Hobbs & Shaw” takes two of the series’ most popular characters, throws a silly McGuffin and a super-motivated, super-powered bad guy at them, adds in some family members, and plays up their animosity for a big-time buddy cop action comedy full of one-liners, chases, crashes, explosions, punches, kicks, improbable stunts, impossible stunts, and stay-to-the-end-of-the-credits extras. Plus Dame Helen Mirren talking like Eliza Doolittle when she was still selling flowers and looking very elegant in her orange prison jumpsuit. Suspend your disbelief and pass the popcorn!

You’ve never seen a “Fast and Furious” movie? No problem. You do not ever have to have seen a movie of any kind. You barely have to be a sentient life form to be up to, uh, speed, on this story. This is a movie where the bad guy introduces himself by telling you he is the bad guy. Where the leading lady fights like an MMA champ without ever smudging her eye-liner. And where two Hollywood stars show up in silly cameos because why not?

Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) was in US law enforcement as an agent of the Diplomatic Security Service. He was originally supposed to track down and arrest the “Fast and Furious” members, but once it was clear they were framed, he became their ally. He is a devoted father of a young girl.

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is British, from a family of grifters headed by Queenie (Helen Mirren!). In the British military he was involved in some black ops, disgraced, and became a mercenary. He also entered the series as a antagonist and is now, as Dom would say, family.

In an opening reminiscent of “The Patty Duke Show’s” identical cousin song, we see Hobbs and Shaw, on opposite sides of the world literally and metaphorically, waking up and starting their days. They both start with eggs, but Hobbs chugs his raw, and Shaw makes an omelet in his elegant, immaculate kitchen and then drives off in his cool sports car.

And then they get the call. The world needs to be saved. A deadly virus that could wipe out half the planet in just two days has been stolen by a rogue military operative named Hattie (Vanessa Kirby, a long way from playing Princess Margaret in “The Crown”). Both agree to track down the virus. But both insist that there is no way they will work together. Oh, and by the way, Hattie is Shaw’s sister, who has not spoken to him since he he went rogue.

The guy who introduced himself as the bad guy is Brixton (Idris Elba), a surgically and mechanically enhanced soldier with superhuman fighting skills who has a history with Shaw. He works for a Thanos-like organization with vast technology and a plan to release the virus and reboot humanity. The leader uses voice distortion to disguise his or her identity, so we expect some surprise from the past.

The odd couple duo hop around the world, including a visit to Hobbs’ birthplace (Hawaii playing the part of Samoa), with all kinds of crazy stunts, punctuated by quippy wisecracks. Director David Leitch is a former stunt-man and co-director of “John Wick.” I was especially taken with Brixton’s motorcycle, which seems to be operating on some almost-telepathic AI. When both men have to get past some bad guys in separate rooms and show off for each other was a highlight. There’s a lot of “What? You didn’t do that bad thing I thought you did?” Does it make sense? Nope. Is it fun? Yes.

NOTE: Stay all the way to the end for the extra scenes.

Parents should know that this movie includes extended peril and violence, chases, explosions, shooting, punching, knives, clubs, torture, some disturbing images and injuries, family issues, some strong language, and some sexual references.

Family discussion: Why do Hobbs and Shaw dislike each other so much? What do we learn about Hobbs and Shaw from seeing their families? How is Brixton’s group like Thanos in the MCU?

If you like this, try: the “Fast and Furious” movies and “The Transporter”

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Action/Adventure Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray movie review Movies -- format Scene After the Credits

Fathom Events: A Streetcar Named Desire with Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 8:00 am

Fathom Events, BY Experience and National Theatre Live are presenting a live performance of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire broadcast to select cinemas nationwide directly from London’s Young Vic Theatre in an extraordinary one-night event, Tuesday, September 16.

The production stars Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall) as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster (Lone Survivor, Kill Your Darlings) as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby (BBC’s Great Expectations, Three Sisters at the Young Vic) as Stella.

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