Over the years, numerous films have seen themselves re-formatted and …
Cymbeline is director Michael Almereyda’s second Shakespeare adaptation set in modern day, his last being 2000’s Hamlet, also starring Ethan Hawke. The Bard’s late work tragedy, previously set in the Royal Court of Olde England, receives a face-lift, updated to a war between the Roman police force and the Briton Motorcycle Club ran by Cymbeline (Ed Harris). The King trades in a crown for an Uzi and a leather jacket as a drug kingpin troubled by familial strife. His second wife (the serpentine Mila Jovovich) despises Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson, proving she has acting chops that viewers may not find in Fifty Shades of Grey), for not marrying her son, Cloten (Anton Yelchin). In secret, Imogen has pledged herself to Posthumus (Penn Badgley), much to Cymbeline’s displeasure.
Middle-aged men with a particular skillset have found their patron saint in Liam Neeson. Luckily, a distinctive visual style and some added character detailing keep Run All Night running smoother than most of its sluggish brethren. There’s certainly nothing new here, but this slick little film dispenses its thrills and kills with surprising effectiveness.
In 1902, the French screen pioneer Georges Melies made Le Voyage Dans La Lune, an interstellar breakthrough in special effects and fantastical imagination that beguiled and bewildered audiences. Since that film, the science-fiction genre has passed through evolutionary wormholes every decade or so, due to the pioneering cognition of the likes of Fritz Lang, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, and, from a purely technological standpoint, James Cameron, where the very mechanics of cinematic representation and realization are docked with technical advances in optics, film stocks and lenses, or the crushing and retexturing of digital blizzards of zeroes and ones and post-production manipulation as the medium moves from physical celluloid to analog abduction.
High concept is always a tricky beast. By its very nature, it always threatens to completely overshadow its own efforts and render the effort to capture the wonder of an emphatic hypothetical question rather academic. The query pondered by Peter Weir’s 1998 satire The Truman Show was one that any viewer can appreciate; ‘What if every moment of your life was being televised for the entertainment of the masses?’
2005, judging by the theatrical releases, was an exceptional year for the neonoir sub-genre. Last summer, for the special Friday (neo)Noir series, reviews for Rian Johnson’s breakout independent hit Brick and Robert Rodriguez’s cinematic visualization of Sin City, both from 2005, were written. A couple of weeks ago another neonoir from the same year was put under the microscope, Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This week features, yes, still another entry from that illustrious year, one from the most lauded director of the bunch, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence.
If cinema has anything to say about it, the modern American dream is best typified by a grandiose level of entitlement in those who covet it most of all. Just a month ago, we saw Spring Breakers, a nightmarish, neon piece of grotesquerie, compelling experimental art about nubile young women trying to attain their hedonistic Western utopia by stealing from and killing people who dared get in their way, consequences be damned.