17 posts categorized "Literary Adaptation"

January 17, 2022

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

ColeSmithey.comHere is a dirty hands biopic with bite.

Jane Campion's rigorous filmic rendition of Janet Frame's picaresque autobiography is a stunner by any measure.

New Zealand's most celebrated author/poet gets a fully voiced telling of a life punctuated by abuse, tragedy, and literary success.

ColeSmithey.com

Campion's pitch perfect casting of three actresses to perform different periods of Frame's life, anchors this film in a rare sense of dynamic realism.

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"An Angel At My Table" is Jane Campion's finest cinematic achievement.

5 Stars

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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January 10, 2022

THE POWER OF THE DOG

ColeSmithey.comWestern revenge failure.

It's shocking that neither the "Power of the Dog" novelist nor screenwriter/director Jane Campion ever read Confucius. 

"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." 

This film's grave was dug before filming began.

Brutality for brutality's sake.

Anachronisms come gratis. 

ColeSmithey.com

Rated R. 126 mins.

1 Star

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

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November 10, 2017

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Murder_on_the_orient_expressKenneth Branagh should have stuck to his stated mission of adapting as many of Shakespeare’s plays to films as he could. Choosing to remake an Agatha Christie novel that has been already done to crisp-roast perfection (by Sidney Lumet in 1974) was a mug’s game from the start. The least Branagh and company could have done would have been to set a bright tempo for a movie that succeeds more at inducing sleep than entertaining its audience.

If you don’t already know the who-done-it payoff from Christie’s book, your movie-watching hours will be better filled surveying Sidney Lumet’s favored 1974 version. For one thing, Lumet’s movie has a more watchable, and enjoyable, cast going for it.

In Lumet's version Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael York present an undeniable wall of talent as compared to Branagh’s motley crew of mismatched, and largely unknown, thespians.

Here, Johnny Depp adds an odd spin as Edward Ratchett, the one who will be done in whilst riding on the train of the film’s title. Needless to say, Depp’s presence is barely felt even if sorely missed once he’s gone. We are left with Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Derek Jacobi to do the heavy lifting as Branagh proceeds over the dramatically limp ceremony as the world’s most renowned detective, Hurcule Poirot.

Murder-on-the-Orient-Express

For his self-directed role Branagh creates a character whose tight-lipped way of speaking emphasizes his moral compass. Branagh’s uptight portrayal is intriguing enough but never leans far enough into the realm of self-deprecating humor that seems appropriate for such a golden opportunity. Poirot needs to borrow some from Hulot (see Jacque Tati’s Monsieur Hulot movies).  

Colesmithey.com

Aside from a couple of sight gags and a pinch of slapstick, Michael Green’s script never dredges up comic riches that seem to lurk at the bottom of Agatha Christie’s source material. A few impressive set pieces and scene study fodder for acting students, this “Murder on the Orient Express” is a paper-dry mystery at best.

Rated PG-13. 114 mins. (C-) (Two stars — out of five / no halves)


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