Film Roundup VII

Feeling rather financially pinched this week, I decided to give the sad-sack mid-March releases a miss and dig around a bit in the archives to see what turned up. Have a go at these:

The Hunt for Red October – 84%

Based on the hit Tom Clancy novel, a legendary Soviet submarine captain, Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) takes his country’s new silent sub out on its maiden voyage, then goes rogue and angles for the American coast. As both the US and USSR scramble to prevent a holocaust, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) has a different theory: Ramius is trying to defect, with a brand new nuclear sub as the ultimate peace offering. Connery isn’t remotely Russian, but his accent is cool in any context. He also heads up a stellar, Grade-A cast including the likes of Sam Neill, Scott Glenn and James Earl Jones. It’s a solid military and political thriller (if less topical than might have been hoped . . . releasing within a few months of the end of the Cold War), and a tense, watchable adaptation of its overly-technical source.

Out of Time – 86%

Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is a small-town police chief in rural Florida whose minor dabbling in corruption comes back to bite him when the clues surrounding a double homicide point in his direction. His priveleged position can only buy him so many hours to conduct his own investigation before everything comes crashing down and the crimes get pinned on him. Cheap thrills combine well with a clever and intricate plot, well-worth checking out. I enjoyed it more than once, in fact (although the first time was on a plane). Properly spaced out, details are hard to keep straight and it’s like seeing it for the first time.

Guys and Dolls – 91%

In this swinging musical, Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) is a gambler who can’t resist a bet made by Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) that he can’t get prim missionary Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) to go to Havana with him. But none of the three expected love to be in the cards (although you did . . . it is a musical). Brando is kind of an odd choice for a musical, even one about tough guys, but I’ve heard worse (ever seen Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon?). The songs are catchy (Luck Be a Lady is my favorite), but the dialogue is catchier. This one’s a real classic.

Mansfield Park – 78%

Based on one of the less-adapted Jane Austen novels, Mansfield Park stars Frances O’Connor as the poor but witty heroine who must cannily navigate the mores of her time to marry for love and (as a happy side-effect) upward social mobility. Quite tolerable in its way, and certainly recommended if Austen is your cup of tea, but overall rather forgettable.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – 90%

Technically not a movie per se, more of a filmed stage performance, but this act is far too brilliant to escape mention. The Reduced Shakespeare Company (Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor) take us on a manic, smart and side-splittingly hilarious 90-minute sprint through all 38 Shakespeare plays (plus a brief biography and the sonnets). Act I consists of 37 of the plays (including The Histories done as a football game), while Act II reinvents the Shakespeare play (Hamlet) for our amusement. Whether you can’t get enough of the Bard or you hate his lousy Elizabethan guts, this production is not to be missed.

~ by Jared on March 7, 2008.

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