In the movies The Kingsmen are a secret spy organization whose members have manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy. They’ve been the subject of two movies, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now, three movies into director Matthew Vaughn’s spy franchise comes an origin story that takes us back to the early part of the 20th century and the confusing beginnings of these modern-day knights.
“The King’s Man,” now playing in theatres, begins with a tragedy that makes the wealthy and powerful Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) reject the Colonialism and violence that is the bedrock of his family’s fortune. He questions why he was killing people who were trying to protect their own land. “With every man I killed,” he said, “I killed a piece of myself.”
Meanwhile, as World War I approaches, an assembly of the world’s most despicable tyrants and villains, working for an evil mastermind with plans for world domination, are hatching a plan that could lead to genocide.
With the lives of millions at stake, and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) off to war, the Duke realizes he can’t rely on politicians to do the right thing. In an effort to save the world, he abandons his pacifist ways. With the help of his most trusted colleagues, swordsman Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and sharp shooter Polly (Gemma Arterton), he goes into the fray and sews the seeds for the formation of The Kingsmen, an organization that uses violence to attain peace.
The first two Kingsmen movies were overstuffed, but had a certain lightness of touch. Unfortunately, “The King’s Man” lands with a thud. A mix of fact (well, almost true stuff) and fiction—real life characters like Rasputin, the mad Russian monk (Rhys Ifans) are woven into the fanciful story—the movie is all over the place. It’s a spy story, a tale of duty, a slapstick comedy, an action film, a fractured fairy tale of world events.
Some of the action scenes are quite fun and Ifans eats so much scenery it feels like he’ll never go hungry again, but the story takes far too long to get going.
“The King’s Man” feels as though it is splintering off in all directions, like it’s three movies spliced-and-diced into one, bloated, messy sequel-ready story.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch this weekend including the Winnipeg rom com “I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight” on VOD, Apple TV+’s “The Oprah Conversation: President Barack Obama” and David Fincher’s “Mank,” coming soon to Netflix.
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at david Fincher’s Hollywood biopic “Mank,” now in theatres, the Disney+ Christmas movie “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special,” “Sound of Metal,” the new film from “Rogue One’s” Riz Ahmed and the family drama “Rustic Oracle,” now on VOD.
William Randolph Hearst and Orson Welles will forever be connected in our imagination courtesy of “Citizen Kane.” In the film, often regarded as one of the best ever made, Welles plays a thinly veiled version of newspaper magnate Hearst as self-absorbed, power-mad and wounded. “Mank,” a new film directed by David Fincher and streaming on Netflix on December 4, isn’t a making-of story about the film, but more the unmaking of its screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman).
Former drama critic, playwright, columnist and Algonquin Round Table wit. Mankiewicz moved to Hollywood with the promise of a contract and a career. Heading west from New York, he quickly found himself working steadily ghost-writing films. As his reputation grew, so did his bank account. “Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots,” he telegraphed to writer Ben Hecht. Known as a hard drinker and inveterate gambler, when we first meet him in “Mank,” he’s bandaged up from a recent, drunken car accident. Welles (Tom Burke) and John Houseman (Sam Troughton) have sent the writer to a ranch in the sunbaked Mojave Desert to dry out with the help of a German nurse (Monika Grossman) and a secretary (Lily Collins), and work on the script for what will become “Citizen Kane.”
At one point in the film Mankiewicz says, “You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one.” Fincher, working from a script penned by his late father, columnist Jack, supplies a vivid snapshot of a man from a particular point of view.
Shot in luscious black and white, the story is told on a broken time line, à la “Citizen Kane,” as the action springs back and forth between the past and the present. Oldman, as Mankiewicz, staggers through the movie causing a scene at a costume dinner party at Hearst’s San Simeon estate and platonically courting his friend, movie star Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried), who also happens to be Hearst’s mistress. He’s poured into bed by his long-suffering wife (Tuppence Middleton) and goes to war with Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard), professionally and politically– “If I ever go to the electric chair,” he says of Mayer, “I’d like him to be sitting in my lap.”—while ignoring potentially career saving advice from his brother (Tom Pelphrey). Each vignette adds DNA to the portrait, as his disillusionment with Hollywood, politics and power grows by the moment. “Every moment of my life is treacherous,” Mank says.
Oldman plays Mankiewicz as a sharp wit who has grown tired of the world he inhabits. Drink, as his brother Joe says, has made him the “court jester” of Hollywood, a man whose genius is squandered in pursuit of booze and a sure bet at the racetrack. There’s a mischievousness to the performance that is tempered by the profound sadness of someone who sees their genius reduced to doing creative work for hire. His script for “Citizen Kane,” which was supposed to be credited solely to Welles, earned him an Oscar and may have been his last chance to speak his truth to power. “Write hard,” he says. “Aim low.”
Oldman is suitably ragged and ribald, bringing a lesser known historical figure to bawdy life but it is Seyfried who almost steals the show. As Marion Davies he is the epitome of old Hollywood glamour but behind the sequins and wide eyes is a deep well of intelligence that Seyfried slyly imbues into her character. When she and Oldman are side-by-side, the movie sings.
In many ways “Mank” echoes “Citizen Kane.” In structure, in its fragmented storytelling approach and its luscious recreation of the period but as a portrait of a man it feels lesser than. Mank is an engaging character but the depth that Kane plumbed to portray the character is missing. It succeeds as a look at power and its corrosive effects but as a character study its colorful but feels slightly under inflated.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
Unsurprisingly “Euphoria,” the new end of life drama starring Alicia Vikander and Eva Green and now on VOD, is a rather lifeless affair.
Not to be confused with the Zendaya television series of the same name, which positively sparkles with energy, this dreary story sees estranged sisters Emilie (Green) Ines (Vikander) looking grim for the entirety of the movie’s ninety-five-minute run time. In fact, using the title “Euphoria” on this movie may be the most ironic thing to happen in 2020, and that is saying something.
The “action” centers around the euthanasia clinic run by Marina (Charlotte Rampling), where Emilie, in the late stages of cancer, has chosen to end her life. Lush and lavish, the facility is essentially a five-star hotel, where rich people curate their deaths much the way Influencers curate their lives on Instagram. Bands are hired to play at the going away party for one resident (Charles Dance) who wants to dance his life away while others choose less ostentatious but equally expensive exits.
It soon becomes clear the sisters have little in common except shared DNA. The two attempt a reconciliation but a decade old slight—Ines took off to travel the world after their parent’s divorce, leaving Emilie to pick up the pieces of their mother’s shattered life—has left a deep wound. The argue and throw food at one another before embracing the inevitable, the tolling of the bell (literally a bell rings at a guest’s time of death) for Emile.
It’s a pity “Euphoria” isn’t a better movie. Director Lisa Langseth fills the screen with interesting images and, in Ines and Emile, has two characters ripe with possibility. She’s chosen a serious subject to explore, and has good actors but they are forced to chatter their way through difficult situations while never showing us anything new or interesting.
Assisted death is an issue ripe for drama and yet the movie sidesteps every opportunity for depth with the kind of fake solemnity favored by undertakers.
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Elton John fantasy flick “Rocketman,” the foot-stompin’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the fashion documentary “Halston.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the glittering Elton John musical fantasy “Rocketman,” the big monster movie “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the fashion doc “Halston” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.