Friday, June 02, 2017


So, what's playing night-before shows that I can probably get into if I show up at the theater at 6:50pm? Well, truth be told, I probably could have done the Imax Wonder Woman, but I'll get to that sometime this weekend. Trying to get into the IFFBoston screening of It Comes at Night was not right out, but tricky given that I was coming from Burlington. Instead, there were about a half-dozen of us for this, with the ticket taker actually kind of surprised that I wasn't going to the bigger openers and bypassing the corral that the rest were in.

Not the greatest decision, because this was pretty dull. Potentially intriguing early on, but the sparseness of it really got me. One of my favorite things I saw when I went to London was the Churchill War Rooms, and even as museum pieces, they made me feel the bustle and frantic tightness of being crammed in with a lot of people, trying to get something done, while this movie opted for open spaces and few enough people that they were never tripping over each other. Though what we saw of Churchill's apartments were appropriately modest (he seldom actually stayed in the bunker), the environment didn't match the characterization of him as ground down by five years of war, and I suspect that's a large part of why I couldn't connect with this very well.


* * (out of four)
Seen 1 June 2017 in AMC Boston Common #4 (first-run, DCP)

The makers of this look at Sir Winston Churchill in the days leading up to Operation Overlord certainly have an interesting take, focusing on him as a worn-down man still mentally fighting the last war and thus timid about a Big Push, and it's initially intriguing to see him butting heads with Eisenhower, arguably a dinosaur more useful as a figurehead than an a nuts-and-bolts leader. There's a fascinating tale to be told in that which often gets lost in WWII hagiography, but this isn't the film that's going to present that.

It's not so much because of its Sir WInston. Brian Cox makes a fine-enough Churchill, though he's not exactly making the part his own, despite this take being as prone to bluster as inspiration. It is admittedly a performance that leans on familiar mannerisms and silhouette, so expect a lot of punctuating sentences with his cigar - it serves as exclamation point, period, and even comma. He's impressively matched by Miranda Richardson as Winston's wife Clementine; she gets to take on the mantle of being the smart, sensible one in the room and seed how difficult being married to a guy larger than life in this way must have been. John Slattery makes a good Eisenhower, although like Cox and most of the others playing military men, he often seems boxed in by history, getting the words out but not able to build his own characterization around them.

The most memorable bit, perhaps, comes from James Purefoy, who has maybe two or three scenes as the King George VI. His awkward stammer makes him spins more natural than the rest, and his sad helplessness is potent. Though this is Churchill's story, it's King George who articulates the frustration of wanting to do something concrete as leader but having to trust those technically beneath himself, and he does it with just the right hint of nervousness that the audience can understand Churchill not coming around quite yet.

Full review on EFC.

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