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Review: 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Days in Paris, Love in the Time of Cholera and I Served the King of England

By March 27, 2008December 31st, 20132 Comments

3:10 to Yuma posterThe for­tunes of the Western rise with the tide of American cinema. During the 70’s indie renais­sance we got rugged clas­sics like The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid and The Long Riders, then in the 80’s and 90’s Clint Eastwood re-examined his own myth­ic West in Pale Rider and Unforgiven . (The less said about Young Guns 1 and 2 the better.)

The past 12 months have offered us two Westerns that are as good as any of the last 30 years: The Assassination of Jesse James and James Mangold’s homage to the clas­sic 3:10 to Yuma which opened in Wellington last week.

Yuma is a story (by Elmore Leonard) with great bones: poor, hon­est, ranch­er Christian Bale is suf­fer­ing because of the drought and for $200 takes on the des­per­ate task of escort­ing cap­tured out­law Russell Crowe to Contention City, where he will catch the eponym­ous train to the gallows.

But Crowe’s gang are on the way to lib­er­ate him and Bale’s sup­port is dwind­ling to noth­ing. The ten­sion rises as the clock ticks towards three o’clock.

Slightly marred by muddy motiv­a­tion for Crowe’s char­ac­ter at the end (and by Bale being Bale), 3:10 to Yuma is still fine enter­tain­ment with many of the best lines lif­ted straight from the 1957 ori­gin­al.

2 Days in ParisBefore Sunrise star Julie Delpy is an extremely tal­en­ted young woman: writ­ing, dir­ect­ing, edit­ing, star­ring in and writ­ing the music for her new film 2 Days in Paris.

People always say write what you know so for her first fea­ture she has enlis­ted her par­ents to play her par­ents, her ex-boyfriend Adam Goldberg to play her boy­friend and Paris to play her home town in a cun­ning, affec­tion­ate, hon­est and dis­arm­ing romantic com­edy about two people learn­ing to love each oth­er des­pite their bet­ter judgement.

Goldberg is par­tic­u­larly funny as the grumpy American strug­gling to appre­ci­ate French cul­ture, French cuisine and (par­tic­u­larly) per­plex­ing French atti­tudes to l’amour.

Love in the Time of Cholera official siteStrangely light on sexu­al frank­ness (at least for a film fea­tur­ing a man who beds over 600 women while pin­ing for his one true love), Love in the Time of Cholera is a glossy, mul­tina­tion­al, adapt­a­tion of the fam­ous book by Gabriel García Márquez.

It’s far from the crum­mi­est cine­mat­ic ver­sion of a beloved nov­el (that trophy was presen­ted per­man­ently to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), but it fails to reach the heights we might have hoped for con­sid­er­ing the author is a win­ner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In 19th cen­tury Colombia a young clerk (Javier Bardem) meets a beau­ti­ful girl (the beguil­ing Giovanna Mezzogiorno) for an instant and is smit­ten. He writes her long, pas­sion­ate, love let­ters thus win­ning her juven­ile heart.

But her fath­er (John Leguizamo) for­bids any mar­riage as he has plans involving upward social mobil­ity and she resigns her­self to a love­less mar­riage with suave doc­tor Benjamin Bratt.

Despite many pleas­ures, the film is sadly unin­volving for three reas­ons: the plot keeps the prot­ag­on­ists apart for nearly two hours thus gen­er­at­ing very little heat; the mix of accents on offer (Spanish, Italian, Colombian, Brazilian) means it can be hard work fol­low­ing the dia­logue and at least one of Señor Bardem’s mous­taches makes him look like Groucho Marx.

I Served the King of England posterBack in 1966 Czech dir­ect­or Jirí Menzel made one of the arche­types of art­house cinema, Closely Observed Trains. A sur­pris­ingly un-subtle com­edy about the sexu­al coming-of-age of a bum­bling young man and an unex­pec­ted act of cour­age, it shares a great deal with Menzel’s latest, I Served the King of England.

Jan Díte (played by Ivan Barnev when young and Oldrich Kaiser when old) is a naïve young man in the 1930s with a tal­ent for ser­vice, work­ing his way up the career lad­der at the finest Czech hotels. The more he tries to stay apolit­ic­al and focus on a life of romance, the more he finds him­self embroiled in the tur­moil of the age. Menzel’s dir­ec­tion is as assured and as witty as you might expect and the les­sons among the laughs are hap­pily subtle.

Meanwhile, at week two of the World Cinema Showcase: I am eagerly look­ing for­ward to Jodorowsky’s loony mid­night movie, El Topo (follow-up The Holy Mountain slips in to week 3); Donnie Darko dir­ect­or Richard Kelly’s epic Southland Tales (which will not get a cinema release here) fea­tures Dwayne “The Rock”Johnson, Justin Timberlake and Mandy Moore; grip­ping French thrill­er Tell No One, and Noah (The Squid and the Whale) Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding fea­tur­ing Nicole Kidman and Jack Black (which also has no NZ release date).

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 26 March, 2008.

Because of the Easter break and Readings obstruct­ive policy on media passes Drillbit Taylor and Shutter were screened after deadline.

UPDATE: As an added music­al bonus this is Warren Zevon’s “My Ride’s Here” from his last-but-one album. Why? He name checks 3:10 to Yuma.



  • llew says:

    The Long Riders was an excel­lent west­ern. How does Pitt’s Jessie James movie stack up against it?

  • dano says:

    [quote comment=“”]The Long Riders was an excel­lent west­ern. How does Pitt’s Jessie James movie stack up against it?[/quote]
    Surprisingly well. The Assassination of Jesse James has a won­der­ful poet­ic qual­ity which elev­ates it above most movies.