Directed by Peter FlinthSweden | 2007
Director Peter Flinth and cinematographer Erik Kress do some amazing things making dreary skies, woods, and stone look more full of life than waning legend Ridley Scott did in last year’s ill-conceived Robin Hood update. Flinth and Kress never fail to evoke their ever-changing tones, switching up tender romance to the quiet menace of jealousy and betrayal to the dread of citizen soldiers squaring off against a seasoned army for the first (and last) time.
Directed by George CukorUnited States | 1936
Garbo considered her role as Marguerite Gautier the best performance of her career, even though she lost the Oscar to Luise Rainer for The Good Earth. It is indeed the best performance I’ve seen her give. Marguerite is a complex and demanding role, requiring a delicate navigation between the poles of self-reliance and dependence, cynical strength and romantic vulnerability, vigorous health and withered weakness, and the ambiguity and clarity of desire. In a word, Marguerite is dynamic. We’re never certain which direction she’s going to choose, and that ambiguity creates much of the dramatic tension. Garbo is a bit more convincing as the aloof and distant manipulator more so than the love-melted romantic interest, but even as the latter she creates moments of genuine pathos, especially as the film wears on.
Directed by Peter WatkinsUnited Kingdom | 1964
Another Watkins trademark is usefully employed in Culloden: utilizing the talents of non-professional actors. We get to know a whole host of characters in uniform, each with distinct features and predilections, each with a reason for fighting no matter how delusional. The Scots by and large are a rabble of men, cobbled together from various clans for various reasons, foremost among them money for their families and glory for their names. Watkins treats us to full-frame close-ups with laconic sketches drawn from the characters’ own lips, giving the audience a sense of personal investment in the battle to come and raising our ire at the whole bloody mess.