Tag Archives: Charlie Hunnam

culture by Philbert Dy

‘The Lost City of Z’ is Worth the Journey

This astonishing film asks big questions about the very notion of civilization.

NBHD movie 5 ticketsThe Lost City of Z introduces Major Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as an officer of considerable talent but unfavorable parentage. In 1905 he is seeking military decoration in order to improve his station and raise the profile of his family. The Royal Geographical Society recruits him on an expedition into the Amazon in order to help resolve a border dispute. His journey there is harsh and difficult, but at the end, he discovers traces of an ancient civilization. And this lost jungle city becomes his greatest obsession, luring him back into jungle in spite of the life waiting for him back home.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 2.54.11 PMPercy Fawcett was a fascinating man, by all accounts. He was, at the very least, a genuinely complex figure: a Don Quixote figure with seemingly progressive ideas that nevertheless exhibited all the worst qualities of Edwardian England. And the film seems to thrive on that complexity. This is a film that may be equal parts David Lean and Werner Herzog: embracing the both the lure of adventure while acknowledging the darkness and futility lurking within. And in telling this story, the film puts to question the very notion of civilization, and man’s need to achieve greatness.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 7.02.36 PMWhatever else might be said about Percy Fawcett, it is clear that he drawn to greatness. The film’s shrewdest trick is showing exactly why. What’s interesting about this film is that it spends so much time outside of the jungle. This is as much about exploring the jungle of Edwardian England, particularly the upper class, treating their rituals and social mores with an anthropologist’s eye. It really studies the imposed ceremony of the society, and all the regressive ideas being held within. And it becomes to understand what it is that drew Fawcett to the jungle, the movie building a convincing psychology to his quest to find signs of earlier civilizations.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 7.03.08 PMBut understanding Fawcett does not acquit him of his weaknesses. The film continues to build this complex portrait of man full of contradiction. His convictions could only ever go so far, and his pursuit of this mythical city, whether or not he was actually right about it, kept him from seeing his children grow up. Inasmuch as the film seems to be ultimately sympathetic to his cause, it never lets go of the sense of existential futility. Why must all this really be done? What is to be gained by receiving the acclaim of a thoroughly corrupt society? Just a hint of glory draws Fawcett back to a place of horrors. And Fawcett does not only doom himself in his obsession. It is something that catches, and causes more to suffer along the way.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 7.03.25 PMDirector James Gray mounts a production of equal boldness and ambition. He magically binds together a story that takes place in Edwardian ballrooms, Amazon jungles, and the trenches of World War I. The scope of it is incredible, but Gray keeps everything at a powerfully human scale. Working with Darius Khondji, the visuals capture a strange loneliness in every frame. In the lead role, Charlie Hunnam delivers his most compelling movie performance. As Fawcett, Hunnam displays the intoxicating hubris of the character, conveying a studied weakness even in moments of triumph. Sienna Miller is excellent as Nina, Fawcett’s wife. And Robert Pattinson proves his worth as a character actor in a very quiet performance as Fawcett’s aide-de-camp.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 7.02.10 PMThe Lost City of Z is genuinely astonishing. The film just covers so much ground, both narratively and thematically. And it does so with a sense of elegance so rare in this age of blockbuster excess. It glides with ease through scenes that take one man on a journey into a world of strange and terrifying wonder, driven only by a futile sense of ambition in a universe that ultimately cares little about legacy. These men are bold and brave and yet so fragile in the end. It is in this complexity that the film finds its soul, every scene designed to make one question the wisdom of their choices, even though their choices were made so long in the past.

THE LOST CITY OF Z IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
culture by Philbert Dy

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Doesn’t Want to be What It Is

Guy Ritchie shows little interest in telling the story of a king.

NBHD movie 2 ticketsThe prologue of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword involves King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) successfully fending off an attack from the wizard Mordred with the power of Excalibur. He is soon betrayed afterwards, however, by his power-hungry brother Vortigern (Jude Law). Uther manages to send his son floating downriver to Londinium, where he is picked up and raised by the city’s prostitutes. Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up to be the tough leader for a gang of small time crooks, and he seems to be pretty satisfied with his lot in life. But whether he likes it or not, he has a greater destiny waiting for him; one that will force him to confront his past.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.20.33 PMThis new version of the King Arthur tale is directed by Guy Ritchie, who is still probably best known for his scrappy British gangster pictures, namely Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. That version of the director is still visible in this movie, largely in early portions that sketch out the criminal life of Arthur and his cronies. The film moves with surprising velocity through the bullet points of his upbringing, zipping through brief glimpses of a hard knock life before moving into a signature Ritchie sequence that has Arthur and his gang trying to explain an incident to a medieval version of a crooked cop character. Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.21.34 PMBut then the film slows down considerably as it tries to retell the Arthur legend. The film’s main conflict lies in Arthur’s unwillingness to take up the responsibility of leading people against a clearly evil king, even when he’s already been granted the tremendous advantage of a magical sword that basically makes him invincible. The more the film becomes a fantasy adventure, the more it loses the plot. It just doesn’t seem to be all that interested in embracing the legend, the movie only really coming to life when it gets to play gangster within these medieval trappings.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.23.26 PMThe film lacks a distinct sense of grandeur for a fantasy epic. It seems determined to make everything look gray and dull, even when things are supposed to be getting all magical. There are only a couple bits of memorable design in the whole project, with the vast majority of its runtime operating with little indication of any kind of imaginative thinking. This is, perhaps, the most visually boring depictions of camelot in the history of cinema. The film is so averse to the romance of the story that it just strips all the color away.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.27.56 PMThe action is similarly dull, Ritchie showing little interest in the VFX-heavy fighting. The movie cuts too quickly between shots, never really capturing the majesty of what’s going on. This all culminates in a climactic sequence that looks dark and muddy and involves elements that pretty much come out of nowhere. There is no sense of geography or progress or even just a logical sequence of events. Stuff just happens, and one can almost feel Ritchie asleep behind the wheel. The film does not lack for solid performances, though. Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law are perfectly all right within the limts of what the writing allows them to do.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.22.53 PMKing Arthur: Legend of the Sword doesn’t want to be what it is. The movie just dies when it really gets down to telling the story of a king. It doesn’t show any particular love for the story, or even an impulse to fix the things it doesn’t like. It is a decent medieval gangster movie that has to share space with a legend that it has no intention of really bringing to life. And the result is far more tedious and forgettable than your average VFX-driven fantasy epic.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE ON MAY 17.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.