Alan Dee’s movie preview: Yearning youngsters centre stage as Romeo & Juliet gets a bit of Downton dazzle
When film-makers want to add a bit of serious culture cred to their CVs they turn to the Bard – there’s nothing like a bit of Shakespeare on your IMDB credits to add a bit of gravitas.
With some honourable exceptions, the plays picked up and dusted down for a modern, or not so modern, makeover are usually the best known of Will’s works.
Romeo And Juliet is always a popular choice, because a timeless story of feuding families, teenage love and a fair bit of bloodshed can tap into any number of target audiences.
And in the latest version of the familiar tale to grace the screen, there’s an additional hook – the script has been sorted by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellowes.
This is no Baz Luhrmann mash-up, it’s a faithful rendering of the play with Douglas Booth – Pip in the recent BBC Great Expectations – and Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar nominated for her very different role in True Grit, as the yearning youngsters. The Italian locations are ravishing, it’s all very commendable but.... Well, come on, we all know the story, do we really need to see it all again?
This is much more like what Hollywood does – mindless action. Machete Kills pits a driven Mexican super agent against nutjob arms dealer Mel Gibson, who has a missile trained on the White House.
It’s directed by Robert Rodriguez so there is skill and style as well as slam bang nonsense, but you’ll get an idea of how daft it all is when you hear that the President is played by Charlie Sheen, appearing under his real name of Carlos Estevez.
The likes of Machete Kills will always be with us, but an increasing number of films are being made with an older, more mature audience in mind
Le Week-End easily fits into that category and it has an impressive pedigree – directed by Roger ‘Notting Hill’ Michell, written by Hanif ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ Kureshi and with the always estimable Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan in leading roles. They’re a couple who have been hitched for what seems like an eternity, trying to light the spark again as they make a 30th anniversary return to Paris, where they spend their honeymoon all those years ago.
They run into an old uni pal (Jeff Goldblum) who is now a successful writer, and the chance for change beckons.
The Fifth Estate stars current hot property Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It’s part biopic, part political thriller but although some may applaud Assange’s determination to shop the bad buys to the world he is a very odd fish. New Doctor Who Peter Capaldi pops up as Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. No, really...