Film Friday: ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Weirdsville’

by W. Andrew Powell

Opening in a theatre near you this week: Cate Blanchett returns to the 16th century, two drug-obsessed losers find things getting weird one crazy night, a group of married friends take a serious look at their marriages, and the Brits let the skeletons out of the closet at a loved one’s funeral.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Cate Blanchett reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth I for this sequel to the 1998 period drama, Elizabeth. Following the life of England’s greatest queen, with a bit of dramatic licence here and there, The Golden Age dives into the waters of history for more intrigue, treachery and the growing threat of war with Spain. At the same time Elizabeth has her eye on Sir Walter Raleigh, played by Clive Owen, while Sir Francis Walsingham, Geoffrey Rush, loyally tries to enhance his queen’s rule. Unfortunately, critical response has been a bit negative, pointing out that the script is weak, and the film reeks of Hollywood, rather than history.

Allan Moyle, the writer and director who brought us Pump Up the Volume, has been absent from filmmaking for a number of years, but his return is worth the wait. Weirdsville is an off-beat, drug-obsessed comedy with a steady cast of villains pursuing our bumbling, anti-heroes: Royce (Wes Bentley), and Dexter (Scott Speedman). In a nutshell the two are evading a cult, a mobster, and some armour-wearing little people, while they also try to pull off a heist to settle a debt. Speedman and Bentley are a blast to watch, the film is genuinely weird and funny, all at once, and considering that a large part of this film is Canadian, it’s nice to see a comedy opening in theatres that is essentially homegrown.

We Own the Night
Welcome back to the 80s. New York City is hot with night clubs and drugs, and the cops are trying to stop Russian gangsters from running their deals. Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), is deeply involved with those gangsters and finds himself on his brother Joseph’s (Mark Wahlberg) bad side since he happens to be a cop. The film also stars Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall, and the early reports are fairly flat, with the Times in the United Kingdom calling it “unremarkable” while Rolling Stone referred to it as “refreshingly unhip”, but also thrilling.

Why Did I Get Married?
Writer, director and actor Tyler Perry brings his play Why Did I Get Married? to life on the big screen this week. The drama unfolds as eight married friends meet for their annual reunion, but discover that there are secrets hiding behind every marriage, leading to questions about commitment. Perry is most widely known as the writer and producer behind the widely successful Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which bodes well for this film.

Death at a Funeral
The British comedy is a well-seasoned tradition, and Frank Oz seems to have crafted a unique and funny film about what happens when a family starts pulling skeletons out of the closet. It takes their father’s death for son Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen), and his brother Robert (Rupert Graves) discover that not everything was as it seemed over the years. Now Daniel and Robert have to try and keep that secret from the rest of the family and friends, even as mayhem erupts in the house. Death at a Funeral has a decent pace, some fun characters, and erupts at regular intervals into hilarious chaos, especially near the end, but the film suffers from a been-there, done-that tone that drags down the first half of the story.

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