Film Review – THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS (1989)

THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS (UK/France/Spain, 1989) ***
      Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors; Production Company: Fildebroc / Ciné 5 / Sofica / Timothy Burrill Productions / Iberoamericana Films Producción; Release Date: 25 August 1989 (UK), 3 April 1991 (USA) (TV); Filming Dates: 22 August 1988 – October 1988; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Rankcolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Richard Lester; Writer: George MacDonald Fraser (based on the novel “Twenty Years After” by Alexandre Dumas); Executive Producer: Wayne Drizin, Mario Sotela; Producer: Pierre Spengler; Director of Photography: Bernard Lutic; Music Composer: Jean-Claude Petit; Film Editor: John Victor-Smith; Casting Director: Debbie McWilliams, Concha Campins; Production Designer: Gil Parrondo; Art Director: Raul Paton; Set Decorator: Michael Seirton; Costumes: Yvonne Blake; Make-up: José Antonio Sánchez, Cynthia Cruz; Sound: Les Wiggins; Special Effects: Reyes Abades.
      Cast: Michael York (D’Artagnan), Oliver Reed (Athos), Frank Finlay (Porthos), C. Thomas Howell (Raoul), Kim Cattrall (Justine de Winter), Geraldine Chaplin (Queen Anne), Roy Kinnear (Planchet), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Philippe Noiret (Cardinal Mazarin), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Eusebio Lázaro (Duke of Beaufort), Alan Howard (Oliver Cromwell), David Birkin (Louis XIV), Bill Paterson (Charles I), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Cyrano de Bergerac), Billy Connolly (Caddie), Servane Ducorps (Olympe), William J. Fletcher (De Guiche), Laure Sabardin (Chevreuse), Marcelline Collard (Lamballe), Pat Roach (French Executioner), Jesús Ruyman (Headsman), Fernando De Juan (Ireton), Barry Burgues (Young Clerk), Leon Greene (Captain Groslow), Ágata Lys (Duchesse de Longueville), Bob Todd (High Bailiff), Lucy Hardwick (Lady-in-Waiting), Aldo Sambrell (Burly Demonstrator), Jack Taylor (Gentleman on Horseback), Ricardo Palacios (Big Lackey), Luciano Federico (Tall Lackey), Carmen Fernández (Commedia player), Rafael de la Cruz (Commedia player), German Estebas (Commedia player), Jesús García (Commedia player), Fernando Simón (Commedia player).
      Synopsis: It’s 1649: Mazarin hires the impoverished D’Artagnan to find the other musketeers: Cromwell has overthrown the English king, so Mazarin fears revolt, particularly from the popular Beaufort.
      Comment: Lacks the heart of the director’s 1973/4 adaptation of THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE FOUR MUSKETEERS, partly due to the tragic death of Kinnear from a riding accident during filming. Other problems are in the rushed nature of the story which is crammed from a thick novel into less than two hours of screen time. York provides linking narration in case the viewer gets lost through the rapidly changing setting and plot developments. The story feels incohesive as a result. On the plus side are the energetic sword fights and a returning cast trying their best to keep the adventure spirited. Cattrall makes for a game villain and York, Reed, Finlay and Chamberlain are engaging as the musketeers. Great location work and natural photography add to technical merits.

Film Review – QUARTET (2012)

Quartet (2012; UK; Colour; 98m) ∗∗∗  d. Dustin Hoffman; w. Ronald Harwood; ph. John de Borman; m. Dario Marianelli.  Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs, Gwyneth Jones, Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Michael Byrne, Ronnie Fox, Patricia Loveland, Elaine Powell, Luke Newberry. A group of ageing former musicians living in a home for retired opera singers prepare to hold their annual concert celebrating Verdi’s birthday. Slight story is considerably enhanced by a top quality cast and some poignant observations on the process of ageing. Hoffman frames the setting pleasingly. Based on a play by Ronald Harwood. [12]

Film Review Round-up – BEAR ISLAND (1979) and WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY (2014)

Bear-IslandBear Island (1979; Canada/UK; Colour; 118m) ∗∗∗  d. Don Sharp; w. David Butler, Don Sharp; ph. Alan Hume; m. Robert Farnon; ed. Tony Lower.  Cast: Donald Sutherland, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Barbara Parkins, Lloyd Bridges, Lawrence Dane, Patricia Collins, Michael J. Reynolds, Nicholas Cortland. A group of people converge on a barren Arctic island. They have their reasons for being there but when a series of mysterious accidents and murders take place, a whole lot of darker motives become apparent. Typical of its author this adaptation benefits from a strong cast who manfully struggle with poor dialogue. The pace remains lively and the action frequent making it something of a guilty pleasure. Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean. [PG]

download (1)What We Did on Our Holiday (2014; UK; Panalux; 95m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin; w. Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin; ph. Martin Hawkins; m. Alex Heffes; ed. Steve Tempia, Mark Williams.  Cast: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Celia Imrie, Emilia Jones, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore, Bobby Smalldridge, Alexia Barlier, Imogen Toner, Kirstin Murray. A couple and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for the kids’ grandfather’s birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability. Beautifully observed comedy with a game cast and a charming performance from Connolly. Descends into predictability in its final act, but a winner nonetheless. [12]