King To Pawn Three
I don't check critic's reviews of films before I see them, I want to go in unbiased. I'm certain that the critics are going to rip this one apart, film-goers might too. Its not that its a bad film, it isn't, rather it has been advertised to be something it isn't, so the public's expectations have been improperly set.
I know a bit about politics in our great neighboring state of Louisiana, considering my family lived there on 3 different occassions. Its riddled with high drama taking the form of charasmatic corruption to a level that makes it a self-parody. Don't look to Louisiana to apologize for that, on the contrary, they are proud of it. And it seems to work for them, mostly.
My friend Fifi and I were expecting more drama and action than was delivered, but thats ok, what we got was good, just not expected. All The King's Men is a character and dialogue-centric, slow-paced look at one Louisiana governor's rise to power in the 1940's. The story itself is dramatic but it is told in the nuanced manner of the 40's itself.
Outstretched, moss-covered branches of centuries-old Live Oaks, gracious antebellum mansions on the eve of their decay, lilting accents with that uniquely identifiable step-slide cadence, men in suits, ties and hats. The staging and detail to the location and era in which the story occured were phenomenal. I don't think I picked out one anachronism, and ususally I am good at nailing those.
Sean Penn was at his best portraying Stark (thin disguise of Huey Long), seriously, the scenes of him delivering the "message to the people" with his hands a-flailin' in the air, eyebrows raised and head cocked in tempo with the words made this movie. And that dead-on accent, you'd swear he was a native.
His holy Bear-i-ness of mafialand, James Gandolfini, makes an appearance as yet another corrupt politician thrown into the batter. He comes off believeable, although, on occassion, his accent switched back to northern NJ mob boss. I was glad to see him moving on from Tony Soprano.
I had some issues with Jude Law and his character. While he was certainly good, I felt he delivered too much lamb and not enough lion; the particular character would have had more dimension if he was portrayed as more emotionally involved with the political situation and less politically involved with his emotional situation. But the big problem with this film is that it is about 30 minutes too long. Fortunately the last scene is riveting and I doubt I'll be able to look at a Louisiana state map in quite the same way again.
All The King's Men