movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

the KING is dead

Before I get into my review of Steven Zaillian’s ALL THE KING’S MEN, I will preface it with the fact that it is a work in progress. All of the music was temp, the visual effects were rough and the print looked to be an Avid output. So what I am saying here is that there is hope… just not much.
ALL THE KING’S MEN was first a novel, then a feature film that won best picture in 1949 and now it resurfaces in a new reincarnation starring an outstanding cast; Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, and James Gandolfini. With this talent group and the man the wrote SCHINDLER’S LIST and wrote and directed SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISHER, this movie should be a home run, right?
Willie Stark (Penn) is a simple man who wants what is best for his community. He is dedicated to the fight against corruption and the struggle of the “little man”. When he finds his voice and calls out to the “hicks”, they respond and elect him the governor of Louisiana. Now that he has power, he struggles with his own corruption. Jack Burden (Law) plays a reporter who follows Stark around for a while, then ends up on his payroll, also sliding down the same slippery slope.
There are so many possibilities with the moral struggles presented. Can right be made from wrong? Are good intentions enough to excuse questionable actions? When and where does Stark become the same man the he was so dedicated to fighting? All of these fascinating character questions are left unanswered for the most part. The reason for this is that the “characters” are exactly what is left out of ALL THE KING’S MEN. There is never a point where we get to know ANY of the them. What makes them tick. Why they make their decisions. Because of these failures of the storyteller, we don’t care about anyone in the film.
For this movie to work, we must like and understand Stark. He is the powerhouse of the film and the one that perpetuates all of the action throughout. We must be with him as he is slowly overtaken by the forces that he fights against. He is the real tragedy of the movie, but we never get to know him or like him at all. Penn plays the character as a naive buffoon in the beginning, but when he gets mad and starts drinking, he starts to yell and gain momentum and then power. Flash forward and he is already corrupt. There is no journey, so there is no tragedy, only confusion. Why do people follow him?
The lead of the movie is Jack Burden and you could not ask for a more uninteresting lead and narrator. Like the rest of the cast, he has no character and because of that we simply don’t care. He takes no action and just follows like the boring sheep that he is. No motivation. Forced emotion. Watching the action and not taking part in it.
Watching ALL THE KING’S MEN, it felt like there was a 3 hour film that Zaillian made and there was about an hour that was randomly cut out. What suffered was all semblance of any arc and character. What stayed in was an abundance of rhetoric and overwritten preachy dialogue. There are no two ways about it. This is a bad film. I don’t know what Zaillian left on the cutting room floor, but he should go back to it and maybe he can save this from becoming the biggest disappointment of the Oscar season.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your review's been linked to on a few film discussion sites and, what a lot of peope are wondering is; When did you see it? Was it a year ago when they did the first test screenings with the rough cuts (as you seem to indicate), or was it more recently?



5:05 PM  
Blogger Humby said...

To answer your question... I saw the movie Thursday night. This is the most recent cut of the film. While it was supposed to come out last Christmas, they were not finished and it has been scheduled for this fall...

12:50 AM  
Anonymous corleone said...

I was also at the Thursday night screening and, I have to say, I respectfully disagree with you. What I saw was a piece of incredible filmmaking, although certainly not for the average movie-goer, this is no Wedding Crashers or Pirates of the Caribbean. This movie actually wants you to think. I will not say that it's not complex, it is, but all the pieces were there, "you just have to know where to look." Can't wait to see the final version without the temp music and visual effects.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Humby said...

To each their own opinion. I am glad that you liked the film. I would not call myself the "average movie-goer" though. I thrive on movies that "make me think" and while this movie certainly had the potential to do that, it failed for me. Like i said in my review, there were many questions that were raised, but there was no character. When you make a film about the corruption of power and what it does to the people the further they get and then you leave out the characters, I have problems with that. The heart of the film was left out. I had very similar problems with Zaillian's last film, A CIVIL ACTION.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember any scenes of Jack, Anne or Adam when they were children? I was just wondering if any scenes made it into the movie. Or do you remember a scene with Jack's father leaving the family, with a young Jack looking through the window? Thanks!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Humby said...

there were a handful of scenes with them as young adults (not as kids though) most of them felt forced and fake though... there was one by a lake, another on a tennis court, and one in the house. i am vague as to not give anything away.

as far as Jack looking through the window... not that i remember.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous dolorescraeg said...

we will have to wait for the finished product. a few people i know who saw it enjoyed it and partucularly thought jude law did an amazing job....he always rises above the material.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there a big patt for Jacks mother in this movie, I believe it was played by Kathy Baker
Can you email me and let me know!!!

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon me,
i've just watched All The King's Men and I think its great. I'm not into discussing the movie, just wanna ask if you know the title of the music from the scene when Stark was watching the skater performance?
Thanks for the attention...

9:05 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

Your review about this movie is so impressive that I am looking forward to see this movie at any cost. First I will try to find it online or search for a DVD to watch it soon. Thanks for sharing your views about this movie.
All the King's Men 2006

2:05 AM  

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