VIDEO: 4 films in Dubai cinemas this week
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (15)
You instantly know that Guy Ritchie is piloting this retelling of the Arthurian legend when you see leading man Charlie Hunnam stripped to the waist and slugging it out in a bare-knuckle brawl. It might well be one of the weirder directorial motifs, but backstreet boxing has now appeared in Snatch, both Sherlock Holmes films and now this. It’s no accident; the device works to place the director’s protagonists in a certain rougue-ish, battle-hardened light.
You might assume that King Arthur wouldn’t need the contextual support, but in this origin story, the man who would be king is essentially a medieval street urchin, raised in back alleys by various mentors of dubious character – which is also familiar Ritchie territory. It’s only when he pulls the sword from the stone that the truth of his royal lineage is revealed, setting him on a collision course with Vortigern (Jude Law), the uncle who seized the crown when Arthur’s father was murdered. With castles, wizards and loads of fights, it has all you’d want from an epic fantasy tale. Big, bold fun.
In cinemas from May 11
The Dinner (18)
This is a movie that might be easy to admire, not least the performances from Richard Gere and Rebecca Hall, but it is nigh-on impossible to like. Based on the 2009 global bestseller by Dutch author Herman Koch – indeed, it’s the third cinematic attempt to capture that book’s page-turning psychological suspense, albeit the first in English – the movie centres on the scarlet interior of Washington DC’s premier restaurant and a double-date dinner featuring a US congressman (Gere), his underachieving schoolteacher brother (Steve Coogan seemingly impersonating Woody Allen) and their long-suffering wives (Hall in Gere’s case, lovely Laura Linney in Coogan’s).
It ought to be a thespian masterclass of cross-talk and inter-family code, trigger words and passive aggression as long-harboured resentments simmer and spit, and occasionally that’s exactly what it is. But the intended (we assume) exploration of middle-class, middle-aged angst, not least concerning the misdeeds of each other’s children, becomes something more akin to an atrocity exhibition in which the worst extremes of masculine excess – ambition, pride, conceit, contempt and plain ill-tempered self-centred moodiness – are traded like an unsympathetic edit of a reality TV show. You don’t like any of them. In fact, you even end up hating the gracious, patient Laura Linney for continuing to put up with the misanthropic, self-harming snob she’s married to.
Ultimately, the foursome’s summit on what to do about their kids’ deeply sociopathic behaviour is so riddled with subplots and flashbacks that you just hope someone orders dessert already. Which is a shame because it looks very nice and, whatever the merits of the dialogue, there is some serious talent on display here. More Gere, less grief, would help.
In cinemas from May 11
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A first date that ends up in a hunt for vampires. Well, it’s probably better than a Broadway musical...
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