Marketa Lazarova (Frantisek Vlacil) ***1/2 - I've read this being compared to Game of Thrones. I can definitely see it. It's about a clan that runs afoul of their ruling king and all sorts of complications abound. The title character is the virgin daughter of a neighbor village whom the rebel clan kidnaps. It takes a while to get into and it drags here and there but when it delivers, it really delivers and becomes a really exciting, compelling piece of work. This is my second film from director Frantisek Vlacil whose other film I've seen of his, Valley of the Bees also similarly juxtaposes and depicts religion, sexuality and savage violence. I liked that film just a tad better but I think this one is excellent piece of work. It's nice to discover great filmmakers.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
(Peter Jackson) *** - Is it as good as the original Lord of the Rings trilogy? Overall as a film?
No. Does this film justify turning a light-hearted adventure book whose story
should have just been told in a packed 2.5 hours into a full trilogy? Not
really. But that doesn't mean that this film doesn't have really good moments.
Peter Jackson still knows how to create exciting action sequences. The barrell
chase scene was delightful and fun. But the highlight is of course Smaug, voiced
by Benedict Cumberbatch, a really awe-inspiring creation. Even at over 2.5 hours
long, the film feels brisk. It is enjoyable overall. But I still think splitting
this into three is a huge mistake.