‘Poker Face’ shines on the run; Richard III revisited; tense ‘Tetris’

| March 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

Poker Face (9/10): 10-episode series streaming on Peacock. TV-MA. Nathasha Lyonne shines as Charlie, a lady with the unique ability to discern immediately when people are lying. She goes on the run after witnessing a crime in Las Vegas and has one adventure after another all the while being chased by Cliff LeGrand (Benjamin Bratt, playing a bad guy for once). Created by rising star Rian Johnson, Charlie is one of the more memorable and charismatic characters you will find in film.

The Lost King (8/10); 102 minutes without credits. PG-13. King Richard III of England was either a monster who, among other things, killed two young boys to pave his way to the throne, or was one of the most unjustly maligned men in history. Years ago, I was a member of The Richard III Society, dedicated to bringing forth the truth. The fact is that most of what people know about him is based on a play by Shakespeare (or by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, which is what I believe) that paints him as a monster. (See tinyurl.com/42bwn5u2)

Richard was the last of the Plantagenets, and was defeated and killed at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, leading to the Tudor takeover of England. Thomas More, decapitated and sainted by Tudor Henry VIII, also authored a scathing but unfinished bio of Richard III while he was in Henry VIII’s good graces. Similarly, Shakespeare / de Vere were subjects of Tudor Elizabeth I. As such, they (especially de Vere, since he was royalty), like More, were flacks wanting to ingratiate themselves to their monarch. Since the Tudors were still desirous of legitimizing their reign, the flacks felt they had to paint Richard in the worst possible light and Shakespeare / de Vere and More were only too glad to oblige.

The facts indicate that Richard was an enlightened king who did much for England and the world, including enforcing the rule that all men are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Phillipa Langley (Sally Hawkins) was an amateur researcher who took it upon herself to find Richard’s body, so she joined The Richard III Society and attacked the problem single-handedly — having to convince a doubting Society to even start the project. Director Richard Frears has taken a script by Langley and himself, from the book “The Search for Richard III” by Jeff Pope, to tell the story of her quest.

Her quest was not easy because it cost money that she had to raise, and she had to deal with political-minded academics who were dubious and untrustworthy.

The book uses the conceit that Langley spoke to the spirit of Richard (Harry Lloyd) to tell this story. If it’s not true that Langley was this loony, I think it detracts from the story. But Frears directs the tale tightly, and Hawkins gives a smashing performance, so the scenes with Richard fit in with the narrative.

The Tutor (8/10): 92 minutes. R. Ethan (Garrett Hedlund) is a tutor who gets a highly paid assignment to help Jackson (Noah Schnapp), who lives in a big house in the country. It seems like a good gig until Jackson seems to be strangely attracted to Ethan emotionally. Ethan becomes uncomfortable and suspicious as Jackson’s actions cause Ethan’s life to spiral downward out of control, affecting his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Annie (Victoria Justice), forcing him to try to extricate himself from a terrible web. This is a terrific, tight thriller that is involving up to the end.

Tetris (7/10): 118 minutes. R. When Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) found out about the video game Tetris in the ‘80s, he committed his life to make the game available to a global audience. Competing with others also trying to grab the game, like Robert Stein (Toby Jones), this improbable (but true) tale takes Henk to the former Soviet Union where he gets involved with James Bond-type machinations after he finds the game’s inventor, Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov). This is a tense tale equal to any Cold War thriller. In theaters and on Apple TV+.

Operation Fortune (4/10): 114 minutes. R. Movies just keep getting worse. This could have been so much better. Hugh Grant’s performance almost saves the film from being just another mindless orgy of violence, disgracefully celebrating Jason Statham’s numerous cold-blooded murders. Statham always plays the same character, a superhero without a cape who can singlehandedly put down dozens of antagonists without working up a sweat. Enough, already! The plot is close to absurd if one could actually understand it. The protagonists were never in danger; always in control; ergo no tension. It’s a shame because, with a better script, it had the cast to be something a lot better, but this is just like all the other shoot-em-ups they’ve been making for decades.

In addition to Grant, the performances of Audrey Plaza and Josh Hartnett as a Hollywood star recruited to do the real thing as an agent were very good. The production values were of a high level, especially the cinematography (Alan Stewart), and the locations.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Entertainment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *