Cinema Saturday, 12/12/20

Tesla

Year: 2020
Runtime: 1h 42m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Michael Almereyda

Writer: Michael Almereyda

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Eli A. Smith

“AC versus DC. People think it’s a difference of opinion, but we know better.”

Initial: Ethan Hawk is not the guy I’d choose to play Nikola Tesla, but what the heck!

What Did I Think:
I’m not a stickler for historic accuracy when it’s obvious that a movie is going for feeling over fidelity. A Knight’s Tale (2001) works because it is a sports movie about a jousting tournament. The soundtrack, the fashion, the use of Chaucer as a medieval hype man: all these things lend weight to the feeling that Brian Helgeland is putting into the movie.

So, it doesn’t really bother me that Tesla is not faithful to history. The life of Nikola Tesla is muddied anyway with the sort of myth-making that any showman of the era might envy. What’s the real story about Tesla? No one quite knows. So I’m there for a fanciful take on Tesla. But… I don’t quite know what Almereyda is going for with this movie. The narrator, who in cut-away informs us (for example) of the number of Google search results for Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse, seems too removed from the story to be part of Tesla’s vision of the future, which is kind of what I thought the film was going for. Some of it is fanciful biopic, but it’s also a commentary on how history has treated Tesla. I don’t think those things get along.

For the moment, my favorite fictional Tesla remains David Bowie in The Prestige (2006) and my favorite Tesla biography remains Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson.


Pride and Prejudice

Year: 2005
Runtime: 2h 9m
Rated: PG

Director: Joe Wright

Writers: Deborah Moggach, Jane Austen

Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn

“What on Earth have you done to poor Mr.Darcy?”

“I have no idea.”

Initial: To myself while writing: “I think this main character might look like the guy from Ripper Street. Wait, he’s in Pride and Prejudice? I thought that was Colin Firth?”

Production Notes: There is in fact a 1995 TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. So, I’m not entirely insane. Also, this trailer kind of sucks. No wonder I hadn’t bothered to watch this movie before.

What Did I Think:
I’m going to say something sacrilegious to book bloggers: I don’t care for Jane Austen. This might be because the only time I read her was in college, for class. That imbues a certain type of baggage that can be tiresome. (I’m fairly certain I would have hated Moby-Dick if I’d had to read it for a class…). I find movies based on Austen’s works more palatable (I’m rather fond of Sense and Sensibility (1995)), but I don’t seek them out either. So, I hadn’t seen this movie. I was also under the mistaken impression that I had read the book. (Apparently, I’ve only read Emma and Persuasion?)

Lovely movie, full of long shots of countryside and buildings. I also very much enjoyed the choreography; not just of the dancing, but how characters moved within space and around each other—the sort of thing you might see in a physical comedy or a heist film. I’ve watched a few other of Joe Wright’s films and I don’t quite remember any of the others having this sort of motion to them.

Story-wise, I’ll probably say more after I read the book. …Yes, I’m reading the book.

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