A freelance journalist type hailing from the South West, Paul enjoys nothing more than sitting down to enjoy a good film and a bit of quality television. Having written for the likes of Clash, Little White Lies and this fine website you currently find yourself reading, he likes to pretend that this qualifies him to give an informed opinion on popular culture when all he really does is sit in a darkened room all day staring blankly at a screen. He once showed Judi Dench how to put her phone on silent when it went off during an interview, a fact that he’s disproportionately proud of.
Dropping a quote from The Lord of the Rings may well be the laziest way of opening a film review, but given that few things sum up the glaring problem with An Unexpected Journey’s quite so succinctly I might as well get it out of the way early on. It may seem a tad unfair to point towards Bilbo Baggins’ “butter scraped over too much bread” analogy as being indicative of the issues that blight Peter Jackson’s long-awaited return to Middle Earth, but despite its frequent moments of promise, there’s a nagging sense that his latest three-part endeavour may have a hard time justifying its ambitious running length.
Thanks in part to recent small-screen hits such as The Killing and Borgen, Denmark has developed quite the reputation for dark, compelling melodramas. It seems only natural therefore that a foray into the country’s chequered past would make for compelling storytelling and although, given that it’s a period drama, A Royal Affair is very much its own unique beast, its grand aspirations are no different to that of its small-screen forebears, proving once again that the Danes are a force to be reckoned with.
In a post-Potter era, teen-oriented literary adaptations are ten a penny, which is why (thanks largely to a certain vampire franchise that will go unnamed) any new franchise taking its first tentative steps on to the silver screen is a cause for scepticism. Particularly one with an already well-established vocal fan base who have spent the months prior to its release poring over every minor shred of casting news and production info.
With all that Olympic hype now behind us (and with it two fairly dismal weeks of home releases) we can now turn our attention to other far more important matters – those shiny discs that took up the vast majority of your time before sport became the fashionable thing to be interested in for a fortnight.
Any week that boasts Streetdance 2 among its releases can scarcely be considered a good one. Nevertheless, if you can overlook Simon Cowell’s unsubtle big screen BGT cash-in, then there’s actually some worthwhile stuff on offer. And what better antidote to a load of brash, kinetic hyperactivity than a contemplative Belgian drama?