Films featuring
Stellan Skarsgård


I don’t know exactly where Thor rates on the pecking order of Marvel characters, but judging from the press coverage, few if any of the cast had heard of the comic book version of the Norse thunder god before they started working on this film. I suspect that, ten years ago, if you had told even the most ardent Thor-head that a movie version would star two Oscar-winning actors and would be the work of a director known for his Shakespearean films, that person would have backed away slowly and warily.

Fortunately, the top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera elevates the material well past what it rated in terms of cultural penetration before the film was announced. Kenneth Branagh may be slumming but he is not doing it grudgingly, not just cashing a check. Continue reading

The Avengers

I suspect that the Avengers exists as a comic book series because, despite their dominant position in that arena and broad portfolio of characters, only one, Spider-Man, really counts as an A-List superhero to the world beyond the fringes of comic book fandom. The rest of the major league franchises, Batman and Superman, belong to DC Comics.

Recent movies have changed that pecking order, but let’s face it: No one really gave a rat’s ass about Iron Man until Robert Downey, Jr. strapped on the suit and when most people hear “Incredible Hulk,” they think Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno before they think of Eric Bana, Edward Norton, or Mark Ruffalo.

Good thing no one told writer/director Joss Whedon. Continue reading

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Philip Kaufman‘s adaptation of Milan Kudera‘s novel is a long, erotic rumination on the nature of freedom, personal, political and sexual. It follows an informal triangle involving a womanizing surgeon named Tomas (Daniel Day Lewis), his shy, sensitive wife, Tereza (Juliette Binoche), and his free-spirited lover, Sabina (Lena Olin), through the Prague Spring of 1968, the brutal Soviet crackdown and its aftermath.

Continue reading