Mel Brooks | 100 mins | streaming (HD) | 1.85:1 | USA & France / English | PG / PG-13
Master movie spoofer Mel Brooks’ penultimate work as director was this riff on the Robin Hood legend, in particular the version seen in Prince of Thieves.
Although generally regarded as one of Brooks’ lesser movies, its deeply silly style tickles, and also means you don’t have to have seen Prince of Thieves (or remember it) to get most of the jokes. Cary Elwes is on point as the dashing hero, while Roger Rees successfully spoofs the unspoofable with a version of Alan Rickman’s villain. Instead of Nottingham he’s the Sheriff of Rottingham, a pun that indicates the film’s humour level.
Peter Bogdanovich | 109 mins | DVD | 12 / PG-13
Possibly-true ‘murder mystery’ set in 1920s Hollywood.
As with the similar Gosford Park, the point lies less in plot and more in characterisation — there are some good performances, especially from Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley and Edward Herrmann, though Kirsten Dunst seems a bit flat in comparison. The era’s style suits her though, and the whole period is beautifully evoked; for my money the prettiest scenes are the black & white bookends.
Sadly the similarity to Gosford Park is the film’s main shortcoming: once realised, it’s clear that The Cat’s Meow doesn’t have the same subtle complexity in its story or performances. In its own right, though, there’s much to like.