This week I look forward to two very different period films which are due out in 2015.
A Little Chaos. Releases March 2015: Alan Rickman is probably best known for his bad guy roles – Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Snape in the Harry Potter series. My personal favourites have been his sympathetic performance as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and the alien science officer in Galaxy Quest. The 68 year old actor has also tried his hand at directing once, with The Winter Guest back in 1997; this little drama was well received, garnering a few nominations and awards at the time. Now Mr. Rickman is back with another directing effort, a period piece set in the court of King Louis XIV (played by Rickman himself). The trailers for all these period pieces are always attractive to look at, so naturally it caught my eye. But the film also has a who’s who of actors: Kate Winslett, who plays Sabine de Barra, the landscape designer who is hired by the king to design the garden at Versailles; Jennifer Ehle, the wonderful English actress who played Elizabeth Bennett opposite Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice on BBC TV in 1995; the ever-entertaining Stanley Tucci; up and coming Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays Winslett’s romantic interest (he acted in 2014 crime drama The Drop and in Bullhead, the Belgian film which was nominated for a foreign film Oscar in 2012). The film has already done the rounds of the festival circuit and early reviews have not been kind, but I’m a sucker for this sort of confection – a bit of romance, drama and comedy all served up in beautiful locales and fine costumes.
In The Heart of The Sea. Releases March 2015: I have been a big fan of Ron Howard’s films – especially his early lite-fantasy work like Splash, Cocoon and Willow, the amazing Oscar-nominated real-life story Apollo 13 and the competent thrillers like Ransom, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Ironically, I have not watched the 2 films for which he received Best Director nominations – A Beautiful Mind and Frost/ Nixon. I thoroughly enjoyed his Formula 1 drama from last year, Rush, which chronicled the 1970’s rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Now Mr. Howard is back with an ambitious film which is another real-life survival drama much in the vein of Apollo 13. Last year, I read the non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick on which this film is based. It tells the true story of a whaling ship The Essex which is rammed by a whale in the Pacific Ocean in 1820. What follows is an extraordinary (and barely believable) story of heroism, courage and resilience that made headlines in the US during the time and was talked about in the country for years afterwards. In fact, the incident was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Howard pulls out all the stops in this film and Chris Hemsworth seems perfectly cast as First Mate Owen Chase, who emerges as one of the real heroes of the story. This is guaranteed to be one of the biggest hits of the spring next year.