Circuits Overloaded

Closed Circuit

 DATELINE: MASHED UP MOVIES

With the revelations provided by Edward Snowden of surveillance and spying on average citizens by mammoth government agencies, it seems we may be in for a spate of cloak and dagger dramas like Closed Circuit.

This tidy nightmare depicts legalities undermined in a British terrorism court case with MI6’s fingerprints all over it.

We must admit we are delighted to see Eric Bana actually in a film that draws on his sharpest acting skills, instead of swords, special effects, and his good looks. He plays Martin Rose, a barrister facing “accidents” or a stage suicide if he digs too deeply into motives of an accused terrorist.

Julia Stiles is aboard as an American journalist, but her role is small enough to be effective and unnerving. She is matched with Jim Broadbent with his several powerful scenes. Claran Hinds also serves his role well as a duplicitous solicitor.

When MI6 has surveillance everywhere, we were reminded of the TV series Person of Interest. The fiction has now been overtaken by the reality.

Rebecca Hall is a colleague of Bana’s—and a former love interest. Together they may uncover a political scandal at a cost to them and their client.

Movies like this one usually are meant to be cautionary tales, but when you are rendered powerless and inconsequential by shadow government agencies, there is not much opportunity for salvation. Closed Circuit reminds us of John LeCarre at his most cynical Cold War espionage tales.

Effective and a bit frightening, this film may be an ultimate downer, a cry that the sky is falling that comes too late.

The Thinning of Henry VIII

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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Eric Bana, Better Looking than Six Wives in a Plot

We have seen King Henry lose weight like Jenny Craig was among his six wives.

The Other Boleyn Girl proves to be an opulent tragic romance, penned by that brilliant master of historical and royal people, Peter Morgan who gave us Frost/Nixon, The Queen, and others.

This early effort put his talents upon the old chestnut of Anne Boleyn and her ill-fated marriage to a king who made ‘off with her head’ one of his calling cards.

Henry has been losing weight in recent years and becoming more of a media darling—jacked and athletic, looking less like Prince Fielder than his portraits suggest. He has gone from the piggy style of Charles Laughton to the debonair Jonathan Rhys Meyers, nearly a waif, and now through Eric Bana, Henry is a king in and out of bed. His adultery comes across as fun only a king could have in those days.

The camera lingers on his abs during one heady bedtime with Anne’s sister Mary. Yes, Henry kept it in the family. Mary won his heart and kept her head. As a sidelight she marries William Carey, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in another curio role. 

Even as the quisling, weakling husband of Mary Boleyn, he manages to make a mark in a limited role.

Tracking familiar territory, the tale of the intrigue in Henry’s court finds another offshoot to make it watchable with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanssen as the Boleyn sisters.

We also enjoyed Kristin Scott Thomas as their mother whose common sense was simply ignored as the temper of the times demanded.

You’d almost think this was a BBC/PBS special cable movie, but you’d be wrong. This movie is strictly the big time, big budget, and big pomp.