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The 1st Annual Clive Owen Film Festival

Okay, so not really.

Nevertheless, I did manage to catch Clive in perhaps his three best-known movies this weekend. First, I went to a morning (which was for me about midnight) showing of King Arthur, and had the entire theatre to myself. Second, I was buzzing around the dial that evening, and found that they're hyping the Bourne Supremacy by showing Bourne Identity nearly every hour on the hour. Finally, I found a copy of Croupier in the bargain DVD bin, and snatched it up.

Croupier is a decent movie--not stellar or anything, but I remember seeing it on the big screen way back when. One of the things that makes Croupier is Owen's emotional distance as an actor. It's almost certainly a Brit thing, but his character in Croupier is a writer who ends up getting back into the casino life and writing about it. He's in it, but he's also watching himself in it, and the struggle between those two selves (Jack and "Jake") propels the movie. Owen's understated performance makes that work pretty well.

Unfortunately, his acting ability hasn't really changed that much in the 5 or so years since, which makes him an odd cast in the role of Arthur. His charisma in the movie is almost intellectual or philosophical--he's an idealist half-Roman, half-Briton who follows a particular philosopher and commands a band of Salmatian knights. He and the rest of the knights are gritty enough, I suppose, but there's not a great deal of drama in the movie. Stellan Skarsgard plays the Saxon chief who's Arthur's primary nemesis (other than the decadent Roman bishop), and his acting is understated as well. He's the chief of this huge Saxon horde, but he comes off more cynical than dangerous.

Hmm. It's no accident, I suspect, that if you check the poster for the movie, the "main" character is Keira Knightley as a leather bikini-clad warrior princess. They don't do much more than hint at the love triangle, and they kill Lancelot before there's a chance for it to develop, but then development isn't really a strength of this movie. Even the climactic scene, the wedding of Arthur and Guinevere, doesn't really feel like it's been earned. And that's true of most of the movie, which gestures towards historical accuracy by opening with some mention of archaeological finds, downplaying all of the magic, grounding it in a specific time period, etc. But what happens is that the story loses a tremendous amount of its juice as a result. I didn't have to sit there like I did with Troy and bracket off all of the obvious Americanisms in the treatment of the story. But that's not to say that there weren't any. Arthur is clearly drawn as proto-American, with decidedly unhistorical beliefs about the fallacy of the Church, the equality of all humanity, etc.

Ugh. I'm talking myself into a lower opinion of the movie than I originally thought I held. I paid matinee price for it, but I'm not sure it was worth that. This is probably one to wait for, maybe a rental...


Oh! I am So. Excited. about The Bourne Supremacy. I've been trying to find someone to say that to, so thanks. I'm thinking about buying The Bourne Identity when it comes out on DVD this week (it comes with a free pass to see TBS). It doesn't look like Clive Owen is in TBS, but I still want to see it.

I liked the movie and thought Clive was an excellent, strong and sexy King Arthur. My quarrel is that threer were too many anahronisms. i would have liked it better had they stuck to the period and also had more character development. Why did they transplant Merlin from Wales to Scotlsnd? And what is with the knights being Salmation? Gawain should be Welsh or Scot and lance should be French. I would have liked to see more of the knights and less of Keira's coallagen injected self.