New movie reviews in brief: Legend, Life and Al Purdy Was Here
CBC's Eli Glasner cuts through the cinematic clutter and shares new releases that are worth your time
Legend features Tom Hardy x2 in this story about the real-life Kray twins, the dapper East End mobsters who ruled London in the 1960s. Hardy portrays both Reggie, the handsome and somewhat civilised brother, as well as Ronnie, the openly gay psychopath who gets randy if he hasn't had a good punch-up. From the director of L.A. Confidential, Legend captures the cockney charm of criminal life in that era, but it suffers from third-act problems when the love story between Reggie and Frances (Emily Browning) suffers as the Kray empire grows. A movie that starts with a snappy comic energy ends in a predictable tailspin. Through it all, Hardy remains as magnetic as ever, showing us brothers who aren't as different as they seem.
— 3 out of 5 stars
A bittersweet rumination on the star-making machine, Life is about the partnership of James Dean and Dennis Stock. Dean, of course, is the Hollywood rebel who died too young, while Stock is the Life magazine photographer who was instrumental in turning this quiet beatnik from Indiana into a worldwide symbol of non-conformity.
Robert Pattinson plays Stock as an artist drowning in the superficial world of Hollywood. Estranged from his family, his last gasp is a photo profile of a rising star. Showing no hesitation, Dane DeHaan makes the role of the iconic actor his own, playing Dean with a frail, mumbling voice and hiding inquisitive eyes behind tortoise-shell glasses. Similar to the recent film The End of the Tour, the best parts of Life are when director Anton Corbijn (who began his career as a photographer) explores the vampiric relationship between shooter and subject. You can see it in the way Dean bristles when he hears the shutter click or whenever Stock discovers something extraordinary in his viewfinder.
— 3.5 out of 5 stars
Al Purdy Was Here
Veteran movie critic Brian D. Johnson has chosen the most Canadian of poets for his debut as feature film director. From his booming voice to those plaid pants, Al Purdy makes for a fascinating subject. Perhaps inspired by the man's boisterous spirit, Johnson packs this doc with a variety of treatments: there's animation, archival footage, new music by Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer and others, a Tweeting statue and even a secondary story about the poet's famous A-frame cottage. But Purdy — with his honest, workmanlike approach to poetry and unquestionable sense of self — is much more than enough.
— 3.5 out of 5 stars