Daliland and The Lost King

Daliland
via http://www.magpictures.com/daliland/

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s movie and TV reviews of Daliland and The Lost King.

This month’s movie and TV reviews of The Daliland and The Lost King.
Via http://www.magpictures.com/daliland/

I’d have paid cash money to see Ben Kingsley play Salvador Dali in a full-fledged biography of the brilliant, mercurial, and controversial artist. As it is, we have to make do with the somewhat removed Daliland. Written by John C. Walsh and directed by John C. Walsh, Daliland is another of those films in which you get a somewhat abbreviated portrait of a famous personage, mainly since you are looking at him through the eyes of a younger, and possibly soon-to-be-disillusioned acolyte. Now when this works well, it can really work well: I am thinking of My Favorite Year starring a glorious Peter O’Toole as a dissipated Errol Flynn-type, and an antic, frantic, and endearing Mark Linn-Baker as the television writer assigned to “keep an eye on him.” Everything about that film worked, especially since the energy didn’t flag when O’Toole wasn’t on screen.

However, here in Daliland, a preponderance of footage is wasted in the company of another young man, played by newcomer Christopher Birney, who is hired to watch Dali—specifically in the mid-1970s, as the aging artist prepares for an exhibition—with precious little artwork completed. Birney’s James, as conceived and acted, is a pretty monotonous and dull character. The film is much better when it sticks to Kingsley’s imperious, eccentric Dali—or Barbara Sukowa as Dali’s wife Gala. Their relationship—or at least the glimpses we get of it, are alive and charged with emotion, as it is left for the viewer to decide if Gala was a good influence—or not. There are also some good scenes depicting the commerce and corruption of the art world, and the question of whether Dali was exploited by others or participated willfully, with regard to the use of his signature. In any case, there are parts of Daliland that remain compelling, but I wish the filmmakers would have trusted the audience to spend more time with the great Kingsley/Dali without using the bland Birney as a buffer.

The Lost King
Via https://www.thelostking.movie

Sometimes a film will slip through the cracks, as is the case with my recent discovery of an earlier 2023 release, The Lost King. It’s based on a true story, co-written by Steve Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears (who had teamed up ten years earlier on Philomena) and starred the generally sublime Sally Hawkins. How did I miss it? The good news is, having found it, I can recommend it, because it’s a nicely crafted look at a woman who finds renewed purpose in her life, by seeking to vindicate the late and definitely unlamented Richard III. It’s after having attended a performance of the classic Shakespearean play—and several encounters with a Richard III apparition who resembles the actor in the play (an effective Harry Lloyd plays’em both) that Hawkins’ Philippa decides to embark on a journey to redeem King Richard’s reputation. Philippa’s quest, abetted her supportive though initially skeptical ex-husband (Steve Coogan), involves taking on the archaeological and academic male-oriented status-quo, including those who are eager to claim the glory on any discoveries she makes. Philippa is also introduced to the complicated world of crowd-funding, aided by fellow Rickard enthusiasts who have more social media acumen than she does. The Lost King has much going for it: Sally Hawkins’ nuanced performance as Philippa, some delicately played scenes between Coogan and Hawkins, and its barbed look at the rigidity and hypocrisy of the scholars who inhabit (and impinge on ) Philippa’s world. You can see it On Demand now, but I’d have been content to see this satisfying film in the theaters.