Friday, February 10, 2006

Tristan and Isolde / ** (2006)

“Tristan & Isolde” is more a curious experiment than a full-fledged cinematic romance, a movie in which all necessities are captured in two hours of ambitious celluloid, except for one critical anchoring piece: a heart. The pain of characters like these is not that they sacrifice so much to be together, but the fact that they do so without ever being able to grasp the true feeling of the situation. Credible acting and a solid sense of style accommodate the final result only so far: slowly but surely, director Dean Georgaris’ medieval fable of love lost and found cripples our patience just as easily as he cripples the emotional walls around his hero and heroine. Foolish, ill-fated lovers they may be, but Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet they are not.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe / ***1/2 (2005)

Stories about kids have been known to get away with just about anything, perhaps because, unlike real life, literature isn’t bogged down by grave world events like child kidnappings or mysterious disappearances. On the printed page, their lives unfold as well as they deserve, without unnecessary tragedy but full of the kind of curiosity that gives their adventures the suggestion of fearsome danger. Admittedly, some of us who go into stories like these with preconceived perceptions of the harshness of reality might find some things a bit too hard to swallow. The kids in the Narnia chronicles are a particularly worrisome bunch, not so much for their own na├»ve inquisitiveness but for their basic nature to jump the gun and trust things that for any normal kid would seem a little too colorful and unreal to believe in. Of course, all of this is never much of a forethought when we are kids ourselves, but as adults it would be foolish to deny that our eyebrows do not raise a little at the mere notion of something like a little girl being eager to go home “for tea” with a half-human stranger she meets by a lamppost.