Movies: The Promise, Lost City of Z, Cezanne et Moi

The Promise

It is a bit odd to see such a powerful story about the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the end of World War I mixed with the romance of a love triangle.

While watching I kept thinking ‘didn’t we just see this movie’?  And we were right, The Ottoman Lieutenant was released and we reviewed March of this year.  Same story, just genocide light.  That is not uncommon in Hollywood.

This production by Open Road Films has a bigger budget, $90 million and a much bigger cast.  Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jean Reno, and James Cromwell are the most notable actors but there are at least as many more who gave strong performances.

Yet this film seems to have stirred up more chatter than usual.  Romance versus brutality, genocide versus melodrama.  It is a story that is still controversial today.

It is rated PG-13 but we caution it is not suitable for young children.  It is listed as a Drama/History and runs a long 2 hours 15 minutes.


Lost City of Z

This movie was based on true events about the British Major and Explorer, Percy Fawcett who made three attempts to find a lost city in the Amazon.  The last trip in 1925.

The acting is quite good, highlighted by Charlie Hunnam as the Major, Robert Patterson as the fellow explorer, Sienna Miller as the wife.

There is a surprise ending that we will not share in this review.  Once again, true stories are often the most powerful.  This one is interesting, unique and worth a watch.  Rated PG-13 with some cautions.  It is another long film running 140 minutes.


Cezanne and I (Cezanne et Moi)

This film is about the turbulent friendship between the writer Emile Zola and the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne from the time they were young schoolboys together until late in life when both enjoyed a global reputation.

The production toggles from sumptuous and sensuous to indifference and protagonist.  Cezanne, played by Guillaume Gallienne, is often moody and hateful.  In balance, Zola is played by Guillaume Canet, whose character is patient, supportive and tolerant.

The critics were impressed, audiences not so much.  It is really a shame.  It is beautifully filmed but the brash, mostly hateful and often cruel Cezanne character was annoying in most scenes.  In the end it was difficult to marvel at his life’s work.  Now considered a visionary and a genius, I will remember the mean and tortured artist that was Paul Cezanne.

Rated R for language, sexual references and nudity, listed as a Drama, it runs 117 minutes.  French with English subtitles.


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