• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Non-Review Review: The Last Duel

The Last Duel is a thorny and compelling medieval epic. It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s undeniably part of the appeal.

The Last Duel is adapted from the book of the same name by historian Eric Jager. As its title implies, the film offers an account of the last judicial duel permitted by the Parlement of Paris. That duel was fought between two noblemen: Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. The challenge was offered over allegations that Le Gris had raped de Carrouges’ wife, Maguerite. The assumption was that divine authority would ultimately determine where the truth lay in the matter, that the victor in this mortal combat would ultimately be vindicated.

Duel narratives.

Naturally, the events that inspired The Last Duel remain contentious. Historians are not entirely sure what happened, and how much of the various accounts reflect the truth of what happened or have been shaped by the convenient narratives of the victors. The film, with a screenplay from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener, leans into this ambiguity. The film is structured similarly to Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon, outlining three separate accounts of the events leading up to the trial from the perspective of each of the key figures: Jean, Jacques and Maguerite.

The result is a film that touches on the blurred boundaries between history and narrative, and explores the way in which these sorts of stories are shaped by wounded pride and vain ego. It’s an uncomfortable and unsettling film, occasionally a little clumsy in its execution, but which grapples with big ideas.

Continue reading

235. Seppuku (Harakiri) (#32)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Chris Lavery and Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This week, Masaki Kobayashi’s Seppuku.

It is a peaceful time in Japan. The samurai class have largely been rendered obsolete, with many veterans struggling to feed themselves or their families. A former samurai arrives at the estate of the powerful Iyi Clan, requesting to commit ritual suicide before them. He is the second such wanderer in so many days. However, nobody can expect what will follow.

At time of recording, it was ranked 32nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Rules of Engagement (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

Rules of Engagement is that old Star Trek standard: the trial episode.

The franchise has never really had a lot of luck with the format over the years. The Menagerie, Part I and The Menagerie, Part II were primarily of interest for the way that they repurposed The Cage and offered viewers a glimpse of an alternate kind of Star Trek. Later in that same first season, Court Martial was a disjointed and uneven (and even illogical) story. Later series did not fare much better; neither A Matter of Perspective nor Dax nor Ex Post Facto could be considered highlights of their seasons or their shows or the wider franchise.

Worf really doesn't understand the proper way to lodge an objection...

Worf really doesn’t understand the proper way to lodge an objection…

However, The Measure of a Man remains the exception that proves the rule. Not only a strong episode of itself, it stands as one of the best episodes in the history of the franchise. More than that, it represented a turning point in the history of Star Trek: The Next Generation; it is perfectly reasonable to point to The Measure of a Man as the moment that The Next Generation finally delivered on its potential after almost two seasons of struggling to find a unique voice. It seems entirely possible that the franchise has been chasing that high ever since.

Unfortunately, Rules of Engagement is an example of the rule rather than the exception. It is a misguided and clumsy episode that has a number of interesting ideas that fail to coalesce into a satisfying whole.

Klingon lawyered up... Kl'awyered up, if you will.

Klingon lawyered up…
Kl’awyered up, if you will.

Continue reading

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Code of Honour (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Remember how yesterday I said was hesitant to throw around adjectives like “worst” or “mind-numbingly” or any other similar sounding pejorative term? I was doing that so that when I did string them together to form a sentence or a description, it would carry a bit more weight. After all, Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t have the strongest first season, as I keep noting apologetically in these opening paragraphs. However, Code of Honour is pretty dire by any measure, and it remains one of the low watermarks of the troubled first season.

Yes, I did type “one of”, but that doesn’t make Code of Honour any easier to manage.

Not quite steps to greatness…

Continue reading