NEVER have words been so wrongly associated with an historical figure as in the saying “not tonight, Josephine.”
Judging by Sir Ridley Scott’s biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte it was not only tonight, Josephine, but this morning and this afternoon.
Whenever Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon and the French tyrant’s wife Josephine (Vanessa Kirby) are together they seem in some state of arousal.
Even as they tie the knot in church, the randy general mounts an attack.
Josephine, who is unimpressed by his bedroom swordsmanship, is clearly the one who is in need of a night off.
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Luckily for her, if not for Europe, Napoleon is often off at war. His appetite for conquest knows no bounds.
Ridley, whose credits include Thelma & Louise in 1991, and 2000’s Gladiator, wisely keeps politics to a minimum.
There are occasional discussions with politicians but no more than is needed to explain how a lowly officer rose to become Emperor of France during the country’s 18th-century revolution against the monarchy and why he kept waging war.
Instead, Ridley focuses on Napoleon’s unorthodox personal life and his military campaigns.
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Of the 61 battles he fought, only three are shown at any length but each is a breathtaking spectacle of the kind no other director can create.
No one puts the audience in the middle of the life-or-death action like Ridley — revealing the fear, bravery and sacrifice with thunderous energy.
I urge everyone to go see Napoleon, simply because it might be one of the last chances you get to watch a blockbuster that avoids computer-generated images.
I want to know thousands of extras stood freezing in a muddy field for my entertainment, rather than just a techy nerd sitting behind a screen.
Seeing the soldiers charge in full regalia is remarkable.
But you also need a truly great actor like Joaquin to make it feel real — and he doesn’t disappoint, even if delivering slightly Americanised dialogue.
The icing on the cake is that it was the British who finally defeated Napoleon, at the Battle of Waterloo.
If that doesn’t make you say “yes, tonight, Napoleon”, nothing will.
- In cinemas from November 22.
- WARRIOR Hannibal will be played by Denzel Washington.
- WHITE LOTUS star Sydney Sweeney is Julia Carpenter, aka Spider-Woman,in the movie Madame Web.
- EIGHTIESanimated show Masters Of The Universe could be turned into a live-action film.
THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES
THIS film about the origins of Hunger Games baddie Coriolanus Snow tackles some intriguing questions.
The main one is what would happen if someone from the ruling Panem elite was to fall in love with a ”tribute” from the oppressed regions, who is forced to fight to the death in the games?
In this Romeo and Juliet- type tale it is Snow who can’t resist the charms of Lucy Gray, played by Rachel Zegler, when he’s tasked with turning her from a singer into a killer.
But the production also raises other questions, like why design old-fashioned style cars if you’re going to render them with cheap CGI?
And why spend two and a half hours performing plot somersaults to try to persuade viewers that Snow wasn’t born a monster?
Brit actor Tom Blyth, as Snow, should be commended for giving it a good go.
Sadly, Zegler rarely gives the impression her screen character is attracted to him so the romance falls flat.
But if, like me, you are a fan of the first films and books, it is enjoyable to be back in this dystopian world.
Even if you are not quite sure why.
THE CROWN star Emerald Fennell made her directing debut with A Promising Young Woman.
Saltburn suggests she still has promise and is thankfully yet to grow up.
There is nothing old or dull about this in-your-face black comedy.
Brilliant Barry Keoghan plays Liverpudlian student Oliver Quick, who is out of place at toffee-nosed Oxford University.
Popular aristocrat Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) takes him under his wing, and to his parents’ stately home Saltburn.
Among countless rooms weighed down by history, Oliver must navigate Felix’s scary butler, jealous best pal, gossiping mum, bulimic sister and ancient rules.
Where your sympathies should lie is unclear.
The Catton family are ridiculously shallow, but at least they don’t keep saying “sorry” like Oliver.
It’s also hard to dislike Felix’s parents, as their heartlessness is offset by them being played by Richard E. Grant and Rosamund Pike.
But Oliver’s creepiness culminates in disturbing sexual acts.
Saltburn lobs taste out of its Grade I-listed windows and kicks it down the drive.
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