The Musketeer – Alexandre Dumas week

Time for Alexandre Dumas’ most enduring creation, The Three Musketeers.

Sadly Richard Lester’s definitive version from 1973 is not available. Neither is the 1948 version starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, and Vincent Price. Heck even the groan inducing (though Oliver Platt made a good Porthos) Disney version from 1993 is missing.

The Musketeer is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Musketeer

The Musketeer (2001) – PG-13

In this rollicking adaptation of the Alexander Dumas classic “The Three Musketeers,” young D’Artagnan seeks to join the legendary musketeer brigade and avenge his father’s death — but finds that the group has disbanded.

“We’re drunks, not fools.

One Line Review: The tagline “As You’ve Never Seen It” is a warning, not a boast.

Well I suppose there is some truth in advertising. Don’t expect this to be about the three musketeers – it really is all about D’Artagnon. The movie is doubly miscast. Aramis is really Athos but that’s okay because the three musketeers are just window dressing. Most of the part the musketeers played is handled by Planchet, D’Artagnon’s manservant. Count Rochefort is present but his character traits are actually given to the mysterious Man in Black, including his eye patch. Constance Bonacieux is renamed Francesca Bonacieux.

The three musketeers don’t hold a candle to young and somehow incredibly experienced D’Artagnon. Honestly, after seeing D’Artagnon in action, the Three Musketeers look incompetent. They even, embarrassingly, come to D’Artagnon proverbial hats-in-hand for aid. D’Artagnon turns them down of course because this is his film, until he needs aid in the final act.

The man in black believes himself more powerful and wiser than Cardinal Richeliu. He threatens the Queen and Captain Treville. He is so evil that he kills his own men (one of my least favorite tropes). The plot is so eye-rollingly ludicrous that I am still suffering from whiplash. All of this is before the final act, which I assure you is far worse though shall remain spoiler-free.

The fights are the only real reason to watch this. There is a lot of good fight choreography but if we don’t care about the characters (and we don’t) then it all seems rather pointless. Costuming and set design are quite nice but go somewhat unappreciated. The acting is wooden pretty much across the board including stars who know better like Mena Suvari. Stephen Rea and Catherine Deneuve are wasted here. Tim Roth is entertaining but does not have much to do and his character is essentially a transplanted Bond villain.

Very mild spoiler alert: The climactic battle is completely ripped off from an episode of Xena and actually makes no logistical sense. I will say though that it makes more sense than the scene immediately preceding it where a character has a choice of two weapons.

The Hunger – Amazon Prime Week

The Hunger is currently available on Amazon Prime.

The Hunger (1983)

“Sensual vampire story stars rock legend David Bowie as an ailing centuries-old vampire whose fanged-lover, Catherine Deneuve, seduces a mortal while seeking a new partner.”

She’s that kind of a woman. She’s… European. “

Tony Scott’s theatrical directorial debut, The Hunger, is a film ahead of its time. The Hunger is all style and not much substance. The movie is very loosely based on the Whitley Streiber novel of the same name.

The first goth rock band, Bauhaus, is featured over the opening credits singing their iconic song, Bela Lugosi’s Dead. While Bauhaus would be on nineteen different soundtracks, this was the first and only time they appeared on film. By they, I mean lead singer Peter Murphy. The other members are featured only as arms or legs. Bauhaus broke up that year.

The Hunger belongs to the trio of actors at the center of the film. Thankfully each one is not only superb but sexy as well. Because so much of the theme of The Hunger is aging, it is nice that Scott went with a trio of mid-to-late-30s actors instead of youngsters.

French superstar Catherine Deneuve has a wonderfully mature icy, sexy demeanor as our central vampire, Miriam. Singer David Bowie was stylish to begin with but handles the aging quite well as Miriam’s companion John. Susan Sarandon leaves her wide-eyed Janet from Rocky Horror behind, playing researcher Sarah Roberts.

The Hunger has cult classic written all over it. The first requirement for cult classic is that it be stylish. The vampires are stylish. They have a stylish home in New York with a stylish staircase, a conservatory, a lily room and an attic with doves, a spotlight, and flowing gauzy curtains. They even have a remote that controls not a television or stereo but a spotlight (re-purposed slide projector?). The wardrobe is stylish, the Egyptian weapon is stylish, the darkened nightclub is stylish.

The second requirement is that it appeal to a niche group. The Hunger is clearly made for the goth movement except that it predates the majority of that. It is also apparently popular in the lesbian community – not a surprise as the scene where Deneuve seduces Sarandon is an absolute stunner.

Makeup artist extraordinaire Dick Smith, already an old hand at age makeup with Little Big Man, does a superb job of aging David Bowie and a monkey. Howard Blake’s score and musical stings work well and is seen briefly as a piano player.

Sorry to be vague here but I hate spoilers. The ending, while, of course, stylish, throws away everything that we learned over the course of the film and as such is rather jarring. In spite of that, I really enjoyed this very different vampire tale.

People Watch: Look for actor Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The English Patient) as 2nd Phone Booth Youth. Ann Magnuson is a young woman picked up at a bar.