A Week In Film #234: Packing tape and walking stick

Monsieur N. title screen

Monsieur N.
Intriguing historical confection, directed by none other than Antoine Eurotrash de Caunes, following the life of Napoléon Bonaparte in exile on St Helena, and expounding upon the rumour that Boney didn’t die there in old age but in fact escaped to Louisiana.

Richard E Grant is appropriately irritated as the second-rate British officer tasked with acting as his gaoler, and Jay Rodan is likeable as the young liaison Basil Heathcote, but it’s Philippe Toreton as the gnomic Napoléon, along with his coterie of acolytes – Roschdy Zem as bodyguard Bertrand, Stéphane Freiss and Frédéric Pierrot as Generals Montholon and Gourgaud, constanting competing for their Emperor’s attention – that really impress.

After an enjoyable chocolate box historical drama, the final reel then shifts into Agatha Christie mode, jumping forward to Boney’s official funeral and reinternment in Paris, with Heathcote probing the circumstances and questioning witnesses. A bit jarring, but it keeps interest levels up.

The Newton Boys title screen

The Newton Boys
Moderately engaging period gangster stuff, less portentous than Public Enemies, less self-important than Bonnie And Clyde, less pulpy than Dillinger; all in all a bit mediocre, but very likeable, thanks to the cast and the apparently true story on which it’s based.

In the 1920s, a bunch of Texan brothers – Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich and Vincent D’Onofrio – discover that their vocation lies not in farming but in robbing banks and trains. They’re quite good at it, and they don’t kill anyone. They make a lot of money, lose a lot of money, go back on the rob, get caught after getting grassed up by more unscrupulous crooks. Not really what I expected from Richard Linklater.

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