The Merry Gentleman (DVD)

Hit or miss?

In a way, Michael Keaton shares similar traits with Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson – although to be sure, he’s not as straightjacketed by his own persona as the latter. The point being, that all three actors have an extrovert/introvert switch (see Beetlejuice), and when playing the introvert, there’s always the possibility that the fire within can be tapped at any time. This works to Keaton’s advantage in The Merry Gentleman, in which he remains very much muted and controlled – both on and off screen. For this is also his first directorial effort.

Keaton plays Frank, a hired gun of few words, and for all intents a blank slate, on which the audience can imprint their own history. Frank forms a bond with Kate (Kelly MacDonald), a similarly closed-down soul, who is escaping her own past – this being established via a dialogue-free prologue.

It’s a low-key film, sustained primarily through MacDonald’s sweet, earnest performance and Keaton’s stillness. Although it must be said, the hit-man with a heart isn’t the most original conceit. With recurrent periods of pensive silence from the Keaton camp, there’s a door open to ambiguity within the piece, but it doesn’t really lead to any gut-wrenching epiphany or indeed any rousing moments to speak of. Slight it may be, but that’s a complimentary aspect to a film, which seems for all intents satisfied with its own modest ambition. 3 stars

Extra Features
Small offerings include the trailer, plus a fifteen-minute making of, which provides a brief history of the project, but mostly just b-roll footage. 2 stars

Michael Keaton, Kelly MacDonald
Director Michael Keaton
Format DVD
Distributor Universal Pictures
Released April 5

Night at the Museum 2 (DVD)

November 9th sees the DVD and Blu-ray release of comedy sequel Night of the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian, starring Ben Stiller as the museum guide who has to oversee his larger-than-life exhibits. We’ve got a full review, plus specs so you can see if it’s worth adding to your Christmas list…

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Night at the Museum 2 (2009)

House of wax…

Two years after his eye-opening stint as a night guard at New York’s Natural History Museum, where he had his hands full with exhibits that come alive at night, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has made his fortune as an inventor. But when he discovers that his old pals, including Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Jedediah Smith (Owen Wilson), are being shipped off to the Federal Archives at Washington’s sprawling Smithsonian Museum, Larry realises they need his help; particularly as ancient Egyptian king Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) has his mind set on taking over the world.  Arriving at the Smithsonian, Larry – helped by feisty female pilot Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) – must take on a mind-blowing array of exhibits, some friend and some foe, if he is to save the day.

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