Thekla Reuten

Highlander: The Source (2007, Brett Leonard)

I wish there were nice things to say about Highlander: The Source. I wish every statement didn’t have to have a qualifier. For example, Adrian Paul is almost fine. He’s got a badly written part but he’s game for it. Same goes for Peter Wingfield, who’s a little less almost fine. He’s bad but his part is even worse written. And so on through the supporting cast. Until you get to Jim Byrnes, who’s just bad.

But The Source has a very specific audience in mind. It’s for people who loved the “Highlander” TV show so much they don’t care about the movie being bad. The film doesn’t ask for anything except to be engaged on those terms. It’s a franchise popular enough to get investors but not buyers. In terms of film industry history, “Highlander” is actually somewhat relevant. It helped prime the world for fantasy and sci-fi properties to be successful, while not successful itself. It fell on its sword.

Stephen Kelvin Watkins and Mark Bradley’s script takes itself way too seriously for The Source to be any fun. Director Leonard doesn’t have his moments because, even though he knows how to compose a Panavision frame at least somewhat competently, he’s shooting on crappy video and cinematographer Steve Arnold can’t shoot it. There’s lots of poorly matched digital backdrops in The Source. It’s knowingly incompetent, begging for an incomplete mark versus a fail; a technical cop out.

I wanted to be so enthused about The Source I was going to post an intentionally misguided response, something about it taking place in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Highlander 2 or having to do with the other planet but it’s not worth it. In the end, I’m just glad Thekla Reuten didn’t get too embarrassed by her lame part. Reuten’s pretty good for a lot of her performance and then the third act just flushes her part.

Not many people should see The Source. I’ve seen every one of the Highlander movies and I shouldn’t have seen The Source. I’ll bet people who worked on The Source never even watched The Source. It’s a feature length fan film made on the budget of a television commercial. It just happens to be produced by the rights owners. The Source isn’t about being accessible or generally rewarding. It’s not even about being good. But it’s also not worth any more words.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Brett Leonard; screenplay by Stephen Kelvin Watkins and Mark Bradley, based on a story by Bradley and characters created by Gregory Widen; director of photography, Steve Arnold; edited by Chris Blunden and Les Healey; music by George Kallis; production designer, Tom Brown; produced by William N. Panzer and Peter S. Davis; released by Lions Gate Films.

Starring Adrian Paul (Duncan MacLeod), Thekla Reuten (Anna Teshemka), Peter Wingfield (Methos), Thom Fell (Cardinal Giovanni), Stephen Wight (Reggie Weller), Stephen Rahman Hughes (Zai Jie), Cristian Solimeno (The Guardian), Patrice Naiambana (The Elder) and Jim Byrnes (Joe Dawson).


The American (2010, Anton Corbijn)

If someone had told me, I don’t think I would have believed Anton Corbijn got his start directing music videos. His direction of the American is so gentle and deliberate–so forcibly detached from his characters–it just doesn’t seem possible. Maybe they were all really well-directed music videos.

I hadn’t originally planned on rushing to see the American, which, it turns out, would have been a big mistake. I think the title’s meant as a joke (the source novel has a different one), because the film puts George Clooney–one of America’s most recognizable celebrities–in a completely not American film.

And Clooney’s the only American around in the film. But his presence isn’t played for comedy or irony–he even has big American ideals, though they’re never spelled out.

The film takes place over–at most–a month. It’s carefully paced, never exciting (it’s not a thriller), and extremely cautious. Think Our Man in Havana mixed with a Clouzot film, only without any humor.

And the ending works. Once it gets to the third act, it’s all brilliant, but there were a couple very bad places it could go. It goes to neither, doing something lovely and unexpected instead.

Clooney’s great–the American suggests he’s just going to get even better–and his supporting cast is wonderful. The two women, Thekla Reuten and Violante Placido, are amazing–Placido in particular. Reuten is good in a simpler role, Placido’s is rather complex.

It’s a quietly significant film.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Anton Corbijn; screenplay by Rowan Joffe, based on a novel by Martin Booth; director of photography, Martin Ruhe; edited by Andrew Hulme; music by Herbert Grönemeyer; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Anne Carey, Jill Green, Ann Wingate, Grant Heslov and George Clooney; released by Focus Features.

Starring George Clooney (Jack), Violante Placido (Clara), Paolo Bonacelli (Father Benedetto), Thekla Reuten (Mathilde) and Johan Leysen (Pavel).


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