Jeff York reviews “The Beguiled,” “Beatriz at Dinner,” “The Witness for the Prosecution,” and “Twin Peaks” on The Establishing Shot



I’m not sure why THE BEGUILED was remade, especially when the original was so terrific. Coppola has talked during the press junket for the film about wanting to direct a movie driven more by dialogue, especially when so many of her others have been more visually driven. Think about THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, MARIE ANTOINETTE and THE BLING RING and you’ll likely remember the searing visuals more than a line or passage of dialogue. Still, THE BEGUILED didn’t need to be the one where she attempted something different. And frankly, as great as many of its parts are, her remake stumbles due to its lack of proper time management. The film is a scant 90 minutes, 15 minutes less than the 1971 original. And as the narrative just gets over the 30-minute mark, Coppola starts rushing her story’s beats. Was timing an issue to her?  Did she think we’d be bored? One wonders what was left on the cutting room floor. Or, to paraphrase what Evans told Sofia’s father, where is the movie?


Another film that clocks in way too short is BEATRIZ AT DINNER. The whole thing is only an hour and 22 minutes, and that’s including its final credits scroll. It feels too thin, too light, especially given such a short playing time, even though it’s being marketed as the first film for the “Trump era.” Indeed, the villain character in the piece bares more than a passing resemblance to our 45th president. But this isn’t an editorial cartoon going in for a quick hit job. It’s a movie and it needs to be longer.


Occasionally, The Establishing Shot delves into the small screen, and there is a BBC made-for-television movie that is now available OnDemand that is not only a must-see, but it demonstrates just how to make the absolute most of time. It’s a new version of Agatha Christie’s famed short story THE WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION and every second of its 120-minute length crackles with tension and mystery.


Finally, we come to Showtime’s reboot of the cult classic television series TWIN PEAKS. David Lynch and Mark Frost have been given carte blanche to bring their mystery/soap back to life for a third season some 25 years after ABC cancelled the two-year phenomenon. These filmmakers have been given 18 hours to tell their tale this time, and thus far, the eight hours already aired have been as fascinating as anything ever shown on series television. It may have even eclipsed the first-run series back in 1990-1992 in its talk value and fan determination to pour over what it all means online.


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