Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: A Mighty Heart, Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman
by Richard Knight, Jr.
2007-06-20

This article shared 3847 times since Wed Jun 20, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart. Timothy Spall in Pierrepoint.

_________

The kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 have to make up one of the most gut-wrenching examples of reporters who have put themselves in harm's way only to end up the story themselves. A Mighty Heart—the book written by Pearl's widow, Mariane, that relays the events surrounding this tragedy—is gripping, forthright and unsentimental ( which is not surprising, given Mariane Pearl's own credentials as a foreign correspondent ) . Now comes a movie that welds those emotions to the potent star quality of Angelina Jolie in the leading part. The result is a compelling film that's like watching a particularly grand Bette Davis performance without the grandstanding melodramatics.

A Mighty Heart also finally confirms what the tabloids and a series of okay-but-not-particularly-memorable leading roles have told us is true: Jolie is a thrilling screen presence. From the moment she broke through playing bisexual model Gia in the movie of the same name, we knew the gorgeous Jolie could act and, with the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movies, that she had the presence needed for big-budget action pictures. But she's never really carried a movie alone until now. With this movie she becomes a full-fledged movie star—one of those old-fashioned, mysterious megawatt movie stars they don't make very often these days.

Jolie is in nearly every scene of A Mighty Heart and, like Helen Mirren in The Queen, only lets the intensity of her emotions out in either small irritable outbursts or in private. When the sobs of despair finally do come in great torrents of grief, they are all the more heartbreaking to witness because of the momentary loss of her iron control.

On Jan. 23, 2002, while in Karachi, Pakistan, Daniel Pearl ( played by Dan Futterman ) disappeared while trying to meet an alleged terrorist leader. World attention focused on the story when news of his kidnapping became public. Public pleas from Pearl's editor ( played in the film by out actor Denis O'Hare ) and Mariane ( who was pregnant with the couple's first child ) to the kidnappers were ignored and, nine days after being captured, Pearl was brutally beheaded in a videotape that was later leaked to the Internet.

Director Michael Winterbottom's film methodically goes through these events beginning with the last day the Pearls shared. We see the contrast of the peaceful oasis of the gated house where the couple stayed with the cacophony and swarm of poverty-stricken Karachi just outside those gates. We intuit that this was a smart, careful couple long used to carving out personal sanctuaries in the midst of dangerous places, so it's no surprise that Mariane isn't particularly worried at first that Daniel doesn't respond to her repeated attempts to phone him on her cell phone after he has failed to return home. As the movie progresses, that cell phone—with its tiny light shining in the darkness of the Pearl's bedroom—becomes a private beacon of hope as Mariane presses 'send' over and over again just to hear Daniel's outgoing message on voice mail.

These quiet moments—a housekeeper's child silently playing underfoot while bureaucrats swirl around overhead; Mariane stepping out into the courtyard of the house to catch her breath after a setback; a worried glance between two friends of the couple's as some disquieting news is revealed—provide an elegiac respite from the rest of the nuts-and-bolts story which shows us the 'civilized' media, embassy and CIA figures surrounding Mariane and the concurrent, intense investigation by the Pakistani authorities. The detailed intricacies of all these agencies working together—the simple act of being able to provide enough electricity to power the computers needed for the job—add much to the authoritative feel of the movie.

Always, the workmanlike pace is elevated by Jolie's enigmatic presence ( and is aided by the complicated accent she adopts ) . She is greatly supported by an international cast that includes Futterman ( who is seen throughout in haunting flashbacks ) ; O'Hare as the boss; Archie Panjabi as a close friend and fellow reporter; and, especially, Irfan Kahn as the taciturn police captain determined to find Daniel before it is too late.

Jolie has wisely chosen a film role that not only elevates her own star wattage but that is also far from the standard female movie-star part. Mariane is no insecure bimbo; terrified wife; or love-starved but lovable kook, and she's no helpless victim, either. The gossip rags will continue to eat up every move that the actress makes, given her real-life match-up with fellow beauty Brad Pitt. But from here on out, the attention, at least with regard to her work, is certainly understandable—and warranted.

British character actor Timothy Spall is best recognized by film audiences for his character roles, particularly as Wormtail in the Harry Potter series. But he's gotten the chance to essay a starring part in Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman, the off-putting story of the infamous man known as England's last hangman. Albert Pierrepoint followed in the footsteps of his father and was particularly prolific as his tenure as England's bringer of death occurred before, during and after World War II—when a huge crop of war criminals were hung.

Adrian Shergold's dark, unsettling film shows us a man who is so expert at his work that he practically sings when he is complimented on the speed with which he brings death to those judged guilty. Even his wife, expertly played by Juliet Stevenson, is proud of her Albert. But as the years pass and the bodies pile up, Pierrepoint, not surprisingly, begins to feel deep conflicts about his strange and distasteful specialty. Spall brings a quiet dignity to the role and suggests a sense of duty and pride in his work; in addition, he is equally fine in latter sections of the movie and displays a face that is wracked with torment over what he has done. Apart from its repugnant subject matter ( and, yes, we see numerous hangings ) and within the confines of its small story, Pierrepoint is a well-done character study of a man who, on the face of it, spent a lifetime leaping before he bothered to look.

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . People can leave feedback at the latter Web site, where there is also find ordering information on my new book of collected film reviews, Knight at the Movies 2004-2006.


This article shared 3847 times since Wed Jun 20, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Actor Ezra Miller supposedly housing people at firearm-filled farm 2022-06-24
- Non-binary actor Ezra Miller is allegedly housing a young mother and her three small children at a Vermont farm, which is allegedly littered with firearms, ammunition and marijuana, according to a Page Six item that cited ...


Gay News

'Hacks,' 'Euphoria' lead LGBTQ+ critics' Dorian TV nominations 2022-06-23
-- From a press release - JUNE 22, 2022 - The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics—now composed of 385 professional critics and journalists covering film and television—announced its 14th Dorian TV Awards nominations for the best in all of TV, mainstream to ...


Gay News

TELEVISION 'A League of Their Own' screening July 2 in Rockford 2022-06-23
-- From a press release - ROCKFORD, Illinois — June 22, 2022 — Prime Video and the City of Rockford will team up to host a free advance screening of the upcoming Prime Video original series A League of Their Own. The ...


Gay News

Chicago Philharmonic launches 2022-23 season 2022-06-21
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - (June 20, 2022) Chicago Philharmonic has announced its 2022-23 symphonic season on the heels of a 2021-22 season that ended with the sold-out Chicago Premiere of Marvel Studios' Black Panther in Concert. The ...


Gay News

DANCE Chicago's Joffrey Ballet releasing Pride video filmed in NYC 2022-06-20
- The Joffrey Ballet and Action Lines—a video-production company founded by Joffrey artists Xavier Nunez and Dylan Gutierrez as well as writer/producer Eric Grant—have unveiled a video filmed at the FDR Four Freedoms State Park (on New ...


Gay News

Gloria Allen screening/gathering to take place June 23 2022-06-20
- A film screening/community gathering to honor the late trans icon Gloria Allen (also known as Mama Gloria) will take place Thursday, June 23, 6-8 p.m., at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-06-20
- "u don't know my alphabet."—Sexy Lukas Gage (from The White Lotus; Love, Victor; and the rebooted Queer as Folk) tweets his response to criticism that Hollywood shouldn't hire him to play LGBTQIA+ roles. When asked to ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Lightyear,' celebrity event, LGBT runner, Mariah Carey 2022-06-19
Video below - Pixar's latest film Lightyear is hitting theaters, and it has a special moment for gay fans—a same-sex kiss between the character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her female partner—that almost didn't happen, Out Magazine note ...


Gay News

Spacey charged with sexual assault; UK hearing set for June 16 2022-06-13
- British authorities have charged actor Kevin Spacey with four counts of sexual assault and a further offense, Deadline reported. The actor has also been charged with causing a person to "engage in penetrative sexual activity without ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jodie Comer, 'Queer As Folk,' trans film, Tom of Finland photos 2022-06-12
- Jodie Comer—the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning actress perhaps best known for playing LGBTQ+ assassin Villanelle on BBC America's Killing Eve—will make her Broadway debut next spring in Prima Facie, a new play by Suzie Miller, Deadline noted. ...


Gay News

Rebel Wilson comes out as LGBTQ+ [UPDATE] 2022-06-09
- It's fitting that, during Pride Month, actress Rebel Wilson has seemingly come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. On June 9, Wilson shared an Instagram post beside her new love, with the caption: "I ...


Gay News

WTTW celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month with special content 2022-06-08
- WTTW recently released its schedule of special programming in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month. Highlights include: True Colors: LGBTQ+ Our Stories, Our Songs (NEW) Wed., June 8 at 9:30 pm Offering a unique look at the ...


Gay News

2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards & Movie & TV Awards unveiled 2022-06-06
-- From a press release - New York, New York: (June 5, 2022) - The 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by Vanessa Hudgens, honored the biggest and brightest stars in movies and television with an epic, one-night only global event ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-06-06
- "My mother says that she will not sleep with anybody over the age of 25."—Rocco Ritchie talking about Madonna. This tidbit came courtesy of Dame Joan Collins—who prefaced the quote by saying "We were with her ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Variety list, Billy Porter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janelle Monae 2022-06-05
- In honor of Pride Month, Variety published "55 Queer Artists and Decision-Makers to Know in 2022." A few of those on the list include Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey; actor Sara Ramirez (And Just Like That…; Grey's ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.