[VIDEO REVIEWS]Battling ghosts, jousting with pop culture

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[VIDEO REVIEWS]Battling ghosts, jousting with pop culture

Two new videos this week are set in the past, one near and one distant.

THE CLAIM (2000)

Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Starring Wes Bentley, Milla Jovovich, Nastassja Kinski, Peter Mullan, Sarah Polley

"The Claim" is visually stunning, but the plot lacks substance. Visions of avalanches and blizzards overpower the tale. The setting is the American West, where a post-gold rush town called Kingdom Come is governed by an ostensibly good man, Daniel Dillon (Mullan), who harbors a dark secret about his past.

High in the lonely Sierra Nevada mountains, Mayor Dillon spends the quiet winter dallying with his mistress, Lucia (Jovovich), taking care of the townspeople, and being tormented by memories.

Kingdom Come's survival depends on accessibility to the railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad sends a surveyor, Dalglish (Bentley), who will decide whether the train passes through the town or takes an easier route. Dillon needs Dalglish if Kingdom Come is to avoid becoming a ghost town.

Two women also arrive around the same time as Dalglish: Elena (Kinski), who is dying of tuberculosis, and her innocent daughter Hope (Polley), whom Dalglish is intrigued by. Dalglish also spends time at the local brothel, run by Lucia.

The arrival of Elena and Hope stirs up Dillon's tormenting past. The good mayor must now seek self-redemption while trying to save his town.

A KNIGHT'S TALE (2001) - ("GISA WILLIAM" in Korean)

Directed by Brian Helgeland. Starring Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk and Shannyn Sossamon.

Helgeland pairs a rock sound track with a medieval story based loosely on Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." What results is shamelessly anachronistic, but rollicking good fun.

The tale stars Ledger as William, one of three servants to a knight. After the knight is killed in battle, the servants must come up with a plan to fill their empty bellies.

William talks his cohorts, Roland (Addy) and Wat (Tudyk), into pretending to be squires, which would enable William to pose as a knight and enter a jousting competition.

The three set off, and meet a naked man named Chaucer (Bettany). All Chaucer requires is food, clothing and shoes, and he will forge William's Letters of Patents, which are needed to enter the competition.

William's love interest is the lady Jocelyn (Sossamon). Sossamon makes a better model than an actress, but she appears to be having fun. The villain is Count Adhemar (Sewell), who also seeks the jousting title and Jocelyn's favors.

The star of the movie is clearly Bettany. Whether naked or working up a crowd clothed, he is brilliant.

The movie begins with a jousting competition during which the audience does the wave and sings Queen's "We Will Rock You." Other amusing scenes include a waltz that morphs into a dance to a David Bowie song.

by Joe Yong-hee

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