Last night I caught what we were told was the first-ever screening of Steven Zaillian's All the King's Men starring Sean Penn, Jude Law (who is very good), Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo (who is given nothing at all to do) and Anthony Hopkins.
I know there was Oscar buzz about the film a while ago, but you can forget it. Boy does this flick ever drag. It has serious timing problems too: the audience is never sure when we are. There are these weird flashbacks to Jude Law's childhood that make no sense and serve only to mire the story further in memory and the past. The political message of the original film is lost almost completely, though the politics are the best thing in the new one. Sean Penn has a stump speech early on that really got my skin bristling: it is a thing of power and excitement, but the rest of the film is nothing if not frustrating and static. It's as though nothing happens at all in the movie: the continuity is such that you feel everything in the film is happening at exactly the same time. It's damned confusing.
It's very poorly directed, too. The audience was constantly laughing when it ought not to have been, and instead of the interesting "Sadie" character that got Mercedes McCambridge an Oscar in 1950, the director treats Patricia Clarkson's "Sadie" purely as comic relief. She has not one single scene of note. I don't know, there's a lot that I can say about this movie, but all I can think of is bomb bomb bomb. This movie was no good from start to finish and boring as Hell. Supposedly it is not a final cut, but I honestly don't know what Zaillian could do with it now. But any predictions we had for any of the actors in the movie getting Oscar nominations come January 2006 need to be let go of immediately. This movie isn't grabbing any nominations: not a single one. Mark my words.