History hits the silver screen

The Other Boleyn Girl
Starring: Eric Bana, Natalie Portman

Based on the Philippa Gregory novel, this film tells the tale of two sisters, Anne Boleyn, played by Natalie Portman, and Mary Boleyn, played by Scarlett Johansson.

Anne Boleyn is known in history as the wife of King Henry VIII who was beheaded. Her sister Mary is not as well known. The movie explains how the sisters were pushed by their father to become King Henry VIII’s mistresses in hopes of giving the family more power. Mary, who loves Henry VIII, becomes pregnant through him but they never marry. Anne wants to be queen and convinces the king to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry her. This doesn’t end well either, as the sisters form a bitter rivalry over power and romance.

Johansson does a good job portraying Mary and looks like she belongs in that historical period. Eric Bana plays Henry VIII and is also enjoyable, as is Portman, who has the largest role in this movie.

All in all I think this movie is worth seeing, especially for the cast’s performances. The character I was most fond of was Mary, Johansson’s character. I liked the way she used her English accent, making her character seem believable.

If you’re a big fan of history then I think this film would definitely be of interest to you. History buffs will enjoy the costumes and sets, although I am not sure how true the story is. The movie shows how difficult life was in those times, while the story explains how these two sisters became rivals and fought for a king’s affection. Some of the movie was brutal, but the chemistry between the sisters and their friendship played into the sudden formation of a rivalry.

Starring: Christina Ricci

What would you do if you were cursed with the face of a pig? That is the dilemma faced by Penelope Wilhern, played by Christina Ricci, in “Penelope.” Directed by Mark Palansky, this is a modern-day fairy tale that deals with being different and accepting yourself for who you are.

Starring along with Ricci are James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara and Peter Dinklage. McAvoy is charming as the guy who starts out as a loser, but is changed after meeting his love interest, Penelope. O’Hara will make you laugh as the mother who is desperate to find Penelope a husband who can break her curse.

Dinklage is also well cast as a sneaky reporter out to expose Penelope to the world after her parents have hidden her for most of her life. Reese Witherspoon appears as Penelope’s friend in a smaller role than we’re used to seeing her in, but is as appealing as ever. Witherspoon also worked behind the scenes as a producer.

The movie begins by telling the history of the curse that has been put on the Wilhern family. This sets the fairy-tale feel that continues throughout the movie. The moral of the story is obvious and we can all identify with Penelope; everyone has assumed the role of outcast at one point in their life. Ricci portrays the title character well and will have the audience rooting for her.

As in all fairy tales, the plot is very predictable, but the characters are memorable and the cast makes “Penelope” worth seeing, snout and all.