Matthew Lickona 3 p.m., March 23
The Promise follows The Ottoman Lieutenant and Queen of the Desert as the third film in almost as many weeks set in the Ottoman Empire near the end of World War I. They saved the best for last. When the Turks learned that former studio head Kirk Kerkorian planned on turning Franz Werfel’s 1933 novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh into a feature film, they threatened to interfere with the distribution of MGM’s films in Turkey. Additional pressure was put on the American government, and the project was shelved. But for whatever reason, Kerkorian could not go to his grave without this story being told onsceen. He signed a check for $100 million and insisted that all proceeds go to charity. The result is a sprawling, ‘60s-style epic with just enough political intrigue to prop up the occasionally wobbly romantic triangle formed by Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and an uncharacteristically ill-fitting Christian Bale. Terry George (Reservation Road) directs. 2016.
- James Cromwell on The Promise and the hoops of Hollywood • April 19, 2017