Milos Forman's hugely under-rated film of E. L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime, and it's spelled Coalhouse. Otherwise, though, Michael Kohlhaas and Coalhouse Walker have a lot in common, their quest for justice in particular. The new film, AGE OF UPRISING: THE LEGEND OF MICHAEL KOHLHAAS (a rather cumbersome title for what was simply called Michael Kohlhaas in Europe), during its first hour seems pretty much your typical clanking-armour revenge movie.
Mads Mikkelsen (above, right), who possesses probably the most consistently riveting male face currently on screen, helps make that first hour more bearable. In it, our hero Michael, whom he plays, and very well, as a highly moral man, is taken terrible advantage of by the local Baron, illegally confiscating Michael's horses, then setting dogs on his much-loved servant, and finally... well, you'll see. By the end of that initial hour, our hero has rounded up (many of the men come to him of their own volition) a small army (below) of the disenfranchised and dissa-tisfied, and has killed a number of the Baron's henchmen. So far, so-so.
Denis Lavant plays a churchman who tries to convince Kohlhaas to end his siege, and their conversation is a fine one, bringing to light the usual case of the Church supporting the powers-that-be, whoever they may be. Then the Princess of the realm (Roxane Duran), whom the Baron serves (she's the sister of the current French King), agrees to give Kohlhaas amnesty. (The visit the Princess pays him, arriving in the midst of his al fresco bath, is something to see -- and hear.)
Bruno Ganz (above, right, as a character called only The Governor) is spellbinding in every way, leaving us, as well as Kohlhaas both shaken yet somehow at peace, having begun to understand one's place in a world vastly larger than oneself.
Sergi López as a one-armed, would-be recruit and Amira Casar as the local Abbess to Mélusine Mayance (above, left, from Sarah's Key) as Kohlhaas' daughter and Jacques Nolot as his kindly but frightened lawyer.
Music Box Films and running 122 minutes, the movie opens tomorrow, Friday, May 30, in New York City at the Cinema Village, in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 and Playhouse 7, in Miami at the Tower Theater, and in Phoenix at the Film Bar. Click here (and then click on THEATERS) to see further scheduled playdates.