It’s no accident that “The Promise” is the second war drama to open in the last few weeks that’s set in Turkey during the run up to WWI. The earlier film, “The Ottoman Lieutenant,” gives the Turkish point of view, minimizing the cost of the conflict to the Armenian people. “The Promise” supports the view of an Armenian genocide. “The Promise” is a romantic triangle about an Armenian medical student, played by Oscar Isaac, who falls for an Armenian nanny, played by Charlotte Le Bon. Problem is, the nanny’s boyfriend is an American journalist, played by Christian Bale, and the Turks are about to wipe them all out. Beautifully acted and produced, this respectable historical epic is far better than “The Ottoman Lieutenant,” but still never quite catches fire, romantically or politically.
“The Lost City of Z” is based on the true story of a British explorer who may have been the inspiration for Indiana Jones. Charlie Hunnam plays Percy Fawcett, the man who risked life and limb to repeatedly explore the Amazon rainforest in the early 1900s in order to prove his theory that an advanced civilization once thrived there. A slowly paced epic that clocks in at two hours and twenty minutes, “The Lost City of Z” focuses on intellect and mystery instead of thrills and adventure.
Also opening this week, “Free Fire” is a violent throwback action flick set in the 1970s. “Unforgettable” is a drama about a wacko ex-wife who goes after her ex-husband’s fiancee. Disney returns with another nature documentary about wildlife in the Far East. It’s called “Born in China.” “Phoenix Forgotten” is a sci-fi flick involving UFOs in 1997. “Their Finest” is a WWII drama about the production of British war movies. “Cezanne et Moi” involves the impressionist Paul Cezanne and his pal Emile Zola. “David Lynch, The Art Life” is a behind the scenes documentary about the cult classic, “Eraserhead.”