The novel was published in the mid-1870s, but how old is Anna Karenina herself? The book places her around 28, though the husband, Karenin, is 20 years her senior. There was a film in 1935, with Garbo, who was 30 at the time, and Basil Rathbone as Karenin, when he was 42. That’s a fair gap, but what was better still, those two seemed to have aged and grown bitter in their marriage. There was another version, in 1948, with Vivien Leigh (35) and Ralph Richardson, who was 46. This time, we have Keira Knightley, 27, and Jude Law, who is 40.
One of the most emotionally affecting moments of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow comes, unfortunately, during the closing credits, when jazz vocalist Jane Monheit sings "Over the Rainbow." It's a wistful, haunting rendition that plays beautifully off Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz version, becoming at once old and new, an homage and an original. It's this challenge, of simultaneously conjuring the classics and offering something fresh and vital, that largely eludes Sky Captain, released on video today.
In the introduction to Home Movies I noted that, given the ascendance of video rental over theater attendance, movies are generally reviewed months before most people will see them. One exception, of course, is movies that aren't reviewed at all, having never been released theatrically. Ripley's Game, which Fine Line Features has put out on video after declining to distribute it to theaters, has not quite suffered this fate: A minor cause célèbre, it has gotten some attention in the press, and even enjoyed a three-night, sold out run in New York earlier this year.