What’s on TV Thursday: ‘The King’ and ‘Farming’

THE KING (2019) Stream on Netflix. Falstaff looks as if he has cut down on the sack and sugar in this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry plays. Falstaff, the usually rotund companion to Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), is played here by a relatively lean Joel Edgerton, opposite Timothée Chalamet as a stylish Hal-Henry. The film focuses on Hal’s evolution from sot to sovereign, ditching Shakespeare’s language in favor of a modern English script by Edgerton and David Michôd, who also directs. The story builds up to a climactic Battle of Agincourt, with help from a supporting cast that includes Ben Mendelsohn, who plays an ailing King Henry IV, and Robert Pattinson. “Michôd has a gift for screen violence and is generally good with actors,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The New York Times, “yet time and again your attention drifts from Hal-Henry to the story’s edges, where the supporting actors nibble at their tasty bits.”

CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965) Stream on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. A scruffier Falstaff can be found in this variation on Shakespeare from Orson Welles. “Chimes at Midnight” stars Welles as Falstaff in a story cobbled together from several Shakespeare plays. In a 1975 article in The Times, Vincent Canby wrote that this “may be the greatest Shakespearean film ever made, bar none.” Ownership disputes made the movie hard for potential audiences to track down for a long time; only in recent years did it become easily viewable.

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