King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
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In a crowded field, David Beckham's cameo is the worst thing about King Arthur: Legends of the Sword

A better name for this geezerish fiasco might have been Excalibants.

There are many terrible things about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie’s take on Arthurian myth, so many in fact that while watching it I rather gave up counting them and amused myself instead by coming up with alternative titles that might better reflect the film’s geezerish, bombastic and uniquely unsubtle nature. Lancelot Du Lad, say. Excalibants. Famalot.

The unvaryingly shouty performances are hard to tolerate, as are the mannered, breakneck montages in which one laddish character or another gives a précis of a particular tale or anticipates the manner in which they see a situation panning out (a stylistic digression familiar from Ritchie’s other work) in the fashion of a shaggy-dog story recounted from a bar-stool. There is only one thing in the picture that really stands out to me as original or interesting: as Arthur, Charlie Hunnam has one splendid moment, no more than a few seconds long, in which he pants openly in the moments following a fight. No dialogue — just panting, while he catches his breath again. There’s something you don’t see very often. No one involved in fisticuffs in the movies ever looks remotely winded, at least not if they’re the victor. So hats off to Ritchie for that, and that alone.

In a poor film, the use of David Beckham in a minor but significant role stands out as an own goal. It's a towering misjudgement and a good example of the way filmmaking for Ritchie is really just an extension of socialising. You get your mates around you, have a few drinks and a few larks and Bob’s your uncle. Or Becks, in this case.

No director who truly had his eye on the ball, and was considering the good of the film, would ever have countenanced the casting of Beckham in what is the key scene in the movie: Arthur’s retrieval of the sword Excalibur from the stone in which it is encased. This is the point in the story at which Arthur’s destiny is made manifest. His act singles him out as unique and changes the course of his life. So what is Ritchie’s response to dramatising this pivotal moment? Stick Becks in there to distract the audience’s attention away from this transformative point in the hero’s story. This on its own would be proof enough that Ritchie is not any kind of film director, even if there were not already 20 years’ worth of other movies to be taken into account.

I know Beckham and Ritchie are buddies. I get it. I got it before he gave him a walk-on in his last film, The Man from UNCLE. But I don’t go to the cinema to watch other people’s home movies. It might be considered a nice touch that Ritchie partially disfigures his friend’s beautiful face with an unsightly and angry-looking scar. But that only serves as an extra distraction within the larger one of having Beckham in the picture at all. Now the viewer thinks: Is that David Beckham? It is David Beckham! Wow. How funny. And they’ve put a horrible scar over his face. Oh, that’s good. He’s usually so pretty and here he is looking slightly less so. Very droll.

Meanwhile, to the right of the frame, Arthur has just pulled the sword from the stone while the viewer is getting over this celebrity cameo. It’s only Excalibur, though. No biggie.

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ opens on Friday.

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

Photo: Channel 4
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Who will win Great British Bake Off 2017 based on the contestants’ Twitters

An extremely serious and damning investigation. 

It was morning but the sky was as dark as the night – and the night was as dark as a quite dark rat. He walked in. A real smooth gent with legs for seconds. His pins were draped in the finest boot-cut jeans money could buy, and bad news was written all over his face. “I’m Paul,” he said. “I know”. My hooch ran dry that night – but the conversation never did. By nightfall, it was clear as a see-through rat.   

Some might say that going amateur detective to figure out which contestants win and lose in this year’s Great British Bake Off is spoiling the fun faster than a Baked Alaska left out of the freezer. To those people I’d say: yes. The following article is not fun. It is a serious and intense week-by-week breakdown of who will leave GBBO in 2017. How? Using the contestants’ Twitter and Instagram accounts, of course.

The clues are simple but manifold, like a rat with cousins. They include:

  • The date a contestant signed up for social media (was it during, or after, the competition?)
  • Whether a contestant follows any of the others (indicating they had a chance to bond)
  • A contestant’s personal blog and headshots (has the contestant already snaffled a PR?)
  • Pictures of the contestant's baking.
  • Whether a baker refers to themselves as a “baker” or “contestant” (I still haven’t figured this one out but FOR GOD’S SAKE WATSON, THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT)

Using these and other damning, damning, damning clues, I have broken down the contestants into early leavers, mid-season departures, and finalists. I apologise for what I have done.

Early leavers

Kate

Kate appears not to have a Twitter – or at least not one that the other contestants fancy following. This means she likely doesn’t have a book deal on the way, as she’d need to start building her social media presence now. Plus, look at how she’s holding that fork. That’s not how you hold a fork, Kate.

Estimated departure: Week 1

Julia

This year’s Bake Off began filming on 30 April and each series has ten episodes, meaning filming ran until at least 9 July. Julia first tweeted on 8 May – a Monday, presumably after a Sunday of filming. Her Instagram shows she baked throughout June and then – aha! – went on holiday. What does this mean? What does anything mean?

Estimated departure: Week 2

James

James has a swish blog that could indicate a PR pal (and a marketing agency recently followed him on Twitter). That said, after an April and May hiatus, James began tweeting regularly in June – DID HE PERHAPS HAVE A SUDDEN INFLUX OF FREE TIME? No one can say. Except me. I can and I am.

Estimated departure: Week 3

Tom

Token-hottie Tom is a real trickster, as a social media-savvy youngster. That said, he tweeted about being distracted at work today, indicating he is still in his old job as opposed to working on his latest range of wooden spoons. His Instagram is suspiciously private and his Twitter sparked into activity in June. What secrets lurk behind that mysteriously hot face? What is he trying to tell me, and only me, at this time?

Estimated departure: Week 4

Peter

Peter’s blog is EXCEPTIONALLY swish, but he does work in IT, meaning this isn’t a huge clue about any potential managers. Although Peter’s bakes look as beautiful as the moon itself, he joined Twitter in May and started blogging then too, suggesting he had a wee bit of spare time on his hands. What’s more, his blog says he likes to incorporate coconut as an ingredient in “everything” he bakes, and there is absolutely no bread-baking way Paul Hollywood will stand for that.

Estimated departure: Week 5

Mid-season departures

Stacey

Stacey’s buns ain’t got it going on. The mum of three only started tweeting today – and this was simply to retweet GBBO’s official announcements. That said, Stacey appears to have cooked a courgette cake on 9 June, indicating she stays in the competition until at least free-from week (or she’s just a massive sadist).

Estimated departure: Week 6

Chris

Chris is a tricky one, as he’s already verified on Twitter and was already solidly social media famous before GBBO. The one stinker of a clue he did leave, however, was tweeting about baking a cake without sugar on 5 June. As he was in London on 18 June (a Sunday, and therefore a GBBO filming day) and between the free-from week and this date he tweeted about bread and biscuits (which are traditionally filmed before free-from week in Bake Off history) I suspect he left just before, or slap bang on, Week 7. ARE YOU PROUD NOW, MOTHER?

Estimated departure: Week 7

Flo

Flo’s personal motto is “Flo leaves no clues”, or at least I assume it is because truly, the lady doesn’t. She’s the oldest Bake Off contestant ever, meaning we can forgive her for not logging onto the WWWs. I am certain she’ll join Twitter once she realises how many people love her, a bit like Val of seasons past. See you soon, Flo. See you soon.

Estimated departure: Week 8

Liam

Liam either left in Week 1 or Week 9 – with 0 percent chance it was any of the weeks in between. The boy is an enigma – a cupcake conundrum, a macaron mystery. His bagel-eyed Twitter profile picture could realistically either be a professional shot OR taken by an A-Level mate with his dad’s camera. He tweeted calling his other contestants “family”, but he also only follows ONE of them on the site. Oh, oh, oh, mysterious boy, I want to get close to you. Move your baking next to mine.

Estimated departure: Week 9

Finalists

Steven

Twitter bios are laden with hidden meanings and Steven Carter-Bailey’s doesn’t disappoint. His bio tells people to tune in “every” (every!) Tuesday and he has started his own hashtag, #StevenGBBO. As he only started tweeting 4 August (indicating he was a busy lil baker before this point) AND his cakes look exceptionally lovely, this boy stinks of finalist.  

(That said, he has never tweeted about bread, meaning he potentially got chucked out on week three, Paul Hollywood’s reckoning.)

Sophie

Sophie’s Twitter trail is the most revealing of the lot, as the bike-loving baker recently followed a talent agency on the site. This agency represents one of last year’s GBBO bakers who left just before the finale. It’s clear Sophie’s rising faster than some saffron-infused sourdough left overnight in Mary’s proving drawer. Either that or she's bolder than Candice's lipstick. 

Chuen-Yan

Since joining Twitter in April 2017, Yan has been remarkably silent. Does this indicate an early departure? Yes, probably. Despite this, I’m going to put her as a finalist. She looks really nice. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.