The first post in this thread will be # 14,394.
The ghost of George Sanders reminds you to link your films, and that one should feel free to move on if bored.
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then watch Anthony Mann's autumnal masterpiece The Fall of the Roman Empire to see how an epic can really be done right.
I love Anthony Mann. And I became a student of ancient history precisely because I so loved Roman spectacle movies. But this picture ain't no masterpiece, my friend -- autumnal or otherwise. I've dealt with it at length elsewhere, but a few words here: First, the idea is terrific. If one has to choose a single point at which to demonstrate the transformation of classy Roman values into common, degraded shit, he could hardly do better than to narrate the passage from the reign of Marcus Aurelius into that of his worthless son, Commodus. Second, the cast is spectacular. Third, the sets are even more spectacular -- Rome's Forum was probably the biggest single set ever built up to that time and worth every penny spent on it. Fourth, the screenplay, as far as it goes, is literate and intelligent. Fifth, Mann already proved he could handle epic movies with El Cid. Sixth, it has some genuinely satisfying scenes.
All those are in the asset column. On the debit side there's only a single entry: The movie stinks.
The rhythms are not right. It's often dull. Some actors -- like Omar Sharif -- are wholly wasted or cameo-ed into irrelevancy. Some of the action scenes -- the end of an angry chariot race between Boyd and Plummer, for example -- are cut off and left to hang, emotionally. The characters' motivations are too precious, too refined, to be believable.
I saw the film in its first run. I can't remember being in a theater with an audience as righteously hostile as the one with whom I watched this. At one moment, when Commodus utters his signature line, "If you listen carefully, you can hear the gods laughing," a guy in the balcony squealed out his own mock laughter, and the entire theater erupted in acid sympathy.
Cleopatra, on the other hand, is often condemned as "the picture that will not end." But if you can divvy the watching of it into two -- seeing up to the intermission on night one, then to the finish on the second night -- it becomes easier to take. It's script is also literate, even funny. Mankiewicz is no Mann; he's no director of BIG budget scenes. But he's sensational in one-on-ones like you get in sex farces. So in telling this story of the Egyptian (Greek) fox and her two celebrated lovers, he's actually more at home than he's given credit for. I certainly can't dub it a masterpiece. But it's qualities have worn pretty well -- especially in the teeth of a vicious critical reaction.
To each their own. Mankiewicz worked wonders (and took a lot of speed) with a troubled production that was over budget before he even started on it. As for your seeing FOTRE in the first run at the tail end of the epic saga cycle, perhaps others see it with fresh eyes. I was not bored watching it as I was watching Cleopatra (and I did watch it in two parts) Fall of the Roman Empire just has better overall design. It was gorgeous to watch even when the going got slow. Cleopatra, as I noted above, is a very expensive Frankenstein monster made of beautiful but mismatched parts, (including some surprising T and A displays) but with an extremely lugubrious and clumsy gait. Well worth seeing, but be warned it crawls on forever.
surprising T and A displays
I try not to let that affect the impartiality of my analysis.
(But I do find myself returning to Cleo's entrance into Rome.)
Yeah, that was the part I was thinking of too. Gee, ancient Rome was just like Las Vegas.
Bernie Jack Black does a great job of disappearing into the title character, an assistant funeral director in a small town named Carthage in Texas. He meets a rich widow well-played by Shirley Maclaine and the rest of this true story is fairly predictable. However the tale is in the telling, and Richard Linklater includes documentary style interviews with real people who witnessed the story as it unfolded. I am still laughing at some of the things these guys said. Truly hilarious. I want to move there. Watch it at home, it'll be just as funny.
Johnny English Reborn, This is one of the funniest movies to come out in the last couple of years. Rowan Atk9inson does not get the credit he deserves as the funniest person in the movies today. A true classic
Holiday weekends are just about the only time I have to indulge in multiple hour series like David Starkey's Elizabeth (2000). I've seen/heard the story a hundred times and, still, nothing compares to Elizabeth R (1971), the BBC miniseries starring Glenda Jackson, in terms of historical detail and accuracy of portrayal in my eyes. Starkey goes the predictable route of highlighting the more salacious events of her reign and steers clear of Elizabethan state policy unless it suits the moment. Adequate dramatic treatment. Middling historical perspective. **
My Brain is still hurting from these...
Mission Impossible- Ghost Protocol (I really do not know why...)
Just saw that IMDB.Com shows a 7.5 rating out of 10... Dunno... I might give it a 2 but a 7.5?, perhaps I am just suffering from the loss of all that saturated fat surrounding my mid section but... I really did not like it... I did like it more then the next movie though...
I really do not know what all the hype was about (in the library at least) It was disjointed, confusing and very stiff for a movie that was supposed to be full of MMA action... Maybe a 1... Thats being generous though...
Sam Worthington's out on a ledge as a ruse to allow his brother to complete a heist movie and prove his innocence. The only questions are: Who are the dirty cops and Why does Kyra Sedgewick have a Hispanic name? Predictable, yet entertaining. Exactly what the commercials promised. 5/10
Hatfield and McCoys--western on the History Channel. A three story arc over three nights. I thought it was a pretty good western about grievances that spun way outta control, but that was the ole west, Kevin Costener & Bill Paxton among others.