Sunday, 22 November 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 68 - 100 not out!

315 - Sense & Sensibility - 3 stars
I wasn't a fan of costume dramas, not really my cup of tea. Couldn't see what all the fuss was about, my mother and sister swooned over Colin Firth's Mr Darcy in the BBC Pride & Prejudice. It wasn't until I saw that Joe Wright's version of P&P with Keira Knightley (obviously watched for other reasons) that I felt I had been too harsh on the genre and that there was more to them than people wearing bodices drinking tea in drawing rooms while arranging matches. What do I mean? Click here
Admittedly there is a lot of sitting around in this story of the Dashwood sisters looking for love after being evicted from the family home. It's success lies in the talents of the great cast.
This film is a veritable luvvie fest with the likes of Emma Thompson, Britain's greatest bad guy -Alan Rickman, England's Rose - Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant.
Grant seems well suited to this kind of film but does appear to have just one expression - sheepish - that has been used in this, Four Weddings and Notting Hill, which makes Hugh so charmingly befuddled.

It was now time for film number 100 in the challenge. Now officially 1/5th of the way through the list and on target to complete it by the time the 365 days are up. How to mark the century? Time to watch one of my very favourite films...

52 - The Shining - 5 stars
I don't care if Stephen King doesn't like it, for me Stanley Kubrick has crafted the greatest horror film ever made. An absolute masterpiece in terror as Jack Nicholson descends into madness as the eerie power of the Overlook Hotel takes hold.
Nicholson's performance is the obvious focal point of the film but there is a lot more to the film than just "Here's Johnny".
For me The Overlook is the most dominant character thanks to the beautiful set design (have you ever seen such fabulous/hideous carpets?), the sheer scale, influence and force that envelops the Torrance family and the manifestations of previous "guests" are a delight, like Lloyd the bartender and the deliciously evil Grady.
It may have been torturous to work on at times due to Stanley Kubrick, but thanks to his obsession and perfectionism, every single aspect of the film is a triumph, from the acting to camera work and sound.
The Blu Ray transfer is one of the best I've seen. The colours are so vivid and the sound is deafening, The Overlook took over again. It's like I'd always been there.

226 - Romeo & Juliet - 3 stars
The greatest love story ever told, adapted for the MTV generation. At first it is jarring to see Shakespeare's original text mixing with the arresting visual flair of Baz Luhrmann, but soon you don't even notice it with the cast coping well with the lyrical poetry of the Bard's words.
An excellent adaptation that got a young audience into Shakespeare, and opened the door to a host of other similar films (the only good one being 10 Things I Hate About You).

211 - Moulin Rouge - 5 stars
I couldn't believe it when a friend told me they hadn't seen this film, especially considering how much they love musicals. This was rectified this evening.
How to describe this film in two words... Spectacular, Spectacular!
Deftly moving between comedy and tragedy, Luhrmann uses modern songs to express the feelings of the characters in 1900 Paris with Ewan McGregor falling for Nicole Kidman's prostitute.
Like R&J, this is not a film that everyone will appreciate, as the dizzying descent into the Moulin Rouge moves at an electric pace that some found nauseating.
I however love everything about this film, even the normally insipid Nicole Kidman. Ewan McGregor has a good voice (better than Jedward certainly) and his emotions at the climax produce one of the best movie cries I've seen.
But this is a film about the music (well it's really about love but the music plays a huge part in that), and highlights include a camp reworking of Like a Virgin and a sexy tango version of Roxanne.
Please somebody do the right thing and turn this into a stage musical... I do realise the elephant could be an issue!

Days remaining - 297 Films remaining - 398

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