Sunday, 6 December 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 82

481 - Topsy Turvy - 2 stars
Very surprised to see Mike Leigh put down the dishes and step away from the kitchen sink for once and create a film that is neither as dour as Vera Drake, that features the most ironic "best Christmas ever", or as insanely upbeat as Happy-Go-Lucky starring Stacey Solomon from X-Factor, sorry Sally Hawkins.
A leisurely (meaning slightly overlong) look at Gilbert & Sullivan's struggle following a run of creative impass as they attempt to bring The Mikado to the stage.
The attention to detail in recreating the theatrical period of the late 19th century is terrific but I really felt that at 160 minutes, this was too long and Leigh could have exercised some control over the editing. I wasn't really interested in this film until the Mikado production began, and that was at least an hour into the film! Also surprised at the lack of interaction between Gilbert and Sullivan in the film, and Jim Broadbent's Gilbert seems to be a dry run for his performance as Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge.
258 - The Blues Brothers - 2 stars
A few weeks ago I called Moulin Rouge an over-the-top musical, however musicals probably don't get more over-the-top than this!
Don't think any Gene Kelly musicals feature a car chase through a shopping mall, destroying ever shop in the place, or an attempt to destroy the most cars on screen in film history!
The Blues Brothers started life as a Saturday Night Live sketch and unfortunately it is a case of the soundtrack being better than the actual film, for once you take away the extreme excess of the chase scenes, and Carrie Fisher's attempts on Belushi's life then there really isn't much here apart from the songs.

483 - The Big Red One - 2 stars
An un-Hollywood treatment of WWII based on the real life accounts of director Sam Fuller. It was an odd movie to watch as it was full of familiar scenarios yet devoid of the usual Hollywood cliches that are present in so many fictional war stories.
Four recruits slowly lose their innocence to the second world war under the guidance of the weary, gritty Lee Marvin. Through the various campaigns they grow closer to each other, but become withdrawn from the rest of the squad who are nameless, expendable grunts who worry about getting their cock blown off (you'll understand when you see it).
So odd to see Luke Skywalker snapping and firing round after round into the body of a Nazi whilst liberating a concentration camp.
I should have felt more emotional when watching this true story but it seems that I have become used to the Hollywood take on the war, and feel that this story (as such) has been told better elsewhere.

Days remaining - 283 Films remaining - 378

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