Sunday, 28 March 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 193

491 - Ben Hur - 3 stars

There is a tagline for Monty Python And The Holy Grail that says "makes Ben Hur look like an epic", and epic this is. Running in at just under four hours long, this is a real bum-number... even with an intermission!
What kind of film feels the need to start with a 10 minute overtune to a title card that reads 'overture', never heard of opening credits? That was 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back.
Heston is OK as Ben Hur but for me the real stars are some of the supporting characters. Stephen Boyd is excellent as Messala, the former friend who betrays him to advance his career, as is Jack Hawkins as Quintus Arrius.
I find it odd though that Boyd was beaten to the Best Supporting Actor by Hugh Griffith, who essentially did a RDJ and blacked up to play an Arabian Shiek.
After getting to the second half of the movie, which involved turning over the DVD, it was time for the main event. The Chariot Race.
It is still a genuinely thrilling spectacle some 50 years on, without resorting to a musical score, only the sound effects of horses, whips and shouts.
Lastly I knew this was a biblical epic but I couldn't help burst out laughing when Heston's is dying of thirst and prays to God for water and Jesus shows up with a cup of water for him, ridiculous!
Totally cracked up when Heston prays to God for water and a light shines and Jesus turns up, ridiculous!

340 - High And Low - 5 stars
This is what I love about this challenge; here is a film that knew nothing about, would never have watched without doing this and I discover one of the best crime films I've ever seen.
Directed by Kurosawa, who is best known for his Samurai films, shows that he is just as good working in the genre of crime.
This is a magnificent hostage thriller that is made up of two distinct halves. The first half is all set within the confines of the living room of Mr Gondo who is involved in a ransom plot, except this is not your usual ransom. The kidnapper has mistakenly kidnapped Mr Gondo's chaffeur's son rather than his own. What follows is an agonising dilemma; is another person's child worth 30 million yen and bankrupting his own family?
After the money changes hands and the boy is returned, the film focuses on the policemen who are dedicated to finding the criminal, using some good old fashioned detective work to discover the who and, more importantly for the viewer, the why.
I urge everyone reading this blog to find this film and give it a try, you won't regret it.

Days remaining - 172 Films remaining - 224

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