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If you liked "A Fish Called Wanda" and "In Bruges," you'll like aspects of "Brazil." Terry Gilliam directed this 34-year-old, wants-to-be-classic film about a totalitarian state "sometime in the 19th century." "Brazil" is a strange mixture of "Modern Times," "Metropolis," and "1984," all seasoned with the comedic absurdity of Monty Python. At first, without taking itself *too* seriously, it comes across as an extremely powerful, disturbing, effective satire against the oppressive state. Then this film ultimately collapses under its own weight: Rambling and lost, it becomes tedious and pretentious, and tries to be arty for the sake of being arty, sacrificing all semblance of plot for imagery and tone - it's as if the entire last-third of the movie was written on-the-fly. "Brazil" is a good movie, but there's a reason you probably haven't watched it before - someone spent a whole hell of a lot of money making this, but for me, it was a chore to finish. I'm certain there are people who love this film, and I'm curious to hear their thoughts. There are apparently three versions of this - I watched the 2'15" version with Gilliam's original ending, which is more than disturbing.
I suspect most readers here have neither seen "The Fixer," nor are familiar with the grotesque (but true) accusation of "Blood Libel" (completely unrelated to the term "Blood Simple"). Sir Alan Bates was justifiably honored for his portrayal of an early-twentieth-century Russian Jew named Yakov Bok (based on the unbelievable-but-true story of Menahem Mendel Beilis) with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor (which went to Cliff Robertson for "Charly" (which was a fine performance, but Bates deserved the award)) . The book (reportedly superior to the film) was written by Bernard Malamud (author of "The Natural"), and the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo (writer of "Roman Holiday" and director of "Johnny Got His Gun"). I won't summarize the film, but although slightly hamfisted (Trumbo was talented, but not subtle), this is an important movie, and a laudable performance by Bates, who looks freakishly like Anton Chigurh (enough so that I think that several aspects of Chigurh were based on Yakov Bok, even though one man is pure good, and the other is pure evil). For now, the film is available, in high quality, for free on YouTube, but I council people to watch it all in one day, and to be prepared for something more than lighthearted fare.
*** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The only thing I'd ever seen about "Chariots of Fire" is the opening song, the run along the beach (both of which take place at the very beginning of the film), and parodies thereof - it was hard not to be roused by the classic combination, worn out though it may be. I didn't realize the film took place in 1924; I thought it was a World War II movie - I know virtually nothing about it, so I'm looking forward to it very much. Okay, 25-minutes in, I'm a "wee bit" worried that this is going to be a "message movie" (the message of brotherhood), but I'm banking on the Best Picture win to ensure it isn't nauseating - anything that beats out "Raiders of the Lost Ark" must be great, right? Right? So far it's shaping up to be a classic human drama - Christian vs. Jew, for lack of a more elegant phrase. I'd say this is around the time of "feel-good" movies, but "Ordinary People" won the award the year before, so that theory is instantly dispelled. When Scotland was racing France in the quarter-mile, the maggot who pushed Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) off the track, never got another camera shot (I rewound the film to check (*)). Yes, Harold Abrahams' (Ben Cross) clutching of the paper when Liddell got back up to chase down his unethical foe was quite touching - go ahead, call me a softie. (*) Oh yes he did! About twenty minutes later, when he gave Abrahams (not Liddell) an "eat shit" look in the locker room. My only question at this point is that Liddell seems to be a middle-distance runner, whereas Abrahams seems to be an all-out sprinter, so how can they compete against each other? Or, is that not where the film is heading? Whoa! A middle-distance runner beat Abrahams in a sprint the first time they meet? Abrahams has every right to be upset - wow, I wasn't expecting that. That girl (the actress) telling him he was acting like a child, and that he was "marvelous" has absolutely *no clue* what it's like to be an athlete who loses. Seeing the transportation from various countries coming towards this 1924 Olympics - countries had to have *money*, serious money, to just *get to the games*. Forget hosting; I'm talking about just getting there - it's remarkable, coming over by slow boat, slightly post-WWI. The Olympics are high-dollar entertainment, especially now, and that's why poor countries just simply cannot compete (unless, of course, they're genetically superior athletes, such as Kenyan marathoners (forgive the stereotype, but it's true)). This makes me realize that the Olympics was, is, and probably always will be, games for the rich, or at least for countries who are so proud that they pour money into making a good showing. In a way it's quite sad; in a way, it's harsh reality. "The Skaters' Waltz" shows up here numerous times. Did you know that this is *not* by Johann Strauss I? No, it's by the relatively unknown French composer, Émile Waldteufel - isn't that amazing? Ask most classical music aficionados this question, and they'll have no idea what the answer is.The piece is called "The Ice Skaters" (<<Les Patineurs Valse>>) and was composed in 1882, fully fifty years after the heyday of Strauss I (I keep saying "Strauss I" because he also had a son who was "Strauss II." In case you think I'm some Classical Music know-it-all who knew this ... I, too, thought it was composed by Johann Strauss I. There's a lot - a *lot* - about this movie that drags, to the point where I'm surprised it won the Academy Award, but the moment of tension during the start of the 100-meter finals was palpable - the way they dragged out the beginning.really gave everything a "nervous' feeling. I wonder how many people realize that Director Hugh Hudson paid homage - and I mean *direct* homage* - to "Ocean's 11" at the very end of "Chariots of Fire." It was every bit as remarkable (and every bit as obvious) as Martin Scorsese paying homage to "The Great Train Robbery" at the very end of "Goodfellas." This was not quite a much of a "message" movie as I feared it would be, but there was certainly that aspect to it, and quite frankly, that's probably what won it the Best Picture award. "Chariots of Fire" was a very good movie, and I'm willing to say it was a great movie, but it was absolutely *not* the Best Picture of the year - for starters, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was better in every way except for pensive introspection. For those who disagree, I consider "Raiders" to be a classic in the same vein as "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," and "Gone with the Wind" - in other words, it wasn't just "Best Picture" material, but it was one of the greatest motion pictures ever made - an absolute legendary classic which could rightfully be on anyone's Top 10 list. "Das Boot" was better, too, but that's at least debatable. Still, I'm really glad I saw "Chariots of Fire," because I was both entertained and intellectually enriched from the experience - it's worth seeing, and it's something even more than that. Here is the actual video of Eric Liddell winning the 400 meter race.
porcupine, two questions: Will "Alien" suffer from the small screen (my obvious guess is "Yes"), but where does that leave me, wanting to see it in full for a second time? What did you think of "The Martian?"