Movies Silently is hosting the Swashathon or the Swashbuckler Blogathon, and I could not pass this opportunity by to review Randall Wallace’s “The Man In the Iron Mask” (1998). As many of you would know, today is also Bastille Day or la Fête nationale in France, which provides for another excuse to delve into a film portraying France. Here, despite many critics’ allegations that “The Man In the Iron Mask” is laughable, flimsy and disrespects the novel by Alexandre Dumas it is based on, the film is actually an enjoyable ride from start to finish. If the audience does not take this film too seriously, and allow themselves to be carried away by the plot, action and the humour, they are in for a treat. The visuals are delightful, the music composed by Nick Glennie-Smith is great, and the film has a cast many directors would “die for”: Leonardo DiCaprio (“Revolutionary Road” (2008)), John Malkovich (“The Portrait of a Lady” (1996)), Jeremy Irons (“The Correspondence” (2016)), Gabriel Byrne (“I, Anna” (2012)) and Gerard Depardieu.
I won’t title this blog “The Academy Awards 2016: Controversial, Emotional & Predictable”, although I want too. What have we had so far? Protests regarding the representation of black people and women nominated, and nominated actors who you can so safely bet on winning – the chances that they won’t is like forgetting your own name. Diversity & Competition or rather a lack thereof. Here, I will only comment on the Best Picture, Best Animated Film, and Best Actor and Actress categories.
The Revenant (2015)
“He would crawl until his body could support a crutch. If he only made three miles a day, so be it. Better to have those three miles behind him than ahead.” (Michael Punke, “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge”)
In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film “The Revenant”, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, an American frontiersman involved in an expedition to American wilderness in the year 1823. After a bear attack leaves Glass seriously injured, one of his companions decides to betray him, and among other horrific actions, leaves him behind. What follows is Glass’s unforgettable journey back to the outpost, to find the man who not only left him for dead, but also robbed him of the one dearest to him.
It seems it is all about “action and impact” with this 2016 Best Picture Academy Awards. I am rooting for “Spotlight” to win, but am also glad that “Room” was nominated. In my view, “The Revenant” had its fair share of flaws to be seen here so proudly taking the nominee’s place. We don’t see here either “Carol” or “Steve Jobs”, surprise, surprise, and what about “Inside Out”? The Academy had no trouble nominating the animations “Toy Story 3” or “Up” in the general film category of Best Picture in 2011 and 2010 respectively. Why such a perfect animation as “Inside Out” is ignored here now?
The Departed (2006)
‘When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?’ (Frank Costello)
Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller ‘The Departed’, winner of an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2006, is considered to be the director’s finest take on the mob theme since ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) (intermittently he also directed ‘Casino’ (1995) and ‘Gangs of New York’ (2002)). With many great actors involved in this movie, and with such a meticulously constructed script, this is no wonder. ‘The Departed’ is set in the south of Boston during the time when the police wages their war against the Irish-American criminal syndicate. The film starts off with young Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) befriending the untouchable lord of crime, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Years later, there emerge two cops: one – Colin Sullivan, only too ready to infiltrate the state police as an informer for Frank Costello, and another Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a guy who grew up in a criminal environment, who becomes a gang member working for Costello, while at the same time working as a undercover cop. When both the state police and the mob begin to suspect that there is an informer within their circle working for the other side, both Sullivan and Costigan must race against time to uncover the identity of another to save their lives.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
It is hard trying to adapt such a beloved American classic as “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There will be many critics pointing out how a delicate narrative of Fitzgerald cannot be possibly transformed into a film, and how Baz Luhrmann, the director, made it all too contemporary and overly-glamorous. While this criticism is valid to an extent, there are, nevertheless, many good things about the new film version of “The Great Gatsby”, and the film does not really deserve half the mud thrown at it by critics.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
‘…The nice young Wheelers on Revolutionary Road, the nice young revolutionaries on Wheeler Road…’ (John Givings in ‘Revolutionary Road’).
This is not the most famous line from Richard Yates’s critically-acclaimed novel ‘Revolutionary Road’, but one of my favourite ones. The 2008 film adaptation of this novel, directed by Sam Mendes, though deemed by critics as “something way too much coming way too late“, is nevertheless, a brilliant, underrated drama set in the mid-1950s in Connecticut, USA.
Leonardo DiCaprio-Starring ‘The Devil in The White City’ Gets a Screenwriter – Graham Moore
“Late last year, Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way (along with Double Features), picked up the rights to Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at The Fair that Changed the World.” Larson’s non-fiction work is told in a more traditionally novelistic way, and it chronicles the story of one of America’s first serial killers, Dr. HH Holmes. Holmes was a charmer who used the Fair and a so-called “murder castle” to draw in his prey. Once in his home, he would use a number of terrifying contraptions to murder people, only to turn around and sell their skeletons for medical and scientific study. He’s believed to be responsible for at least twenty-seven murders, and as many as two hundred. Larson’s book also makes use of time period’s backdrop – the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The book revolves around two men – Holmes and Daniel Burnham (the “chief architect” of the fair).