Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, and Connie Nielsen, with director Ridley Scott, this film is set during the waning days of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelias. General Maximus is a great and loyal warrior who the old man wants as his successor. However, his jealous son will not have it, killing his father and then ordering the execution of Maximus. He escapes but is mad a slave and then a gladiator. Through this he gains the respect of the masses and is able to defy Commodus. Over time, Maximus is part of a plot to remove Commodus. Once again the enraged emperor wishes to quash the legend of Maximus forever. He does not win in the end and Maximus has aided Rome. This action-epic had a lot of exciting scenes and a good hero. The score was good too but sometimes it seems as if the cinematography could have been better. This film is reminiscent of the classic epic Spartacus and it was a pretty good in it’s own right.
Directed by Steven Speilberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis with Sally Fields, and Tommy Lee Jones, the film focuses on Lincoln’s 2nd term as the Civil War comes to a close and he fights to pass the 13th amendment.
At home Lincoln deals with his temperamental wife, argues with his older son about joining the war, and plays with his younger boy Tad. At the same time he must work behind the scenes to get enough representatives while also facing the prospect of a Confederate surrender. His life is beyond stressful, with cabinet meetings, speeches, inspections, and tough decisions to make day in and day out. However, despite the toll, he copes and in the process does great things. Within the film we also become familiar with William Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, and other leaders who must make their own difficult decisions on the issue of slavery.
Ultimately, the landmark amendment is passed but it is short lived with the assassination of Lincoln. He truly was “a man for the ages” and Lewis does a wonderful job of portraying his every aspect. His voice, his features, his parables, his political savvy, and even his frailty give us a crystal clear picture of the man. The supporting cast and the cinematography were both very good. It proves that a film full of drama and some humor does not need action to make it excellent. It is all about the characters and more importantly our very history.
Happy 86th Birthday to Sidney Poitier! Mr. Poitier was one of the first prominent African-American leading actors and he was the first black man to win a best actor Oscar which he achieved in 1963 for Lilies of the Field. His filmography includes such classics as The Defiant Ones, Porgy and Bess, A Raisin in the Sun, A Patch of Blue, To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. He often played strong and intelligent characters that broke the accepted stereotypes of the time. He truly was a pioneer in acting and one of the great screen legends.
This French film directed by Jean Renoir is a light comedy that turns into a critique of the Upper classes. The film involves the superficial events and racy love affairs as only the French can have. It opens as a famous aviator lands his plane only to be disappointed that his married lover did not come to see him. Soon we learn that her husband has a mistress of his own. Put these four together, Renoir in his jolly role of Octave, all the other guests, then the many servants, and soon you have a major spectacle. They dine, hunt, gossip, put on a show, quarrel, and above all fall in love. It is all fun and games however until someone gets hurt. Although this film is not what we may be accustomed to in our present generation, it is easy to appreciate the satire, cinematography, and ensemble cast. Kudos to Renoir for making a very intriguing film.
Starring Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, and a cast of others, the film follows a small town lawyer (Stewart) as he defends a man who has committed murder. The whole case is complicated by the fact that the Lieutenant’s beautiful wife was supposedly raped by the murdered man. Now Stewart must battle it out in court using every strategy he knows in order to save his client. With the help of witnesses and evidence both sides have substantial cases. However, Stewart finds the topper in the dead man’s daughter, hoping this will save his client’s life. Despite the valiant effort of the prosecuting attorney and Stewart, everything is in the hands of the jury so now all they can do is wait. With an interesting score, a methodical story, and a great cast, this movie was a good one. The judge especially made this film enjoyable for me and you certainly cannot beat Stewart. It should also be noted that this film has one of the most famous movie posters of all time which was designed by Saul Bass.
Starring Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and Marlene Dietrich with direction by Billy Wilder, this courtroom drama follows the trial of a man accused of murder. Laughton is an English defense attorney just recovering from a heart attack. However, soon he gets so intrigued by Power’s case that he agrees to defend him. Power’s character Vole seems to be falsely accused for the murder of a widowed woman he hardly knew. He does have an alibi in his wife (Dietrich) but she seems to refute Vole’s words and the case takes a bad turn. Through a flashback we see into their complicated past. The befuddled Laughton finally catches a break and is able to prove Dietrich is lying. He has been victorious in defending Vole but then the plot takes a cruel twist. What was reality before now seems to be completely false. Adapted from a story by Agatha Christie, this film has good characters and a brilliant climax.