2 posts categorized "Mythology"

November 11, 2011

IMMORTALS

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. ColeSmithey.com

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Mickey Rourke vs. Gods & Humans
No Family Jewels are Safe
By Cole Smithey

ColeSmithey.comPitched to the public for its producer's association to the 2008 cartoon-cutout sword and sandal trash fest "300," this spectacle-driven tale of myth-based fantasy rightly earns its stripes thanks to a heavy-duty cast that includes the masterful John Hurt as a human-disguised Zeus and Mickey Rourke as an incredibly vicious King Hyperion.

Said producers have taken note of the many criticisms levied against “300” and made significant changes in response. Tarsem Singh ("The Cell") is a welcome replacement to hit-and-miss director Zach Snyder (hit with "Watchmen" and miss with "Sucker Punch"). Gone is the fetishistic adoration of the exposed male physique, which sent “300” into the realm of camp, in favor of truly breathtaking scenes of spectacle in the context of a story that actually holds together.

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Neptune splashes down to Earth, setting off an unforgettable tsunami which crashes against a cliff shoreline with gigantic, mind-boggling ferocity. It’s one of the first times in recent memory that such a scene excited me so much as an audience member that I was momentarily shaken out of my “critic” mindset.

ColeSmithey.com

Greek peasant warrior Theseus (Henry Cavill – “The Tudors”) is handpicked by the mortal incarnation of Zeus (John Hurt) to take up arms against King Hyperion (Rourke) who, with the help of his enormous army, is wiping out everything in his path in search of an all-empowering golden bow (forged in the heavens by the god Ares) that will destroy humanity. Theseus has a running start at battling King Hyperion considering he’s been mentored by Zeus. Still, Rourke’s ruthlessly sadistic King Hyperion is like a cross between British Petroleum, Bernie Madoff, Alan Greenspan, and Dick Cheney.

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Only the long-lost magical Epirus Bow can release an army of gargantuan Titans imprisoned in a giant cubical cell buried in Mount Tartaros, where they wait to be brought back to life so they can take revenge against the gods who put them there. The catch is that the Gods of Olympus who defeated the Titans are sworn not to interfere with human matters even if it means allowing King Hyperion to obtain the powerful bow. As such, Henry Cavill’s Theseus carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.

ColeSmithey.com

Lush compositions of magnificent iconic imagery are captured by cinematographer Brendan Galvin (“Veronica Guerin”). Ominous foreboding skies cover every scene like something out of a painting by Bruegel the Elder. There’s a constant sense of mythic themes running at crosscurrents to the brutality onscreen. Some of this effect can be attributed to John Hurt’s uncanny ability to influence the narrative during his short but crucial scenes that bookend the story.

ColeSmithey.com

The incredibly violent action that occurs includes numerous decapitations and scenes of erotic sensuality that temporarily alleviate the bone-crushing violence on hand. Myth genre movies have come a long way since the Ray Harryhausen- designed stop motion effects of “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963). “Immortals” is a big-screen popcorn movie to send off 2011 with a bang. You can taste the fury.

Rated R. 110 mins.

3 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

July 10, 2011

PHAEDRA — CLASSIC FILM PICK

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

 

 

 

ColeSmithey.com

The American-born actor/writer/director Jules Dassin fled to Europe in 1952 after being blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Dassin's 1962 adaptation of Greek mythology's "Phaedra" is a splendid showcase for the director's future wife, the Greek actress Melina Mercouri. The striking Mercouri plays the incestuous Phaedra with a keen sense of savage romantic fatalism inherent to the tale of misplaced attraction.

Phaedra falls in love with her husband's son from a former marriage. Building upon Anthony Perkins's experience playing a character with serious mommy issues in Hitchcock's "Psycho" two years earlier, Dassin cast the gawky Perkins as Alexis, the eccentric son of an ambitious Greek shipping magnate named Thanos (played by Raf Vallone).

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Alexis has misdirected romantic attachments of his own; he craves a sports car that sits in a dealer's showroom. He goes so far as to introduce the car to a relieved Phaedra as his "girl."

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Dassin takes the black-and-white movie through strikingly composed sequences in London —where Alexis studies at art school to be a painter — to Paris — where Alexis and Phaedra seal their fate with a night of impassioned love-making — before ending the story on the lush Greek island of Hydra.

ColeSmithey.com

Postcard-perfect aerial shots inform the jet-set lifestyle of a filthy-rich family living a regime of conspicuous consumption. A neorealist aesthetic lends a modern sensibility to the ancient myth. There's also a Felliniesque brand of identification at play.

Here is an energetic tragedy filled with greed, lust, contempt, and demonic despair. One especially artistic segue occurs at the British Museum where Phaedra meets Alexis in a clinical background of art history. Dassin superimposes side-moving exterior shots with forward-moving camera angles inside the museum. The nattily dressed Alexis meets Phaedra under his "father's orders" in front of a sculpture of a headless Aphrodite reclining on the lap of her daughter.

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Alexis identifies Phaedra as "wicked and ugly," and yet he is fascinated with the idea of taking something away from his father, who is generous to a fault. A strong anti-industrialist theme runs through the picture. Dassin plays with the dark and bright dichotomy of day and night scenes to compete against the spiraling storyline. When Alexis and Phaedra dine in Paris, hundreds of tall candles light the scene.

ColeSmithey.com

Jules Dassin’s “Phaedra” is an undervalued and underseen example of mythology adapted to cinema. The film straddles a line between ancient and modern sensibilities.

Not Rated. 115 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

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