Friday, February 13, 2009

Top and Bottom of 2008 - #8

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Few movies are as much of a joy to look at as this one is. Each frame is filled to the brim with lush, glorious Technicolor. The audience is treated to a plethora of visions: beautiful palaces, immense statues, a flying carpet, a flying horse, a giant spider, and a six-armed blue guitar player. All these sights are brought about through a combination of magnificent sets, luscious matte paintings, and ground breaking visual effects. The highlight of the film is the giant genie played by Rex Ingram who, while still being a comic character, never lets us forget how truly powerful and dangerous he is. The story is pulled from several of the 1001 Arabian Nights tales and features an exiled king, an evil vizier, a trapped princess, and, of course, a thief. This film holds its own alongside other fantasy epics such as The Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Gorgeous photography and camera work. Excellent performances all around. Characters so abrasively angry and uncaring that half an hour into the film I was looking at the clock, wondering when the movie would be over. Elizabeth Taylor yells at Richard Burton. Then Richard Burton yells at Elizabeth Taylor. Then they belittle each other. Then they alternate between making their unfortunate guests uncomfortable and setting each other up to look foolish in front of their guests. Lather, rinse, repeat. There is a bit of hope present in the last moments of the film, but by that time I had almost completely lost interest in the whole affair.

Coming up next: a film that won more Razzies than it should have, and a film that should have gotten more Oscars than it did.

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