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Old February 8 2010, 06:53 AM   #191
CaptainCanada
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Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2010

Theatre:

Avatar [ B]
Precious [A-]
Invictus [ B]
A Single Man [B-]
Crazy Heart [A-]

DVD:

Adventureland [B+]
Samaritan Girl [N/A]
3-Iron [A]
The Hurt Locker [A-]
Citizen Kane [A]
Planet Hulk [B+]
High Society [B-]
The Philadelphia Story [A-]
The Pianist [A-]
Murder By Decree [A-]
A Man For All Seasons [B+]

The Best Picture winner for 1966, this is the story of the fall of Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield, Academy Award-winner for the part) for refusing to sign off on the whole Anne Boleyn debacle. It's, in a lot of ways, a film that Hollywood wouldn't make anymore, in anything like its present form: it's extremely cerebral, often very languid in pace, and stagey to a fault (as it was, indeed, a stage play originally).

There's moreover the question of the lead character, who is written as such a saint (well, he is an official Saint, at that) that he has no angst or real internal conflict most of the time (he opens up a bit in the final two scenes, which are easily the most affecting ones). Even aside from Hollywood's oft-dismissive attitude toward faith these days, a modern version of this would probably place a lot more emphasis on his doubts (not necessarily a bad idea). An appropriate comparison would be to John Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, a near-contemporary of Robert Bolt's play, which has much the same theme; the difference between Proctor and More is Proctor's guilty consicence about his affair (and Proctor's dealbreaker is different from More's; he's willing to damn himself in writing, but not others). Scofield, incidentaly, was on the other side of the question in that film, playing the ruthless persecutor in the early 90s film adaptation. This sort of principles-thing still resonates with people; you admire that sort of conviction but suspect you yourself wouldn't have it in similar circumstances.

Very well-cast apart from Scofield (who I first remember from Branagh's Henry V, where he gave a lot of gravity to the French King's few scenes), including the famous cameo by a now alarmingly-fat Orson Welles. Robert Shaw (Henry VIII) got most of the supporting actor nominations, but the standout for me is Leo McKern as Cromwell, the king's lead bloodhound. Also here in a rather strange cameo is a young (and very attractive) Vanessa Redgrave as Anne, who is basically an extra (no lines, just singing a few snatches of song with Henry), but gets an "and Vanessa Redgrave" in the end credits (her now less-famous brother Corin has a larger part as More's son-in-law).

Somewhat old-fashioned, but worth seeing.
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Last edited by CaptainCanada; February 9 2010 at 03:57 AM.
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