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Old April 1 2011, 10:19 PM   #293
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Location: Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2011

30. Gigi (B-)
31. I Love You Phillip Morris (B+)
32. How To Train Your Dragon (A)
33. Tarzan (B+)
34. Oliver! (B+)

The antepenultimate work of the great director Sir Carol Reed, which won Best Picture in 1968, as well as as Best Director Oscar for Reed (somewhat amusingly, as this is about a thousand miles away from the Anglo noirs that made his reputation in the 1940s). This closed out a ten-year span where five musicals won Best Picture, and it was the last to do so until Chicago in 2002.

It's a fairly credible adaptation of Dickens' novel; like a lot of them, it shies away from the byzantine revelations of Oliver's family history, in this case in favour of a simple direct link to Mr. Brownlow. The songs are good, for the most part, and quite functional; the dance sequences are pretty extraordinarily choreographed (so much so that the Academy felt the need to give out a special Oscar for it).

Performance-wise, Mark Lester is extremely forgettable as the title character, but that's a relatively common problem with this sort of thing: Oliver Twist is a wholly reactive character whose only real trait is his bland, suffering nobility. Everybody is more interested in the rogues, who have more charismatic actors and more interesting parts. As with so many adaptations, it spares both Fagin and the Artful Dodger. The clear highlight is Shani Wallis as the tragic Nancy; she has the most emotional songs and scenes. She's easily the best character, as she was in the book.
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