Monday, September 17, 2018

Ben Hur AFI Top 100

Number 100.

I was glad that the first film we came to was one we hadn't seen before. I knew nothing at all about it other than it was an old epic. Mr Meks knew it contained a chariot race.

It was interesting to see what has changed and what still seems the same in cinema. It didn't look half as dated as I expected. I think the aspect that dated it most was the ethinicities as they were portrayed. Colonising Romans had English accents. Brave downtrodden subjects has US accents.I was shocked to see the blacking up involved then realised that is a huge signifier of the film's age. Hopefully one we're nearly rid of.

The subject matter wasn't really my bag. I couldn't accept Heston as being from Jerusalem. The cast made the whole story come across as a little fake. I did find the parallel stories of Ben Hur and Jesus Christ quite an interesting twist. Though the actor playing Jesus was very unconvincing with what little he had to work with.

The spectacle of the film was impressive. It was much grander than what I'm used to in modern cinema. It was lovely to watch. The Chariot Race was amazing. I struggle to imagine how many jobs were provided constructing the sets and costumes alone.

We split the watch into 2, 3.5 hours was too much.

I enjoyed parts of the film more than others. I loved the opulence of the production but I much prefer acting styles of today. I can't fathom why such effort is put into sets and none put into casting an actor suitable for the role. I'm assuming it's about 'Star' power.  If I had to choose I'd go for gritty realism over grand epic.

3 out of 5 pawprints

Next Up - Toy Story

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

AFI Top 100 Movies

Whilst browsing the internet last night I came across the American Film Institutes Top 100 Movies. This looked at 100 years of movies being made in America, finding the best 100 examples of those. It was made into a tv programme shown in 1998. 10 years later the list was updated. On the AFI website you can tick a box alongside each film in either list to calculate how many you've seen. Impossible to resist....

I have seen 62 of the 100 films on the 2008 list. Problem is I've forgotten most of a good chunk of those films. Then again some I've seen many times over. This brought me to the same idea I'm guessing many, many people have had since these lists were published. How about watching the list myself, from 100 down to Number 1? I asked Mr Meks if he was a willing co-participant in this viewing experience. I'm glad he said yes. Tonight we begin with Ben Hur. One neither of us have seen. I'm hoping we can enjoy 1-2 films a week and spread this over the next year or two. Anyone that wants to follow I'll be blogging as we go.

We did consider following a BFI top 100 list as this would be more patriotic. The US list is much easier to watch though. No subtitles with more fun and less worthiness. The BFI lists have a lot of foreign cinema. I haven't given up on them. We'll just take the easier road in. They'll be there if we wish to continue the journey.

The 2008 list we'll be using is here

Let me know in the comments how may you've seen :-)

Edit - Thanks Shane for pointing out the broken link. I cannot get it to work :-(