Each and every person has the capabilities to display both beautiful and ugly traits that are buried inside. I believe the environment one grows up with can influence the way these traits come out. It seems to me as we age the percentages between them varies more. I find it so perplexing when the newscasts televise a segment on someone who was convicted of a crime and they make a point of reciting the perpetrator’s good qualities. For example, the individual was a good father though he was convicted of a hate crime. It is such a wide contrast to me; I have a hard time making sense of it. Some of you may remember that my family and I will not watch certain actors’ films because of certain things they believe or have done in their personal lives. The idea that these artists may be good actors on screen but nasty people in real life does not compute in my brain. Look throughout history and you can easily find historical individuals who made a significant contribution to society but they had ugliness inside of them. SUCH a character but he did extraordinary things with a paintbrush. This film festival winning biographical drama was about the life of 18th century English painter J.M.W. Turner, played by Timothy Spall (Harry Potter franchise, Ginger & Rosa). From a visual aspect this film was at times lush and bright as it was soft and dark. I really got a sense of life during that time. It was interesting to me because I have seen other movies that depicted the same time period, yet this one was more convincing. Though I did not quite understand the character he played early into the picture, Timothy’s acting on a whole slowly grew on me; he had wonderful depth. The character Hannah Danby, played beautifully by Dorothy Atkinson (All of Nothing, Topsy-Turvy) was a fascinating study. In her silence she still was a powerful force on the big screen. Written and directed by Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Secret & Lies), this historical film may not be an easy watch for many viewers. I found it very slow in parts, besides very long with a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. At times there was very little action in the scenes; however, when I thought more about it afterwards it made a bit more sense to me. I chalked it up to the time period and place, finding it more artful then entertaining. One aspect I appreciated was the fact I actually saw a few of his paintings in museums but had no knowledge of him at the time. I would be curious for those who see this film, what percentages of beautiful and ugly did you think Mr. Turner showed us?
2 3/4 stars
The usual way we learned about extraordinary, historical individuals was at home, school or in books. We may have been taught about these larger than life people due to the country we lived in, the religion we practiced or the affect they had on the general population where we resided; though there could be many other reasons. Already aware of the importance of these people, if one wants to make a film about them, they would need to do their due diligence in getting all the facts straight before documenting events onto the screen. There are a couple of films that come to mind that achieved this, such as Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes franchise) as Moses in The Ten Commandments and Ben Kingsley (Hugo, Schindler’s List) as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi. So now here is this dramatic film about Jesus Christ that was produced by Mark Burnett, known for the reality television shows Survivor and Shark Tank. I discovered after watching this movie that it was born out of the History Channel’s mini-series The Bible. It says a great deal about this piece of work; Jesus Christ getting spun off, how pathetically sad. Diogo Morgado (Star Crossed, Mami Blue) had the challenge of portraying Jesus and he failed miserably. I found him to be a dull, unenlightened caricature who wandered from place to place for two hours. Darwin Shaw (Casino Royale, The Bible-TV) was only a tad better with his character Peter. The script was offensive to me. I am not an expert on biblical quotes but some of the things that people were saying in this film did not sound right to me. The sets were uninspired and the long shot repeatedly used of the city looked like a bad computer graphic made by a Commodore 64 computer. (You older folks may get this analogy.) If one is going to invest the time and money into a movie project of this magnitude, then they need to take the time to do it right. While watching this dull movie I felt it looked like it was just thrown together without much thought. I cannot even say this film would have been better as a TV movie or mini-series; it would make no difference. I think I can accurately say most people have heard of Jesus Christ and probably know more about his story than this film. There were a few scenes where blood was shown.
1 1/2 stars
Looking back in history, it seems as if religion usually played a role in war. At least that has been my belief. Without any prior knowledge I was shocked I had never heard of the Cristeros War (1926-1929), that took place in Mexico. Simply put, this was a war against the Catholic Church. Mexico’s secular government was led by President Plutarco Elias Calles, played by Ruben Blades (Safe House, The Devil’s Own), who essentially declared war on the Catholic Church with the help of the government he set up. For example, church property could now be seized whenever the administration saw fit. There was a ban on all religious orders besides the elimination of any foreign born priests–even if it meant killing them. Civil war broke out led by Catholic rebels called Cristeros, Christ fighters. To solidify their ranks and become more like a disciplined army, the Cristeros enlisted the help of war hero Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, played by Andy Garcia (City Island, Smokin’ Aces). I felt the writers did a disservice to this historical based film. With this chapter already played out in Mexico’s past, the writing should have only elevated the dramatic moments or bridge the gap between story lines. Clocking in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, the movie was way too long, much in need of some serious editing. It would have given several parts more impact. A surprise to me was Andy Garcia’s poor acting; I expected better from him. What a shame to take a David and Goliath type of story and turn it into a mediocre soap opera. This movie had several graphic scenes.
1 3/4 stars