Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks - Immortals

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Take part in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and telling us about them - couldn't be easier!

What an interesting, tantalizingly vague topic for this week's Thursday Movie Picks! Immortals, huh? Like, gods? Or vampires? Or legends, who may die but will live forever in other ways?


Somehow, I managed to not quite go down any of those routes. Although I had initially wanted to be very cheeky and pick three movies with legendary actors playing legendary people (like, say, Lincoln, Amadeus, and Ali... not that it necessarily would have been those three exactly, but you get the idea), I decided against it because somehow, it just didn't feel quite right somehow. But still, I think these three fit the bill for this week quite nicely.

Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992) What would you do if you had the opportunity to remain young forever, WITHOUT becoming a vampire? I don't know about you, but of the many, MANY things I would do, fight with my best frenemy about a wimpy, mustachioed Bruce Willis is not one of them. Oh, I kid, I kid. Willis is actually damn funny in this, as the man torn between Meryl Streep's actress Madeline Ashton and Goldie Hawn's author, both of whom have taken a potion provided by Isabella Rossellini (who else?) that provides eternal youth. This zany camp classic has aged remarkably well, and I'm not just talking about the groundbreaking visual effects. This gets to the heart of the love-hate relationships between women better than perhaps any other movie released in the modern era. It's also perfectly cast from top to bottom.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Albert Lewin, 1945) Oscar Wilde's immortal story of a young man so beautiful that his portrait takes on all the rot of age and moral decay for him is far more tantalizing to read than to watch, but even this early filming of the tale gets at the horror of the story in ways the book does not. Hurd Hatfield is a perfect Dorian Gray, and Angela Lansbury is lovely as the gutter girl Sibyl Vane who may have stood a chance at stealing his heart, if it hadn't already turned black as pitch. Plus, the horrifying ending really exploits everything you can do with film, as pure a coup de cinéma as has ever existed.

Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988) What? I had to throw in something remotely off-center! You can't deny that the "ghost with the most" isn't immortal - he's been around for over 600 years, and given the number on his ticket in the waiting room final scene, he's going to be around for a whole lot longer than that! So what if he's technically part of the after-life? He is living there, after all! Michael Keaton's performance as the titular "bio-exorcist" (a ghost who gets rid of the living) is one of the greatest comedic performances of all time, a hyper-committed work of near-insanity that creates a wholly original character out of nothing. There's nothing else like it. And come to think of it, there's nothing really like this movie, either. It's the ultimate horror-comedy, deliciously designed, perfectly cast (really, AMPAS, you couldn't find room at the Oscars for ONE of the film's magnificent Supporting Actresses?!?), and undoubtedly the work of an utterly singular director. It's a pity what Tim Burton has become over the past decade. The likelihood of getting something as fun as this from him again is LOW.

21 comments:

  1. We match! The Picture of Dorian Gray is great and I chose this one as well. I remember when Death Becomes Her came out and bombed. I had no desire to see it but have many years later and thought it was quite funny. I love Beetlejuice! Michael Keaton is brilliant and should have been up for an Oscar

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    1. Michael Keaton EASILY should have gotten an Oscar nom for Beetlejuice. Had the film come out ten years later, he probably would have.

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  2. I haven't seen the first two but Beetlejuice is a great pick! I didn't think of that.

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  3. Tremendous picks!

    Death Becomes Her is so wacky with three brilliant performances that keep it from tipping over into parody. Beetlejuice is very much the same thing with the performers, and Burton, walking a fine line and making it work. I completely agree about the lack of nominations, wrong-headed.

    We match, along with Birgit! While I don't think he's a disaster in the lead I think Hatfield is the weakest link in Dorian Gray. But when you're surrounded by that cast it would be tough to keep up. Did you know that Metro considered casting Garbo as Dorian at one point, which would have been a fascinating spin on the material.

    Since the theme is rather vague it can go in many directions which frees up the films that fit. By the way LOVE your header for this. Coincidentally Rachel Weisz factors in one of my choices. Here's what I came up with.

    The Mummy (1999)-Slightly flaky but endearing librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) with a knowledge of antiquities heads to the ancient city of Hamunaptra when her fun but conniving brother Jonathan (John Hannah) turns up with a trinket that could lead to great discoveries. Needing a guide they rescue Rick (Brendan Fraser) an adventurer who has knowledge of the area and also discover there is another band of explorers heading in the same direction and the race is on. Once they get there they accidentally awaken an ancient mummy who is hell bent on restoring his equally ancient girlfriend to life. Hijinks ensues. Deep? No. Fun? Yes.

    The Seventh Sign (1988)-Abby Quinn (Demi Moore) and her husband Russell (Michael Biehn) are awaiting the birth of their child, an event of great joy but some trepidation since Abby has lost a baby before. They rent their garage apartment out to a quiet unusual wanderer who Abby comes to believe is there to kill her baby and bring about the apocalypse and seeks to avert either happening. During the same period the Vatican assigns Father Lucci to investigate the various signs that are appearing but Father Lucci has reasons of his own to seek the truth.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)-Young and beautiful Dorian Gray mentions to his reprobate friend Lord Henry that he wishes the portrait he has just had painted could age while he stays eternally young and lives a life of debauchery. Inexplicably his wish comes true and he turns into a hedonistic cad who is left unmarked by his callous behavior. Solid adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s story with a touching performance from an impossibly young Angela Lansbury as the ill-fated Sibyl Vane. She scored her second Oscar nomination for it before turning 21, the youngest person ever to do so, a record that still stands.

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    1. Hatfield is the weak link in Dorian Gray but only inasmuch as he has to keep practically everything inside. All he has to do is look the part, really, and that he does BEAUTIFULLY.

      Of your other picks, I love The Mummy, which is a lot of fun and has some really excellent VFX, and I LOVE Rachel Weisz as the librarian! I haven't seen The Seventh Sign, but it sounds kind of nutty.

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  4. Aha! I almost picked The Fountain, strange film. I felt unsettled at the end of the Queen Isabella tale with what happens to Tomas. Good pick! In fact all good picks.

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    1. Ugh, I LOVE The Fountain. I couldn't quite pick it for this, but felt the need to include it somehow.

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  5. I haven't seen The Picture of Dorian Gray, but I love the book so I guess I'll have to check that one out. Loved the other two.

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    1. Oh yes, definitely! It's a very good adaptation of the book.

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  6. Can't say I've seen any of your picks, both the first two films you mentioned have come up a few times so I guess I should check them out

    And I agree it's a pity that the latest Burton works are disappointing. Not bad...just disappointing.

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    1. Um, no. Alice in Wonderland was MAJORLY BAD. Dark Shadows was only merely disappointing. Frankenweenie was really good though. Maybe he should just stick to animation?

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  7. I love Death Becomes Her. What a fun movie. Been meaning to see Dorian Gray for years. Need to get on that. Somehow I have only seen a few bits and pieces of Beetlejuice. Shame on me.

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    1. hehe YAY for the Death Becomes Her love! I can't believe you haven't seen Beetlejuice in full. I think you need to Blind Spot it. Or, you know, just see it RIGHT NOW!

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  8. Beetlejuice lies our in our living room, waiting to be watched :D

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    1. ooooooooh you are in for a treat! ENJOY!

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  9. Love the inclusion of Death Becomes Her! But I'd rather be a vampire than have a body that doesn't regenerate and need to spray myself with paint :)

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    1. I agree totally - although my interpretation was that that only happened because they "died" and thus irreparable damage was done to their bodies. Liesl, after all, was FLAWLESS and had no need for paint!

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  10. Beetlejuice is the pick of the week! Good job, man! I so love that movie, though I can't stand Tim Burton. He's made only two other movies I would ever consider watching again (Big Fish and Ed Wood).

    I need to see this Dorian Gray adaptation. Sounds great!

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    1. Thanks, man! So glad you're back! I mostly agree with you on those Burton flicks, though. The only ones I'd add for sure are Edward Scissorhands and Frankenweenie.

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  11. Immortals - I was going for anything that doesn't age and die. So definitely not the legendary thing.

    Death Becomes Her - I've read a couple people mentioning it's aged really well, so I'd love to rewatch this some time.

    TPoDG - I love TPoDG...the book. Maybe that's why I don't like the movie. I also tend to find acting in black and white films exaggerated which I found in this too. And is that the original trailer you attached? People complain of today's movies with spoiler filled trailers, well it seems like they've been doing it since 1945 (or earlier...who knows).

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