And the Best Actor Oscar in 1998 went to....who???
Admittedly, I am a sucker for films about Hollywood. From "Sunset Boulevard" to "The Bad and the Beautiful" and even "The Carpetbaggers," watching a film about movies is always a pleasure, guilty or otherwise. "Gods and Monsters" can be added to that short list. The semi-fictionalized story of director James Whale's last days is a melancholy tale of an intelligent, creative mind that is beginning to fail and Whale's desperate fear of that mental failure. He sees in the handsome hulking form of his gardener an individual that reminds him of his most famous film creation, Frankenstein's monster, and he tries to reach out to him and offer the friendship that his film creation was denied. However, his mind is swimming in and out of fantasy, memory, and reality, and his gesture initially confuses the gardener, who sees it only as a sexual advance. In one of the Motion Picture Academy's most bewildering choices, the Best Actor Oscar for 1998 went to an Italian comic who has not been heard from since instead of to the brilliant Ian McKellan in what is arguably his finest film role as James Whale. Lynn Redgrave is funny and touching as his housekeeper, and Brendan Fraser, an adventurous actor who does not shy away from stretching his abilities, has yet to find a better role than that of Clayton Boone, the gardener. Beautifully written and directed by Bill Condon, the film is more than just an homage to old Hollywood. "Gods and Monsters" echoes some of the themes of "Sunset Boulevard" in its portrayal of a Hollywood veteran, who has been banished and forgotten by the industry and has retreated into a private world of his own making where he still directs the scenes.
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