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The Mask of Zorro (1998)
A throwback to the good old days of Entertainment and Flynn
I havent enjoyed myself so much since the days when Errol Flynn was swashing his buckles all over the screen. As a dyed in the wool movie buff all my life I appreciate all genres of film but have always been a sucker for good rollicking, to hell with history and common sense let's have fun stories, and Zorro was one of them. Oh I saw Tyrone Power duelling with Basil Rathbone, and George Hamilton being a gay Zorro and they were all entertaining, but this Zorro has it in spades. I know it wasn't Anthony Hopkins doing the acrobatic bits (and he had a great stunt double) but in the early scenes I thought I was watching Douglas Fairbanks Snr for all the fun of his performance. He even resembled Fairbanks, making it quite obvious that after all the heavy uptight roles and serious acting he was enjoying every minute. Antonio Banderas made a perfect partner as the novice Zorro and showed a great flair for comedy and action. The pairing was made more enjoyable since the actors obviously had a rapport which showed in their scenes together. It always enhances a film when the actors obviously like each other. I was fortunate enough to have a ticket for the Royal Premiere of the film so I saw both Banderas and Zeta Jones in person (Hopkins alas was filming Titus in Rome and was absent) and can confirm that Catherine really is as beautiful as she looks on screen. A real knockout beauty in every way. Stuart Wilson twirled his moustachios with great gusto and Matt Letscher was a hissable baddie who got what he deserved. Lovely colour,lots of action and a really explosive finale. What more could you want ?
A really entertaining who-will-get-to-him-first thriller
As I dont read novels I had no prior knowledge of the story other than what I had read beforehand about the film, and then the critics reviews. So I didnt go to the cinema expecting something that I wasnt going to get. I saw Silence of the Lambs and thought it excellent deserving of the praise and the Oscars. But I didnt go to see Hannibal expecting any type of repeat. I bore in mind that Dr Lecter was 10 years older and enjoying his freedom. I therefore had a completely open mind and was prepared to like, or dislike, what I saw on the screen free of complaining about what was in the book but not the film and vice versa. I thought Ridley Scott's direction was first class in every way, especially his use of light and shadow to emphasise certain scenes and the use of Florence really evoked the atmosphere. Julianne Moore was an excellent older Clarice and her scenes at the end with Dr Lecter had a frisson of emotional involvement that left me wishing it had been developed further. Anthony Hopkins just proved that there is no one else who could match his interpretation of the old devil. He made Dr Lecter such an attractive personification of evil that I hoped nothing nasty would happen to him. An anti-hero with a vengeance. For me the whole production was a throwback to the days of vintage Hitchcock for suspense and first class thrills. Maybe a couple of scenes were a bit OTT but nothing compared to chainsaw massacres and the like. The only critics who were revolted by the film were the ones who had obviously not watched it properly because several reviewed scenes that weren't in it ! I cant wait to buy the video and DVD and have Hannibal all to myself.
A BBC-TV production that should be given greater publicity
A most excellent production of one of the Bard's more difficult plays mainly because of the controversy in these politically correct times of a white actor blacking up to play the lead. But since Othello is a Moor and thus a Mediterranean type he does not have to be portrayed as an African. Remember the Moors ruled Spain for a long time until expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella so Othello does not have to be any darker, than a Spaniard. Anthony Hopkins gives a masterful performance as the Moor, one of the best I have seen comparable only with Placido Domingo in the opera Otello. His gradual change of character from gentle loving husband to insane jealousy is extremely well done and his way with the verse gives full meaning to Shakespeare's words. He is well supported by the cast of less well known stage actors. For me the only jarring note was Bob Hoskins portrayal of Iago, so obviously a nasty piece of work that one wonders how Othello would be taken in by such an overt villain. His giggling also becomes irritating, definitely not the best Iago I have seen. One thing is sure, this production emphasises what a great Shakespearean actor the stage lost when Hopkins left for Hollywood. Had he remained in the theatre he would easily have outstripped Richard Burton's reputation and maybe even Olivier's. Anyone who values real Shakespearean acting should not miss this production.