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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Shadows’

After three full years of my only ongoing feature, what will be the 36th Movie of the Moth? Here are eleven very different contenders:

Safe: More enjoyable nonsense from Jason Statham. Far from his best movie but it has its moments.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Lightweight but enjoyable romantic comedy. Elevated by a great cast most notably an over the top Kristin Scott Thomas.

Silent House: A remake of a high concept Uruguayan, it makes all the same mistakes as the original most notably a concept and a twist that play against each other.

Café de Flore: A dreamy tale set in two eras and two countries, telling two seemingly unconnected stories. I would have liked to have seen a little less modern day and a little more Vanessa Paradis in the early 70’s.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Mel Gibson is back making the kind of movie he used to make. Not a great film but enjoyable non the less, it’s a shame it didn’t make it to American theatres considering some of the crap that does.

All in Good Time: Predictable comedy. It has some funny moments and is well acted but there just isn’t enough going on.

The Raid: After making the documentary Merantau highlighting the Indonesian martial art Silat Harimau, Welsh director Gareth Evans reunites with his star Iko Uwais to make a feature film. It doesn’t reinvent the action movie the way Die Hard did but it certainly reinvigorates it.

2 Days in New York: Sequel to 2 Days in Paris (2007) that succeeds is both funnier and simply better than the original. Julie Delpy is as great as ever but the real revelation is Chris Rock who is both funny and likeable.

Dark Shadows: A flawed and ill judged movie based on a long forgotten TV show that doesn’t know if it is comedy, horror or satire. It does however have the odd moment to remind us of the genius of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson has turned his unique quirky bittersweet eye on a coming of age drama. It is as funny as you would expect from Anderson, but it is more engaging and endearing thanks to fantastic performances from both the recognisable established actors and the unknown kids.

Snow White and the Huntsman: There are so many variations on the Snow White story, unfortunately this movie chooses to use them all. To its credit it looks good and all the cast are good. If you are going to see one Snow White movie this year it has to be this one not the Julia Roberts crap.

Movie of the Month is: 

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Legend is a word that is used too lightly but with a career that has spanned eight decades and a Guinness World Record of 275 films, Knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009 and receiving the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011, it is a title that fits Christopher Lee very well. As I mentioned a couple of years ago I was introduced to Christopher Lee when I was about ten years old, I had no idea who he was. A few months later Channel 4 started showing a series of old Hammer Horror movies starting with Dracula: Prince of Darkness. This is when I first got interested in horror movies. So today, his 90th birthday here is the briefest overview of his movies.

In the mid 1940’s Lee joined the Rank Organisation and was given a seven-year contract (as was the norm of the day), during this period he made numerous movies. His first significant roles came a decade later when in 1957 he played the monster in Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein alongside Peter Cushing as Frankenstein. The following year Fisher made Dracula (1958), he cast Lee in his most iconic role Dracula and Cushing as Van Helsing. He reprised the role in sequels: Dracula Prince of Darkness in 1965, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973). Lee’s other work for Hammer included The Mummy (1959), Rasputin, the Mad Monk and the little known classic Taste of Fear (1961). Possibly his best Hammer movie and one of his (and my) personal favourites was the occult adventure/horror/thriller The Devil Rides Out (1967) based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley. He also appeared in two versions of the Jekyll and Hyde story The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and I, Monster (1971) (only the former being made by Hammer).

Having already played Sir Henry Baskerville (to Cushing’s Sherlock Holmes) in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) Lee went on to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s smarter brother) in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970). He played Holmes again in the TV movies: Incident at Victoria Falls (1991) and Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1992). A step-cousin of author Ian Fleming, he was rumoured to be in contention to play James Bond, he was offered the part of Dr. No in the movie of the same name (1962) but was vetoed by the movies producers. He did eventually play a Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and was the best thing about the movie. As cinema, particularly horror cinema changed in the 1970’s the gothic horror he was most famous for became outdated he appeared to be moving with the times making one of his best horror films The Wicker Man (1973). Sadly the quality of his roles dried up with a lot of TV movies and lesser work in the decades that followed.

More recently his career has gone through a renaissance with a small part in Sleepy Hollow (1999) leading to further collaborations with Tim Burton: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Dark Shadows (2012). Following Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness who appeared in the original Star Wars (1977) Lee plays Sith Lord, Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). But his most notable role in recent years came in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A great fan of The Lord of the Rings Lee has stated that it was a life long dream to play Gandalf, the Peter Jackson film trilogy came too late for him to realise this ambition but he did get a significant part in the movies playing Saruman. Later this year he will be reprising the in the prequel film The Hobbit. Retuning to the studio that made his name Lee had a small part in the new Hammer movie The Resident (2011). More significantly for a actor who has made so many movies he appeared in Martin Scorsese’s love letter to cinema Hugo (2011).

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