Mary Queen of Scots (2018). Film review of the historical drama.

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Film review, by Jason Day, of Mary Queen of Scots (2018), the historical account of the monarch’s romances, rise and fall, alongside her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.C

Historical/period/epic

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching
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The Ten Commandments (1956). Film review of the religious epic about the life of Moses.

image still ten commandments 1956 heston
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Film review by Jason Day of The Ten Commandments, the religious epic about the life of Moses, produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.

Historical/Period/Epic

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

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The Good Earth (1937). 4/5 stars for this haunting, emotional Chinese epic.

image still photo the good earth muni rainer
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Film review by Jason Day of The Good Earth, based on the novel by Pearl Buck, about turn of the century peasants in China. Starring Paul Muni and Oscar winning Luise Rainer.

Historical/Period/Epic

4 star rating very good lots to enjoy

 

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Victoria and Abdul (2017). 4/5 stars for this moving royal comedy drama.

image still victoria abdul garden
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Film review by Jason Day of Victoria and Abdul, starring Judi Dench as an aged, infirm Queen Victoria and her real-life, close friendship with her Muslim teacher Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).

Historical/Period/Epic

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

 

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Viceroy’s House (2017). Film review: 3/5 for this creation of independent India drama.

image viceroys house
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Film review by Jason Day of Viceroy’s House, a drama set during the time of the handover of the Rajah, starring Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson.

Drama

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

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Mutiny On the Bounty (1962). Film review – 4/5 stars.

hms the bounty in mutiny on the bounty
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Film review by Jason Day of Mutiny On the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh.

Historical/Period/Epic

4 star rating very good lots to enjoy

 

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Ben-Hur: summary reviews of all big-screen versions of Ben-Hur, 1907-2016.

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Film reviews by Jason Day of all four big screen versions of Ben-Hur, 1907-2016.

Ben-Hur (2016)
2stars - Fair/passes the time
Director: Timur Bekmambetov.
 
Synopsis
 
Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is a Prince of Judea. Messala (Toby Kebbell) is his adoptive brother and they are the best of friends. But Messala is Roman and he yearns for glory in his homeland to distinguish himself. He leaves and returns years later, hoping Judah will work with him to quell uprisings in Judea. When Judah refuses, Messala vindictively has him consigned to the galleys as a slave and imprisons his family. Judah must summon every ounce of strength to survive and prevail.
 
Review, by Jason Day
 
The production team behind this latest dusting off of Lew Wallace’s mighty 1880 bestseller at least deserve kudos for having the balls to take on William Wyler’s epochal, box-office smashing, 11 Oscar-winning, mammoth-in-all-departments adaptation.
 
Quite why they decided to do it is another matter; one has to hope given how this is currently limping along at cinemas that deliberate career suicide wasn’t one of them.
 
There are elements to be admired here, the galley sequences, the heaving hustle and bustle of ancient Judea and a trimmed down story (two hour duration compared to 3 hours and 42 minutes) but in the scramble to make a ‘new’ version of the old story, a certain amount of confusion and lack of focus has crept in. 
 
The all-defining chariot race sequence is where such films redeem themselves, but what we have here is nothing short of a dull afternoon at the dog-tracks. 
 
It’s interesting to note that, with all the technical wizardry at a filmmaker’s fingers, the sequence has less impact than the 1925 silent version.
 
For more, read the full review: http://bit.ly/BenHurFilm2016
 
 
Ben-Hur (1959)
 
Director: William Wyler.
 
5stars Excellent genius a classic
 
It was always going to be difficult to out-epic the most famous version of Ben-Hur, but it’s not just the scale of this film that impresses the most.
 
This is a film to listen to as it is blessed with the most poetic of dialogue. Considering the script was cobbled together from the efforts of several writers, its clear and beautiful cohesiveness is to be even more admired. 
 
Wyler had the funds to make a splendid film and from the lush, Imperial score all the way down to the smallest of props, this has the ring of perfection chiming through every frame. 
 
Yes, it’s a long film and it has been said by other critics that it lasts almost as long as the Roman Empire, but it’s a rewarding journey none the less on many levels.
 
 
Ben-Hur (1925).
 
Director: Fred Niblo.
 
3stars Good worth watching
 
MGM’s first stab at making Ben-Hur almost bankrupted the newly-fledged company, but they managed to off-set many potential losses and showed their mettle as a serious studio that could handle a film of any size.
 
It’s about as big a film as you can get and you can tick off all of the key elements to make a Ben-Hur and a few more.
 
This film was made before the days of national cinema censorship so it’s the raciest Ben-Hur with male nudity, bare-breasted female extras and star Ramon Novarro’s lovely toned legs in micro-skirts so short you can almost see his little tribune.
 
The exciting chariot race still stands up to scrutiny today in a film that, despite its melodrama is still thunderously good.
 
 
Ben-Hur (1907).
 
Director: Sidney Olcott et al.
 
2stars - Fair/passes the time
 
I wanted to include the ‘little great-grandaddy’ of Ben-Hurs as much for continuity and also consistency – why shouldn’t a film made before most of the techniques now used in cinema were developed?
 
Well, in a sense perhaps I should have left it out as it isn’t a film in the usual sense of the word, but more a filmed version of a stage play.
 
But within its creaky, theatrical set-up there is a cute, almost naive value to it. I’ve given this the same star rating as the 2016 version as both films in their own way help to pass the time. This one, at 15 minutes, does it rather more swiftly.
 
 
 
Cast & credits (2016 only)
 
Producers: Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel, Duncan Henderson, Joni Levin.
Writers: Keith R. Clarke, John Ridley.
Camera: Oliver Wood.
Music: Marco Beltrami.
Sets: Naomi Shohan.
Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Morgan Freeman, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Pilou Asbæk, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Marwan Kenzari, Moises Arias, James Cosmo.