Mel’s Books: December

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs
Written by: Barbara Mertz
Read by: Lorna Raver
Notes: Super interesting, fun read.
Score: 10/10

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Written by: Robert Garland
Read by: Robert Garland
Notes: I’d always wanted to read a book about this, and I’m glad I finally did. The lives of the normal people back then is just as interesting as the lives of the leaders, and it’s time they got some love. The lecturer talks like Sid the Sloth from Ice Age, but it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might at the beginning of the class.
Score: 9.5/10

Serial Killers Abridged
Written by: RJ Parker
Read by: Me
Notes: Short snippets on 100 different killers. The writing was very amateurish, but I still enjoyed it.
Score: 8/10

Masters of True Crime: Chilling Stories of Murder and the Macabre
Written by: Various, edited by R Barri Flowers
Read by: Tara Ochs
Notes: The narrator was a little meh, but the stories were very well written and interesting. Many cases I hadn’t heard of in this book.
Score: 8/10

Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval World
Written by: Robert Garland
Read by: Robert Garland
Notes: 24 lectures about 24 different moments in history. Very cool approach to broad history. There were a few of the lectures that were kinda boring, but on the whole, a very interesting course.
Score: 8.5/10

The World’s Most Evil Psychopaths
Written by: John Marlowe
Read by: Eric Meyers
Notes: A good mix of famous killers and obscure ones, this book was well written, well read, and interesting.
Score: 9/10

M.

Advertisements

Mel’s Readings: August – September

SIGNS OF THE GODS?
Written by: Erich von Däniken
Read by: Peter Berkrot
Notes: A lot of what was in this book they’ve talked about in Ancient Aliens, but it was a fun read nonetheless. Crazy as all hell, but interesting.
Score: 8/10

SERIAL KILLERS: TRUE CRIME ANTHOLOGY 2014
Written by: Various, including Peter Vronsky and RJ Parker
Read by: Me
Notes: Enjoyed this one much more than the 2015 one, but that’s just because I didn’t have to listen to that droning voice reading it.
Score: 8/10

MAYA TO AZTEC: ANCIENT MEZOAMERICA REVEALED
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Awesome, awesome, awesome! If you have even only a passing interest in the Mayans and/or other Mezoamerican cultures, I highly recommend this set of lectures. It was over 23 hours, but I absolutely inhaled it, and got sad when I had to turn it off.
Score: 10/10

DEAD EVER AFTER
Written by: Charlaine Harris
Read by: Me
Notes: So I finally got around to reading the last of the Sookie Stackhouse books (that’s the books that True Blood was based on… in the beginning, anyways). And it was a fine conclusion to the story, all ends neatly clipped and taken care of. While she didn’t end up with the person I’d hope she’d spend her life with in the end, I can’t dislike it just for that (like I’ve read from other readers).
Score: 8/10

DEAD ICE
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Read by: Kimberly Alexis
Notes: Finally, a strong entry from the Anita Blake series. The series, now at 26 books, has been in steady decline, but looks like Hamilton is finally listening to her readers, and took Anita’s head out of her ass, and gave her stuff to do other than complain and have power-gaining orgies. In this book, Anita goes back to her roots, and Hamilton delivers a fine book filled with zombies, magic, and crazy bad guys. It would have had a perfect score, but Hamilton tends to repeat herself… a lot. A good 2 or 3 hours could have been shaved off the 20 hour reading time easily, I’m sure, and we’d have lost none of the current story.
Score: 8/10

GREAT PHARAOHS OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Written by: Bob Brier
Read by: Bob Brier
Notes: A little disappointed with this one, not because it’s uninteresting, but because it’s an almost word for word redux of certain lectures from his The History of Ancient Egypt, which I’d already listened to. Still gets a perfect score, though, because it is still an excellent set of lectures.
Score: 10/10

THE VIKINGS
Written by: Kenneth W Harl
Read by: Kenneth W Harl
Notes: Awesome beginning, meh middle, good end. The middle was meh because they went on and on about the Viking’s conversion to Christianity. The first lecture about it was fine. But then there were more; how Sweden converted, how Finland converted, how Norway converted, how Iceland converted, how… we get it, they converted, move on. And the, um, lecturer, uh, always seemed to, uh, need to, um, search for his, er, words. I got used to it, but it was annoying at first. There were also people occasionally heard in the background, and there was a constant humming sound, like he was right beside an AC or something.
Score: 7/10

THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
Written by: Garrett G Fagan
Read by: Garrett G Fagan
Notes: I really want to give this one a perfect score, cause it was so very interesting, but I can’t. Not with this lecturer. I did finally manage to get used to his way for speaking, but it took me half the course. He’d pause right in the middle of……. a sentence, for a real long time sometimes, too. But the course was so amazing that I’m only going to knock him half a point for it.
Score: 9.5/10

LOST WORLDS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Not quite as good as Maya to Aztec, but still very, very good. You can almost never go wrong with The Great Courses.
Score: 10/10

RED LAND, BLACK LAND
Written by: Barbara Mertz
Read by: Lorna Raver
Notes: Absolutely stunning portrayal of life in Ancient Egypt, told with perspective and humour. Excellent!
Score: 10/10

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Written by: Stephen Hawking
Read by: Michael York
Notes: Excellent, but rather repetitive if you, like I, have already read A Brief History of Time. Still, the man is brilliant, no denying that!
Score: 9/10

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Pyramid

The Pyramid
(2014) Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Denis O’Hare, Christa Nicola, Amir K, Faycal Attougui

pyramid

I almost turned this film off as soon as it began because of the found footage style. I can’t stand it. I decided to go ahead and give it a try anyways, since I paid for it, and was happy to see that only part of it was in that style, the rest was normal film. So all the worst parts of found footage films, like running with the camera, static, blinking lights, etc, were thankfully missing from this film. There was only one actor I’d heard of (Denis O’Hare, from American Horror Story), and the acting ranged from bad to decent, but unfortunately nothing better than that. It’s pretty much a by-the-numbers creature feature (and I knew it was going to be, but since it was about pyramids and ancient Egyptian lore, I couldn’t help myself), but it was well enough done and even had some good, tense scenes. The big reveal at the end was pretty darn cool, but unfortunately the FX couldn’t keep up with their idea, and the monster (I won’t spoil as to who it is just in case anyone should want to see the film) looks very cheap. A shame, really. All in all, looking past the not-so-great effects and mediocre acting, this is a pretty good tomb crawler, so earns its score of 7/10.

This film isn’t currently on Netflix, but there are full copies on YouTube. Enjoy 🙂

 

M.

Review Club #6 – Agora

agora_poster05

To switch things up a little, here’s my review first (I know, I’m a wild one!):

Mel’s 10 Things About: Agora (2009)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Michael Lonsdale, Sami Samir

agora

So this was a pretty hard movie to watch. It had a hard time finding distributors, and yeah, I can understand why. I’m having trouble completing full ideas today, so here’s a list of my thoughts about the film. {SPOILERS AHEAD}

1. I like Rachel Weisz. She’s hot.
2. The young slave is also hot. Who’s he, and where’s he been all my life?
3. The acting ranged from decent to good.
4. The sound mixing was AWFUL. The music would blare one second and then the talking was so low it was ridiculous. My tv volume went from 12 to 34 regularly. It’s annoying.
5. I don’t understand why Davus turned so fast and became a murderous dick. Did I miss something? And don’t say it’s because she called him an idiot in the heat of the battle. He’s smarter than that.
6. It made me angry and sad to see the Library of Alexandria get trashed. “We don’t need all this stupid science when we have God”. Ugh. So much knowledge, destroyed. How much more advanced would we be now if all of that needn’t of been relearned?
7. The film just fueled my disdain and, shall I dare say, hate?, of organized religion. All of them, not just Catholicism. “It’s written in a book, so it must be so”, right? In that vein of thought, vampires are real, we’re all pod people, and werewolves occupy positions in government offices. Ridiculous.
8. The film was shot beautifully, the sets and costumes absolutely gorgeous.
9. You’d think the most disgusting character would be the Bishop in black, but he’s not. He’s evil, yes, but always was. The worst character is Hypatia’s friend, the Bishop in white, who turns on her in the blink of an eye after hearing a quote from that damned book.
10. It’s a real shame Hypatia didn’t have a Davus to kill her peacefully at the end in real life. The poor woman was stripped, stoned, dragged around town behind a horse, her body being skinned and torn to bits, then she was burned. This lady didn’t have a good go of it.

8.5/10

M.

 

Up next is Eric, from over at The IPC.

Agora AKA One Million Angry Christians in the House

I had never heard of this movie before Mel assigned it to us but I saw that it had Rachel Weisz in it so I got a little excited – I think she’s super hot and can act well sometimes. My semi-chub was reduced to nothing pretty quickly as this movie started and NOTHING happened for any amount of time. The only thing I could think of was “fuck these Egyptians are awful white” and I couldn’t keep track of any of the male characters because they ALL had white skin, black hair and had a name that were five syllables long and ended in “ius”. Erictheopolius. Ericmeniopolius. Ericmomonius, etc. So there was that and the fact that this was REALLY boring so I didn’t care. The most interesting and bizaare thing to happen was when Weisz’ character brings one of her suitors a blood stained rag and says “this is the essence of my womb” or something which I guess was her way of saying “I don’t want to go out with you”

blood rag

Then the Alexandrian Whites got angry and started killing the Christians who got mad and then started killing the Alexandrians and destroying everything so the Alexandrians converted to Christianity and then they all started throwing rocks at Jews who threw rocks back and then the Jews were all killed or exiled and Weisz figures out that the earth revolves around the sun so they stone her to death. I have to admit that this movie looks really pretty but the dialogue is atrocious and silly and it was kind of embarrassing to see Weisz commanding her slave to “Grab the bag! Just grab the bag! Do as I say and grab the bag!” during the big siege scene. Oh well – I didn’t like this very much. Say – someone once told me that my first Gravatar image looked like a “period stain” – what do you think?

theipclogo5a

2 bloody rags out of 5

 

Up next we have my darling husband Francois, over at FrankishNet.

Agora – a short review

I have mixed feelings about Agora.

The first feeling is love. I loved it. The historical accuracy and setting, the costumes, the actors. It is also original in the sense that it is an “Historical religious move”, and yet not, since it’s about science. I position myself with our heroine: there is science, the rest is not really worth believing in, as it is a tool to serve a political agenda, or to justify hate and murder. On this account, this movie brilliantly demonstrated the relationship of hate and horrifying acts justified by religion, that we live in daily still today.
No wonder they had troubles distributing the movie…

The second feeling is hate. I hated it. Already charged with political, scientific and religious turmoil, the movie was already heavy for the regular watcher. Then add in the mixed opinions on slavery and possession. Our heroine is gentle and intelligent and respects the slaves. Yet, they are still slave and are meant to obey. And that is totally normal given her birthright, upbringing and era.

However, her acts of kindness toward a slave, who is very intelligent and kind as well, are twisted and transformed in his heart, making him fall in love with his mistress. How is this represented? He asks the gods to “own” her, and ultimately kills her himself, after betraying everything he had learned with her, because she had reminded him of his slavery when the library was being taken.
Yes this adds a lot of dimension to both the movie and the character. But with a movie that was already heavy with subject matter, this felt too much and out of place. They should have left the topic of “Slaves wanting to own their mistress so badly that only them are allowed to kill them, and that is fine” out of the movie and kept it as background noise. “There are slaves. Slaves are slaves. Its the era, its fine”, and let us cry horribly when she is stoned to death, as happened in history.

So here, a good mix of hate and love. It was a very heavy movie, that does not leave you feeling good with yourself, but it did a great job at making us reflect on just how much pain are we ready to take or inflict for our believes, and if those believes aren’t just in truth disguised lust for power, or survival.

I’ll give it a solid 8/10 in its “historic” category, and a mixed 5 in “I enjoyed watching it”.
(Except for her ass. Her ass is 10/10).

 

And finally, rounding things out is Rob, from over at MovieRob.

Before Mel chose this as the next Review Club entry, I had never even heard of this and upon reading the summary, it definitely seemed interesting.

This movie does a very interesting job of trying to discuss modern seemingly contradictions between religion and science set in an ancient world.

Many people nowadays still believe that these two subjects cannot coexist in society in the same way it was believed during the time that this movie takes place 1700 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite it revolving around a very interesting subject matter, the story itself is less interesting and I actually got tired of the soap opera-esk storyline.

I didn’t find any of the male characters compelling enough for a story like this and as great a job as star Rachel Weisz does here, her role isn’t ‘meaty’ enough and in some parts of the movie even seems like she is completely wasted.

As far as historically accurate movies go, I have no idea what really happened or not in real life. Personally, I don’t go to the movies for historically accurate depictions on the big screen, I go to be entertained by the stories. If I did, I’d be better off just watching ‘The History Channel’ all day. 😉

Some of the effects in the movies were done well, but the coolest effect is the use of ‘Google maps’ to zoom in and out of cities and magnifying things to minute details.

This could have been so much more interesting, but instead it was a wasted storyline that comes off quite mediocre.

5/10

And that’s it folks! Join us again in two weeks for when we review Chef!! 🙂

 

PS, what do you guys think of my new review format? I was having trouble making a coherent paragraph for Mel’s 5 Second Review, so I came up with Mel’s 10 Things About. Do you like it? Which format do you prefer? Let me know please! 🙂

Mel’s 5 Second Audiobook Review: Treasury of Egyptian Mythology

Treasury of Egyptian Mythology (2013)
Written by: Donna Jo Napoli
Read by: Christina Moore

Treasury

(Questions from Audible’s reviews form)

What other book might you compare Treasury of Egyptian Mythology to and why?
I’ve actually never read any other book about Egyptian myths, believe it or not, I’ve only watched stuff on tv, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to.

Which scene was your favorite?
I really couldn’t pick just one, I loved the whole book! But if I absolutely had to pick, it would likely be the story of Osiris, Isis and Set. Horrible and wonderful at the same time!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Made me laugh a time or two, but nothing really extreme.

Any additional comments?
This book was so good! The only thing bad I’d have to say was that it was nowhere near long enough! It was only 3.5 hours, barely enough to whet my appetite. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of books quite like this one on Audible. What a shame. So even though it’s only 3.5 hours long, I still give it a 10/10. Wonderful!

M.

My Top 10 Biopics

I thought I was going to have trouble choosing only 10 films to put on this list, and actually, the opposite turned out to be true. Looks like I haven’t seen as many biopics as I thought, and liked even fewer of them. But, I guess you could say that’s a good thing, since I enjoyed so few of them, that this list will end up being just the very best. No mediocrity here! hehe

I’m also going to try do a wee bit of research to see just how true the film really is. But I’m not a historian, or a time traveler, nor do I have an all-seeing eye, so please don’t be a jerk if I get something wrong. Google knows a lot, but what it doesn’t know is which articles are the actual truth, and with so much info out there, it’s almost impossible to separate the real truth from the rumours. But I’ll do my best.

I also won’t be including any horror or supernatural “true stories”. Since I already did both top horror and top serial killer films lists, I won’t include any of those in this list, to avoid repetition. And on that note, we’re off!

NUMBER 10

10 The Runaways

Title: The Runaways
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Riley Keough, Johnny Lewis, and Tatum O’Neal
Released in: 2010
Directed by: Floria Sigismondi
Written by: Floria Sigismondi
Based On a Book?: Yes; Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story by Cherie Currie
Who is the Story About?: Cherie Currie, Joan Jett and their short-lived band The Runaways
How Close to the Truth Is It?: What Joan has said about the friction between Cherie, Kim Fowley, and herself: “There was more friendship than was shown. I never really had a falling-out with him, even after the band broke up. Disharmony is natural in any band. But there were times when we were on the same page. Kim and Cherie and I still have an extremely intimate bond.” What Cherie has said about the film depicting them as always being miserable: “And that’s not true at all. How do you shove two-and-a-half years into an hour and a half? That was tough because we had a lot of fun.”
Why I Love It: Such a fun film with great music and really strong acting. Think Kristen Stewart is a bad actress? Then you’ve only seen her in Twilight. Joan Jett herself has said that she was absolutely blown away by her performance. She was recorded as saying “It was like looking in a mirror”.

NUMBER 9

9 The Basketball Diaries

Title: The Basketball Diaries
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, Patrick McGaw, Juliette Lewis, Bruno Kirby, and Ernie Hudson
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Scott Kalvert
Written by: Bryan Goluboff
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll
Who/What is the Story About?: The drug-hazed teenage years of writer/musician Jim Carroll.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: What Jim Carroll has said about the film: “I thought it was well made. I thought the performances were fantastic. I thought Leonardo was wonderful; I couldn’t have asked for a better actor. I thought the whole cast was great. Unfortunately, the director had no idea what my book was about. And then the ending was much more ambiguous [originally]. They changed it and re-shot it in LA, so I didn’t know about that until I saw the final version of the film. And so I said, “You’re not gonna like make it fucked up and preachy and stuff??” and they said, “No, no!” But that’s what they did!”
Why I Love It: Despite the fact that it’s pretty far from the truth, it’s still a wonderful, albeit hard to watch, film. Leo turns his performance up to 11, and he really shines.

NUMBER 8

8 Cleopatra

Title: Cleopatra
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Hume Cronyn, Martin Landau, Roddy McDowall, Robert Stephens, Francesca Annis, George Cole, and Kenneth Haigh
Released in: 1963
Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Written by: Joseph L Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall, Sidney Buchman
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Life and Times of Cleopatra by CM Franzero, plus historical texts by Plutarch, Appian, and Suetonius
Who/What is the Story About?: The life, rule and eventual death of Ancient Egypt’s last Pharaoh, Queen Cleopatra, and the two men in her life, Julius Caeser and Mark Antony.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Wikipedia says: “On the whole, the film followed the history of the period fairly closely, and took fewer liberties with historical accuracy than several other epics. However, there are a few minor inaccuracies:” Click here for the list.
Why I Love It: I don’t think I need to explain. I love everything Ancient Egyptian, and this film is beautiful, lush, and actually quite historically accurate, which is sadly rare in Hollywood. Elizabeth Taylor is breath-taking in the lead role, oozing sexuality and power, much as I assume the real Cleopatra would have.

NUMBER 7

7 Braveheart

Title: Braveheart
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Peter Hanly, Stephen Billington, Barry McGovern, and Tommy Flanagan
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Randall Wallace
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace by “Blind Harry”
Who/What is the Story About?: The life and death of William Wallace, a 13th century Scot who led the First War of Scottish Independence against Edward I of England.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: This is one of the most famously inaccurate films in Hollywood history. I won’t even try to list it all. Click here to see what Wikipedia has to say on the subject. Give yourself some time, there’s a lot there :-p
Why I Love It: Despite it’s glaring inaccuracies, one can’t deny this is a beautiful, powerful film. Shows just what Mel Gibson could accomplish before he went bat-shit crazy.

NUMBER 6

6 Remember the Titans

Title: Remember the Titans
Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ryan Gosling, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue, Ethan Suplee, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kate Bosworth
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Boaz Yakin
Written by: Gregory Allen Howard
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: Black football coach Herman Boone is assigned to TC Williams High School’s team the Titans, and the first inter-racial school in the United States.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: The core of the story (integration of the races, most of the players and games) seems to be all there, but a lot of the smaller details (or most of them, rather) are fictionalized. Click here to see what Chasing the Frog (a website devoted to uncovering the real truth behind Hollywood’s “true stories”) has to say about it.
Why I Love It: I’m not the biggest fan of sports films, or sports in general for that matter (except hockey, I am Canadian, after all 😉 ), but every so often one comes along that I really love. The story is good, the acting all on point, and it’s so fun to see a bunch of actors who are big now getting their start here, like hunky Ryan Gosling.

NUMBER 5

5 Immortal Beloved

Title: Immortal Beloved
Starring: Gary Oldman, Jeroen Krabbé, Isabella Rossellini, Johanna ter Steege, Marco Hofschneider, Miriam Margolyes, Barry Humphries, and Valeria Golino
Released in: 1994
Directed by: Bernard Rose
Written by: Bernard Rose
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: The life (and loves) of great composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: I actually didn’t know a whole lot (that means nothing) about Beethoven’s life before writing this except for what I’d seen in the film. Doing my Googling now, I can see that I may as well have been watching fiction. In the words of movie critic Lewis Butler: “About the only things they got right were that Beethoven wrote the 9th Symphony and that he died.” Ouch. You can read the rest of his review here.
Why I Love It: Having not known how historically inaccurate it was before now will be my excuse for loving this as much as I did. Bah, who am I kidding? I’d have loved it anyways. It’s beautiful, schmoopy, and Gary Oldman gives a tour de force performance, as usual.

NUMBER 4

4 Party Monster

Title: Party Monster
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloë Sevigny, Dylan McDermott, Wilmer Valderrama, Wilson Cruz, Mia Kirshner, and Marilyn Manson
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Written by: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Based On a Book?: Yes; Disco Bloodbath by James St James
Who/What is the Story About?: The rise and fall of legendary 90’s “club kid” Michael Alig.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: When asked if the film retained “the true vibe of it all”, James St James had this to say: “Well, was Cleopatra really like Elizabeth Taylor? Was Erin Brockovich anything like Julia Roberts? Movies are movies. They are meant to entertain. Was it a moment-by-moment depiction of our lives and our relationship? Oh my god no. But it captured the spirit of the times and that’s all you can hope for.” He has also expressed pure love for Seth Green and his performance.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, colourful, with great music and great performances, especially, as James has said, Seth Green’s. He ate up every inch of the screen while he was on it, and it was wonderful.

NUMBER 3

3 Gladiator

Title: Gladiator
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Spencer Treat Clark, Richard Harris, David Schofield, and John Shrapnel
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: An enslaved soldier determined to see the Emperor who murdered his family pay for his crimes.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Well… Commodus was real, as were all the other members of his family. And that’s about it. Heroic Maximus is fiction. Commodus wasn’t the swellest dude around, but he was nowhere near as gross as he’s played on screen. Here’s a more detailed account of the historical untruths told by the film, on a cool blog called Historical Histrionics. Looks like he only did a few posts, though, which is a shame, because they’re well written.
Why I Love It: It’s actually thanks to this film, historical inaccuracies and all, that I got so interested in ancient history. I mean, I’d always been interested, especially in ancient Egypt, but seeing this really made me want to know more about ancient Rome. I was a little disappointed to find out how inaccurate this film actually is, but it didn’t make me love it any less.

NUMBER 2

2 Chaplin

Title: Chaplin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Kline, Maria Pitillo, and Milla Jovovich
Released in: 1992
Directed by: Richard Attenborough
Written by: William Boyd, Bryan Forbes, William Goldman
Based On a Book?: Yes; My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin, and Chaplin His Life and Art by David Robinson
Who/What is the Story About?: The life and work of legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: I’m actually having some trouble looking stuff up. There’s lots of reviews of the film, but even Wikipedia doesn’t have much on whether or not it’s very accurate. As far as I can tell, it seems to pretty accurate, although there’s a lot cut out (the man lived to 88, you couldn’t get all that into one film), and they seem to gloss over some rather important stuff, while focusing on some more minor things. Gotta highlight the dramatic, I guess. This movie review was the one I found with the most historical information.
Why I Love It: This is the film that made me fall in love with Robert Downey Jr. He was ridiculously perfect for the role, and the rest of the film just falls perfectly into place around him. He should have won the Oscar that year. I’ve no idea who won, but I can tell you that he wasn’t as good as Robert.

NUMBER 1

1 Amadeus

Title: Amadeus
Starring: Tom Hulce, F Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice, Simon Callow, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, and Charles Kay
Released in: 1984
Directed by: Milos Forman
Written by: Peter Shaffer
Based On a Book?: No, a play :-p Amadeus by Peter Shaffer
Who/What is the Story About?: The life, music, and death of musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Well… not very actually. In the words of movie critic Alex von Tunzelmann: “A deadly rivalry that never was, a dried-up bachelor who was actually a father of eight, and flops that were hits in reality … even getting Mozart’s toilet humour right cannot redeem it.” She definitely didn’t like the film. You can read the rest of her scathing review here.
Why I Love It: I knew going into it that it wasn’t historically accurate. And do I care? Not a lick. I know a biopic is supposed to tell a true story, and I am sorry that so many people think that this is the way things actually went down, but I’ll be damned if I don’t just love this film to pieces. Fart jokes and all.

 

What are your favourite biopics? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more!

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The History of Ancient Egypt

The History of Ancient Egypt (2013)
Written by: Prof Bob Brier
Read by: Prof Bob Brier

Egypt

Ancient Egypt comes to dazzling life in this 48 lecture course. The lectures cover thousands of years of history, from the rise of the Egyptian empire to becoming the world’s greatest civilization of the time, to the final days of the empire with the fall of Egypt’s most famous queen, Cleopatra. Professor Brier is a good lecturer, if a little repetitive sometimes, but he very clearly loves his work, and it shows big time in the lectures. His passion for the subject is almost contagious. You can’t help but smile as he talks about the long dead monarchs like they were buddies, sometimes even calling them ‘my man’ (ex, ‘my man Snefru’, or ‘our man Ramses’). It was quite amusing, and gave the history a personal touch. If you’re even just a little interested in ancient Egyptian history, I definitely reccomend this course. I give it a wonderful 9.5/10.

M.