Film Four & Film Four +1 04-06-08.

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FILM4 04 Jun 2008

Days of Heaven
(1978) Director Terrence Malick's exquisitely-shot film traces a savage love triangle set in the Midwest of America."Your eyes... Your ears... Your senses... will be overwhelmed" says the tagline and for once, you can believe it. Terrence Malick's beautifully filmed ode to rural America stars the ravishing Richard Gere and Brooke Adams
Days Of Heaven Malick's poetic hymn to rural America at the turn of the century is a sensual delight. The fragile plot is held together by Linda Manz's narrator, and concerns two lovers, Bill and Abby (Gere and Adams) travelling from Chicago, who pass as brother and sister while working on a Texan farm. When the harvest is over, the wealthy landowner insists they stay, and asks the girl to marry him. The pair discover that the landowner is ill and may soon die, and see an opportunity to leave poverty behind forever. Frustration creeps in when the landowner stays alive longer than they anticipated.
Famed for its 'magic hour' cinematography (Malick insisted that filming took place at dusk or dawn, when the sky would be white and there would be no sight of the sun), Days Of Heaven is a feast for the eyes and ears - the locust plague climax a stunning and magical piece of cinema imagery.

(1963) Still the most expensive film ever made, Joseph L Mankiewicz's film almost defines the word 'epic'.Cleopatra gets the typically over-the-top Cecil B DeMille treatment, which, as history lessons go, could hardly be more inaccurate, but it is the business as far as grand spectacle is concerned. Colbert is fun to watch as the Egyptian queen who has to cope with unrest among her closest allies. After her boyfriend Julius Caesar has been killed, she decides it's best to get it on with Marc Anthony in order to keep her options open. Despite the grand settings, this is a surprisingly intimate portrayal of the Queen of the Nile.

Thunderbird 6
(1968) International Rescue's second big screen outing.

Kingdom of Heaven
(2005) Ridley Scott's epic historical drama is set in the 12th century at the Crusader defence of Jerusalem.A blacksmith becomes a knight and defender of Jerusalem against war-mongering Crusaders and the Muslim armies of Saladin. Historical epic starring Orlando Bloom, directed by Ridley Scott
Kingdom Of Heaven Set a hundred years after the Christian armies seized Jerusalem, Kingdom Of Heaven opens in a dour, misty French hillside during the burial of a suicide. On the instruction of a priest (Sheen), the young woman's corpse is beheaded and he takes a moment to steal the silver cross from around her neck. Her husband Balian Of Ibelin (Bloom) is a blacksmith, with all the life sucked out of him by his wife's self-inflicted death (itself inspired by the death of their child). His mourning is broken by the arrival of a knight Godfrey Of Ibelin (Neeson), who informs Balian that he is his illegitimate son and should follow him to Jerusalem to earn forgiveness for his wife's sin. Pausing only to kill the priest for his desecration, Balian does exactly that.
Halting and episodic, the first chunk of Kingdom Of Heaven does not grab you by the throat in the same way as Ridley Scott's previous historical epic, Gladiator. No sooner are we bonding with Godfrey and his band of knights than they are being slaughtered. No sooner has Balian boarded a ship than it is sinking and he alone is clambering from the wreckage. The dialogue is a portentous play of generalities, delivered at walking speed, and it lacks the bite of Maximus' oratory.
It is only when Balian arrives at Jerusalem and becomes embroiled in its imminent religious conflict that you feel yourself slip under the film's spell. This is due to the appearance of Saladin (Massoud) and King Baldwin (an uncredited Edward Norton). Saladin is the great Muslim warrior whose military guile promises to return Jerusalem to his people. King Baldwin is a magical figure, a leper in a metal mask, whose vision for peace between all faiths within Jerusalem beguiles Balian.

The Money Pit
(1986) A young Tom Hanks, an old wreck of a house and the American dream.A young Tom Hanks, an old wreck of a house and the American dream. A mild, but enjoyable comedy
This one-joke film begins as a comedy, moves into farce, has a sortie into slapstick and ends as a feel-good movie.The plot (simplistically derivative of Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House) tells of a yuppy New York couple who are ousted from their apartment and need a home. A friend tells them of a chance to capitalise on a fellow human being's misfortune ('the basis of all real estate') and buy a snip. They do and the money pit opens.
Hanks is vaguely charming in his pre-Oscar day, Benjamin directs adroitly and there's mild fun at the expense of the American Dream.