Excalibur

I got through some work, although it was slow going. I had a brief discussion with someone about “El Topo,” which I wasn’t so enthusiastic about, neither the discussion nor the movie. I went back home and watched “Excalibur” again. I wanted to see if it gained much in high definition. It’s one of your messy films, hard to follow, with the characters looking alike and trapped inside a violent world, though not quite like Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight in “Deliverance.” Arthur doesn’t seem so extraordinary in this cast of characters. Helen Mirren is around as Morgana, and she is one of the interesting people in the movie. Mordred looks like something out of a Fellini film. Others in the cast include Nicol Williamson as Merlin, Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon, Liam Neeson as Gawain, and Patrick Stewart as Leodegrance. Roger Ebert gave the movie only two and a half stars, saying that a problem was that the characters were fated to do the things they did, and the machinery of the plot was arbitrary. He did praise the production design. All these years later, though, the look of the film seems not so dazzling. Is this movie better than something like “300”? I would say yes, because the story still has human emotion running through it. Things wouldn’t be interesting without Lancelot around. I kept thinking about how Boorman must have reversed the film showing the hand catching Excalibur. All things considered, I still rather like this movie, although I’d prefer to go back and see “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” again. There are other Boorman films I’ve seen, which I have liked. They are “Deliverance,” “The Emerald Forest,” and “Hope and Glory.” I don’t recall ever seeing “Point Blank,” but it does have a cast of Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O’Connor, and Lloyd Bochner, so maybe I have to check it out one of these days. I don’t remember seeing “Zardoz.” What would “The Lord of the Rings” have been like in the hands of John Boorman? I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the wildly successful trio of movies we saw, and it probably wouldn’t have been something that kids would have wanted to see. John Boorman is 82 years old now, and “Queen and Country” may be his last movie. I’d like to see it. Nicol Williamson died on December 16, 2011. He was 75 years old, and he had esophageal cancer. He and Helen Mirren reportedly hated each other, although it seems like it was one of those cases of love turned to hate. Some of the people who died on October 8 include John Hancock (1793), Franklin Pierce (1869), Nigel Bruce (1953), Joan Hackett (1983), and Al Davis (2011). Today is a birthday for Stephanie Zimbalist (59), Sigourney Weaver (66), Chevy Chase (72), Jesse Jackson (74), Paul Hogan (76), and Rona Barrett (79). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 8, “Bat Masterson” had its premiere on NBC in 1958. In 1981, the pilot of “Cagney and Lacey,” starring Tyne Daly and Loretta Swit, aired on CBS. In 1993, “Demolition Man,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, was released.

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