More Regal Classic Movies – Spartacus, Titanic, Gladiator

Regal Cinemas

 

Bravo to Regal for continuing their Classic Film Series. Now if they would just advertise it a bit more – for example on their Facebook page, through their Regal app, or anything other than a tiny banner at the bottom of their emails. Still it means that I have a mostly empty theater to enjoy.

This go round they have chosen historical epics for their focus. All shows are at 2 p.m. on Sunday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Participating theaters can be found here.

April 13th & 16th – And the Oscar Goes to… (an insider look at the Academy Awards)

April 20th & 23rd – Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments

April 27th & 30th – Gladiator

May 4th & 7th – Ben Hur

May 11th & 14th – Titanic

Spartacus

May 18th & 21st – Spartacus

Regal Crown Club members get an extra 50 points for seeing any three films or 100 extra points for seeing all six.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

* Regal is also offering their Superticket program on the new Amazing Spider-Man 2. For $20 over the price of your ticket, you get a copy The Amazing Spider-Man in HD for your Ultraviolet account (Vudu, Target Ticket, Flixster, etc.). You also get an HD copy of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a couple weeks before it comes out on DVD.

 

It’s Titanic Time!

If you don’t want to binge on James Bond, how about the disaster of the Titanic? Streaming Netflix has you covered.

Titanic

Titanic (1997) – Rated PG-13

This cinematic spectacle — winner of 11 Oscars — follows society girl Rose and penniless artist Jack as they fall in love just as tragedy strikes. Rereleased for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, the stirring romance remains timeless.”

James Cameron’s brilliant melding of genres allows you to enjoy the epic romance of Jack and Rose, the true life disaster of the Titanic, modern efforts to dive on the Titanic, the difference between first and third class, and still have an action adventure (albeit somewhat ludicrous) when Jack is framed.

Titanic

Titanic (2012) – Rated TV-PG

This extraordinary re-telling of the doomed voyage, written by Julian Fellowes, retells the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic, featuring multiple personal narratives and a large and accomplished cast.”

Follow Cameron’s epic up with this far more restrained version from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) that shows great detail about the class division aboard ship – not just first and third but also second class, serving class, and ship’s crew.

Titanic Blood and Steel

Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012) – Rated TV-14

“Irish immigrant Mark Muir works on construction of the doomed RMS Titanic while hiding his Catholic heritage from the project’s Protestant financiers. As the ship is built, Muir falls in love amid the tensions of the period and Muir’s own past.”

Need more information? Blood and Steel is a 12-part series about the building of the unsinkable Titanic.

Titanica: IMAX (1995) – Not rated

Titanica follows a 1992 expedition to the wreck of the Titanic, the “unsinkable” luxury liner that collided with an iceberg and sank in 1912. Survivor Eva Hart’s memories add a human element to this documentary narrated by Leonard Nimoy”

Want a non-fiction approach? Try Titanica on for ummm size. Ghosts of the Abyss (not available) is much better but there is a lot of dive footage here on the Titanic.

Titanic 2 (2010) – Not rated

Titanic irony looms when the new luxury cruise liner Titanic 2, setting sail a century after the sinking of its ill-starred namesake, seems destined to come to a similarly soggy end when an ocean tsunami pushes an iceberg into its path. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher Kim Patterson (Brooke Burns) and Coast Guard Capt. James Maine (Bruce Davison) lead the bid to save the giant ship and its passengers from annihilation.”

The usual Asylum nonsense proving you can have a sequel to anything although honestly Escape from the Planet of the Apes proved that given the ending in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

 

Titanic – The End of The End is Nigh week?

Titanic (no not the James Cameron blockbuster) is currently available on instant Netflix.

One Line Review: Yes, this is Titanic Abbey – if you like Downton, you’ll enjoy this even though it doesn’t measure up to Downton.

Titanic (2012) – Rated TV-PG

“This extraordinary re-telling of the doomed voyage, written by Julian Fellowes, retells the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic, featuring multiple personal narratives and a large and accomplished cast.”

Why would someone undertake to make a TV miniseries about the Titanic that has 1/10 the budget of the definitive tale told by James Cameron? Yes, the 100th anniversary of the sinking is a good excuse but why? This version is definitely not a cash grab.

James Cameron’s Titanic went to a lot of effort to accurately recreate the look of the Titanic and the feel of life aboard ship. However a majority of Cameron’s screentime was spent on either the central romance of Jack and Rose or the very long action adventure finale so most of the parts that might be considered important to understand were in the background. Also Cameron seemed to be more interested in the nuts and bolts facts rather than a feel for how the class system worked.

This new version of Titanic is directed by Jon Jones but (with no offense meant to Jones) it is clear that it is really writer Julian Fellowes’ Titanic. I’m not sure whether it was just to entice audiences each night but I found the central conceit of his screenplay fascinating.

The first episode introduces us to many characters but basically follows the Earl of Manton and his family in First Class and gives us a whirlwind glimpse into that life before spending just a little bit of time on the aftermath of the iceberg collision. The story then rewinds for the second episode and focuses mainly on a second class couple, while fleshing out a few of the missing detail from the first episode. The second episode ends slightly further along than episode one. The third takes us lower down the class ladder and the fourth details the aftermath of hitting the iceberg.

Fellowes’ Titanic features an unwieldy cast with no big names. Strangely I only noticed one of Fellowes’ Downton Abbey cast in it. My only guess is that the two series were filmed concurrently or budgetary concerns didn’t allow for Titanic to score Downton actors (or many name actors).

Maria Doyle Kennedy, who plays the evil Vera Bates on Downton, plays a less scheming but almost as unpleasant Muriel Batley here. Toby Jones does an excellent job of playing her husband, lawyer and second-class passenger John Batley. The rest of the cast do their jobs well, though none of them particularly stand out.

One of the things Fellowes does well, here and in Downton, is to detail the lives and class of people from this era. It was nice to see the way servants of first class passengers were treated both as first class and second class.

Do not watch this expecting an action adventure film or even a disaster film. Do watch it as an engrossing example of how people lived back then. Fellowes does an admirable job detailing the disaster that befell the Titanic even if the budget doesn’t really allow the majestic ship to shine or the special effects to entice.

Titanic is a very enjoyable class drama albeit somewhat confusing with the large cast involved.

Follow-Up: If this whets your appetite for more Titanic then do NOT watch Titanic II from Asylum. Do watch the Imax documentary, Titanica, which details a 1992 dive to explore the wreckage as well as some accounts from survivor Eva Hart.

Mid-Month Update – Excellent Television

The second season of Downton Abbey is finally available. Unfortunately it is not on Netflix or Amazon (unless you want to pay by the episode) but Hulu Plus has all of the second season episodes. I can’t wait to watch this with my wife. If you haven’t seen it yet, catch the first season on instant Netflix.

Titanic (2012)

“Follows the lives of the ship’s passengers, from all walks of life, as they travel on the maiden voyage of the ill-fated Titanic. From the wealthy family of the Earl of Manton, the designers of the ship, to the stokers in the engine room – who will make it onto the lifeboats? “

This is NOT the James Cameron blockbuster but rather a British miniseries. Each of the first three episodes begin before Titanic launches and tells the story of different characters. The fourth episode deals with the sinking of the Titanic and presumably the fates of the characters from the first three episodes. I’m looking forward to this mainly because it is from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey). Available on instant Netflix.

After watching this, do not even consider viewing Titanic II. Titanic II is NOT a sequel but the usual Asylum ripoff.

Breaking Bad Season 4 (2008-2011)

“Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and teams with a former student to manufacture and sell high-quality crystal meth to secure his family’s future.”

I’ve recommended this series before but now we get the fourth season. This is another one I’m looking forward to watching with my wife. Too many shows, too little FREE time. I also think that it’s a mistake to premiere the fourth season on instant Netflix on the same day the fifth season premieres on AMC. This doesn’t give viewers enough time to catch up.

Titanic (1953) – Don’t Get on That Boat! week

This is Don’t Get on That Boat! week. Titanic is currently available on instant Netflix.

Titanic

WATCH: Titanic (1953) – NR – Not rated

“An unhappily married couple, Julia and Richard Sturges (Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb), board the Titanic, while one of their daughters falls in love with a boy from the underclass. Once they set sail, Richard never allows Julia out of his sight, and unsuccessfully begs for reconciliation. But when the iceberg looms and disaster strikes, the Sturges must set their differences aside … for themselves and for the sake of their children.”

“May I bone your kipper, Mademoiselle?”

Okay wait – that quote makes the film seem like a sex comedy. Let me try again.

“If you get a good omelette, who cares whether the chicken likes you or not?”

Hrrrm. That’s not much better. One last try:

“Twenty years ago I made the unpardonable error of thinking I could civilize a girl who bought her hats out of a Sears-Roebuck catalog.”

The story of the Titanic is almost perfect. It contains pride, hubris, tragedy, cowardice and heroism by its very nature. It is also easy to serve as a backdrop for romance and/or an examination of our class system. A bygone way of life can also be researched and examined.

James Cameron successfully did all of this in the first half of his epic version of Titanic (1997). He then grafted an entire action film into the second half. His meticulous research helped make every detail of the film authentic. This is not that film.

This version of Titanic is still quite good for its time. It won an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. It has strong dialogue in a number of places as witnessed by the final two quotes. The first quote is not an innuendo – it is literal. Titanic was also nominated for Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Blank and White.

Factually it is a mixed bag. As noted in the beginning of the film, “All navigational details of this film – conversations, incidents and general data – are taken verbatim from the published reports of inquiries held in 1912 by the Congress of the United States and the British Board of Trade.” The lack of a traditional music score also lends some authenticity to the proceedings.

On the other hand, there are innumerable factual mistakes regarding the ship and incident. These range from inconsequential things (no shuffleboard on Titanic) to oddities such as the ship being sold out and the White Star chairman indicating that he wouldn’t be going with them on the voyage. The central characters are fictional as well.

Jean Negulesco directed this film and did a very good job. There is one wonderful foreshadowing shot where a character tosses his hat overboard. The hat is followed into the ocean where it lands next to some ice.

Acting is quite good. Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck play our central couple, the Sturges. The Sturges used to be in love but now a vast emotional chasm exists between them. Their daughter Annette (Audrey Dalton) is pursued by a very young and energetic Robert Wagner as Gifford Rogers.

One of the highlights of the Titanic story is of course ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown. Here, apparently due to legal issues, her name is changed to Maude Young. Thankfully her character is as brash as ever and is played very well by Thelma Ritter.

This is a very good film and well worth a watch recommendation. On the other hand if you have watched James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) or Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember (1958) then there isn’t much here that you haven’t already seen.

People Watch: Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still) is the narrator at the end of the film. Richard Basehart (ironically best known as Admiral Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) plays a defrocked priest in a minor subplot.