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Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Everett’

Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde

“THE HAPPY PRINCE” My rating: B

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Actor Rupert Everettt — who announced that he was gay long before it was fashionable — has for years dreamed of bringing the story of Oscar Wilde to the screen.

The years of preparation have paid off. If Everett’s “The Happy Prince” (he wrote, directed and stars in it) is a sumptuously produced downer that seems to wander, there is no ignoring his performance, which is somehow both deeply personal and monumental.

“…Prince” centers on the last three years of Wilde’s life, spent in exile in Europe after he completed a two-year sentence in British prisons for “gross indecencies with men,”  specifically his affair with young Lord Alfred Douglas.

We meet the great writer in his last impoverished weeks in Paris, cadging cash off anyone who’ll sympathize and blowing it on absinthe, cocaine and young male prostitutes. (His favorites are a pair of brothers whom he compensates with coins and a serialized retelling of his children’s story “The Happy Prince”.)

He’s a pathetic portrait of dissipation — all bloat, lank hair, rouged cheeks and shabby cape — but the famous Wilde wit is ever in evidence. “There is no mystery as great as suffering,” he observes.

The film then flashes back to Wilde’s release from prison three years earlier, his escape across the Channel and his reunion with his beloved “Bosie” (Colin Morgan), a beautiful but spoiled wanker of spectacular selfishness; Lord Alfred sticks around only until his mother threatens to cut off his stipend.

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AltamiraBison“FINDING ALTAMIRA” My rating: C+

97 minutes | No MPAA rating

The conflict between science and superstition (not to mention stubbornness and stupidity) is nothing new.

In Hugh Hudson’s “Finding Altamira” a 19th-century archaeologist sees his life and reputation reduced to tatters over his discovery of spectacular prehistoric cave paintings.

Marcelo Sanz de Sautolo (portrayed here by Antonio Banderas) was a wealthy Spaniard and gentleman of leisure.  He was also an amateur scientist who loved getting his hands dirty digging up old things.

In 1879 Sautolo was excavating a cave discovered a few years earlier.  His nine-year-old daughter Maria (Allegra Allen) wandered off from the entrance and stumbled upon a magnificent chamber decorated with drawings of animals — mostly massive bison — rendered in red ochre and black ash.

Sautolo  concluded that this was the work of prehistoric man — but work of undreamed-of sophistication. As it turned out, that was the sticking point. No one — not even Europe’s most acclaimed archaeologists — believed primitive man capable of such efforts.

Sautolo was accused of forging the cave paintings to satisfy his own need for celebrity. Twenty years later he was vindicated posthumously after other such sites were discovered around southern Europe.

The screenplay by Olivia Hetreed and Jose Luis Lopez-Linages employs these historic facts as the backbone for a tale that takes on religion, professional pride and father-child relations.

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