December 6 (Monday) 6:30 pm
Directed by Ridley Scott
US, 2000, color, 155 min.
With Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
"Are you not entertained?" Indeed you are as techniques of contemporary battle sound design and cinematography join the ever-ready imperial allegories of ancient Rome. And what are those allegories? According to scenarist David Franzoni: "The movie is about our culture, our society: promoter Proximo (Oliver Reed) is sort of a Mike Ovitz, and Commodus (Phoenix) is sort of a Ted Turner. And Maximus (Crowe) is the hero we all wish ourselves to be: the guy who can rise above the mess that is modern society." And who would that be? Well, Spielberg greenlit it.
December 13 (Monday) 6:30 pm
Directed by Gore Verbinski
US, 2003, color, 143 min.
With Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
Half of the one-two punch of Disney's great wet summer of 2003 (the other half was Pixar's Finding Nemo), this was Disney's third attempt at a movie based on a theme park ride (the first two were Tower of Terror, starring Steve Guttenberg and The Country Bears; The Haunted Mansion followed). No doubt they were expecting bigger, badder explosions now that Jerry Bruckheimer was producing. On top of that, though, they got a remarkable Keith Richards meets Pepe le Peu characterization from Johnny Depp that made Pirates attractive to the Best Week Ever audience.