A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Saturday, December 20, 2003 :::
And One To Rule Them All.

A Mind That Suits slipped across Connecticut Avenue last night after saying good-night to a young friend, the youngest son of an old friend, just back from his first semester in college. An evening of shooting pool was in order, to catch up, but it had to be early, as the old pool club does not normally admit minors, and since he cannot consume his weight in alcohol (legally, there), gratitude to the bartender dictates clearing out as soon as the press of 20-somethings waiting for a table reached a noticeable level. Said kid understands that, and so after a burger we parted company.

The choice: go to bed early, or try to cadge a ticket to the third night of The Return of the King at DC's storied Uptown Theatre, one of the last great movie palaces from the grand era of movie going.

There's a bus on Friday nights that runs right to the old front door up until 3:30 AM, so this was not a hard choice.

And within 60 seconds, your faithful correspondent had a ticket and a place well up in line.

What to say? How do you describe magnificence? Reviewers have placed it at the top of the list of movie epics, but Lawrence of Arabia will always hold pride of place. But the Return of the King will forever and always be in the Top Ten List, or in the "Why Didn't They Put These in the Top Ten" Lists. 200 minutes of wonderfulness.

There are significant quibbles. Though it departs from the novel less than the first two did, the departures all seem unnecessary. Fortunately, none of them fall flat. To a certain extent, they stem from an insufficient appreciation of sin. Thus the lonely horror of the suicide of the Steward of Minas Tirith is overblown, with a flaming plunge from a cliff. And such modernisms as Eowyn's blurting "I am no man" grate heavily.

But these are triffles. Go once. Go thrice. Buy it. Own it. Cherish it.

There is no Oscar for casting, but there should be. Liv Tyler's character is merely hinted at in the books, so her presence is not that far off, and, well, it IS Liv Tyler we're talking about. A Mind That Suits would fight a war for her. Aragorn, Gandalf, and even Elijah Wood as Frodo are all pitch perfect.

Young Orlando Bloom had better find himself a romantic leading part soon, as his appearance cleanshaven and all dressed out after the battles elicited sighs from, apparently, every female in the theatre, except one, who sneered afterwards that he wasn't even in the movie all that much. True enough, but the ladies did not mind. To be perfect and 26 makes it hard to make it to 32 without patchy skin and a long stretch in rehad, but more power to him.

But most of all this film surely marks the coming-into-his-inheritance of Sean Astin, who plays the pivotal character of Samwise Gamgee. His inheritance, because the "Astin" comes from John Astin, one of the most personable actors in film history, whom most of you will know as the original Gomez on the Addams Family. However, it is hard to think of a role where he really stood out, so the acting talent displayed by his son Sean surely came from ex-wife and national treasure Anna (Patty) Duke . After a stellar childhood career and a tragically overy the top young adulthood, Miss Duke is now a star of Broadway and one wishes that some meaty film parts would come her way. With her son's new clout as actor and director, perhaps they will start appearing. In any case, more power to him, as well.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 6:03 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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