Friday Guilty Pleasure Flix: The Man in the Iron Mask

Happy Friday, everybody! It’s a short week since I got Monday off but boy has it been a hectic one.

Back in November, I revealed one of many guilty pleasure flix, and since Shutter Island opens today in theaters after being delayed for four months, I thought it’d be fun to feature one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s work. In anticipation of the Scorsese’s film, my blogger friend M. Carter has started a countdown ten days ago, Rotten Tomatoes featured DiCaprios’s top ten best movies and another blogger wrote a fan-appreciation post for the 35 year-old actor. Now, The Man in the Iron Mask is unlikely to end up in such best list, or even merit an honorable mention. But isn’t that the point of a guilty pleasure? You love it anyway even if it’s ‘rotten’ 🙂

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this one, the story is basically a follow-up to the legendary tale of The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas where Leo plays a dual role of the cruel King Louis XIV as well as the imprisoned secret twin brother Phillipe. Curiously, this is his follow-up movie right after Titanic, when he was pretty much the Rob Pattinson of his day. What’s impressive about this movie is the cast. I mean, it’s mind-boggling how many Oscar and Golden Globe winners/nominees are in this flick: Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu make up the musketeers: Aramis, Athos, Porthos; Gabriel Byrne as the courageous d’Artagnan; Hugh Laurie as the King’s advisor and Peter Sarsgaard as Raoul, Athos’ only son.

I gotta admit I saw this movie because of Leo Jack Dawson (like most girls I too fell under his spell, just briefly though, I find him too boyish looking now). But in this flick, I totally fell for Gabriel Byrne as the dashing and regal d’Artagnan. Though billed as a DiCaprio movie due to his massive popularity, Byrne’s the heart & soul of the movie, his performance as the conflicted man carrying a pivotal secret is absolutely terrific, he brings a surprising depth to this archetypal character. The rest of the cast was great too, John Malkovich is a bit over-the-top at times but hey, it’s John Malkovich, what do you expect? Jeremy Irons play his Jesuit priest with wit and whimsy and Depardieu is the fun comic relief. Leo himself is pretty convincing playing the tricky dual roles, especially as Louie where he often has to act with his eyes alone. It’s not Oscar worthy by any means, but enough to prove he is one pretty boy with acting chops to boot. It also proves DiCaprio can’t do accent, a French king with barely a hint of a French burr, and he sounds exactly the same as both characters.

The script is cliche-laden and the story is all too familiar, but there are some amusing dialogue here and there, especially between the three musketeers who have good chemistry with each other. The movie’s also gorgeous to look at (except perhaps Leo’s ghastly haircut), lush setting + beautiful costumes, especially at the grand masquerade.

I find this movie highly entertaining and the soundtrack is pretty great, too. Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one again soon!

Have you seen this one folks? Well, what did you think?

Friday Flix Question: What’s your guilty pleasure flix?

Ahhh… weekend is just around the corner, always a good thing. Just to change things up, I thought I post a question for you dear readers, ‘coz it’s Friday and we all want something fun on Fridays.

I have no qualms to fess up that I have quite a few, heck perhaps half of my DVD collections are probably comprised of them. They’re not only fun for pure indulgence sake, but also quite handy. They’re the kinds that can spice up any routine cardio workout, or offer the perfect antidote for a cold, rainy afternoon. It’s no surprise that one flix I’m going to highlight today involve a certain Scot best known for playing a Spartan King =)  No, it’s not 300, though that’s a pretty good one to pop in during a workout naturally, but it’s the 2001 USA network TV miniseries Attila — where he plays another warrior King — that’s easily one of my ‘guiltiest.’

Check out the trailer below:

It’s not aiming for historical accuracy by a long shot, but that’s a given on a production like this. I mean just look at the guy portraying Attila himself. Wikipedia describes the historical figure as “short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin.” Well, Gerry Butler looks incredibly tanned for sure, looks like he had been baking under the Mediterranean sun non-stop for a full straight month. But short he ain’t, nor the rest of the description matched him in the slightest. Just take a peek at the illustration here and compare it with the promo shot of GB for the movie here. That never fails to make me chuckle.

Despite some cheesy dialog, the flick itself is quite entertaining, not bad at all for a TV movie. The cast include Powers Booth (whom I’ve never seen before but is pretty good here), Steven Berkoff, Tommy Flannagan, and Tim Curry. As you probably know, Berkoff is the actor who gave Butler his first ever acting job on the London stage.

I even spotted Isla Fisher, Sacha Baron Cohen’s gal pal, as one of Attila’s many wives. I never noticed her before, but then again she hasn’t made it big until fairly recently. But the star is definitely Butler — there’s that wild and raw quality about him that’s perfect for playing Attila. Plus, he’s never looked as good as he did here, his gray/green eyes looked even more piercing with his darker complexion and jet black hair. His commanding screen presence is what makes him so captivating to watch, it’s no surprise to me that his breakthrough role five years later had him playing another military leader. So thanks to Ralph Fiennes for casting him as Roman general Tullus Aufidius in his Coriolanus project. I’ll never tire of watching Butler being all raw, intense and powerful… now, having him go toe-to-toe against Mr. Fiennes is definitely icing on the cake!

Anyway, enough about that. Now, it’s your turn, readers. I’d love to hear about your guilty pleasure!