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An Experiment: 3 Movies At Once (…or 7, depending on how you look at it)

I’ve noticed an odd trend in moviemaking lately:  it’s suddenly very popular to make extremely long biopics about criminals & terrorists from the ’60s and ’70s.   It started in 2008, with Steven Soderbergh’s two-parter Che. Instead of releasing it as a film and then, a year or so later, its sequel (the format Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, among others, have followed) the two films were released simultaneously, meant to be watched as a double feature.  Che made some noise at Cannes and made it on to Roger Ebert’s Best of 2008 list, but didn’t gain much traction at the box office, most likely because not many theaters were willing to take a risk that their audiences would pay twice and sit through four hours of terrorist/revolutionary biopic, so it faded into the night.

Then came Mesrine, a 2-part French biopic about Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French bank robber I’d never heard of.   Those two movies were released a month apart in France in 2008, but just recently made their way to our shores.   Now, granted, Mesrine was a criminal and Guevara was a political figure, but they seem to have captured the public imagination in similar ways.

And finally, this year Oliver Assayas screened the 3-part, 5 1/2 hour long Carlos, about Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal at Cannes, where it garnered a great deal of critical acclaim.

Now, I could review all three of these separately — indeed, I could review each part of each of them a grand total of 7 movies – but that seems like it would be awfully repetitive and wearisome.  So instead, I’m going to shake up my usual format, watch them all together, and then write compare/contrast type reviews – two, or maybe three, depending on how it goes.

It’s going to take me a little while to do the watching – we’re talking about a solid 13-14 hours of film – before I can start writing, so please bear with me as the blog seems a little barren for the next week or two.  I hope this project is as interesting to you as it is to me, and I invite you to watch alongside me.  In the meantime, I’ll catch up on the “Top Movies of the Decade” list, which I still hope (perhaps foolishly) to wrap up before 2011.

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Posted in All Reviews.

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