Bill Condon

Screenwriter and TV movie director of the 80s and 90s who finally made a great movie with Gods and Monsters.

Gods and Monsters (1998) -- Really good movie fictionalized movie about the life of James Whale, director of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man.  The best thing about the movie is just watching the actors act: Ian McKellan is as good as ever, walking the line between admirable and repulsive with the character/real person he is playing.  Lynn Redgrave does much of the same line walking, with a character that is both broad/stock and fully-fleshed.  Meanwhile Brendan Fraser -- best known from Encino Man and George of the Jungle (and soon to play Dudley Do-Right) -- works perfectly with these figures of acting royalty, creating a character who we believe could have a deep and genuine friendship with Whale while retaining his hunky, somewhat-dumb characteristics.  Bill Condon -- in a similar situation as Fraser, having made lots of TV movies and the sequel to Candyman -- does a great job (as director and screenwriter) in juggling the real life of Whale, the fictional life (created in the novel by Christopher Bram), and the many allusions and symbols relating to the Frankenstein movies, all of which work and are handled delicately (see, for example, Brendan Fraser's haircut, which lets us know the flat-top is meant to be like the monster's without doing too far and simply making it look silly).  A surprising, quiet, engaging, and imaginative movie. B

Kinsey (2004) -- An interesting-enough movie, especially if you know little about Alfred Kinsey, but a good documentary on the real man would be much more interesting, since this fictionalized version seems skimpy and often without focus.  The movie is almost a good examination about sex and the academic life and how it doesn't exactly work, but the movie never quite makes it there, wanting to cover everything and therefore not covering enough.  Above all, a movie about Kinsey should have felt more "edgy," but this feels like a cookie cutter drama and bio-pic (surprising from the guy who brought us Gods and Monsters). C

Copyright (c) Jan 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies