Gods and Monsters (1998) – Bill Condon

The bio-pic, Gods and Monsters, is the next film on the What Else to Watch list, for Bride of Frankenstein, from DK Canada’s The Movie Book. The film chronicles the last days, as well as life and career of director James Whale, played brilliantly by Ian McKellen.

The legendary film maker, perhaps best known for the iconic Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein is brought to life (It’s alive!) by modern horror auteur, Clive Barker, who serves as executive producer.

The film took home an Oscar for Best Screenplay based on previously published material, and is wonderfully captivating. Following upon interviews with a college writer, Edmund Kay (Jack Plotnick), the story follows on a friendship that struck up between Whale and his lawn man, former marine, Clayton Boone (Brendan Fraser).

The ailing Whale, delightfully flamboyant, is seen over by his housekeeper, the put-upon Hanna (Lynn Redgrave) who worries over him, while gently chastising him for his behaviour.

McKellen is masterful, as always, and the film is a fantastic watch, and the story is brilliantly engaging, as it draws you in through it storytelling, balancing the views of both men. The two characters aren’t quite so different from one another, though a gulf exists between them. The more they get to know one another, they see similarities common to all men.

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Watching McKellen one has to wonder if there is any role he couldn’t take on, the man is a consummate performer and just a stunning actor.  As a character, Whale comes across as charming, funny, but this all surface material, slipping back and forth underneath it all is a sense of pain and loss, balanced as only McKellen can do.

Fraser’s performance on the other hand is gently restrained, and speaks to his ability as an actor as he has to stand toe to to toe with McKellen – a daunting task if ever there was one.

It’s a gentle, beautiful film that examines love, life, and the things that remain with us. I love the fact that it doesn’t race its storytelling, and knows to take those small quiet moments to let the film breathe, be, to exist and invite us in.

I remember when this one first came out, and my cinematic knowledge was not what it is today, despite working in a video store. It was one of our Hidden Gems, but at the time there was nothing in it that really appealed to me. And I think, had I watched it then, I probably would not have enjoyed it as much as I do now.

So, thanks to DK Books’ The Movie Book, I was able to give this gem the attention it needed. Is there a film you need to re-examine, or take in for the first time? The Movie Book is a perfect place to find it, check it out today.

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