Elizabeth Taylor: An Unauthorized Biography (2013)/Hollywood
Heaven: Tragic Lives, Tragic Deaths (2013/Legend DVDs)/Liz & Dick (2012/E1 DVD)
C/C/C+†††† Sound: C/C/C+†††† Extras: D/D/C-†††† Main Programs: B/C+/C-
some new releases that take us back to the classic days of Hollywood in their won unusual ways.
Elizabeth Taylor: An Unauthorized
is a compilation documentary (running 102 minutes) that covers the career of
the legendary actress from her rise at MGM to the beginning of her whirlwind
infamy starting with the Eddie Fisher affair to the Cleopatra debacle to her long affair with Richard Burton to her
controversial stint on the TV soap opera hit General Hospital.† Of course,
outrageous Liz was replaced by anti-AIDS advocate Liz who fought for the rights
of those affected and put a spotlight on the crisis when no one had the guts
surprisingly thorough and even manages to talk about key motion pictures she
made, but this is not an exercise in making a filmography or studying her as
purely an actress.† Though there are no
extras, it is definitely worth your time to check this one out.
Hollywood Heaven: Tragic Lives,
(2013) runs only 79 minutes, but covers the back stories on the losses of name
stars like Bela Lugosi, Tyrone Power, Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean,
Natalie Wood (a story still unfolding, sadly), Alan Ladd, Sharon Tate, Rudolph
Valentino, George Reeve, Steve McQueen and W.C. Fields.† They are stories anyone who lives movies,
fame and glamour should be familiar with, but for the first time, ones that are
getting lost in the shuffle.† There are
no extras here, but this is worth a good look and is pretty well done for a
we have Lloyd Kramerís Liz & Dick
(2012) with the now perpetually obnoxious and self-destructing Lindsay Lohan,
once on her way to a big movie career, playing Elizabeth Taylor as she meets
Richard Burton (played here with mixed results by Grant Bowler) making
Cleopatra.† Though this had potential and
some of the facts are good, the cable telefilm is an unconvincing mess, with
Lohan awful as Liz, not understanding any major aspect of who she was.† The hype for this was from a bad gal playing
a once Hollywood bad gal, maybe the ultimate high
level bad gal, but Lohan comes across as bored and looks as if she is on a
budget for Halloween in all eras of portrayal.
90 minutes, the TV movie never captures the shock, fell, excitement and
insanity of the real affair as it happened and manages to make it plain, boring
and generic.† I did not expect much from
it when it was announced, but I never imagined it would be this bad.
cameras interviews with the stars are the only major extra.
X 1 on Taylor and Tragic are on the soft side, have their
share of aliasing errors and a mix of good and worn footage (finished on analog
video) make this usually watchable, but not much more.† The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on
Liz looks better by default being a new shoot, but it is softer than I
expected.† The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
sound on Taylor and Tragic are simple stereo at best, but many audio moments are
monophonic and sometime the audio can get rough, while the lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 on Liz is better, but weaker than expected, partly due to it being
dialogue-based and part of it simply due to a lack of soundfield.
-†† Nicholas Sheffo