The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z ★★★★★

Watched for the November 2019 movie scavenger hunt
13) HEATHCLIFF, IT'S ME, CATHY ... Watch a period drama.

2019 movie viewings, #101. One of the biggest heartbreaks about our current age is that so many amazing movies and TV shows are coming and going with barely any notice, because of being released on a streaming service instead of as an elaborately publicized theatrical run. Take The Lost City of Z, for example, which started life as a 2005 New Yorker article and then one of those full-length books that captures the imagination of the NPR crowd, a portrait of the British explorer who first got the Western world thinking about the disappeared lost civilizations of the Amazon, and who led a particularly interesting life while in his decades-long pursuit of a lost city of gold down there (which he never found, but that seismic photographs in the 21st century have proven actually used to exist, exactly in the place where Percy Fawcett proposed it to be).

It was adapted and directed by James Gray, auteur of the recent "absent dads in space" drama Ad Astra, and who has a fascinating oeuvre I've just started to explore recently, heavy with indie dramas about Russian Jewish immigrant petty criminals living on the rough blue-collar edges of the New York metropolitan area. And it's great, a sweeping epic actually filmed on location in the jungle, with Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam giving it all he's got as the aforementioned explorer so obsessed with trekking and mapping this part of the world. So why did it come and go with barely any notice? Because it was financed by Amazon, who gave it a token theatrical release to get the MPAA off their backs, then immediately shuffled it off to their Prime Video service, otherwise known as the place where terrible movies go to die. That's a shame, because this movie is astounding, the kind that used to get nominated for a dozen Oscars back in the '80s; and I encourage you to check it out as soon as you have a chance, not least of which because it co-stars that dreamy glowy Robert Pattinson in one of his many fascinating post-Twilight deliberately outre roles.

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