The Lost City of Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region.
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Boy dreams never die. My generation's Apocalypse Now/The African Queen/The Battle of the River Plate. A western in Amazónia. The quest for the dream of dreaming. WWI . Ford, Cimino, Herzog, Coppola, Malick, Gibson.
Used to spend hours trying to decode how on Earth James Gray still has zero Oscars (or Cannes, or whatever awards available on this planet). THE LOST CITY OF Z send that thought to overdrive. Grand, epic in scope, but also intimate in its portrayal of Percy Fawcett. Had more insects chirping than SILENCE.
Gray has made his most accessible and traditional film to date with this exceptionally crafted tale of determination, exploration and sacrifice. Technically the film is a marvel with precision in near all aspects especially the cinematography of master Darius Khondji. Casting is also impressive with Charlie Hunnam truly surprising in a demanding turn. Along with 'Two Lovers' this may be Gray's finest moment to date.
Digital. The previous film was already around academism although in the final its density to black rescued it to heights. In this film, although the class persists - he's one of the rarest current filmmakers who knows about frame and spatiality in cinema -, the adventure of reinventing the exotic imagery of some cinema of grandeur simply failed in its enforcement. And still the insistence in impoverishing filters.
"A man becomes obsessed with discovering a lost city"—that plot summary is correct in a cold, half-true way, but it's also all you should know, so the film can slowly creep up on you as a film about the passage of time. As ever, Gray is more interested in character, theme, and metaphor than the dirty business of plot (is that why he's underrated?), but Z is about so many things at once that it's left me stunned.
I felt like I was in something of a minority heralding THE IMMIGRANT as a masterpiece, and it was theoretically exciting to me that Gray appeared to be continuing to practice a kind of irony-free engagement w/ the base metals of Classical Hollywood-and-Beyond cinema. However, here the scale seems to fall outside his wheelhouse. Some wonderful stuff here, but a whole slew of piss-poor decisions.
Ambitious in scope and beautifully shot, but fails to garner any real depth. Scenes and time periods are breezed through too quickly without letting the film settle into any substantial commentary on colonialism, immanence, or self-actualisation.