After watching these two films in a space of a few days of each other I can see what Clint Eastwood is really capable of, reaching the same heights as when he made Unforgiven (1992). The second part of the Iwo Jima saga with Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). Which does what we rarely see in American film, taking on the viewpoint of the enemy which goes back to as early as All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) that saw the human side of the Germans during WWI.
Here in WWII on the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima as they fight to defend their soil against the invading Americans who eventually took the island and celebrated the imagery that came out of that which we saw in the first half of the saga in Flags of our Fathers (2006). In what this film is neatly woven into, making the events a solid piece of work to understand. Seeing more men who are away from home, fighting for different sides, want to get home and see their family. For the Japanese there is more a focus on honour and duty to their country.
We follow a few soldiers at different ranks through out the now depleted Army that is preparing to defend the island. Knowing full well their that victory is very unlikely. We follow throughout a young soldier Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya) who wants more to be a home with his wife and young baby who he has yet to meet. The one we stay with constantly, giving this film real heart and context, our route around this film. Whilst at the other end of the chain of command, recently transferred General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) who better understands the enemy they are ordered to fight. Having spent a few years in California during the 1930′s, eating with the celebrities of the day. His ideas are not shared with his officers who don’t understand his thinking. First moving from the beaches to the caves, when fighting hand to hand is more desirable.
At times this film can be brutal both visually and emotionally, looking inside another culture, a lot of research has been made to make this film. Nearly effecting me as much as having finished Grave of the Fireflies (1988). It passes almost for a Japanese made film making it more effective than the American take which we have become used as a western audience. It helps, being an almost Japanese language film instead of making them speak English which wouldn’t have been as effective than the native language which enriches what we see. Another culture complete with customs, ideas and language which we are spending 2 hours with. These two films will help ensure that Clint Eastwood has a place forever in the hall of great directors to grace cinema. Granted again that Spielberg was again co-producing, but there seems to be more of Eastwood’s heart on-screen that his colleague.
One of last years films that Mark Kermode was praising last year, and you can understand why. Berberian Sound Studio (2012) is a breath of chilling fresh air for film and horror (not that I see much if any horror). And another chance to see the great character actor Toby Jones come into his own, later seen that same year in The Girl (2012).
Nothing is as it seems when sound engineer Gilderoy (Jones) is hired to work on an Italian horror film (correction Santini film). Who is not used to the genre of film he has been signed up to work on in the 1970′s. Where you think you will find heaps of horrific imagery that comes with the genre, we are instead given graphic descriptions of the action, that focuses on un-dead witches and their hunt for two women. It’s a lot to take in. To understand how all the scenes are put together, with only description and the visuals that create the sound effects that are more the focus of the film. Leaving the viewer to create their own horror film. The darkness is in the making of what could be, how much energy the native film-makers put into this film. Whilst Gilderoy is still trying to understand what he has let himself in for. Working in a new culture, away from his own studio, his family and just trying to get a refund on his plane ticket.
We see the creation of the horrific sounds which we never see, left to the magic of Foley artists who play with what looks like a tonne of vegetables which here are left to rot, the only real horror which is natural unlike the supernatural happenings of this fictional film. As the film progresses, Gilderoy adapts to his surroundings, picking up the language and get along more with his new colleagues, particularly Francesco (Cosimo Fusco) who questions him, testing his ability and integrity. Whilst the female voice talent are just like him trying to do a job, but know the system better than him.
A breath of fresh air in cinema that takes a new angle of horror, how we perceive the images of film, going behind the camera and the psychological effect it can have on those who make the film. Making Gideroy a fish-out-of-water who tries his best to get the job done around all the madness around him.
- Berberian Sound Studio (drinkingbeerwatchingmovie.wordpress.com)
- Berberian Sound Studio by Peter Strickland (hkauteur.wordpress.com)
- Berberian Sound Studio (living24fps.wordpress.com)
Most of my day has been taken up working with two longer clips from Grand Hotel (1932) that focus on Greta Garbo‘s character. My focus was her, the actress and the on-screen presence that she had, and still has. And what a presence if I’m honest. Looking at two clips playing opposite John Barrymore which I worked around, playing more with the fabric of the film that worked so well for Just One More Game (2013). Moving away from what can be added to how the footage can be manipulated. Mostly through slowing down elements and zooming in on sections of her performance, completely ignoring Barrymore at times, he gets in the way, but also helps me with what I am trying to do.
I know now I need larger chunks of film to work with to really emphasise the performance, which will inform my next tests. Leaving in more dialogue allows for a more effective piece of work, to hear lines of dialogue, the sounds and more that are associated with the person.
- Screen Legend, Greta Garbo to be Portrayed By Carice van Houten! (crimefilenews.com)
- Garbo Rocks – A Great Blog! (paradiseleased.wordpress.com)
The photos of the last set-up which bring together the rolling stock to the now extended line of carriages and engine. I will probably make more carriages etc. when I come across more packaging that inspires more to be built. I am however hoping to make a white mansion in the future, but in a few months time at least, allowing me to spend time on the Ghost Dance project and return to the Hidden Hollywood series.
The last post for the frontier town for a while, taking a break to concentrate on other projects, which have already taken up more time today in the studio.
The rolling stock are now finished and have joined the rest of the line on the track. (photos will follow in another post) After the wheels and the under carriage had been painted. These new additions work well with the older pieces. They will work well in my much increased model frontier town.
The first of two films by the director Clint Eastwood that deals with the Japanese island of Iwo-Jima. Here in Flags of our Fathers (2006) focusing on the American perspective of the battle for Iwo-Jima, and honing in on the famous flag raising photos that epitomised the American war-hero image for years to come. A case of the legend outweighing the truth and how the surviving soldiers coped with the events of that surround that campaign.
At times Flags of our Fathers smells like Saving Private Ryan and it will do with Steven Spielberg sharing executive producer duties with Eastwood. Helped further by the James Bradley and Ron Powers book that was adapted to the screen. Which needs to see a son seeking out the truth for himself. Something that relatives of veterans, some of those have spoken of the horrors that have seen whilst other have taken a vow of silence, never to speak of it again.
For those involved in the Iwo-Jima campaign this is made worse by glorifying and using soldiers who simply raised a flag for the countries advantage. Brought about by the legend that surrounds a photo taken at the time of this flag that was raised in replacement for another that was taken down. As film has shown before, the truth is not always as interesting as the legend which creates heroes.
For three soldiers this fact or fiction is the centre of their lives for this film, the lucky one who survived the campaign whilst their friends fell on the island that they fought so hard to maintain. Brought back home for a touring campaign to raise essential war-bonds that were needed to fuel the war effort. Re-invigorating the production of everything from planes, tanks to bullets and helmets. Much Britain whose economy was crippled by WWII. Now these three men have to be the face of a campaign, as heroes who by looking at the photo, just raised a flag, against all the odd. The film allows for more light to be shed on such a historic photograph that has become iconic. Later thought to have been staged like many other images have been. An issue that will always surround the validity of photography, can we believe what we see? No other image is taken of another flag raising. The image also came a time when moral was low, this one image sees the coming together of all kinds of American men carrying out dangerous acts. What is more patriotic for a country than to see their flag raised on enemy soil. It’s understandable that the nation went wild for this image. Yet we never see what was going on around this image, the danger and horrors around them. The Japanese who were hiding out, aiming for the enemy. Blowing themselves up in shame of losing ground.
Eastwood doesn’t shy away from the guts and gore that accompany war, from people being shot to literally being blown up before your eyes. It’s real, its really happened. Along with the struggles that the soldiers at the centre of the film, how they cope with the attention that is being thrown at them. I was particularly interested in Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) who struggles more than most, taking to alcohol. Also a Native American who after the war hoped this would help improve relations with them and the rest of America. The fame has mixed result for them all, they know the truth and feel duty bound to ensure it’s heard by those families who need it most. They aren’t painted as heroes, as the nation sees them, but men who are caught up in a countries hysteria and patriotism. They go on to live out the rest of their lives however they may end. Flags of our Fathers shines light on the legends that are made of war to boost morale and the effect it has on those who are silenced by the powers that be, having to fight more battles to see the truth to finally out.
- 2011: Japan Pledges to Find Remains of Iwo Jima Dead (warhistoryonline.com)
- Letters From Iwo Jima (myoldaddiction.wordpress.com)
- Iwo Jima: “…A Beachhead On Hell” (warhistoryonline.com)
- Flags of our Fathers (dailydoseofhistoricalstuff.wordpress.com)
- Japan changes Iwo Jima’s name (dangadino53.wordpress.com)
- Famous Statue of Iwo Jima Troops – the Man Who Supplied the Flag Passes Into Immortality (bonjublog.com)
- The Flag Of Iwo Jima (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- World War II vet who provided flag on Iwo Jima dead at 90 (foxnews.com)
- Man Who Carried Famous Flag From Pearl Harbor To Iwo Jima Dies At 90 (businessinsider.com)
Almost everything with Gene Hackman is guaranteed to blow you away. Or take you aback in the case of Mississippi Burning (1988). A case of three missing civil-right activists in the heart of Mississippi causes two F.B.I. agents to come in and cause massive disruption in this already tense southern town where segregation and racism are rife. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Willem Defoe) both have different ways of investigating this missing person case. By the book for Ward and with more understanding for the backward people with Anderson who escaped from the south for a better life. Neither are made welcome in the small town.
A bitterly harsh world that is nothing but normal for the people of this town who believe that African Americans are people to be beaten, killed and segregated. Enforced by an organised militia in the form of the Klu-Klux-Klan who are the main force to be reckoned with. As evidence is slowly gathered under the fearful watch of the white man eye more and more agents are injected into this community who never wanted then in the first place. Taking over a theatre for their base, recruiting the naval reserve to search a swamp. The law of America will not stop until justice is found.
There are few who will stand up to the bigoted majority, white or black. Such as the deputy sheriffs wife Mrs. Pell (Frances McDormand) who like many other women of the South married the first man who smiled at her, living in a world where what she was taught was right is instinctively wrong. She is the key to bringing the men who killed the three civil-rights men to justice.
Burning Mississippi is dark unrelenting film that doesn’t shy away from an era of ignorance, segregation and violence. For Agent Ward (Defoe) by the book just doesn’t always work, the rules have to be adapted to the situation, use first hand experience from the likes of Agent Anderson (Hackman) who really gets the job done whilst fighting a system who wants the same as him.
- Mississippi Burning (yaqubh.wordpress.com)
- Mississippi Burning: a civil rights story of good intentions and suspect politics (guardian.co.uk)
- Cultural development from the 1988 Olympic year (rozenablocker.wordpress.com)
- FBI Investigation of Murder and Civil Rights Violations at Dozier School For Boys Marianna Is Warranted Just As Depicted in Movie ‘Mississippi Burning’. (pibillwarner.wordpress.com)
- Jerry Mitchell, MacArthur ‘Genius’ and journalist who works Klan cold cases, speaking at UAB Thursday (al.com)
- HBO Sets ‘Olive Kitteridge’ Miniseries With Lisa Cholodenko Helming Frances McDormand And Richard Jenkins (deadline.com)
A good old-fashioned western with two of the genre’s favourite actors Randolph Scott and Glenn Ford in this early and colourful Technicolor film The Desperadoes (1943). The film-makers are really taking advantage of this still new technology filling every frame with colour.
It starts with a bang when the local bank is robbed leaving the people of the town hungry for justice with all their money gone and three dead as the bandits ran off. There’s more to this crime than first meets the eye, with the banker Clanton (Porter Hall) and the bandits who live out on an empty ranch. Also with livery stable owner Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan) who is also a big player in this dirty crime.
The local sheriff Steve (Randolph Scott) who starts off his investigation finding a silver spur, a vital clue to bringing the right men to justice. And that’s about all the does to solve the crime, before having his horse taken with a gun pointed to his back, by his old friend Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford) who was riding in to get his share of the bank robbery. The film is really owned by Ford who goes under the name of Will Smith which nobody but stable hand Allison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes) who falls for him hook, line and sinker in love with him. Only a few people know his true identity in the town mainly the Countess (Claire Trevor) and Nitro Rankin (Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams) who want him to leave town, not safe from being captured, having a big reward on his head. Something that is not the first priority for Rogers who wants to go straight, taking a wranglers job.
Tensions rise between the bandits and Clanton with the stranger in town, learning of his true identity. It’s easy to frame him and Nitro for another robbery that later takes place, leaving the sheriff in jail for not doing his job properly. Its time to up the stakes and increase the danger to flush out the truth and set things right.
Full of great action set-pieces and well-rounded supporting characters who really add to the film. Making great use of the Technicolor camera that brings the film alive in what could be a routine western with bar-fights, making this an underrated classic of the genre.
- England of 1926, in Almost Living “Colour,” Is a Youtube Sensation (newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)
I was looking forward to properly watching The Devil’s Advocate (1997) having half watched it one Sunday many years ago on DVD. Now that I have I feel I have been short-changed for a bunch of religious clichés wrapped in modern packaging for its time.
When one of the best trial lawyers Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) of Florida is called upon to leave his home to join a practice in New York he jumps at the chance. After first ensuring a school teacher is found innocent of child molestation. Lomax us seen to have an incredible track record, winning all his cases, even if the clients are more than to be desired, just what is his secret?
Having taken up the chance of a lifetime he moves with his wife Mary Ann Lomax (Charlize Theron) who is as excited about the change as Kevin. They are both going up in the world, a massive new apartment, earning crazy amounts of money, the only way is up. Until the cracks start to show in this life of luxury for the now stay at home wife who spends more time with her neighbour Jackie Heath (Tamara Tunie) who tries to encourage her to embrace life. For Mary Ann the darker side of this situation become more apparent, seeing that her new friends are not what she thought.
Whilst Kevin takes on case after case, winning successfully, he is then thrown a massive murder trial which is his real test of character. Putting all his energy into the case, he looses sight of his wife who wants to have a baby. His eye wanders to one of the lawyers at work, temptation is all around him, yet he somehow resists it all. It soon becomes too late for his wife who suffers both mentally and physically whilst he carries on almost regardless.
Full of obvious religious connotations it becomes laughable at times. The test of good and evil, Its temptation and vanity are the main themes of this before all is revealed in what is supposed to be a shocking ending. With John Milton/The Devil/Satan/”call me dad” (Al Pacino) who as usual screams the house down. A clever piece of casting, and visually stunning at times, a new take on the Devil which has always been an interesting character for actors to bite their teeth into. Pacino’s is more flawed in his philosophy of humanity, which paints a different side of religious figure. The film has aged and not too well with the passing of time. It has its powerful moments but they aren’t as shocking as they once were. It all seems too obvious at times, using lawyers who can be seen to have no conscience, ensuring the freedom of criminals, it goes with the territory, maybe its the passing of time that has the worst part of this film?
- Why Hello Red! How are you? (mahoneyville.com)
- The problem with devil’s advocates (sanderssays.typepad.com)
- The Artist and the Devil’s Advocate (lindasgoluppi.wordpress.com)
- The Devils Advocate (erisadelapsusangelus.wordpress.com)
- Playing Devils Advocate With Your Thoughts (healingyournegativethoughts.wordpress.com)
- Devil’s Advocate (joeltipple.wordpress.com)
- Saban disappointed with ‘devil’ comments (espn.go.com)