A very controversial film to say the least, set ten years after the death of Anna’s (Nicole Kidman) husband Shaun who we see in the opening scene who dies whilst jogging. Having got back on her feet, and moved on with her life, meeting her fiancé Joseph (Danny Huston). A 10-year-old boy Shaun (Cameron Bright) turns up a day later informing Anna that he is her late husband who himself as we learnt at the very start didn’t believe in reincarnation. This is the dark basis for Birth (2004) which sees a once strong woman become vulnerable and verging on becoming a paedophile.
It was a hard watch from the moment we see the Shaun make himself known to a family who had moved on, accepting another man into the fold. The boy is determined to make his presence known. The family led by Eleanor (Lauren Bacall) can’t dismiss this boy, having to take him seriously, at first upsetting Anna who is about to remarry.
Every attempt only reveals more of the past which cannot be easily denied, is he Shaun who died ten years ago, back in the form of another? I’m not too sure. Becoming more disturbed by how Anna is getting used to the idea, starting to love this boy who could be her husband. The audience is in a position of doubt is discomfort as a once happy woman has to decide who this boy is.
A film this dark and wanting to be complex starts to show plot holes, trying at one stage to show a devil child/protector relationship which is not followed up, simply confusing the matter. Even swapping where the boy lives, between a down-town terraced house and just a few floors below Anna’s apartment. It becomes more confusing as it goes on.
A film that tries to disturb and provoke, it has succeeded in doing so, at the expense of really explaining why. Touching on what if’s and the potential downfall of a woman to commit sexual crimes. The boy motivations are swept under the carpet in a letter as they just don’t know. So nobody really is any better off, as we see when she finally gets married. On a positive note its great to see Bacall on-screen once more.
- Shot of the Week- Nicole Kidman (buzztini.wordpress.com)
- Internal Acting (lespopettes.wordpress.com)
- Top 15 Nicole Kidman Performances (feelthefilms.wordpress.com)
It’s been a long and fascinating wait to watch Saving Mr Banks (2013) that depicted the fight Walk Disney had to have the rights from P.L. Travers in order to make Mary Poppins (1964) it seems like it never happened when we see the family classic time and time again which never fails to lift the spirit.
This isn’t Mary Poppins as we know her, the books and the author Travers is mile away from the nanny we all love. Instead we find Travers (Emma Thompson) in need of money, her royalties have dried up, her only source of money is a deal for the film rights to the books. Something that Disney (Tom Hanks) has been fighting for twenty years, not wanting to break a promise to his daughter. Travers is a stubborn woman with a cold exterior who is not willing to hand her creation over to the house of mouse.
Needs must and after 20 years she gives in to look over the script that is in development, begrudgingly she flies to L.A. where she enters Uncle Walt’s world, a world that has never been defeated, always winning and getting their way. A one woman fight against all the ideas for the film is waged against the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman (Richard) and B.J. Novak (Robert)) and script writer Don Dagradi (Bradley Whitford). Yet it is Disney himself who bears the brunt of her resistance to his southern charm and ideas to bring the nanny to the screen.
All this is explained in short scenes that takes us back to Travers’ s childhood focuses on her father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) who forms the basis for Mr banks that appears in the Poppins books and film. Moving his family half way across Australia to work at another bank, a man who adores his young daughter Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley). Plagued by his alcohol addiction which becomes clearer with each passing fleating scene that shows a little more each time. I feel these should have been longer, knowing that her past inform the books and the woman, and indeed Poppins that we know and love.
We then see from the awakenings of these memories the effect on the author, induced by the Sherman Brothers music which as irritating it was for her, she softens on hearing Feed the Birds and Fly a Kite. For the audience each song brings back nothing but happy memories of the classic film making you all warm and fuzzy inside.
Disney’s own efforts at first to understand the woman who will not agree or compromise is not helped by a trip to Disneyland an opportunity for the film-makers and studio to take advantage of the theme park, dressing it up for the early sixties. Disney (Hanks) only really begins to understand the only woman to ever stop him when time is drawing to a close, one artist to another, as he opens up about his past he seals the deal. And the rest as we all know is history.
For the Disney Company they pulled out all the stops, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the classic film, every detail of the look of the film is taken care of, thanks in most part to the incredible archive they have, allowing for John Lee Hancock to recreate as much as possible the world of the early 1960′s. Even the première which I wasn’t expecting which was recreated in fantastic style, from the archives. History was being recreated. A chance also for a new audience to see a classic, (only a few clips) on the bog screen. Maybe that’s going to far for them, also showing a love and devotion to the film. Both Thompson and Hanks are on top form here, creating many comical moments, all courtesy of a dry witted Travers whilst Hanks really takes on the role of an American icon.
There has been criticism about sugar-coating the facts of the film, as I discovered in a Culture Show special which made me aware of a darker side to the author. The film touches on these facts lightly, Disney will never delve into areas such as her adopted son and suspected lesbian partner of 10 years. They still paint a woman who holds her characters and what they really mean to her as she comes to terms with her relationship with her father which is what the film is really about, forgiving and letting go. This is where Banks is most effective, with all the trappings to create the era and the look, with all it’s heart a resolution is made whilst pushing all the right buttons at the same time.
- Saving Mr. Banks (rickihobson.wordpress.com)
- Saving Mr Banks (Film Review) (evolverphoto.wordpress.com)
- The Secret Life Of Mary Poppins: Victoria Coren Mitchell on PL Travers (metro.co.uk)
- Film of Choice at The Plaza Tonight – Saving Mr Banks (figgy66.wordpress.com)
- How ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Helped Rescue Emma Thompson (variety.com)
- Saving Mr Banks, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Saving Mr. Banks… A Must See! (huffingtonpost.com)
- ‘Saving Mr Banks’ Review – Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks Tell Story Of When Walt Disney Met Mary Poppins (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
- Emma Thompson: A wickedly witty crank (with video) (canada.com)
- Writer Brian Sibley on Saving Mr Banks and the unmade sequel to Mary Poppins (standard.co.uk)
I’ve steered clear of this film for sometime now, not really knowing what it was about. Coming also from a western John Wayne image, not really used to Wayne outside that image. Until more recent films that I have seen, so I took the plunge and viewed Islands in the Sky (1953) which was quite a shock, throwing out my preconceptions, which were little to be honest founding a very human story.
When a transport plane is forced to land in freezing condition in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but snow for miles. It’s up to Captain Dooley (Wayne) to look after his men from the almost certain death in Labrador. I can see in Wayne’s acting that he is growing as an actor, seeing flashes of Ethan Edwards in his performance during a time of his career away from the wild west.
The five stranded men have no more than 6 days until they will start to starve to death in the harsh conditions which are believed to be minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit . All missing families back home and all the comforts of being at the airbase.
The airbase is quick to get a search and rescue mission under-way, calling back all their men led by Col Fuller (Walter Abel) who as much as he wants his men back is restricted by the war effort and the reality that these men could be dead. That’s something which his men aren’t ready to accept. Each crew having a love for Dooley and his men. They are all family which spurs them on to stay up in the air for as long as they can.
The real drama is in the freezing waste land which sees 5 men struggle to survive on little rations, and the elements which see the men fight on. It’s tough going as hunger hits them hard, energy is being drained and the cold just makes it all so much worse.
The search in the treacherous skies that threaten a change for the worse means it’s a race against time. We want so much for these men to be found as they have nothing but hope to hold onto of getting out. Photographed beautifully in black and white, making for a more bleak world, we focus more on the human drama that holds this tense film together.
- Movie Review: Island in the Sky (beardedhermit.com)
This has been on my watch-list for sometime, and with one good reason – Tom Hanks of course added to that the iconic quote “houston, we have a problem” one of those modern classics that have evaded me until now. I can safely say Apollo 13 (1995) was well worth the wait and anticipation.
Depicting the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission of 1970, which begins with great hopes as Apollo 11 lands for the first time on the moon. Already the nation is filled with euphoria having beaten the Russians in the space-race to reach the lunar rock in the heavens. For astronaut Jim Lovell (Hanks) he believes his next mission is Apollo 14 not ready for this one after an ill fated flight that took all three men.
His team is soon brought in line for 13 taking place in 6 months time, the training begins and all hopes are with him and his crew. Everything is running smoothly for the crew as they train for the launch and other operations, and the all important landing back to Earth.
Things start to go bad when two of the main crew are kept earth-bound when one is taken ill with measles, meaning that the back-up crew consisting of Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) whilst Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) is grounded and frustrated, his chance is taken away from him, a decision that his commander didn’t take lightly.
The launch is successful, it’s all going so well until routine checks on day 3 spark things to change for the worst. No longer are they on course to the moon, but only to survive and get back home. The three men have to do all they are told by Houston at NASA who themselves are searching for solutions to get their men down. Lead by Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) who does his best with a team who are doing their best to get them down to earth.
It’s tense for all in space, at Houston and at home, which focuses on the Lovell family who are left at the mercy of a small radio to know what is happening. The media who at first ignored the mission soon descend on a family whose future hangs in the balance. Director Ron Howard creates scenes that have become synonymous with world events, families around the TV which describe the events as they unfold. Between these three locations the tension is built. Of course we the historical events being retold on the screen, we know the outcome, it’s the pieces in between that bring it to life. It’s an all-American tale of a “successful failure” as NASA had only just proved to the world what they could do, pushing forward mankind, there are still dangers that lay before them, and have since with tragedies such as the Challenger disaster 1986. To further ourselves we must take risks that can be costly.
With Apollo 13 they were indeed very lucky, making the retelling of the events all the easier to tell, with our trusted every-man Hanks who holds the crew together when oxygen and moral is low. A classic tale of hope when despair could be around the corner. Showcasing some incredible special effects which have hardly aged even in comparison with films such as Gravity (2013). Both prime examples of the perfect blend of special effects and human drama. Only time will tell where Gravity will be positioned.
- Apollo 13 (1995) (movierob.wordpress.com)
- Apollo 13′s Jim Lovell: Houston, we have a real problem (telegraph.co.uk)
- Apollo 13 commander: bring back traditional flying skills (telegraph.co.uk)
- How NASA MacGuyvered the Crippled Apollo 13 Mission Safely Home (jeremiahtillman.wordpress.com)
- Apollo 13 (y6southeygreen.wordpress.com)
- Bring back Moon missions, says Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (telegraph.co.uk)
- Bring back Moon missions, says Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (astronaut.com)
- Apollo 13 CLOI (y6southeygreen.wordpress.com)
- What Apollo 13 Teaches Us About the Fight to Fix Obamacare (usnews.com)
I’m becoming more aware of the post recession films that react to the financial crisis of 2008, the end of the last boom and bust, which saw huge corporations lose millions whilst the average man on the streets life just got harder as the living costs started to increase and jobs became a nightmare to find. I was drawn more than anything to The Company Men by the top-billing that was shared by Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee-Jones and Kevin Costner.
What I found at first was a hard-nosed shipping company/corporation making another round of redundancies, this time affecting one of their best sales executives Bobby Walker (Affleck) who is a cocky salesmen who believes he will bounce back soon with a job that matches his skills and previously salary. Not what the audience knows to be true, having experienced the hard reality of the recession. Whilst we follow to more men at the company a divisional president Gene McClary (Lee-Jones) and Phil Woodward (Cooper) both long-time employees giving thirty years of their lives to this company that has had to take tough decisions to survive, restructuring and downsizing. The two remaining don’t like to see what is happening, seeing good hard working people being made redundant. All with the help of human resources manager Sally Wilcox (Maria Bello) who is seen as a hard-nosed b**** who doesn’t really care who goes.
We follow these three men as they each come to terms with the redundancies. We more easily empathise with Bobby who even with the help of his old employer looks for new employment, understanding the mounting rejection from prospective employers, who believe they are right for the job before having their hopes dashed after all the hollow promises that are made. I personally can understand the struggle to find a job, the pressure and competition for each position. It became disheartening at time with all the rejection that comes your way. More so for Bobby who knows he has to provide for his family who are relying on one source of income, it’s not enough to support the house which they may have to give up. He wants to portray the image of success which he has been used to for some time. An image that he believes will help in securing a new job. He needs to come down to earth.
Whilst for those still at the company things are looking grim as more tough decisions are being made, the face of the once simple shipping construction company becomes far more than it’s beginning. Especially for Gene (Lee Jones) who know longer knows his best and oldest friend Conal (Tom Kemp) who has risen to the top with all the trappings that to the average person are luxuries. Gene who lives a similar life has become jaded to it all and his wife who lives a luxury life. He wants nothing of it, wanting something far simpler.
Whilst for Phil (Cooper) along with Gene are later made redundant. For Phil a man nearing his sixties, his chances of being employed are slim as he soon finds out. Reality is hard to deal with, spiralling into a depression that reflects many who have been victims of the recession.
The Company Men shows the light at the end of the tunnel, when your job and life come crashing down, it;’s how you deal with it that. Falling to the lows that even those in corporations feel, something the majority of the population cannot easily relate to. Seeing the bankers of the world to be the cause of our financial trouble. They are like us, if we like it or not.It has a limited reach to the audience showing how redundancy can affect the average guy, to the executive. It’s only with Bobby’s brother-in-law Jack Dolan (Costner) a builder doing his best to survive in a bleak housing climate. He’s the really the only one we can truly relate to, a hard-working man, who has not had the great success and lifestyle of others. We see others who are struggling and accept anything they are given, something that comes harder to the likes of Bobby.
I don’t think films such as this and Margin Call (2011) will have a massive audience, they focus on the wrong people for a mass audience appeal and empathy. They do try to humanize those who suffer as a result of the crisis that like it or not also are effected. The Company Men (2010) does go some way to breaching that social gap, we all have bills to pay, payments to meet, lifestyles we want to maintain. So does it matter where on the food chain in the workplace you are when and if you do fall?
An interesting twist on the noir genre here with Repeat Performance (1947), taking place as one year draws to a close and another one is about to begin. For torn actress Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) shoots dead her husband Barney Page (Louis Hayward). We are missing vitals parts this the murder, coming into too late to know why he was shot dead, and at first who by.
The shaken up wife Sheila doesn’t care that 1947 is just beginning, wanting more than anything to live the year over and change the past, stop everything bad from happening. Something that William Williams (Richard Basehart) tries to understand, her only friend in all this mess she has found herself in. Before she knows what’s happened outside the door of John Friday (Tom Conway) her wish is granted, a rare second chance to put things right from new years day 1946 through to its end.
In theory the plot should be rather good, Instead it becomes quite predictable as Sheila tries time and again to stop events from occurring before her eyes. Seeing once more her alcohol addicted husband fall away from her. Her friend William still go to a psychiatric hospital.
Only Sheila really knows what her second chance means to her, always it slips away as events unfold differently, still leading to the same conclusion. It’s an attempt to bring redemption to a terrible act by a person, allowing them to “re-do” the year as we have seen in numerous pieces of fiction, from the comical to the deadly serious. The setting of Broadway didn’t help me engage more with the characters, coming straight off the back of what was a lack-lustre Morning Glory (1933) which I hoped would be far more than it was. More dated than anything. There is here however more rivalry behind the stage for this group of characters, yet still in a far off world that I cannot enjoy even more so.
It’s the classic story of the man against the whole town, a standard tale of the west. When a group of bank robbers make for their break for the road they are soon followed by a posse from town. Lead by town Marshall Marshal Hiram Cain (Emile Meyer) and Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray), gunning down 4 of the 5 men who left the bank in a mess. We learn on returning back to town that the much loved Marshall had been shot dead, all the guilt is directed at the last man standing Eddie Campbell (Robert Vaughn), once childhood sweetheart of Cutler’s daughter Laurie (Joan Blackman). There’s only one possible outcome for the last man standing for the robbery, a hanging.
Over the short duration of Good Day for a Hanging (1959) it’s to up to one man alone almost to carry out the justice as he know it should be done. Once again wearing the Marshalls badge he holds the man he believes to have shot his old friend. It’s his word alone that sees him behind bars waiting trial and eventually the noose for Campbell who we saw was unsure at the start where to point his gun. The gunfight in the open country was so fast and action packed of men falling to the deaths by the hand of another’s gun or the falling of their horse even the audience isn’t too sure if Cutler committed the crime.
With the arrival of defence lawyer William P. Selby (Edmond Ryan) he starts to place reasonable doubt into the rest of the town and the posse who all give evidence in court, all under oath to give the truth, the truth they didn’t realise until they were really questioned. It could be seen as the defence manipulating the witnesses to ensure his client walks free. Sadly it the testimony of the Marshall, so sure of himself, even in all the action he sways the jury to come back with the guilty verdict. The law won, but what did the town win after hearing the evidence.
All considering the possibility of innocence of Culter, even more so for Laurie and Ben’s fiancée Ruth Granger (Margaret Hayes) who no longer sees the man she once fell in love with, washing her hands of him in shame and disgust. Whilst the town with a collective sense if responsibility and guilt petition for Campbell’s release. Whilst Cutler wants nothing more than to carry out his duty, now in almost secrecy.
Meanwhile inside the jail a break is being planned, a last ditch attempt for freedom, the last act is a real game changer for all in the town as the peace is broken once again they are left in doubt as to who really shot the late Marshall afterall. All it takes is the actions of a few men to change a towns mind. Nothing is certain really when a man is taken to trial on the basis on one man’s evidence.
A routine western with a twist as the town is swayed in one direction and then again, whilst the law remains constant. MacMurray once again in the west, not completely suited to the west, but the more I see him in boots and hat the uneasy fit. A leading man who never really grabbed the screen like others of his time but holding his own nonetheless.
I went into this film mainly for the direction of Billy Wilder for Sabrina (1954), not so much the female lead of Audrey Hepburn who I saw as a woman with her head in the clouds, which now is all part of her charm. My eyes are more open to her appeal as a film-star. In terms of acting my mind is yet to be made up completely.
Beginning with my old perceptions I began this film wondering where it who Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn) would fall for, I knew this was the aim of the film, I wasn’t put off by how straight forward it appeared, knowing there was more to the longing of a chauffeurs Thomas Fairchild (John Williams) who had devoted her affections from afar for the Larrabee’s charming son David (William Holden) very much a ladies man with a big heart, who had already been through 3 marriage, not exactly good material for someone who is blind to what David may really be like.
To stop her going mad with her obsession that would never come true her father sends her away to a French cooking school to learn new skills and more importantly to get her mind of David. A very dated idea today but that doesn’t matter in the world of Hepburn who tries her best to concentrate, her mind always being thousands of miles away, until an elderly man takes her under his wing, she begins to blossom and grow as a woman.
Whilst back home in Long Island the industrial Larrabee’s are hoping to invest in the new and exciting possibilities of plastic, which is far away from the world of Paris. Lead by the hard-working Linus Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart) who will do what ever it takes to make it happen. Even marrying off his brother David to the partner companies daughter Elizabeth Tyson (Martha Hyer) who is remains oblivious to the films events. Especially when Sabrina returns home, unintentionally stirring things up. Coming back a new and confident woman, complete with new hair cut, her dreamy outlook has been pulled back to reality.
David soon rediscovers the chauffeurs daughter, a new woman stands before him, he knows she is the one. Its love at first sight for him, a dream come for a resolved Sabrina. Spelling nothing but bad news for the plastic deal, so much is on the line. Linus steps in to start “damage limitation” ensuring the deal goes through. However he doesn’t intend to fall for the affection of Sabrina. Unwittingly a love triangle takes form and fast and only she doesn’t even know it.
Wilder again works his charm with material which would on the face of it be disgraceful and depressing. Crossing the boundaries of class to the 20th century as Linus promotes over his fathers wishes. The heart is more important, even in matters of business, as exciting as they can be. Choosing plastic a then new material which was just being discovered, here exploited for comic effect. Wilder takes the innocence of Hepburn not long out of Roman Holiday (1953) starting to mould her on already forming perception of an angel. Which he also did similarly with Marilyn Monroe. The script doesn’t so much sizzle and spit, usually tight, there is room here for a looser story to be told, it’s romance, with a spot of business to lift it up from just another romance. Satorising the class system and business in the process. It’s not has hot as some of his other works, still standing up with his others with pride. Along with interesting casting, of course William Holden had become a regular, the choice of Bogart a straight actor heading into his 3rd decade on screen, a chance that Wilder has taken before with great effect. Finally if it takes one film to start to change my mind on one actress then I’m glad it was this one to get me on my way, all courtesy of Wilder.
- All About Audrey (healthyjeaned.wordpress.com)
- My blog name and Audrey Hepburn (kinsfavorite.wordpress.com)
- Paris is Always a Good Idea (fmyazbek.wordpress.com)
- Roman Holiday (1953) (theblondeatthefilm.wordpress.com)
- On 70th anniversary of ‘Casablanca,’ son Stephen Bogart recalls great romance of Bogie and Bacall (miamiherald.typepad.com)
Another film that has been sitting on myself for a few weeks now, needing literally the time to view such a long film as Patton (1970) wanting to give it my full attention instead of breaking away from it. Having seen already the biopic on General Douglas MacArthur played by Gregory Peck. I had to seek out this biopic on the equally bombastic WWII time general George S. Patton who helped incredible bring success to the allies.
We see from the start a man who was larger than life as he speaks to his army of fresh faced soldiers ready to “kick ass” against the Nazis. It’s inspiring almost off the cuff poetry full of fowl language that speaks to the anger inside the men we see later on in the historic victories and failures of the generals army.
From the outset we see we are in for one hell of a ride with one of Americas history makers whilst at war. A man who lived very much in the past to influence his present. Wherever he went we learn of past battles that influences his own plans of attack, even going to an old battleground in Tunisia. Much to the dismay of General Omar N. Bradley (Karl Malden) who stands in awe of this man of sheer determination who would stand in the line of fire as the Luftwaffe would attack over head. Very much a man of legend and madness.
In terms of cinematography we are treated to some glorious work by Fred J. Koenekamp who helped to portray Patton as a great historical figure of the battlefield, standing far greater than is already immense height would take him as played by George C. Scott who breathes life into this figure who went far beyond the average general, out there directing the men when the got stuck in the mud, to giving them what they needed, encouragement to carry on. Matched with the military inspired soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith who stripped it back to a few signature pieces that are heard and mixed throughout.
Of course it’s not all about the glory, with all that came his big mouth that lead to his downfall from grace with the top-brass. Becoming a liability who wouldn’t stop from insulting the Russians and even his own people. Raising him to the status of maverick, a title that is rarely granted to people.
He is given one last chance to prove himself as the D-day approaches he is given an army to drive through France, aiming all the while to get to Berlin, nothing, not even a shortage of fuel will stop him for long. Having trained his men to fight to the bitter end.
Much like his maverick contemporary he is both celebrated as a war hero, who got out of control, causing trouble for the army and government. In Patton he is portrayed as a great man, in terms of the his physical presence provided by Scott who earned and refused the best actor Oscar. Everything comes together with an non-stellar cast who allow him to shine even more. I hoped it could have covered more of his career, such as the lead up to WWII and previous engagements. What we see is still more than enough to paint an image of a man who was even feared by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Vogler) who we see with others deep underground follow his every move, not many struck fear into the third Reich’s failed campaign more than Patton, that alone is enough to warrant a film.
I was very aware of this film when it was released, reawakening the controversial debate into the legacy of the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher who is believed to have destroyed Britain, bringing it to it’s knees, never really recovering. Whilst others believe she changed it to become a world super-power, helping to end the cold war. Which-ever side you are that’s a debate for another time.
On the face of it The Iron Lady (2011) looks like a biopic of the first woman Prime Minister, as it charts her rise to power through the ranks of the conservative party all the way from being failed candidate to be a councillor, all the way to the top to become the most powerful woman in the world. Quite a feat in anyone’s eyes from starting out as a grocers daughter, it sounds like the stuff Hollywood would eventually turn into a film. In the hands of British filmmakers and an all British cast, bar Meryl Streep in the lead role we see more flashbacks of her life than a review of a career.
Maybe it’s through the flashbacks of a woman with dementia we can see another side of her. For years she was seen as a tough woman who wouldn’t easily by pushed on an issue, something that became her downfall. The media image is one that people of my generation only have, besides those who either champion her or would have spat on her in the streets. Now relinquished of all her political and now mental powers we see a woman who is struggling to hold onto reality.
The flashbacks allow us to see into her view of the past, along with archive footage to create the events that she shaped and influenced. These take up a fracton of the running time, coming in quick bursts to give an overview of her career. Focusing on her present state of mind as she copes with dementia, fighting only the hallucinations of her husband Dennis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent) who is on top form, making her realise what is going on. Whilst in reality she has chosen with the help of her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) to finally clear out his things (which we don’t know for sure happened). Using this more as a tool to see her more confused and on the edge.
It seems for a wide audience (mainly British) to see Thatcher she has to be in a poor state of mind, as in her final years she became a private person in her failing health. It does gives us an insight into how she maybe in her final years. Played wonderfully by Streep which saw her sweep the board that awards season, able to take on the role from her days in parliament to her eventual decline, shows real skill to her and the make-up which also was honoured. Supported by a strong British cast, which could have been the only route to take with such material, archive footage made up the rest while the film depicted and filled in the blanks. However it’s not an account of her life, an account of her life would be more over-reaching covering more events in greater detail. It’s a media friendly biopic with a gentle touch of reality to show even the great (which is debatable in this case) and once powerful are only human and fragile in the face of old age.
- Meryl Streep To Star As Susan Boyle In Biopic Film (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- The Iron Lady (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
- MM Top 5: Meryl Streep Roles (moviemetropolis.wordpress.com)
- The Iron Lady (cathonahottinroof.wordpress.com)
I was expecting something far darker, especially with Sigourney Weaver in the lead role of The Girl in the Park (2007), the write-up made the plot sound far darker than it actually was. It all starts happily enough, with a young family in New York, parents and two kids, seems perfect enough until Julia (Weaver) takes her 3-year-old daughter Maggie goes missing after a fun day at the park. We feel the gut wrenching pain that the mother is going through, only turning her back for a few seconds, which is all it took for her daughter to disappear.
We pick up the action 16 years later, the once happy family has been torn apart and happy once more in their broken form. The husband Doug (David Rasche) has remarried while their son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) is about to marry his fiancée Celeste (Keri Russell) having moved on, accepting that his younger sister is dead, starting a new chapter in his life. We learn that Julia was unable to move on and accept her loss, making her relationship with ex husband and son very distant, creating a string of disappointments.
With Julia coming back into her family’s life, all from afar, she meets a young woman who at first takes advantage of her good nature, after defending her in a difficult situation. Feeling her motherly tendencies are coming through for Louise (Kate Bosworth) who unwittingly assumes the role of Julia’s lost daughter. It could be darker than it really appears, feeling very normal, taking this woman who has no home, going from one mans bed to another each night. There are times when you want to shout at Julia to stop her in her tracks. There are of course similarities between the young Maggie and Louise now. It’s a hard call to make as we make our way through the film, we are made to doubt our own thoughts on the identity of the woman.
When she is introduced to her son who comes to fix a cupboard door, the real doubt starts to slip in, as if two siblings are being reunited, under the guise of a white lie. For a brother who had to move on, accepting an important person his in life has died, to found this woman who does bear a resemblance.
It’s subtly frightening over time. A lonely woman only starts to really come to terms with her loss when she finds a substitute, which is really a form of denial. Its a dream come true for parents who have lost their children to be reunited with them years later. Whilst in the meantime a degree of normality is needed to carry on with life, as much it is emotionally possible. The Girl in the Park takes this idea and brings into the screen sensitively, from the mothers point of view as her family have moved on and she, the one who feels responsible for her daughter going missing, changing her into a guilt ridden woman who is the pale version of her former-self.
- The Girl In The Park (07barringtonco.wordpress.com)
With Ridley Scott‘s latest film The Counsellor receiving a critical mauling, it was just coincidence that I caught an earlier film of the director Black Rain (1989) which at times looks like another take on Blade Runner (1982) in terms of the look and urban locations as we are in the middle of a Japanese mob-war, something that two New York cops weren’t expecting to be involved in.
- Review: The Counsellor – 2/5 (moviequibble.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Counselor’ Review: 10 Things to Know About the Cormac McCarthy Thriller (art3867.wordpress.com)
- The Counsellor – Movie Review (lucasfothergill.wordpress.com)
- Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition (biblioklept.org)
I first about Black Swan (2010) when it was mentioned in a crit group session, I didn’t take much notice then, my mind was elsewhere and wasn’t really interested in the film. 3 years later after seeing a range of films I decided to take the chance when it received it network TV première. My first thoughts were this is a film of fierce rivalry between two ballerina’s which to an extent it is. Yet it’s so much more than two women who are polar opposites vying for the lead role in a theatre companies production of Swan Lake. There was a powerful blend of two films The Red Shoes (1948) and All About Eve (1950) that burst onto the screen, with added sex, darkness and power.
Of course all the dancers want this fantastic role, to be centre stage in an iconic and classic ballet. After fighting for the role Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) persuades the director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) to cast the perfection hungry dancer who has the skill but not the passion to take on the role. Through chance she is awarded the role. The hard work is now just beginning at the theatre and at home.
Whilst all the while in the shadows we catch glimpses is fellow dancer and possible rival Lily (Mila Kunis) at first a friendly face of support, but also what Nina aspires to be, perfect on the moves whilst also with the heart for the dual role of the white and black swan. An uneasy relationship forms between the two of them, with a lingering sense of threat at the tip.
The director Thomas Leroy keeps pushing his new muse to get the best out of her, wanting to liberate the still innocent woman, who needs to embrace her sexuality both on and off stage. Something that Nina is unwilling to do with him. On the other-hand the with the help of Lily who wants to bring herself out of the home life that has trapped her as the daughter of a failed ballet dancer, she has to break free.
Troubled with the constant cuts she finds on herself body she enters a surreal world where her perception of the world blurs between the role of the swan and the oestrogen fuelled rivalry that for Nina is long overdue to grow up and away from her mother to be independent, stand alone and become the great dancer she can be. We see a dark and adult world begin to consume this women as she realises and goes over the edge of what she needs to do to stay on top.
At times it’s unnerving to watch these two fighting as reality is blurred by the competitive streaks that fuel them both, taking different approaches to this prized role which they are eyeing up. The lengths they will go to undermine and unnerve each other are staggering and with dramatic effect. This is more than a look into the world of ballet, this is a psycho-political battlefield, all fighting for the attention and glory of a few and the masses who see them perform.
- Black Swan (warringtonobserver.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan (2010), Film Review (michellewidmann.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan (hechec66.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan (2010) (cinemaclown.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan (2010) directed by Darren Aronofsky (anutshellreview.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan (2010) (classicfilmclassics.wordpress.com)
- Requiem for a Dream – Review (beefymovies.wordpress.com)
- The Black Swan (thedanceeffect.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan – Halloween Special (reelfashiononline.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan recap: Evil Dead in a tutu (theguardian.com)
- Black Swan (dzenii009.wordpress.com)
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Thunderheart (1992) ever since I first read a description of the film, I had to watch it. When a murder in the Sioux reservation is committed it’s up to the FBI to investigate, having jurisdiction over such crimes on Native American reservations. A rare chance for a mainstream audience to go inside reservation, around a hundred years after the indigenous people were first defeated and rounded up onto them.
Made more accessible with Val Kilmer as Ray Levoi an F.B.I. agent with mixed heritage thanks to his father Sioux blood. Peace must be restored in this once again troubled land. Going to South Dakota where the awful murder took place, the people want the murder solved so they can live in peace, a part of them still lives in fear and depression, it prove hard for agents Levoi and Frank Coutelle (Sam Shepherd) with only three days to solve the murder and get out again. It’s easier for Coutelle to get on with the investigation, having a professional detachment from the natives. Whilst Levoi is surrounded by the people who know who he is and do what they can to remind him of his heritage. A theme that has been used time and again for characters in the classic westerns who try to hide their shame for having a mixed heritage, allowing for those who are Native or African American and even Mexican to persuade them to accept their true and rich identity, not to hide it in shame. The murder is just a classic macguffin to allow this journey to happen.
This time police officer Walter Crow Horse (Graham Greene) takes on the role of the guide. A modern take on the native American, no more are we presented with the clichés that Hollywood have educated the world with. It feels more honest, to visit a a still proud people in their present situation. Living in run-down static homes and caravans, wanting more than anything to be one with the land. Their spirituality is still very strong Crow Horse even had to fight to keep his identity at one time.
Levoi has an internal fight on his hands whilst trying to solve a murder to accept who he really is, with the cop who tries to help with his incredible knowledge of the land and people which conflicts with the agent who is leading the investigation. It’s more compelling to see spiritual journey he fights to get off at all times that could blind him from the case. If anything he finds it to be a hindrance, especially when he is brought to the elder Grandpa Sam Reaches (Ted Thin Elk) a partial stereotype of the elder role we have seen before with a modern twist and charm, on one level he is just an elderly man, yet on another he is wise man who must be respected.
As the investigation goes on and into overtime the pressure is onto solve the murder, and giving the Natives more time to make Levoi realise who he is. Courtesy of a vision he has that takes him back to Wounded Knee a very familiar historical event to portray in the film, he begin to realise that there maybe something to all this talk.
The Natives are still scene as an annoyance with all their superstitions and beliefs that are mocked, which is dealt with sensitively. Everyone wants peace who lives near the reservation, even the white people. Until we realise the sinister and political twist at the end. There seems to be no peace for the Natives who I have a respect for, every-time we saw the F.B.I. dismantle the structures if the Sioux we feel pain and sympathy for them. The respect is there for them, whilst at the same time we see an uneasy relationship between the settlers who have made the land their own, protecting the American dream. As the Natives do their best to hold onto their values and customs that have been shaken up the last 200 years.
Thunderheart goes some-way to making clear that a once proud race has been abused by a stronger one, who by force relocated them to smaller penned in areas. There are left alone to do as they please in line with laws and treaties that are finally being kept. It’s an uneasy peace. Throwing into that a man of mixed heritage who can hopefully see both sides of the debate. Asking the question, how far have they come and where are they now?
- Thunder Heart (1992, Michael Apted, USA) (capitalessaywriting.wordpress.com)
- Thunder Heart (1992, Michael Apted, USA) (eliteacademicessays.wordpress.com)
- Native Americans hit hard in US shutdown (radionz.co.nz)
- Congress honors code talkers, including SD tribes (siouxcityjournal.com)
- Quiz: Native American Contributions to Life in the United States (mettahu.wordpress.com)
- Oglala Sioux members to be honored for “code talking” during WWII (nebraskaradionetwork.com)
- Black Elk (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
- Mixed-Race Heritage Should Not Be A Big Deal Anymore. (iamdiophena.wordpress.com)
We are starting to show cracks as the C.I.A. are contacted by a Russian defector who wants to leave his once beloved country behind that he lost his passion and allegiance for. It takes Wargrave (Lee Marvin) and his team to go Russia and safely get Marenkov (Robert Shaw) across Europe to the safety of the U.S.
Avalanche Express (1979) for me was a chance to visit a film I caught the tail end of a year or so ago, getting to be a habit of mine now, to understand what it was about, and see what all the fuss is about. The plot is pretty straight forward enough. Throwing into the mix and on and off again romance between Wargrave and Elsa Lang (Linda Evans) which isn’t the most convincing of romances to grace the screen.
It was the low-tech special effects that got my attention, I knew as soon as I saw a model train pushing through the snow European hills which we see for most of the action. Combining scenes on board a train and those in the real-world are what made this film exciting. Even the never ending avalanche that was started in attempt to stop the train from carrying the high-ranking member of group now lead by Bunin (Maximilian Schell) who will do anything with his team of European agents to stop Marenkov get away.
With most of the action based on the Atlantic Express, probably a name used in place of the Orient Express which didn’t want to be associated with the film. It does however make is more exciting, when Wargraves plan is put into action to flush out all the agents it should be non-stop danger when infact we get only a few action scenes, the rest is just chat. There is danger but it feels very staged and shows that either the film is mis-cast or just out of date with the times. In the wake of the new blockbuster genre, it tries to compete with a theme that was more popular ten years ago. On a positive note it’s always good to see the cool and collected Lee Marvin on screen again
It’s hard to really start to talk about a film such as If…(1968) there is so much to process. First it’s a product of it’s time, even if director Lindsay Anderson denies it was in reaction to all the political activity happening at the time. I can see there is a clear class war going on in the film as 3 6th formers fight against a dying institution which is the private school system and the upper-class. It also feels late in the day, the sixties known for being a decade of cultural revolution that saw the younger generation breaking free from the post war blues that left this country financially crippled, and by another generation who stifled free expression, the very thing that was fought for.
Maybe this is literally the last battle ground in the U.K. to fight for the freedoms of the baby boomers who had new ideas, as they grow up into adulthood have a burning need to be heard and respected. Even in the elite that seems to be a need to fight back against the lore of the establishment. Especially for Mick (Malcolm McDowell, Johnny (David Wood) and Wallace (Richard Warick) who take every opportunity to rebel against the house whips Rowetree (Robert Swann), Denson (Hugh Thomas), Fortinbas (Michael Cadman) and Barnes (Peter Sproule) who are the face of the past, only a few years older than the 6th formers, laying down the iron rod of the law, going to daft extremes with the power they possess. Discipline is very important for these four whips, without it they would be lost in the modern world that is changing before their eyes.
For me the most compelling element is the choice to jump between black and white and colour photography, which took sometime to really understand why the changes, until a church scene that was black and white in full apart for a final cut in glistening colour looking up at a stain-glass window. The contrast between real-life of the masses, which could be seen as lower or middle class in dull and photographically beatiful black and white, we see the essential images. Whist the colour scenes depicted another way of life in decline, holding onto all the trapping and exuberance.
As the film went on, the chapters unfolded, a war was bubbling under the surface between the 6th formers/Crusaders against the rest of the school and their ways. From all out apathy and rebellion to all out war to a way of life that threatened their very own. It becomes utter chaos in the final scenes when it all comes together for minutes of glorious warfare on the battlefield of the upper-class and private education rooted so deep in the past, it is scared of the present.
For McDowell’s début film he is very much setting the tone of his work for future films, the rebellious young man who fights back with his mouth like Micheal Caine and going further with incredible actions that light up the screen. A darkly comedic film that sees the past as something alien and to poke fun at, taking it to the extremes with incredible consequences. The public school system still rules, if we look at the houses of parliament, but no longer are they as well respected, more mocked and sneered at for the privileges that raise them above the masses who make do and hold the state school system in high regard. It creates a class system that is no longer really relevant, a divide that keeps the highest paid jobs from those who are most deprived, skills, knowledge and sheer hardwork sometimes fail in the face of connections and wealth. A fact of life that will long remain I regret. At least now we can laugh at those who look down on us at their weakness as we started to in If…
- If……….(1968) (filmposterart.wordpress.com)
- if…. (1968): “Violence and revolution are the only pure acts.” (filmgrimoire.wordpress.com)
- Malcolm McDowell (drncolleen.wordpress.com)
- Baby boomer generation fast facts (boomercafe.com)
I thought this was going to be a classic case of blackmail when one teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) catches another teacher Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) having underage sex with a student. Something that should never happen. Under the circumstances they strike up an unlikely friendship that seems to blossom. There is also hope that the inappropriate relationship between the teacher and 15 year old boy Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson) who is more than aware of what he has started with the art teacher.
On the surface the danger should be easily be averted, allowing a family woman to return to a normal life with her husband Richard Hart (Bill Nighy) and two children, one a teenager and another with down-syndrome, she has enough to keep her occupied at home. Adding to that picture a woman nearing retirement whose presence in Sheba and her families life increases, much to the families displeasure.
Barbara is a stern woman who lives a solitary life outside of work, the life of a spinster who keeps a colourful diary which she never fails to make an entry. We learn more about her past in the form of her old friend who left the school because of a nervous breakdown. Or so we are lead to believe, we only have her word for it all.
Whilst Sheba has to fight her urges to stop seeing the 15 year old, something most would never think to enter into in the first place. Made more horrifying as the abuser is woman, distorting the usual male perception of child abusers, especially in an institution of trust.
The tension is cranked up when finally a spanner is thrown into the work, it takes one small thing to make Barbara let slip this awful news. Everything is thrown wide open, the press invade the lives of the Harts and even Barbara who they believe knows more than she is letting on. Both Blancchett and Dench give strong performances as they deal with dark subject matter. Neither of them is better than the other, they both break the law, in varying degrees. The audience are placed into a corner as these two women fight each other, there can be no clear winner in this awful tale that has you hooked from the first time you see Dench the older teacher not really caring just getting on with it, whilst a younger bright-eyed teacher full of promise and potential throws it all away on the whim of a dangerous thought.
- Film Pop – Notes on a Scandal (onepopatatime.wordpress.com)
- Notes on Scandal (abcsofent.wordpress.com)
- Philomena – film review (standard.co.uk)
- Judi Dench urged to back inquiry into stolen baby’ scandal (theguardian.com)
- Top Ten: A Little Bit Dench (cinegram.wordpress.com)
- Judi Dench Career in Pictures (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Judi Dench Career in Pictures (close-upfilm.com)
I decided to watch this on a pure whim really, see what it was all about. I have a friend who loves Brian Blessed and even met the legend himself whilst at university, it just shows the power of the fun sci-fi film Flash Gordon (1980). From the opening credits we are thrown into a comic book world from another time, staying true to its roots in terms of style and language which if changed would ruin a whole world for fans. In those first few moments Earth existence once again hangs in the balance, in the hands of a powerful voice that gives orders, pushing buttons throwing the natural order of our planet into chaos Matched with a bombastic theme by Queen we are in for a good time, on earth or not, as we are transported to a far off world, nothing like that of Star Wars.
We are leaving the growing sophistication of special effects for an updated look of the film serial of the 1930′s based on the Alex Raymond comic strip, which has stayed true to the origin of Flash Gordon played by Sam J. Jones who is just a sports stars with all the looks to boot gets caught in all this when he meets Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and slightly mad Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) who kidnaps them in a rocket that was designed to meet the aliens who were causing all this destruction to Earth. It’s all go from the very start and has no intention of letting us slow down anytime soon.
We are brought to a world that today lacks all the trappings of C.G.I. using all photochemical effects to bring this colourful world where aliens live on castles that float in psychedelic clouds that constantly change. With characters who are larger than life, played by actors who you can see are having a ball in this fantastic roles.
As soon as the three travellers crash land in the capital of Mongo ruled by Emperor Ming (the merciless) (Max Von Sydow) with an iron fist. Walking into a police state, where members of the Empire are starting to resent the rule of Ming who watches over them all with the help of his secret police led by Klytus (Peter Wyngarde) and his cronies. The three prisoners have no choice but to get involved when they are dragged a part. First with the execution of Flash to a captive audience, in the style quite literally of smoke and mirrors that helped to coin one of Blessed’s best catchphrases.
There’s a rebellion in the midst and Ming doesn’t know it as he plans to marry Dale who wants only to be with Flash. Doing anything she can to get him back, and out of the hands of the emperor’s daughter Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) who has her own plans for him.
There is nothing deep and meaningful about this film and it’s not ashamed of it. It’s all great fun as actors get to dress up and act out a classic comic book hero’s origin story. Packed with hammy performances lead by both Blessed and Sydow who are perfect for the roles. Riding on the success of previous science fiction blockbusters it was initially a failure until it gained a cult following a the praise it deserves as a film. Paying homage to the material and the era which references heavily films such as The Wizard of Oz (1939) as we see good triumph over evil, the oppressed rise up and be heard, coming together letting their differences fall by the wayside. We also see the human spirit shine through, to stay strong in the face of adversity.
My only hope is that in the light of classic franchises such as Flash Gordon won’t be rebooted for a new generation to enjoy. Because they when classics such as Clash of the Titans (1981) and Total Recall (1990) received this treatment they became soulless C.G.I-fests with no heart, just a money spinner for an industry out to make some money. Flash Gordon is not just a moment in time, that itself was a reboot it is full of classic moments that are iconic have a life of their own.
- All Hail Princess Aura (thepantydrawer.blogspot.com)
- Interview: Sam Jones On ‘Ted,’ His Past, Present And Future (shockya.com)
- Here comes another Star Wars film I won’t be watching (telegraph.co.uk)
- When Words Collide – Alex Raymond’s “Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim” (comicbookresources.com)
I’ve seen this in the TV listing time and time again, not really taking any notice of it. Until I decided to give this WWII classic a chance, a chance I should have taken much sooner with Sink the Bismarck (1960). I guess after seeing another sea-faring war film The Battle on the River Plate (1956) that shares the action of warfare between the war room and the field of battle. Then also in glistening Technicolor that depicted the chase on the Latin American seas. This later entry is presented in black and white that reminds of the images of the time of the conflict, as it blends stock footage and new that creates this tense search and destroy mission.
With news of the most dangerous warship in the German Navy the Bismarck, the pride and glory of the Nazis as we saw at the beginning of the film. To the Allies, mainly Britain on our own against a fallen Europe we must take out the most dangerous ship to weaken their strength at sea.
At the centre of these dramatised events we are split between war room deep underground in London, under the leadership of Captain Shepherd (Kenneth Moore) a cold man who is driven by the discipline of the navy. Whilst out in the Atlantic the action is split between a number of ships that are at the will of Naval headquarters as they order them about the dangerous seas.
I thought at first it would be a game of cat and mouse from the comfort of giant maps and model ships moved around by sticks. My perceptions were soon blown out of the window as we tracked down the Bismarck as it emerged from the fog of Norway to sink more convoys crippling the allies efforts. More importantly to affirm the glory of the Nazis.
It’s a constant game of engaging the deadliest that the enemy can throw at us. Gradually we make dents in the armour of this robust ship that takes very little damage, even less to their crew who can only think of glory and pummeling the enemy. Whilst at home in the U.K. all the navies energy is directed toward the destruction of the ship, even more so when Winston Churchill orders them to use all necessary force. In these early years of the war alone with no involvement of the then neutral U.S. who we only see for N.B.C. radio with Edward R Murrow acting as a narrator.
The tension on dry land mounts especially for Shepherd who has shut himself off emotionally to cope after losing his wife to the London bombings. Only having his son in his life, stationed on a carrier that is involved in the action. He only begins to soften up with his assistant Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) who wants to help the emotionless man in the thick of war. Make him understand that everyone is hurting during the conflict. An internal battle he must win to survive the war. When all is said and done it’s really all about that warship that keeps fighting back, coming out of each encounter with a few scratches, It had to go down, sometime, somehow, and gloriously it does after taking a few of our ships with her.
- Bismarck Model (wongjasmineblog.wordpress.com)
- The story of the battleship Tirpitz – Bismarck’s sister ship – and the desperate British efforts to destroy it . (oldsaltbooks.wordpress.com)
I thought I would give Greenberg (2010) ago, knowing that the queen of indie Greta Gerwig was starring in the film. Added to that a rare straight role by comedy actor Ben Stiller. I enjoy seeing comic actors outside of their comfort zone to see if they can still entertain, showing there is more too them. We will see again when his next film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is released at the end of the year.
Here Stiller plays a neurotic forty-something Roger Greenberg who has just left a mental institution, after a break-down. We soon see why this may have happened. A man who questions every detail on modern life, who 15 years earlier blew the chance of a record deal, something his friends always remind him of and resent him for. He stays at his brothers family home whilst they are away on holiday. Left to look after the dog and build him a dog house. The is the only constant in the film.
Whilst the family’s assistant Florence Marr (Gerwig) who has just broken up from a relationship, she throws herself into her work. In a place in her life where she doesn’t really know where she’s going, more going with the flow whilst she get things sorted. Once the two meet things get complicated, more so for Roger who wants to do nothing at the moment, which for most his age would prove hard to do, as most of his friends have settled down with family and responsibility. He seems to have shirked all those things to be free, but really from what? All the things that make life worth living, he is hovering in a state of constant vulnerability and neurotics that alienate those around him and the audience who really can’t stand him. For the majority of the film I found him to be very irritating, which is not what you want really in a lead role.
However I begrudgingly persisted to see where this would lead as he was needed to rise to the challenges that were sent his way. One in the form of the family dog, partly out of obligation for his brother. Whilst the other was the on-off relationship that was sort-of forming between him and Florence who he starts to open up to, when he’s not offending her with his own issues that he projects onto her. We see a troubled man who has just wandered through life, not really opening up until he has to.
- Film Reviews: “Greenberg” (2010) (thevideoclerk.wordpress.com)
- Greta Gerwig on the “Frances Ha” Gotham Snub (thefilmexperience.net)
- Ben Stiller Discusses ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (nytimes.com)
- Walter Mitty is almost here! (eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com)
- “Greenberg” (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Festival Dispatch: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (newyorker.com)
I first caught this classic film on TCM over a year ago, knowing it was John Wayne‘s first big film and sadly flop too. Released just the as Great depression was taking hold, audience just couldn’t get to see this epic journey across the plains of America
The plot is pretty standard when we look at the wagon-train films that followed. Trapper Breck Coleman is recruited to help lead a wagon train from the East to Oregon along with a grizzly Zeke (Tully Marshall) who immediately threatened by the youthful and skilled presence of Breck who at first didn’t want to join them. It was the presence of Ruth Cameron (Marguerite Churchill) who resists his advances. Nothing like a challenge for the trapper who has his mind on her, anything is possible.
The wagon train is put to the test as they face all kind of adversity, from Native Americans, to desert storms. the muddy tough waters. Things we would see time and time again. Whilst all along Zeke along with his right hand men Red Flack (Tyrone Power Sr.) and Pa Bascom (Frederick Burton) plan Breck’s downfall. Twice they make an attempt on his life to little effect. It’s all classic stuff, complete with Wayne having an old side-kick for the first time, a signature of westerns of that period.
The quality of the sound is poor but decent enough to make out what the characters are saying, taking nothing away from the film. Instead it adds a layer of history to the film that came so soon after the dawn of sound in film, that leaves the studio back-lot to bring an epic tale to the screen. The main draw today, is The Duke by far, seeing what could have been if the film was successful. But then, there maybe no Stagecoach, which makes me thankful he practised his trade on the B-movie lot.
- The hunt for a long-lost John Wayne film (bbc.co.uk)
- Watch: ‘In Old Arizona’ (1929) – Raoul Walsh and Irving Cummings’ Best Picture nominee and Best Actor Oscar(Warner Baxter) (seminalcinemaoutfit.com)
- John Wayne Was Set To Play Lawrence Of Arabia (your-story.org)
- All abord the Stagecoach! (moviemorlocks.com)
- Red River (1948) (dailyconor.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 movie westerns (theguardian.com)
- Monument Valley (staradvertiser.com)
- The Conqueror (1956) John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Pedro Armendáriz ADVENTURE HISTORY (watchiflixs.com)
I didn’t no what to expect when I began Spider (2002), for David Cronenberg it’s visually a distinct departure from his usual style on the surface. Basing the action of the film in Britain, which for me was more engaging, not being put off by the architecture such as the gasometers that feature around the urban landscape in 1980′s Britain. Where we find a disturbed Spider/Cleg (Ralph Fiennes) as he steps off a train, layered in shirts trundling along in his own world, not really aware of what is going on.
He has been released from a mental institution to a halfway house, he should be on the road to recovery. Not in the world of Cronenberg, things can only get darker and darker, never does it get better for his characters, not even in cosy little Britian. Spider begins to ease into his new surroundings, the symptoms of schizophrenia start to become evident in the behaviours we see. He’s not so bothered about his present where his only friend is a fellow patient Terrance (John Neville) to keep him company.
It’s his childhood that preoccupied Spider who we see lingering outside his old family home and haunts of his father. We see a young spider in the 1960′s who loves his parents (Miranda Richardson and Gabriel Byrne). Something they don’t have for each other. We see how a quiet boys life is turned upside down in a short space of time. The marriage is soon tested when the two go to the local pub, Bill Cleg (Byrne) is tempted by another woman. Whilst his wife is left to wonder.
This is made more sinister by casting Rihardson in both roles, which on a few levels, the blurred perception of young Spider who obviously loves his mum. Whilst for the dad Yvonne is a more attractive un-married version of his wife. Lastly it messes with the audiences perceptions, are we seeing two different women or the same one in different clothes. The dark trick really comes into effect when the mother is killed, and Yvonne moves in, a physically identical yet very different woman in terms of personality. For young Spider this is too much, knowing the truth, unable to express his feelings. Alongside an all British cast that becomes part of Croneberg’s dark disturbing world, what more can you ask for?
Spider is no ordinary child who has friends, we have a younger version of the Fiennes Spider, we see how he became the man in the half-way house. The string in his bedroom that creates his own webbed network is first seen to be just a childish quirk to pass the time.
By the end of the film we see a return to the former Spider, we see what he is capable off, both as a child and adult, which scares the audience. The child has a clearer sense of judgement, knowing what his actions will do. Whilst the older schizophrenic Spider is less aware in his own disturbed world, it makes sense to him, but not to others how he gets to his conclusions. Fienne’s transforms into a disturbed man like we have never seen before, an actor with chameleon qualities who hardly utters a word, down to his gestures so thought through they come across natural to the audience.
Another film I have been aware of for a very short time, this time finding The Thin Red Line (1998) on the Gaurdian’s Top Ten War Films. Not really paying much attention to the write but with an increased awareness I grabbed the opportunity to view another of Terrence Malick‘s films. Again unaware that he was behind this masterpiece of film-making. It has been a while since I had seen his work which is usually far looser in presentation. More concerned with the natural elements than action, the beauty of nature over the actors who feature in his films. This time the actors had a more pivotal role set in a WWII battle on a Pacific island that is controlled by the Japanese. Something that has to change.
We follow a company of soldiers who begin the campaign on boat as they sail in waiting to set down in the island. A strong cast of actors some who only have one scene, whilst others such as Sean Penn and Woody Harrelson stay the course of the film.
The focus is not so much on the triumphant men as they take back the island into American control. There is a tough struggle when they come out of the jungle and into the grassy hills where we spend a good half of the film as they make their way up and across. Not without their share or bloodshed, death, tears and reflection. A hallmark of Mallick’s films that see his characters look introspectively on themselves in deep thoughtful monologues, longing to go back home, to be with their wives whom they have left behind.
With most films of the war genre there is more an emphasis on the victory, here the surroundings become just as important, making us take in what is also being affected by this human conflict that tears through acres of country and land. No longer on the trenches of Europe in WWI the battlefield is far larger. After the great performances its once again the camera work that lifts us away from the turmoil of battle to the world around them. As the long grass moves in the wind, the cameraman walks through as if we are drifting at a safe distance, as these men fight for the hill and victory.
I first saw a teaser trailer for Gravity (2013) before The Great Gatsby (2013) was about to start. I thought by what I saw I knew the plot was a bit self-explanatory, two astronauts are floating in space after a disaster hits them. Why would I need to turn up and watch what I knew was going to be obvious. That’s how I felt until a week ago, even with the positive reviews and incredible box-office receipts in the U.S. why would I watch that. My mind was finally changed when I was about to begin watching Captain Phillips (2013) the theatrical trailer revealed far more, and pulled me in, making up my mind instantly.
Knowing very little of the plot beyond the trailer I viewed Gravity with a clear mind I slipped on my 3D glasses and joined the crew of the Explorer carrying out a routine mission which had more technical problems than anything on the vessel opened up for Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) to work on, whilst Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) was circling around the Explorer as the work was carried out. All very routine until word from Houston control (Ed Harris) warned of a debris field that could head their way, an outside chance at best after the Russians blew up one of their satellites. Things soon change and debris is soon heading their way.
All this in the first few minutes, where the audience is drawn into the immersive world above in the heavens. At first there is just the open expanse of nothing but space, faint voices on the radio. I wondered if someone had left their phone on, I was soon corrected as we drifted into the operations of the Explorer. Floating alongside the crew, even having their incredible views of mother Earth below, a constant feature of the film.
Short in length, it feels far longer than it’s running time, packed with tension from the first mention of debris heading their way. It’s actions stations and survival mode for the two survivors, it feels real as the cold hard realities of space are laid bare. For Stone she has to learn to cope with her possible death alone in space, learning to stay calm under pressure and rise to the challenge of the situation which throws up obstacles for her to get over. Whilst Kowalski (Clooney) is an easy-going guy who can crack a joke and tell the same story over and over. He’s been in space too long to be scared of it. They struggle together to survive against the odds that space throws at them.
You never know who and if they make it back to earth, through incredible twists and turns in the emptiness of space. The trailer gives only a blurred taste of what really is going to happen. Discussing the fragility of life and how to make the most of it. Whilst also lightly mentioning the field of rubbish that is in the atmosphere of Earth, created by dead satellites that fill the space above. The possible future of space missions and the added dangers not just from space but man, laid in place years before. 3D is indeed the format to view this film to its full potential, to be in space with them, and not trapped behind what the 2D presentation might present you.
- Gravity Review (By Eric) (geekculturepodcast.com)
- Gravity and Captain Phillips (yukimizumaphotography.wordpress.com)
- Gravity’s Box Office Pull (robotstoromance.wordpress.com)
- Warner Bros.’ ‘Gravity’ Repeats Atop Box Office With $44 Million (bloomberg.com)
- Fall Movie Bonanza: Gravity is a Tour de Force (themidnightdiner.wordpress.com)
- MOVIE REVIEW | Gravity (2013) (boredanddangerousblog.wordpress.com)
- Film Review: Gravity (2013) (charlieelgar.wordpress.com)
- Gravity (2013) (hariharansays.wordpress.com)
- [Mini Review] Gravity (2013) (supermarcey.com)
- Gravity (2013) (unpopcult.wordpress.com)