RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK (1966)
I’ve been on a bit of a Hammer trip recently simply because a load of them have turned up on the BritBox streaming service.
I saw this many years ago and didn’t think a great deal if it, and once again my thoughts are as before, an excellent performance from Christopher Lee, as usual, but a rather chaotic film which descends into hysterical parody. It’s a mainly fictionalised version of the infamous Russian mystic who integrates into the Romanov court.
Would Christopher Lee have been able to make this film today, or would the actor have to be Russian to avoid cultural appropriation?
@caractacus potts - Thanks, somehow it had escaped my notice that Niagara is the Monroe film featured on the billboard outside Krilencu's gaff in FRWL. When last I read that novel I hadn't yet heard of the movie Niagara, so it didn't really lodge itself in my memory.
here's the passage from the book
They walked on down the boulevard, keeping close to the wall. After ten minutes, they came in sight of the twenty-foot-high hoarding that formed a facing wall to the T intersection at the bottom of the street. The moon was behind the hoarding and its face in the shadow.
Bond rested his forearm against the door jamb and raised the tube to his right eye. He focused it on the patch of black shadow opposite. Slowly the black dissolved into grey. The outline of a huge woman's face and some lettering appeared. Now Bond could read the lettering. It said: NIYAGARA. MARILYN MONROE VE JOSEPH COTTEN and underneath, the cartoon feature, BONZO FUTBOLOU. Bond inched the glass down the vast pile of Marilyn Monroe's hair, and the cliff of forehead, and down the two feet of nose to the cavernous nostrils. A faint square showed in the poster. It ran from below the nose into the great alluring curve of the lips. It was about three feet deep. From it, there would be a longish drop to the ground.
Out of the mouth of the huge, shadowed poster, between the great violet lips, half open in ecstasy, the dark shape of a man emerged and hung down like a worm from the mouth of a corpse.
In the movie, the poster is replaced by one for Call Me Bwana, a recent film starring Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg, a bit of cross-promotion for another EON product. I doubt many recall Call Me Bwana today aside from that billboard in FRwL!
I tried to do a google search for the poster Fleming is describing. None of the results really fit, because the actual posters are rightfully highlighting Monroe's magnificent hourglass bod, not stopping short at her lips. But its also specifically a Turkish language poster, so may be an original design unique to that market (it also names the accompanying cartoon). I wonder if Fleming actually saw such a poster when he was in Istanbul attending the Interpol conference in 1955 (the real life experience that inspired the book)? or could be entirely out of his own imagination
Gene Kelly was in An American in Paris. I believe The Red Shoes was the top US box office hit of 1948. It also got a best picture nomination and lost out to Olivier's Hamlet. A good year for British movies.
MAD MAX 2/THE ROAD WARRIOR
This just got released on 4K for the first time (along with MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME).
Of note: the picture quality on this blu ray is absolutely astonishing. If you're wanting to see this film in the best possible presentation, this is the way to go. There are issue with the audio, unfortunately. They remixed the audio and removed/added things to 'punch it up'...sometimes the changes are good, sometimes they aren't. It's definitely LOUDER and more aggressive but a lot of the subtlety of the original audio is lacking. Anyways, the disc was supposed to include the original theatrical mix but doesn't, something that I think WB is addressing (as of this writing, the blu ray is being pulled from a lot of markets)
Anyways...my wife has seen FURY ROAD and liked it. It's not her bag so her even 'liking' it is an absolute win. I threw in THE ROAD WARRIOR to check it out and my wife walked in during the initial action sequence. Her big question was 'how were people not killed making that?' I told her she'd seen nothing yet. So...I started the movie over again so that she could see the prologue and we watched the whole thing.
There's just something about seeing actual cars crunching under the supervision of crazy Aussie stuntmen that is hypnotizing. I think FURY ROAD is a more polished film overall but it lacks the visceral thrill of seeing crazy stuntmen hurling themselves with abandon around the screen. When that one guy does the end over end flip...
...I thought my wife was going to jump out of her chair. How that man was not killed is beyond me.
Anyways...GREAT movie. It'd been a while since my last viewing and I had a blast watching it again. The new 4K video presentation is absolutely STUNNING. I buzzed THUNDERDOME and it looks equally amazing.
This thread may be of interest- Your favourites from Hammer Films — ajb007
Edit: I haven't read through the whole thing to see if you know about it or not, please forgive me if you do.
Thanks, Barbel. I did know about this thread, I posted a comment about the OnThe Buses trilogy 🥺
I love most of the Hammer output and revisiting them from time to time is always a joy.
I've seen it before but I watched The Man Who Would Be King yesterday. It has become one of my favourite films starring two of my favourite film stars, Sean Connery and Michael Caine. I'm sure everyone here has also seen it it but if not, then you must. You will not be disappointed.
I didn't know that the part of Roxanne, the woman who Sean Connery's character tried to marry, was Michael Caine's real life wife.
Before The Man Who Would Be King was The Billion Dollar Brain. I'm afraid I am not a fan of the Harry Palmer films. I have seen The Ipcress File but the others do not entertain me enough to watch all way through.
Hot Enough for June, 1964
starring Dirk Bogarde, Sylva Koscina, Robert Morley, Leo McKern, and Roger Delgado
I'm using the handy list of fifty 60s Spyfilms from Mikey Richardson's Guns, Girls and Gadgets: Sixties Spy Films Uncovered to find new films to watch. This is only the first nonBondFilm on his list and I've never heard of it. So obviously I still have much to learn!
This is a variation on the Innocent Recruited type plot, with Bogarde as an out of work writer sent by the Employment Office for an unwanted job interview with Robert Morley, who represents himself as a glass merchant with business dealings in Czechoslovakia. He sends Bogarde to Prague with nothing but a tourguide and a password, on pretext of a business meeting, without informing him he is now a spy and will be returning with Top Secret documents. Everybody in Prague knows Bogarde is a spy except for Bogarde.
Bogarde is assigned a driver, played by Koscina. I know Koscina from Deadlier Than the Male (1967) where she stole the film in a double act with Elke Sommer. She's mighty good here too, an icy Communist who is secretly sexy. The two characters quickly grow intimate, but she fails to tell Bogarde she is the daughter of the local Secret Police chief (McKern). There is a scene involving a gauze curtain that I think may be the sexiest Cold War kiss ever.
After a variety of farcelike misunderstandings, Bogarde finally twigs as to what he has to do and meets with his contact: a men's room attendant with whom he has to make awkward conversation in order to give the password, giving the secretive spywork an additional incriminating twist. Once he finally has the Secret Document, Bogarde must now make his way to the British embassy, just across the street, but is hampered by the fact he was the last one to know what his job is and the Embassy entrance is blockaded by local Secret Police types. Some good Hitchcockian suspense here as we watch him try to solve that problem.
I usually avoid subjective value judgements in these Film reports of mine, but I will say that this is a quality production, in contrast to a lot of the SpySpoofs that would follow. This is a variation on the typical Hitchcock spy thriller with an additional dose of farce, rather than a reaction to the first two Bond films. But... before Bogarde is introduced, we see a new recruit is needed is to replace an actual agent who had been killed just before the Secret Document was to be handed over, and we see the dead agent's file being closed, and the file number reads... 007!
HOME SWEET HOME ALONE (2021)
Another rehash of Home Alone. This is so listless it defies description, Truly, one of the worst films I have ever seen.
Last night I watched THE PROTEGE. That guy, Martin Campbell, can put together a dandy action film. This one has terrific fight scenes, good performances by a largely veteran cast--Michael Keaton gets to show that when he dons Batman's cowl again he won't need a walker, and Maggie Q finally gets a good starring role--and a good sense of humor. It's nothing we haven't really seen before, but that's OK. Campbell has shown himself to be pretty good at introducing new actors to play Bond. . .and I think there could be a job opening for him soon. . .
I felt like THE PROTEGE was one big action scene short of being 'great'. Other than that, it's a very well made film with a predictable yet engaging plot, well acted characters, and a great overall look. It's fun to watch a film like this by a director who actually knows how to compose a dang shot.
I really, really enjoyed this. It's not as funny as the '84 original but it has a lot of good intentioned heart to it. Most importantly, it FEELS like a successor to the original film in terms of look, feel, pacing, and overall tone. The film doesn't follow current editing trends and instead apes the 80s pacing style, making for a very smooth transition between both films if you were to watch them back to back. Another smart choice was to utilize the original Elmer Bernstein score in the new film as much as possible, giving everything a very similar tone. The special effects have been updated but not to the 'perfect' degree that is possible today. It's not a jarring upgrade from the original film, another smart decision.
As to the plot, it's kinda a mashup between the '84 film and something like STRANGER THINGS. Where the first film skewed a bit more adult in terms of its comedy, this one skews younger due to the fact that you're mainly following kids. This didn't bother me because the kids are incredibly well cast. McKenna Grace, who plays Phoebe, is the breakout star of the kids. She was also in THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE where she was also excellent. She's going to be a huge star after this ala Chloe Grace Moretz.
I'll stay spoiler free on the plot but, essentially, Egon (Harold Ramis) took off from New York with all of the GB gear about 20 years or so ago. He went to the middle of Oklahoma and became knows as the crazy dirt farmer. His estranged daughter and her kids inherit the house and, because they're in dire financial straits, the move out to this farm to try and figure out their next steps in life. The kids uncover the old GB equipment and discover the reasons why their grandfather came out here. The rest I'll leave for you to find out.
This is more or less a direct sequel to the original GB film. The '89 sequel and its events are not referenced and it's not clear if that film is considered to be canon or not. The 2016 GB is ignored completely. If you've seen the '84 film, you've seen all that you need to see to enjoy this. If you've never seen it or it's not all that fresh in your memory, don't worry...this film plays fine on its own.
Stick around during the credits. There's a fantastic MUST SEE mid credits scene that absolutely brought down the house in my movie theater. There's also a great end credits scene that sets up a potential sequel.
...Egon (Harold Ramis) took off from New York with all of the GB gear about 20 years or so ago. He went to the middle of Oklahoma and became knows as the crazy dirt farmer...
did they somehow include "new" footage of Harold Ramis in the film? he must have past away nearly a decade ago...
Not sure how to hide spoilers...
So..be warned that HERE BE SPOILERS in the next paragraph.
Yes, they have an 'old' Harold Ramis in this, appearing as a ghost. Per the credits, actor Bob Gunton plays him with CGI making his face look like Harold's. It's a very, very well done effect and very convincing. Young Harold also appears in the post credits scene utilizing deleted footage from either the '84 film or the '89 sequel. This is presumably to help set up a potential sequel.
I'll add this regarding GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE:
This is nostalgia done right, in my opinion. This was made by Jason Reitman in an effort to recapture the overall vibe of the original film and he's largely successful. The film works as both a sequel and a reboot, creating new and appealing characters to carry things forward while also giving the original characters their due. To that end, I think that this film is more successful in moving forward than something like STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS was.
Not a film but I've just finished watching the series 'Chernobyl' on DVD. It is the best thing I have seen for a long time. I'm sure everyone here has already seen it but I cannot recommend it enough if you have not.
CHERNOBYL is one of the finest things I've seen on HBO. Uniformly excellent in every way, shape, and form.
Portrait of a lady on fire (2019)
What is it with the French and lesbian love stories on film? This one has recieved very good reviews and I can see why. The story takes place in Bretagne late in the 18th century. The artist Marianne is called to the island by a woman to paint her daughter Héloise. The painting is to be sent to her future husband in Italy. The problem is Héloise refuses to sit for the painting, the only way she can protest against an arranged marriage. Because of this Marianne has to pretend to be a servant who follows Héloise on her walks on the shore to secretly study her for the painting. An emotional relationship develops. Unlike "Blue is the warmest colour" (starring Lea Seydoux) this movie doesn't use the male gaze (translation: we don't get scenes of hot scenes of sapphic sex).
Only late in the movie did I discover two things: There's no film score, only source music. Of cource this makes all the music important and impactful. Second, only one man delivers one line. All the other speaking roles are female. The reverse of most war movies in other words.
The movie is beautifully shot, every scene is like a painting. The acting is also very good. Interestingly the director Celline Sciamma had a romantic relationship with Adele Haenel (Héloise). There are many themes to look for such as fire (obviously), water, the role of the muse and the old Orpheus and Euredice.
I concur. One thing about it is that - and I belatedly picked up on this - is that it's really an allegory for modern times. I mean, it's a comment on what's happening now re the cover up of everything. One character says, it doesn't matter what you say, they just deny it. This can be read as comment on Putin today - like Bond's rueful comment in GoldenEye along the lines of how regimes change but the lies remain the same - but also on, well, the UK as some of us unlucky enough have found out.
The writers seem to be using this event in recent history to pass comment on our rulers today.
The Father (2020)
Antony Hopkins plays a man named Antony who's increasingly suffers from dementia. This is possibly the best acting I've seen Hopkins do, and that's dating something! He swings from charm to confusion to paranoia to anger and on to fear just like dementia patients can do. His daughter Anne (Olivia Coleman) tries to take care of him, but it's hard for her. Antony's increasing confusion is often shown from his point of view. The director uses techniques such as time jumps, repeated scenes, imaginary scenes, even an actor playing different roles or actors sharing a role. But also small things like paintings changing places or subtly changing colours. The movie is very well written and directed, full of great acting performances and very moving. No wonder it won several of the most Presthus awards.
Watched the excellent The Day of the Jackal again. First and foremost, the look of the film, the shots of early 70s Paris (okay, depicting early 60s Paris) are just superb, it almost conjure up soft porn magazines of the era and I think you'll agree there is no higher praise. The cinematography is by Jean Tourraine who also lensed Moonraker so wonderfully, it just has a look about it. Of course, Michel Lonsdale who plays the detective trying to track down the Jackal assassin before he gets to De Gaulle went on to play Drax in the Bond film.
The film is so good, so agreeable that I do tend to pick up on its flaws as they re so few. It seems they try to make Lonsdale seem older by giving him white hair at the sides and his quiff, but it doesn't really convince and isn't consistent. A minor gripe. Edward Fox is excellent as the Jackal - and doesn't he have big hair - but frankly with said big hair, good looks, posh manner, slight build and cravat, he must be the most conspicuous looking assassin in the Western world. The idea that the assembled French Cabinet don't realise that Bastille Day is due, and the event De Gaulle cannot or will not duck out of, until two days before, is frankly preposterous. It disappoints because the rest of the film is so convincing, employing a strange almost documentary style throughout.
It also seems to feature a every British supporting actor in the early 70s, everyone from Timothy West to Terence Alexander to Derek Jacobi... What is odd is that some of these play French characters but with no discernible attempt at any accent, while others do attempt the accent and do quite well. Nonetheless, it all meshes quite well. We see much the same in Secret Army, now being reshown on Talking Pictures TV, some try to be French and German, others don't bother.
Definitely a good one. I even liked THE JACKAL (Gere and Willis) from the 90s even though it's definitely not in the same league as the original.