No, not really. There are a few references to the earlier "Home" films and to the Avengers saga, but this is really a stand-alone film.
what about the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films? I thought those were supposed to be relevant to this new film.
They are, but it's basically on the level of "these are the bad guys they fought in their alternate universes and here's what happened to them there." It's not hard to follow.
Well, I'll make to catch that film for the sake of seeing a movie at the cinema; that said one has to time it in between the Omicron rates going through the roof and cinemas being empty as schools return, not not so long before schools send the transmission rate sky high.
The Sound of Music
Along with Some Like It Hot, this classic seems to be shown only once a year, which is fine by me, you don't want overkill - something that has arguably happened to the Bond movie repeats on ITV4.
I've already mentioned the strange appropriateness of having the authority figures - Plummer, Andrews, the Nuns - all with English accents while the morally dubious but good fun friends of Captain von Trapp are American, and the kids are all American, while all would have had Austrian accents. The Nazis however! Well, they all get their German accents. Nor do they get a song. The Baroness and Max in theory are crying out for a song together along the lines of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' in High Society but it's right they don't get one, however. There's the same kind of logic we see with Family Guy, where Stewie the baby can talk with Brian the dog, and the dog can converse with everyone but Stewie can't as he's the baby, only with the dog, I mean it's mad but it obeys the rules of its own universe, time machine and all. So see Max and the Baroness in song would wreck the suspension of disbelief, it also suggests they are not morally entitled to one.
This time round I realised that Max would normally be played as a gay guy, the woman's best friend, a gossip, a laugh with a slightly naughty inconsequentially immoral side, all the lines point to that but the actor does not play him that way at all and it's only decades down the line the thought occurs that he would be the Jack in Will & Grace character, or Rupert Everett in one of his romantic comedies.
Last year, just as BBC4 recently showed A Star is Born with printed inserts in place of where scenes had been deleted, its showing of The Sound of Music reinserted lost scenes - the Alpine shootout finale at the Nazi lair happened up on by the von Trapps, where the young kids are able to show off their Ninja skills and flame-flowing abilities, and the white-haired von Trapp house keeper has a particularly nasty Irma Bunt moment. I think there must have been a furore about that - traditionally here in the UK we prefer the closing shot of the Captain leading his family across the mountains to the strains of Climb Every Mountain, but it's all a matter of taste of course.
Seeing the two prior Tom Holland films will definitely help, but there's enough of a recap at the beginning of this one to get you up to speed.
Essentially, what you need to know is the following: at the end of the prior film (SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME), Mysterio revealed to the world that Peter Parker is Spider-man. That's all that you NEED to know. If you're familiar with the three Tobey Maguire films and the two Andrew Garfield flims, your enjoyment of the new film will be noticeably more profound. That's all that I'll say in order to remain spoiler free.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
For those who don't know this is a version of Charles Dickens' famous story with Michael Caine as Scrooge and the muppets in most of the other roles. It's one of my favourite Christmas movies! Part of what makes it great is how the muppets do what they do best with songs, dance and jokes, but Caine plays everything straight as if he was on a theatre stage. "God bless us, every one!"
This is my favorite version of the story, mainly because My Cocaine is so good in it. He could have phoned it in but he instead delivers my favorite iteration of Scrooge. It's also a lively, fun romp that treats the subject matter seriously while also keeping things enjoyable.
Speaking of Caine..
MY GENERATION (2017)
Documentary about sixties swinging London narrated by Michael Caine. There’s a few old interviews of Sir Michael and some of his chums, plus contemporary off-camera chat with icons of the age such as Twiggy, David Bailey, Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney and Marianne Faithful. It doesn’t really tell you much you didn’t already know – unless, of course, you don’t know because you’ve never seen any other similar documentaries. It starts with all the drab 1950s British social class system, goes into the angry young man and woman period of the early sixties, through the mid-decade counter culture revolution and into the decline and fall, tactfully avoiding the real hedonists and not even touching on what it felt like to be an ordinary guy or gal on the street. It’s all very well Michael Caine discussing the sixties with his other successful pals, but what about the people who really lived and worked and grew up in it? That’d be a real story to tell, this one just regurgitates old stories and anecdotes we’ve already heard, dresses them up in pretty colours and adds music of the time, but not at the right times. Interesting, but not deep enough to be relevant.
Yeah. I got that out on DVD a while ago. It does sort of put the idea out that Swinging London was a small subset of London and not really anywhere else. The late 60s Carry On Camping intriguingly contradicts that notion, as our mates Sid and Bernie seek to sabotage a 'cool' festival taking place at an adjacent camping site, with the implicit assumption that the predominant working class audience would approve of our mates putting one over the fey and phoney hippy crowd, presumably fans of Strawberry Fields et al.
Caine was a bit older than that crowd... his flatmate Terence Stamp once indiscreetly suggesting in an interview much later that Caine was actually older than he made out by raising his hand a bit when his age was suggested. Which means he must be really old now. Perhaps Caine is like Dalton, it suggested in a TV Times magazine letter in the late 80s as The Living Daylights was premiered from a schoolboy contemporary of his echoing another letter that our Bond pal was more like 47 when he took over as Bond than early 40s as claimed. This point has never, ever been taken up by anyone ever since.
I recall the days when the movie premiere of a Bond movie would make the front pages of TV Times, with a programme on ITV devoted to it, with interviews with cast members. So it was with For Your Eyes Only, not sure if that happened after that. OP had a special documentary devoted to past Bond movies to crowd out the upcoming NSNA, although it was also a 21st anniversary thing.
I saw 'The Eagle Has Landed' the other day. Unfortunately tiredness meant I fell asleep at the part where Michael Caine met the American officer.
I did see an interesting film last night called 'Peanut Butter Falcon'. This is not my usual type of film but I fount it to be good and I recommend it to anyone who has not seen it before.
PEANUT BUTTER FALCON was pretty great, a real surprise. I never would have sought it out but the great reviews for it made me give it a shot and we enjoyed it a lot.
Kursk/The command (2018)
Thsi movie is about the disaster in the year 2000 when Russian submarine Kursk sank in the Barents sea. It shows what was done to save the survivors of the explosion, what their families experienced and what the survivors in the sunken submarine may have exprienced. The movie is directed by Thomas Vinterberg. The Danish director made Mads Mikkelsen known internationally in "The Hunt" and later made the excelent "Another round" with him. The main cast is European, but not Russian. Matthias Schoenaerts plays one of the men in the sunken sub. He's from Belgium and you may have seen him in movies like Red Sparrow, "A hidden life" and "The Danish girl". His wife is played by Lea Seydoux, who in my opinion delivers one of her best performances in this movie. She was pregnant while filming it and that's used in the movie. Colin Firth plays commadore David Russell, the British navy officer who organised the non-Russian efforts to save the Kursk crew. The movie was based on Russell's book. The accident happened not long after Putin became president of Russia and early scripts include him. Putin was written out of the movie, possibly to avoid the movie company becoming the target of hackers who definitely wouldn't be working for Russian secret service.
I think the movie is good and well worth being watched. The actiong is really good and Videberg tells the story well, especially the claustrophobic scenes inside the sunken submarine.
The king's man (2021)
I'm so brave I watched this movie in a cinema! 😁
This is a prequel to the Kingsman movies set before and during WWI. It's directed and co-written by Mathew Vaughn, It stars Ralphe Fiennes as the nobleman Oxford, Dijimon Hounsou, Gemma Arterton and many others. I think a period setting fits the Kingsman consept well and the Kingsman movies really needed an origin story unlike many other franchises. In some ways this is the best Kingsman movie, partly because Vaughn has toned down the gross-out humour and focuses more on story. If he tones down his overactive camera tricks this bodes well for his chances as a future Bond director. I don't know if it increases his chanses, but Vaughn is now working on a movie about a "the world's greatest spy'Argylle' as he's caught up in a globe-trotting adventure". It's intended to start a franchise and the movie even stars Henry Cavill!
This movie certainly is fun and inventive, but it occationally finds the gravitas too. But it's ironic in a movie that wants to be a pacifist movie about a pacifist the heroes constantly works to involve more countries in WWI!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The 1930s version with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara.
This is the kind of film that's never shown on telly these days - no idea why, it's brilliant. Hardly a dull moment in it, some great aerial shots of medieval Paris. Surprisingly topical too, perhaps making a point about itinerant Jews in 1930s Europe and comparing their lot with that of the Romanian gypsies depicted here, faced with barriers thrown up against their entrance into various countries. Some mixed messages about whether they're all as lovely as. young Maurueen, who plays Esmerelda, or actually a horde of thieves and vagabonds as their reputation suggests. Much comment on the fickle nature of the public, and the supposed attractions of the printing press (i.e. internet) for forming opinion, espoused by the French King who is made out to be a loveable, liberal old boy.
I recall this film being a real afternoon's entertainment on telly back in my youth, now you have to seek it out on DVD. I recommend you do so, the direction really is quite up to the mark, it's a lot more sophisticated than The Scarlet Pimpernel, shot a bit earlier and with similar settings, but dogged by slow direction sometimes and an absence of soundtrack (though
I do love that film, not least because of its three central players, Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey.)
HOT ENOUGH FOR JUNE (1964)
Following up @caractacus potts splendid review [https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/1032172#Comment_1032172] I thought I’d add my penny’s worth. I too am also visiting the movies on Mike Richardson’s list of fifty must-sees from his Guns, Girls and Gadgets. It’s a great read by the way. I had not seen Hot Enough for June for decades.
Dirk Bogarde encapsulated the English fish-out-of-water better than anyone at this period of his career. He’d played it so often in the fifties, starting with Doctor in the House, that he almost typecast himself. Luckily Joseph Losey’s brilliantly accomplished The Servant, one of the best British films of the sixties, stopped all that. Unfortunately, Bogarde still needed money, so despite reservations he teamed up again with the Doctor production team of Sidney and Betty Box and director Ralph Thomas for this slimline stroll of suspense and farce set in Eastern Europe.
Bogarde plays Nicholas Whistler, an unemployed writer handpicked by Robert Morley’s ponderous pontificator Colonel Cunliffe to be sent as a courier to Prague where he’s to collect secret stolen information. Cunliffe neglects to inform Whistler he’s a spy, preferring to let the hapless writer believe he’s landed a managerial position with an international firm of glass-blowers. Whistler’s given a huge salary (£2000, huge in 1964) plus expenses and sent to Prague with the password ‘Hot Enough for June’ and orders to exchange copies of a Czechoslovak guide book. Morley’s so off hand about it all, you almost believe him. The famous Hitchcockian McGuffin – here, secrets in guide books – obviously proves Whistler’s undoing. Not only does he know nothing about glass, he makes a fairly average spy, finding himself unable to locate his contact while not seeming to realise the situation he’s got himself involved in or its dangers. Cunliffe does; he doesn’t even expect him to come back: “There are openings all the time,” he cryptically tells his new employee.
The film is prefaced by a short scene during which John Le Mesurier deposits a bagful of personal possessions to a clerk. They all appear to be the tools of a working spy’s trade, including an automatic pistol, several passports and a shoe with a hollow heel. The clerk stores the bag and its goods in a locker marked OO7, but turns the card so it reads DECEASED. Exactly how the producers got away with this three-second snippet I’ll never know. Cubby Broccoli’s all-seeing-eye must have been temporarily blinded. In fact, the early familiarities do not end there. Whistler’s interview is in a building whose plaque reads STANDARD EXPORTS LTD – clearly a nod to Ian Fleming’s Universal Exports – and the secretary’s office is set up almost exactly like Moneypenny’s in reverse. Even the secretary shares some of Lois Maxwell’s candour. Cunliffe’s office is a bigger, brighter version of M’s, a huge desk, big windows; it’s all tremendously homely, very familiar, as if the filmmakers really are trying to rip off James Bond.
Padua stands in for Prague, but we don’t really notice. The humour, which had been light, starts to get laboured as Whistler encounters several red herrings at the glass factory. Luckily he’s aided by a sexy chauffeur, Vlasta Simenova, played with her usual slinky sensual skill by the beautiful Sylvia Koscina, who featured in several Euro-Spy thrillers of the sixties. She’s delightful here swapping comparisons between British and Soviet society with her attractive passenger. Their dinner scene jars, the farcical element once more proving a downfall. The scene starts elegantly. We’ve learnt Vlasta is an agent of the security services, but she’s ambitious and wants to entrap Whistler herself. She attempts to sit at a table which isn’t bugged – the microphone is in the floral display, a neat ruse reimagined from Fleming’s short story For Your Eyes Only and similar to the one we see in the 1981 film version – and later she pours wine on the recording system to foil her superiors. While I understand entirely what’s happening here, and the humorous intent, a little more sophistication of the kind Bond films display would elevate this scene to such a higher plain. As it stands, tipping the glass is treated as a heavy-handed comic highlight when it should be a gentle, knowing, enigmatic twinkle of fingers, eyes and lips.
Much better is Whistler’s seduction of Vlasta, or is it the other way around?, the double entendres coming fast and loose and the sex sealed with an erotic kiss through a satin curtain, the analogy clear: the wall really is being torn down. After love, Bogarde’s character says exactly that. Some discreet rear-view and hip-high nudity is eye opening for an A-certificate in 1964. The two agents make a very sexy couple.
Unfortunately, Vlasta’s father is the head of the Czech Security Service. Colonel Simenova is played by a gruff and quite excellent Leo McKern. The scenes where he succinctly puts down his subordinates contrasts delightfully with the off-hand old school tie banter of Morley and Le Mesurier. Both chiefs are dealing with incompetence. When they meet in the British Embassy, Cunliffe flying out fearing he’s lost another agent, the two actors come into their own, drinking whiskey and dismissing the plight of their underlings with the toss of an ice cube. They are not dissimilar. Even their offices both feature a map with flags to represent the locations of their agents.
Whistler’s almost arrested, but escapes with some ingenuity. With Vlasta’s assistance, he goes on the run, finally making it to the British Embassy and safety. These scenes share an equal burden of suspense and humour and the film loses its way a bit, uncertain whether to be earnest or funny, eventually occupying the middle ground and not succeeding being either. Whistler is certainly more adaptable and capable than he initially appeared, but the situations the screenwriter puts him into skew the serious espionage towards spare jollity. Getting dressed up in Tyrolese mountain britches doesn’t help. Lionel Davidson’s original novel The Night of Wenceslas was deadly serious fare and he must have been tremendously disappointed. The film ends on a pleasant note of reconciliation for all. The McGuffin has been conveniently forgotten by everyone.
I enjoyed Hot Enough for June without ever being enthralled. It’s a solid product of the era, one of the earliest Bond spoofs, along with Carry On Spying, and is most interesting for alluding to James Bond, yet making no conscious effort to impersonate him, a liberal attitude to sex excepted. It’s a traditional affair with willing performances from the four leads and might have worked better as a more traditional espionage film. The humour works best when it’s in the dialogue. As soon as Bogarde is asked to pull faces and spit out passwords while numerous Czech’s admire his travel guide, you sense the film’s out of its depth, both as comedy and as thriller.
you probably already knew more about the history of these actors than I did, but did you find having Guns, Girls and Gadgets helped you better appreciate the film?
I don't think it did. The book is heavy on location, casting and production details including some historical context and very interesting because of it. However, it lacks an overall critical eye. There is little or no attempt to offer an authorial opinion on the films. There are short sections for each facet of a film and appreciative words are used where appropriate, usually by referencing other sources. I believe Mike's been extremely careful to avoid giving an opinion on how successful or not he personally considers each film. For instance, there's no indication Mike read the novel The Night of Wenceslas on which this movie is based. If he did, he doesn't offer any extracts or insight to compare the film and book, or suggest it is good or bad adaptation. There are Trivia and Awards sections, so you can judge some of the industry reactions to each movie. It's a very balanced book but can be a bit overwhelming at times. I perhaps might have preferred to see more evidence regarding the cultural impact of these movies, and he does touch on this, but at over 700 pages, the book is more an in-depth referencing guide and not a critical analysis. For that, we can always go elsewhere.
The man who never was (1956)
Since there's a new movie about Operation Mincemeat (Operation Mincemeat - Wikipedia) I was inspired to watch the first movie about this bizzare secret operation dreamt up by Ian Fleming himself. The 1956 movie is based on a book by Captain Ewen Montagu, RNVR, the man who planned the operation. But because of dramatic reasons and details that were secret until 1998 many aspects aren't hsitorically correct. However the raw bones of the operation are correct. Particularely like the scene in the morgue where the clothes, identity papers and personal effects of the "officer" are placed on the dead body while we can hear the bombing of London above. The many made up scenes don't bother me at all because they work so well.
There's some great trivia about this movie:
I enjoyed the movie a lot and I reccomend watching it. You can find it here: The Man Who Never Was 1956 - Clifton Webb, Gloria Grahame, Stephen Boyd, Josephine Griffin - Bing video
ETERNALS (2021), one of the latest MCU films.
It's pretty good but definitely not one of the essential films to see in the Marvel Universe...at least, not yet. Maybe something will happen in the future that makes this essential but this is more or less a standalone entry.
Essentially, you've got these massive cosmic beings called Celestials. They're in charge of populating the universe and protecting all life from creatures called Deviants. Celestials will create planets and create life on these planets. When Deviants show up, they send protectors (Eternals) to these planets to guard the inhabitants from these Deviants. 7000 years ago, a group of Eternals came to Earth to protect and live with the people. They're forbidden from interfering in normal evolution except where Deviants are involved...that doesn't stop them from nudging things along, though.
Anyways, the whole Thanos situation with population being halved AND then then the return of everyone 5 years later has triggered an event called 'the Emergence' on Earth. What is it? What does it mean? Well, the Eternals find out. Part of it is the return of the Deviants (thought wiped out 400 years ago) but there are other things afoot as well. I'll stop there so as to avoid spoilers.
It's well acted and beautifully directed. The cinematography is lush with many individual shots that would make for excellent wallpapers. The special effects are solid as well, taking on kinda an arty aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye.
The only real problem is that it's simply not a lot of fun. It's a fairly serious, almost dour film. There are some laughs to be had here and there but it's otherwise going for that 'epic movie' feeling. To the film's credit, there are a lot of plot and character elements in the film that are stylistically different from the other MCU films (which is refreshing) that I won't spoil, but the tone could be perhaps a little bit lighter so as to engage with the viewer more. It's also overlong at 2.5 hours and could use an edit to fix some pacing issues.
I think it's worth seeing once.
so what did Connery do in his spare time at the height of BondMania?
The Hill, 1965
directed by Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc). This film'll give you something to shout "Attica! Attica! Attica!" about.
Connery plays tank commander Sgt Major Joe Roberts, sentenced to military prison for punching an officer and disobeying an order. He felt his men were being sent on a suicide mission, and indeed his men were all killed after a different Sgt replaced him for the mission. Now he is being punished for cowardice and insubordination.
The prison is said to be in the Libyan desert, but the location is actually in the south of Spain, similar enough climate. The prisoners are forced to exercise in the extreme heat all day long, to crush their spirit and teach them discipline. For punishment, a manmade hill has been built in the middle of the yard which prisoners must run up and over again and again until they drop, then roused by a bucketful of water and forced to continue. The film opens with a spectacular long helicopter shot showing a prisoner collapse on the hill, then pulling out to reveal the prison yard and the hundreds of prisoners exercising as the various characters are introduced.
The thing is, from what I'm reading, Lumet was forcing his actors in real life to endure much the same extreme physical punishment as the fictional authorities were inflicting on the prisoners within the film.
Fifteen minutes in, after establishing the situation, new prisoner Connery arrives and is singled out for particular humiliation because of the nature of his crime. His cellmates are drunkards and scrappers and thieves, he's the only one who's challenged the command structure. His cellmates suffer alongside him merely by the chance of proximity, and initially resent him for it.
The same day Connery arrives, a new guard also arrives, played by Ian Hendy (Dr Keel from the first season of The Avengers), and is put in charge of Connery and his cellmates. A real bastard, he drives the weakest cellmate to his death, and this is where the general prison population begin to turn against their guards.
Best performance is from Ossie Davis, the one black prisoner in the cell, who endures racist abuse from both guards and cellmates until he strips off his uniform and declares he is henceforth a civilian and the military have no right to speak to him.
The ending is left to our imaginations in the middle of what should be a conventionally moral resolution, as defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory, yet it all seems inevitable in this sadistic and claustrophobic world. The chance of a happy ending was an illusion, safer not to hope.
This is an incredible escape from typecasting for Connery. Instead of enjoying a glamourous life carrying out missions on behalf of Her Majesty's Secret Service, here he is a career soldier declaring these rules and discipline should have gone out with Queen Victoria, challenging the official authorities and inciting mob riot. He brings his usual alpha male presence yet employs it for anti-authoritarian subversion. And he skipped the Goldfinger premiere to make this film!
The look of this film is about as far from a BondFilm as you could get. There is not a note of music, and dialog is often muffled by the ambient noise of the hundreds of prisoners continuously exercising in the background. Film is in black and white, with extreme unflattering close ups of the characters, drenched in sweat and covered in flies. And though the location is very large, as explored in the opening shot, it is essentially a one set play.
@caractacus potts You can read my review of The Hill here. It's a great movie. https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/1009586#Comment_1009586
thanks for pointing out your own review @chrisno1
I seem to recall when we were discussing Fathom you said your folks had a home in the south of Spain. This film was shot in an old fort in Málaga, did you ever have a chance to visit the real life location?
There are dozens of old forts in Malaga province. I don't think it was filmed at one of three in Malaga city itself. If I have been there, I didn't realise it. I have a feeling it might be the interiors which were filmed in the fort. The exterior set was built in Capo de Gato, I believe. It's now a national park.
THE HILL was very good indeed.
I saw ETERNALS last night, and my view is the polar opposite of Gymkata's. I thought it was terrible--an absolute mess. The characters are paper-thin, their powers are all things we've seen in other and better characters (one character is even called "Superman" at one point, and it's easy to see why), and the casting seemed to be to just check off boxes. It was also hard to figure out what the hell is going on--the movie bounces back in forth in time to explain how this group got together and how they broke up and why they need to get back together and who killed who, blah, blah, blah. I agree with Gymkata about the lack of fun part. . .it takes its own mythology with deep seriousness (um, the last Spider-Man movie was so good because it had fun with everything) and it goes on for more than two and a half hours. "Eternal" seems to describe the time I spent in front of the TV.
Bound to be good. I’m in it. Three times
We have a movie star among us! 😄
How nice for you, ASP9mm. The movie and your performance wasn't stoopid at all!
How did you get in the movie?
Did you get to stalk any of the other stars?
Just dropping in to point out what fans of The Hill already know - that one of its stars if Roy Kinnear, dad of Rory 'Bill Tanner' Kinnear.