The live action film is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the animated film for the first two acts. The third act goes off somewhere else.
Case in point:
Interesting - and that final act is the worst bit of the 2017 version, so clearly someone didn't do their homework before penning the script. Perhaps I should look this manga version up.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
I rewatched Hitchcock's classic chase thriller for the umpteenth time after purchasing a blu-ray set containing 3 of Hitchcock's 1950s thrillers - Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder and North by Northwest.
This is always an enjoyable film to revisit, with many memorable sequences, my favourite is always the cropduster scene, including the 5 minutes or so of suspenseful build up as Cary Grant waits by the roadside. One thing that stood out to me even more than on previous viewings was how memorable Bernard Herrmann's score is, in particular the main theme and some of the secondary action/suspense themes as well. From an acting standpoint, I always find James Mason's main villain character Vandamm really memorable. The only negative is I do think the film goes on a little bit too long, but despite that it is still a 5 star movie in my opinion.
I'm looking forward to revisiting Strangers on a Train and Dial M for Murder in the near future.
I haven't seen it, but Lea Seydoux has made a re-make of the erotic classic Emanuelle. No, I didn't dream it up: Emmanuelle: Lea Seydoux to Lead New Adaptation of Erotic Novel – The Hollywood Reporter
I caught this at the B.F.I. recently. It's taken me a while to write the review.
Mike Hodges’ sparingly, muddily, incandescently photographed Pulp [deliberately sparingly, muddily, incandescently photographed] is a fascinating black comedy thriller concerned with mistruth and corruption. Michael Caine plays pulp fiction writer Mickey King, who has abandoned his wife and family, choosing instead a disparate existence in southern Italy. His pseudonymous novels have wonderfully tacky titles like My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder. They are a mixture of violence and sex and cut from a cloth cruder even than Mickey Spillane, who was clearly the inference. We hear snippets narrated over the action, firstly during the credits, as the members of a young typing pool become steadily aroused by the bloodletting and sudden amore. The effeminate manager is as carried away with the revelatory stories as his employees and propositions Mickey King with a delightfully disdainful air; it’s okay for the boss to play, not so his staff.
Mickey King prefers the secretary of his agent, who he seduces in a toilet. She seems to prefer anybody but her own boss. Meanwhile, Lionel Stander’s Ben Dinucci wants King to pen the biography of his own employer, but won’t explain who it is. He waves a huge sum of dollars while potting snooker balls in a fusty old working man’s club, the players disturbed by the political rally outside. It appears the neo-fascist Frank Cippola, a respectable modern Count, monied, well-married, incorruptible is due for re-election. His American wife takes no chances, creating extravagant, unnecessary canvases for his supporters to wave. Unnecessary because there appears to be no opposition.
King accepts the commission and is asked to join a coach trip where he will be contacted, a trip which turns from the bored to the bizarre to the deadly and back again. The contact, who accidentally occupies King’s room, is murdered; the body and all trace of its demise disappears before King has a chance to uncover why a transvestite college lecturer is pursuing him. Instead he’s distracted by Nadia Cassini’s Liz Adams, and who wouldn’t be with a figure as beautiful as hers? [The female film student sitting next to me whispered to her friend: ‘Magnificent legs.’ I concur.] Liz is the play thing of Preston Gilbert, a once famous movie star whose life story King has been asked to write. The mysterious wandering route to reach Gilbert’s private island has its purpose, but no one will tell Mickey King what it is. After several weeks of interviews and nights of illicit love with Liz, King derides Gilbert over his self-indulgent life and accidentally uncovers another story, one of rape and murder.
Michael Caine is simply superb as Mickey King, displaying all the insecurity and indignation of a writer still uncertain of his worth. He’s so self-effacing as to be almost unrecognisable. His movements are slow, his actions ordinary, studious, non-confrontational. He watches everybody, observes, makes no comment until spoken to, never takes the initiative until it is forced upon him. It’s hard to know who’s being manipulated, him or Preston Gilbert. Caine’s performance is as far away from the driven, violent, obsessive Jack Carter, a role he inhabited so brilliantly in the previous year’s Get Carter, from the same director and producer. Indeed, Hodges, Caine and Michael Klinger got on so well they formed a production company The Three Michaels specifically for this movie.
Caine is given wonderful support by newcomer Nadia Cassini, who slinks about in hot pants, making home movies and seducing whoever she desires, and returning American veteran Lizbeth Scott, who plays the politician Cippola’s bitchy scheming wife. Stander as ever is a garrulous delight, whether playing sober or drunk, lucid or unintelligible. The scene where he drowns his sorrows in a swimming pool is a master class of how to play a buffoon: completely straight. The humour comes from the script, not the act.
Best of all is Mickey Rooney as Hollywood ex-star Preston Gilbert, a man in love with his own career and his mother, so much so he has returned to live out his retirement in a castle with her. His tomb has already been built, a homage to his movie career, the film roles emblazoned across the stained glass. He has multiple mirrors in his dressing room so as never to leave a hair out of place or a suit unpressed. He prepares for dinner as if auditioning for a big movie part. He treats all his employees as thankless subordinates. He has the energy and patter of a man half his age and twice his size, yet we sense all is not well with a man who lives his fantasies in the Roaring Twenties, right down to the big band music he plays on an old phonograph.
Hodge’s witty script barely puts a word wrong. It is at once intriguing and humorous. By not taking itself too seriously, we understand the institutions of fame and fortune, how they are mythologised, destroyed and maintained, how striving for fame doesn’t always bring reward, socially, emotionally, financially. Above all, there is no sense of law and order. Terrible things happen to people and life carries on. The labyrinthine plot skirts across almost too many subjects and eventually decides that injustice for the weak is its homily. The dialogue crackles with subversive, knowing glee, poking fun at those same institutions: politics, the church, fame, money.
“It’s best to sit down when you meet him,” is one of the great lines and when Caine / King forgets, Rooney’s reaction is a mixture of impatience and resigned acceptance. The social faux pas keep happening from every angle. Dinners are awkward. Drinks are slow, often unfinished. Conversations are difficult, a series of riddles and half-truths which neither the characters nor the audience can quite understand. Even a soothsayer, who styles himself Del Duce, can’t have a normal discussion, so intent his he on keeping secrets. As King’s frustrations grow, the cat’s cradle of lies he’s walked into starts to unravel. The snap and thud of cue balls on the billiard table becomes the echo of gunshots.
Someone has heard of Gilbert’s desire to write his life history. Someone wants it buried. Or Gilbert buried. Or Mickey King buried. The question is why? Dennis Price’s peculiar English tourist quotes Shakespeare. King prefers pulp fiction. The ending has elements of both. As the heat swells and time begins to run out for Mickey King, he unearths a tragic mystery: a long buried body, a young girl, a shooting party, a night of debauchery. The protagonists have been in his sights all along, the killer on his heels from the off, the ring leader sat at his own table.
Like Jack Carter, Mickey King uncovers the culprit on a beach. Also like Carter it’s too late for all the victims. King at least manages to escape alive. Recovering from a gunshot wound, he’s left quoting his own thriller and cursing the monied aristocracy. “I’ll get you, you bastards,” cries Mickey King, but he’s accepting hospitality from the same fascists he’s just chased down. Justice is buried, not Mickey King. As he continues to read, everyone abandons him on the terrace and the boars are still being hunted by the aristocracy, just like the teenage girls twenty years before, hunted to their ruin.
X THE UNKNOWN (1956)
Or “Quatermass 1.5”. After the success of “The Quatermass Xperiment” (1955) Hammer Studios were keen to produce a sequel and there was one obvious choice sitting there waiting. “The Quatermass Xperiment” was based on a similarly titled BBC series “The Quatermass Experiment”- the spelling was changed to emphasise the then topical “X” (adults only) certificate- and it was followed by “Quatermass II”.
The author of all this, Nigel Kneale, hadn’t been pleased with what Hammer had done with his work (long story) and initially refused permission for them to film the sequel (eventually that happened though- another long story). In the meantime Hammer went ahead with their own take on a sequel, written by their in-house Jimmy Sangster, and just changed the names.
This film was the result, with Dr Adam Royston (who might as well have had a sign on his chest saying “I’m not Quatermass, definitely not”) aiding the military against a radioactive creature which keeps getting larger. He’s played by Oscar winner Dean Jagger, as Hammer continued their policy of importing American actors to play the lead in hope of getting their movies distributed in the US. Jagger underplays to the point of disappearing into the background- more interesting is that with this movie being made at the height of McCarthyism his objections to director Joe Losey resulted in Losey being replaced with Leslie Norman.
The film is well made, especially when the tiny budget normal for Hammer is remembered, and carries a few genuinely chilling moments. It’s very acceptable as a Quatermass substitute (quasi Quatermass?).
Playing some of the army guys are young British actors who would become better known later- including Kenneth Cope (“Randall & Hopkirk- Deceased”), Fraser Hines (a Dr Who sidekick), and Anthony Newley.
CARLITO'S WAY (1993)
A Brian De Palma crime thriller about a Puerto Rican criminal who is released from prison after his lawyers exploits a procedural technicality to cut his 30 year sentence short. The film opens with Al Pacino, the lead character, being taken to hospital after evidently being shot. The film then goes back in time to his release from prison, and Carlito being resolved to go clean. As a result the film has a nagging sense of doom as the inevitable moment of Carlito being wounded nears.
This was a film that took a while for me to really get into. I was about halfway through the film before I started to really feel invested in the story. The film then culminates in an absolutely gripping chase, in which Pacino is pursued through New York, and on a train to Grand Central station. This chase truly had me on the edge of my seat, and if I had any feelings of indifference towards the film earlier on they certainly were well and truly gone by that stage. The bit on the train reminded me a little of the Paris Metro chase in Le Samourai. Excellent stuff!
Some good performances by quite a large ensemble cast. Sean Penn was a standout as the slimy lawyer Kleinfeld. Pacino looks a lot younger than he looked in The Godfather Part III a few years earlier. James Rebhorn was also quite memorable as the district attorney, as was Viggo Mortensen in a small role.
I'll read ChrisNo1's Pulp review - it's an odd film in that it's well known, but hardly ever on telly.
Crazy Rich Asians
Caught this on telly at the weekend, it's shown again this week at 9ish one night. This four-year-old movie is great fun, essentially a sort of Pride and Prejudice except the couple are already up and running, rather it's the culture clash of the basic American Chinese gal who finds her boyfriend belongs to a rich and illustrious family 'back home' - this appears to be Singapore. Anyway, we are rooting for her as she has to be on her best behaviour and impress, and her prospective mother in law is 'our own' Michelle Yeoh who is in the big current release out of course. She's great as a cow in this.
Love interest Henry Golding impresses me as a potential James Bond though born in Malaysia. It all fits, he has a bit of the young James Mason about him and you warm to him. He hasn't done masses since though he's about to appear in some Assassins film which looks promising. Maybe not much range to his style...
The move is great fun and moves fast, some sumptuous locations and settings in it. Funny, too.
Another not too recent film, this time with Shia LeBouf as a slacker who finds himself framed when his apartment is chocabloc with explosives, framing him as a terrorist. It becomes a sort of on-the-run movie - the Radio Times critic said it was Hitchcockian and I'm not sure it is, until you remember The Man Who Knew Too Much, I guess. It references other, more recent films but if I listed them you'd guess the premise right way and some of the fun is in spotting them.
The movie moves fast as the protagonist finds himself taking instructions over the phone, in fact there are two protagonists and a few investigators on the trail too. I found it really too preposterous to take on board - and I like my conspiracy thrillers - but I stuck with it all the way anyhow. Like a lot of modern movies there's a sense that it's done in shorthand, you're not expected to quite believe it or have the dots joined for you.
Operation Mincemeat (2021)
A true story, although I understand the love triangle aspects have been added in.
At the height of WWII, the British come up with the idea of planting fake papers on a body to be found in the sea. These papers will imply that there will be a huge Allied surge through Greece, while the actual advance will be through Sicily. If the Germans believe this, they will move their forces to Greece leaving Sicily relatively undefended.
Part of the plan, indeed partially behind it, is none other than Ian Fleming, played by a Johnny Flynn. There's a few Bond references and one good joke, though to a Bond nerd like me not an accurate one.
Solid film, excellent performances.
I enjoyed Operation Mincemeat too. Nicely produced film and good performances from the cast. I thought Johnny Flynn was excellent and would love to see him in a proper Ian Fleming biopic.
Yep, we liked OPERATION MINCEMEAT as well. Very solid and well acted film.
There's an earlier version of the same story called "The Man Who Never Was" (1956) based on a book by Ewen Montagu (played by Colin Firth in the recent film), which I wouldn't mind seeing. Apparently it was limited in what it could reveal (Sorry old man. Section 26, paragraph 5. Need to know. Sure you understand) but I'd like to see it for comparison.
This movie was directed by the great John Ford and stars Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. So why isn't it more famous? The movie is about Victor (Gable) who has a hunting company in Kenya, but he mostly traps animals for sale instead of killing them. Kelly (Gardner) is a brash American who arrives at his camp so late she has already missed the people she intended to go on safari with. Later Linda (Kelly) and Donald (Donald Sinden) arrive. They're a rich couple who are there so Donald can film and tape gorillas. Of course both women fall for Victor. This mirrors real life where Gable had affairs with both actresses. All three got a lot of heavy drinking done too. The leads have plenty of old-fashioned starpower and the two actresses must be among the most beautiful women ever put on screen.
Mogambo is from the very tail end of the colonial era and it feels like a "colonial" movie in spite of being an American movie. This shows in the credits where a list of colonial administrations are thanked. It doesn't feel particularely racist to me. The native population are extras or have small roles at best, and grown men are called "boy". Not good, but I belive it reflects real life at the time. I prefer it to current movies where a black man can be a police commisoner in 16th century France and a Chinese woman a lady-in-wating for queen Elizabeth I. Largely the natives are largely portrayed with respect and often in a positive light. The scenes of them in the beautiful landscape look magnificent. The scenes showing how wild and dangerous animals were captured at that time are both interesting and exciting. Many of the scenes are shot on set, and some scenes are obviously the actors reacting to footage of African wildlife. But the stars really filmed in Africa and some of the best scenes are of them interacting with real animals. Especially Gardner was game and a scene where a leopard visits her tent is a standout. The director even got the idea after it happened to Ava Gardner in real life!
The reason why the movie isn't better known may because it belongs to a time that was ending fast and may have felt backward even then? The plot is okay, but no tespecially new or engaging. The movie is fine for watching true Hollywood stars in a exotic setting, but it's not a great cinematic experience. Most movies aren't.
Mogambo 1953 - Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly - Bing video
It's possibly not better known because it's a remake. The earlier film was called "Red Dust"and also starred Clark Gable.
It's also a better film. Shorter by half an hour. Jean Harlow plays what would become the Ava Gardner role, but is quite obviously playing a prostitute. The movie is set in the more tetchy, sweaty and less exotic climate of Indo-China and a rubber plantation. It's a seedy, nasty, gorgeously, trashily erotic pre-code piece of decadent fluff.
OK, hear me out on this one. It's a bit outside of the regular swimlanes that I've seen in here but I want to promote a movie that I just watched last night called RRR. It's an Indian film that is, reportedly, the most expensive Indian film ever made. It was a massive hit in India (I think it's the #2 or #3 film of all time over there) and in other places in the world too. It played at my local AMC theater here on two screens, one in Hindi and the other in Telugu. It was a big draw and I considered seeing it due to the great reviews but never pulled the trigger on actually going.
If you're in the USA, it's now on Netflix.
I'm not really big on Indian cinema...I've tried a few times and just never gotten into the whole Bollywood vibe. I also don't particularly care for musicals so the random obligatory dance numbers that plague these films put me right off.
NONE of my Indian cinema issues were a factor here. This is quite simply one of the most fun and engaging films that I've seen in a long time. Here's the Netflix trailer for it:
and here's the trailer that came out earlier this year for it, showing more of the movie:
You may look at those trailers and think 'this looks goofy and stupid.' I was definitely on the fence as well. It was really only the extremely positive word of mouth and made me pull the trigger on it. Honestly, the film is much more compelling and earnest than those trailers let on, delivering a pretty epic film with a great story and tremendous visuals.
The premise: It's set in India while still under British rule. A village girl is taken by some British nobility. The protector of this village (the one fighting the tiger in that second trailer) sets out to get her back. Meanwhile, an Indian policeman pretty much single-handedly holds off a mob in an attack in another city (the fence scene). He expects to get promoted but gets passed over in favor of some white men.
In the city of Delhi, the British forces learn that the protector has come to get the girl. Nobody knows what he looks like, though. A bounty is put on capturing him, a bounty which the Indian cop policeman from earlier accepts, seeing this as a means to promotion.
Events transpire where a train accident threatens the life of a child. Both the policeman and the protector are there. Both being men of action, they team up to save the child and bond as friends, unaware of who the other person is. Events transpire from there.
This is one of my favorite films of 2022 so far. Give it a try.
Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts
Superb documentary by the late Roger Michell, who almost directed Quantum of Solace before he pulled out, released to chime with the monarch's platinum jubilee.
It's worth catching at the cinema if you can, because this is as much about popular culture and the last 70 years as it is about Her Majesty. Using rare and vintage footage, it carries a real impact on the big screen. It covers the mystery of the monarch's particular appeal and how her 'subjects' react upon meeting her; the 'parts' in the title refer to the chapter headings in the documentary, it isn't a chronological 'and then this happened' account.
Another reason it's worth seeing on the big screen is that you have little clips of big blockbuster movies to illustrate a point, such as Disney's Peter Pan. There is also one of those wonderful soundtracks that - along with the clever editing - get one all stirred up emotionally. I admit part of the movie had me in a bad mood, imagining the brush off I'd give if I had the chance to meet her, but as one British comedian admits, how you find her on the day may have you reacting not how you anticipated.
My mood was also soured by the big screen sight of my local MP Chris Grayling - who let us down so badly over my mother's time in a local care home and Surrey Social Services - appearing alongside then Prime Minister David Cameron paying tribute to Her Majesty in the Commons.
It's available on Amazon Prime now but again, I'd advise a cinema trip - sadly my local is not showing it next week as Her Majesty's compere Tom Cruise has the cinema block booked for his long-awaited release.
As if a snub to the producers for their handling of his would-be Bond film (the account is nicely conveyed in the book Some Kind of Hero) there is zero reference to Her Majesty's Secret Servant, not shot of her meeting Connery or Moore in a red carpet line-up, nor of Lazenby's Bond toasting Her Maj's portrait, though I can't say the film suffers for it.
I haven’t seen the new version but The Man Who Never Was is an excellent movie and well worth watching.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK
It's great. GREAT. I'd argue it's objectively better than the original film in many ways, especially with the flying footage.
As to the story, it's pretty much a retread of the original in many ways and shares a lot of the same story beats. Mav is a test pilot who has refused promotion in order to keep flying. After another 'stunt' with a prototype plane gets him in trouble, he gets saved again by Iceman (now an admiral) to go and train existing Top Gun pilots for a pending difficult mission. One of the pilots to be trained is Rooster, the son of his old partner Goose (killed in the first film). The plot progresses from there as you'd expect, culminating in a tremendous third act when the mission actually takes place.
This is really something to see. The flying sequences in the original film are iconic but the sequences in this film are next level. There are many shots in the film that are just jaw dropping in their intensity and you really ought to see this theatrically if you can with a full theater. To that end, my theater loved the film and clapped when it ended.
As to the question of Val Kilmer: yes, he's in this. He's great and well utilized.
THE COUNTERFEITERS (2007)
A quick few words on this German film, which I believe won the Foreign Language Film Oscar. The film starts with an almost Fleming-like figure walking into the Monte Carlo Casino, gambling and indulging in the affections of a French lady. It is soon revealed that he is a Jew with a concentration camp tattoo, and the film takes us back to pre-war Berlin, where the protagonist is arrested for forgery. Then, during the war his skills are exploited by an SS officer who puts him in charge of developing forgeries of British and American currency for the use of the Nazi war effort.
The film explores an intriguing dilemma, in which the skilled craftsman is determined to achieve his ambition of succesfully forging Dollars and Pounds, but with the knowledge that his success will further assist the Nazi cause. In particular he comes into conflict with one of his fellow inmates who is determined not to let the Germans gain the ability to print Dollars. This reminds me a bit of the conflict in The Bridge on the River Kwai, where Colonel Nicholson's determination to build a fine bridge plays into the enemy's war effort.
I thought this was a really good war drama - almost a thriller of sorts - but with the human tragedy of the holocaust always lurking in the background. Good performances, and some really good grainy cinematography shot in a pseudo-verite style.
The Courier with Benedict Cumberbatch. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Murder on the Orient Express and Death On The Nile. Really enjoyed both of these. I quite like Kenneth Branagh as Poirot.
I'm going to wait for Operation Mincemeat to come out on DVD so I can watch it with my Dad. It will interesting to see what he thinks because he loves 'The Man Who Never Was' and has seen that plenty of times.
I'm going to watch it mainly because it has two Mr Darcys in it 😂
I'm going to save Operation Mincemeat until it's available on DVD so I can watch it with my Dad. It will be interesting to see what he thinks because he often talks about The Man Who Never Was and also thinks it's an excellent film.
I'm going to be watching mainly because it has two Mr Darcys in it. 😂
Yay! That puts paid to one theory I had as to why you hadn't been logging on for several months!
I was going to see OM this week but didn't quite get round to it, I've had plenty of chances at my local cinema.
I haven't been logging in because last time I was here I got a whole load of grief about Covid related political stuff which isn't why I come here. Then, I got the news about NTTD's ending and I was so incensed it's taken me this long to watch it. Having finally watched it ... I came straight back here to where I knew I would find a safe heaven 😍
I watch a a lot of DVD's with my Dad who's now well into his 80's and I know he will love Operation Mincemeat. I've recently introduced him to Pirates of the Caribbean which he loved. Thor is next.
Never doubt me NP. I'm always here 😝
I've just spent the evening watching John Wick for the first time. Not bad for a brainless shoot 'em up vengeance thing.
It’s good to see you back posting,@Lady Rose, I will be catching up on Operation Mincemeat as soon as possible, but it’s likely I will still prefer the original 😁
Following on from Friday's viewing of the German language The Counterfeiters, I've continued the weekend in the theme of films in which I need to read the subtitles, and they are two genuine heavy-hitters, occupying two places in the top three highest rated films on the Letterboxd platform.
On Saturday, PARASITE (2019), the Best Picture winner from the Oscar's a few years ago. I went in knowing virtually nothing about the film, and that is undoubtedly the best way to view it. I found it thrilling, mesmerizing, and beautiful. Bong Joon-Ho pulls of a masterfully thrilling tale, perfectly constructed in a way that even the Hitchcocks of the world might marvel at.
And today, HARAKIRI (1962), a Samurai masterpiece by Masaki Kobayashi. This has to go down as one of the most beautifully composed and shot films I've seen. It's also a cutting critique of the heroic Samurai values typically depicted in film. One of the many highlights of the film was seeing Tetsuro Tamba, our own Tiger Tanaka, in a very memorable role as one of the main antagonists of the piece. Also, an interesting point about the title. On my bluray the title is given as Harakiri (Seppuku). As Tiger Tanaka points out in the YOLT novel, Seppuku is the preferred term for the sort of ritual suicide which is at the core of this film. But clearly Harakiri sells better as a title in the western world.
Finally, to round off the weekend a rewatch of an old favourite, TOP GUN (1986), ahead of a viewing of the new sequel tomorrow night on the nearest IMAX screen. And of course, I didn't have to read the subtitles for this one. I'll report back on the sequel in about 36 hours or so.
I'm sure my Dad will too!! One of the last films I watched with him was The Riddle Of the Sands. Loved that.
All these films that I wasn't interested in as a kid, I'm really enjoying now.
You'll love MAVERICK. It's a blast.