Having watched John Wick last night for the first, I was recommended Nobody with Bob Odenkirk.
What an absolute rip off of John Wick is Nobody!! I enjoyed both but the storylines are identical.
To be fair, if I hadn't just watched John Wick the night before I may not have noticed as they're fairly generic but flippin' 'eck
Soldier Of Fortune (1955)
I found this while browsing for something else.
Susan Hayward travels from USA to Hong Kong seeking her husband, who has gone missing in China. She has no luck, although the British police chief is sympathetic. He's played by Michael Rennie after David Niven turned the part down, not wanting to travel to Hong Kong.
Eventually she ends up approaching Hank Lee, a shady character played by Clark Gable, who agrees to help her. A romance begins between them.
Long story short, Gable and Rennie go into China to rescue her husband (Gene Barry). There's some romantic tension in who she will end the film with, a bit like "Casablanca".
Our own Richard Loo (Hai Fat in TMWTGG) has a supporting part. Gable is perhaps a shade too old for the dashing hero, a bit like Sir Roger in AVTAK. There are some gorgeous shots of Hong Kong which will remind Bond fans of a scene or two in YOLT and TMWTGG.
Overall, a sweet distraction for an hour or two but nothing to chase up.
Watership Down (1978)
I understand this movie has a special place in British culture, especially as the movie that launched a thousand nightmares. I actually read the books years ago, but it's the first time i've watched the movie. For those who don't know it's an animated movie about a group of rabbits supposedly made for children. That sounds nice, doesn't it? It's very well drawn and the themes of courage and friendship are powerful. I'd say it's a good movie. It's also brutal at times. It's reccomended for the more mature with steady nerves. I'm glad I didn't watch Watership Down at a very young age, but tonight I can sleep with all the lights off. Probably.
The movie: (4) Watership Down 1978 Movie - YouTube
Have always loved Watership Down and I did watch it as a child, probably one of the reasons it has always stuck with me. Beautiful drawings, music, story and star studded cast. It's a true classic IMO. Oh, and still gets me going.. 😥
Top Gun: Maverick. Brilliant.
I won't say much, so as not to spoil for others, but if you love action films and you're in the camp of annoyed/disappointed with NTTD. You will love this film!
If, like me, you loved NTTD, you'll still love TOP GUN: MAVERICK.
😄 Absolutely. I think everybody will. It's a really good film.
My theater clapped at the end. You don't see that happen very often!
Lots of fun. Great to see Val Kilmer again too.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK.
The long awaited sequel, which delivers pretty much what one would expect. Lots of good looking and exciting aerial photography of Navy fighter jets, and impressively shot footage of the actors which I presume was captured in flight in real jets. Also plenty of callbacks to the original film, and some familiar musical cues including a bar-room rendition of Great Balls of Fire. What took me somewhat by surprise is how much this film is based around training for a near impossible mission, in the vein of WWII classics like 633 Squadron. The original was much more about competition amongst the US pilots. The element of competition is still present, however, the focus is much more on the mission. Everyone in the cast does a pretty good job. Excellent casting for Goose's son, and the inclusion of Ed Harris early on makes a nice to connection to another classic aviation film, The Right Stuff. The one aspect that felt rather flat compared to the original was the romantic sub plot, but it doesn't take up much of the running time of the film, so it's not much of an issue. Overall, the film is pretty good popcorn entertainment although I don't see myself ever getting the same affection for this new film that I have for the original.
One advantage I'd give TG: MAVERICK over the first film is with the final mission. In the first film, it's all about training and the final battle feels like a complete afterthought. Here, the focus of the film IS the mission so it carries a lot more weight in the third act.
I know what you mean, Gymkata, and I certainly see your point. Unfortunately for me personally the big mission is probably the most disappointing aspect of the film for a number of reasons.
I went into the film with certain expectations, one of which is the emphasis on filming stuff for real which Tom Cruise always focuses on, especially in promotion of his films. He even appeared at beginning of the screening addressing the audience and emphasising again that the film features real F-18s, real G forces, etc. So that meant that my expectations were that it would be as 'real world' as the original, with an even greater emphasis on making it real.
However, when it becomes clear what the pilots' objective is, I immediately felt like we were in the territory of the 'over-the-top pilots preparing for a virtually impossible mission' film which makes it harder to take the movie seriously. I was happy enough to go along with that, but I hoped that they would at least avoid most of the clichés of that subgenre (which I think is best exemplified by 633 Squadron). Unfortunately I was left a bit deflated as they went and checked off virtually every one of the clichés as the film unfolded. The only one they avoided was most of the squadron perishing in the attack, but the fact that everyone got out of it alive also made it feel more lightweight in the end.
The other issue for me was that the nature of the mission meant that a lot of stuff would have to be 'faked', in stark contrast to the parts where things are filmed for real. Even early on in the training when Maverick and Rooster are engaged in a spiral dive towards the ground while flying in a mirror formation I already lost all illusion we were in the real world. Also, as soon as they pointed out on the satellite pictures that the enemy had old F-14s on their airbase, you just knew that somehow Maverick would end up stealing one. And since airworthy F-14s don't exist outside of Iran, it was obvious that would have to be faked as well. I just didn't think it would be as cartoonish as taking off on a short taxiway and pulling up over tall buildings. It felt like we were more in Iron Eagle territory than Top Gun.
Apologies for being a bit of a bore with my criticisms, but I am afflicted with an obsession about military aviation in film which goes back to my early childhood, and I tend to look at these things with a harshly critical eye because of my long attachment to the subject. I am always looking for these films to be very true to reality, and although I love watching air combat movies very few of them get a pass from me on that score. I was hoping for more from Top Gun: Maverick.
But, still it's a solid, entertaining and well made film. It just wasn't quite what I was looking for.
I felt like clapping too! I thought that some might. I'm afraid I didn't have 'the great balls of fire' to start up on my own.
**The following contains SPOILERS**
I prefer this film to the original. I like the whole mission thing and yes, it does hark back to the old WW2 movies in that vein. Similar to 2018's Hunter Killer also and a little like Behind Enemy Lines in places, both great films.
I actually really liked the sub plot love story and its moments of humour. And Jennifer Connolly.. always just, wow!😍
This film just had so many great pieces and nods to other great action films. All the Top Gun tropes from the original. The start reminded me of Firefox. The actual mission reminded me of the X-Wing Death Star one, including Maverick calling to Goose like Luke calling to Ben. Some other scenes also felt Star Wars esque, about Rooster not being ready. They didn't say 'use the force', but not far off.
Val Kilmer's scene was beautifully done and very moving.
Other positives - Maverick's workshop with his motorbikes, Penny's stunning 1973 Porsche 911S, a little physical training montage. Great cast and soundtrack. Tom Cruise just on top form and looking great.
Zimmer's score had definite shades of NTTD about it. I wonder which was written first? Given he came on to NTTD late on and TGM should have been released a couple of years ago, too.
This film just has the feel good factor, something I really missed from leaving the cinema after NTTD. I really needed it.
The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)
Stories of daring-doo behind the enemy's lines is just perfect for me, but some how I've missed this one. For those who don't know it's based on the true story of a tiny Royal Marines WWII unit with the brilliant name The Boom Patrol Detachment that used kayaks to sabotage shipping in Bordeux. Obviously I liked it a lot, but it's not perfect. Like many old movies the sountrack relies to much on marches and fanfares. In my opinion the movie would've benefited from a more thriller-style soundtrack. The first half of the movie is almost a comedy, but shifts to straight drama in the second half. It sort of works but it's nice to know going in. The marines paddled at night, so many of the scenes are day for night. I found many of the "night" scenes to be too bright, making it look like a Nordic night in the summer and not France. The movie has some Bond connections such as being co-produced by Cubby, so-written by Maibaum and a short role for Christopher Lee. Interestingly Maibaum wrote a more serious script, but the producers brought in another writer to ad more humor. I would've likeked to see a version of the movie based on Maiboum's origonal script. Still, I enjoyed it. I just recomended the movie to a friend who enjoys kayaking and stories about behind-the-lines missions. I wonder what he'll make of it?
I always enjoy watching The Cockleshell Heroes. It's often on at Christmastime in the UK (amongst many other WW2 films). TCH has a nice feel to it with some good humour interspersed with the seriousness of the training and mission. I especially enjoy David Lodge's character and performance.
I'm watching Clint Eastwood's "White hunter black heart" from 1990. There's a scene about 34 minutes into the movie where Eastwood's character is dressed in a white tux, dining and drinking champagne with a beautiful woman. It's a short glimpse of what we could have got if he'd been cast back in 1970 when he was considered to play James Bond.
I always liked WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART. It's an underrated film in the Eastwood filmography with a truly fantastic ending and final shot.
THE OUTFIT (2022)
This is a very solid little crime thriller that's worth checking out. It's well acted by everyone and has a few plot turns in it that I was legitimately not expecting. It's currently available for purchase or rent on various streaming services.
Mark Rylance stars as an English cutter working in a bespoke suiting shop in 1956 Chicago. While he has a good business as a cutter, his shop is also a drop off point for a local crime outfit. One night, things go wrong and a couple of the men in the gang (the boss's son and another man) barge in. One of them is shot. The plot develops from there and I don't want to give anything else away because the fun comes from seeing Rylance navigate the precarious situation that he finds himself in.
Recommended. The wife and I enjoyed this quite a bit.
White hunter black heart (1990)
This is an unusual Clint Eastwood movie. Among other things he doesn't use his normal speech pattern, he wears a foppish 18th century costume in his first scene and is character actually loses a fistfight!
It's about a movie director (not John Huston!) who goes to Africa to shoot a movie (not The African Queen!). But what he's really interested in is going on safari and he's obsessed with killing an elephant, making the movie is more of an excuse. Eastwood portrays a colourful and interesting character, probably among his best. The locations are beautiful and the topic and location is unusual for its time, "Out of Africa " being a rare comparison. I wish more people watched this movie.
White Hunter Black Heart (1990) Clint Eastwood, Jeff Fahey, Charlotte Cornwell - Bing video
If @Golrush007 liked The Counterfeinters - and doesn't it feature 'Yes indeed' the financier from The Spy Who Loved Me who get blown up in the helicopter - I recommend the 80s comedy series Private Schultz with Michael Elphick, a story about a German hired to drop counterfeit notes into WW2 England.
Two RKO classics on the Beeb the other night:
CAT PEOPLE (1942)
Wonderfully atmospheric, sexual psychological shock thriller from the mind of producer Val Lewton. Simone Simon plays Irena, a Serbian artist who believes she’s possessed by an ancient curse which will transform her into a panther should a man be so adventurous as to fall in love with her. Kent Smith is that poor unfortunate, who endures a sexless marriage, before deciding to leave Irena for the voracious Alice, a co-worker, who doesn’t mince words or actions in pursuit of her flawed man. The curse, which initially appears only to be in Irena’s mind, gradually asserts itself for real and even Tom Conway’s psychiatrist, a man who secretly and unethically desires his patient, can’t help unravel the problem. Simon’s performance as a repressed sexually naïve woman works well within the slight framework of the plot, which spins its yarn quickly to good effect. There’s a couple of shadowy sequences where characters think, but are not certain, they are being pursued by wild beasts. Conway’s slightly too accommodating shrink makes an alternative villain with his sly, licentious glances at the feline Irena. The most surprising work is done by the makeup team who with subtlety make Simon ever so slightly resemble a cat. The lighting and photography crews turn the brief moments of suspense into dark, chilling silhouettes of vivid, frightening movement. The sound effects, the mewing, the snarling, the footsteps, add tension to scenes which would otherwise appear completely silly. The director, who should also get some credit, was Jacques Tournier and he utilises every trick he can to eek out the suspense in an otherwise simple plot about infidelity and a woman scorned. Unusually for the time the monster is never shown and this reminds us, much like Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that it isn’t necessary to visualise the acts of horror if you’ve assimilated the evidence in the audience’s mind. Hitchcock too must have watched this film – it’s his kind of movie – as he borrowed the pet shop scene for his own The Birds. A shocker whose shocks really are in the mind.
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)
The follow up to Cat People. Same director, same producer, same result. A little low key for a horror film despite the intriguing no nonsense title, this one re-enacts Jane Eyre on a Caribbean island, but focusses more on the plight of the mad woman in the attic than the supposed love affair between a plantation owner and the nurse he’s employed to look attend to his comatose wife. There’s some chilling scene setters with the local island population which hint at the other-worldly, voodoo reliable existence of their lives. A subplot about two brothers fighting over the nurse doesn’t really succeed. Some splendid images which either were or would become staples of the genre: walks through shadowy cane fields, emotionless mute henchmen, deep sonorous shadows, sacrificial dances portrayed against burning torches, women walking about in diaphanous nightgowns, the old dark house, possession by the voodoo doll. I enjoyed it because I enjoyed the allusions to Charlotte Bronte’s novel, itself considered a gothic masterpiece, although the first person voice over is an unnecessary intrusion. No stars, although Tom Conway reappears, and the film probably benefits from not having any recognisable faces. Wonderfully brief, but perhaps too erudite for its own good; there’s more talk than you expect and little less horror.
City Heat (1984)
This movie is a an od man out: A Clint Eastwood/Burt Reynolds action-comedy set in the 1930's. While both have experience in comedies (especially Reynolds) and period movies (particularely Eastwood and his westerners), City Heat feels unique for both actors. While both stars are funny it's Reynolds who does the heavy comedic lifting, but also most of the fistfights. Eastwood is literally the "straight shooter" here. As can be expected of a movie about crime in the 1930's it's a very stylish movie and very easy on the eyes. I think the movie handles the period and mix of generes well and the stars are clearly having fun. Robert Davi plays a heavy.
City Heat (1984) Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Jane Alexander - Bing video
The last duel (2021)
Yes, I've seen a relatively new movie! The Last Duel is directed by Ridley Scott and written by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and the slightly less famous Nicole Holofcener. The story is based on (one of) the last trials by combat in France, way back in 1386. Squires Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques les Gris (Adam Driver) start up as friends, but after Carrouges marries Marguerite (Jodie Comer) they gradually become personal enemies because of conflicts about land and titles. Carrouges is a simple fighting man, but likes to hold on to grudges. Les Gris becomes friends with their patron Pierre (Ben Affleck) because they both like womanizing and les Gris' skills in administration and writing. Marguerite accuses les Gris of rape. Her husband supports her, but Pierre is the judge and supports les Gris. Carrouges challenges les Gris to trial by combat, an old custom based on the idea that God decides the result of the duel based on justice. This means Marguerite is guilty of false charges if her husband is killed, and she'll burn on the fire if this happens.
The structure of the movie is inspired by Rashomon where the same conflict is shown from the main characters' point of view. I'm not sure it works as well as it should have because it isn't subtle and open enough. We get the impression that the woman's version of events is the true one, especially since the duel and the aftermath is shown from her point of view. Most likely she was telling the truth because of the huge consequences her alligations could/would have legally and socially. but a more open storytelling would make the movie better. At the end of the day society is guilty because of how women were viewed and treated.
As one expects of Scott the movie is beautifully shot the the duel is brutal and impressive with the two men duking it out while Marguerite is dressed in black and chained to the bonfire. The acting is good, especially Jodie Comer is impressive. Adam Driver looks right at home in mediaval France, while Affleck and Damon have changed their appearance a lot. The Americans aim for some sort of European English, but to me they all break into American English from time to time.
The Last Duel suffered at the box office because of Covid. While it's no masterpiece it deserves a bigger audience, because it is good.
I think it's one of Ridley's top tier efforts. I think it'll be elevated in esteem as the years pass and more people re-appraise it.
I like the unusual themes for a movie: rape and trial by combat in the middle ages.
I really enjoyed 'The Last Duel'.
I was initially put off because it has Matt Damon in it. He didn't seem very medieval to me but he somehow worked.
"Cat People" has a sequel, "Curse Of The Cat People", which though less horrific is even stranger. Recommended now you've seen the first one. It's on BBC iPlayer.
The Dam Busters (1955)
British people forgive me for I have sinned. This was my first viewing of The Dam Busters in my life .....
Did I like the movie? Yes I did. I liked how much time was spent on the research, planning and training phase of the mission. I liked how almost all of the mission has no score, as opposed to all the marches and fanfares so often heard in war movies. I liked how the movie spent time on the aftermath of the mission for the pilots- thinking of the men lost in the mission especially. I also enjoyed Michael Redgrave's portrayal of doctor Wallis. His frustrations when not finding a solution or his solutions not finding any interest in the halls of power, his giddiness when thngs work out, his nervousness when his tests or the men in the planes are at a balance. This is one of the better versions of the "mad scientist" tropes I've seen.
If only Richard Todd (a former paratroop captain and a D-day veteran) was as good as wing commander Gibson! Much of the time Todd looks like he thinks he's in a comedy. He's smiling and cheerful like a schoolboy who's just discovered math class has been called off. Todd is good in the dramatic scenes, but never more than good enough. The special effects are very far from the standards we are used to, but in an old film this can be forgiven. Did you know the dam buster raid would probably be considered a war crime today? The effects on the German war production was far from as great as the movie would have us belive. The effects on the civilian population isn't mentioned, but 1600 civilians were killed because of this mission, including 1000 Soviet POWs. Pausing on this sad fact would've given an extra dept to the movie I think. The bravery, inventiveness and skill of the bomber crews is still very admirable and impressive, the aftermath can't take this away from them.
The Dam Busters (1955) - Bing video