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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    And over-indulged :

    THE SEA WOLVES (1980)

    Lots of James Bond connections in this would be epic: Roger Moore, David Niven, Maurice Binder, John Glen, John Grover, Patrick Macnee, Matt Monro, Leslie Bricusse, Else Fennell, Syd Cain, etc etc. It also paired up a host of support actors and back room boys from 1978’s The Wild Geese. Both films have the same producer, Euan Lloyd, and he intended it to reteam Moore, Richard Burton and Richard Harris. The Sea Wolves is probably better for a more relaxed top line aging cast. Roy Budd’s music score, despite being a close impersonation of A Bridge Too Far, anticipates the sprightly shortcomings of the slow moving actors. There’s also rather good, but somewhat inappropriate, song based on Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto.   

    Director Andrew V. McLaglen mostly made westerns and had a long association with John Wayne. He was never going to make great pictures and The Sea Wolves is an example of his competent but unchallenging style of filmmaking. It is no underestimation to say that John Glen’s editing does more to install tension than the director or the script. The latter has pedigree, coming from a source novel by James Leasor based on actual events, but is a trifle underwhelming wiuth a shade too many cliches.

    The film itself is a by-the-numbers wartime tale of elderly derring-do in Goa. German submarines are sinking British ships in the Indian Ocean and two SOE operatives are determined to discover why their success rate is so high. An espionage plot unravels as Roger Moore falls for Barbara Kellerman’s delightfully candid Mrs Cromwell, while Gregory Peck employs a troupe of veterans, commanded by David Niven, on a harbour raid to destroy the German transmitter. It is a true story and the three lead characters all existed, as did the Calcutta Light Horse, a cavalry reserve of the British India Army.   

    The espionage affair sits better with me than the sea bound war stuff which is routine beyond belief. The Goan set spy stuff is genuinely good, with Sir Roger doing a sort of half-way impersonation of James Bond – the good bits, like in TSWLM or TMWTGG, where he really has to act ruthless, charming or bitter – for once he seems to have left Simon Templar at the gate and drawn on other facets of his acting know-how. There is a satisfying explosion at the end, but the episodic nature of the story and the fact the tense and emotionally involving Moore / Kellerman story is resolved well before waterborne attack make the whole thing a mite lacklustre. Still it was decent tea-time entertainment. 

  • TonyDPTonyDP Inside the MonolithPosts: 4,280MI6 Agent

    One of the problems with these NuTrek movies is that they all copy The Wrath of Khan to one degree or another owing to some misguided belief that it was the best Star Trek movie (it wasn't). Whether it be Nero, Harrison (who actually turns out to be Khan) or Balthazar/Krall, they are all basically the same character: the revenge crazed antagonist who feels some injustice has befallen him. It was a tired trope back in 1982 and it's an indictment of the utter lack of imagination and creativity on the part of the writers of these movies that they've continued to use it as their template.

    I will give Beyond points for at least swinging back around to the Star Trek ideals at the end. Buried beneath the tons of smoke, debris and explosions is that core optimism Trek was known for and by the end we get a bit of that at least. I'll also give props to Quinto and especially Karl Urban for reviving some of that classic Spock/McCoy banter of old. Of course, we need to sit thru all the usual JJ Abrams tripe including the pointless inclusion of that blasted Beastie Boys song yet again before we can get there.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    @TonyDP I think in my review of the reboot Star Trek, I mentioned Karl Urban being the best thing in it, so I concur with you; he is a convincing Bones McCoy.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    Well, I guess I'm misguided in thinking that STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN is the best Star Trek film then.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)

    A remarkably effective teen reboot of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew with Julia Stiles as Katrina and Heath Ledger as Petruchio [here: Patrick]. Break out roles for both. Nothing much to say really. It rode on the back of the Di Caprio’s Romeo + Juliet and is pleasant and unthreatening, a sort of smarter version of the kind of fluff we eighties teens got with John Hughes and The Breakfast Club. Thing is, none of these teen movies end up being very smart, it’s all hormones by the end. Happy endings abide for the good looking cast.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    CABARET (1972) with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, and Michael York.

    Witness the rise of the Nazi party in 1931 Berlin through the lens of a cabaret performer and a British expat language teacher, with song commentary from a devilish 'master of ceremonies'.

    This was my first time watching this and it was outstanding. I thought this was going to be a musical romp going into it...I was not expecting a fairly dark exploration of German society where the songs were all diagetic. Pretty meaty stuff.

    I'd heard that Joel Grey was great in this. Turns out, he was phenomenal. Love that he's not playing a character per se, he's just 'the master of ceremonies' at the Kit Kat Klub and his songs are commenting on the action going on with the main characters. He has an incredible, almost Lucifer like, gleam in his performance. I'm not surprised at all that he got the Oscar here. Everyone else was excellent as well with Liza Minnelli obviously standing out (she also won an Oscar).

    Highly recommended if you've never seen it.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent
    edited February 21

    I am glad you liked it @HarryCanyon Cabaret is a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is also of course a brilliant stage musical. Your summation is to the point and succinct. I am glad you mention how amazing Liza Minelli is in this. If ever an actress seemed born for a role, it is Liza and Sally Bowles. The book it was all based on, Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin, is good too.

    We are in award season and it is worth noting that Cabaret holds the record for most Academy Awards without winning Best Picture [eight, including nods to Liza, Joel Grey, director Bob Fosse and British photographer Geoffrey Unsworth, all richly deserved].

    Unfortunately the movie was released in the same year as The Godfather and no one was stopping Brando and the Mafia 😎😎😎

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    Oh for sure. Liza inhabited that role beautifully. You watch her and you go 'yeah, I get why she won the Oscar'. I also thought that Michael York was quite good, underplaying his part to provide a reality anchor to the proceedings. Without him or his character, I think the film would have become 'too much' or devolved into a farce.

    Really excellent. I watched it mainly to 'cross a revered classic off of my unseen list' but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • TonyDPTonyDP Inside the MonolithPosts: 4,280MI6 Agent
    edited February 22


    The performances are excellent; Ricardo Montalban is memorable and steals every scene he is in and Nicholas Meyer managed to coax a great and even emotional performance out of William Shatner. And the movie is entertaining.

    My big problem with the movie is that in order for it to exist it has to basically throw away the hopeful ending to the TOS episode Space Seed, which was where we first meet Khan and his supermen. At the end of the episode, after Kirk defeats Khan and ends his plans to take over the Enterprise, he actually gives Khan what he wants, depositing him and his people on a virgin planet in the hopes that the trials they will face in taming that world will burn the arrogance and hubris out of them. Spock even comments how it would be interesting to return to that world in a hundred years and see what had sprung from the seed they had planted, thus the title of the episode. That's classic Star Trek and Wrath of Khan just flushes it down the toilet to give us a revenge story. The producers also fundamentally changed Starfleet from a capable organization primarily concerned with exploration into an overtly military one, which was anathema to the original show.

    I could also never get past the fact that the USS Reliant, a spaceship with with advanced sensors and other technology, mistakes a one planet for another and couldn't see that an entire planet in that solar system had exploded. You'd think they would have scanned the debris field long before they reached the system (which is something the Enterprise routinely did on the original show).

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    You cite all of the major issues that Gene Roddenberry had with the film.

    While I can see your points and not disagree with them, I think a movie is an entirely different animal from a television episode. The fact is, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE tried to capture the aesthetic and overall tone of the television series and was a colossal bore. If the movies were going to continue in some fashion, they needed to be more exciting (and cheaper). I love that they turned the franchise into 'Horatio Hornblower in Space' with ST2:TWOK. If you were to compare it to the original series at all, its closest parallel would be to the exceptional 'Balance of Terror' episode where Star Fleet first encounters the Romulans. I've seen all of the ST films theatrically and I've gotta tell you, ST2:TWOK was a fantastic movie experience...great action, great emotions.

    As to your point about Star Fleet not knowing about the planetary situation in the Ceti Alpha system...ok, sure. You're going to need to just roll with that. It doesn't bother me and it doesn't require any exposition on the film's part to let me accept the setup and move on.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    moving on...

    SAYONARA (1957) with Marlon Brando, Red Buttons, and James Garner.

    It's 1951 in Kobe, Japan. Marlon Brando is a star US Air Force Major who is friends with enlisted man Red Buttons. Buttons is in love with Japanese woman and is getting punished for it due to the military regulations/laws which deter US/Japanese romances. Brando is encouraged to try and talk Buttons into leaving her but he refuses, eventually marrying her. Brando, reluctantly, agrees to be best man at his wedding. While roaming Japan, Brando encounters James Garner playing an Army officer. Garner has a pseudo romance going with a Japanese lady as well, a performer. Brando joins Garner at a performance and gets smitten with the lead actress, a really stunning Japanese lady named Hana-Ogi. Things progress from there.

    This was a huge hit back in 1957 and was nominated for a whole lotta Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Brando). It lost in all of the major categories to BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI but did pick up Best Supporting Actor for Red Buttons and Best Supporting Actress for the Japanese actress playing his wife. I gotta say, if Guinness hadn't won for KWAI, Brando would have been a shoe-in to win. He's fantastic here, delivering probably my favorite performance of his. He affects a Southern accent that doesn't quite hit the right notes but it doesn't matter...he's so good here that you get past it pretty quickly. He has a scene in this where he discovers a suicide where he delivers some of the best acting of his career in terms of grief and shock without overplaying it. 

    The main thing in the film's favor is with the very direct manner in which it confronts Japanese racism. The film does not pull any punches at all. The overall plotting is fairly predictable in terms of character arcs but it's so effective that it doesn't matter. The only really big issue is with the fact that Ricardo Montalban plays a Japanese performer. Per the Wiki article for the movie, the producers simply couldn't find a Japanese actor suitable for the part, but that rings false. Regardless, Montalban is quite good here and presents the character in an extremely positive manner. This isn't a 'Mickey Rourke as Mr. Yunioshi' situation at all.

    Really quite excellent. This was part of the TCM Oscar series that they're running now and I'm glad we saw it.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,924MI6 Agent

    harry said:

     The fact is, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE tried to capture the aesthetic and overall tone of the television series and was a colossal bore. 

    ____________________________________

    I dont think the first film caught the aesthetic and the tone of the teevee series, I think it was going for a 2001 vibe. with all that glacial pacing and the plot itself.

    The film I thought was closest to the series, and my favourite, was the one with the whales, sorry I forget the title. That certainly caught the humour and the character interplay best.

    but youre right, Wrath of Khan was certainly a good theatre experience, especially if you didnt clearly remember the exact tone of the show (no dvd's back then, just syndication). it was closer to the action packed space opera we'd got used to since Star Wars, and everybody else seemed to like it better than the first film when it came out. (I especially liked the gross-out worm-in-the-ear torture, which would never have happened in the show) So I guess a question is, why does the more conventional action approach work for Wrath of Khan, yet its the big problem with these JarJar Abrams movies? is it because the beloved original cast was involved instead of a younger generation of imitators? or are there other subtle differences?

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    Because the scripts are effing terrible in the Kelvin films. If all you want is whiz-bang explosions, you'll be satisfied. If you're wanting any sort of emotional connection to the characters, sorry...no time for that, things are too busy exploding in between lens flares. The only film to kinda get close to achieving the character relationship building of the original cast was BEYOND. Abrams didn't direct that one.

    But seriously, if you want to talk about plot holes and such, look no further than those Nu Trek films. INTO DARKNESS is particularly bad. It's quite possibly the stupidest big budget blockbuster of the last 20 years not named TRANSFORMERS.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,746MI6 Agent

    A fun fact for people who like to get upset about "woke" Hollywood: the percentage of female leads in movies is the lowest in ten years.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    An Orson Welles double-header last night. I seem to remember @Napoleon Plural reviewing these recently. I think I share his opinions somewhat, although I only write that from memory.

    CITIZEN KANE (1941)

    For 49 years Citizen Kane sat unchallenged at the top of Sight and Sound Magazine’s 100 Greatest Films survey, considered as the most complete assessment of artistic film success through the ages. It now sits at number 3, deposed first by Hitchcock’s Vertigo and in 2022 by Chantel Akerman’s virtually unheard of 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. What all three movies have in common is a sort of stately, ordered manner which suggests they were constructed deliberately and with much deliberation to achieve their result. They are films by filmmakers for filmmakers and as such all lack an emotional core to drive their narrative. Sure there may be shocks and snippets of realism, but these movies love the mechanics of filmmaking rather than the impact of storytelling. They run through you cold.

    Kane, for all its high drama, unusual staging and innovative photographic techniques, simply doesn’t grab you at the heart. As an observer, I don’t care very much about Charles Foster Kane and his self-centred lifestyle. I cared more for the bullied failed opera singer who becomes his wife, divorced him and turned into a drunken showgirl – she seems to have a story to tell. Kane is a cipher for all mega-industrialists. It was a veiled manifestation of William Randolph Hearst, but you could dress it up as Rupert Murdoch, Eion Musk, Donald Trump or Jeff Besos for all it’s worth: a rich man and his toys. Rosebud? Who cares, they give you the answer, but never explain it, so why bother?

    Let’s not be over critical. It is a well written, splendidly produced film. Orson Welles is occasionally exceptional as the title character, occasionally he’s dreadful. Joseph Cotton is similarly disposed as his sidekick Jed Lealand. But it’s no good being splendid if you are not pulling the audience with you emotionally and there is none of that in Kane. It is a tour de force of a lesson in movie making and directors, writers and technicians have been copying the various innovations for decades since.

    Personally, if I want to watch a film that is a master class in how to make a good-looking product swiftly and efficiently, that’s technically robust and gets your heart and mind stimulated and stirred, I’d watch Casablanca. [No.63 – really, 63, lower than Do the Right Thing, Taxi Driver and Barry Lyndon? Dear God…] And This? No. Not by a long chalk.


    THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942)

    A film notoriously butchered by editors on the orders of RKO executives who were running scared of Orson Welles and his reputation after the relative failure of Citizen Kane and the furore with Hearst Newspapers. I don’t know if putting back the footage lost would have made the film any less of a torturous experience. The main problem with The Magnificent Ambersons is the over wrought actors, who are theatre types and seem to be shouting to the back of the house most of the time. Tim Holt is the unpleasant central character George Minafer. The film doesn’t seem to be about the Amberson family at all, but their in-laws, which is odd and you wonder if Orson Welles took an axe to Booth Tarkington’s novel in the same way RKO cleaved up his movie. The optimistic ending is completely out of kilter with everything that came before – including the hospital set which is clearly just any 1940s hospital set, not one specific to the period – and this was forced on the film and the director after disappointing test screenings of the original. Apparently, this ending is how the novel ends, so you wonder what was running through Welles’ mind as his characters wrestle with ineffectual love affairs and the growth of the automobile oligarchs in early 20th Century New England. A grim affair all round.

    I like Orson Welles as a film director, but these early movies, while flashy and innovative, lack any sense of heart or emotional pallet. He did much better later on in his career when he wasn’t trying to prove himself a genius and allowed his scripts, and thus his characters, to breathe.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,154Chief of Staff

    "Casablanca" at no. 63? 😱 I have no faith in such a list and I say that as a "Vertigo" devotee.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,154Chief of Staff

    If there is such a thing as a Top Ten movies list then I regard "Casablanca" as, er, one of the usual suspects.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    CASABLANCA at 63?


  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,924MI6 Agent

    what do folks think of Orson Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast?

    whether or not Citizen Kane is overrated, War of the Worlds and Citizen Kane were an incredible one-two punch for a new artist at the start of his career, especially in terms of impact on the outside world. when I look at Welles's filmography on wikipedia, I think Touch of Evil is his only directorial credit I've actually seen, the others are more obscure. then he settled in to a lazy pattern as an instantly recognisable once-was who'd squandered his talents, eg doing magic trick in Casino Royale.


    Pauline Kael wrote an entire book on Citizen Kane, which she certainly saw as overrated. She argues all the flashy directorial stuff is seen as innovative from a distance decades later, but at the time it was just a variation on German Expressionism which was already even more influential in the Universal horror films and Hitchcock. She argues what was really radical at the time was the takedown of Randolph Hearst and his lady Marion Davies, and that aspect was the work of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz rather than Welles. There was an attempt to ban the film from theatres because Hearst recognised himself as the object of satire, and he had a lot influence. This generated further media controversy which led to further interest in the film. so in a sense, Welles ensured success by cynically manipulating media and public reaction, as he had done with War of the Worlds. I gotta think of that media manipulation as part of his art, he's playing public reaction as if thats his instrument. but decades later we dont see all that, we just see whats in the film itself so we react to the visual compositions and the chronology, as if stark black and white and extreme camera angles were what was so innovative.

    (and I cant not say it; according to rumour, Rosebud was not the sleigh, it was, how does one say politely, a part of Marion Davies anatomy)


    anyway back to my question, what do folks think of the War of the Worlds broadcast? both whats within the radio play, and as an elaborate prank?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    THE KID DETECTIVE (2020)

    Adam Brody stars as Abe Applebaum, a 32-year-old man living off his reputation as a teenage detective and scratching a living finding people’s cats. He cuts a downbeat figure, as well he might, for his insights into human behaviour serve him both well and badly. When high school student Caroline approaches him to help investigate the murder of her boyfriend, he reluctantly takes on the case, recalling how he failed as a youngster to uncover the whereabouts of kidnapped school dream queen Gracie Gulliver, a disappearance that remains unsolved. Burdened both by his sense of inadequacy and his actual inadequacy, Abe embarks on an awkward investigation that is both astutely observed and giggling amusing as he walks into one strange circumstance after another, never appearing to get any closer to solving the mystery. Brody is very good as the man-child and Sophie Nelisse impresses as Caroline, who is smarter, more compassionate and more adult than Abe. Their friendship develops believably and has touches of pathos and emotional pull unusual in a sexless film. The final twist is quite something and the confrontation of detective to villain was edge of the seat material, the revelations genuinely shocking. An excellent script from director Evan Morgan only comes unstuck in a mid-section where Abe goes AWOL on drugs and booze. He handles his actors and the material with smoothness and subtlety.

    Very good.    

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    Really enjoyed THE KID DETECTIVE as well. It's another one of those 'much better than it should have been' movies. Honestly, I hope we get a sequel and a possible franchise out of this.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,154Chief of Staff

    I love TWOTW in all it's many forms, and the Welles version is one of the best. Dated now (how not? ) but that's part of it's charm. Welles and co put on an entertaining show that makes the urban legend surrounding it believable and still remain close enough to the original to please purists.

    There have been a few TV movies reconstructing the broadcast and of course you can listen to it easily on YouTube.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1966)

    a.k.a Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight

    How much you enjoy this Shakespearian bawdy drama depends entirely on how much you enjoy Orson Welles’ turn as Sir John Falstaff, the Bard’s grand comic creation, a character made to satirise the entitled classes and expose their lazy and lecherous underbelly, yet also able to deliver moments of pathos and much human insight. He’s a liar, a cheat, a manipulator and an adulterer, yet somehow, through the drunken haze, we rather like him. Falstaff is an exaggerated member of the human race, all our worst foibles and desires are bound up in his rotund, noisy, flatulent edifice. And Welles gives him a full welly of his best thespian shoes, a performance that outstrips many of his more revered roles. Given that the road to this particular movie was so rocky, it may be that Welles felt the burden of expectation fall too heavily on his shoulders; curious that he deceived his Spanish producers into making them believe he was simultaneously filming a children’s version of Treasure Island, a ruse of which Sir John himself would have been proud.

    Fabulous to look at, filmed on one enormous tavern set and a host of Spanish locations, namely in and around Cordona, the film combines excerpts from five of Shakespeare’s plays Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and gives a potted and exquisite window into the relationship between the young, impressionable Prince Hal [Kieth Baxter, excellent] and Sir John, where they battle gamely and uproariously for one-upmanship among the whores and tankards and lowlife’s of the Boar’s Head Inn, including Jeanne Moreau as a welcoming prostitute and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly, who runs the lodgings and never gets paid. Hal and Falstaff’s relationship is neatly reflected in the steely, courtly game of one-upmanship between the Prince and King Henry IV [a brilliant, stately John Gielgud]. A counterpoint is also made between the proven warrior Lord Henry Percy, known as Hotspur [Norman Rodway, also very good], a rebellious military man who attempts to overthrown the King. It is Hotspur’s knightly ethic that starts Hal to question his own role in life – is he a wastrel prince or a future great king?

    Falstaff, a man who has had his life and wants nothing more than a long, prosperous and unhealthy retirement, is banking on his young prince to be his financial and societal saviour, but one too many insults may have crossed his whiskery lips and one too many deceptions have called into question his trustworthiness and virtue. Shakespeare’s lesson it seems is there is a time for princes and kings and all human souls to put aside childish things. The lesson, slim as it is, comes a little late for Sir John. The final shots of Orson Welles’ broken Falstaff retreating from Henry V’s coronation, shuffling into the darkness are beautifully framed. In fact, the film looks wonderful, the camera roving mischievously around the tavern, then becoming still and considered during the scenes at court. The Battle of Shrewsbury is fearsome and intense, splendidly edited and realistically muddy and muddled. The costumes are fine, the sets realistically sparse and the music pitching just the correct side of modern-medieval – no rousing choral song here, just a tinkle of mandolin and the heaving cries of brass.

    For purists of the Bard, the film is an abomination, but as an edited version of Shakespearian entertainment it is structured excellently, has strong characters and performances, and a solid narrative thrust. They liked it at Cannes.

    Harry Saltzman stepped in to bail the production out when Welles ran out of money, but the distributors had no idea how to market the film and it was a box office bomb, sealing for Welles a reputation as a frivolous auteur that he probably didn’t deserve, at least not for this excellent outing. The film is a much better than many Hollywood versions of the Bard [1936’s Romeo and Juliet for instance] and Welles central performance is as charismatic as Richard Burton was when they recorded his Broadway Hamlet, or Brando took on Mark Anthony, or Olivier was as Henry V and Richard III.   

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964)

    “Somewhere in the human mind is the key to our existence,” expounds Vincent Price’s elegant villain Prince Prospero. “My ancestors tried to find it, to open the door that separates us from our creator.”

    Jane Asher’s delicate heroine Francesca can barely believe him; forced to abandon her crucifix on entering his fortress, she only has faith to protect her, and even that is wavering.

    “If you believe, you are gullible,” continues Prospero. “Can you look around this world and believe in the goodness of a God who rules it? Famine. Pestilence. War. Disease. Death. They rule this world.”

    And Satanists. Certainly in Prospero’s elite castle the devil holds sway. Here his aristocratic retinue revels with delight, a peel of lords and ladies who do his bidding without question, held in thrall to his pierced forked tongue and his wicked, animalistic games. Fuelled by greed and gluttony, they gorge on his favours and turn a cheek to his insults and perfidy. This fiend is a friend to nobody but his own ruthless desires. He taunts his guests, even the highest of them, parades the afflicted, murders with impunity. “I was promised entertainment,” sneers the barbarous Count Alfredo, “this is beyond my expectations.” Soon, he discovers the other side to Prospero’s whims.

    “Terror, what do you know of terror? Is it to waken and hear the passing of time? Or is it the failing beat of your heart? Or the footsteps of someone who just a moment before was in your room? But let us not dwell on terror, the knowledge of terror is vouchsafed only to the precious few.” 

    But not to his courtesan Juliana, who willingly commits herself to the service of Satan. Within the hallowed rooms of gold, indigo and pearl, within the chamber of evil deep in the castle, she experiences the hand of death, the moment of blissful release, and learns the extreme power of evil, not recognising the strafing swords and daggers that whip at her throat only foreshadow a waiting doom.

    The dwarf, Hop-Toad, plots revenge for the insult to his love, the tiny dancer Esmerelda. Francesca experiences sleepless nights, the footsteps creeping across her balcony, the wind curling at her curtains, her heart beating faster, faster. The dungeons hold rotting, tortured prisoners. The sins of the flesh become manifest at a grand masked ball where Prospero can at last welcome the master he has served for so long. Meanwhile, outside the walls, the red death lurks, a disease so virulent it decimates field and flock.

    And yet…

    Among the doom laden atmospheres of Roger Corman’s magnificent achievement in horror are a clutch of fantastic performances, notably from Vincent Price, but also from Hazel Court as the obsessive Juliana, Patrick Magee as the rapacious Alfredo and Skip Martin as Hop-Toad. The sets were borrowed from the movie Beckett and lavished up in gaudy, primary colours. The costumes are extravagant. The photography [from Nicolas Roeg] just ravishing, particularly in this 4K restoration. Perhaps, as Corman himself confesses, the final masquerade scenes don’t inspire as much as the rest of the sensorial splendour, but it is hard not to take your eyes off the visuals and the creeping sense of fatality that surrounds the Mephistophelian Prospero. His world is a maelstrom of chaos, imagined superbly by director, editor and photographer, as well as the literate and articulate screenplay from Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell.    

    “Why do you fear death?” asks the cowled stranger to the petrified Prince. “Your soul has been dead for years.” Only those wronged so fearsomely by Prospero’s wicked indulgence survive the closing doors. And as the corpses fester in his abandoned castle, God’s messengers congregate: red for death, black for disease, yellow for fever, the grey of war, the white of famine, a thin line of cloaked figures wandering the gangrenous landscape. Thus passes the glory of the world – and darkness and decay and the red death will hold dominion over all. 

    Brilliant.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    Word is amazing on DUNE PART 2. Reviews are gushing about it and I know 3 people who saw it last night at previews who are raving about it. I see it on Friday.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,746MI6 Agent
    edited February 27

    I'm really looking forward to Kevin Costner's dream project, the four-part "Horizon: An American saga". Four big-budget epic westerns, just what we need after all those superhero movies!



  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 183MI6 Agent

    THE IRON CLAW (2023)

    This is the story of the Von Erich wrestling family, focusing on the brothers (Kevin, Kerry, David, and Michael) and their careers in the early 80s.

    I'm not into wrestling at all but I'd heard that you didn't need to be a wrestling fan to appreciate this film. This turned out to be 100% correct because, honestly, this is one of the best films of 2023. It's simply superb. I knew nothing about the true story of these guys and boy did this film put me through the emotional wringer. My wife, who had no interest in seeing this film in the slightest, absolutely loved it.

    Written, directed, and acted beautifully, I highly recommend this.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    I have a couple of nights off from work, so I went to the BFI to catch DON'T LOOK NOW (1973) I don't need to add very much to my review here:

    https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/1054648#Comment_1054648

    Suffice to say, I enjoyed it immensely. BBC Radio 4’s Front Row did a January 2023 episode celebrating the film’s 50th anniversary. I was surprised by the prominence the presenter gave to the sex-scene, at the expense [almost] of all the other themes, motifs and subtexts. You wonder if she had watched it recently for research or was working only from memory. By focussing on one admittedly laudable aspect of the film, she missed so much that is relevant to the characters’ relationships and communications.

    I urge anyone who has not seen this film to watch it, and watch it closely, as it is a startling phantasmagoric thriller as well as a detailed portrait of grief, loss and unsettled love. 

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,220MI6 Agent

    So, as that was an afternoon showing, it left my evening free to watch this, also with the beautiful Julie Christie:

    DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)

    Twenty-five years after Gone With The Wind became the cinema’s romantic tribute to the Deep South and the American Civil War, David Lean gave us the snowy wastes and cities of Russia and the Urals, offering up a romantic, picture postcard interpretation of doomed love during the Russian Revolution.

    Romantic Doctor Zhivago certainly is, emotions boosted mostly by Maurice Jarre’s lilting melody, Lara’s Theme, which we only hear in its entirety over the closing credits, and occasionally by Freddie Young’s beautiful photography that illuminates Julie Christie’s luminous 1960s appeal in glorious technicolour. Music and Miss Christie aside, the film is a condensed version of Boris Pasternak’s enormous book and as such feels rushed when it should be slow and slow when it ought to rush. Many scenes are curiously static.

    David Lean, a director of landscapes rather than people, doesn’t do Omar Sharif any favours as our poor hero spends many moments gazing longingly at his loved ones, or spending his days stroking daffodils, ice melt or writing paper with his forever delicately manicured fingers. He just looks exhausted and lost for most of the second half. Despite the slow burn beckoning romance between Zhivago and the vital and lonely Lara, you wonder why on earth he would betray such a dutiful, caring and beautiful wife as Tonya – a young Geraldine Chaplin looking ravishing doing her utmost to give character to vapid dialogue. The film omits almost all of the novel’s final chapters, during which Zhivago married yet another woman – what is it with Russian doctors? – and instead concentrates on the core love-triangle, or quintette, as it is.

    Lara is the wanton teenage daughter of a dressmaker, set to marry a chaste Bolshevik, Pasha [Tom Courtney, excellent], who embarks on a perilous affair with an older man, Victor Komorovsky, a lawyer and politician who is already bedding her mother. Zhivago crosses paths with her before, during and in the aftermath of war and revolution. Love inevitably rears its head. Captured by Red Battalions, Zhivago reluctantly abandons his wife and lover for war in the same manner Lara’s husband chose the Red Army over her. Pasha changes his identity and reputation to Strelnikov, the ruthless slaughterer of innocents. For a few months Zhivago and Lara find happiness, but Strelnikov’s death brings further misfortune and it falls to the abusive Komorovsky to lend assistance – but can Zhivago’s moral compass cope with such evil handed aid?

    The moral dilemma is blindingly obvious, the solution too, but, as Rod Steiger’s magnificent Komorovsky scowls: “You’re a fool”, for Zhivago simply won’t bow to be bent, as if he is the sole arbiter of what is morally right and wrong. Fool indeed. Nobody is covered in goodness in this story of adultery, lies, rape and murder. When you look closely at it, the characters, Tonya Zhivago accepted, are a selfish, reprehensible bunch – so why is it we enjoy the unfolding passions, squalors and tragedies so much, why do they chime with our emotions? Perhaps it is a symptom of human desire: Lara asks “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if we’d met before… we would have been married and had a house and children.” Regrets don’t come into Zhivago’s thoughts: “We’ll drive ourselves mad thinking on it.” Too true. Hindsight can’t alter the past or map out the future, not for this pair or anyone, but their desire, often unspoken, transmits well on screen, perhaps in those longing looks and soft-focus frames, two beautiful mid-sixties icons and their beautiful best, who could not have made this film at any other time in their careers.

    Screenwriter Robert Bolt has excised swathes of the novel to compress it into three lovingly constructed hours, but to do so he creates a framing device involving Alec Guinness’ Soviet General who is searching for his niece, Tonya, who is Lara and Zhivago’s daughter. She’s played with suitable wide-eyed anxiety by Rita Tushingham. This makes up for much of what we miss. The film is best in the early sequences in Moscow as the relationships uncurl before us. The 1914-17 War is skipped over, as is the actual revolution, so too Zhivago’s two year stint as a Civil War medic. Lean and writer Bolt seem to want to focus on the domestic arrangements and as many wide angle landscapes as they can fit in. Spain, Finland and Canada stand in for Russia. The photography, design and costumes are faultless. The editing switches from rudimentary to the astonishing – a series of run-cuts inside an opulent restaurant as Lara and Victor eat, dance and drink brilliantly suggests the passage of time – and there is even an opportunity for Lean to go all Selznick on us: the scene at the Moscow railway station is clearly modelled on the famous panning shot of the wounded soldiers of Atlanta from Gone With The Wind.

    Like most epics of the period, Doctor Zhivago has a whole host of defects which you rather have to ignore lest they spoil your enjoyment. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen this movie and I still can’t tell you why I like it. A couple of great support performances aside, it isn’t David Lean’s best film or one of his most interesting. If anything, it is remarkably ordinary, raised by extraordinary moments. Perhaps it is after all only the rousing, lovingly interpreted music, and the beautiful Julie Christie who deserve my attention.

    Oh, go on: very good indeed.              

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