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  • Smithers500Smithers500 Spectre IslandPosts: 1,344MI6 Agent

    I’ve just seen Dune Part 2 and I loved it. I highly recommend seeing it on the largest screen you can.

    No spoilers here, but it was only when watching it that you realise the cast members who won’t be returning from the first part, but the new ensemble of actors more than makes up for this. Austin Butler was superb but I think this is Zendaya’s film if I had to give it to someone. Lea Seydoux turns up for what seemed to me an introduction with a larger role coming in a future instalment as seems likely .

    Other Bond alumni: Christopher Walken plays the Emperor, frankly I couldn’t get over how old he’s got but I suppose he must be in his late 70s now if not older.

    The film runs for some 2 hours 45 or so minutes, but I didn’t feel the runtime dragged. I loved it!

    Japanese proverb say, "Bird never make nest in bare tree".
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    Agreed, DUNE 2 is excellent. Be warned, the film does not give you any sort of recap of the first film. If you don't remember the first film, you're definitely going to want to watch it again before seeing the second one.

    Austin Butler solidifies himself as a pending superstar with his performance here as Feyd.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent


    An un-regarded and underrated romantic spy thriller from writer / director Blake Edwards based on a well-regarded novel by Evelyn Anthony and starring Edwards’ wife, Julie Andrews. She plays Foreign Office secretary Judith Farrow, a youngish widow on holiday in Barbados to forget a one-sided love affair whose apartment is next to suave Russian Feodor Sverdlov. As played by Omar Sharif, Sverdlov is a dab hand at charming seduction as well as being the KGB’s second in command at their Paris Bureau. The wonderful Oscar Homolka growls and prowls his way around the KGB Bureau, endlessly smoking long cigarettes, hoping to bring his errant agent to heel. Sharif is a much too good looking a soul to be trapped in Communist climes and Julie Andrews is wholesomely pretty in or out of her Dior dresses and bikinis, so Oscar’s up against it before Maurice Binder’s Bond-lite titles have even faded. John Barry’s string laden main theme is lushly listenable, romantic for sure but with a frisson of excitement hanging around the on-screen cigarette smoke. You could probably say his music goes a long way towards the success of the movie, occupying us emotionally when the script becomes too pretentious for its own good. Certainly early on the dialogue is almost wilting in the Barbadian heat.

    Back in Paris and London, Anthony Quayle’s secret service agent Jack Loder has already marked Judith Farrow out for being turned. Initially, Loder’s fears appear founded, but as Sverdlov continues to woo her and his ulterior motives dissipate into love, it becomes clear there’s a deadly noose tightening around the Russian’s neck. It isn’t entirely obvious what his fault is, but one suspects he’s misused funds to support his lavish lifestyle. Now, to save his life, the KGB man must rely on Judith’s ingenuity and contacts. Thus, she becomes the mouse in a series of traps set by the Russians and the British, all the while unaware that a greater traitor looms in the Foreign Office.

    A complicated script just about pulls the strings. The supporting acts are probably better than the main players, saddled as they are with a long-winded love affair that doesn’t light enough sparks. It’s all very well being polite, but a drop of passion might have done miracles for the couple’s on screen chemistry. Instead there are good watchable turns from Dan O’Herlihy and Sylvia Syms as a homosexual ambassador and his adulterous wife, as well as Quayle and his stereotypical assistant Bryan Marshall. The film ends with sudden violence, a climax that Barry’s music score anticipates with a long finale: a heartbeat pulse that accompanies Sharif and Andrews fleeing Paris and London for a rendezvous in the Caribbean.

    Sadly my enjoyment was spoilt by the atrocious print the BFI had obtained. It had faded very badly. A steward did warn us in advance but that was only a token gesture. Some of the audience walked out and frankly I can’t blame them. The rinsed look of the thing was appalling and did no favours to Freddie Young’s photography, which was praised in contemporary reviews. The BFI really ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Nevertheless, I found The Tamarind Seed to be a welcome respite from most modern thrillers that can’t wait to start banging and crashing to no effect and forget that people are involved in these capers too. Despite the warm locations, most of this thriller takes place in the coldness of the heart, where political ideals and personal reputations count far more than genuine affection. Love, if anything, turns out to be the most dangerous ideal of all.

    A note on the title: a Barbadian legend attests that a certain strain of the tamarind tree produces seeds that resemble the face of a slave who was due to be hung from a branch but survived through trickery. A little like smooth as silk Omar Sharif’s character in this entertaining slow burn of an espionage movie. 

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    The Godfather was on Film4 last night, the sequel is on at 9pm tonight I think.

    I saw most of it, bar the last half hour. The violence is sporadic and more noticeable for being set post-War in the late 1940s, though The Untouchables glossed up that theme a fair bit. It reels you in and wrong foots you because 'the Family' largely seem quite decent and Marlon Brando as the Godfather doesn't seem such a bad guy and you don't see him arrange any hits personally, still that's outsourcing for ya.

    Pacino is very good but when he gets serious and vengeful he did remind me of Howard's expression in The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon does something tactless or self-aggrandising.

    The famous actor who went on to be in Falling Down - name escapes me - and is the family's fixer really does owe a lot to Robert De Niro's mannerism before he acquired them, so did DeNiro base his go-to acting persona on that?

    Just as A Hard Day's Night never actually mentions the Beatles, save for a visual pun in the closing shots, the Mafia is never mentioned as such in The Godfather.

    Lovely shots of southern Italy, I'd like to see this on the big screen at some point. That said, not sure I'd stick around if I found out the enemy knew I was located there. The plot is pretty simplistic but done nicely, your sympathies wax and wane. Sinatra must have been teed off that that guy meant to depict him wasn't so cool, though he could pass for Tony Bennett. It's made a bit obvious though, the movie producer at one point pointedly says 'To be Frank...'

    Wasn't this made into a series at one point utilising cut footage - why doesn't that ever get shown?

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    The famous actor who went on to be in Falling Down: Robert Duvall. I'm not aware of any mannerism stealing between him and DeNiro and, to be honest, I don't see it.

    The Mafia not being mentioned in the film was due to the actual Mafia's influence. The story behind the making of the first film is pretty wild. A series was made on it called THE OFFER and it's worth seeking out.

    This wasn't made into a series per se but, at one point, both THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART TWO were edited together into a massive movie called THE GODFATHER SAGA that 1: showed everything in chronological order and 2: added deleted footage. It was shown as a big miniseries in the late 70s.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent
    edited March 4

    The Godfather II, unsurprisingly.

    Hard to argue with an Oscar-winner that gets 9 on the imdb rating. Longer than the first one, I watched this til the end. Very good, epic compared to the first, well, it's two movies in one, as it intermittently flashes back to the Family's origins, as the Marlon Brando character (well played by DeNiro, carefully not making it a Brando impersonation, but not too far off the character either) flees his Italian hometown for New York. I don't know if the original plan had been to shoot this chronologically, then switch to modern - I did read in producer Robert Evans' memoirs that a lot of work was done on these films to make them the success they were, in terms or restructuring and editing, but I don't know how much of that is self-aggrandisement.

    The dual narrative helps dispel the sense you get with most sequels that it's more of the same, though in a way it is - Michael Corleone takes people on and defeats them, becoming more ruthless along the way. Different locations in Cuba and Las Vegas help change the look of the film as the Family expands its business model - no Johnny Fortune in the Vegas location, however, probably a wise move given his similarity to Sinatra.

    Good stuff - a bit formula but it works; we side with the Family when we see some of the horrible types they are up against. We are made to feel insiders. It's really best watched with company I feel, with a beer and pizza, in your 20s - I personally don't feel what the Mafia are doing is any worse or different to what the current Govt is up to really, or local authorities, but that's my age talking. And that might have been the view in the 70s when cynicism about the US Govt was peaking.

    Two things never sat too well - the abrupt change of attitude of the racist Irish congressman when he is caught with a dead prostitute - maybe a scene got deleted, but on getting their help he is suddenly their best mate, he never seems to suspect he was set up - though to be fair, I'm not sure we do see he is set up. Also, the final reveal from Diane Keaton's character is as much a surprise to us, there didn't seem too much warning and how come the Family didn't know what she was up to? Again, maybe a scene or two was cut. And were there any repercussions re Fredo and his wife (our own Talia Shire - sort of, who later popped up in the Rocky films, so that's one hell of a movie pedigree for that decade).

    The top 4 main actors in this all still alive: Pacino, DeNero, Keaton, Duvall - but the guy who played Fredo died as early as 1978.

    A re-edit of the third Godfather, dubbed a 'coda' is on Film4 tonight.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    Lower your expectations on GODFATHER PART 3.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    I haven't seen the re-edit of III "Coda". I watched all three movies back-to-back at the BFI some years ago. I was very grateful for the International Food market on the Southbank that day !

    IMO, while II is a great film, it isn't a ground-breaking film. Even the framing device had been done before - Orson Welles, for instance, in both Kane and Chimes at Midnight, flashed backward - I suppose inserting the De Niro stuff throughout the main story without indication is what makes the difference. I do like a film that credits the audience with intelligence to figure stuff out. However, as Napoleon says above, the modern Mafia story is a basic repeat of the first one, only Pacino's character doesn't die as Brando's Top Don did in the first film. The modern sections also lack a sense of culture - the wedding scene, the Sicilian sequence, the Italian trattorias, buying peaches from market stalls - which The Godfather strongly emphasised. Instead that is all transferred into the De Niro sections. So, Coppola here tries to subtly tell us the Mafia under Michael Corleone has become an American Mafia and is losing its traditional roots. I don't believe that works emotionally; what makes the first film fascinating is the attention paid to the nature of traditional values and how they both inform right and wrong decisions and prove to be the solution as well as the catalyst. No.2 is just a family revenge saga. While Brando's Don Corleone was ruthless, I do not believe he would act so dispassionately towards his family - as emphasised by the emotional struggle De Niro exhibits when Freddo is sick as a child. Michael, basically, is a just a much more sophisticated and monstrous bully than his other brother, the dead James Caan. I find it hard to believe the sensitive soul we saw turned to the dark side in No.1 has completely forgotten his heart by No.2. Critics hark on about the baptism scene, but its not a lot different to the mass murdering climax of the original. Ultimately, the viewing of No.2 left me cold, while No.1 constantly surprises, thrills and intrigues, it even has humour. Most of that is missing from No.2.

    No.3 [the original version] was okay, nothing more. A bit King Lear I recall. Shakespeare, see...

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    Yeah, I see what you mean. Godfather Coda aka III is one of those belated sequels - a bit like the Indy ones or Connery in NSNA - where it becomes clear it's hard to pick up from where you left off.

    One problem is that the ingredients that made the first two so enjoyable just aren't in this one, namely the combo of post-war Old America with cutting-edge 1970s cinematic violence, plus the interesting expansion of Mafia enterprises in lockstep with the personal corruption of Michael Corleone. The 1970s US films did a bit of that cynical reassessment of the country's last 100 years, and not through rose-tinted camera lenses. But here we have Corleone on a quest for respectability and forgiveness - I suppose this could work, but it's like tuning into Jaws 3D and finding it's about Bruce's sincere attempt to join Seaworld. The film has to unpick what the others set up.

    Frankly, much of the early stuff is just boring, it's like a board meeting. We don't get much in the way of undercurrents or even cheap thrills, and the potential enemies seem a bit dull, it's almost Dallas or Dynasty. The nearest we get is that the Vatican's representatives seem underhand and dangerous but while I'm happy to sign up for any Vatican conspiracy, it doesn't work here because they don't seem played by actors who are that credible or scary, or assisted by credible dialogue. Anyway, you don't necessarily sign up to a Godfather movie for this stuff, the dynamic is shifted when the dangerous ones are outside the Family. For the first hour we don't see any lovely Italian scenes either. The film has that 1990s filter - sort of polished noir realism in films then, it looks different and modern, but a bit dull, and avoids the kitsch corny look of earlier films, but we were stuck with it for 15 years or so, it's not lovely. There isn't any retro nostalgia though the movie is set around 1980 - you could do something with that now, but not in 1990, it's hard to get nostalgic when it's only a decade old - that said, had Ford Coppola held out for another 10 years, Pacino and Keaton would have been the right age for it, still I understand he did this for the money, and it tells.

    On top of which, the film is hit by star-itis - by 1990 both Al Pacino and Diane Keaton were big stars on the upswing again, but both now had their cinema personas - almost as comedy actors. It looks like a big opportunity to sign these two stars while they're hot, but this contrasts with the first two films where they were jobbing actors. Here, Pacino really doesn't come across like the Corleone we saw at the end of GF2 - he really looked as if he'd stay atrophied as a miserable, menacing mean guy, old before his time. Here, he 's too much Al Pacino, he reigns in his 'hoo ha!' nonsense but only just, and at times when he's trying to control his new young charge, he's almost Bill Cosby.

    And yes, the third star is newly established Untouchables actor Andrew Garcia, well he has to be in it, and he's okay albeit lacking in mystery - but whereas with the first two films, where the star of The Godfather is The Godfather, namely the film itself rather than the excellent actors, here we have big star names, they are the stars, but the film isn't a star, if you see what I mean. They're propping up rubbish.

    Winona Ryder would have been the other star but she walked after the director shouted at her - I guess you could say she dodged a bullet there, so he got in his daughter Sofia Coppola. I don't hate her in this, she seems sexually very attractive to me but she became the scapegoat for the film in many ways. On top of which, what's with Garcia's character trying to cop off with her, his niece, that's right isn't it? She's her brother's daughter, I mean they're not even distant relations. Why is she coming on to him, why is he even thinking of responding? 'It's incense, Rodney!' It doesn't feel terribly comfortable or right, yet nor does it feel like two great passions fusing against their better instincts.

    Garcia is all John Travolta in the early scenes, long hair and leather jacket, next time I flick back he's sharp suited with nice haircut - I mean, did any time pass before this transformation? Godfather 3 is not very epic, there's no sense of the passage of time. On top or which, we have Talia Shire back - okay, someone else who found stardom and you sense that's why she's back - but as Corleone had her brother Fredo bumped off, well I was dipping in and out of this so maybe it's addressed but it does seem odd she'd hang around. Likewise, Keaton is in this because she's a star, you don't really get the impression she'd hang around or want to get back into his life but she's a star, she was in 1 and 2, so the script has to accommodate that. George Hamilton is there, in I guess in the Robert Duvall role - Duvall was a big star then too, but he didn't return for this - and he's not exactly bad but he's not a highly credible actor, is he?

    I was switching between this and the Diana Investigation programme which rehashed old facts and theories about her death, this doc actually had more of the touch of the Godfather about it, with sinister insinuations and spooky music.

    I've devoted too much to this but yeah, it has that belated sequel done for the money or because it seems too convenient not to feel to it, there isn't much heart. Tbf it may get better as it goes on, but if it's that boring in the first hour, and not very credible too, you've got your work cut out.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent
    edited March 28

    WALKABOUT (1970)

    “That is the land of lost content / I see it shining plain / the happy highways where I went / and cannot come again.” A.E. Houseman.

    Quoted from A Shropshire Lad and recited before the end credits as if we hadn’t figured out the moral dilemma director Nicolas Roeg and left-wing writer Edward Bond are trying to illustrate, if Houseman were alive, he surely must be wondering what his idealised literary vision of the English countryside has to do with the wild empty landscapes of the Australian outback. This kind of intertextuality doesn’t always work on film and for all its beautiful visuals Walkabout misses the contextual mark. For instance, the portable transistor radio the two lost children carry with them in the desert constantly reminds us of their age because the school’s programs are transmitting. The fact the same radio announcer was waxing unlyrically about metropolitan Sydney when we first encounter the kids, their father and mother draws attention to their abandonment. This is all well and good, but why do the filmmakers choose Rod Stewart’s Gasoline Alley as a musical interlude on the Light Channel? Inappropriate and perplexing.

    In fact, for much of the runtime, Walkabout is a filmic conundrum. Rudimentary in outline, the film offers a slow cooked version of adolescent longing. The stirrings of cross-cultural passion are muted, mostly by the inability of two fourteen year olds, a westernised Girl and an Aborigine Man, to communicate. Their interpreter is the Girl’s younger brother, but he can’t grasp the Aborigine’s intent and while the Girl recognises it, she runs from it, metaphorically. The long build up to the inevitable tragedy is cut through with images of scorching passionate heat, pseudo-religious iconography and blissful uninhibited naturalism. This extended montage of snatched dialogues, scenes of hunting, cooking and primitive or civilised domestic and social environments [I use both adjectives ill-advisedly] doesn’t gel with any certainty. When you learn that Bond’s fourteen page screenplay was considered ‘perfect’ by director Nic Roeg, you begin to surmise that he filled in the remaining pages with scenery, community and silence. Much goes unsaid.

    As the collage unfolds, we begin wonder if what we are watching is truth or fantasy. People and animals seem to come alive after death. The dromedary camels that stroll across a pitted valley may well be a mirage, their corpse flesh later seen blistered in the vicious unforgiving sun. Meteorologists play silly games at each other’s expense; the men’s interest in the sole female is purely sexual; ‘civilised’ and ‘uncivilised’ seem to have the same sensual fascinations. Do the three youngsters really pass so close to an isolated missionary community, or is this a figment of the Aborigine’s memory? As could be the juddering jeep which almost runs him over as he wrestles a wild cow? Pages of a book flick across the screen as the Boy recites a longwinded fairy story that ends in tragic fashion, eerily foreshadowing the movie’s denouement. Terrible secrets lurk in the desert: lizards and scorpions prowl the sands like dinosaurs, insects feast on the carrion, the sun beats irrevocably down on everything, snakes slither. Is the serpent in the tree really there, or just a recollection of desert-bound Biblical stories, like Exodus, Eden or the Devil’s Temptations? Why, we ask ourselves, does the geologist father decide almost randomly to murder his children before committing suicide? Roeg’s camera lurks on his daughter’s thighs, impersonating the father’s bespectacled gaze. Is this the horrific secret we are not party too? Is this why the Girl stares despondently from the passenger seat, her sentences short, sharp and laced with tension? Is this why, following his suicide, she elicits no grieving emotion, not even a tear? Is this why the attentions of the similarly uncommunicative Aborigine confuse and frighten her? Is the final scene of the trio of youngsters swimming naked in a sink pool a memory for the Girl, now a Woman, whose eyes linger in the far distance, searching for a place unspoken, as she greets her husband with a token kiss on the cheek, cigarettes hissing and the radio playing, her hands dexterously cutting prepacked liver, a hygienic contrast to the Aborigine’s rustic machetes, spears, boomerangs and clubs? Here, as in the wild, her responses are mute. She lives in the same apartment block her father and mother did, cooking in the same kitchen, listening to the same radio program – was it all a dream, a recollection to linger like a whisper in the ear or a prism of light caught on a broken bottle or the hollow cry of a digeridoo.

    We enjoy Nic Roeg’s prettily photographed sunsets and the vastness of the Australian interior. We enjoy the stark realism of the mostly improvised scenes. The clash of civilised and uncivilised is paradoxical and beautifully resonant, always uncertain who is the teacher and who the pupil, who is learning and who is not. We laugh at the moments of unexpected humour in the bleakness. We grimace at the thoughtless desecration of an indigenous life by a supposed sophisticated culture. We twitch a smile as the Aborigine and the Girl reach tacit understanding. We may even shed a tear at the inevitable descent into unspoken misfortune. She brushes flies from his dead, exhausted body, hanging as if crucified, a saviour and martyr in one: the unwanted insects are already gathering to feast on the sinful flesh.

    While Walkabout is a very good film and has its supporters who revel in its cinema of visuals and audibles, the puzzling nature of the non-linear narrative, with its multitude of possible interpretations isn’t as successful as it might have been with a focussed core. James Vance Marshall’s original novel was more streamlined – the Girl and Boy survive a plane crash in which their parents are killed, the Aborigine who saves them dies of influenza – and hence was able to address the culture clash with wit and curiosity, albeit via an expected Westernised conformity. That is entirely missing in the cinema’s version. The suggestion of an attraction based on mutual dependence is shorn away and replaced by one based more on who is wearing the least clothes or catches the sun worst. Survival, it appears, is reliant on love and lust, not practicalities and interdependence – the long stares the Aborigine and the Girl cast at each other when he threatens to walk away from them tells us exactly, at first meeting, where this relationship is heading. The characters’ personal minutiae feel foreshortened. 

    Performance, Roeg’s co-directing debut with Donald Cammell, was viciously edited to brutal, alarming effect, heightening the terror, the violence, the hallucinogenic drug-fuelled wrath and insanity of Turner’s life, contrasting it vividly to Chas’s streamlined outlook. As the two men become mutually dependent and their identities blend, the editing becomes ever more colourful, sharp and nuanced. The film Roeg made after Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, again relies on a non-linear narrative, but because the central theme of grief occupies the reactions of the two main protagonists, an audience can far better accept the flashbacks and flashforwards, the premonitions and strange goings on in Venice, which may or may not be a phantasmagoria. Walkabout in comparison wants to make big statements via its construction, statements about life and love, considerations of civilisation and crossing cultural boundaries, but they are not persuasive because the presentation feels created out of whimsy and not for emotive effect.

    Performance is effectively, wildly provocative; Don’t Look Now provides a wonderfully tense, expressive and rounded interpretation of grief and the supernatural. Walkabout isn’t quite like either of these. It doesn’t provoke and isn’t emotionally fulfilling. If anything it demonstrates Nicolas Roeg’s early mastery of the visual form but without a sensitive core. The film is best understood as a stepping stone from the director’s brazen, shocking debut to his third outing, which is his intelligent and sorrowful masterpiece.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    MAMMA MIA ! (2008)

    Phenomenally successful sugary musical of dubious moral intent set on a Greek island. A young woman searches for her father among the guests at her wedding accompanied by the Abba songbook. Shameless OTT performances from the starry cast, a happy ending and dreadful singing from all despite some interesting staging. It all looks a bit cheap, much like the bride’s mother. For Abba fans only. 

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    CHARRO! (1969)

    This is the only movie Elvis Presley made where he didn’t sing on screen. As such it is both an oddity and an indication of the kind of fare we might have seen the King featured in had he not been saddled with a manager whose idea of entertainment was no-budget musicals with second hand support players.

    Charro! is a sanitised spaghetti western. Director Charles Marquis Warren had a reasonable career in westerns, but he wasn’t used to the 1960s ilk and what might have been a tough, vicious bloodletter of a little horse opera turns into something that has all the incidents, but none of the violence we expect. So there are all the familiar spaghetti western tropes: the man alone, the Mexican / Apache land setting, the whore house, a big prize – in this instance a golden cannon – scenes of torture, scenes of nudity, a one street town full of frightened residents, a sibling rivalry, Hugo Montenegro’s music, a melodramatic climax... but none of the ingredients are stirred fully into the pot. There’s hardly any blood, for starters. Ina Balin’s nude scene is usually cut [it was for this daytime showing, but I did witness it on a late night transmission many, many years ago]. Warren toned down the original script when it came to filming and the movie loses all of its edge.

    While I have no evidence for this, I sense the interference of Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker; that man dare not even have Elvis drinking, smoking or swearing on screen lest it damage his client’s reputation. Parker seemed to forget Elvis’ reputation was built on his dangerous, almost violent, sexual energy, so to dampen the violence in a spaghetti western does a disservice both to the subgenre and to the King of Rock n Roll. So, it’s quite a surprise to hear Elvis order and drink tequila during the opening bar room sequence! Apparently the novelisation includes all the viciousness the filmmakers left out, so you just end up wondering what on earth they were thinking toning the action down.

    Elvis Presley plays Jess Wade, a good man gone in with a bad crowd. He redeems himself through a series of fights and gun battles that save a fledgling town and bring his old gang to justice. The star acquits himself fairly well. I had memories of his turns in King Creole and Flaming Star, when he really proved he could do more than just sing and smile. Here too he sneers more than ever, his chin is carpeted in a dusty, sweaty beard, he gets beaten up and chastised; it isn’t even certain he gets the girl. It is a very untypical Elvis character and an untypical Elvis movie. Watching it decades on, I have the impression the King could have shaved his lines to a bare minimum, as Clint Eastwood famously did, and offered more of a mysterious, menacing performance from a more monosyllabic portrait.

    Charro! has a poor reputation, although I am not entirely sure why. Music fans don’t even like the marvellously operatic theme tune. The movie made a decent profit, which not many Elvis products did in the very late sixties, and demonstrates the King still has star power. Perhaps it simply came too late to redeem his cinematic persona. Elvis should have been supporting John Wayne in the same year’s True Grit and watching this you sense he really would have made a decent fist of it.   

    A disappointment then, but a different kind of disappointment than I usually experience watching Elvis flicks. Charro! is a half decent attempt at something good. It is disappointingly misjudged and subsequently doesn’t rise above the fair-medium stakes; still, that is a lot better than stuff like The Trouble With Girls and Harum Scarum. You can only dream what might have been had Charles Marquis Warren been bolder and bloodier with his directing.

    A note on the title: a ‘charro’ is a term for a non-Mexican cowboy dressed in the Mexican style.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    Perhaps you can cheer yourself up with a screening of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again on ITV at 3pm! It's in competition with another classic musical, Funny Face, on BBC2 cat 2.25pm however!

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • IstvanTheHun007IstvanTheHun007 Posts: 75MI6 Agent

    Impossible Object 1974 directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Alan Bates & Dominique Sanda

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    if it matters, this is a rare instance where the sequel is better.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    There you have it! Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again on a par with The Godfather II. We await @chrisno1 's take.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    Oh GOD no.

    but MAMMA MIA 2: THE QUICKENING is a better made/directed film than the first one. In the end, it's still just a means to enjoy some ABBA songs (same as the first film) but the execution is just better.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    You have to be joking.... 🤔

  • IstvanTheHun007IstvanTheHun007 Posts: 75MI6 Agent

    Watched Poor Things last night.

    It is a very well-made film, certainly deserving of its technical Oscars. Visually and aurally an artistic triumph! Jorgos Lathimos is certainly one of the most interesting filmmakers out there, always deserving of at least one viewing of his latest oeuvre. But... it certainly is not for everyone. I found the story and what I perceived as the artistic communication to be pure and utter trash. Degenerate and intellectually flawed. But that is nothing new for art, which often dips into that hostile territory.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,890MI6 Agent
    edited March 17

    Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon

    Like everything made by Aardman this movie is top notch. As someone who grew up on a farm I find some elements unrealistic. After years of observation I question if sheep are this intelligent. 🤔But the fun and imagination in Farmageddon more than makes up for it the unrealistic elements. In Farmageddon Shaun goes Sci-fi as he meets a hungry alien. The two go on an adventure to find the space ship while the farmer dreams of an alien themed park for the tourists.

    The technical side of the production is great, often better than what we see in adult movies.... I mean movies for adults! The action scenes are really good and I often find myself laughing at the sight gags such as the alien swimming through the frozen section of a supermarket while holding up a pizza box, reminding us of Jaws. Or the astronaut painting his space ship in space. It even shares the Encounters music cue with MR!

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    I love Shaun the Sheep. I watch the shorts in the morning when I get in from the nightshift ! Cheers me up no end.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,890MI6 Agent

    Dune part 2

    This is one of the best directors working today firing on all cylinders. Fantastic! Dune is epic sci-fi for adults, a rare movie genere. I don't know what else to say other than: if you haven't seen the Dune movies yet highly recommend watching them. Ideally watch it on the big screen.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,890MI6 Agent

    The best children's movies are so good, adults happily watch them on their own.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent


    Recorded live production of the play with 'our' Andrew Scott shown in Odeon cinemas, critics say it is an acting tour de force or a self-indulgence.

    I kind of lean to the latter, I struggled with it. I only went to see it because my sister raved about it and wanted to see it again, plus she offered to pay for the ticket.

    The play is done as a monologue by Scott, that is, he's playing all the characters; it's just him for 2 hours or so. It's a play, so it's not Alec Guinness doing Kind Hearts and Coronets. He looks the same, he wears the same garb, save donning some shades for once character or playing with a red tea towel for another as a point of ID. So really, it's about vocal mimicry as he goes back and forth between the voices, at times it's like listening to Norman Bates in exchange with his mother in Psycho. Or 70s impressionist Mike Yarwood doing both Steptoe and Son on An Audience With... Actually, I could enjoy seeing Scott do that, as each episode of the sitcom is mainly a Corbett monologue interspersed with a caustic put down from his old man. Here, in Vanya, there are more than a handful of characters and I'm sorry to say I sometimes struggled to tell who was who despite the different voices, and worse, I didn't always much care.

    Scott began to remind me of an English teacher I knew at my senior school who didn't like me and I didn't like him, that's not his fault nor even my English teacher's I suppose, but it started to grate on me and I did find his impersonation of one female character actually quite annoying, Because he has to switch back and forth you don't feel he is really building a performance, he is not fashioning it as a a thread, rather it's a box of confetti chucked at the stage.

    You have to admire Scott in pulling this off, in memorising two hours of non-stop dialogue though then again if you find yourself doing this, it hasn't captured you.

    I would have walked out but my sister was sat a row or two behind me. Afterwards I couldn't even fudge the issue because normally you might say, 'Oh, I liked the actress who played such and such' but you couldn't with this, it was just Scott, just him, and one set.

    The ending is quite moving in the way that things do after a lot of heavy work and alright, I got home and cried a bit. I could have cried more when I saw the ticket cost my sister £24 - that's nearly five bottles of French Malbec from Asda!

    The trailers were generally rubbish, including a new Kong movie with CGI that, as is the custom these days, both impressive and rubbish, as in not convincing. A new John Wick-style action flick by Dev Patel, White Monkey I think it's called, looks interesting though.

    Scott's other current movie is at the Odeon next week but I feel I've seen enough of him. At around two hours, it was a bit like watching Bond hero Calvin Dyson so his 2-hr Bond reviews, actually Dyson does resemble Scott a bit but his reviews I find hilarious.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • IstvanTheHun007IstvanTheHun007 Posts: 75MI6 Agent

    Saw DUNE 2 in 70mm IMAX and it was a brilliant visceral experience!

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,631Chief of Staff

    MARLOWE (2022) Dir: Neil Jordan

    The latest (so far) film about Philip Marlowe, the classic private eye created by Raymond Chandler in such books as “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell My Lovely” and played by such actors as Robert Mitchum and Humphrey Bogart. This isn’t based on any Chandler works but instead on a continuation novel, “The Black-Eyed Blonde” by Benjamin Black.

    It’s set in a very believable 1939 with the period atmosphere created by clothes, cars, etc, being very well done and enjoyable. As is expected of such stories the plot is convoluted and the viewer can either wear themselves out trying to understand what’s going on or simply lie back and enjoy it (my suggestion) while Marlowe does the hard work and simply trust that it will all be explained in the end (though not always in every detail, as the famous story of the chauffeur in “The Big Sleep” testifies). This one isn’t quite that elaborate but all the tropes are there to be savoured.

    The femmes fatale are Diane Kruger and Jessica Lange, and our own Alan (“I am invincible!”) Cumming is there as the leading gangster. Even more than with James Bond, however, whether a Philip Marlowe film/TV succeeds or fails relies heavily on the lead actor and here we have Liam Neeson in the starring role. Not the first actor I would have thought of to play Marlowe today- Marlowe isn’t Irish (a couple of lines explain that away, though) and he isn’t 70 years old, either, making Neeson the oldest actor yet to have played this role beating the previous record holder Robert Mitchum by a good few years. Neeson doesn’t look anywhere near his age, it has to be said, and it’s implied in some dialogue that his Marlowe is at least 20 years younger. He handles himself very well in the fight scenes and doesn’t do too badly in the love scenes (Jessica Lange is his contemporary while Diane Kruger is more than 20 years younger, just like a Bond leading lady). Overall I liked this portrayal (with some reservations) and wouldn’t mind seeing Neeson play the part again. I do like a voiceover from Marlowe in these movies, though, and there wasn’t one.

    As to why this particular story was picked, I have no idea. There have been a few continuation novels but there is also one Chandler which has never been filmed or done on TV as far as I know and that’s “Playback”. It has been performed on radio, with our own Toby Stephens playing a believable Marlowe. Why it has never been filmed while others have been adapted two or even three times I don’t understand. It isn’t the best of Chandler’s books but it’s enjoyable.

    Note- this film is not to be confused with the 1969 “Marlowe” starring James Garner. That one’s perhaps most remembered today because one of the henchmen is none other than a pre-stardom Bruce Lee. Oddly enough the next Marlowe movie had a pre-stardom Arnold Schwarzenegger as a henchman and the one after that a pre-stardom Sylvester Stallone as… you guessed it, a henchman. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few years from now one of Alan Cumming’s henchmen in this movie turns out to have become a big star.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    That's a nice review of a film I have never heard of @Barbel . Hope you have good holiday BTW.

    I enjoy the James Garner film. The Mitchum version of The Big Sleep is terrible.

    I watched this one some weeks back but never posted the review:


    Filmed back-to-back with The Reptile, this Hammer excursion into both the ‘folk horror’ and the ‘zombie’ sub-genres of horror flicks features some of the same cast and most of the sets, most notably the studio-built town square cemetery. The movie even follows almost exactly the same narrative: a newcomer to a Cornish village [this time a doctor] calls on outside help to uncover a demon cult [this time leading to the zombified resurrection of the dead]. John Carson is suitably chilling as the characteristically changeable villain, Squire Hamilton, and Jacqueline Pearce is excellent as the young woman who falls under his spell. Andre Morell excels too as the physician Sir James Forbes who recognises the ritualistic signs of Haitian voodoo. While the story and the motivation of the clutch of nasty bad guys is a bit inadequate, the film scores top marks for being atmospheric and edited for maximum mid-sixties shock value. The jump cuts to sudden moments of blood, dead corpses or frightened faces work well. Director John Gilling isn’t afraid of the close-up, using them to good effect in numerous occasions to jolt the audience.

    The film is famous for its representation of zombies, with their blue, cracked leathery faces, staring eyes and seemingly mud clamped orifices. This was a direct influence of many zombie pictures to come. The rising dead sequence is rightly lauded, but I was most impressed with the scene that immediate precedes it as Jacqueline Smith’s Alice decays before our eyes and then crawls out of her coffin and her grave in a pure white burial shroud, eyes staring blankly and boldly ahead. Exceptional quality here. The underlying theme of possession comes and goes, but because the villains don’t explain what the purpose of all this is – a reactivated tin mine is being worked by the undead, but you do wonder if living labour might be more efficient. It is best appreciated as an exercise in tension and tiny jump shocks, of which there are many, which propel the narrative forward incident by incident rather than as a coherent story line. The film has many other above average scenes – the burial, the autopsy, the first grave digging, Sylvia’s finger being cut, Sir James confronting the Squire – which make The Plague of the Zombies a well-above-average chiller, helped too I feel by the unfamiliarity of the cast [no Cushing, no Lee]. The movie feels authentic and grounded in something like genuine fear.

    The Cornish setting hints at strange, alien pulses acting within the wider British society. As young Dr Thompson insists, this isn’t London, they do things differently in the west country. The importing of a foreign culture as the source of evil unfortunately deflects the topical notion of an internal counter-culture. The movie instead prefers to suggest that not all colonial imports are ethically valuable. It probably doesn’t do to dwell on what writer Peter Bryan might be saying. Best just to enjoy the movie for the slick product it is.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,631Chief of Staff

    Thanks, @chrisno1. I did have a relaxing time, and feel the better for it. Yes, the Garner movie is a good one and the Mitchum "Sleep" is hopelessly outclassed by the earlier version (I love "Farewell, My Lovely" though).

    Nice review of one of the lesser known Hammers. Andre Morell is always good value, and I've sometimes wondered why his career suddenly seemed to collapse at the end of the 60s- no more leading roles, only small parts.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent
    edited March 20

    Thanks @Barbel I just noted I wrote Jacqueline Pearce's name as Jacqueline Smith. I must be having a Charlie's Angels moment 😀

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent
    edited March 24

    Top Gun: Maverick on Channel 4 last night. I enjoyed this a lot more than the other belated sequel No Time To Die, which I have yet to see twice. It's hits the right buttons, it's tonally consistent and satisfying. Is this the biggest delay between sequels? It's as if Sean Connery appeared in Dr No, then did other things and left it a few years to return in, not Diamonds Are Forever, not even Never Say Never Again but - wait for it - GoldenEye. It's that big a gap.

    Or, if you prefer, if Timothy Dalton did The Living Daylights and left it until No Time To Die to do the follow-up!

    That said, in comparison, EON have been firing out Bond movies like bullets from a machine gun since then. To be fair, Top Gun 2 is much the same plot as the first, I think, try doing a series of Top Gun films, you'd struggle really to mix it up. All the same, this sequel really did have that slick, neat, uncomplicated vibe the Bond films used to have. Again, the Indy films did belated sequels too and never made it as smooth as this, they both felt awkward. They skirt around the fact that Cruise's character isn't going to have a kid in this, in both the Bond and Indy sequels they had to shoehorn it in - oh, here's one you made earlier.

    Another thing is, by accident or design the original Top Gun hasn't been on telly much at all the last few years, so one is not made over familiar. The showing of the Bonds on TV from the mid 70s onwards helped boost their popularity but now they're on an awful lot so it's hard for the writers to come up with stuff that seems new, it's obvious it's been done before, so one could argue the series is a victim of its own success.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
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