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  • GrindelwaldGrindelwald Posts: 1,311MI6 Agent

    35 anniversary today Batman '89

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent

    TAKE A HARD RIDE (1975)

    Jim Brown and Fred Williamson are a pair of cowboys hired by Dana Andrews to transport a bankroll to Mexico. Along the way, they encounter Lee Van Cleef in a familiar role as a bounty hunter determined to steal the cash. Jim Kelly is a kung-fu-fighting half-breed Indian (wow!). There are lots of shootouts and much wise-ass talk to satisfy action fans in this Spaghetti Western-Blaxploitation-Martial Arts mashup. The supporting cast of stalwarts include Barry Sullivan and Harry Carey, Jr.. The prolific director Antonio Margheriti (credited under his American pseudonym Anthony Dawson - (not Prof. Dent)) handles the action in his usual profligate manner. Jerry Goldsmith provides the score which nicely sits aside the gunplay.

    A decent example of the genre.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,964MI6 Agent

    Perfect Sense (2011)

    This movie was directed by David MacKenzie, who also directed "Hell and high water" among other movies and TV shows. The leads are Ewan McGregor who plays a chef at a restaurant and our own Eva Green who plays a sceintist who works with epidemics. The world is hit by an epidemic that takes people's senses away one by one, starting with taste. Obviously the professions of th leads are very relevant to the epidemic. Having experienced the covid-19 pandemic we probably experience Perfect Sense in a differnt ligfht now. Some even lost their sense of taste when they got Covid. i think it's impressive that such big stars as McGregor and Green make movies like this where the budget is low and the chanses of being a box office hit is even smaller, but everyone delvers great and intense acting. Of course Eva is stunningly beautiful and being French she has plenty of nude scenes. in spite of this the movie is pretty dark. I like that the movie doesn't focus on the medical side, but the emotional effects and the effects on society. While this is a very different genere I would very much like MacKenzie to direct a Bond movie.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent

    THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972)

    It didn’t take much persuasion for me to watch this early entry in the Women in Prison genre. Super-sexy Pam Grier and our own Sid Haig star, exploitation legend Jack Hill directs, and it’s filmed in the Philippines - nuff said.

    The local women’s prison is run by a sadistic warden and his misogynistic guards. The girls fight amongst themselves, yearn for sex with “real men” and are tortured and forced to work at a huge sugar mill (the eponymous Big Bird Cage). Haig and Grier lead a crew of revolutionaries who plan to release the women from their island hell to fortify the ranks of their army. They infiltrate the camp, she as a prisoner and he as a guard, and all hell breaks loose, the inmates dodge bullets and explosions to escape.

    Hill’s compact dialogue and helter-skelter direction keep things moving at a rapid pace throughout. Full of gratuitous titillation and fabulous un-PC thrills, The Big Bird Cage is a masterwork of its genre, and another gem in Hill's formidable CV (which includes Switchblade Sisters, and two Pam Grier classics Coffy and Foxy Brown—all highly recommended).

    Just about as close to sleazy exploitation drive-in heaven as you're ever going to get.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 277MI6 Agent

    KELLY'S HEROES, in honor of Donald Sutherland.

    Yep, still good.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 4,002MI6 Agent

    I just watched The Big Bird Cage myself a couple months back

    a bit more entertaining than other womens prison films I've seen, because its full of comedy, like the scenes in the revolutionarys camp. also beautiful landscapes. The more typical such films are all within dark confined spaces

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent


    Barry Newman headlines the cast but make no mistake about the fact that the star of the show is the yellow Dodge 426 Hemi Challenger. Newman is a Vietnam vet/ex-cop/ex-race car driver who bets that he can deliver the Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours. Guzzling handfuls of amphetamines, he gets speed-induced hallucinations, encounters a few weirdos while being chased by cops. Dean Jagger and Cleavon Little are two that he encounters along the way. This became a cult movie back in the day but apart from some spectacular car chases it offers very little.

    Newman would next do Fear Is The Key where he has an exciting car chase using a Ford Gran Torino. Lucky feller.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 99MI6 Agent

    'Cross of Iron' by Sam Peckinpah and starring James Coburn. It was the full, unedited version which featured the infamous 'biting off of the appendage' scene.

    It's a long time since I saw the film (it hasn't been on TV for perhaps thirty plus years) and even then it was heavily sanitised.

    I'm glad that JC didn't try to put on a German accent. Given his track record in 'The Great Escape' he'd have probably sounded like a pantomime villain.

    It's a brutal and uncompromising anti-war film which is well worth a watch if you haven't seen it before.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,890Chief of Staff
    edited June 23

    The Oxford Murders (2008)

    Old professor John Hurt and young student Elijah Wood get involved in and try to solve an apparent series of murders in and around Oxford. Dreary and pretentious with name checks or visual homages to philosophers (Wittgenstein being the most prominent) and film directors (eg Hitchcock), unrealistic actions by characters (the police casually allowing Wood and Hurt in on the investigation), and an unsatisfying conclusion.

    Alex Cox stands out in the cast, and there's a nicely imagined Victorian era murder scene.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent

    I’m going to rewatch this soon, it’s a great movie and on my streaming channel, I hope it the full uncut version. Coburn’s accent in Great Escape was awful but his Irish accent in FIstful Of Dynamite was pretty good.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 99MI6 Agent

    @CoolHandBond I watched it on the 'Movieland' streaming channel. It's a free app and the films are shown without ad breaks. There's loads of classic movies on there, in fact it's the platform I used to watch 'The First Great Train Robbery' starring SC (again unedited)

    I don't think I've seen 'A Fistful of Dynamite' so can't comment on JCs accent!

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent


    As a fan of James Bond, particularly the ‘golden decade’ of Sean Connery from 1962 – 1971, I ask myself: am I supposed to enjoy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery ?

    Then I start watching, start laughing and stop asking silly questions.

    Mike Myers shamelessly bamboozles us with impersonations of our beloved OO7 and his 1960s rivals, retconning the sets, costumes, plots, characters and the misogynistic atmosphere of all things sixties-spy, bubble wrapped for protection in sugary fun and Carry On innuendo. Now, I really enjoy Bond films, but by 1997 they’d become a little bit frayed at the edges. All the best villains and pretty girls had vanished, the plots had become shrouded in glue, everything was a little messy and rather slow, albeit a fun kind of messy and slow. I could say the same thing about Austin Powers, so terrible a film it is outright hilarious. There is a sophisticated knack to making a project so bad it actually becomes good and Mike Myers achieves it by throwing metaphorical kitchen sinks of the spy-craze at the screen and seeing where they land: fembots, over sexed heroes, delectable heroines, evil geniuses, dastardly plots, stupidity from opening second to closing reel, moments that make you laugh because they are genuinely funny, or chuckle because they are so laughably identifiable, no stone cold classic moment of spy-thrill is left unturned. The bald-faced cheek of the writers is admirable.

    This is movie is very funny.

    Watching Austin Powers #1 capped a great day catching up with old friends in Pimlico. So, okay, I was trashed from a boozy lunch that turned into a boozy evening. Did I care? The lovely Abigail at the Brass Monkey remembered me from my previous visits, and purloined me with free Guinness; so thank you, Abigail. And thanks, Mike Myers, for a fantastic lesson in how to liberally take the piss out of James Bond and his contemporaries. Sometimes, I wish the most recent incarnation had stopped taking himself so seriously and just got on with the job, thrills, stunts, stupidity, laughter and all.

    I know Austin Powers #1 is taking the piss out of my cinematic hero, but I loved it in 1997 and I loved it last night.

    Shagadelic, baby !         

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 277MI6 Agent

    The first AUSTIN POWERS is great. The sequels, not so much.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,363MI6 Agent

    The AP soundtrack was a big hit on CD in its day and if you're a vinyl junkie I recommend getting the double album you can find on eBay or Amazon, one disc in red the other in purple; it's a great double bill with John Barry's vinyl LP too, can't remember the name of it but it's a double and has that kind of beat girl Soho coffee shop vibe to it (but not Beat Girl on it sadly).

    Likewise, the AP LP has everything except These Boots Are Made For Walking on it, still I've got that as a single.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent

    CROSS OF IRON (1977)

    I watched this last night and put this to the front of a long list of reviews that I haven’t posted yet. To get the accent point out of the way, James Coburn speaks in his natural voice, but then again, every other actor does the same, so a bit unfair to single him out for that. I’ve got no problem with actors not attempting accents, it’s very difficult to keep it going for the entire movie, (Sean Connery in The Untouchables is one example of an actor reverting back to natural accent after a few scenes) and movies are supposed to be entertaining so I’m not looking for exact real-life interpretations.

    Sam Peckinpah takes us into the Second World War through the eyes of the German army on the Russian front. Coburn is a maverick corporal who is suddenly landed with a devious, cowardly captain, played by Maximilian Schell. His wants to be awarded the Iron Cross and he is not too picky about the way he gets it and betrays Coburn’s unit to try and achieve his aim. Regimental Colonel James Mason is onto him though, but Coburn refuses to acknowledge Schell’s cowardice in battle, instead he rants about hating all officers. David Warner plays another captain, who actually deserves the medal, and Senta Berger is a nurse who Coburn is attracted to when he recuperates in a nursing home after being injured.

    The action is bloodily brutal (this is the full uncensored version) and somewhat confusing at times, but to be fair battles must be like that in reality. The budget apparently ran out before the final scenes of mayhem were due to be filmed and the studio refused to give more funding so we get an odd truncated ending and the supposedly penultimate battle scene becomes the final battle.

    The acting is fine all round, Peckinpah directs his slow-motion blood spurts efficiently but this would be the last “real” Peckinpah movie before signing off with two very average movies (Convoy and Osterman Weekend) as the alcohol and drug abuse took toll on his body and mind.

    It’s a must-see, flawed, but nonetheless a fine anti-war picture.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 99MI6 Agent

    Just to be clear I wasn't singling James Coburn out for criticism, having seen his efforts in the Great Escape, I was simply relieved that he didn't try the accent.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 277MI6 Agent

    CITIZEN X (1995) starring Stephen Rea, Donald Sutherland, Joss Ackland, and Max Von Sydow.

    The film documents the hunt for Andrei Chikatilo, a serial killer in the Soviet Union who operated throughout the 1980s. Stephen Rea stars as Bukarov, a forensics specialist who gets roped into the leading the investigation once bodies start being discovered. Donald Sutherland is Fetisov, the head of the provincial committee and Bukarov's superior. Together, Rea and Sutherland work to hunt down whoever it is that is killing children.

    This is an excellent film with well drawn out characters, all of whom have good arcs. Sutherland is particularly excellent, especially in his scenes where he is 'guiding' Rea's character through the Soviet apparatus and corruption. Watching Sutherland and Rea both work against (and eventually, through) the system is really fascinating. The direction is crisp without being showy, allowing the principal actors to all just WORK. Joss Ackland and Max Von Sydow turn in excellent smaller performances as well.

    This was up for numerous Golden Globe and Emmy awards when it came out, and Donald Sutherland rightly won Best Supporting Actor in both ceremonies. Had this been theatrically released (and it really should have been), it would have merited several Academy Awards and I suspect that Sutherland would have also won there.

    Really a first rate film. This was a 'made for HBO' film and you can currently see it on Max.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent


    An awkward, anxious, depressive teenager unable to grieve for her father who died four years previously struggles to survive her seventeenth year. Fitfully amusing teen comedy which plays out like Dawson’s Creek for the Tech Savvy Generation. Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, the mixed up youngster, and while she’s exceptionally good, you do wonder why she is so unpopular, for Nadine is smart, witty, funky and startlingly pretty. Having a chip on her shoulder over her jock-brother isn’t enough to make her socially inept. No. There should be something deeper. The movie makers don’t go there because it is either too painful or too genuine. So we get the sassy version and the cliches come and go and we admire all the tenderness, all the angst and all the keen playing from a youthful cast. Woody Harrellson steals most of the scenes as a world-weary but sympathetic history teacher. Very good for its niche genre market, but really should have been a television series. 

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent


    Linda Blair turned to bad-girl roles when big budget offers dried up after her Exorcist exploits. But even with her innocent cherubic looks she makes you think that she can kick ass with the best of them. Blair is the leader of The Satins, a gang of sexy girls who dress like streetwalkers. They’re insulted by a rival gang of guys, so they steal their Chevy convertible and trash it. In a very unpleasant scene, the bad guys brutally rape Blair’s deaf-mute sister (Linnea Quigley) for revenge. After a couple more skirmishes, they grab another of the Satins and toss her off a bridge to her death. Blair takes the only route available in exploitation movies by donning a revealing skintight suit and killing the hoods one by one with a crossbow. We also get the obligatory catfight in the girls’ shower and Linda shows off her ample bosom during a bath tub scene while she contemplates how to slaughter the guys. John Vernon gives a bit of gravitas to the proceedings as the school principal.

    Its like a thousand other revenge movies but worth checking out for the slutty costumes and mainly well done deaths.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • MarkerMarker Posts: 99MI6 Agent

    The Odd Angry Shot.

    An Australian war film set in Vietnam which follows the exploits of a group of SAS soldiers during their tour of duty. It's not you typical war film and much of the focus lays on life in and around a tented forward encampment. Monsoons, poor food, disease, in fact all the mundane things soldiers face interspersed by patrolling and contact with the enemy (the 'odd angry shot'). It's filled with black humour, so typical of the Ozzie films of its day.

    It's an interesting watch, but not for those who want any 'Rambo' stuff. It's available on YouTube and is ad free.

    Author of 'An Ungentlemanly Act' and 'Execution of Duty'. The WW2 espionage series starring Harry Flynn.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent


    Henry Hathaway doesn’t have to do much to keep us entertained. Point the camera and shoot, basically. That system of operating doesn’t lend itself to very intense pictures and The Sons of Katie Elder is no exception. Part rollicking comedy, part revenge tale, part poverty row western, the film marks one of John Wayne’s least interesting performances, partly I suspect due to his still being in recovery from an operation to remove a cancerous lung. He looks unfit, overweight and far too old to play the lead; he grimaces through almost every scene, standing on that left hip like he does and drawling his lines to interminable length. There’s barely an ounce of enjoyment in his performance. His role really needed someone younger; Charles Bronson would have fitted perfectly and brought a brooding presence to a film that tries to be too sunny for its underlying revenge theme. Unfortunately, not even the usually reliable Dean Martin can raise a smile. The chemistry between Duke and Dino that worked so well in Rio Bravo fails to materialise here. The similar slow burn romance barely flickers. The action, when it comes, is daft in the extreme and the resolution far too simple.

    Wayne and his three brothers [Martin, Earl Holliman and Micheal Anderson Jr] reunite at their mother’s funeral and learn that all is not well in the Texas town of Freshwater, where James Gregory’s Morgan Hastings is plotting a big business take over, using the river water on the Elder’s range to bring the railroad and the big money. Cue plenty of old-style wild west tropes ladled with too much good humour. George Kennedy makes an impression as a nasty gunslinger. The film was tremendously popular, but to suggest the film is a classic because it features big stars, big Mexican scenery [well photographed by Lucien Ballard and probably the best thing about the movie], a big booming Elmer Bernstein score [unfortunately much too similar to The Magnificent Seven] and a wonderfully sentimental closing shot of Katie Elder’s rocking chair – well, that just isn’t enough.

    I have never seen this film before and, frankly it was a big disappointment.

  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 27,007Chief of Staff
    edited June 26

    This film is my favourite - by far - of any John Wayne film…and is easily in my top 3 Westerns…exactly why you don’t like Wayne’s portrayal is exactly why I do, I think he brings out the ‘tough, grizzled and slightly gone to seed gunslinger’ that John Elder has become - I also disagree with you about the chemistry between Wayne & Martin, but I understand what you mean about it resolving simply, although I don’t think there is anything wrong with that…perhaps I just like simple films 😂

    YNWA 97
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent

    Another thumbs up for Katie Elder. Although I don’t rate it as high as @Sir Miles I still think it’s a terrific western - great entertainment.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 277MI6 Agent


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    ANT-MAN (2015)

    Among the casual absurdities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man must rank as one of the most preposterous. Scott Lang is a loser with a heart of gold and a cute daughter who robs the safe of scientist Dr Hank Pym and steals his secret super-powered suit. Naturally, Pym is a super-genius and he has perfected the ‘Pym Particle’, an atom shrinking serum that reduces the suit-wearer to the size of an ant. Cue lots of tongue firmly in cheek, a good ninety minutes or so of CGI effects – mostly of marauding armies of insects – and a half decent central performance from Paul Rudd. Michael Douglas does his bit for cross generational heroics as Dr Pym. Evangeline Lilly makes an impression as his martial art loving daughter. Bald headed villain Darren Cross, who metamorphosises into the similarly miniaturised Yellowjacket, is impersonated by Corey Stoll. Naturally, Cross is another genius scientist, only he’s got more than one screw loose. Fights and general silliness abounds. The movie was cowritten by Edgar Wright [of Shaun of the Dead etc] and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is a refreshing change from the usual Marvel deadpan antics. Despite the constant wizardry on show, the film doesn’t explain itself very well and the extended climax is as overblown as all the rest of these comic book adaptations. Fun, I suppose, but I won’t be revisiting Ant-Man any time soon.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    RED SUN (1971)

    A sporadically exciting samurai / spaghetti western mash up funded by French production companies, filmed in Almeria, Spain, and featuring stars from around the globe. Charles Bronson stars as Link Stuart, an unkempt, uncompromising outlaw set to strike it big by holding up a cross-continental train. Double crossed by his better presented pretty boy partner Gauche, played by Alain Delon, Link is left for dead and his gang absconds with all the money. Saved by the Japanese ambassador to the USA, who fortuitously is riding on that same train, Link will have any charges against him dropped as long as he recovers a priceless ceremonial tachi sword. To ensure his cooperation, the ambassador’s bodyguard, Kuroda, is sent to accompany him. Toshiro Mifune occupies the role of Japanese fish-out-of-water.

    A long winded pursuit entails, most of it underwhelming, some of it interesting. The culture clash theme rises its ugly head a few times and one is never sure who is having the ribs tickled more. There was very little sympathy for Bronson’s unfeeling outlaw in this household, but making Mifune’s loyal and principled samurai, or his societal preferences, the butt of most of the jokes doesn’t really succeed in 2024 as well as it might have done in 1971.

    I was mystified by the geography of the story, which suggests the train is travelling from San Francisco to Washington; so exactly why the action takes place in the Comanche territories of New Mexico is unexplained.

    Terence Young directs adequately with a keen sense of action; the climatic battle in a corn field was dutifully tense. Ursula Andress undresses for us and Anthony Dawson has a small support role, so that’s three of our alumni. The film looks good and features some surprising camera angles and energetic editing. Not much else of note.

    Charles Bronson had decamped to Europe in the late sixties and forged his hard man reputation through a series of low budget violent movies; this was one of three he made with Young. Red Sun was a big hit in Japan, where Bronson was very popular.    

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    TAXI DRIVER (1976)

    Taxi Driver is one of three films made by Martin Scorsese which can rightly be called masterpieces, the other two being Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Robert De Niro is sensationally reserved as Travis Bickle, an ill-educated, socially inept Vietnam veteran who suffers from insomnia brought about by non-specific post-traumatic stress disorder. He writes letters to himself explaining his uncultured, contradictory, racist and misogynistic emotions. He watches blue movies in clip joint cinemas. He impersonates a normal person while living an abnormal existence somewhere between earthbound hell and earthbound purgatory.

    We first meet Travis as he applies for the night shift driving a New York cab. He volunteers to pick up every stray, loose cannon and deadbeat – and almost immediately we sense a crawling misunderstanding of injustice and a sociopathic common indiscipline. He doesn’t talk, he watches, he absorbs, he waits and he writes those diary entries with a withering list of expletives. The list of people he meets and blames for society’s ills is long: “All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take them to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks.”

    Separating himself from these destitutes, even from his colleagues, Travis becomes a loner, unable to effectively communicate with his peers. It is unclear why he feels this way, perhaps a reaction to the chaos of war, or perhaps a sense of deep ill-will towards his own inadequacies. Frequently, Travis removes himself from the scene of action, preferring fortuitous escape to confrontation: one wonders how he managed life as a US Marine. His colleagues consider him quirky. Senator Palantine senses the danger lurking beneath the diligent exterior: “This city here is like an open sewer,” says Travis when the unknowing Senator takes an impromptu ride in his cab, “it’s full of filth and scum. Sometimes I can hardly take it. Whoever becomes the President should really clean it up, know what I mean? Sometimes I go out and I smell it. I get headaches, it’s so bad, you know. It’s like - they just never go away, you know. It’s like - I think that the President should clean up this whole mess here. He should flush it down the **** toilet.”

    This mantra sits perfectly at home with the conspiracy torn, anti-system, individual approbation agendas of the 1970s. Travis may blame the politicians, but he can’t articulate his feelings. Instead he attaches himself to Betsy, Palantine’s campaign manager, an unobtainable goddess played magically by Cybil Shepherd. His attempts at forming a relationship, initially pleasantly forward, become embarrassing clumsy; so much so he takes her to one of those porn movies he watches with increasingly bored eyes. When Betsy leaves in a funk, Travis doesn’t blame himself, he blames her and indirectly the system: “She’s just like the rest of them, cold and distant.” He is as blinkered socially as those politicians he decries. Full of righteous bile, Travis takes the Senator’s campaign slogan “Let the people rule – The people are rising” at face value and determines to make an individual difference. Seeking solace, Travis latches onto a child prostitute, Iris, played with much worrying allure and extreme competence by a young Jodie Foster and determines to free the girl from the attentions of her louche pimp Matthew. Harvey Keitel is almost unrecognisable as the manipulative paedo.

    Even on a small scale, Travis’s plans to upset the status quo go hopelessly awry. Unable to contemplate Iris’s sexual dependency, Travis vows to free her from hypothetical bondage, writing a letter to that effect and arming himself to the teeth in a vain glorious attempt at vigilantism. Throughout the narrative Bernard Herrman’s jazz influenced score informs us of the melancholic, drowsy world these people inhabit, where the night lights barely flicker and the sun is nothing but an inconvenience. Michael Chapman photographs the action as if the camera is permanently in the taxi cab, close up and in short-shot, the narrative condensed, squashed, at once intimately engrossing and sickeningly putrid. Thanks to Paul Shraeder’s intense and spartan dialogues, De Niro inhabits Travis with a calm anger which bleaches the screen through every contemptuous gaze, disinterested observation and stagnant sentences. A filthy discarded $20 note stays screwed up in his pocket, as tattered as he considers poor broken Iris, as forfeit as his own life, a bad memory of a bad moment, one he cannot shake free from his conscience.

    That the movie approaches disaster should come as no surprise to us, for Travis is never painted as anything more than a disparate anti-hero, a man operating on the fringes of society, unable to understand its functions and normalities. He has abandoned real life for his letters and gutter trash existence which he despises, forgetting how people interact. “I don’t know much about…” is his stock line of defence and attack, proven not only by that hopeless night with Betsy at the porn cinema, but also by an inability to understand Iris’s circumstances, the possibility she may not be coerced. There is something peculiarly non-messianic about his approaches to her, a complete failure both to empathise and offer a solution. Iris shies away from his suggestion she should return home and go back to school in the same manner he stood away from Matthew when the pimp suggested he could “Do her anyway you want.” Betsy delivered a similar riposte to his fumbling advances. Senator Palantine reacted likewise to his rant. Travis may be a misogynist, but he’s completely unable to fathom the two most basic human desires: power and lust, the same two sins he has surrounded himself with as a nightshift taxi driver.

    The film ends in a bloodbath. Travis dies in fantasy land, believing he is the hero of the hour. We know it is a fantasy because the letter of thanks from Iris’s parents is written in the same strange childish font as his own diaries. His dreamlike rejection of Betsy is his only riposte to death and disaster. Travis Bickle is nobody’s hero in a world of nobodies. Palantine won’t get the nomination, Betsy won’t get laid, Iris won’t escape whoring, only the taxis will keep prowling the streets, headlights illuminating the cesspit of New York and their mirrors reflecting the decrepit lives within.          

    Marvellously bleak, a great achievement in any decade.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 277MI6 Agent

    The wife and I watched a four really, really great films over the past few days:

    THE NARROW MARGIN (1950/1952)

    A B-movie film noir thriller set on a train. Charles McGraw plays a detective tasked with bringing a mob boss's widow from Chicago to Los Angeles to testify before a grand jury. Traveling via train, they encounter numerous hit men on the train who identify him but are not able to identify the widow (they don't know what she looks like), resulting in a really solid cat/mouse game with a few really solid plot twists that I didn't see coming. Running a very lean and mean 71 minutes, this is well worth seeking out. This was remade as NARROW MARGIN with Gene Hackman in the 90s (never saw it).

    DESERT HEARTS (1985)

    It's 1959. Helen Shaver is Vivian, a woman who travels to Reno Nevada to start divorce proceedings against her husband back home. While there and trying to rebuild her life/figure out next steps, She catches the eye of a young woman name Cay (played by Patrice Charbonneau), a young and vivacious cashier at a local casino. Cay is fairly openly bisexual and Vivian's 'proper and educated' style attracts her, especially considering the calibre of people in her immediate circle. What follows is a bit of a self discovery on the part of Vivian as she explores her sexuality.

    This is a highly regarded film and I can see why. Beyond being extremely well written, directed, and acted, this also takes a very sympathetic point of view towards everyone in the film. This is one of the first films to depict lesbians in a non-villainous role and the character arcs are interesting and ring true. Very solid film


    Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell keep running into each other guessed it...weddings and funerals. Pretty sure almost everyone else has seen this but this was my first time. I'd heard it was good but I wasn't expecting it to be THIS good. I was laughing for the entire film. Great characters beautifully written just bouncing off of one another...great fun.

    THE LAST DETAIL (1973)

    Jack Nicholson and Otis Young are US Navy men tasked with the detail of bringing Randy Quaid's young seaman to a naval prison. They have a week to get him there so Jack and Otis are of the opinion that they should take advantage of the time away from the base AND the daily per diem to have some fun. They form a friendship with the man they're bringing to prison and end up showing him a lot of what life's about during that week's journey.

    Love it. With a fantastic script by Robert Towne and amazing direction by Hal Ashby, the film makes the viewer into the fourth person on the journey. Nicholson has never been better (and that's saying something) but both Young and Quaid are also excellent. Very funny, very authentic feeling and sounding. Highly recommended.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent


    George Peppard never looked comfortable in westerns. This entry into the revisionist sub-genre is often lumped in with the spaghetti westerns of the time, mostly because of its violent content, including an emphasis on blowing things up. The complicated abduction plot has more than a whiff of Second World War special operations to it, movies like The Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare. It also takes place in 1912 during the Mexican uprising, which places it among the modernist pieces like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Wild Bunch, films which examine the death of the wild west. Cannon for Cordoba also approaches that subtext with a tired looking cast of proto-commandos fed up with war and killing and as likely to kill each other as the opposition.

    Peppard touches on his future A-Team persona, chewing cigars and spouting bon mots with increasing regularity. He’s helped out by Raff Valone as a nasty Mexican general who has captured six American cannon and plans to use them to launch an offensive against someone, somewhere. It really doesn’t matter very much; the movie is not concerned with presenting history. Giovanna Ralli is the beautiful belly dancer – yes, really! – who aids Peppard’s crack team by acting a whore-decoy.

    All very bloody when it needs to be, making no narrative sense at any stage and entirely unfocussed structurally. Bizarrely the film is quite watchable. If they made it these days it’d star Sylvester Stallone and be imagined as The Expendables #9 or something, it has that sort of crass, cheap looking heritage attached to it. Peppard’s no Sly, but he does his best and the film ends on a sour note of non-achievement quite fitting with the grim times of its making. 

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    RIO GRANDE (1950)

    John Ford’s ‘cavalry trilogy’ is nicely rounded off with this black and white slice of homily to duty, family and the military. Civil law and civilian order don’t seem to apply in the US Cavalry of the 1870s.

    John Wayne revisits the role he first played in Fort Apache. Captain Kirby York has morphed into Colonel Kirby Yorke, has an estranged wife and son and a valued career in the army. He isn’t quite as old in the tooth as Nathan Brittles, the commander in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, although the three characters remain virtually interchangeable. Yorke is fighting Apache Indians along the US-Mexico border, a battle he’s all but given up on. When first his son arrives as a raw recruit, followed promptly by his concerned wife, Yorke’s established military lifestyle begins to subtly change as he is reminded of the familial duties of a father and husband, ones he has too often been obliged to forget under the pretext of ‘orders’.

    The film isn’t as sentimental as Yellow Ribbon, nor as confrontational as Fort Apache, but it is startlingly well enacted and presents a more realistic view of cavalry life than some western movies. For instance, this unit doesn’t even own a fort; they operate from tents and are open to attack night and day, despite taking up a defensive position ringed by a winding river. The atmosphere is cloying, dusty and lethargic. It’s damn hot in Texas and New Mexico. Bert Glennon’s monochrome photography is blazing with honest sunlight, then cool and mysterious with the coming of darkness. There are more metaphorical shadows at night than there are during the truthful day. Correspondingly, most of the genuine intimacies take place during the heat of the day; night is not a time for resolving personal problems, when you cannot tell who is being deceitful. Markedly, both major conflicts with the Indians take place at night, when stealth is used as a route to success – the only all-out attack is a daylight stalemate. Perhaps Maureen O’Hara’s Kathleen Yorke uses the memory of the night to attempt a win by stealth, or perhaps Yorke uses the daylight to stubbornly reinforce his position. Caught between them, Claude Jarman Jr’s Jeff seeks only his own purpose in the world. Perhaps I am reading too much into the film’s cinematic visual narrative.

    Anyway, all this emotional posturing is a neat undercurrent to surface level grandeur: Monument Valley, fine rustic sets, costumes, Victor Young’s music score [perhaps over reliant on traditional southern songs], Victor McLaglen hamming it up as another drunk Irish Sgt-Major, Ford’s stately direction. John Wayne excels as Colonel Yorke; he was really challenging himself as an actor in the late 1940s and this is another great performance. Maureen O’Hara gives him good sympathetic support.

    If not quite as engaging as the two previous episodes, Rio Grande at least has enough cinematic clout to keep us watching, even if sections of the film seem a mite cliché ridden today. Very good.         

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