@chrisno1, with regard to your review of Alien (great summary of a great film BTW), try to check out Planet of the Vampires (aka Demon Planet) some time. It's an Italian sci-fi/horror movie from the mid 1960s that Alien borrows from quite a bit in its first half. It begins with a spaceship getting a distress signal from a seemingly lifeless planet, the landing is very similar, there's a derelict ship on the planet complete with giant fossilized alien. The second half of the movie focuses more on the horror aspect and the ending is one that Rod Serling himself might have written. The movie had a famously low budget so director Mario Bava had to get creative but it punches above its weight as it looks better than it has any right to. It's typically available thru most streaming services like Amazon Prime and Neflix and is worth a look for any fan of the genre.
Thanks @TonyDP I'll add it to the never ending list of must-sees.
THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)
James Whale’s shocker from 1933 about a scientist who has discovered how to make himself invisible. The unfortunate side effect is it also turns him into a homicidal maniac.
Efficient and thoroughly enjoyable old-time sci-fi / horror from Universal, who were at the top of their game with this kind of fare in the early 30s. The effects are fantastic and compare well to the kind of stuff churned out hour after hour in your next Marvel Universe instalment. The script isn’t up to much, but it doesn’t really need to be. The opening scene in the Lion’s Head pub, was blatantly copied by John Landis for his An American Werewolf in London. Claude Rains is good vocalising the titular ‘Man’ we never see. Gloria Stuart is his lovely lady, who stands by him, even after he’s been on a monstrous killing spree. She’s easily pleased.
Heinz Roemheld’s incidental music was reused for several pictures in the decade, most notably the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials. Good photography and editing and model effects. Great, classic entertainment all round.
THE MISFITS (2021)
I only watched this because of Pierce Brosnan taking the lead role. I’ve liked most of Brosnan’s non-Bond work but this is a very lacklustre affair with no originality whatsoever. A group known as “The Misfis” plan a heist to steal a fortune in gold. It’s all ho-hum stuff with tropes to several other movies that were all done a lot better. Director Ronny Harlin either had an off day, or is tired of helming actioners, as this is underwhelming stuff compared to his heyday of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger. At least Brosnan is making an effort whereas Tim Roth and co. are just reading the lines.
Not worth the effort.
MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN (1971)
At the height of his success, Joe Cocker abandoned Britain for the delights of mega stadiums, school gym halls and Holiday Inn hotels, setting off on a gruelling, disorganised, madcap tour with Leon Russell and a cobbled together band of misfits, junkies, hangers on and their children, mongrels and a few musicians.
Coming from an era of great rockumentaries, which started as early as 1959’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day, proceeded through those Beatles flicks, Don’t Look Back, Woodstock, Gimmie Shelter, Ken Russell’s amazing stylised reimagination of the Who’s Tommy and ending with Martin Scorsese’s magnificent tribute to the Band The Last Waltz, Mad Dogs and Englishman reveals early seventies tours in all their raw agony and energy. Nothing makes any sense, no one talks any sense, least of all the tour manager, and you sense things are out of control in the earliest of scenes as fans accost Joe in the street to beg for and get back stage passes. What started off as a tight knit band balloons into a 30-strong ensemble plus everyone’s mother in law. By the end of it all, poor Joe’s almost cocooned by the bodies on stage. When the over-large bosomy estate owner who cooked everyone a barbeque, suddenly arrives on stage dancing and banging tambourines to Honkytonk Women, Joe merely rolls his eyes in stupefaction. It’s amazing they got any decent music and live footage out of the tour at all.
What is there, is not as comprehensive as the brilliant double album which accompanied it. In fact the songs on the record are not always the same versions featured in the movie as they all come from the two Fillmore East concerts. If you like Joe Cocker’s West Riding version of hard blues, you’ll probably enjoy this, if not tough. Classics like Delta Lady, Space Captain and With a Little Help from My Friends sit next to less well known jams such as Give Peace a Chance and Sticks and Stones. One of our own, singer Rita Coolidge, is among the backing singers. Rehearsals seem to take place in random back street studios and even a local bar. Everyone’s smoking and drinking. It looks like a wild ride which by the last footage, at the loathsome barbeque, everyone’s too worn out to partake in anything more than the simplest of entertainments. Potently for Joe Cocker, about half way through, following one successful gig, the camera follows him as various dead beats try and cosy up to the groupies and roadies et al, and no one pays him the slightest attention. The star is almost an afterthought in all the revelry.
We won’t see such uncontrolled tours like this again and we won’t see such unrestricted access to filmmakers either. Excellent.
have you ever seen National Lampoon's Lemmings?
its a stage show the magazine staged in 1973 satirizing Woodstock, with early appearances by John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest. and it was filmed
at 41:30 Belushi begins his infamous impersonation of Joe Cocker, which would be continued as a character on Saturday Night Live. Theres even an SNL where Cocker is the musical guest and Belushi joins him onstage doing all these moves and cocker tries to keep up with him
I took advantage of a public holiday yesterday to go and see the new Batfilm, entering with a certain amount of dread regarding it's 3 hour running length. I tend to get annoyed when these sort of genre films stray much beyond the 2 hour mark. Bond included.
Overall I liked the film. I'm generally not interested in comic book films but I do have a bit of a soft spot for Batman which dates back to catching Batman Returns on TV when I was in high school. The new film excels in creating a dark and mysterious atmosphere, and a good solid detective feel that reminds me of the likes of David Fincher's Se7en. Performances are excellent all round. I particularly enjoyed Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano did a great job as The Riddler and I completely forgot that it was Colin Farrell under the makeup playing the Penguin despite reading about it in advance. Pattinson made a decent Batman, and I loved his voice over narration. I was less keen on him in the Bruce Wayne moments though, although I can't quite put my finger on why yet.
So a good solid film, although after first viewing I wouldn't rank it as highly as the first 2 Nolan movies...and I wish they'd made it a bit shorter.
A TWIST OF SAND (1968)
Geoffrey Jenkins was a South African journalist and thriller writer who worked with Ian Fleming at The Sunday Times. Fleming praised his writing – you can look it up on Wiki, or just look at the attached cover blurb – and when the Master died, Jenkins was asked by Glidrose to continue the Bond novels. That’s what his Wiki entry says. The result was Per Fine Ounce, and if you look that up, there’s extensive material dedicated to the story.
I mention this because Jenkins’ first novel was A Twist of Sand. It sold heavily, being translated into 23 languages, which I think is more than Casino Royale initially was. I haven’t read it. On the Book Covers Thread someone mentions A Grue of Ice, another of the author’s output, and recommended it. Apparently Per Fine Ounce was badly written. Watching A Twist of Sand, I find that hard to believe.
A Twist of Sand is a little known British action adventure set in Malta and along the Namibian Skeleton Coast during the mid-1950s [the conflict in Cyprus is mentioned, which dates it]. Geoff Peace is an ex-navy submarine commander who’s supporting himself with smuggling cargo on his aging boat. The movie opens with the Malta police attempting to arrest him at sea, but Geoff has dumped his expensive Cyprus-bound military cargo overboard. He’s lost six-grand, but that night, while commiserating with his loyal engineer Davey, a figure from their past steals aboard and offers them the chance to make half-a-million pounds. The catch? It’s in diamonds and is buried in a shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast. Harry Riker, Geoff’s Number 1 on the submarine HMS Trout, knows his former skipper can navigate the rocks, channels and reefs, because he did it to destroy a hidden German U-Boat during the war.
This is beautifully set up with a few startling flashbacks and a sweaty, steely confrontation over a chess board and a bottle of brandy. Richard Johnson underplays his hand a little as the hero; the lack of a love interest keeps the film quite brutal. His character seems to need a softer edge. Jeremy Kemp plays Riker as a manipulative, single-minded vicious piece of work; his accent is bizarre though. Roy Dotrice is fine as Davey, a sympathetic ear for Geoff. Peter Vaughan turns up as a mute Kriegsmarine with a past and Honor Blackman arrives as the dolly bird who has the last vital piece of information regarding the location of the diamond haul.
There’s tension between the twitchy five-some, a fair scrap of biting dialogue and a bit of action as they negotiate the reef. It has all the atmosphere, twists and disfunction of an Alistair MacLean. Up to this point, I was really impressed, although the sea-escapade was a tad repetitive. The movie becomes a little obvious once they discover the shipwreck, which itself is a splendid image, stuck half way out of a shifting sand dune. Director Don Chaffey, who helmed Jason and the Argonauts, doesn’t have Ray Harryhausen to perk the screen up, but he does an efficient job with a work-a-day script and a fair cast, all acting their chops off for a product they know isn’t quite up to standard.
I think it’s aged well and isn’t anywhere near as poor as some recent reviews on IMDB [that temple to unimaginative, biased criticism] suggest. I agree it could have done with a polish, but overall, as a decent ninety minute diversion, I enjoyed it immensely.
@chrisno1 I didn't know that A Twist of Sand had been made into a film. I have the book here and was considering making it my next read. Knowing that there is a film version gives me even more cause to read it now and then see if I can track the film down.
I watched it here, if you're okay with Russian websites. I'd be interested in your thoughts @Golrush007
THE PLAYER (1992)
Robert Altman's early 90s classic starts with a mammoth tracking shot to rival Orson Welles' opening of Touch of Evil. From there it becomes quite a enjoyable mysterym, while also being a great example of a film about the film industry itself. I've always had a taste for the subgenre of the film about film. In this case, the tale revolves around a studio executive who becomes the target of threats by a writer whose script he spurned. Besides the mystery element, I particularly enjoyed how the film explores the tension between the 'hollywood ending' demanded by the studios and the downbeat ending yearned for by the writers – Are the writers selling out by submitting to studio demands in order to get their films made? This is also one of those films for which the phrase 'galaxy of stars' could have been coined. Many famous faces play themselves throughout the film, so there is also a fun game of spot the star to be had. I highly recommend this film. It's probably the Robert Altman that I have enjoyed the most so far.
TOP HAT (1935)
If not the best, arguably the most effervescent of the Astaire – Rogers musicals from the 1930s, Top Hat was their fourth pairing and follows the usual pattern of misinformation and misconduct among the nouveau riche set in impossibly decadent art deco surroundings. Here it’s meant to be London and Venice, but they both look gaudy and frankly horrible; the Americans ruined French art deco by their pretentious extravagance and it shows in the production designs for most of these RKO musicals.
Put the look of the thing aside and we have Fred Astaire’s show biz whiz Jerry Travers romancing Ginger Rogers’ model Dale Freemont. Meanwhile she thinks Jerry is the impresario Horace Hardwick, who’s married to European socialite Madge, who’s invited the wealthy Italian fashion designer Beddini to Venice to promote his gowns on Dale’s comely figure. Cue silliness and a few Irving Berlin numbers. Astaire is only a pleasant singer, Rogers merely decent. He dances really well, although some of his routines are so fast, especially the solos, that even he appears to lose control of his movements a few times. Rogers occasionally looks at her feet, which spoils the fantasy a little.
The pick of the bunch are the reprise of No Strings, where Astaire sand dances everyone to sleep, the beautiful comic shadow play that accompanies Isn’t It A Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain conducted on a bandstand where we first register the couple might be falling in love, and the gorgeous instrumental section of Cheek to Cheek [forget about the preamble where Fred sings] where the two American Smooth away the night, Ginger in a glorious ostrich feather dress. The title song and the climaxing number The Piccolino are both a drag.
The second act is less joyous than the first, but the cast can’t be faulted for their comedic interplay, which is a step up from the same actors’ efforts in The Gay Divorcee, some of it very cheeky indeed: Erik Rhodes exclaiming: “For the men – the sword!” to a startled Edward Everett Horton, for instance. Helen Broderick as Madge has all the best put downs. Curiously, while the two stars can certainly dance, their acting skills are not taxed much and they aren’t nearly as capable as they are in other films. Astaire in particular acts as expansively as he would on the Broadway stage. Perhaps, given the elaborate, theatre style sets, he thought he still was.
The movie is quite of its time, but no less enjoyable because of it and you can’t argue with the box office; it was RKO’s most profitable film of the decade.
THE OFFENCE (1972)
Sean Connery's third collaboration with Sidney Lumet, this was a captivating thriller about a British police detective haunted by the horrors he has witnessed in the line of duty, resulting in violent outbursts which land him in trouble. Connery's performance was top notch in this film. I also really enjoyed Ian Bannen as the man brought in on suspicion of raping a young girl. The interrogation scenes between Connery and Bannen are weighty and really gripping. Lumet also done some interesting work in shifting the chronology of events so that we see the climactic events of the movie playing in slow motion right in the opening sequence of the film. The production of this film was part of Connery's deal with United Artists when he was lured back to play Bond in Diamonds are Forever. As great as Connery is as Bond, one gets the impression that this is the sort of role he was craving at the time, giving the opportunity to tackle roles with more depth and gravitas, and as a bonus he could ditch the toupee as well. Definitely a film I would recommend, especially if you're into the grungy early 1970s crime aesthetic.
I AM NOT A WITCH (2017)
This was a really interesting Zambian film, about a young girl accused of witchcraft by her community. Early on there is a scene in the local police station in which the villagers present their case to the police that feels like a distant cousin of the witch trial scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But even though the policewoman appears sceptical of the accusations, the young girl neither confirms or denies the accusations and she is sent to a sort of witch colony, where a ribbon is attached to the witches and they tethered to prevent them from flying away (as one of the officials explains to some curious tourists). The film is beautifully shot. Some of the most captivating images are of a big truck that takes the witches out to work in the fields, festooned with poles to which the women are tethered by their ribbons. The film does a great job of mixing satirical humour with the serious theme of fear and superstition and the tragic effects that can occur as a result. Certainly a film that will linger in my memory for a long time.
Webster dictionary; Definition of effervescent:
1: having the property of forming bubbles
2: marked by or expressing an appealingly lively quality
I've lerarned a new word! 😀
You're welcome 😉
"So I was about to review Top Hat, when I found he'd got there before me...'
The Train (1964)
In 1944 some the Gemans in Paris stole much of the fine art and put it on a train to steal it just before the allies entered the city. Some railway emplyees who were working for the resistance did a heroic effort to save the art. This is roughly the factual background for this movie, te rest is made up. Burt Lancaster plays the leader of the group who are trying to save the art, even though the character doesn't really care about art, Paul Scofield plays the German officer who tries to steal the art and Jeanne Moreau plays a woman who runs a hotel.
The weak historical connection doesn't really matter. I think the movie is tense and exiting, it's well acted and well made. I like art, WWII, sabotage and trains so what's not to like in this movie? This whole movie revolves around trains and all the trains are real! Even when one train comes off the tracks and another train crashes into the first train it's all real trains really crashing into each other! The movie is clearly different from Gun of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare. It's shot in black and white and the mood of the movie is serious and down to earth. I think it works and The Train is really good.
QG24.The.Train.1964.720p.BluRay.Cima4U - Bing video
Late-night TV auctioneer - now 10 years old - starring Denzil Washington and Ryan Reynolds. It's in the Jason Bourne tradition with shaky cam though watching it on TV, that's less problematic.
Good mindless fun bolstered by good lead performances. Denzil plays a lapsed spook who is being hunted down in Cape Town by swarthy bad guys in black leather jackets - you know he's a smart guy because when he turns a corner and you and I might choose to peg it, he instead walks at a steady pace, never picking up speed - er, which inadvertently leads to the villains spotting him from a distance of course and catching up with him again, to advance the plot. Denzil turns himself into the US consulate - but again, doesn't hurry or anything, from what we later learn they could just shoot him from outside and make off.
Reynolds is the guy charged with overseeing Washington in his cell - this is the usual Bourne stuff where someone seems to have infiltrated the CIA and who can you trust? The way whistleblowers get treated and so on. Almost a bit Midnight Run at times, but without the jokes. It reveals its secrets slowly but when you get to the end it really isn't plausible as for such a cool dude as he's presented, Washington's veteran spook makes too many unforced errors, all intended to advance the plot or keep motion in play. The resolution is a bit pa toot, as if the State is corrupt only up to a point but ultimately there are nice guys in charge really, like the child only has to get in touch with the right teacher and the bullying will stop.
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS
I liked it. I'm a big fan of the character in general and of Cumberbatch's take on the character, and I'm also one of the few people I know who highly rates the first DOCTOR STRANGE film. Through that lens, this is a pretty fun follow-up. Having Sam Raimi on board as director is a nice touch as he's allowed...within the MCU guidelines...to get a bit more gruesome than is usual for one of these films. If you're a fan of his EVIL DEAD movies, you'll be delighted with many of the sequences presented here.
If there's a complaint to be had by me it's that the film really does kinda require some homework from the viewer. This isn't just a Doctor Strange movie, it's also a sequel to WANDAVISION which aired on Disney +. If you haven't watched WV, you're going to struggle with a lot of the plot developments. There's some exposition at the beginning to bring you up to speed on what happened in WV but it's not very thorough. I'd also recommend watching WHAT IF (also on Disney +) as there are some characters that appear in the film that are kinda introduced in that show but in animated form. I won't spoil the context.
I'd rate this as a 'good' entry in the MCU lexicon. Some of the plot elements are at conflict with one another and you can tell that reshoots were done to try and make things gel. I prefer the first DS film over this one as a whole (it's much more cohesive) but this one is definitely worth watching, especially if you're a fan of Sam Raimi's style.
LAST OF THE MOHICANS
I needed something to iron clothes to and threw in LAST OF THE MOHICANS. I've been wanting to rewatch it for a while but my wife has had no interest (she saw it theatrically when it first came out and didn't like it for some reason). Anyways, about an hour into the film (they're at the fort and the first instance or 'Promentory' is playing), she came in. She had nothing going on so she sat down to watch the rest of it with me since it's what I had playing.
I turned her around on it. The big takeaway that she gleaned: the film has one of the all time best soundtracks. Ever. And the cinematography is magnificent.
Anyways, we got to the finale when the big instance of 'Promentory' kicks in. That sealed the deal for her in terms of the film and the soundtrack. She was like 'OK, I don't remember why I didn't like this when I saw it years ago but this was great.' Then I showed her all of the countless youTube covers of 'Promentory' and she was impressed.
100% agreement regarding the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack Gymkata. It's a favourite soundtrack of mine, and the film ranks very highly for me as well. By the way, the original fiddle tune that is used in 'Promontory' and 'The Kiss' on the Mohicans soundtrack is actually a composition by Scottish folk musician Dougie Maclean, called 'The Gael'. Here is the original version from his album 'The Search':
VERY cool! I did not know this! Thanks for sharing.
Closest I got to Dougie was his wife telling me my band wouldn't be getting a support slot. 🙁
When I wrote that post earlier the thought occurred to me that your paths might have crossed, but I'd have hoped for a happier crossing.
Robert Pattinson plays yet another nocturnal creature in Matt Reeves' reimagining of the classic comic book character. The Batman takes places about two years into Batman's war on crime, showing us the character in his more formative years as he confronts The Riddler, a serial killer with a fondness for ciphers who is systematically exposing the corruption in Gotham City's political and law enforcement institutions via a series of gruesome murders.
Reeves' take on the material is more realistic and grounded. Batman is still relatively new to the whole crimefighting thing and isn't sure he's making a difference even though he knows he has to keep trying. The villains are all real world crooks, underworld thugs and corrupt public officials. The Batmobile is little more than a muscle car painted black, Batman's costume has a home made look to it with his gadgets literally hanging off of it.
The cast is quite good. Pattinson has quite the gravitas and presence as Batman, though his Bruce Wayne is a bit of an afterthought, coming across as a distrustful weirdo. Zoe Kravitz' Selina Kyle is a very empathic person who's Catwoman persona is still in its formative stages. Jeffrey Wright is easily my favorite Jim Gordon, bringing a good balance of seriousness and humor to the role. Batman and Gordon often worked closely tosgether in the comics and I'm happy to see that aspect of their relationship finally make it to the screen. As to the villains, Paul Dano is suitably creepy as the Riddler despite his deliberately non-imposing physical frame. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable under his layers of prosthetics as Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. In the comics the Penguin has changed from his original comical umbrella wielding self to a dangerous crime lord and Farrell plays that version of the character well. The rest of the cast - Andy Serkis as Alfred, John Turturro as Falcone, etc. - don't have as much to do but are all effective in their roles.
Batman has often been referred to as the world's greatest detective and he does a lot of sleuthing here, an aspect of the character that largely got short shrift in previous iterations. Whether he's examining a crime scene or deciphering the Riddler's puzzles he uses his brains as much as his fists. When the fisticuffs fly the action is well choreographed and more realistic with an emphasis on brutal physicality instead of overly elaborate and improbable stuntwork.
While the story is quite serious there are also a lot of humorous bits sprinkled throughout, such as Batman and Gordon discovering a literal thumb drive or Oz waddling around like a Penguin when he's left tied up. It helps balance the movie's tone and not make it feel incessantly bleak.
Overall I really had a good time watching The Batman (I've watched it three times now so that says something in and of itself). Its tone is reminiscent of classic more grounded comics storylines like Hush or The Long Halloween and it just feels very true to the newer Batman stories. By the end Batman has a better grasp of his purpose and what he needs to be to help the people of Gotham, which I found to be a very satisfying and hopeful ending. A sequel has already been greenlit by WB and I look forward to seeing where Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson take the character next.
THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940)
Belated sequel to the classic The Mummy completely misses the point of a horror film by deciding to play most of the film for laughs. Universal Studios didn’t seem to know what to do with their horror franchises by the 1940s, this one even uses the same flashback as the original. George Zucco attempts to lend gravitas and fails. The result is grim. One elaborate temple set, a host of plot holes and extremely wooden acting. Heroine Peggy Moran looks decorative. Surprisingly, Halliwell’s rates it very highly.
Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
This movie is about Robert Stroud who spent 54 years in prison. He was imprisoned for murder and later killed a warden leading to life in solitary confinement. Stroud found a sparrow in a fallen nest in the prison yard. He took it to his cell and nursed it there. His interest grew until he had hundreds of birds in his cell and wrote two groundbreaking books on avian deseases. The birds gave his life meaning and calm. He was later transfered to Alcatraz where he wasn't allowed to have birds, so Stroud was in fact the birdman of Leavensworth and not Alcatraz. Karl Walden plays a vindictive prison warden and Telly Savals plays a fellow inmate, a role he was nominated to an Oscar for. The movie is also very well made and ...... captivating to watch. Everyone delivers very good performances and big themes like the penal system and human dignity are raised. In real life Stroud never became the mild-mannered man he turnes into in the movie, he was described as a psycopath who often difficult and often in trouble. I don't think this makes the movie less good, the movie is its own thing.
For free on YouTube: Birdman.of.Alcatraz.1962.720p. - Bing video
My favourite war (2020)
This is an autobiographical (mostly) animated movie about Ilsa Burkovska who grew up in Soviet Latvia. The themes are oppression, truth and how deeply the trauma of WWII is in the former Soviet Union. The imagery is very inventive and striking in the way the mvoe tells a story we rarely see.
Trailer: My Favorite War - trailer - Movies on War 2020 - Bing video
GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)
Part-Robocop, part-Bladerunner, part-Terminator 2, Ghost in the Shell is an impressive looking but soulless extravagance set in the far future where a cybernetics corporation is privatising law enforcement and conducting experiments on humans, turning them into synthetic obedient command-and-destroy cyber-humans. The occasionally stunning visuals can’t compensate for such drab exposition, which might be so because it’s based on a Manga comic book, or it might be the lack of a decent script. It’s interesting for the first half, although the gun play seems less necessary than you’d think. By the end, it’s gone all Schwarzenegger on us. Scarlett Johansson parades about in a skin-tight CGI-smoothed cat suit, shoots some people and beats other people up. She appears to be re-enacting her role as Black Widow. Michael Pitt is a sympathetic ‘bad’ cyborg; Juliet Binoche, the genius creator with a conscience. Good, but not very original.
There is also the 1995 anime Ghost in the Shell. It doesn't have Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight tight suit, but in spite of this it's a better movie.