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American Mary (2012)
I had never heard of this film before it was broadcast on television, but I do like a good scary movie, and this sounded like it was going to be a very gory one. Basically, surgical student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) lives in destitute and desperate for money. She applies for a job at a strip club, performing massages, without removing her clothing, there she meets club owner Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo). In need of a medical professional, Billy offers $5,000 to patch a man bleeding in the basement, with no questions asked. Mary accepts the money but spends the next few days terrified what criminal activities she has got involved with. Mary is approached by stripper Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk), who works at the club, and has had extreme cosmetic surgery to resemble cartoon character Betty Boop. Beatress offers Mary a large sum of money to perform illegal surgery on a friend of hers, Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg), in a veterinary clinic. Ruby wishes to be transformed into a human doll, but surgeons are unwilling to grant her requests, to remove her nipples, external genitalia, and partially stitch and close her vulva shut. Mary performs the surgery because she needs the money and is convinced Ruby's desire is genuine. Mary follows up on Ruby's website, this introduces her to the world of extreme body modification. Mary begins her residency in the surgical specialty, and her teachers and mentors praise her promising skills. Mary is invited to what she believes is a networking party with several of the head surgeons at her hospital. However, Mary has been invited on a ruse, and the surgeons commit lewd acts on the others in attendance, who are obviously escorts. Mary is drugged, choked, and raped at the party by her former teacher, Dr. Alan Grant (David Lovgren), he films the assault. None of her teachers or mentors show guilt or remorse for her attack, and Mary drops out of her residency. Mary hires Billy and enforcers from the club to kidnap Grant and bring him to her apartment, there she gets her revenge and performs involuntary surgery on him. Mary goes into consensual but illegal body modification surgery full-time, word quickly spreads, and she becomes known as "Bloody Mary", a surgeon of great skill, willing to perform any extreme surgery desired. She establishes herself in Billy's strip club and uses his contacts for her new business. Police Detective Dolor (John Emmet Tracy) approaches Mary about the disappearance of Dr. Grant and the collection of disturbing tapes found in his apartment. Dr. Walsh (Clay St. Thomas), who invited Mary to the party, gave Mary's name to the detective on a long list of women who might have a grudge with Dr. Grant. The doctor is actually being kept alive by Mary, she is using him as "practice" material for her extreme surgeries, using pictures of his modifications for her business portfolio. Mary is forced to kill a security guard who finds Dr. Grant, while Billy, who has become attached to Mary, kidnaps and beats Dr. Walsh on her behalf. Detective Dolor approaches Mary again, asking about the two missing doctors, and questioning if she was victim of abuse. The police are getting closer to the truth, with suspicion raised about the disappearance of the second doctor, and Mary's recent wealth. Mary begins to unravel, worried that the police will find that the tape of her rape will be found and following the death of her grandmother. A disgruntled spouse (Travis Watters) of Ruby Realgirl finds Mary and attacks her with a knife, the attacker is overpowered, but Mary is bleeding heavily. Mary is able to sew her wound up, but bleeds to death in her operating room, to be discovered by the police. Also starring Twan Holliday as Lance Delgreggo, Nelson Wong and the Soska twins (Sylvia and Jen, also directing) as the Demon Twins. A very attractive Isabelle gives a terrific performance as the innocent upcoming trainee medical student dragged into the dark world of sleazy underground surgeries driven by obscene revenge. I myself have seen look-away stuff like this before, in documentaries like The Body Shocking Show, some people want very freakish things done to their bodies, this film doesn't shy away from showing that, it is shocking, humorous and thought-provoking, a watchable horror. Good!
I'd seen the Jaws sequels, Sharknado, Mega Shark, The Meg, and the "Baby Shark" music video (annoyingly catchy). Well, then I found this bad shark movie, made for TV, to sink my teeth into. Basically, an alien ship comes into earth orbit to drop a probe. The probe lands in the ocean, only to be eaten by a Great White. The alien technology inside the probe transforms the shark into a mechanical alien robotic monster, it has now become Roboshark. After devouring a nuclear submarine and its crew nearby, Roboshark heads to Seattle to wreak havoc. Soon enough, the actions of Roboshark are being filmed and tweeted about all over the world. With the devastation going viral, reporter Trish (Alexis Peterman), who is usually a weather girl, along with her crew is urging to be first on the scene to capture and stop the destruction. Trish's cowardly husband Rick (Matt Rippy) is dragged into the chaos by Admiral Black (Nigel Barber), who is determined to stop Roboshark at any cost, even if it means destroying the city. But Trish and Rick's daughter Melody (Vanessa Grasse), an avid social media user, realises that Roboshark is active on social media, they use its communications to keep track of it. It all concludes at Seattle's most famous landmark, the Space Needle observation tower. In the end, the tower is almost destroyed, but Roboshark is defeated, and Trish, Melody and Rick are reunited, but the alien technology may still be present, as a little dog may have been transformed. Also starring Isaac Haig as Louie, Laura Dale as Veronica Viola, Vlado Mihailov as Erik, Derek Morse as Chief Xavier, Kicker Robinson as Commander Sumner and Steve Sires as Bill Glates (a spoof Bil Gates character). There's not much to say, the acting is naff, especially Rippy as the irritatingly over-the-top wimp, the story is absolutely ridiculous, and the special effects are excruciating, it may make you titter at how bad it is, but I wouldn't bother with it again, a terrible science-fiction comedy horror. Poor!
Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
Three Coins in the Fountain
I had never heard of this film before it was broadcast on television, I very rarely see classic films for the first time, unless it sounds good or has a good cast, I decided for once to make an exception (although I recognised one name in the cast), I just went by the fact that it was rated well by critics, directed by Jean Negulesco (How to Marry a Millionaire). Basically, three American women: Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire), Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters) and Maria Williams (Maggie McNamara) share a spacious apartment together and work in Rome, Italy. Frances is the long-time secretary of successful American author John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb), and Maria and Anita are secretaries for the "United States Distribution Agency". One day, on their way into town, the three women stop at the famous Trevi Fountain, where according to legend, if a coin is thrown in the fountain and a wish is made, it may come true. Maria and Frances throw in their coins, but Anita, who is planning to return to the United States to marry, declines. As time goes by, Frances, Anita and Maria find their wishes are answered, but each experience a few bumps in their journeys to find love. Frances has been in love with Frederick for fifteen years, but his reclusive nature is something of a hindrance. Anita is attracted to Italian translator Giorgio Bianchi (Rossano Brazzi), but he is poor, and she is worried she will ruin his chances of becoming a lawyer. Maria is attracted by the handsome Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jourdan), despite being warned that he is a womaniser. Not wanting to disappoint him, Maria decides to research into things he enjoys, including his favourite wine and opera, but she admits keeping a notebook about these, he is angered and leaves without contacting her some time. In the end, after numerous events, Frances, Anita and Maria are brought back together at the Trevi Fountain, they are disappointed to see it is empty for cleaning. But soon the water springs up again, the three women are thrilled by its beauty. At that moment, Dino, Giorgio and Shadwell arrive at the fountain. The men embrace their girlfriends, and they happily admire the fountain, which has proved lucky after all. Also starring Howard St. John as Mr. Burgoyne, Kathryn Givney as Mrs. Burgoyne and Cathleen Nesbitt as Principessa. McGuire, McNamara and Peters are all beautiful and their individual characters are interesting in own rights, Webb and Brazzi are likeable as well, but Jourdan is the most charming eligible bachelor. The love story McGuire and Webb is alright, the bonding between Peters and Brazzi is fine, but to be honest, the romance storyline I was paying most attention to was McNamara and Jourdan. It is a very simple story, three women finding and trying to work out romance "when in Rome", it is supposed to be funny as well, I don't know if I laughed very much, but it doesn't matter, it is a sweet romantic comedy. It won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Color, and Best Original Song for the great title song, performed by an uncredited Frank Sinatra, and it was nominated for Best Picture. Good!
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)
A Walk Among the Tombstones
I heard the title of this film a few times while it was playing in cinemas, I missed it, then I missed it a number of times when it kept showing on TV for a couple of years, I decided to rent it and see if I was missing out on anything good, or bad. Basically, in New York City, Matthew "Matt" Scudder (Liam Neeson) is a former police detective with a chequered, alcoholic past. He is now retired and works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. Matt is approached by drug addict Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook), and asks him to help his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens). Kenny is a drug trafficker whose wife was kidnapped and murdered. He tells Matt that after he delivered the ransom, the kidnappers directed him to a car containing his wife's dismembered body. Matt ultimately agrees to find the kidnappers. At the library, Matt researches similar killings, and meets a homeless youth named TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley), who helps with his search. Matt goes to a cemetery and speaks with the groundskeeper, Jonas Loogan (Olafur Darri Olafsson), who found bags containing parts of the dismembered Leila in the cemetery pond. Matt talks to Leila's fiancé Reuben Quintana (Mark Consuelos), who claims to have witnessed the kidnapping. Matt meets with Jonas again, at the top of an apartment building with a tool shed, it contains photos of Reuben and Leila having sex. Jonas admits that he helped kidnap Leila. He was working with Reuben to help her stop using drugs but had no idea that the two kidnappers would torture and kill Leila. Jonas gives Matt the name of one of the two men, Ray, and jumps off the roof to his death. The two kidnappers, Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson), are preparing to target another victim. They were originally going to take the wife of Yuri Landau (Sebastian Roché), another drug trafficker. But realise she is bedridden, so they instead kidnap his 14-year-old daughter Lucia (Danielle Rose Russell). While Matt finds connections with the victims and the DEA, he grows closer to TJ, and encourages him to study and avoid a life of crime. He tells TJ why he retired from the police, it was eight years ago in 1991, during a shootout, that a stray bullet Matt fired at an assailant accidentally hit and killed a 7-year-old girl, he has been sober ever since. Kenny brings Matt to Landau's home, where the kidnappers call and arrange a drop. Matt knows that the kidnappers intend to kill the girl after the ransom is paid, so he does what he can to make sure this will not happen, bargaining with them during the call. The drop takes place at the cemetery, after a stand-off, Lucia is returned to his father. When Albert realises the ransom money is counterfeit, a shootout ensues. Peter is killed, and Matt wounds Ray. Albert and Ray escape in their van, but with TJ sneaked in the back. After Albert and Ray arrive at their place, TJ sneaks out of their van, calls Matt, and tells him the address. Albert garrottes the wounded Ray in the basement, and goes back upstairs to find Matt, Kenny, and TJ. Albert is overpowered and cuffed by Matt. Matt calls a cab for TJ, Albert frees himself, and when Matt goes back inside, he finds Kenny dead. Albert attacks Matt, and after a brief fight, Matt kills him. Matt returns home to find TJ sleeping on the couch and a drawing that TJ made of himself as a superhero, he sits down and falls asleep. Also starring Laura Birn as Leila Andresen and Marielle Heller as Marie Gotteskind. Neeson does his usual craggy hero thing, less well than perhaps Taken and other films, Stevens is shifty, and Astro is okay, there is nothing really original, a former cop investigates a kidnapping and murder, finds out about other cases, and goes against the criminals, it has daft dialogue, and only some violence and action picks it up a little, it is just a very average crime thriller. Adequate!
The Big Parade (1925)
The Big Parade
I found this silent film in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it was also rated highly by critics, I was really looking forward to watching it, directed by King Vidor (The Crowd, Stella Dallas). Basically, set in 1917 in the United States, James "Jim" Apperson (John Gilbert) is the son of a wealthy businessman (Hobart Bosworth). He is engaged to be married to the beautiful Justyn Reed (Claire Adams). Jim's more serious brother Harry (Robert Ober) plays the good son and is involved in the family business, while Jim's laziness displeases his father. When America enters the First World War, Jim's worried mother (Claire McDowell) is relieved when Jim tells her he has no intention of enlisting, but his father threatens to throw him out if he doesn't. After seeing his patriotic friends at a send-off parade, Jim is convinced to change his mind and enlist, making his father very proud. During training, Jim forms friendships with Southern construction worker Slim (Karl Dane) and Bronx bartender Bull (Tom O'Brien). Their unit are shipped out to France, where they are billeted at a farm in the village of Champillon in the Marne. All three men are attracted to Melisande (Renée Adorée), the daughter of the woman who owns the farm. She gives them all the cold shoulder when they make their advances, but she slowly warms to Jim. They eventually fall in love, despite not being able to speak each other's language. One day however, Jim receives a letter from Justyn, which includes a photograph, which reveals they are engaged. Melisande sees the letter and photograph, she realises the situation and runs off in tears. Before Jim can decide what to do, his unit is ordered to the front. Melisande realises he is leaving and races to see him off, she reaches him just in time they embrace and kiss. The Americans march towards the front and are attacked by an enemy fighter plane with machine guns before it is shot down. The unit is sent to the attack immediately, advancing against snipers and machine guns in the woods, and other artillery, and poison gas in the open. The men settle down in a makeshift shelter, Jim along with Slim and Bull rest in a shell hole. That night, orders come through that one man is to go out and eliminate a mortar crew. Jim, Slim and Bull have a spitting contest to determine who gets the opportunity, Slim wins. He succeeds but is spotted by the enemy and wounded on the way back. Jim cannot stand hearing his pleas for help, he goes against orders and tries to rescue Slim. Bull follows but is shot and killed. By the time Jim reaches Slim, he is already dead. Jim is then shot in the leg. A German soldier (George Beranger) comes to kill him, but Jim shoots and wounds him. The German starts crawling back to his line, Jim catches up to him, but cannot bring himself to kill him with his bayonet. Instead Jim gives him a cigarette, and he soon dies. Eventually the Americans attack, and Jim is taken out of no man's land and away to hospital. From another patient, Jim learns of changes at the farm in Champillon, and becomes worried about Melisande. Jim sneaks out of hospital and hitches a ride. When he gets to the farmhouse, he finds it damaged and empty. Melisande and her mother have joined a stream of refugees. Jim collapses and is carried off in an ambulance by retreating soldiers. After the war ends, Jim returns home to America. At home, Jim's mother overhears Justyn and Jim's brother Harry (Robert Ober) having a conversation, they have fallen in love in Jim's absence. Jim arrives home, it is revealed that he has had his leg amputated. Later, Jim tells his mother about Melisande, so she encourages him to go back to France and find her. Jim and Melisande are reunited when he returns to the farm, they rush into each other's arms. Also starring Rosita Marstini as French Mother. This film is a perfect mix of simplicity and artistry, it starts fairly slow and simple, with domestic stuff and humour, then kicks into gear with astonishing battle sequences, the "big parade" of the title is most memorable, it shows the poignancy of comradeship, a sweet love story, and the authentic power and horror of war, a highly watchable war drama. Very good!
The Private Life of Henry VIII
I knew it was black-and-white, and that the leading actor won the Oscar, it was the first time a British actor in a British film won the Academy Award. So, you could say, it is the British movie that finally cracked America, produced and directed by Alexander Korda. Basically, it tells the story of King Henry VIII (Oscar winning Charles Laughton), through his five marriages, after the divorce from his first (and least interesting) wife, Catherine of Aragon. It begins in the immediate aftermath of the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon), beheaded for high treason. Henry goes om to marry Jane Seymour (Wendy Barrie), who dies giving birth to their son Edward eighteen months later. He then weds a German princess, Anne of Cleves (Bride of Frankenstein's Elsa Lanchester, Laughton's real-life wife). This marriage ends in divorce when Anne deliberately makes herself unattractive so she can be free to marry her sweetheart. (An imagined scene sees Anne "wins her freedom" from Henry in a game of cards.) After this divorce, Henry marries the beautiful and ambitious Lady Katherine Howard (Binnie Barnes). But this marriage also ends when Henry discovers her affair with his handsome courtier Thomas Culpeper (Robert Donat), their liaison leads to them both being beheaded. Henry is weak and aging, but he allows himself one last chance of happiness, when he marries sixth wife Catherine Parr (Everley Gregg). She proves domineering, he breaks the fourth wall, saying "Six wives, and the best of them's the worst." Also starring Franklin Dyall as Thomas Cromwell, and Lady Tree as The King's Nurse. Laughton definitely deserved his Academy Award, he essentially created the humorous roaring glutton monarch we've come to expect in most adaptations, and there are good supporting performances, especially a funny turn from Lancaster being the eccentric German fourth wife. It is a very simple story, thankfully there is hardly any political stuff going on, it concentrates solely on Henry VIII's relationships with women, and it's fair to say that the British film industry flourished, especially across the pond, with this movie, an enjoyable historical biographical drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Picture. Laughton was number 10 on Britain's Finest Actors, he was number 45 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, and he was number 37 on The World's Greatest Actor, and the film was number 87 on The Ultimate Film. Good!
I knew of this film mainly because of the leading actress, I knew it was based on the classic novel by Jane Austen, and I knew it was rated well by critics, I was definitely drawn in when I knew how many other good names were in the cast, directed by Douglas McGrath (Nicholas Nickleby). Basically, set in England in the 19th century, Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a congenial but naïve young woman who thinks of herself as a romantic matchmaker. When her governess, Miss Taylor (Greta Scacchi), gets married to Mr Weston (James Cosmo), Emma proudly takes the credit that she brought them together. Her father Mr Woodhouse (Denys Hawthorne) and old family friend George Knightley (Jeremy Northam) dispute her claim and disapprove of her trying to make more matches. But she ignores their warnings and tries to set up Mr Elton (Alan Cumming), the minister who performed the marriage ceremony for the Westons, with Harriet Smith (Toni Collette), an unsophisticated young woman on the verges of society. Emma and Harriet form a close friendship, but it becomes apparent that Harriet is being courted by farmer Robert Martin (Edward Woodall), who has known her since she younger. Mr Martin proposes to Harriet, she is inclined to accept, but she has come to rely heavily on Emma's advice, and Emma persuades her to reject the proposal. Meanwhile, Mr Elton has been expressing a desire for Emma, she has mistaken his interest in a drawing by Harriet as an interest in Harriet herself. When Mr Elton and Emma are alone, he declares his love for Emma, and she finally realises her mistake. She harshly rejects his pleas, and he later goes on to marry another woman, a vain socialite who competes with Emma for status in the community. Over the next few months, various gatherings show who loves whom among Emma's friends. Emma is briefly attracted to charming, gallant young Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor), Mr Weston's son who comes to visit from London, but Emma soon decides to set him up with Harriet. But Frank is revealed to have a secret engagement with the shy, pretty Jane Fairfax (Polly Walker). Harriet states that she has no interest in Frank, preferring Mr Knightley, but he only danced with her at a party out of politeness, he has started to fall in love with Emma. During a picnic, Mr Knightley angrily scolds Emma when she ridicules poor woman Miss Bates (Sophie Thompson), he leaves town for a while. Emma finds herself thinking about him while he's away but does not realise she loves him until Harriet expresses interest in him. When Mr Knightley returns, he and Emma cross paths in a meadow and have a conversation that begins awkwardly but ends with him asking her to marry him and her gladly accepting. Harriet is upset upon hearing the news of their engagement, she avoids Emma for a while, but returns a few weeks later with her own fiancé, Mr Martin. The film ends with Emma and Mr Knightley's wedding. Also starring Juliet Stevenson as Mrs Elton, Phyllida Law as Mrs Bates, Kathleen Byron as Mrs Goddard, Coronation Street's Brian Capron as John Knightley, and Ruth Jones as Bates' Maid. Paltrow does a splendid English accent and is beautiful as the determined young woman playing cupid, and there is fine support from the likes of Collette, Northam, Cumming, and Stevenson, it is a simple story, a woman trying to find love for other people, but risks missing the chance to find love for herself, and it has good use of colour of costumes, a bright and breezy period romantic drama. It won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score for Rachel Portman, and it was nominated for Best Costume Design. Good!
The Current War (2017)
The Current War
I was curious about this film when I saw the trailer on television, it sounded interesting when I looked more into it, I did debate seeing in cinemas after seeing Mark Kermode on BBC News The Film Review, but I gave it a chance anyway. Basically, it is the true story of the charged battle for the future of America and the world between two brilliant visionaries. Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan after successfully demonstrating his radical new DC (direct current) technology. Charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) is his rival, he believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), have the superior idea for electricity across America, the AC (alternating current) current. As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history. Westinghouse presents evidence that Edison's direct current design has fatal flaws. The Edison Electric Light Company claimed that high voltages used in an alternating current system were hazardous, and that the design was inferior to, and infringed on the patents behind, their direct current system. In the midst of this quarrel, tests are conducted, leading to the first electric chair being created. Edison is only supported by his secretary Samuel Insull (Tom Holland), who observes his attempts to break the rules to get his system to take over in time for the new century. Edison's wife Mary (Tuppence Middleton) also saw his struggle, until she fell ill and died of unknown causes (possibly a brain tumour). In the end, in the "war of the currents", Edison is defeated by Westinghouse, who won the bid to supply electrical power for the World's Columbian Exposition and secured the contract to build the Niagara Falls hydroelectric project. DC commercial power distribution systems declined rapidly in numbers throughout the 20th century, but Edison went on to have success inventing the phonograph (the sound recorder), and most significantly motion pictures. Also starring Katherine Waterston as Marguerite Westinghouse, Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan, Damien Molony as Bourke Cockran, Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Older Dash, and Woody Norman as Dash Edison. Cumberbatch brings his usual intensity to the famous American inventor, Shannon is good at being his imposing business adversary, this film does not make you choose a favourite, it is all egotism and greed, and there is no hero or villain, some of the technological facts are interesting, the acting is fine, and the period production design is well done, it is just not all that gripping, a reasonable historical drama. Worth watching!
Bird Box (2018)
A Quiet Place was a brilliant scary movie that used the sense of sound, or rather sensory deprivation, to create fear, this Netflix produced film does almost the same thing, using the sense of sight, directed by Susanne Bier (Serena, The Night Manager). Basically, in a post-apocalyptic world, Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) tells two young children, known only as Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair), that they will be going downstream on a river in a rowing boat. She strictly instructs them never to remove their blindfolds, or else they will die. Malorie's story goes back and forth in time, separated by five years, until they conjoin: her attempt to navigate the river and the events that led to it. Five years earlier, Malorie is pregnant and visited by her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) for a routine check-up in hospital. A new report on television tells of unexplained mass suicides taking place in Romania and spreading across Europe. When leaving the hospital, Malorie sees a woman bashing her head into a glass panel, followed by panic erupting in town. Malorie realises the "violence" has now reached North America, Jessica tries to drive them away from it. But Jessica experiences the phenomenon affecting the masses, she sees an invisible entity, which causes her to lose control, and deliberately cause the car to crash. An injured Malorie witnesses Jessica walk into the path of an oncoming truck, killing herself. Malorie runs through the mass chaos on the streets, until a woman named Lydia (Rebecca Pidgeon) invites her into her house for safety, even though her husband Douglas (John Malkovich) disagrees. But as she does so, Lydia goes into a trance, begins talking to her dead mother, and casually climbs into a burning car, which explodes. Malorie is rescued and brought into the house by Tom (Moonlight's Trevante Rhodes). One of the survivors, Charlie (Get Out's Lil Rel Howery), has somewhat comprehensive knowledge of what could be happening. He theorises that demonic entities have invaded Earth, taking the form of their victims' worst fears and traumas, driving them insane before causing them to commit suicide. At the insistence of Tom, they cover all windows in the house and blindfold themselves whenever they must venture outside. Later, Greg (Jurassic Park's BD Wong) volunteers to tie himself to a chair while monitoring the surveillance cameras to find evidence of the entity, he falls victim after seeing it and kills himself by rocking his chair violently and slamming his head into a hearthstone. The group are soon joined by new survivor Olympia (Danielle Macdonald), who is also pregnant, and they find that supply of food is decreasing. Using masking tape and the satellite navigation, most of the group drive to the supermarket where Charlie worked to restock. Malorie finds pet birds and decides to take them along with their supplies. Charlie hears a co-worker begging for help, he accidentally causes himself to get locked outside with him, the group contemplate helping him, but Malorie notices the birds going into a hysterical fury. The group is attacked by the infected co-worker, he was not killed by the entities but is instead used to infect others. Charlie sacrifices himself to save the others, who are able to make it back safely to the house. Sometime later, fellow survivors Felix (rapper Machine Gun Kelly, aka Colson Baker) and Lucy (Alita: Battle Angel's Rosa Salazar) steal the car and drive away. Later, Olympia lets stranger and apparent lone survivor Gary (Tom Hollander) into the house, although Douglas objects. Douglas gets extremely upset and threatens the others with a shotgun, he is knocked unconscious by elderly survivor Cheryl (Jacki Weaver) and imprisoned in the garage. Later, Olympia and Malorie go into labour, and Cheryl helps with the births. Gary starts drawing various entities and goes into a trance, indicating that he was already partially overtaken by the entity when he arrived. He opens the garage door to kill Douglas. He peeks outside and is completely taken over; he then knocks out Tom and proceeds to remove all the coverings from all the windows. Despite Malorie's warnings, Olympia fails to look away from the windows, is overtaken by the entity and jumps out of the window. Gary forces Cheryl to look, she is also overtaken and grabs a pair of scissors to stab herself in the neck. Douglas blindly attempts to kill Gary with a shotgun but fails, Gary kills him stabbing him the scissors. Malorie tries to protect the new-born babies, her boy and Olympia's girl, Tom recovers consciousness in time to overpower and kill Gary. Five years later, Tom and Malorie are living together with the children. They receive a transmission from Rick (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a survivor stating that they are well and safe at a community hidden in the forest. The four decide to go to the community but are ambushed by a group of infected survivors along the way. Tom tries to distract the group, while Malorie and the children make an escape, but the group notice them. Tom sacrifices himself, opening his eyes to shoot the group dead, he is then overtaken by one of the entities, he is able to shoot the last member of the group before shooting himself. Malorie, the children, and the pet birds, kept in a cardboard box to protect them, make their way blindfolded down the river in a boat. On the way, they fight off an infected survivor, and survive raging rapids. The boat is overtaken by the rough water, but Malorie, Boy and Girl are able to find each other. The three are separated when Malorie accidentally slips down a hill. Voices of the entities, pretending to be Malorie, attempt to convince Boy and Girl to remove their blindfolds. Malorie is able to tell them to fight the urge. Once reunited again, they are chased by the entity, implied by invisible forces (wind) moving through the trees. Malorie and the children eventually reach the community, a former school for the blind. Malorie releases the pet birds from the box to the other birds up on the ceiling, she knows they have found somewhere to settle, and finally gives the children names: Tom and Olympia. Also starring Parminder Nagra as Dr. Lapham, and Frank Mottek as News Anchor. Bullock is terrific as the leading heroine, Rhodes is likeably charismatic, Malkovich does his usual scathing thing, and other supporting cast members, Howery and Weaver, do alright as well. It is a high-concept tale, mysterious creatures who, once glimpsed, causing them to commit suicide or become homicidal psychopaths, there are a good amount of shocks and eerie moments, I agree it is not as inventive as A Quiet Place (released the same year), but it is a most worthwhile post-apocalyptic science-fiction horror thriller. Good!
The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
I may have watched the classic Snoopy or Charlie Brown cartoons a couple of times when I was a kid. It's a bit of a Marmite thing for me, I know peopke like it, but Charlie Brown is a depressing loser kid, at least Snoopy is likeable lol. I'd heard of the 60s short movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, but this is the first full length feature film I'd seen featuring the characters from the Peanuts comic strip, also the first made in 35 years. Basically, Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) is the accident-prone child, with a long-running streak of failures. A Little Red-Haired Girl moves into the neighbourhood, Charlie Brown is infatuated with her, but worries his clumsiness will prevent her from noticing him. Lucy van Pelt (Hadley Belle Miller) says he should be more confident, so Charlie Brown decides to try a few activities, to find one that may get the new girl's attention. His first attempt is to participate in the school's talent show with a magic act, with help from his dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez, one of Peanuts' original animators), and his best friend, yellow bird Woodstock. But something goes wrong during the act of Charlie Brown's sister Sally (Mariel Sheets), he helps her out, humiliating himself in the process. Next he wants to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl, Charlie Brown signs up for the school dance and Snoopy teaches him some moves. At the dance, Charlie Brown gains positive attention for his skills, but slips and sets off the sprinkler system, the dance is cut short and all the other students look down on him again. Charlie Brown is partnered with the Little Red-Haired Girl to write a book report. He is initially excited to have the chance to be with her, but she is called away by a family illness, leaving Charlie Brown to write the report by himself. Charlie Brown decides to write a report on the intellectual novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. At the same time, following a standardized test, Charlie Brown finds he is the only student to get a perfect score. His friends and the other students congratulate him, and his popularity begins to climb. However, at an assembly to accept an award, he finds out that the test papers were mixed up, the high score belongs to Peppermint Patty (Anastasia Bredikhina). Charlie Brown declines the medal, losing all his new-found popularity. Then his book report is destroyed, and he admits to the Little Red-Haired Girl he has caused them to both fail the assignment. Before leaving school for the summer, Charlie Brown is surprised when the Little Red-Haired Girl chooses him for a pen pal. Linus (Alexander Garfin), Lucy's brother, convinces Charlie Brown he needs to tell the Little Red-Haired Girl how he feels about her before she leaves for the summer. He races to her house but sees that she is about to board a bus for summer camp, he thinks it is already too late. He takes a kite out of the Kite-Eating Tree, the string becomes tangled around him, and the breeze drags him in the direction of the bus. Charlie Brown's friends are amazed to see him flying a kite, something he has always failed to do, they follow him. When he reaches the bus, Charlie Brown asks the Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi) why shy chose him despite his various failures. She tells him that she admires his selflessness, determination and honesty, and the two promise to write to each other. In a subplot, Snoopy finds a typewriter and writes a story about the First World War Flying Ace, trying to save his love interest Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth) from the Red Baron. Snoopy uses the events and situations surrounding Charlie Brown as his inspiration to develop his story, coming across him and the gang many times along the way. Also starring Noah Johnston as Schroeder, A.J. Tecce as Pig-Pen, Rebecca Bloom as Marcie, and Marleik as Franklin. Charlie Brown is fairly likeable being the very unlucky but ambitious boy, Lucy is amusingly snappy, and the other supporting children are fun, obviously it is Snoopy the beagle that almost steals the show with his adventures involving his doghouse. The film does have three-dimensional characters and locations, but the style of animation sticks very closely to the original comic strips, from the character expressions to their cartoonish actions, it should make you laugh, and works well for both fans of Peanuts, and the new generation, a fun family computer-animated comedy. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Animated. Good!
This documentary film formerly featured in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I couldn't find any reviews by critics, but it sounded interesting. This film tells the story of legendary surfer, health advocate and sex guru, Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz (also producing the film) and his family. At 85-years-old, Dorian recalls many of his past experiences being a lifeguard, a surfer, and a surfing instructor, which eventually led to him living off the earth, travelling on the road going through the various states of America, particularly those with beaches. He and his wife Juliette talk about how they met each other, their undying love for each other, and they also openly talk about their sex life. Throughout their marriage in the 1960s and 1970s, Doc and Juliette have nine children, eight boys and one girl: David, Jonathan, Abraham, Israel "Izzy", Moses, Adam, Salvador, Josh, and Navah. All of the children were home-schooled, raised in a small camper on the beaches of Southern California, Hawaii, Mexico and Israel. There they surfed and had to adhere to the strict diet and lifestyle of animals in the wild, guided by their passionate and demanding, health-conscious father. All the children raised under such extraordinary circumstances eventually grew up and went on to various realistic careers, including in film, television and music. The family are all reunited by the end of the film for the celebration of Doc's 85th birthday. Paskowitz, Juliette and their children are interesting characters, especially the husband and wife who are not nervous or embarrassed to talk about their approaches to sex, and where and when they did it. The title would lead you to believe it is all about surfing, there are moments where you see it, and obviously we see the articles and archive footage over the years of Doc and the family talking about it. This is much more the story of a man who pursued his dreams and dragged his family along for the wild ride, an interesting documentary. Worth watching!
The Old Man & the Gun (2018)
The Old Man & the Gun
Robert Redford, a legendary actor and director, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival, announced his intent to retire from acting at the age of 82 after the release of this film, so this was seen as his "swan song", and one I really looked forward to watching, directed by David Lowery (Pete's Dragon, A Ghost Story). Based on a true story, since his daring escape from San Quentin State Prison in 1979, career criminal Forrest Tucker (Golden Globe nominated Robert Redford, also producing) has been wanted by the police. He has been on the run for two years, making his living from robbing banks, using his charm, and a hidden gun, with help from accomplices Teddy Green (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits). One day, while evading the police, Tucker pulls over to assist a woman having car trouble, this also serves as a ploy to avoid the police noticing him. The woman, Jewel (Sissy Spacek), is grateful for his help and offers to buy him lunch at a diner. He introduces himself with a fake name but becomes drawn to Jewel to the point of revealing that he is a bank robber, which he she assumes is a joke. The two later spend time together on Jewel's farm where Tucker becomes enamoured with her and her life. Tucker to surprise Jewel by paying off the rest of her mortgage, but he is frustrated after the bank tells him that this would require Jewel to sign documents, spoiling the surprise. Tucker pulls off a string of heists, often without having to reveal his gun under his coat. Dallas Police Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) talks to the witnesses of these robberies, who describe Tucker as charming and gentlemanly. Sketches of the perpetrator, as described by the witnesses, are shown on the news s, asking anyone with information to come forward. Shortly afterwards, Hunt's investigation is taken over by the FBI. A woman named Dorothy (Elisabeth Moss) comes forward stating that she is Tucker's daughter. Hunt agrees to meet with her, despite no longer being on the case. Dorothy says that she was born while Tucker was in prison, meaning he is unaware of her or his grandchild. Hunt also meets with Tucker's former lawyer who says that Tucker has never pulled the trigger of his gun, and that claims he fired a weapon during a standoff in the past are false. Later, during a night out with Jewel, Tucker recognises Detective Hunt from the television report, he is there with his wife Maureen (Tika Sumpter). Tucker follows Hunt into the bathroom, he tries to boost his confidence, but he is unnerved when Hunt calls him by his real name, "Forrest", indicating he likewise recognises him. Later that evening, police attempt to capture Tucker as he arrives home. He tries to get away in his car, it backfires, prompting police to shoot at him, striking him in the arm. Tucker drives to Jewel's farm in the early hours of the morning, but he decides not to wake her up, he instead takes one of her horses for a ride. Riding on a horse was on his list of things he wanted to do, while doing so several police vehicles surround the farm, he decides to surrender. When Jewel visits him in prison, Tucker gives her a list of his sixteen previous escapes from reformatories and prisons. He has left line number seventeen blank; Jewel advises him to remain in San Quentin until the end of his sentence. When Tucker is released from prison, Jewel is there to pick him up. She takes him to her farm and tells him that he can stay as long as he likes. Sometime later, Tucker tells Jewel that he is going out on an errand. He calls Detective Hunt from a payphone, they have some brief banter, Tucker sounds distracted, he eventually hangs up the phone and walks into a bank across the street. The final text says that Tucker went on to rob four banks that day before being caught, and it mentions that he was smiling while being arrested. Also starring Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Detective Gene Dentler, Keith Carradine (David's half-brother) as Captain Calder, and Gene Jones as Mr. Owens. Redford gives a splendid performance as the elderly charmer with the gift of the gab and very polite whilst committing armed robbery, Spacek is sweet as his love interest, and Affleck there is good support from Affleck as well. It is a very simple story of an old crook, finding romance whilst committing his crimes, and a cop looking for him, all taking place in the early 1980s, an interesting character piece, with occasional bits of action and love story, a likeable biographical drama. Good!
Midnight Lace (1960)
A week or two after the sad death of one of the last female Hollywood Greats, film channels showed a number of her classic films, it was during this time I got the opportunity to see this one, a fairly rare occasion that it is not a musical or comedy. Basically, Kit Preston (Golden Globe nominated Doris Day) is a newlywed American heiress who has been living in London for three months, since she married British financier and executive Anthony "Tony" Preston (Rex Harrison). On a foggy night, Kit is terrified when she hears a high-pitched voice calls her by name, torments her, and threatens to kill her. Tony tries to convince her that someone is playing a practical joke. The next day, Kit goes to Tony's office and shows him some shopping purchases, including a nightgown called "Midnight Lace" which interests Tony. As Kit returns home, a falling girder from the construction site adjacent to her building nearly hits Kit. She is pushed to safety by contractor Brian Younger (John Gavin), but she is startled when he addresses her by name. After an encounter with the annoying Malcolm Stanley (Roddy McDowall), son of her housekeeper Nora (Doris Lloyd), Kit is emotionally shaken by a telephone call from the ominous voice. Neighbour Peggy Thompson (Natasha Parry) urges Tony to take Kit to Scotland Yard to discuss the situation. Inspector Byrnes (John Williams) believes that Kit may be making-up the story to get more attention from Tony, while her Aunt Bea (Myrna Loy) wants to believe her, but her erratic behaviour is a cause for concern. Kit later receives another phone call, but she hysterically hangs up before Tony can hear the voice for himself, increasing his concerns for her. The next day, Kit is trapped in an elevator when the power goes out. She panics hearing footsteps approaching in the dark, but she is relieved to discover it is Brian. He escorts the visibly distraught Kit to a pub to calm down, but she is disturbed by his intense manner, and returns home. Kit, Tony, and Aunt Bea are at the ballet when Tony's assistant Daniel Graham (Richard Ney) appears, he talks about debts and losses Tony is blamed for. Kit becomes increasingly paranoid, and reports more calls to the police, and a visit from a mysterious stranger (Dr. No's Anthony Dawson), but these are met with scepticism by everybody. On the street Kit is pushed in front of an approaching bus and is nearly killed. Kit frantically begs Peggy to lie that she heard the voice on the phone, but the plan backfires as Tony says that the phone is out of order. Now certain that Kit is delusional, Tony and Bea take her to a physician who suggests she may have a split personality disorder and needs help. But later, the phone rings, Kit confirms it is the strange voice, and Tony hears it for himself. He calls Inspector Byrnes and asks him to come to the apartment, while he will pretend to leave the building, in the hope that he will catch the stalker. As soon as Tony leaves, the caller phones to announce he is coming to kill Kit. Tony returns and they turn off all the lights, the voice calls to Kit in the darkness. A man appears with a gun on the terrace, Tony tackles him, until the gun goes off and hits the intruder. Kit questions what is taking Scotland Yard so long and goes to place a call, but Tony calmly stops her. He confesses he never called the police and explains that he has a plan to kill her and make her death appear to be a suicide, being driven to mental illness, so he can collect her inheritance and pay off his debts. Then Peggy enters the apartment, Tony explains she has been helping him, using recordings of the creepy voice over the phone and pushing her in front of the bus. The gunman regains consciousness, he is Peggy's husband Roy Ash, he was planning to murder Tony and Peggy after learning of their affair. While Tony and Peggy are distracted by Ash, Kit climbs out of the window and down the construction girders, Brian reaches her he helps her, just as Aunt Bea arrives. When Inspector Byrnes arrives, he reveals that he had tapped Kit's phone and knew she was in trouble. Brian and Aunt Bea comfort Kit while the inspector arrests her husband and his mistress. Also starring Herbert Marshall as Charles Manning, and Mary Poppins' Hermione Baddeley as Dora Hammer. Day is not completely believable despite her attempts to be hysterical and scared, and Harrison is not much better as the doubting husband, it is a very simple story, a woman is being stalked, but most believe she is losing her marbles, the tense scenes only seem to occur when Day is alone, unfortunately the rest of the film fails from implausibility, inconsistency and repetitiveness, even the biggest fan of Day will struggle to go with it, a disappointing thriller. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Color. Adequate!
Mark Kermode was talking about this film on BBC News - The Film Review, it was re-released on Blu-ray and in limited cinemas for its 40th anniversary, it is considered a remake of the 1953 French-Italian film The Wages of Fear, directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist, Killer Joe). Basically, in the remote village of Porvenir, in Latin America, four outcasts from varied backgrounds, most criminal and from different parts of the world, have been brought together. Nilo (Francisco Rabal) is a well-dressed man from Veracruz, Mexico who works as a hitman. Kassem aka "Martinez" (Amidou) is a Palestinian terrorist who was part of a group of militants that caused an explosion near the Damascus Gate in Israeli Occupied West Bank, Jerusalem. Victor Manzon aka "Serrano" (Bruno Cremer) is a crooked banker from Paris, France, who was accused of fraud. He was unable to provide collateral for the charges to be dropped, and the father of his business partner Pascal (Jean-Luc Bideau) refused to help, so he was forced to leave his country and his wife. Finally, Jackie Scanlon aka "Dominguez" (Scheider) is a mob driver from Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States, who survived a car accident following a run-in with the Mafia, his friend Vinnie (Randy Jurgensen) helped him to escape the country. Kassem, Victor, and Jackie all assume fake identities and end up in Porvenir, the village's economy is heavily reliant on an American oil company. Kassem befriends a man called "Marquez" (Karl John), presumably a Nazi war veteran. They all live in extreme poverty, earn meagre salaries and want out. Nilo soon arrives in the village, raising suspicions. Meanwhile, an oil well explodes, and the only way to extinguish the fire is to use dynamite. The only dynamite available has been improperly stored, the nitroglycerin inside the containers is highly unstable; the faintest vibration could cause an explosion. With all other means ruled out, the only way to transport is to drive 200 miles using two trucks. The company require four men for the dangerous job, Kassem, Victor, Jackie and Marquez are offered and accept it. Shortly before departing, Nilo kills and replaces Marquez, which angers Kassem. The four drivers embark upon the perilous journey, facing many hazards and internal conflicts, inside the two trucks, with the painted names "Lazaro" and "Sorcerer". Despite their differences, they are forced to co-operate. They traverse a rotten bridge during a violent thunderstorm, Nilo and Jackie nearly losing their truck in the process. The team find a massive tree has fallen onto the road, blocking their path, they are forced to use one of the boxes of explosive fluid to destroy it. Kassem and Victor's truck is victim to the rough terrain on a cliff-side road, a tire blows out, the nitroglycerin is jostled as they go off-road, causing an explosion and killing the pair. Nilo and Jackie stop at the scene of the destruction, when suddenly bandits surround them and attempt a robbery. They kill the bandits but Nilo is mortally wounded, soon dying from his injuries. Now alone, Jackie is overwhelmed by hallucinations and flashbacks, and struggles with his sanity. When his truck's engine dies just two miles short of the destination, he is forced to carry the remaining nitroglycerin on foot. At the bar back in Porvenir, Jackie is given legal citizenship and payment for the job by the oil company, as well as an offer of another job. Before leaving, Jackie asks for a dance with a local woman, unaware that henchmen of Mafia director Carlo Ricci (Cosmo Allegretti), along with his old friend Vinnie, are surrounding, and moments after entering a single gunshot is heard from a distance. Also starring Ramon Bieri as Corlette, Peter Capell as Lartigue, Friedrich von Ledebur as "Carlos", Chico Martínez as Bobby Del Rios, and Joe Spinell as Spider. Scheider gives a good performance, along with the other three men on the treacherous mission, the characters are all driven by greed and have their demons and flaws, but you are compelled to see if they can do it. It is in the second half that the action really kicks, but once it does, many of the truck scenes are nerve-jangling, especially the pivotal scene across the rickety bridge in the storm. Most of these pre-CGI scenes ate into the budget of the film, it was a critical and commercial flop on its release in 1977 but is now seen as a "forgotten masterpiece", a most watchable thriller. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Sound. Very good!
Death on the Nile (1978)
Death on the Nile
British star Albert Finney made a terrific Oscar nominated impression in Murder on the Orient Express in 1974, four years he was replaced by fellow British star, who played the famous sleuth six times, this may be the second most famous Agatha Christie novel the character appears in, directed by John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno, King Kong). Basically, Jacqueline "Jackie" de Bellefort (Mia Farrow) and Simon Doyle (Simon MacCorkindale) are engaged to marry. One day, Jackie asks her close friend, wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Moonraker's Lois Chiles), to keep Simon company, this meeting turns into a whirlwind affair, and they later end up marrying. The newlyweds go on honeymoon to Egypt, where they are continually hounded by the jilted Jackie. To get away, the Doyles pretend to go to the Cairo Railway Station, before boarding their booked cruise on a Nile paddle steamer, the S.S. Karnak. Many passengers aboard the vessel have had past experiences and encounters with heiress Linnet and have their reasons for wanting her dead. Obviously Jackie has managed to get onboard, and hates Linnet for stealing her fiancé. Elderly American socialite Mrs. Van Schuyler (Bette Davis), who is suffering from kleptomania, desires her jewellery, and her maid Miss Bowers (BAFTA nominated Dame Maggie Smith) blames Linnet's father for causing her own father to go into financial ruin. Drunken romance novelist Mrs. Salome Otterbourne (BAFTA nominated Angela Lansbury) is facing a lawsuit brought by Linnet, and Salome's daughter Rosalie Otterbourne (Olivia Hussey) wants to protect her mother. American Andrew Pennington (George Kennedy), Linnet's trustee, is anxious about her discovering he has embezzling from her. Louise Bourget (Jane Birkin, sang "Je t'aime... moi non plus" with Serge Gainsbourg), Linnet's maid, is bitter due to her mistress refusing to grant her a promised dowry. Outspoken communist Jim Ferguson (Jon Finch) resents Linnet for her affluent lifestyle. Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Ludwig Bessner (Jack Warden) faces exposure by Linnet concerning his unorthodox methods. Also aboard the cruise is the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (BAFTA nominated Sir Peter Ustinov), and his friend Colonel Race (David Niven). One evening, Jackie confronts Simon and Linnet, and in a moment of madness aims a pistol, she ends up accidentally shooting Simon in the leg, she drops the gun under the sofa in shock. Later that night, a gunshot is heard, and the next morning Linnet is lying in bed dead, having been shot in the head at close range, and the killer smudged the letter "J" on the wall in her blood. Poirot and Race question the passengers one by one to get their observations and alibis the night of the murder. During the investigation, evidence is discovered, Bourget is murdered, with her throat slit, and Mrs. Otterbourne says she witnessed who committed the crime, but she is shot dead before she can tell them. Eventually, Poirot has concluded his investigation, he gathers everyone in the saloon to explain his findings. After all motions are told, he reveals that Simon is responsible for Linnet's murder, with Jackie working as his accomplice. Jackie pretended to shoot Simon, drawing attention to herself, he then ran to his cabin to shoot Linnet in the head, used an improvised silencer to shoot himself in the leg, and wrapped the pistol and bloody handkerchief overboard out of the window. Jackie later killed Louise, who was blackmailing Simon, then killed Mrs. Otterbourne, who saw Jackie exiting Louise's cabin. Simon and Jackie were working together to kill Linnet, inherit her money, and later marry. Simon says they have no proof; Poirot says the police will do a test on Simon's fingerprints to find gunshot residue. Jackie realises they will be caught, she confesses before embracing Simon, Poirot realises she has taken back the pistol, but he is unable to prevent her from killing Simon, and then herself. The passengers depart when the boat next docks, while Poirot is thoroughly congratulated for his work. Also starring I.S. Johar as Manager of the Karnak, Watership Down's Harry Andrews as Barnstaple, Sam Wanamaker (Zoë's father) as Rockford, Barbara Hicks as Schoolteacher, Celia Imrie as Maid, and Saeed Jaffrey as Attendant. Ustinov is humorous and likeable as the precise detective, and supporting cast, especially Lansbury as the sozzled writer and Smith as the acid-tongued nurse. The Egyptian locations make for wonderful sights, the murder being on a boat mirrors the Orient Express concept, the conclusion is just about effective, it is an enjoyable star-studded whodunnit murder mystery. It won the for Oscar for Best Costume Design, it won the BAFTA for Best Costume Design, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film - England. Good!
The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
The Pride of the Yankees
I had seen a couple of clips of this classic black-and-white film, all I knew what to expect was people playing baseball, and the famous final line, but it was rated well by critics, directed by Sam Wood (A Night at the Opera, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Kitty Foyle). Basically, Lou Gehrig (Oscar nominated Gary Cooper) is a young Columbia University student. His old-fashioned mother (Elsa Janssen) wants him to study hard and work in engineering, but he has a talent for baseball. Sportswriter Sam Blake (Walter Brennan) convinces a scout to watch Gehrig play, and he is surprised to be given the opportunity to play for the New York Yankees. His mother gets sick, he agrees to sign with the team to pay for the hospital bills. With the help of his father (Ludwig Stössel), he wants to keep his career change a secret from his mother. Gehrig works his way up through the minor leagues and joins the Yankees. His hero, Babe Ruth (as himself), is at first condescending and dismissive of the rookie, but his strong, consistent success wins over Ruth and the rest of the team. During a game at Comiskey Park, Gehrig is teased by spectator Eleanor (Oscar nominated Teresa Wright) for tripping over a stack of bats. Later, they are properly introduced, leading to a relationship, and then an engagement. Gehrig's mother finally finds out about his baseball career when friends come to the house to show stories about him in the newspaper headlines. She does not accept the fact that her son will not be an engineer, but after some time, Gehrig finally stands up to her and marries Eleanor. The Yankees become the most dominant team in baseball, and Gehrig becomes a favourite with the fans. His father and fully converted mother attend games and cheer for him. Along the way, Gehrig also makes public appearances, including a meeting with a crippled boy named Billy (Gene Collins) in a hospital. He tells him that he can achieve anything if he works hard for it and promises the boy to hit two home runs in a single World Series game, he fulfils his promise. Gehrig earns the nickname the "Iron Horse", he is an established national hero at the peak of his career with multitudes of fans, many loyal friends, and an adoring wife. Then he begins to notice increasing pains, causing his strength to slowly fade away. Though he continues to play, and achieves further records, his physical condition continues its inexorable decline. One day, in Detroit, he tells Yankees manager Joe McCarthy (Harry Harvey) that he benches himself. After an examination, a doctor gives him the devastating news: Gehrig has a rare, incurable disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, later to be known as Lou Gehrig's disease), and only a short time to live. A year later, a special day is held for Lou Gehrig, what will be his final appearance, at Yankee Stadium. He is surprised to be reunited with an older Billy (David Holt) and shows him that he has made a full recovery, inspired by his hero's example and his fulfilled promise. Eleanor weeps softly in the stands, and his parents watch on, and Gehrig addresses the fans. His final words are "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." (voted number 28 on 100 Years, 100 Quotes). Also starring Dan Duryea as Hank Hanneman, Addison Richards as Coach, Hardie Albright as Van Tuyl, Virginia Gilmore as Myra, and Bill Dickey as himself. Cooper gives a good performance as the everyman with a gift, Wright is likeable as his beautiful wife, and it is cool to have the real Babe Ruth, this movie is not quite the story of the whole career of the iconic Gehrig, it is more about his relationships with his family and his wife, there are only a few short moments with baseball (there is also a very odd fully ballet dance sequence when the couple go the theatre), obviously it is most memorable for the final words, all together it is a worthwhile biographical sports drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Picture; Best Writing, Original Story; Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration; Best Sound, Recording; Best Effects, Special Effects, and Best Music for Leigh Harline. Lou Gehrig was number 25 on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains (Hero), and the film was number 22 on 100 Years, 100 Cheers. Good!
Oranges and Sunshine (2010)
Oranges and Sunshine
I think I was attracted to this film because of the names in the cast, I didn't know what the title meant (it is an ironic false promise), it was when I read more about it that I was fascinated to find out about this shocking true story, directed by Jim Loach (Ken's son). Basically, it tells the story of Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson), a social worker from Nottingham. In the 1980s, she uncovered one of the most significant social scandals in British history, a scheme of forcibly relocating poor children from the United Kingdom to Australia and Canada. Many of the children were told before migration that their parents were dead, and the parents were informed that their children must go into care but were unaware they were taken abroad. Deported children were promised oranges and sunshine, but they got hard labour and life in institutions, and others went to religious communities where they were repeatedly raped. With permission from her superiors, and with little regard for her own well-being, Humphreys began a journey to reunite the thousands of children and parents affected by this extraordinary miscarriage of justice. It started with brother and sister Jack (Hugo Weaving) and Nicky (Lorraine Ashbourne). Soon dozens of people approached Humphreys when she brought attention to the issue on her trip to Australia, including persistent but well-meaning Len (David Wenham). Soon the scandal is exposed, and worldwide attention is brought to the cause. This scandal, which took part in the 1940s and 1950s, affected over 130,000 children, and Humphreys continues her cause to reunite the families. Also starring Tara Morice as Pauline, Aisling Loftus as Susie, Geoff Morrell as Walter, Richard Dillane as Merv, and Stuart Wolfenden as Bill. Watson does well in another serious difficult role, there is fairly good support from Weaving and others, this is a truly shocking and unthinkable real-life story about children forced into slavery and lied to, and the location filming in sunny Australia and the grey East Midlands is well done, it doesn't feel fully compelling the whole way through, but it is an interesting historical drama. Worth watching!
The Lion King (2019)
The Lion King
The original Disney animated movie is crowd-pleasing favourite and was a big box office hit, spawning a successful stage musical, so following on from Cinderella, Pete's Dragon, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo and others, the 1994 cartoon got the "live action" treatment twenty-five years later, well that's what the makers call it anyway, directed by John Favreau (Elf, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Iron Man, The Jungle Book). Basically, in the Pride Lands of Africa, at Pride Rock, the lions rule over the animal kingdom. There King Mufasa (James Earl Jones, voiced Mufasa in the original) and Queen Sarabi (Star Trek: First Contact's Alfre Woodard), with Rafiki the mandrill (John Kani), the kingdom's shaman and advisor, are presenting Simba, their new-born son, to the large gathering of animals. Mufasa shows young Simba (JD McCrary) the Pride Lands, explaining his responsibilities as king, and the "circle of life", which connects all living things. Mufasa's younger brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) plots to eliminate Mufasa and Simba to become king himself. He tricks Simba and his best friend Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph), who are betrothed, into exploring a forbidden elephant graveyard. The lion cubs are attacked by spotted hyenas, led by Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key), and Azizi (Eric André), who are in league with Scar. Mufasa is alerted about the incident by his majordomo, the hornbill Zazu (John Oliver), and rescues the cubs. Mufasa is upset with Simba, but forgives him, he tells him the great kings of the past are in the night sky, they will always be there to guide him, as he will be one day. Meanwhile, Scar visits the hyenas and manages to convince them to help him overthrow Mufusa in exchange for hunting rights in the Pride Lands. Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a gorge, telling him it is the place where lions practise their roar. While stampede of wildebeest is driven by the hyenas to trample him, Scar informs Mufasa his son is in danger. Mufasa saves Simba but hangs perilously trying to climb out of the gorge. Scar refuses to save him and causes him to fall onto the stampeding herd. Simba finds Mufasa dead, Simba is convinced by Scar that his roar caused this tragedy and tells him to run away and never return. Scar orders the hyenas to kill the cub, they are convinced that Simba falls to death from the edge of a cliff, but he survives the fall and escapes. Scar tells the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede and steps forward as the new king, allowing the entire hyena pack to live in the Pride Lands. Simba has collapsed in the desert, he is rescued by friends and outcasts Timon the meerkat (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa the warthog (Seth Rogen). Simba (Donald Glover) grows up in a jungle paradise with his two new friends and other animals, living a carefree life under the motto "Hakuna Matata", meaning "no worries". Back in Pride Rock, the kingdom been reduced to a wasteland under Scar's rule, adult Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) manages to sneak past the hyenas and goes to find help. Timon and Pumbaa and other animals are walking through the jungle singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", when Nala tries to attack them. She and Simba reunite and fall in love, and she urges him to return home, explaining what has happened to the land. Feeling guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and storms off. He then encounters Rafiki, who discovered he was still alive, he tells him that Mufasa's spirit lives on in Simba. Simba is visited by the ghost of Mufasa in the night sky, following this he decides to return home. Aided by Timon and Pumbaa, Simba sneaks past the hyenas and confronts Scar. Scar taunts Simba over his role in Mufasa's death and backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to him that he murdered Mufasa. Enraged, Simba reveals the truth to the rest of the pride. Scar attempts to defend himself, but his knowledge of Mufasa's last moment, having previously claimed that he arrived too late at the gorge, exposes his role in Mufasa's death. Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses fend off the hyenas while Simba confronts Scar trying to escape. He spares his uncle's life but orders him to leave and never return. Scar attacks his nephew, but Simba manages to throw him from the top of the rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them. Afterwards, during a rainfall, Simba takes over the kingship and makes Nala his queen. Later, with Pride Rock restored to its usual state, Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the gathered animals, continuing the circle of life. Also starring Penny Johnson Jerald as Sarafina, Amy Sedaris as Guinea Fowl, Chance the Rapper as Bush Baby, and Phil LaMarr as Impala. The voice cast are all fine, especially Ejiofor as the villain, the return of Jones is welcome as the father, but he speaks pretty much exactly the same dialogue, and the "photorealistic" CGI animation is absolutely astonishing, you cannot believe the animals are not real, until of course they open their mouths and speak. The story remains unchanged, with biblical and Shakespearian themes, and the memorable songs composed by Sir Elton John and written by Sir Tim Rice you can still enjoy. Unfortunately it is let down by the fact that almost all the dialogue is the same, as is the story, it doesn't have much emotional impact, and only subtle changes are made, including the song "Spirit" (performed by Beyoncé) from the stage musical, but that's it, you may as well be watching the original 1994 movie, it is definitely opting for style over substance, nevertheless a reasonable animated musical drama. Worth watching!
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Invisible Man
I had already seen Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon, this is a movie from Universal Classic Monsters collection I had yet to see, based on the novel by H.G. Wells, directed by James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein). Basically, on a snowy evening in the English village of Iping in Sussex, a stranger (Claude Rains) wrapped in bandages and with his eyes obscured by dark goggles takes a room at The Lion's Head Inn. The man demands that he be left alone. Later, innkeeper Herbert Hall (Forrester Harvey) and his wife Jenny (Bride of Frankenstein's Una O'Connor) want to evict the man for making a mess in his room and falling behind on his rent. He is angered and reacts violently, throwing Mr. Hall down the stairs. As police officers and some local villagers arrive, the man removes his bandages and goggles, revealing himself to be invisible. Laughing maniacally, removes his clothes, making himself completely undetectable, and scares people before fleeing into the countryside. The stranger is Dr. Jack Griffin, a chemist who has discovered the secret of invisibility while conducting a series of experiments using an obscure drug called monocane. Flora Cranley (Titanic's Gloria Stuart), Griffin's fiancee and the daughter of Griffin's employer, Dr. Cranley (It's a Wonderful Life's Henry Travers), becomes distraught over Griffin's long absence. Cranley and his other assistant, Dr. Arthur Kemp (William Harrigan), search Griffin's empty laboratory, finding only a single note. It is a list of chemicals, including the drug monocane, which Cranley knows is extremely dangerous. The drug causes madness, it seems Griffin is unaware of this. Following his escape from the inn, Griffin turns up at Kemp's home. After making himself visible again with pyjamas, bandages and dark glasses, Griffin forces Kemp to become his visible partner in a plot to dominate the world through a reign of terror, with "a few murders here and there". They drive back to the inn to retrieve his notebooks on the invisibility process. Griffin sneaks in while police are there making enquiries, it is assumed the events earlier may be a hoax. After securing his books, he attacks and kills a police officer. Back home, Kemp secretly calls Cranley, asking for help, and then the police. Flora persuades her father to let her come along and calm Griffin down. Griffin is more placid with Flora, but realises Kemp betrayed him. Griffin promises he will return by 10pm the next night to murder him, he then undresses, escapes and goes on a killing spree. He causes the derailment of train, killing hundreds of passengers, and throws two volunteer searchers in a car off a cliff. The police offer a reward for anyone who can think of a way to catch him. The Chief Detective (Dudley Digges) in charge of the search uses Kemp as bait, feeling that the invisible man will try to fulfil his promise, and sets various clever traps. To escape, police disguise Kemp in a police uniform and let him drive his car away. Griffin, however, is hiding in the back seat of the car, he overpowers him, tying him up, sending the car down a steep hill and over a cliff, it explodes and kill him. Griffin finds shelter from a snowstorm in a barn, but the Farmer (Robert Brower) hears him snoring and sees the straw moving. The police are informed, surround the building, and set fire to the barn. When Griffin comes out, the chief detective sees his footprints in the snow and opens fire, mortally wounding him. Griffin is taken to the hospital where, he talks to Flora on his deathbed, as he dies, his body gradually becomes visible again. Also starring Holmes Herbert as Chief of Police, E.E. Clive as Constable Jaffers, Harry Stubbs as Inspector Bird, Donald Stuart as Inspector Lane, Robert Adair as Detective Thompson, and Dwight Frye as Reporter. Rains, despite only been seen with his face covered, and then not seen at all, is memorable as the scientist driven to insanity, megalomania and murder by his discovery, the special effects achieved by optical illusions and camera trickery were pioneering at the time, and there is definitely an eerie tension throughout, an enjoyable classic science-fiction horror. Very good!
The Lion King 1½ (2004)
The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata
The first Disney film, released in cinemas, is of course superb, the same cannot be said for the fairly terrible straight-to-video sequel, this third instalment you could argue is more a prequel than a sequel, technically it's the second movie (hence the alternative title, Lion King 1 ½). Basically, Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella) are in a cinema watching the original, Timon decides they should share their story, with events from the original parallel with theirs. Timon is a social outcast in his meerkat colony on the outskirts of the Pride Lands, he dreams of escaping to a better place, away from the threat of predators. One day, he fails to guard the other meerkats when spotted hyenas Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg), Banzai (Cheech Marin) and Ed (Jim Cummings) attack and almost cause the death of Uncle Max (Jerry Stiller). This is the last straw for the colony, despite the protests of his dedicated Mom (The Simpsons' Julie Kavner), Timon leaves to find a better life. Along the way, he meets Rafiki the mandrill (Robert Guillaume), who teaches him the phrase "Hakuna Matata" and advises him to "look beyond what you see". Timon takes the advice literally and observes Pride Rock in the distance, he believes this is his destination. Timon wanders into some long grass, and encounters warthog Pumbaa for the first time, they quickly form a bond and journey together. The pair arrive at Pride Rock during the presentation of Simba to the gathering of animals. As they pass through the crowd of onlookers, Pumbaa breaks wind, causing animals around him to faint and prompting animals further away to bow to Simba. Following this, Timon and Pumbaa make multiple attempts to set up homes throughout the Pride Lands, but wind up being forced away every time after they witness several events from the original film. This includes Simba singing "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", Mufasa's fight with the Hyenas, and Scar's plotting with the hyenas. Eventually, the pair are caught in the wildebeest stampede that killed Mufasa in the original film and are thrown off a waterfall. Timon is exhausted and decides to give up, until Pumbaa discovers a luxurious green jungle he tried to tell Timon about earlier. The pair finally settle there with the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata". Eventually, Timon and Pumbaa encounter Simba in a nearby desert, nearly dead. The pair rescue him and help to raise him, teaching him to forget his past and eat bugs, Simba grows up to become a carefree adult. Years later, adult Nala (Moira Kelly) appears after chasing Pumbaa and reunites with adult Simba (Matthew Broderick). Timon and Pumbaa attempt to sabotage their romantic encounters, but continuously fail. Simba disappears after arguing with Nala, and Timon and Pumbaa see the strange clouds forming in the sky from a distance, the ghost of Mufasa. Nala explains to them that Simba returned home and is going to challenge his uncle Scar, and that they need to help. Timon is hurt that Simba abandoned them, Pumbaa refuses to stay and follows Simba and Nala. Timon attempts to indulge in jungle luxuries alone, but the loneliness overtakes him. Rafiki appears again and indirectly helps Timon realise he should be with the ones he loves, so he leaves. Timon reconciles with Pumbaa before they continue to journey to Pride Rock. After helping Simba and Nala distract the hyenas, Timon and Pumbaa run into Mom and Uncle Max, who came looking for Timon. Timon proposes that they all help Simba by getting rid of the hyenas. Whilst Simba battles Scar, the meerkats dig tunnels beneath the hyenas to disturb the ground beneath them, while Timon and Pumbaa use various tactics to distract them, until they are driven away and turn against Scar. Simba accepts his place as king of the Pride Lands, thanking Timon and Pumbaa for helping him. Timon takes Ma, Uncle Max, and the meerkat colony to live in the predator-free jungle, and he is praised as their hero. Timon finishes his backstory, he and Pumbaa are then joined in the cinema by Mom, Uncle Max, Simba, Rafiki, and eventually many other Disney characters to watch the movie all over again. Also starring Edward Hibbert as Zazu the red-billed hornbill, Matt Weinberg as Young Simba, Corey Burton as Grumpy, Bill Farmer as Goofy, Carolyn Gardner as Snow White, Chris Sanders as Stitch, Blayne Weaver as Peter Pan, Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck, Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, and Frank Welker as various supporting voices. Lane and Sabella remain funny and likeable as the popular duo, it is amusing to see how they came to be friends, and how they fitted into the background of the original film, the animation is pretty good, the backstory element does almost work, although if you know the original movie as well as I do there are tiny bits that don't quite fit, but there is some fun to be had, an alright animated comedy adventure. Okay!
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King
This Disney animated favourite was a big box office hit, it spawned a successful worldwide stage musical, and got a photorealistic remake twenty-five years later, the original remains a crowd-pleasing cartoon. Basically, in the Pride Lands of Africa, at Pride Rock, the lions rule over the animal kingdom. There Simba, the new-born son of King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Queen Sarabi (Madge Sinclair), is being presented to the large gathering of animals by Rafiki the mandrill (Robert Guillaume), the kingdom's shaman and advisor. Mufasa shows young Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) the Pride Lands, explaining his responsibilities as king, and the "circle of life", which connects all living things. Mufasa's younger brother Scar (Jeremy Irons) plots to eliminate Mufasa and Simba to become king himself. He tricks Simba and his best friend Nala (Niketa Calame-Harris), who are betrothed, into exploring the forbidden land. In the elephant graveyard, the lion cubs are attacked by three spotted hyenas, Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg), Banzai (Cheech Marin), and Ed (Jim Cummings), who are in league with Scar. Mufasa rescues them after being alerted by his majordomo, the hornbill Zazu (Rowan Atkinson). Mufasa is upset with Simba, but forgives him, he tells him the great kings of the past are in the night sky, they will always be there to guide him, as he will be one day. Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a gorge, while a stampede of wildebeest is driven by the hyenas to trample him. He informs Mufasa, who saves Simba but hangs perilously trying to climb out of the gorge. Scar refuses to save him and causes him to fall onto the stampeding herd. Simba finds Mufasa dead, Scar convinces him that this tragedy is his fault, and tells him to run away and never return. The hyenas are ordered to kill the cub, but Simba escapes. Scar tells the pride about the deaths of Mufasa and Simba, appoints himself as king, and allows the hyenas to live in Pride Rock. Simba has collapsed in the desert, he is rescued by friends and outcasts Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella). They take pity on him, telling him to put his past behind him, citing their motto "Hakuna Matata", meaning "no worries". Timon and Pumbaa allow him to live in their jungle paradise. Simba (Matthew Broderick) grows up as a carefree adult. Meanwhile the Pride Lands have been reduced to a wasteland under Scar's rule. Timon and Pumbaa are walking through the jungle singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", when a hungry adult lioness tries to attack them. Simba fights her, but realises it is Nala (Moira Kelly) grown up. She and Simba reunite and fall in love. She urges him to return home, telling him that Pride Lands have been destroyed, feeling guilty for his father's death he refuses and storms off. He then encounters Rafiki, who discovered he was still alive, he tells him that Mufasa's spirit lives on in Simba. Simba is visited by the ghost of Mufasa in the night sky, following this he decides to return home. Aided by Timon and Pumbaa, Simba sneaks past the hyenas and confronts Scar. He taunts Simba over his role in Mufasa's death and backs him to the edge of the rock, there he reveals to him that he murdered Mufasa. Enraged, Simba pins Scar to the ground and forces him to tell the truth to the pride. Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses fight against the hyenas, Scar tries to escape, until he is cornered by Simba at the top of Pride Rock. Simba spares his life but orders him to leave and never return. Scar attacks his nephew, but Simba manages to throw him from the top of the rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them. Afterwards, the rain starts to fall, the other animals watch as Simba finally ascends Pride Rock and roars to announce his kingship. Later, Pride Rock is restored to its usual state, animals are gathered as King Simba and Queen Nala look over their kingdom, and Rafiki presents their new-born cub. Also starring Zoe Leader as Sarafina, Frank Welker as Lion Roars, Tony Jay as Hyenas, and B.J. Ward as Lions. The voice cast are all terrific, especially Jones as the father and Irons as the villain, the colourful animation is wonderful, the story inspired by biblical stories and Shakespeare's Hamlet is good, it makes you laugh and cry, and the songs composed by Sir Elton John and written by Sir Tim Rice are memorable anthems, a most satisfactory animated musical drama. It won the Oscars for Best Music for Hans Zimmer, and Best Song for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (also won the Golden Globe), and it was nominated for Best Song for "Circle of Life" (also nominated the Golden Globe), and Best Song for "Hakuna Matata", it was nominated the BAFTAs for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music and Best Sound, and it won the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical and Best Original Score - Motion Picture. It was number 14 on The 100 Greatest Musicals, it was number 99 on 100 Years, 100 Songs for "Hakuna Matata", it was number 94 on The Ultimate Film, it was number 6 on The 100 Greatest Family Films, and it was number 7 on The 100 Greatest Cartoons. Very good!
Mat i syn (1997)
Mother and Son
This Russian film is one that previously appeared in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, that is the simple reason I decided I wanted to watch it, but it was also rated well by critics, directed by Aleksandr Sokurov (Russian Ark). Basically a young man, the Son (Alexei Ananishnov), is taking care of his exhausted elderly and frail Mother (Gudrun Geyer). It is unclear what her condition is, but she is dying from a sickness that causes her great pain as she gasps for breath. Her son combs her hair, feeds her, covers her with a coat, and takes her in his arms. The son was once totally dependent on her, now she has become dependent on him. The son carries his mother on a long journey from her sickbed to her deathbed. This long walk takes them through a dreamlike landscape in the countryside, along winding dirt roads. Each time they stop along the way is a moment of contemplation, caresses, and tender murmurs. In these moments, the mother and son talk about her previously nurturing him, and he tells her of his love for her. From time to time, there are trains on tracks or ships sailing the sea, emphasizing further their isolation from the rest of the world. They return to the house. The son tenderly lowers his mother into her bed that now seems to resemble a coffin. They both know that the end is coming, he tries to contradict and reassure her. He leaves her and goes for a long solitary walk. When the son returns, he weeps for his mother when he finds she has died. This is a very simple story of a son devoted to his sick mother, there are only small moments of dialogue between the two characters, the only two seen throughout the whole picture, and both played by unprofessional but convincing players. What makes this moving story really memorable is that the imagery is often artistically distorted throughout, the feelings of agony and despair are increased with these cinematic techniques, it a most interesting slow burning drama. Good!
I think I must have heard about this film when it was released on DVD, the lead actor is known mostly for action or comedy movies, so I was interested to seeing something a bit different and perhaps simpler from him. Basically, near Christmas, construction worker Roman Melnyk (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is preparing for the arrival of his wife Olena (Tammy Tsai) and pregnant daughter Nadiya (Danielle Sherrick) from New York City, aboard flight AX 112. But at the airport, Roman is given the news that the plane was involved in an accident, and his wife and daughter have been killed in the plane crash. Roman is devastated and blames the air traffic controller for the deaths of his family. The accident is also seen from the point of view of Jacob "Jake" Bonanos (Scoot McNairy), an air traffic controller, happily married to Christina (Maggie Grace), with a son named Samuel (Judah Nelson). Jake is on duty the night of the crash, his colleague leaves the room, and the telephone lines needed to communicate with other airports are briefly in need of maintenance. He is momentarily distracted trying to fix the problem, and he is to late to stop flight AX 112 changing altitude and colliding with another flight, DH 616, both disappear from the radar and are destroyed. Although the investigators cannot hold Jake responsible for the crash and the death of the passengers, he blames himself for the accident. As time goes by, Jake slowly unravels, the relationship with his family is strained, and he is unwilling to talk about what happened. It is reported that all 271 passengers and crew were killed in the mid-air collision. Roman goes to the crash site, posing as a volunteer with no relationship with the victims, there he recovers his daughter's necklace and finds the bodies of his wife and daughter. Roman secludes himself at home and tries to hide from journalist Tessa Gorbett (Hannah Ware), who is interested in writing an article or book about the incident. She leaves him some articles of plane disasters she has previously written, showing herself as a serious and accurate journalist. Because of the seriousness of the incident, the lawyer of company advises Jake to move to another state and change his name for the safety of himself and his family. Roman meets lawyers John and James Gullick (Kevin Zegers and Larry Sullivan), who try to convince him to sign an agreement stating that the airline will pay his expenses for medical and mental healthcare, plus $85,000 and $75,000 in damages for the loss of his wife and daughter, respectively. But Roman refuses to sign it, as neither the company nor the lawyers will express apologies for the loss of his family. One year later, Roman and other relatives of the crash victims attend the inauguration of a newly completed memorial at the crash site. Jake, having moved to another state, now works at a travel agency, under the name "Pat Dealbert", and lives alone following a divorce from Christina. Roman has also moved to another town and now works as a carpenter. Roman meets Tessa and asks her, as a favour, to find Jake. Tessa later reveals Jake's cover name and occupation, but she initially refuses to give his address. Roman tracks down Jake to where he is working and follows him to his apartment. On a day when Christina and Samuel happen to be visiting Jake for the weekend, Roman confronts him at his door. Jake refuses to offer an apology, so Roman stabs Jake in the torso and neck. Jake falls to the floor and bleeds to death, while Christina and Samuel sob uncontrollably. Roman is convicted of murder and serves ten years of his prison term, he is released early on parole, given what motivated his crime. While visiting his family's grave he meets a stranger, it turns out to be an adult Samuel (Lewis Pullman, Bill's son). He has tracked Roman down with the intention of killing him to avenge his father's murder. However, Roman apologises, and Samuel, moved by Roman's remorse, realises he cannot bring himself to kill him. Samuel allows him to leave, but now Roman must spend the rest of his life dealing with the aftermath of "his" crime. Also starring Insomnia's Martin Donovan as Robert, and True Blood's Mariana Klaveno as Eve. Schwarzenegger gives a good understated performance as the man consumed by grief who wants to take control of his situation, any way he can, and McNairy also does well as the guilt-ridden air traffic controller. The film was inspired by a true story, a simple mistake that resulted in the accidental deaths of hundreds of people, and an act of revenge, it is a slow-burning story with an affective sombre feeling, there is the perhaps forced confrontation scenes, but apart from that, and as an alternative movie for Arnie, it is a fairly well executed drama. Worth watching!
Oasis are one of the most famous bands of the nineties and noughties, they have made a number of fantastic and catchy songs, I read a little about this documentary about them, I was most interested to find out more about them, directed by Mat Whitecross (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Take That: "The Flood", Coldplay: "Paradise", Red Nose Day Actually). Basically, this film examines the popularity of Oasis, their contribution to Britpop and the "Madchester" scene, and the fiery relationship between musician brothers and lead singer-songwriters Noel and Liam Gallagher. Specifically, it focuses on the forming of the Manchester-based rock band, their early performances, their rise to fame, the ups and downs during their formative years, and the height of their success in the 1990s. The film is made up of archive footage, including home video, television performances and recorded concerts, promotional interviews, and backstage footage, including unseen material. The individual members and crew that created the band, and those associated with them, speak in off-screen interviews during this material. Many of their most popular songs of the 90s also play in the background, including "Supersonic", "Live Forever", "Cigarettes & Alcohol", "Whatever", "Some Might Say", "Morning Glory", "Rock 'N' Roll Star", "Don't Look Back in Anger", and "Champagne Supernova". With off-screen interviews from Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Peggy Gallagher (Noel and Liam's mother), Paul Gallagher (Noel and Liam's brother), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, Maggie Mouzakitis - Tour Manager, Jason "Roadie" Rhodes and many more. It is an interesting approach, to have a film simply show the footage, and not the people talking speaking onscreen, it is very well edited, and it really does show how the band become era-defining superstars. It is a shame that it doesn't truly explore why the band broke up, or the later relationship between the Gallagher brothers, they are naturally constantly swearing in their talks, but also unusually frank, and there is plenty of material that attracts your attention, a most satisfactory musical documentary. Very good!
The Swimmer (1968)
I was told that this classic film was worth watching, it sounded like it has an odd plot to me, but it is well rated by critics as well, so I was up for chancing it, directed by Frank Perry (Mommie Dearest), and Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa) (uncredited). Basically, on a sunny day in an upper-class neighbourhood of suburban Connecticut, a fit and tanned middle-aged man in a bathing suit, Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster), drops in on his old friends, the Westerhazys. Ned jumps into their swimming pool with much energy and vitality, and he realises there is a series of backyard swimming pools forming a "river" back to his house, so he decides to "swim his way home". Ned dives into the pool, emerging at the other end and beginning his journey, his behaviour perplexes his friends, who know of bad things in his recent past that he seems to have forgotten. As Ned travels, he encounters other neighbours and friends. He meets twenty-year-old Julie Hooper (Janet Landgard), who used to babysit his daughters, whom he repeatedly refers to as "at home playing tennis". He reveals his plan to her; she joins him. They crash another pool party, drink champagne and swim another pool. While stopping to rest in the woods, Julie confesses to Ned that she had a schoolgirl crush on him, he says he will protect her and makes plans for the two of them. Julie is made to feel awkward with his intimate approaches, she runs away. Ned next visits the home of a wealthy eccentric couple who are bathing in the nude, he follows suit and strips to swim their pool. He then encounters lonely little boy Kevin Gilmartin (Michael Kearney), who he tries to teach how to swim. They find the next pool is abandoned, and empty, Ned initially thinks his journey is ruined, but then he urges them to use their imagination as he teaches him swimming strokes. Kevin warms his method, as Ned leaves the boy bounces on the diving board, Ned stops him before he hurts himself. Ned makes only superficial connections with people as he continues his journey, he has become obsessed and increasingly out of touch with reality. The neighbourhood is full of judgmental, well-heeled people, and Ned continues to be confused by hints that his life might not be as untroubled as he believes it to be. Ned carries on with his plan. He walks into another party, the hostess who recognises him playfully calls him a "party crasher". He has an encounter with a bubbly woman named Joan (Joan Rivers), he asks her to join him, she is intrigued until she's warned off by a friend. Ned jumps into the pool, making a big splash which grabs the attention of the guests. When he emerges from the water, he notices a cart that used to be his, being used to serve hot dogs. Ned gets into an argument with the homeowner, who says he bought it at a yard or garage sale. Ned is pushed to the ground, and he leaves the party with all the guests staring at him. Ned then shows up at the backyard pool of Shirley Abbott (Janice Rule), an actress he had an affair with several years earlier. He has warm memories of their time together, but she is angry with him being "the other woman". He tries to reconnect, reconcile, or perhaps seduce her, but Shirley demands him to leave. Unaware of the pain he has really caused, Ned wades into the deep end of the pool. Ned goes on, showing up at a crowded public swimming pool. With no money he begs the staff to let him swim one length of the pool, a friend helps pay for him to enter, but he is also stopped momentarily for the state of his feet, which are dirty and have developed bloody sores. There people who know him demand he pays his bills, and make vicious comments about his wife's snobbish tastes, it becomes too much for him and he flees. Ned trudges barefoot alongside a busy highway as the sky gets dark and it begins to rain. With the rain pouring, Ned limps and staggers home, walking through the tennis court he claimed his daughters were playing in. His home and the court are in fact derelict, and his house is locked and deserted, with several windows broken. Ned is a broken man and repeatedly bashes on the door before slumping to the ground is despair. Also starring Kim Hunter as Betty Graham, Charles Drake as Howard Graham, Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy, Marge Champion as Peggy Forsburgh, Bill Fiore as Howie Hunsacker, and Diana Van der Vlis as Helen Westerhazy. Lancaster gives a terrific performance, wearing only swimming shorts throughout, as washed-up suburban man on a journey, not only to swim all pools in the neighbourhood, but to find himself, this human study has slightly dark elements, which contrast with the lovely sunny locations, and it is full of clever metaphors about alienation and events of the time, the score by Marvin Hamlisch adds to it as well, an interesting drama. Very good!