27 January 2015

Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace 2006
  • Director: Michael Apted
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell, Yassou N’Dour, Ciarian Hinds, Toby Jones, Nicholas Farrell, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Jeremy Swift, Richard Ridings
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ioan Gruffudd  King Arthur, Very Annie Mary, Great Expectations, Titanic, Wilde
    • Romola Garai – King Lear, Atonement, As You Like It, Inside I’m Dancing, Daniel Deronda
    • Benedict Cumberbatch – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, Atonement, To Kill a King
    • Albert Finney – A Good Year, Big Fish, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Breakfast of Champions, Cold Lazarus, Karaoke, Miller’s Crossing, Murder on the Orient Express, Tom Jones
    • Michael Gambon – Quirk, Quartet, Harry Potter, The King’s Speech, The Book of Eli, Brideshead Revisited, Cranford, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Being Julia, Angels in America, Gosford Park, Longitude, Sleepy Hollow, Mary Reilly, A Dry White Season
    • Rufus Sewell – The Tourist, The Holiday, Paris je t’aime, The Taming of the Shrew (retold), A Knight’s Tale, Hamlet, Cold Comfort Farm, Middlemarch
    • Yassou N’Dour – as a musician
    • Ciarian Hinds – The Woman in Black, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, Hustle, Margot at the Wedding, Hallam Foe, Phantom of the Opera, Calendar Girls, Road to Perdition, Jane Eyre, Cold Lazarus, Mary Reilly
    • Toby Jones – The Hunger Games, My Week with Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Frost/Nixon, The Mist, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Finding Neverland, Ladies in Lavender, Hotel Splendide, Ever After, Les Misérables, Naked, Orlando
    • Nicholas Farrell – Driving Lessons, Sex Chips and Rock’n’Roll, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Othello, In the Bleak Midwinter
    • Sylvestra Le Touzel – Mr. Turner, Case Histories, Happy-Go-Lucky, Kiss Me Kate
    • Jeremy Swift – Boy A, To Kill a King, Gosford park
    • Richard Ridings  Merlin, Creation, Macbeth (retold), The Brothers Grimm, The Pianist, Clockwise
  • Why?  Of great historical interest
  • Seen:  January24, 2015 (after reading about the 18th century movements in A People’s History of London by Lindsey German and John Rees, I felt it was time to take the DVD off the waiting shelf and watch it)
Money interests equal financial power versus equality and human rights. We could be talking about today’s climate disaster.  Amazing Grace is about the movement in the late 18th century against Britain’s slave trade, upon which the empire grew vastly wealthy.
William Wilberforce was one of the driving individuals in the movement. The film focuses on how he drove himself to collapse in the struggle.
There are moments of humour. The dockside settings and the ships are impressive. It’s very dramatic and victory, when it finally comes, brings tears to the eye. The cast is generally strong, though Benedict Cumberbatch is miscast. I don’t understand all the current hype around him but I haven’t seen him in his recent roles so maybe I’m missing something.  Rufus Sewell, on the other hand, is always excellent and here he is outstanding as the long-haired revolutionary Thomas Clarkson. Vive Rufus!
The anti-slave traders won against the profiteering slave traders in the end.  Maybe environmental activists trying to save the earth will also win against profiteering energy corporations?  It’s up to us, isn’t it: do we have William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson in us?

4 * of 5

James Bond - Moonraker


Moonraker 1979
  • Director:  Lewis Gilbert
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel,  Corinne Cléry, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Roger Moore   The Saint
    • Lois Chiles – Broadcast News, The Way We Were
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  January 24, 2015
 The title is familiar but I thought it was an old Hayley Mills film. How wrong one can be.
What’s a moonraker anyway?
Who cares?
Unlike all the others this one starts out so bad I just want to go back to sleep. Admittedly I’m very bad humoured today so maybe it’s not fair for me to judge. I don’t think I’ll even write a review, just give a rating.
But really, this is so bad.  If I had wanted Star Wars I would have watched Star Wars.  Not even Shirley Bassey’s song can help. It’s the worst of the lot so far, with nothing whatever to like. In fact, it’s not only the worst James Bond film so far, it’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.
Right. Bad humoured. So in the spirit of charitability, for Roger Moore’s pretty blue eyes:

½  * of 5

20 January 2015

Jamaica Inn


Jamaica Inn 1939
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Based on novel: by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Cast: Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Leslie Banks, Marie Ney
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Charles Laughton  Spartacus, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • Maureen O’Hara – Spencer’s Mountain, The Parent Trap, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • Leslie Banks – Henry V
  • Why?  A classic
  • Seen:  January 18, 2015, with YW and KW in our read-book-see-film circle
It’s not Hitchcock’s masterpiece.  All of the interesting characters from the novel are reduced or eliminated completely and the Bodmin Moor, so dramatically described by Du Maurier, is scarcely seen. A pity. It’s a good book and should have been a better film.
But the violent stormy dark Cornish coast is magnificently filmed in black and white. The basic story of a den of cutthroat smugglers and murderous wreckers based at Jamaica Inn is retained from the novel and is quite exciting.
The villain, no longer the sinister vicar, doesn’t even exist in the film. Instead the squire is the brains behind the operation and is played by Charles Laughton as a funny and convincingly dreadful gentleman.  It’s Charles Laughton’s film, really, and as such quite good.

2½ * of 5

James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me


The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
  • Director:  Lewis Gilbert
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jurgens Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Roger Moore   The Saint
    • Barbara Bach – Cave Man
    • Curd Jurgens – The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Longest Day
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  January 16, 2015  
Another obscure Bond and I’m really tired this Friday evening having been awake since 3.15 and worked hard all day.  And truth be known, had a whiskey or too. So alertness is not guaranteed. But maybe it will be exciting enough to keep me awake.
It starts out with an exciting ski chase through the spectacular Alps. And a visually handsome intro, as usual.  And theme song by Carly Simon.  Hopeful, hopeful.
Wow. The dead wife from a few films back is mentioned and Double-Oh-Seven displays an emotion! Stiff upper liply of course, and only for a fleeting moment.
They’re in Egypt this time.  I like camels and pyramids. The villain’s music is nice and his fish are pretty.
That’s about it for the plus points. Altogether it raises the rating a bit about zero.
It’s a really bad film.

1 * of 5

James Bond The Man with the Golden Gun


The Man with the Golden Gun 1974
  • Director:  Guy Hamilton
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize, Clifton James, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Roger Moore   The Saint
    • Christopher Lee – Dark Shadows, Hugo, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Sleepy Hollow, Mio min Mio and probably others
    • Britt Ekland – Get Carter
    • Maud Adams – Radioskuggan, Playing for Time
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  January 10, 2015  
Now we’re really coming to unknown Bond territory. I hardly even recognise the title. Or the song, though I can hear that it’s Lulu singing.
This film boasts not one, but two Swedish stars, Britt Ekland and Maud Adams (who’s actually very good in her other roles). They’re beautiful to be sure but do little to lift this most uninteresting film. There is little to distinguish it from the earlier Bond films except that there’s less humour (almost none and what is there is not funny) more misogynism and more 70’s feeling (that’s not good).
Of possible interest is the prescience of today’s environmental energy disaster with the unexpected wisdom of hinting at the benefits of solar energy and the dangers of nuclear energy. The schoolgirl karate experts and the stunning scenery also give it a small plus.
But why, oh why, did they have to make these films so long?

1 ½ * of 5