21 March 2015

The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp 1982
  • Director: George Roy Hill
  • Based on novel by John Irving
  • Cast: Robin Williams, Glenn Close, Mary Beth Hurt, John Lithgow, Swoosie Kurtz, Peter Michael Goetz, Amanda Plummer
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Robin Williams  The Butler, Insomnia, Good Will Hunting, Hamlet, Homicide Life on the Streets, Hook, Fisher King, Dead Again, Awakenings, The Dead Poets’ Society, Good Morning Vietnam
    • Glenn Close – Sarah Plain and Tall, Paradise Road, Mars Attack!,  101 Dalmatians, Mary Reilly, The House of the Spirits, Hook, Meeting Venus, Hamlet, Reversals of Fortune, Dangerous Liaisons, Jagged Edge
    • Mary Beth Hurt – The Age of Innocence
    • John Lithgow – Dreamgirls, Third Rock from the Sun, The Pelican Brief, Footloose, Terms of Endearment
    • Swoosie Kurtz – Citizen Ruth, Reality Bites, Stanley and Iris, Dangerous Liaisons, Wildcats
    • Amanda Plummer – The Hunger Games Catching Fire, My Life without Me, Pulp Fiction, Fisher King, Joe and the Volcano, Daniel
  • Why?  Curious, having read several of Irving’s books recently
  • Seen:  March 15, 2015 with YW and Hal in our read-book-see-film group 

The novel is problematic and as a whole dissatisfying but it’s a serious novel that deserves better film interpretation than this.  I find little in the film that does the book justice.  Possibly the moment when John Lithgow as the transsexual Roberta mourns her inability to protect Jenny. Otherwise the story is heavy-handed, the changes and omissions demeaning to the subject, the acting generally stilted and the tone as a whole superficialising to what was good in the novel: gender conflict, familial conflict, fear of the death of loved ones.
I remember not liking the film the first time.  I still don’t.

2 * of 5


Contre toi

Contre toi 2010
  • Director: Lola Doillon
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Kristin Scot Thomas, Pio Marmaï
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Kristin Scott Thomas– The Invisible Woman, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Elle s’appellait Sarah, Nowhere Boy, Easy Virtue, The Other Boleyn Girl, Il y’a longtemps que je t’aime, Keeping Mum, Absolutely Fabulous, Gosford Park, The English Patients, Angels and Insects, Richard III, Four Weddings and a Funeral
    • Pio Marmaï – rien
  • Why?  Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Seen:  March 14, 2015 
Anna Cooper is a doctor.  One of her patient dies from complications after an operation.  The patient’s young husband kidnaps her and holds her prisoner to punish her for his wife’s death.
Out of this extreme situation, how can love possibly grow?
The film is a fascinating study of grief, responsibility, emotional damage, guilt, desire, rage, loss and betrayal.
Kristin Scott Thomas is outstanding as always.
It’s a startlingly powerful film.

4* of 5


James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies 1997
  • Director:  Roger Spottiswoode
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Judie Dench, Michelle Yeoh, Terry Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Hugh Bonneville ( a glimpse, you have to look fast), Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewellyn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Pierce Brosnan    The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!
    • Jonathan Pryce – Pirates of the Caribbean, The Brothers Grimm, Very Annie Mary, Evita, Glengarry Glen Ross, Brazil, Timon of Athens, Voyage of the Damned
    • Judi Dench – Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
    • Hugh Bonneville – Downton Abbey, Lost in Austen, Bone Kickers, Daniel Deronda, Noting Hill
    • Samantha Bond  Downton Abbey and other series
  • 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:  March 6, 2015   

After liking the previous Bond more than all the rest I hope this one isn’t going to be a disappointment.
It starts with a bang. Several big ones actually. Bond, to the song by Sheryl Crow, dramatically saves the world from a nuclear disaster about to be caused by military idiocy and bull-headedness.
Again, it’s standard fare with chases and villains and explosions and mountains and exotic nature and cities.  The difference is that everyone is so much classier. The one-liners are produced in a low-key and therefore funnier tone by Brosnan than the earlier Bonds.
Jonathan Pryce is Elizabeth’s father in the Pirates of the Caribbean films as well as Timon of Athens and other people in Shakespeare and he’s not supposed to be a megalomaniac villain. And therefore he’s very good in the role.  He seems so nice. He isn’t.
Nope. Not a disappointment. It’s not a masterpiece, far from it. The shoot-outs and fist fights are too long. But I like it. I like Brosnan.
And old Q is still with us.

3* of 5


14 March 2015

The World's End

The World’s End 2013
  • Director: Edgar Wright
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddy Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Mark Heap, Bill Nighy (voice)
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Simon Pegg  Shaun of the Dead, 24 Hour Party People
    • Nick Frost – The Boat that Rocked, Kinky Boots, Shaun of the Dead
    • Martin Freeman – Breaking and Entering, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually, Black Books
    • Paddy Considine – My Summer of Love, In America, 24 Hour Party People, Born Romantic
    • Eddy Marsan – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Merlin (voice of Manticore), Sherlock Holmes, Happy Go Lucky, V for Vendetta, Vera Drake, 21 Grams, Gangs of New York
    • Rosamund Pike – An Education, The Libertine
    • Pierce Brosnan - The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!, GoldenEye
    • David Bradley – the Harry Potter films, Another Year, Our Mutual Friend, Prick Up Your Ears
    • Michael Smiley – The Other Boleyn Girl, Much Ado About Nothing (retold)
    • Mark Heap – Friday Night Dinner, Good Omens (radio, so voice only), Stardust, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, About a Boy
    • Bill Nighy –  it was only his voice and to tell the truth I didn’t recognise it so I won’t include a list of his film here
  • Why?  The title
  • Seen:  March 7, 2015 

Five middle-aged lads return to their hometown to complete the twelve-pub round they had never managed to complete as teenagers.  The last pub is the World’s End. Four of these men are somewhat successful, with jobs and families. The fifth, Gary King, is still the drunken, lost, wild, free spirit that he always was.
It starts out rather calmly.  But they soon discover that their hometown has been taken over by blue-blooded (literally blue) robots.
And the fun begins.
It’s quite an endearing film really.  Like Shaun of the Dead it’s ridiculous but I find myself clutching the arms of my chair in the excitement and caring what happens to these poor sods.
And the human race, while I’m at it.

3* of 5


P.S. By pure coincidence this is the second film in a two evenings we’ve watched with Pierce Brosnan.

GoldenEye

GoldenEye 1995
  • Director:  Martin Campbell
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Gottfried John, Alan Cumming, Michael Kitchen, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewellyn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Pierce Brosnan    The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!
    • Sean Bean – North Country, The Island, Troy, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Stormy Monday
    • Famke Janssen – The X Men
    • Joe Don Baker – Mars Attacks!, Reality Bites, The Living Daylights
    • Judi Dench – Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Robbie Coltrane – Harry Potter 1-8, From Hell, Henry V, Black Adder, Tutti Frutti, Absolute Beginners
    • Alan Cumming – The Tempest, Titus, Eyes Wide Shut, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
    • Michael Kitchen – Foyle’s War, My Week with Marilyn, Mrs Dalloway, Enchanted April, Out of Africa, The Comedy of Errors, King Lear and one more where he played a man who murdered his wife. It was a very good film but I can’t remember the title or find it on IMdB.
    • Samantha Bond  Downton Abbey and other series
  • 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:  March 6, 2015   

Another new James Bond. Pierce Brosnan this time. I saw him first in Mamma Mia and was quite charmed by him, to my surprise.
Oh, he’s a real cutie here. Beats the other Bonds by a mile.
A very dramatic – and completely impossible – intro with Tina Turner doing Bono and the Edge’s song.  Followed by an equally impossible and annoyingly (supposed to be funny no doubt) macho car chase through the mountains.
The intro is in the collapsing USSR. The rest of the film is nine years later. Russia is run by the mafia.
More new things. A cheeky Moneypenny. And finally! Judi Dench! Welcome, sharp-tongued M! Who calls Double-Oh Seven a sexist misogynist dinosaur!  Oh, this could be good!
GoldenEye. A vicious mass destructive weapon.  Suddenly things have changed.  Though twenty years old this film feels very now, unlike all the other Bond films.  The excitement is grimmer. The intrigue more complex.  The betrayals deeper and more personal.  It’s rawer, slicker and sharper.  The sex is kinkier, the high-tech is genuinely high-tech (at least in my very low-tech eyes).
In many ways it follows the formula – and dear old Q is still with us – but Bond has moved into a higher division. With actors like Michael Kitchen, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Izabella Scorupco and Sean Bean, and of course Judi Dench, this one has class.
And, wonder of wonders, Brosnan is better than Connery.

3* of 5


2 March 2015

A Woman in Paris


A Woman of Paris 1923
Director: Charlie Chaplin
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Edna Purviance, Carl Miller, Lydia Knott, Adolphe Menjou, Malvina Polo
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Edna Purviance  The Kid
    • Adolphe Menjou – Pollyanna, Paths of Glory
  • Why?  Chaplin
  • Seen:  February 28, 2015
Charlie Chaplin declares from the start that he isn’t in the film. He’s written it and directed it.
Tragedy and misunderstanding separate two young lovers in France in the 1920’s and Marie ends up in Paris alone. She is dazzled by the luxurious night life and becomes the mistress of a wealthy man. A year passes.
What starts out as an intriguing melodrama turns into some very long sequences – at a restaurant, in Marie’s luxury apartment, wild parties.  They are far from uninteresting but not from the perspective of the story, only visually and cinematically. Which is good.
Marie chances to meet her old lover Jean and she’s torn between continued luxury and marriage.
It’s an odd little film. It ends in tragedy and platitudes and it’s hard to care about the lovers. But there is a wealth of good character acting in the supporting cast – all done without speaking lines. The black and white filming is beautiful, the Roaring Twenties costumes fantastic. There is whimsical humour in the shape of a miniature saxophone, used by one of the characters as an ashtray, and a silly dog, for example.
There are so many wonderful details that it doesn’t matter that the story limps along to its meant-to-be -poignant ending.
I enjoy the film very much.

3 * of 5

James Bond License to Kill


License to Kill 1989
  • Director:  John Glen
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McCrae, David Heddison,  Benincio del Toro, Desmond Llewellyn, Robert Brown
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Timothy Dalton   The Tourist, The Lion in Winter
    • Carey Lowell  Leaving Las Vegas, Sleepless in Seattle
    • Robert Davi – Die Hard
    • Talisa Soto – Don Juan DeMarco, The Mambo Kings
    • Anthony Zerbe – Matrix Revolutions, Matrix Reloaded, Papillon, many TV series
    • Frank McCrae – 48 Hours, Norma Rae, TV series
    • Benicio del Toro – Things We Lost in the Fire, 21 Grams, The Pledge, Traffic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Usual Suspects, The Indian Runner
  • 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:  February 27, 2015  
It’s becoming more and more difficult to write about these films. Anything new, that is.  And there are still many left. With two more actors.
Oh well.
This time:
Songs by Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.
Opening scenes: unusually boring. The intros are often the most artistic part. Not on this one.
It’s personal this time. Friends of Bond are injured and killed by drug lords. He becomes a rogue agent with Q and Moneypenny’s help.  It could, should, be interesting. But we’ve seen most of it before. Including the pretty fish. And some cats.
Essentially it’s dull. There isn’t even any humour and the bad puns are very few.

1 ¾ * of 5