Posts Tagged ‘Film’


After Australia, it’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s turn

December 20, 2008

Having, by most accounts, thoroughly done over Australia, Baz Luhrman turns his sights on The Great Gatsby.  The man appears miffed at the poor reviews his latest outing has been getting.

Speaking of which, you know something’s badly wrong with an Australian film if even David Stratton struggles to find a kind word.  He gave it three-and-a-half stars out of five, but if you take off the customary handicap, it’s probably closer to two.

An unkind review follows.

I’ve not seen Australia yet.  I will do, but I’m not really looking forward to it.  I haven’t liked Luhrman’s work in the past – I thought his camped up La Boheme was execrable, Strictly Ballroom left me cold, and I failed to sit through more than five minutes of Romeo + Juliet.

From the trailers and excerpts I’ve seen, our Nic seems to have really gone off the boil. What’s happened to the cute kid with freckles in BMX Bandits, the deadly vamp plying sex for power in To Die For (possibly her best ever role), and the business-like nuclear scientist saving the world (well, Manhattan, anyway) in The Peacemaker?

I thought she was passable in The Interpreter, but in The Invasion – an appalling remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one of cinema’s immortals – she was beyond dire.


More nostalgia — 1930’s, this time

May 27, 2007

Two scenes from Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera] (1931), the film by G.W. Pabst that infuriated its authors, Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill, by removing most of its nihilism. It’s a very fine film, nonetheless. The first piece features Lotte Lenya as Pirate Jenny, in one of the most seductively subversive songs ever written….

….and the second Ernst Busch in Moritatsong, later ruined by Frank Sinatra, among others, as Mack the Knife.


La Jetee (1962), by Chris Marker

May 14, 2007

Another masterpiece. This was the film upon which Terry Gilliam based 12 Monkeys. But Gilliam never even came close to the spirit and genius of the original. For my money one of the five best films ever made. Captured almost entirely in a series of stills, there is only is one moment of movement.

26 minutes of magic. Do watch it. You cannot help but be enthralled.


Un Chien Andalou (1929), by Luis Bunuel

May 13, 2007

Seeing as how you can, I thought I’d post some favourite films here from time to time.

This is the great surrealist masterpiece from Luis Bunuel, with dream sequences by Salvadore Dali. The famous razor-slices-eye scene at 01:30 is still genuinely shocking, even after all these years of slasher movies. The film itself is all of 16 minutes long.


The long highway of the left’s paranoia

April 17, 2007

One of the best political thrillers of the 1970’s was Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor. Copybook direction from Pollack was largely responsible for the film’s enduring power. Filmed just after the oil crisis of 1974 (when the west would have gone to war for oil if it was ever going to), it also set the parameters for the left’s most abiding obsession: it’s all about oil. Somehow, some way, it’s always because of the oil. It’s what the liberation of Kuwait was all about, it’s what the obviously faked 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were all about, it’s what the invasion of Iraq was all about, it’s what everything was always all about.

In this, one of the first articulations of what was to become a decades-long paranoia, Robert Redford memorably plays Turner, a former CIA bookworm, who stumbled across, guess what, a sinister plot.

TURNER (strong-arming CIA Deputy Director Leonard Atwood): It was your network I turned up. Doing what? Doing what? What does Operations care about a bunch of goddamned books? A book in Dutch. A book out of Venezuela. Mystery stories in Arabic. What is so important about…..

[penny drops, clangs loudly]

…. oilfields. Oil. That’s it, isn’t it? This whole damn thing was about oil. Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?

ATWOOD (cowed): Yes.

Watch the denouement here.

Plus ca change.


Truly Bedazzled

April 15, 2007

I recently bought — and joyfully watched — a DVD of the original version of Bedazzled, a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore masterpiece from 1967. Been looking for it for years. (I’ve not seen the remake and wouldn’t want to.)

It’s truly subversive, in the way that nothing has been, I sometimes suspect, since the 1960’s.

The film is actually a riff on the old medieval Dr Faustus motif, to which it is surprisingly faithful. George Spiggot (Peter Cook), aka Lucifer, tries to get short-order cook Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore) to surrender his soul on a promise that, with the seven wishes he sells it for, he will manage to win the love of the object of his hopeless passion, Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron), a waitress at Stanley’s Wimpy Bar.

For a taste:

Poor Stanley sells his soul, all right, but doesn’t get the lady. George makes sure of that. The Devil doesn’t win either, though, as he fails in his bid use the transaction as a bargaining chip to get back into heaven. Back down on earth, with the mocking laughter of the Almighty sounding in his ears, George — suitably sinister in red silk lined cape, red socks and black bow tie — snarls the following imprecation at the Almighty:

All right, you great git, you’ve asked for it. I’ll cover the world in tasty freeze and Wimpy burgers. I’ll fill it full of concrete runways, motorways, aircraft, television and automobiles — advertising, plastic flowers and frozen food, supersonic bangs…. I’ll make it so noisy and disgusting that even you’ll be ashamed of yourself.

No wonder you have so few friends. You’re unbelievable.

Eat your heart out, Richard Dawkins.