Author Topic: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010  (Read 29627 times)

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2010, 11:30:05 PM »
I have always think that Damien 2 is one of the few members of the "sequel is better than the original" club. Always appreciate the twist at the end (I'm sure I ain't the only one who didn't see this coming). Just too sad the way they have ended the trilogy with the third one (Pete is the only one who believes this is a quadrilogy), Seriously Damien beaten by a little boy and some old geezers ::)

Offline addicted2dvd

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2010, 11:57:07 PM »
Look Jimmy... It does exist!...



 :tease:
Pete

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2010, 01:07:29 AM »
I just noticed that you said this Jon.

I will catch up with the books one day. Probably wait now until after the films! :training:

 :slaphead:
I can't even begin to start with how wrong that is, and how you are doing it all backwards! The books should always come first! But I suppose with only two more films to go you won't be able to change now.

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Offline Jon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2010, 03:09:42 AM »
I remember back when the first Omen movies were coming out.  My dad blurted out the ending to the first to me and I vowed t onever see the movie because of that.  And I never have.  I also remember when the third movie came out, Daily Variety (Hollywood trade paper) in their review said it was too bad that was the last of the series...because that one was the funniest one yet!   :laugh:

 :hysterical: "...funniest"? Good grief!

I have always think that Damien 2 is one of the few members of the "sequel is better than the original" club. Always appreciate the twist at the end (I'm sure I ain't the only one who didn't see this coming). Just too sad the way they have ended the trilogy with the third one (Pete is the only one who believes this is a quadrilogy), Seriously Damien beaten by a little boy and some old geezers ::)

I do prefer the first one, but I know where you're coming from. I grew up with these films to some extent, as my parents always liked them. Apart from part 3 of course, and I don't think they even managed to make through part 4. I want to see 3 again, just because... I may even make it to 4.  :training:

But Pete, I do remember it and I can't believe anyone finds anything to like in it. It's such an insult to the first two films. Hell, it even insults the third because at least that was trying to be part of a thread. Part 4 is nothing more than, "Oooh, Damien wasn't really the Anti-Christ! He's just an apostle himself! It's really... A GIRL!". Da-da-DAAA!

What a bloody joke. One of the worst films ever made, if there was a shred of talent involved. :thumbdown: I do find it fascinating how the Omens mirror the Alien movies: clever, defining part 1; explosive, fun and irreverent part 2; failed part 3, but at least an attempt to be different; waste of time part 4. They go on like this we'll get "Omen versus The Exorcist".  :-X

I just noticed that you said this Jon.

I will catch up with the books one day. Probably wait now until after the films! :training:

 :slaphead:
I can't even begin to start with how wrong that is, and how you are doing it all backwards! The books should always come first! But I suppose with only two more films to go you won't be able to change now.

I know. I was once a big reader and I absolutely agree with you, especially as I recognise the films simply cannot be better. But I'm so behind on my books, it'll be a long while yet. :-[
Jon
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Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2010, 05:16:19 AM »
I love the first one (the window pane thing is just the best; read an essay once where they said that without that scene there is no film :laugh:) and found the second one very enjoyable too. I might want to look into the third one. Given the "praise" Jon has given above, I might just go for the trilogy on Blu then... :hmmmm:

...seems unavailable at Amazon :( they have the Collection including the fourth, but I'll resist that for now.

"Omen versus The Exorcist".
:hmmmm: That doesn't sound all that bad... If done right, I mean.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2010, 05:32:27 AM »
The BR set is available at Amazon canada, but I don't think it worths the price asked for even if the movies are great :hmmmm:

Offline Jon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2010, 01:30:12 PM »
£45 at Play, or £30 used (and as a PlayTrader myself, I must say that's worth considering!): http://www.play.com/DVD/Blu-ray/4-/6362829/The-Omen-Trilogy-Box-Set/Product.html

But, even £30 is two much for what might be considered only two good films and a crappy third.

Consider the DVD set I have: http://www.play.com/DVD/DVD/4-/1112476/The-Omen-Pentology-Box-Set/Product.html

It's £12.99, or even just £6.24 second hand. You get The Omen SE, plus the sequels (yes, number 4 too) and the remake. At the very least, the extras are decent throughout, though I haven't looked at the fourth.

I think that's worth a punt, despite not being Blu, as I thought the image quality when I watched Omen 2 the other night was decent. The Omen Blu-Ray gets fairly good reviews, but I don't think it's going to be jaw droppingly good and you don't get part 2.

Jon
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Offline addicted2dvd

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2010, 03:00:44 PM »
And with this set you get part 4!!!  :thumbup:  :tease:

 :tomato:
Pete

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2010, 06:37:10 PM »
 :bag:

I forgot that I already order The Omen on Blu, without sequels, which was a very conscious decision at the time. It's in the mail as it is and I should make no attempt ohterwise. The first one is actually really all I need. :-[

Offline Jon

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The Yakuza (1974) ****
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2010, 12:46:03 AM »
The Yakuza (1974)
4 out of 5



Former private eye Harry Kilmer knows a lot about  Japan - and gangsters whu keep an iron grip on it's gambling, prostitution and protection rackets He knows there's a right way to approach the brutal underworld. And he knows there's one thing powerful mobsters respect: greater power. Robert Mitchum is Kilmer in this haunting  East-meets-West-head-on thriller powered by a team of heavy Hollywood hitters: writers Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and Robert Towne (Chinatown) and director Sidney Pollack (The Interpreter). Co-starring Japan's Takakura Ken and veteran character actor Brian Keith. The Yakuza is a modern film noir in which honor and loyalty become issues of life and death. Violence erupts with the speed of a Tokyo-bound bullet train. And the last thing to die is tradition.

Old man action movies! You’ve got to love them. It doesn’t always work when an aging movie star goes for one last thriller or action flick; just look at Clint Eastwood in The Dead Pool, a step too far for Harry Callaghan. With the right script though, it’s gold. Robert Mitchum is way past his prime as Harry in The Yakuza, but he holds it well and Sydney Pollack –not known for action chops- gives him some superb set-pieces with the least amount of effort, while Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and Robert Towne (Chinatown) deliver a clever screenplay that uses Mitchum’s natural charisma to its best. Just the delivery on one simple line as he sees his long lost love, Eiko (Keiko Kishi), again sums up his whole character: “Hello, darlin’”. Although more straightforward, The Yakuza benefits from the psychological, character-in-purgatory screenplays Schrader and Towne are good at. And Pollack brings it to life, with Mitchum providing old-school charisma you can barely find these days.

Harry has travelled to Japan where he was stationed in the military 20+ years before, at the behest of his friend, George (Brian Keith), who has got himself mixed up with Yakuza. Harry knows a Yakuza (Ken Takakura) who is in debt –or obligation, “giri”- to him. Harry is reluctant when he discovers Ken is no longer Yakuza, and especially when there is a complicated history. Ken is Eiko’s brother and demanded she stay away from Harry all those years before.

The Yakuza plot is a simple one, but adds a great deal of substance by tying it in with honour and obligation, that makes for a brilliant story with a haunting quality, despite its straightforward no-nonsense style. Pollack, as you’d expect, delivers a very solid drama, but the sporadic action is superb, ranging from gunfights to a lengthy sword duel. Bloody and brutal, in that 70s way, which isn’t quite Peckinpah, but it’s close enough to be riveting stuff and the well developed characters make you care for what happens. Look close and you’ll realise that Mitchum at least is being edited kindly, but what editing! There’s one sequence where he is armed with a rifle as he backs up sword wielding Ken, taking on about two dozen Yakuza. That followed where he cleared out a room full of thugs, bellowing his targets name and finally taking him out with Pollack framing him in a 1-2-3 step edit. One word: awesome! I’d take this lean focused brutality any day over anything Michael Bay has done and Pollack isn’t even known for action (although many of his thrillers have decent set-pieces). He just understands character and knows how to position them, even if it’s a Western style gunfight.

This sort of film is dying out with the actors who made them. Mitchum was a hellraiser and combined with being a hell of an actor, he brought a special quality to such movies.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 12:52:29 AM by Jon »
Jon
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The Constant Gardener *****
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2010, 10:58:29 PM »
The Constant Gardener
5 out of 5



Academy Award® nominee Ralph Fiennes ('The English Patient') and Rachel Weisz ('Constantine') give electrifying performances in this gripping suspense thriller. A diplomat on the hunt for his wife's murderer uncovers a treacherous conspiracy that will destroy millions of innocent people - unless he can reveal its sinister roots. From the best-selling spy novel by John Le Carré comes this edge-of-your-seat story of murder, deception and revenge that critics are calling "...outstanding...dramatic...hair-raising..."

I love it when this happens. I’d already seen The Constant Gardener and knew I liked it, but I had an urge to watch it again and it seemed to take on a whole new level. On this occasion, I found it achingly brilliant.

Conspiracy thrillers such as this more often than not concentrate on the conspiracy, reducing the characters to fit and drive the main plot to a grand finale Where All Shall Be Revealed. There is nothing wrong with this, especially in a Bond movie where it’s merely an excuse to link up various set-pieces, but when the conspiracy is based on a grain of truth, you have to subscribe to and accept the writer’s viewpoint to fully appreciate what’s unfolding. A little bit of doubt goes a long and wrong way. Blood Diamond suffers from this.

The conspiracy at the centre of The Constant Gardener –African’s being used as unwitting test subjects for a drugs company- is developed by Jeffrey Caine from John Le Carre’s novel. It’s a fine adaptation that Le Carre has praised as “bearing little resemblance”, in a good way! It is fairly complicated, well researched, engrossing, but as with any other such plot, demanding. The clever thing in this case, is how it is hidden in a love story. As such, our belief in the politics and intrigue become secondary to our belief in Justin (Ralph Fiennes) and Tessa (Rachel Weisz), despite them being irrevocably linked.

In fact, the love story is shown in fractured memories, as it starts with the awful scene of Justin discovering his wife Tessa has been murdered. She was always the passionate driven one, determined to uncover the truth, while he is the quiet diplomat, avoiding being involved. He has to unpick his past with Tessa, coming to terms with several revelations and his own decisions, to understand how he should deal with the future. In a sense, it is a film of two halves, though beautifully fluid in their coming together. It’s such a clever and playful narrative that teases out the characters in such a way you might not be sure how to feel about them. That might be why a second viewing is in order. You know them better and the story takes on new meaning.

The photography is stunning and proves director Fernando Meirellies to be a unique talent. His previous film was City Of God, but that is no indicator of your reaction to this film. Looking at both films, he clearly has a way of matching the cameras movements to the nature of the plot. So whereas City Of God was intoxicating, sharp and powerful, The Constant Gardener has a smoother nature. His use of focus is frequently breathtaking, right from the abstract opening scene of Tessa’s vehicle coming to rest after an accident. We see only the tyre, only the conclusion of the action. Where City Of God was angry, this is poignant, full of longing.

I was reminded of this film after watching The Fountain and finally realising the brilliance of Rachel Weisz. Maybe I’m a bit slow, but The Mummy movies loudly distracted me from how good an actress she actually is! She is gorgeous and captivating in a difficult, Oscar winning role to balance. Her flirty outgoing nature supports the evidence she was having an affair; her soulful gazes at Justin diffuses it. She has to capture our imagination and indignation at once, and she does it. Ralph Fiennes has an even harder job, with a character that by nature is quiet and unassuming (preferring his plants to anything as vulgar as life!) and developing resilience, so he goes under our and the Academies radar, denied the plaudits he surely deserved (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote, not withstanding). He is heartbreakingly real as he tugs the threads of his life back together and anyone who understands how tough grief is cannot fail to be overwhelmed. So much better than the obvious The English Patient. The two leads work together so well and the flashback to their first meeting an utter joy, followed by a sex scene that actually builds the characters. “Thank you... for this gift”, Justin says. “How very generous of me!”, exclaims Tessa. Dialogue throughout is brilliant, especially from Bill Nighy and Gerard McSorley.

They and the main plot comes to sharper focus in the second half and it is affecting, tense and powerful. The decision to actually film in Africa makes for a vibrant and real film, especially with a passionate cast of extras, though it never falls into the trap of becoming a faux documentary. A trust was set-up to support the areas used for filming as way of thank you and it’s a small price for such authenticity.

Ok, so I’ve gone on. A bit. But it shows how much I must regard this film when I can tell you it isn’t perfect. A couple of the supporting characters are a bit obvious, such as Justin and Tessa’s lawyer (Richard McCabe) and especially his annoying computer whizz son, Guido. Bill Nighy is fantastic, but over the top and a concluding scene might be a bit silly (still works though!). They’re balanced by perfunctory roles from Danny Houston and Herbert Kounde. Perception of them is essential to the plot though, which might explain their simple development. They are thriller characters, after all and concessions to the genre are needed somewhere!

There may be other gripes tucked away here and there, but it takes nothing away from a grown-up, ambitious film that is memorable and sublime, thanks to a passionate director and central performances that cut to the bone. Simply wonderful. Watch it, then watch it again. I certainly will.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 11:05:14 PM by Jon »
Jon
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Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit *****
« Reply #41 on: July 17, 2010, 06:10:59 PM »
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit
5 out of 5



When their town's prized produce start disappearing, our cheese-loving inventor and his savvy canine companion must use all their wildly imaginative inventions to try to capture a mysterious beast of epic and fluffy proportions!


While not as sharp as the shorts, the two lovable characters make a triumphant big screen debut. It may be their only one too, because I get the impression Nick Park is happier pottering along without confused American’s putting up the cash! Still, Curse of The Were-Rabbit is on a par with Pixar ;) and streets ahead of any Dreamworks production. Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda are great fun, but lumpy and obvious compared to this.

The secret is an easy charm. Pure and simple. The story, the characters, the way they are animated. It has that quality of the best of animation, a sense they had to throw out ten ideas for every one you see, just to keep the running time sensible. The story is very British, possibly the most identifiably British film for years. It’s more like an Ealing comedy, crossed with a Hammer horror, with a healthy dose of soap opera and a sense of theatrical fun that the audience are as much a part of the result as anything. I’ve seen this three, maybe four, times and still spot new gags. It’s stuffed with clever puns, both visual and in dialogue, which frequently have a cheeky adult appeal (Tottington holding her melons, etc!).

Peter Sallis brings Wallace to life as usual with his wonderful tone. The supporting cast is top notch, with Ralph Fiennes as Wallace’s love rival to Lady “Totty” Tottington, voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, and Peter Kay adding a little edge to the local copper. “I think this was arson... aye! Someone arson about!”

It’s very cinematic too. In the past I’ve spoken of how Anime and now Pixar have developed tricks and styles to mimic the lighting and focus of traditional film, but I’d forgotten about Wallace and Gromit; they’ve always had it, because they are real objects filmed by a real camera. You can’t under-estimate how good it looks and the fact we rather take it for granted speaks volumes.

Model based animation should always have a deserved place. You can see the work going into it and it just adds to the experience. In a way, you are aware of the performers behind the scenes, pushing and prodding their creations and it makes the result all the more astonishing. Gromit’s long suffering expressions have always been my favourite. Just watch the exchange between him and Philip (the rival dog), first when Gromit locks himself in the car and later the amazing “dog fight” in fairground planes! Philip’s purse is silly, but I was crying with laughter!

That might be the overall difference with the shorts. There are more “silly” bits, whereas we’re used to an easier laid-back approach. But that ultimately is a pointless criticism (the rabbits waving might also be silly, but they are hilarious). This film is wonderful and brilliant in all sorts of ways.
Jon
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Catch up with reviews and news at my blog,

Offline Jon

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The General (1927) *****
« Reply #42 on: July 17, 2010, 06:14:42 PM »
The General (1927)
5 out of 5



Buster Keaton, along with Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy, are amongst the finest comic actors ever. There is a purity about Keaton especially that means The General, despite being so old there wasn’t even any sound, has actually dated far less than modern contemporaries. For example, much as I enjoy a Jim Carrey performance as much as the next man (and I do find him hilarious), his work is contrived and gets old, quick. Keaton, with his dead-pan expression and casual slapstick is just so natural.

In The General, it’s particularly easy to appreciate how much his Johnnie Gray character is not an idiot, in fact, quite the opposite. So much modern comedy is based on a character being a pillock and learning not to be so much of a pillock, until he does something brilliant and then all his friends don’t mind him being a pillock... Johnnie Gray is actually intelligent, brave and good at his job, but no-one notices and don’t appreciate him. He is a train engineer and continues to be one after being stopped from enlisting when the Civil War breaks out. The General is his train and when it is stolen by Union soldiers, nothing is going to stop him getting it back. I love the irony that his fiancé, who shunned him because he didn’t enlist, had been kidnapped and she thinks he’s come for her. The merest flicker of an expression tells you, actually, he’s here for the train. Bonus she’s there, no mistake, but he wants the train back!

The comedy of him chasing The General with another engine, on his own, is superb. His fluid athletic slapstick has him running all around the damn thing like you wouldn’t believe and it’s laugh out loud funny throughout. Especially when he gets his fiancé (Marion Mack) and she’s trying to help, much to his disgust. The sequence with keeping the fire stoked is just sublime.

If you’re not sure about silent movies and have dismissed them up to now, make the effort. The General is a superb starting point. You might be surprised just how watchable and satisfying it is and it can only make you appreciate more the modern actors who have been inspired, such as Jackie Chan’s work.
Jon
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Offline Jon

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Run Lola Run **
« Reply #43 on: July 17, 2010, 06:18:08 PM »
Run Lola Run
2 out of 5



Time is running out for Lola. She's just received a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni, who's lost a small fortune in cash belonging to his Mob boss. Now, she has to run for his life, to try and come up with the money before Manni pays the ultimate price for his mistake.

I remember this film being a lot of fun and it still is, but bloody hell it’s dated. It seems to get taken rather seriously too, which I don’t quite understand. It’s a childish premise, stretched way past breaking point and has a very strange moral centre.

The plot is simply Lola (Franke Potente) getting a call from her drug-dealing, mobster wannabe boyfriend. He’s been a prat and left 100,000 marks on a subway and a tramp has taken it. He will soon be killed by his mobster boss if he can’t replace it. So, Lola has 20 minutes to find the money (her banker father is the obvious choice) and get to Manni before he makes a foolhardy attempt to hold up the local supermarket. The sequence repeats three times, complete with flashy animation inserts, a thumping soundtrack and incidental musings on life as Lola tries different routes to the solution. Groundhog Day, basically.

So it has this philosophical view of life and death, and how fate works and how we do the right thing at the right time. Or something. Now it’s still much better than the similar pretentious sequence in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but my problems with it are thus:

Manni is a petty criminal who wants to be a proper criminal when he grows up. The money is from a drug deal. His first thought for a solution is to rob a supermarket. Because he has a gun and he’s a criminal. Am I being thick or something, but why the hell am I supposed to sympathise with his situation? It seems morally at odds with this fancy Buddhist notion of little things affecting big things and Lola’s Zen like ability to rewind time, narratively speaking (and later, save a heart attack victim by holding his hand). Letting Manni get killed and seeing how Lola handles it, with her sense of fate and reason for living, would have been much more interesting.

I might sound two-faced, after all some of the best films are about anti-heroes with questionable ethics, but the character is written as being an affable, misguided young chap, whom Lola loves beyond anything. And the film makes no effort to show him the error of his ways. No redemption. This is not Bonnie and Clyde or even Pumpkin and Honey Bunny from Pulp Fiction, which allowed them to succeed with irony.

The other problem I have, is that when Lola finally does succeed (sorry, should that be a spoiler?), what the hell did she actually do? The plot is self-serving. The only reason the first two attempts don’t work is because of her. In the end, the only thing she really does is the heart attack guy. And what’s with all the damn screaming to break glass? It’s all flash and no thunder.

Then again, while it is flashy and self-serving to point of being pointless, it’s very well done and cinematic, especially in how the heroine looks so wild and forms a natural contrast, almost like a costumed super-hero. The soundtrack is likeable if you like that sort of thing, the actors are very good and it’s concisely well-written with some nice banter. The absolute ace is Potente. Her look is striking, though strangely attractive and her delivery is excellent.

Whether it is actually any good, despite being watchable, depends entirely on your own take. I thought it was over-done bollocks.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2010, 10:14:08 PM by Jon »
Jon
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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #44 on: July 17, 2010, 06:57:46 PM »
I don't have your talent for writing Jon but I agree with you on all accounts.  I paid a high price for this DVD because someone kept telling me it was good.  What a waste of money, I didn't even watch it completely.