10,176

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ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  That's Smart.

“God has given you one face, and you make yourself another"

10,177

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So, I rewatched BEN-HUR (1959) all the way through for the first time is maybe 20 years. I've watched the chariot race countless times but I wanted to see the entire movie again. I remembered it being quite good.

Honestly, it's a masterpiece. Regardless of whether or not you're a Christian, the film flat out works. The characters are all strong with interesting arcs and the acting is generally on point from everyone. It's long but it's not loooooooooooooong...I don't know what I'd trim out of it, to be honest. Everything that is there serves a purpose and nothing feels like padding.

The chariot race must have really been something back in 1959. Today, we've got movie sites galore to tell us everything about upcoming movies. Going into BEN-HUR cold and then seeing that chariot sequence must have been stunning.

Current rankings:
OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>YOLT>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>OP>DN>
TWINE>TND>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton

10,178

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but have you seen SCTV's version of Ben Hur (1977),
with John Candy in the title role, and Harold Ramis as his arch-rival Mazzola
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_V1y28UmHr04/SaiuddOoJNI/AAAAAAAACbQ/DCspy70T6Z4/s1600/Ben+Hur+2.jpg

10,179

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The Devil Rides Out (1968). A fine Hammer horror film with superlative performances from Christopher Lee, and a career best from Charles Gray. If only Gray had performed like this as Blofeld in DAF he could have been the best Blofeld of all. The film is filled with really good scenes of black magic worship, it’s a worthy transition to the screen of Dennis Wheatley’s most famous novel.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

10,180

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Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (1966). This sequel to the original Hammer version of Dracula, begins with a rerun of the thrilling finale to that film, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing using a pair of candlesticks to form a cross and reduce Dracula to dust. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear in this one and the film is not helped by his absence. Two couples take refuge in Dracula’s castle and one of them has his throat cut, and the ensuing stream of blood revives Dracula. This is quite a good scene. Strangely, Christopher Lee doesn’t utter a word in the entire movie, he is just reduced to hissing a lot. The film is okay, but no where near the majesty of the original Hammer film, Dracula, in my opinion, the best Dracula film of all time.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

10,181

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I watched Netflix's new version of Rebecca.  Remaking Hitchcock is always a dangerous proposition, but the case can be made that Du Maurier's novel is a classic and there's room for another take on it.  Maybe, but it ain't this one--which is so devoid of menace and fear and so focused on bright period detail that it's like watching an episode of Downton Abbey.  And how many times is Lily James going to play a mousy little sad-sack whose beauty is only later discovered by others?  Like even when she's slumming it she isn't drop-dead gorgeous. . .

Vox clamantis in deserto

10,182

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Over the past few days I've watched 'Game Night with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and In The Line Of Duty with Aaron Eckhart.


Both light hearted and watchable. Killed a few hours.I had some proper LOL moments with Game Night.

10,183

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The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Really, really good as you’d expect from something by Aaron Sorkin.  I knew nothing about this going into it but it told the story in an entertaining way and I was engrossed all the way through

10,184

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Bullshot (1983)

A fun homage and P take on the old Bulldog Drummond films.  ajb007/biggrin

“God has given you one face, and you make yourself another"

10,185

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The Omega Man, 1971
yet more postapocalyptic fun with Charlton Heston

This one is very near future, two years after humanity has been largely wiped out by a manmade virus accidentally released during a Sino-Russian border war. uh-oh...

Survivors are now mutated, blind albinos who travel in packs led by a charisimatic cult leader who blames science for what has happened to them (played by Anthony Zerbe ... he's one of ours).
Heston appears to be the only normal human left, a research scientist who is immune because he has given himself a vaccine he himself developed but since lost.
Now he holes up in a nice LA apartment, surrounded by his art collection and laboratory, and an arsenal of guns (of course) while the hideously mutated anti-science hordes surround his building every night hurling fireballs at his balcony window, because he is one of those damned scientists.

nahhh, couldn't happen

10,186

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In the past few days, I've watched 300 and 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (hereafter referenced as 'the sequel'). It's been at least 6 years on viewing any of these films so I was going into them fairly fresh. Watching them both back to back was pretty rewarding, although the sequel is a very different film (which I'll get into below).

300: I loved this theatrically and was kinda down on it after watching it later on on blu ray. Watching it again, I fell in love with it again. There's a grand regalness to what is depicted in the film with great importance placed on the overall relationship between Leonidas and Gorgo. The fact that a lot of cinematic real estate is given to their relationship and, once Leonidas departs, her relationship with the Spartan senate, helps elevate both of them as characters. The cross cutting between her fights with the senate and his fights with the Persian army really work and help to elevate the overall stakes of the film.

It's also not as action packed as I remember. A lot of focus is correctly placed on the connective tissue to make you care about these characters. Even the side characters, like Stelios, are given good moments to help the audience bond with them. As a viewer, I felt like I was actually included with the 300 Spartans, and that's quite an accomplishment and really helped me feel the losses when they occurred.

The film also benefits from having a rather standard story structure. Leonidas has a phenomenal intro so that you understand who he is as a person and what he went through to become a Spartan man. From there, you have the instigating incident (the emissary) which sets up the story to follow. It all works and carries you through to the ending in a very satisfying way...something that the sequel does not do.

So yeah...The sequel. What works in the film works VERY well, but it's completely lacking in many areas. Themistokles is simply not as compelling as Leonidas, and he isn't given any real backstory to help you understand who he is. Contrast this with Leonidas in the first film where you spend a good five minutes seeing his childhood. Also, Sullivan Stapleton is not Gerard Butler. I mean, Stapleton is fine and physically does what's requested of him to do, but Butler has real presence to him and give Leonidas a true 'larger than life' persona that gives the first film real grandeur. You look at Leonidas and go 'yeah, I'd follow that guy into hell'. Themistokles is shown as being very competent and savvy but there's nothing there to make him pop.

The story in the sequel is also trying too hard to incorporate the events of the first film. Gorgo feels shoe-horned into the plot, and every time Leonidas is shown in the film (usually in flashback), you're constantly reminded about how great the first film is and how standard the sequel is. The subplot showing how Xerxes came to be doesn't work either. Making him a man who becomes a God lessens him in many ways, and he's overall depicted as 'a man' in the film whenever you see him anyways. Contrast that with the god like presence that he has in the first film and yeah...he just lacks weight.

But plenty of stuff DOES work in the sequel. Eva Green as Artemesia is fantastic. She's intense as hell and really delivers a performance that elevates the rest of the film through sheer force of will. She's so damned good that I ended up rooting for her to win over Themistokles, to be honest.

Another thing that really, really works is with transitioning the action to the ships of the opposing fleets. The water battles are really a sight to see and are generally understandable so that you can understand the tactics. It's really great stuff. Unfortunately, the battles also overuse fake CGI blood to a ridiculous degree. The gore factor has been upped by a factor or 10 from the first film and it kinda gives a veneer of absurdity to a lot of the action. It's amazing to say it now but 300 actually feels quite restrained when you look at what they did in the sequel.

Anyways, I enjoyed watching both films again. 300, I'd give a very solid 'A' to after this viewing. The sequel...probably a 'B-/C+' overall and an A+ specifically for Eva Green.

Current rankings:
OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>YOLT>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>OP>DN>
TWINE>TND>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton

10,187

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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
directed by Russ Meyers, 1965

I had been watching an early episode of the Man from UNCLE and was rather impressed by the actress playing that episodes evil henchwoman. Turns out her name's Tura Satana and this was her most famous work.


Three very bad girls, are driving dangerously fast across the desert in their hot rods, looking for thrills. Satana is the leader of the gang and drives a Porsche. The other two squabble constantly, failing to settle their differences even after a wet t-shirt catfight, before the gang encounters a innocent young couple out to test the speed of the boyfriends car against a stopwatch. Satana suggests a real race and things turn tragic.

Scene changes to an isolated cabin, where an old man in a wheel chair has two sons and is rumoured to also have a small fortune in cash hidden somewhere on the property. Our three heroines (and a hostage) invite themselves onto the property because they've been travelling a long way through this hot desert and are in need of a shower, but this is just a ruse for Satana's next sinister plan!
gosh, what's going to happen next?


check out Tura Satana's biography in wikipedia: this actress led an exciting life! I don't think this movie is so much a work of fiction as Meyers managing to capture a few typical days in her life on celluloid!

10,188

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Hands Of The Ripper (1971). A Hammer production, this is the story of the daughter of Jack The Ripper. Some good atmospheric scenes in this one, as the traumatised daughter slashes her way through the movie, Eric Porter tries to understand the psychological reason behind her rampage.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

10,189

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Sean Connery's last film though tellingly not described as a tribute to the late actor on Film4's TV listings last night.

Now, I enjoyed this film in a low-key way just as I did in the cinema - it looks mega spectacular and Bond fans will notice a number of references, including the clay pigeon shooting on the Nautilus, as if from Thunderball. Even films that weren't Connery's such as Octopussy seem to get referenced.
It's rubbish, however. Connery was joint producer and the woes of the film maybe got to him, just as it did on NSNA where he was forced to step in and do the work. His performance is largely phoned in and a bit weary, with no surprises.
It's an ensemble effort but it was reworked to revolve around Connery's decreasing star wattage. The other characters offer no charm no useful backstory and unlike the Avengers the script doesn't pitch them as underdogs or outsiders so we have no reason to care, esp as their fictional characters - Dorien Grey, The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo etc - live in a fictional steampunk world.
The script is bad but though this film put paid to Connery's film career as he grew sick of it all, you do have to wonder how he once again signed off on a movie with no decent script in place - this happened with NSNA and The Avengers. Whenever he signed on just for the money it went badly wrong - Meteor was an earlier example. Unlike Caine, he seemed unable latterly to do films for the joy of it all, in odd contrast to his decisions in the 1970s.

Still, I'd rather this film existed than didn't.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

10,190

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Tonight I've been enjoying " Salem's Lot " (1979) still holds up as a
horror classic, I remember as a kid being really scared watching this
over two nights., and it got me in to Stephen King Books.

“God has given you one face, and you make yourself another"

10,191

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I watched The King of Thieves last night. A load of twaddle. British heist movies are rank bad (excepting The Bank Job which at least has slick direction and a sense of humour. Sexy Beast is phenomenal, but that's more a character piece.)

On Friday I thoroughly enjoyed The Talented Mr Ripley, but it us dulling through repeat viewings. First film I saw where I recognised Matt Damon could act.

10,192

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The Man Who Would Be King

This Connery-Caine classic from 1975 was shown as a tribute to the late actor. Bond fans of a certain age may recall seeing this on telly and hoping their man would step up to the acting plate - this he does, of course, and you noted that this was Connery's acting chops to the fore. The narrative arc is memorable as the two wily ex-soldiers go on an adventure to con the Indian natives but find events do not entirely go their way.

https://i.postimg.cc/phWSLGgQ/iu.jpg

Watching it today, as I have since, I find that the two leads aren't quite as charming as I remembered. Okay, they're chancers and conmen so maybe not supposed to be. It's directed by the late great John Huston - well, alright, but he also did Escape to Victory.  ajb007/crap  The film is an epic but he doesn't bring much of that I feel - there's more to an epic than pointing the camera at the natives or a mountain panorama. Huston had wanted to make the film with Bogart and Gable in the 50s but never got it off the ground. I do think the film needs a bit of the old Hollywood magic to make it work - face it, for the two roguish soldiers to make it several hundred miles north through the snowy wastes of north India would take magic really, but Huston doesn't convey this. Likewise, when they reach their destination, the mystic mumbo jumbo of the natives would work better in a film with the flavour of Black Narcissus or The Lost Horizon (the 1930s version) but here it actually gets a bit boring and is not convincing enough.

Admittedly this was.a time when Hollywood was demystifying itself and making grittier efforts so that magical flavour was out of favour.

On another post I wrote how Connery wasn't a great romantic lead - a sex symbol, yes, but he didn't have that way of giving himself up to another person. That applies here to this bromance, for that is what it is. Caine and Connery work well together. But this is a buddy movie that plays out like a romance, with the play out of breakup due to greed, another woman, ego or betrayal. You don't quite get that with Connery and Caine, they are mates but don't seem to have that bond.

The two actors are perhaps too old for this (if so, so would have been Bogart and Gable for sure) you can't forgive their excess as the folly of youth. Perhaps it might have been better in the mid 60s, with Connery as he was in The Hill and Caine the bolshy corporal from The Ipcress File. The middle-aged fellas actually might seem a bit dim to be going off on this adventure. On the other hand, one can't help thinking, well of course these two soldiers will succeed in their endeavour - they're Connery and Caine. And I never warmed to them so much that you feel the pain of their fallout as the film progresses. You should feel complicit in their wrongdoing and then later ashamed. You don't really get that arc in the movie.

One problem here is to avoid the essential narrative theme - this is really a Bob Hope Bing Crosby Road To... film. I mean the plot is pretty much the same and if it looked more Hollywood that might make it more obvious, and the gritty location work does help dispel this.
What has long struck me is that Connery's Danny changes his character and that's the nub of the film - but tbh it comes across less as Danny but just Connery being himself. I'd have liked a bit of the slight pomposity we saw in Connery's Name of the Rose or The Last Crusade to be seen here. Again, the double act doesn't quite come off as his Danny doesn't seem that well drawn initially.

The film was not a smash hit and the first half hour doesn't help. Even on repeated viewing I didn't quite catch that Caine is trying to pickpocket Rudyard Kipling's pocket but finds he's nicked the watch of a fellow freemason and feels duty bound as a fellow mason to return it. The thing about Masons is that being a secretive organisation, nobody is interested in them except Masons and those who think they secretly control the world and so on. It needs more prepping as a central plot advice, as this turns out to be. That said, this is the only film I've seen in which freemasonry is depicted relatively sympathetically rather than as the Illuminati. But it isn't clear why Kipling, even as a fellow Mason, would want or need any involvement with these two hucksters, esp as I've said, they don't seem nearly as funny or charming as I remember.

The end is stirring stuff and the rope bridge is another reason why Connery was so suitable for Indy and the Last Crusade, seeing as it featured in the previous film, Temple of Doom.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

10,193

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Quatermass And The Pit. (1967).

The third in Hammer’s trilogy and it’s really good. This time filmed in colour and Andrew Keir replaces Brian Donlevy as Quatermass. A Martian spacecraft is found whilst digging in a London Underground station and releases an ancient evil. Most people find this the best of the trilogy but Quatermass II remains my favourite. Well worth watching and Julian Glover has an early role as a young Colonel.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

10,194

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The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, 1965 *
Based on the book by le Carre, which I still regard as his best told tale.
Directed by Martin Ritt, who I'm not familiar with. Wikipedia tells me Ritt otherwise was known for "serious issues" type dramas, not crowdpleasing thrillers, and it shows.

Most important: starring Richard Burton, whose performance dominates this experience.
I believe I've never actually seen a film with Burton before, but he's got a hammy overacting style that is instantly recognisable from a hundred parodies. Brooding, surly, slurry speeched and constantly snarling. I bet Dalton's Bond owes more to this performance than it does to any previous cinematic Bond!

There's an actor playing Smiley who bears no resemblance to the character as described by le Carre, or as interpreted by either Guiness or Oldman.

Cinematically this is very black and white, all static camera shots of shabby interiors, magnifying every stain on the wallpaper and every wrinkle in Burton's skin. probably owes a lot visually to the Third Man (which borrowed from German Expressionism so it all comes full circle), but whereas that film was taut and suspenseful, this one is slow and stagey, plodding along like a verbose stage play.
I dont think any of it is actually filmed in Germany, despite opening and closing at The Wall (both sequences look great). (whereas Funeral in Berlin had much authentic Berlin content) First half is mostly set in working class London, and makes postwar English life look like a depressing grind (the kind of no-hope existence normal folks read Ian Fleming novels to escape from). Scenes in communist East Germany in the second half look scarcely more bleak than working class London.

I say above this is still my favourite le Carre novel. But while the adaptation is very faithful plot-wise, I think it worked much better as a book. As a film, especially a slow stagey film, it is overwhelmed by the incomprehensible dialog during Burton's long interrogation scenes.
But this is where I appreciate the casting of such a hammy stage actor. The characters job is too deceive his interrogators, and all the world, with his carefully rehearsed disinformation and manufactured persona as an embittered castoff from the Secret Service. So the fact we are so very aware He Is Acting!!! gives these long dialogs a second level of meaning, distracting from how boring the actual dialog is.


Bernard Lee has a cameo in this, He is the grocer whom Burton assaults near the beginning. Too bad, missed opportunity.
What they should have done: Bernard Lee should have had the office next to Control's, and at one point the two secret service chiefs encounter each other in the hall. Lee should glare at Control, then shuffle away muttering loudly:
"bloody Control bloody overcomplicated spy schemes. All you need to bloody do is send your damn man to sleep with the villains bloody girlfriend, then blow up the villains bloody headquarters, then youve saved the bloody world yet again, thats the job! Don't know why bloody Control has to make this dirty damn business seem so bloody difficult! grumble grumble mutter mutter now wheres my damn pipe etc..."

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^ That's a fine review.  ajb007/smile

You missed a Bond reference - Michael Hordern pops up at one point as a homosexual going after Burton's expelled agent. Hordern would go on to voice Paddington in the 1970s TV series, later played of course by Ben Wilshaw, who also did Q.

Okay, so it's an obscure reference.  ajb007/biggrin

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

10,196

Re: Last film seen...

Thunderpussy wrote:

Tonight I've been enjoying " Salem's Lot " (1979) still holds up as a
horror classic, I remember as a kid being really scared watching this
over two nights., and it got me in to Stephen King Books.

I absolutely love that. I remember being absolutely petrified but totally glued as a kid. I saw it not too long ago and it's still eerie. James Mason is fabulous.

I'm surprised it hasn't had a remake to be honest.

10,197

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Walter Hill's '48 hrs.' (1982). Roger Spottiswoode (dir. TND) was a co-writer on this seminal 80s buddy movie. The racist jibes, played for laughs, make some of this uncomfotable viewing now - perhaps explaining the movie's long-since waned star - but the chemistry between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy is strong and Murphy's comic business is mostly effective against the genuine drama of the movie and its sense of danger. The villain, James Remar, while hardly a cut above gritty TV cop show fare in terms of dramatic stature (he's 'The Streets of San Francisco'-level material), is a violent enough adversary to give the  film some heft. Worth a spin for early 80s nostalgia. In part this was cliched already (Remar). In other respects, which also seem cliched now, it felt fresh at the time (the Nolte/ Murphy buddy riff).

Last edited by Shady Tree (30th Nov 2020 22:21)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

10,198

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caractacus potts wrote:

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, 1965

Most important: starring Richard Burton, whose performance dominates this experience.
I believe I've never actually seen a film with Burton before, but he's got a hammy overacting style that is instantly recognisable from a hundred parodies. Brooding, surly, slurry speeched and constantly snarling.

Burton's hamminess is legendary--he's long been held up an example of a great stage actor who didn't know how to dial it down for the screen.  That said, I actually think Leamas is one of his better film performances. . .though I do agree with Le Carre himself, who said that Peter Finch should have played the part.

And I for one like the film--I think it's a good adaptation of the novel and it stands in stark contrast to the fantasy of Bond and other '60s Bond stories.  But I respect where you're coming from, CP!

Vox clamantis in deserto

10,199

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Burton was pulled up on his hamminess in his final film, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which he played O'Brien - the sinister interrogator of Mr Smith, played by John Hurt. It's one of those films that's simply never shown on telly any more, even as a curiosity. Burton it was said would then check himself when acting, sometimes calling 'cut' himself when he caught himself 'doing a Burton'. He also noted his hammy style in a film like Beckett I think when he was on the chat show Parkinson in the early 70s.

A legend when I was growing up, I was shocked some 15 years ago to learn someone a bit younger had never heard of him. But then, his films don't seem to endure. Cleopatra is rubbish, and The Robe is heavy going, as is Look Back in Anger frankly.

I loved Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf but again that's a film almost never shown on telly these days. Surely you've seen Where Eagles Dare, caractacus potts? What about my fave guilty pleasure, The Wild Geese, with Richard Harris, Hardy Kruger and Roger Moore?

Known for taking the big money roles, Burton doesn't leave the movie legacy he might have. It's odd, really.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

10,200

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hardyboy wrote:

And I for one like the film--I think it's a good adaptation of the novel and it stands in stark contrast to the fantasy of Bond and other '60s Bond stories.  But I respect where you're coming from, CP!

I liked it too!
I was trying to describe the experience, rather than make a subjective value judgement.

Its a film we should probably discuss more round these parts. We talk about le Carre's books plenty. And lots of talk about more recent adaptations of his books.
But this one was the first ever le Carre adaptation, and it was coincident with Thunderball and the height of spymania, when there was dozens of mostly very silly Bond parodies competing. This grim grey superserious spyfilm contrasts strongly with all of these. Even the Ipcress File (which is funny in its own way) looks like a colourful spyspoof in comparison.