Monday, 27 June 2011


8.15 I have 40 minutes or so to write about SALT. This Salt is the name of a thirty something young woman and not talks to prevent nuclear proliferation! The concept is well trodden. The Russians took selected babies to a secret academy where the children were brought up to become sleeper killer operatives to bring down the USA. The parents are told the children have died when in hospital. After indoctrination type training in which they learn to kiss the ring of the academy master- Pope Bishop fascination (?) the children are placed or replaced in American families in such a way, it is presumed that relatives do not realise the children have been switched, and are brought up in such a way that they become great operatives holding great positions such as chief security adviser to the President, a senior General NATO attaché and in the case of Angelina Jolie, a super CIA spy.

When the film opens Jolie is in North Korea denying she is a spy and being tortured. She is then exchanged for a North Korean in USA hands after pressure was exerted her husband. We later learn she married him because he was an expert in spiders and as such had entry into North Korea so she could accompany him on a trip and spy. Years later she is living contentedly in the USA with her husband who she has come to love dearly when she and her boss are about to leave for the weekend they are called back because a mysterious Russian has arrived wanting to talk saying he has got mind blowing info. He tells of the academy and a plan to launch an inside assault on the USA through operatives placed over the years. The day of reckoning is to commence with the killing of the Russian President who is to attend the funeral of the USA American Vice President because of a special relationship the two had together. The name of the person who will carry out the mission is SALT.

This sets the cat among the pigeons and while Angelina is held when they find that her parents were killed in a car crash in Paris when she was preteen child, the Russian kills the two agents in the lift taking him somewhere and escapes the building. We later learn he is based on barge in the river accompanied by a number other previously secret placements who have been assembled for the day of reckoning when they will take over their homeland and also bring down to the USA.

Jolie also escapes from the building because she is concerned about the position of her husband. The film enters into action mode with spectacular chases in which Jolie jumps off motorway bridges onto and between lorries and other fast moving vehicles and eventual gets away from the police while in a moving vehicle and handcuffed. Leading the chase is her big cheese boss and another CIA man who appears to be internal security chief. He is convinced Jolie is a wrong un while her immediate boss is not. She manages to escapes them from her home when we see evidence that her husband has been taken and that she equips herself with the tricks of the trade and also taken venom from a spider which she inserts into a tranquilliser type of gun.

9 am Have taken car out and found that the temperature is going to reach 90 degree to day and tomorrow before cooler weather comes in from the west so looks as if we could get at least a couple of days rain free cricket from Monday as well as ideal condition today. Will finish the writing while starting the recording of BBC 2 HD Glastonbury which started with only one number of he bluest Glaswegian Paulo Nutrini. Someone called Black does in garden number. Janelle Monáe USA all black group in Black and white. Described as amazing (rubbish).
Friendly Fires from St Albans on the Other stage. Back to the film

Of course everything Jolie does is incredulous but it is great fun as she evades a no stop underground train stop and armed with maps of the tunnels under the church where the funeral is taking place and of course the security forces are all above ground and no one thought of patrolling the tunnels etc.. She manages to create mayhem and appears to have killed the Russian President. She is captured but misses out on the opportunity to kill the CIA internal security man. She escapes from the police cars while handcuffed.

She makes her way to a prearranged meet with the Russians although it is not explained how she knew this. He takes her to the barge where he executes her husband to gauge her reactions. She executes him and all the others present after learning of her next assignment and the plan

The plan is to meet a General with access to the White House National Security briefing and to create a situation which will result in he President going to control centre below the White House and gain control of nuclear rocket launching. Hmmn. To do this she uses a false face Mask, teeth, eyes etc and identify to get in as a male assistant to the General. What happens is that the General with Jolie help creates a situation within the White House which results in the President making for the secure control centre followed by Jolie after the General blows himself rather than be captured after Jolie drops in it as they say. Down below the President agrees to go the pre Nuclear attack mode because the Russians have been getting ready although why they should is not explained as the President is back home having recovered from the temporary paralysis and the Russians would have been told about the background to what was a one person assault on behalf of a rogue Russian.

It is at this point we have what is supposed to be the surprising twist as it emerges that Jolie’s boss is the prime Russian former child secret placement agent who now kills everyone in the bunker except the President who he uses to set in motion a nuclear attack on two middle Muslim East Countries thus create warfare between the Muslim World and the USA. It was intended that Jolie, given her special skills would also get to the scene where after the attack is launched her boss would kill her and be the hero thus being in a position of power with the New USA president who in one version of the film was also a Russian secret placement. Why Jolie did not know in advance he was another placement is because he was in a more senior group to her and for some reason although they were in the same academy they were never introduced although she did recognise others from her class. Although she manages to stop the nuclear strike she is captured and blamed by her boss for the deaths including that of the President. However when taken away she manages to break free to kill her boss and then persuades the CIA security man she saved the world after her fingerprints were found at the barge along with the Russian academy organiser and other dead operatives. She is then allowed to break free and jump into the Potomac River after explaining that there are more people like her still in the USA and that she intends to kill them all with his help. Great rubbish as they say.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Only the Brave

I now come to the to the third film about honour and integrity and which again illumines the rotten core of the USA in the past.

Only the Brave is a little known film about the 100th Infantry Battalion of 442 Regiment of the United States Army made up of 1000 second generation Japanese Americans, many of whose families were interned and some imprisoned following the attack by Japan on the Pacific Island base of Pearl Harbour. As with the Battalions of all black Americans they were often used by their all white masters to take on the most dangerous and bloody of assignments. The film concentrates on one of their last actions when heavily depleted through deaths and injuries on the campaign through Italy and into Germany they were called upon to break through superior German forces to rescue a small all white unit of less than 300 men. This they succeeded with continuing huge losses to themselves. The film is a fictionalised account of some of he lives of these men. It overlooks the increased prejudice and persecution which the survivors faced after the war despite the unit battalion receiving more honours than any other.

The facts are that 110000 individuals of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were removed from their homes and work and placed in guarded camps. However back in Hawaii although martial law and curfew was imposed the 150000 of the 400000 population continued to live in their home and to work for the USA a decision which was governed by economics than security.

It is therefore not surprising that when the decision came to create a Regiment from Japanese Americans there were 10000 volunteers from the Islands and only 1500 from the mainland and of these some 3000 from the islands and 800 from the mainland were drafted. Because of the length of the campaign and level of casualties the initial force was replaced three and a half times

It was towards the end of the war in Europe that after only two days of resting the survivors of the campaign to date were selected to attempt the rescue of 275 white men cut off for more than a week surrounded by the enemy. 230 were rescued by the special combat and out 346 men who broke through the lines to open a corridor by which the white men could leave only 25 came back with them unhurt. Because of their service 21 Medal of honour were awarded, 560 Silver stars, 4000 Bronze starts and 9486 Purple Hearts. Only in 2010 was the Congressional medal of Honour awarded to the 442 Regimental Combat team and 100th Infantry Battalion. The reception of the survivors was typical of a country that had done its best tom exterminate the Native American and hen treated the black citizens with slave owning mentality until the 1960 and 70’s. There was resistance when Hawaii attempted to become a State of the union because recognition meant having a state where whiles were in the minority. It was the role of the Japanese Hawaiians in World War II which swayed opinion in favour, eventully.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

PT 109 J F Kennedy

I watched two films which are also above loyalty, duty and honour. The first is PT 109, the fictionalised account of the role of President John F Kennedy in World War II. He is played by Cliff Robertson an actor then 40 playing a young man of 24. The true story is that Kennedy was declared unfit for military service but used his father’s influence to gain a naval commission with the help of the Director of Naval Intelligence who had served his father as an attaché. He was given a desk job at Naval headquarters but after the attack on Pearl Harbour used that same influence to get himself into active service and into a dangerous front line role becoming a lieutenant in charge of a PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat which is a comparatively small craft with about a dozen men.

In August 1943, along with two other similar vessels, with whom direct contact was lost, he was undertaking night time patrols near New Georgia in the Solomon Island when in full darkness he was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and sunk. He is reputed to have held a meeting with the survivors, some wounded and two lost, to decide whether to surrender or seek escape. They decided to swim to the nearest island where unable to find food and water they went onto another. From where they were rescued Kennedy towed the most injured member of the crew by a sling device around his head after swimming for several hours to get himself and the other crew members out of the sea and ashore.

In the film several members of crew commenced to have doubts they would be rescued and but Kennedy was able to send a message cut out in the skin of a coconut to one of the Australian radio operators based on the islands via sympathetic islands who relayed the information to the naval command HQ who sent out a rescue vessel and all the men survived.

In the film this incident occurs after one which in fact takes place after his appointment to a PT vessel converted into a gun boat when in October of 43 he participated in the rescue of men who had been airborne and trapped one another island. In the film they had sufficient fuel to reach the island and rescue the men but then had to be towed home just before the tide swept them back in range of enemy heavy gunfire. He continued to skipper this vessel until discharge in 1945. For his rescue efforts he was given a citation and Purple Heart and three bronze stars. This was a young man who suffered from back problems which continued throughout his adult life.

In the film he is joined by another skipper, Robert Culp who had his boat sunk and on one mission by a desk bound career naval officer who had never seen action and who shoots down an enemy plane. It was also customary for those surviving a sinking or other major battle experience to be given a brief period of home shore leave before being reassigned. One of the reasons Kenny considered surrendering and then decided against taken home leave was because he was then a single man where has several of his crew were married with families. Whatever was the reality of political and personal latter life it is evident that he possess a sense of responsible reality, leadership understanding and concern for others which shone brightly throughout his life and irrespective of his family wealth, status and influence.

While PT 109 can be described as a standard wartime, that is good and engaging but not exceptional film, Only The Brave falls under the exceptional Category.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I have also watched The Sorcerers Apprentice which has Nicolas Cage as one of Merlin’s three apprentices attempting to find the one person who defeat the evil Morgana le Fay who wants to destroy the whole of human kind by raising the undead. She has been imprisoned for over one thousand years (since AD 704) together with the love of his life and fellow apprentice Veronica. Veronica has embraced Morgana as the means of enabling Cage (Balthazar) to contain the creature in a kind of Russian doll, which grows in size as other nasty individuals have also been imprisoned as overlays over the decades by Balthazar, including Alfred Molina as Maxim Horvath.

In present day America (AD2000) a 10 year old geeky boy is attracted to a female pupil who reciprocates interest by responding to a note he gives her. However before he can read the note it is taken by the wind, a cycle, a dog and eventually into the doorway of a home filled with things ancient and extraordinary, the latest home of Balthazar who has grown weary of his quest to find Merlin’s heir.

Balthazar senses the boy has not entered his domain by accident and gives him the ring entrusted by Merlin to find a successor. The ring will come alive when the right person is found as it does with Dave. Having been told not to touch anything Dave full of curiosity releases Horvath from the container, the Grimhold, and the two Sorcerers do battle but fortunately they become imprisoned in another Hold for ten years but the container ejects water on to Dave giving the impression that he has wet himself from being lost until found by the school group and great amusement and his humiliation especially as they ridicule his account of the events unfolding within the building.

Ten years later Dave is a college student and a creative genius working on a conductive electro sound project which sets up a triangular interaction of electric flash currents and musical sounds, Unbeknown to him the hold has opened releasing Balthazar and Horvath who makes track for Dave to find out the location of the Grimhold. What happened is that as Dave left the building the Grimhold slipped from his grasp and been found by a Chinese woman and has been in China Town for the previous decade, its secret unknown.

Hovarth creates a pack of hounds to locate and capture Dave but Balthazar retaliates with a steel eagle with become alive. Balthazar attempts to explain to Dave that he is a great Sorcerer in the making and to teach him how to develop and make use of his powers. The complication is that he had encountered the former pupil, now also a university student who does a stint at a small radio station. Balthazar warns that any relationship before he has reached maturity will be a great risk to both of them. The Grimhold found the two Sorcerers do battle for its control, releasing some of the baddies who have been overlaid before Morgana and Veronica are reached. Hovarth enlists the assistance of a well known illusionist with actual supernatural powers.

Eventually both Sorcerers have periods in control of Grimhold and do battle with creatures released until the amalgam of the two former apprentices is released and Morgana gains her independence and sets about creating the end of human kind by creating a mechanism to release the undead. Dave and his girl friend each come to the rescue with the girlfriend preventing the conclusion of the undead rising from occurring and Dave finding a way to destroy Morgana with the Hovarth return to eternal imprisonment. Dave also finds a way of saving Balthazar who was willing to give up his life to save Veronica after she sacrificed herself to save him. The couples are to live happy ever after? Hmm. I see a sequel!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Wild Target

Earlier today tired from the morning exercise and first project work I watch a great fun piece after seeing that the cast included the great Bill Nighy and called Wild Target. As wicked black comedies go this is the wickedest and blackest.

The film brings together four great characters and I begin with Emily Blunt as a self confident amoral young woman kleptomaniac who persuades a restorer at the national gallery to create a copy of a Rembrandt which is being sold abroad because the Gallery has been unable to raise the fund to keep the picture in the UK. She then arranges to sell copy to a Billionaire collector on the basis he gets the original and the overseas buyer the copy. In order to achieve the deal she takes both in a double sided picture carrying case and allows the original to be inspected and authenticated by a an expert. She then raises the asking price giving the opportunity to pretend to take the picture with her as the opportunity to reverse sides and take out the fake. It is not until she has left the hotel suite that the switch is recognised that the Billionaire hires the best known hit man to kill the girl in revenge.

They man he hires has been trained from birth by his father and mother to become the most respected assassin. He follows on from his father and grandfather having been given a gun for his first birthday present and had a mobile above his cot of toy guns. He visits his mother, played by the excellent Eileen Atkins in a home because of her increasing frailty who gives for his forthcoming birthday a bound volume of press cuttings about his most famous hits. She chides him over the fact that he has remained unmarried and mentions it was at his same age his father married her. Perhaps it with this thought in mind that he is not as clinical as previously when stalking Emily and preparing an education, following her to a hotel where she makes passionate love which he observes and found a vacant position in the building opposite. He decides not to kill her when the opportunity next arises. His mother is incandescent with rage when she learns what happened fearing the family reputation has been sullied for ever! She advises that he must immediately redeem himself by killing the girl and giving the fee back in recompense. He follows her to a multi-storey car park and is about to execute when he sees another attempting to do so, so he kills him and then enters into a gun fight with a second assassin. Just when Bill and he girl are about to be killed by the second man, a young man who ahs been using the car park as a home from home, grabs the gun of the other first killer and shoot the other man wounding him. The three beat a quick retreat in the mini car. Nighy claims to be a detective on a stake out in the car park and agrees to protect the girl for a fee of £30000 a week. The young man is played by Rupert Grint the friend of Harry Potter is the series.

Bill takes them to a West End Hotel where he and the girl are in constant disagreement about everything. They do not realise that the Billionaire is in a suite nearby, cursing the fact that he has lost one bodyguard and that the other is injured. He has resorted to hiring the next best hitman in the world who is something of a sadist. He has an equally obnoxious assistant but they have in common admiration for the Master who they have never met.

Still at loggerheads Nighy and Blunt are at breakfast in the hotel dining room while Rupert is enjoying bath. Blunt has left her boots out to be cleaned and these are spotted by the bumbling bodyguard who enters the suite and bathroom but shoots the ear off the man somehow and then rushes out with their belonging collection the duo who are the reception desk settling the bill. There is then the usual car chase through London before the billionaire and assistant crash and end up in traction in hospital. The new hitman and assistant visit and vow to carry out the commission.
Nighy takes the girl and the adopted young man who he has offered to train to the family home in the midst of the countryside. The house is spotless with everything covered in plastic which leads to one quip that he will have no problem using a condom! Eventually the girl succumbs to Bill’s understated charm when he tenderly massages her feet among his many skills. Just when it looks as if all is going well for the trio, Eileen Atkins arrives to express her opposition to developments. Then Emily discovers the truth about Bill which she imparts to Rupert before departing as quickly as she can,

Meanwhile to two new hired assassins have been go through a list of possible forgers which leads them to the actual forger and to Emily on her return to London. They make their way with the girl back to the hideout where Bill is teaching Rupert to shoot, He suddenly appears to get three bulls eyes which he denies as they have been achieved by one of the gunmen with Emily in two. Out of admiration for the Master, the young turk offers to let Rupert live if Bill kills Emily and allows the young man to kill him. Bill’s mother has returned home and from the first floor shoots the assistant about to kill the three. The young turk then seizes the original gun given to Bill by his father and attempts to shoot him only for the gun go explode and the man killed by the recoil. They then bury the two in the garden. The film ends three years later when a young boy appears to have buried something in the grounds while Bill and Emil are eating out proudly watching. Young Rupert arrives to say he is missing the household cat which evidently has been killed and buried by the offspring obviously following in the family tradition. The film is great fun.

Fragments (Winged Creatures)

I have recovered sufficiently to attempt some more writing while keeping one eye on the 20 20 game between Derbyshire who beat Durham and then and the no result game on Sunday who are playing Worcester. This afternoon while recovering from lunch and the morning efforts I watched the 2009 film Fragments which is also known as Winged Creatures which is the name of he novel.

A man enters a diner and starts to shoot people and hen himself. The film deal with the families of victims and the survivors. Anne known as Annie is a teenage school age daughter at the diner with her father and her best friend Jimmy who communicate on a regular basis by email. When the gunman starts to shoot the two young people hide under the table while holding the hand the father. After the event the girl appears calm and refers to the courage of her father in a Christian context. She is able to speak at the funeral and after returning almost immediate to school she shares her faith with other pupils. Her mother can barely cope and is worried by the behaviour of her daughter who after a brief interest in religion had not shown any since. Her best friend on the other hand has become silent something which his father understands. The father and Annie discourage Jimmy from having contact with the Hospital trauma psychotherapist.

It is Jimmy who breaks first attempting to take his own life by planning to fal off a high level working and then gets hold of a gun from his father and goes to the Diner, but in both instances he contacts Annie and at the first she persuades him to get safe but in the second the reason for his silence comes to the fore as he demands that she speak the truth of what happened. Her father had not shown great courage but froze out of panic and then wet himself which the daughter had tried to disguise with her soft drink telling the boy to swear not to say a word about what happened. The killer had brought the gun below the table pointing at the boy’s head but had been distracted by another customer who had decided to have a go at the killer. The girl is able to tell the truth and find emotional release and join her mother in grief and in anger. She is also fascinated by birds and their freedom hence the title of the book and we also see her father’s pigeon made free which in the book she destroy their cages. Jimmy and his father are already affected by the death of his brother who the father blames on a psychologist and with his son is therefore hostile the hospital psychologist who tries to help the survivors and their families.

Charlie Archenault is in the Diner having got a lucky ticket with gives him a free breakfast, but he is far from feeling lucky as clutching booklets about coping with cancer as if he has just had his worst fears confirmed. Having escaped with only a grazed neck he quickly goes out of the hospital and cashing whatever money he has books himself into a top notch hotel and sets about gambling at a Casino where at first his luck continues winning $100000 but then it changes and loses much of what he has won and going to the bathroom he passes blood. Meanwhile back home his single parent daughter, (I understand his wife in the book) tells people to whom he owes money that she does not know where he is. In the film the daughter learns of the cancer condition and he returns home to that fate.

A surgeon married to a woman who suffers from migraines leaves the diner before the killing commences. In the book it is 20 mins beforehand while in the film he holds the door open for the killer. Without knowing what then happens until told he is needed to operate on casualties from the incident and he accidentally cuts into the victim’s heart who then dies as he was most likely to have done in any event. The man is tormented by this and starts to experiment in the treatment of his wife’s condition in such a way that she becomes very ill but he then cures her although on the last occasion she recovers, only just.

The serving girl at the counter who although was not shot is traumatised and rejects her son turns to alcohol and men and fantasises about a relationship with the Doctor. It is my understanding that the book suggests that the event brings out issues which were always there such as the waitress resentful of being left with a demanding child, was rejecting of the infant beforehand, while Jimmy was as much affected by his aggressive father who was physically violent towards his mother as the incident itself. The waitress is played by Kate Beckinsale and Charlie’s daughter by Jennifer Hudson. The individual performances were convincing and formed a whole which I found thoughtful and moving.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

El Secreto de sus ojos, The in Their Eyes

At 9 pm over the past five nights I have enjoyed watching a new ITV serial drama called Injustice and yesterday afternoon I watched the Oscar best foreign language award winning Argentinean film, Esecreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their eyes) based on the novel by Eduardo Sacheri’s - Le pregunto de sus Ojos (The Question in Their eyes) but which could just as comfortably have been called Justice.

Fifty years ago while studying Criminology as part of a Diploma and Public Administration course at Oxford University I read an essay by John Rawls then professor of Philosophy at Harvard University headed Justice as Fairness and this has governed my thinking about the subject since, although I accept that attempting to define what is fair and not fair is just as difficult as attempting to talk of Justice only in term of the Judicial and Legal system within a national State.

I had no awareness beforehand of just how good the film is and just as Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, one of nine of his novels I have in my library, is the benchmark literary work on the subject, I have elevated this film to the top of my film list because of its depth.

Benjamin Espósito is a retired Federal crime investigator in the capital of Argentina who on retirement decides to write in novel form a case that dominated and changed his life over 25 years previously and he calls at the office of his former boss and now a Judge, Irene Menéndez-Hastings, to tell of his intentions.

In 1974 Espósito was appointed to investigate the rape and murder of a beautiful young woman in her own bedroom and had to advise her husband who works at a Bank what has happened and who it needs to be stressed is never a suspect for the crime. Espósito is as much emotionally affected by the husband’s distress and ongoing love as he is by the rape and murder. Ricardo Morales is the husband is played by one of several actors in this film who can communicate without words.

Espósito works closely with a married alcoholic colleague, Pablo Sandoval, rescuing him from bar bawls, paying off his bar bills and smoothing things with the man’s long suffering wife. They have made little progress when a rival in the agency announces he has caught the perpetrators, two foreign workers on a building site in the immediate area of the crime. Espósito visits the accused and finds that a confession was beaten out of them with no other evidence. The men are released and he attacks the colleague for his behaviour in the court buildings. Having promised the husband that he would find the killer they have a discussion about justice, with the husband saying he is glad there is no death penalty and wants the man to serve a long prison sentence so he can contemplate what he has done and suffer. Espósito says the man will serve life. This is the crucial scene in the film in terms of the issue of justice as retribution.

Without evidence he studies the photos of the young woman taken from her home and notices that in several pictures there is a young man who is always looking longingly at the victim and after talk with the husband learns that this was a former school and college friend from the home town. Thus we have the significance of the film title that our eyes reveal what is inside of us including that we wish to keep secret.

The investigators find that the young man is not living at home and there is no record of his present whereabouts. Benjamin believes he will have kept in contact with his mother by letter and persuades his colleague, Pablo Sandoval, to accompany him to the home town of Chivilcoy where after waiting for the mother to leave her home he breaks into the property. He is spooked when his colleague who is supposed to keep look out comes in and they both are nearly caught as the woman returns and her dog bites him in the leg as they beat a quick retreat. Benjamin has mixed feelings when he learns that his colleague has not only removed the letters but entered a local store to buy a bottle of whisky after saying he had to go for a pee. The consequence is that their car is identified after the woman reports the crime and no doubt warns her son of the intrusion. The two men narrowly escape discipline but the judge overseeing the investigation and who closes the case.

A year after this Benjamin finds grieving widower, Morales, spending every evening after work at the bank keeping watch at the city railway stations in the hope of catching sight of the man he has been told is the likely killer of his wife. Benjamin is so moved by the man’s devotion that he persuades his boss Irene to re-open the case by losing the closure papers of her superior. The two have an attraction but because she comes from a wealthy family, was educated at Harvard as is engaged to a man of similar wealth and society to her family the feelings are restricted to how they look at year other.

Benjamin and Pablo go over the information available and it is Pablo with the help of a drinking companion who spots that the names in the letters refer to players for a particular football team. Pablo makes the point that most men have passions which do not change during their lifetime particularly the football club they support, They begin to attend home games of the club of the players mentioned in the letters and during their fourth visit just when Benjamin is deciding that finding someone in such a large gathering is impossible, the suspect is seen and after a chase is apprehended and taken for questioning. He is broken into an admission by Irene who suggests that his size and demeanour all indicate that he could not be the killer but when she suggests that he does not possess the manhood to have caused the internal injuries noted to the victim he reveals his appendage and hits the accuser. He is tried and convicted and sentenced to life. There is a moving scene when Benjamin tells Morales the news of the arrest at a railway station where he has continued to keep watch. Morales says he is indebted for the culprit being caught.

A year later the husband sees the killer on television as part of a Presidential security detail and Irene and Benjamin investigate what happened. They discover that their colleague with whom Benjamin clashed over the false confession belonged to a political protection security service that was using the killer for break-ins and other illegal work. They are told they can do nothing about the position.

After the meeting the killer comes into their lift and brandishes a weapon. A short time later Benjamin is called to a bar where his friend and colleague Sandoval has been involved in a brawl with the local police called. Espósito smoothes the way once more and take the man home to sober up and then goes for the man’s wife. When they return they find Pablo in a pool of blood having been machined gunned to death under the mistaken impression he was Benjamin. Benjamin notes at the scene that the photos of him in the room have been turned down, evidence that his friend realised the situation and gave his life to protect his friend, Benjamin is forced to leave the capital because once the mistake became known, and the killer Gomez would come after him again.

Twenty five years pass by and after a failed marriage and the formal end of his occupational working life he returns to the capital, still haunted by what happened and with continuing feelings of guilt about the sacrifice of his friend he decides to begin the writing of a novel. This is only half the story of the film, and in once sense as I shall reveal a third in terms of important subjects.

During those two years of the murder investigation and the decision to flee to the provinces he had developed a love for Irene, his boss but because of her engagement, her wealth and social status he made no move despite indications that she reciprocated his feelings and wanted him to take the initiative. That is until the day of the murder of their colleague when they had arranged to meet in secret. Such clashes of interests are true to life and it is a measure of the authenticity of the work and in life that such individuals will do what is right, fair, just in terms of their occupation and the welfare of others, sacrificing their own immediate happiness in doing so.

We witness the various attempts of Benjamin to start his novel, hand written in notebook, but each time he destroys the work and one recurring scene is the departure from the capital seen off by Irene, both broken hearted. Twenty five years later as she reads the first part of the novel she asks why did he not take her with him? They have both led full lives but lives where something was missing, the love that might have been which embraces sexual passion and the intimacy of both able to be their true selves and that depth of communication which needs no words. I once went out for an evening mean with three colleagues and one commented that a nearby table an obviously married couple had sat through the meal without speaking to each other. The colleague expressed sadness at this and indeed such silence can reveal there is nothing more to say to each other that has meaning to them or that a gulf has arisen which they do not know how to bridge or are unable to bridge because they have either matured different or just changed in different ways from each other. However as I commented it can also signal a depth of understanding and comfortableness in the relationship which does not need small talk and gossip to sustain.

As part of his need to exorcise the ghosts of the past he seeks out the whereabouts of Morales and finds that he has moved to the countryside in an isolated property commuting each day to a bank where he has gained promotion. He is unmarried and claims to have put the past behind him and recommends that Benjamin does the same. When Benjamin admits that he is haunted by the failure to put Gomez away and by the death of his colleague Gomez admits that after the death he had staked out Gomez knowing that one day he would make a further attempt on the life of the man who had done his best to achieve justice for the murdered wife. He had killed him and disposed of the body, He insists that Benjamin leaves and that the two have no further contact.
He had got on with his life and Benjamin should do the same.

Benjamin finds this difficult to accept as it undermines he belief in the uniqueness of the man’s love and devotion to his wife, although as will be noted in the TV series drama Injustice, the killing of someone can lead to begging an effective new chapter although the killing will haunt as much as the original cause, unless the killing is undertaken officially be the State or distance can be put between the means and the end. In this instance Benjamin is sufficiently unconvinced that he returns to the property and keeps watch after Morales has returned home from his work at the bank.

Morales come outside the house with some bread and a drink and goes to an outhouse. Benjamin investigates further and finds that the man had indeed captured Gomez but has imprisoned him. When Gomez sees Benjamin he pleads that he should tell Morales to talk to him. Morales maintains his silence of twenty five years and Benjamin walks away but before leaving Morales says that he had said he owed Morales for capturing the man and he had kept their word that the killer would serve life in torment.
Benjamin is emotionally and psychologically freed and able to visit the grave of Pablo for the first time. He completes the novel and as at the beginning of the film we see him entering the office of Irene and they look into each other’s eyes. She says it will be complicated and he agrees. She tells him to close the door behind him. Previously she has always kept the door open. Justice as fairness had been served and rewarded. The film is in Spanish with sub titles but the acting is such that at times the understanding of the language is not necessary to appreciate the greatness of this film.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Later I watched an engaging Armageddon type film, Knowing, obviously finance by some religious force in the USA. The film stars the excellent Nicolas Cage as scientist and University teacher who holds a class on the issue of determinism and randomness. His father is a Christian Minister but Nicholas has become estranged since his wife died in a fire and having believed in determinism now holds the view that nothing can be predicted and all is random and chaos.

Fifty years ago a time capsule was placed in the grounds of the school when it was first built and to be opened at a ceremony at which the son of Cage is participating and expects his father to attend. The idea of the time capsule is of one child who we observe hears voices and who instead of making a picture as requested by the teacher writing a series of number son both sides of her paper and is prevented from completing the numbers by the teacher as time runs outs. The girl is then found scratching the remaining numbers with her bare hands in the basement. At the ceremony Cage’s son is handed the envelope with the numbers and instead of handing it back to the school takes homes and tries to work out what they mean.

Later his father studied the numbers and realises that first set is 9.11.2011 and then that all the other numbers refers to accidents and disasters since then except for the last three, with the first of these to happen in a days time. There are other numbers associated with the dates which he does not understand and which add to the disbelief of a colleague who he consults. The following day he is caught in a traffic jam and witnesses the crashing of a civilian aircraft where the death toll is that forecast and he realises that the unknown numbers are map references.

He interviews the teacher at the ceremony from 50 years ago and learns that the girl was strange and a loner and that she had died but he then discovers that her grand daughter attends the same school and is a friend of his son. He attempts to get to know the girl’s mother to ask about her mother but the woman is afraid and refuses to have anything to do with him. He then follows up the next prediction which is for a location in New York and because the media talk of a terrorist attack in the region he assume this is the impeding disaster when in fact the deaths are causes by a subway train derailment.

Meanwhile his son appears to be tracked by a strange man who Cage also sees and where the boy also has a vision of a terrible catastrophe in which his home area appears consumed by fire. When Cage returns home he finds the mother and daughter at his home willing to try and assist him solving the mystery of the remaining event. They go to a place used by the family and there Cage is able to work out that the last event covers the whole world and then that a sun spot explosion forecast for that day will have such intensity that it will destroy the earth world. The first reaction of Cage is to take the three to a deep cave in the hope that they will be able to survive the radiation impact of the sunspot. He tries to warn his father who takes he view that if it is Gods will it is Gods will and he and his wife and their daughter are a peace with themselves and therefore ready.

Nicholas belatedly then works out that they should not go to this cave but to a location revealed by the girl of 50 years beforehand. However the mother disagrees and takes the two children with her towards the cave stopping at a gas station from where the two children are taken off by the mysterious men and attempting to follow them the mother is involved in an accident and when Nicholas find her she had died and cannot be resuscitated. He follows the map reference and finds the children about to be whisked off in a wondrous alien craft by the men who could be said to represent angels. Understandably the boy does not want to leave his father but father understands that only the two children have been invited (Close Encounters theme) and that the boy must decide to go of his own accord.

In the final scenes the earth is engulfed by fire before it explodes as Nicholas rejoins his family expressing that this is not the end of everything but a new beginning. We then see that the space craft taking away the two children is only one of several and that these two arrive in a plentiful new land with a large tree in the middle of a field (that the tree of knowledge) and they are of course playing the roles of Adam and Eve

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Edge

Late evening after the work schedule for day was completed I watched The Edge a survival film in a wilderness with Anthony Hopkins. The film has various themes with the intended most important that strength of character and knowledge will enable one to prevail regardless fo age wealth power etc. it also covers how well we know our partners, maleness, male competitiveness and bonding and the value of life and the limitations of wealth. Hopkins decides to accompany his young wife on a modelling enterprise, in part because he suspects a relationship between her and the photographer.

The location is remote North American where they are the only visitors in a lakeside residence and are warned not leave food uncovered because this is man attacking and man eating wild bear country. There is truth in the tale but is it part of a ploy to get Hopkins to go down stairs at night armed with a flashlight to make his wife a sandwich where he encounters what appears to be a bear but is only a head jape before revealing a room filled with the other members of the group surprising him on the birthday he thought the others had forgotten. His wife give shim a valuable watch with an inscription and the photographer an expensive knife.

The owner of the property tries to interest Hopkins in an investment proposal to develop the site to attract more visitors. Hopkins who has been reading a book on survival agrees to go with the photographer and his assistant on the short plane ride up river to the lodge of an Indian hunter whose photographer impresses and who he wants to use in the photo shoot. When they arrive the find the man has go out hunting and they take the plane to land where they were told he might be only to run into a flock of birds which downs the plane in the water with the pilot killed the other three just about surviving in the cold

Hopkins says that because they were not expected to have travelled this far north the search planes and helicopters will not come so they will have to travel south to be rescued. He shows that if you place a magnetised watch hand on a leaf on water it will show North and the direction to be taken .However this does not work and they travel in a circle after encountering a bear which begins to track them and does for the Assistant who demonstrates that he is the weakest minded of the trio.

Despite a denial and the opinion that the photographer will attempt to kill Hopkins to gain his wife and the money, and after managing to overcome the bear, eat its flesh and use its fur against the elements, finding a deserted cabin and useable canoe to travel further south using the night stars and the day sun as their compass, Hopkins works out that the photographer and his wife have been lovers and that she although cares for him has been after his money, the photographer does attempt to kill Hopkins but falls into a bear trap and dies when at the point of rescue.

Hopkins returns to the lodge where his wife and the media are waiting and he gives her the engraved watch she gave to the photographer signalling the end of their relationship and his serious intention to remain in the wilderness perhaps putting into effect the development plan shown to him on the first night. There are therefore many stock characters, issue as well as well established themes. Hopkins is always watchable and one wants him to survive because of his commitment to mind over matter.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Tailor of Panama

Before hand I also watched another film of the day. The Tailor of Panama which I have seen in theatre and on TV before but which I continue to enjoy because of its significance in relation to the war in Iraqi and the belief in the existence of weapons of mass destruction.

Piers Brosnan plays a discredited MI6 operative after an affair with the mistress of an ambassador who sent to Panama where it is thought he will do no harm but keep an eye on the status of the canal. In the John le Carré book (inspired by Graham Green’s Our Man in Havana which is one of 11 novels by the writer I have in my library and which I have added to the will reread over the net year or so list) the canal is yet to handed to the Panama government for its control and management which is the situation in the film and which makes the story more effective. As is normal in such postings he is given the role as IT officer and sets out to find those among the ex pats and locals who will provide him entry into the governmental society as well as direct intelligence on any issues of concern. He selects the Tailor of Panama City for his first target for several reasons. The man is married to someone who is PA to the chief executive of the canal operating company. The self styled Saville Row tailor not only has the President and other government members as his clients but belongs to the club fraternised by the rich and powerful in the country. He can also be bought because he has debts, having invested in a farm on the advice and part owned without his knowledge by the bank manager an because is not a Saville Row trained but learned the craft while in prison (an unlikely tale as are most of the ingredients of the story but no matter). His mentor was an actual Saville Row Tailor, Uncle Benny, who acts as continuing mentor despite his death and is played by Harold Pinter.

Brosnan is true to form as the Bond style character, bedding any and every woman coming within his orbit and looking for a way to retire form the service with capital to live as he has become accustomed. In the book he is still seeking rehabilitation back to big time operations. He is fortunate that the Tailor is also on the make and a man fo great imagination with friends who were active opponents of the infamous General Manuel Noriega who became a prisoner of war when the USA invaded in 1989 and was then arrested in France after his release and is serving a term of imprisonment there after which he will be extradited back to Panama to be tried for human rights violations there. It is likely that now aged in his later 70’s he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Tailor is played by the brilliant Geoffrey Rush more recently known for his role as Lionel Logue in the Kings Speech with a grand history of role from the Marquis de Sade, Les Miserables, Elizabeth, the Life and death of Peter Sellers and Munich. He first fabricates that the on his recent Wold Tour the President put up the canal to the highest bidder and that the Chinese governments mainland and Formosa had joined forces to take control and gained a strong bases for activities in South America. When pressed especially by the Americans for evidence he attempts to gain information from the company by photographing papers brought home by his wife.

When this fails to convince he creates an opposition to the government friendly to the USA using his two friends. One Michelangelo Abaxas (Brenden Gleeson whose memorable roles for me is In Bruge and as Michael Collins)) was active against Noriega but was broken under torture in prison and although critical that nothing has changed since the creation of the existing regime he is a spent force and drinks his guilt at sense of failure and lack of courage to fight on. Rush through Brosnan paints the man as the leader of a new opposition and potential President given he right amount of funding Rush asks for £10 million which Brosnan increases to £15million and the British Ambassador steps up to £20 million..

Rush employs as a personal assistant another anti Noriega opponent who has one side of her face scarred from torturing under the former regime. She is also put up by rush as a movement leader with both the known pedigree of opposition and of being tortured. The Tailor is happily married with a family of two children and his wife is played for Jamie Lee Curtis, an excellent actor who I do not find sexy which has been a problem with some of her roles, but not in this instance where she plays an intelligent loyal wife and to the company for whom he works. While the ambassador, the political officer and another senior member of staff with whom Brosnan has a relationship are all sceptical about every aspect of the situation, the American are keen because of the decision to relinquish the canal especially the man who was required to hand over control who had wanted the country to become another State of the Union.

Then there is a development which threatens the enterprise in that Michelangelo on learning of renewed police interest and advised by Rush to go to ground with his PA gets drunk instead and commits suicide. Rush is distraught at this although his PA says that their broken friend had been waiting for an excuse to take such action. On learning fo the development the Americans see this as action by the regime and the excuse to undertake a new invasion with their forces already on alert and available within four hours to launch.

Meanwhile Brosnan’s London boss has arrived with the negotiated £15 million which he takes to Brosnan’s flat to await developments. He had insisted on handing the money over directly to the future President but Brosnan has emphasised that without the money being handed to him there would be no opposition. This confirms to his Panama based colleagues that the whole thing is a fraud but too advanced to halt the American intervention. There is then a Saigon type attempt of the top people to leave the country. Meanwhile Rush attempts to advise the British of the fraud and is ignored and then attempts to stop Brosnan leaving. Brosnan persuades him to help him get to the airport for a fee and there the Ambassador also assists for his share, a modest £1.25million. Meanwhile Jamie has gone to her boss who contacts the President who contacts the USA opposite number and persuades him to order the withdrawal. So it can be said that not much harm was done especially as Jamie forgives her husband who comes clean about his background. The film is great fun especially when Brosnan uses a pay by the hour brothel for his meetings and also takes Rush for another meeting at a gay club. It is all more Graham Greene than La Carre but with the serious point about the gung ho infallibility and believability of the Americans. Myth or Truth?

Monday, 6 June 2011

Command Performance

14.30 Watch an awful film called Command Performance Directed and starring Dolph Lungren, the hulk as a drummer former biker in the USA appearing as a concert opener for an American teen star called Venus in Moscow attended by the Russian President and his two pre teen daughters. The film begins with a Soviet History lesson as former President Mikhail Gobachev was able to foil a coup in 1991 by traditional hard liners.

The point of the film is that a decade or so later the son of one of the plotters, a General who shoots his wife and then himself rather than be captured returns to seek revenge with remnants supporting the old order. They achieve bloody mayhem killing all the Presidential security bar one and a large number of concert goers before they can escape. The President’s two daughters, one is played by Dolph’s daughter in her first screen performance, are held separately from the President and the USA Ambassador. Dolph who was having a quiet smoke when the insurrection and mayhem takes place joins forces with the surviving security man and gain access to weapons and rescue the hostages killing many along the way. In the finale Dolph has to engage in personal combat with the son of the former coup plotter who holds the remote to explosives tired to one of the President’s daughters. In the last scene the security man is given Russia’s highest award and Dolph and expensive present before he gets into a car with Venus with whom he has established an unlikely relationship.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cash ( short note)

14.00 Watch film Cash with Sean Bean Chris Hemsworth and Victoria Profeta, Sean visits his brother in prison also Sean who has who has thrown 625000 dollars in a suitcase from car over fly over when chased by police. The suitcase lands on the car of Hemsworth who on finding the money takes home to wife and they pay off arrears of mortgage to save home then refurnish and deposit rest ion banks plus asking mother to hold a box with quarter of a million.

Bean plays a ruthless obsessional maniac determined to retrieve every penny of the money owed which leads to forcing the couple to rob to replace money used on furniture and other spends. In the end Hemsworth kills Bean disposing of body and car in the crusher and after returning all the stolen money with a compensation bonus for two people who were temporarily hurt the keep the rest.

The film leaves open a sequel with Bean the brother seeking to find out what happened to the sibling and the money.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

How to Train a Dragon in 2D

I was tempted to see the 3D version of How to train your Dragon after that it was highly regarded at the time of its release and went to receive several Oscar nominations as well as hatful in the animation industry awards. The film was shown as one of the week’s additions to Sky’s premier releases last week. The film was a financial success grossing half a billion over three times the original budget. The film is not suitable for the very young but having said this it is designed as a counter culture for those films advocating violence and macho toughguyness. The film is set on a mythical Viking Island inhabited by a wide range of colourful dragons that are regarded as the great enemy and children of both sexes are brought learning how to become dragon fighters and dragon killers. The problem is that killing creatures does not appeal to the son of the village chief Stoick the Vast. Hiccup, the name says it all, tries to design a machine which will bring down a dragon to prove his worth to his father who treats him with contempt.

One evening he believes he has hit a dragon flying over and goes out to search. The following day he finds the creature with a damaged tail which prevents flying. Given the opportunity kill the creature he finds that he cannot do so and gradually makes friends bringing the animal some food. He searches a book about dragons and work out how to provide a replacing tail wing to enable it to fly with the consequence he is able to fly with the creature. He keeps this secret from the rest of the village but uses information from the training of the creature to control the various small dragons used to help the young people in their training as dragon killers. The most successful of these will be given the honour of killing one of the capture dragons before the assembled village in the dragon arena.

On one of his flying missions he discovers that all the dragons on the Island are under the control of a super dragon that lives inside a great mountain and their function is to keep the creature supplied with food. They have no interest in attacking human other than in self defence. When he is attacked by another dragon his dragon comes to his aid and is captured by the village and against the pleas of Hiccup his father takes the dragon with the combined Viking force to locate the great mountain and the monster animal. The consequence is that the giant dragon become free and burns the Viking ships and generally threatens to kill the forces on the ground. They are saved by Hiccup and the other youngsters who have been quickly taught to also fly some sympathetic dragons and keep the monster busy until Hiccup is able to free Toothless. By some skilful and dangerous manoeuvres the two manage to get the monster to destroy itself but only with the result of Hiccup falling into the inferno created and Toothless trying to rescue him. The Viking chief finds the dragon badly injured and no sign of his son until the dragon reveals his boy injured but alive cradled within the wing of the creature. The picture ends with dragons and Vikings living in harmony and teenage Astrid and Hiccup becoming more than just good friends. Good fun for a family.