Sunday, 30 October 2011

The African Game

I will mention a film which had promise from the small advance information note but must be reported as the worst dubbed film of the past 100 years. The African Game is an Italian production with English voice overs.

Robert Hill is an assassin, the kind who is ultra professional and apparently emotionless about what he is doing. He does love his cat whose image opens the film as is the only noteworthy thing about the production. We see him conduct one such operation after making love to the female Mary Hari his immediate employer.

His next assignment is in Africa where on arrival he supplied with a satellite phone and a case of hardware. He attempts hire a jeep and finds that the only one available is driven by an exceptionally fast talkative young woman likely go down well with Italian audience, whose father was a gamekeeper killed by poachers and had planned to spend the weekend with her boyfriend also a game keeper.

She assumes that Robert is an office tourist on an adventure trip to see animals in the wild in Kenya. He insists they take an off road way to the area required used by poachers which makes it dangerous and then he insists on stopping outside the village designed as overnight tourist stop where he says they will camp and he drives off leaving the girl with a little water and food to spend the night among wild animals and poachers. He finds that the target is heavily guarded with a three vehicle armed escort so is unable to execute the mission. He returns to the camp and bribes the girl to take him to the main area for wild animal viewing, filming and photography and she shows him a quick route on the map which reduces the two hour journey by half. He again takes off leaving her alone.

He carries out the mission and they return to the capital where he pays her more to call at the Casino where the receptionist gives him a large sum of money and a case to carry out his fee for the killing. The girl gets a newspaper which announces the killing of the same man whose photograph she has discovered sticking out of the case of her client. She goes to challenge him in the Casino while the newspaper vendor goes to get a police man because she has not paid for the paper. As he leaves the Casino and the girl challenges him he suddenly realises that the case carries a bomb detonated by the Marta Hari but fortunate he flings it sufficiently away only to be injured in one arm as is the policeman called to the scene by the news vendor.

The girl takes him to a village community where his arm is treated but where they have tracked andtwo men attempt to beat out the information of there whereabouts. Robert uses his Satellite phone to send a photo of the attackers to a contact who is able to find out something of the individual before the two men are killed by the girl’s contact in the village. The information indicates that a neighbouring country has being using international aid to but arms and that the man killed was somehow involved. I could not work out if he was the gun runner or part of the UN team who were visiting to examine allegations of fund misappropriation. In any event the head man has a relative who works at the Embassy of the country concerned who they contact by phone for information but the call is traced and they are again pursued but this time by someone with a rocket launcher and they jump from the vehicle before it is hit and explodes.

In the subsequent fight Robert is mortally wounded and the girl has to kill one of the attackers to survive, Robert pleads with her to go to London to look after his cat that will by starving because he is away longer than anticipated giving her a wedge of notes before he dies. She does so and finds his stash of money in cat food tins sufficient for her to do the training she had mentioned to him for which she was saving working for the Jeep hire company.

Even in Italian the film is a million miles away from that created by Ken Loach in Route Irish.

Harry Brown

I saw Harry Brown in the Theatre two years ago and cannot understand why there is no separate review on file. Michael Caine plays an aging former decorated soldier attempting to live quietly on an estate in London where the quick way to the pub by a canal is through an underpass which has been taken over by drug pushers and a teenage terror gang. He therefore walks the distance required to a crossing on an exceptional busy main road. At the pub he plays chess with Leonard (the splendid David Bradley or visits his wife who his seriously ill in hospital and dies. At the funeral Leonard admits that he is being terrorised by some youths on the estate that have put stuff through his letter box and written graffiti on his outside walls. He shows Harry a military bayonet he keeps with him for protection. Harry says he should leave the matter in the hands of the police but Leonard explains he has reported before but this has only made the situation worse.

The following day a senior police woman, who has elected to work on the estate where she originated, calls with a young constable to advise Harry that his friend has been killed in the underpass. Harry declines to say anything about the conversation the previous day because the man has been stabbed with a bayonet. Later the Police advise Harry that because the Bayonet belonged to Leonard the charge is likely to manslaughter at the most because of self defence.

Harry makes inquiries and finds out that local drug pusher also sells firearms. He visits and finds that the two have an office at the back on the building where they are growing pot on an industrial scale. Here he finds a teenage girl in a serious condition from a drug overdose. She is ignored and he is offered to have sex with her alongside the gun purchase. She is being overdosed so she is pliable for pornographic films. Harry kills to the young men and sets fire to the premises after which he gets the girl out and takes to her hospital.

The local commander orders the senior police woman to drop her inquires about the death of the pensioner and concentrate on action to stop what appears to be an outbreak of gang land killings related to drug use. Harry conducts his own inquiries and through one of the girl friends in the gang tracks down a young man who he threatens to kneecap and who reveals a camera video of what happened to his friend. Just as he about to go for the gang leader Harry collapses from an emphysema attack and is taken to hospital where he is interviewed by the police woman who notes there is cordite on Harry’s clothing. Harry then discharges himself from hospital.

Meanwhile the local commander has ordered a drug bust on the estate and there is major rioting with the throwing of Molotov cocktails and stoning. The senior police woman and her assistant are involved in a car accident and Harry rescues them and takes them to the local pub where it is revealed that the barman is the uncle of the gang leader whose father is in prison. The uncle has been hiding the boy in the pub. Harry has another bout of emphysema and loses control and his gun to the barman who brings out the son with a view to having to kill three witnesses. The young constable is killed by Sid who orders his nephew to kill the police woman but fortunately she has got a message out. So after Harry recovers sufficiently to shoot Noel as he is strangling the police woman, Harry is shot by the barman who is in turn shot by the back up squad who arrive just in time.

At the subsequent media conference the local commander announces that the Police woman and her dead colleague are to receive bravery awards and dismisses speculation about the involvement of vigilantism. In the final scene Harry decides to use the underpass where there is no presence of teenagers but he has lost his wife and his only friend and committed murder.

Route Irish

Route Irish is not a great film but provides an insight into the development of entrepreneurial organisations some who work clandestine in winning and working contracts in war torn countries. Le CarrĂ©’s Mission song which I am presently reading covers similar subject.

Route Irish is a Ken Loach directed film set in Iraq and Liverpool. Philip French in the Observer describes the film as covering a number of Ken Loach themes, the brutality of war, the exploitation of the indigenous population by national government and” rescuing invaders alike, state sanctioned ‘crimes.’

It is good that there are films of this nature to educate the weekend teenage and youmg people audience into a greater sense of reality and helping to fuel movements which counter balance the excess which states will indulge unless there are brakes applied from within as well as without.

As I age and reflect I more and more understand the nature of global capitalist economy. Faced with threats which undermine the security of an individual democratic nation I appreciate the necessity of measures being taken which in other circumstance would be judged crimes but if knowingly sanctioned cannot and should be regarded as crimes. They are only crimes when not sanctioned. The problem is that Ministers sometimes fail to separate Party political interests from those of their individual nation or that of the maintaining their personal position and power. Who Guards the Guardians must be constant cry?

This film is about the growing tendency of Government to employ agents at arms length, some under open contract and others secretly in order that if things go wrong, especially fi the agenst are to act outside the law or abroad in situations where the government’s role is being challenged or not made public

For the film has more personal themes such as the bond which develop betweens those who experience intense working situations over prolonged periods and that prolonged involvement in some activities corrupt and undermine the integrity of the strongest and purest of souls the recent theme of Spooks and which cause individuals to blur the actual differences between different political and religious run states to cause them to change sides.

The story is seen through eyes of Fergus Molloy and Irish rooted Liverpuddlian who with his lifelong friend Frankie (John Bishop) have become security mercenaries after doing terms with the military special services. Frankie is married to Rachel who is the only thing which Fergus has not shared with Frankie although he has wanted her but kept his distance. This includes sharing a female bar owner in Spain on R and R breaks from their tour in Iraq where they protect company employees carrying work on contracts. Fergus moved on to Afghanistan while Frankie continued in Iraq where he is reported killed in a roadside vehicle explosion and his body is returned to Liverpool for service and cremation.

Before the death Fergus comes home to Liverpool but goes on a bender and gets locked up and misses a series of phone calls from his best friend which haunts him now he is dead. He is also puzzled because his friend was the cautious one. He attends the funeral and through the man’s widow attends the briefing from the employers about what happened. The family are not pleased with his presence because they blame him for getting involved in the lucrative but dangerous work. They do not understand his questions to the representatives.

The woman, the friend from Spain, has received a package from Frankie which she passes to Fergus and on it there is an email in Arabic and a video. It is of the shooting of a young family including two boys. Fergus uses an Arabic contact to gain a translation and he also makes inquiries with his contact in the country to establish the official reports of the incident. There is no record.

Things begin to happen as the home of the wife and that of Fergus is trashed in the search for the videoed evidence. The Arabic speaking friend is badly beaten requiring hospital treatment and care.

The story which emerges is that the taxi was in the wrong place at the wrong time and failed to stop and a trigger happy member of the security cover had opened fire. The matter had been covered up with continuing action because the firm had entered a new major contract to help in the reconstruction of a county which they feared this would be lost if the unintentional slaughter of civilian children had become public.

Frankie’s wife and Fergus work together and develop the physical closeness he had longed to desire. But he is driven to settle the debt he feels due to his friend. He had opened the coffin before burial to see the remains as part of establishing how the friend had died. The man’s ashes had been had been smashed in the ceramic container which the wife had in her room.

He reaches the conclusion that the man had been intentionally targeted not by insurgents but by the firm because guilt had driven him to start telling people about what had happened. The man believed to have been responsible was working in Afghanistan but comes to the UK for the “clean up operation.” He is captured and tortured by Fergus but at first he denies any involvement saying that he was on his way to Afghanistan when Frankie’s death occurred, but then under more torture he confesses. Fergus feels there is closure, for himself and the man’s wife, and begins to look for a future for them together. However he is then shattered to receive confirmation that his victim was telling the truth and was not in Iraq when Frankie was assassinated.

There were several things not clear to me through out the film or which I cannot now remember not have made notes at the time of viewing, I therefore do not know if he established through a bugging device that the Managing Director and lead recruiter of the firm undertook the killing directly or had someone else do it for them. They exit a building together and another employee a young woman accompanies them at the last moment. As they enter the vehicle they notice a note on the dash board which says wrong time wrong place, the words they had used to the family to explain the death of Frankie. At that point the vehicle explodes as a bomb detonates.

Frankie has explained to the widow who has become his lover that he has to go away and they will not have further contact which she does not understand. In the closing moment of the film Fergus is on one of the Merseyside Ferries. He slips quietly overboard and disappears.

PS Route Irish is the name given to road leading to airport in Bagdad.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The American

I watched an awful pointless film the American. It begins with one to he most shocking moments in the cinema but than fails to live up to that moment. George Clooney plays an Assassin who is lying low between jobs in an isolated retreat at the edge of a frozen lake with a young woman with he has been making love. We do not know his occupation. The following morning wrapped up for the conditions they go for a walk in the sun when a short rings out narrowly missing the woman. Clooney shoots the assassin and then goes to find out of there is an accomplice telling the woman who is shocked to go into the home and ring for the police. As soon as she turns Clooney shoots her dead in the back of the head and then kills the accomplice of the man sent to kill him. It is at that point the audience realise this is a killer

He leaves the area and arriving by rain at a city centre contacts his employer who tells him to lie low in an Italian hill town It is one of those that a\ways appears empty at whatever time of day. Anyone with the slightest intelligence knows what he had not grasped; it is the employer who wants him killed. What we do not know is how or who until is told to meet a desirable young would and prepare a riffle and bullets according to her needs. Although he has limited Italian he has the good fortune to meet the local priest who speaks good English. The priest has a contact that runs a garage and Clooney fakes damage to his car to get help and then using the contact with the priest persuades the garage to lend him tools which he needs to work of the provided riffle. You immediately know the girl is the killer and when he eventually works this out after a separate attempt from another hire assassin he fixes the weapons so when the woman attempts to kill him it blows off part of her face and she dies, revealing it is their employer who authorised the killing. The employer is nearby and in the shoot both are mortally wounded. We do not know why the employer was going to such trouble to kill his assassin.

Clooney appears to lead a boring empty life although he reads and has an interest in Butterflies. He drinks alcohol and coffee in bars alone. He visits a brothel where he takes a liking to one girl to take a liking to him. He reminds her he is there for his won pleasure not to please her. But after seeing her out with a female friend who have been to the pictures he asks her out on a date, a picnic and later when he sees her at a church festival he asks her to come away with him, but he dies at the wheel of his car from the gun shot injury on his way where she is waiting at the picnic site.

The priests sense this is man of great sin and who is continuing to sin and begs him to seek absolution. Clooney rejects this. The film as I say is pointless. We are shocked at the callous death of the first girlfriend. Delighted that the prostitute has escaped his clutches. We are delighted that Clooney the girl and other callous killers are all dead and hopefully rotting in hell for the misery they have caused. So what is the point of the film I ask again?

Saturday, 15 October 2011


I have also been impressed with the work of the film Director Sofia Coppola and her fourth film Somewhere 2010 although will not be as lasting in the memory as her debut and award winning film Lost in Translation.

The film follows the life of a young world famous actor recovery from a break of his wrist and who lives in a well known apartment Hotel in Hollywood with individual verandas and a private pool together with meals delivered as specified if one does not want to use the individual kitchens. The Hotel has been used by a long list of internationally famous stars. The most striking aspect of the way his apartment is furnished is the absence of personal effects and which reflect the quality of his life as he flits from advancing sexual arms of one female to another, attends parties or hangs out with a male friend in between acting in films, attending media conferences and publicity promotions and award events around the world organised by the those financing and producing a film.

Divorced he does spend time with his 11 year old daughter who appears remarkably well adjusted and self confident but here the resemblance to Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby which I recently reviewed ends although the film makes clear she is acutely aware of her father’s life style and of finding different nubile young women temporarily sharing his bed and accommodation. Suddenly the ex wife announcing she cannot cope with being a mother and her lifestyle and needs to get away, dumping the daughter on him in a situation where he is scheduled to visit Italy for an award. The daughter accompanies, shares a double bed, attends ceremonies and enjoys the hilife provided her famous father. By the time she is due to go off to a summer camp and back to the everyday care of her mother the two have become closer with the daughter not wanting to leave and he finds a great emptiness when she does, giving up the apartment on impulse, driving off into the desert, stopping the car and walking aimlessly forward, presumably to oblivion.

The film has a slow visual style designed to communicate the emptiness of his life. It begins with the actor driving around and around and around a circuit in the desert as fast as he can, on his own and with no spectators. He has pole dancing twins perform in his bedroom but goes to sleep before their performance ends. They return on a second occasion and it appears he has sexual relations with one afterwards. The sisters wear skimpy outfits rather than the reality of what pole dancing is and where at least in the Sopranos the young women are at least topless and are known to have sex with their employers and customers.

This is the first time Coppola has examined the reality of f life, always of those in privileged circumstances, form the male viewpoint. I wondered if the film indicated something of the relationship which the Director had with her father and he is known to keep his family close and has used his children and other relatives in his films with Sofia appearing in all three Godfather films, as a baby in the first. She admits that the award ceremony reflects something of being taken to such an event as a child but otherwise she resists any suggestion the relationship and circumstances are autobiographical. What I believe she is trying to do is to demonstrate that being an international famous actor has its downsides something which of course we all know but does so visually communicating the feelings without the usual footage of sex, drugs, drink or violence and the excesses. Her central character is therefore useless, making no contribution to society other than through the films but he is also harmless and takes good care of his daughter when he has to. It was a good way to spend part of a tired evening without the film affecting my slumbers.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cloak and Dagger

There is time to include one film Cloak and Dagger which I have viewed before, Garry Cooper playing a scientist who is persuaded to travel to Switzerland and then behind enemy lines to Italy during World War II to prevent Germany developing atomic weapons. The film was released in 1946 as a tribute to the Office of Strategic Service and featured Lili Palmer as an Italian underground worker who assists in his mission to persuade a scientist previously known to him to escape.

Cooper is approached by a former university friend working of the OSS after a German scientist known to Copper has come to Switzerland for alleged medical treatment and wants to defect. Unfortunately she is captured when Copper makes the mistake on arrival at the airport by hiding his face from a cameraman thus alerting the Nazis to him and in the hotel he is grilled by someone posing as a drunk and then a Marta Hari fellow American. He is followed to the clinic and the German scientist is removed and killed during his attempt to rescue her.

This leads him to Italy where she was working with another individual known to Cooper but he refuses to cooperate because the Nazi’s has his daughter. When he finds out that she is dead and that someone else is sent pretending to be the daughter he agrees to leave but Cooper and Palmer has to fight their way out. Cooper and Scientist depart by plane for the USA saying he will be back at the end of the war and the film ends.

However a different ending was filmed with Cooper then landing by parachute with others in Southern Germany to discover the remains of a factory with the dead bodies of concentration camp victims who had been forced workers. He finds evidence of working on atomic weapons and the films concludes with concern that that the factory been moved to Spain or Argentina with Cooper saying that this is the Year on of the Atomic Age and God help us if we think we can keep this secret from the world. The additional ending was abandoned because public was aware that the Germans had not developed atomic weapons. The original books was developed into a 26 part adventure serial in the USA in 1950

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pretty Baby

I am not sure if the closing down of the Red Light District of Storyville in New Orleans centre on the Jazz community of Basin Street occurred at the same time as Prohibition or was a separate development. Accounts of the lives of many of the famous New Orleans musicians and singers is that they were asked to perform regularly in what was known as the Cat Houses, the whore houses which were more like clubs with bars and gambling as well as social saloons with live music often just a Honky Tonk pianist but also bands. Here civic and national political figures, service personnel and other social figures openly attended and met up with each other to buy sex from the residents presided over by a Madam and her financial backers if she needed them. Such establishments continue to day in every city on the planet in various forms although they tend to be controlled by criminal syndicates, often importing girls into a form of slavery and where drugs are used both to control and to provide significant additional income. There have been attempts to create “safe” legal or licensed establishments and some exist in the some USA states and in Europe and no doubt elsewhere. They also have advantages from the public order and control aspect from the more traditional activity of the street walker and the motorised client although much of the trade is now conducted via the internet in various forms and guises as well as strip and the clip joints and the massage parlours. Apart form the moral and legal aspects it is more often a sordid, dangerous and unhealthy world.

This is context in which Louis Malle created his sumptuous photographed attempted insight into the lives of the girls, their children and the clients in one such establishment in New Orleans just prior to the closing of the district in 1917. He paints a picture of 24 hour pleasure and I say paints a picture, using a photographer and with girls more akin to those of present day electronically altered glossies than the more realistic portraits of Toulouse Lautrec although in fairness I believe he wanted to convey the beauty of the female form a la Renoir, There would no criticism if this is what the film is primarily about. Nor is the damning aspect that he shows the impact on children of both sexes including those of black domestic employees of spending all their lives in such an establishment.

The 1978 film achieved its notoriety because it featured nude scenes of 12 year of Brook Shields and of her sold at auction when a virgin and thereafter to other clients posing as a virgin. She is portrayed as willingly prepared for the event and for the life and the only censorious aspect was when she attempted sexual play with the younger black son of a staff member and her backside tanned for such unacceptable behaviour. Given that the First World war was still at its bloodiest at the time and adolescent marriages were still permitted in many states and they were elsewhere in the world and in the film the photographer wants to marry her after she becomes his mistress) it could be that intention of Malle was to highlight the kind of hypocrisy which continues to this day, but I suggest he could have shot the film including the presence of children in the film in a different way and it is unlikely such a mainstream commercial film could be made to day. The film had its supporters in terms of the strength of the acting which includes David Caradine and one the outstanding albeit controversial actors of my time Susan Sarandon as the mother of Violet played by Brook Shields.

The Rocky Horror Pictures Show, Atlantic City, A dry White Season, Thelma and Louise, Lorenzso’ oil. Little Women, Dead Men Walking, the Alfi remake , Wall Street Never Sleeps and The Lovely Bones recently reviewed are part of a list which goes on and on of Sarandon‘s work. She is also a strong humanitarian on the Christian left who works as a Uniceff Goodwill ambassador. She has been married and among relationships was two years with Louis Malle who also Directed Atlantic City. More recently she had an eleven year relationship with Tim Robbins producing two children plus a daughter the actress Eva Amurris from a relationship with the Italian Director.

As for Brooke Shields some would argue she was exploited by her mother who arranged for her to become a child model from infancy. She hit the headlines again with the remake of the Blue Lagoon although she subsequently testified that body doubles were used for some scenes. She stated that she remained a virgin until 22 because of her reputation arising from the two films. She was married to the tennis star Agassi. She is now married to a TV write Chris Henchy and they have two daughters. Now in her late 40’s she remains an extraordinarily beautiful young looking woman.

Friday, 7 October 2011


I did watch the Werner Hezog film Invincible based on the life of the polish Circus strong man performer to came to the USA, obtained citizenship and died comparatively young after a nail he hammered with his fist into a block of wood went through and pierced his knee, became infected and he died of blood poisoning despite several operations to try and save him including the amputation of both his legs. His feats of strength were extraordinary and made him into a legend and he was the first to sell commercially a body building programme.

Werner has take the basic facts and created a conflict between the strength of body and the strength of mind in the couple of years before Hitler seized power in Germany. The film opens in an East Poland rural small town where Zishe Breibart works as a Blacksmith with his father and adored by his young brother. The family are orthodox Jews with traditional and conventional values of the day. In the opening sequence because he has earned a few coppers he takes his young brother for a meal into the nearby restaurant and bar whereas a group of young men insult their Jewishness to an extent that eventual Zishe loses his temper and in the eschewing fight breaks a table and a full beer barrel. He wants to pay for the damage but has no more money so the owner suggests he enters a contest to defeat the alleged world’s strongest man. There is a substantial cash prize offered which he wins without difficulty.

The next part of the film is creative fiction. Herzog has changed the dates of the life of Zishe so that it is only just before Hitler taking power in Germany that a theatrical agent visits the family and offers Zishe a new life as a strongman act in Berlin. After waiting for the Passover and consulting local Rabbi, Zishe decides to take up the offer but instead of using the first class ticket he cashes this in to provide new clothes for his family and walks the distance carrying his battered suitcase.

He is placed to work in a night club style theatre club with a stage, scantily clad female dancers, magician and other acts where the star is an occultist fortune teller played by Tim Roth. He also has an inner sanctum where he sits within a round table telling the fortunes of those who have paid to participate in the special sessions, In addition he does a stage mind reading act of the type where an individual writes down a special event such as a murder which gained a lot of publicity and gives coded clues which enable Roth to reveal the main facts to great acclaim.

Zishe is dressed up as an Aryan with fake blonde hair and his acts of strength are such he becomes a favourite with the audience which then comprises mainly supporters of Hitler. He develops a friendship with the pianist who is a stateless classical artist who has become the plaything of the Roth who is also prone to violence. Life has become good for Zishe and then the situation begins to change for everyone. His younger brother arrives, a strange boy, who is wise beyond his years and who convinces Zishe to be proud of Jewish heritage with the consequence that he takes off his Aryan wig and announces is the new Jewish Samson. This horrifies the Nazi followers who feel betrayed but the wealthy Jews of Berlin flock to give him support causing great tension between the two groups.

This also causes problems for Hanussen who attempts to discredit Zishe by alleging it his power which controls Samson and creates a stunt in which he appears to control Marta, the pianist to also perform acts of great strength. He also attempts to ingratiate himself with Himmler and Goebbels, and supports the rise of Hitler getting himself a post as Minister of the Occult. However a confrontation occurs during a party of top level Nazi’s on a boating trip between Zishe and Hanussen over his treatment of Marta and this leads to a challenge over the authenticity of the power of the Occultist which one of the Nazis suggests can only be settled in court.

At the trial the man is not only exposed as a con artist who has pretended to by a variety of well known people in the past but is really Jewish with the name Herschel Steinschneider. He is taken away by the Nazis and murdered. Zishe returns to Poland convinced that he is seeing real visions of the future which include an unknown but terrifying threat to all Jewish people and he attempts to create an army to protect Jews from what is to come, although only few listen. It is during one attempt to influence that he is challenged to show his physical strength and the accident with the nail occurs. In hospital and in delirium he has a vision of his younger brother flying to safety from rocks covered with the red crabs that have to cross over land to where they lay their eggs. They have to cross over a railway line oblivious to the advancing train which will squash to death all those in its path.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The fourth Angel

I will conclude with the story of the Fourth Angel which featured Jeremy Irons, but for the morning

The unexpectedness challenge, interest and satisfaction with films tends to be greater when there is no expectation. The film grips you emotionally in the kind of way you wish you had not commenced to view At home you can switch off which I was tempted and which once the film ends and the cool head prevails and the film flaw prevail you wish you had. Jeremy Irons play the European Editor of the Economist weekly which enables him to travel extensively and regularly to Europe which for some reason includes India! He cancels the arranged family because of a sudden assignment which involves a few days working after which he will take the family on a tour of the sights.

For another unexplained reason they travel on an American airline and the plane develops technical fault and is diverted to Cyprus where it is taken over by alleged terrorists called the August 15th Movement and demand $50 million. The demand is agreed but as the women and children leave the hijackers spot a local assault team. The hijackers believing they have been set up commence to open fire on the fleeing passengers and because of a fuel leak spread which catches fire the plane not only explodes and fleeing passengers are consumed in the flames so that even those shot injured perish including Jeremy’s wife and daughter although he is among the 15 adults who survive together with his son.

Back home he consumed with grief, anger and guilt and spend the greater part of his time trying to find what happened and why. He has amazing connections for an economist does just with the American Embassy but with intelligence. The situation is complicated given an American airline, the involvement of Cyprus and an alleged International Terrorist group and becomes horrendously worse when Jeremy leans that for some unexplained reasons the captured terrorists are released in secret for political reasons.

His USA Embassy contact feeds him information which leads him to a Terrorist centre in London where four men arrive as he is seizing some papers in a central European language and because he is knows guns he is able to shoot his way out of the situation killing three of the four men.

This brings Forrest Whitaker to London as an FBI agent anti terrorist operations with authority which ensure the cooperation from Timothy West who represented the lead British Government Interests accompanied by Police and homeland security interests. He assigns someone to work with Whitaker plus a small team. Whitaker is primarily interested in securing the $50 million which he believes was the prime motive for the operation as their is nothing known about the alleged Terrorist movement and those killed in London were a disconnected group of known assassins and extortionists including of those involved with the hijacking.

It is at this point that a new female interest is introduced who appears to have been a former girlfriend of Jeremy and is a British spook/ or informed civil servant played by Charlotte Rampling who has a boat. He seeks information from her and also mentions that when it is all over he is thinking of buying a boat and going off into the sun with his son.

While the story lacks credibility it is so well acted to that one stays to leans how it will finish well. Our hero learns that another of those involved is coming to London and he is able to trail him (he rides a motorcycle) and follows him from the station to a hotel where the individual throws away a message which leads to a station deposit box holding a large amount of cash. Jeremy then works out an elaborate scheme in which he breaks into the country home of a colleague and friend for a hand gun (the two spend weekends shooting) goes to the theatre where he creates a scene at an interval to be remembered, then goes off an assassinates the villain in a taxi and then returns apologising to the bar lady at the end of show for his earlier behaviour.

Forrest Whittaker has already arranged to interview the surviving passengers and his initial reaction appears to be that he is satisfied with the explanations given by everyone. This is however a cover because he already suspects the CIA agent at the Embassy who had been feeding Jeremy with information of having some complicity and that the hijacking was not political but financial.

He interviews Jeremy again after the second shooting and of course there is the planted theatre alibi and that having gone shooting the weekend there will be residue. When he finds that the reported stolen gun from the breakin at the house of the friend is of the same make as the recovered spent cartridges he is convinced that Jeremy is involved but being set up by the CIA agent whose desk he bugs on a visit.

Jeremy is fed further information about the location of a hijacker in Paris which he visits and is at the point of killing him with a knife when the man’s daughter enters so he holds back and then leaves. The police arrive only a pair and are killed and the man escapes.

Finally Whitaker is able to persuade Jeremy that he is being set up and participates in the next provided lead which involves a shoot out on a train in Europe which leads to the killing of the last two baddies with Whitaker surviving shots wearing appropriate protection. Back in London Jeremy is picked up by Whitakers British Assistant for the CIA baddie who had organised the whole thing and who has secreted himself in the vehicle. Jeremy and the British assistant jump out of the moving vehicle while Jeremy leaves a grenade obtained from the Whitaker which blows up the baddie.

Meanwhile Rampling has found a boat for Jeremy to buy and her, Jeremy, his son and mother/mother in law set off for an enjoyable weekend sailing trip although we have heard before that there was one cabin. But I say the film was well done. The fourth Angel is a biblical reference. The film opened before 9/11 but was held back and eventually issued to DVD in the USA in 2003 and subsequently to channel TV.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


The other film watched is Behemoth, the title given to the computer creature created for the film and the sea serpent mentioned in the Old Testament. The film is part of a monsters week on a film channel and but unlike The Town it cannot be described as well made film of its genre.

Unbeknown to the local inhabitants the USA government has noted a number of seismic developments around the world which cannot be explained in the usual way but appear to relate to an area beneath a mountain (Lincoln) near the town of Ascension in Canada and then send observer teams and amazingly take with them a shoulder launched multi loaded war head contained in a field carried box complete with shoulder straps. Gosh they knew it was some kind of monster. Fortunately for the sake of the film they are not alone in working out that if you destroy the monster you save the world.

The area is known for many minor quakes which resulted in many buildings being destroyed two generations earlier and this has led to a retired college Professor who suffers from mental health problems requiring medication constructing a great theory that from time to time when the world gets out of balance the earth has somehow corrected itself such as the Ice Age, the Flood, the Great Plagues and that there is a connection between these events and belief in the existence of monsters who are warning that human kind needs to get its act together or be destroyed. He is convinced something catastrophic is about to happen and that for some reason the centre is their community.

A local girl has become a scientist working for whom it is not clear but studying seismic activity is concerned that the readings form local ‘boxes’ is so odd that they must have malfunctioned as appears to have occurred six months previously. She does to check out and finds that the readings are correct and her assistant back is able to confirm the development of similar readings around the world which do not appear to have any explanation but which appear to relate to some underground activity at the mountain. She decides to stay in town, not clear where, as we do not see her with any family but her uncle is the local Sheriff who is sceptical about any suggestion that the volcanic mountain officially dormant is suddenly coming to life.

In town she meets the son of the ‘mad’ professor she meets a former boyfriend, family friend, someone with whom she had a relationship, called Thomas. We learn he had a military career but I cannot remember if we are told how he earns his living and who worries about the mental condition of his father demanding that he takes his medication. Thomas has brought up his young sister Grace who is embarrassed and frightened by the behaviour of her father. She has along standing boyfriend of four years and the two plan a weekend on the mountain where her family used to go for picnics and where she plans to lose her virginity and he plans to ask her to marry him complete with engagement ring.

There are other signs of an unusual situation as a local woman dies on the mountain and is found with marks on her face and a man part of a work crew dies suddenly although he has only broken in leg as a result of the most recent seismic activity. The scientist Emily works out that during the activity fissures of carbon monoxide escape and temporarily concentrate a few feet above ground causing asphyxiation to anyone who remains in the immediate area.

Another activity causes the death of a government man working on the mountain so another arrives and seeks help to go up the mountain to investigate, He has attempted to do so by the roadway but further activity has blocked the roadway. He tries to persuade Thomas to take him but he refuses. We also see a shot of someone leaving his home on the slopes because of activity outside only to see his home disappear to roof level because of further activity, but he survives, Before the young couple go off the girl’s father tries to explain his theory about what is happening to his daughter and that quoting from the bible the only way to defeat the monster is to fire something in his mouth into his belly to split it in two.

The Sheriff is eventually convinced that something is radically wrong and that the whole mountain top could explode and single handedly evacuates the area for town to 20 miles around the mountain. The mad professor is persuaded to go and stay with a relative but before he leaves he tries to persuade the owner of the local diner he visit regularly that she must also leave. She hesitates and they are caught in further activity which results in all but the roof of the building going underground in what emerges to be a vast cavern. Learning that his daughter has gone up the mountain with her boyfriend he goes to where he thinks they might be camping and Emily volunteers to go with him. It is at this point amazingly all the members of the family become involved with the Behemoth in addition to the Government agent.

It appears that the monster a creature with a giant head and several gigantic tentacles had been trying to break out from within the cavern under the mountain and so far it has only managed to release an individual tentacle. It breath instead of fire is carbon monoxide. At the moment the young man is proposing to Grace they catch sight of the monster through one of its tentacles. During their attempt to escape the young man is lost but fortunately the girl is able to meet up with her brother and Emily and instead of getting off the mountain quickly, having met up with the government agent they are persuaded to help him retrieve the weapon. The agent is wounded and dies but Ed manages to retrieve the weapon just avoiding falling into a great chasm off the mountain. Meanwhile back in town the mad professor and his friend the diner owner has also encountered the monster viewed though the plate glass front of the diner which has cracked and therefore letting the poisoness gas inside. They managed to escape into the loft of he building and amazing out of its roof. Back on the mountain Ed and the two women make for where he knows here will be an unmanned helicopter which amazingly Emily knows how to fly. She gets the craft going while Ed sets up the weapon not knowing it contains several warheads and is uncertain what part to aim for and it is then his sister remembers what their father has said and tells him to aims into its mouth. Because it is a multiple warhead they do not go directly to where aimed despite an official lock on and his body and but also one does enter the mouth and the creature and mountain top explodes. They see her father as they fly back over the town so there is happy ever after for the family and a blossoming relationship between Ed and Emily. So nice.

The Town

I have watched two films in their entirety. I was singularly displeased with the 2010 film The Town which follows a number of recent similar capers using the latest technology to create super clever thefts but where the main character, sympathetically played by Ben Affleck who also Directed and contributed to the screen play escapes the consequences of his crimes which include attempting to kill legitimate pursuers and his girl friend then uses his share of the theft to restore the local skating rink as a contribution to reducing juvenile delinquency. She is the improbable bank manager of the bank from which the money was stolen. The other irresponsible theme, but frequently vaunted by Hollywood, to appeal to ghetto audiences, is that if only one was brought up in a different environment with different opportunities ones lives would be successful, happy and crime free, in sense of not becoming a criminal. The most well cry is that of Marlon Brando in On the Warerfront, ’I could have been somebody’ if only I had not been made to throw the fight. The basic premise is of course rubbish although I concede that peer pressure will play its part on those whose parents have been weak, inadequate or irresponsible. Harsh but true.

So here is the chronological plot: Ben has been brought up by the parents of a fellow gang member who operate on behalf of the local crime boss played by Pete Postlethwaite who runs a florist. They have undertaken a number of successful and lucrative robberies but without physical violence, of course, which again is another Hollywood mythology suggesting that armed robbery can take place without damaging the lives of those immediately involved. In the latest robbery on a bank the lifelong friend gratuitously beats up one of the senior staff and decides to take the female bank manager hostage. She is terrified when released blindfolded and told to go ahead slowly until she touches water. She fears she is being led towards some chasm to her death so she tips toes as the criminals intended.

To ensure that she does not reveal anything which might lead the police to them her identification with address is taken and she is warned that any suggestion she has helped the police will lead to her death. Ben’s friend wants to take responsibility for checking up but Ben insists that he will find out the position. In order to do this he meets with the woman who in her spare time is part of a local action group which includes work on a community garden. Surprisingly whenever there are shots of them or her in garden there is no one else present, some community garden!. They fall in love and Ben hovers over abandoning his life of crime and telling her the truth about his life.

Meanwhile The FBI have been doing their homework and commenced surveillance on the gang waiting for them to attempt another robbery. I cannot remember if it the FBI or through meeting Ben’s friend that the woman Rebecca Hall as Claire Kingsley works out that he is a hardened criminal. He brings her round by explaining that he was raised by a criminal father in prison whose wife had disappeared and brought up by a foster family part of the sub culture neighbourhood when one does not stand a chance self justification garbage. She falls for this and agrees to run away with him to Florida for a new start.
When he tells Postlewaite and his foster brother of his decision they both react negatively. The friend explains that he once killed a man who was going to kill Ben and Postlewaite says he will kill Claire if the gang do not carry out a major theft of millions of dollars from the local baseball Park (as if the customers pay by cash these days for entry or merchandise. This suggests that everyone in a 50000 crowd buys 70 dollars of fast food, drink and programmes!) Postlethwaite also discloses that he was responsible for the death of Ben’s mother.

The heist appears to go well although the Feds have become aware of when and where through the former girlfriend of Ben, the foster sister who has a child by someone else but who Ben has raised as his own. She splits on Ben, her brother and the others, in part out of revenge for his rejection of her but also from self interest of being kept out of being charged and her daughter taken into public care. The lifelong friend dies in a shoot out rather than going back to prison and the performance by Jeremy Renner was nominated for several major awards as was Pete Postlethwaite who had died after the film was made and who looked ill in his performance.

Ben is the only member of the gang who escapes and the Feds keeps watch with Claire knowing that he will contact and demand she assists or become an accessory to murder. However while she follows the script she makes a comment which is sufficient to alert Ben that he would be walking into a trap. He departs on his own but before this undertakes two actions. The first is to kill Postlewaite and his henchman. He steals a bus to the railway station and takes the train to Florida. I said there were two actions. Claire goes to the Community Garden where she finds Ben’s share of the bank robbery which she puts to restoring the local ice rink. The audience are left to make the assumption that in due course the couple are able to meet up and live together despite the FBI warning that they are a national organisation. It is a well made film but!