Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I had seen a trailer for Salmon Fishing in Yemen and in addition to the amusing nature of the subject the repartee from the chief media adviser for the Prime Minister had echoes of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.

The film has two entwined stories. A wealthy Yemeni with a home in Scotland with its own salmon fishing river  decides on a dam and irrigation scheme to improve the economic basis of the country and improve the lives of the people. The focus for the development is his passion for Salmon fishing and the wish to introduce the fish and its fishing into his country.  The Yemen does have a fishing industry using coastal waters although this has been adversely by piracy. The investment and other interests are looked after by a British firm with Emily Blunt playing the suitably sophisticated woman about town executive Harriet Chetwode-Talbot

Ms Blunt is a pleasantly attractive young woman neither beautiful, sexy or with a memorable personality. She is a good actress in the British tradition. I have seen many of her previous films without remembering she was in them; the most recent being the Adjustment Bureau and Gulliver’s Travels. The Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, Charlie Wilson’s War and the Jane Austin Book Club and the Devil Wears Pravda are all films where I can recall a still or two and the subject matter of the film. Ms Blunt remains bland.

In this film she has commenced a passionate sexual relationship with an active Special Forces Officer who has been called away on a mission.

She approaches Dr Alfred Jones, a scientific officer within a the government department, hand picked because of his private expertise and interest in salmon fishing and having devised a fly which the wealthy Yemeni also appreciated as being effective in pursuit of the creatures.

Dr Jones is played by Ewan McGregor who is also a bland actor but has registered in my retained memory more than his co star. He made his name in the film Trainspotting which I have had no inclination to see and in Star Wars which I have always considered an overrated series. The one film in which I view his performance many times with appreciation is the musical Moulin Rouge. Little Voice, Rogue Trader, Black Hawk Down, The Island, and Miss Potter as well as Nanny McPhee are all films which I look back on with enjoyment.

While Dr Jones is obsessive, myopic  and introverted    and long time married to a down to earth ambitious career woman who is offered a once in a lifetime move to Geneva or somewhere similar in Europe. Fred is resentful because he will miss out on his regular mechanical sex which provides nothing for his wife and will her  company when he is not studying work matters or talking to the fish in his pond.  He is a boring man in a boring marriage with his wife the first to break out. He wants nothing to do with the project but is given an ultimatum of cooperating or resigning so he goes along and is there for Harriet when the short period boyfriend goes missing in action and is then reported dead along with all his comrades in arms.   

The reason why he is ordered to participate and assist is because the Prime Minister’s spin doctor is looking for a game changing event and finds the alleged fact of £2 million anglers in the UK of interest in terms of vote catching. It is absurd to suggest that at anyone time one is thirty of the British Population is fishing on a regular basis. There are not enough places to fish let alone fish. Along the Shield’s side of the Tyne at the river mouth and along the pier there are perhaps 50 off regulars with a number of other casuals, often on the dole in addition to the commercial fisherman who provide the fish markets at North Tyneside and Sunderland.

The spin controller is brilliantly played by Kristin Scott Thomas who is given the best lines. However her plan goes awry when those at Agriculture and Fisheries leak the plan to take ten thousand of UK salmon to the Yemen.  His marriage over and fired with some of the enthusiasm of the man picking up the tab for his secondment he resigns to work full time when the UK Government  backs off in the face of the political wrath of the fisher folk. During a visit to the estate in Scotland, disenchanted citizens, it is not made clear their political/social motivation appoint a single assassin but the plot is foiled by the clever use of the fishing line and from that point there is a debt to be paid.

The crazy plan goes ahead with use of farmed salmon on the basis that within their genes will be the instincts to go up rive to spawn involving jumping over obstacles. The British government through the Spin Controller then seize on the official launch of the release of salmon up river when it is discovered that one of the SAS team survived none other than the boyfriend who injured was cared for until able to return. He is flown to the site together with a Cabinet Minister who has fished in the past, unlike the Prime Minister.  But this is also the second opportunity for the rebels to strike and the make a successful attack on the dam release flood level water which kills most of the fish so it seems. The SAS man realises that a relationship has developed between Fred and Harriet, although Harriet is torn between her original affection and commitment, albeit based on only a short of period of time and her attraction to Fred who developed the successful plan for her to organise its operation.

Fred decides to stay and start again with her his partner although this time they will make progress on a more modest scale attempting to take everyone with them. Ensuring the benefits to the community are established and tradition are not threatened. The script makes the film

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Game Change

I use the term Game Changer deliberately for the Game Change is the title of a fascinating and presumable accurate account of the Sarah Palin selection as Vice President potential running mate for the White House. This is the best USA political documentary type film about the USA that I have experienced better than Watergate and the attempted cover up. The film begins with the Republican adopted Presidential Candidate floundering in the polls against the Charismatic personality of Obama and his team seeking a game changing move through the decision who should be his running mate for the Vice Presidency. The team had been positive vetting a number of prospects all men for several weeks five to six and this included finding out whatever personal and political dirt the other side would use, the actual political knowledge and views especially on foreign policy and any differences between view with the Presidential candidate.

They decided they needed a woman who would appeal to the right of the party. Sarah Plain appeared the ideal choice. She was married with five children. The youngest child was born with severe learning difficulties. She had tackled the old right in her own party in Alaska to gain the governorship. She had turned down proposed Federal money for a bridge on the grounds that if it was built it would be built without a call on taxation. One of sons was off to serve and fight in Iraq/Afghanistan. An environmentalist she supported exploration for home oil to reduce dependency on external interests. She supported gun ownership.
Videos of her speeches impressed. But the vetting only took 5 days before the presentation of the candidate to as meeting of the faithful.

The first problems could all be handled. Her husband has been a member of a political party supporting Alaska independence for 7 years. One of her daughters was unmarried and pregnant. She had supported Federal taxes for the Bridge only changing position later. But all this was small beer before they realised that she was apolitical ignoramus on the economy and finance, on anywhere outside of Alaska and the USA and on history. She was a brilliant actress with prepared speeches and she was great at the hand he and kissing of babies one to tour but cross examination on political issues by one political journalists and she embarrassing. She new the UK were an ally but through the Queen was the political head. She had no knowledge of finances and the economy at the time of the great bank crash and bail out. She did not know why there a North and South Korea or who fought who and why in the Second World War.

The crash course in knowledge was a disaster. She wrote down furiously without learning or comprehending. She reacted resentfully and spitefully when anyone question her or attached her thus giving value to stories about her behaviour in getting to the Governorship and once she took power. Later when she recovered especially by learning lines and getting them across as with the Presidential Vice President’s debate and was a proved vote winner she began to see herself as the President and decided to go her own way rather than support the Presidential candidate.

The film appears to be very different from the book which concentrate on the Obama Campaign. Perhaps it is a TV series rather than a film. I will have to find out later. I will also leave The Messenger as time as caught up with me.
This is a more scrappy piece than usual. Bed calls.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Little Fockers

One more film to mention now with the Family Film to review after the Television catching up reports. Little Fockers 2010 part of the Ben Stiller stable of comedy films and with Robert De Nero as his father in Law, Dustin Hoffman as his father and Barbara Streisand as his mother. The problem is I did not find any aspect of the funny.

This is the third film in of the series with Meet the Parents 2000 and Meet the Fockers 2004. The father in law appears reconciled that his daughter should remain married to Greg but his long standing doubts gain fire when Grey is pursued to a sex alcoholic pharmaceutical company representative to whom who has sold an erectile dysfunction drugs. Also entering the scene is the daughter’s former fiancée, the rich kid now with his own estate and who is sponsors the birth party for the couple’s twins. Father in law appears to have achieved his original purpose and plans the couple to divorce and the daughter to marry her former fiancée. The arrival of Greg’s parents help although when they decide to move close to the couple and are joined by the parent’s determined not to be outdone. Grey re-establishes himself after his father in law has a heart attack.

The main hilarity is supposed to occur when father in law tries one of the erectile dysfunction drugs which because of medication in relation to his heart condition results in a prolonged and potentially dangerous situation which Greg is forced to relieve by administering an antidote injection which is witnessed by one of the twins and therefore has a lot of explaining to do.

Hornblower RN

I have written before about my love for the books about Horatio Hornblower RN and the subsequent film and TV series. Recently I could not resist watching again the 1951 film directed by Rail Walsh which stars Gregory Peck and Hornblower, Virginia Mayo as the sister of Wellington with Robert Beaty and young Terence Morgan. THe film covers the main stories from the Happy Return, A ship of the Line and Flying Colours.

The film open with Hornblower sent on a secret mission to South American to help a megalomaniac rebel who has indicated his willingness to fight against Spain if provided arms and ammunition. The ship is becalmed and the crew verge upon mutiny. Hornblower steers them to the fort controlled by their new ally. The ally admits that the Spanish are sending a major warship, more powerful that the 36 gun frigate and Hornblower devises a successful plan to capture the vessel when it is moored at harbour. The officers are placed in irons below for their own protection. The megalomaniac demands the captured ship which Hornblower hands over despite knowing he should have consulted the Admiralty first.

He then makes his way to Panama where he meets a small Spanish vessel and learns that Spain has switched sides and has become an ally against Napoleon and this is confirmed by a despatch from the local British Government representative and he releases the captives and sets off to reclaim the Spanish ship. This will be difficult enough but there is an added complication as the sister of Wellington is onboard with her maid having fled Panama City because of yellow fever epidemic. This is a fictitious character and Wellington was not made a Duke until later.

They encounter the former Spanish ship and engage in an epic battle in which both vessels appear to be badly damaged with that held by the megalomaniac sunk. Amazingly they appear able to repair the own damaged masts, rigging and other damage to set course for England.

Given that the men have been at sea for many months he has difficulty handling the situation but when she goes down with fever he nurses her night and day until it is confirmed she has swamp fever and survives. Understandably a bond develops between the two. Although engaged to an Admiral she falls in love with Hornblower and he with her but discloses that he is already married. He brings the ship home as quickly as they can.

Most of the Admiralty regard Hornblower as a hero because of his exploits but not the fiancée‘s husband. Hornblower returns to his home to find that his wife died in childbirth and that he has a son. He learns that Wellington’s sister has married and on being summoned to London to take charge of a ship of the line captured from the French he finds himself assigned to the squadron commander by the sister’s husband. They receive orders to track down four French ships who have escaped a blockade.

The admiral reluctantly agrees that Hornblower should follow up a hunch that the ships will make attempt to support Napoleon campaign in the Iberian Peninsula while the reswt of the command make their way to where it is believed the ships will attempt to shelter. After capturing a French supply ship he learns the whereabouts of the French ships. Pretending to be French, Hornblower enters the harbour where the ships are being prepared to transport supplies. The captured is to taken back to the UK for prize money with a skeleton crew but only after finding the Admiral to say they have located the French ships. The ruse works and he is able to severely damage the French ships and sinking, leaves the vessel blocking the harbour entrance so they have to remain until the British fleet arrives.
Hornblower and his loyal second in Command (played by Beaty) are taken by land towards Paris for trial and execution as spies but they manage to escape with the help of the accompanying strong arm seaman played by James Robertson Justice.

They make their way to the port of Nantes and manage to get on board a captured British Ship manned by a skeleton crew and with the help of a working party of captured British seamen. They take the ship and return home

Understandably Hornblower is hailed as a British Hero but begs to be released from the honours and celebrations to return to his young son. There he finds Wellington’s sister waiting for him as the marriage of convenience has ended with the death of her husband and the couple embrace.


Those who created the 2000 released film Quills admit that it is not based on the facts of the life of the Marquis De Sade life but is a vehicle to examine issues such as censorship, pornography, sex, art, mental illness and religion. To this list I would add the misuse of power.

The Abbé du Coulmier is the head of an institution in France for those who have been declared insane during a period when Napoleon rules France. De Sade is incarcerated through his wife and the state because of his behaviour and those of his writings considered pornographic defamatory and subversive rather than because of his mental condition. In fact the film opens during the Reign of Terror with De Sade free and enjoying a view of the guillotine as a young harmless woman is put to her death to the enjoyment of the masses. The point I suppose being made is that if people are allowed to do as they please without state, religious or other sanctions and frameworks then human slaughter and suffering on a gigantic scale will occur.

Certainly having listed all the wars and acts of genocide occurring during the period of my life and that of my respective parents, the accumulation of numbers is staggering, with millions dying during certain short periods and the total running into hundreds of millions and most sobering of all I have only identified a couple of years when no war or slaughtering is not recorded (and which is not same thing as saying that none took place). To achieve some balance and to provide perspective my list also includes the great pandemics and the famines, the earthquakes and other natural disasters where the total is as great if not greater and yet the population of the planet has been able to increase by thousands of millions and continues to do so.

Having therefore made the point at the beginning of the film that governments and the population in general will commit horrific acts upon each other the film concentrates on the misuse of power by individuals. The Abbé is the real innocent in all of this. He cares for the inmates and in relation to the Marquis has allowed his cell quarters to be furnished with his furniture, his books, and an endless supply of writing paper and the pen (Quills) and ink. He is allowed to walk the grounds and organise theatre productions attended by society at the institution. He appears to also have an unlimited supply of wine with he shares with the Abbé as they debate issues which divide them.

What the Abbé does not know is that the Marquis has come to an arrangement with a Laundry maid to smuggle out his writings to an outside contact of a publisher and this results in the publication of Justine, his work which covers all manner of sexual activities and touches on the hypocrisy of the Princes of the Church who fornicate at random and make use of their position to increase their wealth and their power. In fact Justine was produced more than a decade before in internment at Charenton and he did not publish anything to merit the actions taken while he was there, or indeed put on the play which led to the various tragedies which bring the film to an end.

The Laundry maid is played by Kate Winslet who is fascinated by the man and who helps him for money. She also enjoys the substance of his writings which she shares with some of the other staff who engage in sexual orgies designed to demonstrate the corrupting influence of the writings. In fact while her character appears worldly and skilled in resisting the advances of the Marquis when she enters his cell. He interest is the Abbé who is helping with her general education and after her death he discovers that she a virgin.

Napoleon is advised to take action to stop de Sade continuing to publish but not to have him shot as his first reaction. He accepts advice to send in Doctor Royer Collard played by Michael Caine in one of his rare serious roles. He has an assortment of torture instruments designed to bring people to their senses including a water torture ducking device. He is also a hypocrite.

Arriving at the institution at the instigation of Napoleon he decides it is time to take his bride arranged with nuns at a convent of girl raised with them from being delivered as an orphan. She is not even of the legal age and because of his position he is able to marry and the nuns tell the girl she is lucky as the prospects for those in her position is usually the streets or to become nuns. The girl has been brought up a devout and innocent Catholic. Royer effectively rapes her at his pleasure without any regard for her feelings or inexperience. He has been allocated a chateau by Napoleon which is in need of repair and the appointed architect is young and attractive. The girl gets hold of a copy of Justine and seduces the young man and they run off together.

Meanwhile the Abbé is shocked to learn that the Marquis has arranged for the publication of Justine but he persuades Royer to allow him to continue with his approach on gaining an undertaking from De Sade to behave. As the relationship between Royer and the young girl becomes the subject of gossip De Sade writes a new play from that advertised to be performed and this highlights the behaviour of the Royer. He immediately closes the theatre and demands action be taken against De Sade who has his books, furniture wine, writing paper and quills removed to leave a bare cell.

At the play Winslet is sexually assaulted by one of the residents but fends him off with an iron. De Sade continues to write using his clothing and bed sheets using is blood and then his excrement. He is tortured by Royer who turns his aggression on the institution when his wife runs off. He whips Winslet when he learns from a jealous member of staff that she has and is assisting the Marquis. Kate and the Abbé are on the verge of becoming lovers when he is filled with remorse with his intention to sin. Later when Kate is killed he has a fantasy of having sex with her dead body.

The Abbé continues to try and change De Sade and at one point gives crucifix which de Sade uses to commit suicide. De Sade is played by the brilliant Geoffrey Rush who is a tall man in good shape for his years. De Sade was comparative short and fat at this time.

The film ends with an effectively swap of roles as in Holy Smoke. It is the Abbé who occupies the former cell as De Sade and who writes away, under the spirit of the Master. The new head of the establishment proudly shows off the fact that the inmates have become subdued and work constructively on a printing press book production company. Their output is the writings of De Sade.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


. I did not regard Cornered as special until reading information afterwards and learning that four of those involved in the making of the film Edward Dmytryk the Director, Adrian Scott, the producer and two of the actor Morris Carnovsky, and Luther Adler were blacklisted because of their alleged left wing inclinations have made a political film against Fascism released in 1945.

My reservations about the film is that the main character played by Dick Powell as Gerard, a Royal Canadian Airforce Pilot fails to convince me although it is a workmanlike performance given the period when it was made.

It appears that at some point he had a brief 20 day relationship with a French girl and hey were married. He was effected by his experience in a POW camp and is devastated and angry to find out that his bride, a member of the French Resistance had been murdered along with a number of others, including the priest who married them

His father-in-law Etienne Rouging identifies Vichy collaborator Marcel Jarnac as the man responsible and who officially died in 1943, but Rougon has strong doubts. Jarnac was so careful about maintaining his anonymity, so there is no description of him on record. When he manages to locate the man who had dealings with Jarmac he had died in an explosion which has destroyed he property and all his records with the exception of a sheet of charred paper

He then traces the widow of the man having lived in Switzerland although she has moved on but having acquired an official envelope from the insurance brokers/lawyers he sends it to address and then weights outside for the redirected letter to be pout out for the postman, Without knowing the postal system at the time this appears to stretch credulity. The redirected letter is for an address in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I can well believe that the limited travelling of English speaking people to Argentina at that time would mean that every visitor would of interest to the authorities and to the media but that he is met by at the airport by Melchior Incza (Walter Slezak), a stranger who knows all about him or gives the impression of this. Gerard rejects Incza's offer of help, but cannot turn down his invitation to a party hosted by wealthy businessman Tomas Camargo (Steven Geray) for the opportunity to mingle with Mme Jarnac's social set. There he meets Camargo's uncle, Manuel Santana (Morris Carnovsky), and the widow herself (Micheline Cheirel).

When Gerard later questions Mme Jarnac in her hotel room, she refuses to cooperate, so he starts openly following her. Santana asks him to desist, for reasons he will not divulge. Later, Gerard finds a suspicious valet, Diego (Jack La Rue), tidying up his hotel room at an odd hour. All these events are connected.

Mme Jarnac is followed to convent where in fact her sister is being for. She discloses she has never met her husband and was recruited for the role but believes he is alive and gives him an address where she thinks he is and that he is leaving the country. However the note is a false one and he nearly shoots the householder who is in fact part of group of anti fascists on the trail of Jarmac and all those who have fled to the country and South America and who part of a an underground Nazi organisation

Gerard then fools Incza into believing he has the full dossier compiled by Jarnac's associate. Incza breaks into the hotel safe, but the papers are not there. He then arranges for Gerard to be kept occupied, waiting for a phantom meeting with Camargo, while he searches his hotel room. When he is interrupted by Diego the Valet, he shoots him. The man was working for the anti fascists. Gerard is believed to be the killer although he had been lured to the room of a woman encountered at the Party he had attended on arrival. Later her husband supports his wife’s assertion that the two were together and that Gerard was not with them.

Although there is no evidence against him he is told to leave the county Incza tells Gerard that Jarnac will be seeing Camargo at his old office, Gerard decides to stake out a place Mme Jarnac recalls was once their meeting place. It is a trap. Gerard is captured, and Jarnac (Luther Adler) finally makes his appearance. Incza confirms he works for Jarnac, but is killed for talking too much. Gerard is to die as well, with Camargo as a witness that the two men killed each other. Camargo objects to becoming involved, but Jarnac threatens him with a paper in his possession. Gerard seizes the distraction to overpower Jarnac. He punches Jarnac repeatedly, and is only stopped by the arrival of Santana and Dubois. To their disappointment, Jarnac is dead, but Gerard shows them the paper detailing Jarnac's connection to Camargo; Santana states there appears to be enough there to expose the entire organization. There is the suggestion of a possible ongoing relationship between Gerard and the marriage of convenience widow.

Holy Smoke

Channel Four Films has recently devoted a short season to the films of Kate Winslet, the remarkable Australian actress with ix Oscar nominations and about whom I have devoted several previous writings for work, especially in Heavenly Creatures, Sense and Sensibility, Jude, Hamlet, Titanic, Enigma, Iris, The Life of David Gale, Sunshine of the Eternal Mind, Little Children, The Reader, Revolutionary Road and Mildred Pierce, Then there is my favourite- Hideously Kinky and the two films which I will concentrate in this piece of writing: Holy Smoke and Quills

There are four issues covered in these two films, the power of sex to create and destroy life, the power which some individuals can exercise over others, the true nature of the Master/slave/subject relationship and Sado Masochism.

In Holy Smoke a young Australian woman (Winslet) from the suburbs journeys to India with a friend and becomes influenced by a Guru to the extent she decides not to return home. He mother is upset and assembles her family, putting up the cash to hire an exit counsellor to bring her home and undo the assumed brainwashing although in this instance the girl has experienced a sudden revelation about herself and is attempting to gain further insights by undertaking good works.

The development of specialist therapists to rescue those who have become members of cults gained momentum in the USA and elsewhere arising from a number of internationally known incidents from the Charles Manson murders to the mass suicides. Individuals have been kidnapped by their families, parents, husbands, legal guardians and then put through an intense process which attempts to undo their attachment. I will leave for the moment the morality of doing this in relation to adults of sound mind and progress the story.

The mother decides to hire an established and highly regarded practitioner, (Harvey Keitel) after she visits and persuades her daughter to return because her father is terminally ill. He is not does nor cares about what his daughter wants to do with her life but agrees as a cover for his infidelity with his secretary. Once home Kate realises she been brought back through a ruse but agrees to spend three days 24/7 with Keitel in an isolated cabin in the desert outback.

As in any situation involving a therapist (master role) and client (subject) the need for emotional detachment on the part of the therapist is fundamental especially if there is sexual attraction or the subject is intellectually similar or superior. Usually the client is voluntary and knows they need help and it a very different situation when the client is persuaded against their better judgement and do not believe they require help. What Keitel does is to exploit the normal insecurities, idealism and life inexperience of his subject and presents visual accounts of the situations previous mentioned to demonstrate the damage which can be done. However Kate uses the potent mixture of her vulnerability and being captive together with her gorgeous body which she shows naked to him and to the audience to reverse the tables.

He becomes sexually besotted and sexually dependent while she shows contempt for his sexual ability puts him in a dress and paints his face with make up and abuses. He appears to enjoy this. There is a series of explosive and love hate scenes between the two.

The postscript to the film is a positive one. Kate returns to India with her mother as father has gone off with his secretary and commences a relationship with a young an implied inexperienced Indian boy, having during a break in the process when friends come to visit and they go night clubbing together she engages in kissing the friend who went to India with her and is fondled by the men friends. She appears to be as experienced if not more experienced that Keitel in several respects.

She sends Keitel a postcard with her news that he has her love albeit at a distance. He has married his assistant and they have twins. He is touched by getting love and the continuation of a conspiratorial relationship is covered by his email reply stating that he is not disclosing the contact or its nature with his wife.

The film will be regarded by some as a cautionary tale, exposing the dangers of getting involved with guru’s and cults and of the therapist client relationships which are not conducted by professionals in supervised locations. However this would be a simplistic response as the truths are partial. Gurus and cult leaders should not be bracketed with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counsellors although some Gurus have years of training and applied knowledge behind them and act in a professionals way towards those who seek their advice and help whereas trained therapist who are members of professional bodies and who work under supervision can become attracted by opposites, seduced and manipulated and consequently damage already damaged, disturbed and vulnerable individuals.

The aspect of the film which impressed me was the turning of tables in which Kate exposes unmet needs and desire of Keitel. It has to be emphases that the character played by Kate is ineffective blackmailed into participating in the therapy. In this instance the outcome is positive for both but in real life things are likely to work out different.


The third April 2012 film review begins with a film I considered going to see in theatre, the Kenneth Branagh directed Thor and a tremendous CGI epic it is with a convincing cast and an easily digestible story of a Cain and an Able although in this instance the one of the brothers learns only when an adult that he was adopted during conquest. The film was converted to 3D post production which means one gets the perspective without being bombarded with gimmicky stuff coming at you all the time.

The story is based on a Marvel comic character which in turn is based on ancient Norse myths of the God Odin and one of his sons Thor. For the purpose of the film Odin is not a God but king of an advanced development planet with the ability to travel between the 8 other planetary systems with life forms through a portal which has a 24 hour guardian to ensure that it use is only available to those authorised by the King.

Odin is a war lord type of being who is also wise and cultured and able to perform acts of magic. The story begins 1000 years ago when the Frost giant of the planet Jotunheim comes to earth in a bid to conquer the known worlds. This race the ability turns people as well as matter to ice threatening new ice age. The earth was saved through the arrival of Odin and forces who then went to the homeworld and defeated them returning with the source of the power and also the son of the defeated leader. He then concentrated on establishing and maintaining peace. His first born Thor is a headstrong young man, self confident ambitious and too full of himself who is to be named by his father as his official successor. His brother is less physical, artful and a schemer who skilled in magic so he can create holographic replicas of himself and secret mobility and most significantly is resentful of the position of his brother. In order to disrupt the great ceremony is gets some of enemies of Kingdom onto the planet with a view to take back the instrument of power removed the centuries before. His main purpose is to disrupt the ceremony and by dealing with the intruders show his father he is just as worthy of being King.

He then eggs on his brother and the close friends to undertake a raid on the enemy in retaliation for their but despite great valour it is Odin who has to come to rescue. He decides that Thor is not ready for the position as official heir and strips him of his power. He banishes his son sending him to earth with only human powers but he also send the hammer, a kind of Arthurian Sword but with great powers.

Dazed from his landing and situation he is hit by a vehicle driven by a research team led by Natalie Portman as an astrophysicist and take him to hospital where he breaks out although quickly finds he does not have his former strength. The authorities called S.H,I.E,L,D raid Portman’s centre and remove all her equipment and records giving her a cheque to cover the loss and start again.

There is the news of the arrival of the hammer the Mjolnir which is embedded and the local rednecks try to dislodge including using a tow truck. The authorities arrive called SHIELD and eventually Thor makes his way to the now heavily protected site but manages to gain access but is unable to dislodge the hammer. He is taken into custody and treated as a trained mercenary. He is released through the help of Portman’s chief assistant/adviser.

Meanwhile there have been developments back on Asgard. Odin reveals that Loki is not his natural son but that of the leader of the Jotunheim and he falls into a form of coma Odinsleep watched over by his wife. Loki assumes the role of the King and pretends to Thor’s followers that the King’s wife has confirmed that the banishment should remain. He orders the travel Gatekeeper to keep the portal closed and he then visits the enemy to do a deal to allow a select brought enter Asgard retrieve their instrument of power and kill Odin. He visits earth and tells Thor has his father is dead, he has been confirmed king and the banishment confirmed.

Not prepared to accept this situation Thor‘s friends come to earth rather than submit to the new regime with the Gatekeeper agreeing to help them. For his actions he is frozen and Loki to earth a powerful robot to destroy his adversaries. Meanwhile Thor has come to terms with his limitations and the rashness and boorishness of his behaviour. He sacrifices himself, apologising to his father for his failures, in order that the blood shedding on earth with stop. This has the consequence of rousing Thor from his condition and releasing the hammer to Thor as he appears to die. This has the effect of enabling him to destroy the robotic creature,

He has established an emotional relationship with Portman. He promises to return for her after he has sorted out the situation in the homeland. He is able to help the Gatekeeper free himself to open the gate. Meanwhile Loki has allowed into the kingdom Laurel and his assistants but kills the man before he kills his father. He hopes by this act to impress Odin and his Odin’s wife. He also sets about using the available powers to destroy the Jotenheim and refuses the appeal of Thor to stop. The two men fight and in order to stop the destruction of enemy Thor has to break the bridge to the portal thus also preventing his immediate return to earth and Portman. It is necessary for Odin to once more rescue his sons but Loki refuses to accept the situation and appears to end his life by refusing to accept the hand preventing him falling into endless space.

Thor is returned as the heir apparent but he is sorrowful with the loss of his brother and his inability to return for Portman. Before department he had managed to get the note book records taken by the SHIELD and he then persuaded the earth defenders to return all her equipment and allow her to continue her work. There is a long period of credits before the film ends but waiting until completion is rewarded by what appears to be a trailer for a second part. This shows Portman’s assistant being invited to work at the SHIELD research centre where it appears they are now close to creating a portal to Asgard and the rest of the galaxy. The sequel is scheduled for release in 2012 although Branagh will not direct. This will be undertaken by the Director Game of Thrones and the Boardwalk Empire.

I was impressed with the visual creativity of the Asgard capital city. The story was always engaging and central with the CGI effect supplemental rather than overwhelming and the use of post Production 3D effect. The quality of the acting performance and the script were also important. In addition to Natalie Portman Chris Hemsworth played Thor and Tom Hiddleston creditable as Loki. Sir Anthony Hopkins is Odin and Colm Feore Laufey.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Deep End

The fourth film Deep End is also about teenage sex and is a 1970 British West German production Deep End recently shown on TCM uncut. It stars Jane Asher and also provides a role for Diana Doors. The film is about a 15 year old boy who takes a job in a public bath house with swimming pool where the older assistant by some ten years (Jane Asher), explains that they should perform sexual favours for tips.

The boy, Mike, develops a crush on the girl and follows her to the cinema where is watching an X film with her boyfriend. Mike puts a hand over the seat to the girl’s breasts. The boyfriend complains to the manager but the girl kisses Mike while he is away. The police are called. The couple do not press charges and the film theatre manager is told off for allowing a 15 year old into the cinema.

Mike then comes to a strip club with a cardboard cut out of a girl who could be Jane Asher. He visits a brothel but leaves without participating or paying for the drink and times given to him. Later he causes the tyre of the car of the couple to break and during the process of changing tyres she loses the diamond of her engagement ring in the surrounding snow which is collected and taken back to the bath house to melt it.

There are no wall sockets so a light is lowered to get hot water to melt the snow which is placed in the bottom of the empty pool, h finds the diamond and naked he lays in the pool with the diamond in his mouth. She eventually joins him naked get the Diamond and goes to leave. Angered he swings the lamp severely injuring her and a tin of red paint strategically placed mingles with her blood has she dies. He holds her meanwhile an attendant enters and starts to fill the pool, leaving the possibility that Mike will be electrocuted. One can see his appeal of the film in 1970 as the sixties came to an end and for the film to be shown uncut on USA TV is a sign of the times. But what one is tempted to ask what was it all about?

Pieuvres (Water Lilie)

The third film with sex as a major theme is the French made Pieurves (Water Lilies). The film covers the well worn subject of sexual curiosity and first experience involving two friends one of whom is a lead member in a school age swim formation team. She is waiting in the locker rook for her swimsuit to dry because she forgot to bring a paid of knickers with her when a young man enters, it is not clear why he should do so and she stands up half naked to face him. She is greatly affected by this and stays behind several times naked in the hope he will repeat his entry. When he does not she makes a move entering the male locker room to give him a note. The two become lovers although her interest is more out of curiosity than affection.
In part she reacts to the loss of friendship with her female friend who has fallen in love with the lead female member of another formation swim team. This young woman allows the girl to masturbate her with a hand under bed clothing and later shows the girl what adult kissing is like. There is no more to this first feature film than this. Part from a couple of nude shots of the older girl it is not a film for the voyeur. It is difficult to work out for whom the film is intended or will appreciate other than young girls curious about sexuality.


Sex appears to be at the core of the film Antichrist which I found depressing and incomprehensible yet according to Dr Mark Kermode who introduced the Film Four Extreme season of films most of which I missed this is a major film. The film shocked audiences because of an opening sequence where penetrative intercourse between married adults is shown in close up.

While this is happening their preschool child has opened his bedroom window and is amazed with the falling snow and which is covering the ground. He stretches out to catch the snow and falls to his death. His mother never recovers.

In the first part of the film Chapter one called Grief she moves to an establishment for therapy after failing to respond to psychiatric drugs. The sequence ends with a vision, dream, hallucination in which her husband encounters a dear without fear of him and then he finds a dead fawn in hanging from the womb.

Chapter two is Pain and fear, panic and grief overwhelm the woman. The husband is also the subject of frightening and unpleasant experiences encountering a disembowelling fox which utters “chaos reigns“.

Chapter three is Despair. She wants him to beat her. During sex in the woods roots turn to hands emerging from the soil. The child appears to have had deformed feet at the time of its death and husband finds photos of the child wearing boots on the wrong feet. He becomes even more concerned about the behaviour past and present of his wife, she crushes his testicles.

Chapter four the Three Beggars. Husband asks if his wife wants to kill him. She says not yet, but when the Three beggars arrive someone must die. There is a flashback to the prologue in which she sees what a child is doing and does not act to prevent his fall. She mutilates herself while masturbating. She attempts to kill her husband but he strangles her instead and burns her body on a funeral pyre.

There is an epilogue in which he is returning to cabin eating berries. From the top of the hill he sees he blurred faces if hundreds of women moving towards him. Sad and unpleasant.



The second collection of films begins with an interesting satirical work called Dogtooth a film made in Greece with English subtitles and which contains scenes suggesting a detached sexual relationship between an adult teenage brother and sister. These two and their younger sister have been raised entirely at home within the grounds of the family home because the parents want to protect them from the realities and corruption of the outside world.

The father leaves the household for work as a manager/owner of a factory complex and arranges all the food and other family needs for the outside world to be met. It is assumed that when professional building and maintenance work has been required the children were kept in isolation until the work is completed.

Mother is primarily responsible for the education of the children and keeps in contact with her husband through a secret telephone. She also has a secret radio. There is a television but the family only watch selected videos in English without subtitles so the parents interpret what is being shown to suit their philosophy.

The film reveals that the children have been taught that the overhead flying planes are the actual size of toys which the parents sometimes give to the children as presents for some achievement claiming that the toys have been real planes which sometimes fall from the sky.

The second belief is the fish they eat originate in their outside swimming pool. The fish are placed in the pool without the children knowing and are then fished for.

The third fostered belief is that cats are vicious creatures that will attack and devour human beings so they must be avoided and if necessary killed if they stray onto the grounds when the secured front gate is opened.

Father has arranged for a dog to be professionally trained and the children are prepared for its arrival being told that their mother will give birth shortly to another child and a dog. They mother will only give birth to the dog if the behaviour of the children improves.

The main focus of the film is the relationship between the son and a female employee of the father who works as a security guard at his factory. He brings her blindfolded home on a regular basis to have clinical sex for which she is paid. She is allowed to have a meals with the family and sometimes stays for a while with the sisters before being driven to her home. However she has been briefed not to provide any information which will destroy the illusions about the outside world held by the children.

Bored by the detached sexual act with the son, the visitor persuades one of the daughters to provide oral sex without the girl understanding what she is doing. She is given a headband with stones which are said to light up in the dark. She then gives her sister the headband in exchange for being licked on arm!

The good order of the home becomes dramatically disturbed when one of the daughters blackmails the visitor into giving her two videos in her possession which she views secretly in the middle of the night. These have a profound affect on her behaviour: Jaws and a Ricky film. When she uses the word zombie from one of the films her mother says these are yellow flowers so when a buttercup appears she tells her mother zombies have arrived.

However he turns violent on her brother which leads to the father discovering the involvement of the visitor in the provision of the videos. This leads to father murdering the young woman who lives on her own bashing her head in with a video player. It is then decided that the son will have sex with on of the daughter. He is blindfolded and told to fondle the daughters in bath to select one to be his partner for intercourse. He selects the older and during intercourse it is evident the girl is unhappy at being used in this way; She gets into the boot of her father’s car. In the morning the family are upset to find the daughter missing. He searches for her. The son and other daughter console each other and kiss. Father drives to work. The girl is left in the boot, apparently unable to get out. The film title refers to girl knocking out one of her dogsteeth The film ends. Make of all this what you will!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Donkey Punch

Donkey Punch is a cautionary tale about sex sea sand and drink and drugs on the Costa. Three girls jet off for girls together holiday in Majorca after one of them has had a bad affair and broken with the boyfriend. She appears a genuine one relationship at a time girl while the other two are self described hard core and readily take up the offer of a visit to the luxury yacht which the three attractive young men crew. On board there is a fourth. Two of the men eventually have sex with one of the girls, while another pair off leaving the “regular” and the nice lad to talk and keep each other company in a friendly way. One of the four is leader of the group in terms of deciding to talk the boat out to sea to avoid being reported by other captains they are stayed and used the boat during the crew change over period. He provides various levels of drugs and mentions an act which can occur during sex from behind when a hard strike to the back of the neck will kill someone. He goads the youngest of the group into giving the Donkey punch killing the older and more experienced of the three girls. Two of the four men kill each other while the original murders attempts to kill the second who has a tape of his killing act. She manages to kill him and then commits suicide. This leaves two; the girl manages to kill the remaining man while she dies from wounds received in various struggles. The four men and three girls all die. The wages of sin methinks in this contemporary parable. Just the film likely to persuade the weekend cinema crowd from jetting off to Majorca, drinking taking dugs and having sex with strangers? No.

Black Snake Moan

The best and most interesting film of the group was Black Snake Moan with tremendous performances by Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Christina Ricci plays Rae the young town bike which everyone individually and together appears to have ridden when given the opportunity usually when the girl is high on drug and drink and out of her skull the cause of which is only revealed towards the end of the film.

She is in the midst of a hot sex and emotionally satisfying relationship with emotionally unstable bouts of panic Ronnie, played by Timberlake until he is required to leave her for the Tennessee National Guard. She cannot cope with his absence or he from her, during which time she has an orgy of everything until approached by Ronnie’s best friend who she rejects and ridicules and he attacks her leaving her for dead in a countryside road

It is here she is found by blues singer and guitarist Jackson (as Lazarus) who is in a rage because his wife has run off with his brother and no amount of Christian advice from is friend the Preacher will calm. Jackson finds out about the girl without disclosing she is with him. He obtains medication from his medical friend at the Pharmacy for “a niece” and nurses her wounds and fever deciding he will chain her up until he is able to convince her to change her life style. While he is away in town getting suitable clothing, a young black friend no more than sixteen years to make it legal arrives and finding the girl she sets upon him and he has sex for the first time. Eventually the master subject captive syndrome relationship works and Jackson and the girl become friends.

Her young man is discharged as medically unfit from the National Guard and the best friend afraid what will be said learning that the girl survived the attack persuades Ronnie to believe that she has continued to whore and with him while she and Ronnie were together. Ronnie does not know where she is and Rae that he is back until she accompanies Jackson into town to hear him perform at a local road house.

Ronnie then arrives at Jackson’s home with a weapon which Jackson talks him out of using and gets him to realise that his best friend lied to protect himself from the attack on Rae. He involves the Preacher and the outcome is that two get married with Pharmacy woman also helping to organise the wedding with Jackson giving the girl away and his young black friend being the best man.

The language is coarse, the music is great and the story is a contemporary reality fairy tale. The girl was abused by her mother’s boyfriend who in turn had been made pregnant as a school child herself. She is able to accuse her mother of failing to protect when a child.

Bad Girls

I also enjoyed Bad Girls which a serious romp about a group of Wild West Prostitutes who are run out of town after a local Big Wig is shot after refusing to stop beating up one of the team. The madam has kept her saving in the bank of another town which she tries to collect with a view to joining a member of the team who has inherited a land claim from her dread husband. The girls are pursued by Pinkerton Detective Agency men hired by the widow of the Big Wig. Unfortunately the girls encounter a raid on the bank at the same time of the visit carried out by the local outlaw gang the head of whom once raped and carried off the madam who was also forced to have a relationship with his son and ambitious to lead the gang. He takes their stake money which she attempts to retrieve narrowly escaping with her life.

There are two nice men involved. One appears to be following the girls, which he reveals is what he is doing in the hope the Madam will led him to the outlaw gang with whom he has own account to settle. The other is a dirt rancher with small piece of land who when in town is told by the Sheriff to guard one of the girls held in cells while and the posse track down the others with the help of the Pinkerton men. He is instrumental in allowing her to escape and the girls together with the man following them hold out with the rancher for a time.

The girl with the land title is told it is no longer valid as was in the name of the husband and is lost with his untimely death. She hits off with the rancher and they decided to marry and settle down together. The follower is killed during the battle with the father, son and core outlaws. The three girls ride off with their money plus more gained from the outlaws into to the sunset fortunately going in the opposite direction to the Pinkertons and the Posse. The girls are played by Madeline Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson Andi MacDowell and Drew Barrymore. James Russo is the only name known to me.

Ask the Dust

Of all the films experienced during the past ten days the most recent, Ask the Dust, proved the most enjoyable. Those who know me or at least my writings will say of course a film about a writer struggling to write his first successful novel is bound to appeal. In fact when I watched part of the film sometime before I switched off because of a lack of sympathy towards the writer played by the excellent Colin Farrell who plays Arturo Bandini. The film proved that much enjoyable because this time I was interested enough to concentrate and see it through to completion.

The story is set during the American Depression in the 1930’s in Los Angeles where Arturo rents a Bunker Hill room in a house which has window access to the front space and roadway so he can avoid the landlady played by Eileen Atkins. He spends his last coin on a cup of coffee where he is attracted to the waitress played by the gorgeous Sabna Hayek who has a resemblance to Penelope Cruz. She is a passionate fiery Mexican who locks horns with both finding fault despite the evident attraction. When the ice is broken he then cannot cope with the knowledge that she has an unspecified relationship with the coffee shop counterman who leaves to go to live in the desert to recover from TB and write his own great novel.

Meanwhile Arturo he becomes solvent with the publication of a short piece about his failure to write the great novel and starving for his art. He then finds himself the interest of an older woman who has become besotted after overhearing him talk about his writing. She was rejected by her husband after becoming disfigured in her lower body which she reveals to him and they develop a relationship because of mutual interests in novels and the arts. She works as a housekeeper and eventually they become lovers only for her to be one of the hundred victims of the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake. He survived through going out for an early walk on the promenade.

He writes a short story about her life and death where the editor of the magazine suggests that he expands into a novel. The editor has previously given him good advice about the balance which the writer has to strike between the process of the writing which detaches from experiencing life and being unable to write convincingly from the lack of life experiencing.

It is at this point Camilla re-enters his life and they become lovers after taking her to live in an idyllic a beach house existence with the advance while he completes his work. They row over getting married and she walks out going to live with the counter manager in the desert. He contacts Arturo when the girl becomes seriously ill with what appears to be TB but despite getting her medical help she does not survive. He leaves a dedicated copy of the successfully published novel in the desert,

During his stay at the lodging house he is befriended by Donald Sutherland another house member who shares what becomes left of his incomes which mainly goes on drink.

The original novel written by John Fante and published in 1939 was part of a quartet of autobiographical works spread between the 1930is and 1985 although that in 1985 was the first written. The novel concentrates more on the poverty of the time and on his Catholic guilt while the film is more about racism his experience as an Italian American as a child and that of her as the then new immigrants from Mexico in the 1930’s. She is emotionally and psychologically unstable something barely hinted at in the film. She comes to his room having escaped from a mental hospital which is why he takes her to the breach house as an escape. She disappears when he returns to collect his belonging from Bunker Hill having decided to remain at the Beach House. He tracks her down to having lived with the counter man in the desert but he has thrown her out and Arturo cannot find her which is why he throws the novel dedicated to her into the desert dust. The book is regarded as an important work from this period and became a best seller for the second time in 1980’s when his final works was created followed by the publication of the first part. It is not a great film or likely to be memorable but a worthwhile experience.