Saturday, 9 June 2012

Dirty Deeds

The last of the recent films experienced is an Australian film Dirty Deeds with Sam Neil, Sam Worthington and John Goodman  and which can be described as a crime comedy caper. The film is set in the late 1960’s before electronic gambling machines were born and features John Goodman as an USA crime family representative who want to buy a six million stake in the Australian business owned by one of two rival groups and with Sam Neil as the bent Detective who turns a  blind eye as long as the dirty deeds are kept from the public domain. Bryan Brown is making huge profits and is considering a quieter life to enjoy his strong personality attractive young wife and  a younger model mistress. The wife is the real power, once the younger mistress and therefore know how to control her husband as well as keep him on top of the opposition using foul means more than fair.

He take up a young Australian Vietnam veteran who is initially impressed by the  lifestyle and opportunities that appear being offered but he becomes emotionally involved with the mistress  who is also seeking a different life. Goodman and the accompanying heavy has brought with him the prototype of a new model which he hopes will interest the Australians as providing the opportunity for even great profits.

Learning that the American likes to hunt, a wild boar shoot is arranged  in the outback and they take over an isolated   outstation inn for the weekend  after flying  to the local airstrip  in a  light plane. Overnight the owner and his new assistant fly secretly back to the city having got wind of a take over attempt arranged between  a close associate, his rival and the hardman  on the American trip. The young man is not prepared to execute the traitor and he returns  in disgrace. The wife decides it is time to put a stop to the mistress who was brought along allegedly as a the friend of the young man. They put an end to the hardman and the Goodman is set up to kill not a wild boar but a stock group owned  by an influential Senator which lands both visitor is a hot lock up prearranged with the local police.

Goodman having learned that he has become expendable decides  that it would be best to disappear into the outback along with the Vietnam veteran and the mistress. Earlier in the film Goodman had asked to dine out  seeking an Italian Pizza only to be confronted with something more akin to a quiche. The Vietnam veteran becomes interested in this new food and is also given lessons by Goodman and the couple decide  that   could  make living  with a restaurant. The film ends on a high note when they discover that the prototype new slot machine contains the six million buy in  cash so the trio are set up for the rest of their life.

The film owes much to Quentin Tarantino and the British Gut Ritchie. The film cost 3 million Aussi notes to produce and made 5 million at the box office in 2002.


Devil is a short supernatural (mild) horror film in which  five individuals are trapped in a lift shortly after a man has thrown or been thrown  through a plate glass window high in the building onto the top of a parked vehicle which moves under its own steam  a little way from the front of the building. The policeman asked to investigate this death is then called to building by its security staff when one of those trapped appears to have been murdered by one of the others.

By the end of the film the death toll mounts with one other of those in life confirmed dead, the in house engineer dies falling on the roof of the lift and one of the two from desk security personnel electrocuted making a total of five deaths, two near deaths and one other with a question mark.

The story is in effect told by the other security man whose mother  for some unexplained reason told him that sometimes the Devil actively seeks out individuals who have  greatly sinned while still  alive on earth because they have escaped natural justice. The story is that the last victim will die before his or her loved one and that in the end all will die. Understandably the supernatural ravings and praying of this  security is ridiculed by his colleagues and the police man despite being shown a freeze frame of the instant before the first death which suggests the  presence of some supernatural creature.

The man falling from the thirty fifth floor is  revealed as having been  involved in a pyramid selling scam. The detective who investigates the alleged suicide and called to the lift problem is a recovering alcoholic whose wife and child dies in a hit and run accident where a note was left on a car wash ticket. I am so sorry. The first to die is Vince who records when checked  reveals an involvement with fraud. The second is an older woman who is shown to have been a thief. The remaining victims begin to accuse each other and the attention focuses on Ben the two day only in job temporary security guard told to take the elevator  than climb stairs which had been his intention because he hated confined spaces having been locked in trunk by his brother when  a six year old child for six hours.

It is not explained why the lift repair man has to die, when loses the link on his winch down attempt to get to the lift from above with his concentration  affected by a sudden flight of bats! Or the other security guards has to die except that the devil will eliminate anyone who stands in the way when seeking its prey,

When the girl is badly wounded, a known pathological liar who is planning to leave her rich husband taking his money the attention centres on the fifth about whom they can find no trace except that they discover he entered the building with a carry holder which is discovered in the toilet  containing a miscellany of tools. He become the actual target of the devil  when his  girl friend arrives and is in the security room when after hearing the devil story he makes his confession of having  run from the scene of a hit run accident involving  woman and her child give years before. He had changed his name, hence the lack of record and left his work tools prior to an interview, after it emerges that the old woman  who was seen to have been hung to death in a previous incident when the power failed, is in fact the devil demanding the life and soul of this man. However  when he willingly offers his life and soul to her so that the young wife can be saved this breaks the spell/curse, calls it what one will. The fire crew in attendance are able to break into the wall of the lift having broken the building wall before this. They are able to save the young wife and the Detective takes the surviving confessed sinner into custody. There is no trace of the older woman. On his way to the police station he tells the    man that he forgives him. There is also the comment that if there is a devil this means that there is also a God,


I also consider that Avalon has merit as a semi autobiographical account of Russian Jewish immigrants to the USA and which also features Elijah Wood and Joan Plowright and music composed by Randy Newman. I have previously reviewed Liberty Heights although it is not in the individual film list which is odd. The description semi autobiographical is accurate because this is primarily the story of grandfather and father.

It is  the story of the American dream as one branch of the facility creates a successful Television company commenced when the first sets became available with limited programme and with the entire family looking at the test card waiting for a programme to commence. One of the two relatives behind the firm is a brilliant creative sales and market man who devises the early special offer, money back if you find anyone can beat our price and the first to use TV for advertising. The consequence is that they are able to open bigger and bigger premises. It all crashes down when the son of one with a penchant for setting fire to model planes using small trails of explosives burns down the new store which is not insured.

The film is about the closeness of immigrant families and the feuds that can develop. In this instance between two bothers, one always arrives later for the thanksgiving in part deliberate to make a point that they have to travel distance from the city centre where they all lived on arrival to the suburb where his brother and brother’s son now have separate houses in close proximity. On one such occasion the younger brother under pressure from the rest of the family to start the meal because of the delay with the food ready gives the order for the turkey tube cut a few minutes before the arrival of the brother and his wife. He storms out and the two stop associating and speaking.

The young brother of one relative Eva Krichinsky (Joan Plowright) who was believed to have died in a concentration camp survives and is brought to the USA with his wife and child. She is disheartened when after financially supporting him and his family which also causes further rifts between the  family branches he sizes the opportunity to become a farm manager at a distance and through the demands of his work he is even unable to attend an important family funeral.

There is also the exploration of the ritual arguments that often divide and bind couples at the same  time, and the suffocating influence mothers can have on their daughters in law and yet who in time begin to exhibit some of the same traits themselves.  The film does bring out what the USA has meant in terms of freedom and opportunity for millions of refugees world wide.

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is  a made for TV afternoon showing  two part film with an outstanding cast which made this conventional airport  holidaying bookshop romantic drama engaging viewing.

Sinead Cusack finds herself  in poverty and homeless when her husband dies having gambled everything in an attempt to save their home and provide for his widow. She rents a cottage  with her dog in a village close by to Oscar Blundell (Jan Niklas, an internationally recognised organist who lives with his wife (Geraldine Chaplin) and their daughter.  When his wife and daughter are killed in a car accident Oscar is devastated and refuses to play again  or to be comforted although he appreciates the friendship of Elfrida(Cusack) as they knew each other as students.  Before her marriage Elfrida had become a good standard stage actress and in poverty she visits London to find out if  her former agent can get her work.

She stays with a friend  who has commenced an affair with yet another male in the hope of finding financial security  who has two daughters one estranged and living on the continent (Austria) I think, and the other a rebellious teenager who tries to keep life as separate from her mother as she can.

The films begins in Vienna, or wherever, as the eldest daughter finds that the lover is married(and needs to stay married because of his wife’s wealth) and she jets  back home to London in a passenger seat next to Jason Durr as Sam Howard a global accountant deciding to shut down an oil platform in an attractive Scottish loch for financial reasons. The two encounter each other again in London briefly. What then happens  brings all these characters to the loch village over Christmas and New Year.

The wheeling dealing accountant is offered a stay at the part owned Scottish home of  Hugie McClellan(Peter Ustinov|) who is a relative and says the accommodation usually let out is available and will serve a good  base for his visit over the holiday period.  Unbeknown to him the other part owner is Oscar Blundell who also finds himself homeless when his son in law who never accepted the marriage announces that he is now the owner of the property under the Will settlement  and insists that  his father in leaves the home he has shared with his mother and their offspring.

Elfrida is successful in her efforts as her agent (Maureen Lipman) arranges an interview for a new  on tour show directed by Brian Blessed as  Max. Before starting the tour she agrees to spend the holiday with Oscar at the Scottish retreat. It is agreed that they will be accompanied by the  two daughters of the friend who is off to the USA with her latest hoping for marriage. The eldest wants to get  out of town quickly after she tracked by the boyfriend and her younger sister agrees to go with her,

Oscar notifies the local contact of their arrival who is the leading Mrs Busybody who they have to keep at arms length. They are also approached by the local vicar who has been alerted by the vicar from their village and he tries to persuade Oscar to play the church organ as well offering his support. The one other aspect of the situation which upsets Oscar is the involvement of the teenage sister who reminds of his daughter and he goes for her for being a teenager using  her lap top, communicating with friends and listening to contemporary music. Out walking the dog which becomes entangled  in barb wire the creature is rescued by the son of the vicar who works  on the local gold course and a friendship between the young  people is established,

The arrival of the accountant in the middle of the night also upsets the situation especially when he finds one of the parties the girl encountered on the plane. The local aristo, the Countess Lucinda Rhives( Jean Simmons) is alerted to impending closure of the only work enterprise in the locality after her best workers  left the  distillery of single malt whisky  which use to provide the employment.  She arrives at the estate house in high dungeon mistaking Blundell for the accountant and Elfrida for his woman. Understandably the accountant finds a hostile reception when he visits the local Inn and his purpose becomes known.

However he is not the as hard nosed as his actions have so indicated and his myopic attention appears to have been a major cause in the break up of his marriage. He strikes up a good relationship with Oscar and begins to appreciate the impact of his decision on the community. A solution emerges when Jean Simmons shows him the distillery and asks him to assess its prospects by looking at the books as she had had no aptitude for running the business and the required marketing since the death of her husband and the impact of everyone going off to work for the oil company. He also begins to establish a relationship with the eldest daughter which comes to a head when the boyfriend tracks her down alerted by the well intentioned young sister.

The situation is resolved after a local pre Christmas party. The outcome is predictable. Sam completes the closure oil drilling but accepts the offer to become manager of the distillery which he assess has a future with the right branding and marketing as the product is of high quality. Oscar through a developing relationship with Elfrida comes to terms with the loss of his daughter and agrees to play the church organ at the Christmas service. Although she will need time the relationship between the eldest daughter and Sam  will progress and her sister has also established a good relationship with the son of the vicar.

As I mentioned at the outset the film was shown in two parts on successive afternoons and because of other priorities I missed the second part and was horrified to find that although the first part was available on the Channel Five player, the second was not. I checked and double checked over the next three days and joined in recording the protest of others on the comments Internet site for the programme and followed this up with an email. I then received an apology explaining that the  second part had been delayed for technical reasons and was now available  for viewing.

While as I have said this is a conventional romantic drama with happy endings, the script quality acting and beautiful setting suggests that the film would be worth a prime time showing on terrestrial TV.

Deep Impact

I did enjoy a re run of Deep Impact,  one of two turn of the millennium Armageddon films. In this instance a boy, Elijah Wood (the hero Hobbit) astronomer detects an unusual object and he alerts the local  observatory which works out the discovery of a comet on its way to earth with an impact which will demolish the planet.

It is an investigative journalist who uncovers that the USA  has a master plan to send  astronauts  to board the Comet and blow it apart with nuclear devices 100 metres below its surface. This mission is led by Robert Duvall as an experienced space pilot together with a team of young and fit specially prepared crew who doubt his value and whose live  and families we learning something about before they embark on the mission.

In the meantime in case the mission is not 100% successful the USA government ( other nations have their own similar projects) has plan B which is to try and withstand any impact in an huge underground Ark like shelter for 800000 ordinary citizens selected  in a  national lottery together with 200000 preselected scientists engineers, teachers, artists, soldiers, politicians and administrators, supplies, cultural objects, and  other earth creatures.

Unfortunately the mission fails in its main purpose dividing the Comet into two pieces, the first will hit the earth creating a  flooding tsunami but not destroy the whole planet while the second and larger chunk will finish the remainder. Fortunately some for the mission led by Duval survive and elect to convert the craft with  remaining devices  into a nuclear torpedo which achieves the original purpose. One of them jokes as they hurtle to their death that they will have cities and universities renamed after them.

The journalist who uncovers what is happening and agrees to keep quiet to preserve good order is one of those chosen to survive. Her  mother is played by Venessa Redgrave and her estranged father by Maximillan Schell and these two characters add great weight to the film with their views on life and human relationships. Their daughter elects to stay with her father on the sea shore after the death of the mother in a  moving sequence. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman as the President of the United States.

Another who chooses to stay is Elijah Wood who marries  his would be girl friend so she and her family will be added to the chosen list. When the time comes for departure to the underground centre the girl decides to stay with her parents when  through error they are not on the list. Elijah goes with his parents to the underground Ark only to change his mind at the last minute and returns to the city to find the girl. He arrives to find that she, her family and everyone else is attempting to get to high ground  and getting a motorcycle he amazingly manages to find her stuck in the greatest of all traffic jams. They take with them the baby sister. The rush up the nearest mountain provides the opportunity to view aspects of what happened to the Eastern seaboard. The President then addresses the nation in the ruins of New York after the worst is over and the recovery begins.

Transformers Dark of the Moon 3D

Transformers Dark of the Moon 3D justifies the claim  of being a block only the tenth  film to gross over $1 billion and the fifth highest at over £1.1 billion( cost $195 m). It is a long film 154 mins and is packed full of amazing computer aided animations. The essence of this franchise series are giant robotic mechanicals who are intelligent extra terrestrial super life forms with the ability to transform themselves into everyday objects such as motorized vehicles.

In 1961 an extra terrestrial  space craft crash lands on the dark side of the earth moon and 1961 Apollo 11 landing and first man on the moon expeditions is alleged to have been a cover for investigating what had happened. The space craft  carried a device designed to end the war between two sets of robotic looking creatures the Autobots( the Goodies) and the Decepticons (The Baddies),

In the present day time the leader of the auto bots and a small groups of associates assist the USA military in conflict management on earth and make a trip to the dark side of the moon where they discover the original leader of the Autobots in a comatosed condition together with devices he had created  as a basis for teleporting matter including  their homeworld.

The present leader revives the former leader only to then discover that he had made a pact with the Decepticons to use Earth as a Labour force to rebuild their former world once it is brought into orbit. The Decepticons had investigated the Arkship on the moon long before and stockpiled the devices for the creating the grand teleport but being unable to revive the former leader they had created the situation to lure Earth to investigate the Ark, revive the former leader and use his treachery to disable the ability of the Earth to counter the teleport system before it can be brought into operation.

As is the common denominator in such epics, the government of the USA supported by the rest of the world are unable to stop the plot unfolding except for  one human and his girlfriend and his co worker who is assassinated after revealing aspects of the plot. The treacherous former leaders secretly transfer hundred of the enemy to earth  to take over power and force the exile of the Goodies and who appeared to have been destroyed where the transporting  space ship is blown up.

The saviour turns out to be more the girl than her boyfriend although they only succeed in preventing the enslavement of the people because of the Goodies did not board ship and have been lying low until needed. This all comes at a great cost with the demolition of most of central Chicago and the lost of the homeworld of the Transformers who declare that he earth is not their home and therefore something they will protect.  Unless you enjoy this kind  of action the film is boring and does not engage and I cease caring oar playing close attention long before the ending.


I missed the opening minutes of Paul a quirky comedy science fiction caper which I found funny and original. Two English science fiction comic book enthusiasts travel to the USA and hire a motor home to attend annual San Diego Comic Convention and then visit sites where extra terrestrials  have been  noted by those interested,

During their travels they stop to help a crashed vehicle and find alien creature (Paul) who looks like the creature seen in various sci fi films and comic books. He explains that he crash landed forty years ago and was rescued by young girl before being taken into custody by the authorities and kept captive finding out what they could about his abilities and background. With the help of an unidentified government agent he escapes with a view to contacting the homeworld and returning because of the decision to attempt to surgically remove his brian and harvest his stem cells.

The two sci fi geeks reluctantly agree to take him to the rendezvous point pursued by a trio of government agents, including two of who appear to be incompetent and have not been told the nature of fugitive.   The two English men and the alien stop over at a trailer park overnight and encounter a bible bashing one eyes young woman and her protective father who run the site. Frustrated by the girl’s fundamentalist view of creation and the universe the alien discloses  himself  to her with the result that she is kidnapped but after  recovering from the shock. The alien cures her eye having the ability to bring back to life non human creatures including a  bird run over by the vehicle. He then eats the creature commenting that he is not into eating dead things. The girl becomes a willing member of the fugitive group who are now also pursued by her father,

After various adventures and near miss captures the alien insists they make a call on the home of the young girl now a woman in her forties who rescued him when he crash landed. Her home is destroyed in the attempt by the agents to surround the property and capture. However only after this it emerges that the main chasing agent is in fact the friend who helped the alien creature to escape hence enlisting the help of the two incompetents.

However just as the creature is about to board the arriving space craft, one of the English companions is shot dead by the father aiming to stop the alien leaving.  Paul then uses his healing abilities to save the life of the friend risking his own in doing so. This enables a blossoming relationship between the Englishman and the girl to progress. The father is reconciled after viewing the miracle and the creature  invites  his 40 years ago rescuer to join him in his homeworld to make up for all the abuse she received because of sticking to her story about what happened and her home now having been destroyed. The two English travellers become internationally famous for their comic book creation of their adventure.  Sigourney Weaver ( Alien films) plays the Bad Guy the USA official behind the stem cell project,

The film has several humorous moments but is not for children as part of her casting off the fundamentalist upbringing the trailer park girl decides to embark on using as many swear words as she can think off usually out of context. There many visual and verbal references to various films and TV series especially Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET together with the X Files.