Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Violent Men

Yesterday I watched Glenn Ford in a Western with Barbara Stanwyck, well known for roles as wicked ladies. In the film The Violent Men she is married to Edward G Robinson as the big valley Cattle rancher who gained power by force twenty years previously, losing the full use of both legs as a consequence. As a former Union officer Ford has purchased land and built a ranch in the valley with other settlers much to the anger of Wilkisons but agrees to sell when his fiancée wishes to move away from the conflict. However Stanwyck has called in her husband’s brother with whom she had had an affair but chose the other brother because he owned the property. The brother, Cole, has a Spanish/ Mexican woman in the local town where the Sheriff and other notables accept the authority of the Wikisons. The situation changes when one of Cole’s hired men kills one of Ford’s ranch hands. He refuses to leave or sell the ranch and this loses him his fiancée. He clever persuades the rest of the ranch hands to return home while he deals with the man who killed their colleague in a fair gun fight.

Realising that Cole will use his force to attack him at night he uses his army knowledge and tactical skills to take his men away and mounts a trap in a canyon which he believes the killers will use on their way back as the quickest route after setting fire to his ranch. This enables him to kill and injure a substantial number of the hired men with just cause because they have attacked and burned down his home.

When he launches a successful attack on Wilkison’s house Stanwyck refuses to assist her husband down stairs and leaves him to die, going to Cole who abandons his woman for her on the promise of having control of the Valley after he has cleared out all the other settlers persuading the local lawman that they were all responsible for the attack on the Wilkison property and the death of her husband.

In fact he did not die and is rescued by his daughter from a first marriage. They go into hiding and she persuades Ford to stop the forthcoming battle between the ranchers and the men now hired by the law man who descend on Wilkison’s ranch to further protect and use as a base to clear the valley. Father and daughter then go with Ford and demand the break up of the posse and that they leave the property. This leaves Ford to fight Cole who he kills. Stanwyck attempts to escape but his killed by Cole‘s. Woman.

Wilkison attempts to establish peace by sending his daughter to ask Ford to become estate manager and after first saying he has his own spread to run, he changes his mind attracted to the daughter which is mutual and wryly commenting that her father said he would get hold of Ford’s land one way or the other.



Friday, 21 September 2012

The Recruit

 I still am unsure about The Recruit which I saw again on yesterday or the day before, the film with Al Pacino as a CIA trainer with 25 years of experience in the field, at the Training centre The Farm and at Langley HQ. He recruits the excellent Colin Farrell who I will always associate with In Bruges. We are then taken through the training programme as we have in the past with military intakes, squaddies and Officers. Those paying close attention will note that he appears set up with another Recruit, the embryonic Marta Hari - Bridget Moynahan. On one venture he is part of a group asked to get a girl to go to bed with them at a bar and he abandons his quest to help Bridget who says she has been cut from the training and is drunk as a consequence. It is revealed that her assignment is to stop him completing his task.

He then turns the tables when appointed the questioner as she undertakes a lie detector and retina test. She is pained when watching him undergo a physical and psychological interrogation which he believes is a test after he and the young woman are kidnapped an he is kept in isolation in a container like prison. He is then cut from the course for ostensibly breaking down in front of the class who are looking on through a one way system.

It is only then that the plot emerges in that he is appointed by Pacino to a low level post within Langley to spy on the young woman is said to be a sleeper agent, shown that her official background file is false. Pacino says that he lasted longer than anyone over the previous 15 years in the test and that everyone breaks so the general lesson is not to get caught.

He says the girl is taking out an official computer programme. He is to befriend and become her lover as means of fining out who she is working for.

He kills one of their associates in the underground areas of the metro system in a chase when he finds that she has passed part of the programme to him. When he confronts her she says that she was undertaking the work for Pacino to test the inability of employees to take confidential material out. She was passing to her contact who was working detached from Langley. He lets her go and contacts Pacino realising that he has been set up in some way. The idea of such tests which include braches of the law is nothing new. As far back as World War II special recruits were given tasks such as being dropped off at a point in the mainland without money or identification and told to return to base or get into and out of a secure building. After all if they were to do this in enemy territory then practice at home was essential and I suspect remains so.

We learn that Pacino has been using the young woman to take out the programme which he is selling for $3 million as an immediate pension fund although I would be surprised if over actual retirement the amount of the pension would the same or greater. He is therefore taking an unwarranted risk. The way he has set up both recruits to take the fall is clever just as the finale in which he incriminates himself falling to a bluff by Farrell who takes him up on one of his assertions that is everything is never what it first seems. Pacino dies in a hail of bullets and Farrell is taken off to be debriefed and no doubt have an ongoing relationship with the girl. Stretched the grey cells a little but a good way to wind don after a during day emotionally writing


Monday, 17 September 2012

The Killer Elite

One more film to remember the awful amoral Killer Elite. A group of professional assassins with the implication of former military/ security service experience/connections are involved in a killing in Mexico. One of the group (Jason Statham) is shocked to find a child in the car with his father who has just been assassinated. Because of the situation Jason is wounded and after the group get away, the man decides to return to Australia, give up the work and live with his girl friend who at that point appears to know nothing about his work.

When he learns that his former partner played by Robert De Niro, has been captured, he agrees to commit several murders in order to free his former leader as well as obtain $6 million. The task is to kill the former members of an Official SAS operation in Oman which led to the killing of three sons of the wealthy Sheik who orders the revenge. His remaining son is not interested in his father mission or in the oil contract which is being negotiated with the British,

In the UK aware that members of the former mission are being attacked and killed a secret group of former SAS agents employ Clive Owen to protect the remaining members of the Oman group and find out and stop those behind what is happening. It is only late on that Clive realises he is being used and that he and the Oman group are expendable with the priority the oil contract.

The Father figure, family man De Niro protects the girl friend of the man who rescued him as the situation becomes bloodier. At the end the three men and the girl friend survive takes shares in the money and go their separate ways. The Sheik is killed and the son decides not to bother the oil contract believing that the contract was carried out. And the moral is? You tell me?

One Day

One Day
is not an enjoyable film as there is too much sadness and missed opportunities although it is a good film. On my most recent visit to the Olympic Park while in a queue for the Orbit and again when visiting the lower platform area those waiting were entertained a group of singing and playing Mexicans who did not take their music seriously and enjoyed being photographed and having fun. On return home I have seen them several times in the Doritos advert and then again during the film one day when they perform at a Mexican restaurant where the female lead character is waiting at tables.

One Day
is based on a novel of the same name written by David Nicholls and involves the lives of two young people completing their university Education in Edinburgh on July 15th 1988 and follows how their lives interact on the same day over the subsequent twenty years. The Day is St Swithins with the myth that the weather on the day will last for 40 days and which some also take as good and bad events.

In the film two people spend a night together after a graduation party but without sex although according to the end of the film they go for a countryside walk the following morning and return intending to have sex but run into his parents who have arrived earlier than expected. Thus sets the tone of much else in the film in terms of what might have been and nearly were but always something intervenes. They remain close friends having an intimacy of openness which would threaten other relationships and does; she lives with an unsuccessful stand up comic and works in the restaurant because her poetry is not a success. In the books she writes and performs in plays.

In both film and book the young man Dexter had numerous girl friends, drinks a lot and presents a low level TV show much the distaste of his parents. His mother dies of cancer declaring that she does not like the person he has become. The two have a holiday together which in the films includes an unintentional visit to a Nudist beach where she refuses to participate but in a late night skinny dip which she does. She becomes a teacher. They drift apart having less in common although she retains loving feelings for him

He loses his job and drifts. In the book she has an affair with her headmaster which if it was in the film I missed. He establishes a relationship with a new woman and they have a child together and get married, She published a comic novel which is a great success and goes to Paris where they meet Up. She begins relationship there with a Frenchman jazz pianist just when the man wants to have a relationship with her. His marriage breaks down with his wife‘s infidelity with his employer and former school/university friend. In the book the woman becomes a children‘s author and he manages a deli restaurant which is also successful. They get together and then she is killed while riding her bike. He goes to where they walked on the morning after the met with his daughter from his previous marriage ans rhe film ends with his flasback about what happene don that day

Although one of the themes is the difference between being alone and being lonely, there is more emphasis on being lonely, within and outside of intimate relationships. The other is way events seemingly at random, the juxtapositions of circumstances, can have dramatic effects on lives and in this instance they have more than their fair share, or do they. I did not enjoy the film apart from seeing the Mexican hombres again!

Rise of the Planet of Apes

The Rise of the Planet of Apes
measured well against the original and I cannot now remember why I did not go and experience in the large screen theatre.

The star of the film is the Ape Caesar brilliantly played by Andy Serkis. Brian Cox plays a keeper of rogue Apes and Baboons ordered into state captivity although that such a number should be held in this way is surprising as are the number of Apes who eventually make their way and home to the Red Wood trees at the end of the film. Apart from these challenges to credulity the rest of the film is excellent and features an obsessed research scientist using the creature to test a new medication which could repair the damaged brain cells as in his father who in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s.

On the day of the great demonstration to shareholders and financial backers the show Ape, showing human levels of intelligence, runs amok. The trial is ended and the scientist ordered to put down the chimps. The scientist then discovers the reason for the aggressive outburst was that she had given birth and was protecting the new born. Unable to execute the baby he is taken home and it is quickly realised that the creature possesses great human powers of understanding and communication. The medication is used on the father who shows remarkable recovery for a time however there is a serious relapse and during this the Ape goes to the defence of the father and is ordered to the sanctuary by a court.

Meanwhile the scientist having disclosed that his discovery could lead to the improve of abilities in the able bodied as well as repairing the damaged is given great resources but following the deterioration in his father he want to suspend clinical trials pending further investigation of side effects and consequences. This is refused and he walks away from the research.

In the sanctuary Caesar is bullied as are other creatures by the son of the owner. He is progressing in in his development and yearns to live free in the Red Wood having been taken there by the scientist and his partner. He becomes the secret leader of those incarcerated and breaking out raids his former home for the medication held there and then into the research centre where he also releases the other apes there as well as from the City Zoo. The full forces of the authorities are assembled against the Apes leaving the City across the Bridge and into the Wood.

It becomes evident that Caesar has learned to imitate the human voice. The scientist having previously brined the Cox to release the Ape was shocked to find that Caesar chose to stay to free his friends and deal with those who had bullied and tortured. The scientist attempts to stop the fighting that breaks out but eventually realises they had reached a point of no return and wishes Caesar well in his new free life.

Meanwhile his former research assistant had been contaminated by the medication in the form of a gas and dies. It appears that virus has been unleashed to cause havoc among the human population although this aspect is not developed other than to suggest a global pandemic! The film has been widely acclaimed winning several awards as well as nominations including an Oscar nomination for Visual effects. The performance of Serkis was also highlighted with several nominations as Best Support Actor including by associations who have not recognised performance capture as real acting. I look forward to the Dawn of the Planet of Apes in May 2014.

The Dark Knight Rises

I was very impressed by the film The Dark Knight Rides which I saw in theatre. This is the final part of the trio of new films about the Batman comic hero. This in my view is the best of all the Superhero films with some predictable outcomes but also some surprises. The film combines great action sequences with a serious and depth exploration of human issues

Christian Bale plays the superhero and as Bruce Wayne the wealthy businessman and socialite supported by his factotum played by Michael Caine, The film links back to Wayne’s departure from Gotham City to find himself which led to the Tibet style inner truth and physical development and the League of Shadows. Since the death of the woman who sacrificed herself for him he has become a recluse delegating his business affairs and leaving the city under the control of the Mayor and the official forces of Law and Order. Batman has been disgraced with a warrant for his arrest for death of the cities new Hero who was in reality the baddie.

At work and building an underground force of miscreants is Tom Hardy intent on destroying Gotham City and the excommunicated leader of the League of Shadows previously defeated by Batman. With the help of a city official he has gained building contracts where the cement used for structure has been laced with an explosive mixture which he triggers to bring the city under his control, using a Batman created Energy source as a nuclear type bomb which he threatens to explode if Batman does not surrender to him. He plans the city destruction anyway but uses the threat to prevent people leaving the city or attempting to enter it. He also releases criminals from the jails to help comtrolthe city and imposes martial law and instant trials and executions.

Two women play crucial roles in the film. The first is Anne Hathaway a clever Cat Burglar who takes a job at the home Batman’s Castle to steal his finger prints on contract to frame and discredit. She has been promised that her criminal record will be erased so she can start a new life. Although the two are drawn to each other it she that eventually betrays Batman into the hands of his enemy, leaving the city defenceless. Batman is removed to a prison in at the base of a great well in a far oriental land which is the only means of exist. The prisoners are provided with food and water via baskets and ropes removed to the top.

Only one person is known to have escaped a young person born the prison and who is believed to be Tom Hardy as the villain. However as the film ends this is shown not to be so but Wayne’s partner in the environmental Energy Project played by Marion Cotillard. It emerges that she was the child prisoner in the prison. Tom Conti plays another prisoner who advises Wayne that the only way out was by the child not using safety ropes. Wayne has to recover from several failed attempts and regain his strength and fear. He has lost his fear in effect wanting to die because of the loss and building up of pressures from all that has happened to him.

At one point he dismisses Caine who in turn threatens to leave because he fears Wayne has a death wish. After escaping and returning although we are not shown how Wayne achieves the return, he attempts to gain the help of Hathaway who at first refuses but then agrees. He is also supported by Morgan Freeman who has run Wayne Enterprises for him and helped create the secret weapons and Energy machine. This works but has been stopped by Wayne because he feared its misuse. He is also helped by Gary Oldman as the Police Commissioner but who has been taken out of action and in hospital and by a young police man John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who presses Wane to become the Batman Hero again.

In the final long action sequence the struggle is to defuse the bomb with the trigger held by Cotillard and just when it looks as if the combined efforts are successful the countdown continues and Wayne is forced to fly the bomb onto the Ocean where it explodes and where it is assumed he has given up his life as the auto pilot system has not worked.

In an earlier sequence Caine has said that during the years when Wayne was previously away he had pent his time at European city dining at the same street table in the same restaurant, hoping that he would see Wayne eating there one day happy with a wife and family enjoying life and freed from his role and the demons which haunted. They will not speak but just acknowledge and indeed this is what happens at the end of the film after it is revealed that the auto pilot mechanism had been repaired. The woman is Anne Hathaway. There is also the suggestion of a new series, perhaps with the young policeman whose real name is Robin and who once met and was influenced by Batman as a child. It he is who appears to have inherited the secret Batman technology as the film closes.

The film grossed just under a billion dollars two to three times its expenditure. It is suggested part of the falling off from the expected billion plus turnover was because of the city of Aurora Colorado horror when 12 mainly young people were gunned down and another 58 were wounded shootings at a midnight film premier. The film has led to another debate about gun culture in the USA and also the role of film violence in triggering the minds and emotions of individuals. I went to see the film more because of this and also from having seen the previous film in the trilogy as well as the original film series. I was engaged, moved surprised and impressed by this film.

South Beach

I was interested in the film Kings of South Beach because it featured the action Donnie Wahlberg who plays the elder brother detective in the NYPD police series Blue Bloods, New York’s Finest. The film is loosely based on a true story of a man who moved to South Beach Florida from New York where he was part of the Mafia and the Bonanno and Colombo crime families. At South Beach he attempted to create a legitimate club to entertain celebrities including Madonna while continuing an involvement in a number of crime rackets. Wahlberg plays an undercover officer who becomes a best friend. He persuades Chris Paciello to testify against the families after being charged with murder and other crimes. Wahlberg reprise many aspects of his Blue Bloods character although the in fairness the film was released in 2007 before the series.

Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2 reprise

 I also watched again Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Back at the end of 2011 (posting 2010) I did an over view of the series of eight films which is essential to understand and appreciate the final film.

The second film especially opens where the Part one concluded as the Heroic Trio have secreted themselves Harry determines that the must break into the vault of Bellatrix where the second foundation Horcrux is thought to be held. It is the destruction of these objects which will lead to the end of the great baddie Voldermort who has taken power over the World of Magic and the Education academy of Hogwarts.

Hermione uses a shape shifting potion to appear as Bellatrix and they taken along the Goblin Griphook. The vault is in the bowels of earth involving a dangerous helter-skelter ride and although they enter the vault they encounter a problem as everything they touch multiplies exponentially. Griphook tries to turn the tables when exchanging the Horcrux for the sword but the trio manage to escape on the back of a dragon similar to a prehistoric flying creature.

They return to Hogwarts and oust Severus Snape the important link with Harry‘s parents, especially his mother, and the double game he has played all along. Ron and Hermione go to the Chamber of Secrets and destroy what had been hoped was the remaining Horcrux. However they have worked out there is another Horcrux after Harry has confronted the spirit Rowena Ravenclaw and this is a diadem in the Room of Requirement. Malfoy their constant adversary and former fellow pupil and two others attempt to foil Harry who is rescued by Ron and Hermione but then find themselves engulfed in the flames of a fiend. They only escape using broomsticks, with Harry deciding to rescue Malfoy. Ron makes one of the few jokes that he will kill Harry if they die rescuing their adversary.
The remaining Horcrux is destroyed leaving just the snake familiar.

The Death Eaters and Voldermort besiege Hogwarts, while Harry, Ron, Hermione, their allies, and various
magical creatures defend the school. Several major characters are killed in the first wave of the battle, including Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Fred Weasley. Voldermort has pleaded with the school to give up Harry or be killed.

Voldermort then kills Severus Snape because he believes doing so will make him the Elder Wand's true master. Harry finds him dying and uses a utensil to capture the tears of Severus who urges Harry to use them to discover the truth about the overall story and its outcome by consulting one of the devices which has enabled Harry to see back as well as to the future.

There are two revelations which astound Harry and turn everything on its head. The first is while Harry’s father was not the hero that been assumed it was Severus who had adored Harry’s mother and attempted to save and then Harry. He had been a double agent throughout pretending to be on the side of the Dark Lord as a means of guarding Harry and had done this with the full knowledge of head of school Professor Dumbledore.

It was Dumbledore with only a year to live who had asked Snape to kill him as a means of saving the soul of Draco Malfoy who throughout had acted under the influence of his parents who were servants of Voldermort.

However the main and most challenging revelation is that when Voldermort had attacked the one year old Harry he had made the boy into a Horcrux which means that Harry had first kill the snake and then let Voldermort kill him so the dark Lord would be destroyed by his own hands. This presents Harry with his greatest test.

After using the Resurrection Stone to bring back his deceased loved ones for a short while and to ask them about the moment of death and to be with him as he surrenders himself to death at Voldermort hand. Voldermort casts the
Killing Curse at him, sending Harry to a limbo-like state between life and death. There, Dumbledore explains that when Voldermort used Harry's blood to regain his full strength, it protected Harry from Voldermort harming him; the Horcrux inside Harry has been destroyed, and Harry can return to his body despite being hit by the Killing Curse. Dumbledore also explains that Harry became the true master of the Deathly Hallows by facing Death, not by seeking to avoid or conquer it.

Harry returns to his body, feigning death, and Voldermort marches victorious into the castle with his body. However, he shows that he is still alive while
Neville Longbottom kills Nagini, the last Horcrux, with the Sword of Gryffindor. The battle resumes, and Bellatrix Lestrange is killed by Molly Weasley.

Harry and Voldermort engage in a final climactic duel. Harry reveals that because he willingly sacrificed himself to death by Voldermort hand, his act of love would protect the Wizarding community from Voldermort in the same way the sacrifice Harry's mother made protected Harry. Harry also reveals that Snape was never loyal to Voldermort and did not murder Dumbledore Voldermort, who murdered Snape, was never the master of the Elder Wand. Draco was the master of the Elder Wand after disarming Dumbledore, but Harry disarmed Draco at Malfoy Manor, making Harry the true master of the Elder Wand.

The wand refused to kill the one to whom it had allegiance, further protecting Harry. During the duel, Harry refuses to use the killing curse and even encourages Voldermort to feel remorse, one known way to restore Voldermort shattered soul. Voldermort dies when his own killing curse backfires; he and his Death Eaters are finally defeated. The
wizarding world is able to live in peace once more. Harry breaks the wand and throws it into the deep.

There is a splendid epilogue some nineteen years later and once again the train departs from platform nine and three quarters for Hogwarts. But this time Harry is there as a parent to see a son off to school for the first time. There he meets Ron and Hermione who are married and are also there to see one of their children off to the school. For a moment the trio stand together as the train moves out. Also present at the departure is Draco Malfoy and his family seeing off their son Scorpius

Harry and
Ginny Weasley have named their three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna Harry's godson, Teddy Lupin, is found kissing Bill and Fleur Weasley's daughter Victoire in a train carriage. Harry tells his son Albus, who is worried he will be sorted into Slytherin, that one of his namesakes, Severus Snape, was a Slytherin and the bravest man he had ever met. He adds that the Sorting Hat takes one's choice into account, like it did for Harry.

I am told the book ends with these final words: "The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well."

But is it really the end? I enjoyed seeing the author at the Olympic Games opening ceremony as well as her appearance at the Leveson Inquiry. I have come to appreciate the series more with several viewings, not have read the books and found the individual films difficult to understand without an appreciation of the overview.


Gorky Park Reprise

 I enjoyed watching Gorky Park, the whole film since watching in theatre and watching parts on TV. The film has a great cast with William Hurt, Lee Marvin as one of the villains with Ian Bannen , Richard Griffiths and Michael Elphick, Ian Mc Diarmid and Alexei Sayle. A Russian policeman becomes concerned when the KGB refuse to investigate the case of three young people murdered near a skating rink whose facial features have been removed. He also clashes with an American detective who is trying to find out what happened to his brother, eventually identified as one of the three murdered people through facial reconstruction. He discovers that the three were involved in creating a chest for Sable fur exporter (Marvin) at a time when Sables were only found in parts of Russia. The chest is to secretly move six animals worth millions to the West where he has a remote located farm in Sweden.

The police officer is able to discover the extent of official corruption involved with the help or a young Russian woman, Irina, played by Joanna Pacula who was nominated for a Gold Globe. She was/becomes the girl friend of the Marvin the exporter because of a promise to get her to the West and the policeman after exposing the corrupt officials back home is allowed to go to Sweden to do a deal to have the Sables killed. He agrees to return home after this as part of a deal to allow Irina who is with Marvin to stay in the West, He and Irina are nearly killed by Marvin as more corruption is exposed. Marvin is defeated and the policeman releases to the wild the six other Sable found to be held at the farm. He returns home to duty hoping that one day it will be possible for Irina to return home or he to feel able to join her in the west. The film is always enjoyable and engaging to experience.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Nim's Island ( last part)

On return from trip I needed to relax on the settee and the Athletics from Gateshead Newcastle over I watched the final part of Nim’s Island. Nim is the daughter of an environmental scientist who has made their home on an isolated Pacific Island not disclosed to the wider World. When father does not get back from a short trip to get supplies, his daughter fearing the worst contacts the author of an adventurer stories that is in fact female and played by the Jodi Foster. On impulse she set out to visit the girl having been given only Latitude and Longitude readings. She is taken by boat to an island and their by a helicopter and the helicopter is forced by atrocious weather to put down on a cruise ship.

The ship has been to the dessert island for a kind of Family 20’s holiday day where they leave early because of the efforts of Nim to discourage strangers visiting. However a young lad with obnoxious doubting parents ignore shis assertion about a girl being on the island but he contacts Jodi and on the strength of his word she takes to a Life Boat and heads for the Island in a fierce storm. Just as she capsizes Nim thinking it is the return of her father goes out with her pet Seal and rescues her, then expressing disappointment when she finds the author is not the adventuring hero she anticipated. The two become friends after the girl admits the likelihood that her father has died. However at this point he is spotted making his way in the remains of his boat and the two are reunited. He then discovers the arrival of Foster and the girl in a voice over indicates her pleasure in that the she looks as if she going to have a mother again as well as a father