Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Double 2011

Less credible is The Double, a vehicle for Richard Gere with Martin Sheen. A United States Senator is murdered under the eye of the FBI and the director of the CIA (Martin Sheen) calling in retired Richard Gere because the murdered man appears to have killed by a Russian who Gere hunted and killed. Sheen introduces Gere to a young FBI agent who has made himself into an expert on the former soviet spy and who insists then death is down to the Soviet agent.

The agents visit one of those who supported the alleged dead Soviet agent who is in prison, this man escapes and is murdered by Paul who is revealed as the Soviet agent,,,,,,,,,. The double agent warns the young FBI officer against pursing the matter saying his family will be at risk,

To complicate matters an ace Russian hitman has entered the USA and the death of one this man’s team in the same manner as the alleged dead agent convinces the FBI young man that he is right about the agent is living and is the retired CIA man.

The a great twist it is revealed that the young FBI man is also a placed Russian agent who plans to go back to Russia with his American born wife and their child. Gere and the Russian hitman kill each other but before he dies he convinces the young FBI double agent to stay in the USA. The film ends with Director of the CIA inviting the young FBI to join his service.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Bourne Legacy

Now for some fiction. The Bourne Legacy released in 2012 is primarily about the attempt of the Government Security agencies to shut their stable door after Matt Damon as Bourne, escapes the effort to terminate him aided by a member of the Security services who realised that a rogue and unauthorised programme had been put into effect called Treadmill in which selected individuals were psychologically and physically transferred to carry out operations, often illegal and involving the unauthorized assassination. The film is about the decision to stop other successor programmes to Treadmill and eliminate existing operatives.

I enjoyed the film with two qualifications. The opening of the film will leave anyone who has not seen the first three films in the series extremely bewildered, despite some flashbacks to the films and secondly the long chase at the end of the film is ludicrous although I accept the public appetite for such sequence appears unabated.

The first adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s series The Bourne Identity 2002 introduces us to the likeable Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who comes to realise that for a number of years he has been leading the life of International assassin for a project code name Treadstone, secretly funded and operated with the USA Secret Service. The self discovering makes him realise he participated in a failed assassination as well as successful assassinations and has been the subject of a covert transformation having been identified and recruited from the USA military.

He begins a search which take him to Paris and meeting with a project Assistant unaware of the nature of its activities and the two join up and go on the run after becoming aware that they are being hunted. I have previously mentioned arising from the Henley senior management course that in relation to companies the value, deployment and elimination of “creative” was discussed at some length but in the context of research and development teams. However the same issues arise in relation to the recruitment, deployment and elimination of “creatives” acting on behalf of the state. I recently reviewed the radio adaptation of the latest le Carré A Delicate Truth which is another version of the cover up required when a mission goes wrong. In The Bourne Identity the two manage to escape the three Assassins deployed to eliminate as the project is shut down.

Two years later the Bourne Supremacy was released. The couple have spent two years leading an idyllic life in Goa when the past catches up with them. An International search for Bourne take places after his finger prints are identified in the murder of CIA agents and the disappearance of large funds. He is being framed by a Russian agent again related to past events and the agent locates Bourne and sets out to kill him but kills the woman believing he has killed Bourne. Bourne travels to Europe to find out the why and the who. The film introduces a character who is to play an important role in this and the subsequent film The Bourne Ultimatum, Joan Allen as Pamela Landy deputy Director of the CIA who is persuaded that Bourne is responsible for the death of the agents and needs to be eliminated. However her inquiries takes her to Operation Treadstone and to finding out about Bourne and also his former Identity. She also begins to uncover the role of fellow Deputy Director Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) in the creation and closing down of Treadmill.

Bourne had killed a Russian politician and his wife but left the daughter. The politician had been at the point of exposing the name fo the CIA agent involved in the theft of $20 million of CIA money. Bourne goes to Russia to explain what happened to the now grown up daughter and there is a hectic chase involving the Russian who framed him who he gets the better of. Back in the USA Bourne is cleared of the murders of the USA agents and the Deputy Director Landy reveals his background.

What I thought was the final film The Bourne Ultimatum he learns that a new generation Treadstone has been created through a Guardian newspaper journalist who has uncovered the story and who in turn is assassinated. It is the new other Deputy Director who controls Treadstone II who is behind the elimination of the newspaper man and the latest attempted killing of Bourne but again he has an ally in Deputy Direct Pamela Landy

The media get hold of the existence of the two clandestine operations leading to the prosecution of top CIA people involved and Bourne escaping believed dead once more. Albert Finney plays the psychiatrist who managed the Treadstone project.

I can therefore now come to the Bourne Legacy which begins with the decision to close down the latest black ops programme where the operatives have enhanced physical and mental abilities from chemical tabs one coloured blue and one yellow and without which they not only lose their abilities but their lives. Because of the publicity the US Senate is conducting investigations involving senior CIA Directors and the existence of a photograph on You Tube providing evidence which could lead to the downfall of the latest black ops unit the decision is taken to close it down and kill the operatives and the members of the scientific team responsible for creating and developing the chemical agents. In two instances this involves substituting one of the tabs with a lethal substance. A leading member of the scientist Lab group dramatically starts to kill all his fellow unit members before turning the gun on himself but one person escapes Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weiz).

In Alaska operative 5 Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renmer) is undergoing a challenging survival mission in which he has to recover an object at the bottom of an icy lake waters and then return to the Training HQ which is manned by operative three. He makes it home two days early by climbing a mountain creating a new record and this saves him because he has time to recover and detects the arrival of some form of aircraft ( a drone) and leaves the training centre to an nearby observation staging to witness a rocket from the drone destroying the building and killing number three. The explosion also destroys his supply of drugs required for performance and survival. Realising he is under attack by his own side he removes the tracking implant and uses a wolf that has been tracking him as a decoy so he is believed killed but Escapes.

Understandably Dr Shearing is upset and bewildered by the killing of her associates and decides to leave her isolated property which she is doing up to visit her sister in Canada. This prompts the arrival of a supposed help team but who are there to present her death as a suicide and somehow involved/responsible for what happened at the unit laboratory. Fortunately arriving the same is Ross who saves her from the assassination team, killing them and then setting fire to the property as a means to escape and draw in the emergency and local police services to aid their departure.

The problem is while Shearing has been involved in monitoring the operatives and the development of the enhancement she does not hold a stock. However she explains that they have progressed their knowledge to eliminate the need for ongoing use of one enhancement and she believes she can eliminate the other thus he will retain his power without ill effects and without the need to have a further supply. However to do this they must travel to the manufacturing laboratory in Manila. While they are escaping and travelling to the Philippines those mastermind the closure and cover up have worked out that Dr Shearing has not died in the fire and that she must have had help. Eventually they work out she is on her way to the Philippines with Cross. The two are nearly caught at the factory but managed to escape and this enables the Dr to fix Cross although when he has side effects she goes out to get medication to help his recovery. She returns to find that the local police have located their whereabouts and she is able to warn him putting herself at risk.

The USA team have employed their latest enhanced operative to eliminate the couple and a substantial chunk of the film is taken up with the chase on foot and on motorbikes. The couple beat the man who appears invincible and are helped by a local who turns out to be a fisherman with his boat and the couple are then sailing away intending to just disappear. Meanwhile back in the USA the Senate hearing after taking place. This is not the last film as seven books 2004 to 2012 by Eric van Lustbeder so far who took over the writing of the story line !!!!!!

Monday, 10 June 2013

2 days in New York

Before closing this review of recent films about love and sex experienced I must include a film of no consequence called 2 Days in New York in which Chris Rock ( black) is the live in boyfriend of Parisian Marion (white) and their respective young children, one boy and one girl when she arranges to put her father (recently widowed) and her sister with whom she has always had a competitive relationship and without warning brings her latest lover who is also a former lover of Marion. The level at which this film is set is soon revealed when father is apprehended by customs for trying to smuggle several kilos of French sausage about as his person. The film tries to be daring with truths about sex and race and relationships

The Great Gatsby

While the Look of Loved failed at the Box office, a massive advertising campaign ensure that the 2013 version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby would not although even with Leonardo Di Caprio as Gatsby the reported returns show only what for Hollywood will be regarded as a marginal profit. The first point I want to make about my reactions to experiencing the latest attempt to recreate the novel on screen is that the film is too long. The second is that I approved of the film if the main point intended is to stress that the self made rich will never be accepted by the aristo establishment of a nation without several centuries of good breeding.

This is a point repeated made in a brilliant documentary about the British branch of the Rothchild family, now the richest is the UK just because they have refused to follow the aristo path of the inheritance, especially the great houses always passing to the eldest son. There is talk of hanging to include the eldest daughter but the Rothschild’s have gone a step further which each head of the family wealth deciding which member of the family with the in national extended family unit should become the next custodian. The present end of the Rothschild’s admits that their approach means they have never been fully accepted by the British aristo society.

Di Caprio plays Gatsby as a man torn between wanting worldly acceptance and recognition but with the goal of gaining the woman he met when attempting to make his way and knowing the relationship would never work if he had stayed and not gone off adventuring to make his fortune. As with many of same ilk he cut corners reinvents himself and made his fortune out of prohibition while others use a war, exploitation of energy resources, a revolution as well as the proceeds of drugs, prostitution and other lucrative criminal enterprises.

His obsession lead him to create a Palace across from the lake where the love of his life resides with her husband and daughter. He wants her not just to live with him but admit that she never loved her husband and it is her need to retain her lifestyle, her child and the appearance of respectability that leads her to go off with her husband away for a time while Gatsby loses everything and is then murdered by a man who believes that Gatsby had not only driven the car that killed his wife but that Gatsby had been his wife’s lover. In fact it was the love of his life who had ran down the woman accidentally and the love of his life’s husband who had been the dead woman’s lover. I had thoughts during the film of Citizen Kane and his Palace and sense of mystery that surrounded Kane and his background.

The story fo Gatsby is told by a Yale University graduate, World War veteran who becomes depressed and an alcoholic after the death of Gatsby and enters a sanatorium where the psychiatrist in charge gets him to write the story of his relationship with Gatsby as a form of therapy.

After college the storyteller moves to New York and becomes a seller of stock and shares and by good fortune rents a small home on Long Island next door to the Gatsby mansion. Although he has no money, the story teller is a cousin of the love of life Daisy played by Carey Mulligan who tries to fix him up with a young female golfer from their set. Through a third party the story teller is taken to an industrial zone between Long Island and New York where Daisy’s husband has become the lover of the wife of a garage owner who services his car. The story teller is introduced to the hedonistic party world of sex and drink of the prohibition era.

Gatsby takes up the story teller and begins to reveal his background and soon uses him to create tryst to re-establish contact with Daisy. The melodrama unfolds. Once upon a time the story would have been revelatory but today most educated people on both sides of the Atlantic are familiar with the history and for the young people born in the 1990‘s, this is just history and old fashioned. It means nothing to them. I was also disappointed by this film but it was much more entertaining and engaging that the Almodovar.









The Look of Love

The Look of Love is a very different film covering the life of the pornographer Paul Raymond who dies in 2008. his daughter who died from a cocktail of drugs and drink, his wives, other children and his illegitimate son. I was the only person in the cinema as the elderly couple who were present when I arrived had their rickets exchanged for the film they had wanted to see, Love is all you need which was showing at the same time!

Paul Raymond became one of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest individual in the UK although he made his billionaire fortune from property buying up much of Soho when it was full of sleaze, immigrants and eccentrics. It is an area of London I know well because it was also the centre of the Jazz when in the later 1950’s I was introduced to traditional jazz and blues by a colleague at work and visited regular at the weekends, usually Fridays/Saturdays, the Cy Laurie Club which was opposite the Windmill Theatre just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus.

Wikipedia claims that Raymond opened the UK’s first strip club which I am not sure is accurate but his story remains fascinating and I suspect with aspects which we shall never know. His background was Liverpool Derbyshire and Manchester his was prosecuted for avoiding National Service with a fake heart condition and imprisoned. He became a post war spiv and a musician before trying the stage as a fake mind reader. While The Windmill was the centre of nude young women posing without moving in tableau Raymond took the same idea on tour and then presumably with appropriate backing and appropriate influence with the authorities took over a Ballroom in Doric Court Soho where he opened Raymond’s Revue Bar in which he challenged the Lord Chamberlain who licensed all theatre by creating a private club and putting on shows where the nudes moved. Along with the Sunset strip and other clubs with membership in the Soho area he commenced to push the boundaries although performers were not officially allowed to have direct physical contact with the audiences. While he clashed with the authorities from time to time his venue as was the Windmill club became places where comedians often had their start with the best known Peter Sellers but it was also the haunt for others such as personalities such as the actor John Mills.

He was not widely known outside of London until the 1970’s when he relaunched Men Only using Fiona Richmond to publish accounts of her exploits with photos He had a son from an early relationship which he refused to recognise even when he was contacted by the then young adult and the individual was not included in his will.

He lavished affection on his daughter and created a new show to enable the young woman to singer but then ended the show when it drained funds. It is not clear when the daughter commenced to take drugs with drink, a combination which came to end her life prematurely. His marriage to Jean Bradley lasted from 1951 to 1974 when he abandoned her for Fiona Richmond who in turn left him.

Raymond tried to save the Windmill Theatre after it became a sex film theatre and also took over the Whitehall Theatre famous for the Farce and his show pyjamas Tops lasted for five years. He also became involved with the Royalty theatre. He was generous to charities and became initiated into the Grand order of Water Rats, living in a penthouse house near the Ritz Hotel until his death at the age of 82.

I liked the film which was changed during production to ensure it could not be criticised as just a celebration of man’s life and yet most viewers will still come away from the film with a degree of admiration that he was able to accumulate such wealth from the exploitation of the basic human like for seeing naked bodies of each other and appears to have got away with a life of drink, drugs and multiple sexual; experiences. He went much further of course as his performers and his magazines became more explicit to meet the ever increasing appetites of the public. However he is unlikely to have foreseen the way what he started in the UK would develop through the Internet and international crime

I know I have made the point before but back in 1985 when the personal computer and Internet revolution has just commenced I forecast at the Henley senior management course that the public would pay to watch other human beings doing the basics and every day of life and thus it came to pass even more quickly than I anticipated. As with many idea I lacked the know how and the will to turn them into wealth.

One aspect of the film which revealed what I regard as a great truth is that at first Raymond attempted to ensure that his daughter had no involvement with his business and life style sending her to an expensive private school, no doubt with a misguided belief of the kind of other young woman and their approach to experience she would encounter. It was of no surprise to me that having adopted this approach after her singing career failed to take off, the film indicates because of a lack of talent, that he came to reply on her to run his business before it appears this and her own lifestyle became too much for her.

I thought Steve Coogan did well in the role although I did feel he was more Alan Partridge than perhaps the real Paul Raymond. As recent as 2008 the Daily Mail disclosed that Paul’s first wife lived quietly in a Nottinghamshire village with a portrait of her ex husband framed in a toilet seat and who she continued to blame for the death of their daughter. She married a musician Jonathan Hodge.

The main article disclosed that the eldest boy’s mother had been a dancer Noreen 0’Horan who other sources have confirmed she had declined his offer to marry her and which perhaps explains why he had only that one contact when the son was aged 25 years. The media reported that following is death there was a battle involving the children and grand children over the distribution of the estate. A little known fact is that Margaret Thatcher invited him to Downing Street as an example of the successful entrepreneur. And the celebrated Fiona Richmond. The daughter of a Church fo England Vicar? She remarried and created two boutique hotels one in Grenada and the other in Romsey Hampshire. A romantic Place for Lovers the Onion Store Hotel offer accommodation for a minimum of two nights for around £155 a night including breakfast. Credit and debit cards are not accepted.


Love is all you need

And now for two other film with Love in the title the first of which is also set in Italy and in Denmark and has Pierce Brosnan following his part in Mama Mia with a much more serious role in Love is All you need not to be confused with the Beatles song All you need is Love.

There are some tenuous connection between the two films. In Mama Mia Pierce returns to the Island of his one true love of some two decades earlier to attend the wedding, unbeknown to him of a young woman who could be his daughter. In Love is all you need “Den skalded frisor” he returns to his first home in Italy, from where he started with his wife to build up a citrus fruit growing estate and export marker which has now grown into a wide range of grocery products from his home base in Denmark, because his son has chosen to hold the wedding at his former childhood home and which he hopes might bring to an end the decades of grief which has made his father into a bad tempered never satisfied always on the move businessman with no time given to enjoyment and relaxation.

Back in Demark, Ida a good hairdresser, has recently ended a successful treatment for breast cancer which involves their removal only to find that her husband not just been having an adulterous affair with his secretary but she is determined to marry him. Ida decides to attend the wedding of her daughter especially as her son is unable to get leave and has to return to active service; fortunately he breaks a limb and therefore is able to get to the wedding after all and is able to play a role in subsequent events.

As in Mama Mia the young couple have rushed into marriage without having time to explore their real and natural feelings and when her fiancée becomes friends with an Italian young man helping to arrange the wedding everyone except those closest to him realises that the young man unknown to himself is in fact homosexual. Into the mix comes Ida’s husband and the girl friend, plus Brosnan’s awful sister in law who has designs on a relationship having always envied her sister.

As in Mama Mia the wedding is called off at the last moment and Ida returns home, briefly to her husband and Brosnan to his business, having re-established a good relationship with his son after telling his sister in law she is the last person he would consider having any kind of relationship. He confronts Ida saying he is going into semi retirement from his business returning to the lemon grove estate of his early life and wanting her to go with him. She says no but eventually walks out of her husband and home and arrives at the Italian estate to see if he still wants her. The film was partly shot around Sorrento on the Amalfi coast, an area I have visited and have a couple of romantic memories.







Sunday, 9 June 2013

To Rome with Love

To Rome with Love is a romantic comedy released created and staring Woody Allan in 2012 and i was reminded of Three Coins in a fountain in which disconnected individuals embark on relationship after converging on one tourist attraction, The Trevi Fountain. In this instance three women are all working in Rome dreaming of romance with an Italian.

In the first story Hayley is a forward young American who allows herself to be picked up by a pro bono lawyer after asking for directions during her summer stay in the city on her own. The father of the Italian young man is a mortician and when her parents, the father is Woody Allen flies to Italy to meet the young man and his parents, Allan hears the father, Giancarlo singing an opera aria in the shower while cleaning up after a say’s work.

Allan is an unsuccessful Opera Director who like to use experimental staging which does not always goes down well with the audience. He sees the discovery of Giancarlo has his final shot at creating a lasting legacy but then finds that the man can only sing well in the shower and this leads him to creating the staging of Pagliacci incorporating shower with his direction slammed by the singing praised. However Giancarlo decides that he prefers the life of a mortician with his family and having been given the once in a lifetime opportunity. The young couple have divided loyalties and break up, reunite and all ends well.

Antonio is an Italian from the country who comes to Rome with his new wife because his sophistries uncles have offered to set him up in business. His wife, Milly, goes out for a hair do when she cannot be accommodated at short notice in the hotel and gets lost eventually coming across a film being shot starring an actor she idolizes. He is a notorious womaniser and unsuspecting Milly agrees to return to his hotel after a meal where he is held up but an attractive young hotel thief and the trio are then interrupted by the actor’s wife accompanied by a detective and hotel security in the correct belief that eh ahs taken yet another young woman back to the his room. Quickly witted Milly gets into bed with the hotel thief while the actor hides in the closest/bathroom and the wife and hotel staff go off fully of apologies for disturbing the young couple. The goes off appreciate and Milly is also appreciative of the hotel thief finding herself in close proximity in bed and almost naked.

Meanwhile an increasingly anxious husband as the hour for meeting up with his relatives for a meal and a reception with potential business associates approaches is visited by an attractive prostitute who has been sent to his room by mistake. When the relatives call early to his room he has no alternative but to pass her off as his wife and she skilled in relationships with strangers does an excellent job although problems arise at the reception when she recognises many of her regular clients. They lunch at the same restaurant where the actor has taken his wife and this upsets the husband who later admits to the prostitute that he was a virgin when he married. She teaches him some love lessons in the shrubbery which later he uses to good effect when his wife returns, they make up and make love before returning to the countryside rejecting the lifestyle of the Eternal city. The prostitute is played by the adorable Penélope Cruz

Leopold lives the average life of a city worker with his wife and two children and where the highlight of the day is admiring the young secretary to his boss at work. Inexplicably he appears to have been selected at random by a TV station to become the latest personality where his every activity is watched and commented on and where he suddenly finds himself adored by the general public, offered the best tables at restaurants with a waiting list, importuned to have sex with by attractive stranger including one two in a bed, promoted by his boss as a manager with the secretary giving herself to him. However he hates the constant attention and longs for a quiet life with his family so at first when the Paparazzi find someone to follow he is pleased but then he realises that Pandora’s box has been opened and he misses all the attention and special privileges.

In the fourth story a well known architect John played by Alec Baldwin is visiting Rome with his family and goes on a personal walk of rediscovering to where he lived thirty years before and encounters a contemporary young American architect and his wife who happens to live in the same apartment and where the wife offers a home to am emotional female friend who has broken up with her latest boyfriend. John warns his contemporary about he dangers of having the young woman stay with them and then acts as a kind of inner voice to young man as the girl comes, identifies with the young man and proceeds to seduce him with her ways.

It is never made clear if this is what happened to John in the past and various other explanations have been suggested for what I regard as the lest successful of the four tales. Fortunately young woman plated by Ellen Page finds another passion and the previous happy marriage fo the young couple survives. The films beings and ends with a real traffic policeman directing the traffic at the centre of Rome who sees all the life that happens from his position and from his home in the city centre. The film is entertaining, perceptive about many aspect of human nature and inclinations and at times funny.

Los Amantes Pasajeros

I need to catch up on TV but first I will cover recent films with the great disappointment of the latest Almodovar, I’m so Excited Los Amantes Pasajeros. I have enjoyed the majority of his films having taken the trouble to experience them all with some brilliant, some less successful with their emphasis on shocking the traditional Spanish of establishment if Church and Fascist state. I am not sure what is the point of this latest contribution which included the worst slap stick comedy about being a homosexual and bisexual that I have watched. I found few moment of genuine humour and was bored. The creator admit this is a very light comedy.

The story such as it is consists of an airline crew who are faced with an emergency of faulty undercarriage and are switched to a air point for a potential crash landing. They fly around getting rid of fuel and drug the majority of passengers with a mixture with aphrodisiac properties. There are cameo performance from Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Carmen Machi , Paz Vega and Susi Sánchez. I saw the film on the Sunday afternoon on my visit to London for the Durham game against Surrey at the Oval visiting the Cineworld in the Haymarket and using a voucher via my credit card so at least the expense was just the cost of the travel.