Monday, 16 September 2013

St Georges Day 2012

A third kind of film of contrast was St Georges Day 2012 in which three cousins operate London based crime gang and lose a shipment of drugs belonging to the Russian mafia. They plan a major bank raid in Berlin coinciding with the visit of the British Football tem on St Georges Day and despite the alertness of Interpol and the local police they manage to send the forces of law order on the wrong track having worked out that one their number had become informer. The film has appeal for gangsters, men fo violence and those who wish they were criminals and men of violence. Charles Dance is among a huge cast.

The Gallant Hours 1960 and the life of Admiral Halsay.

A very different kind of film is The Gallant Hours which was released in 1960 and which I viewed on TV in May of this year. It purports to tell the life of Fleet Admiral William Halsey and has James Cagney playing the part of the Admiral. The film centres on the battle with the sea forces of Japan around Guadalcanal during World War II. The story of those five weeks is told in flashback as part of his retirement ceremony in 1947.

There are no battle scenes with emphasis on the battle oif wits between the two men in charge of the opposing forces. The scenes involving the Japanese are not translated with only brief notes rather than sub titles of what is being said. The film pretends that the subsequent attempt to take the life of Admiral Yamamoto takes place during the period.

Halsay 1882 to 1959 was the son of a Naval Captain who entered a med school while waiting for a place at the Navy Academy where he graduated in 1904. He served in the First World War commanding one ship and gaining the Naval Cross. He became the Naval attaché in Berlin in 1922 and various other Embassies in Northern Europe and in this respect it is interesting that “hero “ in the books and Films of the Winds of War by Herman Wouk features as the Navel attaché in Berlin in the late 1930’s.

When in 1934 he was assigned to command an aircraft carrier he elected to take the full 12 week aviator course which he successfully completed at the age of 52, the oldest individual to ever do so. By 1940 he had become a Vice Admiral and in charge of the Navy’s aircraft battle fleet. He argued that the aircraft carrier had to be used as an offensive weapon and just not as sea base for planes and he ordered the command to sink any ship they encountered and knock out any plane within range. Hit hard , hit fast and hit often became the standard for entire Navy after Pearl Harbour.

At one point he needed hospital care and missed the Battle for Midway but vowed to return even more determined that before and immediately found himself appointed the Commander of South pacific areas and its forces. In 1943 he became commander of the Third Fleet with his field operations the Central Pacific. In 1944 h provided cover for the landings of General Mac Arthur. He claimed to have worked well MacArthur. He was made Fleet Admiral after being assigned to office of the Secretary of State and this enable him to make a goodwill trip in central and south America visiting 11 nations and covering 28000 miles. After retirement he said there were no great men just great challenges which ordinary men out of necessity are forced by circumstances to meet.

The Freshman 1990

I enjoyed watching again the Freshman with Marlon Brando playing his Godfather role, sitting in a corner of New York bar but this time behind a racket to serve endangered species to those willing to pay for the experience with charges from a quarter of million to half a million dollars a plate depending on the scarcity of the creature.

The Freshman is a naive to city life young man who on arrival is hoodwinked to being given a taxi lift for $10 only for the vehicle to go off with his trunk and which amazingly also included his money. He has come to the City for University Course in media studies, cinema orientated and where the professor is singularly unimpressed by the predicament of the young man an his inability to acquire the Professors book for the course.

When the young man sees and tracks down the petty villain he finds that everything worthwhile has been sold and the money used for a bet which failed. In order to make up for his crime the thief introduces him to Brando who offers him an well paid assignment to collect something from the airport and take it to an address. This turns out to be a giant lizard taken to a restaurant. The thief explains that the Brando character in the Godfather was based on the Brando lookalike in this film The young man is introduced to Brando’s daughter who immediately wants the young man and before he knows he is engaged to be married.

The university professor is mightily impressed when the girl visits the Freshman at a lecture because she announces who her father is and that her father expects her fiancée to get top grades. The Professor assures the Freshman is his best student and asks if he could meet Brando which is declined.

The girl has called to take the young man off to attend the high society final gourmet dinner of an endangered species.

Meanwhile the young man has been picked up by two federal men who explain the racket of his employer and expect the young man to cooperate. They raid the event insisting on taking the proceeds ( which they do not know is only half ) and where the young man with the agreement of Marlon Brando has advised the employers of the behaviour of the two agents who are arrested for attempted hijacking of the funds. Moreover although the creature is shown to the guest they are provided with in effect a chicken dish and the creature is made over to the local zoo as others have been in the past. It is a great con.

The reason the Feds had become involved is because his step father had heard a telephone conversation between the young man and his mother when the Komodo Dragon creature is mentioned and he had revealed the conversation to the Justice Department. The film closes with Brando offering to help the Freshman through his contacts in Hollywood. The young man declines the offer.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Jack Reacher

Against expectation I also enjoyed the first translation of the Jack Reacher books to the cinema screen. The film stars Tom Cruise as Reacher and he also was one of the film producers. The film is based on Lee Miller first book one

Cruse plays Reacher a former US intelligence officer who has freed himself from the life but quickly appears in touch and connected to what happens when a former colleague is arrested for what appears the random killing of several people. Reacher is then hired/used by the person appointed to defend the accused who does not remember what happened but feels responsible given the evidence presented again him.

The film opened with a man driving a van into the top of a multi story car park and paces a coin in the parking machine then goes to the roof area across a river towards a park where he takes aim with a sniper riffle with a number of people in the park, a man who a bench, a jogger and then commences to shoot those he viewed through the sights.

The plot is open to lost of questions, particularly that the police so quickly able to identify the location of the car park and that the particular coin used with the print of the former US army sharp shooter as well as the van was in his possession. The man remains silent but then writes down Get Jack Reacher. The young woman assigned to defend the former army man is the daughter the District Attorney to finds reasons why he should not be executed in what appears to everyone an open and shut case. The alleged perpetrator is brutally attacked into a coma when in custody by other prisoners and with no subsequent memory he accepts the evidence against him,

Reacher is not convinced first that the location used by the alleged assassin was the actual one, preferring another, implying that the man has been framed, especially via the coin the use of which does not make rational sense. He investigates the lives of the victims and ‘reaches’ the conclusion that one of those shot was intended and the others use to give the impression of someone going berserk. He also traces the accused to a gun club shooting range owner by a former marine who after Reacher proves his own skill is prepared to help and confirms the suspicion that the behaviour of the alleged accused does not fit what is known of him and he agrees to help.

The villain is identified as a Russian heading a front business whose experience in a Gulag has hardened and who employs ruthless henchman who proves a match for Reacher but who breaks him in the end after the lawyer is kidnapped with a senior police officer double dealing in the pay of the villain. She is rescued and the film reveals that Reacher owes the alleged perpetrator a debt in relation to something unexplained which happened when they served together. The way the film ended I concluded there would be one more sequels unaware that the film was based on a series of adventure novels, The film was in the category of OK. There are so many more films and TV programmes and shows to cover I will have to continue separately. This was finished writing only on September 12 and uploaded


Total Recall

Next another science fiction film which like Prometheus is set in the future, five years earlier 100 years after 1984, a date chosen by design. Total Recall with Colin Farrell Kate Beckinsale and Bill Nighy is remake of the 1990 film with starred Arni, and Sharon Stone in which Schwarzenegger commutes between Earth and Mars,

In the latest version the earth world has been devastated by global war leaving only two habitable areas Britain which appears to be a thriving contemporary society of the wealthy and centre of government and the Colony based on Australia and the two are connected not by flight through air and space but a rocket type of cylinder travel through the core of the earth, One of the commuting factory workers between “worlds” learns of an enterprise capable of give you memory implants which give you a different and sought after identity, and in this this instance that of secret agent.

The programme only works if the character provides an honest account of themselves and background but in this instance the programme is stopped because it identifies that the subject was in fact a former spy who had been given a government version of the programme to provide his present identity as a factory worker.

The government alerted by the programme’s operation send forces to eliminate all those connected to the programme provider in addition tot he subject and when the worker escapes and returns to his wife, she immediately tried to kill him.

He learns that she is not wife but a government agent living with him since his memory change only six weeks before. Who is he and why must he now be killed? Especially as the woman he believed to be his wife now leads to manhunt to capture and kill him.
He discovers he had a telephone link embedded in his hand which leads him to discover a recorded message about himself and the apartment he owned. He removes the telephone to avoid being traced. He is helped to get to his apart where he finds he can play the piano and this leads to another recorded message about his true identity ? He was a lading agent working for the deputy leader of the state control who defects the resistance group seeking independence for the Australian colony. His capture led to the memory transfer but not his death, moreover he remembers a plot to invade the colony with robotic police troops to clear areas of people to provide more living space for the free people of Britain state. There is a way to stop the invasion but he needs the help of the resistance leader played by Bill Nighy. However the astute watchers will know that given the basic premise of the film it is impossible to establish what is true and what has been implanted.

There is then a convoluted series of incidents about who is good who is bad who is friend and who is foe and what is implanted memory and what has been real and remains real. There is confusion between dream, memory, fantasy and for one remain confused about the conclusion to the story except that he and his woman friend appear to survive, the invasion if it was ever taking place appears to be stopped and some of those who appear baddies are killed. The film is played straight with intended political, social and philosophical questioning above my pay grade, as they say.

Treasure Guards

I remember little to nothing of the first of two Tom Cruise films with the first, Treasure Guards made for TV 2011 and also featuring an archaeologist, played by Anna Friel who uncovers an ancient parchment in a Jordan excavation buried in an ancient Temple and which is thought to reveal the location of the Seal of Soloman which according to legend was given to King Soloman by God. The film is of the Indian Jones genre and is not surprising that when news of the discovery emerges various interests, including her father and other more dark interests get into pursuit which leads to many dangers before the mystery is unravelled. I remember it was engaging if somewhat predicable fun with supernatural twists. I will leave the second Cruise, a much darker and more serious film, Jack Reacher until later


I have discovered that I am yet to write my reactions to the film Prometheus, which was rightly regarded as a major blockbuster release in 2012 as a prequel to the Alien film series.

The film is set in the future in 2089 when archaeologists discover an ancient map in Scotland which matches others found in other locations of ancient culture where there is no evident link. This leads to the conclusion that the maps indicate the origin of other world visitors providing information to be followed when earth technology became sufficiently advanced. The suggestion is that the visitors created humanity and a mission to investigate is privately financed and led by the Chief Executive of the organisation who with the rest of the crew go into the condition of statis during the four years of the voyage controlled by an android who at the appropriate time brings them back.

Unbeknown to the archaeologists and other crew members the elderly and dying sponsor has also come on the trip giving instructions to the CEO who is his daughter and controlling the android in the hope fo finding a way of regeneration.

The first discovery is that an “originator” being still exists in a condition of statis in a space ship and who is resurrected by the new arrivals.

The second is that this is not the home planet but a forward military base of the creature .

The third is that purpose of the resurrected creature is to return to earth and destroy the progeny of their creation, although why is not known.

The fourth is this advance bases was itself attack and the creatures almost all eliminated by another creature, the aliens of the Alien films, creatures that enter and take over the human body and that the Android has deliberately infected one of the archaeologist couple who dies horrible but before he has sex with his partner who believed to be sterile suddenly finds herself pregnant and realising what is happening performs a surgical abortion to rid herself of one of these embryonic horrible creatures.

With everyone else dead one way or the other, she manages to survive and we see her setting off not for earth but to the home planet of the originators to try and find out why they created humanity and then wanted to end it.

I viewed this Ridley Scott film in 3D on Sky TV and regretted not experiencing in theatre, Naomi Repace plays the heroine with Charlize Theron the CEO daughter and Michael Fassbinder as the Archaeologist partner. The film is well constructed and presented with the characters and situations credible. I will look out for the next edition.