23 February 2015

Ruby Cairo


Ruby Cairo 1992
  • Director: Graeme Clifford
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Andie MacDowell, Liam Neeson, Viggo Mortensen, Jack Thompson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Andie MacDowell  Tara Road, Riding the Bus with My Sister, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Groundhog Day
    • Liam Neeson – Life’s Too Short, Seraphim Falls, Batman Begins, Kingdom of Heaven, Love Actually, Gangs of New York, Les Misérables, Michael Collins, Rob Roy, Nell, Schindler’s List, Suspect, Excalibur
    • Viggo Mortensen – The Road, A History of Violence, Hidalgo, Lord of the Rings, Twenty-Eight Days, A Perfect Murder, Carlito’s Way, The Indian Runner, Witness
    • Jack Thompson – The Great Gatsby, Australia, December Boys, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Star Wars Episode II
  • Why?  The title
  • Seen:  February 22, 2015
The title is nice, the cast is promising, but I have no idea what the film is about.  It’s been on the shelf for a long time so why not watch it this evening?
Bessie Faro’s charming but ne’er-do-well pilot husband Johnny dies mysteriously in Mexico. She goes there to bury him and finds that it’s all suspicious. She’s helped by the handsome Feed the World organiser Fergus Lamb.
She’s a bit flaky but she discovers that Johnny has left clues about piles of cash he’s stashed away here and there around the world.  She’s good at solving puzzles so using the baseball cards on which he’s left clues she heads off. From Mexico to Panama, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, collecting great wads of cash as she goes.  In Berlin there’s more mystery. The money has already been collected. In East Berlin. So off she goes again. Then to Athens, where she begins to realise that Johnny is still alive.
And so Cairo. Where again she encounters the suspicious Fergus Lamb.
Adventure, chases, romance, nasty villains, picture postcard exotic venues...it’s just like a James Bond film! With an almost-white-trash southern belle instead of a Cambridge (or was it Oxford) posh Britt.
Is it as good as Bond?  Maybe, but it’s not any better.  At least the Bond films don’t take themselves seriously.
Sadly, Ruby Cairo does not live up to its name.

2 * of 5

Pina


Pina 2011
  • Director: Wim Wenders
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Pina Basuch and her dance troop
  • Why?  Liked the film very much the first time
  • Seen:  2011 at the cinema with a group of friends. Now: February 22, 2015
Modern dance frustrates me and fascinates me.  I rarely understand any narrative it may be telling but I feel deeply the visual and dynamic expression it offers.
Pina bestows upon us dance on stage, in parks, on escalators, on underground railways, in, elevated railway cars, on factory roofs, in water, sand, city traffic. It expresses loneliness, desolation, fear, need, longing, whimsy, absurdity, dreaminess, alienation, joy, pride.  “Pina saw deep into our souls,” says one of her dancers.
We see the planning of the choreography and stage sets, we hear the thoughts of the dancers and their memories of Pina Bausch, one of the leading dancers of our times. She died unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 69.
She had led her dance troop in Wuppertal in northern Germany for many years. Many of the dances are performed in Wuppertal. Having passed through the city several times on trips through Europe I especially enjoy seeing dancing in parts of the city we saw on our visits.
The troop’s dancers are from all over the world, and of wide range of ages. The ones interviewed loved and revered her.
The dances they perform under her leadership are utterly fantastic and often border on the physically impossible.
The film is a visual dance orgy. It made such an impression on me when I first saw it that I clearly remember almost every detail. I, who remember so little of the films I see, even the ones I like. I remember, and I already want to see it again.
“Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost.” Fitting final words for a film.

5 * of 5

James Bond The Living Daylights


The Living Daylights 1987
  • Director:  John Glen
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Timothy Dalton, Maryam D’Abo, Jereon Krabbé, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik, Andreas Wisnieski, Desmond Llewellyn, Robert Brown
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Timothy Dalton   The Tourist, The Lion in Winter
    • Jereon Krabbé  Ever After, Immortal Love, The Fugitive, The Prince of Tides, Kafka
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  February 20, 2015  
Finally a new Bond.  The Saint was looking a little worse for wear. An odd-looking fellow though, Mr Dalton. Not as suave as Moore. Nowhere as cheeky as Connery. Well, let’s give him a chance, shall we?
He seems tired, irritable, sarcastic. The new Moneypenny has none of the tongue-in-cheek elegance as the original and poor old Q is wearing out completely.  I’ll miss him when he’s gone. I like him best now that the original Moneypenny is gone.
Oh yes, this film. It’s the most cloak-and-dagger spy story so far, which in itself is a boring genre. But it seems the Soviet general is the good guy, the defector is a sleaze and the American is an arm-dealing warmonger. Interesting.
As a whole the film has its moments but it’s pretty much the same as the others only very 1980’s. A-Ha at the beginning and Chrissie Hynde as the end help.

2* of 5

James Bond A View to a Kill


A View to a Kill 1985
  • Director:  John Glen
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones,  Patrick Macnee, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Roger Moore   The Saint
    • Christopher Walken – Romance and Cigarettes, Catch Me If You Can, Sleepy Hollow, Suicide Kings, Blast from the Past, Nick of Time, The Addiction, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Sarah Plain and Tall, Deer Hunter
    • Grace Jones  – amazingly, only this
    • Patrick Macnee – This Is Spinal Tap, The Avengers
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  February 13, 2015  
A View to a Kill?  Never heard of it! What kind of title is that? Is this really James Bond? And what’s this I see? A very young Christopher Walken!
This could be interesting.
They certainly like skiing in these films.  And could it be – the first snowboarder? Duran Duran? Grace Jones! How very ‘80’s.
A most handsome intro. What will the rest of the film offer?
Computer industrial theft and espionage. Suspicious carryings-on at Ascot but what a magnificent couple Walken and Jones make. Computerised microchipped steroids. How very modern.
Ah. Evil oil mogul Walken with ultra-strong Jones are going to destroy Silicon Valley and take over its world domination of the global market. And he’s a KGB agent as well. He’s bad!
After an exciting hour it bogs down. Maybe because James Bond is getting a bit long in the tooth for all this chasing around.
Then Christopher Walken re-enters the stage and it becomes exciting again.
It’s not that different from the others but it has a modern feel to it. Like the others it goes on too long and is awfully silly. But Grace Jones is good, the heroine’s cat is pretty and psychopathic Christopher Walken really gives it a lift. For him it’s 5 *. For the film

2 1/3* of 5

9 February 2015

Rebecca


Rebecca 1940
  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Based on novel: by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denney, C. Aubrey Smith,  Gladys Cooper,  Leo G. Carroll
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Laurence Olivier  King Lear, Sleuth, Oh What a Lovely War, Spartacus, Richard III, Hamlet, Henry V, As You Like It
    • Joan Fontaine – there must be something...
    • George Sanders – A Shot in the Dark, All about Eve
    • Judith Anderson – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    • Reginald Denny – Around the World in Eighty Days
    • Gladys Cooper – My Fair Lady, Pygmalion
    • Leo G. Carroll – The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Parent Trap, Strangers on a Train, Spellbound, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
  • Why?  A classic
  • Seen:  February 8, 2015, with YW and KW in our read-book-see-film circle
The film is faithful to the book which is a shame because it’s such a stupid book. It has the wimpiest heroine ever and really, killing one’s wife is not OK. It’s especially not OK if one tries to hide it by getting rid of the body and pretending.
With that said the film is very atmospheric and well made.  It is Hitchcock after all and he knows how to make films.
He made a good choice in Olivier. I’m not fond of Olivier’s Shakespearean roles; I’m irritated by his hammy oh-look-at-me-the-great-Shakespearean-actor. But as Maxim De Winter he’s good. Very good. Suffering. Charming. And very handsome.
Fontaine does what she can with her nameless role. She cringes and skulks more than necessary but she also shows some spirit and has a very expressive face.
Evidently Hitchcock didn’t like the murder part either because he tones it down to an accident. Still...
After Maxim’s dramatic confession the film drags on for another half hour or so. The book did too and then ended abruptly with a very contrived ending.
Which Hitchcock more or less follows with an even more Jane Eyre-ish ending. However as a whole the film is better than the book.

3 * of 5