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Showing posts from July, 2012

It has to be the source, the key to all the Terra Nostra's power. If we control that, we control them.

Blake's 7 2.1: Shadow

So, the first non-Nation script of the series. In this instance written by script editor Chris Boucher (although Robert Holmes’ Killer was the first non-Nation script recorded). Shadow was recorded sixth in the season (with David Jackson still playing Gan after he had performed his death scene), and there’s a massive gulf between the look and styling of Redemption (still very much following the stark industrial locations approach of Season One) and what’s on show here. The emphasis is very strongly on heightened reality, as opposed to the gritty realism that defined the previous year. That comes across in every aspect of the story, from the studio sets to costuming and make-up. Even the location work emphasises strangeness, with its clusters of moon discs (and the crew wearing Lawrence of Arabia-style white to combat the presumed heat), taking its cue from the artificial foliage of Time Squad’s quarry. And that’s not even mentioning tripped-out Cally, whose jou…

We're not like you! You're made of iron, we're just flesh and blood! Hungry and thirsty flesh and blood!

Lifeboat  (1944)
Like Rope, this wartime Hitchcock effort sees the director thriving on the technical challenge of basing a film around a single location. The script from John Steinbeck maintains the character drama throughout, throwing in battles with the elements and thwarted plans to reach safe harbour. The characters need to be sufficiently compelling as the suspense element is limited by the scenario. Hitchcock was keen to do his patriotic duty during WWII, so it's ironic that some critics suggested the film was pro-Nazi in presenting a German character who was several steps ahead of his fellow survivors; the director's intention was for the lifeboat's occupants to represent the allies in a microcosm, and only by uniting could they defeat the more prepared and resilient enemy.

The system is infallible.

Blake's 7 2.1: Redemption

Terry Nation originally intended to write five episodes for Season Two, which is pretty much the formula adopted by nu-Who’s showrunner. In the event (due to Nation’s general shoddy-delivery rates, no doubt) he didn’t, and we were also spared the dubious delight of a Pip & Jane Baker script. The running order for the first half of the season changed quite significantly, and I will note this in respect of later episodes in due course. As for the season opener, it’s the first without Nation’s name on it, although with script editor Chris Boucher at the quill it was in safe hands (especially since he likely ghost wrote significant chunks of the first season). It’s also a fairly typical example of how many people remember the series; the crew running about in a power station while guards dressed in black shoot at them.

There's rumor of a new species in New York. It can be aggressive, if threatened...

The Amazing Spider-Man
(2012)
Tonally, Marc Webb’s reboot of Marvel’s comic book hero this is all over the place. This is in part surely a symptom of the kind of “too many cooks” meddling that marred Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man film. But it’s also due to the absence of a director with a clear vision for the series. Webb seems to have got the job through the assurance that he could work magic with the Peter-Gwen relationship, having scored a minor hit with young love comedy (500) Days of Summer. And that aspect works reasonably well, but he comes unstuck blending it with the requirements of superhero storytelling. In particular, he's uncertain how to approach the action.

It’s funny how the colours of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.

A Clockwork Orange
(1971)
It would be reasonable to ask whether there’s anything left to be said about A Clockwork Orange, so embedded in cult film consciousness is it. And so raked over in debates on sex, violence, censorship, and whether the media is culpable in cases of alleged imitations of fictional events in the real world.

Reviews Archive - C

FEATURING:
Casino Royale Charlie Wilson's War Chungking Express Clear and Present Danger Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Collector's Edition Cloverfield Clue Collateral Colossus: The Forbin Project Control Convict 99
Casino Royale (2006)
Viewed following a Bourne marathon, this comes across as being as cheesy as any post-Moore entry in the Bond canon. Which isn't to say it's not very good. But repeat viewings betray the lack of chemistry between Craig and Eva Green, which is crucial to both this and the next film (in terms of Bond’s motivation). 

Bringing back Judi Dench was a mistake, since it allows leaden "in the pyschiatrist's chair" dialogue. There's also some clunking product placement ("Rolex?" "Amiga"). The title sequence is absolutely beautiful.
****


I have a feeling that tonight you're going to see one of the Riviera's most fascinating sights.

To Catch a Thief
(1955)
As lightweight and breezily enjoyable as Hitchcock's third collaboration with Cary Grant is, it is maybe a little bit too pleased with itself. With all the ingredients for success present, there’s a sense of not needing to try very hard to win the viewer over.

Waving the flag with one hand and picking pockets with the other, that's your "patriotism".

Notorious
(1946)
This is one of the very best Hitchcock films, thanks to the alchemy of a fine script from Ben Hecht (who had just worked with the director on the less enchanting Spellbound) and perfect casting in Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. It could so easily have been less auspicious as it was developed by David O. Selznick, whose approach had been one of interference on his previous collaborations with the British auteur. Fortunately, the producer was in financial difficulties with Duel in the Sun so to ensure that project’s safety he sold the package of the Notorious script, director and Bergman to RKO.

I want you to live with me and die with me and everything with me!

Lolita (1962)
I haven’t read Vladimir Nabakov’s novel, nor have I seen Adrian Lyne’s 1997 adaptation, so I won’t attempt to compare their merits or otherwise with Kubrick’s film. But the divergences from the novel are relevant in considering the motivations for the changes made by Kubrick, which were in part due to the requirements of the censors. This and A Clockwork Orange were Kubrick’s most controversial films, and Lolita still holds considerable power 50 years later. Perhaps more so, as there is arguably less appetite to indulge its content (35 years on, Lyne’s film stirred up controversy all over again).

Even though they're big and powerful, they're so much like us.

Big Miracle
(2012)
Likeable family fare starring the ever-adorable Drew Barrymore accompanied by The Office's John Krasinski. This based-on fact story of a trio of grey whales stranded in the Arctic ice in 1988 has sufficient distance to allow a fairly politically astute account of events. Albeit one tempered by an anthropormorphic  attitude from the film makers that is reflective of the thinking that made this such a big story at the time.

Orac has access to the sum total of all the knowledge of all the known worlds.

Blake's 7 1.13: Orac

Sweaty Gan seizes the opportunity to act opposite his prize beaker again at the start of this episode (that’s the third time this season he’s shown such range.) Elsewhere Avon, in a fairly unsubtle silver and black striped top, has Blake ask him to sit down and listen to a taped recap of the previous episode’s events. For any viewers who missed it. Avon should have dismissed this with a withering look.

We can't have Earthmen projecting themselves over here, leaping about... causing all manner of disruption.

John Carter
(2012)
Most of the criticisms of Andrew Stanton's mega-budget folly are fair comment. It's a frustrating experience, as the failings clearly don't result from an indifference to the source material or the neutering influence of a nervous studio. John Carter has issues down the line from conception of storyline to casting, and you can only really level the blame at the door of its architect.

Everything will be all right in the end.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
$100 million worldwide and counting for this year's definably British big hit. Perhaps pensioner appeal is part of the reason for its success too.  This is so safe, familiar and generic that it's hard to come down strongly negative or positive about any of it. 

Put that in one of your plays!

Anonymous (2011)
Roland Emmerich tends to get a rough ride for his endless appetite for lowbrow, overblown action/disaster fare. But now, his chance to prove the critics wrong! I haven't minded his movies too much, even the hilariously stupid-by-his-own-standards 10,000 BC. He deserves some credit for being one of the few directors working today who shows an understanding of geography in action movies, and also one of the few who has an eye for lending special effects a sense of physicality. If only he could bring that acumen to a decent script.