Skip to main content

Archive - T



FEATURING:

Tales of Hoffmann
30 Days of Night
36
Three Days of the Condor
Thunderball
Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
Transsiberian

The Tales of Hoffmann
(1951)

Powell and Pressburger's adaptation of the opera. I'm not an aficionado of opera, but its stylistically winning and Moira Shearer is very lithe.

***


30 Days of Night
(2007)

This has its moments, but for a movie with such a strong premise, it never really seems to get going. And it's all so starchy and po-faced, you're dying for Kurt Russell or someone to show up and kick some arse. Danny Huston and Ben Foster give better performances than the film deserves, and Melissa Gilbert looks pretty, but Josh Hartnett just looks on blankly grim-faced throughout.

**1/2 


36
(2004)

Not nearly nuanced enough to deserve it's "French Heat" publicity. Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu are as accomplished as you'd expect, but the plotting and character beats are as clunky and daft as your average Hollywood police thriller.

**


Three Days of the Condor
(1975)

Never approaching the gripping nihilism of the previous year's The Parallax View, there's still much to enjoy in this glossy Redford paranoia thriller. If you can get past Dunaway's redundant love interest and Dave Grusin's frequently inappropriate score, that is. 

When we eventually learn the root cause of the events that transpired there’s a sense of relevancy to today’s world. Max Von Sydow's shadowy hit man gets to classily soliloquise at the end.

****


Thunderball
(1965)

I probably end up slating this Bond usually because the last 30 minutes are so utterly dull (okay, it all looks very nice if you like underwater photography) but that's a bit unfair. It's definitely got the feel of the first Bond-by-numbers but there are compensations, mostly in the areas that appear to be Terence Young's forte (character-based action - certainly, given how good From Russia With Love is, and how both this and Dr No come unstuck when called on to deliver big explosions and hardware-orientated set pieces).

It's ironic that the film sets up a ticking clock early on and then proceeds to be very leisurely, almost a travelogue. I like that Bond's lounging around a health spa for the first 30 minutes (with Guy Doleman, who was great in The Ipcress File the same year but a bit short-changed here). And Luciana Paluzzi is so engaging and plays off Connery so well that I'm a little ashamed to admit I've only really thought of Claudine Auger in relation the Bond girls.

The two proto-Kidd and Wint characters leave an impression too, apparently intent on something very nasty we don't see with a girl and the more disturbing for their absence of humour. Felix Leiter is utterly rubbish. And I kept noticing how much of this score ended up used by Barry's for Dances with Wolves. Also, much as I enjoy the recurring riffs of M and Q, I find Moneypenny really irritating.

***


Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
(2011)

Pretty much the same as the last two. Big robots, silly robots, stupid plotting, Le Beouf. No whatserface this time. The only real bright spots are incredibly OTT turns by John Turturro and Alan Tudyk.

**


Transsiberian
(2008)

Ben Kingsley phones in a Russian and Woody Harrelson does overly naive nice guy, leaving Emily Mortimer to really impress, particularly in an unsettling scene at a deserted church. 

This is a weirdly structured, nasty little thriller that takes ages to pick up steam (ahem) but keeps the attention because you can't really get a handle on where it's headed. Which is kind of good, but it ends up being much less outré than it seemed to have the potential for.

***

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mondo bizarro. No offence man, but you’re in way over your head.

The X-Files 8.7: Via Negativa I wasn’t as down on the last couple of seasons of The X-Files as most seemed to be. For me, the mythology arc walked off a cliff somewhere around the first movie, with only the occasional glimmer of something worthwhile after that. So the fact that the show was tripping over itself with super soldiers and Mulder’s abduction/his and Scully’s baby (although we all now know it wasn’t, sheesh ), anything to stretch itself beyond breaking point in the vain hope viewers would carry on dangling, didn’t really make much odds. Of course, it finally snapped with the wretched main arc when the show returned, although the writing was truly on the wall with Season 9 finale The Truth . For the most part, though, I found 8 and 9 more watchable than, say 5 or 7. They came up with their fair share of engaging standalones, one of which I remembered to be Via Negativa .

Schnell, you stinkers! Come on, raus!

Private’s Progress (1956) (SPOILERS) Truth be told, there’s good reason sequel I’m Alright Jack reaps the raves – it is, after all, razor sharp and entirely focussed in its satire – but Private’s Progress is no slouch either. In some respects, it makes for an easy bedfellow with such wartime larks as Norman Wisdom’s The Square Peg (one of the slapstick funny man’s better vehicles). But it’s also, typically of the Boulting Brothers’ unsentimental disposition, utterly remorseless in rebuffing any notions of romantic wartime heroism, nobility and fighting the good fight. Everyone in the British Army is entirely cynical, or terrified, or an idiot.

Isn’t it true, it’s easier to be a holy man on the top of a mountain?

The Razor’s Edge (1984) (SPOILERS) I’d hadn’t so much a hankering as an idle interest in finally getting round to seeing Bill Murray’s passion project. Partly because it seemed like such an odd fit. And partly because passion isn’t something you tend to associate with any Murray movie project, involving as it usually does laidback deadpan. Murray, at nigh-on peak fame – only cemented by the movie he agreed to make to make this movie – embarks on a serious-acting-chops dramatic project, an adaptation of W Somerset Maugham’s story of one man’s journey of spiritual self-discovery. It should at least be interesting, shouldn’t it? A real curio? Alas, not. The Razor’s Edge is desperately turgid.

It’s not as if she were a… maniac, a raving thing.

Psycho (1960) (SPOILERS) One of cinema’s most feted and most studied texts, and for good reason. Even if the worthier and more literate psycho movie of that year is Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom . One effectively ended a prolific director’s career and the other made its maker more in demand than ever, even if he too would discover he had peaked with his populist fear flick. Pretty much all the criticism and praise of Psycho is entirely valid. It remains a marvellously effective low-budget shocker, one peppered with superb performances and masterful staging. It’s also fairly rudimentary in tone, character and psychology. But those negative elements remain irrelevant to its overall power.

My Doggett would have called that crazy.

The X-Files 9.4: 4-D I get the impression no one much liked Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), but I felt, for all the sub-Counsellor Troi, empath twiddling that dogged her characterisation, she was a mostly positive addition to the series’ last two years (of its main run). Undoubtedly, pairing her with Doggett, in anticipation of Gillian Anderson exiting just as David Duchovny had – you rewatch these seasons and you wonder where her head was at in hanging on – made for aggressively facile gender-swapped conflict positions on any given assignment. And generally, I’d have been more interested in seeing how two individuals sympathetic to the cause – her and Mulder – might have got on. Nevertheless, in an episode like 4-D you get her character, and Doggett’s, at probably their best mutual showing.

You have done well to keep so much hair, when so many’s after it.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) (SPOILERS) Hitherto, I was most familiar with Jeremiah Johnson in the form of a popular animated gif of beardy Robert Redford smiling and nodding in slow zoom close up (a moment that is every bit as cheesy in the film as it is in the gif). For whatever reason, I hadn’t mustered the enthusiasm to check out the 1970s’ The Revenant until now (well, beard-wise, at any rate). It’s easy to distinguish the different personalities at work in the movie. The John Milius one – the (mythic) man against the mythic landscape; the likeably accentuated, semi-poetic dialogue – versus the more naturalistic approach favoured by director Sydney Pollack and star Redford. The fusion of the two makes for a very watchable, if undeniably languorous picture. It was evidently an influence on Dances with Wolves in some respects, although that Best Picture Oscar winner is at greater pains to summon a more sensitive portrayal of Native Americans (and thus, perversely, at times a more patr

I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me.

North by Northwest (1959) (SPOILERS) North by Northwest gets a lot of attention as a progenitor of the Bond formula, but that’s giving it far too little credit. Really, it’s the first modern blockbuster, paving the way for hundreds of slipshod, loosely plotted action movies built around set pieces rather than expertly devised narratives. That it delivers, and delivers so effortlessly, is a testament to Hitchcock, to writer Ernest Lehmann, and to a cast who make the entire implausible exercise such a delight.

You’re a disgrace, sir... Weren’t you at Harrow?

Our Man in Marrakesh aka Bang! Bang! You’re Dead (1966) (SPOILERS) I hadn’t seen this one in more than three decades, and I had in mind that it was a decent spy spoof, well populated with a selection of stalwart British character actors in supporting roles. Well, I had the last bit right. I wasn’t aware this came from the stable of producer Harry Alan Towers, less still of his pedigree, or lack thereof, as a sort of British Roger Corman (he tried his hand at Star Wars with The Shape of Things to Come and Conan the Barbarian with Gor , for example). More legitimately, if you wish to call it that, he was responsible for the Christopher Lee Fu Manchu flicks. Our Man in Marrakesh – riffing overtly on Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana in title – seems to have in mind the then popular spy genre and its burgeoning spoofs, but it’s unsure which it is; too lightweight to work as a thriller and too light on laughs to elicit a chuckle.

The best thing in the world for the inside of a man or a woman is the outside of a horse.

Marnie (1964) (SPOILERS) Hitch in a creative ditch. If you’ve read my Vertigo review, you’ll know I admired rather than really liked the picture many fete as his greatest work. Marnie is, in many ways, a redux, in the way De Palma kept repeating himself in the early 80s only significantly less delirious and… well, compelling. While Marnie succeeds in commanding the attention fitfully, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. And Hitch, digging his heels in as he strives to fashion a star against public disinterest – he failed to persuade Grace Kelly out of retirement for Marnie Rutland – comes entirely adrift with his leads.

Look out the window. Eden’s not burning, it’s burnt.

Reign of Fire (2002) (SPOILERS) There was good reason to believe Rob Bowman would make a successful transition from top-notch TV director to top-notch film one. He had, after all, attracted attention and plaudits for Star Trek: The Next Generation and become such an integral part of The X-File s that he was trusted with the 1998 leap to the big screen. That movie wasn’t the hit it might have been – I suspect because, such was Chris Carter’s inability to hone a coherent arc, it continued to hedge its bets – but Bowman showed he had the goods. And then came Reign of Fire . And then Elektra . And that was it. Reign of Fire is entirely competently directed, but that doesn’t prevent it from being entirely lousy.