|Index||7 reviews in total|
This movie has suspense action and love all rolled into one loop. An earlier Die Hard movie and this movie is a great emotion builder. The cream of the crop and do not listen to anybody else. Do not miss this movie because their are big stars of the time and did I mention action. Shootouts, interrogations, espionage.
I stumbled across this film while browsing Netflix. Worth the rent!
Anyone who loved Jean Seberg will love this film. She's terrific. This
role shows her at her tragic best.
Those of you who are used to the American style of crime movie might not get this film. Romain Gary's approach is one of minimalist absurdity. This is much more French ala Goddard than French Connection. But give it a chance. View with no expectations and perhaps you'll see the film for what it is.
Stephen Boyd is no slouch either. His scenes with Seberg are very disturbing.
An extremely remarkable feature, partly because of Romain Gary's script, the husband of Jean Seberg, which does not appear from the information. This multi-award winner writer (of for instance *The Roots of Heaven* (directed by John Huston with Errol Flynn) shot himself December 2nd 1980 one year after the suicide of his wife Jean Seberg, who was hounded to death by the FBI for no valid reason at all. This film was maybe their last major collaboration, and the script (the story of the film) is ingenious, James Mason in the final *ballet* scene seeing his worst nightmare come true. Romain Gary was a survivor of the Holocaust, which is touchingly described in his autobiography "Promise at Dawn", perhaps the most brilliant and moving epic of a mother ever written, in which every word is true.
An absolutely dire thriller about an ex-Interpol agent turned assassin who tries to wipe out porn merchants and drug dealers in Pakistan. This is confusing, nasty and atrociously directed, with an extremely high death rate but little else. Stephen Boyd must have wondered what he had done wrong to go from the giddy heights of Ben Hur to this shambolic mess. As for James Mason, it's almost enough to make a grown man cry to see such a fine actor in such garbage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fascinating both in terms of its structural approach to genre,
subversive political themes, and how it obliquely reflects the
intensely personal lives of the director/writer and star. Seberg's
still then-husband directs her in some tightly scripted and intimate
scenes regarding themes of infidelity. And this while such issues and
an unplanned pregnancy by another man became public thanks to
politically motivated interference by the FBI.
There are clear influences from Jean-Pierre Melville and Godard, with a pop art approach to American gangster iconography. The Brad KILLian anti-hero being reminiscent of Lemmy Caution, or even Caine's Carter in a manner. The heroin-busting plot is cursory, but Gary's slyly scripted dialogue contains radical subtext and some hilariously overt depictions of native insurgency, with Afghani Sufis and a kid nicknamed Che Guevara.
Gary shoots some early night scenes with Seberg in dark clothing, accentuating her beautiful profile and bright hair as if floating in space. Chiaroscuro lighting returns later in the film, but there are also interesting sequences of filmed executions being repeated for thematic emphasis. Aldo Sambrell's familiar genre presence is also used to great effect, despite it being not much more than an extended cameo and glorious execution.
There is also an insane pop art musical interlude that cuts between the heroin dealers discussing canine-human pornography and dealing to children with scenes of Seberg and Boyd engaging in a strangely negotiated coupling of their own. All of which is scored by none other than Memphis Slim on piano, giving a bluesy vocal rendition of the theme song that contrasts well with Edda Dell'Orso and Doris Troy's.
It isn't until the likes of Johnnie To, John Woo, Tarantino and of course Scorsese that we would see genre played with in quite the same masterful manner and with such witty layers. One need only watch James Mason's dying visions of machine-gunned, undead gangsters, Sufi-leaping heavenward to understand that what they are watching is not a typical formulaic genre entry.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Romain Gary's tale of dueling INTERPOL agents is an entertaining mess. James Mason travels to Pakistan to squash a drug smuggling cartel and runs into fellow spook Stephen Boyd. Boyd has gone rogue and Mason may or may not have gone over to the other side. Completing this roundelay of intrigue is the presence of Mason's wife Jean Seberg. It's all grim and at many times hopelessly confusing. Writer Gary was not much of a director and while he manages to photograph Seberg (his real-life wife) in the most flattering ways, he over-directs nearly everything else. What should be exciting and mysterious is frequently dull. The shrieking music by Jacques Chaumont & Berto Pisano adds nothing. Gary does stage several shocking scenes of ultra-violence. The level of acting runs the gamut with Mason & Seberg being fine as a couple ready to explode while Boyd, who insists on yelling every line, clearly has not learned how to act despite nearly twenty years and close to thirty films to his credit. Ultimately the film is a curio with the odd cast, strange plot and exotic filming locations.
In our digital, high-tech world today, just about any chimp with a
relatively inexpensive camera has the ability to go out and ape a tale in
the vein of directing idols like Tarantino, Scorsese or, hell, Chris
Columbus. And thank God most of these efforts are never seen by the
majority of a viewing public. But 3 decades ago, one actually had to get
bit of funding to nab a star like James Mason or Jean Seberg. Quite a lot
of moolah was needed up front to gather a competent crew and pay for
locales. So somebody please tell me what possessed "Superman"-producer
Alexander Salkind to fund one dime on this absolutely incompetent,
Since the story centers around the drug trade, one can only assume a lot of this substance crept up at the craft service table. How else can you explain the incoherent directing and Grade Z acting of this international production? In a nutshell, James Mason is a head hitman honcho for a global drug crime fighting unit, headed by the lumbering piece of granite known as actor Curd Jurgens. Mason methodically has shot down some of the world's leading drug kingpins for the safety of us all. Jean Seberg, acting like Ann Heche on a bad day outside Fresno, plays his bored wife who darts off to Pakistan and falls into the arms of the lumbering piece of petrified wood known as actor Stephen Boyd. Boyd is a renegade hitman, having severed his ties with the do-gooder crime unit, and is on a mission to route out a double agent within the organization. Based on this simple description alone, if you haven't figured out who the double agent is going to be, perhaps this movie's 110 minutes will keep you in suspense.
Director Romain Gary's pathetic work on this film renders it not only a bad movie, but unfortunately, one that does not improve with "Mystery Science Theater"-like derisive commentary as you sit and watch it. (I don't know, maybe MST has already tackled a version of this flick). The editing is so needlessly choppy, perhaps Salkind only gave Gary unexposed trims of five seconds to film this lackluster narrative. Supposedly shot in Spain, Tunisia, and Afghanistan, we never really know where the hell we are, because an establishing shot is rare, and relativity of any locale to the plot is even rarer. It just looks like the same dusty trail road being used over and over, and a backroom at a Spanish studio being redressed to look like a hotel suite, a safehouse, etc.
The acting is downright sad. When Stephen Boyd first encounters Seberg, he interrogates her by simply spinning her around and around under some low-level gel lights, causing her to get...a little dizzy? Gary has the actors scream at each other, directly into the lens, and the glazed, wide-eyed hamming they do at the camera makes you want to jump out of the chair and go slap their agent, or their manager, somebody! Boyd, in particular, appears so depressed to be in this car crash of a film. Unshaven and wearing an all-leather outfit, he morosely behaves like Jim Morrison hanging over the balcony on Sunset Boulevard after dropping some bad peyote. On the flipside, James Mason doesn't say much in his early scenes, and I started to think, "thankfully he had the smarts to know to cut his own lines so he won't come off as horrendously as the others." But, oh, no, Jimmy starts barking the dismal dialogue about 20 minutes in, and one only hopes he had a decent guest house on location in Kabul or wherever the hell he was dragged to, to compensate for how bad he comes off in the film.
I cannot effectively describe the ineptitude and lack of talent displayed in this movie. My jaw literally dropped open in stupefaction several times. The only person that comes away from this compost heap of celluloid somewhat unscathed is ace stunt driver Remy Juliene who does what little he can to enliven the halfway mark with a typical (but needless, plotwise) car chase across the Afghani wasteland. The movie's finale reaches a pinnacle of laughability and dumbstruck awe when several individuals engage in a shootout. The whole thing is staged like Monty Python's hilarious tennis bloodbath sketch lampooning Sam Peckinpah films. And a fantasy sequence showing an ascension to heaven and hell has got to be seen to be believed. Conceived by technical advisor "Frank Fantasia", I simply slipped off the sofa convulsing with laughter, along with a sense of horror realizing people actually sat in a screening room somewhere and said, "Oh yeah, Frank, that sums it up. That's great!"
Even a one star rating would not convey how awful this movie is, so my rating: 0 out of ****.
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