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Very disappointing. I was somewhat led to believe that this programme would raise the issue of the death penalty as a matter of debate, but the real debate will have to be the mishandling by the programme makers. Quite aside from the fact that Glitter is charged with crimes committed beyond British jurisdiction, the fact that he is given only 30 days to appeal is quite frankly unbelievable. It's "Alice in Wonderland". This was a Britain that was so alternative that you expected the Prime Minister to be Robert Mugabe or Osama Bin Laden.
Furthermore there is the fact that this programme seemed only to "interview" those in favour of the death penalty, like Ann Widdecombe or Gary Bushell. There was nothing about the flip side of the coin, most notably the fact that justice has been known to make mistakes, or at the very least jailed people whose convictions are later questioned: Tim Evans (who was hanged), the Guildford Four or Barry George (convicted but later cleared of the Jill Dando murder).
On a separate note, the accidental music was dreadful and unnecessary. You cannot imagine the relief when we were sparred the playing of badly-tuned violins or the clonking of xylophones. It is time for this kind of thing to stop.
Who should say sorry to who?
It's good to see to see dear old Brit Sean Bean in a Hollywood production set in modern times where he does not get to play the villain and is an official who is not so much gullible as going through all the official channels and still finding holes in the increasingly frustrated (and frustrating) heroine's story.
Towards the end of the film, Foster attacks Bean, warning him that he will have to apologise to her daughter for doubting her existence. (Though, can you blame him given her behaviour and attitude?) When she is finally found Bean does just that, but there is no sign of Foster apologising to the Arab for accusing him of the kidnap and attempted hijacking of the aircraft. The scene in which he hands her her suitcase does not say much. It would have been more effective if she had shacken his hand with a smile and said "Sorry for all the nasty things I said and my unfounded suspicions."
Quite frankly though we could do with an apology from the scriptwriters: marvellous plot full of twists and turns let down by a clichéd script.
Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942)
Will Hay at his best, with John Mills to match him
This World War Two comedy starred popular comedian Will Hay, pitting himself with top straight actors like John Mills and Felix Aylmer.
When he is forced to vacate the office of his debt-ridden correspondence "college", "Professor" Will Davis goes to the Ministry of International Commerce at Whitehall, London, in order to confront his one-and-only student, PR man Bobby Jessop. To get Davis off his back, Jessop proposes to get him a job at Whitehall.
Jessop then leaves in order to fetch another Professor Davys at the train station. This Professor Davys is a leading economist who has returned from a long stay in South America in order to advise the government on a trade treaty with the South American nations, which could be crucial to Britain's war effort.
Will Davis is mistaken for the expert and gets involved in a series of interviews, giving answers based on gambling, con jobs, double entendres or just plain ignorance! Jessop later returns with "Professor Davys" and the confusion is sorted out, though it has left the BBC interviewers in a state of mental collapse! Jessop then discovers that the man he brought with him is in fact Crabtree, a member of a group of Fifth Columnists working for Nazi Germany.
Jessop promises Will Davis a job if he helps him track down the real Professor Davys, who is being held in a safe house by Crabtree's associates. Assuming a number of disguises, Will Davis and Jessop set off to foil the plot before the treaty is compromised! Full of puns, pursuits, running around and double-entendres, this is a wonderful comedy which pokes fun at espionage, the medical and transport services and bureaucratic red tape.
Hay and Mills had worked before, most notably on "Those Were the Days" (1933). They make a great pairing, with Mills being allowed to display his fair share of comedy ability, matching Hay with witty put-down talk.
Thora Hird features at the beginning as Will Davis' secretary, who is owed, rather than paid, to deal with the equally unpaid bills! And we get plenty from Shakespearean actor Felix Aylmer.
Wartime audiences must have enjoyed seeing broadcaster Leslie Mitchell driven to a nervous breakdown while interviewing Hay! Mitchell was the first commentator for the new BBC Television Service when it began transmissions on 2 November 1936. He also provided the commentary for the Movietone News shown at the cinemas.
Adieu poulet (1975)
Lino Ventura enlivens a routine police docu-drama.
In the French city of Rouen an election is marred by a fight between the supporters of two of the candidates. In the fracas a man is beaten to death and the killer then shoots a passing police officer! The officer has time to warn his colleagues that the killer is Proctor (Claude Brosset), a well-known thug whose brother is campaigning on behalf of law and order candidate Lardatte (Victor Lanoux)!
Commissaire Verjeat's (Lino Ventura) pursuit of Proctor is hampered by Lardatte for whom he has a personal dislike and misses no opportunity to humiliate. As a result he then finds himself with a very short time to capture Proctor, since he faces a promotion and a posting outside of Rouen, which will take him off the case. Verjeat is sure that this is courtesy of Lardatte and his police contacts! To cap it all, his sidekick, the eccentric Inspector Lefevre (Patrick Dewaere), implicates them both in a case of police corruption!
This French police drama focuses mainly on the politics of the police department and the often dubious relationship between police, criminals and politicians. What could be a routine docu-drama is enlivened by the contrasting performances of the no-nonsense Ventura and jester-like Dewaere. And there are also exciting moments like a siege of the city hall and an attempted arrest of Proctor, which is ruined when Lefevre's change falls out of his pocket!
The Ipcress File (1965)
A cash-in on Len Deighton's bestseller, but still a great movie.
Having read the novel, I can tell you that this film follows the book even less than most so-called film adaptations. Even secret agent Harry Palmer's incarceration in what he thinks is Eastern Europe has many differences to the version in the book. The novel includes scenes in Lebanon and an American Pacific base, while this film takes place entirely in London.
At one stage, Deighton's unnamed anti-hero even states that `my name isn't Harry'.
That said this is still a brilliant Cold War drama and the film does retain elements of Deighton's novel: his world of espionage is one of draughty back street offices, red tape and limited budgets. When he is told that he is being transferred to another intelligence unit, one of Palmer's first questions is if he will get any more money. There is also the rivalry between intelligence departments and with the Americans: people working together with gritted teeth rather than devoted camaraderie against a common enemy.
Michael Caine is well cast as cockney Army Sergeant Harry Palmer, a gourmet anti-hero caught up in the Great Game of espionage because the alternative was prison. As well as a smug and double-dealing enemy like Erik Grantby (Frank Gatliff), Palmer has to cope with bureaucracy, a measly pay and distrusting superiors like Major Dalby (Nigel Green) and Colonel Ross (Guy Doleman).
Although made by the same people who produced the James Bond films, this could not be more different. In contrast to Bond's life as a millionaire playboy, Palmer lives in an East End flat, has to do his own shopping and cooking, has limited resources and budgets and never-ending paperwork.
Gordon Jackson also lends good support as Jock Carswell, the only fellow agent whom Palmer can trust or likes; Jean Courtney (Sue Lloyd) has an affair with Palmer, but is really keeping tabs on him. In the original novel Carswell is another bureaucrat a la Dalby and Ross for whom the unnamed narrator has little time for. Jackson's character is actually based on Carswell's assistant Murray.
Animal Farm (1999)
Four stars good, two stars ba-a-ad!
And two out of five stars is still too good for this so-so adaptation of George Orwell's classic.
Watching this film makes you think that they read a brief synopsis of the book and made the film without realising what it really was about: a satire of the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath in farmyard terms!
This account lacks the spirit of George Orwell's original novel and is not on a par story-wise with the 1954 animated version. All that it does is use live actors and animatronics to give us a darker side to Babe (a similarly-made film about a talking pig).
Among the animal-voices you can just make out Kelsey Grammer, Ian Holm and Peter Ustinov as Old Major.
As the central character, Jessie the sheep dog (voiced by Julia Ormond) is too bland to be effective and the only performance worth listening out for is that of Patrick Stewart who, giving a grunting, snorting voice to the tyrannical boar Napoleon, is the only one who actually makes an effort to sound animal-like.
The most disappointing thing of all is the ending: Orwell's novel has the animals realising that there is no difference between their pig masters and the humans whom they rose up against. The 1954 animated film had them rise up in a counter-revolution (which is what happened to many of the Communist states of Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 90s). This movie, however, simply has the animals hiding away and skulking as they await Napoleon's downfall. Were the makers implying that no-one can put up a fight for right these days?
The Last Don II (1998)
Let's have another sequel!
If only to see Cross, Gorgio and that psychotic moustachioed hit man of theirs finally get their just deserts! And I do not mean them getting lovely ice-cream with their wine for dinner in that palatial mansion! I mean a burst of machine-gun fire followed by all the sorts of tortures that they have inflicted on so many!
It is so discouraging to see the villains get away with it, even if the villains are the heroes!
An intelligent manga movie that makes you wish the TV series was shown in Britain
Isaac Asimov meets Akira in this detective-oriented science-fiction Japanese Manga film. Set in the near-future, Tokyo is undergoing a huge re-development program: old suburbs are being demolished and man-made islands are being constructed in Tokyo Bay. Most of the work is being done by giant man-operated robots called Labors. Labors are prone to go out of control and cause chaos, so units of the Police force have been set up to deal with them. These units, divided into squadrons, also use giant robots to tackle the out-of-control Labors. Asuma Shinohara is a sergeant in Second Squadron, who discovers that the crazy behaviour of the Labors is due to a bug in their operating system which was deliberately put in by Eiichi Hoba, the OS programmer. Hoba has since committed suicide confidant that his plan to destroy Tokyo will take effect...
Patlabor is typical Manga with plenty of action and violence, but also a good deal of appeal and characters. These range from Asuma, quick-tempered and insubordinate, but a good detective; Captain Goto, the quietly manipulative commanding officer; and Officer Noa Izumi, Asuma's long-suffering, child-like colleague-cum-girlfriend, who ultimately saves the day.
North Sea Hijack (1979)
my views of this film
A group of terrorist led by Eric Kramer (Psycho's Anthony Perkins) takes over a revitalising ship and place bombs on several North Sea oil rigs. They then blackmail the British government. Rufus Excalibur Ffolkes (Roger Moore) is the head of a private security firm made up of former marines and commandoes who is hired by the government to wreck the terrorists' plan (whatever happened to the SAS?). By precise timing and running rings round Kramer, Ffolkes and his men manage to save the day.
This sub-Alistair Maclean, sub-Frederick Forsyth thriller was clearly an attempt by Roger Moore to dump the suave, sophisticated image that he had earned through parts such as the Saint, the Persuaders and James Bond. In contrast to those parts, he is shown here as an eccentric male-chauvinist who considers cats as a `far superior race' to women, and makes no effort at all to hide his contempt for womankind. Sadly, Moore is simply not good enough an actor to make himself convincing in this role and lacks the hard edge required for an action man. His overgrown beard makes no difference (and commandos usually go into action clean-shaven anyway).
James Mason provides good support as the Admiral sent to oversee the operation (had he been a few years younger, he would probably had been better in the part of Ffolkes).
One good thing about this British movie is that Perkins, the then-obligatory American guest star, is the villain. The film was renamed Ffolkes for its American release