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The Trench (1999)
I watched this film just now, and was very surprised not to hear one single Irish accent. All the accents I heard were English bar one Scot. And yet the Battle is known for the senseless sacrifice of such a great number of Irishmen - from the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division.
The Ulster Division, made from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Ulster Rifles and Royal Irish Fusiliers, as I understand it, "suffered some five and a half thousand casualties - out of a total divisional complement of ten or eleven thousand men. (In writing of "casualties" it is a generally accepted assumption that one out of every three was killed or died of wounds later)."
So, although I missed some of the film due to a rush to the hospital before it started, I was very surprised not to have heard any Irish accents from the point I started watching it. As a film it seemed average.
Is Mac crazy?
Jack Nicholson obviously excels in portraying madness, and was aptly cast in this role. Kirk Douglas had played this character on stage for years and, although upset, agreed when his son Michael cast Nicholson in the movie. I actually think Kirk would have turned in a great performance too, perhaps not as good as Jacks'. The film itself (although I haven't seen it for ages) outlines the struggle for freedom against the oppression of those in power. You have to admire Mac's stubbornness in upholding his belief in right and wrong. Surely it is Mac that is more suited as a therapist, and Nurse Ratchet that is in need. I intend to read the book at some stage. Is Mac mad? That's up to you to figure out...
Star Wars (1977)
Stands the test of time?
I saw this film in the cinema when it was first released. It was one of the first few films I had ever seen in that environment. I was the right age, and it sparked off an interest in all things sci-fi. I had been a fan of TV series rival Star Trek. Ironic that a film which didn't over-indulge in scientific terms (a parsec is a measurement of distance, not of time!) sparked the true beginning of my interest in technology. This film is superior to the others in the sequel due to its freshness. An epic tale of morality and struggle against oppression set against a seamless background of space and unfamiliar technologies and alien beings. A film which transcends technophobia. A fantasy-adventure movie of which Gene Roddenberry might have been proud. While it is said that Harrison Ford hated the series, no one could have played the part of Han Solo better. No outstanding acting performances, but the sum of its parts add up to an all-time classic, enjoyed by young and old. If you haven't seen this film, you can NOT go wrong with it.
A new approach.
OK, so sound doesn't travel well in a vacuum, yet we still hear the sound of the ship's engines in space. But what the hey! Ridley Scott had realism in his mind when he made this classic - 99% of the gadgets in the film actually worked. The cast is second to none, and proved that using a mix of British and American actors was the way to go. His almost fly-on-the-wall approach paid off so well in setting up the characters. Suspicion and suspense were the keys; the mystery of the alien; the quirkiness of Ian Holm's acting. I first watched this film at the tender age of 10, on a friend's aunt's pirate video (she was one of the first people in our area to have a VCR!), around 1980. And it scared the hell out of me! Again, this film is superior to its great sequels. But it shouldn't really be compared, having a style all its own. Compared to more recent horror films, it may not have the same impact. If you haven't seen this film, rent it, turn the lights off, start the film, and feel the tension.
American Beauty (1999)
All grown men everywhere.
I had avoided listening to anything about this film for ages, thinking it was a teen-movie. Well, I'm glad it was recommended to me, and glad I avoided hearing about it. It was such a pleasant surprise. They don't make them like this anymore! I fatal honesty exudes from each scene, and the performances are excellent. The scary thing about the film is how much we (grown men) can identify with Spacey's character. It is definitely a commentary on modern society, and doesn't just apply to America. Its suburbia everywhere. The real sex-symbol of this film is Bening ... or am I just getting old?!?