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writers_reign

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2867 reviews in total 
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Miller's Tale, 30 August 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If it's a given that infamous international events - like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy - which have never been fully satisfactorily explained are fair game for conspiracy theorists then Executive Action has as much right as any other to its moment in the sun. The first obligation of any film expounding a conspiracy is plausibility and the movie asserts nothing that is beyond the capabilities of a well- to-highly organised group of like-minded people with virtually unlimited funds and access to a network of highly-skilled professional assassins. in saying this I may have underlined just a fraction of the difficulties faced by any group of fanatics who have no use for a democratic form of government. If we put this to one side we are left with some excellent performances. If Robert Ryan is the best actor overall by a country mile - and here I'm basing judgment on a lifetime career - then Burt Lancaster and Will Geer are certainly fit to be mentioned in the same breath. All in all a provocative and entertaining film.

Local Hero (1983)
Life's A Beach, 30 August 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Scotch-US relations were explored more or less thirty years before Local Hero when a lone US millionaire, Paul Douglas, sought only to get a shipment of cargo from A to B and had no interest in buying a piece of the country. His frustration when he was constantly thwarted in this aim led to hostile relations between essentially one American and one Scots skipper of a barge. In Local Hero the US representative of a large multinational establishes positive relationships with the local natives albeit with an ulterior motive of buying land which may be rich in oil. Both films were popular with movie goers of different generations so it's difficult to draw any conclusions. Paul Douglas justified his top billing in The Maggie being on screen roughly 85% of the time whilst Burt Lancaster, by far the biggest name in the Local Hero cast list is on screen in inverse ration or about 15% of the running time. We do, however, get to see fledgling actors like Jimmy Yuill, John Gordon Sinclair, Dennis Lawton and Jenny Seagrove all of whom would become familiar faces via television. If you're looking for a category under which to file this one then whimsy is as good as any.

Spring Awakening, 29 August 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's a themed programme to be mounted at Film Clubs throughout the land with the tentative title: Cold-War Thrillers. Included would be Fail-Safe, The Manchurian Candidate, Dr. Strangelove, and this one, Seven Days In May. All these titles were shot in black and white as befits the starkness of their themes, which really of course amounted to one theme viewed from different perspectives. Seven Days In May is both typical of the genre and as well made as any; as charismatic megalomaniacs go Burt Lancaster's only serious rival was Adolf Hitler, though on his day, Kirk Douglas, here playing the 'goodie', would give him a run for his money. There's some fine talent on display here, Eddy O'Brian, George McCready, Martin Balsom, Andrew Duggan and even Freddie March, an actor I've never really warmed to, weighs in with a fair performance. Holds up well.

In Like Flynn, 29 August 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On paper this was a natural for Errol Flynn and might have been written for him; alas, by 1950 no one was writing this kind of swashbuckling role for a Flynn no longer up to the physical demands of the genre. Less than a decade previously Burt Lancaster had been an active circus performer and was still in shape but his acting ambitions were way loftier than aspiring to be the next Errol Flynn. He was, however, happy to flesh out his CV with a couple of action films (see: The Crimson Pirate) aimed at the lowest common denominator and makes a decent fist out of this entry with the reliable Jacques Tourneur (also slumming, see: Out Of The Past) behind the camera. Good solid support too, if anybody asks you, from the likes of Aline McMahon and Norman Lloyd, who, at aged over 100, had a film out last year. Easy diversion, if you're ten years old you'll love it.

Small World, 26 August 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yet another delightful rom-com from France that is all too easy to surrender to even as you are aware of the loaded dice. Just once it would be good to watch an improbable love affair in which the protagonists were ordinary people. Here we have a leading man - and by definition the romantic lead - who is only four foot six inches tall, okay he is attractive and charming and a talented - and rich - architect all of which make it that much easier for a normal-sized woman to fall in love with him (in reality the actor Jean Dujardin is five foot eleven and three-quarters so no actors were shrunk during the making of this movie) but how much more realistic if he were a charming cashier in a supermarket so that all he had going for him WAS his charm. The woman who falls for him is also too good to be true, not only beautiful but a successful lawyer. These caveats aside this is a real charmer with two excellent leads and yet one more beautiful French actress in the shape of Viginie Effira, who, to the best of my knowledge has not appeared in many films that played in the UK though I did see her in a lovely film in December last entitled A Sense Of Wonder. This is one I'll definitely be adding to my DVD collection. Catch it if you can.

How Green Was My Valli, 24 August 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I grew up thinking this was a clinker and couldn't even eclipse Thr Kissing Bandit or Double Dynamite in terms of Sinatra bow-wows; boy, did I get a wrong number. As a Sinatra fan and completist I would have bought a DVD anyway and will do so as and when -let's face it, I own On The Town, The Pride And The Passion, Marriage On The Rocks, and I will buy though not necessarily watch Four For Texas, Sergeants Three when they turn up. But now having seen it on TV I am actively seeking Miracle Of The Bells and not just as a Sinatra fan. I find myself in agreement with the majority of those who have written here and found this to be a warm 'little' film about goodness and faith. Valli is an ideal actress for the lead and Lee J Cobb is fine as a Studio head though a tad on the humane side to be modelled on anyone we know. Very well worth watching.

The Windmills Of His Mind, 21 August 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Because life's a bitch and then you die Jim Goldman enjoyed a significantly lower profile than his kid brother Bill, despite being his equal as a writer. I write as a huge admirer of both brothers and the fact remains that excellent as were Robin and Marian, Myself As Witness, The Lion In Winter and They Might Be Giants they somehow lacked the ooomph of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride and inevitably existed in the shadow of the younger sibling. It's a pity but there you go and so long as we can check out stuff like Robin and Marian, Lion In Winter and this one on DVD it could be worse. George C. Scott can be mannered on occasion but here he lucks into a part that fits him like a glove whilst Joanne Woodward is a consummate actress who can turn her acting chops to anything. The plot is a nice blend of off- the-wall and sound psychology and a good time will be had by all discerning viewers.

Play It, Sam, 21 August 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At the Screening I attended the audience were all on the sunny side of 60. In other words the chances are they'd seen their share of Bergman moves and/or owned several on DVD so that possibly, like myself, they welcomed this glimpse of the person rather than the usual 'and-then-she- made' that constitute so many documentaries of this ilk. It seems that only one out of the six that have so far written about the film misses this approach and surely the solution is simple enough; if you want to watch Bergman on screen run several dvds, there are sufficient available, meanwhile leave others to wallow in the home movies and diaries she kept. This is a film you can watch with a light dusting of tears in your eyes for the pleasure she has provided over the years.

Night Song (1947)
Love Is Blind, 20 August 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a brief triumph of hope over knowledge I entertained fleetingly the notion that this just might be a movie version of Cliff Odets' Night Music, his 1940 play whose failure in 1940 led to the demise of the charismatic Group Theatre out of which emerged so many lustrous talents both behind - Odets himself, Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan - and in front of the camera - Kazan again, Lee J. Cobb, Franchot Tone, John Garfield. In the event, of course, Night Song is a totally different affair improbably cast and with more holes than a Swiss cheese - for example Hoagy Carmichael leads a 'swing' band with a residency in a night club in San Francisco in which Dana Andrews is the blind pianist; we never hear the band playing anything remotely resembling swing and after the first reel we never see the band or the club again concentrating instead on the unlikely quartet comprising the two men plus Merle Oberon and Ethel Barrymore. Having fallen for Andres on sight (sorry about that) whilst 'slumming', society dame Oberon affects blindness of her own to win Andrews love. His condition can, of course, be cured in a heartbeat but it will take major bucks and a surgeon in New York. He thinks that Oberon hasn't got change of a match and wouldn't take her money even if he knew she was really Miss Gotrocks but love of course will find a way. Oberon 'creates' a music competition with five K (this is 1947) for the best classical competition and arranges for Andrews to win it. Do I really need to go on? If you can get past this hoke and more - and yes, there IS more, I kid you not, then chances are you'll enjoy it.

Hitting The Marque, 14 August 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There have, of course, been many writer-director teams in cinema, some - Jacques Prevert-Marcel-Carne - verging on the immortal, some Robert Riskin-Frank Capra - honorable mentions, and some - Dudley Nichols-John Ford - ho hum but among the most distinguished were Terence Rattigan and Puffin Asquith who peaked with one of the finest British films ever made, The Browning Version which Rattigan adapted from his own one-act play; their partnership was also punctuated by the superb The Way To The Stars, The Winslow Boy, and culminated with two Original Screenplays by Rattigan both, as it happened, our old friend the portmanteau movie, first spotted in the 30s (Duvivier's Un Carnet de bal) and enjoying a vogue in the 40s (Quartet, Trio, Encore, Easy Money). First up was The V.I.Ps. and then, in 1964 what was to become Puffin's swansong, The Yellow Rolls Royce. Fittingly the first of the three episodes featured Rex Harrison who enjoyed his first major success on stage in Rattigan's French Without Tears in 1936. Alas, his wife was the badly miscast Jeanne Moreau then flavour-of-the-month and she herself saddled with the wooden Edmund Purdom as her love interest. Even more bizarre casting followed in the second segment in which four distinct acting styles - Alain Delon, Art Carney, George C. Scott and Shirley MacLaine clashed resoundingly. The class was reserved for the final segment in the form of the luminescent Ingrid Bergman offset by a cameo by Joyce Grenfell. Despite these caveats there is much to enjoy here and a reminded of two of the finest filmmakers in England.


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