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Casino Royale (2006)
Firstly I must say that this film has been greatly over-hyped. But having said that it is very entertaining. The plot is highly unlikely and very far fetched but then which Bond film isn't? The difference here is the lazy charm and cold violence of 007. We must not forget that Bond is an assassin (you don't get a licence to kill for nothing) and lately he has been reduced to a a swarve, middle aged commando. Craig makes him something human, direct and brutal. He is slightly cold but not without a humorous streak - usually at his own expense. Very hard to judge him as a new Bond - because he is so unlike any previous Bond. But the fight scenes, chases and general pace keep up the interest. It's a good escape for 2 hours. It would actually be an interesting exercise to re-visit the original books and re-make them as Fleming wrote them. With today's technology we could even set them in the fifties and sixties - now that would be a challenge! - and Craig is probably the man to carry it off,
Boiler Room (2000)
If you want to learn how to sell - watch this film. It doesn't show you everything - but it shows you the persistence required to make it in sales. The performances are all good. Vin Diesel is probably in the best role he's had to date and the speed of the movie works well.
Ben Affleck is good as the Sales Trainer - but not as good as Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. If you add Boiler Room and Tin Men, I guess you have the top 3 'sales' films.
The script falls down a little when the action moves away from the sales floor - but you can't have everything. A great film for a curry and beers night with your sales team.
A landmark film of the 1980's
'Say hello to my little friend!'- one of the great Al Pacino quotes. I watched this film last night for the first time in years. It is brutal, it is horrible in places. But is is very well written, the action is brilliantly filmed and the acting superb.
Al Pacino must have truly loved the script - you can see him having fun with the Cuban accent on different words like 'cock-a-roach'. Also he has something in his eyes that betrays the 'assassin' that is Tony Montana. Also, for all his violence - you cannot help liking the anti-hero.
This film also stars a young Michelle Pfieffer and F Murray Abraham. As gangster films go - this one often gets forgotten but for me it stands up with Carlitos Way, LA Confidential, The Godfather pt 1 and Goodfellas as one of the top 5. Great entertainment.
What makes Casablanca the greatest?
The detail. After Ugate is arrested Rick moves forward and picks up a small glass that has fallen over.
When Sam is playing 'As Time Goes by' and Rick is drinking to forget (the famous scene) he involuntarily moans from within. He shows the man's heartbreak - the reactions of emotion running through a body broken by booze and sorrow.
This is acting and film making at it's very finest.
The inner decency of Rick is moving as is Ingrid Bergmann's tear filled eyes - but the throat catcher is the singing of the Marselliase and Yvonne's impassioned 'Vive La France!'
This was war time, and the film makes us remember what it was all for. Hollywood should look at the script - how simply it is constructed - and learn - there is a public worldwide that wants scripts of this quality about real people.
London Kills Me (1991)
I was in this movie
as an extra. To be honest I always thought it would be bad - and sure enough - it is. Hanif was pretty well organised on set - but his 2nd Assistant did more. I thought Justin Chadwick was mis-cast. I am in the last scene in the cafe and I am badly cut earlier on - walking past the cafe then suddenly leaping back 10 paces (only I would notice though)
The problem with it is that even with Brad Dourif in it (met him - nice guy) the film has absolutely no international appeal whatsoever. It is so mired in the late eighties - early nineties that is has no universality and the world it portrays - a rather dull UK with a wasted Alun Armstrong as an Elvis impersonator - is completely misleading for any international viewer.
It's interesting that Hanif hasn't flooded the world since with stuff he's directed - no surprise on this evidence - he's a great writer - stick to that.
The £90 I got went on fares and food - shame it didn't put me off a career as an actor - might have stopped me wasting 2 years at drama school!
Lost in Translation (2003)
This film is reminiscent of films made in the forties and fifties.
We don't like films that make us think. We don't like films without sex or violence. We don't like films that show actors as losers with unhappy lives. We don't like unhappy endings or endings we don't understand.
Tough. Life is like that. We struggle with our relationships to make any sense of them - whether we understand languages, body language, looks, signs.
Sophia Coppolla has had too much bad press over the years just because of her dad. She threatens us because she's female, intelligent and wealthy. Well good luck to her - she should become as great a film maker as her father - I just hope our unsophisticated society doesn't relegate her to the art house.
This film will be a classic in 20 years time because it is a rarity - a good script.
Achilles must be turning in his grave
How any one can see this as a great film is beyond me.
1) factually completely inaccurate 2) script sounded like it was written for 5 year olds - except Peter O Toole 3) Acting all terrible except Eric Bana and Peter O Toole - both wasted. 4) Battle scenes - wasted opportunity - totally unrealistic.
They should have given it to Ridley Scott.
Brad Pitt - someone needs to have a word with him - or he should employ his own writers to redevelop the scripts he gets sent.
He should also enunciate his words more clearly - he mumbles - a nightmare for the actor - and the audience.
When writing these films why don't they consult experts? The LOTR trilogy shows that audiences will accept stylised dialogue - nothing is more stylised than ancient texts - why modernise it?
A wasted opportunity - for how much money???
Le bossu (1997)
Superb, Fun, Romantic
If you want to escape from the world Le Bossu is a brilliant holiday.
The subtitles are badly done as usual - give us Literal Translations please - we are not idiots!
The story is a great romping swashbuckler that would make Errol Flynn proud. Perez and Autiel are especially good but the man that steals it is Fabrice Lucini - his voice would give anyone a lesson in French and he is very funny and diabolical - he should be a massive star.
This film rollocks along and just shows you don't need complex plots to have a great movie - once again Hollywood scriptwriters - read it and weep... The French and the British are the only ones that can truly do justice to this sort of film.
La reine Margot (1994)
Why don't they make films like this in Hollywood?
Although this film is very different to the Dumas book (well worth a read) the story is classic. It gives us a feel for how terrible the wars of religion were and how much hatred existed between Catholic and Protestant - and we think we're fighting a Holy war now???
The cast are all excellent without exception - especially Anglade and Autiel. The film is sumptuous and colourful and also highly erotic. It plays with its audience lurching between lust and slaughter.
The script is excellent - but sadly the subtitlers as usual give us English ideas of what is said - not literal translation which would be far more poetic.
Ultimately this film is a lesson to Hollywood on the art of film making. History is peppered with scripts - write proper scripts from proper stories - make them truthful and authentic by using proper actors from the countries concerned - or at least actors that can do the accent.
If the US struggles for History why not plunder Europe?
This film is in my Top 20.
The Dawn Patrol (1938)
Errol Flynn's Best Performance
The Dawn Patrol - based on a book my John Monk Saunders is the story of a RFC squadron in France during the Great War.
If has three good central performances - Basil Rathbone showing an array of hyper tense emotions - David Niven changing from a happy go lucky drunken fool to a hardened leader of men and the best, by far, Errol Flynn as a guilt ridden hero whose nerves are torn to shreds.
Flynn has had so much bad press over the years and people forget that he was a great actor in the early days. This film demonstrates that superbly. There are no women in this film, no distractions. It's about men up against it, and having to watch their comrades die needlessly against overwhelming odds.
The film has moments of silence, laughter, terror all mixed together with some superb skewed camera angles in the mess to give a feeling of drunken hopelessness.
Flynn's relief at seeing Niven when he thought he was dead is a moving performance. His quiet moments when he talks about England, his control when trying to convince Nivens younger brother to go up for the first time - these scenes show real presence and talent. You feel for him and all around him.
Coming out just before the beginning of WW2 it would have given the home audiences great understanding of what they faced - a hard and bloody task, where young men will die as surely as the older ones will order them to fight.
This film should be reissued on DVD and shown around the world - it's that good. Let's write some more scripts like this and start making some decent films again.