Monday, November 16, 2015

1938 - A YANK AT OXFORD, making them the way MGM likes them.

A Yank AT Oxford holds the distinction of being the first MGM film to be filmed in England instead of some studio set in Hollywood.  This is MGM at it's most typical, a good production and utter blandness in story content.  After all the studio didn't want to upset it's American or British audiences.

Robert Taylor is the cocky American student who excels at athletics.  He ends up getting a scholarship to study at Oxford and runs into the usual cultural differences that result when you mix the British and those darn Yanks together.  Honestly you could write this film in your sleep and considering the six writers I believe I counted in the titles they probably did.

The film if it has any interest at all is seeing Vivian Leigh in an early role before her breakout performance in Gone With The Wind.   

An empty film kind of a waste of time.

102 minutes

1995 - GOLDENEYE, on Blu Ray

This Bond film actually played pretty well for me after sitting through SPECTRE.  The minatures and special effects are very well done.  This was the last production that featured Derek Medding's special effects.  Meddings had started his career working for Gary Anderson's Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5.  The miniatures are blended very well with the live action of the film.

Pierce Brosnan always kind of suffered at the hands of his series of Bond films.  The stories were kind of silly but at least they were a little more in keeping with the light weight style of the previous films before they became so heavy handed.  Brosnan always uncomfortably walked the line between copying Sean Connery and Roger Moore, but I would have to say he wasn't too bad in this film.

The film is as usual with Bond films is just a little longer than it needs to be but considering the direction the series took Goldeneye almost seems like a fast paced ninety minute movie,

This was the Bond that introduced Brosnan as Bond and everyone seemed to try a little bit harder on this one with a different director and more contemporary story instead of the usual madman out to destroy the world plot.  I actually enjoyed watching this Bond film for a change.

130 minutes

2015 - PITCH PERFECT 2, more of the same

My spouse liked it.

115 minutes

Saturday, November 14, 2015

2015 - SPECTRE, more of the same

Daniel Craig, the actor who couldn't crack a joke if his life depended on in is back in his 4th and hopefully last Bond film.  This time the writers tried to give Craig a sense of humor with some Sean Connery or Roger Moore type of wisecracks but it's just not in him to have a light touch with a line of dialog.

The film itself is kind of a mess story wise, with the production team trying to tie together all of Craig's previous films into some kind of story telling epic, that doesn't succeed.  In fact the whole series seems just completely exhausted from a story telling point but what are they going to do but keep making Bond films.  The films still make money.

As with all Bond movies the production values are high.  The films are good to look at and the action stuff is fairly well done.  However there is an uncomfortable call back to previous Bond films particularly the Sean Connery films with many scenes borrowed and reworked for SPECTRE.

The film has take some heavy hits from some critics but really this is the same old stuff told in a rather pedestrian way. The last 20 minutes are probably the worst part of the film and it's a long film as well.

148 minutes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1976 - THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, fascinating crime drama

John Cassevettes writes and directs a film noir / crime drama genre film with his usual touches.  I. E. lots of long scenes shot in a semi improvisational style.  Great attention is paid to character and the photography really eschews any kind of standard Hollywood look.

This is a very challenging film Cassevettes has one of leads, Ben Gazzara on screen almost the entire film.  Gazzara is the owner of a stage club who stages nudie shows with actual themes and stories in them.  As we watch Gazzara go through his life messing things up the viewer becomes more immersed in his fascinatingly seedy personality.

The film comes to a climax in an act of violence that has severe consequences for Gazzaras's character, Cosmo Vittelli.  But really the film is a study of a low life and his low life world.  The rest of the cast (including the strippers) are pretty good.

135 minutes.

1953 - FLIGHT NURSE - Korean War love story

Will cute flight nurse Joan Leslie fall for air force pilot stud Forrest Tucker or wimpy helicopter pilot and 3rd string actor Arthur Franz?  Here is the dilemma that has to be resolved in about and hour and a half.  It's all happening during the Korean War so there's bombs and lots of stock war footage.

Flight Nurse is full of Korean War propaganda which uncomfortably sounds like World War II war propaganda.  Instead of Japs it's now Commies and the propaganda is constant not very subtle or particularly well written.

The picture was made at cheapy Republic Studios and directed by and old silent film guy Allan Dwan who was probably wrapping up his career.  Dwan had been around so long he had a list of around 400 films he signed off on.

Flight Nurse is supposed based on the life of a real nurse but let's hope the real individual had a more interesting life that this disappointing film.  Kind of a time waster.

90 minutes.