Tag Archives: Went The Day Well?

A Week In Film #487: Climb to crash

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Somewhat pointless remake, which doesn’t managed to improve upon the original in any area. Still sort of watchable from Antoine Fuqua.

Kill The Irishman
Solid, workmanlike mid-Western Irish mob knock-off of Goodfellas and the rest, with Ray Stevenson as ex-longshoreman turned bomb-fond gangster Danny Green in 70s Ohio, taking on the Italian crime syndicate and for a long time winning. Directed with brio by Jonathan Hensleigh.

Page Eight
Playwright David Hare riffs on le Carré, and in Bill Nighy as veteran security officer Johnny Worricker has a domestically-oriented protagonist if not the equal of Smiley (of course not!) certainly not unworthy of interest.

Too much is taken up with setting up the universe, and letting us know that This Is Not The Circus, even though it really, really is, in a budget-buy kind of way. The plot’s a bit half-baked, but there’s a nice cast – Ralph Fiennes as a Blairish dick of a PM, Rachel Weisz as a mysterious neighbour, Ewen Bremner as an ex-spook put out to pasture as a journo, Saskia Reeves as an untrustworthy politician. Decent enough though.

Dunkirk (1958)
Leslie Norman’s 1958 version of Operation Dynamo, with much of the focus on the ‘little boats’ and the men who took them to the beaches and back – here stoic newspaperman and self-absorbed company owner Richard Attenborough. John Mills represents the Tommies trying to get home in one piece.

Turks & Caicos
Hare and Nighy take their Worricker world over to the Caribbean on Auntie’s shilling – the same sort of thinking that landed us with Miami Twice and White Ghost. It’s not bad, but the inclusion of the likes of Christopher Walker and Winona Ryder does rather piss on the chips of the more subtle work done in its predecessor – plus it’s streaked through with incredibly bourgeois liberal wankery.

Salting The Battlefield
The Worricker Trilogy rounds off with our silver-maned hero finally making it safely home… Or does it?

Memphis Belle
For the sake of a propaganda drive a B-17 crew has to make One Last Trip before its crew is rotated out – will they survive the hell of a daylight bombing run? Nice ensemble war movie stuff with Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Sean Astin, Harry Connick Jnr et al, directed in an old fashioned style by Michael Caton-Jones.

Went The Day Well?
Quality wartime propaganda from Graham Greene and Cavalcanti, with a bunch of English villagers (including Thora Hird) routing the treacherous Boche, who have had the audacity to impersonate honest British soldiers in a dastardly invasion plot.

A Week In Film #010: Stocking up on cinema

Hackers title screen
Hackers
Breezy, cheesy, cheeky entertainment about a band of young computer nerds being framed for a hack they didn’t commit. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie and Matthew Lillard help you forget about insanely slow typing, lines like “Twenty-eight BPS!!!” and yet another Hollywood interpretation of ‘a nightclub’. There’s also a decent soundtrack (Orbital, Underworld, Prodigy, Carl Cox, erm, Urban Dance Squad…), Bunk from The Wire and the shrink from The Sopranos. CdM has a nice review of it.

Went The Day Well? title screen
Went The Day Well?
A what-if-the-Jerries-invaded? specfic from Ealing, which was liberally looted for Jack Higgins’ ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and its film adaptation. Director Cavalcanti subverts the ‘Be Pure/Be Vigilant/Behave’-style win-the-war-on-the-Home-Front message, showing the villagers of a sleepy English hamlet to be just as bloodthirsty as the Nazis who infiltrate it. Shocking use of violence for a 1942 film.

The Hitch-Hiker title screen
The Hitch-Hiker
‘Based on true events’, two friends out for a weekend of hunting end up at the mercy of a hitchhiking psychopath. A snappy, vicious noir.

Stage Fright title screen
Stage Fright
Hitchcock gets all playful with notions of performance and acting, using a melodrama about a murder amidst a group of thespy types as his launchpad into something more interesting. What is real? Can a fiction film lie to its audience? Marlene Dietrich, Alastair Sim and Richard Todd (not bandying round insensitive racial epithets for once) are the highlights. Well, that and Hitch’s direction.

Shock title screen
Shock
Cheap but effective shocker, with upscale shrink Vincent Price trying to cover up a crime, but conflicted by his doctorly obligations.

Derailed title screen
Derailed
I gave this a go because it was directed by Mikael Håfström, whose 1408 I was so underwhelmed by. Clive Owen is a stressed out advertising executive. This is not a good start. His marriage to Angel from Home And Away is under strain. He starts an affair with Rachel from Friends, is beaten up by Vinz from La Haine, seeks help from Rza from the Wu Tang, is investigated by the Fed from The Usual Suspects. The ‘twist’ is evident from the beginning, at least to anyone who’s ever seen a twist thriller, or anything by David Mamet. Pretty but dull.

He Walked By Night title screen
He Walked By Night
‘Gritty noir’ is the expression. Clinical, amoral thief Richard Basehart kills a cop early on, changes up so he can’t be identified by his MO, but is relentlessly chased down by vengeful detectives. I was rooting for the bad guy.

Q The Winged Serpent title screen
Q The Winged Serpent
Awesome Larry Cohen schlock horror – an Aztec god-beast terrorises New York, weary cops Keith Carradine and Richard Roundtree hunt the killer behind flayed corpses and headless bodies snatched from rooftops, petty crook Michael Moriarty tries to stay ahead of the curve. Great location shooting at the top of the Chrysler Building. Doesn’t take itself too seriously. Actors actually make an effort, despite the preposterousness. A Moviedrome classic.

An Inspector Calls title screen
An Inspector Calls
Alastair Sim is the inspector in this pedestrian (but watchable) adaptation of JB Priestley’s mildly class conscious potboiler. Bryan Forbes (Mr Nanette Newman and writer or director of gems such as The Cockleshell Heroes, The League Of Gentlemen, I Was Monty’s Double and Whistle Down The Wind) is excellent as Eric, the drunken son in a gruesome monied family.

Shanghai Noon title screen
Shanghai Noon
I went to see this at the cinema. I was disappointed then, and I was disappointed when I rewatched it the other day. The premise – Chinese Imperial Guard Jackie Chan ends up in the WIld West, teams up with laconic outlaw Owen Wilson – is great. It’s well performed. The two leads have a nice rapport. It’s just boring, and it drags. The action sequences aren’t shot to the benefit of Chan’s skills. It looks a mess.

Shanghai Knights title screen
Shanghai Knights

The sequel to the above, with our heroes transplanted to London. Much more enjoyable, much more effective. Lots of late Victorian era tropes are thrown in – Jack The Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, the birth of motor transportation; there are nice visual steals (the umbrella sequence, Keystone Kops) as well as teefed dialogue and terrible English accents (mostly from English actors). It’s fun.

Beat The Devil title screen
Beat The Devil
Rather dull John Huston quest movie, taking the piss out of his own Maltese Falcon. Writer Truman Capote drops names from his involvement in it to get the Holcomb locals to open up to him in both Infamous and Capote, which was the only reason why I watched it. Bogey looks uncomfortable throughout. Jennifer Jones is rather good fun, though.

Hue And Cry title screen
Hue And Cry
A Charles Crichton-directed, TEB Clarke-scripted Ealing comedy, set in bomb-ravaged East London in the immediate postwar period. A group of kids think that a story paper is being used by a master criminal to pass instructions on to his underlings. There’s a lot more to it than that. The best film I’ve seen this week that I’d not previously watched.