School For Scoundrels (1960 UK)

Before satire was written by Oxbridge public school boys for Oxbridge public school boys, British comedy writers believed their audience intelligent enough to appreciate gentle irony without stamping on their heads. The English humourist Stephen Potter enjoyed great success in the 1950s with his books “Gamesmanship”, which ironically advised sportsmen on “how to win without actually cheating”, chiefly by using psychological ploys to unsettle their opponents, and “Lifemanship” and “One-upmanship” which advocated a similar attitude to life in general. The central idea is that Potter, not content with merely writing books, has actually opened a College of Lifemanship in Somerset in order to teach his philosophy. [Read more…]

After The Sunset (USA 2004)

Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek) are eating at a restaurant with an American couple and are discussing their business activities. Wendell: “My family’s been in manure for three generations.” Max: “No shit.” Having pulled off yet another amazing and cunning diamond robbery and left FBI Agent Lloyd with yet more egg on his face, Max and Lola retire to the Caribbean and get on easy street. After a while though the lobsters start to lose their luxury, the sun seems normal and the days are boring more than they are relaxing. [Read more…]

Wonder Woman (2017 USA)

Mainstream films get dumber, louder and tackier all the time, and they substitute mawkishness for real emotion and character development. Banned in Lebanon, but to really do it justice this pile of crap should be banned everywhere! WW is really the same as every other cartoonish, overblown comic-book action flick, except with a female protagonist. Actually, this is worse than the average comic book movie, because it preaches to the audience about pacifism but then hypocritically celebrates “heroic” violence. In other words: Wonder Woman is an alleged pacifist who enjoys killing lots of  people. But wait!, all is not lost, WW delivers on three things – lots of slow mo, dodgy special effects, and painful clichés. [Read more…]

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961 United Kingdom)

Remember when Britain produced really great motion pictures? OK, no one is that old who would visit this blog. Lucky for us there is dvd-blu ray to enjoy these hoary relics. Anyway, this was made decades before millions hated and distrusted the lame stream’s media lies that pass for “news.”  It is very rare that a film manages to capture the sweat, stress and panic of the newsroom (ho ho! – alright, I’ll reign in my cynicism for the duration of this post) where the workers gather round for quick meetings and discussions before frantically typing up a new story and making those all – important phone calls. And the decision to tell the whole story from the viewpoint of the Daily Express workers is a refreshing and exciting one. [Read more…]

Monster’s Ball (2001 USA)

This is a typical male erotic fantasy, the hesitant white man dutifully tending to the jungle goddess because she’s damaged and begging to be repaired. What the film really wants to do is titillate its audience with the prospect of hot black- on- white sex. Whilst the entire film is shot with economy, using very little coverage, its famous sex scene is shot from every possible angle (and more if you buy the director’s cut). The director wants us to leer at Halle Berry’ chocolate flesh- the film treating the audience to delightful little snippets of Berry’s berries and pert little cheeks. End result: white audience gets a slice of jungle fever, whilst passing it off as grief coping. As for me, my White Guilt O Metre could only reach as high as 4 out of 10. [Read more…]

Happiness (1998 USA)

This sadistic 2 hour film has no plot, in the sense of a meaningful series of events. Things happen, but there is no “story.” The film functions only to document human ugliness and suffering in the most agonizing detail possible, depicting several people causing and experiencing suffering, and then eventually the credits roll. I’ve seen other films that had no story line, some of which were very good, so I don’t mean it as a criticism of Happiness. Its a fact. I’ve seen many films that depicted human suffering, the majority of my favourite films have done so to a greater or lesser degree. Art is largely about “the human condition”, and whatever else it might involve, that condition certainly has its share of suffering. [Read more…]

The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

Carnal Knowledge (1971 USA)

Bobbie: “The reason I sleep all day is because I can’t stand my life!”

Jonathon: “What life?!”

Bobbie: “Sleeping all day!…I need a life.”

Jonathon: “Get a job!”

Bobbie: “I don’t want a job. I want you.”

Jonathon: “I’m taken, by me! Get out of the house, do something useful, Goddammit.” There are some real funny one liners if you can stay awake. Carnal Knowledge, directed by Mike Nichols, from a script by cartoonist Jules Feiffer, is a dud without a single likable or really interesting character. Nichols’ film is a series of cartoon panels with no sense of any life surrounding the characters. Nichols appears to have been influenced by the films of Bergman and Antonioni though he lacks their brilliance. His reach exceeded his grasp. The result is an attempt at what was hoped to be a genre that never materialized: American art cinema. [Read more…]

The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964 Britain)

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is a good-looking film at least, thankfully not having the rushed and made-on-the-quick-and-cheap production values of the Universal Kharis Mummy films. The chilling Hammer atmosphere is present in how the film looks, with the sumptuous Gothic sets, lush photography that does a fine job evoking atmosphere, much tighter editing and rich bold colours. We have the usual well spoken actors, in this case Ronald Howard (the hero)  and Terence Morgan (the villain). The music score is hauntingly stirring, and while this flick is too often dull it really does bring it on home in the final twenty minutes. [Read more…]

A Man For All Seasons (1966 Britain)

This piece of classic cinema is an erudite example of the old Biblical maxim: a man cannot serve two masters. Sir Thomas More, a multi-talented man of letters and law, went to the executioner’s block because he would not recognize a temporal king as head of his country’s church. Though a friend of Henry VIII, and his chancellor, he was more afraid of offending God than the king. A man who took his Catholic faith quite seriously. Robert Bolt’s play ran for 637 performances in the 1961-1963 season on Broadway and the only two who came over from the Broadway cast were Paul Scofield as More and Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell. [Read more…]

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