Slayground (Richard Stark)

This is the fourteenth entry in Richard Stark’s (the writer’s real name Was Donald E Westlake) excellent series about Parker, the amoral criminal whose carefully-laid plans almost always come undone because of some unforeseen accident or because of an act of carelessness by one of the other crooks involved in the plan. In this case, it’s the getaway driver who screws everything up. This is not the driver that Parker would have preferred, but it’s the driver that Parker had to settle for. And it’s Parker who will now have to pay the price. [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…]

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…]

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…]

Disclosure (1994 USA)

Plot: A computer specialist is sued for sexual harassment by a former lover-turned boss which threatens his career and personal life. His marriage. His future. It’s all on the line for DigiCom executive Tom Sanders. He rejects the passionate advance of his new boss, leading to him being charged with sexual harassment. Suddenly, long-time company man Tom must scramble for his corporate life – a scramble that will lead him into the dazzling cyberworld of DigiCom’s new virtual reality corridor…and lay bare a shocking conspiracy among key company personnel. Just show us the pictures do I hear ye cry? (Don’t worry, I will) [Read more…]

Ask The Dust (2006 USA)

1939. John Fante writes “Ask the Dust” about a young man embarking on a literary career. Years later a young Robert Towne voraciously devours Fante’s novels, most of which attempt to paint a portrait of early 20th century Los Angeles. Decades pass. Towne embarks on his own literary career. He scores big with his script for Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”, a LA noir influenced and flavoured by Fante. Towne and Fante personally meet in the 1970s. Fante dies in 1983. Two decades later Towne adapts “Ask the Dust” for the screen… [Read more…]

1984 (United Kingdom 1984)

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” There are plenty of evil forces in the world attempting to do just that. George Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most celebrated novels of the 20th Century . We have words like ” Orwellian ” that have come in to everyday modern usage. There’s at least two television shows, Big Brother and Room 101 who take their concepts from 1984. It seems logical that if someone was going to make a film adaptation of the novel then 1984 would be the perfect year to release it. It was even filmed between April and June, the period of the year the novel had been written. Unfortunately Michael Radford’s interpretation clashes between the good and the bad. [Read more…]

Cotton Mary (1999 France/UK/USA)

greta-scacchi-cotton-mary-celebrity-posing-hot-topless-nude-4(This post is dedicated to the shamelesscelebrities website) Lead actress on display, Greta Scacchi, although an introverted performer verbally, certainly qualifies as a shameless celebrity. Not that I’m complaining, but throughout the 1980s and 90s she could usually be relied upon to “get em out.” That’s what directors demanded of her and she never let them down. Despite some of the arty productions she appeared in, her nubile body became her calling card. And fortune. Since then Kate Winslet has carried on the mantle of an actress whom we lucky viewers get to see as much of as her gynaecologist does. When these type of actresses get older they usually keep their clothes on and decry their earlier birthday suit sagas as examples of male directors “oppressing” them mixed with naiveté . Yeah, right.  [Read more…]

The Hit (1984 UK)

It’s hard to put my finger on just what it is, exactly, that makes this film so impressive. One can hardly point to substantial character development, because the characters (with one exception) never really become true flesh and blood to us. The director knew how to combine simple, pure elements–strong, bold colours, bright sunlight, stark images, and exactly the right sounds–in ways that seem to speak of things larger than themselves. So what is it? Certainly the locations and the music, the general ambiance, add a lot to The Hit. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: