Showing posts with label John Hurt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Hurt. Show all posts

Friday, 29 March 2013

Midnight Express

For years friends and colleagues who know of my interest in films have been asking what I think of Midnight Express. I’ve always had to apologise and say that I’ve never seen it. This happened most recently last week and when I got home I finally remembered to add it as a high priority to my LoveFilm account with the company duly dispatching it just a couple of days later. Now when someone asks me what I think of Midnight Express I will be able to take them, though it might take some time. There is no doubting that it’s a very good film but it wasn’t quite the film I was expecting and there are one or two quite major problems with it.

The movie is based on a book by Billy Hayes, played here by Brad Davis. While in Istanbul with his girlfriend, Davis attempts to smuggle 2kg of hashish back to the US but is caught at the airport amid tighter security following a series of Palestinian lead hijackings. Billy is arrested and sent to a Turkish jail where he will spend the next several years.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


"I got you, you son of a bitch!"

With Prometheus just a couple of weeks away I thought it was about time I filled one of the most unforgivable gaps in my film history and finally watch Alien. The crew of the Nostromo are in stasis on a return trip to Earth, carrying a cargo of mineral ore. They are awakened early by the ship’s computer as it has intercepted a transmission for a nearby planetoid. Upon investigation, crew member Kane (John Hurt) discovers what appear to be eggs inside an unidentified ship. A life form hatches out of one of the eggs and attaches itself to his face. Returning to the Nostromo the crew try to detach the creature from Kane’s face but with no success. A short time later the creature removes itself from Kane and the crew find it dead. While preparing to go back into stasis for the return to Earth something extraordinary happens that unleashes an even greater threat to the ship and the crew.

My first thoughts were that the Nostromo reminded me of so much I’ve seen already. It is obvious how much influence the film has had on subsequent science fiction. The living quarters reminded me of the film Moon and in just about every other scene I said to myself “That’s just like Red Dwarf”. Everything about the film’s design was excellent. The ship felt large and real and the creature design was incredible. Considering the film is now over thirty years old, the latex or prosthetics that were used looked really good. Even now. Obviously some aspects of the film have aged noticeably. The computers for instance look as old as they are. This isn’t a major problem though as anything older than about five years or without a touch screen looks aged.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Melancholia follows the story of two sisters, Justine (Kirstin Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) during and shortly after Justine’s wedding. Both, but especially Justine, are suffering from depression which is perhaps being bought on by the fact that the rouge planet Melancholia is on course to come very close to colliding with the Earth.

The film begins with a long sequence of ultra slow motion images that are beautifully framed and shot. While stunning to look at, after a few minutes I did begin to worry if the whole film would be like this and it unfortunately began to remind me of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life which I really did not get. The remainder of the film is split into two sections, each named after one of the sisters, the first at a wedding and the second shortly after. After the quite wonderful opening sequence I found the cinematography in the rest of the film annoying. Von Trier uses a lot of shaky camera work and at times it is more like a Bourne film than an emotional drama.

Another problem I had with the film was Dunst’s character. While she is excellent in the role and probably the best I’ve ever seen her, I felt that her behaviour at her own wedding was ridiculous. I was surprised that her fiancĂ© Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) would have wanted to marry her in the condition she was in. At the best he should have got her some medical help and at the worst, run a mile. I also found it strange that Dunst was American yet her mother, father and sister were English. It didn’t make much sense and I was confused for the first 45 minutes by who her parents were. I thought that the film on the whole was clunky and like a first draft. There are undoubtedly great moments in there but to me it felt like half a film. I also found it very monotonous. On the plus side, the view of Melancholia as it passed by and approached the Earth was spectacular and stunning.

Considering the last Lars von Trier film I watched, Antichrist had Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘pleasuring’ a man until he bled and then removing her own clitoris, I was hoping for a more enjoyable watch with Melancholia but while Antichrist isn’t an easy watch, I thought it was a better film. I realise I am opening myself up to not getting what von Trier was trying to do and while I do get the idea of depression and someone’s depression destroying the world, I just didn’t think it was dealt with in a satisfying way. The film was confusing and not interesting enough.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Brighton Rock

2010’s Brighton Rock is a massive disappointment. Despite nice period detail and a great cast it is unbelievably boring.

Sam Riley plays Pinky, a member of a Brighton gang who after killing a rival gang member, befriends Angela Riseborough’s Rose in order to keep an eye on her as she has witnessed the gangs behaviour before the murder. She falls head over heels in love with Pinky and the film charts their relationship and Pinky’s subsequent role within the gang.

1960s Brighton looks wonderful here and the clothes, hair and makeup all look genuine. It is a very nice film to look at. Angela Riseborough is the pick of the cast, outshining the likes of Helen Mirren and John Hurt. She is wonderful as a shy and impressionable young waitress who falls for the sociopathic Pinky. Riley’s Pinky is deeply unlikeable and without any redeeming features. He is played well by Riley. Andy Serkis plays rival gang leader Colleoni and is also wonderful. The acting as a whole is marvellous but the film is just so boring. I couldn’t engage with the film and didn’t care what happened to any of the characters.

The transportation of the film to the 1960s to coincide with the Mods and Rockers clashes seemed pointless. There was no reason for it to have been set in that time and would have worked just as well if it had been set in the 1940s like the original. The film didn’t make any use of its time change. Sam Riley is also too old to have played the character in my view. Riseborough looks and acts like a girl in her late teens or early twenties but Riley looks about thirty. He is too old to be an up and coming gangster.