Showing posts with label Paul Newman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Newman. Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cool Hand Luke

Nominated for four Oscars and the winner of one, Cool Hand Luke is an anti-establishment tale of triumph of spirit set in a Florida Prison Camp. Highly decorated but jaded war veteran Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman) is sent to prison for two years after drunkenly destroying parking meters. Life inside the camp is tough but Luke endears himself to his fellow inmates thanks to his ‘never give up’ spirit and lust for life. Following a couple of failed escape attempts though the prison guards come down hard on Luke and life inside begins to take its toll.

I’d never heard of this film before a couple of weeks ago when a friend recommended it and subsequently lent it to me. Grateful as I am, had I never seen it I don’t think I would have been too bothered. For me Cool Hand Luke is a decent prison movie but nothing more. I rarely found the conditions or treatment of Luke to be overly harsh until one scene mid way through and apart from the gruelling work, life inside the jail didn’t seem that bad. What the movie gets across though is a spirit of refusal to give up or bow down which not only sits well with the 1960s period in which it was made and set but also continues to work well today.

Sunday, 8 April 2012


Set in a world of anthropomorphic cars, Pixar’s 2006 feature Cars is about an arrogant, rookie racing car called Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his quest to win the ‘Piston Cup’. On his way to a final showdown in Los Angeles he ends up trapped in a backward town on Route 66 where he is forced by the locals to repair the road which he ripped up while trying to escape from the police. While in town he gets to know some of the local cars and helps them to rediscover their former glory before embarking once again to LA for the final race.

I’ve now seen every Pixar film except Cars 2. I think the Toy Story trilogy is amongst the greatest in the history of cinema, I love Finding Nemo and Wall-E is one of my favourite films. In my opinion Cars is the weakest film that Pixar has produced so far. It isn’t a bad film but compared to Pixar’s back catalogue it’s a bit weak.

On the plus side, the anthropomorphised world that the film creates is strangely believable and the film makers manage to get a lot of expression and emotion via a clever use of windscreens as eyes. The whole design of the film and the animation is unsurprisingly excellent. In particular I really liked the 1950’s look and design of Radiator Springs. The film isn’t as funny as some Pixar features but there are some very funny moments and ideas. I loved that the 1960’s Hippie VW Camper and US Army Jeep were neighbours. It felt like there was a sitcom in that idea. I also thought that the idea to use tractors in place of cows was very funny and clever.  The film also contains a nice message about the nature of modern motoring and its impact on the environment and small communities.

On the downside, I thought that it was far too long. It is 117 minutes which is far too long to keep children (and me) interested in a film of this quality. Up was only 96 minutes long, A Bug’s Life 95 and Toy Story only 81 minutes. It seems shorter is better in the world of Pixar. The idea to use cars instead of humans was nice but the story wasn’t up to scratch. At the end of the day it’s a pretty traditional boy meets girl and changes his outlook story. Finally I thought that some of the characters were a bit stereotypical and that’s a bit lazy of Pixar.

One of the best parts of the film came over the closing credits when the characters were at a drive in cinema and watched clips of Pixar films whose characters were cars. These included Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks Inc and A Bug’s Life (featuring a VW Bug) and they were really funny.

Overall, the film is below the standard I’ve become accustomed to from Pixar but it is still funny and enjoyable at times. It is far too long and lacks a little imagination on occasion but is a solid family animation.