Still one of my wackiest favourites…and just as mad as before…

…welcome to the future. Welcome to a really crazy guy called Max and a whole lot of even crazier characters. When I’d watched this visual piece of art back in 2015/2016, it utterly blew my mind! I’d never watched such a wacky visual feast before. And with such totally bizarre, but brilliant, concepts…like human blood bags (Tom Hardy), guitarists accompanying the battle convoy, dudes attacking on long vault-like poles and…and…and…

…and, last weekend I was no less blown away. Still one of my favourite movies. Beautiful. I’ve never seen and don’t intend to see any of the previous Mad Max movies…I’d like to keep Fury Road special…no prequels, no sequels, just Fury Road).

The story is set in the future where the world is a dried up wasteland, or rather a complete barren landscape of sand and more sand (another future world that is seeming to become more and more plausible with the state of the world and weather in general). Not so unimaginable at all. A world where petrol and water are scarce and therefore the most precious commodities available (not too unrealistic sounding is it?). Max Rockatansky aka Mad Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself unintentionally going into battle as Nux‘s (Nicholas Hoult) blood bag. This to chase down Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who has fled with the five precious wives (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton) of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a powerful warlord who controls a well of water on which his citadel rests.

What unfolds is pretty much a chase movie but oh so brilliantly executed. If you, like me before, are skeptical about Mad Max movies, don’t be. Just go into this one with no no preconceived expectations or opinions. Simply let yourself be totally absorbed within the first few minutes and you don’t even notice how everything else around you ceases to exist until those closing credits at which point you’ll wish it didn’t have to end.

The costumes are phenomenal as are the massive landscapes. The sand storm is just beautiful. The toxic swamp at night with crows and eerie beings is the only reprieve you’ll get of the otherwise ever-present browns, oranges and reds into which you become absorbed. Almost like you’re in a Cirque du Soleil spectacle.

I briefly introduced this movie in another post way back then…how unexpectedly brilliant it was: (here).

And, if you are up for some more futuristic movies, the Futurethon Blogathon, hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Barry of Cinematic Catharsis (here) has it all.

Minority Report…scarily real

Back in 2002 when Minority Report came out, for some, it seemed really far-fetched and total fantasy, while for others, like me, the future was quite concerning. And, on watching it again some 20 years later I’m just utterly amazed (or completely shocked) at how scarily close to reality Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of the novella “The Minority Report” (Philip K Dick, 1956) came.

Let’s face it, yes, the billboards out there aren’t talking to us directly but the personally targeted advertising we are exposed to these days is pretty much exactly that. Even without having our retinas scanned, our internet surfing, searching, purchasing and general presence gives away so much about us that we might as well be scanning our retinas.

Ah, wait…the story! Yes…sorry, let me tell you a bit more before I get carried away on all the personal data we leave lying around these days.

Sometime in 2054 (not too far away really, as I also noticed the other day when I was extending a date dimension in a data warehouse to 2060..oops, sorry, data nerd moment) the Pre-crime division (a trial program) prevents murder from happening based on images/visions obtained from 3 precogs (pre-cognitives). These precogs (effectively 3 humans who suffer from nightmares due to having been born to drug-addicts) permanently lie, drugged of course, in some milky water, hooked up to technology so that their future murder visions can be captured and actioned upon before they actually take place.

Coming to the closing stages of the trial period, and deemed successful enough to be rolled out to the entire United States, it is all uprooted when Pre-crime Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is implicated, via a vision, in a future murder. Of course he needs to go on the run because anyone appearing as a future murderer is arrested and haloed (i.e. suspended in a catatonic and drugged state) and as he says “everybody runs”. Of course, not all is at is seems…I guess it would be too good to be true..or, we wouldn’t have a story.

The disturbing and questionable aspect of the movie isn’t as much the accuracy of the future Minority Report world compared to the one of 2023 but around arresting someone for a murder that they haven’t committed yet. So, despite the precogs “always being right”, how can you rely on that and make an arrest? Because, it hasn’t happened yet. And yes, you are preventing it (are you?), but can you really, really, reeeeaaaaally be sure that it will in fact take place? Who says the precogs always predict the right thing? Isn’t another concept out there that what is meant to be will be? Something to ponder upon…

…and, if you haven’t watched the movie, ponder upon watching it to see how it all unfolds. I must say, I did enjoy it back around 2002/2003 when I first watched it but now I appreciate it even more. Especially working extensively with data and artificial intelligence. It somehow hits home even more these days.

Minority Report also stars Samantha Morton as one of the precogs, Colin Farrell as a Department of Justice agent who gets a bit too close to the truth and Max von Sydow as the director of it all, Lamar Burgess.

And, if you are up for some more futuristic movies, the Futurethon Blogathon, hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Barry of Cinematic Catharsis (here) will give you some more.

 

The Subtle Side of Business Alignment

Calling in external consultants is easier and quicker. You tell them what to do and off they go. Business is happy, IT usually not, but hey, the work needs to be done. Easy peasy. Done and dusted.

Really? I’ve come to realise that, while on the surface, consulting might be an easy option, deep down there’s an interaction with business that you may be missing out on.

Source: Picture by author (Catherine)

As a consultant, typically, the client calls, you deliver to specification (anything beyond that means quotes or approvals) and after a few hours, days, or even months you move on. Next client. Next deliverable. Next billable hour. That’s the nature of consulting. Always on the clock. No added extras. No added value.

So, yes, this might fit some situations or companies but why not invest in internal know-how? Because there’s more to it than just software or technical skills.

Touchy-feely stuff

Now in a permanent internal position, I’ve come to realise that while consultants might have technically deep know-how (even here there are no guarantees) they lack the business insight. Consultant contact is often limited to a particular area or function where information is divulged on a need-to-know basis. It is also unlikely that the full company strategy will be exposed. Insight is missing. Internally, though, you’ll know what the common goals and fears are and so, which levers to activate. But it goes beyond that. As an “internal service provider” you can afford a  touchy-feely interaction with business e.g. gently convince them of buy-in if they’re sceptical or hear out their thoughts. You can support on a more personal level because you have an understanding of their pain points or experienced previous projects or implementations together. Basically, you know which buttons to push (or not to push). How to put colleagues at ease.

And you can take the liberty of delivering a little extra or spend time trying out something new or different. Because there is no dragon blocking diversions and breathing “billable hour” fire down your back. Through this flexibility and exposure to business areas you find yourself in a position to cross-advise and maybe even avoid duplicate efforts. By not being “The Consultant” but rather a colleague you’re able to build up relationships or leverage off of existing ones. Don’t get me wrong. Consultants do build up relationships with clients but generally within a limited area (and takes time because, let’s face it, it doesn’t come from a few ad-hoc consulting days).

Coffee gossip and buzzwords

You’ll find yourself exchanging ideas and information with colleagues thus slowly bridging that “Us vs Them” (“Business vs IT”) divide that exists in many organisations and so find out what they really need. Don’t underestimate that coffee nook or passage gossip. It helps IT keep a critical step ahead as inevitably someone will bring up the latest technology or buzzword. You’re doing two jobs at once: delivering a service but also finding out what colleagues’ thoughts are. At the end of the day, it is business who gives a good indication of where the journey should go and helps figure out what they really need as opposed to what IT thinks they need. Which means you can probably pre-empt their next ideas, and if not, at least be ready for them or inform the relevant enabler.

In closing

You might say that at times it is quicker and easier to hire external consultants who come with the technical expertise for the job. I won’t argue that. But I do believe that internally there are different nuances to the professional relationships with business which changes how you engage with each other and results in greater alignment. Or at least gives a starting point to bringing IT and Business closer.

As for the skills gap, well, for that there’s always Google. Oh, and experience from trial and error.

NOTE/DIsclaimer: This post was first published for HSLU Informatik Blog

(FH Zentralschweiz) in 2022 by Catherine as part of the CAS IT Management and Agile Transformation Course

Mega-City Joburg…oops…One

Dredd (2012)(please, please, please don’t confuse this with or even think for a minute that it is anything like Judge Dredd…because it isn’t – it is waaaay better and totally underrated. Be warned though…it is extremely violent) opens with a scene of Mega City One, a city stretching from Boston to DC, ahem, downtown Johannesburg (South Africa). So weird and completely mind-boggling being led to believe that you are looking at America but you know it is Johannesburg because you’ve driven there almost every day for 4 years going to university and then another who-knows-how-many years off to work and then another 3 years taking my daughter to and from school. Mostly when I’m watching a movie I don’t think twice about the setting but in this case I really found it difficult to separate myself from the fictional and the real location and it took a while to actually associate the story with America and not Johannesburg. But, once I got over that, I thoroughly enjoyed Dredd (2012) starring Karl Urban, Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby.

So…let me take you on a brief tour (and this is not one of those beautiful South African scenery ones…so please don’t judge the country by Johannesburg). Here an aerial view from Mega City One i.e. screenshots of the movie Dredd but pretty darn accurate (bar those few superimposed buildings)  view of Johannesburg:

Below a section of the city (on the left a super-imposed mega block) where roughly in the middle Johannesburg City Hall can be seen (the building with a tower and domed top).

Here is Johannesburg City Hall up close:

Have a look at this view of Mega City One:

Now have a look at this aerial view of Johannesburg – notice anything in common?

(Hint…the “smaller skyscrapers” in the Mega City One picture and the buildings at the back of the real Johannesburg picture)

Let’s go to our drug dealer car chase near the beginning. This has been filmed on and around the “double-decker” highway (aka. the M1) in Johannesburg. I drove this section of highway on a regular basis. Here, it isn’t quite so difficult to get my head around it because each level of the highway (in the spot used for filming) is one-way. So, the fact that in South Africa you drive on the left of the road and in America on the right, doesn’t really make a difference here.

Here are two scenes as well as the closing scene filmed on the “lower level” of this highway:

And the “real” picture of this section of highway:

Dredd chases the perpetrators off the Carr Street off ramp. Notice the red building on the right in this screenshot:

Now have a look at this real picture of the off ramp (but coming from behind the traffic):

In this areal shot of Johannesburg/Mega City One you’ll actually notice that traffic is driving on the left. Near the top of the image you can also see the highway underneath which many of the opening chase scenes were filmed:

Here is one of those scenes taking place underneath the highway (before it becomes the double-decker section):

And just a few more impressions (from the movie but let’s be honest, they’re exactly what it looks like in that area of town):

While the above don’t do South Africa justice at all, they work really well in this movie. They depict Mega City One very well even though it is really sad that downtown Johannesburg is so dilapidated these days to be used as a movie setting depicting a wasteland in the future.But, there are really beautiful gems tucked away within the Johannesburg city centre. You just need to know where to look. Open your eyes. There are some amazing things to visit and see.

For a review of this movie’s big villain I did in 2017, head on over here: Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma.

Ah, and did you know? A part of Avengers: Age of Ultron was also filmed in similar areas of Johannesburg.

For some more posts where bloggers write about movies set in locations they really know, head on over to The Seen on the Screen Blogathon (here) hosted by Rebecca of Taking Up Room.

Revisiting Up In Arms with Danny Kaye

I’m going to admit something…please don’t be disappointed in me…but I only know Danny Kaye from one role…that as hypochondriac Danny Weems in Up in Arms (1944). 

As many of you know by now, I grew up with the “abandoned” Super 8 movies that my parents rescued when VHS tapes came out. And, yes, Up in Arms was amongst them. I recall watching it quite a bit actually but if you asked me a few weeks ago, I would not have been able to tell you the story. Just that there was lots of singing aboard a military ship.

So, revisiting it now (with a bit better quality and sound than way, waaaay back then on those 4 movie reels), many things were completely new to me (I guess that’s not all bad…it’s like watching a whole new movie). The unrequited love (love triangle?) part had previously totally passed me by, as had Danny’s hypochondriac condition as well as many of the “talking bits”. Amazing how when you’re quite young, the main focus is completely different to when you’re an adult – the singing was what I watched. But still, and I know this sounds all strange, the scenes just came to mind again as if I’d never forgotten:

Some of these still had me smiling, some I found had become dated since then. But, I thoroughly enjoyed being reminded (or introduced to) other parts of the story. I always enjoyed the singing parts and only just found out that Up In Arms was actually nominated for 2 Academy Awards: Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) and Music (Song – “Now I Know”). I thinks these nominations are well deserved.

What I also only just found out was that Danny Kaye had never acted in a motion picture before this one. I’m sure moving from Broadway to movies isn’t easy, however, this seems to have started his on screen career.

So, for more things Danny Kaye (I’m sorry but I’m keeping this post short…I’ve been on a long-haul flight and traveling for the last 24 hours) head on over to Poppity Talks Classic Film who is hosting this “The Danny Kayae Blogathon” here (click here).

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some so bad, it’s good for me though…

…yes, another wonderful round of the “So bad it’s good” Blogathon hosted by Rebecca of Taking Up Room. As always, I’m taking on the slant of “it’s badly rated but I quite like it. It’s good”. This year, rated 4.7 on IMDB, I’m taking on “The Truth About Charlie” (2002).

Directed by Jonathan Demme (known for The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) this movie really isn’t bad at all. For me that is. Maybe for others it doesn’t rate well because it is compared to the movie Charade on which it is apparently based. I haven’t seen “the original” so I have no expectations. Anyway, that’s besides the point.

The story revolves around Regina (Thandiwe Newton) who, returning to Paris from a holiday abroad, finds her home ransacked and practically empty. Husband Charlie (Stephen Dillane) in the morgue. Coincidentally the charming Lewis (Mark Wahlberg) who she briefly met on holiday keeps crossing paths with her (in Paris). Commandant Dominique (Christine Boisson) and Lieutenant Dessalines (Simon Abkarian) likewise keep appearing. Poor Regina has no idea what is going on which is complicated when some US agent Carson Dyle (Tim Robbins) claims to be the man to trust. A whole lot of people suddenly have a very keen interest in Regina, or rather, Charlie’s belongings.

While it may all sound complex, and, in all honestly, probably doesn’t add up as cleanly as it should, I thoroughly enjoy watching it all unfold in Paris. It adds a certain, well, “je ne sais quoa”…but it works for me. And the supporting characters are wonderful too, the actors and actresses that have been cast give their roles a special something. Christine Boisson has got to be the coolest Commandant out there. Even Lola, Zadapec and Il-Sang Lee (played respectively by LisaGay Hamilton, Ted Levine and Joong-Hoon Park), three suspicious characters who are ever-present around Regina fit the story perfectly. I think that’s probably what it comes down to…the setting and casting, not so much the story.

Regardless of what it is, I do find myself watching this one every couple of years. I guess we all have some or other “bad” movie on our watch list.

Just like these other two movies that are deemed bad but are good for me: Northmen: A Viking Saga (review here) and The Gundown (review here).

Head on hover to Taking Up Room to see some variations on a theme of “So Bad It’s Good” over here (here). (I’m linking you to the announcement page because I have no access to the internet when the Blogathon takes place)

And starring Alan Arkin with the Muppets…oops, with Pippa Lee…

…no, I didn’t get totally confused…it’s just that I’m writing for “The Great Muppet Guest Star Caper” Blogathon and I decided to use Alan Arkin, who was a guest star in the Muppets to get me to the movie “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”.

Alan Arkin plays Herb Lee, retired husband of much younger Pippa Lee (Robin Wright…then still Robin Wright Penn). Having sold up their huge mansion to lead a simpler, quieter life in a retirement village, things don’t turn up so tranquil (and possibly boring as expected by Pippa) after all.

You see, very early on we realise that while Herb is enjoying his new life (although, even here you soon realise he just can’t leave his success behind), Pippa Lee just doesn’t really fit in. But it isn’t only the retirement village that is the problem…no, you realise that poor Pippa doesn’t even fit into her own family properly. She seems to be the outsider. Even though everyone claims she is the most supportive person, the best cook and, and, and..

But of course things have to happen, have to change. We wouldn’t have a story/movie otherwise would we? And while Pippa Lee is rediscovering herself (she doesn’t want to be the perfect wife and mother) we also experience her previous life…literally from the womb.

I won’t give too much away, just in case you want to watch this 2009 Rebecca Miller movie for yourself. It is based on the book of the same name, also written by Ms Miller (and sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read). I always enjoy Rebecca Miller’s movies and this is no exception.

The rest of the cast is brilliant too – we have Blake Lively (I was introduced to her in this role) as one of the younger Pippa Lees. Mario Bello is Pippa’s drug-addicted mother. Monica Belluci, Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan and Julianne Moore amongst others make for interesting characters. And to top it all off, Keanu Reeves sports a grotesque full chest tattoo as Chris, a 35 year old also going through his own personal crisis.

Sound complicated? Sound heavy? Yes, it is. But absolutely worth watching. If you like some drama.

And if you want to meet some other Muppet Guest Stars, head on over to Gill and Rebecca, the wonderful hosts of this Blogathon.

Gill is here (click here) and Rebecca is here (click here).

 

Godless…simply brilliant

Well…where should I even start…other than say “Watch it!”. And soon….wow…what a ride…

Ok, well maybe I need to take a quick step back and put a warning out there…this is not one for the faint hearted (well, the first episode definitely is the most brutal of the lot). I must admit that after having finished the first episode I was a bit nervous about the rest but yet, the brilliance of what I’d just seen had the remaining episodes just begging to be watched. And…think me strange…I loved it so much that I put off the last episode (with difficulty) because I just didn’t want it all to end.

Oh…what am I on about…have a look (this is not my video and belongs to Rotten Tomatoes TV):

This 6 episode “mini-series” has Roy Goode (played by an actor I’d admittedly never hear of before, Jack O’Connell) leaving Frank Griffin’s (Jeff Daniels is soooo scary here) violent gang, resulting in said gang tracking down the former protégé and brilliant gunslinger. This on it’s own wouldn’t be so bad, but it is the violence and destruction that is left wherever they go. Even more so when a town or person has aided Roy (even by just letting him ride through).

This relentless chase leads (via some other stops of course) to the town of La Belle which has its own problems: the entire town is made up of women and children due to a mine accident that claimed the lives of all bar a handful of men. And the word is out, attracting all sorts of unsavory opportunists. Trying to keep things together are Sheriff Bill McNue (Scoot McNairy), deputy Whitey (Thomas Brodie-Sangster has sure grown up since Love, Actually) and holding her own to keep the town in check, Mary Agnes (Merritt Wever). And then there’s “outcast” Alice (Michelle Dockery first coming to my attention the other day in The Gentlemen) who keeps to herself with her son, mother-in-law and a herd of horses. Oh, and a group of Civil War veterans trying to keep out of everyone’s way. Of course, all of the La Belle inhabitants as well as passers-through (although, some tend to outstay their welcome) add a vital role.

Each character’s individual story pulls you in as little by little the pieces start coming together. You’ll want to know how it all turns out for them. If their hopes and dreams turn out for the best. And while wondering this you’ll start to realise that this isn’t going to be all wonderful and happy because just as you start to relax a little, you’re reminded of the monster that is Frank Griffin. He’s always there…waiting on the edge of your screen, having you wonder what atrocity he’ll (unflinchingly) commit next. This means that it can only come to a head in a spectacular (but of course brutal) showdown.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. Definitely going to re-watch it very soon. Just after I finish my post on The English, another superb mini-series (which I want to re-watch just as soon).

 

 

In very little baby steps…I think I may just be back in the blogging world…

Firstly…happy 2023 everyone.

Waking up to take my young dog for a trip outside…the first thing I saw on the 1st January 2023 when looking into the night night sky (I do this every morning and evening) was a falling star. What more can I say… 🙂

So, last year was a busy one and I was in urgent need of a break from blogging. The previous October (2021) saw a new four-legged addition to the family – our baby boy Titan (not so much little anymore), a Standard Schnauzer (salt and pepper colour). This means we still have quite an active household (he’ll be 1.5 in February) but it is worth all the joy he gives us (although, I’m not sure the cat agrees with me here…but that too is coming along).

 

Added to that I did a 6 month post-graduate diploma (while working 100%) which I totally underestimated. Gosh…I thought 2 full days of lectures a week would be easy peasy…well, my 5 day working week suffered with only 4 available days. And, I never realised how a 1 day weekend just doesn’t allow for enough time to recover, look after a family (including puppy), do homework, get groceries, do the garden etc. But, I’m really not complaining – it was worth every minute including the 150 hours per person required for the research paper. Another thing I learnt from this: try do these courses in winter and not summer when everyone else is out enjoying the summer holidays.

And, just because it breaks my heart each year watching tiny baby toads crossing the road I got involved in helping there too. I know I can’t save them all but every one helps.

My current project is building bat houses – it helps them find homes while I’m thoroughly enjoying spending time working with wood. And also let’s me change my attention from laptop screens and endless lines of code.

So, in very, very, veeeery little steps I’m going to blog again…here and there. In my own time. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

Intermission…

…unknown until when…I’m just not managing to do the blogging thing at the moment. Or the movie watching thing. Or the reading thing.

I’ve let down Gill and Rebecca on their recent Blogathons…so sorry ladies…I’m so out of sync with time…and barely switching my home laptop on. In my mind I was so excited…but I just didn’t make it. No excuse I know, but that’s the truth.

I’ll be back again, just can’t say when.

Gill, the chocolate swap is still on…that I’m still on track with 🙂

Flaming Hot…Five Reasons Why…You’ve Been Tagged

Well…what can I say…Gill (Realweegiemidget Reviews) and I just couldn’t resist to collaborate again. We chit and chat quite often about our favourite (hot, yes) characters…and because fellow bloggers Ruth from Silver Screenings and Maedez at A Small Press Life are taking a break from that wonderful Reel Infatuation Blogathon, we decided to bring a new angle onto our Flaming Hotties Tag we started a few years back. Just so those of you who are totally infatuated can still get it out into the Blogosphere. And, well, sometime we just need some time to be “shallow” and enjoy some good looking characters.
 
Thanks Maedez and Ruth for letting us “fill in” for you this year (although our tag doesn’t come anywhere near your wonderful blogathon). We can’t wait for next year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon again.
 
So, here goes…please post the rules (copy paste does the trick) and then get swooning:
  1. You must add the name of the blog that tagged you AND those of the Thoughts All Sorts and Realweegiemidget Reviews with links to ALL these sites.. and use the natty cat themed picture promoting this post. This picture is found later in this post… 
  2. List 5 of your all-time swoon-worthy characters from TV or Film i.e crushes/objects of your affection. And also do mention the actor or actress who plays them, as you might like James Bond as played by Timothy Dalton and no one else.. etc etc
  3. Link (Tag) to 5 other bloggers.
  4. Add lovely pictures, gifs or videos of those you selected.
  5. If you don’t have a blog (or don’t have time to write a post) join in with your choices on Twitter with this #5TheFlamingHot5ReasonsWhy Tag and tag @realweegiemidge and @Thoughtsallsort  and the person who tagged you in your tweet.
  6. Oh…and post these rules.
So, in no particular order, here are my hottest characters (some good boys, some bad boys), many of which are probably no surprise to you:
 
Tommy Shelby (Peaky Blinders)
1. He’s all business.
2. Those eyes…no further comment.
3. Family comes first (even though they’re not the perfect one)
4. Who can resist that style? I mean…just look at him…
5. Is played by Cillian Murphy
 
Prince Charming (Cinderella)
1. He’s simply a gentleman. We need more of those.
2. Those eyes aren’t too bad either.
3. He doesn’t appear to be just superficial but has a genuine character.
4. There’s a gentleness about him.
5. Is played by Richard Madden.

Stretch (Yellow Sky) (Spoilers ahead)
1. He cleans up pretty well when told his smells. I mean, in a dusty, water-scarce area…that’s quite a feat.
2. He might be a criminal but he does come clean.
3. Any bank robber who brings back what he’s stolen (every last cent)…what can I say…?
4. He makes sure nothing happens to Mike no matter how hard his gang is to control.
5. Is played by Gregory Peck.
Fritz (Catch and Release)
1. He has his priorities right…about business and life.
2. He is not pushy at all and knows just when to back off.
3. Accepts Grey for who she is – I absolutely love watching his face as she reveals her feelings about natural disasters.
4. Oh that kiss in the fishing store…enough to make anyone swoon.
5. Is played by Timothy Olyphant.
 
Bond…James Bond (Casino Royale and Casino Royale only)
1. Ah man…you want 5 points? Really? Let’s start with the beach scene…
2. Then we’ll move on to the shower scene…
3. Ok, fine, let me calm down. Love the wit and sarcasm in this case (it’s characters we’re on about, not real people where this would be a total put-off)
4. There’s a soft side to him in this movie,
5. Oh…and I don’t need to say which actor plays him…
 
So…now it’s over to you 5 Bloggers…you’ve been tagged! I’ve been out of Blogging touch for ages so this is also a way to say Hi again:
MaedezA Small Press Life (Gill tagged Ruth so I’ll tag you)
RebeccaTaking up Room
DebbieMoon in Gemini (I’m missing your Blogathons Debbie)
 

Odd or Even…that is the question…

…that formed the basis of the Odd or Even Blogathon, hosted by RealWeegieMidget Reviews and Taking Up Room. But, njahahahaha, while I was all game to let them decide (fairly, I might add, by coin toss) if I was to write about my odd-yeared or even-yeared movie, I had come up with my own little twist. You see, I simply gave them “O and 2003” for the movie made in an odd year and “B ” for my choice of movie made in an even year. The coin was tossed…Open Range (2003) it was. Yaaaay! Had been wanting to re-watch that movie for a while.

Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), together with his three loyal hands Charley Waite (Kevin Costner), Mose (Abraham Benrubi) and Button (Diego Luna), is driving his cattle across the great open plains. Out of necessity, some supplies are required and Mose is sent to the closest town. When Mose doesn’t come back after 2 days, Boss and Charley head on into town to see what’s happened (they know something is wrong because Mose is a gentle soul, just like the group’s loyal dog Tig). Finding Mose in jail brings them their first encounter with disgraceful Sheriff Poole (James Russo, who is always so brilliant as the bad guy in westerns (ok, fine, I’ve only ever seen him in westerns)) and Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon). They had been waiting for Boss to come on through because Baxter, a rich land baron who rules the town with his group of thugs and of course Sheriff Poole, dislikes “free grazers” or, open range cattlemen, a threat to his own stock. This sets the stage for many further encounters which, of course, come to a blasting climax.

Kevin Costner directs this movie and I must admit, I really enjoy his works. Be it in front of or behind the camera. He brings with him a sense of calmness but this is not to be confused with boring as Open Range is nothing like that. It is about men who want to move forwards with their life because the past wasn’t something to be proud of. Of men who just can’t walk away when their friends and lives (and livelihoods) are threatened. And about not simply moving aside for those who feel they are better, more powerful just because of their supposed status and wealth. About dreams and missed opportunities. And living. So, while this western doesn’t start with gun-fight after gun-fight after gun-fight but rather a character study and introduction to these men and why they have such utter respect for each other, the end becomes more powerful because they are pushed back into what they once were (and were trying to forget). Throughout the movie we are left wondering how each situation will develop.

The scenery is stunning and, well, need I mention the acting? Robert Duvall is always a pleasure to watch. I especially like him in these “mentor”* roles where, without trying he earns utter respect from those around him, including me, the viewer. I admire how he handles situations, thinks things through and says it how it is when warranted. Kevin Costner is perfect as Charley with that calm demeanor (most of the time) yet one can see the internal battles going on. In fact, the casting here is absolutely perfect – those actors already mentioned are complemented by Annette Bening, Michael Jeter, Dean McDermott and many more.

*By the way, my “even” year choice for this was Broken Trail (2006) and coincidentally also starts Robert Duvall in a similar role. Another recommended movie to watch if you haven’t done so already.

So glad I picked this as one of my choices and that Gill’s hubby tossed the coin. Watching this was long overdue. Head on over to RealWeegieMidget Reviews or Taking Up Room for more entries to this wonderful Blogathon. Gill, Rebecca, thanks for hosting. It has been great fun!

 

 

Outsiders…

I was recently “tagged” for something a little different by Gill of RealWeegieMidget Reviews. Thanks Gill.

The rules (as taken over from Gill as taken over from Rebecca of Taking up Room) are as follows (and very simple to explain):

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.

  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.

  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.

  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.

  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.

  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.

  • Have fun!

With that out the way, let me go on. The movie I was tagged for was “A Brat Pack Movie”. Well Gill, I’m so glad this is what I was given because…actually, I’d never seen one of those classified as such (granted, Young Guns and Young Guns II I’ve obviously seen but with it starring only one Brat Pack Member i.e. Emilio Estevez, I don’t see this as truly counting). So, off for some reading I went. And found that the term was first used in a magazine story and ultimately to be a core member of The Brat Pack meant having starred in either St. Elmo’s Fire or The Breakfast Club. The former movie didn’t really appeal (reading the plot outline) and I’m sorry but I recently started watching the latter one but somehow didn’t get very far (maybe I should try again?) so, off I went to find another option. To stumble upon The Outsiders (1983).

So glad I did. Totally not what I expected. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect but definitely not such a serious movie.

It deals with the “two sides of the track” i.e. the Greasers and the Socs (Socials). The Greasers come from broken families or those who just struggle to get by/aren’t socialites or spoilt kids. But, that doesn’t mean that the kids from these families don’t have ambitions. Yes, some have ended up with not such a clean track record while others are really acting out in the only way they know. Or, in the way that keeps them liked or feeling as belonging.

Among them are Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) who, after various incidents, find themselves in a tumble with the Socs. Having passed out from a near drowning, Ponyboy comes to, finding Johnny holding a knife and a dead Soc. The two boys go into hiding but there another tragic incident, seeing the boys trying to do good, brings more sad consequences. I won’t give away all the details because I’d hate to spoil it – I was so glad I had no idea what I was in for when watching this. All I can add is that each of the other Greasers are trying to get by in their own way, given how they have been brought up or the hand that life has dealt them. This brings up some tender, sad, tragic, anger-inducing and hopeful moments/scenes, each in their own way matching the boy it affects (and I’m not saying “deserving” at all…just that it all makes sense, be it good or bad).

Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane (I barely recognised her) and Tom Cruise all have fantastic roles in this coming of age movie. It is a really good movie, but then what else is to be expected from director Francis Ford Coppola.

So, I know that the pool of bloggers I know is quite small and have already been nominated by Gill or be Rebecca, so, instead of us all pinging back and forth, I’m going to set out the nomination: any “classical, spaghetti or epic style” Western because we watch way too few westerns these days. So, “modern” ones like “No Country for Old Men”, the alien/fantasy ones like “Cowboys & Aliens”, Horror, Space, Sci-Fi etc are all excluded from this Tag.

 

I definitely knew your name…

…before Bond.

For me the choice is simple. Who else but Daniel Craig. For two reasons…the first being that I really enjoy his movies and have done so before he became Bond. Back in the day when not too many people had heard of him (or so I think was the case).

And more fittingly, because he is the only Bond I actually enjoy. Pre-Craig, I couldn’t be bothered with 007 movies, the odd snippets I had seen were just, dare I say, kitsch and cheesy and just not my cup of martini, oops, tea…especially where a dude has silver bits (or was it diamonds in his face?) or some people prance around glass palaces. Anyway…back to the topic at hand…

I had initially noticed Daniel Craig in I Dreamed of Africa but only when he appeared in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (cringe, did I just admit to watching that?) did I consciously register this actor but hey, he still wasn’t in many movies at the time (or it was just pre-IMDB and I was none the wiser). But then came L4yer Cake (2004) and that’s where he was absolutely fantastic. And note-worthy. Re-watching it this last month, I recognised the Bond he was to become.

L4yer Cake (yes, L4yer) is one of those brilliant British movies (think Lock, Stock… or Snatch) where a successful (businessman) drug dealer, ? as we never know his name (Daniel Craig) decides he wants “out” but of course it isn’t that easy. Just as he decides to call it a day he is tasked with one last job: to find the daughter of a seriously influential friend of his boss. This task in itself isn’t easy and to complicate matter more (I mean, why not? We wouldn’t have a story otherwise), the stakes go up with a huge number of Ecstasy pills needing to be moved coming into the mix (no pun intended). layer after layer of back-stabbing, gangs, lies and a pretty lady (Sienna Miller) are stacked upon each other, make for an interesting watch. No longer knowing who to trust our unknown leading character must navigate his way through this dangerous mess.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching L4yer Cake again for the first time in many, many years because it is just such a great movie but because it was so interesting to see Daniel Craig in a role that I felt almost gave hints of what was to come. Obviously, this wasn’t the case but I definitely felt some Bond recognition. Then again, I guess it is the style of the actor that makes the character. In fact this scene just sums it all up:

Oh, and to see Tom Hardy, wow, I couldn’t even remember he was in this one – not the biggest role but still fun to watch. Sir Michael Gambon and Colm Meaney star as the double-crossers yielding the power. All in all, L4yer Cake is well made with the layers (yes, picture a cake made up of different criminal layers) adding to the one already there i.e. our nameless dealer just wants to get out of the business but one job is added to another, one challenge to the one before making for an interesting end.

Well, then we have a total opposite of a role for Daniel Craig. Another one that I saw pre-Bond i.e. pre-Casino Royale. Here I saw what a brilliant actor Mr Craig is, how he delivers such contrasting roles to perfection. Or, at least I think so. The Mother is the movie I’m talking about now.

Here we have Darren (Daniel Craig of course), boyfriend of Paula and repairer of Bobby and wife Helen‘s conservatory. But, that’s the simple part. The complexity is that we have mother of Paula and Bobby, May (Anne Reid). Still all good, right? Well, not for long because while May is staying with Bobby and Helen in London, she is introduced to Darren. The form a connection around art and well, ultimately other things. Darren is also a married man. I think you see this is all one complex family setup but the movie revolves around May and the relationship (let me say that we’re not talking about just “friends”) she has with Darren but also with her children. May fears she will become an “invisible old lady” but also struggles to come to terms with her depression while raising her children and the effects this has had on them.

While this isn’t a feel good movie by any means, it is thought provoking (controversial?) and raises interesting questions around family relationships, growing older and parenting. But, it shows what a versatile actor Daniel Craig was/is. He is able to take on complex characters and portray them perfectly – from the quiet (and destructive) handy-man to passionate lover.

Granted, The Mother is definitely not for everyone but after having seen this and the previously mentioned L4yer Cake, I was totally hooked on an actor I’d never heard of before. And one who, at that time, wasn’t so well known as he is now.

And he’s the only reason I ever watched  Casino Royale. I honestly wouldn’t have bothered otherwise. I’m not sure (and I’m not really interested, sorry 🙂 ) what the previous Bond movies were like, but ever since Casino Royale, I’ve enjoyed them (ok, exclude Quantum of Solace).

For some more reading on non-Bond Bond actor movies, head on over to Real Weegie Midget Reviews or Pale Writer for their You Knew My Name: The Bond not Bond Blogathon.

PS: Gill and Pale Writer, I’m sorry I’m late – I had in my mind that I still had today. Arghhh, the calendar in my brain is a bit out at the moment. Could we use the excuse…ahm…Daniel Craig?

 

In a Nutshell: Knives Out (2019)

It has been a while since I’ve come across a good one like this. Clever, wacky and at times weird, Knives Out is one hell of an off-beat investigation movie. You know it’s going to be a good one from the start…rather, from the point you are introduced to the “last of the gentlemen sleuths” Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, who I’m enjoying so much in these strange roles – this one and you really should check out Logan Lucky…he’s brilliant there too). Yes, yes, OK, from the very beginning it has you curious, especially the family in question, but that single piano note has you all in. Don’t ask…just watch. Really.

We are introduced to the patriarch on his couch…with a slit throat. Suicide. Clearly. Add a gathering of eccentric family members. And a systematic piecing together of events together with the patriarch’s caregiver who cannot lie without puking. Yes, it’s true. The plot thickens. And the secrets come out.

So, at risk of giving something away, I’m just going to say that this is so worth watching. Hmmm, Daniel Craig’s accent takes some time getting used to but hey, it just fits in with this wacky movie. This whodunit stars a colourful ensemble of Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Don Johnson Noah Segan and a whole lot more.

It’s One Fine Day…

…for a Meg Ryan movie. You know, those feel-good Meg movies? The Meg from the 90s (and a teeny bit of the start of the 2000s). Gosh, can’t remember when last I’ve watched something with her in. And, it’s a rainy day. Perfect for a screwball romcom. Oh…and even better for cheering up bloggers who found themselves in the Blogathon Blues.

So Paul here’s for you and what else but Addicted to Love (1997).

Back in the day, any Meg Ryan movie that came out, I’d head off to the cinema with my school friends to watch. No discussion. But Addicted to Love managed to fly under my movie radar. No idea why I missed that one. But, somehow it made its into my DVD collection. “Somehow” meaning: it had Meg in it and I was in the mood for a romcom I hadn’t seen before. And it didn’t disappoint back then or now (or the times I’ve seen it in between).

Maggie‘s (Meg Ryan) former fiancé and Sam‘s (Matthew Broderick) girlfriend (well, by this stage “former” too) have fallen in love. What was meant to be a two month teaching trip for Linda (Kelly Preston) to New York turned out to be a falling in love with French restaurateur Anton (Tchéky Karyo). Sam desperately believing he and Linda are soulmates, heads to New York to get her back. And finds himself in an abandoned building opposite the one where Anton has his swish apartment. This to bide out the time until what he believes will be breakup time. Maggie wants revenge. Big time revenge. She wants to bring Anton to his knees. For using her. And so ends up…well, in an abandoned building opposite the one where Anton has his swish apartment. Yep, that one. Sam’s one.

Maggie is tough, no-nonsense and cynical (as only Meg could be). Sam is sweet and naive. They couldn’t be different. And, while tolerating each other, they end up scheming together to reach their respective goals. Not noticing, of course, that they more than just a perfect team. That’s why it is a romcom after all.

This one I find slightly different to the others of the genre. While it starts out in that off-beat and screwball manner (you can see it coming just from the opening tune), I personally find it doesn’t quite follow the typical “formula” of this genre but almost becomes serious in the last third. Not in a bad way but it tends to be more thought provoking. The viewer (and Sam) soon comes to realise that Maggie has lost the plot somewhere along the line and that her revenge has gone far beyond just getting even. But, with this there comes a bittersweet ending. One not so typical of the screwball romcoms (I once again was in tears (poor Lassie)) but just as satisfying.

Perfect rainy day watching with Meg Ryan the best in these roles. I especially love her character in this one especially her biker look (love the glasses). As always, she brings a refreshing quirkiness to the movie.

But now, before you watch this, head on over to Paul of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (here) who is hosting this Addicted to Love on One Fine Day Blogathon and even more importantly, is the biggest Addicted to Love and One Fine Day fan ever!

 

 

Melting Pot of Injustice…The Crucible

How utterly disgusting the misuse of power, the deceit of people and the abuse of innocence.

That is how I found The Crucible (1996). Don’t get me wrong…not the movie being disgusting but what people are capable of. All for their own agenda. How they destroy the lives of good and innocent people. The reasons are numerous….some for revenge, some in the name of higher institutions, others just to save their own lives because they’ve been pulled into this vicious circle.

The story is set during the Salem witch-hunts in the period of 1692 to 1693. What starts as a group of girls dancing around a fire in the forest while “casting love spells” for those they dream of, becomes a hysterical hunt for anyone and everyone even looking in the wrong direction or saying the wrong word at the wrong time. Little do these girls know what their revelry has unleashed as almost every family in the village has some charge of witchcraft against them. Where formerly the community lived in harmony and happiness (with the usual village politics), even those who are know for their goodness suddenly become suspects and scapegoats for other’s problems, greed or misdoings. Anyone who is different is prejudiced. Anyone who was honest now lies to stay alive.

I’d read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible many years ago at high school and remember enjoying it. Although, I barely remembered the story. I’d been meaning to watch this for ages and starring one of my favourite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, I no longer had an excuse. One seeing the opening credits I was happy to see that Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay. I always appreciate that in movies because it means the story stays close to what the author envisages. Or, at least wants to be shown in the movie. This certainly paid off in this case as Arthur Miller was nominated for both an Academy Award for “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” and BAFTA Award for “Best Screenplay – Adapted”. The movie also received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations in other categories and won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.

The play won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play. So wow, really quite an achievement for both arts in which it has been presented.

The movie is very powerful and, although I’m not a sensitive person, I found it extremely exhausting to watch. I felt frustrated and disgusted by the characters and wished the “authorities” could just come to their senses and see what was really going on. And wished that those who stood up and tried to challenge the system wouldn’t be shut down. And that people can just be accepted for who they are even if they are different. I can’t remember being that upset with society back at school when reading it. Maybe it is because in the movie the atrocities are visual. Or that time has changed my outlook.

As you already know, the story and screenplay were written by Arthur Miller and is brought to life by a stellar cast of Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones and many more. Well worth a watch but not light fare.

For other movies that are based on Tony Award winning plays, head on over to Taking Up Room for her Tony Edition of The Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon over here: here.

 

The perfect excuse to watch Hannie Caulder…

Another movie I‘d somehow avoided until Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews tempted me with a Christopher Lee Blogathon. Gosh…I didn’t want to say no but, aside from Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee roles are unknown to me. Ok..maybe the few minutes, if that, in Sleepy Hollow. But, I thought I needed something more. So, off to IMDB I went. And found the perfect excuse to finally watch Hannie Caulder.

Now, this is one movie that ‘d avoided mostly because the DVD cover just didn’t quite do it for me. It looked a bit…I don’t know…how should I say…ahem…let’s settle for “dodgy” or, to clarify, a bit too “sultry”. And secondly, the story premise, well, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for it. But then, on the other hand, how bad can a 1971 western with Ernest Borgnine and Raquel Welch really be? So, I set my preconceived judgments aside, entered the Blogathon, watched the movie and….was really pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the beginning, where Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) is raped wasn’t pleasant, and I’m never enjoy watching these type of scenes but, after that, it got better. Because, Hannie Caulder, in nothing but a poncho, what appears to be some tatty sole-less shoes and one huge amount of revenge on the mind, comes across bounty hunter Thomas Price (Robert Culp, who, I admit, I’d never heard of before now). She eventually convinces him to teach her how to shoot and starts the search for the three Clemens brother miscreants, so superbly played by Ernest Borgnine (who I always enjoy watching), Jack Elam and Strother Martin. As much as these brothers were absolutely vile characters, the actors taking on these roles…well, wow, they played them brilliantly.And that’s where Christopher Lee comes in. He’s a renown gunsmith Bailey, living in a relatively remote (or maybe just out-of-the way) spot in Mexico. Price, finally having learnt of Hannie’s experience, brings her to Bailey to commission the ideal weapon for her. As much as Christopher Lee has a small role here, he brings this only Western character he played to life with such compassion and insight. I thoroughly enjoyed his role where he, to me, sees more than just two people coming for a gun. He sees beyond what Hannie later claims, that she doesn’t care about Price, that’s she’s only using him. As much as Hannie needs to go on once she has her fast-draw and light(er) gun, there is almost this feeling that she, together with Price, could build up something together. Have a life together. That they realise this while at Bailey‘s. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But, ultimately, I really enjoyed Lee as a father and gunsmith. He also brings some calmness to the movie which balances the chaotic Clemens brothers, who, believe it or not, amongst the havoc they cause, also bring some comic relief.

How the rest of the story pans out, well, I’ll leave that for you to see. No point me giving it away. But, let me just say, don’t be put off by the terrible DVD cover (which in my version has Welch in nothing but poncho/blanket and showing lots of leg and in another has her perched in a revealing dress between the Clemens‘). This is a really good revenge western. And nothing as sultry as the covers would have you think.

Price has his words of wisdom, which resonate far beyond the end credits.

Head on over to the wonderful Blogathon hosts, Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Cinematic Catharsis (here) for more on Christopher Lee.

6 Films, 6 Decades…6 Difficult Choices…

..but, I guess I need to get it down to 1 per decade. Really difficult, especially for the 1950s. And the 1960s even more so. Even the 70s…oh darn it, all the decades are tough calls. Oh? What it is? Yes, right, I forgot to tell you. I need to list my favourite movie from each decade starting with the 1920s to the 1970s or, we’re allowed to shift it from the 1930s to the 1980s. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do because, and I’m really sorry (I need to rectify this asap), I just haven’t seen more than one or two movies from the 20s. And, well, the 1980s, need I say more about that decade? But, let me stop waffling along and get to the point:The 1930s brings to mind one of my absolute best, and not only of the 30s, but in general. Ask a Policeman. Sergeant Dudfoot (Will Hay) and his two constables, Albert (Graham Moffat) and Harbottle (Moore Marriott) proudly boast that their village has had no crime for 10 years, 5 weeks and 4 days. But, this means that the quaint little police station is no longer required. So, to justify their positions, Dudfoot and Co are so busy trying to stage some fake crime that they are oblivious to the real thing happening right beneath their very eyes…quite literally so too. A great comedy that you should really try to see.

Moving along to the 1940s which brought many gems but, for those of you who know me, it should be no surprise that one of my all time favourites is Yellow Sky. Without even a second thought. It has Gregory Peck as Stretch heading up a gang of bank robbers on the run across the desert. Parched and close on dead, the stumble upon a ghost town. Not so abandoned after all, they are surprised to find Mike (Anne Baxter) and her (yes, “her”) Grandpa prospecting there. The gang slowly unravels when greed, love and priorities come into play. A brilliant western.

Now, the 1950s is where I really struggle as there are a number of excellent movies here and my favourite really does sway from time to time. But, I need to go with nostalgia and the start of my love for movies. The one that brings my earliest classic movie memories to the fore. Therefore, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers just has to feature as my favourite here. Or, rather, as the favourite of the little girl I once was. I’m sure most of you know the story of how the 7 Pontipee brothers found their 7 brides. For me, though, it was about Milly (Jane Powell) and her beautiful dresses, her wonderful personality, her on-screen presence. Yes, of course I loved the singing and dancing but at that point I would have loved nothing more than to be Milly. Thinking back, I think it was because she could hold her own yet be the perfect romantic lead. Childhood memories aside, today, I’d probably say my 1950s favourite is Vera Cruz.

On to the 1960s. I really have a problem here as I have a whole lot of childhood favourites here which I cannot simply ignore…so, I’ll do a quick detour before finally coming to my real favourite. So, The War Wagon was how I fell in love with the Western and made John Wayne my movie star hero (no brat pack guys for this teen back then). I watched this over and over until I discovered The Reivers in my parents’ Super 8 collection. But, Mutiny on the Bounty and the adventure that came with it was also amongst those prized reels. And then I fell in love with Andrew Craig and his Nobel Prize Ceremony antics i.e. Paul Newman in The Prize. To this day, these movies, now on DVD, have a special place in my heart. But, one of my all-time favourites (ever) has got to be The Magnificent Seven. You all know the story so I won’t go into detail but who can resist the Western version of the Seven Samurai with none other than Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen heading a cast of favourite cowboy actors? I never tire of this one.

The 1970s brings on a similar situation as the 1960s. Gut feel, right now, says my favourite is Big Jake, another one I grew up with. To this day I know line for line of this kidnapping/ransom demand Western and give it a watch at least once a year. Need we mention the “you can call me Father, you can call me….but if you ever call me daddy again….” or “…your fault, my fault, nobody’s fault…”? You just need to watch it for these lines (amongst others…maybe “cold camp”). Here John Wayne is joined by real life sons Patrick and Ethan Wayne (playing on-screen sons), ever wonderful Maureen O’Hara, Bruce Cabot and perfect villain Richard Boone. So, hmmm, maybe I should just say it…my 1970s favourite. Although The Sting, The Cowboys, Lolly Madonna XXX and The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing all feature on my list of top movies in this decade.

The 1980s had some wonderful movies but Le Grand Bleu, without a doubt, is absolutely amazing and one of my all-time favourite movies. I started watching it late one night and just couldn’t go to bed….when I finally did I had cried myself silly. To wake up the next morning still dazed (and puffy eyed) and an emotional wreck, all I wanted was to watch it over. And over. Being a diver myself (although not a free diver) I could just “feel” the peace and calm that Jacques experienced. This Luc Besson movie has rivals Enzo (Jean Reno) and Jacques (JeanMarc Barr) diving dangerously deeper and deeper just to outdo each other. An absolutely stunning movie with the perfect tag line: Danger…Like Passion…Runs Deep. Just make sure you watch the Director’s Cut which comes in at 168 minutes.

So, there you have it. My 6 Films across 6 Decades. Thanks to Classic Film & TV Café for hosting this Blogathon. Head on over here for more entries.

What makes you so sure?

That you’d gun down 4 men? You were sure it was them. You were hell-bent on revenge. You just knew it was them. Even though they begged and pleaded. Claimed they were innocent. Yet blinded by revenge, grief, hatred, you did it anyway.

I’d passed over The Bravados (1958) many a time because it just sounded heavy. And so it was. One of those westerns that isn’t purely for escapism but thought provoking. Jim Douglass (Gregory Peck) rides in to a village constructing some gallows for hanging 4 men. The same four men, it turns out, that Jim has been relentlessly pursuing. They murdered his wife. Those bastards. And he intends to see them pay for it. With their lives of course.

(Stop here if you don’t want spoilers)

But, they escape (with a kidnap victim) . And Jim, with the help of his former love, Josefa Velarde (Joan Collins) hunts them down once more. This time, however, he kills them one by one. They are, after all, kidnappers, villains and rapists (some of them). As he gets to his final outlaw the truth is revealed. The four men had never been to Jim‘s ranch. They just happened to be passing there at the wrong time, when Jim was blinded by events and made assumptions. And failed to see the obvious. The real killer who was never on the run. It is at this point that the heaviness of this movie really hits home. How, no matter how much we often think we know events or the truth, no matter how much someone else tells us otherwise, we act based on our opinions, often to realise too late how horribly wrong we were. When things cannot be undone.

Yes, the 4 outlaws might have been guilty of many crimes (hence the pending hanging) which, in this case weren’t for the murder of a young mother and wife, but, does it justify the revenge taken for one crime that never happened to be “transferred” to other crimes that really were committed? Jim killed the men for all the wrong reasons. It was not his justice to have. As much as the villagers thought otherwise. He knows he is now just as guilty as them. How can he live with himself? I don’t think he does but his belief system is definitely changed. And that makes him deserve a second chance at a life with his daughter and Josefa. She is the voice of reason he needs to come to terms with himself and make a new future.

Josefa raises some interesting points to ponder. About love’s chances lost. What would have been had she and Jim made it as a couple. Would everything have been different? No murder to revenge? No beautiful child? I’m always fascinated by these ideas. That life takes you on a path but would circumstances have made it any different or would the same events have happened anyway? Or, was it all how it was meant to be? That ultimately Josefa and Jim were to be together but only with the journey they had to make to get there.

Gregory Peck, as always, is absolutely convincing, and sometimes even a little scary, in this serious role. He is ruthless, cold and hard as nails. And that’s were Joan Collins balances him out perfectly. She brings a lightness along that is never undermining now is she overshadowed by Peck‘s presence. And isn’t afraid to buy him a beer.

Now, I must admit, this was the first role I’d ever seen Joan Collins in. I’d only ever heard of her or seen photos from the last 20 years or so. But never had I encountered the young beautiful actress I found in The Bravados. While her role was relatively small, I thoroughly enjoyed her and will keep an eye out for other roles.

Amazing that even one of my favourite cowboy actors Gregory Peck couldn’t initially entice me to watch this western (and you all know I’m a huge Gregory Peck and western fan). Neither could perfect villain Lee Van Cleef. But along came the Joan Collins Blogathon, hosted by Gill over at RealWeegieMidgetReviews, and I just couldn’t let her (Gill and Joan) down. So glad I finally watched it. For other entries to this wonderful Blogathon, head on over here: here