Review

The future is bleak with Soylent Green

Soylent_greenIt has been at least 20 years since I’ve watched Soylent Green (1973). Probably longer. But, it has never left my mind, especially watching world population rise at an alarming rate, climate change impact us more and more and on and on. Why? Because, although Soylent Green might look dated (very 70s decor), the reality is still very, very real. Scarily so. And…we’re not so far from 2022, the year this story takes place. Maybe we’re already living that world…or close.

Based on a novel by Harry Harrison, the world is overcrowded (New York City 40 million people), most food resources have been depleted (most resources of any kind in fact), the greenhouse effect is in full swing and the world is in a dire state. Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of a wealthy businessman Simonson (Joseph Cotton) (yes, there will always be those who manage to get their hands on a small piece of beef or a real apple, soap, hot water and all the other luxuries) who happens to have worked for the Soylent company. The company that has launched a new food replacement product called Soylent Green. It is supposedly meant to be sourced from the oceans and therefore to contain more protein (and it does, in a warped way) than the other soylent coloured plastic food chips. With the help of friend Sol (Edward G. Robinson), Thorn uncovers the truth behind this highly in-demand product.

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I won’t tell you what the green food source is ultimately made of but trust me, I often wonder (well, not often, but when I do wonder, my thoughts come back to this one) when we will get to that point. And how much longer food will be in the form that we know it. And what will happen with us all in this alarming rate of population growth. The signs are all there already but let’s not go down this road in a movie blogathon.

So, yes, you’ll notice the dated “modern” setup (I love that pacman-type arcade machine that is meant to appear futuristic – no way, it is far from it) but put that aside and it is a good movie. I’m not a big fan of the current dystopian movie trend but this gives a different view of the world as it may soon be. Being Edward G. Robinson‘s last role it always strikes me as being a bit weird that he as character Sol (spoiler alert) decides he’s had enough and decides to exit the world. The scene in which he carries out this process always feels awkward knowing that he actually passed away two weeks after filming Soylent Green.

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In a Nutshell: Animal Kingdom (2010)

Wow…I don’t know what to say. Was it good? Was it bad? No…definitely not bad. Good. Hmmm, yes, I’d say so. Actually, yes, definitely good as otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing about it. I think it was actually, pretty darn good. Hectic. Sometimes depressing, or rather, hopeless. Thought provoking. Well worth watching.

17 year old Joshua ‘J’ Cody (played by James Frecheville who I really enjoyed in Adore (here)) moves in with this grandmother and her sons after his mother overdoses on heroin. This is no ordinary family…no, they’re armed robbers, drug dealers, killers, the works. J is inevitably pulled into this criminal environment which isn’t made any easier with detectives trying to take the family down and a girlfriend adding to complications.

While it isn’t a very fast-paced action movie, it definitely keeps viewer tensions high all the way through. A number of times I found myself sitting with jaw agape from pure shock at some of the things that go down. Most shocking of all is character Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody, played so sickeningly well by Ben Mendelsohn. In fact, the entire cast is utterly convincing in their respective roles. From Jacki Weaver to Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton to Luke Ford and every other actor/actress involved. Directed by David Michôd, Animal Kingdom has even had an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination (Jacki Weaver as Best Actress in a Supporting Role which, boy oh boy, is well deserved. She’s a nasty piece of work as the matriarch and likewise had me gaping in disbelief at some of her actions/decisions).

It’s gritty. Not glamorous. Brutal. And has some wonderful visual shots that provide the only relief for the two hours. Really well done.

This Australian movie is well worth the watch and will have you wondering how it can all possibly end. But be in the mood. It isn’t “light”…in fact, it had quite a negative effect on me yesterday.

So..not quite in a nutshell…but hey…

Beautiful Bergman…For Whom the Bell Tolls

Here’s where I, very quietly so nobody hears, admit (and am very embarrassed) that I had never seen Ingrid Bergman in…well…anything. Yes. It’s true. I’m sorry. And…I’m so sorry it took so long. She’s on my list of favourites now. Beautiful. Sweet. Strong. And just comes across so…wonderful.

My reasons for first watching her are shallow. Very, veeeeery shallow. As you may know, I’m a Gregory Peck fan (that young, handsome Gregory Peck). Told you I was shallow :-p But yes, I watched Spellbound for the first time a few months back (here) and thought Bergman was great. Not knowing what to watch next, the 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon conveniently came along. Totally in the dark, I did one of those eenie meenie miney mo things…For Whom the Bell Tolls (1942) was it. Just so. Well…kind of. Gary Cooper. Ingrid Bergman. Romance. Adventure. Just so. Oh, and even Oscar nominated (not that this really makes a difference to me). Yes. 9 nominations in total with one being a win.

3 ingrid bergman 6And, one of those nominations was for Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress in a Leading Role. Well deserved in my opinion. Based on Ernest Hemingway‘s novel of the same name, apparently he specifically wanted the two leads to feature in the adaptation. A good choice I think – they really do ‘gel’. I also believe this box office hit was the first Technicolor role of Ms Bergman.

She’s María, with a traumatic past, who was rescued by some guerillas living in the hills. Roberto/Robert (Grego…sorry, Gary Cooper – see now, I’m thinking of Ingrid in the role I first ‘met’ her) is the expert sent to blow up a strategic bridge during the Spanish Civil War. So, fate has it, they meet. And oh what a meeting it is….

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And here…a few seconds later…

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Talk about a bold woman. She’s not shy to show what’s overcome her and changed what she thought she believed in the blink of an eye. More than just a pretty face her influence on Roberto is profound. But, For Whom the Bell Tolls isn’t only about this romance. It is about questioning how far duty goes. If one would kill people one knows for the sake of a cause. Making the life changing decisions. And about personal sacrifices. Not having known the story until today, I was taken by surprise by the ending…but, that’s refreshing. Keeps me on my toes.

So, take the time to watch this wonderful movie directed by Sam Wood. It really is worth it. And also head on over to The Wonderful World of Cinema’s Blogathon page (here) for some more wonderful Ingrid Bergman posts.

I also couldn’t resist this image…so beautiful. And no…it isn’t Gary Cooper holding up her chin. It’s another wonderful character who has so much depth. You’ll need to find out who…someone with great insight.

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Secretary…hmmmm

So. You walk into an office. There’s the secretary. She’s sweet (mostly). Polite. “Stereotypical” crosses your mind. Ha ha ha ha ha….how wrong you are. Welcome to a different kind of workplace. Let me show you Secretary (2002).

Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is trying to adjust back into society after been released from hospital following some serious self inflicted injuries. She applies for a position with attorney Edward (with James Spader perfect in this role). She’s not phased by the fact that there is no technology and that she’s probably overqualified for the position. So, in this very strange working environment, Edward discovers that Lee has a tendency towards inflicting pain on herself. He quite likes this idea along with her always doing exactly what he tells her. Little by little, mainly at the office (if I remember correctly), unfolds this relationship of pain infliction and pain reception i.e. BDSM. In a non-graphic way I might add. And never heavy, heavy thematically.

The scene I’ll never forget is (spoiler alert) where Lee, having fled from her future groom in wedding attire, ends up in Edward‘s office…sitting for hours on end at his desk having been instructed not to move her hands or feet from the position her sadistic boss found her in. True love?

Golden Globe nominated for Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s performance, this is well worth seeing. And James Spader…well, he’s so good at these, dare I say, slightly sleazy roles. But leave your expectations at the door. It is not a movie filled with graphical S word scenes. And yes, while it is indicated as a “romantic comedy drama”, I personally link it is more “romantic drama”. There are light bits but I can clearly remember entering the cinema expecting a comedy type movie and leaving thinking it wasn’t that at all.

Be daring. Watch this one.

And then…head on over to Moon in Gemini to read the other great workplace related entries for her Workplace in Film & TV Blogathon.

 

 

 

 

Fond memories…Das Wirtshaus im Spessart

You know those movies you watched years and years ago? The ones you vaguely remember, but with fondness? Das Wirtshaus im Spessart (1958) is one of those. I used to watch it over and over at a friend’s house when I was small. I think the notion of a girl dressed as a boy holding her own against a gang of robbers holds a little magic for me too.

Then, a few years back I was doing  my usual procrastination…do I buy the DVD, don’t I, do I, don’t…oh, it’s no longer available. I should have…

Last year a restored version came out and I jumped at the opportunity to add it to my collection. And finally, a few weeks back watched it.

It has Countess Franziska (Liselotte Pulver) kidnapped (well, hmmm…) by a bunch of robbers for ransom money which her father, stinking rich as he is, refuses pay. Taking things into her own hands in order to save ‘herself’ and her companions, she ‘infiltrates’ the robbers’ hideout and somewhere along the line…of course…falls in love with the leader (Carlos Thompson).

It is still really sweet and had me smiling throughout –  as much at the story as at the sometimes cheesy sets and acting. It is, after all, an old movie and so I appreciate the movie-making from back then. So, if you’re in the mood for something light and fun and just a little silly, take some time to enjoy Das Wirtshaus im Spessart.

 

Bridget, Mark and Daniel…

Bridget Jones’s Diary (I’m sure school told us no ‘s after s…so Jones’ not Jones’s…but I digress). To the topic at hand…

Bridget Jones, Mark Darcy and Daniel Clever or Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. The threesome for the My Favourite Threesome Blogathon over at MovieMovieBlogBlog.

As I’m sure you know by now, Bridget Jones, in her thirties, drinks, swears and constantly worries about her weight. And is the middle of a little love triangle. She keeps encountering all formal and serious Mark Darcy whom she’s known since they were kids. And then, there’s Daniel Cleaver, her boss. Did I mention that Bridget so desperately wants to have a boyfriend? Preferably the man who embodies all the undesirable qualities she lists in her diary. So, between misunderstandings, all sorts of antics and Bridget being Bridget we have…Bridget Jones’s Diary.

I thoroughly enjoy this first Bridget Jones movie because the three leads ‘gel’ so well. They are all different enough to create an good dynamic. However, having characters that make up a good trio on paper doesn’t always translate well to the screen if the casting hasn’t been done to support this. Here, the actors selected are just perfect resulting in a natural feel. There is enough contrast between the three leads to create believable conflict and relationships yet not so different that realistically they’d never cross paths.

Poor Bridget bumbling along trying way too hard and still just not getting it. At times one really feels sorry for the gal yet at other times one just wants to tell her to get with it, grow up, open her eyes and stop being so silly. And to move on. But then Mark Darcy comes along being all nice again. And Daniel Cleaver does something kind of charming yet totally sleezy. And Bridget is once again stuck in the middle. Poor Bridge.

But they work. The three of them absolutely work.

 

In a Nutshell: Paris can Wait (2016)

Paris can Wait, aka Bonjour Anne, is a leisurely road-trip from Southern France to Paris. I can’t help but almost get that Tour de France feel where we’re given wonderful insight into the places of interest along the way.

Successful film producer Michael (Alec Baldwin) is so focused on work that he neglects his wife Anne (Diane Lane) and their promised holiday. Due to ear problems, Anne can’t fly to Budapest with Michael and instead, decides to meet him in Paris. Business partner Jacques (Arnaud Viard) offers to drive her as he’s heading that way too. But, instead of a quick drive, they meander from town to town, stopping to taste the cuisine and visit sites along the way.

Sweet, fun and reminding you of what’s important in life, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Directed by Eleanor Coppola, it brings a subtle reminder to take a step back from the hectic day-to-day life.