“The Ballad of Cable Hogue”
A truly wonderful film few people have ever heard of.
Directed by Sam Peckinpah, (under the influence of Sergio Leone, this film stars Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner and bySlim Pickens Strother Martin. The story concerns Cable Hogue , a grizzled no-account who is abandoned in the desert by his two treacherous companions After long days, or perhaps weeks of wandering the desert he finds water! The water gives him life, but more importantly, the water gives him Alife-one that he had never dreamed of. Over the decades, the water (and the desert that surrounds it, give him everything.He lives a long and happy life and at the end of the film, he, and the audience are transfigured.
I watched it again last night, for at least the tenth time, and I cried my eyes out at the end, as I always do.
A Real Classic. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again.
ReviewCopyright(C)2020 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved
#Salyut 7 Review
The Soviets started the space race by putting the World’s first satellite, Sputnik into orbit in 1957. The first living creature Laika the dog followed scant months later. The first landing on the moon the unmanned Luna 2 was also a Soviet first. The U.S however, at least as far as the Western world was concerned, always won the Propaganda war, racing to put men on the moon, at any cost, a mere twelve years after Sputnik, but such was the Western media that only Soviet space accidents were known, the death of Vladimir Komarov being front page news in the 1970s when it was belatedly admitted by the soviet government and became public in Australia.
*While the world wallowed in the drama of Apollo 13 while it was happening, and was treated to a big -budget film on the subject, nobody heard of Salyut 7*- Until now! As a factually accurate big-budget film on the subject arrives on iTunes to educate and wow the pants off audiences worldwide.
“Salyut 7” is a Russian film starring Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Pavel Derevyanko and Aleksandr Samoylenko and directed by Klim Shipenko from a script by Aleksey Chupov Natasha Merkulova Aleksey Samolyotov and Klim Shipenko with English adaptation by Jeffery Hylton.
In 1985 the Soviet space station Salyut 7 is quietly orbiting the Earth, minding it’s own business, unmanned and totally under ground control when it is unexpectedly hit by a cloud of micro meteor and breaks. As a matter of national prestige, a repair mission is assembled and packed off to dock with the spinning-out-of-control station. Real actual excitement happens repeatedly since you (the audience) have no idea how things are going to turn out, at any point, an advantage that “Apollo13” lacked.
Let it be said too that the special effects are easily the best “Earth Orbit” stuff I have ever seen, with state-of the -art CGI rendering everything else(even the great “2001”) very old hat. Throughout this film I kept having flashes of real sorrow that Kubrick never got to play with CGI – This film is that good. In Short, if you’re a fan of space, or of adventure, or of very good solid drama- this film is a real winner.
iTunes movies 19.99 to buy- 7 to rent; as usual buying is a better deal- in this case very much so. You’ll probably watch it multiple times.
*Russian with English subtitles
review Copyright2020*Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved
The invisible Man (2020)
I make no bones about having misgivings at starting to watch this film, the trailer a publicityhad made much of its foundations in the “me too” era- an abusive man stalking his ex girfriend with murderous intent- and the ability to turn himself invisible! Being a white male I found I had minimal desire to sit through two hours of accusatory man-bashing- because, of course, such input might react negatively on my delicate male ego.
I was pleasantly surprised- after the grinding slow first hour- anyway. a quick rundown of the plot. -Should be spoiler free. Girl lives with boy in minimalist concrete seaside mausoleum/mansion one night, girl runs out on relationship, hides in a different town with supportive people. Strange things start happening. Girl feels that she is being stalked, but no-one is there! What can be going on? To be truthful, what is going on is the feeling that you are being forced to sit through a whodunnit called. “The Butler did It”- There is suspense but no the suspense of waiting for discover but the kind where the audience(me) is wishing that the director would stop pissing around and get to the point. After all, the film is called “the invisible man” the only real available suspense is waiting for the bastard to become visible, and wondering whether the wait is going to be worth it.
I’m happy to report that at least in my case, the wait was worth it. Once Kate Moss actually starts acting and the climax got underway the film contains more than a few nasty moments- possibly too many as a matter of fact; I can remember saying out loud; “How much longer can this shit go on- and sitting through the final twenty minutes with something of a chip on my shoulder, because, rest assured; ”The Invisible Man” is shit but as far it goes it is good shit, delivering sensible science, thrill, blood and the odd nasty shock all in time with “ominous music” loud noises and screaming. And what American film has ever ended without someone getting shot? I can’t think of one since “Dumbo”(unless you count peanuts)
Verdict: Its pretty good shit, but art it ain’t
(C) Copyright 2020 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved.
Behemoth the sea Monster(A.K.A) The Giant Behemoth. (1959) -Amazon Prime.
There is a lot of “classics” on Amazon, which is to say the place is a veritable treasure trove of old crap. I recently discovered this, and having always wanted to see the long-lost British classic; “Gorgo”- decided to watch this instead. I was far from disappointed.
The thing is old films, science fiction and horror in particular, frequently don’t age well and are funny. If you encounter such you have not lost out by the easy laughs and odd cheap shot at the dialogue. For example if you get a chance to see either “ The Purple Monster Strikes” (1945) or “The Giant Spider Invasion” (1975), leap at it; ‘Bad’ does not come worse and there are laughs aplenty for the sardonically inclined. On the other hand mere age does not betoken ‘bad’ and “Nosferatu” (1922) might well leave scars that last years, and the “Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” (1920) is still a very creepy experience.
So I figured with “Behemoth the Sea Monster”, I’d either get a piece of vintage classic or laughably undrinkable vinegar. Either way it’d be interesting and either way it’d keep me away from possible sources of the plague. Such are the times we live in.
In any event the outcome was somewhere in the middle. At the very beginning after a Cornish fisherman beaches his boat and addresses his beautiful blonde daughter in the impossibly cultured tones of a BBC Radio announcer, the viewer is rendered somehow devoid of cutting remarks, especially since considering that the dialogue, if clunky, is actually very well written and acted. This film may be dated, but it was a quality production at the time of release. Through the film the science (aside from the actual behemoth itself), is rock solid and forms an interesting foundation to the film -especially when you consider that this film was made post Nagaski at the height of M.A.D. and even the average viewer would have been awash in a tidal wave of information about Atomic energy, and would have smelled bad science a mile off. The film does its level best on that front and is, if less funny, worthy of some respect. That said the Behemoth itself is predominantly jerky stop-motion animation and really pretty bad, but is worth remembering that this was undoubtedly one of the films that inspired the immortal Ray Harryhausen to think, “Hell I can do better than that” – and for that, if little else, we owe “Behemoth the Sea Monster” a debt of great gratitude. Pretty good but far from great.
(c) Alex Rieneck, May 2020
“Joker” is definitely a blockbuster cast in true Wagnerian style with a bombastic music soundtrack mostly provided by a single huge a-rthymic drum doing its best to keep you awake and aware that this was (by God) Important! As far I was concerned, however I, iconoclast that I am, found the first hour to be mostly turgid melodramatic tripe; where each plot point was belaboured to the point of death and, to be on the safe side, repeated louder for the dimwitted.
If he first three-quarters of the film drag, their point is simple; the vicissitudes of life drive a comparatively normal chap round the bend and turning him into a dangerous out-and-out-nutter. Common stuff, it happens every day, in fact the world’s looney bins are crammed to popping with such people and it is of course tragic that our hero is pushed well beyond the point of no return by a culture that is itself largely sociopathic, having fed on its own toxicity to the point where the tortured victims have turned on each other in a dystopian hell-on-earth.
There is no question of it. Americans know how badly buggered up their own steociety is – and in a state of purposefully induced ignorance think that the whole world is inthe same sta and in a spirit of sharing they set about the spreading of these cheery damn melodramas that always end with a dash of the old ultraviolent and lashings of their obsession with guns. In this though “Joker” is different. While to be sure thereis violence aplenty , “Joker” shows its true identity lateras an even blacker re-make of Martin Scorsese’s 1982 classic “The King of Comedy” – a major reference that I would guess only a tiny percentage of “Joker”’s target demographic would notice, or care about. But for older more cinematically educated viewers it is, as in jokes go, a mammoth in the room that everyone seems to be ignoring. The harder one looks, the easier it becomes to see that “Joker” is simply a remake of that earlier film, perhaps better, perhaps not, suffice to say the world has changed since 1982, and the “Joker” is a surprisingly decent product for 2019. Far from perfect, but surprisingly suspenseful, with a very respectable script, camera work and technicals showing Joachim Phoenix’s over-the-top character and bravura performance to their very best advantage. And if you feel this review seems negative most of the way through, and finishes positive, that is exactly how I felt about “Joker” -for much of its run time I felt I was watching bombastic overblown shit; Then, abruptly, it switched gears on me, & I decided I liked it
It was the best thing available that day. I know it wasn’t Sonic the fucking Hedgehog (which was a bad game on a rubbish system) and consequently had no “nostalgia appeal” for me, and it didn’t have Vin Diesel in it- added to that it didn’t have “reboot” in the title ands not based on an”extended DC universe” or a product of Marvel Studios” – Yes it did have Will Ferrell in it but he had to be bearable at some point in his long career, the trailer looked funny and It did have Julia- Louise-Dreyfus, who I’ve always had a lot of time for. Finally finally, Miranda Otto. I decided to chance it.
I got rather more, (and less) than I’d expected. The thing is “Downhill” both is, (and simultaneously is most definitely NOT) a good film. It is really goddam interesting. Most films start life as books or short stories. Some start as original scripts. Some films simply start as an idea, some films patently start with even less than that “Downhill” on the other hand, is “based on” a film called “Force Majure” made in 2014 I by Ruben Ostlund – and, in seeing “Downhill” one gets the unmistakeable feeling that one is seeing both films at the same time with “downhill” laid over the top of “Force Majure” in a not-transparent enough sheet between the original film and the viewer. Throughout “Downhill” I continually found myself mildly amazed that the characters were all speaking English and that I wasn’t chasing subtitles. The ideas behind the words were European and not American, and to be honest the actors frequently seemed to be out of their depth in this regard, but as far as I could see it seemed to be something like a shot-for-shot copy of the film it was based on, though I will admit to not having seen “Force Majure” (yet). I simply had the feeling that I was seeing a different film the one I was watching, with different actors- just frankly not as good, in exactly the same way that the end of “Star Wars” just isn’t as good as the end of The original “Dam-busters” [https://youtu.be/xmypLqkW3Jc]
It gets stranger than that though; in “Downhill” there is a line that does not allude to anything – one of the locals says to the wife that it is the local custom to go to the sauna naked, since nudity is not considered “naughty” “OHO” I thought, that is a setup for a gag if ever I have heard one- I spent the rest of the film waiting for it and was surprised by the end credits because it hadn’t eventuated.
Then, lo and behold the joke appears- next day-in the [trailer for”Force Majure]”the father having some sort of a sexual identity crisis in a steamy environment full of boisterous and presumably naked, men – and I am left reflecting that the last credit for “Downhill” was “A Buena Vista Production”
Nice try, but no cigar.
Films like this make me really glad that I review films. Please be clear I don’t enjoy warning people away from the occasional piece of shit I have had to sit through – thoughwhile I regard the activity as a commendable public service, its an unpleasant job, every step of the way.
Then there are films like “Motherless Brooklyn” which are a complete surprise – like pulling a book off a shelf at at library random and discovering hours later, that heavy shit has been perpetrated on you and that this heavy shit will probably take a pretty long time to dissipate.
*films like “Motherless Brooklyn” are the kind of films which make me happy I’m alive *
On to the nitty gritty.
“Motherless Brooklyn” (2019) is a Film Noir thriller set in New York in the early 1950’s. Almost everyone in the film is a war veteran in one way or another and just about all have a case of PTSD as part of their emotional carry-on luggage. Its a potent kind of place, rather too frenetic to be comfortable especially considering that the film is almost top heavy in big name star power, all of whom were presumably working for scale for a chance at the shit-hot script.
This is an impressive film. Many big names appear in comparatively minor character roles. I’m pretty rubbish at putting names to faces, so this was actually pretty distracting from the main story as it had me fretting over who a character “was” rather than who they were in the story. But this is a very minor criticism – the person I went with just “recognised” everyone – and had a fine time at it.
The story starts with a theoretically simple murder but rapidly expands over a series of truly twisted plot twists into being a massively complicated Real-estate development swindle and; unexpectedly into being a quite blisteringindictment of the American “system” and I feel, the current president and his way of doing business. Importantly, this film lays the moral map out with unarguable clarity. Watching it will force people to choose allegiances- and in so doing, face up to themselves in ways that for a lot of people, are very overdue, and that they may well find uncomfortable.
This film is a real cracker.
(C) Copyright 2020 Alex Rieneck All rights reserved.
It is a truth often acknowledged that Jane Austen is still jolly popular, and that two-hundred-and-three years after her death, her books are still in print and more importantly, still widely read and enjoyed. These facts have not escaped the notice of Hollywood either. The Manatees at the top of the industry have correctly surmised that anything with “Jane Austen” in the title is sure to put bums on seats – even if only because the books are still widely represented on school and university reading lists. Offerings range from the idiotic, with the addition of zombies in a rather desperate attempt at humour to the updated – “Clueless”.
As far as the movie industry is concerned, the problem is that Austen’s output was quite small, with her concentrating on quality rather than quantity, a fact which has already pushed the movie industry deep into re-make territory. This film is no less than the fifth version of “Emma” (counting “Clueless”) and is, in my opinion, the best. It’s been made with huge respect for the original text with Austen’s humour represented perfectly by the actors and the excellent script. The audience laughed out loud, and frequently. The cinema was a very pleasant place to be, that afternoon. The photography was truly sublime and of beautiful things, the editing slow and considered. I suppose it could be said that nothing much “happened”- no-one got shot, the world was not saved from marauding aliens, but my attention was sill riveted since as Ms Austen knew well, importance is a matter of degree, not of content. And if “Emma” is slight in content it is doubly charming for all that.
A Rare Gem indeed.
(C) Alex Rieneck 2020 All rights reserved.
“The Irishman” – Review
Truth be told you’ve very likely already seen this since it was a very successfully launched for NetFlix and millions dutifully tuned in when told to. It was a bit of a no-brainer – Martin Scorsese directing, Robert DeNiro AND Al Pacino acting – Cinematic confections do not come more potentially tasty than this(less they contain ‘Droids and have a script written in crayon).
Carping aside, “The Irishman” is a particularly good film , and I think, in my modest way that I may be able to expand your appreciation of it (preferably after) watching it, since spoilers may well follow.
Martin Scorsese is 77 years old. He’s been making films for over fifty of them. He is still evolving as a director, an artist and an intellect. From his earliest success, “Mean Streets” Scorsese seems to have been fascinated by reality, both visually and intellectually. I haven’t seen “Mean Streets” in longer than some of you have been alive but I still remember three petty hoods squabbling in their car over the way that their stolen booty is less valuable than expected. These hoods were so convincing, (even though they were actors) that I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was watching was real– twenty years before “The Godfather” reality programming and films like [“Tangerine”]. Its true – “The Godfather” won the best picture the year “Mean Streets” was released but these pond scum were real and “Mean Streets” is still a stunningly good film. In fact both those gangster films altered the shape of entertainment to the present day – it could easily be argued that “Mean Streets” was at least the harbinger of the reality Tv, while without “The Godfather”, “The Sopranos would not have been viewed as a viable project, which in turn would have affected “Game of Thrones.”
Back to “The Irishman” and Scorsese’s relationship with reality. “The Irishman” is not the final instalment in the “Goodfellas trilogy” in any way other than the viewer’s interaction with the mind that created the films. “Goodfellas” starts with narration then instantly states that the film is not fiction but a melange of truth and the tricks of dramatic filmmaking. It promises to be an expose’ of the real U.S “suburban Mafia”- and it delivers, in classic style, the feeling is more documentary than Drama – “Mean Streets” again.
Scorsese followed “Goodfellas” with what I consider his masterpiece “Casino” takes the “Docu-Drama form even further to produce a film that exposes how Las Vegas works. Narrated, more complex than “Goodfellas”, Scorsese paints his characters more richly, with more complexity and detail allowing Sharon Stone (for example) to deliver one of the most mind-buggeringly bravura performances you will ever see. A truly classic film in the style of the old classics.
“The Irishman” follows in this evolution though, sadly without an equivalent female part to Sharon Stone; but in choice of subject, the canvas is bigger, even bigger than Las Vegas. In this film Scorsese takes on the assassination of J.F.K and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa – and he makes sense of both complex subjects, makes them interesting and though their climaxes are already “known” makes them truly suspenseful. Just waiting this makes me want to watch all 3.5 hours again.
(C) Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved.
There are two versions of the crime murder – the one which happens in the real world, which is always nasty, pointless and usually brutal; and the murder of fiction which is jazzed up to be thrilling, exciting and mentally tantalising. Murder is a big seller, whether its sold for sleazy “serial killer” thrills or as a “locked room” mystery where the reader gets to decipher the carefully salted clues and identify the killer – before the detective, whoever they may be. One thing is sure though, while its usually pretty easy to “solve” a real murder by using the accounts in the newspapers, the fictional cases have been created far harder, frequently with real malice, to stymie the cogitations of the most clear thinker.
As a case in pain, when the solution of “Knives Out” is laid bare, it takes the detective, Le Blanc (Daniel Craig), about five minutes of fast talking just to get the facts out. If your head isn’t already spinning, that rave will do the trick, I was alternately screaming with laughter and marvelling that anyone could learn that amount of mad crap off by heart and then recount it at high speed apparently word for word, in one take. Then again I guess that’s why Daniel Craig gets paid big bucks while I struggle to remember filthy limericks and declaim them in the shower.
“Knives out” is a pretty strange film by any measure. It isn’t really a “whodunnit” since the murder has been committed before (and you are introduced to the character before) you have any idea of the “lie of the land.” No matter “Knives Out” is by nature a parody of the genre rather than an example of it, and as parodies go, it is very successful, although in truth I don’t think anyone in the audience was enjoying it much for about the first hour – until a line of quite remarkable vulgarity arrived out of left field and the whole audience literally screamed with shock and amusement. The rest of the film was frequently very funny, as with the change of gears afforded by that line, it seemed to have found its feet as a solid worthwhile entertainment. Daniel Craig exhibits a delightful sense of comic timing, and an ability to act outside the character of Bond that only a fool would have doubted anyway, and Jamie Lee Curtis is probably the most beautiful and sexy woman on the screen, and no slouch in the talent stakes either.
This film positively sparkles. Very highly recommended.
Review(C) Copyright 2019 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved.