Entries Tagged as 'War'

To Have and Have Not (1944)

Though this film bears the same title as Ernest Hemingway’s 1937  novel of the same name, it bears few similarities to its source material. I won’t fake any Hemingway scholarship here, only make a few observations:

The screenplay is written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, which feels like a bit of a tragedy, given that THaHN feels like most insipid kind of corporate, commercial film making. More on that later. Directed by Howard Hawks, it doesn’t seem to have a tonal center, as the noir elements don’t pay off.

Shot in 1944, while WWII was still raging and 2 years after  Casablanca (1942). THaHN is both an odd sort of  mirror and deconstruction of former. Bacall’s character, Marie ‘Slim’ Browning is definitely a person that you’d want to keep in front of you at all times. [Read more →]

‘Shutter Island’ (2010)

[ WARNING :Uncharacteristically, this review is all SPOILERS, but this film is so well put together that you should consider my spoilers a feature, rather than a bug.]

Operation Paperclip Nazis working in criminal sanitariums off the coast of Washington State? Mind control? A WWII veteran and widower with PTSD? Visuals by David Lynch.

It’s 1951 in this film and the most unfortunate thing about Shutter Island is that Scorcese and writers Stephen Knight and Laeta Kalogridis decided that it’s okay not to make sense. They decide to just let go. Film is a visual experience and flourishes are flourishes, so why the fuck not? If your local cinemat can affor to spend $750k on a new 3D projection kit, you can sit and watch Martin Scorcese orchestrate some crazy in 2D. On Shutter Island, the Eater Eggs and Red Herrings run thick, wild and free. So wild, that you may want to pause and consider throwing a few back, before deciding which ones you want to take home to eat. [Read more →]

‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ (2007)

Charlie Wilson’s War’ is a tricky film to write on, because I have both a Proustian relationship with the material and a more generalized, historical appreciation for the the effort that writer Aaron Sorkin and director Mike Nichols have accomplished.

The week before I saw ‘Charlie Wilson’, I had watched ‘ Nineteen Eighty-Four ‘ again, only to discover what seemed to be a waterboarding administered to Winston by O’Brien.

The past is prologue. [Read more →]

‘Atonement’ (2007)

Was this worth $10 and my 2 hours?

I confess publicly, now, up-front to a small obsession with Keira Knightley. I’ve seen all but two of her films and regardless of the quality, QED ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,’ I’ve found her to be effective at a bare minimum in all and stunning in some of the roles she’s played. That said, while she acquits herself quite well her role as Cecilia Tallis in ‘Atonement’ isn’t really that much of a role. [Read more →]

‘300’ (2007)

“FREEDOM!!” , shouts Gerard Butler in the role of King Leonidas in Zack Snyder’s evocation of ‘ 300 ‘, Frank Miller’s realization of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. But then as now, the question becomes one of whose freedom and the terms thereof.

It’s no secret that the democracies of ancient Greece were highly restrictive. ‘Democracy’ as an idea was limited to wealthy landholders and nobles – typically if you weren’t wealthy you weren’t free, but more likely you were somebody’s servant or sharecropper.

Since ’300′ was released, many critics have tried to determine what the analogy of the tale is, considering we, the United States, are currently engaged in a protracted contest with more than one Middle Eastern foe. Certainly, many people argue, that ’300′s invasion of Sparta by the Persian Sultan Xerxes is roughly analogous to the American misadventure in Iraq and Afghanistan. And anyone who would put forth such an argument is certainly a fool. [Read more →]

‘Hanover Street’ (1979)

‘Hanover Street’ (1979) This film has very little going for it, other than the participation of Plummer and Ford. I honestly wanted to like it, given my respect for Hyams and many of the actors, but this just fell flat, in so many ways.

First, Lesley-Ann Down : has she ever managed to be the romantic lead in a WWII picture that didn’t end up being a piece of made-for-TV garbage? I say this after having tried to watch her in ‘ Arch of Triumph ‘ (1985) with Anthony Hopkins, a remake of a project with ‘Casablanca’-level ambitions that simply fell flat; this remake hardly improved upon the 1948 version. In ‘Hanover Street’ Ms. Downs’ performance certainly wasn’t enhanced by the flat dialogue and her wholly unsympathetic character: The woman is cheating on her husband, plain and simple, without explanation or cause. A stronger actress would have demanded a better backstory for this character, some ‘Sophie’s Choice’ or ‘Plenty’ content to make her more fathomable, but this round-heeled wife of a British Intelligence officer (Plummer) is nothing but a liability. [Read more →]