Monday 7 May 2018

23 (these numbers are the list of the films given an opinion on - I did a list - about 920 films which can't be right...) 23 - Cry the Beloved, kung fu, Black Hole, Smiley, King of the Gypsies, Bloody Mama, Inserts

Cry the Beloved Country (1995) - One of Harry Alan Towers' attempts at mainstream success, lushly shot, with a bigger budget than the usual Towers of London production. This is an adaptation of Alan Paton's novel, with James Earl Jones, Charles S. Dutton and Richard Harris. It is also, refreshingly a South African film that is open about its setting and proud of its identity, made shortly after Mandela's election. It is all rather staid and HBO movie-like. Richard Harris' African accent sounds more West Brit than anything, which ties into the theme being sung by Enya. John Barry's soundtrack is good, but the main theme is a reversioning of his theme from Zulu. Not a self-plagiarising like Starcrash/Out of Africa, but the actual theme from Zulu. It actually works, slowed down and played for poignancy rather than storming epic adventure.   In another sign of Towers, some of the acting is Nigerian soap-standard (they may be solid actors but pair them up against James Earl Jones and they flounder).

Lady Oscar (1979) - Jacques Demy film, full of British faces, but kind of empty despite the design. No wonder it never got a release in Europe.

De Sade (1969) - Ropey melodrama that thinks it is Barry Lyndon, but closer to  Jess Franco.

Captive (1986) - Dull, interminable barely-a-film with Oliver Reed as a blowhard. Score by Sinead O'Connor and U2.

Forced Vengeance (1982) - Chuck Norris vehicle in Hong Kong. A bloody dud that fails to get the most out of Hong Kong, set in a Hong Kong where there are casinos.

Yesterday's Hero (1979) - Couldn't make this through, despite Alan Lake as an American who sounds more Geordie than anything. Grim Jackie Collins tale with Ian McShane, Adam Faith, Paul Nicholas doing his staid rocker thing and Suzanne Somers in a council estate and a 2nd division football club.

Les Tribulation D'un Chinois En Chine (1965) - Jean-Paul Belmondo is annoying in his wig disguise - a little too Wisdomesque. Some good stunts but it loses something in translation. Also watched Le Guignolo (1980), an unfunny, action-starved Sting knockoff with Jean-Paul. I was on Letterboxd, but it's hard to tell what films you've seen. I've included films I've attempted but couldn't finish (two star vehicles in more cases),  but sometimes a particularly bad film may only register because you once saw the trailer, and that was enough to make an impression. Something like Klute I put on, because I thought I saw it, but when I did watch it, either it was unmemorable. I've probably seen about 3000 films, 2700 according to the 'boxd.  Found Docteur Justice (1975) a dud, Money Moners (-1978) TV movie-like and Sssssss (1973) TV movie-like, lethargic and like a bad Columbo with mad science. Though some films I marked a dislike despite never seeing them in full. One can see from a minute of Pretty Baby (-1978) that it is fucking awful. Decided to quit the thing because I feel like it forces you to watch films. I'm not a completist.

The Black Hole (1979) - Disney had the wrong idea. Great soundtrack by Barry, great design (even if V.I.N. Cent. and Old B.O.B. are very cartoony) and Maximilian Schell is a good villain, but it's a talky TV movie-level plot, unsure as to what it is. Haunted house movie, Captain Nemo in space,  disaster movie, space opera? Robert Forster (in his last major studio film for another twenty years) is good, but Yvette Mimieux reminds me of Dr. Pulaski in Star Trek - The Next Generation. The robot death scene of OLD B.O.B. is quite poignant. It actually should be remade, with a more likeable set of characters.

Warriors of the Year 2072 (1984) - Flickery, garishly ugly Fulci mess.

The Deadly Affair (1966) - Unlikeably dark and grim. I find that Le Carre isn't quite my thing.

Roma (1972) - Not so much a film as an anthology of moving pictures. Beautifully done but not really a film. Like a constant reel of postcard-like vignettes. I'm not really a Fellini fan (neorealism isn't quite my thing), but some of his more plotless wonders can at least visually intrigue.

Ordeal By Innocence (1984) - Lifeless, dull TV movie-like Agatha Christie plodder from Cannon. Boon and Lovejoy costar (Elphick and McShane shortly before taking on their iconic TV roles). The Dave Brubeck score annoys. For tax reasons, a few forest scenes with Plummer and Sutherland and an invisible rabbit were shot in New Jersey. The trees look look convincingly English.
Realised I hadn't seen it while scanning my old HBO film guide, full of interminable films like the  tropical nonsense of Sunburn (1979).

King of the Gypsies (1979) - Dino De Laurentiis' attempt to do the Godfather for the travelling community. Except it feels rushed. It isn't a long saga of emigration. It feels cheap. Lots of funny moustaches and fedoras. But almost no caravans. Eric Roberts looks slightly older than his mun Susan Sarandon. Judd Hirsch falls off a roof. Brooke Shields gets thrown away so Roberts can do his vigilante bit. Shelley Winters, dolled up as Maria Ousenskaya has nothing to do. Sterling Hayden is unconvincing as a Romani. In fact, no one really convinces as Romani. It's a very strange, dog-eared film that doesn't know what it is.The world is interesting, but there's not really enough there. The supermarket accident is interesting. It's nicely shot. Roberts is great,  astonishing for a debut, and quite attractive. The trouble it tries to shoehorn in this huge big arc. Basically, if it was a smaller, more introspective piece, and not trying to be the Godfather, it would have worked better.

Attempted to watch Bloody Mama (1970), but realised it's hicksploitation. Shelley Winters is good, and interesting to see a young Robert De Niro, but it feels cheap, ironically by shooting in the real locations, it makes it look cheaper. I forgot she was from Kansas. Yes, I fell into the Boney M trap (who got her name wrong) that "she was the meanest cat in old Chicago town".

Tried End of the World (1977) and Inserts (1975), which were bad enough to make me forget if I had seen them before. Operation Daybreak, Endgame (1983), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and the Prize (1963)... - 8 forgettable films including the memorable but shoddily done Sugar Hill (1974).

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