Tag Archives: Robert Aldrich

Mystery Pic #019

Mystery Pic #019

A relatively simple one, place your answers in the comments below, ta :)

ETA:

PhilC got the right answer, it’s Robert Aldrich’s war movie Attack.

Attack title screen

A Week In Film #018: Spring sunshine

Year Of The Dragon title screen

Year Of The Dragon
More Michael Cimino business – post-Heaven’s Gate but pre-The Sicilian. Mickey Rourke is Stanley White, a New York cop trying to clear up Chinatown.

There are some interesting techniques, and some good performances, but it is a mess. Of particular note are Cimino’s repeated use of his gunshot victims looking directly into the camera at the moment of impact (as if down the barrel), and the peculiarly abandoned sub-lot of the untainted rookie being recruited by White into his small gangbusting team (as subsequently used to greater effect in The Untouchables).

The plot point about White being a Vietnam vet (who sometimes seemed to have forgotten that he was now in NYC) and overall tone reminded me of the TV movie Dragonfire (aka Tagget).

In terms of casting, Rourke works well as a weary cop. On the other hand Ariane is an odd choice to play the Chinese-American TV reporter character Tracey Tzu; she appears to have had no previous screen acting experience and looks nervous much of the time. The punky junior triad kids (responsible for much of the carnage) could easily have had more meat. Oh, and the script was co-written by Oliver Stone. It certainly has plenty of testosterone and beefy contemplation in it.

Attack title screen

Attack
Robert Aldrich’s adaptation of a stage play set during the Battle of the Bulge around the fate of an infantry company bedevilled by a command structure eaten through with political patronage.

Jack Palance is an angry combat-seasoned junior officer, Eddie Albert is his cowardly captain, whilst Lee Marvin is the cynical colonel, with visions of holding public office once he gets back home. Bitter, angry, powerful.

(Trivia: I once spoke to Bob Mills on GLR about the film during a phone-in about Eddie Albert, and described his character as “a lily-livered, medal-wanting, son-of-a-gun” – a last second moment of self-censorship at the end there – which Bob then turned into a jingle-cum-slogan for the show.)

Sky High title screen

Sky High
The LLF isn’t really keen on most of the sorts of films I watched, so I got this one to watch together. It’s a Disney family film, about a high school for the progeny of superheroes. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston are the biggest capes in town, and proud to see their son Michael Angarano off to start at their alma mater; this being a Disney family film, he starts off with no super powers or any idea of what he wants in life, so must go on a journey of self-discovery and realise the true hero inside, etc etc etc.

Lynda Wonder Woman Carter is the school principal, Bruce Campbell is the sports coach, Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall is the science teacher. It’s quite good fun, but nothing spectacular. I’ve not seen any of the Harry Potter films, but I’d guess it was pitched as a kind of all-American version, with the high school romantic subplots of something like Smallville or Pretty In Pink thrown in for good measure.

Mystery Pic #001

Mystery Pic #001

Post your guesses in the comments…

ETA:

Guessed right by Mat D – it’s Robert Aldrich’s Too Late The Hero (1970).

Too Late The Hero title screen
Too Late The Hero alternate title screens

A Week In Film #001: Birthday week

These past seven days I have watched…

Rescue Dawn title screen
Rescue Dawn
An MIA flick set in the early days of the American segment of the Vietnam War, based around Dieter Dengler, a downed US combat pilot. It appears to take great liberties with the facts, in much the same way as Christian Bale does with his German-American accent…

Too Late The Hero title screen
Too Late The Hero
This has long been one of my favourite war films, simply because it’s so bleak. It’s got Michael Caine, Ronald Fraser, Cliff Robertson, Denholm Elliott and loads of other familiar faces, as well as lashings of Aldrich violence. It’s kind of a cheap precursor to The Thin Red Line, and less pretentious to boot. In war there are no heroes, only survivors would appear to be the message.

52 Pick-Up title screen
52 Pick-Up
Roy Scheider is a businessman who fights back against blackmailers! Dirty, torrid, quite good.

The Year Of Living Dangerously title screen
The Year Of Living Dangerously
One of that cycle of films in the late 70s/early 80s set in the exotic third world, where our identification is with some Western journalist or tourist or whatnot (see also Under Fire, Salvador, Beyond Rangoon, The Killing Fields etc). This one has naïve, uncouth Aussie radio hack Mel Gibson coming to Indonesia on the eve of the coup against the Sukarno regime. It’s so-so, but watchable.

MASH title screen
MASH
Robert Altman’s episodic, ensemble-based, overlapping dialogue-infused Korean War film. Apparently it’s a satire on the Vietnam War, but can’t say it works that way for me.

Gia title screen
Gia
A very good HBO TV movie biopic about early supermodel – and early celebrity AIDS victim – Gia Marie Carangi, who’s played brilliantly by a young, pre-superstardom Angelina Jolie.

I’d never heard of it till the LLF mentioned it in positive terms. Well, I say positive terms, it’s pretty unremittingly grim. Mercedes Ruehl is very good as her mother, too (Gia’s, not the LLF’s).

Death At A Funeral title screen
Death At A Funeral
Or Sterben Für Anfänger if you happened to have acquired the German version. I didn’t realise these sorts of films got made in Britain anymore – basically it’s a drawing room farce, complete with fucking vicar. A family of dysfunctional, mostly unlikable upper middle class idiots gathers together at the funeral of its patriarch; ‘hilarity ensues’ (or doesn’t).

I watched it because Andy Nyman – the magician/actor who turned up in Charlie Brooker’s Big Brother-meets-Dawn Of The Dead mini-series Dead Set as the obnoxious television producer – was in it. He is pretty enjoyable in it (in the sort of part that Nick Frost might otherwise snag); as is Peter Dinklage as the blackmailing dwarf. Keeley Hawes is in it, but doesn’t get much to do. Matthew Macfadyen is too, doe-eyed as usual. Alan Tudyk gets the chance to essentially reprise Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball, only with an English accent. It was directed by Muppet man Frank Oz. It would have been improved no end with song ping-pong ball-eyed puppets.

Catch-22 title screen
Catch-22
Mike Nichols’ excellent take on the Joseph Heller novel, which was somehow less successful than 1970′s other big Nam analogue, MASH, despite being more dramatic, more satirical, more laugh-out funny and more dark. Go figure.

Alan Arkin is great as Yossarian, the World War 2 bomb aimer with a healthy desire to be nowhere near the fighting. The performances are uniformly excellent. There’s a gory bit with a man and a propeller blade, which my dad spoiled for me before I got the chance to see it, in much the same way as he spoiled Don’t Look Now for me with his explanation of the whole red-coated stalker shenanigans.

Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS title screen
Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS
Nazi sexploitation gubbins (I blame Nigel). And that torture chamber isn’t big enough to swing a whip! (The LLF was not impressed when I told her about watching it :( ).

Boogie Nights title screen
Boogie Nights
Paul Thomas Anderson’s rise-and-fall fairy tale of a John Holmesian porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) in seventies and eighties San Fernando Valley. Well shot, at times touching or funny, with some good performances, but ultimately it just doesn’t really click for me.

Cross Of Iron title screen
Cross Of Iron
Another favourite war film – James Coburn as a weary German sergeant on the Eastern Front, saddled with an incompetent, glory-hunting officer. One of Peckinpah’s best, on technical, artistic and moral grounds. Features one of the greatest opening and closing credit sequences in the history of film, too.

The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover title screen
The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover
Peter Greenaway trained as a painter, yadda yadda yadda, painterly direction, blah blah blah, making a statement about greed/Thatcherism/whatever the fuck else, etc etc etc. Bit boring, but to the teenaged Bristle, HELEN MIRREN WITH HER NORKS OUT! The Comic Strip’s Eat The Rich covered much the same thematic territory, but was funnier and less up its own arse. Ooh, there’s an early appearance by Alex Kingston in there too!

The Boys In Company C title screen
The Boys In Company C
One of my two favourite Craig Wasson Vietnam War films (the other being Go Tell The Spartans).

It’s a low budget first run for Full Metal Jacket – we follow a platoon of young draftees through training and then in-country combat; stuff happens (comedic and tragic), the war is never won, the end. Lee Ermey is in there, rehearsing his FMJ lines nigh on ten years early. Stan Shaw (the boxer who takes the fall in Snake Eyes) is in the mix, and very impressive he is too.

Guns At Batasi title screen
Guns At Batasi
A mid-fifties take on post-imperial Africa, with a small group of British soldiers trapped on their base as independence leads to uprising and revolution.

Dickie Attenborough is impressive as a tightly-wound, old school RSM (all Brylcreemed ‘tache and barking), Mia Farrow appears to have walked on set from a different film.

Played title screen
Played
An oddity: apparently shot as an experimental short, this gangster/revenge flick somehow squeezes in more than a dozen big and well-known actors into its cast, and ended up as a full-length festival feature. At times it comes over too Guy Ritchie (and yes, it does has Vinnie Jones there, as a bent copper who CAN’T STOP SHOUTING); it’s at its best when it slows down and lets its actors act.

Writer/producer Mick Rossi (as in Mike Rossi of Slaughter And The Dogs fame?) is also the main character, a thief named Ray; he’s both kind of good, but also kind of jarring, with an accent that drifts around in the middle of the Atlantic like a torpedoed merchant seaman (he’s meant to be a south London villain). But it’s definitely more I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead than Rollin’ With The Nines.

Again, I watched it because it’s got Andy Nyman in it – as a liability of a snout. He’s good in the role, unfortunately the role doesn’t really suit the tone of the film.