Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Up, up and away ...

A perfect day's viewing for New Year's Day: a discovery, an old favourite, and an absolute horror: in other words: UP, LEGEND OF THE LOST and the 2010 ROBIN HOOD well as those Divas (below) ..

UP was one Pixar cartoon I somehow missed - but I loved and saw FINDING NEMO several times, and the TOY STORY films. UP is dazzlingly inventive, amusing and emotional by turn. 

Young Carl Fredrickson meets a young adventure-spirited girl named Ellie. They both dream of going to a lost land in South America. 70 years later, Ellie has died. Carl remembers the promise he made to her. Then, when he inadvertently hits a construction worker, he is forced to go to a retirement home. But before they can take him, he and his house fly away by tying thousands of balloons to his home . However, he has a stowaway aboard: an 8-year-old boy named Russell. Together, they embark on an adventure, where they encounter talking dogs, an evil villain and a rare bird named Kevin

This plays out delightfully and socks an emotional punch as well. I have to get the dvd now and make sure my friends see it too. A great movie to share with a loved one .... Maybe the best Pixar ? as directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, with the cast voices led by Edward Asner.

I have written about  LEGEND OF THE LOST a few times here before - here is what I said in 2010:

"I loved the 1957 Henry Hathaway adventure LEGEND OF THE LOST when I saw it as a kid and had become fascinated by Sophia Loren (from the previous year's BOY ON A DOLPHIN and that Italian film WOMAN OF THE RIVER) and its still terrific now - call it what you will: a Sahara western, an oater, a programmer - its still terrific entertainment as John Wayne (iconic as ever), 23 year old Sophia, and Rosanno Brazzi trek into the Sahara from Timbuktu in search of lost treasure and find that ancient Roman ruined city which looks rather like Leptis Magna in Libya (one of those places I must get to see...).

What rises this above the usual films of its type though is that it was photographed by Jack Cardiff - the desert never looked more attractive, well apart from in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Whether its Sophia cooking by sunset or deep in the ruined city it always looks terrific. The shots are as good as any in those other classics lensed and lit by Cardiff: BLACK NARCISSUS, PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, THE RED SHOES, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH etc. Jack also pulled off the same trick with Fleisher's THE VIKINGS - that too still looks perfect now, as does his work on THE AFRICAN QUEEN, WAR AND PEACE, THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL etc - Ekberg, both Hepburns, Loren, Monroe, Ava, Leigh etc all look their best when lit by Jack Cardiff. Cardiff's book MAGIC HOUR has a very interesting chapter on it and his chaste romance with Sophia .... "

I had wanted to see Ridley Scott's ROBIN HOOD but negative reviews put me off, so I thought I would wait for the dvd, but now here it is on tv. I began recording it but alighted on it during the last half hour and could not believe what I was seeing. This is a very grim dour take on the legend .... no wonder the original Maid Marian Sienna Miller had to be replaced, she would have looked far too young for Russell Crowe here, but Cate Blanchett seems all wrong too and the sight of her in armour and fighting battles is plain ludicrous. After seeing that sea battle where the French arrive in what looks like scenes from a D-Day landing World War II film, with all the usual bloodshed and sheer carnage - and of course the south coast is nowhere near Nottingham - I just did not want to see the rest of it. Eileen Atkins (replacing Vanessa Redgrave) seemed wasted too as Eleanor of Aquitaine. If you are going to do Robin Hood give me the legend any time - 
I remember watching Olivia De Havilland in 1972 watching herself and Erroll Flynn riding in the forest in the sparkling 1938 film, when she appeared at London's National Film Theatre - that was 40 years ago, she is still here now in her 90s, as is her sister Joan - and we liked the '52 Disney Richard Todd version too (where Martita Hunt was a splendid Queen Eleanor) and the derided Kevin Costner one was a lot of fun, particularly when Geraldine McEwan and Alan Rickman were on-screen. This though, like Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN or that recent TROY looks totally unreal - even the sea and the ships seems CGI ... Mark Strong again impresses as the best heavy around. There are over 520 mainly negative reviews of it over at IMDB, reading just a few of them is enough as they itemize everything that is wrong with this film from the script and music to the actual story.  Of course there really was no need for yet another Robin Hood film as they thought they were being clever deconstructing the legend ... Richard Lester's 1976 ROBIN AND MARIAN is the one to beat. 

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