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.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Final round-up of late summer repeats

That magic waterfall from UNCLE BOONMEE
A final look at some late summer/early autumn repeats from British television, before we go on to some new stuff ... there's been lots to look at again!

THE QUEEN. A  huge hit in 2006 and still great entertainment now. One just knew Helen Mirren was on course for that Oscar, while Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory are unnervingly right as Tony and Cherie Blair. The glimpses of the real Diana brings back memories of that crazy time in 1997 .....
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, 1998. S I L is a huge hit on the stage here in London now - the film though is the one for me, stupendous cast, great costumes and sets, and that endlessly witty script by Tom Stoppard. If Elizabethan life was not like this, it should have been. I particularly like one of Judi Dench's 8 minutes as Queen Elizabeth laughing at the dog.  Its a perfect romance too ....... Joseph Fiennes is one of the most attractive guys ever here. More on him at Fiennes label, and my long review of the film.
KHARTOUM, 1966. I had forgotten how good KHARTOUM is, directed by stalwart Basil Dearden, and 2nd Unit (presumably those battle scenes) by veteran Yakima Canutt (the chariot race in BEN-HUR etc). It has two towering performances - Charlton Heston, steadfast as usual, as General Gordon, and a mesmerising turn (in a handful of scenes, but dominating the film) by Laurence Olivier as The Madhi - 
he is almost unrecognisable, blacked up here. This was Olivier's great late period, running the National Theatre, films like TERM OF TRIAL and BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING (where he is almost ordindary) He was also playing OTHELLO to great acclaim at the time, also blacked up as the Moor, (it was also filmed, with Maggie Smith). 
His Madhi is a stunning creation.  The film is quite topical now, showing as it does the confrontation between Western imperialism and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism - this time in the Sudan of the 19th century. Add in Ralph Richardson as Gladstone, and familiar faces like Richard Johnson, Marne Maitland, Peter Arne, Nigel Green, Michael Hordern, Alexander Knox, Douglas Wilmer, Johnny Sekka. The fascinating story of how General Gordon (a fanatic to some) manages to hold Khartoum as the Madhi's forces attack is well told here and its totally engrossing. 
SPEED. Popcorn movie time: SPEED is 20 years old now, a hit from 1994 - we loved it at the time, and I still like it now. Maybe Keanu and Sandra's best moment - well, till GRAVITY for Sandra (though I like THE PROPOSAL too). Buffed up Keanu is ideal here and De Bont's film delivers stunt after stunt on that bus, the runaway underground train, and that plunging elevator at the start. Jeff Daniels is dependable as usual and Hopper is the ideal nasty villain. As a popcorn classic its up there with Petersen's AIR FORCE ONE and the Indiana Jones movies. 

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, 2010. If there is one director whose work is suffused with a contemporary kind of magic, something you can't quite put your finger on, its Thai art-house sensation Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This sometimes bizarre, always enchanting, film is his most accessible, telling the last days in the life of Uncle Boonmee and the importance of caring and of being cared for, as we roam over his past and maybe future lives.  
My full review (Boonmee label) goes into it in more detail. Its a meditation on death and re-birth as we see those various apparitions of his past lives as animals, perhaps that water buffalo in the moonlight at the start - the the mysterious catfish which makes love to the princess with that waterfall in the background. I like that long scene with when Huay, Boonmee's wife who has been dead for 19 years, reappears at the dinner table and they all talk to her as though she only left yesterday. 

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