An Announcement for February

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I’ve spoken in the past of my love and support of women directors. So I thought for February, my blog should review mostly movies directed by females. I’m very much looking forward to doing this and reviewing some excellent movies, plus highlighting the sheer talent and work ethic of female directors.

Some of the films I’ll be checking out are;

  • The Hitch-Hiker ( Ida Lupino)
  • Viceroy’s House ( Gurinder Chadha)
  • Belle ( Amma Asante)
  • Blue Steel( Kathryn Bigelow)
  • Our Kind of Traitor ( Susanna White)
  • In the Cut( Jane Campion)
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Red Eye

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Film Title

Red Eye

Director

Wes Craven

Starring

  • Rachel McAdams as Lisa Reisert
  • Cillian Murphy as Jackson Ripper
  • Brian Cox as Joe Reisert

Wes Craven takes to the air for this suspenseful little thriller that is lean, mean and nail-biting stuff. Red Eye, with many a Hitchcockian element to it, doesn’t aspire to be something brand spanking new; its main objective is to thrill and that’s what it does.

Lisa Reisert is a hotel manager whose life is all about dealing with tough customers and complaints. We pick up with her in Dallas, where she has just attended the funeral of her Grandmother. She’s not the biggest fan of flying, but is going to catch the red-eye flight back to Miami. Unfortunately, her flight is delayed and she has to wait around for a little while. It’s here that she meets the polite and handsome Jackson Ripper, who engages in friendly talk with her. When the flight is ready, they are happy and bemused to see that they are sitting next to each other on the plane. Though he keeps Lisa calm, there’s something not quite right about Jackson which becomes abundantly clear to us and her. What started as flirting and charming conversation soon turns to something very sinister as the plane takes off. Jackson admits to being part of a terrorist organisation that needs Lisa’s expertise in a deadly plan. You see the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security is staying in the hotel Lisa works in and the people Jackson works for are planning an elaborate assassination for him. They just need Lisa to switch his room for it to be successful. As leverage to ensure she takes part, Jackson informs the terrified Lisa that her father will be killed if his demands aren’t met. Faced with precious time that is ticking away, Lisa digs into her resolve in order to not buckle under the shock that befalls her. But just how long can she hold the evil and ruthless Jackson off before death begins to occur?

Red Eye benefits from the sure hand of Wes Craven in the directing chair. Having been one of the kings of the horror genre, his skills at inducing tension and terror are utilized here in this tightly compact suspense thriller. He gets over a real claustrophobia and paranoia that seeps into every frame, especially the main chunk that is airborne and the most unnerving. Red Eye isn’t aiming for immense originality or to be a game changing suspense movie; its most concerned with offering up something nail-biting and with more than a couple of jolts of unpredictability. economical running time makes sure that we are on the edge of our seats and no flab is seen leaking in Red Eye. The last half hour goes a bit overboard, but the build up and the tightness of most of it makes it easy to ignore and still a well constructed thriller with excitement and a whole lot of tension. The pacing is mainly where the movie is at, cleverly getting to the point after a short but bracing warm up before a white-knuckle intensity covers it splendidly. The mid-air game of sinister cat and mouse is sustained through effectively up close camerawork and  Marco Beltrami, who previously scored the haunting music for Craven’s Scream, is ace at filtering an electronic pulse into Red Eye. He starts with little drops of suspense, before cranking up the action and drama for something quickening and growing in volume.

Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy are the main players in this movie and they are talented performers. McAdams is a kind of actress who keeps things grounded and her part sympathetic and resourceful. She’s no screaming victim and though under duress, she makes her part one of both believable smarts and vulnerability. Cillian Murphy, with his intense stare and icy blue eyes, is superbly cast as the seemingly charming man who is anything but. Nastiness is his middle name but you can also sense some form of desperation to get his job done no matter what from the always watchable Murphy. Together, both are engaged in a deadly hunter and prey routine that is extremely entertaining. Although his appearance is rather sporadic, it’s always good to see Brian Cox in a movie and he is worth the watch no matter how small the role.

A tense and efficient thriller, Red Eye shows Wes Craven directing with great economy and style to give us a cracking suspense thriller.

Carry On Spying

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Film Title

Carry On Spying

Director

Gerald Thomas

Starring

  • Kenneth Williams as Desmond Simpkins
  • Barbara Windsor as Daphne Honeybutt
  • Bernard Cribbins as Harold Crump
  • Charles Hawtrey as Charlie Bind
  • Jim Dale as Carstairs
  • Eric Barker as The Chief
  • Dilys Laye as Lila

A frequently hilarious send up of the Bond movies and Film Noir in parts, Carry On Spying is an enjoyable and fun ninth entry into the long-running movies that is also the last to be filmed in black and white. Be prepared for a riot of laughs here.

A top-secret chemical formula is stolen by an agent who plans to deliver it to an evil organisation known as STENCH. The British Secret Service are panicking at the impending doom that could grow if STENCH gets their hands on the formula. Due to budget cuts and lack of resources, the Chief has to rely on trainee agents to take part in the mission. They are headed by the snide and deluded Desmond Simpkins, and the rest consist of goofy Harold Crump, chirpy Daphne Honeybutt and clumsy Charlie Bind. They are hardly the most effective crew to retrieve something so crucial, but are aided by the fact that Daphne has an excellent photographic memory. They journey to Vienna to meet with another agent( the very Bond like Carstairs) but attempts of a rendezvous are thwarted by the incompetence of the crew and a delirious series of mix-ups that also sends them to the Algiers in search for the formula is what hilariously follows. Who ever said the spying game was just for geniuses?

Gerald Thomas is once more director and clearly on the ball with this offering of jokes and funny goings on. His sense of fun and spoofing of the spy genre is put into great effect, making the laughs flow like a nice wine. Spying is the last black and white entry of the series and it signs off from monochrome with some style and rollicking action. The long shadows of Noir, in particular The Third Man, as well as the James Bond movies, are sent up in hilarious fashion as a whole host of comedic mix-ups have the agents in all sorts of bother with the enemy. While spoofing spy movies and thrillers, Carry On Spying does have the right atmosphere for a movie of that kind, though one with a hell of a lot more zany antics. The pace is lightning quick, benefiting the often outrageous and farcical ventures the bumbling group get themselves into. It’s this efficiency and riotous laughs that are the biggest points of praise in Carry On Spying. From outrageous opening to hilarious headquarters mayhem, there’s no shortage of giggles to be had with Carry On Spying. The innuendo is there and often extremely funny, but never overtly in your face. This makes it an innocent but no less fun outing for the usual assembled gang and more in keeping with some of the earlier entries in the series. Matching the slapstick and crazy occurrences is a very lively score that is the definition of cartoonish.

Kenneth Williams is the main man here, delivering a scene-stealing turn playing the overblown nitwit who thinks he’s a lot better than he actually is. Employing a snide voice and dispensing on liners like there’s no tomorrow, Williams is on fine form from start to finish. Barbara Windsor( who’d later become something of a staple in the Carry On’s) makes her debut here with a light, funny and very cheeky performance. Often later cast as a bimbo or lusted after girl, it’s quite nice to see Windsor as sexy but somewhat more innocent than her latter outings show. It’s a nice, fizzy and wide-eyed performance as the most reliable and resourceful member of a rag-tag team and one that cements Barbara Windsor as something special in these movies. Bernard Cribbins is back following the last movie Carry On Jack, and his goofiness and timing are on point as one part of the inept agents trying to retrieve the formula in rib-tickling style. The last part of the foursome is the delightfully impish Charles Hawtrey; who is customarily camp and energetic in his manner. The main quartet work very well together and the smashing fun depicted transfers directly to the audience through their enthusiasm and brightness. Many of Spying’s laugh come from Jim Dale as a man of disguise whose always thwarted and troubled by the bumbling agents. The fact that he’s on their side and they constantly hinder his chances of glory are the stuff that chuckles are made from. Eric Barker is on familiar but humorous form playing the figure of annoyed and aggravated authority that he knows so well. Dilys Laye( her last appearance being in Carry On Cruising) nicely returns with a devilishly seductive part of a go-between agent who constantly switches sides with aplomb.

Carry On Spying is damn good fun that moves along at a scintillating pace that never lets up, making the enjoyment that much more wonderful. Definitely a high point of the Carry On Movies at least in my book that is. You’ve got a good afternoon film to watch with Carry On Spying that’s for sure and certain.

 

What Are Your Favourite Movies Directed by Women?

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As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I’m a big champion of women. Especially when it comes to movies; I really like bringing to attention movies directed by ladies. There are so many fine movies directed by women to speak of that I decided to glean the thoughts of everyone else. So which movies directed by women are your favourites? I’m very much looking forward to your responses.

A Comment Issue

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It would appear that I’m ending up in people’s spam folders when I comment on their posts. I’ve had this issue before and will contact the forums for help once more. Just wanted to tell everyone and inform you that I’m not avoiding you and not replying to comments. I’m trying to not let these issues get on my nerves, but it’s very difficult.

Letters to Juliet

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Film Title

Letters to Juliet

Director

Gary Winick

Starring

  • Amanda Seyfried as Sophie
  • Vanessa Redgrave as Claire
  • Christopher Egan as Charlie
  • Gael García Bernal as Victor

A gorgeously scenic and romantic movie, Letters to Juliet is a somewhat slight but nonetheless lovely film about a second chance of love and the adventure of it.

Sophie is a fact checker who wants to become a serious writer, but has always put it off due to one reason or another. She has a romantic getaway before her wedding planned for her and her husband to be Victor. He is a chef whose main priority is making time for his new business venture, leaving little in the way of time spent with Sophie. They go to Verona, where Victor is overly busy with things for his restaurant. This means that Sophie explores the romantic and historical place alone. On one such day, she encounters the Secretaries of Juliet; women who answer the lovelorn letters left at the fictional heroine’s house. Helping the ladies with their tasks in an attempt to inspire her own writing, Sophie discovers a hidden letter in a crack in the wall where many leave their questions. The letter is over fifty years old and was written by Englishwoman Claire, who poured her heart out about having to leave her beloved Lorenzo behind. She believes she must right back and does so, little suspecting anything will happen as a result. Which is why she gets the shock of her life when Claire, who is now older and widowed, turns up in Verona following Sophie’s advice. Her foppish and snobby grandson Charlie is also there and immediately berates Sophie for what he says as foolish actions. Claire on the other hand is a lot more understanding and grateful to Sophie and wishes to find her Lorenzo, all of these years later. She is hoping for a second chance with her soul mate, having left her romance with him in the back of her mind. Charlie is completely reluctant to do so, but is strong-armed into it by his Grandmother and begrudgingly, Sophie. In the course of all this searching in Italy, Claire’s journey causes Sophie to examine her own relationship with her soon to be husband and how it may not be quite what she expected. Potential romance may come in the form of Charlie , but it’s chalk and cheese at first for the mismatched pair.

Gary Winick’s direction is bright and bubbly, wrapping us in a whirl of rose-tinted romance and soul-searching. He does a commendable job and plays to the audiences expectations in a way that’s reassuring as we are fully aware of the outcome. The Italian surroundings and setting are simply put magnificent. With an old-fashioned golden sheen that is irresistible to the eye, faith in love and adventure set in ideally. You can’t help but feel romantic when watching Letters to Juliet. Don’t expect big surprises from Letters to Juliet as it’s doubtful you’ll find any. But that almost adds to the virtue of the film; it doesn’t make any pretence about what it is. It’s a gorgeous, almost fairy tale like story of romance and unlikely circumstance that will get even the most cynical to crack a grin. Plus, the feeling of familiarity is very comforting as you have a great idea of the luscious content of the movie. It’s the last half of Letters to Juliet that really drags on, though the parts before it are agreeable and make up for the overly long areas. The score is acceptable enough while being nothing too mind-blowing or original, which is to say it does the job in the expected way of romantic movies.

Amanda Seyfried heads the cast with plenty of winsome appeal and loveliness. Her fresh face and sincerity can’t be faulted as they are too inviting to resist. it’s not a stretch of a role, but one Seyfried plays well nonetheless. It is Vanessa Redgrave who truly comes alive and is one of the best things in Letters to Juliet. With her simply mesmerising voice and air of class, balanced by something fun-loving, it is a fine showcase from a special actress. With just a look, you can feel her desire, longing and quiet regret so beautifully. The film simply wouldn’t be the same without her clout and dignity. Christopher Egan has the handsomeness and posh demeanor that is right for the part of Charlie, whose snotty antics are subdued by Sophie in a gradual way, while Gael García Bernal is rightly self-absorbed as Sophie’s man whose interest in his own business seems to come before her.

While wholly predictable, the gorgeousness and the fact that it’s heart is in the right places ensures that Letters to Juliet is an enjoyable and light experience.

Blogging Resolutions

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With it being a New Year, I decided to do some resolutions of what I want to achieve on my blog this year. They are as follows:

  • Write about movies in the cinema and get out to the cinema more.
  • Continue to review television by discovering shows that are new to me.
  • Use Netflix to catch up with older movies and recent additions.
  • Expand my viewing horizons once more.

Does anyone else have any suggestions? They would be most welcome.

A Problem With Notifications

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I have noticed over the last few days that when I comment on certain blogs, the person who runs the blog is not notified. This is proving to be a pain as I don’t want people thinking that I’m ignoring their work. I have contacted the forums and they have said that it might be something to do with settings on other blogs. If anyone wants to know what I mean, check out the following link and see if it helps. https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/a-problem-with-notifications?replies=4#post-3058645
I very much appreciate people being understanding about this and I hope this niggle is rectified very soon.