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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:27 pm 
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I got a feeling you will be proved right about The Killer Elite Colin. ITV 4 have form with stuff like this, like when they got their Casino Royale's mixed up last year and ended up showing the David Niven version when they'd clearly advertised for the Craig. Then there was the Road mix-up: http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/news/a8065 ... ong-movie/

Would like to be proved wrong though. The Killer Elite is the only Peckinpah film I've never seen. I can't even remember when it last turned up on terrestrial television.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:32 pm 
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The big issue with The Killer Elite (at least according to the Peckinpah commentators) is that Peckinpah sets everything up in the early stages but then "throws the film away" in the last act of the film.

They've actually got the Niven Casino Royale scheduled for next week too, at 8 p.m. on Thursday 15th! That's part of why I'm a bit suspicious of whether the Radio Times have their ITV4 information correct!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:39 am 
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I watched The Dressmaker last night, which turned out to be more interesting than I had initially given it credit for! I was also pleasantly surprised to find that it was directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, who made a great debut with Proof (with early roles for Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving) before going to the US and making things like How To Make An American Quilt, and suchlike. It is also co-written by Moorhouse and her partner PJ Hogan (director of Muriel's Wedding), making this the first film since Proof that she wrote and directed (she wrote a screenplay in between that PJ Hogan directed).

Without being familiar with the source material, I was going into this expecting a sort of Chocolat-style film, just with Binoche's chocolatier replaced with Winslet's couturier! And there is a bit of that, only instead of melting the suspicious hearts of the locals Winslet's character turns into their angel of death forcing them to face up to their past misdeeds, which kind of turns the film into something like High Plains Drifter, or perhaps more specifically:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
a version of Dogville, only without the Brechtian elements of overbearing narrator and chalked outlines standing in for homes! Something that is only emphasised in the 'burn the town to the ground' climax!

It is quite strange seeing a Dogville-style story play out in real locations and using real sets! It has a very similar structure of a woman entering a town and being treated with suspicion due to having a 'curse' on her due to her past, with the character struggling over her own feelings of guilt and responsibility for the acts of others, only to get abused further until she hardens into becoming a force of pure vengeance in the finale!

There's even a budding romance that turns sour, though instead of Paul Bettany's useless intellectual unwilling to stand up for his regularly espoused principles, here is it Liam Hemsworth's rugby playing handsome but dull lunk becoming Winslet's only supporter, only to immediately kill himself off in a stupid accident!

And despite the film not being as obviously abstract as Dogville, it does trade in similarly quite broadly caricatured characters (notably Kerry Fox seemingly relishing in the role of the harridan school marm, while the normally stereotyped in villainous roles Hugo Weaving ends up in a role of a sympathetic, yet completely ineffectual, policeman!), and does throw out a memorably bizarre image at the end of all of the townsfolk, who have been in a local costume pageant, getting off their bus home in their full 18th century regalia only to be confronted with the firery timbers of their town! That was an amusing image!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:51 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:49 am
The Freeview EPG has it down as "The Killer Elite (1975)" for next Tuesday, so that confirms it as the Peckinpah version. Genome suggests that the film has been on BBC2 three times (1982, 1984 and 1986). I saw it on VHS and from memory it had this martial arts sequence in it but had the familiar Peckinpah editing techniques that you see elsewhere in his work.

I thought that the worst Peckinpah film was considered to be Convoy, which I thought was more suited to someone like Altman.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:35 am 
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I also watched Hector and the Search For Happiness, which was…OK. It kind of felt like Eat, Pray, Love for the man in a mid-life crisis, with someone travelling the world to find themselves, and lots of supposedly profound moments of self-revelation being reduced into pretty scenery slipping by, or every experience no matter how heartbreaking or traumatic being reduced to self-help book style soundbites of the “Happiness means allowing yourself to be unhappy” type, each written onto the screen for each reductive and hollow aphorism to have the intended audience impact. Eventually the whole film seems rather hectoring (and yes, I have written this entire post just to make that pun!)

The story involves a psychiatrist with an ordered life suddenly feeling unhappy with his lot and deciding to go on a round the world trip, visiting old friends from his life along the way, friends who have all moved on with their lives since he knew them at university, and seem in much better places than Hector does. Though of course this entire film is about someone with a very naïve “grass always greener on the other side of the fence” way of projecting onto people coming to realise that his own life that he has been taking for granted is not so bad after all (which kind of seems a bad approach for a psychiatrist supposed to have insight into the human condition to have, but I digress!). This is really the same kind of character that Ben Stiller has been playing variations of in films for the last couple of decades (the “why are my neighbours/my college friends/my son’s university life so much better than my own positions as a well paid ad exec/photojournalist/someone with a loving wife at home? If I learn to skateboard or become a hipster, will that make me cool?” film)

The main issue I think I have with Hector and the Search For Happiness is the global travel aspect. Despite it superficially seeming that Hector is ‘learning and growing’ from his experiences (that can all conveniently be summed up in one pearl of wisdom sentence), he is visiting so many different locations on his whirlwind itinerary that I cannot really imagine he is getting anything more than a surface experience. The thing that I think the character, and the film in general, missed is that everywhere looks more appealing when you do not have to live there full time! Everybody seems kind and nice, or at least interesting and novel (even the African gangsters who kidnap you and threaten to kill you! Because we’re in an age where getting kidnapped by armed gangs is perhaps an experience that ‘any true traveller’ should expect to have had! If they had sense, those gangs would set up ‘kidnap tours’ for those tourists wanting to experience the wilder, more ‘authentic’ side of life!) when you are visiting on holiday and do not have to engage with a culture on any deeper level than a superficial one. When you actually have to stay in a place for longer than a couple of weeks, then you have to learn about how the society works in a more profound way that often does not allow for wide-eyed romanticism any more! (And people who might have been content to put up with your touristic antics in the short term get tired of them quickly when they get the sense that you might not be leaving any time soon!)

I mean this is a film where the main character first visits China and ended up sleeping with a prostitute (in a non-sexual way, he just falls asleep and she takes care of him because he touched her heart. So he definitely does not cheat on Rosamund Pike!) that in his naivety he does not realise is a prostitute, gets infatuated with and asks to accompany him on his world tour, until he gets beaten up by her pimp wanting to get his property back!

Then there’s the African gang section of being kidnapped and threatened with murder until he gets saved more by luck than judgment (its not what you know, its who you know!)

Or the ridiculous (but amusing) finale in the US where Christopher Plummer’s mad scientist / New Age hippie neurologist (he seems to be having great fun in the role, and one of the best aspects of this film is the rotating cast of great actors turning up in supporting roles through the journey) sticks Hector in a brain scan machine where he gets a telephone call from his girlfriend and goes through memories of all of his various misadventures, the resulting brainstorm leading to the astonishing revelation that ‘he’s having all of the emotions at the same time!’

For a film trying to deal with profound subjects (unhappiness and depression; faith; relationships evolving over time; seeing your friends or exes move on with their lives without you; prostitution!, African civil war!!, how you face your impending death!!!) it skates over the surface of everything it touches. Nobody else here (even damningly Rosamund Pike’s character) exists as anything more than someone able to benevolently gift Hector his next piece of pap cod-philosophy about how to be happy. Hard won wisdom on their individual parts become something for Hector to unthinkingly appropriate before moving on with nary a thought about the situation he parachuted into and then is leaving behind in his wake. His encounter with the prostitute does not inspire any thoughts about her situation, or questions about the prostitution trade in China or how it might be perpetuated by a frequent influx of Westerners, just a sense of feeling that she ‘betrayed’ him by not revealing her true nature to him sooner. Before he jets off to another country, that experience behind him, except for a line in his happiness journal to transform the experience into a self help one.

I actually take back what I said at the beginning. I do not think this film is OK at all! Not taken at face value at least. I suppose, unlike the character itself, the film (presumably unintentionally) did inspire me to a bit of introspection, I guess! It could also be interesting seen as a film offering a scathing critique of psychiatry and those in positions of authority having less of a clue about life than their putative patients (And I really want Pegg’s character to retroactively refund his patients for their presumably flawed treatment he was giving them before he became a ‘better’ person!) , but the whole thing is too damn earnest for any notion of irony or subversive philosophies to be simmering under its surface!

I think that it is a film that shows just how good The Darjeeling Limited is in comparison, as that film dealt with a lot of the same themes but wasn’t afraid to critique its main characters for their rather shallow (and culturally appropriational) approaches to life. Darjeeling Limited still likes its characters and makes them the main focus, but does not allow their worldview to entirely blot out the world beyond them, as unfortunately Hector and the Search For Happiness does. (I was mainly reminded of Darjeeling Limited because both Hector and this film have literal ‘getting rid of your emotional baggage’ moments at the end of their films. In this film Hector runs off from the American clinic where he has had his revelation and jumps into the first taxi to take him to the first flight home to London to Rosamund Pike, with Toni Collette's character waving him off saying that she’ll send his luggage he has left behind on the next flight!)

And finally, I think the film chose the wrong character to focus on. Hector’s jet-setting around the world as a lovably bumbling naïve idiot, jotting down superficial ideas in a notebook to find out what it means to truly be happy (I’d say just having the money to be able to do that makes you sort of happy, but I digress again!) does get contrasted a bit against Rosamund Pike’s long suffering girlfriend back in London who, after she has shown tolerance to his crazy scheme that does not involve her in any fashion and packed him off for his trip like a mother sending their kid off for their first day at school, gets dealt with via his regular phone calls home. Though Hector always only talks about himself, and cuts her off without seeming to call her back in the middle of the Tibet conversation (he has more important things to do, such as watch flags fluttering in the breeze). Then she is there to inspire Hector’s feelings of betrayal and sadness, just because she is going out in a new dress when he calls (this jealously is coming from someone who literally asked a prostitute to accompany him on a round the world adventure a few scenes before!), and then he entirely breaks things off with her in a brief phone call whilst she is in the middle of the street! Even the reconciliatory “he’s feeling all the feelings!” scene does not feel as if it has atoned for his heinous behaviour before this. Hector is the true monster of this film, and the worst part of the film for me is that it ignores a truly interesting character of the abandoned girlfriend and what she gets up to alone in London (I like to imagine that she has an In The Mood For Love-style non-sexual fling to find herself in a more profound way than Hector even begins to!!)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:23 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:49 am
Yeah, it's the Statham film rather than the Peckinpah! The thing is, even the ITV4 continuity announcer said that it starred James Caan and Robert Duvall. Talk about false advertising!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:42 am 
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That's a shame, but I suppose if they cannot even warn their announcer about which version of a film they are showing, they could not inform TV listings pages either!

It is a curious week next week. A few interesting premieres but the more fascinating things are in the repeats:

In terms of premieres, jlnight has mentioned Still Alice on Film4 Monday 19th at 11 p.m. and Film4's "Saturday Night Shocks" film season continues with Ryan Reynolds in The Voices at 1.25 a.m. in the early hours of Sunday 18th.

Channel 4 has Ted 2 at 9 p.m. on Saturday 17th and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water at 2.55 p.m. on Sunday 18th. And has the hour long documentary "Working With Weinstein" at 10 p.m. on Tuesday 20th, which I'm sure will be as incisive as could be expected from the channel that brought us such in depth shows as Naked Attraction and Married At First Sight!

But the most amusing scheduling occurs on the evening of Sunday 18th. Whilst BBC1 is showing the BAFTA Film Awards from 9 p.m., the other channels have a Stellan Skarsgard show down! BBC4 at 10 p.m. is showing In Order of Disappearance (in which Skarsgard stars with Bruno Ganz), whuich from the write up sounds like the anti-Taken! Whilst on Channel 4 at 10.15, the actor appears along with Ewan McGregorin John Le Carré adaptation Our Kind Of Traitor. (Skarsgard has been all over the schedules quite recently, also appearing in one segment of Hector And The Search For Happiness, as the businessman who strikes up a friendship with Hector on the way to China and hires that prostitute for his unwitting friend! I like to think of his role there as being equivalent to Alain Delon hiring Bibi Andersson's lady of the night for George Kennedy's similarly 'duped' pilot in Airport '79!)

___

Repeats are where next week gets really interesting though:

Also in Film4's "Saturday Night Shocks" season, and after Cronenberg's remake of The Fly last week (the perfect tragic love story for Valentine's week!), they have a rare screening of The Fly II at 11.20 p.m. I wrote the film up a while back and while it is not emotionally impactful in the same league of the Cronenberg film, if you can get past the Geena Davis character getting offhandedly discarded through the use of a double in a wig and a re-jigged version of her nightmare sequence from the first film, the sequel does have some great moments. Especially if you want to see some incredibly impressive gore effects in the final act (Daphne Zuniga gets to give a belter of a scream after one of the more memorable ones!) and one of the more brutally upsetting comeuppances in film history, up there with the ending of Freaks (which is what the film appears to be obviously homaging!)

And John Getz has a fun scene reprising his Stathis Borans character from the first film, one of the few direct links to the Cronenberg film (aside from a Jeff Goldblum video camera outtake getting played back!)

It is a William Dieterle week on Film4, as Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Finch get menaced by rampaging elephants(!) in 1954's Elephant Walk at 4.30 p.m. on Monday 20th and repeated at 2.50 p.m. Friday 23rd (that trailer is amazing, especially when it seems to turn into Carry On Up The Khyber in one moment!); whilst William Holden and Edmond O'Brien are in 1952's film noir The Turning Point at 3.10 p.m. on Thursday 22nd.

Film4 have tons of other interesting items too: the strange 1947 psychological western (lots of close ups of glinting spurs in the traumatised childhood flashbacks of the main character) Pursued, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Robert Mitchum, is on Film4 at 1.05 p.m. on Thursday 22nd. John Huston's film of The Misfits (with the last roles for Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe) is at 3.45 p.m. on Tuesday 20th; and John Ford's slightly unexpected in setting film Gideon of Scotland Yard (aka Gideon's Day) is showing at 4.55 p.m. on Friday 23rd. And if you want another scary on the brink of nuclear Armageddon film, you can see Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier fighting it out for control of a nuclear sub in The Bedford Incident at 11 a.m. on Thursday 22nd (I sometimes wonder if Crimson Tide was a kind of remake of this, albeit without as high stakes!)

But the most exciting of the repeats on Film4 next week is a rare showing (at least not for a couple of decades) of Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik at 11.20 p.m. on Friday 23rd! This is the Bava film that does not really appear to have had much attention in the UK (it is owned by Paramount so has not appeared in any of the Bava boxsets or Arrow releases, though I have the absolutely fine US Paramount DVD edition of the film), but has been weirdly influential in its comic book 60s spy caper stylings over the decades (I sometimes wonder if it inspired the look of Batman's Batcave!). Most obviously in the Beastie Boys' outright homage to the film in their music video for Body Movin'!

That actually makes me think that Film4 are showing a lot of Paramount films lately. Perhaps they made a recent deal with the studio for broadcast rights.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:17 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:49 am
The Ghoul (1933), Fri 23rd February, London Live.
Naked As Nature Intended, late Fri 23rd February, London Live.

Clouds of Sils Maria, Sun 25th February, BBC4.
The Guardian (Friedkin), Sun 25th February, Horror. Followed by They Live.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:17 pm 
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But the most exciting of the repeats on Film4 next week is a rare showing (at least not for a couple of decades) of Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik at 11.20 p.m. on Friday 23rd! This is the Bava film that does not really appear to have had much attention in the UK (it is owned by Paramount so has not appeared in any of the Bava boxsets or Arrow releases, though I have the absolutely fine US Paramount DVD edition of the film), but has been weirdly influential in its comic book 60s spy caper stylings over the decades (I sometimes wonder if it inspired the look of Batman's Batcave!)

Nice spot Colin! Never seen this one, but I do love a bit of Bava. It seems like years since anything of his, other than Black Sunday, got a screening on UK TV. I do remember watching Planet of the Vampires around 15 years ago on - I think - the Sci-Fi channel (years before it was re-branded SyFy and when it actually showed interesting stuff like repeats of The Prisoner and the Serling Twilight Zone!).


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:20 pm 
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Yes, the last Bava film I remember being on a main UK television channel was back in 1999 when the Eurotika season was on Channel 4 and it showed Bava's La Dolce Vita-mixed-with-Italian sex comedy version of Rashomon, Four Times That Night!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:50 pm 
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Well you learn something new every day: watching The Fly II again I had never realised that the 'Geena Davis stand-in lady' at the opening was played by Saffron Henderson, who the very same year was in Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, as the punk metal girl who gets killed with her own guitar early on in the film! Since then it seems as if she has moved into being a voice actor providing English language dubs for anime (she is in the dub of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

On the film itself, its still OK compared to Cronenberg's film being magnificent, but it still manages to be pretty bleak and cruel towards its characters, especially near the end. And I had not noted previously that Christopher Young did the score. While it is fine (if a little too repetitive) it ends up seeming a little closer to his Hellraiser work than Howard Shore's work in the previous film.

There is also the amusing motor racing connection in this film: with Cronenberg being a racing fan (as also evidenced by Fast Company and Max Renn in Videodrome being named after the Rennmax) he named Jeff Goldblum's character in the first Fly film with the surname Brundle, after racer Martin Brundle. Then the sequel just made the reference completely explicit by giving Seth Brundle's son the first name of Martin!


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