Talking Movies

October 31, 2020

RIP Sean Connery

Sean Connery is dead at  age 90, and the world is without its first Bond, James Bond.

Sick Boy lacks moral fibre—Renton
Aye, but he knows a lot about Sean Connery—Mother Superior

Trainspotting (1996)

1962. Connery takes the lead in an underfinanced spy film where the director seems more interested in the wardrobe his star will wear than the performance he will give. Connery brought two sides to James Bond. He was a vicious bastard, true to Fleming’s character, but a faithful adaptation would have resulted in a flop notable only for the unpleasantness of its lead. Connery also brought a roguish charm to the role that was all his own invention. This is what made him a star and allowed Bond to get away with callous cruelty. Terence Young tried to emphasise the spy elements and the realism in the sequel From Russia, With Love. Connery was superbly paired against Robert Shaw and their extremely realistic fight was one of the most vicious then seen and still one of the longest sustained punch-ups in cinema. Guy (The Colditz Story) Hamilton directed Goldfinger as a stylish thriller not a Bond Film. A sensation for its characters, lines and casually brilliant plot twists it trapped Connery. He made the hit romance Woman of Straw, the psychodrama Marnie for Hitchcock and gruelling war drama The Hill for Sidney Lumet to showcase his serious acting abilities and desperately squeezed in A Fine Madness between Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. But the shadow of James Bond was enduring…

“Some age, others mature”.

At 50 he received the Time Bandits script from Terry Gilliam which described Agamemnon as resembling “Sean Connery or someone of equal stature but less expensive”. Connery accepted his age and played the supporting role. He did Bond once last time while he could still pass the action bar (although taking lessons from Steven Seagal he annoyed him so much that Seagal broke Connery’s wrist), reuniting with Irish Thunderball producer Kevin McClory for a remake, probably just to annoy Broccolli who had lost the rights to use SPECTRE or Blofeld to Fleming’s co-creator McClory. Exit Bond, enter everybody’s favourite grouchy uncle. Highlander, The Untouchables and The Name of the Rose saw him showcase this character and pick up a Best Supporting Oscar for crusty Chicago cop Jimmy Malone. 1989’s Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade showed just how good Connery could be in this sort of endearing role. The Hunt for Red October also showed he could still carry a film. He received $250,000 for a thirty second cameo in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as Richard the Lionheart and played King Arthur in First Knight adding wise but warm authority to his no nonsense persona. The Rock was even more jawdropping. Connery doesn’t really play a pensioner James Bond, he plays something more valuable: The 60 something Action Hero, a role he invented and only he could get away with. Compare how ridiculously old for proceedings Roger Moore seemed in 1985’s A View to a Kill against what Connery could do in 1996. Even in misfires like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Entrapment that persona is triumphant. He delivered in ensemble drama Playing By Heart and played a villain in The Avengers where his speech given while wearing a teddy bear outfit was the only minute of the dreadful film worth salvaging. Sadly we don’t know what he thought of the voluble opinions expressed on his career and importance in Trainspotting. While his close friend Michael Caine has continued working into his late 80s, memorably appearing in multiple blockbusters thanks to his friendship with Christopher Nolan, Connery quietly retired after the troubled production of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, passing up the role of Gandalf as well as a reprise of Henry Jones Sr in favour of working on his autobiography in his Bahamas home. Ironically for the bankroller of Scottish Nationalism (and a man who had ‘Scotland Forever’ tattooed on his arm when he was 16) he was awarded a Knighthood.

They did the mash, the monster mash

It is a dark and stormy night.

Three thunderous knocks on a door.

The heavy door creaks open, faint classical music in background.

VIKTOR: Oh God, it’s you, Monster.

MORRIE: Master, we’ve been through this. (beat) You know I prefer Morrie.

VIKTOR: (sighs) What do you want?

MORRIE: I was just leaving the barn and noticed all the chandeliers blazing away in the mansion. Are you … having a party?

VIKTOR: What?! No… Nooo, I was just … looking for something.

MORRIE: And you left the candles burning in all the rooms?

VIKTOR: Morrie, you may not have noticed this, but, I’m really, really rich.

MORRIE: Well, see, I also thought I heard music.

VIKTOR: Oh! Um, Gundula is just messing about on the piano.

MORRIE: I thought I heard strings.

VIKTOR: She’s lilting the violin part.

MORRIE: There’s more than one violin part, it’s the Trout Quintet.

VIKTOR: She’s throwing her voice.

A faint trumpet.

MORRIE: That was a trumpet!!

VIKTOR: Okay!! Fine! (beat) I have a small chamber orchestra in the mansion, because (beat) I am in fact … having a party.

MORRIE: And you didn’t invite me… (beat) Are Dracula’s Wyrd Sisters here?

VIKTOR: That’s Count Dracula to you, peasant! And … yes, they are. And what’s it to you whether they’re here or not anyway? You’re a married man!

MORRIE: HA! Some marriage. She can’t stand the sight of me!

VIKTOR: Oh come on, you two were literally made for each other.

MORRIE: You were there! She took one look at me, and screamed. Not a word, just a shriek of despair when she saw my face.

VIKTOR: Well, who wouldn’t shriek when they see your face for the first time.

MORRIE: What?…

VIKTOR: Without wishing to hurt your feelings, Morrie, I could have done better. This hideous looking face, the bolts, I mean, you’re not my best work. If we’re being perfectly honest I was only 60-40 certain of success with you. If I’d been 80-20 I would have rooted around the graveyard a bit more for better materiel, like I did with the Bride. That’s why she’s such a knockout.

MORRIE: Talking of knockouts! (beat) HUBBA HUBBA! Who is that foxy lady?

Viktor slams the door shut. Faint music disappears.

VIKTOR: Are you trying to get us both torn limb from limb?! You better hope she didn’t hear that. You can’t call her a foxy lady, she’s a wolf-woman. That happens to be Miss Lycanthrope Bohemia.

MORRIE: Oh Master, you got to let me in to this party.

VIKTOR: No, absolutely not. You can’t come in, for two reasons. First, I have a lot of sophisticated ladies in there. Not only do I have Miss Lycanthrope Bohemia, but I also have three former Miss Transylvanias; one of whom went on to be Miss Balkans The last thing I need is you (beat) rampaging around the place roaring ‘HUBBA HUBBA’ at them. Second, I have the Golem of Prague in there, and he’s a very nervous character. One look at your misbegotten misshapen just awful face and he might go to pieces, literally. Then instead of driving him home to the Chief Rabbi in my best carriage in the morning, I’m shipping him back in crates. And Shlomo is a personal friend. I don’t want to tell him he’s got to do the Kabbalah magick from scratch again over some clay because my Monster scared the life out of his Golem.

MORRIE: (beat) Sometimes I think you just try to be hurtful.

VIKTOR: Oh, don’t I do enough for you, Morrie? For instance, don’t you and the Bride have to go to couples counselling at 9 tonight, with the therapist I suggested?

MAURICE: How did you know that?

VIKTOR: What?

MAURICE: We always go at 5, but Dr Bergmann sent a carrier pigeon to the barn earlier, moving it to 9, and I haven’t been out since then, and neither has the Bride, so… Wait…

Viktor noisily opens the door. Faint music reappears.

VIKTOR: So, if you’ll just be on your way, I have a party to get back to…

MAURICE: (beat) The only way you would have known … it had been moved to 9 … was if you asked Dr Bergmann to move it to 9, just to keep me away while you were having a party!

VIKTOR: Okay!! Fine! You got me.

MAURICE: Master, if you don’t let me in to this party, I’m, I’m going to do something drastic!

VIKTOR: Oh yeah, like what?

MAURICE: I’m, I’m going to gatecrash the next party you throw. And by God, won’t you be sorry then, Viktor!

VIKTOR: That’s Baron Frankenstein to you, peasant!

Viktor slams the door, then immediately creaks it open again.

VIKTOR: If you pass Igor on your way tell him to forget the new silverware, the werewolves are being picky enough eaters as it is without that slap in the face.

October 22, 2020

Any Other Business: Part LXIII

As the title suggests, so forth.

It’s March, Bones, but not as we knew it, not as we knew it, not as we knew it then

Something approaching a red alert

Now is the winter of our discontent… Etc. Hours before the clock struck midnight and we entered Level 5, a return to a modified form of the panicked lockdown of March and April, news leaked that the number of coronavirus cases in schools were actually surging. But no matter, the important thing is that most people stay under house arrest for six weeks, while the schools stay open. If the numbers don’t improve, we will be chided for our complacency, rather than the schools being shuttered just to see if that might make a difference. The 5 Level plan fell apart from the moment it was announced Dublin was between two of the stages. The Engineer held forth last week to me that all we needed was a simple 3 Level plan — 1) basic precautions 2) things are hotting up 3) lock it down — and simple empirical thresholds to trigger those transitions, like 14-day new cases/per 100,000 population figures applied by county. Instead we have had our own ‘chaotic disaster’ of illogic, inconsistency, endless leaking by Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris, and pointless back and forth. And what frustrates more than all is the insistence that the schools stay open, even though this logically consistently offends against reason when all gatherings are bad, all indoor gatherings are very bad, but schools are somehow magically grand.

I for one have this vision of —-Level 6: Apocalypse—

BUT THE SCHOOLS STAY OPEN

Trop de Grand Tours

Yesterday while watching Eurosport manfully attempt to cover the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta Espana at the same time my mind rebelled. I had slowly realised that the Giro seemed light on big names this year after Geraint Thomas was invalided out, and then when watching highlights showing Roglic pipping Alaphillipe for Liege-Bastogne-Liege I figured out that if they were there then many big names had skipped the Giro because it overlapped with the Vuelta. The Vuelta was therefore the bigger race. But watching them both in these past few days has been an unnerving experience. I have literally started to feel cold just from watching the unusual vistas: there is something karmically wrong about Grand Tour cycling in the late autumn, indeed the Vuelta is going to hurtle into November. And even when temperatures were still high in Sicily the landscapes looked autumnal, and increasingly desolate. Not exactly the mood you usually get from the sun-kissed tours. And not exactly the mood you want to imprint on yourself for six weeks of strictest lockdown either…

October 19, 2020

Miscellaneous Movie Musings: Part XXXVI

As the title suggests, so forth.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to slice this film properly for ad breaks

It happens every time. Whether it’s on Channel 4 or Film4, every time Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is on the powers that be go to the first ad break at a moment that ruins the gag. Alec Baldwin is giving a vainglorious speech to Jeremy Renner about the awesomeness of the CIA, having just shuttered the IMF, and tells him “Set your watch, Brandt. Ethan Hunt is living his last day as a free man” – and then Channel 4 and Film4 go to an ad break. And when they return we are in a different location for an action sequence of the CIA attempting to catch Hunt. But the point is lost in this time away making tea in the kitchen – his last day as a threat should be instantly followed by a caption telling us that many months have passed; and that therefore Tom Cruise is very resourceful and Alec Baldwin has been shown up and is not at all happy. Do you see, it’s in the manner of being a gag?

Coronarithms killed the movie critic

In the absence of any actual cinema releases whither not just cinema but the critic of cinema? I would think that, stripping away all the many pretensions, the major function of the film critic is as a gatekeeper; entrusted with shepherding people away from wasting their money on bad films, and telling them what they might like to what degree from the alright good and great films. This function, though, is largely dependent on people going to the cinema rather than streaming. Streaming is a flat fee for a service you use as much or as little as you like, whereas a physical trip to the cinema is a one-off punt on something – and as the price of a cinema ticket here exceeds the monthly cost of Netflix it’s quite a gamble. But not only does a streaming service reduce the financial consequentiality of the choice of movie, it also makes it easier to drop something if it’s rubbish compared to even just the physical business of leaving a crowded cinema, and it uses such choices to tailor the dreaded algorithim toward your tastes. Some years back the Engineer made an off-hand comment that he had absorbed the biases and interests of his favourite film critic to a sufficient degree to be able to account for them and thus work out how far or if he would agree with his judgements. The Netflix algorithm dispenses with that. It knows you as well as you allow yourself to be known. And when Netflix pushes towards you its just-dropped release I doubt people look around for a critical consensus on it; they just glance at the names, see the algorithm at work, and click or do not click play. The whole equation has been changed – but only now does coronavirus make it plain by making Netflix the last game in town.

October 13, 2020

Any Other Business: Part LXII

As the title suggests, so forth.

I’m walking out of here with this Spotify list, kid, and getting fortune and glory in return

Spotify these 60 songs for an 80s mood

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored // Eurhythmics – Thorn in my Side // The Police – Every Breath You Take // Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal // The Clash – Rock the Casbah // Prince – Kiss // Pet Shop Boys – It’s a Sin // Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere // John Adams – The Chairman Dances // REM – Orange Crush // Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World // David Bowie – China Girl // Madonna – Get into the Groove // Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun // Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me // Eurhythmics – Love is a Stranger // Berlin – Take My Breath Away // Vangelis – Chariots of Fire theme // The Stone Roses – Elephant Stone // The Bangles – Eternal Flame // Tears for Fears – Head Over Heels // Huey Lewis – The Power of Love // Prince – Sign o’ the Times // U2 – With or Without You // Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over // The Smiths – There is a light that never goes out // REM – Fall On Me // The Police – Invisible Sun // Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime // Alan Silvestri – Back to the Future theme // The Police – Every Little Thing She Does is Magic // Queen – A Kind of Magic // John Williams – ET flying theme // The Smiths – How Soon is Now? // Tears for Fears – Sowing the Seeds of Love // Prince – Raspberry Beret // Madonna – Express Yourself // The Bangles – Manic Monday // Eurhythmics – Sweet Dreams // Talking Heads – Television Man // ABBA – Super Trouper // Duran Duran – A View to a Kill // Motorhead – The Ace of Spades // REM – It’s the End of the World as We Know It // Pixies – Wave of Mutilation // David Bowie – Scary Monsters and Super Creeps // The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again // David Bowie – Absolute Beginners // The Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian // Talking Heads – Naive Melody (This Must be the Place) // John Williams – Raiders march // Queen – Radio Ga Ga // The Stone Roses – I Am the Resurrection // Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven // The Firm – Star Trekkin’ // Madonna – Like a Prayer // Queen – Under Pressure // John Williams – Imperial march // Pixies – Where is My Mind? //Ennio Morricone – Gabriel’s Oboe

E4: undisputed winners of the stupidity in scheduling award 2020

Well then, after the insanity of doubling up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer so as to dash thru the best seasons and then inflict brain damage by dashing thru two of the very worst seasons of network television, and then coming out of hyperspace for season 7 by running Angel, having thus missed out on the continuity of all those irritating crossover episodes that bedevilled two seasons of both shows, now we find E4 propose running thru Buffy from the start again right after reaching the end, from episode 7.22 to episode 1.1 the next night, while Angel continues on its stolid midnight path so that all the crossover episodes will once again miss the Buffy train doing its best impression of the Circle Tube line. Can anyone work out mathematically if this nonsense goes on eternally whether the Buffy/Angel crossover episodes might ever actually just line up by accident?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 6:16 pm

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October 11, 2020

Smashing Pumpkins: 10 Songs

Cherub Rock

Today

Soma

Tonight, Tonight

Zero

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Love

Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

1979

Ava Adore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 1:23 pm

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