0 Comments · Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Much investigation has gone into the
issue of Nazi art theft during World War II, with grand efforts made to
verify claims and restore pieces to their rightful owners or their
surviving family members.
by John Hamilton
at 12:42 PM | Permalink
The year 2014 was a great one for movies — a really, really
good year. Sure, there were duds and bombs just like any other year, but there
were seriously so many good films that it was tough to properly list off my
favorites in a satisfying order. One of my favorites of last year was Wes
Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie
reminded me of two Agatha Christie movies from the 1970s, Murder on
the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978),
the latter of which is my personal favorite of the two.
Based on the mystery novel of the same name, Death on the Nile tells of Christie’s famous Belgium (not
French) detective Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) as he investigates the murder
of the beautiful newlywed heiress Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Jane Birkin) on the
Egyptian riverboat S.S. Karnak. The mystery is made all the more difficult
considering how everyone on board the ship hated her in one way: from the
bitter and begrudged nurse Miss Bowers (Maggie Smith), whose family was ruined
by the Ridgeways, to the exotic and eccentric novelist Salome Otterbourne
(Angela Lansburg), who was threatened to be sued by Linnet for defamation. With
the help of his friend Col. Race (David Niven), Poirot must track down the
killer before the ship reaches its final destination.
In the Sidney Lumet-directed Murder on
the Orient Express, Poirot was portrayed by Oscar-nominated actor
Albert Finney. While Finney certainly did look the part of the famed detective,
for me between him and Peter Ustinov, I have to go with the latter. The main
reason is because Ustinov seems to fit the persona. Finney, while being a good
actor, seemed to talk too fast and rushed through lines, while Ustinov took
things slower and seemed much more like the intelligent private investigator
who was motivated by morality attempted to keep more unlawful activities from
happening. He also sports a splendid mustache, which is very vital to the
One reason The Grand Budapest Hotel reminded
me of these kind of films was because of the all-star cast. Death on the Nile features Ustinov but also stars the
aforementioned Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall in the Harry Potter
series) and Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts in Disney’s Beauty and
the Beast) but it also features Hollywood legend Bette Davis (All About Eve), George Kennedy (Cool Hand
Luke), Olivia Hussey (1968 version of Romeo &
Juliet), Mia Farrow (1974 adaptation of The Great
Gatsby) and one of my favorite character actors, Jack Warden (12 Angry Men). Speaking of Grand
Budapest Hotel’s cast: I could totally see Ralph Fiennes portraying
Poirot in a movie.
But what about the actual mystery in the movie? It is pretty
interesting. Yes, it is a rather standard whodunit sort of scenario where they
go through the list of suspects until they come to the final decision. But with
the given scenario of everyone having a reason to hate her and the fact that
anyone could have gotten to her, it does make you wonder. The result is
something that I’m sure a lot of people won’t see coming.
It’s a real treat for anyone who loves a good murder mystery
and enjoys the works of Agatha Christie.
One final similarity that this film has with The Grand Budapest Hotel: both won Best Costume Design at
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 1, 2015
In The Babadook, we get Amelia
(Essie Davis), a put-upon single mother struggling to overcome the
trauma of losing her husband while raising an emotionally challenged son
named Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who fears the monster lurking under his
bed and on the pages of a new book in his bedtime collection.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Streets don’t get much meaner than those
of Belfast back in 1971 as the British army all but occupied the
territory, caught up in what amounted to terroristic street fights
between Catholics and Protestants with few truly innocent bystanders in
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I had a conversation recently with
someone who loves going to the movies but seldom heads to the theater.
She asked why she should consider changing her habits.
Latria Roberts is breathing new life into the decades-old Cincinnati Film Society
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Passion almost led Mount Healthy native
Latria Roberts to flee Cincinnati for a life in the big(ger) city —
somewhere like Los Angeles or New York.
by John Hamilton
at 01:59 PM | Permalink
recent movie news, there has been an announcement that a certain classic film
franchise will be given a remake with a whole new cast. No, I’m not talking
about Ghostbusters; I’m talking about
the remake of theThe Magnificent Seven.
those unaware: The Magnificent Seven
was a 1960 western directed by the very underrated John Sturges. The story
tells of seven gunmen who are hired by members of a poor Mexican village to chase away a
bandit named Calvera (Eli Wallach) who has been harassing people and stealing
their food and crops.
movie was not just a traditional shoot ‘em up western; it was a film that took
advantage of having seven characters and giving them all unique backstories.
It’s also a film that is along the lines of George Stevens’s Shane, in that it’s a movie that doesn’t
glorify the gunfighter’s life. It shows that each of them lead a rather
unfulfilled life as a constant weary traveler.
also boasts a cast of legends. There’s Academy Award winner Yul Brynner as the
cool and collected leader Chris; Steve McQueen as the drifting gunman Vin;
Charles Bronson as the penniless and kid-friendly hired gun Bernardo O’Reilly;
the voice of Mr. Waternoose in Monsters
Inc. James Coburn as the silent knifesman Britt; and the late and great
Wallach as Calvera the bandit.
has one of the best scores ever composed for a movie by Elmer Bernstein. Even
if you’ve never seen the film you’ll recognize the music.
like any film being remade, there will be a small crowd of people crying havoc and
wanting to let slip the dogs of war, because there have been a lot of cases in
which remakes haven’t turned out too spectacular. But many people often forget
that The Magnificent Seven was actually
a remake itself. It’s a western version of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai. It would technically
later be remade by Pixar in A Bug’s Life.
long since went astray from being the angry Cinephile who went on long rants
about how “Hollywood sucks,” and “Movies aren’t as good as they used to be,”
and other such nonsense. Now these days I keep an open mind and to wait and see
the film before I say anything.
to direct the film is Antoine Fuqua, whose resume includes: The Equalizer, an adaptation of the hit
1980s show; 2004’s King Arthur; and Training Day, the film that earned
Denzel Washington his second Academy Award win. Not a bad choice. I won’t claim
he’s the best director, but he’s far from terrible. It could be worse; they
could have Jonathan Liebesman directing it.
have already been a couple casting choices made, including the aforementioned
Denzel Washington, his Training Day co-star
Ethan Hawke and even Star-Lord himself Chris Pratt has apparently signed on. That’s
a pretty good cast in my book. But I’m just trying to imagine who else would be
involved: Maybe they could get Jeremy Renner for one of the seven, and maybe a
great character actor of today like Jon Bernthal, Steve Zahn or Barry Pepper. There
are loads of possibilities.
see no problem in having Washington play the part of Chris the leader. In the
original film, Chris is very calm and collected but just as intense, and a
one-liner from him can let you know things mean business. I think Washington is
perfectly capable of that.
From what I’ve heard, the plot is slightly different from the original.
Apparently it’s about a widow (Haley Bennett) who hires Chris to help avenge
the death of her husband who died at the hands of a gold baron and his thugs
who have taken over her town. It could work and it’s a nice update to the
conclude: I’m sure the original 1960 film will remain superior, and a favorite
of mine, but I am kind of looking forward to seeing this film and what it has
to offer. Let’s not lose our heads and let’s see what the film has to offer. I
hope it’s at least better than The
Magnificent Seven Ride (1972).
by John Hamilton
at 09:02 AM | Permalink
Reviewing lesser-known films that stand the test of time
When I mention war films, what’s the
first thing that comes to mind? Probably titles like Saving Private Ryan or, more recently, something like the
controversial and much-debated American
Sniper. But what if I ask about British war films? Maybe you’d think of Lawrence of Arabia and one or two
others. What about the 1964 film Zulu?
I’m going to guess that not that many are familiar with this one, let along the
actual Anglo-Zulu War. But you don’t really need to know all the ins and outs
of the conflict to enjoy and appreciate this movie.
The movie is based on the 1879 Battle
of Rorke’s Drift, in which roughly 150 British and Welsh soldiers faced off
against an overwhelming number of Zulu warriors at a mission station in
southern Africa. In a lot of ways it’s almost the British equivalent of the
Battle of the Alamo — the difference in this case being the British soldiers
won their battle, whereas all the defenders of the Alamo died.
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes,
there are a lot of historical inaccuracies in the movie. But anybody who has
ever seen a “Based on a True Story” movie should be aware of that by now.
To me, some of the best war films out
there are not the ones that are overly patriotic and about ‘us vs. them,’ but
ones that show us who the people are on both sides or, at the very least, films
that don’t broad-brush the other side. With Zulu,
we get that. Neither side is portrayed as the hero nor the villain; they’re two
powerful forces, in their own way, who duke it out in combat. Both are proven
to be worthy adversaries who don’t give up without a fight. One thing I love about this film is the
use of sound. The movie seems to use chats, songs and sounds as a motif about
the sides. Probably the most effective use is when the Zulus arrive, coming
over the ridge making a huge clatter with their assegai (short spears) and
shields. One of the officers in charge, Gonville Bromhead (played by Michael
Caine in his first film), says that it sounds, “Like a train…in the distance.”
This comparison works rather well. It’s this constant clamor created that gives
the audience an idea that the British are up against an almost unstoppable
force. And when the near 4,000 Zulus pop up on the ridge, it seals the
Along with the drumming, the Zulus also
have their own war chants which are another form used to intimidate the
defenders, but on the morning of the second day the defenders reply with their
own battle cry, the military march “Men of Harlech.” I see this as director Cy
Enfield’s way of showing that even though these men are in a war against each
other, they do have similarities. But the beautiful medleys of the British and
Zulus are disrupted with the continuous roar and volley of rifle fire. And at
the end of the battle many lay dead; although they are victorious, there’s no
cheers to be shouted. But the Zulus do offer a final chant of respect to their
At the end, Bromhead is asked by the
more experienced officer John Chard (Stanley Baker) what he thought of his
first action. Bromhead replies with “Sick,” and Chard follows it with, “You’d
have to alive to be sick.” A clever indication of the creative team’s thoughts
on war.There are many other great things to
say about the film. The dynamic between Baker and Caine is fantastic, and supporting
performances from James Booth as the drunk, petty thief Henry Hook (one of the
controversial inaccuracies) and Nigel Greene as the tough but kindhearted
Colour Sgt. Bourne are great. The performances from then-Chief Mangosuthu
Buthelezi and his people are impressive. Also the cinematography by Stephen
Dade is gorgeous, he makes every shot interesting. It almost reminds me of a
John Ford Western.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 4, 2015
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
is all about the innumerable chances life offers, and the fierce
fighting spirit that burns in us no matter the age or situation in which
we find ourselves.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Maps to the Stars shows what happens when a native like Cronenberg leads the way.