Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Dogs of War (1981)

Christopher Walken stars in John Irvin's graphic adaptation of Frederick Forsythe's novel about a mercenary sent to overthrow the government of an African country. Walken is Shannon, an American soldier of fortune who has staged incidents in Central America and Africa that helped topple governments. Shannon decides to take on one more mission when American businessman Endean (Hugh Millais), working for a large mining company wanting to move into an African country, hires Shannon to scout out the terrain of the country and see if the government is weak enough to be overthrown. Shannon assumes the guise of a photographer for a nature magazine and travels through the country, meeting a wide-array of people. But the government becomes suspicious of Shannon and throws him in jail, where, between torture sessions, he meets an imprisoned dissident leader. Through his imprisonment, Shannon comes to understand more fully the struggles of the African country. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 119 mins
The Dogs of War (1981)

More of the cheesy variety of films produced in 1981 and along with Stripes. Christopher Walken does a good job on his part even if not much to work with. In the end Christopher's character does the right thing, so not sure if it was meant as anti-war or in fact glorified war or was even anti-imperialist. But in the end there was a heavy cost for the war and interventions.

After Endean gives Shannon $1 million for expenses, Shannon contacts his mercenary cohorts from Central America (3 of whom join him; 1 does not). They meet up at Liverpool Street Station to plan the coup, when all the options have been decided Michel proposes a toast followed by Shannon's reciting his motto "Everyone Comes Home". The group illegally procures Uzi submachine guns, ammunition, rocket launchers, mines, and other weapons from arms dealers.
The Dogs of War (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Unfortunately, I forgot what actor did not join him but was famous enough that I assumed he would come back into the script-which he does not. A film technique that I see often is a minor character will go off in a different direction and when the time is right, they are brought back in to either keep the plot moving along or to "save the day". That is what I expected all along in this film, but either that plot never developed or the writer just wanted to show that someone decided to finally hang up their guns.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Courtesans of Bombay (1983)

The Merchant-Ivory team adopts a semi-documentary stance in Courtesans of Bombay. Though several scenes are dramatized, this film is essentially an unadorned look at prostitution in modern India. The film details the impoverished conditions that would prompt otherwise chaste Indian women to seek out employment as "performers"--a euphemism for the World's Oldest Profession, though they do indeed give public dancing and singing performances as a sideline. Indian actress Saeed Jeffrey heads the cast of this Ruth Prawer Jhabvala-scripted "docudrama." Courtesans of Bombay was made for British television, and original telecast in those late hours ostensibly off limits to younger viewers. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 73 mins
The Courtesans of Bombay (1983)

Yes, a little romanticizing the oldest profession although "courtesans" has broader meaning than what is implied in the comments above as well as its close link with prostitution. Defining the Courtesan provides a short glimpse into how some may positively view courtesans, as in:
Courtesans were basically mistresses. They were supported by wealthy men who provided them with anything they could ever want. Many such women lived in a more comfortable way then some of the bourgoisie.

The thing that is not discussed is that for the most part that small commune was visited by not "people of the court" but of just middle class and maybe even poor by certain standards. The doors close at night and give an air of respectability but the atmosphere was of one of a brothel as deals were made and some women left with their dates for the night.

The movie was just over an hour and it also was accompanied on the DVD about street music in India. I forgot the name and only watched a part of it, which was also just over an hour long.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shakespeare Wallah (1965)

After 45 years, Indian films still are the same:
Sanju: Don't you get tired of your films?
Always the same-
singing, dancing, tears, love.
Manjula: I have played many great dramatic roles in my time.

Every scene where she is acting is just her dancing and singing to contrast with her statement.

While the original Shakespearean actors lives the movie is based on did not like the portrayal of like a life wasted, the movie was much along the lines of other films where certain people and groups do not transfer to the new society well and still hang on to old dreams and structures that may not in fact exist. The film that comes to mind first is Good Bye Lenin! The interviews actually mention that the original idea for the movie was for an India troop of actors to go around doing the plays but then it was considered that no Indian actor of the quality to perform Shakespearean plays would agree to behave like gypsies going from place to place to perform. Thus the diary of the mother of the Shakespearean troop was used to create the screenplay.

Lizzie (Felicity Kendal) is an actress in a Shakespearean theater troupe that has seen better days. The troupe tours India to dwindling crowds who are less interested in all things British in the wake of Indian independence. When she has an affair with the Indian playboy Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), Lizzie feels the wrath of her disapproving father Tony (Geoffrey Kendal) and her mother Carla (Laura Liddell). Madhur Jaffrey plays the role of the Indian actress Manjula in this romantic drama with musical score from Satyajit Ray. ~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 122 mins
Shakespeare Wallah (1965)

The extras included interviews with Felicity Kendal {Lizzie}, James Ivory with an unindentified Indian gentleman, and Shashi Kapoor{Sanju}. They start out discussing what "wallah" means and each of the three have a different definition. Felicity says it is masculine and doing with a trade as in a tradesman. But James says it was "The one who is involved with or does something in depth." They also talk about coming off the production of the movie "The Householder". I remember the film but did not do a review of it at the time.

While Lizzie is not beautiful she does come across as quite appealing and understandable how even the playboy was enamored by her charm. Instead of the Indian actress that acted more like a princess, Lizzie was more humble and willing to explore the world. It obviously was made for a British audience and had trouble getting released in the USA. There was a lot of kissing and even a intimate scene with the couple in bed, both of which censors in India would have not given it approval to see in India.

The extras also included a 45 minute documentary about "The Delhi Way" by the same director as the film-James Ivory. It also includes an interview with him about the film. Interesting little documentary about the history of Delhi and how it has expanded into the desert areas and built upon itself in the same process.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sick Girl (2007)

A psychologically mangled teenage girl embarks on a violent rampage after a trio of bullies target her younger brother for torment in director Eben McGarr's blackly comic indie shocker. Young Izzy (Leslie Andrews) has issues; her parents are nowhere to be found, and when her older brother joins the military and leaves to fight in Iraq, she's forced to become the sole guardian of her younger brother Kevin. Thankfully, her motorcycle-riding pal Barney is always willing to lend a helping hand, but that still isn't enough to make Izzy's life stable. In order to blow off steam, Izzy frequently tortures people in the abandoned barn near her family home. Whether it's the young hooligans who won't leave her brother alone or a busload of Catholic schoolgirls who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, Izzy wastes anyone who gets in her way without a second thought. But her bad judgment hits an all time high when she bestows her younger brother the gift of a handgun, paving the way to tragedy and potentially destroying what's left of her family. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 79 mins
Sick Girl (2007)
Well after Izzy's brother takes her life, then there was nothing left of the family anyway as the older brother dies in Iraq that causes her to go off the deep end. We see the flashback of the officers delivering the news close to ending credits.

Basically a sick film and somehow I thought it seemed interesting when ordering it. When she went after innocent boys then the film turned to the just gratuitous violence of horror films.

Rating of 1/2 for just being sick.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Disaster movie maven Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) crafts this apocalyptic sci-fi thriller following the prophecy stated by the ancient Mayan calendar, which says that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. When a global cataclysm thrusts the world into chaos, divorced writer and father Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) joins the race to ensure that humankind is not completely wiped out. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, and Oliver Platt round out the cast of this end-of-the-world thriller co-scripted by the director and his 10,000 B.C. writer/composer, Harald Kloser. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 158 mins
2012 (2009)

Actually John Cusack is just trying to save his family as everyone else in the world is doing. But as far as reality, this is more like a cartoon with so much special effects. I had already an idea about it since I saw the clip below so I was well aware of stretching the realms of reality but when Yellow Stone National park was blowing up and all the fire and brimstone was falling down it was even more comical than the preview clip.

For some reason I assumed a spaceship was going to take everyone off earth and not just giant vessels. The alternative ending did have them finding the Genesis Yacht stranded on some rocky island. Which although is a better ending that some actually would survive the waves in large ocean going vessels, landing on the rock might have been worse because as there were multiple tsunamis then the next one would have ripped it to shreds on the rocks. If they knew which direction the waves were coming from then it is likely many vessels could have rode into the wave as they are suppose to and height of the wave would not matter as much. The movie even shows an aircraft carrier being hit sideways by the wave and capsizing. Highly unlikely that they would not respond better to the wave which they claim is 1500 meters high for the one hitting the high mountains in China.

Full TV Episodes

2012 (Columbia Pictures) (November 13, 2009), PG-13

Entertaining but disappointing that too much fun with special effects and not believable story line. Rating 3/{5}