The Great Gatsby

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. Baz Luhrmann) (2013)

We were in glamorous Station Street, Birmingham, which turned out to contain “The Electric”, the UK’s oldest cinema. So The V.C. went to see Gatsby in 3D. Looked great but Baz has not nailed the brief: who could? Joel Edgerton looks like Tom Buchanan but talks like Ron Burgundy…Jordan Baker, Meyer Wolfsheim, Owl Eyes, have walk-ons and nothing to do. Gatsby is played like a sad sack with Asperger’s…Luhrmann should take a tip from Visconti when he filmed “Death in Venice”: forget revision, in fact, forget a script – just film the book.

"The Electric" in Birmingham

“The Electric” in Birmingham

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, USA History |

(dir. Sergio Leone) (1966)

The western as grand opera, with a poke at the Civil War thrown in. See in particular the late Eli Wallach scrambling about for the grave with the buried treasure.

 

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God’s Funeral

(by A.N. Wilson)

A beautiful & rich review of Victorian and Edwardian thinking, as God’s life support was unplugged and how later generations may come, in time, to feel the need to apply resuscitation. As Kenneth Clark observed, heroic materialism and Marxism aren’t enough. We need something more.

Not the Hand of God, the hand of Nietzsche

Not the Hand of God, the hand of Nietzsche

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The Glass Bead Game

(by Hermann Hesse)

Hesse’s ideation of his own life as a monk is a heavy but worthwhile read.

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The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

(by Beryl Bainbridge)

An odd, slight, oddly touching and slightly naff story of a road trip to oblivion, culminating in the death of RFK; but is the dysfunctional, libidinous Rose ‘the girl in the polka dot dress’ who exclaimed, ‘We shot him!’ as reported in the LA Times on 6 June 1968?  Bainbridge’s last, almost finished novel is, unlike The Original of Laura, worth reading.

The famous horrific photo of the dying RFK by Bill Eppridge of 'Life' Magazine

The famous horrific photo of the dying RFK by Bill Eppridge of ‘Life’ Magazine

 

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The General Strike

(by Julian Symons)

13 May 1926 – the General Strike in Britain ended this day.  People thought Marxism was through in Britain as a result but like Mao in exile, it would return.

1926_General_Strike

Calling a strike requires keen judgment because the reaction of the public as a whole might be sympathetic, hostile, or mixed. One example is the pilots’ strike in Australia in 1989, which resulted in the pilots, and their union, being blown out of the sky.  Another famous campaign was the Miners’ strike of the mid 1980s in England, when organized labour found out that the majority of the country thought they were the pits.

For 9 days in 1926 a number of sections of the British working classes engaged in a general strike, initially in sympathy for underpaid coal miners. This grew into a national civil war, without the blood, and citizens divided into broad groups; those who supported the strike, those in bitter opposition, and those who sympathised with the workers but disagreed with the strategy.

It galvanised a reaction that polarized the kingdom while unifying the various classes within it.  Stanley Baldwin PM  played the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party like a harp, stoking fears of anarchy, and the whole thing fell dismally flat, with miners generally worse off than before.

Symons’ book is a fascinating portrait of a revolution that (almost but) never was, brilliantly analysing the various forces at play; it is venerable but still the best account.

Strike

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Asoka

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir.Santosh Sivan) (2001)

Surreal Bollywood biopic of the great Indian King who eschewed violence after his campaign to conquer Kalinga in Madras, circa 250 B.C.  Shah Ruk Kahn as Asoka smoulders, swivels eyes and bleeds from the nose with all the subtlety of Rudolph Valentino; vivid scenes of robust battles (of conquest, family strife and romance); not a lot of H.G. Well’s Outline of History.

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Franny and Zooey

(by J.D. Salinger)

This perfect little novella is a personal favourite. One would not wish to go on a houseboat holiday with any member of the Glass family (maybe Les) but their mood storms are always worth getting caught in.

Richard Dreyfus, our casting choice for Zooey (retrospective)

Richard Dreyfus, our casting choice for Zooey (retrospective)

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Five Easy Pieces

November 3, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. Bob Rafelson) (1970)

The great American film about class, a road movie with style and not much plot; towering performance by Jack Nicholson, and others. Jack is from a high-born musical family but he is on the run from them, marking time as a blue-collar guy, spending his beer money on sweet but simple girlfriend (a sublime Karen Black).  Then his Dad gets badly ill, he has to head north, and all his class consciousness comes embarrassingly to the fore.  Along the way, they pick up two hitch-hikers who act their way into film legend.  And remember: “No substitutions”.

five-easy-pieces-chicken-salad

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Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans Visage)

November 3, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, CRIME, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. by Georges Franju) (1960)

Necrotic facial tissue was never so fascinating.  Brilliant (well, in theory) plastic and reconstructive surgeon wants to fix his daughter’s face, ruined in an accident – but he needs replacement skin. That does not bode well for the the pretty young students of Paris….

The plastic and reconstructive surgery one waits years to avoid...

The plastic and reconstructive surgery one waits years to avoid…

TVC knows of no scene more chilling than when the callow student is treated to a handkerchief soaked in chloroform…

 

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