And So it Goes

with Laurence Olivier in Rebecca (Selznick International, 1940)

with Cary Grant in Suspicion (1941, RKO)

with Tyrone Power in This Above All (1942, 20th Century Fox)

with Charles Boyer in The Constant Nymph (1943, Warner Bros.)

with Louis Jourdan in Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948, Universal)

with Gavin MacLeod in The Love Boat (1981)

Old Legends Never Die...

...they just get careful lighting.

It's All About You!

But isn't it always, darlings?


Flick of The Day: Submarine

Director Richard Ayoade makes his feature début with today's flick of the day, Submarine. Ayoade is perhaps best known for his starring role in The IT Crowd. It is a delight to report that he is a far better director then an actor. His debut shows a lightness of touch and a style all of its own with hints of early Wes Anderson.
Submarine is a journey into the mind of 15 year old Swansea teenager Oliver Tate who despite a winning smile and a smart mind with a keen interest in literature, is shocked to find out that he is not the most popular guy in school. The film is told in three parts with an epilogue and a prologue, very much in the style of the novel upon which it is based, a 2008 work of the same name by Joe Dunthorne. Like all teenagers, Oliver is secretive and self aware. He spies on his parents and matter of factly informs the audience that his parents haven't had sex in 7 months. His parents, wonderfully played by Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor are going to a rough patch. His father, a marine biologist is permanently depressed and his mother dissatisfied. Entering into this equation is the ever brilliant Paddy Considine. He was Hawkins first love and is now back in town as a new age self help guru who un-ironically spouts banalities about light and colours being the most important thing in the universe. Oliver has two main goals from then on, to stop his mother from having an affair with Considine and to convince his new girlfriend, Jordana Bevan to sleep with him. Jordana is played by Yasmin Paige who is a real find. She lights up the screen with a wicked intensity.
The Wes Anderson comparisons are not without foundation, there is a similarity of visual style but also a warm heart at the centre of all of the comedy. There is obvious love for all of the characters and nobody gets hurt too badly in all the romantic interludes. The film is very funny with some great one liners. As Jordana arrives at Oliver's house for their first encounter, she opens with the deadpan line:

"Thanks for living up a hill"

Possessed of a great ending and a fitting soundtrack, this film is well worth seeking out and marks Richard Ayoade as a talent for the future. I look forward to his next film.

O que se ouve hoje por cá

Two for the Road

The Good Girls Wear White

Debbie Does Hollywood

Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland

Debbie Reynolds, producer Robert Weitman and Tahitian starlet Tarita

Buddy Hackett, Tom Jones and Debbie Reynolds

Cher, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor

Debbie Reynolds and Liberace

What Good is Sitting Alone in Your Room?

Come to the cabaret!

Flick of The Day: The Killing Fields

Films with a political undercurrent are difficult to pull off. For one, the viewer can become irritated by the feeling they are being preached to and rally against the underlying message of the film. There are some subjects that are above politics however, that get to the very heart of the human condition. The tale told in Roland Joffe's The Killing Fields is one such subject. It tells the tale not just of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge and their inhuman regime in Cambodia but also a much simpler tale, that of the friendship between two journalists, an American Sydney Schanberg and a Cambodian Dith Pran.
I first read of the brutal atrocities committed under the auspices of the Khmer Rouge's Year Zero campaign in Cambodia many years ago in an article in The Irish Times. My initial reaction was incredulity that something like this could be allowed to happen in the modern world. Where was the force of international opinion that should have intervened to save Cambodia and its people? Of course, as the years go by you come to accept that genocide occurs far too often in this world and that the international community is so often selective in its determination to intervene on behalf of the oppresssed. To Cambodia, you can add Rwanda 1994, Bosnia 1992 and Sudan 2010 as a list of bloody genocides where the world stood by and watched until it was too late. You could add innumerable others.
The film opens in 1973 in Phnom Penh as New York Times journalist Schanberg, played with steely determination by Sam Waterston is covering the ongoing conflict in Cambodia with his interpreter Dith Pran, a wonderful Oscar winning performance from Haing Ngor. They cover the ongoing secret war being perpetrated by Richard Nixon's administration and the various atrocities it leads to. The film the moves forward to 1975, to the American pull-out and the ensuing mayhem it created. Schanberg arranges for Pran's family to be evacuated but pressurises Pran to stay and help him cover the final days of the war. Of course, as it turned out all involved had underestimated the brutality of the Khmer Rouge. When they take Phnom Penh, they instigate their brutal policy of Year Zero, of forced migration to the countryside, of labour camps, of murder, of torture, of the systematic removal of all intellectuals. Initially the pair take cover in the French Embassy with all of the foreign journalists however eventually they are evacuated including Schanberg, leaving Pran behind. The remainder of the film tells the story of Pran's experiences under Pol Pot's regime and a guilty Schanberg's attempts to find his friend.

"We must be like the ox and have no thought, except for the Party. No laugh, but for the Uncle. People starve, but we must not grow food. We must honour the comrade children, whose minds are not corrupted by the past."

The film is at times deeply moving and the images of the killing fields will live with you long after the film has ended. Having visited Cambodia I can attest at first hand the emotional power of a site like the killing fields, even today. The film is at times hard to watch but it is worth it, the emotional payoff comes as Pran struggles to freedom as the Khmer Rouge fall from power. The film ends on 9th October 1979 as Schanberg and Pran are reunited.
This is a film that should be seen by as wide an audience as possible, not just so that the Cambodian conflict is not forgotten. That is reason enough however on its own it is a very finely made film. Chris Menges cinematography captures both the horror and the beauty of Cambodia. The film never preaches, you never feel as if an issue or point of view is being shoved down your throat. The facts are presented and you are left to draw your own conclusions as to the how and why. It is undoubtedly the case that the actions of the Nixon administration in secretly bombing Cambodia for year after year contributed to the rise of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. However, it must also be said that the international community was once again remiss in doing very little to stop the horror. It took an invading Vietnamese Army to finally remove the Khmer Rouge from power.
If the film has any message, it is the strength of human friendship and maybe that is what should be taken from this tale. Watch it.


Ethel Merman, Mae West and Judy Garland

Irene Dunne and Barbara Stanwyck

Susan Hayward and Ingrid Bergman

Dorothy Lamour, Gracie Allen and Betty Hutton

Jane Powell, Noel Coward and Zsa Zsa Gabor

Arch of Triumph

Fasten Your Seat Belts

"I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile and ofttimes disagreeable. I suppose I'm larger than life." - Bette Davis

Flick of The Day: Hannah and Her Sisters

Another day, another Woody Allen movie. Last week we looked at Allen's masterpiece Manhattan, his last film of the 1970's. A decade which defined his career and his work in the 1980's was much more sombre in tone and influenced by European directors like Ingmar Bergman. This is not to say that the work was any less entertaining or well made. Some highlights of this period include Radio Days and today's film Hannah and Her Sisters
Hannah and Her Sisters is concerned with the lives and loves of a set of New York bohemians and artistics. The film opens with a Thanksgiving dinner where we are introduced to the main characters. Hannah, ably played by Mia Farrow is an actress, her husband Elliott, in an Oscar winning performance by Michael Caine, lusts after her sister Lee, played by Barbara Hershey who is living with arrogant artist Max Von Sydow. Allen himself appears as a neurotic (Can he play otherwise?) television producer who spends the film convinced he is going to die and ends up dating Hannah's other sister, the eminently irritating Holly, another actress.
The sisters meet on a weekly basis to discuss the week's events, what is most interesting is what they don't tell each other. At various points in the film, they each say how close they are to each other but then lie or misrepresent their lives to each other. The film takes place over the course of three Thanksgiving parties. At the first, all are contented. The second is a time of unhappiness and the third and final party takes place after everything has been resolved. 
The film still has that trademark Woody Allen dialogue and it still sparkles as much as ever but this is perhaps his most complex and rewarding film. There is a great depth to the drama and the relationships of the characters. Indeed, the scope of the film and its tale is almost novelistic. There is a considerable story arc here and as a viewer, there is much to enjoy.

[after learning Mickey is infertile] 
Hannah: Could you have ruined yourself somehow? 
Mickey: How could I ruin myself? 
Hannah: I don't know. Excessive masturbation? 
Mickey: You gonna start knockin' my hobbies?

While none of the characters are particularly endearing and indeed some of them at times grate, they are always compelling. Michael Caine deserves kudos for playing against type as a self centred egotist.

What if there is no God and you only go around once and that's it. Well, ya know, don't you wanna be part of the experience? You know, what the hell it's not all a drag. And I'm thinking to myself, Jeez, I should stop ruining my life searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And after who knows, I mean maybe there is something, nobody really knows. I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have. And then I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself.

Another fine piece of film-making from Allen, well worth your time and putting the effort in for there is much to enjoy in this character study. It is so much more then a comedy. 

But Beautiful

1925 -2011

Through Four Decades...

...Dinah, and her hair and teeth, were a Shore thing on television.