In the 1970s unusual albums were the flavour of the times, from The Who’s Tommy to the surprise success of Tubular Bells. However when Jeff Wayne released his musical version of HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds in 1978, I’d be surprised if he thought that 36 years later it would still be going strong re-envisioned as an arena spectacular. Many people mistakenly think it started out as a stage musical, but it wasn’t it was a concept album, with the voice of Richard Burton and various people singing the songs. [Read more...]
Hollywood studios refused to pay for Behind The Candelabra as despite the presence of Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s 11) and having a relatively low-budget, they thought it was too gay to become a success. They’re probably kicking themselves now as HBO stepped up to the pay for it and had a huge hit with it on US TV, while distributors in other countries took it to cinemas and saw healthy box office. [Read more...]
Soderbergh has famously stated this will be his last film. If true that would be a real shame, as he seems to have saved his best work till last. This biopic of Liberace is one of his best films – arguably his best of all. It’s extremely funny without any nastiness, camp without being bitchy and ultimately a very touching piece about ageing, desire, friendship and companionship.
It also features career-defining performances from Douglas and Damon. Douglas is clearly having the time of his life as the outrageous entertainer – what a shame he can’t be nominated for an Oscar (as it premiered on HBO in the US, ruling it ineligible). It’s a spot-on performance of an ageing, absurd, ridiculous man, but the key is that Douglas’ Liberace takes himself completely seriously. A twinkle in Douglas’ eye would ruin it. What we have here is a master entertainer, a talented musician with a desire to be loved, and absolutely no self-awareness at all. He is vain, selfish and determined to have his desires fulfilled. [Read more...]
Much of physics is based on the idea that the laws of gravity are constant across the universe and have been that ways since just after the Big Bang. However that would seem to be contradicted by the fact that for decades Wuxia movies have taught us that during the Imperial past, gravity was far less powerful in China, and people were able to leap about like they’ve just arrived on the moon. And now there’s CGI to make sure the martial art wire-fu masters’ anti-grav antics can make Newton spin ever faster in his grave. [Read more...]
The film adaptation of the 2009 Broadway musical is two hours of high energy 80s rock music coupled with laugh out loud comedy, as we see a young girl search for fame and fortune in the bright lights of Hollywood, set against the underside of the rock music industry.
Filled with great songs of the classic rock era – which has no doubt led it be being one of the last decade’s most popular musicals – the film makes you want to dance around and sing for the whole duration of the film. Although the music in the film is great, credit has to be given for the themes, of which several run through the film, with a sweet young love story evolving whilst the upside and downside of fame counterbalance each other in the background. Another theme that the film touches on is the clear mockery of the right wing with their wholesome image hiding a few dirty secrets. [Read more...]
At the time it was made, The Night Porter was seen as intensely controversial, and even now it remains an occasionally uncomfortable experience, largely as it refuses to give easy answers for what is going on. Dirk Bogarde plays Max, who works as a night porter at a Vienna hotel in 1957. However Max has a secret former life, as 13 years before he was an SS officer in the Nazi concentration camps.
Along with a network of fellow former Nazis, he’s managed to keep his former identity a secret, but there are always people looking for Nazis, especially those like Max and his friends who haven’t fully renounced their previous ideology. Then a woman called Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) arrives at the hotel, who is a former prisoner who Max had an intense relationship with in the camps. While you’d expect her to revile him, they fall back into the strange sado-masochistic relationship they had before. [Read more...]
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Ronald Pickup – if you assemble a cast like that, you could get them to read the phone book and it would be entertaining. It would be tough to get them to make something that wasn’t at least worth a look, and thankfully although The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a relatively slight tale, it’s never less than charming.
Dench, Smith, Nighty, Wilkinson, Imrie, Wilton and Pickup play a group of aging Brits, who for one reason and another respond to an advert for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The ad promises an Indian idyll where retirees can live out their days in luxury that brings to mind the days of the Raj. After a rather problematic journey to the hotel, the reality turns out to be rather different than what was promised, with the hotel falling to bits and little of the advertised luxury. [Read more...]
The Spanish TV show Aguila Rosa has been an absolutely gargantuan hit all across the Spanish speaking world, entrancing audiences with its 17th century tales of derring-do. Indeed it’s been so successful that it spawned this feature length spin-off.
While the movie has several interweaving plots, it swirls around Gonzalo de Montalvo, who is secretly the hero ‘Red Eagle’. When his son is blinded after an assassination attempt, Red Eagle sets out for revenge against the corrupt Cardinal Mendoza. Soon Gonzalo is mixed up in the political machinations at the top of Spanish society, as the evil Mendoza is in league with England, Portugal and France to overthrow the Spanish king and destroy the country. [Read more...]