Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aug 19th   
The Blue Max***         

(US 1966)                    

A German infantryman transfers to the aristocratic air corps where he becomes a national hero in his obsessive quest to earn The Blue Max medal, with tragic consequences.
Continuing the WWI commemoration with this full blown airborne melodrama, uneven in plot and characterisation, trying to pack everything in including battlefield scenes reminiscent of Paths of Glory and Lawrence of Arabia (with very much a German hero equivalent), but also points up the drama with some good performances.

Written by: David Pursall, Jack Seddon, Gerald Hanley, from the novel by Jack Hunter.
Producer: Christian Ferry.
Director: John Guillermin.
Starring: George Peppard, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Derren Nesbitt, Anton Diffring, Harry Towb, Carl Schiller (as The Red Baron).
Photography: Douglas Slocombe.
Music: Jerry Goldsmith.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Aug 5th     
Guardians of the Galaxy* (12A)            
(Odeon Colchester)                

Peter Quill, aka. "Starlord" leads a band of intergalactic heroes against the mighty Ronan in the quest for a powerful orb.
Junky but jocular comic strip science fantasy modelled somewhat on The (Marvel) Avengers, and all too much to take in, but with an occasional nice line in deprecating 80s humour.

Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, based on the Marvel comic books.
Producer: Kevin Feige.
Director: James Gunn.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper (voice only), Vin Diesel (voice only), Dave Bautista, Karen Gilan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Glenn Close.
Photography: Ben Davis.
Music: Tyler Bates.
Production Design: Charles Wood.

Aug 4th
Pick a Star   

(US 1937)

A local girl gets the chance of a lifetime to screen test in Hollywood.
Slack studio vehicle for pretty Rosina Lawrence (the heroine of Way Out West), who deserved better than this, but redeemed briefly by the interjections of Laurel & Hardy (uncredited) in a couple of odd but amusing "on-set" sketches.

Written by: Richard Flournoy, Arthur Vernon Jones, Thomes J. Dugan.
Producer/Director: Edward Sedgwick.
Starring: Rosina Lawrence, Patsy Kelly, Jack Haley, Mischa Auer, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Walter Long, Lyda Roberti.
Photography: Norbert Brodine.

Preceded by:
Shoulder Arms*
(US 1918. First National. 44m. bw. silent; A commemoration of sorts of Britain's entry into WWI - an original comedy of the time about a lowly private who dreams of fighting the enemy and capturing the Kaiser. Fairly routine and self-indulgent, with Chaplin still experimenting with innovations and longer length. Of historical interest at the very least.; w, d: Charles Chaplin; s: Charlie Chaplin, Enna Purviance, Sydney Chaplin, Henry Bergman.)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Aug 2nd 
Begin Again** (15)    
(Odeon Holloway)              

(US 2013)

A fledgling songwriter dumped by her singer boyfriend in New York finds solace from an equally down-on-his-luck music producer, who encourages her to take up singing herself.
Pleasing romantic drama with music as the sentimental centrepoint, not all of it particularly outstanding and as a film slow moving for its length, but put across in a very naturalistic manner, and Keira Knightley is just as pleasing on the ears as on the eyes.

Written and Directed by: John Carney.
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Tobin Armbrust.
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, Catherine Keener.
Photography: Yaron Orbach.
Music: Gregg Alexander.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jul 28th  

(Australia 1978)                

A psychotic comatose young man uses his psychic powers to combat his enemies when he falls in love with the nurse who is watching over him.
Psychic thrillers were all the rage in the 70s, and this one has a rather touching if under-explained element to it, as well as traces of Hitchcock (the director went on to make Psycho II).

Written by: Everett De Roche.
Producers: Richard Franklin, Anthony I. Ginnane.
Director: Richard Franklin.
Starring: Susan Penhaligon, Robert Thompson, Robert Helpmann, Julia Blake, Rod Mullinar, Bruce Barry, Helen Hemingway.
Photography: Donald McAlpine.
Music: Brian May.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jul 17th 
The Grand Budapest Hotel**  (15)
(Firstsite, Colchester)

(GB/Ger/US 2014)                  

The adventures of a womanising concierge and his bellboy in a 1932 grand hotel in the volatile mid-European nation of Zubrowka.
Quirky American take on the writings of Stefan Zweig, jarring a little in its use of foul language in the Bohemian 1930s, but wittily evokd in familiar semi-fantasy fashion with an all-star Anderson ensemble from his previous films impressed enough by his reputation to play guest spots.

Written by: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness.
Producers: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales, Scott Rudin.
Director: Wes Anderson.
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Jeff Goldblum, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson.
Photography: Robert Yeoman.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jul 9th    
A River Runs Through It**                 

(US 1992)                  

In the 1920s a Presbyterian minister's son returns home to rekindle his family roots through their love of fly fishing.
Skilfully adapted in quite leisurely but pleasurable fashion by Redford in order to keep the subject of fly fishing interesting in beautiful surroundings, although without too much particular drama per se, but what there is is quite moving. A beautiful wallow in Americana in the manner of The Waltons.

Written by: Richard Friedenberg, from the book by Norman Maclean.
Producers: Robert Redford, Patrick Markey.
Director: Robert Redford.
Starring: Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Lloyd, Edie McClurg, Stephen Shellen, Susan Traylor, William Hootkins, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Photography: Philippe Rousselot.
Music: Mark Isham.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Jul 7th    
The Armstrong Lie**   

(US 2013)                

The self-confessed fall from grace of cyclist Lance Armstrong, who overcame cancer to win the Tour de France 7 times, only to eventually admit to cheating by using banned substances.
Originally starting out as a documentary entitled The Road Back intending to chart Armstrong's comeback, then unexpectedly turning toxic, this revealing although not very subtle account of a hero hiding in plain sight (topical with the current Tour de France as well as the recent case of Rolf Harris), drags on for a while and occasionally only grudgingly admits to its central figure's moments of pure heroism, with a limited range of interview subjects used to emphasise the director's viewpoint, but its story could hardly be more potent, and Armstrong comes across as a supreme but also determined egotist.

Written, Directed and Narrated by: Alex Gibney.
Producers: Frank Marshall, Matt Tolmach, Alex Gibney.
Featuring Lance Armstrong, Frankie Andreu, Betsy Andreu, George Hincapie, Michele Ferrari, and others.
Photography: Maryse Alberti.
Music: David Kahne.