I had such high hopes when I walked into the cinema: London in the sixties, identical twins played by Tom Hardy, gangsters building a criminal empire in the East End… what more can a girl ask for? I was expecting Goodfellas with tea, crumpets and cockney accents but no dice, most of my dreams crushed and burned by the end of the film. The story is about the rise and fall of notorious Ronnie and Reggie Krays, how they started as street thugs, then became crime lords and finally got their just deserts. In order to better wrap up my head around this really mixed bag of a film I’ll break down my review in three parts.
The good: firstly and foremost, Tom Hardy. He’s brilliant. His portrayal of both Reggie and Ronnie is subtle, powerful and effective. With the help of a pair of glasses, some make-up and a perpetual frown, Hardy brings Ronnie to life, the most volatile and violent of the two. No glasses, soulful eyes and something between a smile and a smirk, Hardy becomes Reggie, the sensible and (occasionally) sensitive twin. I haven’t seen an actor being this convincing at playing twins since Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers. The second item on the plus column is the recreation of the locales and the feel of the period: East End and a touch of swinging London. Thirdly, Taron Egerton proves his skills as Ronnie’s boy toy, he is one to look out for. Didn’t I also mention Tom Hardy? I though I did.
The bad: the story is told from Frances Shea’s (Browning) point of view, Reggie’s girlfriend/wife. The excessive voice-over and the outsider’s (to the criminal world) perspective does not work well, keep the focus of the story too much on the personal side. For a gangster movie about famously vicious people, there’s very little carnage with the exception of a couple of lackluster confrontations. The film lacks verve and charisma, which is a pity considering the possibilities given by the source material. In addition, the viewer is supposed to sympathise with Frances but that doesn’t work very well either, Browning’s solid performance notwithstanding.
The ugly: Chazz Palminteri’s face. The plastic surgery has turned it into a wax mask and he lost his presence and menace as Italian mobster (and his ability to move his facial features).
Handsome but penniless Tom Ripley (Delon) has been tasked by wealthy Mr. Greenleaf to bring back home to San Francisco his wayward son Philippe (Ronet), who is gallivanting around Italy. Philippe is living large with his girlfriend Marge (Laforet) in Naples and the audience finds Tom tagging along and being Philippe’s buddy and occasional virtual punching bag. Philippe is good looking, viveur and self-confident, his money gives him the freedom that Tom doesn’t have. It’s obvious since the beginning that Tom is both attracted to and envious of Philippe, we can see him clearly thinking: ” I can be like him, I just need money!”. On the other hand, Philippe is intrigued by Tom’s many talents but repulsed by his lowly social standing and the creepy vibes he gives off. Tom’s meekness and subservient attitude seems to excite Philippe’s mean streak to the point that even Marge takes Tom’s defense. The tension gradually builds up while the strain on the relationship between these three characters grows, all in great contrast with the beautiful scenery of Southern Italy. This adds a somewhat sinister twist to reassuring surroundings and the scenes on the sailing boat become almost claustrophobic. As Tom’s hope of obtaining the reward Philippe’s father has promised fades, his fantasies of riches and easy life coalesce into a much darker plan to gain what he wants. The second half of the film revolves around Tom’s schemes and maneuvers to keep his dream alive, not letting anything gets in his way. Clement adapts skillfully this story of envy, deceit and delusion of grandeur based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. His expert use of the blazing white and blue of Italian summer and the lovely settings in Naples and Rome brings an additional layer to the unfolding drama. The cast delivers solid performances, Alain Delon is a perfect embodiment of Tom with the right mix of charm and slyness. The only point that raised involuntary laughters was Marie Laforet’s crying scene, similar to every display of sorrow by any Disney princess. This is a very minor flaw that doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film. In comparison to the more recent adaptation, this is a far superior movie with a better and more convincing casting. Dazzling —7.5/10
This is my entry to the The Beach Party Blogathon hosted by Silver Screening and Speakeasy. Ruth and Kristina will keep the party going all week, go and check their blogs!
The lastest film by Paul T. Anderson is somehow a crossover between The Big Lebowski and Chinatown. This slightly surreal and meandering story starts like a classic noir: an ex-flame comes back into Doc Sportello’s (Phoenix) life asking for help. Our hero is a private detective with glorious sideburns and a penchant for smoking pot. His ex, Shasta (Waterston), once a flower child with the same proclivities, has since moved on to greener pasture: her current lover is a real estate magnate. After her cryptic visit, Shasta disappears and Doc begins a strange journey following weird clues, stumbling on the kidnapping of said magnate, searching for a phantom ship and dealing with all sorts of crazies. He’s helped by faithful friend and lawyer Sauncho (Del Toro), deputy district attorney and occasional lover Penny (Whiterspoon) and he ends up making common cause with Dirty-Harry like detective Bigfoot Bjornsen (Brolin). Set in 1970, this strange and rather convoluted tale, based on the eponymous book by Thomas Pynchon, might be slow-burning and very unlike Anderson’s previous film (The Master) but it’s captivating to follow. Doc is an oddball character and, most of the time, he’s stoned but, improbable as it may seem, he’s also pretty good at his job. In addition there’s Bigfoot, he starts out as a “benevolent nemesis” or “evil guardian angel” to Doc, but he reaches an understanding with him after their investigations cross path. In a way, Bigfoot has similar traits to Doc: loner, determined and capable (with a visceral hate for hippies but that’s just a colorful side of his persona). This film with its eerie atmosphere and intricate plot turns out to be more a character study on acid and it really works due to the superb performances of Phoenix and Brolin. Anderson has managed again the difficult task of keeping the viewer engaged with a star-studded, 2.5 hour-long movie based on a pretty wacky premise: chapeau! The cast in general is rather spectacular: curious, unexpected cameos and intriguing portrayals, it is clear that there’s a sure hand at the helm. The soundtrack and the photography complement the story and contribute greatly to the bizarre feeling that pervades the film throughout. Anderson’s style might not be everyone’s cup of tea and this film is even stranger than his usual fare so consider yourself warned. Mesmerizing –9/10
This time around I’m going down memory lane all the way to the sixties. The following are some of my favorite TV shows from that time with pretty memorable intro, the ones that make you feel warm and fuzzy remembering the good old days. They are listed in chronological order.
The Saint – original theme, Edwin Astley (1962)
Sleek, suave Roger Moore in an epic role! I’ve always liked him better as Simon Templar (he’s not my favorite James Bond).
The Addams Family – original theme, Vic Mizzy (1964)
Fencing, rose pruning, arm wrestling with Thing, watching Uncle Fester with a lightbulb in his mouth… such a fun family to be around! All this introduced by a very catchy tune.
I Dream of Jeannie – original theme, Hugo Montenegro (1965)
Light hearted and funny adventures of a genie let out of the bottle with a nice cartoon intro and happy theme.
Star Trek – Original Series theme, Alexander Courage (1966)
Who hasn’t dreamt to boldly go where no one has gone before? To be part of the crew of the Enterprise (but not a red shirt!) and visit strange worlds… Good times!
Batman – original theme, Neal Hefti (1966)
Well, I don’t think that this one needs any introduction: NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA Batman!!!
I’m quite partial to movies about music and I just love the Coen brothers, so this film had all the premises for a great treat. It doesn’t disappoint at all: it tells the story of a down-on-luck folk musician, Llewyn Davis, in New York, in the sixties. We follow him around for a few days while he tries to make a living with his music and everything that can go wrong does. He’s so broke that he sleeps on the couch of friends and acquaintances, he makes a mess or find himself in one at every turn, even when he finally decides to give up and go back to a regular job. Lot of humor, sometimes dark humor as it is the Coens’ wont, few memorable secondary characters (e.g. Johnny Five and Roland Turner) and a bittersweet story with a pretty darn good soundtrack. Impressive. —8.5/10
Sometimes is nice to go back and re-watch the classics and this is a great example of a quality chick-flick: girl meets boy from a different world, they dance and they fall in love. The world conspires to keep them apart but they fight to be together. Happy ending, great soundtrack and dance numbers, what more do you want?– 8/10
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